Top 100 Legend: Feign Egg Hunter

Would you believe me if I told you that you can shut down the aggro hunters with one simple trick? I made it to Top 100 Legend in the December season. Take a look!

Introduction

Would you believe me if I told you that you can shut down the aggro hunters with one simple trick? You might think that this is one of those spammy advertisements you occasionally see on some websites, but it’s true! I’d like to present an interesting and unique take on Hunter that utilizes nerubian-eggs. Yes, you read that correctly. I made it into top 100 Legend for the first time with it. I think I have a pretty good idea about its capabilities after playing almost 250 games with it on ladder: you might be surprised about its viability!

The Decklist

The idea of Feign Egg is to capitalize on the synergistic nature of the Undertaker-decks and feign-death while also adding some buff cards to benefit as much from the nerubian-egg as possible. Thinning out the standard Hunter list wasn’t easy and I actually ended up cutting all the secrets and all the related minions for added consistency.

The inclusion of a single Hunter’s Mark is important against some of the control matchups – it generally ends up neutering sludge-belchers or other sticky taunts. That doesn’t mean that it hasn’t got any use against aggressive decks as sometimes it can help dealing with an opposing Undertaker before it gets out of hand. Alternatively, you could choose to add an ironbeak-owl instead but I actually benefitted a lot from the fact that this card costs zero mana.

The Abusive Sergeant is a staple card in most Zoo decks – and while its main purpose here is simply to buff the egg, it also helps with beneficial trades. I know, I know: it sounds ridiculous that we should trade as a hunter instead of going for our opponent’s face without thinking, but hear me out! The great thing about this deck is that it maintains the explosive start of the usual Hunter decks but manages to set up a ridiculously sturdy board on the following few turns, essentially choking the opponent out of the game. It is quite easy to reach a point where you’ve got 3-4 minions on the board that can’t be effectively removed by AoE effects either: getting there takes some effort though and the extra two attack on a minion can go a long way to achieve it. Not only is it an eggnabler and a source of bonus damage, it can also be a better-than-nothing turn-one drop. You really don’t want to skip the first turn with this deck as it really lacks comeback mechanisms. You need to hit the ground running.

The two Leper Gnomes should need no explanation: they are essential in most aggressive decks and they synergize well with the good old Undertaker. Their interaction with feign-death can sometimes be the difference between a win and a loss in a close game – but more on that later when we get to said card.

undertakers don’t need much of an introduction at this point – if House of Cards was about Hearthstone, the protagonist would definitely be called Frank Undertaker –: with ten Deathrattle minions in the deck, they are an obvious auto-include.

webspinners get a bit of extra versatility here due to feign-death but they deserve an inclusion nonetheless as a one-cost Deathrattle minion that helps you reload your hand. While this deck doesn’t rely on Beast synergy, the little bit of extra fuel provided by this card can help you snatch the win out of the jaws of defeat.

I wasn’t a fan of Glaivezooka when it was released and I still am on the fence about it – after all, it’s a worse fiery-war-axe with a negligible effect and just doesn’t fit alongside the Eaglehorn Bows – but this particular deck really benefits from it. Glaivezooka doubles as an eggnabler and early removal at the same time. With no secret synergy, it is a much better weapon in this particular deck than the eaglehorn-bow – and its lower cost is also very helpful when trying to establish an early board presence.

Feign Death is the versatile cornerstone of this deck. The best case scenario is, of course, to get a 4/4 minion for 2 mana by activating it with the nerubian-egg on board – but there are many other uses of it as well. I like to think of them as extra hero powers in a pinch. Using it with Haunted Creepers gives you two 1/1-s, playing it while having a Loot Hoarder on board is like a Life Tap – a similar effect happens with Webspinner. A Leper Gnome on the battlefield grants you an extra Steady Shot and the combination with the Piloted Shredder is essentially a poor man’s Unstable Portal. None of these sound particularly appealing in and of themselves, but triggering multiple of these effects at once can be enough to turn the tide. If you have a Haunted Creeper and a nerubian-egg on the board, it outright ends the game, giving you 6/6 for 2 (kinda turning you into lord-jaraxxus in the process). It’s either the killing blow or the utility card that gives you strength to continue the battle – and it worked out much better than eggcpected in this deck.

A single flare helps with the occasional draw issues and also provides an important trump card against other Hunters. The mirror is a fantastic matchup for this deck, at least according to my experience: a 68% win rate cannot lie. Bonus points for decimating the occasional (if rare) Freeze Mages too.

The two dire-wolf-alphas are important to help with trading and egg activation. It is a nice utility minion that also helps you make better use of the various tokens (mainly the Spectral Spiders). They also function as the occasional Kill Command enabler – I originally only ran one of them but I decided to push my curve even lower.

knife-jugglers have Taunt, as the joke goes, and their ability can really help you gain early board control. Another staple card.

The loot-hoarders are the main sources of card draw in this particular deck – and, surprisingly enough, they usually to a decent enough job. With the Feign Death shenanigans, Flare and Webspinners around, I rarely find myself running completely dry. Their Deathrattle effect also buffs the Undertaker, which is a nice bonus.

Ah, Nerubian Eggs. Nothing is more satisfying than casting feign-death with one of these on the board and then taunting them up with Defender of Argus. Scenarios like the one pictured below are a source of pure joy and actually aren’t that difficult to achieve. With eight enablers (not counting Feign Death and a potential Leokk summon), you will usually be able to unleash the 4/4 hiding inside the egg. And if nothing else, they are a nice insurance against AoE.

Double animal-companions and kill-commands are, again, standards in most Hunter decks and they are simply too powerful not to include in this list. The former has slight synergistic effects with the egg if you get leokk – but I would definitely advise against using the latter on your own egg to get the 4/4 out.

Defender of Argus – yet another way to get value out of your eggs and also a nice card to protect your board. Once you get board control with this deck, you’re pretty much good to go; and these cards can simply seal the deal if you had a strong start.

Honorable mentions include dark-iron-dwarf (even more eggnablers, a decent body and a nice damage boost) and Piloted Shredders (for feign-death shenanigans). I originally ran a single savannah-highmane but found it to be too slow (and almost impossible to combo with Feign Death) in most games. I also experimented with annoy-o-trons for the two difficult matchups for the deck. Speaking of which, let’s take a look at the matchups!

Matchups

The best thing about this deck is that it has a very good matchup against the Face Hunter: it has very sticky minions and is capable of going toe to toe against their early game plays: however, once you establish board control and get some taunts and/or 4/4s up, they have a hard time climbing back. explosive-trap is almost always a non-issue thanks to all the buffs and deathrattles. Unlike most of the decks they face, they cannot just let the board go and apply pressure by dealing direct damage to you because you are more than capable to match their aggression. It’s a very good matchup in general against a quite popular deck, as my 68% winrate in around 40 games testify. Control Hunter, while extremely rare, generally proves to be too slow to stop your expansion. Just mulligan for a standard Undertaker opening and you will most likely outpace them.

Shaman and Rogue are essentially free wins: again, the Deathrattle effects and the stickiness of your quickly established board means that Thrall cannot stop you with lightning and Valeera cannot sap and combo her way back into the game. I won over 80% of my games against these classes.

Druids are problematic because of their heals and silences plus the capability to finish you off without taking board control. You can’t rely on the egg as much (unless you can immediately trigger it with Feign Death) due to this and the fact that your deck is thinner compared to the face hunter’s output makes this a slightly more difficult but still winnable game.

Heavy late-game control decks like Paladin and Warrior are essentially a toss-up. Due to their (relatively) slow start, these are the matchups where you really want to get an egg-combo start instead of your standard undertaker burst: having a 4/4 and a nerubian-egg out on turn 3 or 4 generally gives you a win. As before, the deathrattles give you a cushion against AoE and you should definitely rely on it. If you get an egg online, they usually waste enough resources on it to put you in a comfortable start, but if you have to go with the standard Undertaker-action with the limited resources this deck can provide, just push as hard as you can and let the chips fall where they may. I’ve got around 45% against these decks but that is definitely something that can be improved if needed.

The battle against Priests is similar but thankfully a little bit easier: their early removal has serious issues with the egg and their late game is slightly less potent than what the aforementioned two classes can throw at you. Just be mindful on turn 4 and 5 (and try to not play into wild-pyromancer-related shenanigans) and you should be fine. It’s not a free win though, at least not according to my stats, as limited as they may be in this case: six wins and five losses over the course of almost two hundred games.

The problem, as you may have realized by now, is Mechmage and Zoo. The former feels worse than it actually is – my winrate was slightly above 50% with 15 wins and 13 losses – and it generally revolves about removing the mechwarper in time. This deck lacks the eaglehorn-bow to deal 3 direct damage early on and certainly suffers when a goblin-blastmage hits the board but you can generally outpace them. You cannot afford to go for a turn 4 turnaround (this deck has the tendency to swing the game at that particular point with Defender of Argus or Nerubian Egg+Feign Death as a nasty surprise): you need to hit the ground running and stop the expansion. Just like against Hunter, you need to establish board control and never let it go: luckily, you’ve got the tools for it. Freeze Mage should be manageable – you many only have one Flare, but come on, you’re a Hunter against a Freeze Mage. You’ll be fine. (I did cut the Flare for testing purposes on some occasion but I quickly changed my mind on that.)

The real menace of this deck is Warlock and this is why I hesitate to call it more than anything but a metagame call at the moment: this matchup is simply abysmal and I’m sure that it is not due to Handlock – you can usually beat those guys. Pay attention to some nasty bits of extra damage with feign-death and Leper Gnome: that did the trick on more than one occasion. (I also had games where I had enough damage on board to kill both taunted Giants and then deliver the killing blow: you have multiple viable avenues against Handlock.) The new Zoo variety is a major issue though. It essentially does the same thing that we’re trying to, only more effectively in this particular matchup: it slightly outpaces us in the opening, it’s one of the few decks that can effectively match our midgame and has three big threats (the sea-giant and the two doomguards) that we’re struggling to remove with the single Hunter’s Mark. Losing the battle for board control in the early game generally means a loss, which is why I experimented with some Annoy-o-trons to improve this matchup.

Conclusion

You break your fellow Hunters but Zoo breaks you for it – a heavy price to pay for sure. The deck is simply not viable against Zoo in its current state (judging by my terrible 34% winrate against Warlock). However, since this is quite literally the only deck that causes such a headache to Feign Egg, I consider it a viable call depending on the metagame – and I’ll be trying my best to tweak it in order to defeat its nemesis without losing its potency against, well, everything else. My run into Legend 100 was solely due to the fact that I didn’t run into a single player with Zoo. Just goes to show how eggfective this deck is against everything else.

I hope you are just as eggstatic about the possibility of shocking your opponents with a turn 1 nerubian-egg as a Hunter – I certainly have a blast whenever I play this deck. I can’t wait until I run into someone else playing the same list. Just don’t forget: you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs!