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Understanding Hunter Aggro Deck
Hi! [DKMR]BorN here from Don’t Kick My Robot to talk with you about Understanding Hunter Aggro Deck. There have been a number of Hunter guides and articles lately, so we want to give you something different. We’re here to teach you how to beat one of the most hated decks in Hearthstone, as well as give you a few tips to improve your own Hunter play.
For those who don’t know me, I have been playing Hunter almost exclusively the last three seasons and hit Legend all of those seasons. I know everything Hunters hate and what you can do to make them struggle. The best way to beat this deck is by understanding it and knowing how to minimize its effectiveness.
To beat Hunter, you first have to understand how Hunter Aggro operates: by slowly killing you each turn. Hunter’s Hero Power, Steady Shot, is designed solely to tick away at your hero’s health two damage per turn. For those whose decks do not run methods of healing or armoring up, you have an expiration date.
Steady Shot is a simple, yet great compliment to the Aggro deck, guaranteeing the Hunter to always have two direct damage at his disposal. However this Hero Power, unlike others, does not have the ability to aid the hero in board control.
If you take a look at my personal deck list, you’ll notice it differs from the standard Hunter Aggro deck. One of the first things you might see is that I do not run any Tracking. Tracking is a great card, but I do not find it necessary in my deck. Next, I only run one buzzard, where almost everyone runs two. Over my climbs I’ve seen success with it, without it, and I’ve found one is just as optimal as two. The last interesting thing you’ll find is the Abomination. This card is a tempo changer; it can stop opposing Aggro decks in their tracks or help you turn the game around on your opponent. If you’re having a problem with the ever popular Warlock Aggro, I highly suggest adding one of these to your deck list.
Every card in this deck helps to either deal instant damage or work as removal in some way. This allows you to be defensive against overly aggressive Aggro decks like Murlock as well as an all-out offensive versus most others. Mastering this deck involves learning when to go for face and when you should be watching your own health.
A few months ago the Hunter’s signature card, Unleash the Hounds, was buffed; reducing it from four mana cost down to two. This change caused the previously weak and unseen Hunters to explode into the metagame. Hunters are now everywhere. Now how did changing the mana cost of just one of Hunter’s class specific cards lead to such a spike in the number of, as well as strength of Hunters? The answer is the ability to pull off such game changing combos earlier in the game.
The first and potentially most devastating is the Starving Buzzard into Unleash the Hounds. This four mana combo allows the Hunter to draw one card for every minion you have on the field. Not only can this give the Hunter a card advantage, but you now also have a hound to deal with for every card drawn. Hunters can further add insult to injury by laying down a Timber Wolf; drawing yet another card and adding one attack point to each hound as well as the buzzard. This can be huge trouble and hard to come back from.
The other combo brought about by the buff is the Leeroy Jenkins into Unleash the Hounds. This 6 mana combo starts with Leeroy Jenkins summoning two Whelps to your side of the board, then throwing down an Unleash the Hounds to take advantage of those two extra minions he gave you. Suddenly you’re wishing you didn’t play that extra minion last turn as a horde of hounds and Leeroy Jenkins himself are smashing your face. This combo, as with any Unleash the Hounds combo, can be increasingly dangerous if mixed with a Starving Buzzard or Timber Wolf(s).
Beating the Deck
The fact Hunter Aggro punishes players for playing minions has annoyed many. Simple taunts just don’t seem enough to stop Hunter from bashing your face in, as they have removal such as Deadly Shot, Ironbeak Owl, and Hunters Mark, to remove taunts one way or another. So what can you do when leaving fewer minions on the board to limit a hounds attack allows Hunter to pick off minions easier with Deadly Shot and the high burst damage of Kill Command?
Let us first understand the goal behind a Hunter Aggro deck. Prior to the hounds buff, Hunter Aggro decks went by the name Turn 7 Hunter. The deck was designed to win by turn seven by doing damage greater than or equal to the mana of each turn. At one damage per mana rate, one can do 28 total damage on turn seven. Cards such as Leper Gnome and Arcane Shot are an example of ones that get extra damage per mana. Simply killing minions is not enough because Hunters get instant value from their attacks because of charge. The worst part is, with the change to hounds, Hunters can now achieve lethal much faster.
There are several ways one can exercise to slow down Hunter Aggro and allow your deck to overcome them. These ways are damage prevention, dropping minions Hunter’s cannot ignore, healing/armoring, and maintaining card advantage.
Damage prevention is a way of limiting the value Hunters get from their cards. If a minion attacks your face, it has already gotten its value. The goal here is block the damage before it has a chance to do so. This is achieved mostly by taunts and secrets. Every card a Hunter has to spend on a taunt is not only preventing damage to you, but it can also help create a card advantage. Some of my most hated taunts to go against are Druid of the Claw, Voidwalker, and Feral Spirits.
Another way to annoy a Hunter is by using Sunfury Protector and Defender of Argus. Although this causes you to have more minions on the board, multiple taunts can cripple a Hunter. While a taunt or two may not seem like enough it buys you more time, as well as forcing the Hunter to use more cards on your minions, and furthermore if you can prevent them from getting a good draw from Starving Buzzard, you can put them in a topdecking situation which puts the Hunter against a wall.
Minions that Hunter’s cannot ignore, in a way, act as taunts. Some great examples are Armorsmith, Knife Juggler, and other minions who have either strong attack power or active effects. If a Hunter chooses to ignore these minions, punish them. Force them to waste cards not attacking face and put them on the defensive. The earlier you can put these minions into play the better, as by the time you can play late game minions you may already be dead.
Heals and Armor
This section is pretty straightforward. Mitigating damage by healing or armor can more effective than taunts, and together can be scary for Hunter. Some cards worth mentioning are Earthen Ring Farseer, Holy Fire, and Shield Block. Also, a Priest or Warrior Hero Power completely mitigates Hunter’s Hero Power.
One of the ways many Hearthstone games are won is by creating card advantage. The same is true in Hunter matchups. Keeping your options open against Hunter is utterly important. If you don’t have options you don’t have a chance. Use your cards effectively but keep your health in mind; what may be a good trade in some matchups can be better or worse against a Hunter.
Now that we know what stops Hunter Aggro, let’s look at decks that have been very successful at achieving this:
By using Sunfury Protector and Defender of Argus to taunt tanky Ancient Watchers, Hunters are forced to kill them, as a silence will only unleash the powerful 4/5 minion. This deck also contains Druid of the Claw, another big taunt, as well as Ancient of Lore which has an excellent heal battlecry. Druid’s Hero Power also can help give one armor which adds up in the long run.
With cards like Shield Block, Armorsmith, Frothing Berserker, as well as a +2 armor Hero Power, Warrior Control has a lot of options when it comes to mitigating damage. I mention Frothing Berserker because this minion cannot be ignored, as its attack can soar if allowed. If the Hunter can’t win early or has a poor start, you can exhaust and completely slow a Hunter to a point where they are in a topdecking situation trying helplessly to crack your endless armor. Notice most of the time this deck does not run any form of taunt and yet as of late has been one of, if not the most successful deck against Hunter.
It may seem like at times these tips do not help or just aren’t working, but as a Legend Hunter player, these are the things that give my deck losses. I hope this guide helps your Hunter matchups and hurts my win rate. Feel free to contact us with questions.
Written by [DKMR]BorN
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