Deadguy (Aggro) Hunter
“This deck is insane.”
This card is insane, too (literally).
After weeks of anticipation, the Construct Quarter was released! Finally, I could take those pages and pages of scribbled notes and transform them into actual Hearthstone decks to beat down the competition.
The card I was most excited about, Mad Scientist, even slotted right into an already strong deck, Aggro Hunter. I threw together my first draft and hopped into ranked to see what it could do.
In the first hour, I played Paladin control, Priest, Warrior control multiple times, the whole gauntlet of impossible matchups. And I won them all. This deck is clearly absurd.
Development of Deadguy Hunter
I started with Harvest Golem, but it is a bit too slow despite fitting the deathrattle theme. I prefer Wolfriderto recover from sweepers.
There has been a massive influx of Hunters on the ladder this past week, so there’s unfortunately not room for either card since Flare is a must against them.
When Hunter’s popularity dies down feel free to swap in the Wolfriders to increase your maximum damage potential against decks with healing and taunts.
Animal Companion is mediocre here, but necessary to have enough beasts for Kill Command. Seven beasts is the cutoff to consistently activate it for 5 damage.
The Starving Buzzard– Unleash the Houndscombo is in the deck to contribute to the beast count as well as be a broken draw mechanism when the opponent overextend. It clashes with the deathrattle and beat down strategies of the rest of the deck, but drawing a bunch of cards and wiping the opponent’s board is too good to pass up. Tracking really ties the room together, anyways.
There are also seven deathrattle minions for Undertaker, who is perfectly serviceable as a 1 mana 2/3 and sometimes grows out of control. Webspinner is missing because 1 damage is paltry and unlike midrange Hunter you don't care about having beasts to fill out our curve, you just want to output as much damage as you can as efficiently as possible. Loot Hoarder is filler, but he hits for 2 and draws you towards our good cards.
Mad Scientist is one of the aforementioned good cards. A 2 mana 2/2 is fine, if a little boring, but he does Loot Hoarder one better by not only drawing a card, but putting that 2 mana card directly into play!
Never again shall you fear running out of charges on your Eaglehorn Bows, even with only 4 traps. I find myself Tracking for the Bow more than any other card in the deck besides the other half of the Buzzard-Unleash combo (the miser’s Savannah Highmane comes in a distant 4th).
Speaking of Savannah Highmane, it’s a bit of a wonky inclusion, but definitely worth it. You frequently draw more cards than you can play, so he isn’t dead weight very often, and in the matchups where you need him, you need him. He comes into play against opponents who are capable of weathering the early storm and whose hero powers offset our own as we attempt to end the game. Against Priest or Warrior control there isn’t a more threatening card in the deck. Reynad was even using a Highmane in Face Hunter in the days just before Sunshine Hunter was unleashed on the world.
One time I also got a Highmane flipped into play by Deathlord on turn 3 after top decking a Hunter’s Mark while I had a Loot Hoarder in play. I know, I know, must be nice. (It is)
The Reality of Deadguy Hunter
After a couple more hours with the deck, the truth became apparent: this is not the best deck in the world. It has some ridiculous starts (I’ve attacked with a 5/6 Undertaker on turn 4, knocking my opponent into single digits), but it has some bad matchups, and I’m going to be honest with you: this deck does not beat Zoo. That’s right, it has an unfavorable matchup against public enemy #1, the scourge of n00bs everywhere, the destroyer of all things fun and good in life.
That’s not to say the matchup is unwinnable; it’s actually quite close. Explosive Trap is very good against non-Nerubian Eggboard states, and you have more than the usual amount of them thanks to Mad Scientist. Undertaker can take out multiple minions on their side if you have a good follow-up. Warlocks do a lot of damage to themselves with Life Tap that Bow and Kill Command are more than happy to take advantage of. At the end of the day, it comes down to Unleash the Hounds and if you have one to clean up the board so you can live long enough to poke them down. Use Tracking turn 1 to find them if you have no one drop minions, and keep Tracking in your opening hand with the intention of doing so.
*A side note on Tracking – In most cases it is incorrect to Tracking blind on turn 1. It is best used when you’re looking for something specific, like a 2-drop, an Eaglehorn Bow, or the second half of your combo. Playing it when you don’t know what you’re looking for leads to feel-bad moments like having to pick between Buzzard, Unleash, and Hunter’s Mark. Which part of the combo are you going to draw later? Will you need to kill a big minion? Avoid FBT (Feel Bad Trackings) by going in with a plan.
Where does that leave us going forward? Deadguy / Aggro Hunter will be a deck to pull out when Zoo isn’t overwhelmingly popular. When the ladder becomes infested with Midrange Hunters, Shamans, and Miracle Rogues, the man with the dead-ly plan will be there to take them to the morgue. And you’ll have a blast while doing it!
Since mulliganning with an aggro deck mostly happens in a vacuum (you want to execute your own plan and make the opponent react to YOU), I’m not going to give a full mulligan guide for each matchup. Instead I’ll highlight which cards you want to keep BESIDES the standard curve. Having a proactive hand is almost always going to be better than any cards that are good against a particular opponent.
In all matchups you want to start with a 1-drop 2-drop curve. Undertaker is the ideal turn 1, but Leper Gnome is acceptable (obviously keep both with the coin). If you have a bunch of 3 drops in your hand, mulligan all of them in search of turn 1 action. If you have the dream curve, Eaglehorn Bow followed by Animal Companion are the best cards to round out the hand.
Good Cards: Unleash the Hounds
I talked a bit about Zoo in the previous section, so I’ll keep it brief. They have better board control than you, so err on the side of going for face. You’ll need to steal the game with direct damage most games. If you start with Undertaker into 2-drop and have Bow, you can control the board long enough for the Undertaker to take over the game (see what I did there?), and sometimes a juicy Explosive Trap wipes his board, but generally it’s going to be a Kill Command face type of finish.
Unleash does work cleaning up the Zoo board or just doing 4+ damage to face and making them waste attacks, and should be found ASAP. Sometimes you can’t even afford to wait until turn 5 to deploy it with Buzzard because you’re getting beat down too fast.
Good Cards: Hunter's Mark, Freezing Trap, but mulligan them in the dark against Warlock because they’re probably Zoo
Nothing complicated here, just hitting your opponent in the face. Save Kill Commands and Tracking for them to kill your opponent through taunts, and try to avoid putting them to a life total where they can drop Molten Giant + Sunfury Protector the turn before you kill them.
If they do get up the great wall of taunt you can usually Steady Shot and Hunter’s Mark your way to victory anyways. Mountain Giant is way too slow, so if they’re on that plan this is a free win.
Good Cards: Flare, Explosive Trap
The scourge of the current ladder. Flare is in the deck because of Hunter’s popularity, so keep it in your opener regardless of what else you have - it’s such a ridiculous blowout. On that front, never play out more than one trap yourself (or play one from your hand when you have a Mad Scientist on the board) to avoid getting wrecked yourself.
You’re faster than them, so push that advantage by only trading to reduce the damage you’ll take from Unleash the Hounds. The turn before they’ll have access to 5 mana is when you want to trade down to 2 minions on board. The only taunt in their deck is 2 copies of Houndmaster, so Eaglehorn Bow will deal a LOT of damage to them.
This is another matchup where I’d recommend ignoring their big minions (Savannah Highmane, Loatheb, Oasis Snapjaw) and Kill Commanding their face. There’s very little you can do to blunt their assault, either, so you want to turn the game into a race that you’re much more equipped to win.
Good Cards: Freezing Trap, Hunter's Mark
It’s nice to have the above cards to deal with a fat minion they innervate out, and also to save them late game in case they play Ancient of War or other such shenanigans. You come out so fast that big taunts early and often are their only way to deal with you, so ignore other stuff and hit them in the face. You want to be hero powering whenever possible so that you can still close the game if they put up big taunts you can’t immediately deal with.
Good Cards: nothing in particular
Rush them down, plain and simple. If you draw a trap save it for the turn before Leeroy would be lethal, as either one prevents you from dying. Kill Gadgetzan Auctioneer if you don’t have lethal that turn or the next. Their only lifegain to mess up your math is Earthen Ring Farseer, and if they Shadowstep it to gain more they can’t kill you with Leeroy fast enough.
Control Warrior, Priest, Paladin
Good Cards: Eaglehorn Bow, Savannah Highmane
These are all slow decks with lots of life gain. Warrior and Priest in particular can offset your hero power with their own, prolonging the game indefinitely in the absence of other pressure. Hero Power whenever you can after the first couple turns, even over playing other cards as long as you use all of your mana, as you need more damage than just your cards can output.
Highmane is fantastic here, but don’t keep it in your opener as you need a strong start. It would take a pretty special circumstance to discard it from a Tracking, however. Save Hunter's Marks for big taunters later in the game against Paladin especially, but anyone could have a Sludge Belcherthese days.
Good Cards: Unleash the Hounds
Shaman has been almost completely pushed out of the metagame by Hunter, but if you have the good fortune to be matched up against one, cast Starving buzzard followed by Unleash the Hounds. Seriously, that’s it. Play your normal game while looking a little harder than normal for the combo. They have no lifegain, no huge taunts, and no hope of winning the long game against Steady Shot.
Deadguy Hunter is an extremely fun and very strong deck, and you won’t regret giving it a try. Hunter has a lot of room to adapt to the metagame since it has so much card draw, so you’ll never feel obsolete.
“Nice topdeck scrub.” “Nice rush deck noob.” – Salty players who added me as a friend after particularly brutal thumpings. I had Tracking in hand the whole time. ;)
Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions in the comments, and all comments are appreciated. Thanks for reading!
Until next time,