Guide: Legend Midrange Hunter
Today we feature an article from thedrkkn1ght, who will talk about his Midrange Hunter deck that brought him to Legend - just in time to share it with the Hearthstone Community, amidst all the Hunter crazy this week!
At first glance you might think this is another boring Hunter deck that rushes face every turn and tries to end the game in a mindless barrage of minions and arrows. The common complaint of Aggro Hunter decks is that they take no skill, have little variability and aren’t fun to play.
However, this deck is actually far from it and much more rewarding. This is a midrange Hunter deck which means that you won’t be trying to end the game as quickly as possible by throwing everything at your opponent’s hero. The fun part of this deck is that it’s not that straightforward to play and there are many combinations of cards that you can play in every scenario.
In addition, this deck fares pretty well against many matchups in the current meta and has a limited number of poor matchups. I have tested this deck in test season four from rank 3 to legendary and it was quite successful. Another benefit of this deck is that it is rather cheap to craft which is good for people who have limited dust but want to rank up.
There is only one legendary card in the deck and no epics.
This card was included due to the popularity of Hunter decks in the current meta. A well timed Flarecan often win you the game in a matchup against another Hunter deck. The card replaces a second copy of Trackingwhich often isn’t much of a loss. Both cards are effective at making the deck smaller and granting a higher chance of obtaining the cards that you really need.
The downside is that Tracking removes three cards while Flare only removes one. However, there are times in a match where Tracking forces you to throw out two cards that you actually wanted or might need later.
Faerie Dragon has decent base stats for a 2 drop at 3/2. This card is used as an early game drop to either counter the aggression of Aggro decks or provide some early game damage against control decks.
Sometimes this minion can generate surprising amounts of damage as many control decks don’t have many creatures early and rely mainly on removal spells.
Ironbeak Owl is generally used as silence to allow you to bypass your opponent’s big taunts late into the game. It can also be used against high priority threats such as Ysera, Cairne Bloodhoof, or Twilight Drakeif needed however; there is only one silence in the deck so use it wisely.
The card is also a beast so it doubles as a cheap late game beast drop to combo with Kill Commandto provide a lethal direct damage burst.
This card is extremely good at allowing you to gain control of the board during the middle part of the game which is what you are trying to do in this mid-ranged deck. Sending an opponent’s card back to his or hand and making it cost two more is really effective at throwing off your opponents tempo.
Although it is not the most effective against Aggro decks it really shines against other midrange or control decks. These decks typically play one or two high cost creatures and sending one of those back effectively means they wasted a full turn worth of mana which can be completely devastating.
If you are lucky enough, sending a 9+ mana cost minion back to your opponent’s hand makes that minion unplayable as it now costs 11+ mana.
This card is great against mid-range and control decks as they often only play one or two big minions. It is one of the best removal cards in the game as it can destroy any minion for only 3 mana.
The downside of it is that it randomly destroys an enemy minion so you can’t choose the target unless if you opponent has only one minion on the field. You want to find methods of removing the other minions your opponent has before using Deadly Shot to increase the chances of it killing the intended minion.
This little guy often ends up being a removal magnet and rightly so. If left unchecked he can generate a ton of extra damage over time. The best use of him is in a combo with Unleash the Hounds which is devastating against Aggro decks.
Although he is not as effective against midrange and control decks, he is still a solid 2 drop minion for some early game damage and can often bait out a removal spell.
Houndmaster is an extremely underrated card. There isn’t much talk about this card however it grants a beast a permanent +2/+2 , taunt, and is a 4/3 body for 4 mana. Let’s compare this to another similar 4 drop, Dark Iron Dwarf. Dark Iron Dwarf is slightly beefier at 4/4 but provides +2 /+0 to any other minion for only that turn. Dark Iron Dwarf used to provide a permanent +2/+0 buff but that was deemed to be too strong and was subsequently nerfed.
The only downside to Houndmaster is that it can only buff beasts but this deck is chockfull of beasts so that isn’t a problem.
This is a nice beefy beast to buff with Houndmaster. It works quite nicely to turn the tempo against Aggro decks and works decently against control decks. It combos very nicely with Deadly Shot as many control decks like to play a big minion and give it taunt with Defender of Argusor Sunfury Protector.
The Stampeding Kodo can remove the Defender of Argus or Sunfury Protector, guaranteeing the removal of the bigger minion with Deadly Shot.
This is a good midrange beast card at 5/5 stealth for 5 mana. Stealth is quite under appreciated and is quite useful as it almost always guaranteed that Stranglethorn Tiger will be able to live for one turn and be able to deal its damage.
Most decks don’t have ways to kill the Stranglethorn Tiger while its stealthed and don’t have enough taunts to prevent it from dealing damage to your opponent’s hero as you have many removals. This also means that is able to live a turn to synergize with other beast oriented cards in the deck such as Houndmaster or Kill Command to provide even more damage.
This is the biggest beast in the deck and is quite difficult to deal with without a Hex or Polymorph. The biggest problem is that the card generates tremendous value with its deathrattle and synergizes well with many other cards in the deck.
The deathrattle can be combined with either Knife Juggleror Starving Buzzardto create extra damage or card draw. In addition, the beasts can be buffed with Houndmaster to make them more intimidating.
Core Hunter Cards
• Explosive Trap
• Starving Buzzard
• Unleash the Hounds
• Animal Companion
• Eaglehorn Bow
• Kill Command
These are all solid Hunter class cards which belong in almost every Hunter deck. Tracking allows you to get just the cards you need and allows you to weed out the cards that you don’t particularly need for the current matchup.
Explosive Trap is extremely useful at clearing the board against Aggro decks. It is another secret to grant durability for your Eaglehorn Bow and it is a method to deal damage to your opponent’s hero directly which sometimes is just enough for you to deal the killing blow in the subsequent turn with Steady Shot or Kill Command.
I think everyone understands how powerful Starving Buzzard + Unleash the Hounds is. Many argue that the combo is even overpowered.
Animal Companion provides one of three beasts which are all pretty solid 3 mana cost minions. One thing to note though is that Animal Companion is a spell so it doesn’t trigger some secrets that are activated when a minion is played (Repentance, Mirror Entity, Snipe).
Eaglehorn Bow is a very mana efficient weapon as it gains extra durability when secrets are activated and you are running four secrets in this deck. Remember it gains durability from your opponent’s secrets as well.
Kill Command is a good removal card or a direct damage finisher. Against Aggro decks Kill Command can remove high priority targets while against control decks a beast + 2x Kill Command + Steady Shot can provide lethal damage despite your opponent having a field full of taunts.
There aren’t many replacements that could be made without compromising the deck as it doesn’t use many legendary cards and is quite cheap already. Leeroy Jenkinscould be substituted out with either an Argent Commanderor a second Ironbeak Owl. The Ironbeak Owl would be preferred if you are facing many taunts in the current ladder.
Common Hunter cards that have been omitted from this deck are Hunter's Mark, Timber Wolf, and Misdirection. Hunter’s Mark is used to remove high valued targets cheaply but that is done more efficiently with a single card, Deadly Shot. Hunter’s Mark requires the use of a second card to finish the reduced health minion.
Timber Wolf has been removed because in this deck Unleash the Hounds is paired with Knife Juggler for extra damage against Aggro decks or Starving Buzzard for card draw against control decks. Most of the time Unleash the Hounds is not used as a finisher so, the extra damage from Timber Wolf is not needed.
Misdirection is not very good in this deck because it just provides extra damage and usually does not result in board control which is the objective of this deck. Since your deck tries to have a few minions on the board at all times Misdirection could also be completely useless as it may redirect your opponent’s damage into your minion.
The general play style of the deck would be to try to take control of the board in the middle part of the game with traps and an Unleash the Hounds combo. Followed by, flooding the board with the larger beasts in the deck.
As with other Hunter decks this deck is able to deal a significant amount of damage in one turn which means that your opponent is in the danger zone once his health drops low. This is especially effective combined with the Hunter hero ability Steady Shot which allows you to keep your opponents health trickling down every turn until you have lethal.
Playing Against Control
This deck generally fares quite well against control decks as your hero ability tends to shorten the length of the game. Freezing Trap and Deadly Shot are extremely effective at removing big bulky minions for little mana, granting you a massive swing in tempo.
As with most Hunter decks, this deck has many ways of dealing a massive burst of damage in one turn which can end the game early on control decks before they can pump out a train of legendary cards.
Steady Shot and Kill Command are extremely effective as a finisher if your opponent begins to play too many minions with taunt. In these match ups you want to mulligan for Faerie Dragon, Knife Juggler, Animal Companion, Eaglehorn Bow, Freezing Trap, and Deadly Shot.
Playing Against Aggro
Aggro match ups tend to be some of the roughest match ups for this deck. Aggro decks that can deal significant damage while using only one or two minions are especially difficult to deal with as you don’t get much value from your Unleash the Hounds combo.
If you are able to play a combo with Unleash the Hounds, Knife Juggler is usually the better option as you want to be able to completely clear your opponent’s board to minimize the amount of damage you will take before you can place down a taunt from either Animal Companion or Houndmaster.
Extra card draw is not as useful because in most scenarios you run out of health before you run out of cards to play. Against Aggro decks you generally want to mulligan for two and three drop minions, Unleash the Hounds, Traps, and Eaglehorn Bow.
Warlock is generally a pretty easy matchup for Hunter decks as the combination of the two hero abilities result in a net loss of 4 health for your opponent each turn. You also have many answers for early Twilight Drakeor Mountain Giantwith Deadly Shot and Freezing Trap.
If you can’t remove these minions you may want to set up your own taunts and try to race your opponent down with Steady Shot. You should be able to lower his health enough with your early game creatures and Steady Shot to set up for a finisher before he can heal back with Alexstraszaor Lord Jaraxxus.
Ironbeak Owl should be saved for giants with taunt or for extra value, a Twilight Drake with taunt. Try to save Kill Command as a late game finisher after your opponent lays down a wall of Molten Giants with taunt.
I have had great success playing this deck against Warrior Control decks. I have around a 70-80% win rate against them. However, you need to play this matchup very carefully. The way to win this matchup is to minimize how much your opponent receives from Armorsmithand Acolyte of Pain.
If you can prevent him or her from receiving a tremendous amount of armor and card draw, you win the game. You should be able to do deal some damage early and seal the game with your mid game beasts.
I find Stranglethorn Tigerto be very effective in this situation as it can always deal its damage which sometimes lowers your opponent’s armor to a point that your minions are safe from Shield Slam.
Watch out for Brawl, if your opponent has not used it yet Savannah Highmaneis a good minion to field as it’s deathrattle means you will at least be left with a few minions.
This matchup can be rather easy if your opponent Innervatean early Chillwind Yetior Druid of the Clawas you can easily negate it with a Freezing Trap or Deadly Shot. The matchup is more difficult when your opponent plays a slower game and is able to deploy a series of midrange taunt minions.
Be careful using Houndmaster because Druid decks typically run The Black Knightand Big Game Hunter. You don’t want to buff one of your beasts to be easily removed the following turn.
Mage decks are quite weak in the current meta. Your hero ability out damages theirs and you have stronger minions throughout the game. Your secrets and Deadly Shot should be able to allow you to take control of the board in the middle of the game.
Most of your higher cost beasts sit at 5 health so they are somewhat safe from Flamestrike. One thing to watch out for is Polymorphon your Savannah Highmane, so often Stranglethorn Tiger is a better choice in this matchup as it is guaranteed to deal its damage.
This is a pretty easy matchup as Shaman decks are pretty bad against Hunter decks. Shaman decks typically lack taunts, healing, and thrive on summoning a large army of totems. The totems will let you hit your opponent with a huge Unleash the Hounds combo and if things get too out of hand an explosive trap can eliminate all the totems with ease.
Later in the game, due to the lack of taunts Shamans will have trouble preventing you from dealing direct damage to with your Stranglethorn Tiger.
Like the Mage matchup, watch out for Hexon your Savannah Highmane.
Priest decks typically don’t have enough early game creatures to go toe to toe with you. Priest decks generally rely on buffing one or two minions which your Freezing Trap and Deadly Shot can deal with relatively easily.
Priest decks also typically rely on stealing cards from their opponent which is mediocre against you because some of your cards require beasts to synergize with them in order to be most effective.
Watch out for board wipes such as + Circle of Healingand Holy Nova.
If you get a bad hand the matchup is still pretty tough. However, you have certain cards that are very strong in the matchup.
Our Explosive Trapis quite effective here and can often be used to remove several minions at the cost of a single card. The best combo is probably Knife Juggler + Unleash the Hounds. This combo should allow you to clear your opponent’s board completely and let you take control of the board in the following turn with your bigger beasts.
As the game progresses your opponent will be forced to use his or her hero ability to draw extra cards to deal with your bigger beasts which will lower his or health. This can be combined with your hero ability to end the game rather quickly.
This is one of the hardest match ups you will face. The Aggro Hunter can deal significant damage to you without playing many minions so you can’t get too much out of your Unleash the Hounds. You also lack the early game minions to deal with your opponents early game threats.
Knife Juggler + Unleash the Hounds is risky here as even if you wipe your opponent’s board you are susceptible to a counter Unleash the Hounds play from your opponent.
This matchup can be won if you are able to play one or two big taunts before your health gets too low and a Flare to clear the way for a huge burst of damage. Basically this is going to be a rush fest and both players are going to try to set up for some type of one turn kill burst finisher.
Aggro Warrior/Aggro Paladin
Both of these match ups are quite difficult for your deck as they are Aggro decks that try to go for your face and are able to do so without swarming the field with minions.
As said previously, your deck has trouble against Aggro decks due to the lack of early game creatures and taunts. You need to minimize the damage you take by using traps, and Unleash the Hounds + Knife Juggler until you can set up your taunts.
In the later stages of the game it is advisable to place a trap even when your opponent has no minions on the field to prevent a Leeroy Jenkins finisher.
I hope you have enjoyed this guide and decide to try this extremely fun and powerful way to play the Hunter class. This is especially a good deck to play when you face a lot of slow control type decks. I look forward to playing this deck quite a lot in Season 1 as it is quite effective at laddering in the current meta.
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