Hello everyone, I’m Spark and today I’m presenting to you a deck that has seen a huge increase in popularity recently: Mid Range Hunter Deck.
I have personally experienced a lot with Hunter since it is my favorite class and especially under the mid range archetype because it fits my playstyle and it is more enjoyable to play than rushdown decks in my opinion.
I recently hit Legend and made 3rd place in a ManaGrind tournament using a Modern Hunter build, as I like to call it, and the one that I’m spotlighting here is the Kolento/Lifecoach variant, with which Koltento used to hit Legend #1.
The deck aims to control the board throughout the game and outlast the opponent on card advantage to finish him with huge threats, using pretty much all the beasts synergies that Hunter has at his disposal.
The deck basically revolves around the standard Hunter combo: Starving Buzzard into Unleash the Hounds. Since the rework, this gives you an insane draw power for a really cheap mana cost while allowing you for devastating board clears.
To back it up, you’re also working with some cards that give even more power to this combo :
• The Timber Wolf will basically power up your combo, allowing you to clear minions with 2 health and even bringing some more damage to the hounds that will go to the face. It can also help with the one damage you’re missing on a beast to make a good trade.
• The Scavenging Hyena will benefits immensely from all your hounds trading to become a huge threat for your opponent and often baiting some hard removals for your later threats. Don’t be afraid to play it on an empty board on turn 2 as your opponent will have to deal with it anyway and if he doesn’t, you will have tools to trigger it and get it bigger.
• The Hunters Mark will allow you to get rid of huge threat (often a taunt minion) with just a small hound. The card disadvantage created by having Hunter’s Mark in your deck is pretty much non existent since you are drawing a lot of cards out of your combo anyway.
• The Stonetusk Boar is here as a mini-UTH, cycling with the Starving Buzzard, trading the minion that suffers from Hunter’s Mark while powering up your Scavenging Hyena. It is also nice to have it in order to deal with an enemy’s threat in a situation where using Unleash the Hounds does not provide you with enough value to justify its use (for example, not many minions on enemy board). Lastly, It can be used on turn 5 with Houndmaster to suddenly get a board that your opponent will have to answer.
Beasts and basic minions
Besides those amazing combos, you will have to throw in some minions to maintain board presence and win the game, and as you are a Hunter, those minions will be beasts.
• The River Crocolisk is your basic drop 2 and gives you an early board presence to deal with your enemy’s plays. It also helps giving another target to Houndmaster to basically become a Chillwind Yeti with taunt and can also trade with a 3/2 body while powering up your Scavenging Hyena. The 3 toughness of this creature will also help it dealing with the small stuff that swarm decks run.
• The Ironbeak Owl is your basic silence that comes with a beast. It will help you dealing with that mid game Cairne Bloodhoof or that final taunt for the finishing blow.
• The Animal Companion is just an amazing card overall, every possible Companion can be good for this deck and I would play with 4 of these in the deck if it was allowed. This card always gives more value than it costs.
• The King Mukla is another amazing 3 drop for its cost. It can be devastating on an empty board and can pretty much win the game on his own, especially against classes that can’t deal with it cleanly in the early stage of the game such as Druid. You’re generally looking for turn 2 coin into King Mukla or throwing him on turn 3 followed up with Houndmaster the next turn. Be careful against classes that can deal with it easily, especially Hunter with Kill Command and Deadly Shot, as it can be really punishing.
• The Houndmaster, while not being a beast itself, is kind of the Defender of Argus for Hunter. It helps your beasts trading, force your opponent to kill your beasts and also comes with a decent body that will have to be dealt with.
• The Stampeding Kodo helps you dealing with the smaller minions, such as Defender of Argus, Sunfury Protector and Harvest Golem, and not wasting your removals. It also comes with a great body that will make efficient trades or give an awesome target to Houndmaster.
• The Savannah Highmane is your main threat. This card is just awesome and is pretty much the reason why I wanted to play Mid Range Hunter in the first place. It is basically a Legendary that is not limited to 1 copy. This lion king is the Cairne Bloodhoof of Hunter and will give nightmare to control decks as it is pretty tough to deal with it. Be aware of enemy’s Hex or Polymorph before playing it as it is the best answer to it. You will rarely look to Houndmaster it as it makes it vulnerable to both The Black Knight and Big Game Hunter, even though sometimes it will be the right move. Remember that you can trade with it into a big taunt and activate the Starving Buzzard effect by triggering the deathrattle.
Others Basic Spells
• The Tracking and Flare will allow you to get your key cards in hand while curving out your turns with that one mana remaining. Even if the downside of Tracking can seem rough, I can’t insist enough on how strong it is to choose the card that you will draw, you will basically use it to dig for the card you’re missing in order to answer to your opponent’s play. On the other hand, Flare will do an amazing job in a Hunter mirror match up obviously and will be your prefered turn 1 play in other match ups.
• The Kill Command is your versatile damage tool, you will either use it to finish the opponent or to control one of his resilient minion just like an Eviscerate would do but with a somewhat different pre-condition and one more damage.
• The Deadly Shot will help you against decks that play around Unleash the Hounds by throwing down big minions one by one. You’re looking to kill huge minions with it like Ragnaros the Firelord, Mountain Giant and so on. Your opponent will often get frustrated after you only spent 3 mana to remove a high cost minion..
General Strategy – Mulligan Choices
The overall goal of this deck is to control the board constantly while applying some form of pressure. If you can manage to get to the late game, your hero power will be really threatening as it deals a more important percentage of the enemy’s remaining life and your big threats will finish the game easily. Always think about board control before hitting the face.
The deck is not an auto-pilot, you really need to think about your plays to make it rewarding. You especially want to take the most out of your Starving Buzzard so it can die peacefully after drawing you some cards.
Concerning your mulligan choices, you often want to keep one card draw mechanic, either Tracking or Flare, in your hand for turn one (unless versus hunter where you have to keep that Flare for later into the game), a potential drop 2 or 3 with River Crocolisk, Animal Companion and King Mukla or sometimes Scavenging Hyena, and finally your beloved Unleash the Hounds because that’s what Hunter does.
You’re also looking to keep a Stonetusk Boar against aggressive decks because they often run some 1 health minions, it can as well deal with a Knife Juggler when combined with Timber Wolf.
Against slower match ups, like Druid, you also want to keep your Deadly Shot in case they innervate out a big threat early on.
Match Ups – Strengths and Weaknesses
The deck is more focused toward slower match ups, so it will generally deal well with control and have some issues against aggro.
Druid Mid Range / Ramp : 65/35
This match up is in your favor as long as they don’t make a huge tempo play that you can’t answer, that’s mainly the reason why you want to keep Deadly Shot in your starting hand.
However, an updated version of the Ramp may prove too much with over load of taunt minions.
King Mukla is huge in this match up as they can’t really deal with it early on and this tempo play will keep them busy for all the early game.
Keep those Hunter’s Mark for their big taunts and you’ll do pretty fine.
Surprisingly, Token Druid is a bit harder for you, even with those Unleash the Hounds, as they have huge burst potential and some of their minions are just painful to deal with. You still have the edge but don’t waste your key cards.
Control Warrior : 55/45
Savannah Highmane is so huge in this match up that you are looking to keep it in your starting hand. Play it slowly, bait their removals on secondary threats and keep your Deadly Shot for their win conditions.
Kill Command those Frothing Berserker and Baron Geddon if needed and try to make a good value out of the Stampeding Kodo on an Armorsmith or an Acolyte of Pain.
Unleash the Hounds won’t do a fantastic job here so you don’t want it in your starting hand.
Shaman Mid Range : 55/45
This match up is a bit closer than you would do with a rushdown Hunter because Hex is pretty much the dream counter to Savannah Highmane, Earth Shock is another Shaman tool that will annoy you in that concern, try to bait out those removals with Scavenging Hyena.
Your lack of traps and Eaglehorn Bow will also make you more vulnerable to Feral Spirit plays. In the end, Unleash the Hounds will often be needed to secure the victory. Fortunately we have some good draw power to dig for it.
On a side note, we have all the tools needed to deal with their big threats and our hero power will slowly become a pain for them, so as long as the game goes on, you’re closer to victory since Shaman has no heal.
Rogue Tempo : 55/45
Unleash the Hounds will have a main role in this match up as they will try to get board control with some greater tools than yours.
Fortunately, you will often outlast them on card draws thanks to the Starving Buzzard and they’ll end up with no answer to your final threats.
They will often kill your small minions with their hero power so take benefit of it and make heavy use of your hero power to threaten their life total.
Handlock : 50/50
This match up is more dependant on how they can set up their board or not. You’re looking to Deadly Shot an early Mountain Giant. Threaten their life total so they can’t make optimized plays and keep your Unleash the Hounds along with Hunter’s Mark for the moment when they play big minions and taunt them up.
I would generally give the edge to Hunter but sometimes they just draw all their giants plus Twilight Drake and it’s pretty hard to deal with it.
Mirror Hunter : 50/50
This match up is obviously a coin toss. You’re looking to put your drop 1 creatures on turn 1 to counter their potential Leper Gnome. Flare is an awesome card to have as many hunters play with some secrets and it will save you numerous times.
This match up is all about aggression because of the nature of Hunter’s hero power, so threaten their life total and don’t give them a good Unleash the Hounds (you shouldn’t have more than 2 minions on the board). The Scavenging Hyena can be game changing if one of the players can’t deal with the opponent’s one.
King Mukla will be a risky play in this match up since they can either Kill Command / Deadly Shot to kill it or Freezing Trap / Misdirection for the tempo play, so I don’t recommend keeping it in your starting hand as it can be really punishing and sounds like a cheesy play in this match up.
Miracle Rogue : 45/55
This match up is pretty rough considering they will basically Sap your Savannah Highmane or taunt minions.
Keep the Deadly Shot for a stealth Gadgetzan Auctioneer and try to pressure their life as much as you can while keeping yours high. Unleash the Hounds won’t help you that much so you’re looking for your basic minions and Kill Command to the face in order to win.
Be careful about playing King Mukla as it will give them free spells to trigger their Gadgetzan Auctioneer plus they will likely Sap it.
Warlock Zoo / Murlocs : 40/60
Since we are not running Explosive Trap, this one only depends on your ability to draw Unleash the Hounds or not. Off course you’ll have to make a good use of it to clean their board while taking back board presence.
Before the combo you need to keep them busy with some River Crocolisk, Animal Companion, Scavenging Hyena and Stonetusk Boar. If you can stabilize your board presence and finally put a taunt in here, you’ll win for sure.
Also keep your Hunter’s Mark for Doomguard unless it’s really necessary in a more dire situation.
Budget Replacements – Card Considerations
King Mukla, while being a really nice addition to the deck, is not mandatory at all to make the deck work. You can replace him with an Eaglehorn Bow, another Deadly Shot or Stampeding Kodo or even a Stranglethorn Tiger depending on what you feel about the metagame.
The Leeroy Jenkins is a great win condition for the deck because of its obvious synergy with Unleash the Hounds. The deck is pretty consistent without him but you can try and give him a spot like I personally do, it will certainly win you some games out of nowhere.
The Knife Juggler has awesome synergies with the deck, I experienced a lot to find a slot for him but unfortunately there isn’t much room to work with. I think that it is still a strong choice if you feel like it and I would probably switch it with River Crocolisk.
If you do so, you may also want to try out Snake Trap, I used to play with one and sometimes it was amazing. However, sometimes it was less useful so the inconsistency in it doesn’t really allow for a spot in the deck.
Eaglehorn Bow with a mix of Explosive Trap and Freezing Trap is a variant that is also seeing a lot of play (like I personally do) instead of River Crocolisk and Stampeding Kodo. It increases your win rate slightly against your bad match ups but it is kind of neutral against your winning match ups.
So I guess you can give it a try and see what best fits your playstyle.
I’m really pleased that Mid Range Hunter is finally seeing some play as I have been working on it since a long time ago and I feel like rushdown and cycle Hunters were kind of boring, both to play with and against.
This deck will certainly help you get to Legend and more importantly, it will bring in some more fun if you like the playstyle as I do.
I especially recommend using it when you face a lot of slower decks (Control and some Mid Range) because it is where it shines the most.
I hope you enjoyed the guide and that it will help you understand the mechanics of this new archetype.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check my general thread about my decks (where you can find full write ups on various decks that I used to hit Legend this season) through the following link here.
Feel free to give your feedback or ask any questions that you may have in the comment section.