This is the Midrange Hunter deck that I used to get to Legend in the May 2015 season, again peaking at rank 25 Legend. It is a deck that looks similar to the one that I used in March 2015, except that it incorporates [card]Quick Shot[/card] from Blackrock Mountain and makes some changes to adapt to the new meta.
After the release of Blackrock Mountain, ErA made a significant innovation to the Midrange Hunter deck by substituting the [card]Sludge Belcher[/card]s to Quick Shots. This gave the deck more burst potential, which means that it can transition from board control to hitting face more quickly.
To harness the potential of Quick Shot, the following changes have been made to the Midrange Hunter deck that I used in March 2015 (link here):
- +1 [card]Quick Shot[/card]—More burst potential and board removal against key 3 hp minions on turn 2 (eg. [card]Mech Warper[/card]). It also serves as a potential card draw.
- +1 [card]Explosive Trap[/card]—To counter the influx of Zoolock/DemonZoo decks.
- +1 [card]Webspinner[/card]—More beast synergies and card draw.
- -1 [card]Sludge Belcher[/card]—While ErA does not run any Sludge Belchers, having one is a good compromise between board control and additional burst.
- -1 [card]Abusive Sergeant[/card]—Quick Shot adds more value than Abusive Sergeant as it is more flexible (3 unconditional damage over a Taunt that can also provide card draw).
- -1 [card]Defender of Argus[/card]—Not needed due to the decline of Face Hunters while I was climbing the ladder.
As a result, this deck maintains its roots as a more control-oriented deck, while adding in some burst and the occasional card draw from Quick Shot. It is also teched against Zoolock with the [card]Explosive Trap[/card].
The goal of a Midrange Hunter deck is to control the board early and mid game through your sticky minions, [card]Eaglehorn Bow [/card] and traps. As the goal is to control the board, you will not be hitting face as much as a Face Hunter would be. However, it is appropriate to attack face and ignore the board if:
- Your opponent is going to trade with your minion regardless
- Your opponent has no reasonable way of punishing your board or trading up
- It is mid game, and you have a decent amount of damage on the board
- You have drawn 1 or 2 Kill Commands or Eaglehorn Bow and you can setup lethal
- If the opponent’s board does not threaten you
- You play Savannah Highmane while controlling the board.
The key to winning with this deck is correctly timing the transition from controlling the board to hitting face. Most games will have the following pattern:
- The beginning and middle of the game will consist of you controlling or fighting for control of the board. In deciding what to play, ultimately you are deciding on how to create the most optimal board position while getting maximum value from your cards.
- If you can control the board by mid-game, your chances of winning are very high. However, if you start losing control of the board at this stage, you will need to evaluate whether to commit resources to fight for the board or just try to attack face for the win. This decision is complicated, as it depends on what class you are playing against, the cards that you have currently used and what you can still draw into.
The general rule of thumb is that decks that are slower than yours will beat you if the game drags out longer, meaning that you should focus on finishing the game as soon as possible. Whereas decks that are faster than yours will generally run out of steam the longer the game, so controlling the board after the mid game may be the optimal decision.
[cardinsert card=”hunters-mark” float=”right”]
[toc]Key Card Analysis[/toc]
[card]hunters-mark[/card]: This card is particularly important in some of the new matchups in the meta. For example, many decks nowadays can pump out a large minion very early on, such as [card]Jaraxxus[/card], [card]Malganis[/card], [card]Mountain Giant[/card] or any minions that have been buffed by [card]velens-chosen[/card]. Hence, Hunter’s Mark allows you to negate these large tempo swings from your opponent, as you can simply remove it with Hunter’s Mark in combination with either your board, [card]Eaglehorn Bow[/card], [card]Unleash the Hounds[/card] or dagger hit from [card]Knife Juggler[/card].
It is sometimes appropriate to use this card to take out early threats in match-ups where having early board control and minimising damage to the face is essential to winning (e.g. Face Hunter match-up).
[card]webspinner[/card]: Webspinner is mainly used to provide card draw that smooths out your curve. While the randomness of the card can be problematic, it can also potentially give you game-winning cards as well.
When going first, it serves as a 1 drop that counters other 1 hp minions. It also synergises well with Houndmaster for a potential turn 5 play as well as Kill Command when you are going for lethal.
[card]knife-juggler[/card]: Knife Juggler serves as a good turn 2 drop to counter minions that have 3 hp, such as [card]Northshire Cleric[/card] and [card]Zombie Chow[/card]. However, its special ability can be harnessed for greater value if combined with [card]Unleash the Hounds[/card] and [card]Haunted Creeper[/card].
If you have a Mad Scientist in the hand as well, it is more often correct to play Mad Scientist on turn 2 unless facing down minions with 3 hp.
[cardinsert card=”freezing-trap” float=”right”]
[card]freezing-trap[/card]: While the original deck only ran Freezing Traps to ensure consistency off Mad Scientist, Explosive Trap has been included to counter the influx of Zoolocks. This means that Mad Scientist has a two in three chance of triggering Freezing Traps. Hence, it is important to plan ahead when triggering the Deathrattle from Mad Scientist to ensure that you prepare for all situations that could occur.
In most match-ups, try to get the maximum value out of your Freezing Traps by ensuring that it triggers on a high value target, and particularly on minions that do not have a beneficial Battlecry (e.g. Shield Maiden). However, there are some match-ups (eg. against Face and Midrange Hunter), where it can be used early game to take early board control.
That said, Freezing trap works best against decks with many high mana cost minions. Therefore, if you get a Freezing Trap in your hand (and not triggered from the Mad Scientist), it is usually correct to save your Freezing Trap for the later turns when playing against decks with high mana cost minions, such as Warrior or Druid.
[card]explosive-trap[/card]: As discussed previously, 1 Explosive Trap has been included in the deck to counter the resurgence of Zoolocks. However, Explosive Trap is also incredibly useful in the Face Hunter match-up.
Explosive Trap also serves as a useful bluffing tool to confuse your opponent. For example, most players assume that Explosive Traps are only played by Face Hunters, and hence, will adjust their play accordingly and waste premium removals on small minions (eg. using Sap on a Mad Scientist instead of saving it for Savannah Highmane).
Alternatively, Explosive Trap can also surprise your opponent, as they will be expecting a Freezing Trap. This may force them to make suboptimal plays. For example, in the game prior to reaching Legend this season, I played against a Tempo Mage who assumed that the trap that I played was a Freezing Trap (when it was actually an Explosive Trap), and lost his board as a consequence.
[card]haunted-creeper[/card]: Haunted Creeper is an important tool for controlling the board early, and synergises with Knife Juggler, Hunter’s Mark and Kill Command.
[card]ironbeak-owl[/card]: Silence is becoming increasingly important due to the prevalence of cards like [card]Void Terror[/card], [card]Edwin Vancleef[/card] and [card]Void Caller[/card]. It can also be used to fight for early board control against enemy Mad Scientists and Nerubian Eggs and breaking through Taunts when looking for lethal.
Playing with one Ironbeak Owl and one Hunter’s Mark offers the perfect balance, as sometimes you want to silence a minion while other times it is important to remove it. Only one of each card are included in the deck to minimise the amount of situational cards in your hand.
[cardinsert card=”quick-shot” float=”right”]
[card]Quick Shot[/card]: As discussed, Quick Shot provides additional burst when looking for lethal, as well as valuable board removal against key 3 hp minions on turn 2 (eg. [card]Mech Warper[/card]). It also provides potential card draw when your hand is empty.
[card]unleash-the-hounds[/card]: This is useful to use particularly in Aggro match-ups and classes that can flood the board with cheap minions (e.g. Muster for Battle, Implosion, Violet Teacher tokens). If possible, try to combine this with Knife Juggler to maximise its value.
[card]houndmaster[/card]: With the number of beasts in the deck, the Houndmaster is a natural fit for this deck as the Battlecry is almost always triggered. However, having two would probably result in situations where you cannot trigger the Battlecry. The Taunt provided by the Houndmaster is important against Aggro decks.
Be careful when playing this on a Savannah Highmane due to your opponent having either Black Knight (rare in the meta at the moment) or BGH.
[card]piloted-shredder[/card]: Piloted Shredder is a staple for many decks due to its stickiness and overall stats for 4 mana. The Deathrattle can also synergise with Knife Juggler, meaning that you can play Knife Juggler before trading with Piloted Shredder to generate one dagger hit.
However, in other cases, make sure that you trade with the Piloted Shredder before putting minions down, as you can get bad RNG and lose your board from a [card]Doomsayer[/card] or [card]Explosive Sheep[/card].
[card]loatheb[/card]: Loatheb is a staple part of this deck as it helps protect the board from AOE and provides a strong body that trades well with other minions, particularly against [card]Sludge Belcher[/card].
[card]Sludge Belcher[/card]: Originally, the deck had two Sludge Belchers, which help maintain board control in the midgame. However, this deck only runs one to provide a balance between additional burst (from Quick Shot) and midgame board control (Sludge Belcher).
[card]savannah-highmane[/card]: Savannah Highmane is the key win condition of the deck, as it provides a strong minion that often forces your opponent to commit many resources to remove it.
If left alive, Savannah Highmane will usually swing the game in your favour. As Amaz originally put it, there is the “Savannah Highmane rule”—if you get one face hit with Savannah Highmane, you win the game.
[card]dr-boom[/card]: Dr. Boom (aka Dr. Balanced) is an essential part of this deck. On turn 7, you can pretty much close your eyes and throw this card down and it’ll most likely be the correct play. It provides a huge threat as it creates instant board presence regardless of whether you are behind or ahead on the board, with the added benefit of the boom bots possibly clearing your opponent’s board.
Even if Dr. Boom is BGH’d, the boom bots can still provide board presence, and also can easily kill the BGH and other minions on the board.
[toc]Tech Choices and Alternatives[/toc]
The various tech choices you can make depending on the meta are outlined below.
- In a meta full of aggro decks, swap out one Freezing Trap for another Explosive Trap.
- If you are consistently playing against secrets, substitute a Piloted Shredder for a [card]Kezan Mystic[/card].
- In a more control-orientated meta (with no Zoolocks) where your opponent is less likely to flood the board with small minions, I would substitute the Explosive Trap for [card]Ragnaros the Firelord[/card].
- If you are playing against many Face or Hybrid Hunters, I would substitute 1 Webspinner, 1 Piloted Shredder and 1 Loatheb for 1 Defender of Argus, 1 Kezan Mystic, and 1 Sludge Belcher.
This deck is very affordable to craft, as it only uses one legendary. As Dr. Boom is integral in most decks, I suggest that you craft Dr. Boom if you do not have it.
However, if you really want to play Midrange Hunter without Dr. Boom, I suggest substituting it with [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card], as it helps with board control.
This section will discuss the Midrange Hunter match-ups against other classes. These statistics are from rank 2 to legend rank 25, though many of my games have not been tracked as I played on the mobile.
[cardinsert card=”flametongue-totem” float=”right”]
This is a favourable match-up, though the statistics presented are somewhat inaccurate as I have lost to some Shamans while playing on the mobile.
The general way of playing against Shaman is to keep their board as clear as possible, as they have a variety of ways to trade their hero power totems into your higher value minions using [card]Flametongue Totem[/card]. Shamans will mulligan for early game creatures to counter your board, so the beginning of the game will consist of you fighting for control against Zombie Chows and Haunted Creepers.
Shamans have been given an upgrade in their midgame due to the introduction of [card]Fireguard Destroyer[/card], which provides them with a 6 health minion that is difficult to remove from the board and trades favourably with your minions. This makes the match-up slightly more difficult as it is harder to take board control.
Nonetheless, Unleash the Hounds remains the key card in this match-up due to the Shaman’s ability to flood the board with cheap minions. This is particularly more devastating when combined with Knife Juggler, as it essentially forces your opponent to have a [card]Lightning Storm[/card], otherwise they will most certainly lose the game.
From turn 6 onwards, try to play around Fire Elemental by considering how you do your trades on the board. For example, it may be optimal to kill off your smaller minions to remove your opponent’s board rather than using your 5+ health minions.
Finally, avoid flooding the board with small minions to play around [card]Lightning Storm[/card].
This is a more difficult match-up than the traditional Shaman decklist, as they are capable of outputting a high amount of damage very early in the game, such as [card]Cogmaster[/card], [card]whirling-zapomatic[/card] and [card]Flametongue Totem[/card]. This makes you more vulnerable to a bad start, as it is very difficult to stage a comeback as even if you take board control, they would have done enough damage to your face to set up lethal.
Typically, these Shamans will curve out with [card]Cogmaster[/card], [card]Mech Warper[/card] and [card]Powermace[/card]. On turn 5, they will play [card]Fel Reaver[/card], which effectively puts a countdown timer on how long you will survive.
However, the key to victory against this deck is the same as the traditional Shaman—take control of the board as quickly as possible. Prioritise removing their Mechs like with all Mech decks, as the Mechs can get extra value from Tinkertown Technician and Powermace. Another key point is that many Mech Shamans do not run Lightning Storm, so it is usually safe to flood the board with small minions.
The biggest change with the Warrior match-up is the rise in popularity of Grim Patron Warrior. Fortunately, it is relatively straightforward to determine what deck your Warrior opponent is playing. This is because if you see [card]Loothoarder[/card], [card]Frothing Berserker[/card], [card]Gnomish Inventor[/card], [card]Warsong Commander[/card], [card]Unstable Ghoul[/card] or [card]Battle Rage[/card], your opponent is most likely playing Grim Patron Warrior.
It is important to identify what type of Warrior you are playing against, as it may adjust how you play your cards. These two Warrior decks will be discussed separately below.
[cardinsert card=”savannah-highmane” float=”right”]
Control Warriors are a slightly favourable match-up for Midrange Hunter. Control Warriors have changed slightly from the last Hunter guide that I wrote, as many Control Warrior decks now incorporate Dragons in their deck to attain value from Blackwing Corruptor on turn 5. The Control Warriors have also cut midrange cards such as Piloted Shredder from their decks, as Blackwing Corruptor provides them with the midgame support, while also allowing them to stack more late game minions.
As usual, Control Warrior has strong counters to your early game minions in Fiery War Axe and Death Bite, which allow them to keep the board relatively clear. These are the two main cards that Warriors mulligan for against Hunters, along with Cruel Taskmaster. Hence, it is difficult to take early board control against Warrior; however, if possible, prioritise playing minions with Deathrattles such as Mad Scientist and Piloted Shredder so that you attain some value even when they remove your minions.
However, you should be able to take board control if you can play a [card]Savannah Highmane[/card] on turn 6, as it is a nightmare for Warriors to deal with. This is because their removals are either very good for single targets (i.e. [card]Execute[/card] or [card]Shield Slam[/card]) or many targets (i.e. [card]Brawl[/card]).
Here are some tips for the Control Warrior match-up in general:
- Try to play around Brawl, as Warriors typically run one Brawl in their decks.
- Do not waste your Kill Commands on a Warrior’s face unless you have lethal, as most Warrior decks run Alexstrasza.
- Try not to leave your minions on 2 hp due to Baron Geddon on turn 7 (which is becoming more popular, as Dragon Warriors are cutting Dr. Boom in favour of this to deal with Aggro decks).
- Try to avoid playing Webspinner on turn 1 as Warriors tend to mulligan for Cruel Taskmaster, which gives them an instant tempo swing.
Grim Patron Warrior
This is a very favourable match-up for Midrange Hunter. In Countering the Flavor of the Week #9, Nuba notes that this match-up is so favourable for the Midrange Hunter that it is comparable to the Control Warrior versus Freeze Mage match-up.
While Grim Patron Warriors run the same weapons as Control Warrior, they basically rely on surviving to turn 8 for their Grim Patron and Warsong Commander combo. This means that almost all of the midgame and late game minions are cut to make way for card cycle and combo cards.
As a consequence, it is much easier to get board control against Grim Patron Warriors. Once you attain board control, it is a matter of pressuring their life total and not playing cards that provide fuel for their combo after turn 8 (i.e. avoid playing minions with less than 2 attack after turn 8). The other difference in this match-up is that you should watch over your own life total, as Grim Patron Warriors are capable of generating significant amount of burst in one turn, particularly if [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card] was used previously.
Frothing Berserkers are priority removal targets, as they can get out of hand very quickly. Similarly, Warsong Commanders have to be removed or silenced as soon as possible, as it can be used to setup lethal using Frothing Berserker.
A final word of advice is that if your opponent manages to generate a number of Grim Patrons, forget about controlling the board and commit all your resources to their face. Provided your life total is relatively high, it is possible to win against a board full of Grim Patrons as [card]Unleash the Hounds[/card], [card]Kill Command[/card] and Hero power does 14 damage on its own.
[cardinsert card=”force-of-nature” float=”right”]
Midrange Hunter is favoured versus Combo Druid (the only type of Druid that I encountered this season), though Druids are beginning to counter the rise of Hunter by including Kezan Mystic into their decks.
That said, the key to winning against Druid remains the same: early board presence and pressure. You want to be dictating the terms in this match-up and forcing the Druid to respond to your board. By doing this, the Druid will be using their turns to remove your minions rather than Innervating a high mana minion. Therefore, you are already ahead just by forcing the Druid to respond to your early board.
The other important part of this match-up is playing around the Force of Nature and Savage Roar combo. This combo has become even more potent with the introduction of [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card], as it reduces the mana cost of the combo. This allows for crazy combos such as double Savage Roar combos to be possible for just 9 mana with Emperor Thaurissan’s effect triggering once. It is also important to note that even Ramp Druids are running combo, so you cannot make the assumption that they do not have combo just because you see an Ancient of War.
The implications of the Druid having combo is that you need to keep the Druid board as clear as possible. Even if you have over 20+ life, you should be counting whether they have lethal on you after turn 9 with the combo (or earlier if they have played an Emperor Thaurissan).
Note that you only play around Force of Nature and Savage Roar combo when you are in a stalemate or winning position. If you are in a losing position, you should not play around this combo, as you are effectively stalling the inevitable (I discuss this concept in The Mindset of a Legend Player).
[cardinsert card=”violet-teacher” float=”right”]
Oil Rogues (the only Rogues that I have played against this season) are a slightly unfavourable match-up for Midrange Hunter. This is because Sap counters Savannah Highmane, and Freezing Traps can be cheaply triggered using Southsea Deckhand.
Oil Rogues have an obscene amount of burst in their deck. Therefore, you must prioritise keeping the Rogue’s board clear to prevent a Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil and Blade Flurry combo. The key to winning against Rogue is obtaining board control, and protecting it against Blade Flurry using Deathrattle minions and Loatheb.
Typically, Rogues will mulligan for Backstab, Si:7 Agent and Fan of Knives against Hunters. This means that when you are deciding what to play on your early turns, you should try to create a board that is resilient to these cards, particularly Backstab. This is where your Haunted Creeper comes in, as it is a relatively annoying card for Rogues to deal with early game. Mad Scientists are also sticky in a sense that they leave behind a Freezing or Explosive Trap. In contrast, playing a Knife Juggler on turn 2 usually gives the Rogue immediate tempo and value, as they can use either Backstab or Si:7 Agent to kill it.
It is important to note that turn 4 for the Rogue is significant, as they can play Violet Teacher, usually in conjunction with Preparation and either Sap, Fan of Knives or Eviscerate to remove your board. If the Violet Teacher is not removed, it will gain huge value through its multiple tokens, which further counters the Freezing Traps. Therefore, Violet Teacher is a priority removal, or Loatheb can be used to negate its ability so you can remove it the following turn. If the Violet Teacher gets out of control, your only out is through a big Knife Juggler and Unleash the Hounds turn.
[cardinsert card=”haunted-creeper” float=”right”]
Here’s the breakdown for the 3 Hunter match-ups:
- Midrange Hunter is a coin-toss match-up , depending on skill and who draws the better opening hand
- Face Hunter is an unfavourable match-up, due to its speed and burst damage. Against Face Hunter, Savannah Highmane is often a liability, as it sits idly in the hand until turn 6, and does not have its usual impact on the board due to the threat of lethal.
- the new Hybrid Hunter is an unfavourable match-up, as it is slightly quicker than Midrange Hunter
Over the past few days, there has been an exponential increase in the number of Hybrid Hunters in the meta. These decks run cards from both Face Hunter ([card]Leper Gnome[/card], [card]Arcane Golem[/card]) and Midrange Hunter ([card]Savannah Highmane[/card], [card]Freezing Trap[/card]). This deck plays like a Face Hunter in the early game and relies on confusing the opponent so that they:
- use their removal on small creatures, and thus Savannah Highmane can win the game
- misplay by assuming the wrong Trap.
Regardless of which Hunter match-up it is, the key to winning against all Hunters is early board control. It is incredibly difficult to recover if you do not have board control early, particularly against Face Hunters.
Hence, Mad Scientists are very important in this match-up, as an early Freezing or Explosive Trap will give you a good chance to take board control. Eaglehorn Bow is very useful in this match-up, as it will clear most of their early game minions. Finally, Haunted Creepers combined with Knife Jugglers can also provide good early game swings, particularly against Face Hunter due to their preference for 1 health minions.
The other key factor in Hunter match-ups is correctly playing around their Traps. With Midrange Hunter, the most likely trap is [card]Freezing Trap[/card], with some decks also running either 1 [card]Explosive Trap[/card] or 1 [card]Snake Trap[/card]. With Face Hunter, the most likely trap is [card]Explosive Trap[/card], with some Face Hunters also using 1 [card]Snake Trap[/card]. The Hybrid Hunter runs only Freezing Traps.
Another important point to remember in the Hunter match-up is that you should not be afraid to use your Kill Commands on high value targets to create an advantageous board position. In most other match-ups, you usually save your Kill Commands for lethal.
[cardinsert card=”flamewaker” float=”right”]
Tempo Mage is a favourable match-up for Midrange Hunter. A Tempo Mage’s objective is to control the board early game using [card]Mana Wyrm[/card]s, [card]sorcerers-apprentice[/card]s, Mad Scientists and [card]Unstable Portal[/card]s. In addition, Tempo Mages also play secrets that either add to their board (i.e. Mirror Entity), prevent removal (i.e. [card]Counterspell[/card]) or give them card advantage (i.e. [card]Duplicate[/card]), though most are only running Mirror Entity this season. Their goal is to keep control early game and damage your face enough to set up for lethal if they lose board control.
To beat Tempo Mages, prioritise board control by playing minions with Deathrattle early game (eg. Mad Scientist, Haunted Creeper) to counter their Frostbolt or Flamecannon. The other key to playing against Tempo Mage is not providing them with Secret value. This means that you need to play around Secrets efficiently by testing for Mirror Entity with lower mana minions and triggering Counterspell optimally. The Coin is the best method of removing Counterspell, although some opponents will wisely not play Counterspell until the Coin has been used.
Tempo Mages have the potential for explosive starts through Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Unstable Portals. However, Mad Scientist and Eaglehorn Bow should allow you to take board control before midgame.
[cardinsert card=”emperor-thaurissan” float=”right”]
Freeze Mage is a favourable match-up. It is effectively a race, as a Freeze Mage’s goal is to stall the game until they draw all their burst damage and Alexstrasza. Furthermore, Freeze Mage has been given a major upgrade with the release of Emperor Thaurissan, which increases the burst potential of the deck by allowing for combos that would otherwise require over 10 mana to use.
The key to beating a Freeze Mage is to maximise your damage to their face and either deliver lethal before they can use an [card]Ice Block[/card], or to trigger their Ice Blocks quickly.
Freeze Mages have a variety of options to neutralise your board such as [card]Frost Nova[/card] and [card]Doomsayer[/card] combo, [card]Blizzard[/card], Flamestrike and [card]Cone of Cold[/card]. Unfortunately, you cannot play around AoE too much, as you must pressure their life total. However, prioritise playing sticky minions such as Piloted Shredder to keep board control after an AoE spell. Save your Ironbeak Owl for their Doomsayer and Frost Nova combo.
Be careful not to waste resources (eg. Kill Command, Quick Shot) to reduce their life below 15, as they can use [card]Alexstrasza[/card] to heal up.
[cardinsert card=”malganis” float=”right”]
Demonzoo is a favoured match-up. It is a relatively new deck that aims to bring together the tempo swings from Demonlock and the consistency from Zoo. It has also been given a huge upgrade thanks to [card]Imp Gang Boss[/card], which helps maintain board control and offers some protection against AOE.
These decks will look to establish a strong early board presence, with minions like [card]Flame Imp[/card], [card]Voidwalker[/card], and sticky minions such as [card]Haunted Creeper[/card], [card]Nerubian Egg[/card] and [card]Imp Gang Boss[/card]. After turn 4, they can play [card]Voidcaller[/card], which allows them to generate significant tempo swings from its Deathrattle.
However, the win condition against Demonzoo remains the same as traditional Zoo: clear their board. The Explosive Trap that is included in this deck is intended to counter Zoo, as it has a good chance of clearing their board. Once you clear their board, it is usually equivalent to winning the game, as Zoo decks do not have many mechanisms to come back from an empty board.
To counter the Demons in the deck, Ironbeak Owl disables Voidcallers, while Hunter’s Mark can remove Mal’Ganis and Doomguard with some help from the board.
Like against all aggro decks, Knife Juggler and Unleash the Hounds will provide a lot of value in this match-up.
[cardinsert card=”molten-giant” float=”right”]
Handlocks have traditionally been easy match-ups for Hunters due to the Hunter’s hero power denying a Handlock’s ability to start a comeback with their Mountain and Molten Giants. However, Handlocks nowadays can heal back up due to Antique Healbot, which makes this match-up a lot more even, though it remains a favourable one.
The key to winning against Handlocks is maximising damage to the face while playing around Molten Giants. In this match-up, controlling the board is less of a priority than other match-ups. Usually, the strategy to beating Handlocks is to hit face as much as possible until around 15 hp (to prevent them throwing down taunted Molten Giants for 2 mana), before then bursting them down in one turn.
Another point to note is that in most instances, you should not try to clear Twilight Drakes with your board as you are basically wasting your time (unless you Ironbeak Owl it). In addition, try to protect yourself from Hellfire or Shadowflame by playing around your opponent having these cards, or play minions with Deathrattles. Finally, save your Kill Commands as finishers rather than using them to clear minions and only use them for lethal, as they could have Jaraxxus.
[cardinsert card=”dragon-consort” float=”right”]
While I am undefeated against the 2 Paladins that I encountered this season, this is usually a difficult match-up due to 3 factors:
- difficult in attaining early board control due to Zombie Chow, Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle
- abundance of healing in their decks (eg. [card]Antique Healbot[/card], [card]Lay on Hands[/card], [card]Truesilver champion[/card])
- Equality and Consecration will clear your board after the midgame, and it is usually difficult to redevelop your board unless you have high mana minions in your hand.
That said, the Dragon Paladin is an easier match-up as they are typically slower, and rely more on playing large minions each turn, which are countered by [card]Freezing Trap[/card].
Here are some tips to consider when playing against Paladin in general.
- In deciding what to play in the early turns, assume that your opponent will play Shielded Minibot on turn 2 and Muster for Battle on turn 3, as they will mulligan for these cards.
- Ironbeak Owl is essential to counter Tirion Fordring in the late game (which is played by all types of Paladins except for Aggro Paladin), so refrain from using it in the early and mid game.
- Play around Consecration by not leaving a board full of 2 health minions if possible to deny them Consecration value. This usually means trading in your one or two health minions so that your higher value minions can survive.
- Unleash the Hounds will counter Muster for Battle, particularly if you can combine it with a Knife Juggler. However, remember that Paladin tokens are only dangerous once they have 5 mana (with Quartermaster being prevalent in normal Midrange Paladin, but it is relatively rare in Dragon Paladin decks). Hence, it might be optimal to save your Unleash the Hounds if you have another play on the turn.
[cardinsert card=”lightbomb” float=”right”]
The Priest match-up is difficult, as they are very good at board control. Fortunately, it is a relatively rare match-up in this meta due to the prevalence of Handlock. All of the Priests that I have encountered this season have been the Chinese Priest, which run [card]Lightbomb[/card], [card]velens-chosen[/card] and [card]deathlord[/card], and cutting cards like [card]Auchenai Soulpriest[/card] and [card]Circle of Healing[/card] combo.
However, the key to victory against Priest remains the same—early board control and not over-committing to the board. If you have board control, be careful about flooding the board past turn 6 in case of Lightbomb, and prioritise playing minions that are resilient to Lightbomb (eg. minions with Deathrattles).
While in the past, Hunter’s Mark was useful in the early game against Priest to counter the Circle of Healing and Injured Blademaster combo, it is now used to counter any minion that has been buffed by Velen’s Chosen (particularly Deathlords, which are formidable 4/12 minions when buffed).
Other tips include playing Knife Juggler on turn 2 to counter a Northshire Cleric and if possible, avoid playing 2 attack or lower minions past turn 6 due to Cabal Shadow Priest.
The general mulligan strategy is to have a smooth mana curve. Due to the Mad Scientist and Traps in this deck, you out-tempo your opponent just by playing with a smooth mana curve.
So if you are playing first, you mulligan for a 1-2-3 drop, and on coin it would be 2-2-3-4, 1-3-3-4, 1-2-4-4 or 1-2-3-4 (save coin). However, given that there are only two 1 drops in the deck, it is often fine to not have a 1 drop to play, if the rest of the curve is already solid (eg. 2-3-4). You can also keep two 2 drops when playing first. Do not keep Traps in your hand, as it is always better to get them triggered from Mad Scientists.
The key drops are the 2 mana drops (Mad Scientist, Haunted Creeper and Knife Juggler), as this deck thrives on early board control. Eaglehorn Bow is a strong keep against Aggro decks, as it will usually remove 2 enemy minions over two turns.
The specific mulligan strategy for each class is discussed below.
- Keep Eaglehorn Bow against Aggro decks in general.
- Keep Ironbeak Owl when facing Hunter, Mage or Warlock.
- Keep Savannah Highmane and Piloted Shredder when playing against Warrior, mulligan away Webspinner due to Cruel Taskmaster.
- Keep Unleash the Hounds against Paladin and Zoolocks.
- Keep Knife Juggler and Hunter’s Mark against Priest. Knife Juggler is to counter Northshire Cleric and Hunter’s Mark is to remove any cards buffed by [card]velens-chosen[/card] or a Deathlord.
Thanks for reading this guide. I hope that it will help you reach legend this season. If you enjoyed the article, please give me a thumbs up! Feel free to leave comments below or message me at my twitch channel (stream forthcoming): www.twitch.tv/k3lvhs