Midrange Hunter With A Twist
Hi everyone. Trainerdusk again, this time bringing you a weird and wonderful hunter deck that I've had an absolute blast with. As soon as I saw the cards coming in the Naxxramas update, I knew that I could make a pure beast synergy hunter work and I would say this deck is my most consistent list yet. I made some pretty unusual card choices, but bear with me because I promise that I can actually explain them all.
I started tinkering with this deck at around rank 17 and played it consistently all the way up to rank 3 without much trouble. While I believe this deck does have the potential to hit legend if you play it for long enough, nothing is set in stone as new cards are released and the meta changes.
From experience I can say that the Midrange Hunter is the strongest and most popular deck on the ladder right now, so this deck is tuned specifically to counter it. As a result, the priest and control warrior matchups can be challenging. With bad draws (no Hunter's Mark), the Handlock can be an issue, but other than that, you should have no problem with all of the popular decks right now.
Our first spell in this deck is fairly standard and most people who play hunter already appreciate it's strengths. If there is a large enemy threat that you would struggle to kill otherwise, such as a Ragnaros the Firelord, playing this 0 cost spell will allow you to kill it with a 1/1 Hound.
Some may argue that cards like Hexor Polymorphare stronger as they actually neutralize the threat, but having a spell that only costs 0 means that you can feel free to dig for it with Flareor Starving Buzzardand you won't have to worry about running out of mana before playing it.
If you get off a good Starving Buzzard+ Unleash the Houndson turn 5+ against zoo, it is fairly usual to draw into a Hunter's Mark and remove the pesky Doomguardthat would have otherwise caused you a lot of grief.
This card is so underused, but after playing with it for a while I can't imagine life without it. Since most people have never even seen this card played, I'll spend more time explaining its uses. This card is a little bit like Timber Wolfmixed with Arcane Shot.
It's purpose in the deck is to allow you to trade your smaller beasts (Webspinner, River Crocolisketc) while maintaining a board presence afterwards for your opponent to deal with. Early game, this card is best used on minions that your opponent will likely refuse to kill, Webspinner/Haunted Creeper, to keep them around for long enough so Houndmastercan apply a more permanent buff.
Late game, you can either use this card to make absurd trades ( e.g.killing a Fire Elementalwith a Stampeding Kodo) or simply as an extra 2 face damage to hit lethal. Obviously, if you have no board presence, Bestial Wrath is a dead card. Luckily, Unleash the Houndsgives you charge minions that will gladly have an extra 2 attack.
Most Hunters will have some mixture of Trackingand Flare in their deck to keep their hand full of options. With the Naxxramas release, 2 new secrets have been added and more players are using decks containing secrets. This has increased the power of Flare and I am finding myself winning a fair few games by destroying enemy secrets.
The most notable example of this is the Freeze Mage style of play. If you save your Flare until the turn you are going to kill a Freeze Mage, then remove their Ice Block, you simply win. There are less extreme examples of this, such as in the Hunter mirror match where Explosive Trapand Misdirectionare seen very often.
If you are not against a deck that runs secrets or stealthed Gadgetzan Auctioneer, feel free to just fire out a Flare whenever you have the spare mana to draw a more useful card. The 1 mana cost allows you to smooth out your mana curve if you for example only have a 3-drop and 4 mana to spare.
This is the new Hunter card that is obtained by beating the Hunter class challenge in the Plague Quarter. I really like the Webspinner, because it is a very easy card to play. No matter the turn, if you have 1 mana left over unused, the Webspinner won't make your turn any worse. Most enemies will actually avoid killing your Webspinner to delay the deathrattle. This is actually pretty favourable for us because it gives a slightly more reliable beast to work with Hunter's Mark, Bestial Wrath, , Kill Commandand Houndmaster.
The worst case scenario for your Webspinner is that it gets hit with an Earth Shockor Keeper of the Grove. If this happens, you should be pretty happy as that is 1 less silence for your Savannah Highmane. I can't really advise you too much to do with the random beast you draw, as the sheer amount of them available is just so huge. Just remember that if you get a Hungry Crabor a King Krush, the beast synergy will always work for you.
If you can play Webspinner on turn 1, do it.
Before I delve any further into this card, you need to know that the 2 1/1 Spectral Spiders summoned by the deathrattle ARE NOT BEASTS. I learnt this the hard way so you don't have to. Otherwise, this card actually works similarly to Webspinner in that the deathrattle is stronger than the original minion, so most players will ignore it when the correct play is probably to kill it.
I've found that my Houndmasterhas gotten their battlecry off significantly more often due to people trying to ignore this card. It's perfectly fine to play this minion on turn 2, but when given the choice between this and the River Crocolisk, it depends heavily on the matchup. 9/10 times the Haunted Creeper is better as people tend to ignore it, but if you feel that you will probably need to kill a 2/2 or 3/2 minion (such as Dire Wolf Alphain zoo), go for the River Crocolisk.
There are so many minion out there in Naxxramas that are worth silencing. I've found having a single silence to be much stronger than running 2 Deadly Shotas there are some deathrattles out there that are better silenced.
Ironbeak Owl also has the added bonus of being a beast and it is not unusual to draw a card from Starving Buzzardin the late game when you will want to be using the Owl. I like having a silence sometimes to remove taunt and push for lethal damage, as there is a surprising amount of burst in this deck with Bestial Wrath, and Kill Command.
When you want to silence a minion, try to consider the possibility of even more important silence targets that may appear later in the match.
A vanilla 2/3 beast minion for 2 mana. Very simple and just here to fill out the mana curve. The reason River Crocolisk is used over Bloodfen Raptoris that durability is more important than damage. A 4/5 with taunt is better than a 5/4 with taunt and the Croc is more likely to survive a turn and get the buff than the Raptor.
The first half of the "Buzzard UTH" combo that makes Hunter even remotely viable as a class. You will see these cards in every good Hunter deck because it's the only way to draw your entire hand again and clear the whole board for 5 mana.
While the Starving Buzzard is often incredibly powerful and will win you several games, I have found that it is not an essential card in the opening hand. Often times I will prefer to just get a decent curve and an early Animal Companionfor a strong board presence.
As this deck does not run Tracking, another strong way to dig for cards is to play the Starving Buzzard and then keep dropping 1/2-drops, such as Haunted Creeperor River Crocoliskuntil you find what you are looking for. While it is rare for a Starving Buzzard to survive more than a single turn due to its 1 hp, I am yet to lose a game where I have drawn from the same Buzzard over several consecutive turns.
Animal Companion is just an absurd 3 cost minion, regardless of the beast you get. There are 3 possible outcomes that can occur when you cast this spell, so make sure to plan ahead for all possible beasts. is the overall strongest outcome in my opinion, as it is 3 mana for an Ironfur Grizzlywith +1/+1.
Ideally, you want to get Misha when the board is empty, as it is a large threat for turn 3 (or 2 with the coin) than will often 2-for-1 your opponents minions. In this deck, is a particularly strong summon. Giving +1 attack to all minions is superb when followed up with an Unleash the Hounds. Leokk is also the only minion in the deck that buffs Houndmasterand the 1/1 Spectral Spider deathrattles from Haunted Creeper. is the last minion you can possibly summon from Animal Companion.
While it is my least favourite in this deck, it is by no means a bad minion. Against many decks, there will be 1/3 minions (Northshire Cleric/Voidwalkeretc) that Huffer can run into for immediate value. It is simply a better Arcane Golemwhich applies immediate pressure to the board when played. The reason I prefer Leokk and Misha to Huffer is that a turn 3 Animal Companion can be followed up with a turn 4 Houndmaster for an incredible board presence and the low hp on Huffer makes it less likely to survive a turn for the buff.
Animal Companion is a fantastic card to have in the opening hand and it is strong enough to play as a turn 4 minion as well as a turn 3.
Deadly shot is here as a meta pick. With the rise in power of Zoo Warlock recently, many players have switched to "anti-aggro" to counter this trend. These more control oriented decks often run a few very large threats that can often spell doom for your average Hunter.
The combination of Hunter's Mark, Bestial Wrath, Ironbeak Owland Deadly Shotmeans you have enough removal at hand to deal with even the best opener a Handlock has available. This card still does have its uses in other matchups nonetheless. Against Miracle Rogue, this is an easy way to remove a stealthed Gadgetzan Auctioneer
Kill Command has quite a few different uses in this deck, which depend heavily on the matchup. Against very aggressive decks, it can often be advisable to use kill command to remove any minion that has the potential to deal a lot of face damage. For example, if you are facing a Zoo Warlock, it can be worth using Kill Command to kill a Knife Juggler.
Against more control-oriented decks, Kill Command is pretty cheap removal that is good for keeping your board presence instead of trading minions. After much research I have found that in the Hunter mirror match, it is almost always worth using Kill Command to their face because of the nature of the matchup. As you will both be pinging each other for 2 with fairly frequently, the health totals can get pretty low pretty quickly.
If your opponent's health is lower than you, they will feel the need to trade their minions into yours and try to secure a board advantage, where you can just keep hitting their face to secure the win.
Unleash the Hounds
UTH will re balance the board in your favour in almost all matchups. If you combine it with a Starving Buzzardyou will have a serious card advantage over your opponent. To make the most out of a single UTH, you will want to try and get a on the board as well. This is also the only guaranteed charge beast in the deck, so Bestial Wrathis great with UTH. In the Shaman matchup specifically, a UTH + Bestial Wrath is great for dealing with as your hounds will survive the turn and can potentially get hit with a buff from the next card on the list, Houndmaster.
Houndmaster is a really great card in this deck as there are just so many beast targets for its battlecry. I've found that unless you have a low hp total and need to protect yourself, it is best to buff up the weaker beasts on your board and spread the power out across multiple minions instead of going all in on Savannah Highmaneand losing to a silence or a Hex.
One of the best cards to play to ensure a strong Houndmaster play is Haunted Creeper, as a 3/4 minion is fairly good and some players will try to ignore the Haunted Creeper and not set off it's deathrattle. and are both pretty good houndmaster targets, as neither can be killed by Big Game Hunterand 6 hp is pretty hard to get through on turn 4.
Kodo is another meta pick as the release of Naxxramas has brought in a load of new minions that can be killed by the battlecry. Kodo is a fairly straightforward minion to play, as you want to just drop him on the curve and swing the board in your favour. Of all the new minions that have been introduced, by far my favourite to kill with the Kodo is Maexxnafor obvious reasons. Baron Rivendarewas also released this week and is a pretty fantastic target for the Kodo.
Stranglethorn Tiger is one of my personal favourite beasts as it cannot be removed before it attacks. This immunity to removal makes it a really reliable Houndmasterand Bestial Wrath target and I've found that this beast really solidifies the deck. It also acts as a powerful 5 drop in situations where the Stampeding Kodo's battlecry isn't useful. Other than that, the Tiger is a pretty straightforward beast and it can be played on pretty much any board without regret.
Highmane is the last card in the deck and is a very standard card in the Midrange Hunter decklist. With 10 total attack and 9 total hp for only 6 mana, the Savannah Highmane is an absolute beast (lol) when it comes to stat efficiency. Most matches are won or lost depending on how quickly you play these and how efficiently your opponent can remove it.
There are two interesting things that you can do with the deathrattle in this deck that you should know about. The first and more common scenario is that you are going to trade the Highmane into a minion and it is about to die. If you play a Starving Buzzardbefore you make the trade, the 2 2/2 Hyenas that are summoned will draw you 2 cards.
The second scenario that is less likely relies on you receiving a Tundra Rhinofrom the Webspinnerdeathrattle (or adding one to your deck in place of a Stranglethorn Tiger). The 2 2/2 Hyenas receive the charge buff and can attack that turn, giving you a pseudo-UTH for free.
General Mulligan Guide
In general, you are looking for a strong curve. Your best turn 1 play is a Webspinner. The best turn 2 play is a Haunted Creeper. Turn 3 you want to use Animal Companionand on turn 4 you want to Houndmasterone of the surviving beast for strong board. For that reason, I mulligan aggressively for these 4 cards in my opening hand.
The following cards I will never keep in my opening hand: Bestial Wrath, Ironbeak Owl, Deadly Shot, Kill Command, Stampeding Kodo, Stranglethorn Tiger, Savannah Highmane.
- I will keep Hunter's Mark vs Druid and Warlock to deal with Innervateshenanigans and early Mountain Giant. If the Warlock turns out to be Zoo, the Hunter's Mark is always useful for killing Doomguard
- I will keep Flare vs Hunter, Mage and Paladin for the obvious secret removal. I sometimes keep it vs Miracle Rogue as it can help to kill the Gadgetzan Auctioneer, but Deadly Shotis better for that purpose.
- I keep River Crocolisk if I don't get a Haunted Creeper or if I want to use the Coin to play a 2 drop on turns 1 and 2.
- I will keep a Starving Buzzard + UTH combo if I also have a decent turn 2/3 in my hand. Otherwise, I will usually ditch the Starving Buzzard but keep the UTH and try for a more powerful opener.
Why didn't you include X card in this deck?
I had enough draw available with Flare, Webspinner and Starving Buzzard. If the Hunter mirror wasn't so frequent, I'd drop 1 Flare and add 1 Tracking, but I've won too many games by destroying enemy secrets with Flare for that to be a viable strategy right now.
Eaglehorn Bow + Traps
This deck is going all out on beast synergy and I don't think there is room in the deck to remove anything. Also, there are so many Hunters playing ladder right now that I don't want to lose a game because an enemy Flare destroyed by precious Misdirection.
I find that Timber Wolf is one of the weakest cards in the Hunter deck and is almost too situational. Also, I wanted to try out Bestial Wrath and so I made the swap.
I think that Haunted Creeper and River Crocolisk are more reliable 2 drops and I don't want to invest too much of the deck into its early game.
Tundra Rhino/Oasis Snapjaw/Maexxna
Stampeding Kodo is really popular right now and you lose the game if you invest so much mana in a minion that gets removed for free.
I know that this is a bit of a bizarre Midrange Hunter, but it is the most fun I have had playing ladder since I first discovered Thoughtsteal. In my opinion, playing a strong deck like this that requires you to actually think about your next move is far more enjoyable than decks that play themselves.
My advice to you is to go out there and try something new. This deck is strong enough to ladder with effectively and it is good to know that your opponents won't be playing around certain cards in your hand because it's a new deck. Plus, nothing beats the feeling of playing 4 Savannah Highmanes in one constructed match.
I hope that I've inspired you to check out this deck. It's not too expensive, coming in at just 1640 dust . Half of that price can be mitigated if you don't like Bestial Wrath and take Timber Wolf/Arcane Shot instead. If this deck isn't for you, I hope that you will at least try to make your own deck with these new Naxxramas cards. Perhaps you will find some cards that already exist have some new and exciting interactions.
Good luck out there and remember to just have fun!
Be sure to leave your comments and feed back in the section below!