With Patron gone, many different decks (old and new) have been popping up all across the ladder. Hunter is perhaps one of the best classes for such a volatile environment due to the fact that its aggressive nature allows you to beat just about any deck. Midrange Druid is one of those decks. With Patron gone Midrange Druid has become even more popular than it already has. Knowing how to beat it is very important. This guide will show you why Midrange Hunter‘s slew of threats gives you one of the best chances against Druid and its combos.
[toc]Sample Decklists [/toc]
Hunter has been a very fluid class ever since people realized you could play something other than face. Not only does it have a lot of very powerful class cards, but there are many sticky minions in the game that play right into Hunter’s aggressive-board control play style. When choosing what type of Midrange Hunter you want to play there are two ways to go. One, you can choose to go the more control-style route favoring bigger minions and slower plays. Two, you can lower your curve and be more aggressive. The choice is yours. To help you figure out what type of deck best fits your personal style, some examples have been laid out below.
The main rule of mulliganing against Midrange Druid is to start the game with early deathrattle minions. Your curve is very important, and you want to start getting things down as fast as you can. In addition, you also want a way to kill [card]Darnassus Aspirant[/card]. While there is no way to stop [card]Wild Growth[/card], you want to be able to take Druid off of their curve if you can.
Cards to Keep
[card]Hunter’s Mark[/card] is an auto-keep if you have early turn minions to begin the game with.
[card]Knife Juggler[/card] is a solid minion that challenges aspirant and provides pressure. However, it should only be kept with other early minions, never on its own.
[card]Eaglehorn Bow[/card] can be kept if you have the coin or if you have a good opening.
[card]Animal Companion[/card] is a great keep with a turn two minion or with the coin.
Though it is slow, [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] is a great card to keep if you have an early curve to go along with it.
[card]Houndmaster[/card] should always be kept if you have the coin and a beast. It can also be kept without the coin if your opening is strong.
[toc]How to Win[/toc]
Midrange Druid is a deck that depends on the combo to win games. That is not saying they can win in other ways, but you always need to be watching out for that all important fourteen points of burst damage. One of the most important ways to win is understanding how to play around it. While you have no forms of healing, you do have a few taunts. If you are running a version with [card]Sludge Belcher[/card], that’s going to be your best tool. On the other hand, [card]Houndmaster[/card] is also very powerful against the combo. While it comes down far before turn nine, it provides two bodies and helps keep off the early pressure. That will allow you to not dip so low later on in the game.
[card]Loatheb[/card] is one of your most important tools in this matchup. Druid largely depends on [card]Swipe[/card] and [card]Wrath[/card] to keep the board in check. They also largely depend on [card]Innervate[/card] to make a lot of their important midgame plays. You can stop all of this from happening by saving Loatheb for when you get ahead on board. He also shuts down the combo to buy you an extra turn.
As a Hunter, the other way you are going to win the game is through a combination of pressure and damage. When the game begins you want to go face when you can. Then, you want to start making even trades and keeping their minions off of the board. This will help shut down their combo and allow you to slowly take over the game as your minions have deathrattle and theirs do not.
Another big part of this matchup is forcing Druid to use removal or a [card]Keeper of the Grove[/card]. Yes, these cards can set you back, but when Druid is using them they aren’t adding anything to the board. That is more important than losing a minion since you still have priority. For instance, if they spend turn four to clear a [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] or [card]Houndmaster[/card], you can then play your five drop uncontested.
[toc]Early Game Strategy[/toc]
Early damage is going to be very important here. At a certain point this game is going to turn into a race: you for lethal, them for combo. Getting a lot of hits in early can make that part of the game much smoother and force them to worry about their life rather than yours.
While you are a Midrange deck, and while there are many different cards you can play early on, you are still a Hunter. That is perhaps the most important thing to remember about piloting Midrange. You have a lot of burst, and you want to the start the game out as fast as you can. That does not mean you want to go full aggro, trading is still important, but don’t be afraid to push damage through when you can.
For instance, a turn two [card]Knife Juggler[/card] onto an empty board is usually fine. If they don’t have something to do, or if they simply [card]Wild Growth[/card], you can start hitting them for three a turn. [card]Animal Companion[/card] is also fantastic for this reason, giving you a huge threat that can pile on early damage.
It should be noted that Midrange Hunter runs a slew of different secrets. You never want to keep any of them in your opening hand, but you should always have them in mind when playing [card]Mad Scientist[/card]. Secrets are most often going to come out during turns two, three and four. [card]Freezing Trap[/card] can be a great way to set Druid back and [card]Snake Trap[/card] also gives them a ton of trouble. You can set both of those up by clearing out Druid’s small minions or by giving them a board they are going to have to attack into.
On the flip side, Druid is going to start out in one of two ways. Ramping with [card]Wild Growth[/card] and [card]Darnassus Aspirant[/card] is one of them. Because of this, you want to have some way to challenge Aspirant. This can be with a [card]Quick Shot[/card], [card]Eaglehorn Bow[/card] or any minions you have on board. Just stop them from ramping when you can.
As both of you are playing midrange decks, the middle turns of the game are going to look very similar from both sides. This is a slugfest, with you and your opponent both dropping threat after threat after threat. However, while Druid can use [card]Innervate[/card] to go over your head, your threats are definitely stronger since they are backed up with direct damage. [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] is great against Druid, as is [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] and [card]Houndmaster[/card]. All of these cards will help you match their threats like [card]Druid of the Claw[/card] or [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card].
While nine is Druid’s most important turn, yours is turn six. [card]Savannah Highmane[/card] is one of the best cards in the game, and it might be the best card in the game against Druid. Not only do they have a lot of trouble dealing with powerful deathrattle minions, but they also struggle with the two 2/2 beasts that come after. Also giving it taunt can straight up force a concede. This card into [card]Dr. Boom[/card] all but ends the game. However, you need to be able to set it up in the right way.
As stated, forcing Druid to spend a turn on removal is the way you win the middle turns. Forcing them to turn five [card]Swipe[/card] gives you a perfect set up for Highmane in the same way that a turn three or four [card]Wrath[/card] allows you an opportunity for [card]Ram Wrangler[/card], [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] or [card]Loatheb[/card].
These are the turns of the game where you want to push as much damage through as you can. This will enable you to fight the combo by pressuring their life more than you are pressuring yours. [card]Kill Command[/card] will always be on their mind, and this will cause them to play scared if you have the board or they get low on life.
[toc]Late Game Strategy[/toc]
The game is going to be in one of two states when this time rolls around. Either you are going to need to protect yourself from dying, or you are going to need the finishing blow. This is not a game you want to go long. The more cards that Druid draws, the more chances they have or just ending the game. Know this, and understand when you need to start going face. You won’t be able to kill their minions forever, and sometimes when your back is against the wall you need to hit them harder than they hit you.
Any burn that you saved during this stage of the game should be played in reaction to your life. If you are above fourteen but still low, you want to use it to clear any minion that might be on board. In any other situation it should be used as removal and as a way to pressure Druid when the game gets tight.
Understand that this part of the game is defcon 1. By this time you are not going to have many taunts left, and you need to stay alive in any way that you can. While playing fast and hard is often right, watch how your opponent reacts as the game goes on, and also understand the cards that they’re holding. If they have a couple cards they’ve had for a long time, or they are doing a lot to get a minion down, they have the combo. Respect that. You never want to lose just because you got lazy for a turn or two.
It is very important to understand the game state, and know when to race and when to trade. You should always be watching the way the game plays out and make sure you don’t fall too low. Also, learn to use pressure by forcing them into tight corners. Pressure is your best friend as a Hunter. Never underestimate just how much bluffing damage spells can do for your cause.