Strong minions, powerful burst and a great curve make Midrange Hunter a very popular choice for laddering up. However, popularity goes both ways. Chances are if you choose to team up with Rexxar in order to climb ranks, other people are going to as well. Often when looking at how to play a deck people tend to ignore the mirror match. However, mirror matches are very important, as they allow you to fully understand the deck you are playing by seeing it from the other side. In this guide we will look at the way to play the Midrange Hunter mirror, as well as discuss what the match can teach you about the class overall.
[toc]Sample Decklists [/toc]
Midrange Hunter is a class that has a ton of different cards at its disposal. There are many powerful choices in the class, and that will enable you to mold this list to fit any playstyle you need. If you want to be more aggressive to combat the decks you are seeing on ladder, then you can lower the curve. On the other hand, if you want to add more removal and late game threats to combat Control, you can do that too. These options are key to understanding the way the deck is built and what it is trying to do. As such, some different lists are linked below.
When mulliganing for the mirror you cannot afford to mess around. This matchup is all about board presence. You do not want to keep “cute” cards or cards that might pay off on turn four or five. Hunters are an aggressive bunch, and if you fall behind on turn two or three the game will pretty much always be over. For this reason you want to always look for early game (removal or minions) and try get a hold of the board as quickly as possible.
Cards to Keep
[card]Hunter’s Mark[/card] is very good with an early curve.
While not better than a minion, [card]Quick Shot[/card] is a solid keep as a way to protect your early game minions.
[card]Knife Juggler[/card] can be kept with cheap early minions like [card]Haunted Creeper[/card].
[card]Animal Companion[/card] should always be kept with the coin or with an early curve.
[card]Eaglehorn Bow[/card] is very good as your turn three play if you have a solid curve coming before it.
[card]Piloted Shredder[/card] is a good keep if you have the coin and a strong opening, but it should never be kept on its own.
[card]Houndmaster[/card] follows the exact same rules as shredder. However, never keep it unless you have an early beast or [card]Snake Trap[/card].
[toc]How to Win[/toc]
The mirror match is going to be focused on two things: board control and damage. You need to learn to control both of these, and understand how each one will lead you to a win. Knowing when to trade and when to go face is an important part of the Hearthstone learning curve. However, it is even more important here as trading too much can be just as damaging as ignoring the board.
The most important thing to understand when going into a mirror match is to know what you and your opponent are trying to do. In the case of Midrange Hunter, it is to get a board that your opponent has to react to. Whoever gets the first minions to stick will automatically be ahead because the other person will have to spend a turn removing or building an answer to it. This will give the first person priority of the board, which should be your ultimate goal. For instance, while your opponent can remove a turn four [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] with a [card]Quick Shot[/card], you will take that trade every time. It forces them to spend their turn on a removal spell, which adds nothing to the board, and then gives you the play on turn five.
Despite its name, Midrange Hunter is largely a tempo deck. However, instead of building up the board, you are building up damage. And, so is your opponent. Trading is important in this matchup because, unlike most tempo decks, Hunter can just ignore the board and start going face when they want to close out the game or when they fall behind. Always watch for that point where you can start pushing for lethal. This may not always be obvious, but you want to look at the burn in your hand, the damage your opponent can do, and then start applying pressure based off of those two things.
Do not get reckless, but also do not play too conservatively either. Midrange Hunter is a deck that can dish it, but they sure cannot take it. The way to win this match is to apply pressure before your opponent does. That does not mean just go face and ignore the board, but set up the game in a way where you can start pushing through. Whoever blinks first (that is focuses on clearing and staying alive more than winning ) will most likely lose. You want to set this up by getting in hits wherever and whenever you can.
[toc]Early Game Strategy[/toc]
Clear, clear and clear. That is the only rule for the first turns of the game. However, you need to make sure those clears count. You do not simply want to give away minions for the sake of it, but rather clear in ways that will leave you something on board. Deathrattle minions are your first priority, but never be afraid to just play [card]Knife Juggler[/card] just to get something on board. Being reactive is not the way you win this match.
[card]Mad Scientist[/card] and [card]Ironbeak Owl[/card] are also going to be very important here. You should never hesitate to use Ironbeak Owl on scientist or [card]Haunted Creeper[/card] since it gives you a very clean trade and stops a very annoying ability. If you don’t have removal at your disposal, you should also put the owl down on [card]Knife Juggler[/card].
When playing [card]Mad Scientist[/card] always try to sculpt your opponents board to match your secrets. If you are playing Freezing Trap you want to only leave them with one or no minions, while if you are playing [card]Snake Trap[/card] you should get something with taunt down. That thinking will enable you to move forward in a beneficial way. In that same vein, always watch out for your opponent’s scientists, and be aware of how their secrets will impact the game.
The last card to watch out for is [card]Animal Companion[/card]. For three mana this card is an insane amount of value, but most decks have an easy answer to it. However, Midrange Hunter does not. This card can trump almost all of the early game as a Misha, apply a ton of pressure as Huffer and allow a ton of favorable trades or damage as Leokk. If you have a companion you should do what you can to protect it from dying. On the flip side, never be afraid to do what you need to kill your opponent’s, even if that means burning a [card]Kill Command[/card].
The midgame is the most important part of this matchup because it is where a majority of the game takes place. You and your opponent are going to both be playing large minion after large minion trying to get one to stick for more than a turn. You need to build off of your early game here. If you are almost even or behind in life you do want to trade out when possible. However, if you are ahead on board, you need to attack face while putting down larger and larger minions.
No card in this matchup allows more presence than [card]Houndmaster[/card]. Always use it if you have the chance since it gives you a favorable trade, adds damage while also giving you a taunt. Due to the four drop’s power level you also want to make sure your opponent never has a beast stay on board.
[card]Freezing Trap[/card] is one of the key cards of this mirror, and it shines during these turns. This two drop can single-handedly win the game if it hits a large enough minion. That goes for both sides. If you have only one large minion on the board you want to really work to get something else down to attack into the trap. On the other hand, if you have a trap up and your opponent has something like a [card]Loatheb[/card], [card]Savannah Highmane[/card] or [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] you want to take the time to kill everything else they have.
Both you and your opponent are going to be playing to the all important turn six. This is where [card]Savannah Highmane[/card] comes down. Not only will this card end the game in one or two turns, but it is almost impossible to remove. If you still have [card]Ironbeak Owl[/card] you should use it immediately. If not, you need to trade it away as soon as you can or put taunts in front of it and hope your opponent has to fight to get through them. If you have the highmane you almost always want to go face with it unless you are truly scared of dying. However, this is not a card that you want to use defensively.
The last rule of these turns is, as always, watch out for the [card]Knife Juggler[/card]/[card]Unleash the Hounds[/card] combo. Never overextend into the board. This usually is not too hard as you can control the game with just two or three powerful creatures.
[toc]Late Game Strategy[/toc]
There is no real late game in this mirror. Most of the turns following seven are either going to be spent putting the finishing touches on a beat down or by pushing through the last points through. As such, most of these turns are merely going to be extensions of the midgame.
However, there are two cards that can have big effects at the end of the match: [card]Houndmaster[/card] and [card]Dr. Boom[/card]. Dr. Boom is the largest card you or your opponent are going to have. It is very hard to answer and represents a ton of damage every time it comes down. You always want to get the first boom down much in the same way it is important to get the first highmane. It’s even worth saving the coin for a turn six boom if you can afford to.
[card]Houndmaster[/card] is also important because it is a way to prevent damage through taunt. Midrange Hunter typically only runs one [card]Ironbeak Owl[/card], which will usually be burned during the earlier turns of the game. That means Houndmaster will most likely stick and force your opponent to fight through it. As such, it always needs to be on your mind. Even if you are racing or you think you are setting up lethal, be aware of the master coming down and ruining your plans.
A lot of the last turns are going to be a race in one form or another. The best rule for calculating damage is to always assume your opponent has a [card]Kill Command[/card] in hand if you have not already seen both. That mindset will enable you to figure out your damage, which will then help you understand just how much you need to trade on board.
Play to your damage. Sometimes you will fall behind in this matchup and the only way to win is to go all face and hope for a [card]Kill Command[/card] or [card]Quickshot[/card] off of the top. While that is not your preferred line of play, you need to recognize it when it comes. Sometimes hoping is the only way you win, and a one in fifteen or twenty shot is better than a zero percent shot.