I’ve been piloting the hunter deck throughout the month of August and peaked at rank 3. With a little more time, I think the deck would’ve been able to reach legend but I ran out of gas at the end. Here’s the deck list:
Face Hunter by Matticus
- Hunter’s Mark x2
- Flare x2
- Tracking x2
- Webspinner x2
- Explosive Trap x2
- Starving Buzzard x2
- Eaglehorn Bow x2
- Animal Companion x2
- Kill Command x2
- Unleash the Hounds x2
Here’s the win rates and percentages by class.
As you can tell, the weakest matchups are against Rogues, Warriors, and Shamans. I’ve only won 2 out of 6 games against Rogues. Warriors are slightly better but expect to lose those matches 2 out of 3 times. But it doesn’t matter because all this deck needs to do is reliably win against the decks most often seen on the ladder: Hunters (55%) and Warlocks (67%).
I won 55% of my games without a coin and 66% of my games with coin. So it’s a little more advantageous for you to go second.
Hunter percentages are slightly over a coin flip depending on the variations.
Against warlocks, I managed to hold a consistent 60% which isn’t too bad considering how strong they can be.
Mages are a slight coin toss and it depends on the traps that they manage to draw into. If they hold you off long enough, their spells will make short work of you.
Druids, Paladins, and Priests are all matchups that should go heavily in your favor.
Your basic strategy is to lay out your cheap early minions as quick as you can. Feed your turn 1 Undertaker as much as possible with your Leper Gnome, Haunted Creeper, and Mad Scientist. Given an option between Creepers or Scientists, play the Scientist first. If it dies, your Explosive Traps will appear in play and it will help thin out your deck so you draw into additional threats later.
Use that Hero Power. Don’t be afraid to not play a card and Hero Power instead. Often times on turn 3 or 4, I have the option to play a spell or a minion using up all my mana instead of using the Hero Power. It’s okay not to cast a spell and hold it for later. An example is if you’re on turn 3 with an Explosive Trap and a Flare, you can play the Flare and use your Hero Power. On turn 4, you can drop the Explosive Trap and Hero Power efficiently using up all your mana crystals.
Your finisher is Leeroy and Kill Commands. Hold on to those until your opponent’s life is sufficiently low enough. Hunter’s Mark and Ironbeak Owl are used to either clear out any taunts or remove your opponent’s threats that could shut down your strategy. Make sure you actually have a beast in play before casting Kill Commands. I’ve made the stupid mistake of casting Kill Command with no beast out effectively stealing defeat out of the jaws of victory.
Keep: 1 mana minion, Mad Scientist, Haunted Creeper
Hold your Hunter’s Marks and Ironbeak Owl if you can for mid game. There’s two main druid deck variants here.
The ramp druid relies on accelerating early on into big powerhouse threats like Druid of the Claw (bear form), Ironbark Protectors, Ancient of War, and so forth. You’re going to have to win this game via early game and direct damage or else you’ll be shut out by the great wall of taunters. Recent variations now include Sludge Belchers, Deathlord, and Sunwalkers while Ragnaros simply pounds you to death. Luckily, if they burn their early mana ramp spells like Innervate and Wild Growth into Druid of the Claws or other an Ancient of Lore, a Hunter’s Mark with a minion will make short work of it. With luck, their hand will be depleted meaning less options for them to deal with your horde. Keep applying pressure. If you can draw both Kill Commands or an unchecked Leeroy Jenkins, you should take this game easily.
The token druid is a bit of an easier matchup. Don’t be fooled though as this is also a race. You’re on essentially a 7 turn clock before they can execute their Force of Nature + Savage Roar combo. Violet Teachers will be in play but the more tokens they generate, the more you can counter-engage with your Unleash the Hounds + Starving Buzzard. Stick to the plan and send your minions right at the druid to begin with. Ancient of Lore and Swipe may slow you down but it shouldn’t stop you entirely.
Keep: Flare, 1 mana minion, Mad Scientist
There are often two variants of hunters and we’ll go over them quickly here.
The Midrange Hunter is slightly slower then the face hunter counterpart. It’ll feature uses of Savannah Highmanes and Houndmasters. They’ll try to control the board more with potential Freezing Traps, Misdirections, and some variants include a Deadly Shot. Lucky for you, you’ll be able to outrace them in a head to head matchup.
The Face Hunter is the mirror deck which relies heavily on attacking the opponent directly. In other words, same strategy as yours! It’s going to be a race no matter what.
When you Unleash the Hounds, make sure you actually clear out their side of the board before going for the face unless you have lethal. The worse thing that can happen is if they counter Unleash the Hounds against you and drop a Timber Wolf or a well-timed Leokk which doubles the damage done. If they have a Mad Scientist on the board and you’re holding a Flare, wait until the Scientist dies before casting the Flare. When you Track later in the game, you’re looking for Kill Commands and Leeroy Jenkins to close it out fast.
Keep: Flare, any minion
Brace yourself, this is going to be a bit of a grind. Whatever you do, save the Ironbeak Owl for Tirion. Expect to see your board wipe around turn 4 from the Consecrate, but that’s okay. Hopefully you’ve been able to generate some offense and apply early game pressure. There’s a chance this matchup can go the distance because they have to run cards like Defender of Argus and Sen’jin Shieldmasta to slow you down. Expect to be set back further with Lay on Hands or Guardian of Kings. The trick is to hit early and hit fast so that those cards aren’t even a factor to begin with.
If you run into the aggro variant that has cards like Bluegill Warrior, Blessing of Might, Leper Gnomes, then this is going to be a race. You can do more burst damage. If they Consecrate you, not problem. If there’s enough minions out, your Buzzard + Unleash the Hounds can either neutralize their army or it can go straight to the Paladin.
Keep: Hunter’s Mark, Ironbeak Owl
If you get a chance to eliminate their Northshire Clerics, do it as early as you can. Even if it means burning a Hunter’s Mark against their Power Word: Shield buffed Cleric and suiciding your Webspinner, you do it. Otherwise, this should be a fairly straightforward win. I haven’t played enough against the aggro Priest variants to really say what to do against them. Against the standard Priest deck, hold on to your Hunter’s Mark and Owls to bypass any nasty surprises. You might have to dig in here for a bit. The Priest deck does take a few turns to get going. Holy Nova will ruin your day along with Sludge Belcher so save the Owl against that if you can and just rush them. The Priest is going to spend a lot of time deciding between self preservation or board control and it’s going to be a little difficult doing that with your constant pressure.
Keep: Explosive Trap, Flare
Ugh, I hate playing against Rogues. It’s like watching someone play solitaire against you.
Save a Flare against any concealed Gadgetzan Auctioneers or Van Cleefs. This is not a fun matchup against you. In almost 200 games, I’ve only played against 6 rogues so we at least have that much going for us. The odds of you running into them aren’t that high. They’re going to clear the board with Deadly Poison + Blade Flurry. Their center piece here is the Auctioneer. You silence it or neutralize it, then the deck won’t be able to go off and you completely stall out their engine. You can either cast Explosive Trap early to hold off against their early minions and hope you have enough follow up pressure or hold it for later in the game when you anticipate a Leeroy coming in your direction (I don’t recommend this since it’s difficult to time). This matchup is also going to be a race.
Keep: Ironbeak Owl, minions, no more than one Hunter’s Mark, Explosive Trap
This is another tough matchup. Lightning Storm can swiftly remove your side of the board. Hex can slow down your buffed Undertaker. Their Ghost Wolves will often trade favorably against your minions and outlive them an extra turn. Save Hunter’s Mark for Fire Elementals or Earth Elementals (if you run across any). Ironbeak Owl should be saved for taunters or Nerubian Eggs. If Al’Akir gets deployed, the game is well beyond your reach unless you can last minute Kill Command them and deal sufficient direct damage. Shamans rely on controlling the board and making smart trades. Let them generate totems as it’ll feed nicely into your Unleash the Hounds. In your case, you don’t really care about that. Send everything you have against the Shaman. Get their health low enough so you send out Leeroy or use your Kill Commands.
Keep: Explosive Trap, Ironbeak Owl, 1 mana minions, Mad Scientist
For Warlocks, you’ll play against two main types.
Against Handlock, you need to pile on damage and fast. Hold on to Hunter’s Marks and Ironbeak Owl. The Marks will be used to knock out any huge taunters in your way like Molten Giants. Ironbeak Owl lets you completely bypass taunt so the rest of your forces can punch through. Any chance you get to attack with your Eaglehorn Bow, you do it. Don’t skip attacking it hoping for your trap to proc because you might end up walking into a wall of giants.
That happened to me one game. During one turn, I had an Explosive Trap and an Eaglehorn with one charge while my opponent was at 10 health. I didn’t attack because I was greedy and wanted the extra charge. Then he dropped a pair of giants with a Shieldbearer. In my next turn, I drew a Kill Command. With a Starving Buzzard in play, I would’ve had lethal had I attacked him the turn prior (3 damage from Eagle Horn, the 2 damage from the Hero Power, and the 5 damage from Kill Command). Instead, I only took him down to 3 health before his giants made short work of me afterwards.
The second Warlock deck you’ll square off against is the Zoo deck. Their win philosophy is similar to yours. Attempt to swarm the board and establish control. Between Explosive Trap and your other cheap minions, you should be able to hold them off. You should be able to outrace them. The big threats is their Doomguard which you can mitigate with a Hunter’s Mark. Save your Owl for their Nerubian Eggs. It’ll set them back in a huge way if you can even silence one. Keep hammering away with your Hero Power and make smart trades with your minions (or just go for the face).
This is literally the worst matchup for hunters. Thankfully, there aren’t that many on the ladder in the grand scheme of things. Their hero power to armor up negates your hero power. Cleaves, will pound away and neutralize your early board minions. You might not have enough direct damage to get to them. Their win lies on holding out and surviving long enough until they can whip out an Alexstrasza or a Grom Hellscream and execute you in one stroke.
On a budget? No problem. You can sub in Arcane Golems for Leeroy. Just remember that the Golem is used as a finisher. Don’t drop him early on in the game and give your opponent an extra mana crystal. Later on in the game is fine because it won’t be as relevant. All the other cards are either commons, rares, or unlockable from Naxxramas.
Win fast, win early, win hard.