Welcome to the Hearthstone corner. Let’s have a look at one of the most aggressive characters in the game. Hunter has been a strong class since the beginning of the game, switching between midrange and very aggressive deck types to afford players a way to climb the Ladder quickly. My favourite thing about Hunter is that he can field viable decks that are very cheap to build, making him a good class for beginning players wanting to have a chance against players with a larger card collection.
We will start by looking at some of the best class-specific cards at Hunter’s disposal before moving on to card crafting. I will then take a quick look at the usefulness of each Hearthstone Expansion to a Hunter player. After that, I will show you a basic deck that I have built. At the end we will look at the different types of Hunter decks played on the Ladder. Arena will be also briefly mentioned.
Ready? Let’s start!
What Does a Hunter Want?
Hunter’s hero power defines how the class is played. Dealing 2 points of damage to the enemy hero each turn is a very strong ability, but it doesn’t help with the state of the board and it doesn’t help the hero survive longer. This limits the way that Hunter can be played, forcing Hunters to favour a more aggressive play style. This applies to both ranked play and the Arena.
Let’s take a peek at the best cards at Hunter’s disposal:
Webspinner is a frequent starting card in Midrange decks, as its Deathrattle frequently brings in a strong Beast. Receiving Savannah Highmane or even King Krush for 1 Mana is great. King’s Elekk does a similar service in Midrange decks, making it unnecessary to carry any further card draw.
Houndmaster works well in Hunter decks because there are so many strong Beasts to use his effect on. He basically brings in 6/5 of stats and a Taunt for 4 Mana, which is a great deal.
Savannah Highmane is one of the best Minions in the game. It’s very sticky and affords 10/9 stats for 6 Mana. To remove it altogether usually requires a mix of resources – a Silence will get rid of the Hyenas, but will leave a 6/5 on the board. Spells like Hex and Polymorph tend to be the best way of dealing with a Savannah Highmane.
Animal Companion tends to be the ideal turn three play. All of the 3 possible resulting Beasts are strong in their own right and useful in different ways. Leokk is a great Minion to take advantage of – it goes well with Unleash the Hounds and if it’s on the board, it can either allow for favourable trades or increased aggression.
Unleash the Hounds is a wonderful card that is best kept until the time is right. Many decks nowadays fill the board quickly (Zoo Warlock, many Paladin and Shaman decks), providing a board full of charged puppies for a measly 3 Mana. While playing Facehunter, this card often won me games against less skilled players.
Hunter is a class that practically always carries, at least, one Weapon. Eaglehorn Bow is great on its own, it also tends to receive extra charges, as most Hunter decks carry several Secrets. Glaivezooka is a good pick for aggressive decks where dealing a fair amount of damage each turn is the strategy to win.
Kill Command and Quick Shot tend to be played differently depending on the type of deck they are in. Aggressive decks like Facehunter will deal damage to the face towards the end of the game while Midrange decks will also use them against Minions. The cost of these cards is just right.
Hunters’ Secrets cost 2 Mana and there is a useful trap for every type of deck, making Mad Scientist a great turn two drop. Slower decks tend to go for Freezing Trap (which can stop a player with a few cheap Minions in his tracks and create loads of tempo) and Bear Trap; faster decks like Explosive Trap (it also damages the opponent’s face). Snake Trap is also very common, as it synergizes with many other cards – Knife Juggler or Leokk, for example.
When it comes to Legendaries, Hunter has been fairly unlucky. None of the Legendaries at his disposal see much play and there are good reasons for this. I really like Gahz’Rilla‘s effect but it would suit a slower Control deck or a deck where the player can easily deal small amounts of damage to the Minion. King Krush is very expensive and only tends to see the light of day if it comes out of a Webspinner or a Ram Wrangler.
What About Those Neutral Minions?
Hunters can take advantage of many cards, so let’s look at the most useful.
- Abusive Sergeant (added damage and a high attack value for such little cost is great for Facehunters)
- Leper Gnome (useful in a deck that wishes to deal a lot of damage quickly)
- Ironbeak Owl (Hunters don’t have any class-specific Silence effects and they can struggle against enemy Taunts, making this card useful)
- Knife Juggler (useful in any type of deck, synergizes with numerous other cards like Unleash the Hounds and Snake Trap)
- Arcane Golem (this Minion is only useful to Facehunter where 4 points of damage outweigh the extra Mana that the opponent receives)
- Leeroy Jenkins (he used to be a frequent feature of aggressive decks but nowadays he is a bit too expensive)
- Mad Scientist (great tempo card – it will bring a Secret into the game for free, goes well with a turn 3 Eaglehorn Bow)
- Haunted Creeper (hard to remove and it’s a Beast)
- Loatheb (good stats for the cost and the effect protects the board from enemy spells for an entire turn, can be useful in preparing for Lethal next turn)
Goblins vs. Gnomes
- Piloted Shredder (best Neutral 4 Mana Minion in the game)
- Dr. Boom (the best late-game Legendary in the game, useful in all but the most aggressive decks)
- Argent Horserider (another Charged Minion who is also hard to remove due to the Divine Shield)
To Craft or Not to Craft
There have been five Expansions since the release of Hearthstone. Let’s explore which ones are the most useful.
The classic card set is where most of the essential cards can be found. Whatever the speed of your deck, whether you are planning to go all out aggressive or midrange, most of your cards will be found there. Naxxramas is just as useful – Mad Scientist, Haunted Creeper and Loatheb are all excellent, as is Webspinner. Sludge Belcher can come in handy if you need some stopping power.
Other Expansions are more disappointing. Piloted Shredder and Dr. Boom are exceptionally useful, as can be Glaivezooka for a very quick deck, but they don’t form the core of any typical deck. Blackrock offers Quick Shot, which isn’t essential, but works great both as removal and as card draw for quick decks. The Grand Tournament is equally underwhelming, although King’s Elekk works well in Midrange decks and Ram Wrangler can be fun in Beast-heavy decks.
When it comes to crafting, I tend to only craft cards of Legendary rarity, while rarely crafting some Epic cards too. I will first craft the most useful Neutral Legendaries, ones that are strong across several classes and deck types, and only then move on to class-specific ones.
Crafting anything of a lesser rarity than Epic is still expensive, especially as cards of lesser rarity tend to show up in opened packs sooner or later. Players who want to quickly play a specific type of deck, or concentrate on a single character, won’t mind.
Let’s move on to a basic deck that a new player can play from the start.
Starting Hunter Deck
All of the basic cards below are unlocked by making it to level 10 with Hunter. This deck is strong enough to make it against players with access to better cards but it won’t climb higher than rank 15. With access to basic cards only, it isn’t possible to build any other type of deck than a Control deck. For Hunter, whose hero power is offensive, this constitutes a problem. As a result, this is one of the weaker basic decks out of the ones I have prepared for each class. As always, as you find new cards to add to the deck, you should do so. Building your own decks and finding out which combinations of cards work well is one of the essential Hearthstone skills.
- 1x Hunter’s Mark
- 2x Arcane Shot
- 2x Timber Wolf
- 1x Tracking
- 2x Animal Companion
- 2x Kill Command
- 2x Houndmaster
- 2x Multi-Shot
- 2x Starving Buzzard
- 2x Tundra Rhino
- 2x Bloodfen Raptor
- 2x River Crocolisk
- 2x Razorfen Hunter
- 2x Oasis Snapjaw
- 2x Boulderfist Ogre
- 2x Core Hound
This starting deck has an unusually high number of cards that synergize together. There are numerous Beasts and cards that take advantage of Beasts. Tundra Rhino can bring a lot of unpleasant surprises for your opponent if it survives until next turn. Core Hound really likes to be Charged. Starving Buzzard will function for card draw – as it’s so weak, it’s best to use it the same turn that it can draw some cards. It will rarely survive longer.
The hero power is not very useful in this type of deck, so only use it if there is nothing else to do. You are going for the board, hoping to win later in the game, so cutting chunks of health away from your opponent won’t do much good.
Look What I Found on the Internet
Hunter has gone in and out of favour as the quickest way of climbing to high ranks. For a while Facehunter used to be all over the Ladder, nowadays Midrange Hunter is the most common sight.
Facehunter plays a large number of low-cost cards that deal a lot of damage quickly. There are Minions with Charge, Weapons, two or three Secrets (mainly Explosive Trap), some damage-dealing spells, and a few simple synergies. There is very little variety between the different versions of this deck. Facehunter counts on finishing the game before he runs out of cards. There is no healing, no card draw, and it lacks board clears (but it does have Unleash the Hounds). Opponents should plan on surviving until the Facehunter runs out of cards to play, or if equally aggressive, deal more damage quicker. Matches between aggressive decks (especially mirror matches) can be very interesting as they are often won by one of the players being better at deciding when to fight for the board and when to go for the face.
Midrange Hunters can also be very aggressive but they carry more expensive cards, as well as considerably more late-game Minions like Dr. Boom or Savannah Highmane. There is more variety in how they are structured – their Secrets can vary (although I find Freezing Trap to be the most useful). Playing against them is more complicated as they are well-rounded. They rarely run out of cards and can keep the pressure up for a very long time with sticky Minions like Piloted Shredder and Savannah Highmane. Their weaknesses tend to be their lack of healing and no board clears (once again, they do carry Unleash the Hounds) so outpacing them generally works.
There are two other types of decks I would like to mention – Hybrid and Beast Hunter. Hybrid, as the name suggests, combines the best of Facehunter and Midrange Hunter – it is essentially an aggressive deck but it uses sticky Minions to deal ongoing persistent damage. Beast Hunter is a version of Midrange Hunter that uses many of the different available Beast synergies. You may find Ram Wrangler, Tomb Spider, and even Tundra Rhino.
Hunter has a surprisingly large number of good Control cards. However, they don’t always go very well together, and the hero power is a huge setback for slow decks which is why Control Hunter is so rare on the Ladder. Sir Finley Mrrgglton has something to say about Hunter’s hero power, but even he can’t save this deck from being quite weak.
For a long time, I used to dislike the Hunter class as Facehunter and other aggressive decks that followed, all of them greatly speeding up the meta, were the reason for the disappearance of a lot of the fun decks that I used to play. Nowadays, and with a more rounded meta, I actually enjoy playing Hunter, or against him. I still consider Hunter one of the best ways to climb the Ladder quickly and I find there’s a lot to learn even while playing Facehunter. Best of all, Hunter decks tend to be very cheap while staying competitive, making them available to newer players from early on.
To finish up, I hope that this guide has been of use and that you found out something that you didn’t know before. If not, you certainly made it very far. Have fun playing Hearthstone and make sure to check out our other helpful guides and articles here. I will see you on the Ladder.
- Midrange decks generally play for the board early on, going aggressively later in the game. Often they will play a control game against aggressive decks and be more aggressive against control decks.
- Aggressive decks like to build pressure from the very start of the game and take out the opponent before he manages to find his footing. Aggressive decks generally favour the face more than trading with enemy Minions.
- Ranked play mode where players compete against each other, trying to reach higher ranks. The climb begins at rank 25, going all the way to rank 1 and Legend rank after that.
- The ability to deal enough damage to defeat the opponent is called Lethal.
- Facehunter has become less popular with the advent of other aggressive decks, Secret Paladin prime among them. Reno Jackson is another reason – Facehunter doesn’t stand a chance against a deck that can heal all of its Hero’s health in one turn.
- A match where identical decks meet each other.
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