Hi, this is Danny Donuts again with another installment in my series on teching your deck. (If you missed out on the introduction to teching article check it out here!) In this article I will be going a bit more in depth and discussing how to build and tech a deck to counter various other decks. Midrange Hunter is an extremely versatile deck which can be modified to counter many different match-ups. It has a core group of cards that rarely change from build to build, as well as having space to add cards which can help improve match-ups. This makes it a perfect deck to start understanding how to deckbuild, or if you are already an experienced player, a way to tech your deck against specific match-ups and gain a higher win rate. It is especially interesting to look at this deck currently, as the midrange hunter deck is a very good counter to a warrior filled meta.
There are currently other hunter decks besides midrange, such as aggro hunter, hybrid hunter, trap hunter, and Yogg ‘n load, but the most common deck that is currently seen in the meta after the release of WotOG is the midrange hunter. This deck has changed since the release of standard, and the most powerful version has become more of a midrange deck than it has been in the past. This is mostly due to the loss of Haunted Creeper, the nerf to Knife Juggler and the inclusion of Call Of The Wild. For simplicity’s sake I will only be considering the midrange hunter build in this article.
This is a list of the cards that are in the majority of all midrange hunter decks. Some decks may cut a card or two from this selection, but unless you have a specific and deliberate reason why you are doing so, it is probably best to keep this shell and build off of it. Below I will list each card, and give a brief description on why this card is important to the deck so that we understand what we are building around.
1x Huge Toad
A solid 2-drop that can trade with all aggressive early game minions, which allows for you to maintain board control. With a lucky deathrattle ping, the Huge Toad can even trade evenly with Shaman’s Totem Golem. Most hunter builds will consist of three copies of a combination of Huge Toad and King’s Elekk, but some fit in all four copies. Typically there is only one copy of huge toad, as the potential for a draw is a bit better than a random ping.
2x Kings Elekk
A great 2 drop in this deck. The potential of drawing a card is always advantageous, and the 3/2 stat line contests most early game minions. The joust that occurs when this card is played can also be used to tell what type of deck is being played based on your opponents card that is seen. This is very useful currently, as there are upwards of 5 different viable warrior decks being played and they all share most of the same early game cards.
2 mana for 3 damage removal is really useful in the early game to remove a minion to maintain board control, or as burst damage to finish your opponent off. The ability to draw an extra card if your hand is empty is a perk, but is not always used in this manner, as it is much more valuable in other situations, such as making good trades, or setting up lethal for the next turn.
2x Animal Companion
One of the most powerful 3 mana spells in the game, the three companions are all useful in their own way. Great to play on turn three or even in the late game. You will have to adapt to the companion that you roll when played, but often all three companions can be useful.
2x Eaglehorn Bow
Weapons are really useful when reacting to all of your opponent’s early game minions. Doing 3 damage 2 times is really useful to the midrange hunter’s game plan, as keeping board control is always really important. Be cautious of weapon removal however, there currently is a lot on the ladder due to the popularity of warrior and shaman.
2x Kill Command
Kill Command is a really powerful damage spell. It is typically is going to be used to burst your opponent down for lethal, but it is also useful to remove a dangerous medium sized minion in the mid to late game.
1x Unleash The Hounds
This is a great card against aggro decks but not so useful against control and midrange decks. Some decklists use two copies of this card if they are targeting aggressive decks such as zoo, but there recently have been some decks that cut this card completely. Can be used as an activator for Kill Command late game to burst your opponent down for lethal.
With all the beasts in this deck Houndmaster is a great inclusion. If you have a beast on the board you can consider the card to be a 4 mana 6/5 with 2/2 of those stats having charge. Seeing how the game plan of this deck is to gain the board in the early game, it is really likely that you will have a beast on board when you play this card. It sucks to have to play this without a beast on board, but sometimes it is necessary to play the card for tempo.
2x Infested Wolf
Infested Wolf is a sticky minion and one of the few ones that are left after Naxx and GVG were rotated out. It is really hard to get rid of a 3/3 body and then the two tokens that are left behind afterward. Compared to the pre-standard card that was in this slot, Piloted Shredder, it is not as powerful, but the beast tag is very synergistic, and this card has been surprisingly useful in standard. This is currently one of the weaker cards in the core set, but as there are not many beasts or other viable cards in the 4 mana slot for this deck it is still in my opinion considered a member of the core cards.
2x Savannah Highmane
This card is insane. In my opinion, the power level of this card is on par with legendary status, and you get to put two of them into your deck. The card can be used to kill most late game threats, and leaves behind two 2/2 minions which can leave a board presence. There is a saying that if you can play Savannah Highmane on an open board you win the game automatically. This pretty much stands in WOG, as the power level of this card has only increased since standard hit.
2x Call of the Wild
This card is the most powerful one in your deck, and is your finisher card. If you are behind on the board the 5/4 taunt is useful to protect yourself, and having 5 charge damage can be used to trade for the board, or used to go face. Additionally the additional damage given to your on board minions by Leokk can allow for extra burst damage or to make better trades. It is absolutely devastating if you play both copies of this card back to back.
The core of this deck consists of 20 cards, which leaves us with around 10 cards to add to the deck of our choosing. I will list a selection of these additional cards, and give a brief explanation on how they can benefit the deck. I will split these cards into 2 sections: the cards you will commonly see in these spots and uncommon cards which are some cards that you might not see regularly, but are sometimes situationally viable.
Common Tech Cards
A good 1 drop minion, it trades into all one drops if you are lucky with the ping, and most two drops as well. This card is good in the early game, but not as useful in the late game. The decks that usually are looking to counter aggro may play this card. One issue with this card is that the one damage ping is random, and can turn the game in your favor or against you based on its outcome. This card is really common in the current meta, but is not necessarily an auto-include when constructing your deck. Fiery Bat is on the cusp of being a core card, but it is cut a bit more frequently than other core cards.
Generally Hunter’s Mark is useful when playing against decks that are running big minions. This combos well with Unleash The Hounds and Quickshot. This card allows for large tempo swings, and the ability to regain board control against another midrange or control deck. Typically this card performs the same purpose as Deadly Shot, but is geared towards a situation where there are two or more minions on board and you want to kill a larger minion. Deadly Shot is typically better when there is just one big minion, as it does not require additional damage to kill it.
Tracking is useful card in your deck because it is essentially better than just drawing a card. The card’s discover effect allows you to choose a card to fit the situation that you are in. You lose the two other cards, but that is not a huge loss because the goal of this deck is typically not to out control your opponent. If this deck starts to get to fatigue, you probably have already lost the game, so the loss of the two cards will not really matter. This card is also useful in this deck as you can sometimes not curve out perfectly, and can sneak this card in after playing a minion.
Explosive Trap/Freezing Trap
Including one or two of these traps is common in most decks. Explosive Trap is best when used against aggro decks, and Freezing Trap is best against midrange/control decks. These are great to combo with the Eaglehorn Bow, but tempo is more important, and you most likely will have to play them without the bow, or the bow without the traps.
Acidic Swamp Ooze
With the prominence of Shaman and Warrior on the ladder, there is sometimes a need for weapon removal. With hunter there really is not much room in the deck for Harrison Jones and you should be contesting your opponent early on. Ooze is better than Harrison in this regard, as you can get rid of Firey War Axe on turn 2 with this card.
A recent addition to hunter, if you were to go back to pre-standard and tell any professional hearthstone player that hunters would be playing Doomsayer, they probably would have told you that you were crazy. This is used in some hunter builds in order to combat aggro, and additionally to allow you to gain control over the board. Making your opponent stall out for a turn can be extremely effective. However, if you are playing against a midrange or control deck this draw can be dead in the later part of the game as you don’t want to kill your own minions when you have control of the board.
Another 2 drop that can be put into your deck if you are trying to tech against aggro. Like Fiery Bat and Huge Toad, the one damage ping can make or break your strategy, so this card is typically not played unless specifically targeting aggro.
Carrion Grub is the default three mana minion to be included in this deck. The main issue with its inclusion is that there are so many good three Mana cards, such as Eaglehorn Bow, Kill Command, Animal Companion, and Unleash The Hounds. Some decks have cut this spot entirely, while others will run one or two copies.
This card is used as a tech against control decks that will not be playing one drops. If there is a lot of control decks in the meta, Desert Camel can take the place of Carrion Grub. When this card is played, typically Fiery Bat and Injured Kvaldir is included in the deck as well. This card is extremely weak against aggressive decks.
Dreadscale is really good against token heavy decks such as zoo. The whirlwind effect that it casts after each turn can absolutely wreck aggressive decks. On the other hand it has really weak stats with only 2 health, and can be killed simply by a weapon charge, or a low cost minion that survives the first round of its damage.
The three drop spot is already really competitive, but in the current meta this card is a consideration in the typical hunter build. When playing against slower decks, this card can completely remove one of your opponent’s large minions for a low cost. This card is not good against aggro decks, as it is typically not worth it to spend three mana to get rid of a one drop. Like Fiery Bat, this card is also almost a core card. In this warrior filled meta, Deadly Shot is a very good card, but when facing other matchups, it can be a bit less powerful.
Typically there is room for two five drops in a midrange hunter deck, but there is room for more if there is a need for them, such as in greedy decks or other special circumstances. There is a good variance on which cards are run in these spots.
The Stampeding Kodo is a great 5 drop, as its battlecry will help punish decks that are running aggressive minions. However, its stats are not on par with those of a normal 5 drop, and cannot really contest much against larger minions. It is a really good reactive minion, but not really a proactive one.
On the other hand, Strangelthorn Tiger is a really proactive minion, but not so much a reactive one. Stealth guarantees that this minion will attack unless you are already dead on the next turn. The tiger is very good against Rouge and Priest, as it cannot be sapped or entombed when played.
The Tundra Rhino is another viable 5 drop that sees some play in midrange hunter. It can be used in the later part of the game to give other smaller beasts charge, and if it stays on the board for one turn, it can be used to make some big minions gain charge, such as Savannah Highmane, or even all of the animal companions from Call Of The Wild.
If you already have beasts on board Ram Wrangler shines. Of course there is a variance when he is played, but overall the beasts that he summons plus his 3/3 body will almost always be worth more than a 5 drop. This is a really bad card if you cannot leave a beast on board or if you cannot combo it with one when played.
Uncommon Tech Cards
These cards are not typically seen when played on the ladder in the current meta, however in certain circumstances can be really powerful.
Flare is a great way to tech against secrets for hunter. The matchups that this really counters is freeze mage and secret paladin, but these decks are currently not being played much on the standard ladder. If they were to start being played more however, this card would be a good inclusion.
Bear Trap/Snipe/Snake Trap
These secrets are not played often as freezing trap or explosive trap, as their impact can be inconsistent. However, if teched in properly, the traps can straight up win you games as people will typically not play around them.
This is a really heavy value card. It essentially cycles itself for another beast. The discover effect allows for you to play situationally, and gives you a variety of options. It is a bit slow at the moment for this variant of midrange hunter.
Harrison Jones is not run frequently in hunter, as Acidic Swamp Ooze is much better in stopping early game weapons and Harrison is a bit too slow when removing weapons. However, it offers more than just the removal of the weapon, as it draws cards, and has a pretty solid body for its mana cost, which can result in it being played anyway.
The Black Knight
This card is a good tech when people are playing a lot of taunts. Seeing as it has a very high casting cost, this card runs into some of the issues that Harrison Jones runs into in hunter, mostly being too slow. However, if the meta is made up of a significant amount of ramp druids this card may be a useful inclusion.
Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End
Now you may be thinking, “Didn’t Danny already say he wasn’t going to cover Yogg’n’ load hunter?”. While Yogg’n load is a viable deck, I am advocating this card as a tech card independent from the Lock and Load build. In a normal midrange hunter deck, you will typically be running around 10-12 spells, if not more, which is more than enough to make a pretty powerful Yogg. If you include Yogg, it can be an interesting tech in a situation where you play against control decks, it acts as a “Hail Mary Pass” and can make you win a game where you have fallen behind.
N’Zoth, The Corruptor
N’zoth is a very interesting card in midrange hunter, as you will already be playing five rather powerful deathrattle minions. However, the game plan of midrange hunter at the moment is a little bit faster than this card. If the meta slows down, this card could be very viable. It is important to note that when you include N’zoth there can be additional synergies created, and some people even have experimented with running a full deathrattle version of hunter including cards such as Princess Huhuran and Sylvanas.
Teched Deck Examples
Here are two examples of midrange hunter decks that pro players have built with the intention to target one or more specific decks using these tech cards.
This is a deck that was created by Mr. Yagut. It was one of the first midrange hunter decks once WotOG was released, and the inclusion of doomsayer allowed for it to counter aggressive decks really well.
This is SuperJJ’s Faceit Xfinity Midrange Camel Hunter deck. It is a very interesting build, as not only does it run Desert Camel and Injured Kavaldir, but it also cuts both copies of Savanah Highmane. The Desert Camel and Injured Kavaldir are included as a way to tech against control decks that will not be running one drops. Interestingly, the Savanah Highmane is cut for Stranglethorn Tiger due to Super JJ’s prediction that there would be a lot of rogue being played at the event. This allowed for the hunter to get a big drop to stick on the board and prevent a tempo loss from Valeera’s Sap.
Midrange hunter is an all-around solid deck, and a good one to ladder with. However, if you netdeck a well-known version of the deck, you might not be getting the most out of countering the meta, as it may have shifted, and the tech cards may not be optimal. Now that you know the situational usages of the cards used in midrange hunter, you can create your own deck list out of these pieces. This article should give you the tools to make an informed decision on how to build your deck, and hopefully improve the way you approach deckbuilding and teching your deck.
Have questions, comments, or a differing opinion? Leave a comment in the comment section below. If you enjoyed this article, and would like to be notified when I post a new article follow me on twitter @Dannydonuts_HS.