No feature on Hunters would be complete without looking over all the bestial companions these wilderness walkers have access to. Having discussed some of the abilities and spells Hunters have access to on Tuesday, we’ll spend today looking at what friends they’ll bring to the battlefield, and discuss what Rexxar needs to do in order to be successful against the wicked world of minion destruction.
Darkspear Hunter and Houndmaster are both there, should you wish to utilize them. Mentioned earlier, both cards feature reliable buffs for your savage critters. When I say reliable I mean that they have a simple condition. Darkspear Hunter comes out. If he lives, your subsequent beasts will gain a +1/+1. That’s all that has to be done. He’s also a 2/2 for two energy, so, again. That’s solid. Houndmaster would be a fantastic card at three energy, but at four the minion falls more into the ‘meh’ category. The big issue with this card is that, if you have no beasts on the board, he’s actually very much subpar, being a 4/3 as stats go. Definitely make sure to have something out before playing him if you run him, in order to profit from his battlecry of +2/+2 and taunt to a friendly beast.
Beasts and Pets
The Hunter deck features the potential for creatures to buff each other with a little bit of planning. Experienced deck builders know that constructing something successful requires a balanced build, and one of the strengths of the Hunter deck is that it offers so many low energy options. All you have to do is look through the list and figure out which creatures are most useful to what you’re trying to do.
At one energy, Timber Wolf is an easy call. A 1/1 for 1 that buffs other beasts with +1 attack. That’s great, and if you’re going for something synergy oriented as opposed to some strange combo deck that features generic creatures, run Timber Wolf.
The next tier, two energy, is also simple. Run both Scavenging Hyena and Starving Buzzard. Both cards feature 2/2 across the board and come with unique spell effects that make them worthwhile. Starving Buzzard in particular is an obnoxious card to deal with if left unchecked and will probably eat a kill card right off the bat, as your opponent will not want you enjoying all that sweet, sweet card generation. That’s one of the issues with the Hunter deck. Most of the really solid pets do awesome stuff but have such a low health pool that they’re basically made of glass. Classes that feature area of effect damage cards will prove especially irritating, something that is demonstrated in the Shaman versus Hunter Live Fireside Duel. Oh god, so much lightning.
At three energy, figure out what you think your deck needs. The three different pets, Leokk, Huffer and Misha each feature unique passives and stats that make obvious their intended purpose. The balanced choice is Leokk. At 2/4, he’s a meaty pet capable of taking a hit or two while also buffing other minions (not just pets) with a +1 attack. Huffer is the aggressive option. He probably won’t survive long at 4/2, but with charge, he’ll at least get one shot to hit for a decent amount. Misha is the defensive option, complete with a 4/4 rating and taunt. Again, all three are very solid, and it might be that you run most if not all of them. It just depends what you feel like your deck needs.
The higher energy beasts are sort of hit and miss. It’s possible I’m just not getting it, but Tundra Rhino seems like a subpar card, and I wouldn’t run him. The beast features a 2/5 rating and gives all of your other creatures charge. He’s beefy, but there’s just not enough punch there to warrant the high cost of the card. Savannah Highmane on the other hand is worth considering. The six energy price tag is definitely high, but for it you get a 6/5 and two 2/2 hyenas upon the creature dying. That’s very nice. King Krush, the Hunter legendary is not terrible, but for nine energy, it doesn’t feel like he does enough. He’ll definitely have at least one turn to wreak havoc, but as long as Big Game Hunter is so absurdly overpowered and being universally run, I’d be hesitant to play anything for that much energy that wasn’t a sure win condition. There’s definitely an argument to be made though that just because of his massive stats and charge that he’s worth running. Either argument makes sense.
In our Hearthstone previews, we’ve discussed both the Warrior and the Shaman, two very different decks with different playstyles. The Hunter differs from both, but is probably closer to the Warrior deck. It’s a deck that’s capable of generating a lot of pressure through minion synergy and being aggressive. Unleash the Hounds and Bestial Wrath will allow Rexxar the chance to pick his fights with buffed up/invincible creatures and use of the right traps will afford the Hunter deck an early leg up on attacking enemies. That said, I feel like the Hunter Deck could have some issues against other aggressive decks. There is a lot of creature buffing going on, but there’s very little health buffing, meaning that those low tier creatures, while potentially hitting hard, don’t have the endurance to survive as the match goes on.
I honestly believe traps will be the decisive factor at the end of the day. Comboing cards like Snake Trap with Starving Buzzard for three quick cards, and then playing something like Unleash the Hounds or a minion that buffs creature attack damage will give you an early advantage that should put your opponent in a hole. Explosive Trap is another card that, when tripped, will give you the chance to go on the offensive with impunity. The Hunter deck won’t get fancy, but it doesn’t need to. It needs to keep buffing, pressuring and making use of kill cards, Steady Shot and class weapons in order to tip the scales to a point the opponent cannot come back from. Not unlike aggro decks in Magic the Gathering, the Hunter’s best shot is early, before the opponent can get established. This is of course assuming you build something similar to what I’ve mentioned. If you have other ideas for the Hunter deck, by all means, leave them in the comments section!
For next week, we at BlizzPro are going to be switching it up. It’s time to talk caster classes, and we’re going to let you the viewers decide what we preview. The choices are Priest, Warlock or Mage. Comment below to cast your vote!
Have you missed our features on the Warrior and Shaman decks? Take a look here!