Every Friday a legendary member from team IHearthU breaks down IHU’s “Deck of the Week” . These decks are seeing a lot of play either in constructed ladder or tournaments. Team IHU explains the deck lists and how to play them. View past Deck Lists of the Week.
Goblins vs Gnomes hit last Monday and with that a whole new metagame. Warrior gained another tool to fight back against the aggressive decks, some decks which were almost non-existent in the metagame are now top competitors, like Paladin and Mage. We also now have access to Dr. Boom, a new staple in control and midrange strategies, but we always start by looking at the most successful strategies. One of the most dominant decks on the new ladder has been the dreaded Hunter deck. Hunter gained access to a bunch of new cards, but the most important card that they gained was Clockwork Gnome. Clockwork Gnome gives you a spell that affects the board (most of the time) and Hunter is a deck that gets tempo on the board. The most important aspect of course, is that it is another 1-mana Deathrattle for those Undertaker draws. This deck, much like the Chillwind Yeti Hunter I innovated focuses on the curve. Replacing the Chillwind Yetis for the superior Mechanical Yeti and Tracking to replace the nerfed Flare made the deck more powerful with the new upgrades. Let’s go into the card choices to see what makes this deck so powerful.
1 Tracking –Tracking is probably one of the best cards in the game. For one mana, you are presented the top 3 cards in your deck, you choose one and discard the other two. This is a very powerful effect. It gives your deck card selection, which no other deck has access to and helps you find that finishing damage, as well as increases the consistency and helps you set up future turns while filling out your mana curve. We’ll probably see more of Tracking in the coming weeks.
2 Clockwork Gnome – Clockwork Gnome is the new all-star of Deathrattle centric decks. GVG gave another neutral 1-mana deathrattle and it has a very beneficial effect. Each one of the spells affects the board and helps you fill out your mana curve while helping you control the game. The two best Spare Parts for the deck are the one that switches attack/health of a minion or the one that freezes a minion, but they’re all good. The conceal Spare Part can steal games and Time Rewinder lets you reuse Ironbeak Owl, Huffer or Loatheb.
1 Leper Gnome – Leper Gnome, often a staple in these decks is being phased out for the superior Clockwork Gnome. 1 Leper Gnome for consistency fits the deck perfectly. You could argue to play the second one over the Tracking if you wanted to increase your chances of a powerful opener but I think the Tracking’s better for consistency.
2 Undertaker – Undertaker is obviously the strongest 1 drop in the game, no questions. This card has the potential to spiral out of control as early as turn 2. With so many 1 and 2 drop Deathrattles available to Hunter, it wouldn’t surprise me to see 4/5 Undertakers on turn 2 or 3. If you don’t have Undertaker in your opening hand, I’d consider throwing away every single card for Undertaker unless your hand is already very good.
2 Webspinner – Webspinner is a cheap Deathrattle and a Beast for Kill Command. There aren’t any Houndmasters in this deck so you could consider taking one out for Leper Gnome if you are so inclined. There are so many beasts in the game that there is no real median average but most of the time it doesn’t matter what you get, so long as you can play it or it’s a cheap activator for Kill Command.
2 Freezing Trap – Freezing Trap is the most powerful secret in the game. Returning a minion to your opponents hand and making it cost more makes the minion almost completely useless. This card is always unfair with Mad Scientist and now with Flare costing 2 mana and being almost unplayable, this card can only get stronger. Be prepared to see more Freezing Traps as control gets more and more popular.
1 Snake Trap – Snake Trap is a tech choice often rotated in and out of the Hunter decks these days but it gets stronger right now as the deck is able to build up the board pressure very quickly. If you can make a large board and protect it with Snake Trap, you’ll be able to run over most decks very quickly. Protect the Snake Trap versus classes that can proc it easily. Don’t go all-in on Snake Trap versus Warrior or Paladin but against the other classes, the card is very solid. This card is super good in aggro mirror matches as well.
2 Haunted Creeper – Haunted Creeper is a cheap, sticky Deathrattle. It fits the deck very well, providing you with another minion to play on turn 2. It’s an activator for Kill Command as well. The card loses a bit of strength without Knife Jugglers in this deck but it’s still a very strong card for the synergy it adds to the deck.
1 Ironbeak Owl – Ironbeak Owl is almost a staple in aggressive strategies. The card silences Sludge Belcher which is the bane of this deck’s existence. The card also silences Mad Scientists and Undertakers in the mirror match and lets you keep the tempo by silencing taunts or minions frozen by the Spare Part. This card will continue to be an important card in Hunter as we move forward.
2 Loot Hoarder – Loot Hoarder gets the nod in this new version over Knife Juggler because you need the card draw to keep up in the mid game versus Priest and Warrior. Knife Juggler will return to its former glory if Aggro picks back up or Paladin gets extremely popular as Knife Juggler / Unleash the Hounds completely wrecks Muster for Battle.
2 Mad Scientist – Mad Scientist continues to be the most powerful 2-drop in the game and if you’re Mage or Hunter, you have to have a really good reason for not playing it. In this deck, Snake Trap and Freezing Trap are the two most efficient traps due to their strength in control matchups so Mad Scientist is always going to get extreme value in those matchups.
2 Eaglehorn Bow – Eaglehorn Bow is one of the Hunter’s most powerful tools. Cheap removal and a lot of face damage combined with your secrets. I am honestly surprised that this Hunter deck wasn’t playing Glavezooka as pseudo 3rd Eaglehorn Bow. I cannot stress how important it is in Hunter to draw your weapons. They help you get board and keep it as well as let you put on the pressure in the late game.
2 Animal Companion – Animal Companion is potentially the most powerful 3-drop in the game. It’s either a 4/4 taunt which is insane value for the mana, a 4/2 charge with no draw back, which is a lot of damage or Leokk which can basically win the game on its own if you have board control. The randomness of the card is the only downside but the minions you get are so individually powerful that it’s worth it to play the card in just about every Hunter deck.
2 Kill Command – Kill Command is one of the most flexible removal cards in the game. For 3 mana it can deal 5 damage which is enough to kill Chillwind Yetis, Sludge Belchers, etc or deal 5 damage as a finisher. (7 combined with the hero power and 10 with Eaglehorn Bow and the Hero power.) Kill Command is one of the main reasons you play Hunter. Not much can be said about this very powerful card.
2 Mechanical Yeti – Mechanical Yeti is a strict upgrade from Chillwind Yeti for this deck. It’s a 4/5 deathrattle that has a beneficial effect, as stated earlier the Spare Parts have a lot of synergy in the Hunter deck and giving one to your opponent isn’t always a big deal as if they want to use it, they usually have to play off curve. This card helps in the Priest matchup as it not only trumps Dark Cultist but is a 4/5 minion which is insanely hard to deal with. This card also helps the Druid matchup because it gives you something powerful to do before you drop Savannah Highmane.
1 Loatheb – Loatheb is still one of the most powerful cards in the game. If you play it from almost any winning position, you will lock up the game for sure. This card makes it really hard to use board clears and makes removing even one minion very inefficient. It forces them to spend their entire turn playing minions which if you have the Freezing Trap, you almost auto-win the game. It’s crazy how efficient Loatheb can be in aggro decks.
1 Sludge Belcher – 1 Sludge Belcher gets the nod because it protects your board and makes it really inefficient for your opponent to clear. If you play more than 1 it’s too cloggy and it’s usually better than most 5-drops unless you play Houndmaster, then I’d recommend Stranglethorn Tiger, but in this deck where you just want to curve out perfectly with Deathrattles, Sludge Belcher is the obvious choice.
2 Savannah Highmane – Long live the king. Savannah Highmane has long been a staple in Hunter decks. It is probably the most powerful 6 drop in the game and is a game winner by itself. It’s extremely inefficient to remove and deals a ton of damage regardless if it’s the front end or the deathrattle. This is the card that wins you the game by itself against control decks. If you curve into a Savannah Highmane it’s almost impossible for you to lose.
In this deck you’re typically just going to throw away all your cards for 1-drops. You really want to get in that early damage. If you have Undertaker in your opening hand, throw away every other card for 1-mana Deathrattles, you have 5 of them. If you’re on the coin, you can keep Mad Scientist but going first. You might want to keep Eaglehorn Bow on the coin vs. Shaman and Priest its super good at dealing with their early pressure. If you get board position vs. either one of those decks, you’re in a winning position. Never keep Kill Command. You can keep a good curve if you have one. It really just depends on what your initial first cards are and that helps you play out your hand.
The Game Plan
The game plan for this and any hunter deck is to establish board control early and then convert your strong board position into face damage. Once you have the board – you should try and set yourself up into positions where you can go all face with Freezing Trap locking down their 1 minion. If you can do that, they’re 2 turns behind as they’d have to play another minion, wait a turn before attacking with it and you’ve gotten in 2 extra turns of face damage from the Freezing Trap. Snake Trap sets up similar locks but turns the game into more of a face-race where you’re heavily favored.
Hunter remains to be one of the strongest decks in the game. It gained some new tools and will definitely remain to be one of the most popular decks due to its cheap dust cost and strength in a variety of matchups. As new options are explored, we might see even more powerful Hunter decks. This deck does really well in the current control environment. The deck might have to be modified if Hunter gets more popular. Until next week, Impact signing off.