Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Going Full Huntard

(aka If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.)

I've been stuck around Rank 11 the last few days with my Meta Shammy deck, primarily due to the increase in aggressive, low-cost hunters. I've even swapped in Far Seers for health and Feral Spirits for taunt, but it  felt like a lost cause. I figured the best way to see what I was doing wrong was to see what my opponents were doing right, and began investigating.

I found a streamer named GaaraBestShaman that ranked from 25 to legendary with hunter playing a deck he called "KFC RUSH". The highest cost card in the deck is Leeroy Jenkins, and the mana curve is more of a spike. Take a look for yourself - after a a couple of slight modifications I've named this "Full Huntard".

With a deck like this, you might assume you always go for face and ignore the opponent's minions... but that's not always the case.

When you can trade up without it being 2-for-1 you probably want to, especially if it's for something like a Knife Juggler. You'll find yourself trading against warlock zoo sometimes, and that's alright if you have another Unleash waiting in your deck.

While Buzzard/Unleash is there, you're typically not trying to max out the number of hounds created and deck yourself (unless of course it means lethal to the opponent). More often you'll Unleash for 3-4, hopefully with a Timber Wolf to allow for trading up.

Hunter's Mark is primarily used to kill big taunts, but may sometimes be needed against other threats you can't deal with easily (Fire Elemental, Ogre, Ragnaros, etc.). Arcane Shot is mostly used to remove pesky minions (Knife Juggler, Flame Imp, Arcane Golem), but can be the damage needed to finish your opponent.

Argent Squire, Leper Gnome, and Loot Hoarder are cheap, efficient minions to do damage in the early game. You can safely play these right away against anyone but rogues, druids, and mages (though Argent Squire is still an ok early drop even then). Stonetusk Boar is a deceptively good card in this deck due to beast synergy and charge.

Two each of Explosive and Freezing Traps serve as board clear, stalling, and giving your Eaglehorn Bow extra charges. Freezing Trap is great if the opponent has one minion on board and doesn't run charge - you can safely play minions without fear of attack (unless they use spells or weapons).

Kill Command, Eaglehorn Bow, and Arcane Golem have a wide variety of uses. While going for face with them all the time is the dream, it's likely you'll need to use them sometimes against 3+ health taunts. Leeroy is hopefully a finisher alongside Unleash the Hounds, and should be saved for the victory if possible.

As for weaknesses, this deck has a tough matchup against heavily-armored warriors and heal-spam priests. You almost need to save Kill Commands for face damage just to mitigate the health/armor gain, but these decks also run large minions that you'll have to deal with.

Defender of Argus can sometimes make your Explosive Trap useless, and Feral Spirit can slow you down when played at the right time. Against other hunters, it's most likely a race to see who gets their Eaglehorn Bow first.

Gaara says this deck isn't easy to play, and that's true if you happen to be a complete moron that can't hit big purple buttons at the right time. Otherwise, only a minor amount of skill is required - pretty much what you'd expect from any decent deck. I've gained three ranks since going Full Huntard, and I admit it's not that hard to do.

That said, I'm relatively sure hunter nerfs are coming soon - whether it's to Unleash the Hounds (again), Explosive Trap, or something else I'm not certain. Something about it sure feels broken, though it does allow players with a modest budget to compete against decks running way more legendaries, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

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