Guide: Budget Hunter Deck (Ladder and Tournament)
Hi! [DKMR]BorN back with another guide! This week, instead of simply focusing on one deck, we also wanted to give newer players who are looking to start playing competitively a stepping stone to do so!
Our article will focus on a Budget Hunter deck that can be used on the ladder, which can take you as far as Legend and can also be used in tournaments, specifically “limited” style tournaments. A limited tournament is one where Epic and Legendary cards are banned.
Although the limited style is no less competitive than a regular style tournament, it levels the playing field for players who have not yet built an arsenal of Legendaries or Epics.
Now let’s get into this deck. This Budget Hunter deck is one I have used personally to get 1st place in ManaGrind’s Wednesday Night Limited Swiss tournament. It’s your typical standard Hunter Aggro deck with the omission of Leeroy Jenkins. I replace him with a second Arcane Golem, but if you would like to save on dust by using a Starving Buzzard or second Bluegill Warrior, that works too. The crafting cost of this deck is 960 dust.
Hunter Aggro revolves around doing damage to your opponent, whether it is with spells, charge minions, or your weapon. Keep in mind while playing this deck is your damage per mana efficiency. Essentially, doing one damage per mana each turn over seven turns will do 28 damage. Now, the goal of this deck is to win by turn seven against most decks, excluding Warrior Control which takes some extra patience. This being said, to achieve 30 plus damage in seven turns, we have to get more than one damage per mana out of some of our cards. We do this with cards like Leper Gnome, Arcane Shot, and the controversial: Unleash the Hounds.
Not only does almost every card in this deck act as burst damage, but they can also serve as removal. This helps against potentially more aggressive decks like Warlock Aggro or Murlock decks. This allows you to be defensive, while also ticking your opponent’s life away with your two damage Hero Power each turn.
When we play Hunter Aggro, we want to curve up our turns quite nicely; this means to mulligan for a turn one drop as well as a turn three drop. The reason for not stressing a two drop is because on turn two we can simply use our Hero Power to inflict damage. This also allows us to use any two drop on turn four in conjunction with our Hero Power for a nice curve as well as mana efficiency.
As for which one drop to mulligan for, we always want a Leper Gnome. Although a turn one Elven Archer shot to your opponent’s face is okay, we tend to want to save them for removal of your opponent’s weak minions or in a combo with . The same goes for Abusive Sergeant, we want to save this guy so we can get max value out of it, since it could die turn one without getting its two damage for one mana value.
Here we usually want to just use our Hero Power, as it allows us to save a card while still being mana efficient. A Bluegill Warrior can be dropped here in some situations, but it is preferred to save such a minion for turn four, when it can be used with the Hero Power. An Explosive Trap can be played here in extreme situations when you are fearing your opponent’s aggression, usually in a Hunter Aggro mirror match, but we almost never want to do this.
When it comes to three drops, we have some more flexibility. We have Wolfrider, Animal Companion, and the trusty Eaglehorn Bow. Our preferred play here is Animal Companion, as it is one of the strongest three mana minions and can be difficult to deal with for your opponent. If you don’t have Animal Companion for your turn three play, or turn two with coin, I like to play a Wolfrider on an empty board or an Eaglehorn Bow if your opponent has a minion.
The reasoning behind this is that a Wolfrider would die instantly to the opponent’s minion and most likely die itself, and we want our opponent to have minions early, but not too many. This is because we are hoping to combo our Unleash the Hounds soon. I omitted Arcane Golem as a turn three play because we want to be very careful when playing this card, usually saving it for a burst finisher, as giving your opponent extra mana can allow them to defend against your push easier.
Also a note on Eaglehorn Bow: use your traps to replenish the charges before letting it be destroyed, unless you need the extra face damage before your opponent can play a taunt, or if you have another bow ready.
This is where we want to play a two mana card alongside our Hero Power, for example: Explosive Trap, Bluegill Warrior, or Misdirection if favorable. If we have Unleash the Hounds as well as a Starving Buzzard available, we might want to consider dropping that combo to get some card draw, but only if your opponent has two or more minions. It is important to be patient with your combo; sometimes it is best to hold off until turn five to have enough mana to play a Timber Wolf to add to the combo, adding another card drawn as well as double damage for your hounds.
Finishing the Game
The rest of your turns should involve making use of the rest of your plays available. With your opponent getting close to low health, they will be trying to protect themselves with taunt or heals. Try to get your entire minion and attack damage in before they lay down a taunt.
Save your direct spell damage for when this happens and finish the game with Arcane Shot or Kill Command. If you are struggling against another aggro deck, drop down an Abomination, as it will protect you as well as potentially clear your opponent’s board. Try to save your Abomination for this situation; playing your other minions is almost always the better play.
The Hunter Mirror
The Hunter mirror match is basically a coin flip, winner typically comes down to whoever has the better draw, but this isn’t always the case. You both will be racing to finish each other off the fastest, so some plays you normally wouldn’t do against some heroes can actually work in your favor here. An example would be playing a Timber Wolf on turn one. Normally this is a somewhat terrible play, but when every bit of damage counts, this one wolf can win you the game. Do not rely on your secrets to protect you; some Hunters do run Flare, so clearing your opponent’s board while also playing an Explosive Trap is a safer move.
You must be patient here or your opponent will endure through all your punishment. Try to use your Hero Power every turn, saving your cards except for when you can use them with your Hero Power. Getting the max value out of each card is very important, just as much as a well-timed combo. If you’re going to push your opponent below 10 health, make sure you can finish them off. The last thing you need is to see lethal on your next turn only to be met by Alexstrasza and a heal back to 15.
Be wary about putting your opponent’s life below 15, you do not want double taunted Molten Giant; unless you either have removal for both or enough direct damage to end the game. You have the advantage in this matchup, but you must try to win quickly or you’ll find yourself facing a plethora of beefy 8/8 minions.
Want To Start Playing Competitively?
If you’re looking to start taking your game to the next level, tournaments are a great way to start. I highly suggest checking out ManaGrind’s Limited Swiss EU and NA Tournaments. They offer a fun community setting that brings players back week after week as well as a way to meet other players.
These tournaments are in limited format, they are also of the Swiss style, meaning you will play around six to seven rounds before being either eliminated or you move on to the top cut. This is great practice and it’s free to join! Just remember to read all the rules, be respectful, have good sportsmanship, and most importantly, have fun!
This Week’s Decks to Watch Out For
These are decks we are seeing pop up more on the ladder as well as in tournaments. These decks could become part of the new Meta, or could just be a phase. This week we are featuring Ramp Druid, [DKMR] Giants Paladin and the new [DKMR] Zeus Shaman.