Welcome to another edition of CFWS! Adhering to the demand we had last week, this week’s article is going to discuss the Mid-range Hunter list SenX piloted to #1 Legend on EU server. It has since been adopted by many players on ladder.
As many of you already know, this series talks about the Flavor of the Week. We discuss how the deck functions, how it is played, its strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly, how it’s countered. But the series is not only about the Flavor of the Week. We also provide [you guys] suggestions for combating these decks. Moreover, each suggestion contains a corresponding brief explanation on how these decks play out.
So, shall we begin?
Explaining the Deck
Damn, Hunter again!
Well, the truth is that Hunter has always been around. Even before Undertaker
Created as a deck to take advantage of Hunter’s Beast Tribal power, Mid-range Hunter has evolved a lot since its initial incarnation. The deck is actually not very difficult to build or pilot as the plays are usually very straight-forward. Meanwhile, the overall power level of the deck is high enough that small mistakes are often forgiven (generally not the case with other decks at high Legend Rank). Given its simple learning curve and cheap price tag (lower required total dust cost), there is no surprise Mid-range Hunter is today’s most played deck.
Now let’s just jump into the deck’s general concept; it’s a mid-range deck (NO SHIT SHERLOCK!) with the goal of controlling the board in the early-mid stages of the game. After that, it aims to curve well into its late-game finishers of Savannah Highmane
Mid-range Hunter was initially built to take advantage of Hunter’s strong Beast synergy (i.e. Starving Buzzard + Unleash the Hounds
Another thing that makes the Hunter class so powerful is its class synergy with Mad Scientist
The Hunter list featured this week, as said before, is taken from SenX. It follows the standard Mid-range Hunter play-style: Abuse Hunter’s strong Beast synergy and Mad Scientist
The list plays out just like Zoo, snowballing the player’s control of the board. Unlike Zoo however, they have quite a few “outs” in case they lose board control.
There is also another Hunter list being played on ladder: The Face Hunter. This list is almost as common as Mid-range Hunter but plays out very differently as its main objective is to kill the opponent before he/she can respond. As a result, that deck will generally ignore board control and simply smash face every single turn.
The easiest way to differentiate Mid-range Hunter from its younger brother(Face Hunter) is to recognize Mid-range Hunter lacks 1-drops outside of Webspinner
The Deck’s Strengths
Well, we now understand how the deck is built. But what about the deck’s strengths? This deck has quite a lot of strengths and I personally recommend you take a deeper look at these next two sections of the article since they describe how the deck functions. If you’ve been reading my CFWS, you’ll know that understanding how a deck functions is crucial to figuring out how to beat it.
- Inevitability – Hunter’s hero power means that they will eventually be able to deal you 30 damage. Therefore, this staying power forces opponents not playing Warrior or Priest to have ways of slowing them down to metaphorically stop the bleeding. If the opponent is unable to do this, they will lose.
- Mid-game Power – Not all decks are focused on this department. Most decks are either built to fight aggro or control but not both. By having inherent mid-range abilities, the deck gets a slight boost in match-up percentages regardless of meta-game.
- Strong Curve – With any deck, the better it curves out during the game, the higher are its chances of winning. Right on cue, this deck has a very strong and smooth curve when compared to others. Moreover, is early game cards even scale decently into the mid-game.
- Reach – This deck has multiple ways of dealing direct damage to finish you off. In addition to its Hero Power, Kill Command also has the potential of dealing lethal damage straight to the face. In addition, Kill Command also be used as a decent removal spell when needed.
- Sticky Minions – Another reason why this deck is so powerful is due its strong and sticky minions. Most of the minions in this deck have the Deathrattle ability, meaning they’ll often leave another minion or effect behind after they die. This stickiness characteristic is best exemplified by Savannah Highmanedespite being the deck’s primary late-game minion. Some classes just don’t have an efficient way of dealing with it or Dr. Boom.
Note: Generally a lot of people are accustomed to playing against Face Hunter. However, not everyone is used to playing against Mid-range Hunter regardless of how long the deck has been around. Therefore, many players play against Mid-range Hunter as if they were playing against its smaller brother. This means giving up value for tempo early in the game and ultimately losing in the mid-game due to depletion of resources.
The Deck’s Weaknesses
Knowing a deck’s strengths allows us to predict how the opposing pilot will play. But recognizing an opposing pattern is only useful if know how to exploit the deck’s weaknesses! Once we realize how to do this, we should be able to breeze through our matches!
- Lack of Card Draw – Outside of some random Cult Masterturns, this deck has no way of drawing cards. Therefore, it runs out of gas eventually. However, the problem still lies in the fact that it has strong mid-game plays that often trades favorably. However, when a deck is built to fight that mid-range style, the Mid-range Hunter eventually runs out of steam and folds.
- Lack of Overall Defensive Mechanisms – Another thing that is weak about Hunter decks in general is its lack of defenses. Overall, this deck is built to play with the lead, having only a few outs against aggro decks. Instead, Mid-range Hunter is good against other mid-range decks (like Druid) but doesn’t have many ways of dealing with a bunch of early game minions outside of lucky (and unreliable since it’s a 2-card combo) Knife Juggler+ Unleash the Houndsturns. As you may have predicted, this means the deck is weak against its younger brother, the Face Hunter.
- Lack of Healing – Again, just like the previous weakness, this makes the deck highly vulnerable to aggro decks. Remember whenever you become the “beat-down”, you force the Hunter player into making bad trades in order to survive. Since the Hunter player will opt to trade most of the time against aggro, the aggro player (beat-down) should push really hard for damage since we’ve already established that Mid-range Hunter have poor defenses.
- Hero Power – The Hunter hero power is just too good whenever the Hunter player is ahead, pushing them further in the direction of inevitability. However, the Hunter’s hero power is just terrible when they’re behind since it doesn’t help deal with the current board position and doesn’t defend their health either.
How to Fight Against It!
We just figured out two ways of fighting against Mid-range Hunter: Play a control deck focused on fighting mid-game threats (i.e. Shaman, Priest, and/or Paladin) or play a very aggressive deck focused on pushing damage to force the Hunter into worrying about the board over your life total.
Listed below are some useful tips to be mindful of when fighting against Hunters.
- Proc their traps when Eaglehorn Bowisn’t present – If there is a way of “proc-ing” the Hunter’s traps without losing much tempo, do so. This is because the traps gain additional value when the Hunter has an Eaglehorn Bow out to benefit from them. Usually strong bow snowballing is what allows the deck to win games against Priests and Warriors. By pushing in more damage than Priest/Warrior plays can heal, Mid-range Hunter occasionally can steal these otherwise un-winnable games.
- As Priest – Always prioritize Mad Scientistwhenever you play your Cabal Shadow Priest. Not only will you be stealing his minion, you are also denying him a trap.
- As Shaman – Go for board control and don’t worry about your life total too much to the extent that your plays are crippled by it. Run Antique Healbot. Be the beat-down. Your match-up against Mid-range Hunter is actually pretty good, so be calm and think. Don’t screw it up by making bad plays. Hexing their Savannah Highmane is devastating.
- As Paladin – Aldor Peacekeeperon their Savannah Highmane is also devastating. Take control of the board and once again run Antique Healbot. If you can get a good Muster for Battleinto Quartermasterplay, instantly transition to being the beat-down. This forces the Hunter player into a game of trading, which heavily favors you.
- As Warrior – Your health should be used as a resource during the early phases of the game. Therefore, equipping weapons and using charges on opposing minions should be fine. All you need to do is to keep their board clear so you’re able to drop your big finishers. Remember Ragnaros the Firelordis the strongest finisher in this match-up because it bypasses Freezing Trap, the most commonly used trap in the Mid-range Hunter archetype.
Overall, the game against Mid-range Hunter is pretty simple – it is just an RNG-fest. Whoever draws better wins. However, knowing how their deck works gives you an edge that the majority of players don’t have. Playing against both Hunter versions is like night and day. Therefore, quickly recognizing which one you are playing against is very important.
With regards to individual card choices, here are some nice suggestions:
As for deck suggestions, Mid-range Shaman (just like last week) is still the strongest pick for this week’s meta-game. Additionally, a few other different lists are also very good against Mid-range Hunter. This includes Control Paladin. Some of my friends reached top 100 Legend playing Control Paladin; two of them are currently even in the top 10.
Both of these decks have efficient ways of fending off Mid-range Hunter’s pressure. Shaman is pretty strong in this aspect because the deck is capable of maintaining its own pressure while slowing down the opponent’s. I don’t have much to say about Paladin since this list was passed from a friend of mine. He claims it is very efficient on high-end ladder.
Continuing with our suggestions, we have two classics that are well-known for being Hunter counters: Warrior and Priest Control decks. Both of these lists are fairly stock but can still deal with Mid-range Hunter efficiently.
The Priest list is from our premium guide, Questing for the Perfect Priest. Meanwhile, the Warrior list is your standard Control Warrior list. Despite being the standard build we’ve all come to know and love [and sometimes hate], it still remains strong and firm in this meta-game. Both decks have even to good match-ups against Mid-range Hunter since they’re both able to stop Hunter’s inevitability with their own hero power. Ultimately, this attrition wars tend to favor the control decks.
Despite being easy to play, Mid-range Hunter is not easy to beat. Being able to predict their plays and their play-style is something we need to understand in order to increase our chances of beating them. Remember that despite having a good match-up against Hunter, the lists I recommended are not as forgiving as the Hunter list. Therefore, mistakes really count. Make sure to pay attention as you are still susceptible to losing if you misplay or get unlucky(*)!
Well, that’s it! This week’s article was pretty fun to write. I hope you guys enjoyed the ride! But what about next week? What [decks] are you guys having the most difficult time with? Any suggestions for us to improve this series? Any feedback? Do you like what we’re doing so far? Let us know everything you’re thinking in the comments section below!
Love you guys,