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Weekly Legends: All-Spell Hunter

You may have seen this coming (or maybe not) but we’re starting off the new meta with All-Spell Hunter. This is a deck I have been looking forward to quite a bit over the last week, and one I have also been having a ton of success with over the early days of Kobolds. The […]

Ryan Reynolds Dec 11, 2017 12:28 pm

Introduction

You may have seen this coming (or maybe not) but we’re starting off the new meta with All-Spell Hunter. This is a deck I have been looking forward to quite a bit over the last week, and one I have also been having a ton of success with over the early days of Kobolds. The new season is just kicking off, and there are a ton of different lists and archetypes running around. This list, which relies on running no minions and efficient board-centric spells to pace the game and bring on damage, is easily one of my favorites. Not only does it feel like it’s getting back to Hunter’s roots, but it is also a ton of fun to play.

Key Cards

Hunter’s Mark/Deadly Shot

You simply cannot run an all-spell build without Hunter’s Mark and Deadly Shot. I just don’t see any way around that. Removal is vitally important for a deck like one, and while you aren’t always going to take the role of control, you are always going to fight for the board. Without minions, it is very easy to fall behind. One dead turn or missed opportunity, and you’ll suddenly find yourself locked out of the game. This is important to note because it helps you understand how to pilot the deck as a whole. Almost all of your spells are removal, but that removal is tied up in tempo. That means you are typically going to be using both mark and shot to pace the game rather than saving them for big removal. Damage is always going to be king of Hunter, and it is incredibly powerful in this build. You should not get caught trying to hold back your spells for some big threat (unless there is a taunt you absolutely need to deal with). Most of the time, you just want to figure out ways to advance your board and push damage. Even something like Deadly Shot on a 3/3 or Hunter’s Mark on a 4/4 to keep a wolf alive can be critical when facing other midrange builds. It is easy to hold back, as you’ve done so may times in the past, but you’re a fast deck and you need to play like it.

Secret Package

A big part of this deck is choosing the secrets. My current breakdown, as you can see, is double Cat Trick, Explosive Trap, and Wandering Monster. However, I have also seen Freezing Trap, Misdirection and Snipe. The reason I like the three I’m using is because they all help with damage. You want to push with Hunter, and the more you can lean on the board, the more you can force your opponent back into a tight corner. While the other secrets remove threats, trick, trap, and wandering all give you way to keep pressing forward. You want to spend every game swinging with your bow as much as possible. The more ticks you get that can do damage, the more power you can bring to the table. This deck works because your opponent has to you every step of the way. Though you can live while on the back foot, you’d much rather constantly be in control.

When setting up your secrets, you should always look for maximum value. These three are always going to be good, but there are going to be many occasions where putting one out at the right time can allow you to take over a game. For example, you always want to play Wandering Monster turn two against Rogue because it presents a solid body against Patches the Pirate or a weapon attack. Similar rules apply to Explosive Trap (especially against swarm decks) and Cat Trick (which crushes Rogue and Mage). Don’t burn something too early, and always see how you want the secret to trigger. The only exception to that rule is when you want to get ticks on Eaglehorn Bow. The 3/2 is a win condition, and there are going to be games where you just want to swing. Also watch out for Flare. The card is becoming more and more popular each day. I would only run out one secret at a time when facing Rexxar.

The One-Of’s

Another thing I’ve noticed about this deck is, since you’re running all spells, there are a lot of tech spots for you to play around with. Hunter’s spells are quite versatile, which means you can tweak the list to whatever you want. My tech package (for lack of a better word) is Unleash the Hounds, Multi-Shot, Explosive Shot, and Call of the Wild. Those four cards may seem a bit scattered, but they all come with a purpose. Unleash is a great way to bring extra burst and it strong against the Zoo and Paly Swarm decks running around, Multi-Shot is great against other midrange and Hunter decks, Explosive Shot is tech for tempo builds, and Call is a great finisher against Warlock and Priest. There are plenty of options here, from On the Hunt to Flare, but just make sure have a deck in mind when teching in a card.

You will notice that I am not running Candleshot. While a lot of people are extremely high on the card, it has been pretty underwhelming for me. Yes, it can give you a way to tempo the early board, but you have plenty of ways to take out small minions. Most of the time, it adds up to three damage, which is rather weak. The shot may get better when Tempo Rogue and Zoo make their inevitable comeback, but until that time I wouldn’t pack the 1/3. In addition, if there is one tech card you want to slot in here that isn’t in this list, I would make itFlare. The two mana spell hits quite a bit of decks pretty hard, and it can always draw whenever it has no targets. Still, many of my games right now are about the board, and nobody plays around Multi-shot.

To My Side!

It is impossible to discuss this deck without talking about the elephant beast in the room. To My Side! is a card that got a looooot of hate when it first got spoiled. However, the six mana spell packs quite the punch. Double Animal Companion is extremely good, especially on curve after something like the incredibly strong Lesser Emerald Spellstone. Even the worst case scenario (Leokk and Misha) still gets you value and puts two strong threats down onto the board. This deck is about pressing as much as you can. So many things do damage, and this card both helps your current damage as well as your future turns because your opponent has to answer it right away. Any time you have a window to drop this down, you should take it.

Something to note is that you cannot get the same companion twice off of To My Side!. That means you can kind of plan for the card. Knowing that you have a 66 percent chance to roll a taunt or charge is very powerful (I think I’m doing that math right) and can give you an idea of what the board state might look like. You’re always going to want Huffer, but don’t depend on the pig to show up. In addition, don’t plan for two charging 4/2’s or two 4/4 taunts. The ability to never get the same minion twice may seem weak when you first think about it, but it gives you a bit of consistency. That’s always nice.

Rhok’Delar

While I have been underwhelmed with most of the legendary weapons so far, Rhok’Delar is one of the biggest exceptions. The 4/2 is an insane amount of value that enables you to do a couple of things really well. One, it is a great fall back card that can instantly bring you back into games that have gotten away. Think of this card like Divine Favor. Except, you don’t care how many cards your opponent has and you get a 4/2 weapon on top it. It’s that insane. Hunter spells are not the most powerful spells in the game, but they do a good job of either killing your opponent or keeping you alive. Set up for the legendary weapon in the same way you would set up for favor. That is, try to thin out your hand as much as possible to get the most draws. Also, don’t hesitate to play this on seven. Burning a card doesn’t matter in this deck.

The other thing that I love about Rhok’Delar is that works as an incredibly reliable finisher for this list. Without minions, you are often going to be stretched thin when it comes to closing out the game. Yes, you could pack in a second Call of the Wild, but I tried that and wasn’t a huge fan. Your early curve is really important, and the less nine mana spells you run, the better. Typically, you win this game with an early push and then quick burst. Kill Command is going to be the method of choice for that plan, but there are going to be times where you need to use it on the board. As a result, you can find yourself a little thin when it comes to actually finishing a game. Rhok gives you eight damage from the weapon, as well as a hand of burst. That is often going to be more than enough.

Deck Code

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Matchups

The four decks I’ve played against the most in the early days.

Dragon Priest

There are more than a few Priests on ladder these days, and while all of them are different builds, they all pack dragons. Duskbreaker is as good as predicted, which has singlehandedly brought Netherspite Historian and Drakonid Operative back into the meta. That package is insanely powerful, and is likely going to be the bane of non-Priest players for some time. The way you win this game is through damage. Constant. Damage. Priest is a strong class with a lot of powerful threats, but they only have so much removal at their disposal. As a result, to get around their healing, you need to get in damage before they answer your minions. For example, charging Huffer into their face or using a Cat Trick to hit them for four. Yes, they may remove the threats the following turn, but you already got in your damage. You want to pace the game in that way, constantly chipping them down turn after turn after turn until your big burst can finish them off.

Another big part of this match is understanding Priest’s spells. For example, Lesser Emerald Spellstone is strong, but it is cleaned up by both Duskbreaker and Dragonfire Potion. Even so, if you have To My Side! on six, you want to spellstone on five in order to get rid of your opponent’s potential AOE. In addition, always try to set up difficult boards. A lone Misha may not seem great, but the 4/4 can do a lot of damage against Priest and cause them to use key removal on a single card. That flows into the bigger rule, which is, don’t overextend. Simply run out a spell that gives you multiple threats, wait for your opponent to clear, and then run out the next one. In addition, always try to save Kill Command for end-game damage if possible. The five damage burst is almost always going to be your finisher of choice.

All-Spell Hunter

One of the downsides of playing a cool deck like this one early in the meta is that you are going to face quite a few mirror matches. This game is about the board, which really means it is about damage. The mirror is going to play out in the same way as the old Midrange Hunter vs. Midrange Hunter games, but with the big difference that you both have access to a lot of burst. You cannot be too careful when pacing this one. Do everything in your power to keep pressure off your face and don’t leave up minions when you have a chance to destroy them. Cards like Flanking Strike are critical, and you need to leverage them as much as you can. The goal is to never be the one answering cards. That won’t always happen, but it will give you an idea of how aggressive you need to be.

There are two key spells in this match. The first are your secrets. Cat Trick is in every build, and if your opponent leads with a secret, that is usually what it is. As a result, you should always try to counter with Explosive Trap when going second. In the same way, don’t run headfirst into Wandering Monster. Be careful when attacking and try to make sure you go in with a beefy threat that can take out a 3/3. The other important card is Lesser Emerald Spellstone, which both you and your opponent have no answer for. Play to yours as soon as you can, and also don’t be afraid to drop three or four wolves while behind. The 3/3’s may not seem like a great play when you need tempo, but they will instantly give you priority. That’s really all you want.

Control Warlock

The third deck on our list is all the new versions of Control Warlock, which I expect to stick around for quite a while. Gul’dan comes packed with a ton of powerful tools, including both Voidlord and Rin, the First Disciple, that have made the control builds better than ever. Even so, this is a game that falls vastly in your favor. Slow Warlock decks have never been good against Hunter because of their natural inclination to damage themselves. Even with their new healing tools, the class simply does not have that many ways to take a constant beating each turn. This game is going to be a lot like Priest. However, you need to be even more aggressive. Where there are going to be certain good trades you should take against Anduin, just about everything should go face when playing Gul’dan. The only time you want to protect your board is when you’re worried about them setting up a strong Defile. Beyond that, get in damage.

Watch out for taunts in this one. Healing is everywhere in Warlock, which is going to make it difficult to play around. However, the demon summoners only run a few choice taunts. Rin, the First Disciple, Tar Creeper and Voidlord are the most common right now. Of those, Voidlord is the only truly scary one. Hoard your burst as much as possible throughout the game and always prioritize on-board damage. Then, once your opponent puts up their big walls, strike them down in a flurry of burn. In addition, it is going to be nearly impossible for you to race down Bloodreaver Gul’dan. This one pretty much has to end by turn ten. Nothing new, but important to remember nonetheless.

Tempo Mage

The higher I climb, the more Secret Mages I see. Explosive Runes has given the build a ton of power, and Aluneth means they never run out of gas. While you always want to put on damage against other decks, this is a game where you need to bring the most tempo. Mage is a class that thrives on controlling the board. They want to push their early threats down your throat and then kill you in a flurry of spells once you recover. If you can get out ahead early it is going to give them a lot of trouble. The current versions of Mage are quite fragile, and they need their burn to close out games. You need to get them to focus on the board as much as possible. Even eating a single Fireball can be the difference between winning and losing a race. Also note that, as strong as Mage is, they have a lot of trouble dealing with swarms. Lesser Emerald Spellstone is game winning against the deck. Three or four wolves while you have tempo is going to usually take over the game, as will a well-timed To My Side!. Understand when you can a chance to flood the board and always take it. Play around Flamestrike from time to time, but don’t be too scared of it. Many current lists aren’t running the AOE.

Mulligan Guide

You need to find your secrets. That is the overall theme of the mulligan, and you need to stick to it as much as you possibly can. Tracking, Wandering Monster, Cat Trick and Explosive Trap are your must-keeps. From there, Animal Companion, Eaglehorn Bow and Flanking Strike can all be kept on curve. Deadly Shot and Hunter’s Mark are both strong against decks like Dragon Priest that just want to play one big minion early, and you can keep Lesser Emerald Spellstone anytime you have a strong opening with good secrets and the coin.

Conclusion

God, I am loving Kobolds and Catacombs. I have been really on board with the past few sets, and the stuff I’m piloting so far feels extremely fresh. An all-spell deck has never been before, and it just feels good to play. This deck has a lot of power sprinkled throughout it and is one of the most interesting builds I have ever piloted. You get to play with a ton of new cards and experience Hearthstone in a new way. What more could you want? Until next time, may you always hunt alone.


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