Welcome to the Deck Tech Series where we analyze popular archetypes and go over the different variants that you can use to climb the ladder efficiently. Each edition will feature the core cards of the archetype and highlight each variant by discussing tech cards and evaluating the deck’s pros and cons. The main goal of this series is to help you building your own deck according to your preferences and playstyle, as well as your surrounding metagame.
This week we are shining a light on Midrange Hunter. Despite the fact that this archetype is not a Top Tier deck, it has already proven to be a decent contender to climb the ladder successfully as many players are hitting Legend with it each month. As the different lists can’t really be called variants, we are going to cover the core cards of the archetype and then move forward to the flexible cards and tech choices. This way, you should be able to build your own Midrange Hunter depending on your preferences and surrounding metagame.
Note: As always, you will always see a few players cutting some of the core cards here and there but it is still very rare. Overall, those are the core cards you will see in almost every classic decklist.
2 Alleycat: Your bread and butter 1-drop. It gives you two small Beasts to start the game and ensures you have a potential target for Crackling Razormaw to start taking board advantage. It can also be followed up by Scavenging Hyena to develop a big threat on turn two. Getting a solid curve and developing board presence is very important for Midrange Hunter to be successful, so this card fits perfectly.
2 Crackling Razormaw: At a two mana cost, it gives you a decent 3/2 Beast while Adapting another one. This is a perfect follow-up to your turn one weak bodies as it can give them more attack or poisonous to trade into 2-drops or simply make use of other Adapt effects. Later in the game it can be an incredibly strong play on cards like Scavenging Hyena or Savannah Highmane to protect them from spells or give them Stealth, trade with Divine Shield or burst your opponent down with Windfury. The fact that you can use it on minions ready to attack makes the card even stronger than typical minions that has the Adapt effect attached to them because you can benefit from it instantly.
2 Kindly Grandmother: This card is very sticky thanks to its deathrattle that helps keeping a beast on the board. The 1/1 body can trade into a weak minion and spawn a 3/2 Beast to stay ahead on board and make sure you have a target for Beast synergies like Houndmaster and Crackling Razormaw.
2 Scavenging Hyena: With the cheap minions mentioned above, it is pretty easy to power it up efficiently. 1-drops like Alleycat also means that it becomes more viable as a turn two play if you can trade a weak body as a 4/3 body for two mana is pretty good already and your opponent will be forced to deal with this threat. Remember that you’ll generally generate more value out of it later in the game though thanks to cards like Unleash the Hounds and other Beasts you may have on the board.
1-2 Golakka Crawler: It may sounds surprising to find this card in the core of the deck as it is more of a tech card. However, most Aggro decks are running a few early game Pirates to make use of Patches so it becomes a natural inclusion in the current metagame. Besides that, a 2/3 Beast body for two mana is already an acceptable early game card for Hunter. It would be a shame to not run at least one copy, and some players even choose to run two copies of it.
2 Animal Companion: This card has always been a staple for Midrange Hunter. Huffer can trade into bigger threats or apply pressure on an empty board. Leokk can power-up your early game threats to find valuable trades or give you some more burst. Misha gives you a solid taunt to protect your board or slow down aggressive decks.
1-2 Rat Pack: Rat Pack gives you another 3-drop to increase the chance of getting a good curve. The potential Houndmaster follow-up will always scare your opponent and sometimes it can lead to inefficient plays if they don’t have the appropriate answer. Most of the time, playing two copies feels pretty consistent but some players prefer cutting one to open-up a spot for another tech card.
2 Eaglehorn Bow: Similarly to Fiery War Axe, Rallying Blade and other early game weapons, this card helps fighting for board control and protecting your minions on board by killing your opponent’s threats. Later in the game, it can also be useful to add some face damage and work on getting lethal with your Hero Power as Midrange Hunter tends to run out of cards pretty quickly.
2 Kill Command: In the same vein, Kill Command brings some more burst to the deck to find lethal quickly. It can also be used during the mid game to kill a mid-sized threat and go face your with your minions.
1-2 Unleash the Hounds: Hunter doesn’t have access to many board clears so Unleash the Hounds comes in the deck to get a chance to come back or support your board to find valuable trades. It can also be useful later in the game to go for lethal with the added damage. Depending on the metagame, you can choose to run one or two copies of the card.
2 Houndmaster: Another Hunter’s staple. Houndmaster is a solid up-tempo card that can put a lot of pressure on your opponent. It can power-up any Beast you have the board to enable a valuable trade or add some face damage while protecting the 4/3 body.
1-2 Tundra Rhino: With all the Beasts in the deck, Tundra Rhino becomes a very solid pick. Besides the typical Savannah Highmane follow-up, it also gives more viability to Scavenging Hyena as you can use its effect instantly for a surprising amount of burst. It synergizes pretty well with cheap minions and Deathrattle like Rat Pack and Savannah Highmane to adjust the damage you need to finish off some targets while powering up Scavenging Hyena more efficiently. In any case, your opponent will always consider it as a solid threat and which can lead them to “waste” a hard removal on it, opening up a free way for Savannah Highmane. If unanswered, the deck becomes even more bursty and you should be able to close the game easily in the next few turns.
2 Savannah Highmane: This powerhouse doesn’t need to be presented anymore, right?
Flexible Cards & Tech Choices
You generally want to add around 6 to 8 more early game cards to the core of the deck (second copy of Golakka Crawler and/or Rat Pack included) to increase the chance of getting a good curve consistently.
1-2 Hungry Crab: A very neat tech card for Hunter when facing a lot of Murlocs. The 1/2 body for one mana is pretty decent to develop a Beast at the start of the game and the effect can be a huge tempo swing. If you’re facing too much Murloc Paladin, you should definitely consider it
2 Fire Fly: This card can be used to increase early game’s consistency and should generally be paired with Dire Wolf Alpha to enable valuable trades. You should probably consider it if facing an aggressive metagame to make sure you can fight for board control early on. Remember that you’re most likely to run out of steam quickly when running more early game so you should probably avoid running it in a slower metagame.
1-2 Jeweled Macaw: The card could almost be considered core but some players are cutting it to go for more aggressive early minions. Jeweled Macaw gives you an early beast to enable Beast synergies and add another Beast to your hand to use it later on and avoid running out of steam too quickly. If you want to run and standard Midrange playstyle, you should definitely run the card.
1 Fiery Bat: This one is used in more aggressive builds as its 2/1 body can deal a good amount of damage if your opponent can’t deal with it right away. This choice is more about which playstyle you’re more comfortable with.
1-2 Dire Wolf Alpha: A good choice to adds another 2-drop to the deck while increasing your trading potential early on. As the deck runs a lot of 1/1 bodies, it is always good to power them up to deal with bigger threats. Timber Wolf can also be used for similar purpose but the body is more vulnerable and it doesn’t power-up non Beast bodies like Fire Fly and Houndmaster.
1 Knife Juggler: As the deck runs a lot of token generators like Alleycat and Rat Pack, Knife Juggler feels like a natural consideration. The card helps making Unleash the Hounds more valuable as the added damage can open-up efficient trades. However, Dire Wolf Alpha is generally prefered for its Beast body and consistent effect that doesn’t rely on RNG to work properly.
1-2 Vicious Fledgling: This card is a bit more cheesy but can work exceptionally well if unanswered. The follow-up Houndmaster can make it huge and if your opponent can’t deal with it, it will snowball out of control and win you the game easily. As Midrange relies on board control early on, this choice is more risky as you don’t necessarily want to go face at this stage of the game. But if you want to go for an aggressive playstyle, this is definitely a good pick.
Mid / Late Game
You generally want to add around 1 to 4 more mid to late game cards to the core of the decks (second copy of Unleash the Hounds and/or Tundra Rhino included) depending on your playstyle and surrounding metagame.
1 Deadly Shot: This card can deal with a lonely threat to keep your board alive and pressure your opponent. However its random factor and situational nature implies that you can’t run it in every situation. When facing a lot of swarmy decks like Token Shaman and Token Druid, Deadly Shot becomes pretty useless. You should only run the card in a slower metagame, when facing a lot of Taunt Warrior for example.
1 Flare: This card should only be used if you face a lot of Secret Mage or Freeze Mage, and to some extent Burn Mage. Flare is particularly useful against Freeze Mage as you'll be able to close the game easily with your hero power while they think they are safe behind Ice Block. Otherwise, you should just ignore this card.
1 Infested Wolf: It is generally used to add another 4-drop to the deck, making sure you don’t have to drop a naked Houndmaster on the board. Players generally choose between Infested Wolf and a second Rat Pack for this spot.
1-2 Nesting Roc: This card is really good against aggressive decks that need to start going face during the mid game as a 4/7 Taunt can stall very efficiently. It is also a good choice against other Midrange decks as it is not rare to have the two minions needed on the board for the Battlecry and a 4/7 Beast body is already very useful anyway. However, the card doesn’t work really well against Aggro decks that tend to run a tempo playstyle by trading a lot in the early game. You can’t really ensure that you’ll have the two minions on board to trigger the Battlecry and at this stage of the game, swarmy decks may be able to go for more face damage, especially since Hunter doesn’t have reliable board clears to punish them.
1 Stampeding Kodo: This is also a decent tech card against aggressive and Midrangey decks as it can deal with a minor threat while developing a mid-sized Beast body on the board.
1-2 Bittertide Hydra: The card is not really used anymore in Midrange Hunter but we’ll leave it here to make sure we cover all the considerations. Overall, the card is a bit cheesy as it can indeed close the game quickly but it can also be punished by Aggro decks that will either ignore it to race you down or trade it with many weak minions, dealing you a lot of damage in the process. The card is still good in a slower metagame as it can either soak up a hard removal or apply a powerful pressure if your opponent doesn’t have an appropriate answer.
1 Swamp King Dred: The card is more viable than you would think as your opponent will generally have a hard time dealing with it after Savannah Highmane and other threats. The 9/9 body is very powerful, especially when combined with Tundra Rhino and its effect can be very useful to prevent charge minions from going face. It can also prevent Control decks from playing Doomsayer and can kill their late game threats and solid taunt minions. The downside of the card is that it doesn’t provide much when your opponent is already ahead on board, which is not a rare situation at this stage of the game as you are generally working on closing the game with what’s left on your board combined with your Hero Power and Kill Command.
1 Call of the Wild: This is more of a niche card but can be useful as a final breath against slower decks. The card is obviously useless against very aggressive decks but it can be enough to close the game against other Midrangey decks. Against Control decks, this is more useful for the 5 damage that can close the game and sometimes as a final hope to develop a board if your opponent already used a lot of board clears. Overall, the card doesn’t really fit the current metagame but it is still worth keeping it in mind when facing slower decks.
Midrange Hunter may not be the most powerful deck at the moment but its overall consistency makes it a reasonable pick to climb the ladder. Here are some example lists that have proven to be successful recently:
We hope you enjoyed this episode and that it can help you build your Midrange Hunter to grind the ladder this season.
Author: Morgan ‘Spark’ Cherioux
Spark is a Legend player since the early days of Hearthstone. Deep understanding of the game and exploring strategies is what he enjoys the most about gaming. He loves innovating and sharing knowledge, so follow him for more content.