The toughest part about crafting a competitive Hunter deck without purchasing expansions is finding alternatives for the incredibly effective Kindly Grandmother, Quick Shot, and Huge Toad. To make it worse, each one is from a different Adventure. I’ve been mighty tempted to purchase these expansions but resolved to make the most competitive and versataille Hunter deck on the cheap.
I did buy the incredibly valued Welcome Bundle and another pack of 7 cards right off the bat before I realized how often Hearthstone gives you enough gold to buy all the packs you’ll need.
I also decided to focus on three classes and disenchanted powerful cards from the other Characters in order to craft any Hunter cards I wanted.
The idea of the deck is to fight for early control, bog down the middle, and then lay the killing blow before the opponent can execute their nastiest plans.
2x Shieldbearer – A rarely seen card that works very well with Dire Wolf Alpha or as cheap late-game protection for a Tundra Rhino or your Hero. Is a bit weak without a buff and can be swapped for Fiery Bat, Argent Squire, or even Leper Gnome if you fancy a more aggressive start.
If you swap out Shieldbearer I recommend also ditching a Dire Wolf Alpha for a Bear Trap or Explosive Trap to help control the early board.
2x Dire Wolf Alpha – An incredible team with Shieldbearer as the pair can now deal significant early damage while sticking around for the next turn. Dire Wolf Alpha is also useful in the later stages for beastly synergy and buffing you other attackers but can be weak if played on turn two without his Shieldbearer bodyguard.
Abusive Sergeant – He’s here in case you don’t draw a Dire Wolf Alpha to buff your Shieldbearer. Not an ideal turn 1 candidate as his buff is wasted and he’s easily removed.
Can be swapped out for Tracking, Fiery Bat, or Argent Squire.
2x Hunter’s Mark – One of the few removal options for Hunter. Wait to use it on your opponents biggest threats or even certain middle round minions that threaten to take over the game.
Freezing Trap – With our taunt heavy deck, this is the most reliable secret we have. I didn’t highly value this spell until I realized that card draw is not a problem for most classes, but disrupting their plan can be invaluable. It’s best played later if you can correctly predict an expensive minion attacking. You should also use it early if a Druid or Warlock over-extended themselves to get a powerful minion out in the first few turns.
River Crocolisk – Definitely weaker than the Kindly Grandmother or Huge Toad but still our best option for a sticky 2-Mana minion. His extra health helps him survive and makes him a great candidate for a Houndmaster buff down the line.
You can try a King’s Ellek here as well but with the amount of low-cost minions in this deck you’ll rarely win the joust and draw a card. A Knife Juggler is also a decent option that synergizes amazingly well with Unleash the Hounds and Call of the Wild.
2x Animal Companion – More great spells that synergize with King’s Ellek while providing excellent value minions. This card can really help swing the momentum back in your favor. The eff
Carrion Grub – This 2/5 beast is a prime candidate for a Houndmaster’s buff on Turn 4. It’s high health will help maintain presence as we transition further into the game.
Deadly Shot – Killing a random minion can be very powerful but is still a bit situational. I tend to wait until there is just one powerful enemy minion so you can guarantee the target. 3 mana to remove a high cost game changer is great value. I could potentially remove an Unleash the Hounds in order to fit a second Deadly Shot.
2x Eaglehorn Bow – Use this to clear out enemy minions while yours smash the face and live to see another turn. It’s a versatile 3 Damage that will rarely be destroyed by your opponent before getting its full usage.
Infest This is your crucial top-up in the mid-late game. Try to use it after your Savannah Highmanes and Infested Wolves have deathrattled their minions into play or anytime there’s at least three friendly minions and you have the Mana to spare.
If you can score this with Unleash the Hounds you’ll be very happy indeed.
Can completely reinvigorate your game.
2x Kill Command – An essential Hunter card. Save this for the end game to finish off your opponent or use it earlier to remove a powerful enemy.
2x Unleash the Hounds – A fun and potentially powerful card that can sometimes be too situational. You’ll need at least three enemy minions to see decent value. However, it’s still one of the Hunter’s best tools to combat aggressive play. Also works very well with Infest and Knife Juggler.
2x Houndmaster – Almost always provides great value. On Turn 4 he can buff the Animal Companion or Carrion Grub. Late plays with more powerful minions can be the tipping point for a win.
2x Infested Wolf – Here to reinforce the victory push and help with board coverage. The deathrattle spiders are a great target for Infest or Kill Command for a late-game push.
2x Stranglethorn Tiger – Stealth makes it very difficult to remove. Great for pushing out that last 5 of damage or removing a large threat. Many other Hunter decks use Tundra Rhino or Stampeding Kodo but I find their stats underwhelming and special effects too slow and random.
2x Savannah Highmane – Even the most aggressive decks should include one of these. This is the second most powerful card at your disposal and demands immediate attention from your opponent.
Watch out for Polymorph as you’ll lose the deathrattle Hyenas that are so valuable to our card-starved class.
2x Call of the Wild – Arguably the most powerful Hunter card for mid-range decks and worth the dust if you can scrounge it. The synergy of the three beasts is incredible while still costing one less mana than if you had to summon the already mana-efficient Animal Companions.
If you have any other minions in play it simultaneously adds +1 to their attack while providing a 4/4 taunt to protect them. Huffer’s 5 charge damage is a great equalizer as well.
I ran just one of these until I wrote this article and decided to grab another. Previously I had another Infest which also provide multiple beasts, albeit totally random.
How do you play Hearthstone?