The beast-minion orientated Hunter's Hero Power is a simple but effective one, and for the price of two mana you can use Steady Shot to deliver two damage straight to the opponent's face, damage that even bypasses any taunt cards that might be out in play. In a long and drawn-out game, it's frighteningly easy to put your opponent into an increasingly precarious position, as you continue to lay out minions while whittling your enemy's health down.
Like the Paladin and Mage classes, Hunters pack a handful of secrets to keep opponents guessing too. Watch out for Explosive Trap in particular, which is commonly used to clear the opponent's side of the board by dealing two damage to all enemies. As a general rule of thumb, ram a low-value minion straight into the Hunter's face to trigger the effect before you lay down any new creatures.
Popular Hunter cards
Weapons in Hearthstone typically have a limited number of uses before they crumble to pieces, but the Eaglehorn Bow is a popular choice in Hunter decks due to its synergy with Secrets (see below). Each time a Secret is exposed, the Bow's durability is regenerated, allowing the Hunter to assume and maintain a frightening amount of control over the game board.
If you find yourself up against this mighty weapon in a run of games, it goes without saying that the neutral Acidic Swamp Ooze card is your best friend. If this card is in your deck, you should always hold onto it in a Hunter match-up, as it's a very cheap, very fast way of ruining a deck that leans heavily on the synergy between its cards.
Starving Buzzard - Whenever you summon a Beast, draw a card.
Unleash The Hounds - For each enemy minion, summon a 1/1 Hound with Charge.
This two-card combo packs an incredibly mean punch, as it not only allows you to fill the board with as many minions as your opponent owns, you also draw just as many cards, boosting both board tempo and hand strength. If you can drop a damage-boosting Timber Wolf onto the board during the same turn, your opponent all of a sudden has an awful lot to think about.
Unleash the Hounds may have lost a little of its early-game potency as a result of a recent mana cost increase, but it's still deadly enough that you'd be advised to expect its arrival at any time. As a general rule of thumb, we still believe it's worth limiting the minions you maintain on the board to two or three at most, so as to minimise the card's impact. This may well change in the near future though, as players tweak and discover the next must-play deck.
As we mentioned above, the Timber Wolf is an incredibly cheap card that can change the state of a whole game in a flash. Combined with Unleash the Hounds, you can rip your opponent's taunts, big minions, and - just as likely - their face to pieces.
If you're on the other side of the table? Kill it. Kill it with your Hero Power, kill it with a cheap minion, kill it with whatever you have at hand - and make sure you do so before picking off any other beast minions that your opponent has out on the board. Sounds obvious, but we've all done it, and these are the small fractions that often determine victory.
It goes without saying that this card is most useful when you already have at least a cheap beast in play. It's also an excellent finisher if you're confident you can keep at least one creature alive. If your opponent doesn't know you're packing this taunt-bypassing damage in the late game, they may stall at developing their board, and give you an opening to finish the match.
If you're playing against the Hunter, just bear in mind that even your mid-game strength minions can always come a cropper against this card. If you're approaching the finishing line and you haven't seen a Kill Command come into play yet, don't assume the only threat you have to worry about is what's on the board. Many a close match has been lost to this cheap and easy burst of damage.
Hunter Secrets guide
No guide to Hearthstone's Hunter would be complete without talking about the class's powerful Secrets. As with the handful of other classes that can utilise this type of card, these powerful spells are applied to the Hunter at a mana cost, but the exact nature of the Secret is invisible to the other player until the effect is triggered.
Here's a quick look at what each Hunter Secret does, and how you should play around the system to minimise their impact on the board.
|Secret||Effect when triggered|
|Explosive Trap||When your Hero is attacked, deal 2 damage to all enemies.|
|Freezing Trap||When an enemy minion attacks, return it to its owner's hand and it costs (2) more.|
|Misdirection||When a character attacks your Hero, instead he attacks another random character.|
|Snake Trap||When one of your minions is attacked, summon three 1/1 Snakes.|
|Snipe||When your opponent plays a minion, deal 4 damage to it.|
Taking a look through all of these Secrets as a collective, there's a clear strategy that will expose whatever's in play, while minimising damage to your own board progression:
- If you have a weak minion on the board that can directly hit the Hunter, use it before playing any new minions.
- This will trigger Explosive Trap before you play any other minions, so avoiding unnecessary damage to other creatures.
- If the secret in play was Misdirection, then you will have mitigated the damage by using a low-damage minion.
- Freezing Trap? No problem - the weak minion is returned to your hand and it's no big deal if you can't afford to play it again.
As you can see, simply using a rubbish minion can take a huge sting out of an awful lot of potentially worrying scenarios. What about if you have no minions on the board that you can use to trigger the effect?
- Put a weak minion on the board to trigger Snipe. If you have a minion with more than 4 health, and the means to heal it up after the Secret has been triggered, then you might consider putting it into play instead.
- Next, you could attempt to avoid triggering Snake Trap by holding off from attacking minions until you have an area of effect spell at hand, but frankly we rarely find these cards to be much more than an annoyance - particularly if you can pull a taunt card out next turn. Just be aware that the Hunter can pretty quickly and cheaply buff them up to pack more of a punch.
As a general rule, Explosive Trap, Misdirection and Freezing Trap are the most common Hunter Secrets you'll encounter. Follow our starting strategy for triggering the effects and you'll be capable of handling a large part of your opponent's hidden threat.
The best basic Hunter deck
We really like this basic Hunter deck created by the popular Hearthstone streamer Jeffrey "Trump" Shih. It may not be the most sophisticated deck in the game - or even for the class - but there are enough tools packed into this zero budget deck that you should be able to squeeze your way out of some seriously tight spots. As we mentioned earlier, don't forget your Hero Power - it's really handy for putting your opponent under pressure.
Hunter's Mark can take the sting out of even the toughest enemy, and there are enough low-mana minions stuffed into this deck that you should have no trouble using one of them to finish the job off. Just be aware that while Multi-Shot looks like a tasty card for clearing out the board, there must be at least two minion targets available for it to be activated. Factor that in if you're intending to play it on the following turn.
Avoid playing Starving Buzzard until you can play at least one beast on the same turn, as even relatively inexperienced players are hard-wired to remove this card at their earliest opportunity. To really get some value out of this card-drawing beast, try and keep it protected for at least a couple of turns by having a taunt minion out in play too.
You can find the rest of our round-up of the best basic Hearthstone decks from the index page of this article.