Deck Tech: Standard Deathrattle Hunter
The first Standard deck we’ll be exploring for Whispers of the Old Gods is Deathrattle Hunter. I’ve been eyeing this one for a while and it isn’t as straightforward as Face Hunter. Deathrattle Hunter is an updated reboot of the older Midrange Hunter, exchanging some new cards in Whispers of the Old Gods with cards that have been cycled out of Standard. No more Mad Scientist, no more Sludge Belcher, and no more Webspinner. Instead, we get some new heavy hitters like N’Zoth, Princess Huhuran, and Call of the Wild.
Your gameplan consists of gradually developing your board with efficient Deathrattle minions before finishing your opponent off with a tactically played Call of the Wild or reinvigorating your dead minions with N’Zoth, the Corruptor.
- Hunter’s Mark x2
- Fiery Bat x2
- Bear Trap
- Quick Shot
- Snake Trap
- Eaglehorn Bow x2
- Animal Companion x2
- Kill Command x2
- Unleash the Hounds x2
- Houndmaster x2
- Infested Wolf x2
- Princess Huhuran
- Ram Wrangler
- Savannah Highmane x2
- Call of the Wild
For opening hands, look for your Fiery Bats, Huge Toads, and Knife Juggler. Hold a Quick Shot if you suspect you’re playing against Aggro Shaman or some other aggro deck. Look for minions which will help you develop your board. Your Deathrattle minions will have a second chance in the game thanks to our buddy N’Zoth. Bear Trap isn’t a completely bad pick either as it can convert and generate a bear for you the turn after if you get hit.
In about 30 games with this deck, I’ve managed to successfully play N’Zoth 6 times. Certainly more testing is going to be needed but based on that stat, he may not even be a factor in most of your matches.
Get your early minion game going! Drop the Bats and Toads! You can play Knife Juggler early and play it as you would normally, but if you happen to draw Knife Juggler and Unleash the Hounds later in the game, at least you can still combo those two cards together to potentially help thin out your opponent’s board. Eaglehorn Bow and Animal Companion round out your turn 3 options. Leokk can help buff your Fiery Bats and Huge Toads if they were left unchecked.
To be fair, if your Bats and Toads aren’t dead by turn 3, your opponent’s going to have a rough time and is going to need to draw into an AOE spell.
As you hid the midgame, start setting yourself up for the end game. Infested Wolf provides you with spiders if it dies (and both spiders happen to be beasts). Houndmasters can beef up your minions. Make smart trades and keep pressing your advantage.
You’ll notice I included two Hunter’s Marks. My experience has yielded matches against large, beefy minions. It provides some insurance against any Old God cards (like C’Thun) and it gives you a way out if any taunt minions are in the field, especially when combined with Unleash the Hounds.
On Princess Huhuran
- The okay: If necessary, you can play Princess Huhuran targeting a Fiery Bat or a Huge Toad and hope the damage goes somewhere relevant.
- The good: Playing Huhuran on the Infested Wolf or Savannah Highmane are excellent choices for additional board presence.
- The dream: Sylvanas? Hey, can you take that minion for me? Oh, and why don’t I just run you into something else so you can steal another one too? Thanks!
Ideally, you want to play the Princes so her Battlecry will trigger an existing Deathrattle minion on the board for you. But don’t be afraid to play it without any Deathrattles on board. She’s a 6/5 body for 5 mana which is pretty legit in its own right. Play her on curve if you can.
Your late game is quite simple. There are a couple of options here. Call of the Wild is the easy one. If you have board supremacy, it’ll help cement that even further. If you’re behind, it should help you stabilize for at least a turn and Huffer can trade into a potential threat while Misha can hold the line and block a minion. Alternatively, N’Zoth can bring back all those dead Deathrattle minions that you’ve lost earlier in the game and breathe new life into the match. Ensure that you have space on your board to pull it off before you play N’Zoth — you want enough room on the board so you don’t lose out on a potential Sylvanas. Of course, we can’t forget our Savannah Highmanes either. They’ve been Hunter staples for a long time and they will continue to form a backbone for your offense.
Kill Commands provide some additional burst if you need to really stretch for that last bit of damage there.
Alternative cards to consider
Don’t have everything you need to complete the deck? Need a bit of an extra edge?
We’re going to refer to the three cards above as the Standard tech package from here on out. You might want to mix and match some of these into your decks for tournament play. If you’re running into a streak of Druid C’Thun decks on the ladder, you might opt to include a Black Knight in there somewhere to help give you a slight edge. Either way, consider these as alternatives and tailor the deck according to your opposition.
- Extra Call of the Wild
- Explosive Trap
- Cairne Bloodhoof
- Forlorn Stalker
- Harvest Golem
- Desert Camel
- King’s Elekk
- Ironbeak Owl
- Flame Juggler
- Deadly Shot
If you’re missing a few of the legendary cards as finishers, you can consider substituting in an additional Call of the Wild. Cairne has a Deathrattle effect of his own and synergizes well with Princess Huhuran and N’Zoth. Your 6 mana slot is already crowded between Savannah Highmane and Sylvanas, so only include him if you’re missing one.
You may wish to substitute your traps or remove them altogether if you find them too slow or cumbersome. Explosive Trap gives you a slight advantage over early game aggressive decks (a la Zoo). Two Hunter’s Marks might be excessive, so you can add in another beast if you like.
Early game substitutions include King’s Elekk and Desert Camel. Both cards can help thin out both your deck (and your opponent’s deck, if using the Camel) by immediately placing your Fiery Bats into play. Harvest Golem’s a sticky 3-drop which helps feed Princess Huhuran and N’Zoth. I’ve had mixed results with the Forlorn Stalker as I’ve found it to be a touch too slow or I’d have too few Deathrattle minions in my hand to make it really worthwhile. Two Deathrattle cards are ideal when choosing alternatives. Flame Jugglers can slot in for early board control and can replace your traps.
Infest is a last minute inclusion in this list. I recall playing against a Hunter which played Unleash the Hounds and Infest which practically reloaded their hand.
Lastly, our nerfed owl friend makes the cut. Normally, I’d recommend a Spellbreaker over an Ironbeak Owl. However, the Owl has the advantage of being a beast and the slightly cheaper mana cost could make a difference between a Kill Command or a Hero Power.
No N’Zoth? Put in another finisher of your choice. A second Call of the Wild works.
Druid: This can be a tough matchup. You’re on the clock here because most Druid decks run C’Thun and I do believe Druid C’Thun decks are the most potent out of all. In addition to big minions like Dark Arakkoa, you have to contend with Twin Emperors, and ultimately C’Thun itself. Use Hunter’s Mark sparingly. But the later this game goes, the odds of winning will continue to go down simply due to the big minions.
Hunter: I haven’t run into Face Hunter decks as much in the ladder. Most of the ones I’ve seen are Deathrattle decks similar to this one. Your gameplan is to outboard them early and be faster.
Mage: Freeze Mage has been a little more prevalent in the rank 10 and up category. You should be able to take that matchup and just run everything you have into them but be careful to not overcommit to the board. Tempo Mage can be a little more annoying. You need something that can contest and remove Flamewaker (like our friend Huffer). Watch out for Mirror Entity and that you don’t play your Highmanes into them.
Paladin: Divine Shield Paladins are running around and will out-trade you easily. You might need to sub in some Explosive Traps and consider holding Unleash the Hounds and Knife Juggler. There’s also Deathrattle Paladin with Ragnaros, Lightlord, a control deck which can simply out-heal you.
Priest: I’ve run into a few C’Thun Priests and Dragon Priests. Both of them will win if the game carries on for too long, unfortunately. Dragon Priests can be annoying due to the sheer number of Taunts they have. With Lightbomb gone, they need to rely on Holy Nova and Excavated Evil to clear your board.
Rogue: Goodbye Oil Rogue, hello Miracle and Deathrattle Rogue! The former brings back Gadgetzan Auctioneer and attempts to cycle through their cards quickly to deliver a really massive Edwin VanCleef. Or they just burn you to death with their spells. Deathrattle Rogue runs a similar gameplan to yours where they try to control the board and throw away all their Deathrattle minions with the hope of N’Zoth-ing them all back to life.
Shaman: Aggro Shaman is the terror on the ladder right now and they’re going to hit the ground running. Tunnel Trogg to Totem Golem is scary. You need to outrace them. Save Hunter’s Mark for Flamewreathed Faceless. Certain totems can be ignored, so go straight to the face.
Warlock: Zoo is the most popular Warlock deck on ladder at the moment. You might run into the periodic Reno Warlock, though. With Zoo, go for smart trades and continue hammering away at their life. Remain aware of your life totals and stay out of Doomguard range if you can. In addition, you don’t want that Sea Giant to hit the board so be mindful of the total minions in play.
Warrior: Patron Warrior can chew through your weaker minions and burst you down later in the game unless you can nail them first. Honestly, if Grim Patron hits the board anyway, you’re probably not going to take the match. In a Control Warrior matchup, don’t overcommit too much to the board unless Brawls have gone off.
Special thanks to the local crew at Team HD for their assistance in tuning and added suggestions.
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