Recruit Hunter Deck List Guide – Post-Nerf: Witchwood – June 2018

Our Recruit Hunter deck guide for the Witchwood expansion features the most popular list for the archetype. This guide includes Mulligans, Gameplay Strategy, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!

Introduction to Recruit Hunter

For many Hearthstone players, crashing into opposing hero portraits with massive minions is the game’s greatest joy. If you fall into this camp, Recruit Hunter may be the deck for you. With a top end that rivals the greediest of decks, Recruit Hunter can overwhelm other players with giant beasts.

Centered around Kathrena Winterwisp, this deck can rip large minions from your deck directly into play. With an early game that looks similar to Spell Hunter (including the insane power spike of upgraded Lesser Emerald Spellstones), Recruit Hunter eliminates the possibility of Recruiting low-quality minions.

Recently, the deck has been popping at the high end of middle tiers in various meta reports thanks, in large part, to its ability to punish slow-developing decks that are becoming increasingly common on the Standard ladder. Recruit Hunter, as an archetype, is a bit of a newcomer in the format, leaving a bit of room for refinement–especially in shoring up some of the more aggressive matchups.

Deck List

Deck Import

Recruit Hunter Card Choices

Recruit Hunter card choices can be assigned to four distinct categories: Secret Package, Minion Cheats, Big Beasts, and Utility Cards.

Secret Package

  • Explosive Trap – With little early game tools, Recruit Hunter can be susceptible to aggressive strategies. Explosive Trap can help clean up token minions while ramping up your Spellstones.
  • Freezing Trap – In contrast, Freezing Trap can deal with a single, large minion on the board buying you enough time to realize your game plan.
  • Wandering Monster – A standout Hunter card from Kobolds and Catacombs, Wandering Monster can protect your face from attacks and develop the board at the same time.
  • Lesser Emerald Spellstone – Even without playing Secrets, summoning two 3/3s for five mana is good value. When you start upgrading this Spellstone, however, the amount of stats you can bring into play gets downright nutty.

Minion Cheats

  • Play Dead – As a deck that relies on Deathrattle minions, triggering these abilities without killing the minion can create huge board swings in many situations.
  • Carnivorous Cube – Like Play Dead, Carnivorous Cube triggers Deathrattles. While you do lose the minion in the process, you get a favorable return on that investment once the Cube is popped.
  • Kathrena Winterwisp – The main engine that this deck revolves around, Kathrena Winterwisp can get insane value by summoning huge beasts from your deck. Pair with some of the Deathrattle enablers listed above and she can create some ridiculous board states for opponents.

Big Beasts

  • Witchwood Grizzly – In many matchups, you’re bound to get behind in the early game. Fortunately, cheating a Witchwood Grizzly into play can bring 15 stats onto the board that creates a frustrating roadblock for faster decks.
  • Charged Devilsaur – When Recruited into play, the Charged Devilsaur’s limitation is lifted, allowing this big beast to freely smack the opponent in the face.
  • King Krush – This long-forgotten Hunter Legendary is finally getting his chance to shine. When paired with Kathrena, his biggest limitation–mana cost–is far less relevant.

Utility Cards

  • Tracking – Finding the right cards to shore up some potentially awkward early turns can make a big difference in the outcome of a game. Tracking allows you to find additional Secrets to ramp up your Spellstone or curve out nicely into your late game.
  • Animal Companion – As a Hunter, you still want some mid-game Beasts. Fortunately, being a spell, Animal Companion can provide a quality turn three without diluting your Recruit pool.
  • Deadly Shot – Hunter has long had trouble removing large minions. If you can isolate something big on your opponent’s board, Deadly Shot trades card-for-card with the biggest of minions.
  • Eaglehorn Bow – While technically part of the Secret Package, Eaglehorn Bow’s true potential is realized in its ability to take out early-turn minions on your opponent’s board.
  • Stitched Tracker – With so few minions in your deck, Stitched Tracker can easily help you find the right card for a given matchup or situation.
  • Flanking Strike – With few early-game minions, Recruit Hunter can easily get behind in certain matchups. Fortunately, Flanking Strike creates a huge tempo spike that can keep you competitive long enough to pull some big beasts.
  • Deathstalker Rexxar – There are games in which you are not going to be able to out-pressure your opponent. In such cases, Deathstalker Rexxar offers a potent late-game value engine.

Recruit Hunter Mulligan Strategy & Guide

VS Fast Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Tracking – Against aggressive decks, discarding cards is far less important than finding the right tools to stymie pressure.
  • Explosive Trap – Against board-centric aggro decks, a well-timed Explosive Trap can buy you a lot of time.
  • Wandering Monster – Even the threat of Wandering Monster can force opponents into awkward attacks. Should your minion survive, you may end up with precious board initiative in aggressive matchups.
  • Animal Companion – With limited options on turn three, Animal Companion is a reasonable keep against fast decks.
  • Eaglehorn Bow – Likewise, Eaglehorn Bow can help reduce repetitive damage from opponents by removing high-priority minions.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Lesser Emerald Spellstone – Counter-pressuring the board can be a good response to aggressive strategies. With a good curve (including Secrets) hanging onto the Spellstone can make sense.
  • Stitched Tracker – Despite getting you closer to your gameplan, Stitched Tracker doesn’t provide quite enough stats on board to keep without other early-game cards already in hand.
  • Flanking Strike – Though it comes out a bit late, a turn four Flanking Strike can help swing the board back in your favor with enough other early game tools.
  • Deathstalker Rexxar –  Aside from Explosive Trap, Cube Recruit Hunter has limited AoE damage. Against token decks, when mass removal is critical, it may be worth hanging on to Deathstalker Rexxar.

VS Slow Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Tracking – In slower matchups, Tracking can find you mid-game aggression in the form of Spellstone or ensure you get your Recruit engine rolling as early as possible.
  • Wandering Monster – Even in slower matchups, Wandering Monster is difficult for opponents to play around. Should the minion survive, it gives you a chance to apply a bit of pressure early in the game.
  • Animal Companion – Even when the board is not in need of contesting, Animal Companion is a strong turn three.
  • Stitched Tracker – Against slower decks, you’ll typically have the time to play out Stitched Tracker on curve. In doing so, you give yourself the chance to Recruit multiple beasts into play with Kathrena.
  • Lesser Emerald Spellstone – Spellstone has the potential to do so much for five mana that it’s worth hanging onto.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Explosive Trap – Explosive Trap may not be the most relevant Secret against slower decks, but it can give you another Wolf from your Spellstone. It’s worth a keep if you already have Spellstone in hand.
  • Eaglehorn Bow – Bow can get you some early game chip damage, but is less necessary for contesting board in slower matchups.
  • Freezing Trap – Against slower decks that rely on large minions, Freezing Trap can essentially eliminate threats.
  • Deathstalker Rexxar – Some grindy matchups are so heavily reliant on Deathstalker Rexxar that its worth a keep in the mulligan.

Recruit Hunter Win Rates

Winrates provided by Metastats

Recruit Hunter Play Strategy

VS Aggro Decks

Due to Recruit Hunter’s rather sparse early game, it can be susceptible to aggressive strategies. In such matchups, your mulligan phase is critical. Dig hard for the few tools you have that can reduce the pressure your opponent is likely to apply.

Much of your defensive options are in the form of turn two Secrets. Explosive Trap and Wandering Monster can put a halt to the aggression and set you up to apply counter pressure with Lesser Emerald Spellstone.

Witchwood Grizzly is included in this deck for these aggro matchups. Unlike some of the other Beasts, this five mana card doesn’t feel terrible to play from hand. If you’re able to play it on curve with a Carnivorous Cube and Play Dead followup, it’s unlikely your opponent will deal minion damage for the rest of the game.

Should you survive the onslaught of early pressure and your opponent is lacking burn, the game is likely yours. As the game approaches the late game turns, your minions typically dwarf those of your opponents. Use this to your advantage to finish off enemies before they can close out the game.

VS Control Decks

Slower, Control decks tend to be the matchups Recruit Hunter is looking for. If your opponent isn’t applying pressure in the early turns you typically have enough time to work towards your end game.

In these games, an unchecked Lesser Emerald Spellstone can apply enough pressure to put you in a position where only one or two big beasts are necessary to close out games.

If you can, use Stitched Tracker to find multiple copies of Kathrena Winterwisp and Recruit multiple waves of Beasts into play.

Carnivorous Cube and Play Dead can get insane value in these games, summoning multiple copies of Kathrena and/or your dinos. Such turns allow you to overwhelm opponents with massive boards.

Do be aware of Silence and mass removal effects available to your opponent. Don’t overextend too far against Priests with Psychic Scream or Mass Dispel, especially. That said, hiding threats in Cubes does give you the ability to create resilient boards if Silence is not a concern.

Recruit Hunter Card Substitutions

  • Carnivorous Cube – Carnivorous Cube can make for some huge swing turns, but isn’t absolutely necessary for the deck to function. In fact, some variants of Recruit Hunter swap out the Cubes for Seeping Oozelings. If you’re on a budget, you can get away with the same change.
  • Charged Devilsaur – A total of three large chargers give this deck a significant amount of burst, but these dinos can be replaced with Savannah Highmanes if you’re short on Arcane Dust.
  • King Krush – Like Charged Devilsaur, King Krush is great, but not necessarily required. Savannah Highmane or Violet Wurm would be a suitable replacement.
  • Deathstalker Rexxar – This late-game value engine helps give this deck some longevity, but can be replaced by any of the Big Beasts mentioned above.

Recruit Hunter Variants

As a fairly new archetype, Recruit Hunter has several popular variants on the Standard Ladder right now.

Keleseth Recruit Hunter

Prince Keleseth variants of Recruit Hunter eschew the Secret Package in favor of a deck-wide buff from avoiding two-drops. Additionally, this version goes all-in on the Recruit mechanic with Silver Vanguard and Seeping Oozeling.

Dire Frenzy Recruit Hunter

Big Beasts are great, but why not make them even BIGGER with Dire Frenzy? In this version, buffed Beasts are shuffled back into your deck for even more longevity and burst.

Highmane Recruit Hunter

Few Hunter decks feel complete without the inclusion of Savannah Highmanes. This variant of Recruit Hunter includes the Classic Hunter minion along with Terrorscale Stalker for additional mid-game power plays.

Roffle

A card game veteran, Roffle has been infatuated with Hearthstone since closed beta. These days, he spends most of his time tinkering with decks on ladder or earning gold in Arena (f2p btw). In particular, Roffle has a wealth of experience in competitive Wild Hearthstone, including a top 16 finish in the inaugural Wild Open Tournament and numerous high end of season finishes since the format’s inception.

Check out Roffle on Twitter or on their Website!

19 Comments

Discuss This Deck
  1. P_Ang
    June 17, 2018 at 6:57 am

    Just wondering why everyone puts Tracking in their decks? You throw away two cards. If you have a Hunter deck based around a certain strategy, and you draw three cards necessary to that strategy, you throw away two cards. Isn’t this a far worse penalty than getting 1 card for 1 mana?

    Reply
    • Asperkraken
      June 17, 2018 at 1:19 pm

      At the right time, Tracking can pull you what you need. Being able to pull an AoE clear against Odd Paladin is worth two cards for instance. It also can thin the deck to get you to what you need. Hunter also doesn’t have a lot of draw options so you kind of have to use what’s available.

      Reply
  2. WildRage
    June 8, 2018 at 5:34 am

    I made a few changes to this built:

    – 2x Carnivorous Cube
    – 2x Animal Companion
    – 2x Tracking
    – 1x Deadly Shot

    + 2x Seeping Oozling
    + 1x Silver Vanguard
    + 1x The Litch King
    + 2x Faceless Manipulator
    + 1x Terrorscale Stalker

    I’ll explain my choices and why I replaced those cards. I’m sure some of you noticed, but my built can basically be sumed up as a hybrid of the Keleseth and Secret Recruit Hunter.
    First off, Seeping Oozeling. Amazing card. Searchable with Stitched Tracker. Excellent turn 6 play, will copy either Kathrena or Vanguard. If you’re afraid of Silence, play it on turn 7 with a Play Dead. Personally, I find it imensely more practical than Carnivorous Cube.
    The problem with Cube is that you can’t play him in a deck you run Oozeling in, so you’re entirely dependant on drawing Kathrena and playing her on turn 8 (7 with coin). That’s too late in my opinion and too inconsistent of a scenario.
    Terrorscale Stalker…he’s an activator that’s searchable with Tracker, so there’s that. I’m not convinced I want him yet so…
    2x Faceless Manipulator. Probably the best change in my built. There are so many turns in which I Play Dead my Oozeling and Faceless for 14 damage. Faceless is so versatile too, ’cause if your opponent did a huge tempo play you just stole it for 5 mana. I’ve Facelessed a Hadronox that spawned me 2 Grizzlies and a couple Zombeast. Instant concede.
    Lastly it’s Silver Vanguard and the Litch King. I added Litch King as another target for Vanguard and the Oozeling, and he works pretty well so far. Vanguard works the same way as Kathrena but she can’t recruit King Krush and the Grizzlies, so you’re mostly hoping for your Charged Devilsaurs. She’s there to make sure your Oozelings aren’t dead draws in matches where you drew Kathrena.

    I kept the Secret package because this deck has weak early game and (unless you’re facing a Warlock) any count of Spellstone-spawned wolves is a great way to keep control of your board until your Jurrasic minions arrive. The Keleseth built seems….all over the place.

    This deck is one of the few decks that loses to Hadronox Druid because it doesn’t have a reliable way to interfere with the Combo.
    I’m thinking of adding Emeriss. A problem with Recruit decks in general is that you might draw your recruit targets before you have a chance to cheat them out, making your Oozelings and Kathrenas dead cards. Cube Warlock solves this issue with Skull of Manari but Hunter doesn’t habe a way to cheat them to the board. Emeriss somewhat incentifies you to play them by doubling their stats. An 9 cost 8/8 charge might not be worth it but a 9 cost 16/16 charge is another story. He’s also not “polluting” your recruit pool because he’s 10 cost (missing vanguard) and has the Dragon tag.
    Another thing I’m somewhat interested in is Abominable Bowman. Ressurecting a beast that died this game seems good in theory (you want to Play Dead him into a Charged Devilsaur or King Krush for lethal) but he interferes with the Oozeling. And on turn 6 when you drop Oozeling no Beast has died. This could be “solved” very awkwardly if you played Animal Companion beforehand (which means you can’t include Bowman without Animal Companion, which defeats the purpose of including him).

    Reply
    • WildRage
      June 8, 2018 at 6:02 am

      ^
      Also I mulligan hard for E. Spellstone guys. I don’t have the statistics but I bet Hunters that succesfully play a Great E. Spellstone on turn 5 have far better winrates. I only keep Seeping Oozeling.

      Reply
      • WildRage
        June 8, 2018 at 8:30 am

        Just realized Oozeling with Bowman’s deathrattle could bring you back a wolf, so there’s no need for Animal Companion after all.

        Reply
    • AtomicDaffodil
      June 14, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      Fantastic! Love the changes it’s amazing! Also would adding swamp kind Dred or emeriss be worth it?

      Reply
  3. WildRage
    June 8, 2018 at 1:45 am

    So I’ll keep drawing into my recruit targets before I can recruit them with Kathrenna and Oozeling. This deck obviously misses a Skull of Manari.

    Reply
    • Majkle63
      June 8, 2018 at 5:32 am

      Your skull is kind of Dire Frenzy.

      Reply
      • WildRage
        June 8, 2018 at 5:36 am

        Assuming you run Dire Frenzy, which isn’t very optimal in my opinion..but I get what you mean.

        Reply
  4. Spyder9899
    June 6, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Why is this deck being highlighted over the ones that use Seeping Oozeling? Mind you, I’ve only played a handfull of games with each, but its so much easier to start recruiting dinos with the Oozeling version, and can do it earlier. Also, I think it has a better early game.

    Reply
  5. S2mikey
    June 5, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Intersting deck. I actually removed the tracker spells and replaced them with Secret Keepers for more early game. I also removed on Cube and one Grizzly so I could add two spellbreakers. Seems like there are so many targets that could use a silence. Im just trying it out now so we’ll see. Im sure your version is better but I like to experiment!

    What are your throughts on Secret Keepers and my spellbreakers?

    Reply
  6. MrMeme
    June 4, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    Why no Dire Frenzy? It would be a great inclusion for this deck. Maybe -1 Tracking +1 Dire Frenzy

    Reply
    • Roffle - Author
      June 5, 2018 at 10:17 am

      While Dire Frenzy fits the overall gameplan of the deck, it tends to be a win-more card. In fact, it has one of the lowest Drawn WRs (rivaling even that of some of the big beasts that you actively don’t want to draw) suggesting it’s underperforming in decks that include it.

      Reply
  7. Hk
    June 4, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    What about not running tracking. I hate losing key minions that i cant recruit. my friend and i both run this deck and love it, but this one part.

    Reply
    • Roffle - Author
      June 5, 2018 at 10:19 am

      In most matchups, Discarding cards from Tracking is irrelevant (outside of extreme cases where you’re choosing between three combo pieces). The deck doesn’t cycle cards or want to go to Fatigue so, in most games, Discarding Tracking options is the same as never drawing them.

      Reply
  8. HamAndSwiss
    June 4, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    I’ve been playing the different iterations of this deck almost exclusively since WW even pre-nerf, and I’ve found the keleseth/taunts version to be far more consistent. While spellstone is powerful indeed, I’ve found the always-helpful taunts to be more beneficial than the clunkyness that can come from the secret package and how subject it is to draw order. This deck has enough potential to fall apart due to bad draws without the “all my secrets no spellstone” positions

    Reply
  9. SilberFuchsin
    June 4, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Just built the Oozing version of this deck but without king krush. I thought carnivorous cube would be a good inclusion based on this list and the fact I need more burst damage. However I learned the hard way that you cannot run cube and oozeling in the same deck. Perhaps worth mentioning this fact under card substitutions.

    Reply
  10. StreetPiglet
    June 4, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Great guide, couldn’t have said it much better myself. I was wondering when Recruit Hunter would be recognized a viable deck. I adore the slower meta and believe it is a greater demonstration of actual skill. Cheers!

    Reply
    • Roffle - Author
      June 4, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      Recruit Hunter is one of those decks that started gaining in popularity, but it was tough to gauge whether it was truly relevant or just taking advantage of the uncertain metagame. Now that things have settled a bit more, as an archetype, it appears to be the real deal. It’ll be interesting to see where the deck goes as players start to refine and find the most optimal list.

      Reply

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