Our Spell Hunter deck list guide will go through the ins-and-outs of the potentially viable deck from the Kobolds and Catacombs Expansion! This guide will teach you how to mulligan, pilot, and substitute cards for this archetype!
Introduction to Spell Hunter (Zero Minions)
Hunter has always had a heavy reliance on creatures, particularly beasts, as part of its class identity. Face, Hybrid, and Midrange Hunters all thrive off of the strength and efficiency of their creatures, backed up by versatile spells. Secret Hunter had a brief moment in the sun, but secrets themselves lack “oomph” in the late-game. Hunter has a tendency to empty its hand quickly, with no real way to replenish those expended resources (the exception being one-for-one effects like Stampede or Lock and Load that replace spent cards, with obvious downsides). The release of Deathstalker Rexxar gave Hunters a reliable way to generate cards as a late-game engine with the Zombeast hero power. Combine this with the explosive potential of the newly released Lesser Emerald Spellstone and spells-matter cards like Rhok'delar or the hotly-debated To My Side!, and we have a spicy combination that could take the Hunter class in a whole new direction this season.
Update: Spell Hunter (January 2018)
It didn’t take long, but it looks like Spell Hunter is just going to be a flash in the pan for now. It’s still a fun deck, but as the meta has been refined the deck has largely fell out of favor to better decks.
Spell Hunter Mulligan Strategy & Guide
VS Fast Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Wandering Monster, Explosive Trap, Candleshot, Eaglehorn Bow – Early interaction and efficient trading are priority. Candleshot can clear a 1-Toughness and 2-Toughness minion with minimal fuss (thanks Immune!), while Explosive Trap and Wandering Monster can force the opponent into awkward turn sequencing.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Kill Command, Flanking Strike, Multi-Shot – If turn 1 and turn 2 plays are locked in, or a Multi-Shot can be fired off on turn 3 with the help of The Coin, they can be fine keeps against aggressive strategies. Be careful not to get bogged down in high-cost cards, or the early pressure can put us at too low a life total and the opponent’s late game reach can blow us out. Hunter excels at board control in small increments, but if too many opposing creatures stick around, the Hunter can struggle to catch up.
VS Slow Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Cat Trick, Freezing Trap, Eaglehorn Bow – Slower decks tend to be spell-heavy, and Cat Trick is the perfect way to punish the opponent for that. Freezing Trap can trip up the opponent’s Northshire Cleric or Sorcerer's Apprentice by resetting their early turns and making the cost highly inefficient. Putting on the pressure with a Cat in a Hat and Eaglehorn Bow can cut off the option of re-deploying those cards entirely, effectively “killing” them for good. Just be careful of advantageous battlecry effects; Kabal Lackey is probably okay, but Arcanologist or Babbling Book generate too many cards.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Tracking, Wandering Monster, Animal Companion, Lesser Emerald Spellstone – Setting up the early turns is very important, and Tracking can help find the appropriate card for the situation. Pay attention to the discarded choices, since they are removed from your deck for the rest of the match, but dropping a Multi-Shot or Explosive Trap is no huge loss. Animal Companion can be a strong card against Priest, a matchup that is challenging for the Hunter, by generating a 4-Power creature, which is typically hard for Priests to answer. Sometimes we get lucky, but sometimes we get Leokk, which is pretty poor against an empty board. Lesser Emerald Spellstone can be an excellent keep with a secret or two already in hand, and a fully powered Greater Emerald Spellstone on turn 5 is quite the powerful play.
Spell Hunter Play Strategy
Control the board with spells and weapons. Carefully manage Secrets to power up Eaglehorn Bow and Lesser Emerald Spellstone. Generate fresh resources with Deathstalker Rexxar and Rhok'delar to close the game.
Keep the board clear and preserve our life total as best we can. To that end, use every resource available to kill opposing minions. Sometimes that means using a Kill Command on Southsea Captain or trading a precious Huffer for Kor'kron Elite. Try to hold at least one charge of Eaglehorn Bow to recharge with a triggered secret, and do not be afraid to use Lesser Emerald Spellstone for three or even two wolves in order to manage the board. The opponent may hold back to prevent triggering our secrets; punish this behavior by looking for opportunities to chip away with hero power while also deploying answers in the form of secrets or weapons. Hero power activations are our most consistent form of damage, so plugging away for several turns before deploying Greater Emerald Spellstone or To My Side! will make closing the game much easier. Deathstalker Rexxar‘s board clearing ability and armor gain are the best tools in his kit for the aggressive matchup, though the potential to churn out beefy Taunt minions should not be overlooked. Rhok'delar frequently gives tools like Explosive Shot and Arcane Shot to help clean up pesky boards, and this recharging potential means that early resources can be expended somewhat freely. Try to wait until turn 8 or turn 9 to use the powerful weapon so that some mana is available to cast one or more cheap spells.
Fortunately for us, managing the board is much easier when our opponent is not committing much. Unfortunately, much of our deck plays poorly against decks that never commit to the board until late in the game. Eaglehorn Bow is on damage duty, and it can be correct to leave opposing minions on board to trigger secrets and give additional durability charges. We need to be the aggressor in this matchup, as the hard control decks will have a more potent top-end, so hero power early and often. Cards that generate minions for us are best, so Lesser Emerald Spellstone, Animal Companion, To My Side!, and Deathstalker Rexxar are high priority. Deadly Shot is our best answer to big minions that are hard to burn down, and Rhok'delar can give access to a wealth of high-powered board control effects (and two charges of 4 damage is nothing to sneeze at), but generally once the opponent starts putting out creatures with 8s in their stat lines, the going gets tough for the Hunter player. Kill Command converts to face damage in a pinch, and Flanking Strike and Cat Trick can put bodies on the board, necessitating board clear effects from our opponent that, in turn, open up the way for Greater Emerald Spellstone to take over the game. Deathstalker Rexxar is the best way to pivot into late game, and changing to a strategy of one-per-turn, must-answer threats is a way to overwhelm the opponent’s resources. Remember to count our minion costs, and try to activate the Zombeast hero power before deploying our threat for the turn. Grab Bloodworm if it comes up, as Lifesteal is an incredible effect for a class that otherwise does not have much in the way of life-gain effects.
Spell Hunter Card Substitutions
Deathstalker Rexxar and Rhok'delar are both necessary tools. Spell Hunter often goes to the late game, and needs a way to generate cards in order to close the game. Lesser Emerald Spellstone is incredible, and a full complement of Secrets is necessary to help it reach its full potential. Having at least seven Secrets seems to be optimal; I wouldn’t play less, but adjust the distribution as the meta dictates.
- Snipe – This would be my go-to secret if I intended to change anything. Wandering Monster is one of the few ways to put bodies on the board, and Freezing Trap has found its way into Midrange Hunter enough times that we know it’s one of the best. Explosive Trap is the first to go, but it is probably correct to keep at least one around. I found two useful in these early days of the meta as many of the decks were lower to the ground, and it should not be overlooked that the opponent takes damage as well when the explosion is triggered.
- Call of the Wild – A late-game powerhouse, I did not include the 9-drop in my deck because I played against a high percentage of aggressive decks. However, narrow board clear effects like Multi-Shot can be cut for more powerful cards if the majority of opponents are playing slower, more control-oriented decks.
- Cloaked Huntress – Do not do it. It is not worth it. Not even one. It is a trap, and not one of the good Hunter traps. It will break your heart and take your lunch money. Not. Even. One. Someone was going to ask, and now they will not have to.
About the Author
Rogue Zebra has been playing Hearthstone since the release. He loves Hunter (maybe a bit too much) and the opportunity to do new things with the class has him giddy with delight. You can follow him on Twitter, and occasionally catch him streaming on Twitch (though, for the time being, his computer is in a state of exploded).