Our Face Hunter deck list guide for the Descent of Dragons expansion features one of the top lists for this archetype. This Hunter guide includes Mulligan Strategy, Gameplay Tips, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!
Face Hunter is one of the quintessential decks of Hearthstone history, the foundation of many memes and perhaps the fastest archetypes ever to emerge in the game. It is a pure aggro deck with the sole goal of burning down the opponent’s health from 30 to 0 as quickly as possible. It has already emerged as a potential counter to Galakrond Shaman before the early Descent of Dragons patch and it has continued to grow in popularity since.
This edition of Face Hunter functions quite differently from previous ones, but it manages to execute its gameplan in similarly swift fashion. The prevalence of strong one-cost minions earlier in Hearthstone’s history (when both Abusive Sergeant and Leper Gnome were 2/1s) promoted a playstyle where you began the game by delivering repetitive minion damage in the first few turns before starting to rely more on your hero power and the direct damage cards in your hand to finish off the game. This time around, Steady Shot plays a much bigger part in the overall strategy, requiring a new approach to this evergreen archetype.
Of course, the face is still the place. Never forget the SMOrc mantra!
Face Hunter Deck List
Check out alternative versions of this deck on our Face Hunter archetype page!
Mulligan Guide and Strategy
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Phase Stalker – The beating heart of the deck, a River Crocolisk on steroids which allows you to develop a board (and marginally thin your deck) while also making use of your Hero Power and therefore deal face damage in the early portions of the game. If you’re on the Coin, it’s worth playing this on the first turn even with a one-drop in hand: in case your opponent lacks the necessary response, you can immediately start pulling out the Secrets.
- Toxic Reinforcements – The underappreciated MVP of the deck, it is essentially a delayed Fireball and guaranteed board presence. Playing it on turn one also makes Steady Shot a viable option on turn two, and the breadth and depth of such options is simply incredible.
- Dwarven Sharpshooter – We’ve already seen that a 1 mana 1/3 is an excellent addition to any aggressive strategy even without card text (hello Dire Mole), and this little fella can also help you contest the board via using Steady Shot on a minion on turn 2 and therefore clear the way for your power plays on turns 3 and 4.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
Leper Gnome – If you have no other turn one play, it’s worth holding onto this little guy, but if you’ve picked up either of the one-drops mentioned in the previous section, you’re better off looking for other powerful tools to smooth out your curve.
Animal Companion and Eaglehorn Bow – Both are excellent turn 3 plays but are only worth keeping if you’ve got your first two turns sorted out. If you expect to play Phase Stalker alongside a Steady Shot on turn 4, keep the bow – otherwise, prioritize the big minion in the form of Animal Companion. (Note that not every build of Face Hunter uses Animal Companion, opting for other small minions like Worgen Infiltrator and Kobold Sandtrooper instead: they serve as direct mulligan alternatives in this scenario.)
General Playstyle and Strategy
The beauty of Face Hunter is that you never have to think about who’s the beatdown. Apart from the mirror match, you’re always going to be the aggressor, with limited tools to fight for board control and the sole goal of burning down your opponent’s life total. The Secret package does allow you to stall for a while, but you’re still expected to close out the games as quickly as possible. That said, your strategy is very similar against every deck in the metagame, and we’ll cover it in detail in the next section.
Here, we’ll be looking at the one exception to this is: the mirror match, where the Coin often determines the control and aggro roles. As is the case with Hunter mirrors, going first is a big advantage, except if you can’t answer a coined Phase Stalker, in which case you’re going to have a bad time. By turn three, it’ll be clear for both players who’s scrambling for board parity and who’s pushing face damage, and in most of these scenarios, it’s the player who blinks first who loses the game. Usually, your best way to mount a comeback from a tempo disadvantage is to pull off an Unleash the Hounds-based finisher or to reset the proceedings with an Explosive Trap. However, you can’t afford to give too much respect to your opponent’s setup: using your precious burn to kill their minions (many of which deal damage on their Deathrattle anyway) is a sure-fire way to lose.
It’s a knife fight: brutal, swift and bloody. If they go fast, you’ve just got to go faster.
As we’ve already touched on in the introduction, this iteration of Face Hunter can’t rely on repetitive damage from its early-game minions in any meaningful capacity: its power spikes and overall damage output revolve around the effective usage of Steady Shot instead. Past versions only began to “weave in” the hero power every turn after exhausting their tempo plays across turns 1-4; here, even a turn 2 button press can be the ideal move if you have one of your premium cards in hand.
The quicker you can leverage Phase Stalker’s effect and gain the sidequest’s reward the better, and your plethora of burn tools will allow you to close out many games by simply playing from the hand after completely losing board control. That said, it’s important to keep in mind when the cavalry is expected to arrive: big Taunts like Dragon's Pack or powerful swing tools like Zilliax can really wreck your strategy, and it’s often correct to push out your minion damage (with cards like Eaglehorn Bow or Unleash the Hounds) in “suboptimal” situations (like just one or two Hounds or exhausting your weapon with a Secret still up) just to ensure you get some bang for your buck.
Gameplay Tips & Tricks
- If you have a Leper Gnome on the board and a Rapid Fire in hand, attacking face with the minion then shooting it with the Rapid Shot will net you three damage instead of the two you would get by sending both to the face. Similarly, if the Leper Gnome is in your hand, playing it and killing it with a Rapid Fire will net you an extra point of damage on that turn if you’re searching for lethal.
- If you have a Phase Stalker in play and a Secret in hand, you can guarantee it pulls a different one by playing it before using your Hero Power. (Keep in mind that the Secrets will trigger in order of casting!
- If you somehow lack the board space for the Toxic Reinforcements rewards (this usually only happens with an Unleash the Hounds in play), you won’t get the Deathrattle damage for the “excess” minions. Make sure you make the trades first before using Steady Shot to complete the Sidequest!
- Lifedrinker and Kill Command combines for a nifty 8-damage burn from hand for seven mana.
The most glaring omission here has to be Leeroy Jenkins, the old faithful of aggro decks throughout Hearthstone’s history. However, it is uniquely ill-fitted to the current metagame. For starters, even the prospect of six damage for five mana is not as appealing as it otherwise might be with this many burn tools available to you. It is also quite inflexible, stuck in your hand until the eventual lethal setup – and that may never come. Dragon's Pack, Zilliax and many other tools essentially stop you from dealing minion damage for the rest of the game, and with such setups in mind, you won’t be able to leverage the Charge damage as often as you’d expect. (It is also cripplingly slow in the mirror). This is an incredibly cheap deck to make (with Toxic Reinforcements as the only two Epics in most builds), so it’s not like it’s a budget replacement or anything, but no Face Hunter guide would be complete without at least mentioning the card.
Different Secrets – two Explosive Traps are core, but you can adjust between two Freezing Traps, one Freezing Trap and one Pressure Plate or even two Snake Traps (note that the latter necessitates two copies of Timber Wolf, which we’ll be looking at next). All are capable of strong Ladder performances, and the deckbuilding decisions here should depend on what decks you’re struggling against on your climb and how much you value consistency from your Phase Stalker pulls.
Small minions – there are many different packages going around, each with their unique strengths and weaknesses. Viper opted for Worgen Infiltrator and Kobold Sandtrooper (which you can also interact with using Rapid Fire the same way we’ve discussed Leper Gnome above) instead of Timber Wolf and Animal Companion. WEhap went for the other two alongside two Snake Traps. The featured build keeps the two copies of Timber Wolf but opts for the double Freezing Trap instead.
Other popular builds feature Abusive Sergeant and Springpaw instead of Timber Wolf and Leper Gnome, plus two copies of Bomb Toss and Leeroy Jenkins. This version only runs three Secrets to make room for these minions (the core double Explosive Traps and one Snake Trap). For a deck with seemingly such a one-dimensional gameplay approach, there’s a lot of room for experimentation.