Highlander Hunter Deck List Guide – Saviors of Uldum – August 2019

Highlander Hunter Deck List Guide – Saviors of Uldum – August 2019

Our Highlander Hunter deck list guide goes through the ins-and-outs of this new Hunter build for the Saviors of Uldum expansion! This guide will teach you how to mulligan, pilot, and substitute cards for this archetype!

Introduction to Highlander Hunter

Saviors of Uldum brought Highlander decks – decks that only run singleton cards – back to Hearthstone’s Standard format. The last time decks like these were relevant in Standard was when Reno Jackson led the way, and such decks were often called Reno decks back then, as Reno is a Neutral Legendary that was part of every such deck regardless of the class. Now the original Reno is only available in Wild, and the Standard version of the character is a Mage Legendary card, so it seems appropriate to call the decks Highlander decks, a name more widely used across multiple card games.

But why would you want to play a Highlander deck? Sure, it can be fun to have a plethora of different cards available to play with, but card games are all about percentages and consistency, and by cutting duplicates from your deck, you are always making your deck worse. Saviors of Uldum encourages players to take this path with synergy cards whose powerful effects are only available when there are no duplicates in your deck. In the case of Hunter, there are two such cards: the Neutral Legendary Zephrys the Great and the Hunter Legendary Dinotamer Brann. The power of these two cards compensates for the inconsistency you build into your deck and promises riches and success to those who dare to venture down the path of 30 different cards in a deck.

Hunter is one of the most promising classes to go for a Highlander build: Zephrys the Great is good at finding lethal damage for you and Dinotamer Brann allows you to get King Krush on the board for two less mana than usual. Combined with the overall variety of aggressive Hunter cards and the face-oriented Hunter Hero Power, these form a good basis for an aggressive deck. It cannot be a pure aggro deck, because lack of consistency makes it difficult to go all-in right from turn one, but adding in a Secret package to handle the first few turns allows the deck to keep the opponent guessing and making awkward plays until it can unleash the full power of its key cards in the mid-game. This results in a powerful package well worth exploring.

Highlander Hunter Deck List

This sample deck list is from J4ckiechan, who piloted it to top-200 Legend.

Deck Import

Check out alternative versions of this deck on our Highlander Hunter archetype page!

Highlander Hunter Mulligan Strategy & Guide

VS Fast Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Secretkeeper – The best one-drop: with some Secrets it can grow and grow and just take over the game.
  • Shimmerfly – Resource-generating one-drop, gets you on the board quickly and gives you more tools when it dies.
  • Springpaw – A defensive one-drop that can contest early boards.
  • Masked Contender – Secret-synergy three-drop.
  • Hyena Alpha – A huge swing card, potentially 7/7 stats overall for four mana.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Secrets – Keep with Secret synergy cards, or keep specific ones that are important in the matchup, such as Explosive Trap against token decks.
  • Unleash the Hounds – Keep against token decks.

VS Slow Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Secretkeeper – The best one-drop: with some Secrets it can grow and grow and just take over the game.
  • Shimmerfly – Resource-generating one-drop, gets you on the board quickly and gives you more tools when it dies.
  • Animal Companion – One of the most powerful three-drops in the game.
  • Hyena Alpha – A huge swing card, potentially 7/7 stats overall for four mana.
  • Subject 9 – Huge resource generator.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Secrets – Keep with Secret synergy cards.
  • Deadly Shot – Keep against early big individual minions, such as against Mage.

Highlander Hunter Play Strategy

You can think of Highlander Hunter as a Secret Hunter that starts a little slower and has more top-end to compensate. The first few turns are basically equivalent to Secret Hunter: you try to get some Secrets and Secret synergy cards going, which will make the opponent’s life awkward, as they have to play around your Secrets while trying to get some development of their own underway.

If you can find Secretkeeper and move on from there to some Secrets, that is the ideal scenario. However, it is by no means necessary for success, there is after all just one copy of Secretkeeper in the deck.

Playing mind games with your Secrets is important. Sure, you want to make some obvious plays like play a Secret that cannot be triggered immediately on turn two if you intend to follow it up with a Masked Contender on turn three, but you can also use your Secrets to bluff your way through difficult situations. For example, if your opponent has a single big minion and you play a Secret quickly on your turn, they have a good reason to assume that it is Freezing Trap and may avoid attacking until they can get more minions on the board. If you consider the play for a long time, that may make your bluff less convincing – or it may encourage them to attack into an actual Freezing Trap. Your early game is reliant on those Secrets, and your ability to confuse your opponent with them is vital for success.

There is some anti-synergy between Masked Contender and Subject 9, and also between Masked Contender and Zul'jinMasked Contender requires there to be a Secret in your deck to play, and it is the one who plays the Secret, not you, so Zul'jin will not recast a Secret played by Masked Contender. In general, Masked Contender‘s tempo is preferable in fast matchups, while Zul'jin‘s value is preferable in slow matchups, where you will rather play Subject 9 over Masked Contender if both are available, but you will still play your Masked Contender just to thin your deck and get to your power plays faster if you have not found the Subject 9.

Secrets are an important part of your game plan in all matchups and through all stages of the game. They can help you defend your Hero or your minions, and generally confuse the opponent. As you reach the mid-game, your minions will play a bigger role as they are the actual damage dealers, but some good mid-game Secrets can help you find the wins by messing up your opponent’s plans.

VS Aggro Decks

In aggressive matchups, you generally assume the control role: you simply do not have the explosive start of a pure aggro deck unless you land a perfect draw of Secretkeeper, Secrets, Masked Contender or Animal Companion, and Hyena Alpha. Well, sometimes you do get that perfect hand and you can just race an aggro deck, it is important to be flexible when playing a Highlander deck. In such a scenario, you may even use Unleash the Hounds to race, and not to trade.

However, typically you are the defender, and you attempt to mess up your opponent’s plan with your Secrets, get tempo with Masked Contender and Hyena Alpha, and use your superior mid-game cards to swing the game in your favor.

Part of what makes Zephrys the Great, well, great, is his ability to also provide you with defensive options and not just lethal damage. Spent your Unleash the Hounds already or can’t find it? Zephrys the Great will be happy to provide you with some area-of-effect damage, anything from Fan of Knives to Flamestrike. Do not hesitate to use Zephrys the Great for defense when you’re against aggro, although I prefer to save it until the mid-game if at all possible, because more mana to work with gives you more options for cards, and Zephrys really likes to give you cards that you can play immediately or on the following turn at the latest.

It is important to note that your healing capabilities are limited. You have Zilliax and Zephrys the Great in the mid-game and Zul'jin if you make it to turn ten, but other than that your health is only going down, not up. That means that you need to be able to swing the game in your favor in the mid-game, or the aggro deck might be able to limp across the finish line while you’re still building up your counter-attack.

VS Control Decks

Against control decks, you are the aggressor. Early Secrets are useful for activating Secret-synergy cards, such as Secretkeeper and Hyena Alpha, and also for protecting your board. Against a Warrior, for example, a Hyena Alpha forms a powerful combination together with Rat Trap, because any attempt to clear out the Hyena with Warpath will activate the Rat Trap and maintain a powerful board presence for you.

You are typically not going to win very early, your average win is closer to turn nine or ten than to turn five. If you have an opportunity to weave in some Hero Powers in the mid-game, you should do so. For example, playing a six-mana card and Hero Power on turn eight is often better than using Dinotamer Brann and floating one mana, as it means that you can then play Brann and use Hero Power again on turn nine. Of course, Brann on turn seven is often a great play, especially if there is any chance that the King Krush may go unanswered.

In control matchups, you will often use Zephrys the Great to find the final lethal damage. However, that is not all that Zephrys is capable of. Playing Zephrys in the late game can also result in a big value card, such as Tirion Fordring, so you can consider using it also for a small refill and some additional value.

You should also manage your spell pool for Zul'jin carefully. Getting Deadly Shot and Unleash the Beast into the pool before playing Zul'jin can provide a huge swing turn should you start to run out of steam. Choosing when to play Zul'jin can be difficult: the card is at its best when swinging the game, so typically you want to play it on a turn after the control deck has just cleared the board and has some minions left over, so that you can clear those out, get a new Secret Christmas tree, and summon some minions. However, sometimes you can also use it to get rid of a Taunt minion that is on the way, and sometimes you just need the refill. I have seen players wait too long with Zul'jin when they have not found their Unleash the Beast, for example, and they have been unwilling to commit without that additional value. Remember that there are several scenarios where playing Zul'jin is correct, and do not wait too long for the perfect turn.

One great thing about Highlander Hunter is that while it prefers to end the games in the mid-game, it is actually able to play a very long game as well. With a suitable Wild Bloodstinger pull – like Archivist Elysiana – it is possible to take control decks to fatigue and win there. It is never the preferred option, but even if you cannot finish the game when you would want to, try to evaluate what you have left, including any random effects, and see if there is still a path to victory. There often is.

Highlander Hunter Card Substitutions

As with all Highlander decks, there are several ways to build Highlander Hunter. Basically, you need some of the key pieces that form the core of the archetype, and you can fill in the rest with strong cards from your collection so that the overall mana curve makes sense.

The first part of the core consists of the two Highlander synergy cards, Dinotamer Brann and Zephrys the Great. They cannot be replaced, because without them it makes no sense to play a Highlander deck at all.

The second part of the core is formed by the Secret synergy package, which is crucial for the early game of the deck. You need Subject 9 to draw Secrets and thin your deck, and you preferably want six Secrets in the deck for consistency, which would mean including at least one of the Epic Secrets, either Rat Trap or Snake Trap. In the current meta, Rat Trap is a very strong card and should be included over Snake Trap if you can afford to choose.

I would also highly recommend crafting Zul'jin, if you do not have it already. It is a major swing turn with the right spells, and the deck will be worse without it.

The rest of the expensive cards in the deck can be replaced with other cards. Try to look for cards that fill a similar role and similar mana curve overall. Some potential budget replacements that usually don’t make the cut include Pit CrocoliskAmani War BearMulti-ShotSpellbreakerSpringpaw, and Secret Plan.

Old Guardian

Ville "Old Guardian" Kilkku is a writer and video creator focused on analytic, educational Hearthstone, and building innovative Standard format decks. Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/OldGuardian Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/old_guardian

Check out Old Guardian on Twitter or on their Website!

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One Comment

  1. Towers
    August 21, 2019 at 10:36 am

    thanks for the old guardian guide