Our Spell Hunter deck list guide will go through the ins-and-outs of the most popular Hunter build from Rastakhan’s Rumble! This guide will teach you how to mulligan, pilot, and substitute cards for this archetype!
Introduction to Spell Hunter
Hunter has always had a heavy reliance on creatures, particularly beasts, as part of its class identity. Face, Midrange, Deathrattle and Recruit Hunters all thrive off of the strength and efficiency of their creatures, backed up by versatile spells. 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 Lesser Emerald Spellstone, spells-matter To My Side! and Rhok'delar, as well as the new Hunter’s Hero (Zul'jin) and we have a spicy combination that took Hunter into a completely different direction.
Kobolds & Catacombs version of the decks opted to run the Barnes + Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound combo. It was very simple – playing Barnes on T4 (which you hard mulliganed for) resulted in him pulling the 1/1 version of Y’Shaarj (since it was the only other minion in your deck), which pulled the 10/10 version – that was an instant win in lots of matchups. However, since the combo has rotated out, Spell Hunter had to go back to the more “fair” card choice – To My Side!, which isn’t a bad card, it’s just not a massive swing like Barnes is.
Rastakhan’s Rumble has gave Spell Hunter exactly the card they’ve needed. New Hero, Zul'jin is perfect in this kind of build. Playing it usually swings the board in your favor, and gives you quite a lot of value on top of that. In the early Rastakhan meta, Spell Hunter is the #1 deck both in terms of popularity and win rate, meaning that it will be a serious contender for the new Tier 1 deck once the meta settles down.
Rastakhan’s Rumble Spell Hunter Deck List
Check out alternative versions of this deck on our Spell Hunter archetype page!
Spell Hunter Mulligan Strategy & Guide
VS Fast Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Candleshot – Great weapon vs aggressive decks. You get 3 pings for just 1 mana and it doesn’t cost you any health, which is a big issue when facing a deck that wants to rush you down.
- Wandering Monster – Probably the best Secret against Aggro. It is very likely that your opponent will attack with a 1-drop, it will kill off his 1-drop and you will still have a minion alive on the board to trade into something else.
- Explosive Trap – Faster decks want to flood the board and dealing 2 AoE damage for 2 mana is definitely a great way to counter that.
- Flanking Strike – Removal + board presence, great swing card vs Aggro.
- Lesser Emerald Spellstone – Might not seem like a good keep vs Aggro, but it’s still amazing. It creates a big board presence that Aggro decks have a very hard time answering – you can either rush them down or trade with the 3/3’s.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Secret Plan – Keep with Spellstone. You’d rather get a good Secret from your deck, since Secret Plan has a slight chance of giving you 3 bad options.
- Animal Companion – If you have something to play on Turn 2 already. Skipping Turn 2 is really bad against Aggro.
VS Slow Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Tracking & Secret Plan – Since you will skip your Turn 1 anyway most of the time, it’s better to use that time in order to find one of the cards you actually need.
- Wandering Monster – Wandering Monster is still great versus almost every slow deck, because they also run some small minions to trigger it. And if they decide to not attack with anything, you save yourself quite a lot of health in the long run.
- Animal Companion – Great Turn 3 play, especially if you curve out with it after Turn 2 Secret.
- Lesser Emerald Spellstone – This is your main mid game win condition in slower matchups. Creating 4x 3/3 basically means that you win if your opponent has no way to answer them, it’s too much damage.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Freezing Trap or Deadly Shot – Keep against certain slower decks that might drop a big minion in the early/mid game. Great keep vs Even Warlock, for example – it stops both Mountain Giant and Twilight Drake, they either attack and waste an entire turn, or not attack and you gain at least an extra free turn.
Spell Hunter Win Rates
Winrate stats are currently unavailable for this deck at the moment!
Spell Hunter Play Strategy
Aggro matchups are all about the proactive board control. The thing about Spell Hunter is that it doesn’t really have a good AoE clear. Explosive Trap is efficient, but 2 damage is often not enough against aggressive decks. A lot of the 1-drops and 2-drops that are commonly seen on the ladder have 3 health, which is out of the Secret’s range. Of course, Explosive Trap is still good against Aggro, especially in some matchups like Odd Paladin, but it just isn’t enough to win most of the time.
What you need most are the weapons and ways to generate minions. Weapons are great, because they’re tempo efficient. You play it once and you can kill up to a few minions with it. Candleshot is great during the first few turns – it’s most useful for clearing 1-drops, but things like popping Divine Shield, finishing a minion off after it’s down to 1 health etc. also make it good.
Then, there are spells that summon minions – those are also quite important. Since you have no other ways to get minions, you really want cards like Wandering Monster, Animal Companion or Lesser Emerald Spellstone / To My Side! (in the mid game). A “special” type of minion generators are the ones that also act as board clears. The deck runs two of those – Flanking Strike and Baited Arrow. Those cards are, most of the time, very mana efficient and can help you contest the board by clearing a small minion and adding some board presence of your own. Keep in mind that in order to get a 5/5 out of Baited Arrow you need to OVERKILL a minion, not just kill it, so a minion needs to have 2 or less health. Of course, it doesn’t mean that it has to START at 2 or less health – e.g. you can smack a 3 health minion with Candleshot first and then drop Baited Arrow. Or you can trade in one of your minions first before doing that. Be creative, because having an extra 5/5 on the board is a massive difference.
Aggro matchups are all about surviving. You want to clear everything they play and run them out of resources. The only exception from this rule is when you manage to get a big board swing. Aggro decks generally don’t run AoE board clears, which means that if you managed to keep up with them and then drop an upgraded Lesser Emerald Spellstone (which summons 4x 3/3), now you will be ahead and he will be behind.
If you’re at reasonable health total, you can switch your game plan to aggression. Clear only the highest priority minions (such as Hench-Clan Thug or Flametongue Totem), and let your opponent do the rest of the trades. Especially if you can follow it with To my Side – then pretty much no Aggro deck will be able to withstand that much pressure. Those decks also don’t run cards that heal them, so the damage you deal is usually permanent – they CAN drop a Taunt or two, but you should be able to get through them quite easily and kill them over two-three turns.
Even though Deathstalker Rexxar seems mostly like an anti-Control card, it’s actually often the best way to comeback against fast decks. Between some Armor gain and 2 AoE damage, you should often be able to use it in order to survive. Then, there is a pretty high chance to get either a Taunt or a Lifesteal minion to just seal the game. The Witchwood has made this card even better in the fast matchups. Thanks to the cheap Lifesteal minions and a Rush keyword (cards such as Swamp Leech, Vicious Scalehide and Hunting Mastiff), it’s much easier to get a “fast” minion from it, potentially something with Lifesteal. For example, something as simple as combining the Scalehide with a Bloodfen Raptor gives you a 4/5 minion with Rush and Lifesteal – a great way to quickly clear something on the board and regain some health in the process.
Your other Hero card – Zul'jin – is rarely relevant in Aggro matchups, since it comes down too late. Most of the games are already decided by Turn 10. If you still haven’t beaten your opponent or died, however, Zul’jin pretty much guarantees that you win the game. You gain 5 Armor, clear some of your opponent’s minions with Deadly Shot as well as a lucky single target removal hits, put up defensive Secrets, and flood your board, possibly with Taunts (Misha from Animal Companion/To My Side!). The only way to lose is basically to get incredibly unlucky and land all of the Kill Commands, Baited Arrows etc. at your face, which is incredibly unlikely.
Slow matchups play way, way differently than the aggressive ones. Against fast decks, you assume a Control role (unless you get the big tempo swing I’ve talked about). You need to defend yourself and run them out of resources. But not against Control decks – here the strategy is quite the opposite. One of the biggest mistakes people make when playing Spell Hunter is always playing it as a Control deck. Even though most of your cards are reactive, you are NOT a Control deck. You run out of cards quickly, you have limited ways to gain extra value and you want to finish the game off as quickly as possible. The only way to outvalue Control deck in the long run is an early Deathstalker Rexxar, but that has its downsides too, plus you don’t always draw it. As a matter of fact, a lot of the time it’s just better to keep your 2 damage Hero Power if you’ve put enough early/mid game pressure (so you can keep dealing damage) and turn into a Death Knight only when you’re sure that you won’t beat your opponent that way.
Even though you’re playing a Spell Hunter, minions are still your main win condition. You want to summon as many of them and deal as much damage as possible. That’s why, for example, rolling a Huffer from Animal Companion is so good. Not only you’re getting 4 guaranteed damage, but you also have a 4/2 minion on the board you can attack with again if your opponent doesn’t answer it. Try to keep your minions alive and use spells to clear the board. For example, instead of trading into something, you’d rather Flanking Strike it or Hunter's Mark is (and then finish off with e.g. a weapon). Unlike spells, minions provide repeated damage every turn. Talking about minions from spells – Baited Arrow is an interesting case. Overkill is usually very easy to trigger vs Aggro, which run a lot of small minions/tokens, but it might be more difficult against slower decks. However, there is still one way to do it consistently – from Turn 6, you can combo it with Hunter's Mark. It’s a great way to clear a big minion and swing the board in your favor (which is exactly what this deck wants). As an extra note, remember that Baited Arrow can ALSO go face – 5 mana for 3 damage is very inefficient, but if you’re 3 off lethal, you won’t c
Your most common way to win the games in mid game will be Spellstone. You don’t want to play it until you upgrade it at least once, so you get three of four 3/3’s (unless you really have nothing else to do and 2x 3/3 is your only T5 play). After playing it, you just hope that your opponent has no AoE. For example, Hellfire is a great counter to Spellstone, but you can’t really do anything about it. You just need to not play into it. Your opponent is often waiting for you to play more before AoE’ing. If you already have a 4/2 on the board and your opponent passes while not really doing anything, there is a high chance that he has AoE and he wants to bait you into playing Spellstone too. Don’t take the bait and just hit with the 4/2, possibly play some Secret/weapon and go face + Hero Power. I’ve had players baiting me to play into their AoE, and then they were forced to AoE that single minion next turn, since they had no other way to clear it.
Rhok'delar is your only real way to immediately refill hand, but it’s GREAT at that job. You ideally want to play it on the curve, when you’re almost out of cards. While some of the random spells are quite useless (e.g. Stampede), most of them will be useful. You can get another Spellstone, more Secrets, more removal, burn damage. You should be able to go all in over the next few turns without really running out of steam. You also can’t underestimate the 4/2 weapon – since you’re often pushing your opponent, 8 extra damage is very important.
Rastakhan’s Rumble also added a great way to immediately refill the board – Zul'jin. The card absolutely shines in slower matchups, where you can wait long enough to play it. Basically, you want to add as many Spells to the pool before dropping it. When it comes to WHEN you want to play it, there are some options. One great timing is right after the board clear. Since Zul’jin usually floods your entire board, you can use it as a massive refill. You force your opponent to drop another board clear right away, or he loses the game. Another time is after your opponent drops one or two mid-sized to big minions, as long as you have your Deadly Shot(s) in spell pool. It clears the big minion on top of doing other things. But to be honest, just dropping it on Turn 10 without thinking much might be the best course of action a lot of time, because the tempo he provides is just insane.
If you’re close to lethal, you can also try to play Zul’jin to find a way to finish your opponent. While it’s not the most consistent way to do it, it works sometimes. You see, Zul’jin repeats all of your burn spells like Kill Command and Baited Arrow – if you get lucky, those might hit your opponent. However, probably more importantly, repeating Animal Companion and To My Side! can summon Huffers, giving you a way to charge into the enemy. If your opponent is in the lethal range of just 1-2 burn spells/Huffers, it might not be a bad idea to go for Zul’jin lethal, but it’s never really guaranteed.
One thing to consider, however, is your use of Tracking. Since Zul’jin repeats all of the spells, and Tracking burns a significant portion of your deck, you might want to be careful with Trackings in certain matchups. For example, against a deck like Odd Warrior, where the game will very likely go to fatigue if you don’t beat them quickly (it will mostly come down to Deathstalker Rexxar), Tracking is probably a bad idea. 2x Tracking will initially dig 6 cards deeper into your deck, 12 in total if you repeat those with Zul’jin. It means that the fatigue win condition is completely out of question. In most of the matchups, you can use those freely, but it’s just something to keep in mind when you meet those slowest decks.
Alternative win condition is Deathstalker Rexxar. However, keep in mind that this is a pure value card and it doesn’t really fit into your aggressive game plan, if you were going for one. I’ve seen people playing him as soon as they could, on the curve, against a slow deck, but that’s not always correct. If you had a solid start, or you’ve somehow dealt quite a lot of damage early, your first game plan is to rush the slow deck down – and for that, your normal 2 damage Hero Power is much better than the Deathstalker’s one. DO NOT change into your Death Knight if you can still maintain the pressure, there is just no point. If you can choose between dropping To my Side and using Rexxar, drop the first one unless you’re behind on the board and the 2 damage AoE will matter.
Deathstalker Rexxar is a good play once you know that you won’t be able to pressure your opponent enough. For example – they are still at high health, they’re close to their key turn (like Frost Lich Jaina vs Mage or Bloodreaver Gul'dan vs Warlock) and you won’t be able to take them down before that, you’re running out of resources etc. Then it’s the time to play Rexxar. After you do it, try to Hero Power every turn to fill your hand with a bunch of different Zombeast. One of the common mistakes is being greedy and picking the biggest options. Sure, you can make only 6+ mana Zombeasts, but you will very soon notice that they’re clunky and you can’t reliably get them out of your hand. While going for one or two high value ones is not bad, your main goal should be getting Zombeasts in the 3-5 mana range. The reason is that you will be able to Hero Power, drop the Zombeast and still have some mana to e.g. play a Secret, weapon, Kill Command etc. Tempo is still very important, that’s why you ideally want to pick Beasts with some kind of immediate effect. Battlecries, Charge and Rush minions are good picks, because you’re doing something immediately the moment you drop them.
Considering that Zul’jin has an amazing Battlecry, but a pretty bad Hero Power, ideally you also want to drop him FIRST and only then transform into Deathstalker Rexxar. Zul’jin’s power lies in the initial swing, while the important part of DK Rexxar is the Hero Power, meaning that the opposite order (Rexxar into Zul’jin) doesn’t make sense. If you play vs a slow deck and you’re already transformed into Rexxar, you might even consider skipping Zul’jin completely. There are certain situations in which you want to play it anyway, like when your opponent is out of board clears or low on health (so the damage Hero Power will work better), but you need to judge those situations individually.
Spell Hunter Card Substitutions
With only three Legendaries and two Epics, Spell Hunter is a rather inexpensive deck. However, all of those cards are important and replacing them will harm the deck significantly.
- Zul'jin is the new addition, but it’s the card that has pushed Spell Hunter from being a mostly off-meta into one of the most powerful decks on the ladder. It provides a massive swing, straight up winning Aggro matchups if they last long enough, and giving yo another great refill vs slower builds. I can’t see running Spell Hunter without Zul’jin.
- Deathstalker Rexxar can theoretically get replaced, but it means that you will have no win condition at all if your aggressive game plan fails in the slow matchups. It’s also very useful against Aggro just for the AoE, Armor and the ability to maybe get some Lifesteal/Taunt minions from the Hero Power. So I’d say that you really don’t want to get rid of that.
- Rhok'delar & To My Side! COULD be replaced, but then again, they are your “no minions” synergies, so if you don’t have those, you might as well drop the Spell Hunter and just play something like Recruit or Secret Hunter with Zul’jin.
But if you really need to replace one of those cards and still want to play the deck, you can add Eaglehorn Bow instead, or some other Hunter spells, such as Grievous Bite, Arcane Shot, Venomstrike Trap, Snake Trap or Crushing Walls. I don’t think it makes much sense, but it’s your call.