Midrange (Hybrid) Hunter Mulligan Strategy & Guide
The mulligan section into two parts – against fast decks and against slow decks. Fast decks are generally the Aggro decks or high tempo Midrange decks. Slow decks are slower Midrange and Control decks.
VS Fast Decks
Higher Priority (keep every time):
- Dire Mole – Good way to take the early game board control + it pairs with Razormaw very well.
- Crackling Razormaw – Landing a Razormaw Adapt on turn 2 can give you the lead you need in the early game. And even if you don’t have a 1-drop, you still get something to play on T2.
- Wandering Monster – Best secret to land vs Aggro. It usually blocks an attack from a 1-drop/2-drops while killing it + it can leave a decent body behind. RNG card, but most of the outcomes are good for you.
- Animal Companion – Dire Wolf is a great follow-up to either of the one drops in Midrange Hunter. The extra attack is frequently enough to allow your minions to trade up.
Lower Priority (keep only if certain conditions are met):
- Explosive Trap – Against board flood decks, e.g. Odd Paladin. It’s your best source of AoE and it can come handy around T3-T4 if you didn’t get a great start.
- Eaglehorn Bow – While it’s not ideal to take extra damage against Aggro decks, Bow can help you protect your board position and reduce the long-term damage output from your opponent. Keep it if you have T1/T2 play already.
- Lesser Emerald Spellstone – With some Secrets. If you land a 3 or 4 wolves on curve, lots of Aggro decks won’t have a way to clear them efficiently.
VS Slow Decks
Higher Priority (keep every time):
- Dire Mole – Good with Razormaw or can bait out a removal giving you more options for your follow up plays.
- Crackling Razormaw – When facing slower decks, you want to pressure opponents in the early turns. Razormaw can help increase the aggression of your early minions both with the body and the Adapt.
- Animal Companion or Bearshark – Your 3-drops. Both cards have their merits, but I think that Companion is stronger if you can pick between the two.
- Lesser Emerald Spellstone – Pretty much your strongest win condition – if you land it on the curve and your opponent doesn’t have any AoE to deal with it, you almost always win. It’s also a great refill in case your
Lower Priority (keep only if certain conditions are met):
- Freezing Trap or Deadly Shot – Vs Warlock. Even Warlock’s or Cube Warlock’s big mid game plays can be a nightmare to deal with without Freezing Trap/Deadly Shot. Both of them are great tempo moves.
- Houndmaster – Keep with some early game. Houndmaster is an amazing T3 play, but it sucks if you have nothing to play between T1 and T3.
Midrange Hunter Play Strategy
When facing fast decks, even though this build is quite aggressive, you will still need to take the control role most of the time. Your early game tempo is relatively low, it’s hard to swing the tempo in your favor once you get behind. It means that you have to slowly, but surely control the board throughout the early game and look for your opportunity to strike.
First few turns are important. Getting the damage in is rarely important, it’s far more crucial to clear whatever minions your opponent might be playing. Try to go for the highest tempo moves each turn, if you don’t, you might fall behind. Ignore your Hero Power completely unless you just happen to have 2 free mana. You’re not a beatdown, it’s not important to weave it in every time you can.
You have three different “AoE” cards, but each one of them has a serious downside. Explosive Trap is 2 AoE damage for 2 mana, which is amazing, but you don’t get to pick when it’s triggered. For example, your opponent might trade on the board first before popping it, or he might play e.g. Fungalmancer to get the most important cards out of range and keep pushing damage. Unleash the Hounds technically only deals 1 AoE damage for 3 mana and can get stopped by Taunts. Deathstalker Rexxar is the only “sure” AoE, but then again, it’s also overpriced at 6 mana for 2 damage (of course, the card as a whole isn’t overpriced, but the AoE part is if we only look at that). So basically, your best bet would be to not fall behind and use those only when you have to.
Houndmaster is a great card if you’re ahead or even on the board. Not only you put up a Taunt and make the trades awkward for your opponent, but the buff part is immediate, so you can use it to trade up. For example, if you already have a Dire Mole on the board, you can turn it into a 3/5 minion and immediately clear some 3/3, while also putting up a 4/3 body on the board. And now if your opponent has another 3/3 minion, he might need to trade into a 3/2 Taunt instead of a 4/3 Houndmaster, even though the latter would be more efficient.
But probably the best way to swing the game in your favor is mid game Lesser Emerald Spellstone. Even after a single upgrade, 3x 3/3 for 5 mana is already good. If you manage to upgrade it up to 4, most of the Aggro decks won’t have a way to clear them. Then, depending on your health total, board state etc. you have to ways to play it out. If you’re behind, you want to use those wolves to trade. Your opponent have most likely ignored it, which means that you can capitalize on some synergies, such as Houndmaster, Kill Command or maybe even a Leokk roll from Animal Companion.
Alternatively, Deathstalker Rexxar can be your win condition in faster matchups. While you mostly use it for the initial AoE and Armor, the Build-a-Beast Hero Power can come handy if you get the right option. After the Beast pool was updated, the card got much stronger in faster matchups. There is a significant chance to get a Lifesteal, Rush, Taunt or Charge minion – basically something either defensive or with immediate effect. For example, combining Vicious Scalehide with pretty much any Beast is amazing vs faster decks. You can even go for some combos – such as combining it with Bittertide Hydra. Not only you get a massive 9/11 Rush minion, which heals for 9 each time it attacks, but you also don’t lose any health from the Hydra’s effect, because damage dealt from the card’s effect also triggers Lifesteal.
Against Control decks, you’re almost always the Beatdown. Here, you want to prioritize an aggressive start before your opponent is able to gather removal. 1-2-3 mana opening is a great way to start each slow deck, but unlike vs Aggro, here you don’t need minions to control the board – you need them to deal damage. The more minion damage you deal, the easier it will be to close out the game. Not only you might put your opponent in the range of your burn, but when he’s low, he will be forced to make many sub-optimal plays. For example, a Warrior using Shield Slam on your 3/2 minion in the late game, because he’s afraid to take any extra damage.
When you face a slow decks, the meta knowledge is very important. You need to be able to identify the deck you’re facing. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it takes multiple turns to do it – e.g. it’s sometimes hard to tell for the first few turns whether you face Malygos or Taunt Druid, and the telling them apart is incredibly important, as Taunt version does not run Spreading Plague. That’s basically the point – if you can tell what deck you face, you know what cards you need to play around. Generally, don’t play too many minions into the AoE clears. And if you really want to develop – try playing minions that will be out of range or buffing some stuff out of range. Let’s say that you play against Warlock – Hellfire is played by every slower build. So, for example, playing another 3 health minion if you already have a decent board might not be the best idea. But you might play Houndmaster to buff one of your minions out of range. You develop more, and you make your board a bit more resilient vs Hellfire, so even if that happens, you still have initiative.
Lesser Emerald Spellstone is probably the best card in your deck in slow matchups. You want to use it as a board refill. The plan is to develop through the early game and have some board presence, like 3 minions. That should be enough to bait an AoE clear, and if it doesn’t, that’s great, you just hit your opponent with all of the minions + Hero Power and put him on a very fast clock. And if he clears – you play Spellstone to refill. It’s much less likely that your opponent will be able to answer it now, since they’ve already dropped an AoE previous turn. 3 or 4 wolves sticking is usually enough to win the game, since that’s 9-12 damage every turn.
If your opponent got all the necessary clears, then gained a bunch of health and you can’t win through the pressure, don’t worry, you still have a chance. Deathstalker Rexxar can actually turn your deck into a value powerhouse. Getting an early Rexxar might even make you outvalue some slower deck in the long run.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that you DON’T always want to play Rexxar on the curve. If you’re still on the “push for damage” phase of your game plan, when your opponent is quite low etc. then playing DK Hero will often lose you the game. Not only you waste an entire turn doing basically nothing, but you also sacrifice the 2 damage Hero Power, which is great when pushing for damage. Trust me, your opponent would thank you for turning into Rexxar when you’re pushing him against the wall. You just give him a few turns to come back. Use Rexxar as soon as possible only if a) your early game was quite weak and you basically have no chance to kill your opponent in time and b) if you’re already running out of steam.
Once you turn into Rexxar, another common mistake is going being greedy and picking the biggest minions possible. First of all, you generally shouldn’t create a minion with a higher total cost than 8. Making a 9 or 10 mana Zombeast means that you can’t use Hero Power on the same turn, and you’re losing value. Make one only if the options are really amazing – e.g. Stranglethorn Tiger + Bittertide Hydra to set up lethal. However, even 8 mana ones usually get clunky. Remember that on top of the cards you get from Hero Power, you also draw something from your deck each turn. If you pick only high cost Beasts, your hand will eventually get clunky. If your hand is nearly empty, it’s good to start with some more expensive options, but as you draw more cards, you might opt for the lower mana options instead, so you can e.g. play a Freezing Trap, Houndmaster and such on the same turn.
Midrange Hunter Card Substitutions
With roughly 3,000 Arcane Dust cost, the deck is very inexpensive and can be easily played by the budget players. It runs only a single more expensive card – Deathstalker Rexxar. Sadly, I’d say that this one is irreplaceable. Of course, you can try using something different, but there is no card that fits this slot that well. Deathstalker Rexxar’s main advantage is flexibility – it’s a defensive option vs Aggro and a way to stay in the slower games despite running out of steam.
You can try adding Savannah Highmane instead. It’s a great on-curve play vs slow decks and can give you the little final push you need to close out the game. At the same time, it’s often a dead card vs Aggro, because it’s pretty slow.
Alternatively, you can try to build an Aggro version of the deck instead. However, in case of Aggro (Face) Hunter, another card is necessary – Baku the Mooneater. Odd builds are the most powerful Face Hunter builds, and they aren’t doing that great right now anyway.