Generally, you want to be able to drop a fully upgraded Emerald Spellstone around turn 4-5 against all classes but Priest & Warlock. Unfortunately, keeping Lesser Emerald Spellstone without a secret is risky so unless you have both I'd mulligan it away. You always want to have a secret to play in the early game and, although each secret is more optimal in specific match ups, Wandering Monster is always a safe bet.
If it doesn't look like you can play a Spellstone by turn 5, focus on your recruit plan. Oozeling together with Play Dead is ideal, or even Oozeling alone against Paladin, Druid, Hunter and Warrior. Don't keep Play Dead unless you have Oozeling or Stitched Tracker, who will more often than not discover you an Oozeling.
You need Explosive Trap to combat the initial hordes of low-health minions aggro decks can produce, so mulligan hard for it and set it cautiously. Killing two minions on turn 2 isn't going to mean anything if you don't have a follow up, so it might be best to wait until turn 3 or 4 to play it. Wandering Monster can block an early minion and provide you with a minion as well.
Usually aggro decks don't have big hands by turn 5 so Witchwood Grizzly will have enough health to protect your life points and trade for a couple small minions. Deathstalker Rexxar can clear the field on turn 6, then provide you with either Taunts or Zombeasts with Lifesteal.
You might consider holding on to Flanking Strike if you have earlier plays like Explosive Trap or Wandering Monster. You can also keep Houndmaster Shaw in that instance if you have the Coin, since it synergizes perfectly with wolf-generating spells.
Big Spell Mage and Even Warlock is the closer to a Control match we have in this meta and for the latter, Freezing Trap will really mess with their turn 3 Mountain Giant. Other than that, you should focus on your recruit plan as I mention in the general mulligan. Houndmaster Shaw might be a keeper with the coin, in which case I'd recommend any wolf-generating spell for synergy.
This specific Recruit Hunter built is somewhat of a hybrid of other variants. It tries to mix the Secret Package with the Recruit package to get the best out of both worlds while also playing two copies of Dire Frenzy to extend its late game.
Playing-Style & General Game-Plan
The purpose of this deck is to apply constant pressure in the early turns with Lesser Emerald Spellstone & Houndmaster Shaw while slowing your opponent down with secrets to stay ahead on tempo, then beat them down by cheating out huge chargers and going face.
You use cards like Seeping Oozeling to cheat them out of your deck without suffering their drawbacks, then use their presence to discourage your opponent from using their AoEs to avoid triggering their deathrattles, which spawn other beasts. If that fails, you always have your “Plan B” in the form of Deathstalker Rexxar and his constant stream of high value Zombeasts.
Individual Card’s Value
This deck, as another article here perfectly puts it, can be run down into four categories: the Secret Package, the Recruiters, the Recruit Targets and your basic Hunter utility.
THE SECRET PACKAGE
Explosive Trap : Your best anti-aggro tool. As with all secrets, droping it on curve isn’t always the most optimal choice unless you have Lesser Emerald Spellstone in hand and you’re planning to drop it by turn 4-5.
Freezing Trap : Probably the “hardest” secret to set because, although you’re gaining tempo by bouncing a minion back to your opponent’s hand you’re also giving them the chance to get value from it again. You should only play it when you want to “block” a very threatening minion from attacking. Try to manage the board with Houndmaster Shaw & Flanking Strike so that no “other” minions trigger it.
Lesser Emerald Spellstone : 4 3/3 Wolves on turn 4-5 is a big tempo swing. Either your opponent will spend tons of resources to clear them or you’re free to start pressuring them with face damage.
Kathrena Winterwisp : The core of this deck and the reason this archetype exist. Cheating out huge charge minions without suffering their drawbacks is the reason the recruit mechanic is so powerful in the first place. The problem with her is that she’s too late in the game, making it a lot easier for your opponent to deal with the recruits.
Seeping Oozeling : Solves the problem with Kathrena by pulling your huge minions a lot earlier than when your opponent can deal with them. The problem with Seeping Oozeling is that it’s a very limiting card. It recquires you to only run recruit deathrattles in your deck in order to work consistently.
Silver Vanguard : Since you’ll often draw Kathrena Winterwisp before you have the chance to play Seeping Oozeling , we run a second recruiter to make sure it’s not a dead card. Be careful though, Silver Vanguard can only recruit 8 cost minions. That’s Charged Devilsaur and Kathrena Winterwisp herself.
THE RECRUIT TARGETS
King Krush : I never thought I’d see the day. King Krush was the first Legendary I ever wanted to craft, until I realized how impractical the card’s cost was. Now you can cheat him out by turn 7 and littl’ 2015 WildRage feels vindicated.
Charged Devilsaur : Your second chargers and the ones that hurt the least to draw.
Witchwood Grizzly : Your best recruit against aggro and any opponent that has developed a board. Never underestimate a big taunt, especially one you can constantly cheat out.
Stitched Tracker : He’s your searcher for Seeping Oozeling and other important minions like Houndmaster Shaw, Kathrena Winterwisp, Witchwood Grizzly against aggro and Terrorscale Stalker if you don’t have Play Dead.
Dire Frenzy : This deck suffers from the main issue that the recruit mechanic has. You might just draw all your recruit targets before you get to cheat them out. Warlock solves this problem with Skull of the Man'ari, but Hunter’s Rhok'delar isn’t going to cut it this time. Dire Frenzy somewhat fixes your problem by recycling your recruit targets back into the deck-buffed up!
Flanking Strike : Excellent removal and additional pressure since it spawns a wolf. Unfortunately, it falls short against Warlocks because they don’t run many 3 health minions. It also fails to one-shot Hench-Clan Thug. It’s a must keep against Tempo Mage, however.
Faceless Manipulator : This guy just makes sense in a recruit deck that cheats out big chargers, but he’s also a very versatile card since you can even copy opposing minions like Voidlord and The Lich King.
Houndmaster Shaw : You drop him on turn 4 and usually only transformation spells can deal with him on the spot, so he’ll survive long enough to give your wolves Rush. He synergizes with your recruiters too, allowing you to run them onto enemies and trigger their deathrattles.
Deathstalker Rexxar : I swear there hasn’t been an adequate Hunter deck that doesn’t run him. He’s one of the strongest Death Knights and gives a class that traditionally lacks good late game and draw power an outstanding barrage of high-value minions and an extra draw every turn that’s garanteed to be good. Every Zombeast can be taylored to a specific sittuation.
Duskbreaker can easily punish you for playing your Lesser Emerald Spellstone so unless you have Houndmaster Shaw, your wolves will result in a massive loss of tempo. Silence is also a problem here, which is why it’s recommended you never leave Seeping Oozeling unprotected. It’s far better to wait a turn and drop it with Play Dead for immediate value than play it on turn 5-6 and suffer the effects of a Mass Dispel. Setting Freezing Trap for their Northshire Cleric is your “go-to” secret. Psychic Scream is capable of clearing the field, so don’t overcommit and keep in mind that they can doublicate it with Shadow Visions so always have a come-back to multiple Psychic Scream.
Similarly to Priest, Lesser Emerald Spellstone is a massive loss of tempo without Houndmaster Shaw due to Hellfire so you should really commit to cheating out big chargers until you’ve baited out their Hellfire . What’s more, Even Warlocks run silence in the form of 2x Spellbreaker so again, it’s better to wait a turn and drop your Deathrattles with Play Dead. A well-set Freezing Trap for Mountain Giant will get the game started. Flanking Strike is a hit and miss because Warlocks don’t run many 3 health minions. You should pay close attention to their life total so that you don’t allow them to drop Hooked Reaver before you can deal with him. Similarly Cube Warlocks spawn a barrage of Voidlord. If they draw Bloodreaver Gul'dan in time, you lost. Good thing is Cubelocks don’t have silence, so feel free to play Seeping Oozeling on turn 6 and trigger it next turn with Terrorscale Stalker.
In the early game Even Paladins focus on trying to collect as many Silver Hand Recruits as possible in order to drop Level Up! and this is something every class exploits. They never play Level Up! with only two dudes on the board, so target their dudes and around turn 5-6 wipe them out with Deathstalker Rexxar, who’ll provide you with Vicious Scalehide Zombeasts. Your biggest threat before turn 6 is mostly Blessed Maul that gives everything Divine Shield. And your biggest threat after turn 6 is Divine Favor. Also, don’t drop Explosive Trap on turn 2. Play it on turn 3 or 4, when they dropped their Raid Leader.
Druid players usually run one of three decks: Spiteful Druid, Hadronox Druid or Token Druid. Against Spiteful Druid, all you need to worry about is Spellbreaker, so it’s best if you play it safe and drop Seeping Oozeling on turn 7 with Play Dead. Against Token Druid Explosive Trap is your best friend. Remember, they can trigger it with their Hero Power, so only set it after they’ve done the Wispering Woods & Soul of the Forest combo. Unfortunately, Recruit Hunters are one of the few decks with no reliable way of messing the Hadronox combo. You’ll have to either rush them, or take advantage of a situation where they left Hadronox unprotected and copy her with Faceless Manipulator. Witchwood Grizzly and any Taunt Zombeast will come back and you’ll be playing the value game with them.
Don’t overcommit to the board is the name of the game. You’ll only face Quest Warriors and your biggest problem is Brawl, so always have a come-back to that. Once they’ve completed Sulfuras and you run them out of Brawl is the time to drop your fully-upgraded Lesser Emerald Spellstone and give him more targets to miss. Leaving your recruiters on the board will discourage them from playing their AoEs. It’s probably best to turn Deathstalker Rexxar in this match-up and start looking for low-cost poisonous zombeasts to deal with their taunts.
Tempo Mage can really run you down on health if you don’t have a good start. Mulligan hard for Flanking Strike & Houndmaster Shaw. Tempo Mage runs many 3 health minions like Kirin Tor Mage & Mana Wyrm and Houndmaster Shaw allows your wolf to immediately trade them. Deathstalker Rexxar can provide you with Lifesteal Zombeasts you really need. Big Spell Mage is the slow match up that Recruit Hunters shine in. You just need to rush them. Discourage your opponent from playing their AoEs by keeping your deathrattles alive long enough to set up lethal. They also run Polymorph so play Seeping Oozeling with Play Dead on turn 7 and be more cautious about when to play Houndmaster Shaw. Watch out for Counterspell, you really don’t want to waste your two Play Dead .
Not much to say here. You’ll face either Even Shaman or Shudderwock Shaman. Your plan remains the same in both instances, pressure them until they’re in range of one of your big Chargers. Hex will punish you if you leave your recruiter unprotected. Also, don’t drop a fully-upgraded Lesser Emerald Spellstone a turn before Hagatha the Witch drops.
The problem here is Hench-Clan Thug and honestly, you can only deal with him with your secrets or Houndmaster Shaw . Try to set a Freezing Trap and manage the board with Flanking Strike since other than the Thug, Rogue’s early minions are 3 health. As for Miracle Rogue, always make sure you’re not in range of Leeroy Jenkins and pressure them like crazy. Sap is something you should be cautious about, so it’s advised not to leave your recruiters unprotected if they already have a board.
You’re not deviating from your regular game-plan against Spell Hunter, all you got’a watch out for is their Lesser Emerald Spellstone. You got’a play around their secrets though, don’t run your King Krush into a Freezing Trap. You’ve got a far better late game than them. In the mirror match, it’s pretty much a “who’s going to otk first”.
Combos, Tips & Interactions
1) If you’re facing a class that doesn’t run Silence, drop Seeping Oozeling on turn 5-6, then use Play Dead on the next turn to spawn one of your big Chargers and copy it with Faceless Manipulator for double the damage.
2) Consider keeping Kathrena Winterwisp for turn 9 if you have a Play Dead in your hand, for potentially pulling two chargers from your deck. If you’ve set up the game correctly, this often means lethal.
4) It’s often good to keep your recruiters alive as much as possible to discourage your opponent from playing their AoEs or to at least not get full value out of playing them. Only run your Seeping Oozeling and Kathrena Winterwisp on a minion if it means it’s lethal.