In many ways, this was the week that wasn’t: a combination of limited playtime and an odd state of play where basically everyone was waiting for a patch led to a fairly small number of wins added to the counter. However, it does give us a good opportunity to discuss the state of the class as we know it right now.
- Introduction – 0/1000
- Week 1 – 118/1000
- Week 2 – 147/1000
- Week 3 – 208/1000
- Week 4 – 280/1000
- Week 5 – 388/1000
- Week 6 – 421/1000
- Week 7 – 529/1000
- Week 8 – 597/1000
- Week 9 – 640/1000
- Week 10 – 672/1000
- Week 11 – 704/1000
- Week 12 – 752/1000
Yeah, this week sucked. Let me explain why.
If a meta develops and no one is around to master it, does it make a sound? That’s pretty much what I had on mind last week during my admittedly somewhat limited playtime. A combination of tech issues (hello BSOD and boot errors) and some other commitments (oh hi Big Druid guide) seriously ate into my potential Demon Hunter gaming to begin with, but I also found that I somewhat lacked the motivation for a mega grind this week. Is there a real reason to max out my performance with builds which will get smashed by yet another patch? I couldn’t really get myself to say yes. Besides, the week 1 overkill meant that I’m still pretty much on track with my goal of ~10 wins a day with 100 days until the next expansion of the Year of the Phoenix.
As much as I like messing around with Questing Adventurer-type innovations, I tend to perform the best in established metas where the matchup gameplans are clear for both sides and it’s the little edges that matter the most, making me an especially poor fit for an environment with weekly patches aimed at pushing my class of choice down from its perch. However, this does give us a great opportunity to discuss what the hell is going on with the class and the game as a whole, because oh boy it’s not been fun for those who like to play the other nine options on the ladder based on what I’ve heard.
Don’t worry, we’ll get back to my trials and tribulations in due course, but we need to look at the Illidan-shaped elephant in the room first and how the state of the game is perceived by many right now.
What’s Next for Demon Hunter?
As exciting it is to have ten classes in the game, my first thought upon reading the announcement (or more specifically, its leak on Polygon – lol) was that Team 5 was already struggling to keep nine classes in check, so why would the introduction of yet another ball to juggle ensure that we get more, not fewer viable options on the ladder? Even if they got its power level right, it would be a mighty struggle to find a niche for all ten – which they obviously didn’t.
This, much like the Galakrond Shaman situation from the end of last year – where the ultra-powerful ladder builds were the simplest to put together by throwing in all the new relevant cards – reminds me of what Arena used to be like a few years ago. Remember synergy picks and the other awful ideas the devs tried to inject excitement into the drafting process (a tinkering which seems to have pretty much killed the game mode by 2020)? Back then, many hardcore Arena players – yes, that was a thing – were complaining that the devs threw obviously flawed and untested concepts onto the live servers, treating the playerbase as beta testers and souring the gameplay experience as a whole. It feels like we’re looking at something very similar in Constructed now with the grossly overtuned Demon Hunter cards and the rapid nerfs and adjustments. Though fast dev responses are great to see, they’re happening at such a regular basis that one has to wonder whether all these problem cards should have even made it to release in the first place.
In any case, here are the notable Demon Hunter builds from the week, no doubt prime targets for the upcoming next round of nerfs.
Low Legend Blues
Here’s the awkward part about this week: I had to deprogram myself from Demon Hunter for a bit to produce my Big Druid guide for you, and I dropped by what was quite frankly a disgusting amount on the Legend ladder. As such, I was stuck in the slog with those who were on the verge of hitting Legend themselves, and a fairly wide range of ranks at least where the opponents were concerned. Top 1k challenge this wasn’t, though, again, this was mostly a question of playtime.
I did end up at 60% (barely) with Xixo’s tempo build despite a shaky start, one which I found quite revealing about my personal playstyle and biases. Though it’s nothing new, I find it interesting how I always gravitate towards a tempo strategy even with pure face decks – trying to play fair and going for repetitive board damage – which inevitably causes a massive drop in my winrate until I figure out that the face is the place. (To be fair, it’s obviously all Stonekeep’s fault for naming the deck Tempo Demon Hunter on the site!) It was just the same with Face Hunter back in the day, Odd Rogue a year ago, you name it: I try to be a gentleman and clear up the tavern before bashing my opponent in the face, only to find that I’m… just… dead. Pro tip: trading 4 damage this turn for 4 damage the next turn is not worth it as a face deck. Even if you do get in that attack – which is a dicey proposition already –, you will basically never get the next 4 that’d make the value-trading approach worth it to begin with. Consider my turn 4 here: I genuinely spent half a minute trying to find good trades before I realized how monstrously stupid that consideration was.
Then again, as my eventual 60% winrate (albeit against crappy opposition) can attest, I ultimately did figure this out for Demon Hunter as well. I hope this kind of a deck will remain viable even after the next round of nerfs: it’d be a shame to internalize this lesson only to have to forget it again next week. Also, maybe, you know, could we please have more than a day or a week with our shiny new deck? I’d appreciate it if I could finally figure out all the kinks and go on a tear on the ladder like in the good old days. In all honesty, I’m quite looking forward to FACEing fellow Legend players.
My Predictions for Week 3, for What They’re Worth
- I’ll hit 220 wins and a 60+% winrate with the deck I settle on
- Nevertheless, I will waste a ton of time messing around with Questing Adventurer again (shoutout to this fella)
- Big Druid will piss me off, and you too on the ladder