The first expansion in the year of the Mammoth was Journey to Un’Goro, and with it came the Quest mechanic. Among these new cards was the Hunter Quest, The Marsh Queen, one of the most over-hyped cards of all time. Upon completion, the Hunter Quest adds Queen Carnassa to your hand, who’s battlecry adds 15 Carnassa's Brood to your deck. Hunter had been one of the weakest classes for a while at this point, and many players thought that Blizzard had overcompensated for this with what seemed like a game-breaking Quest card. Upon release, players learned pretty quickly that the opposite was true, and while some further support for the Quest has been released, enthusiasts struggle to make the deck work well. With Rastakhan’s Rumble, the last expansion before Un’goro rotates out of Standard, Blizzard seems to be pushing one last time to make the deck work with some seemingly direct support.
Quest Hunter has had some support in the past, so what, if anything, will be different this time? Let’s take a look at some of the attempts to make the deck work in the past, and what might tip the scales in Rastakhan’s Rumble!
Quest Hunter of Journey to Un’Goro
The idea behind the initial Quest Hunter decks was to complete the quest as fast as possible. It was thought that an 8/8 on turn 5 followed up by an endless stream of 1-mana 3/2 minions would be too aggressive for most opponents to deal with. Deck builds attempting this ended up filling their decks with excess 1-mana minions. Here’s a build by Firebat:
Patches the Pirate still had Charge at this time and Abusive Sergeant had already been nerfed. There were a couple problems with decks like these. One of them is the same problem Hunter had for several months; it didn’t really have enough good 1-drops, or any early game strength for that matter. Considering how efficient Warrior’s Pirates and Paladin’s Murlocs were at the time, winning and keeping the board was very difficult for Hunter, especially considering Hunter had to essentially skip turn 1 and start the game a card down to get the Quest on the board. Sure, you spent the mana and played a card on turn 1, but that card does nothing until you’ve played at least 7 others, by which time either of the hyper-aggressive decks above could easily have won the game.
In the games where the Hunter Quest was completed, it became pretty clear that the quest wasn’t really enough to end the game on its own. The Hunter player is so behind at this point that the opponent is more often than not in a position to immediately take care of Queen Carnassa, and the theoretical chain of 3/2s filling your board to follow it up is pretty unlikely considering your deck is also filled with a myriad of leftover 1-cost garbage that was needed to activate the Quest initially. Considering this, the other strategy is to have a Midrange deck with the Quest supplementing a Midrange core. Here’s a list by NickChipper:
Midrange Hunter was doing all right at the time, especially at the lower ranks, but that really didn’t help too much. Most of what made Midrange Hunter playable at the time was the 1-cost Beast into Crackling Razormaw combo, which playing the Quest turn 1 disrupts. With a deck like this you can consider mulliganing the Quest or just not playing it on turn 1, but when you find yourself doing that a lot you have to wonder why the Quest is in there at all. This version of the deck removed a lot of the 1-mana minions to make room for the Midrange package, and in doing so it reduced how consistently it could complete the Quest by the time it would matter.
Quest Hunter from Mammoth to Raven
With the next set, Knights of the Frozen Throne, comes some indirect support for Quest Hunter. Here’s a list by J4CKIECHAN:
The biggest thing Quest Hunter got from KotFT was Prince Keleseth. Keleseth helps solve the issue of having a bunch of underpowered 1-drops in your deck late game by buffing them all. He’s also useful late game post quest-completion as he turns all the 1-mana 3/2 raptors into 4/3s. While this did make a big difference, the problem is other, better decks that could utilize him more effectively also had access to Keleseth. If anything, he actually widened the power gap between Quest Hunter and more competitive decks.
The other new toy Quest Hunter got this expansion was Deathstalker Rexxar. With hyper aggressive quest-on-five strategies proving to be frail and unimpressive, Hunter’s most powerful control and late-game value card becomes an appealing option. The tempo lost from keeping and playing the Hunter Quest is still a huge problem, and Rexxar’s battlecry and armor gain help alleviate that somewhat. Unfortunately Rexxar wasn’t enough to solve this or any other Hunter deck’s problem this expansion, but he would go on to be a powerful late game tool in decks starting later that year. Again, this card does more to ostracize Quest Hunter than to help it, as all Quest decks are better with Rexxar, but Rexxar is worse with the Quest. Rexxar adds ridiculous, infinite late game value on top of a board clear and life gain all in one card, whereas the Quest adds some mediocre, finite, inconsistent value with a lot of setup and deckbuilding restrictions.
A couple sets and a Hearthstone New Year later we get The Witchwood, which added a couple new cards that seem to have been designed with Quest Hunter in mind. Here’s a list by Stonekeep:
Toxmonger adds value to the hoard of 1-cost minions in the deck, but 4 mana is a lot to pay for those stats, and unless the 1-mana card has Rush or Charge it might be difficult to actually take down something worthwhile before your opponent removes your minion.
Ravencaller lets you reduce the amount of 1-cost minions you actually have to include in your deck by adding two random ones to your hand. Fire Fly is one of the best Quest Hunter cards because it is two 1-cost minions, and on paper Ravencaller seems just as useful, but the stats hurt the card. In a deck that already suffers from early game tempo loss, playing a 2/1 on turn 3 is pretty risky.
The year following the release of The Marsh Queen did add some tools the deck, but none of them were quite enough to make Quest Hunter viable.
What Quest Hunter needs and what it’s getting from Rastakhan’s Rumble
From this history of Quest Hunter we can determine that it suffers from early game tempo loss, and the completed Quest does not matter enough on its own to justify all the 1-cost clutter in the deck. Let’s see if anything we get from the upcoming set helps with these issues.
Springpaw – This would be the best addition to Quest Hunter. Fire Fly has proven to be one of the deck’s best tools for activating the Quest, and more cards that are actually two-in-one help with the issue of being down a card in hand because of the Quest. This also helps make better use of Toxmonger. This card seems like it might be worth running outside of Quest Hunter, which always bodes well for combo pieces.
Master's Call – I’ve seen this one pop up in a lot of theorycrafts and I’m not convinced. If even one of the discovered minions is not a beast then the card is inexcusably worse than Stitched Tracker. Three for draw three of a specific thing is pretty good, but this deck does rely somewhat on non-beast minions, so it might have to find a home elsewhere. The one situation where I think this card would be worth it in a deck that includes non-beasts is if you’re playing two of this, two Stitched Tracker, and one all important, game-breaking, gotta have it minion. This is a possibility for this deck, as I’ll get into further down.
Spirit of the Lynx – Quest Hunter suffers from having underpowered minions, and Spirit of the Lynx helps buff them up. After the Quest is completed this would be another way to power up the 3/2 raptors. Do you want to spend your third turn playing a 0/3 in a deck that already falls behind though? What if your hand is filled with non-beast minions and you can’t even take advantage of it? This seems like it has high potential to be a “win more” card in this deck. The exception I think would be if you were also playing Unleash the Hounds, as this would give you a way to use the card for immediate tempo.
Halazzi, the Lynx – It seems obvious that Blizzard designed Halazzi with Quest Hunter in mind. You can really cut down on 1-cost minions if you have a card in your deck that can single-handedly complete the Quest for you. The card must have tested powerfully to have such pathetic stats though. This deck plays from behind, so it seems like it would be hard to play just a 3/2 on turn 5. Either way, it completes the Quest too reliably not to include. If you wanted to play this deck completely differently, you could play Halazzi and Stitched Tracker as your only minions along with Master’s Call. This would give you 5 cards that grab Halazzi for you, and you could complete the Quest with no other 1-cost minions. That doesn’t sound super viable to me, but it is something you could do.
Zul'jin – Ten mana seems slow for a deck like this, but Zul’jin does provide something unique to the decks toolbox: an opportunity to play the Quest a second time. With all the Raptors and Halazzi it seems possible to activate it again, but if the game goes for that long wouldn’t you rather have Rexxar? It could be that you play both and hope to play Rexxar second, but that sounds like a crazy late game deck that would make more sense in Spell Hunter.
Saronite Taskmaster – This game has a long history of minions that give your opponent a minion not being very good, but this one is slightly different. Being a deathrattle, your opponent doesn’t get their minion immediately, and since it has 0 attack it doesn’t actually trade with anything unless your opponent has a way to buff it. It’s no Zombie Chow, but it could be that an over-statted 1-cost minion with no immediate punishment is the type of thing Quest Hunter’s early game needs.
Helpless Hatchling – It costs 1, it’s a beast, but that’s all it really has going for it. Sure, you can maybe get the Quest out a little earlier with the right hand, but the speed the deck gets the Quest completed really isn’t one of the problems it has.
Untamed Beastmaster – This is probably the second best thing that Quest Hunter gets out of this expansion. What’s great about it is that it’s stats aren’t terrible. A big problem with all the support the Quest has received is that the stats on these cards are all reduced pretty heavily. You can play Beastmaster on 3 as a 3/4 and not feel bad about it, or you can play it late game when you’re playing Raptors to make them huge.
Quest Hunter in Rastakhan’s Rumble
Let’s talk about some different ways we could play Quest Hunter post-expansion. First we have a value based list with Zul’jin.
This seems like the safest way to play the deck, the only question being whether or not Zul’jin is worth including. This version cuts some of Hunter’s standard spells like Hunter's Mark and Flanking Strike so you don’t accidentally ruin your own board when you play Zul’jin. Between all the Quest completions and Rexxar, your opponent is going to be hard pressed to run you out of resources, so this version’s main worry becomes surviving aggro.
All the 1-cost minions in this deck trade well, and if you stick a Toxmonger aggro players will have a hard time keeping anything big on the board. If that and Rexxar aren’t enough to keep you in the game against aggro, then swapping out Stiched Trackers for Unleash the Hounds could be a good idea, especially with Cult Master in the deck. Jeweled Macaw and Raptor Hatchling are not good options for this list because they are value cards. This deck has plenty of value and really needs its early minions to fight for the board.
This would be the Master’s Call version. It cuts a lot of Quest Hunter’s more powerful tools to get consistency with Master’s Call, and you need to. Draw 3 for 3 is amazing, draw 1 for 3 is embarrassing. You also miss out on some of the best beast synergy like Houndmaster and Untamed Beastmaster. I do think a deck like this has potential, I just don’t know that it will be a Quest Hunter considering it’s already so limiting.
This is a very gimmicky list, but you get to shuffle in a lot of Raptors this way. Augmented Elekk matches whatever you would otherwise shuffle into your deck, which also has synergy with Raptor Hatchling and Dire Frenzy. Zul’jin plays your Quest again so you have more Raptors to shuffle, but he also plays your Dire Frenzy again. There are probably much better ways to get value out of the hunter class, but when this goes off it has potential to be pretty silly.
- 1The Marsh Queen1
- 2Explosive Trap2
- 2Freezing Trap2
- 2Hunter’s Mark2
- 2Revenge of the Wild2
- 2Wandering Monster2
- 3Animal Companion2
- 3Eaglehorn Bow2
- 3Master’s Call2
- 3Stitched Tracker2
- 3Unleash the Hounds2
- 4Flanking Strike2
- 5Halazzi, the Lynx1
- 6Deathstalker Rexxar1
- 6Lesser Emerald Spellstone2
Here’s the Master’s Call/Stitched Tracker/Halazzi Quest/Spell Hunter deck. This deck completes the Quest without having to deal with any 1-cost filler while adding the powerful secret package and a higher value Zul’jin. It plays a smaller secret package so you know you’ll get your quest back with Zul’jin, and it plays only essential minions so that you can always grab Halazzi if you pull any of your tutors. This might be a more fragile version of regular Spell Hunter, but it could be a good indicator of what the late-game value of the Hunter Quest is actually worth. Spell Hunter does tend to have a bit of filler in it, so
At the very least, there are some new avenues to explore with Quest Hunter, but will the new cards be enough to make the deck competitively viable? Are you excited to try and make it work? Lets us know in the comments!