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Hybrid Hunter Karazhan Standard Deck

Last updated on Nov 10, 2016 at 22:54 by Sottle 9 comments

Table of Contents

This Hunter deck is a departure from most of the Midrange builds that have been popular since the inception of the Standard format and instead returns to a strategy that was dominant in the pre-Standard meta. By combining early aggression with solid late-game cards it creates a hybrid strategy that allows it to play effectively against any style of matchup.

The deck does not change too much with the addition of Karazhan cards, simply adding in the excellent Kindly Grandmother.

In reaction to the nerfs in the October 3rd patch, one Abusive Sergeant has been removed from the deck in favour of a second Dire Wolf Alpha.

1. About the Author

This deck is presented to you by Sottle, a professional Hearthstone player who plays for compLexity Gaming. Sottle regularly streams on Twitch and explains all of his moves. Watching him is a good opportunity to see how this and other decks play out in practice, and how decisions are made in real time.

2. Hybrid Hunter Karazhan Standard Deck

Our deck costs 1,560 Arcane Dust and it is made up of the following cards.

Hunter Cards Neutral Cards

2.1. Mana Curve


3. Strategy

This particular build of Hunter is a return to a strategy that became very popular towards the end of the pre-Standard metagame. By combining aggressive cards such as Argent Horserider with late-game power cards like Call of the Wild you create a hybrid strategy that can be too fast for other decks to contend with while also enough packing enough late-game power to go into the later turns against decks that are able to stabilise.

You early-game cards are fairly standard for most forms of Hunter in Standard. Fiery Bat and Huge Toad are chosen because of both their Beast synergy in later turns and their ability to create favourable trades on the board using their Deathrattle effects. Despite this you can often take the initiative with these minions and prioritise damage to the opposing hero if the trades on the board are even from both sides. Since your opponent without knowledge of your deck will be forced to respect the threat of a Houndmaster coming down on curve, they will be obligated to make the trades themselves most of the time. Do however, consider the threat of removal options from hand like Frostbolt or Fiery War Axe that will leave your opponent with a minion in play against an empty board if you choose to attack in this way.

On top of this the deck also features extra 1-Mana cards in the form of Argent Squire and Abusive Sergeant. These cards are key to help you fight back against the more efficient early minions of decks like Shaman and Zoo Warlock. One of the deficiencies of most Hunter decks is that their early minions get so easily outclassed by some of the options provided to other decks. These two minions plus the addition of a Dire Wolf Alpha can help you to leverage your early board states more effectively, since without early board presence you will not have the platform on which to build your aggression. They also combine excellently with the addition of Kindly Grandmother to help you get great use out of the initial 1/1 body of the card.

Moving forward since you lack the Houndmaster mentioned earlier your mid-game plays all rely on more aggression with additional cards added to the deck like Argent Horserider to allow to you react to the board more directly or to push additional damage. Eaglehorn Bow is another key card in this period but since this is not an all out face deck, the best use of the weapon is usually to clear out your opponent's minions to allow your own minions the freedom to attack your opponent directly.

Moving into the late-game, this deck lacks the usual ever present late-game minion in the form of Savannah Highmane that many Hunter decks have to come to rely on. The reason for this is that Highmane is very vulnerable to spot removal effects such as Hex and Sap which can cause you to lose too much initiative on the board. Without access to Highmane, this decks late-game relies on Stranglethorn Tiger and Call of the Wild in order to compete. Stranglethorn Tiger is a great minion for this style of deck since it avoids the problems encountered by Savannah Highmane due to its Stealth effect making it resilient against the previously mentioned removal spells. On top of this it serves as a persistent Beast on the board than can be used to activate a Kill Command on a following turn.

Call of the Wild is one of the most powerful late-game cards in the game. By combining all three Animal Companion effects in a single card for the same Mana than playing Animal Companion 3 times it spikes well above the usual power curve of a card. The effect itself is also extremely flexible, providing you with immediate burst damage or removal, a Taunt, and an immediate board presence. Call of the Wild is the reason for 2 copies of Tracking in the deck. Since the discrepancy in the level of power between the average card in your deck and Call of the Wild is so high, you should be happy to discard other cards from your deck as long as it secures you the Call of the Wild you need more consistently.

One final card that needs special attention in the deck is Unleash the Hounds. Since the deck does not play Knife Juggler, Unleash the Hounds is less often able to create a swing on the board. Unless you are playing against Zoo, you will need to combine Unleash the Hounds with something else such as Dire Wolf Alpha or Abusive Sergeant for it to be effective. Despite this it is still a strong card since it allows you to push for damage in the late-game. Often with this deck you will find yourself falling behind on board in the later turns and in these situations, Unleash the Hounds can be crucial to push through the last points of remaining damage that you need.

3.1. Synergies & Combinations

Unleash the Hounds can be used to great effect when combined with Abusive Sergeant or Dire Wolf Alpha.

The various Beasts in the deck can be used to activate Kill Command for additional damage.

3.2. Mulligans & Matchup Specific Strategies

Although you have various early-game minions in your deck you will need to mulligan correctly for the right ones in the right matchups to really be successful. Against other decks that have fast starts such as Aggro Shaman and Zoo, you will be looking to mulligan for Argent Squire alongside either Dire Wolf Alpha or Abusive Sergeant in order to contest their board successfully on the first few turns. Against slower decks you are better served looking for more aggressive openings such as Fiery Bat and Huge Toad in order to start pushing damage through early. Against Warrior specifically Argent Squire is also usually your best 1-drop as it is resistant to Fiery War Axe.

Against Zoo specifically you can keep Unleash the Hounds in your opening hand, especially if you have The Coin. Quick Shot is another card you can hold onto if you are playing against an aggressive deck, but generally only if you are going second since you will want to push your initiative if you are going first by securing a 1-drop of your own.

3.3. Card Swaps

You can choose to change the complexion of this deck a little by adding in Barnes and 2 x Savannah Highmane in place of 1 Tracking and 2 x Stranglethorn Tiger. This can be a more effective build if you are not facing cards like Hex and Sap too often.

4. ChangeLog

  • 10 Nov. 2016: -1 Call of the Wild, +1 Infested Wolf
  • 05 Oct. 2016: -1 Abusive Sergeant, +1 Dire Wolf Alpha
  • 12 Sep. 2016: Deck added
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