Wild Spell Hunter Deck List Guide - Rise of Shadows April 2019
When Rhok'delar and To My Side! were first revealed, Wild Spell Hunter was immediately dismissed by the Hearthstone community at large as a laughable archetype. Hunter spells were ranked among the lowest of the game's 9 classes, while its minions were ranked among the highest. To the surprise of many, Wild Spell Hunter quickly emerged as a powerful choice for the competitive ladder, and has remained one of the most relevant decks in the game since the Kobolds & Catacombs.
The February Hearthstone patch has had a moderate impact on the strength of Spell Hunter. The increase in Cost of Emerald Spellstone has greatly slowed the deck down, whereas the increase of Hunter's Mark's Cost has hindered the the deck's ability to control the board. However, the deck is still more that capable of competing at Legend ranks.
Prior to the February patch, this deck was used by Kat to be the first person to finish Rank 1 Legend on two separate servers.
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Aim of Wild Spell Hunter
Wild Spell Hunter is a midrange deck which can assume the role of the aggressor or the control player as the matchup demands. Against aggressive decks, Wild Spell Hunter looks to control the board with early Secrets and Weapons to set up powerful turns in the midgame with Emerald Spellstone, To My Side!, and Deathstalker Rexxar. Against control decks, Wild Spell Hunter can turn up the aggression to end games quickly with burst damage, or grind things out as the game goes long with the Deathstalker Rexxar's Build-a-Beast Hero Power.
The most common "Plan A" for Wild Spell Hunter is to power up and play an Emerald Spellstone as quickly as possible. An early Greater Emerald Spellstone leads to many "free" wins for Wild Spell Hunter, as most classes (especially Rogue) are not capable of efficiently answering 12/12 worth of stats spread out over different minions. This makes Lesser Emerald Spellstone a universal keep against all classes.
You will need some Secrets to power up your Spellstones, so it is generally wise to keep at least 1 Secret in your opener if you already have a Spellstone. Wandering Monster is the most generically keepable of the 3 Secrets in the dark. Explosive Trap is worth keeping against aggressive decks, while Freezing Trap is excellent decks that play big minions in the early to mid game (such as Even Warlock).
Deathstalker Rexxar is one of the most powerful cards in all of Hearthstone. His Battlecry is strong against aggro decks and his hero power is often necessary for beating control decks, which makes him a smart a keep in the vast majority of matchups. Tracking is also an excellent card to keep for all situations as it will allow you to reactively look for cards once you see your opening hand and what deck your opponent is playing.
Against aggressive decks, Flanking Strike and Candleshot are perfect for establishing board control in the early game. Against go-wide aggro, Explosive Trap and Deathstalker Rexxar will often be necessary for surviving into the late game.
Wild Spell Hunter Against Fast Decks
Cards like Candleshot, Explosive Trap, and Flanking Strike give Wild Spell Hunter the ability to create card advantage in the early and mid game while controlling the board. These cards can frequently be used to generate 2 for 1s against aggro decks in the early game, putting Wild Spell Hunter players in a position to overwhelm their aggro opponents with superior resources in the mid to late game.
An early Greater Emerald Spellstone is just as powerful against aggro decks as it is against control decks. Going for big a Spellstone on Turn 6 against aggro decks (or Turn 5 with The Coin), will often be much stronger than attempting to high-roll with Animal Companion and play to the board early.
Without a Spellstone to craft a game plan around, you should use your resources aggressively in the early game to keep your opponent's board clear and your life total high. As the game goes late, Wild Spell Hunter should be able to generate much more value than a typical aggro deck thanks to Deathstalker Rexxar, Zul'jin and Rhok'delar, but only if it is able to survive to the stage of the game where these cards can be played safely.
Wild Spell Hunter Against Slow Decks
Wild Spell Hunter has two primary paths to victory against slower decks: fast Emerald Spellstones, and Deathstalker Rexxar's Build-a-Beast Hero Power. Each plan has its own strengths and weaknesses in every matchup, but the two plans are not mutually exclusive. If your Wolves end getting swept away by a Hellfire or a Dragon's Fury, you can always play your Deathstalker Rexxar afterwards.
Though your Wolves will typically not be enough to defeat a control deck on their own, they are far too threatening to ignore and will demand an answer from your opponent immediately. If your opponent kills your Wolves with a board wipe, it means they will have one fewer board wipe for your future plays. Since many of Wild Spell Hunter's cards are reactive and not proactive, it is typically best to make proactive plays whenever possible to put your opponent on the back foot and make your future Build-a-Beasts even stronger.
Deathstalker Rexxar's Build-a-Beast Hero Power makes him one of the most skill-testing and decision-intensive cards in all of Hearthstone. The range of potential play patterns with Build-a-Beast is massive, which means you will need to familiarize yourself with many of them in order to get the most out of Deathstalker Rexxar.
Before we discuss specific combinations of Beasts, it is important to note that the best way to beat control decks is to run them out of board wipes and removal spells by presenting them with must-answer boards over and over again. The best way to accomplish is to begin each turn by immediately using Build-a-Beast. Though there will obviously be some turns where it is necessary to use all 10 of your Mana on Beasts and spells in order to stay alive or assemble lethal damage, you will often need as much time as possible to think through your Build-a-Beast decisions and plan out the rest of your turn.
The Power of Cheap Beasts
The Zombeast created by the Build-a-Beast Hero Power has the combined stats, abilities, and Mana cost of both minions. This makes cheap Beasts like Snowflipper Penguin and Stonetusk Boar especially strong choices for Build-a-Beast, as they can be combined with powerful 4, 5, and 6 Mana Beasts to be played the same turn they were created. You will frequently need to set up turns where you can play multiple Beasts at once in order to apply pressure to your opponent, and the best way to do this is to combine multiple cheap Beasts together to create a low-cost Zombeast. If none of your Build-a-Beast options have the ability you are searching for, lean towards choosing the Beast with the lowest Mana cost.
Answering Big Minions
With just 2 copies of Deadly Shot for handling large minions, Build-a-Beast will frequently be your best option killing threats like the The Lich King. If you are facing down a large minion on board, or suspect your opponent might play one soon, the best keyword abilities to look for with Build-a-Beast are Poisonous and Stealth. Large Stealth minions are difficult for control players to interact with, while Poisonous minions can frequently be combined with Rush or Charge Beasts to create psuedo-removal spells. Since Vilebrood Skitterer is a potential selection in the second round of Beasts, try to select Beasts which cost 3 or less if you fail to find a Taunt or Stealth minion in your first selection.
Answering Wide Boards
The easiest way to stabilize against a wide and threatening board is to make a large a Taunt minion with Build-a-Beast, but this can sometimes leave you vulnerable to Silence and removal if you are unable to combine your Taunt Beast with a Bearshark. Fortunately, there are several Zombeast combinations that do an excellent impression of a Twisting Nether. Both Cave Hydra and Exploding Bloatbat are potential choices for your in your Beast selection, and can be combined with Poisonous, Rush, and Charge minions to create a surprise board wipe out of nowhere.
Stealth and Charge are the best keywords to look for if you are in need of pressure. Large Stealth minions are very likely to stick around long enough to connect to your opponent's face, while Charge minions can be held onto until the board is clear of Taunts. Whenever possible, try to create a Tundra Rhino with Stealth. By keeping a Stealthy Tundra Rhino around, you can enable massive swing turns with Greater Emerald Spellstone and cheap Zombeasts such as Vicious Fledgling.
Winning in Fatigue
As the game approaches fatigue, defensive keywords like Taunt and Lifesteal become your best choices. Even though Wild Spell Hunter does not draw many cards, Tracking will often put you on par with control decks in the fatigue race. You will typically need to get in a few hits with a Lifesteal minion in order to stay out of burn range against decks like Malygos Druid. The best way to ensure your Lifesteal Zombeasts survive is to give them Stealth or to play them in along with a modestly sized Taunt minion. It is also worth noting that Raptor Hatchling shuffles a card back into your deck to delay fatigue, and that this effect could potentially be doubled by an Augmented Elekk.
Single Card Strategies
Tracking and Secret Plan
Against all but the most aggressive decks, where an early Candleshot is required, you should aim to play Tracking on turn 1. While you may not have complete information at the time, Wild Spell Hunter is a Mana-efficient deck and it can be hard to fit in Tracking later in the game. Your aim should be to evaluate your opening hand and look for cards that it is missing, such as a Secret to power up your Emerald Spellstone or a turn 4 play like Flanking Strike.
Similarly, you should also try to fit in Secret Plan early and pick the best available Secret for the situation. While the safe choice is to pick an additional copy of the Secrets already in your deck, you are not able to have 2 copies of the same Secret in play, so it is often better to look for alternatives first. Your first choice should be Rat Trap. Most decks will often play into Rat Trap at some point in the game, and even if your opponent figures out your Secret, it will greatly restrict their play. Rat Trap is even more powerful if your opponent has The Coin, however, you should try to avoid using it against decks that play 1 cards per turns, such as Even decks using Genn Greymane. Secondly, you can look for Snipe. Snipe is a very underrated Secret that will often catch opponents off guard, it can be especially powerful against Druids where you can catch key cards like Gadgetzan Auctioneer or Wild Pyromancer. Lastly, you can look for Venomstrike Trap. Venomstrike Trap is a generically strong Secret that will almost always be triggered, either by Aggro decks attacking into a copy of Wandering Monster or when your opponent goes on the defensive following a Emerald Spellstone.
Though we have already talked about Emerald Spellstone a lot in this guide, there are still a few things about this important card which are worth discussing.
The most common mistake I see with Lesser Emerald Spellstone is not playing the card on curve while waiting to draw Secrets. Though it is tempting to wait and make a bigger Spellstone, the 3/3 Wolves get weaker and weaker as the game goes on. If your opponent is capable of playing large minions later in the game which can trade favorably into your Wolves, then it is probably best to Spellstone early even if it is not powered up.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, another common mistake is to miss out on opportunities to power up your Spellstone on turns 2, 3, and 4 by playing other cards. Emerald Spellstone is at its strongest on Turn 6 (or Turn 5 on The Coin), when it is difficult for your opponent to interact with.
Key Cards and Swaps
Deathstalker Rexxar is essential in modern builds of Spell Hunter. If you do not have this card, you will not be able to generate the value required to beat other value-based decks.
Zul'jin is an extremely powerful and essential card for the deck. In most situations, it will do everything you could ever need: developing you a large board with Emerald Spellstones, providing burst damage with Huffer, and clearing your opponent's board with Deadly Shots.
The build of Wild Spell Hunter listed in this article is very middle of the road, but with a few key swaps, the deck can be adapted for more aggression or more control. Unleash the Hounds can be used to punish decks that go wide onto the board, such as Odd Paladins, Arcane Shot can help answer aggressive 1 drops such as Flame Imp, while Wing Blasts can come in as an answer to larger threats like Vicious Fledgling and Hench-Clan Thug.
Quick Tips and Tricks
- It will often be possible to bluff Secrets in certain situations to give yourself an advantage. One easy way to bluff Explosive Trap is to put as many of your opponent's minions as you can to 2 Health or less.
- Rexxar's first choice has minions with complicated abilities, while Rexxar's second choice has simple cards with only stats and Keywords.
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- 08 Apr. 2019: Deck has been moved to Wild for the year of the Dragon.
- 01 Mar. 2019: Deck has been updated for the March play season. Removed 1x Hunter's Mark for 1x Grievous Bite.
- 06 Feb. 2019: Deck has been updated following the February balance patch. Removed 2x Eaglehorn Bow, 1x Secret Plan, 1x Hunter's Mark for 2x Deadly Shot, 1x Unleash the Hounds, 1x Wing Blast.
- 01 Jan. 2019: Deck has been reviewed and deemed appropriate for the January play season.
- 10 Dec. 2018: Removed 2x Unleash the Hounds for 2x Baited Arrow.
- 04 Dec. 2018: Deck updated for the Rastakhan's Rumble expansion. Removed 1x Explosive Trap for 1x Zul'jin.
- 26 Oct. 2018: No changes for Giggling Inventor nerf update.
- 02 Aug. 2018: No changes for the September update.
- 13 Aug. 2018: Rewritten by Aleco to be updated for The Boomsday Project.
- 01 Jul. 2018: Monthly checkup. Deck is up to date.
- 28 May 2018: Spell Hunter Guide added. This deck utilises the power of Deathstalker Rexxar and cards that rely on having no minions in deck.
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