Hi, my name is Eighteenk, I’m a legend hearthstone player who refused to stop playing deathrattle hunter post GVG release. Even though GVG didn’t give as many new tricks to this deck as it did to a lot of other classes, it’s still very effective on the ladder.
Strategy: This is a midrange deck, capable of putting out decent early, midgame, and late board pressure. It does fairly well in most matchups, I’ll give a detailed rundown of those below.
Hunter’s Mark – Awesome card, don’t necessarily always save this for huge minions, as it costs 0 mana, using it to help you get early control can be good.
Clockwork/Leper Gnome – Fun fact, Clockwork Gnome is the only GVG card in this deck. I know what you’re thinking, clockwork gnome is a better version of leper etc., but in terms of real game impact, the 2 damage can often be much more useful when trying to whittle away the last bit of health from a tough matchup like Warrior. Clockwork Gnome is good to pull out early, but Leper Gnome makes a bigger difference when hovering around lethal.
Undertaker – This card, while not as broken as before GVG, can still win you the game if you can get it going and your opponent lacks removal. You almost always want this in your starting hand.
Webspinner – Good to buff undertaker, proc kill command, and give you that King Krush you need to lethal.
Explosive/Freezing/Snake Trap – Most hunters run 2 of 1 and 1 of another, but no one expects you to run one of each. Each trap is good in certain situations, and running one of each prepares you for the most situations possible. The RNG with Mad Scientist can be a little frustrating, so feel free to run a standard trap configuration if you so choose.
Haunted Creeper – 2 drop with a lot of value, can buff Undertaker and keep board presence through aoe clears like holy nova and hellfire.
Ironbeak Owl – This card has massive impact for a 2 drop, but running 2 is not recommended. Dropping it without the silence is usually not a good idea, and they can tend to be a dead card in some situations.
Mad Scientist – Once again, a 2 drop with a lot of value. Coining this out turn 1 when you have no other options is strong, as the secret will often hurt your opponents’ early board presence. In some matchups like Mage and Druid, this is a very strong turn 1 play, as they cannot remove it with their hero power.
Eaglehorn Bow – Glaivezooka is also an option here, but with a versatile array of secrets and mad scientist, it’s possible to get quite a bit of value out of this thing.
Animal Companion – Praise RNGesus and this card will reward you. All three options are great on curve, the only downside is the randomness. Sometimes you will wish you got one of the three, but in a surprisingly high amount of situations, all three options are good.
Kill Command – All around excellent spell, but be judicious in how you use them. You might need them to finish a durable class like Warrior or Priest, but using them to pick off a big minion can be helpful. Use your judgment of the situation and be sure not to waste these.
Houndmaster – This is often something you can drop turn 4 on Webspinner, Haunted Creeper, or Animal Companion, to solidify your board presence. The one downside is it’s not good to drop on an empty board, but in those situations you’re probably in big trouble anyway.
Loatheb – This card can turn close games in your favor, or turn losing games around. Some classes, especially Rogue, won’t be able to do anything the turn after, and the 5/5 body causes big problems, especially when your opponent can’t cast spells to remove it.
Sludge Belcher – Another big body on the board, you can use this to stall for time or solidify your board presence. This is good for making pesky zoo decks proc your snake trap, if they’ve been ignoring your minions all game.
Savannah Highmane – This is a huge card, and a must have in every single hunter deck. Insane value, and a huge threat that, in close matches, almost always forces a response out of your opponent. Be wary of houndmastering this, as classes like Warrior and Druid often run Big Game Hunter.
Ragnaros the Firelord – This is helpful for matchups that go late, such as Warrior and Priest, and is helpful for breaking taunt walls like Handlock and Druid. This forces a response even more so than your Highmane, and also can have a big impact the turn you drop it.
Feign Death – This deck has a lot of deathrattles, and this card has potential for insane value, but I found it underwhelming and ultimately replaced it. It has a tendency to sit in your hand, dead, until you have a random 2 mana to throw at it, and even then, it’s interaction with cards like Leper Gnome and Mad Scientist is a little bit underwhelming. It does have good potential, especially with highmane.
Harrison Jones: If you have trouble with weapon classes, especially Paladin with their new 1/4, replacing Loatheb with this might be useful. However, Loatheb has a huge impact against classes like Mage and Rogue, whereas Harrison is essentially dead versus them. The Black Knight can also fill this slot.
Cairne Bloodhoof/Sylvanas Windrunner: These are options for the Rag slot, though I suppose you could sub Loatheb, or even the Belcher for one or both of these. They’re big deathrattles, so running feign death in conjunction with this could prove effective.
Traps: Feel free to experiment with these, the standard layout is 2 freezing 1 explosive, if you find Snake Trap to not be worth it.
Defender of Argus: Sub one of these in for Houndmaster if you feel so inclined, it’s a little more reliable but a little less of a board presence by itself, for the same mana cost.
Hunter: This is a race against time, neither person will likely have heals, and hero power is constant face pressure, so if you know they will trade into your minions, do not be afraid to hit face. Keep cheap minions in your mulligan.
Handlock: This is also a race against time, but a one sided one. You need to kill them before they pull out 10 million giants, sunfury protectors, and Jaraxxus. You probably want to be careful about dropping them below 11 hp, because molten giants are free at that point. Undertaker is crucial in this matchup, if you can get one going, they may not have answers, though they usually have Darkbomb, Soulfire, and at least one owl. Keep undertaker, and things for buffing it.
Zoolock: Board control is everything. If you hold on for the first few turns with at least an even board, you will win, as they lack sufficient answers to bigger cards like Highmane and Rag. Going face early is usually a bad idea when there are minions to trade, as they run buffing cards like Power Overwhelming, Dark Iron Dwarf, and Abusive Sergeant. Fish for 1 and 2 drops, so you can establish an early board presence, and not get overrun.
Mage: This is a tough matchup, most mages run Mech decks, which have lots of board pressure. They will have removal spells like Fireball and Frostbolt, which makes buffing an undertaker difficult. Mechwarper can be an early threat, if you have to burn hunters mark to get rid of it, don’t be afraid, or you’ll get swamped with cheap Spider Tanks and Mechanical Yetis. Look for 1 and 2 drops to establish board control early.
Paladin: This matchup is very difficult. Paladins have a myriad of control and healing options, and will continually frustrate your efforts to hold the board or swing for lethal. If you suspect Quartermaster will come out, clear as many recruits as you can. If you have a huge problem with Paladin, Harrison Jones is a good option to put in your deck.
Shaman: Not much to say here, as this is fairly even and quite rare on ladder. Be sure to play around Lightning Storm, (don’t flood the board with 1 drops the turn before you think he’ll play it, etc.) and use judgment over when to kill a totem and when to hit face. Keep in mind that having a “useless” totem like healing most of the time increases his odds of getting a better one like Stoneskin. As always, keep cheap minions.
Rogue: If, by some miracle, you find a rogue on ladder, just try and keep as much of a board presence as you can, and don’t be afraid to be aggressive. They have a lot of options to clear out your board, and will Sap your big minions if they have it. Playing aggressive against rogue will often pay off, but they run healing options like Healbot and Earthen Ring Farseer most of the time, so be sure not to waste kill commands on face before you have lethal. Keep cheap minions in order to establish an early board presence, you will need it in the face of their many removal spells.
Priest: If Paladin is like hitting a brick wall with your fists, this is like hitting your own face with your fists. Far and away the hardest matchup, this is nearly unwinnable without luck. Be wary of using Animal Companion, as they will steal your Leokk with Cabal Shadow Priest. Sticky minions like Highmane and Haunted Creeper are good to play around Holy Nova and Auchenai + Circle combo. Keep cheap minions to try to buff an undertaker, as you may be able to burst them down before they can play answers.
Warrior: This can be frustrating due to the sheer amount of armor they can gain, but if you can maintain board control and deal with Armorsmiths, this matchup is definitely winnable. Undertakers will be cleared out 99% of the time with Fiery Win Axe, but playing them is still worthwhile on the off chance they don’t have it. Keeping hunters mark, if you have a cheap minion or two, can be good, because armorsmith needs to be dealt with as soon as possible, before they drop belcher, hogger, or other combo cards that leave them with too much armor to deal with.
Druid: Druids are evenly split between traditional combo and Mech varieties, but both matchups play pretty much the same way. Using Wild Growth and Innervate, they will try to get way ahead of the mana curve. Mech Druids will have Mechwarper, this should be cleared as a high priority, or they will bring out Mechanical Yetis and Piloted Sky Golems before you can deal with them. Focus on holding board control, play around Swipe, and this matchup is not super hard. Keep your cheap minions and try to buff Undertakers, Druids have Wrath but rarely will be able to get rid of a strong one without sacrificing their board presence.