Hearthstone at its core is a game that people should have fun with, but that can get bogged down in the pursuit of competitive meta strategies. Thus, I humbly present Memes and Dreams, a series on Out of Cards looking to bring some good ol' memey fun into people's Hearthstone experiences. Each week we will do a deep dive on a different 'for fun' deck, discussing the basic ideas of the deck, what makes it tick, and roughly how to pilot it. This week we enter the Barrens with Hunter's revitalized deck manipulation mechanics!
The Eternal Hunt has Begun... *bwaaaaaaah*
Hey, y'all! Sorry it has been a bit since the last article, but whenever a new set comes out it takes a bit for the dust to settle to determine what is Meme and what is Meta. I remember back when everyone thought The Caverns Below would be a huge meme, only to have it become the most nerfed card of all time. Similarly, we now know that Deck of Lunacy wouldn't be great to cover at the moment given its shocking prevalence in the meta.
However, Hunter has certainly dodged out of being in the meta despite having some pretty strong cards. People were very excited to see Dire Frenzy come back as a Core card for its unique ability to copy and buff beasts. Coupled with a few new cards and some nice ways for Hunters to generate value, we can work towards making a Hunter deck that never runs out of resources while still being a midrange threat!
The Meme - A strategy that many recent Hutner decks have been utilizing, buffing the crap out of a Trampling Rhino and smashing your opponent's face in while generating smaller threats.
The Dream - Incrementally pressure your opponent to use up their resources while continuing to generate your own. We'll never truly reach Deathstalker Rexxar levels of value generation, but the beasts we make and buff will certainly try!
Dire Frenzy is the inspiration for the deck and what kind of ties it all together. Its unique ability to shuffle Beasts into the deck makes it extremely potent with cards like Warsong Wrangler and Selective Breeder and also synergizes extremely well with a handful of Beasts Hunter has this year.
While certainly not as flexible or exciting as Dire frenzy, Sunscale Raptor still manages to be an essential part of the deck for the purposes of creating infinite value and providing a decent early-game drop. It's also quite nice having another cheap target for Dire Frenzy, since some of the other best targets for Frenzy can be costly to play.
Zixor, Apex Predator is another powerful beast to buff and copy with Dire Frenzy, notably because it generates its own value! On the front end, copying a bunch of Zixors will get you a lot more Zixor Primes, offering solid late-game threats. If any Zixor Primes survive to your next turn, you can Dire Frenzy them and cut out the base Zixor middleman, granting an exceptionally powerful late-game onslaught.
Trueaim Crescent can be an exceptionally powerful early-game tool at controlling the board. Potentially giving all your minions a second attack to clear off threats is great, especially once you've buffed some minions. Combining with Dancing Cobra or Venomous Scorpid can clear off large threats with ease, while Trampling Rhino's damage could be doubled if the enemy minions are set up properly. A more niche, but still nice, application for Crescent is proccing the Frenzy on Sunscale Raptor.e
These fellas are the ways to seek out your Dire Frenzy buffed minions, but neither beats out the other since they have different ups and downs. Selective Breeder is much cheaper and creates a copy of the Beast, meaning that you'll still have the original to buff and draw later. Warsong Wrangler is twice the cost and draws you the card, but the buff can be substantial when combined with generating effects like Dire Frenzy, Zixor Prime, or Wolpertinger.
Budget / Alternate Options
If either of the two legendaries are getting replaced, it should be Shan'do Wildclaw. Shan'do is really nice for getting early buffs onto most of your deck, ala Prince Keleseth, and can become a cheap copy of Trampling Rhino to finish out games. However, she doesn't help go infinite as much as Zixor, Apex Predator. Saddlemaster is a decent replacement consideration for either Shan'do or Zixor due to its ability to help go infinite. It can be a tad clunky to use at 3 mana, but in the late game, your small Sunscale Raptors and Wolpertingers can become part of a value engine, which is nice. Mankrik doesn't help the infinite value cause, but it's still a decent tempo option. Olgra, Mankrik's Wife is also easier to find with Tracking, which is great flavor and might help get the achievement!
This deck runs a bit heavy on Epics, unfortunately. Don't Feed the Animals is a great card for buffing the many Beasts the deck runs, but should definitely be the first Epic to be cut. Trueaim Crescent creates strong combos with many of the deck's cards, but Warsong Wrangler provides stronger meme value, either hurts to cut so pick whichever you feel the least strongly about. Quick Shot is a fine replacement since it's just a good card, proving removal in the early-game lethal push and/or card draw in the late-game. Scrap Shot on the other hand works to further the 'Make Big Beasts' Dream but providing a substantial buff to a Beast in hand. Deadly Shot also isn't a terrible idea if you're struggling with large taunts ruining your lethals.
As for alternate options, Moonfang has some seriously scary potential when buffed and copied. Dealing with one buffed Moonfang can be a chore for some classes, but dealing with three can be absolutely backbreaking. On the flipside, classes with easy access to hard removal will kill it without a second thought. Resizing Pouch seems like a weird choice, but the quality of late-game minions has gone up substantially with the Basic/Classic rotation. At 10 mana, you Discover from a pool of King Krush, Alexstrasza the Life-Binder, Carnival Clown, Malygos the Spellweaver, Onyxia the Broodmother, Runaway Blackwing, Sleepy Dragon, and Ysera the Dreamer. Almost all of these are very powerful, with the exception of Clown, and two of them (Krush and Alex) have the potential to find push a surprise lethal.
This deck doesn't run as much early-game or removal as it could, so this might be rough. Trueaim Crescent is going to be your best friend for this matchup since it lets you make very favorable trades with your relatively high-health minions. Getting Rush minions from Selective Breeder is another very powerful way to keep up board control while still building your own. Since no AoE or spell removal is run, prioritize finding it from Pack Kodo and Venomous Scorpid. Finding an Explosive Trap or Wound Prey in the early game can go a long way in stabilizing a powerful board state.
Probably the hardest matchup if they have ways to heal/sustain their hero. You should be able to get priority in the early-game and develop a powerful board, but it can be difficult to keep up with removal. The hope here is to play Venomous Scorpid and Dancing Cobra around the times you think they might play a taunt or large minion. It's also very important to buff your minions past 3 health when possible since it lets you dodge common Control cards such as Holy Smite or Soul Shear. If you're unable to hold onto a board in the early-mid-game, try to instead go for a burst-y lethal with Trampling Rhino. Rhino combined with Trueaim Cresent can present a surprising amount of damage on the right board state, but can also wide threats if nothing else. This is also the matchup where you might be able to afford to be greedy, potentially allowing the dream of Dire Frenzy onto Venomous Scorpid to create more Dire Frenzies.
There aren't a ton of Combo decks out there these days, and the ones that do exist should still be a favorable matchup for this deck. The most basic game plan of pushing face damage should be followed and will probably result in a win. The slow nature of their deck makes greedy Dire Frenzy targets tempting, but remember that if you wait too long you'll be burst down. Dire Frenzy and Warsong Wrangler buffs on Wolpertinger are the way to go since the pressure from 1 mana 8/8 in stats should be enough when the opponent isn't creating much of their own board presence.
This deck is admittedly a bit of a fringe meme, which is to say it's a somewhat standard Beast Hunter list with minor adjustments that allow it to pursue a meme-y path. The potential of creating infinite Sunscale Raptors or chaining Dire Frenzy off of Venomous Scorpid certainly lends itself to some meme potential, but it's not the craziest meme out there. Still, I was very excited to see Dire Frenzy come back into Standard and I think that this deck is a great way to show off the new toys Hunter received going into the Year of the Gryphon (which rotated Diving Gryphon without introducing any new ones). The rotation also removed a lot of shenanigans that classes could commit in favor of some more tame and consistent designs. Rest assured, I will do my best to find and bring memes to share!
What is your meme deck of choice? Do you try different ones for each expansion or do you try to evolve old ones with new cards? Do you have any meme dream stories? Tell us in the comments below!