Welcome to Budget Deck Breakdown, the series that highlights decks for players looking to have fun in Hearthstone without spending any of the dust they've been saving for five years. This week, we're looking at a list that iterates on an idea from a previous Budget Deck Breakdown, adapting it for the Barrens meta and making use of synergies introduced in the latest expansion. Sit down, strap in, and make sure your tray tables are in a fully upright and locked position because we're taking another look at Vol'jin Demon Hunter.
Guess Who's Back, Back Again
Shadow Hunter Vol'jin was the first free Legendary from Forged in the Barrens, and we had quite the time fitting him into a pair of decks for Budget Deck Breakdown a few months back. Now he's back and ready to make a mess of things in a new meta, with a few new friends trying to help him win games along the way. Will the deck be a meta-breaker, capable of climbing a ladder infested with Paladins? Not really, but that's not the point.
While Shadow Hunter Vol'jin has been slightly outclassed as a free Legendary by Mankrik and his dead wife (who we are very careful not to say anything about), that doesn't mean that there still aren't ways to take advantage of his particular set of skills. Demon Hunter, with a suite of good card draw, cheap removal, and big minions is a perfect home for the former (or future, we can never tell with Hearthstone's timeline) Warchief to strut his stuff. Let's talk about what makes this version of Vol'jin Demon Hunter work, and how it differs from the original.
Vol'jin? In This Meta?
Now might not be the most opportune time to dust off a Vol'jin list, considering the power level of the decks on the ladder. However, we would argue it's actually the perfect time to play Shadow Hunter Vol'jin. One reason is that Demon Hunter's Deathrattle package recently got the tiniest of boosts when Razorboar was buffed to a 3/2. Another reason is that we're masochists. The idea of this deck is to use Demon Hunter's cheap Deathrattle cheaters to keep a string of bodies in play so Vol'jin can swap one of them for an Illidari Inquisitor (let's face it: everyone expects it) or Runaway Blackwing.
Our Deathrattle package keys off of Tuskpiercer, which is a great way to draw our cheap Deathrattle minions so we can keep up a near-constant presence on the board. It might seem a little strange to see so many cheap minions in a Vol'jin list built to cheat out big minions, but thanks to Razorboar and Razorfen Beastmaster it's incredibly easy to get our cheap Deathrattle minions onto the board. Blink, and they're already there.
Deck Synergies and Other Bad Ideas
As everyone knows, Shadow Hunter Vol'jin synergizes with small bodies on board and big bodies in hand. To accommodate that synergy we've got sticky Deathrattlers that leave bodies on board when they die and big minions that will sit in our hand until Vol'jin can bring them out. We've also got some solid card draw to find those pieces: Tuskpiercer, which (as mentioned) can find a cheap Deathrattler or big boy Coilfang Warlord, and Spectral Sight, which is premium card draw at any point in the game. Illidari Studies can also find us more card draw if we need it; Vengeful Spirit is the premium hit for this deck and a great find if you're patient enough to wait until turn 4 or later to cast the Studies.
The early game tempo of the deck relies on the Deathrattle synergies of Razorboar, Razorfen Beastmaster, Death's Head Cultist, and Renowned Performer to give us a consistent presence on board while we dig for Vol'jin and a big minion to swap onto the board. Immolation Aura and Throw Glaive are cheap removal tools to stall aggressive decks that spam the board with small minions, giving us a better chance of surviving to our combo turn. Later, they're cheap ways to soften up our opponent's minions for trades.
Our deck also runs the "backup" plan of Illidari Inquisitor, who is known for two things: being big, hitting face, and synergizing with cheap ways to give your Hero extra Attack. Three things. While Vol'jin can cheat the Inquisitor out early, it's never too much of a hassle to get one into play later, just in time to smash it into your opponent's face. This deck runs Warglaives of Azzinoth to combo with Illidari Inquisitor for massive face damage while also helping us clear off multiple bodies or get through those pesky Taunts. Additionally, we've got Fury and Relentless Pursuit to stack Attack on our Hero at any point in the game.
Card Replacements for the Rich and Famous
Vengeful Spirit is great card draw for this deck and is costed efficiently enough that we can stand to run it in a deck that otherwise wants big minions. Felosophy is really good at copying Inquisitors (but not much else, if we're being honest). It's also never too much of a bad idea to replace some of the big bodies in this deck with Pit Commander and Ancient Void Hound, who bring with them their cool subtheme of "Big Demons" to pair with Illidari Inquisitor. Death Speaker Blackthorn plays well with the Deathrattle synergies, but not as well with Shadow Hunter Vol'jin, so it's up to you to decide if he truly fits in the deck.
On a budget, there are plenty of ways to adjust the deck, starting with the big minion package. Scrapyard Colossus is a fun (for us) minion to cheat into play, as well as big Dragons like Deathwing the Destroyer and Plagued Protodrake. Skull of Gul'dan is a bit clumsy in this list, but can sometimes get discounts applied to the right minions if we manage to get it into Outcast position. Darkspear Berserker can be an additional early threat for the Deathrattle package, as well as a minion with big enough stats to still be around when Vol'jin wants to swap in a bigger body.
Shadow Hunter Vol'jin is ready to show that he still has a lot to offer in the Barrens meta; it only takes some flexibility and imagination on our part (as well as a very powerful 8-Drop). Vol'jin Demon Hunter is a deck that can fight for the early board then make a massive tempo swing with a timely swap. It's also a cheap way to grind one of the Barrens achievements for Demon Hunter, if that's something you care about.
Have you been trying any Shadow Hunter Vol'jin decks in the new meta? How do you feel about this one? Share your thoughts in the comments!