The full set of cards dropping into the game with United in Stormwind has been revealed! As we always do here, it is time to review these new cards, this article focusing on how Hunter is likely to perform in the new meta.
- You can see all the new cards in our United in Stormwind expansion guide.
- Our deckbuilder will let you theorycraft your own decks using new cards before the expansion arrives.
- You can simulate pack openings in our United in Stormwind Pack Opening simulator.
Keep in mind that this is an early look at the class before we've been able to play with the new cards, so while we try to be as accurate as possible in our predictions of what is to come, no one can perfectly predict the Hearthstone meta.
Hunter Deck Themes in United in Stormwind
Hunter has two very clear themes this expansion, one significantly more supported than the other.
The first is the new Questline, Defend the Dwarven District, which focuses in on damage-dealing spells. I'm personally of the opinion that the best way to attempt this Questline would be as a variant of Spell Hunter, which I suppose means you could argue that any of the spells they got further this theme. In reality, they only really got Aimed Shot to actually make progress - and conveniently synergise with the reward you receive too! Thankfully, Hunter isn't exactly short of damage-dealing spells.
The other supported theme is Beasts, with a focus specifically on token generation. Lots of their cards this time are Beasts, produce many more Beasts or allow you to buff your minions once you've got them all out there. It's interesting, because while Hunter already has plenty of Beast synergies available to it, the new cards push it in a bit of a different direction that make it less obvious if you want to try including them in existing decks or just start from scratch.
The Rat King is the centerpiece of this new take, along with his royal servants in the form of Rats of Extraordinary Size, Rodent Nest and Stormwind Piper. Many of the other cards from the expansion also feel like they'd find a home here, though they're less directly related.
"You can aim these things?!"
This is a powerfully aggressive little card. 3 damage for 3 mana isn't particularly impressive, but it can pick off some threats decently well. More importantly, you can send it straight at your opponent in the last turns of the game with a follow-up Hero Power for a total of 7 damage to the face, which is nothing to sniff at.
This feels like an easy include in any aggressive deck. You might occasionally have to use it to protect your board a bit as you set up, and even then the boost to your Hero Power doesn't lapse as the turn ends so you're still moving forward with your "kill the opponent as quickly as possible" plan. In the case that you don't need that extra flexibility in the early game, more face damage = more winning.
A more midrange list will have a harder time finding a place for this, because there the damage to minions is more important - and 3 damage just isn't quite enough to make me consider it. Sure, occasionally you had to use Kill Command without a Beast out, but you never felt good about it. If the midrange deck in question is based around the new Questline, however, then you have my attention.
You've probably never heard of her, her fans are really underground.
At first glance I wasn't particularly impressed with this card. The statline makes sense for a creature that wants to be able to stick to the board for at least one turn so it can attack, but with how aggressive Hunter wants to be right now only having 1 Attack really soured me on it. Having let it stew for a bit longer, I'm still not particularly enamoured with it, but it finally clicked what they were going for - it's honestly a little embarrassing how long the reference just flew straight over my head.
Stormwind Piper wants to find a home in a new token-focused Hunter deck - spam out a bunch of small Beasts (particularly Rats) and then give your board a bunch of buffs all at once.
Unfortunately, because this card can't attack the turn it comes down and the buff it provides is so small, I just don't see it working out. Even if it survives a turn and you manage to crack a Rodent Nest, the minions are still gonna be too easy to pick off for the investment to have been worth it.
There's something fishy about this egg...
A new Egg (kind of) for all the Duels enthusiasts to try out! There are dozens of us I tell you!
In terms of constructed, while a 2/2 is an abysmal statline summoning five 1/1 Beasts is nothing to be ashamed of. It being able to crack itself instead of relying on buffs or Deathrattle synergies is also a point in its favour, because it means you don't have to hyperfocus on accommodating it and can instead just slot it in to an appropriate list.
The synergy with the new Legendary Rat is self-evident, of course, but apart from that it's a bit of a struggle to find any particularly good synergies for this in Standard. It provides a bunch of small Beasts for Scavenging Hyena to grow from or Overwhelm to get more powerful with, and the new Devouring Swarm is very obviously interested in being part of a combo with it, but these all seem like minor, petty bonuses that are outclassed by just putting better cards in your deck.
This card right now looks like it lives and dies by how good our King is.
Run, Emrakul, Run!
0 Mana spell alert, 0 mana spell alert! Anything that you can cast completely for free is something I look at very closely - normally it's the cards that reduce costs that end up being broken, but poor old Mark shows us that even fairly innocuous effects can be too powerful if they cost too little.
This card is also an absolutely wild design, and I love it. You can attack with your minions, carefully leaving them alive, then use this to pick off a big threat and just replay your minions, fully refreshed and ready for another round. Take advantage of Battlecries a second time, trigger Deathrattles at will, play a minion and essentially give it Rush - there's so much versatility packed into this one card.
I genuinely believe this is a strong candidate for a nerf. It just does so much, and at its current mana cost you can weave it into a turn effortlessly.
"Where do I get the hides from? I'd never rat out my suppliers!"
Hunter is in a strange position for one of these new styles of weapons, because they quite like having weapons they can attack with instead of ones that can give you small incidental buffs. I really like this kind of effect, but I just don't see it being useful.
Don't get me wrong, the tools are all there for Hunter to be able to use this - just like with Stormwind Piper, the influx of token generation means you will likely be able to get all three draws out of this in a game (though six draws from two copies feels like you're pushing it). Unfortunately, to get those draws you filled your board with a bunch of little beasts that then died and weren't swinging in with a Headhunter's Hatchet, which is a very notable anti-synergy for a Beast-focused deck.
I'm struggling to imagine the deck that runs enough Beasts for you to draw from this that doesn't just run better cards to draw Beasts with - Scavenger's Ingenuity and Warsong Wrangler have you covered on this front already, and both provide a better buff as well. This is just a redundancy that you don't need.
"Get out of the way, laddie - I haven't found the brakes yet!"
While the stat buff isn't particularly impressive, being able to pick a minion to be immune every time it attacks is a very strong effect. At the very least this allows you to pick off at least one enemy minion at no cost to your own board, forcing your opponent to invest more resources into taking it out so you don't do it again. The longer you manage to keep it alive, the more minions you can pick off while the rest of your board runs rampant.
Even when it does get taken out, you get a little bonus beater out of it. It's not the most impressive minion in the world, but it's still an extra 2/2 that can chip away at the enemy board as well.
This is one of the cards that makes me think Devouring Swarm might get a nerf, by the way. Being able to pick any (non-Stealthed) enemy minion to pick off with your Immune beatstick sounds incredibly fun, but possibly incredibly frustrating as well. We'll have to wait and see if Hunter moves into something just slightly less aggressive where a buff like this can shine.
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Ah-ha, a Tradeable card! That alone boosts this well into the playable category - being able to dump it back into your deck if you have a bit of mana spare in the early game and need to rummage for something better, or to get another chance at lethal in the late game, adds some fantastic versatility to this (and any Tradeable card, for that matter).
Apart from that, this has everything going for it in a midrange Hunter deck. Decent enough stats for a 5-drop - you could look at it as a less random Teacher's Pet - with the added bonus of having Poisonous babies to pick off any big threats that might be coming out around that point in the game. It's a Beast for decks that care, and it has a Deathrattle if you like that too.
Maybe I'm too used to Duels, but this is just Hunter: The Card to me. I do think that in Standard Hunter will remain a more aggression-focused class, but this being Tradeable gives me some hope that it might be worth a look for inclusion. Perhaps as a tech piece against decks that can get out really big threats that Hunter can't quite deal with without some Poisonous.
Rats of Extraordinary Size
They're actually regular-sized - the other rats are just extraordinarily small.
More board swarming! This one actually has a little bit more merit to it than just summoning Rats, however - adding the extras to your hand with such a large buff is a huge bonus. Remember, they're only going to cost 1 mana to play, so if you can get your board decently filled up then you'll have a large and easily-spammed second wave ready to go when the first one dies.
6 mana is a big asking price, but I honestly wouldn't mind at least one of these at the top end of an aggro deck. You probably win the game if your board is big enough to get a decent number of these in your hand, but if you don't and your board is dealt with, you've got a really good second chance waiting in the wings.
Maybe I'm buying into the propratganda, but this design just excites me, especially as a custom card creator. It's something that's been bandied about in various forms for so long, and to see it make the actual game is really cool. I'm definitely running this, even if it ends up not living up to my wildest fantasies.
Defend the Dwarven District
Shots, shots, shots shots shots shots!
Ah, the Spell Hunter support for the set. Now, Spell Hunter isn't exactly thriving at the moment, but this is some pretty spicy help for it that might make you look twice at the deck. Don't let the fact that it affects your Hero Power fool you - you're looking at the conditions to inform your deckbuilding here, not the rewards.
I should be clear that I think this really is a Spell Hunter card - if you're running enough damaging spells to be able to consistently push through the entire Questline every game, then you should definitely be going all in on that idea. The upgrade to the Hero Power will initially help you control the board while you assemble your pieces, but once you get that reward you might be switching up the gameplan.
Remember, at this point your Hero Power costs no mana and you can target anything you want. Every turn you should be starting off by pressing that button - pick off a minion or just go face - and then from that moment on every spell you cast you're just accumulating more and more value. It's Machine Gun Priest all over again - except, y'know, probably way more balanced.
The Rat King
A powerful rat named Charles Entertainment Cheese.
5/5 for 5 with Rush? Decent enough. 5/5 for 5 with Rush that comes back? Now you're speaking my language.
I really like this card as a consistent threat for any Hunter deck. Hunter plays enough minions in most of its decks that this feels like it slots in to almost any build except Spell Hunter - and sadly Spell Hunter really isn't a thing right now. There's definitely a lot of support for this card in the Rat summoning cards also debuting in this expansion, but I'd include it even in lists not dedicated to bringing it back over and over - even just getting one revival from it is really nice.
I feel like I want to write more, to espouse the many virtues of this amazing card, but... there's not much more to say. For as interesting as you could try and get with it, I really just like it as a 5/5 Rush that might come back once or twice over the course of the game.
Theorycrafting Hunter in United in Stormwind
I tried last expansion and by Yogg I'm trying again this expansion - Spell Hunter will become a thing through sheer force of will.
Thankfully, we now have an actual win condition for the deck rather than solely relying on Lock and Load shenanigans (though of course we have to include them too). Defend the Dwarven District will eventually reward us for our damage-dealing efforts with a 0-Cost Hero Power that can deal 2 damage to any target and refreshes any time we cast a spell - sounds oddly familiar...
Hunter doesn't really have enough good spells at low enough costs to make a minion-free Spell Hunter deck anymore, but thankfully there's a bounty of good supporting minions to pull from earlier expansions to help us out. Kolkar Pack Runner will help stabilise in the early game, and Wandmaker and Venomous Scorpid can be used to refuel later on. Minions not included here but worth considering are Manafeeder Panthara for card draw and the brand new Entrapped Sorceress as an additional source of spells.
We have of course included many damage-dealing spells - far more than the Questline requires, just to make sure you can complete it as early as possible. You don't want to stall out and not be able to complete it, so it's better to err on the side of caution - that's why cards like Resizing Pouch and Tracking also make the cut, to help you dig for more damage (in addition to being low-cost spells).
Finally, it wouldn't be a decklist from me without some questionable additions. I've already mentioned Lock and Load, of course, but you'll notice three extra cards from the new expansion that don't quite gel with the rest of the deck. I was a bit disappointed that so much of the deck was comprised of cards from previous expansions, so I figured I'd include some of my personal favourites to spice it up a bit.
Rats of Extraordinary Size could have potential if you manage to fill the board a bit using Kolkar. This is definitely the first card you should cut though if looking to improve - I'd recommend another Resizing Pouch in its place. I just think it's neat!
Imported Tarantula and Rustrot Viper both make the cut as Beasts that are Tradeable. Their effects make them decent potential tech cards depending on the meta, and if you don't need them Tradeable makes them far less of a scary inclusion than similar cards. I really like how you can hedge a bit with cards like these, though you could probably cut them for the Pantharas if you wanted to streamline a bit.
Closing Thoughts on Hunter in United in Stormwind
Hunter definitely has some interesting directions it can go with this expansion. Spell Hunter got a proper win condition thanks to Defend the Dwarven District, and a new token-based deck has some potential. Unfortunately, both will have to compete with existing Hunter decks, which have a pretty solid base to work from and could potentially include some of the new tools as well.
I expect Hunter to stick around after the expansion launches as it tends to do - even though existing decks didn't get anything too insane, their consistency and ease of use should see them through. While I hope that one of the new playstyles makes a splash (and I'll definitely be trying them both out myself), I think the tried and true aggressive deck will win the day in the end. At least Devouring Swarm, Aimed Shot and maybe Ramming Mount might find a home there.
Did we get it right? Did we get it wrong? Share your thoughts on Hunter in the comments!
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