The full Fractured in Alterac Valley set has been revealed and it's time to look at all the new cards and, specifically, at how Hunter will be doing this expansion. We'll be breaking each of the Hunter cards down, judging their potential power levels and giving our thoughts on their place in the upcoming meta.
- You can see all the new cards in our Fractured in Alterac Valley guide.
- Our deckbuilder will let you theorycraft your own decks using the new cards before the expansion arrives.
- You can simulate pack openings in our Fractured in Alterac Valley Pack Opening Simulator.
- Don't forget to take part in our Tavern Crawl to earn on-site cosmetics!
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 Fractured in Alterac Valley
Hunter is getting some interesting tools from Fractured in Alterac Valley, most notably a number of enablers for the classic Secret archetype as well as a handful of new cards that could make Big Beasts a thing. While Hunter is usually best known for hitting the Hero Power and smashing face, Fractured in Alterac Valley is hoping that it's bevy of pushed (and not-so-pushed) cards will send the class in a slightly different direction.
Beasts: Wing Commander Ichman, Stormpike Battle Ram, Revive Pet, Mountain Bear
Secrets: Beaststalker Tavish, Spring the Trap, Ice Trap, Dun Baldar Bunker, Ram Tamer
Shh... Be vewy, vewy quiet.
Beaststalker Tavish has real potential as a finisher for a number of decks (most likely aggro), or as a disruptive curve play in a slower, value-centric deck like Secret Hunter. As we know from Secret Paladins and their ilk, it's very hard to play around multiple Secrets at once, and Tavish's Improved Secrets all pack a huge punish if you don't respect them. Rinling's Rifle has shown us that Discovering Secrets is very powerful: Your opponent might have some idea what you've chosen, but if they guess wrong then they'll find themselves falling behind.
In addition to the Improved Secrets, Tavish also has Animal Companion: The Hero Power to continue to put pressure on the board and his opponent even if he runs out of cards. No longer can a Control deck sit back and Heal out of range of Steady Shot, while answering whatever the topdeck is - now they have to continue to deal with the board or face the wrath of Huffer.
Overall, Beaststalker Tavish is a very good Hero card who can come down early enough for his Improved Secrets and Hero Power to have a real impact on games, whether he needs to slow his opponents down or finish them off. We don't know if he will speak a dedicated Secrets deck into existence, but he's very good and we expect him to see at least some play.
Wing Commander Ichman
And to think we knew him back when he was only a Nugget Lieutenant.
Wing Commander Ichman is the ultimate build-around for a Big Beasts style of deck. There's just one problem: You see that Mana cost? You see that number right there? That's a 9. Here's an exhaustive list of every 9 Cost card that has seen play in good Hunter decks:
(pause for effect)
Rexxar must speak German, because 9 means "no."
We don't want to rain on Ichman's parade of larger and larger monsters, because he is a really cool card with a powerful effect for building around. Even if he is too slow for what might be considered a good deck, there's an endless variety of fun decks that could make use of him, and would love to have him summon out his army of big Beasts once every ten games.
Spring the Trap
Spring the Trap is a powerful Secret enabler, but one that doesn't necessarily belong only in Secret decks. Quest Hunter, for example, would love a 4 Mana spell that advances their Quest while pulling Explosive Trap from their deck. Face Hunter could also be persuaded to run a couple of the best Secrets for extra value and tempo.
In our opinion, triggering the Honorable Kill is nice but not even necessary for this to be considered in most decks, as just pulling one Secret is probably worth it. However, putting it into a heavily Secret-based deck in a meta where the HK can be triggered reliably should be exceptionally good.
"What a lovely ice sculpture!" "Yeah, sculpture."
Hunter Counterspell. It finally exists. Most Secrets are hit-or-miss, but the ones that interact with opponents casting spells (Counterspell, Oh My Yogg!, Cat Trick) usually see play for this reason: It is generally a good idea to run a number of spells, therefore it is also good to punish your opponent for casting those spells.
Ice Trap is good at swinging tempo, denying removal, and generally just making its opponent's life miserable by forcing them to waste Mana. And don't even get us started on how much better this makes Rinling's Rifle. Is Oh My Yogg! a better card? Sure, but that's like saying a million dollars is better than five hundred thousand dollars. If Rexxar can't have a million dollars, he'll be more than happy with five hundred thousand.
Stormpike Battle Ram
"They're like battering rams, except they feel pain!" "Is that better?"
A decent Rush minion with a relevant Deathrattle for decks with Big Beasts that they'd love to get into play earlier. It's unfortunate that Monstrous Parrot is also a Beast, or there could be some room for a Standard wombo-combo involving making a very expensive Beast very cheap for Shan'do Wildclaw reasons. Wild, with Terrorscale Stalker, Feign Death, and Play Dead, is a different story.
There is one Standard card that we think plays well with Stormpike Battle Ram, but we'll save that discussion for the Theorycrafting section.
Stormpike Battle Ram is a solid enough minion that it could find a way to work in some deck, possibly The Rat King Hunter or a midrange Hunter deck that can make good use of its discount.
For those whose pets are a little too good at playing dead.
Witching Hour, but better. Revive Pet is likely going to be used solely in combo decks that want a Big(ish) Beast to die so they can re-summon it. It could be a piece of Stormpike Battle Ram decks to avoid using the Deathrattle (and passing the savings on to you!). It could also serve as a cheaper Jewel of N'Zoth for The Rat King decks (just make sure your Graveyard isn't full of Rats and Wolpertingers). There's so many ways to abuse this card that we can't wait to see what people come up with.
Dun Baldar Bunker
Dun Baldar Bunker Dun Baldar Bunker Dun Baldar Bunker Dun Baldar Bunker Dun Baldar Bunker
Dun Baldar Bunker is reliable card draw for a deck that runs a lot of Secrets, and not very useful for any other deck. Discounting the Cost of those Secrets makes up for the slowness of waiting three turns to draw those Secrets, and drawing three cards for 2 Mana is very good even if you have to wait to draw those cards.
While we don't think this makes it into a Tempo Secret Hunter (who would rather pay 4 to deal 3 damage and play a Secret from their deck than pay 2 to eventually draw 3), it could work in Quest Hunter for drawing Explosive Trap, or in a slower Hunter deck that uses it for deck thinning while playing Secrets to keep faster opponents from killing them.
Is it a bear that looks like a mountain or a mountain that looks like a bear?
Mountain Bear is a slightly stronger Savannah Highmane, especially in a slower deck that wants large Taunt minions to get in the way of their opponent. She might be too slow for Constructed, but she should be quite the unit in Arena.
Once you've mastered Ram Taming, you're ready to take on Cat Herding.
A big, (usually) Stealthed minion that could work in aggressive Secret decks to pack in the pain. Secret Hunter has enough good Tempo plays (Sunreaver Spy, Inconspicuous Rider, Crossroads Gossiper, Spring the Trap) that it might end up being a decent deck with which to climb. We don't expect to see this in any deck that runs fewer than four Secrets.
Not super useful on a battlefield, where blood is, you know, EVERYWHERE.
Cheaper Eaglehorn Bow, maybe? While Bloodseeker doesn't have quite the same promise of (nearly) infinite damage because it can't just go face every turn, there's an argument to be made that it shouldn't be too hard to stack into a very scary beat stick. It's cheap enough to make an impact early while slowly gathering steam, then running your opponent over like an express train on a one-way trip to Painsville (with a short stopover in Cleveland).
If Face Hunter isn't too particular about clearing a place for Rinling's Rifle, Bloodseeker could make sense in that deck as an early board-control tool that can chip in extra damage in the mid- to late-game.
Five Neutral Cards for Hunter
Humongous Owl is a very large Beast with a very scary Deathrattle, making it perfect for Wing Commander Ichman or Monstrous Parrot decks. Also, Jewel of N'Zoth shenanigans. With Stormpike Battle Ram making it cheaper, maybe it's got a chance to make an impact on the meta.
Ram Commander (and specifically his Battle Rams) could be very useful in The Rat King Beast decks by giving the deck more cheap Beasts (with Rush!) without getting in the way of Leatherworking Kit, Selective Breeder, or Warsong Wrangler.
Reflecto Engineer could be a niche tool for Face Hunter if their opponents start running large Taunt minions with a lot of Health. It's not an all-weather card, but could find use in the right meta.
Hunter doesn't have a lot of unconditional removal, so a fairly cheap minion with this (conditionally) unconditional removal effect could have a place if Hunter needs it. We're thinking it could be a good answer for Quest rewards like Cap'n Rokara, or against slightly annoying Tempo legendaries like Taelan Fordring and Cariel Roame.
If you've already got a deck with a lot of cheap minions (and Devouring Swarm), then Frostwolf Warmaster should be at least considered for inclusion. Using 1 or 0 Cost cards to get the Warmaster into play early could be a winning strategy.
Theorycrafting Hunter in Fractured in Alterac Valley
Standard's best kept secret is Hunter's best Deathrattle combo piece: Mok'Nathal Lion. Thanks to good ol' Mokky here, we can copy the Deathrattles of minions like Stormpike Battle Ram before they're triggered, which means we get extra Cost reduction without the extra headache. And what Beast will we be reducing the Cost of? Why, Humongous Owl, of course.
Here's the idea:
- We play Stormpike Battle Ram, then copy its Deathrattle either with Mok'Nathal Lion or with a Revive Pet.
- We Discover a Humongous Owl with Warsong Wrangler. It now Costs 3.
- We play Humongous Owl and copy it with Shan'do Wildclaw, then also copy the Deatthrattle with a Mok'Nathal Lion.
- We sit on the toilet--wait, that's the wrong bit.
- We kill our Humongous Owls with either Devouring Swarm or Trueaim Crescent.
- We use Revive Pet and do the whole thing over again with Faceless Manipulator.
While this deck might not be "good" in the strictest sense of the term, it does have a lot of draw as well as the ability to assemble its combo with the minimum of hassle. We're also running cheap damage spells and Beaststalker Tavish to stall the game just long enough to pull off our incredibly specific combo. But hey, if your combos aren't specific, then you probably aren't trying hard enough.
Closing Thoughts on Hunter and Fractured in Alterac Valley
Hunter got a lot of interesting synergistic tools to mess around with, specifically if you like noodling around with Big Beasts and Deathrattles (also Secrets). We know that Face Hunter is likely going to grab the best cards and pick through the rest like a seven year-old at the dinner table, but Hunter honestly has some really cool enablers for what might be considered fringe decks. Whether it's Secrets or Big Beasts, The Rat King or Humongous Owl, Hunter's got the cards to make just about any dream come true.
Did we get it right? Did we get it wrong? Share your thoughts in the comments!
More From Fractured in Alterac Valley
We've got more class reviews that you won't want to miss! Don't forget that you can see all the cards coming in the expansion in our Alterac Valley Expansion Guide and if you want to test your luck, you can head on over to our pack opener to crack some packs.