- 2020 Beast Hunter
- Midrange Hunter
While Saviors of Uldum hadn't been very nice to Midrange Beast Hunter, they have received quite a bit of love in the recent Descent of Dragons expansion and now the Galakrond's Awakening adventure. Descent of Dragons released more rush synergy for Hunter, with the great Clear the Way sidequest and Diving Gryphon draw mechanic. This also gives us a reason to play Desert Spear over Headhunter's Hatchet. Now, Galakrond's Awakening gives us the amazing beast-buffing Fresh Scent, breathing new life into this great archetype from Rise of Shadows.
The deck consists of several packages which overlap with each other, giving a lot of synergy. The main packages are the Beast package, the Rush package, the Spell package and the Combo Package.
The meat of the deck, every single card in this deck either is a beast, spawns a beast or buffs a beast. So you could say that every single card in this deck belongs to the beast package. The only card that does not belong to another card is Escaped Manasaber, which is a powerful drop on curve that can enable some very high-tempo plays because of the free coin every turn it's in play.
Giving you a lot of initiative and board control, the following cards are or synergise with the rush mechanic:
Clear the Way - 1 mana 4/4, amazing value. Probably the best card in the deck after Master's Call.
Springpaw - Early game board control, cheap beast synergy activation, 2/3rd sidequest activation in 1 card
Vicious Scalehide - Much-needed healing against aggro decks, great with Fresh Scent and Dire Frenzy
Desert Spear - Very flexible, with buffable tokens and splittable damage
Diving Gryphon - Removal and card draw that has synergy with your beast buffing cards? Yes please!
Unleash the Beast - Double Clear the Way activator
The different spells in the deck all synergise with the Beast tribal, and many give amazing juice to Zul'jin.
Clear the Way - Zul'jin allows you to get a third copy of this, and will probably spawn it immediately.
Shimmerfly - 1 drop to buff with Fresh Scent on turn 2, that also gives you some potential good spells.
Fresh Scent - A more flexible Blessing of Kings, this card is amazing and really breathes new life into this archetype. Also great synergy with Zul'jin, giving you another copy in hand and almost never buffing your opponent's stuff (since it can only buff beasts)
Animal Companion - Staple card since beta, enough said. Best strategy is to make it spawn Huffer and go face.
Kill Command - Can be used as either removal or as burn. Not great with Zul'jin since you risk hurting your own stuff.
Master's Call - Amazing card that makes this deck viable, 3 mana draw 3 is just nuts. Makes Zul'jin refill your hand.
Unleash the Hounds - Good for removal or burst. May clog up your board when played by Zul'jin.
Dire Frenzy - While the buff isn't huge, it gives you a lot of power later in the game and synergises great with Master's Call. Also allows the combo.
Unleash the Beast - Not great on its own, but amazing with Zul'jin. Endless 5/5 rushers!
Zul'jin - The fact that he's mentioned so much above is defence enough. Play him on turn 10 and win the game.
This small package of 4 cards allows you to do amazing burst damage, crushing extremely slow decks like Control Warrior.
For the combo to work, you need to Dire Frenzy your Timber Wolf either once or twice, and then play the buffed Timber Wolf copies with Tundra Rhino. The full combo with 1x Tundra Rhino and 5x buffed Timber Wolf costs 10 mana and does 47 damage. However, you can play smaller versions of it, or add in different Beasts, for less damage.
While the combo can do a devastating amount of damage, it really only works against very slow control decks, which are not very prevalent in the current meta, and most control decks run too many taunts. But if you're against a very slow deck without too many taunts like Highlander Warrior or Shirvallah Paladin, you might want to keep the combo in mind.
Always keep: Clear the Way, Master's Call, Shimmerfly, Springpaw.
Keep with 1-drop: Fresh Scent.
Keep with 1- and 2-drop, or with 1-drop on coin: Animal Companion, Desert Spear, Diving Gryphon.
Keep against aggro: Vicious Scalehide.
Luckily, the deck is extremely cheap, with only 2 epics in Master's Call and 1 legendary in Zul'jin. However, these are irreplaceable.
Some of the more flexible card slots are Escaped Manasaber, Shimmerfly and Unleash the Hounds. You can replace these with Scavenging Hyena, a second copy of Timber Wolf, a second copy of Unleash the Hounds, Lifedrinker, Hippogryph, Deadly Shot or a single copy of The Beast Within or Revenge of the Wild, whatever you feel works best.
I have also thought about fitting in a secret package, which would probably look something like this:
2x Phase Stalker
1x Rat Trap
1x Snake Trap
1x Freezing Trap
2x Hyena Alpha
This would also have great synergy with Zul'jin. However, I have not been able to fit it into the deck. I invite you to try, and share your experiences in the comments below.
The tight synergies between the different cards and packages make for a very fun, strong midrange deck. This is our last time to play with Zul'jin and Master's Call in standard, so I invite you to play it before the expansion is over. Please share any thoughts you have on the deck, ways it can be improved, or experiences with the deck in the comments below.
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