Hello! On the off chance that you follow me, you'll know that Dragon Hunter has been basically the only deck that I've played since the Witchwood launched. In fact, I hit legend with it the same week of the launch, so I know a thing or 2 about how to play it. This is the Dragon Hunter list that I've used to hit rank 3 on only day 6 of the March 2019 season, & I'm still climbing. I've struggled building a consistent Dragon list due to how diverse the meta is, but with all the odd paladin around, this list feels right. I'll write a bare bones guide now, but I'll write a much more thorough guide later on & update it as I climb the Standard Ladder this season, but I wanted to get the deck on here for others try look at.
How to Play:
What you're doing here is using your minions to control the board. Despite the fact that you're playing as a hunter, this isn't a face deck. Focus on board control, using Candleshots, Rush from Shaw, Scaleworms, Scorchers, Zilliax, ect. Ideally you go toe to toe on the board, while pushing incremental damage with your hero power until you can drop big bombs with Emeriss. If you've seen my other Dragon Hunter decks, you know that this contains the powerful game winning combo of Emeriss into Leeroy Jenkins & Faceless Manipulator for 24 points of burst. This almost always wins the game, as your hero power has ideally kept your opponent down to below 25 health for the game. Because of this combo, the way you play the deck can be flexible, you can focus on pushing tempo or playing control, knowing that you always have that burst if you need it. You have access to two copies of Tracking as well as two copies of Stitched Tracker, so you can pull it off at an alarmingly consistent rate. Alexstrasza is included here (and I would say that she is core) for games against Warrior and Priest, where you aren't really getting their life total down but need to combo them off to win, Alex can just set them down to exactly where you want them.
The mulligan here is pretty straight forward, you're always keeping Fire Fly, Candleshot, Tar Creeper, & Rexxar. If you suspect that your opponent is playing something heavy, like Odd Warrior, Cloning Gallery Priest, Malygos Druid (yes, they still exist) look for Emeriss. She is absolutely key to winning those matches.
Spellbreaker: Not too much to say about this one, Silence is good to have.
Gluttonous Ooze: There are still a fair amount of Cubelocks on the ladder, as well as Odd Warrior (you're looking to destroy Super Collider) and of course, Odd Paladin's Vine Cleaver.
Hunter's Mark: I actually consider this a tech card for this deck, if you find yourself running into more odd paladin and zoo, feel free to cut 1 copy or 2 and mix your early game a bit more (Prince Keleseth & Stonehill Defender are what come to mind off the bat).
These are cards that aren't in this current list, but cards that I would add depending on what the metagame is looking like for where I'm at on the ladder.
King Krush: I usually have a copy of Krush in here, but because I'm running Deathwing in this current iteration, Krush felt a bit too heavy. I usually save him as a back up in the event I don't have access to Faceless & Leeroy, but have them down low, 16 points of burst is still incredible. I would add Krush in if I was seeing a lot more control, and would probably cut 1 Fire Fly to add him.
Skulking Geist: If Druid finds themselves taking another big step into the spotlight, then Geist will certainly make a return. Odd Warrior is still semi popular, so Geist isn't a bad inclusion just for that, as destroying their omega assemblies/shield slams can just auto win the game.
Mojomaster Zihi: Back when Mecha'Thun was really popular for those few weeks, I ran Zihi in all of my decks, but I haven't seen a hint of the Mechanical Old One in a bit, so Zihi is out. If you're seeing Mecha'Thun druid, Geist is better as it get's their naturalizes and biology projects, which I noticed some players started holding onto when Zihi was getting tech'd in, but if it's Mecha'Thun Warlock, Zihi is the go to.
Candleshot: 1 mana 1/3 weapon that allows you to ping without taking damage. Just really good for early board control, and of course, is the part of the Hunter's Mark combo where you take down a big minion injury free.
Fire Fly: Just an excellent 1 drop for competing for early board control. Since we don't have any 2 drop minions, it servers as an excellent 2 drop as well.
Tracking: 1 mana draw 3 is just gross, helps you dig to your combo, a dragon, or of course, Rexxar.
Hunter's Mark: It's been nerfed twice and is still pretty good. With Rexxar, Candleshot, Scorchers, and Prim. Drakes, we have a lot of ways to utilize it.
Gluttonous Ooze: See above, but there are still a lot of classes that run powerful weapons that we don't want them getting as minimal value as possible. As good as this deck is, no deck can beat a Warlock with an Active Skull, so this should always stay in your list.
Stitched Tracker: Use for finding combo pieces, dragons, rush, etc.
Tar Creeper: Just an outstanding anti-aggro minion, can save you by itself if your opponent has a perfect opening curve. I'm going to miss it so much come rotation.
Houndmaster Shaw: You just win if Shaw goes unchecked.
Scaleworm: A criminally underrated 4 drop, a 5/4 with rush (we almost always have a dragon in hand at this point) is just plain good. Trades with Tar Creepers, Chain Gangs, Vicious Fledglings, Hench Clan Thug, Zilliax, etc.
Spellbreaker: You should always have access to silence, so we run 1 copy here.
Dragonmaw Scorcher: With Odd Paladin still be grossly popular, Scorcher is outstandingly good. It also nicely softens up the board for rexxar to finish everyone off the next turn.
Faceless Manipulator: As stated above, this is meant for your Emeriss/Leeroy combo, but don't hesitate to use if the time calls for it.
Leeroy Jenkins: As stated above, this is part of your game winning combo, but can be used for emergency minion removal.
Zilliax: Almost every deck in the game should be running this card, it's just great. Really helps you get into the midgame/late game ahead.
Deathstalker Rexxar: Flat out, best card in Hearthstone right now.
Crowd Roaster: Heavy removal, pairs really nice with Shaw (if Shaw is on board) as it allows you to take down 2 giant things for 7 mana.
Primordial Drake: Big taunt, late game AoE, & Dragon Synergy. It's perfect.
Alexstrasza: Alex can set you up for the combo win, rescue you from low health, she's versatile. Her main purpose here is to be on the offensive side, but she's saved me countless times defensively too.
Deathwing: Deathwing is good, actually! At least he is here. I have him here because Wall Priest is a deck, evenlock is a deck, so many decks with Big Minions exist. I've also found that playing Deathwing with an active Rexxar means we don't care if we throw our hand away because we can just build gigantic Zombeasts to back him up. Deathwing has hard carried me in a handful of games, it feels great getting some use out of him again.
Emeriss: Your win condition. Pump up your Leeroy combo, or a bunch of Zombeasts, or a bunch of minions you just didn't get to play yet. While your opponent has to worry about what you have in your hand, they already have to spend what removal they have on the 8/8 Dragon you just played. Emeriss is one of my favorite cards ever, and I'm proud to have made Dragon Hunter a legitimate (if fringe) deck built off her Wings.
This is an expensive deck, and there are some expensive minons that you might not have! I'll cover the obovious ones here, but feel free to ask below about other ones that I didn't mention.
Zilliax: Seriously, if you don't have Zilliax, go craft it. But if you really can't, I would probably just stick with Flanking Strike. Fungalmancer or Cobalt Scalebane would be interesting 5 drops to try, mainly because they can turn Fireflies that are drawn late into a threat.
Deathwing: Turns out that a legendary that doesn't see a lot of play doesn't end up in a lot of people's collections. I would replace Deathwing with King Krush or The Lich King. If you don't have either of those, I would add in some more early/mid game, so again, Flanking Strike, Stonehill Defender, something like that.
Match Up Tips:
I'll return and update this portion as I get time. If there is an archetype on here that I haven't covered and you would like to see, let me know! I hope you give this deck a try! I'll reply to all questions/suggestions below, so feel free to post away!
- Odd: Odd Paladin used to be one of my toughest match ups, but thanks to the rounds of nerfs, and just my better understanding of how to deal with it, this feels like one of your best match ups. Board Control, Board Control, Board Control. That's the name of the game, and you have more than enough tools. Candleshot, Fire Fly, Tar Creeper, Scaleworm, Dragonmaw Scorcher, Rexxar, Primordial Drake, Shaw, Deathwing, you should be just fine. Generally the make or break turn is 4 (if they have coin) or 5 when Fungalmancer can come down. You must prevent an on curve funglemancer and you have enough tools to do that. Use Hunter's Marks to deal with Frost Wolf Warlords & Storm Wind Champions. Unless you have a terrible start and are in need of a board presence, always save Ooze for Vinecleaver.
- OTK: I haven't seen this much lately, but if you're playing against Holy Wrath or Horseman OTK, you need to be rushing for your combo, the typical mid-range beat down strategy will not work. Use trackings and stitched trackers to find Emeriss, Leeroy, and Faceless Manipulator. That is your golden way to win. Try to save Spellbreaker for Lynessa if you can. Try to save Ooze for Uther.
- Even: Another board control match up, Even is favored towards us. Do your best to prevent swing turns with cards like Blessing of Kings. If they play a fully activated Corpsetaker that you can't kill, but have Spellbreaker in hand, don't be stingy & silence it. This a game where Deathwing can auto win it for you, due to hand count generally being low in the late game for them, and most even paladin's seem to be cutting equality post nerf (please correct me if the stats don't back this assumption up).
- Malygos/Togg: I would say that this match up is favored towards us, but the game plans in between us & the Druid are pretty similar, we need to race to our combo. Druid has such powerful card draw, armor generation, and removal that a typical mid range attack can only take you so far. In the event that you are just working on armor removal the whole game, remember that we have Alexstrasza just for that situation.
- Mecha'Thun: This is a tough match up, but one that we rarely see. If you start seeing this deck again, cut a fire fly and put in Geist. Geist is an auto win against most druid decks right now, so if you start seeing a lot of druid, the game plan is simple, draw and play Geist, & GG.
- Master's Call: I typically approach this match up the same way I approach Odd Paladin, I focus on board control. You also need to be smart about, don't play too wide, save your hunter's marks for Hyenas. If they have a beast on the field, it needs to go. Force them to use their Kill Commands on your minions, once you force them out of their burst, it turns into a Rexxar vs. Rexxar match, and because we have our combo and other big Dragons, we can typically win those with ease.
- Deathrattle: This is definitely the worst match up of this deck, and that deck alone has been one reason why I've struggled on finding a strong, consistent build. This deck is one of the reasons that I run Deathwing, once you destroy/silence the cubes, clear out Kathrena, you still have a giant board of beasts that can just wipe you out in a turn, Deathwing is your comeback. It's another reason that I run 2 Hunter's Marks and 2 Crowd Roasters, so you can take down big things (and Roaster's battle cry takes down Charged Devilsaurs).
- Spell: A rare match up, but there are still people who play Spell Hunter out there (and it's still pretty good). I approach Spell Hunter the same way i approach Master's Call, force them to use their burst on the board and you can win in the late game. If they Zul'jin, use Deathwing as your counter, a board full of Wolves & Animal Companion's are nothing compared to him. If this deck makes a bigger comeback, I would tech in 1 copy of Flare to deal with one group of secrets.