Crimson Sigil Runner
Kobold Librarian was one of the best 1-drops ever made, and this is a slightly worse version. It’s worse because its draw effect is conditional, but since the card is very cheap, it’s not difficult to optimize. Hard to imagine that Demon Hunter decks will not play it.
A card that would be guaranteed to see play in many other classes. This is a stronger Volcanic Potion for one less mana. The issue is that Demon Hunter isn’t the passive kind of class that would benefit from a symmetrical AOE, so we’re a bit more tentative on whether it will see play.
A mediocre value 2-drop. Not sure why Demon Hunters would play this. There are better early game minions for aggressive decks, and slower decks should have a better game plan than playing Netherwalker. Perhaps Highlander fodder if that’s a thing.
We would be much more receptive to Spectral Sight if the class didn’t have such good card draw. Priest would die to have this card, yet Demon Hunter may pass on it simply because it’s spoiled for options. There’s a possibility that Demon Hunter will be able to field a combo deck that would want every decent card draw option available, so we can’t rule Spectral Sight out.
That’s lifesteal on top of a Sen’jin Shieldmasta, which is pretty good. Very good 4-drop if you’re interested in survival, but not as enticing if you’re playing a deck that looks to be aggressive.
If a Big Demon Hunter deck ever works, it’ll be mostly thanks to this card (and Felscreamer). It’s a 6-mana Voidcaller, but its stats make it so difficult to ignore because of its massive 8 attack. The main issue of Fel Summoner are its demon targets. Demon Hunter’s pool of big demons doesn’t strike us as one that can win games against defensive decks with good removal (in contrast to Warlock during Kobolds & Catacombs), so we’re a bit skeptical about this entire archetype.
A 2-drop with big upside that will usually be played on turn 3 at the earliest alongside a hero power. Is a 4/2 rush on turn 3 good enough? It sure is. This becomes a pure 2 mana 4/2 rush for large portions of the game if you have a weapon equipped or Twin Slice. That’s one angry murloc.
This is one of the most interesting cards in the set because views on it are so polarizing. On one hand, its effect is absurd when it goes off. We’re talking about a 10/6 that launches 10 missiles when it awakens (better than Avenging Wrath). In theory, it devastates the opponent’s board while developing a 10-attack threat to deal with. The problem is that it requires a significant mana investment and it does nothing for two turns, risking the Demon Hunter falling behind in the process. Another issue is how weak it can be when it’s not played on-curve and drawn off the top too late.
We think Antaen has potential as a greedy closer for a deck that looks to increase its fire power in control matchups. In this situation, the Demon Hunter will be on the front foot, so it can afford to make this mana investment without being punished. If the meta is fast and aggressive, Antaen looks less enticing. However, we won’t be cowards and sit on the fence with a tentative 2. Its potential with Priestess of the Fury as a turn 7 follow up, combined with Demon Hunter’s excellent board control tools to clean up the board and direct this damage to face, makes us believers.
Skull of Gul’dan
This card is utterly ridiculous. In its worst-case scenario, it’s a pre-nerf Nourish. In its best-case scenario, it can discount up to 9 mana and win the game. Skull of Gul’dan is essentially a Wonderous Wand in the form of a collectible card and offers the largest incentive of playing an Outcast deck. Got it off the top? You can play it in Outcast form without a second thought, as you will very likely gain back the tempo from casting it. Don’t have it in the ideal spot in hand? Dump cards and use it to reload when the time is right. It’s just a perfect card.
Priestess of Fury
A Bouldrefist Ogre that repeatedly casts two Arcane Missiles every turn it’s alive, for 7 mana. That’s crazy good. Priestess of Fury is an ideal win condition. It’s a game closer against aggressive decks, which have no hope of retaking board if they cannot take it down. It’s a big threat against slower decks that don’t want to take repeated hits in the face from this bad girl. Should see play in different Demon Hunter decks.
This minion oozes value and defies all budgeting. Furious Ettin was a 5/9 taunt that cost 7 mana. This guy is a 9/5 rush that spawns a 5/9 taunt for 8 mana. It’s easy to see why this card is strong. However, expensive cards need to be this strong in order to see play. We think even at its current strength, it will be difficult for Warlord to see widespread play, because Demon Hunter is a class that generally doesn’t want to run too many expensive minions if it builds around its Outcast mechanic.
Warglaives of Azzinoth
A Fool’s Bane that can hit face. This seems like a good card, but it competes with cheaper weapons that make an impact earlier. Demon Hunter’s turn 5 is also very stacked, making it hard to find room for another weapon, and if we need an AOE weapon, Flamereaper might do a better job at 7.
The best demon we can cheat out in a big deck, Pit Commander can snowball hard if left alone. The question is, is Pit Commander good enough alongside the current package of demons? We’re skeptical. It’s a good win condition against aggressive decks if it can be cheated out (though still likely worse than Voidlord), but Big Demon Hunter may run into a serious problem when faced with removal. It doesn’t have the inevitability of Doomguards, Cubes and Bloodreaver Gul’dan in slow matchups.
Kayn is just a nutty card. A 3/5 charge would be good by itself, but the ability on top of it makes it such an intimidating and warping finisher. It makes it that much more difficult to stop a Demon Hunter from finishing you off since taunts become completely nullified. At 5 health, it has a persistent ability that can’t be ignored so it’s also difficult to just deal with it on curve. In short, its floor is already pretty good, while its ceiling is game winning.
In a world without Leeroy, Metamorphosis offers a split and more flexible Pyroblast. For a class that seems to be focused on milking damage to finish opponents off, that’s an invaluable tool. Essentially, we’re paying 7 mana to deal 10 over two turns. In an emergency, the card allows us to kill two big minions and retain control of the board. That’s a pretty good deal, and we just can’t hate it. Most Demon Hunter decks will include it without a second thought.
Year of the Dragon Rank: 9th
Ashes of Outland Set Rank: 2nd
Overall Power Ranking: 3rd
Demon Hunter is a new class with a shallow card pool, so it was likely to get a powerful set that could establish the class at a competitive spot in the meta. The Basic & Initiate cards set the foundations for Demon Hunter to excel at early game board control, but a void was still there when it came to its pathways to victory. Demon Hunter needed powerful win conditions that could set clear goals for its various possible game plans.
We feel that Demon Hunter got what it needed. It got a hell of a set, with several game-changing cards that could immediately launch it to the upper echelons of Hearthstone. Skull of Gul’dan is probably the most outstanding card, as it provides incredible reload at little to no loss of tempo. It’s the kind of card that can warp a class completely around it.
Kayn Sunfury and Metamorphosis are amazing finishers. They push Demon Hunter towards a direction of late-game burst damage. Mid-game threats such as Antaen and Priestess of Fury also complement a burst-focused strategy in which the Demon Hunter, as if pulling a switch, launches an overwhelming assault on the opponent that’s difficult to interact with and survive through.
We suspect that the best Demon Hunter deck will resemble Rogue in its playstyle. It will utilize efficient early-game removal and its hero power to maintain control of the board, swing the initiative in its favor, and proceed to pressure the opponent until it is within reach of its finishers.
There are other ways Demon Hunter could win Hearthstone games. It could take a page out of Warlock in Kobolds & Catacombs and cheat out big demons through Raging Felscreamer, Fel Summoner and Pit Commander, overwhelming the opponent with raw stats. We’re a bit less enthusiastic about this approach due to the lack of inevitability at its disposal. There is no Bloodreaver Gul’dan or a Carnivorous Cube that would dramatically increase the density of threats available, which means removal-focused control decks could just deplete the Demon Hunter of its resources.
A token-based strategy is available, but it is likely the weakest one since its finishers are highly questionable cards in our view. There just doesn’t seem to be a reliable way to force the issue and pressure the opponent out of the game.
But there is another strategy that Team 5 may not have directly supported and could emerge to the forefront of the class. Demon Hunter has very little card generation, but it has incredible card draw that is arguably the strongest in the game. Alongside the availability of its burst finishers and excellent removal, Demon Hunter has the foundations of a cycle-heavy combo deck. The only question is whether the win condition it can slap on top of the combo shell is consistent enough to become a success.
A new class arrives to Hearthstone, and we predict it will arrive with a vengeance.
Are you prepared?