One of the weaker 1-drops in the core set, for three main reasons. The body is weak, the effect is not immediate, and the pool of possible generated cards is of relatively low quality.
We know that secrets can be strong with enablers and very weak without them. Explosive Trap has never been a secret we actively wanted in our deck, but one we would opt for if a secret package was worthwhile and if this particular trap was effective against the field.
See: Explosive Trap.
We don’t like 2-attack weapons (unless their effect is extremely powerful), as there are plenty of early game minions that cannot be killed by them. An activated Hatchet doesn’t exactly excite us, and it’s never been a staple in Hunter decks of the past (and was underwhelming when it did see play). Pretty big downgrade from Eaglehorn Bow.
A far more acceptable replacement to a card rotating out (Kill Command). Quick Shot was a staple in Hunter decks in the past as it was very good in hyper-aggressive decks, while versatile enough for slower Hunter decks to include. Even without the draw element, it’s a burn card that can act as an early game removal, which should be extremely valuable for a class that normally doesn’t carry great removal.
Scavenging Hyena has always exhibited the potential to become a scary card in beast decks, such as Master’s Call Midrange Hunter back in Rastakhan’s Rumble. However, the loss of Unleash the Hounds is going to significantly hurt its potential. To become strong, Hyena will probably need more support than it normally gets.
Bearshark was a serviceable card back in the day, but it no longer has Houndmaster to turn it into a truly intimidating threat. May see play in aggressive beast decks, but if this ever happens, it would be a signal of low card quality on the Hunter’s side.
A removal option that has become outdated. Was most often used by archetypes that carried a slower playstyle, where it was still highly meta-dependent. We don’t think it’s good enough for 2021.
One of the most interesting designs we’ve seen from Hunter in the past, but a card that might be remembered too fondly by players. Firstly, even at its Rastakhan heyday, it was only truly strong in slower matchups. Secondly, it needed a draw effect that was as powerful as Master’s Call to become consistent. Thirdly, it needed the right buff targets (Vicious Scalehide) to become effective. Very synergy-driven.
Another role player that occasionally sees play when circumstances allow it, especially in hyper-aggressive Hunter decks that just want to maximize burn. With the loss of Kill Command, Arcane Shot might become more important to carry around.
Tracking was already one of the most useful Hunter cards in the classic set, and it has now received a buff that could help slower Hunter decks make better use of it, especially if they’re resource-driven and cannot afford to discard certain pieces of their win condition. More importantly, this is a quality-of-life change that makes the card feel better to play, and it will likely be played by many Hunter decks.
Comparable to Novice Engineer in stats, with a stronger effect that’s reliant on running beasts. We don’t think this card is very good in a pure beast deck, since it is likely to focus on early game tempo. Breeder is more likely to feature in a deck that’s mostly comprised of non-beasts and only runs a few key beasts for its win condition, or a mid-to-late game power spike. That’s such a narrow role that it’s unlikely to actually transpire.
We remember the days when this card was considered a 2-of legendary minion. Times have changed, and Highmane would only see play in 2021 in a deck that somehow takes advantage of its deathrattle or beast synergies. Otherwise, a bunch of stats doesn’t make the cut anymore.
Lock and Load
Team 5 really wants to make this work but cutting its cost by half is still not super enticing for us. It requires significant spell-support (which Hunter usually lacks), it’s not attached to a persistent body (such as Whirlkick Master) and its pool of cards’ quality is very low. The one factor that makes us scratch our chins with some interest is Wandmaker.
See: Explosive and Freezing Trap.
Krush is straight up unplayable at 9 mana and the only time in Hearthstone’s history when it was played, it was to be cheated out, so its mana cost wasn’t even relevant. The only “bad” class legendary from the classic set that wasn’t buffed.
Core Set Rank: 10th
Judging by its Year of the Phoenix sets as well as its Core Set, Hunter is in trouble. It lost a significant number of serviceable cards that it utilized for years and didn’t get much in return. Its secret package has always been heavily reliant on support to see play. Its previously strong 3-mana slot is now in shambles. Its off-board damage has been reduced. It still doesn’t have any card draw, though Tracking and Quick Shot could soften the blow there a little. Hunter’s Barrens set needs to be very good for it to catch up.