Very good stats for a 1-drop, and a very strong ability for early game board control. It can be very annoying to deal with for aggressive opponents that have to develop into the free removal offered by the Sharpshooter. Will likely be played in any Hunter deck that isn’t restricted by Master’s Call or other deckbuilding limitations.
3 damage to a minion for 2 mana is nice early game removal, as exhibited by many similar cards from other classes. The dragon bonus is a cherry on top that promotes aggressive dragon decks that look to pressure the opponent’s life total. Likely to find a place in a variety of potential archetypes, so it should see play if even just one of them pans out.
All these explorers are just so good for their cost. Even if you forget about the dragon tag, this is an Emperor Cobra that discovers a good minion. That’s well above the curve for 3 mana. Since it’s a dragon, it will be played in any deck that looks to leverage that synergy, but there is no real penalty or sacrifice to running it.
Clear the Way
Hunter should have a reason to summon plenty of rush minions in Descent of Dragons, so this quest could be an acceptable side benefit to an established strategy. For example, a single Desert Spear can complete this side quest by itself. The problem of Clear the Way is that it’s largely dependent on drawing its activators or risk being an untapped resource for multiple turns.
This card is an upgrade, or a supplement, to Masked Contender for Highlander Secret Hunter. It’s a better body for its cost, can come down earlier and act as a serviceable body that demands removal. Of course, we can guarantee its activation on turn 4. However, the Secret build didn’t really get other significant upgrades in this expansion, so its position in the much more powerful meta that we expect to see in DoD is in some doubt.
A 4-damage removal for 3 mana is already acceptable, but this minion offers draw on top of its removal. Hunter has plenty of rush minions it would be interested to draw with this card, so Gryphon will likely see play in a variety of decks. This card is comparable to Town Crier, and while you could argue it isn’t as good because it’s more expensive, we know how good Town Crier is.
Yikes. This is a card that is supposed to promote an aggressive deck, and yet it’s horribly slow. Toxic Reinforcement requires you to repeatedly use your hero power across multiple turns, which means you have less mana to develop the board. Even if you do complete the quest, you are very likely to have fallen behind as a result, and 6 damage stored in Leper Gnomes is unlikely to see you through.
This is the Eaglehorn Bow of dragons, but probably better. It will very likely be a 3-charge weapon if you’re running a decent number of dragons, but it could be much more than that if you’re playing a dedicated dragon deck, helping you push a lot of damage while developing the board. Considering its very acceptable floor, it’s hard to see this card not seeing some play at some point.
Dragonbane is a decent body for 4 mana, and has a persistent ability that makes it hard to ignore. It’s a great fit for any aggressive Hunter deck (such as Mech or Dragon), since the 5 damage can be funneled to face if you maintain board control. It’s also a mech that curves out between Ursatron and Zilliax, so we could see it being played in a Highlander deck that runs a small mech package. Whether you manage to snipe a minion with it, or whether your hero power deals 7 damage to face, that’s kind of a big deal.
Veranus has a powerful effect for its cost, but it’s a clunky card that’s hard to make full use of in the class. Hunter doesn’t have efficient ways to combo this card with other removal save for Desert Spear. Veranus would be incredible in other classes (Warrior, Warlock, Paladin), but in Hunter, it’s just okay.
Descent of Dragons Set Rank: 7th
Overall Power Ranking: 7th
Admittedly, we tend to underestimate Hunter. Its sets tend to look a bit one-dimensional and lacking in creativity compared to others. The class rarely does flashy things, but then the expansion launches, and Hunter plows through. We’ll see if it happens again.
It’s not that Hunter got a weak set. However, it seems that other classes have gotten stronger sets with powerful build-arounds. Most Hunter cards are good complementary pieces. We acknowledge the dragon support, but Hunter doesn’t have the mana cheating and stat cheating that’s available in Druid. It might be stuck playing too “fairly” if it runs a dragon deck.
Perhaps Hunter will fall back to its very successful Highlander Hunter and infuse it with a dragon package. This way, Hunter can still play unfairly through the power of Zephrys, Brann and Alexstrasza. It will be interesting to see whether a dragon build can offer a better alternative to the currently established and successful secret build running Subject 9 and Zul’jin.
Hunter players may also try to bring back several decks that have fallen to the wayside. Mech Hunter running Dragonbane and other reinforcements, such as Hot Air Balloon. Quest Hunter running Shu’ma. Midrange Hunter with Diving Gryphon. Time will tell what manages to stick.