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There are Hunters on ladder, lots and lots of Hunters. There are aggro Hunters, midrange Hunters and secret Hunters. And most of them simply defeat me.

I'm playing a typical Warlock Zoo deck, the exact composition is the following:

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I'm having some difficulties against Hunters, and I'm wondering how I could play better against them:

  • How do I deal with their traps? Especially the explosive trap can really hurt me as many of my earlier minions have two or less health.
  • How many minions should I have on the field? I have to take "Unleash the Hounds" into account, but always playing around it negates most of the strength of this deck

In general, the Hunter matchup is really hard for me, and the number of Hunters I encounter is increasing drastically as I climb the ladder. Are there any strategies to deal with Hunters as a Zoo Warlock, or is this imply an unfavorable matchup I have to live with?

  • Notice that Unleash the Hounds really only becomes relevant starting at turn 5. By that time, you want to be so far ahead that it doesn't change much any more. To reduce its effectiveness, you should try to trade in a way that makes some of your minions die while those with high HP remain undamaged. This minimizes the impact of UTH. You will still try to trade most minions 2 for 1 or better, but trade those who have already traded 1 for 0 earlier than normally, making them die before they would in other matchups. – scenia Aug 27 '14 at 23:28
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The main issue with your question is that you gave us a deck and asked how to beat another deck with it. That's the wrong way to think about Hearthstone. If you are constantly playing against a particular style of deck, you have to adjust your deck to counter it. That's the whole idea of the meta game.

General strategy: don't over commit

Always remember you just want an obvious advantage; it's almost always best not to over commit. Think about the combos your opponent could be holding and when you're facing a likely board clear, hold back and tap. For example, if you have 3 minions on board and 2 cards in your hand on turn 6 but your Hunter opponent is holding 5 cards and hasn't been showing much board presence, it's typically best to just keep facing him with your board and develop you hand. It puts pressure on him to clear all the while you are preparing the next wave.

A couple thoughts about this deck

First off, deathrattle summons are best used for making your opponent second guess their AOE spells. You want to leave yourself with a threat for your opponent if they clear and Haunted Creepers don't really leave a threat, perhaps they do situationally, but usually they don't post any threat at all. Don't pop your own deathrattle summons unless it's for board control purposes only, keep the AOE threat alive. And get rid of the Creepers, suggestions below.

Second, this deck lacks serious punch power, particularly with missing charge minions like Leeroy and Argent Commander. I'm guessing you don't have those since they are not in here, and you should dust all of your gold cards to get them. It's much better being able to play any deck than it is playing just the decks you have cards for at the expense of having a little shiny in your deck. You need to be able to combo a huge punch (at least 10 damage) out of your hand for maximum winning potential. This deck doesn't have anywhere near that.

Lastly, this is a decent boost deck (cards that boost the others when played) but it lacks at damage mitigation and board protection. More on that below.

Against aggro hunter

When you are playing against an aggro deck, the most important thing you can do is mitigate face damage; anything that doesn't hit you hurts the aggro deck a lot and it's a bonus if you kill their creatures at the same time. Switching out some of the less speedy minions for mid range taunts works wonders against face aggro, just remember it's still more important to have clear board control against an aggro deck than dropping a taunt and slapping his face back. Against hunter aggro specifically, it's even more important to keep board control because once you get it against them you're probably going to keep it due to their lack of drawing ability.

Cards to consider removing:

  • Haunted Creeper
  • Shattered Sun Cleric (your board will be clear a lot of the time and you'll be forced to play this on an empty board)
  • Elven Archer
  • Dire Wolf Alpha (aggro deck minions don't have a lot of HP, boosting is less useful)

Cards to consider adding:

  • Senjin Shieldmasta
  • Sludge Belcher
  • Loatheb
  • Shieldbearer
  • Deathlord (takes some practice, always toss it in mulligan)

When you make switches, don't put 6 taunts in, choose like 3 or 4, but you still need your deck to be fast enough to deal with the early rush.

Against midrange hunters

Against any kind of tempo deck you basically have to beat it with speed or burst, which is something this deck lacks. Fill up with the big charge cards and add safety cards, that is, cards that are hard to kill in one turn (divine shields and deathrattle summons).

Cards to consider removing:

  • Dire Wolf Alpha
  • Knife Juggler (not going to live very long, and there are better options for 2 cast)
  • Elven Archer
  • Haunted Creeper

Cards to consider adding:

  • Arcane Golem
  • Leeroy (should be in every iteration of this deck)
  • Faerie Dragon
  • Amani Berseker
  • Bluegill Warrior (this card is meant for CC)
  • Ironbeak Owl (you're almost certainly going to face some taunts)

These games tend to go one of two ways, they either match your early rush and you're both at 23 health with an empty board on turn 5 (high likelihood your are going to lose), or you get an early jump on him and you look for your chance to burst him down (high likelihood you are going to win).

Against secrets hunter

This is by far the hardest matchup, but you have one goal, empty their hand. This will give you a serious advantage. These decks play a little slower and it is advisable to match their slow play and build out your hand. You want small stuff on the board except when necessary to keep board control and you want to keep constant pressure on him by popping the secrets as soon as they are played, before you cast anything else in the turn! This deck isn't so bad for that matchup as is, but toss the Haunted Creepers and get the charge cards in there instead. It's also important to not overload the board or he will outdraw you and it will be a decisive victory.

  • There were two Argent Commanders in the first version of this deck. The problem with them (and also with Leeroy) is that they lead to awkward plays with Doomguard if I have both on the hand. The odds that I can keep Leeroy on my hand as a finisher are small when using Doomguards. – Mad Scientist Aug 28 '14 at 17:28
  • It's less awkward than holding a Soulfire and a Doomguard when you need to deal 9 damage in 1 turn. With this deck you usually run out of cards by or on turn 6 and at that point you need the punch with every draw. Two Argent commanders is usually a bit steep on the mana curve for this deck but having 1 in there sure feels good when you're thinking about what could draw on the next turn to win. – Nick Larsen Aug 29 '14 at 13:14
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Here is a fairly recent Hearthpwn thread regarding an anti-meta zoo build:

http://www.hearthpwn.com/forums/class-discussion/warlock/17319-19-legend-anti-meta-zoo

To quote one post: "[Hunter decks] can only win with double Unleash the Hounds. My win rate is 92% in the last 13 games vs Hunters, it's my best MU."

I can't confirm these numbers, but the build looks like it's worth trying.

Something even more promising might also be this:

http://www.hearthpwn.com/decks/94089-pyros-season-5-legendary-zoo

From reading the forums, it looks like the first deck is more suited for the EU server meta, while the second is suited for the NA server meta.

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