Blizzard has released the full core set and we're in for a very different new year of Hearthstone! Today we're going to be taking a look at the Hunter class in the Year of the Gryphon by looking at their new set of core cards and giving the new ones a full review.

Let's get to it!

Selective Breeder

Selective Breeder Card Image

Discuss this Card

Hunter only has one completely new card for its core set - Selective Breeder. The very simple comparison for this card is Novice Engineer - both 2 mana 1/1s that effectively draw you a card. Novice obviously shines in decks that want to power through their cards as fast as possible, but Hunter has never been that kind of combo deck, really. Where Selective Breeder takes the edge is in giving you extra copies of cards in your deck, which with a little planning at the deck construction stage of the game will likely be some of the better cards you have.

We've seen a very similar effect in Hunter before on Stitched Tracker. Only hitting Beasts is both a boon and a burden; it allows you to narrow your selection without negatively impacting the number of minions you can run, but at the same time means that a lot of good cards to copy will get passed over. Consistently hitting King Krush is a decent way to improve your burst potential in the late-game. Not being able to hit something like N'Zoth, God of the Deep stings a bit - at least for jank players like myself.

I think this is a pretty good card overall. It has that spicy 'combo deck' potential that I like, but for the most part, seems like a good addition to a more aggressive Beast Hunter deck that might want additional copies of some of its better Beast options.


Tracking Card Image

Now, technically Tracking isn't a new card for Hunter, but I felt that the change to it was meaningful enough to warrant a little more in-depth inspection than the rest of the returning Hunter cards.

Before, Tracking would offer you three cards to pick from and the two you didn't select would be lost to you for the rest of the game. This was actually one of the first big lessons you could learn about playing Hearthstone. The natural instinct is to look at a card like that and despair at the loss of resources. Even after playing it for a while, you might only do so grudgingly due to a lack of better options (or because you saw the pros playing it and didn't bother questioning why).

Eventually, you come to understand how strong a card like that is for an aggressive class like Hunter; losing those two cards is meaningless if you would lose a game that goes to fatigue anyway, and oftentimes the choice you are offered can allow you to prune cards better suited to the early-game from your deck, leaving you with only your late-game threats. Grabbing a Savannah Highmane to slam down and making sure you don't topdeck a Snake Trap or Lock and Load can be invaluable.

Now, however, Tracking has received a modern makeover, one that might seem fairly obvious to do - Tracking was basically the beta version of Discover, after all. By comparing the wording to good old Selective Breeder above we know that it draws the card you select still instead of making a copy, so it's still a pretty good option for having a higher chance of getting a card you need from your deck instead of a dead draw. Perhaps counter-intuitively, however, by no longer destroying the other options the card likely becomes a fair bit worse for the reasons outlined above. Unless they can pivot into more Control or Combo styles of deck, this is a bit of a downgrade for this Hunter staple.

Hunter in the Year of the Gryphon

Looking at the entire package Hunter received, you might be concerned that their direction is a little sparse. All of their minions have a focus on Beasts, whether the be through being a strong Beast or synergizing with your Beasts. Their only weapon also highlights this, along with one of their normal spells and a Secret.

Dire Frenzy Card Image Bearshark Card Image Headhunter's Hatchet Card Image

Their other spells have no explicit synergies with any particular strategies. There are certainly some strong spells there - both Freezing Trap and Explosive Trap are consistently strong Secrets that return, and Quick Shot is a very welcome card for aggressive decks - but it seems almost random.

To find the links, you need to look to the sets released last year that will help make up the new Standard format. There, you'll find two great additional Secrets along with a few Secret synergy cards; nothing major, but enough to see that Secret Hunter is something they have the option to expand into over the course of the year. Spell support is... more sparse, but they have a fair number of low-cost options already so I could see some additional support coming, especially with Lock and Load rotating back in. As an aside, I don't expect the new Spell Schools to have much of an impact on Hunter, as what we've seen from their core cards seems mostly done for flavour than for function.

Further Beast synergy abounds, from additional good minions to spell after spell that supports it. I was honestly a little startled at how Beast-focused Hunter will become with the rotation, but I can't say that I mind. It is one of the better fantasies you can have with the class and is something they've had since the very beginning of Hearthstone.

Deathrattle Hunter also has a chance to shine. There are a ton of good Deathrattles and Deathrattle synergies split across the last three sets, and a little early-game from Webspinner is a nice bonus for them from their new core cards.

Mok'Nathal Lion Card Image Augmented Porcupine Card Image Webspinner Card Image

Overall, I don't see Hunter straying too far from its roots this year. It will still manage to play the aggressor very well, and I expect Midrange Beast Hunter to be a popular choice to start the year out. I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the Deathrattle synergies make their way into decks as well, thanks to the fact that a lot of them happen to be well-statted Beasts. There's a splash of Secret and Spell support floating around there, but without strong options from the upcoming year, I don't see it making waves.

Those are just my thoughts, but I want to know what do you think of the new cards Hunter is getting and their outlook in the Year of the Gryphon. Let me know in the comments below!

View More Out of Cards Core Set Reviews

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