Huntsman is a tricky specialisation to make work. While they have their strong theme in applying control, the damage numbers they have are a bit on the weaker side, and notably their whole set of cards lacks any instants. However, with this setup I believe I've created a powerful deck for the specialisation that isn't overshadowed too much by other specs.
When brainstorming ideas how to make huntsman work, I ended up realising maybe I should try running both of the etch cards; after all they both cost only 2 power and are quite nice. From there my thoughts naturally wandered to curseweave, one of the most amazing feats in the game. In the end, this deck has a total of 17 cards that can be used with curseweave! That's a lot of free power for grabs right there, without running a feat card applicable for the curseweave.
For the second feat, I went for pure value with shift, one of the most useful and reliable feats you can have. As a range 1 character you are bound to have a lot of moving around, and gaining a power for doing so is very valuable, not to mention being able to move to difficult terrain without extra costs.
Both of these feats generate power, and you will want to have that to be able to use runic slaughter and the various attachment cards.
Runecarve etch and runesight etch are two important pieces of the deck, constantly giving you more value from your assault on the enemy. They are also nice if you are disarmed but not silenced to get rid of control.
Runecarve and gravebrand let you set up some control for the turn with minimal costs. Gravebrand's damage is a bit low compared to cards in other specs, but being able to choose the control type does really come in handy at times. Runecarve on the other hand is sometimes just enabling you to reach the lethal with the 2 damage and +1 power, and also triggers your etches without using any actions. This makes it a great start on your turn if you have etches out, since your opponent will be highly hesitant to counter or metacounter a card that doesn't cost anything at all to play.
Finally we have on the hunt, which is arguably the best card of the specialisation. Moving and casting runic slaughter for -1 +1 is extremely powerful and makes the card versatile, being both an attack and movement in the same card slot. I cannot see myself playing any huntsman deck without including full 3 copies of this card.
It is tempting to go for the trusted and powerful druid warrior class core when building huntsman, but with this curseweave build we are going with witch. From the class, we have taken 3 cards.
Dark litany helps when somebody else turns your control niche against you. 2 copies feels like enough, however; there is a good split of cards affected only by disarm or silence in the deck, so most of the time dark litany is best used against being slowed. Being able to gain that 1 power to finish the game or tick yourself to second wind from near 20 are also a bonus.
Withering curse is a crazy card. If your opponent can't remove it, it will become a win condition on its own. If you get a second copy going, it's game over.
Ravenshift provides actionless power gain, with initiative for either movement or card draw. Often you can simply shift afterwards to remove the silence, or play an attack if you are next to the opponent already. Great card.
From the warrior, we pick up the deck's damage and interaction, as well as plenty of slow and disarm effects.
Cripple and lame slow your opponent, which is useful on its own as well as forces them to use interaction right away, or be helpess against rest of your turn. Unless of course they have some heroic instants. These cards also deal very respectable damage. To finish off the opponent, the deck runs 2 dismembers.
To get in range of the opponent, the deck runs whole set 3 of charges. It could be possible to get by with just 2 copies, because of also running shift and on the hunt, but with 3 copies the deck becomes most consistent when it comes to movement. Additionally, when usually having a charge feels very bad against somebody who is already next to you, with curseweave it becomes a -1 +2 stun, which isn't all that bad!
This deck is quite tight with its power gains and costs. To make it a bit safer, it includes 3 copies of battle lust. Nice and simple power gain not affected by disarm.
Finally, for the interaction. Fight with honor is perhaps the best counter card in the game, costing measly 1 power while being capable of utter devastation. Usual use: stack a lot of control on the enemy, and when they try to resolve a card to gain power, you hit them with this card. And that just might be enough to break their plan to pieces.
Pommel strike is a card I didn't really warm up to for a long time, but I'm starting to like it more and more. It is already rather efficient when used simply as an attack, but then it's additionally an instant card. Often you will start your turn with an attack that would control the enemy, they try to react with something, and then you play pommel strike to metacounter whatever they used.
Then we have goad. I was contemplating for the longest of time do I want to run intimidate or this card for an additional source of disarm, which is probably the most important type of control for the deck. In the end, I ended up preferring the increased interaction with goad. One of the reasons is, if you have even a single withering curse going on, intimidate is going to lose value because you can't go past 5 disarm. And with 2 withering curses on the opponent, intimidate becomes almost completely worthless. As such, goad proved to be the superior choice.
The aim of this deck is to be very aggressive and mess up the opponents plan with continuous control. If you go first, almost every time you will want to use your initiative to move and move once more with shift. Optimally you would also use one ravenshift here before shift for an additional power and card draw. If going second, you will have to estimate gameplan of your opponent. You definitely don't want to go too close and let them get the tempo advantage on you.
Once you get close, you will hopefully have either runecarve etch or runesight etch in your hand. At this point you have most likely used shift twice, so you will have enough power especially with curseweave to start the barrage of attachments. You want to get these on your opponent as fast as you can, to start generating the value. The good thing about this deck is, there are so many attachable cards it doesn't matter if your opponent destroys some of them. You will simply replace them with new ones. Even in the worst case scenarios, the deck can still dish out enough damage to win the game even if the auras don't stick around.
Important thing is to identify which control is the most important against the opponent at hand, and respectively choose what cards to play first. Sometimes it's more valuable to put on withering curse over runecarve etch, sometimes vice versa.
Another thing to consider is how tanky your opponent is. While this deck packs a lot of damage, it is still not its strongest suite and might struggle against some of the tankiest adversaries out there. What this means is that you have to carefully weigh how often you want to play runic slaughter. For -1 -1, 5 damage at range 1 is not all that powerful as far as tempo is concerned. However, if you forego playing your ultimate too many times, you might find yourself running low on damage to close out the game.
Weaknesses and modification ideas
This deck does not run any card destruction, and as such will run into trouble if the opponent gets the upper hand in tempo and has a lot of cards out generating value. If you wish to include card destruction in the deck to fare better against such decks, you might want to consider replacing runecarves with spoil. Spoil is a good option for card destruction of the chosen archetypes, because the second option is almost always incredibly useful if the card destruction is not required.
Another weakness would be high damage/combo type decks at range 3 or 2. The interaction of the deck is limited to range 1 except for fight with honor, which means you have to be very careful to not get controlled too hard before you can reach the opponent. If you are facing a lot of slow and enemies running away from you, you could consider changing up dismembers for pain hex, giving you an option to reduce slow from range if you are not disarmed, or just finish up an opponent who keeps getting away from range 1.
That's it for this deck! Good luck hunting down those pesky cryomancers.
This deck seems like it can do work. I'm excited to see a Huntsman list! Lack of card destruction is a red flag, and it's surprising to see that in a specialization like Huntsman. Spoil is a really good card—I would definitely run it in this list over Runecarve, even if it is an incredible trigger for your Etches. Both are excellent cards, though. It's funny how there are quite a few killer cards in Huntsman, and yet, this seems like the first deck that has had significant competitive investment. Which is really cool to finally be seeing! I like the Goad choice, your reasoning is insightful. I'm also interested to see that you're warming to Pommel Strike. Do you think that it is more useful than, for example, the instant Hardcast Hexes in Witch?