March 27, 2017

vS Data Reaper Report #23

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from over 53,000 games.


vS Data Reaper Report #23Data Reaper Report Logo

 Welcome to the 23rd edition of the Data Reaper Report!

This report has been translated into the following language(s) for your convenience: português.

Attention!

We are fielding applications for class experts to join the Data Reaper team, as some of our members have schedules that make it harder for them to contribute on a weekly basis in the long term.

Requirements:

  1. Consistent legend rankings.
  2. Follows the competitive scene closely and the Meta developments in their respective class.
  3. Can produce short write ups of these developments on a weekly basis with sufficient quality. Strong command of English.
  4. Communicates well. Team player.
  5. Can meet deadlines (Very important)

If you’re interested in being a part of this project, contact us via our application form on the website, or alternatively, contact us on Reddit via private message to /u/ViciousSyndicate. Let us know which class/classes you’d be confident in taking on; we’re open to adjust for the right person. Class experts may also have opportunities to write statistical-based articles in the future should they be interested to. We also enjoy supporting the competitive aspirations of players in our team at all times.

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Number of Games

Overall 53,000
Ranks Legend-10 34,000
Ranks 11-15 13,000

Overall Games


‘By Rank’ Games

Class Frequency by Weeks

class-frequency-by-week-drr-23

  1. As expected, Shaman quickly recovers from the balance changes as players come to the realization that Mid-Range Shaman has not weakened whatsoever. Its numbers are extremely oppressive and continue to rise according to our metrics at an alarming rate. We predict it’s only going to get worse. Will Blizzard step in once again with balance changes? Will they launch the next expansion quickly after Blizzcon to try and reset the Meta? There might be merit to do both.
  2. The only other classes that seem to be trending up are Druid and Hunter. Spell Druid has seen a significant rise in play, and Secret Hunter is also being heavily experimented, with players attempting to find builds that don’t roll over and die to Shaman.
  3. While Warrior and Mage have tools that can help them deal with Shamans better than other classes, these tools don’t appear to translate into having the ability to reliably counter Shaman to the point of correcting the Meta. A wall has been hit.
  4. The four underdog classes are falling back to earth. Miracle Rogue and Zoo Warlock still have decent ladder presence, but the rest are crumbling under the weight of the overbearing presence of Mid-Range Shamans.

Matchup Win Rates Header

drr-23-matchup-chart

Power Rankings Header

We now present the updated “vS Power Rankings” table for week # 23. The numbers we report are the expected win rates of each archetype based on their matchups against the field, factoring in the frequency of all potential opponents on ladder at different rank groups over the past week.

  1. Compared to last week, Mid-Range Shaman’s score has certainly dropped. Is it a result of the Meta adjusting to its presence and trying to counter it? No. This is simply the effect of the archetype’s increase in numbers causing mirror matches to occur more often, pushing it towards 50%. Mid-Range Shaman is still far ahead of the rest of the Meta, and while it hasn’t become a stronger deck after the balance changes, it’s now the only current clear offender of balance, which causes players to flock towards it.
  2. The declared demise of Hunters by many after the change to Call of the Wild was a knee jerk reaction at its finest. Secret Hunter climbs to the 2nd spot this week on the back of further adjustments and experimentation within the archetype. The archetype still possesses relatively high variance of builds, and an “optimal” build after the balance changes remains a mystery, but its core appears to still be very successful. Tom’s build is a list to look out for, as it is well thought out to account for the current Meta. Other players are making adjustments to VLPS’ Curator build as well.
  3. Spell Druid and Tempo Mage, after their promising appearance last week, have taken quite the fall. Like many other decks, they are feeling the effects of Mid-Range Shaman’s rise which is limiting their potential. Mid-Range Shaman is a particularly difficult matchup for the Druid and requires a deep understanding as well as good tech choices to consistently overcome. Tempo Mage can struggle against Secret Hunter due to its low amount of minions which leaves it vulnerable to Snipe, Cat Trick and Freezing Trap.
  4. As most decks appear to be suffering from decline in their scores, Zoo sneaks its way to the higher end of the table. The archetype has been overshadowed lately and has definitely gone through a period where its viability has been put in question. Its matchups against Shamans and Warriors are difficult, but it does have bright spots. It appears to be doing quite well against Druids post-Yogg, as the Old God was often a massive comeback card against Zoo. This matchup has significantly changed and has become heavily favored to the Warlock since the balance changes. More popular matchups against which Zoo does well are Hunters (the slower kinds), Tempo Mage and Pirate Warrior.
  5. Beast Druid is looking quite strong, though internally we can see signs of it cracking which correlates with its increased popularity last week. This leads us to believe it’s a deck that can catch people off guard on ladder, but when it is accounted for, it finds it harder to pick up wins. We’ll continue to follow this archetype and see how it develops, though it’s definitely a relatively strong deck at the moment.
  6. The Meta as a whole is slowly starting to collapse. With Shamans continuing to increase in numbers, while beating nearly everything else in the field, the viability of every other deck in the game is diminishing. A while back, Iksar, one of Hearthstone’s game designers, commented on Undertaker Hunter being the most oppressive deck in the game’s history. It comprised of 25% of the Meta while boasting global win rates of over 55% at one point. While Mid-Range Shaman isn’t there just yet, it’s getting too close for comfort.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Shaman remains the most dominant class in the game, and if it’s not one archetype, it’s the next. The targeted balances changes mostly affected Aggro Shaman. Mid-Range Shaman was already more powerful than Aggro before the changes and pretty much dusted off its shoulders and adjusted its build without suffering in results whatsoever.

At the America’s Last Call Invitational, seven out of eight players brought the class, with only Fr0zen’s unique anti-Warrior line up omitting it. Of the seven players, six brought Mid-Range Shaman and one player, Nostam, brought Aggro Shaman. A couple of months ago, Aggro Shaman was the go-to deck in professional lineups and now everything is just reversed.

Nearly all Mid-Range Shamans are built with the same core package, with just a couple of cards differentiating the lists. Bbgungun, the winner of the tournament, was one card different from the European Last Call winner, Pavel. The runner up, SilentStorm, used Pavel’s exact list. Ragnaros is particularly popular in tournaments due to the presence of Freeze Mage. Other strong considerations in the build are Bloodlust and Harrison Jones, the latter being very good in the current ladder Meta. The other notable build for Mid-Range Shaman is the Witchdoctor/Totemic Might/Primal Fusion build, though this variant is significantly less common in both tournament and ladder play.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Warrior continues its strong presence on ladder with an even mix of slow and fast archetypes. Control leads the way, with Pirate and Dragon following closely, and C’Thun rounding out the four major archetypes. An advantage of playing Warrior on ladder is that your opponent is never certain of how to tailor his mulligan towards the matchup, and an optimal hand against Control Warrior is often very different than what you’d want against Pirate Warrior. This can give your opponent quite the headache.
In the America’s Last Call Invitational, six players brought Warrior. Three Warriors were Control, but each had a different 10-mana card finisher: Yogg-Saron, Deathwing, and N’Zoth. Noblord opted for Rosty’s Yogg Control Warrior. Chessdude retained Rosty’s build but switched Yogg and Elise for Deathwing and Bloodhoof Brave. Neobility ran an N’Zoth build with Ironforge Portals, giving it a solid mid-game curve.

Two players brought C’Thun Warrior, and those two lists differ as well. SilentStorm’s build was identical to Pavel’s list from a week before, with one change of adding Emperor Thaurissan for Revenge, in order to enable the Brann/Doomcaller combo. The other list was Fr0zen’s greedy Anti-Control Warrior list with two Doomcallers! Nostam brought a pretty standard Pirate Warrior list, and there were no Dragons to be seen. Even though Dragon Warrior doesn’t appear to be that much weaker on ladder since the change to execute, not much exploration has been done with the archetype when it comes to the competitive scene.

The winner of the tournament, Bbgungun, did not bring Warrior to the event, as his line-up was very aggressive and fast paced in nature. So, while Warrior is quite strong in the tournament scene, it is possible to succeed in a tournament without it.


Data Reaper Report - Mage

Mage is in a great spot. The fall of Aggro Shaman and Zoo Warlock has benefitted Tempo Mage, which is currently a very strong archetype because of its flexibility and versatility. It has many flex spots and multiple viable builds, which can succeed against different strategies. In the current Meta, Tempo Mage does not really have a bad matchup.

Freeze Mage also benefits from the fall of Aggro Shaman, but it still has many unfavorable matchups, such as Hunter, Warrior, Druid, which are all popular on ladder. Freeze does hold an advantage over Tempo Mage when pitted against Midrange Shaman, being a direct counter to the strongest archetype in the game, but as popular as Midrange Shaman is, this one good matchup alone does not make up for all the other bad matchups on ladder.

Reno Mage has risen since the balance changes to be just as popular on ladder as Freeze Mage. Control Mage decks are usually built around Reno Jackson, though StrifeCro has experimented with a Reno-less build. Zemanjaski used this list successfully in his final climb to Legend. The advantage of Control Mage decks over Freeze Mage is that they are better-rounded, much like Tempo, and are less vulnerable to being hard countered. For a consistent Mage experience, play Tempo, Reno or Control. For a polarizing experience targeting very specific decks, play Freeze.

The recent HCT Americas Last Call Invitational mirrors ladder in terms of Mage popularity. Seven out of the eight players brought Mage, with Fr0zen’s anti-Control Warrior lineup as the only one without the class. Of the seven Mages that were brought, only one was Freeze. The winner of the tournament, Bbgungun, was one of the six Tempo Mage players. All the Tempo Mage builds in the tournament varied between the three main paths of the archetype: Value (Emperor/Antonidas/Tome), Curve (Water Elemental/Faceless Summoner) and Burn (Torch/Extra cycle). Bbgungun’s list was burn focused, but it was unique from previous builds by featuring Loot Hoarders. The Loot Hoarders replaced Cult Sorcerers and enabled even more cycle. With no late game bombs whatsoever, this list carries out a very aggressive plan of establishing early board control, cycling and finishing off the opponent with direct damage as soon as possible. Bbgungun was also only one of two Tempo Mage players to use Barnes, which synergizes with the multitude of minions carrying static effects in the build.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

With the nerf to Call of the Wild, Hunter has drastically shifted away from the traditional mid-range builds towards Secret Hunter builds. The shift is understandable, as with its best late game tool becoming weaker, Hunter instead needs to rely on the potential to blow out opponents early, utilizing explosive Secretkeeper/Cloaked Huntress openings. Mid-Range Hunters have also adapted to become faster, swapping one copy of Call of the Wild for Ragnaros, while including faster minions such as Knife Juggler and Argent Squire.
These trends were most prevalent at the Americas Last Call Invitational. Of the six Hunter decks brought, two were Secret Hunter builds, three were fast versions of Mid-Range Hunter (two players brought GeorgeC’s list), and one was fr0zen’s insane anti-Control Warrior Hunter. Bbgungun, the winner of the event, sported the fastest deck of them all, being C4mlann/Xzirez’s Face Secret Hunter, with one alteration of taking out Barnes for a Fiery Bat. This deck, save Leeroy Jenkins, tops out at three mana, and much like Face Hunters of old times, is able to get off insane starts while being able to search for the last bit of needed damage through Tracking.

Data Reaper Report - Druid


Druid has had another big week with both ladder and tournament successes. However, this hasn’t translated to the class seeing more play on ladder, as it continues to be in the middle of the pack in terms of representation.

Various Druid builds have appeared in top 10 legend this week. Xixo’s new Malygos Druid hit rank 1 legend on EU this week, and he’s been able to maintain an incredible win rate with the deck. The most interesting inclusion is the list is Baron Geddon, providing Druid with a reliable tool to deal with Shaman’s totems, with Harrison Jones further complementing the hatred for Shamans. Basically, if you want the best Druid decklist, listen to HotMEOWTH’s advice after winning the America’s Summer Championship and netdeck Xixo by following him on twitter. Another build that hit rank 1 legend was by a European player named Lucky who played a relatively standard Malygos Druid list with Ancient of War at the 7 mana slot.

There have also been developments with Feno’s Moonkin Druid that was featured last week. Sjow slightly modified the list by adding another beast in Savage Combatant to act as a Curator target and removing Yogg-Saron for Ragnaros, to add another reliable late game threat. Sjow piloted the list to hit top 10 legend on both AM and EU.

Meanwhile, Beast Druid is continuing to see success this week with Asmodai using Dwayna’s build to hit top 10 legend on NA. This deck is slightly different from Muzzy’s build, cutting Savage Roar and Power of the Wild for Mounted Raptors in order to have a more consistent turn 3 play.

In tournament play, Druid continues to be extremely popular. At the America’s Last Call Invitational, seven out of the eight players brought some version of Druid. Bbgungun, winner of the tournament, opted to utilize a Token Druid build instead of the standard Malygos.

While most of the decks featured this week have cut Yogg-Saron, it doesn’t mean that the card can’t still be run in Druid. At the Last Call Invitational, players were split on whether to include the Old God in their lists.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Rogue is in a strange spot in the Meta. With the disappearance of Aggro Shaman, Miracle Rogue’s chances to succeed on ladder have definitely increased. However, Rogue’s inherent weaknesses remain: lack of reliable AOE or healing. This makes Miracle Rogue highly susceptible to two types of decks: burn/face decks, and board flooding decks. Burn/Face decks seem to always find their way into the Meta, and the emergence of new variants of Secret Hunter, as well as the presence of Pirate Warrior and Freeze Mage, is not doing the archetype any favors.

Moreover, Mid-Range Shaman is the most popular and strongest archetype in the game, and its ability to flood the board is almost never ending. While not as bad of a matchup as against Aggro Shaman, Mid-Range Shaman can still give Miracle Rogue fits and requires adjustments on the Rogue side. In addition, with the disappearance of token centric Zoo builds, and Soulfire/Doomguard currently being a staple for the archetype, the matchup for Miracle Rogue against Zoo has also become worse. Both Doomguard and Soulfire are particularly powerful against Rogue, and Fan of Knives is no longer as powerful of a blowout tool in the matchup as it was before.

Unlike its European counterpart, the America’s Last Call Invitational had very poor Rogue representation, with only Muzzy bringing Malygos Rogue. The Class’ status in the tournament scene is a bit controversial. While its matchup with Druid and Warrior, two very popular tournament classes, is quite reasonable, the very presence of Rogue in a player’s conquest line up can leave him extremely vulnerable to being shut down by highly aggressive line-ups, which have become quite common lately.

On ladder, Chessdude, one of the strongest Rogue players around, managed to hit #1 legend with the standard Malygos Rogue build popularized by ShtanUdachi, swapping out a Sap for a Shadow Strike.


Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock has hit a new low in terms of popularity. It now sits below Rogue, above only the poor Paladin and Priest. But in terms of performance, Zoo is still competitive. Although it is unfavored against Midrange Shaman and Control Warriors, it is quite strong against other popular classes and decks, like Druid, Hunter, and Tempo Mage. So while long gone are the days of Zoo Warlock being one of the most dominant decks in the game, it still fares better on ladder than most other strategies out there.

Reno Warlock, on the other hand, continues to struggle. Its strength against Control Warrior is just not enough compared to its bad matchups across the board. Some players can still find some success with it, such as Nickchipper, who hit Legend with a very defensive build that reduces greed to a minimum.
In the Americas Last Call Invitational, three players, including the winner, Bbgungun, brought Zoo. The only Reno deck was brought by Fr0zen in an anti-Control Warrior lineup, a build which is extremely greedy. Zoo is a decent tournament pick since it has its fair share of good matchups. The key is banning either Warrior or Shaman, which then gives it good shot of picking up a win.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Paladin continues to show low numbers as it struggles in the current Meta where its poor matchups are among the most common decks. However, there is hope for Control and Anyfin Paladin as one of its best matchups, Control Warrior, remains prominent.

In the tournament scene, Paladin remains mostly absent. Fr0zen was the only player to bring the class to the Americas Last Call Invitational this past weekend, with a very specific and extremely greedy N’Zoth Paladin build meant to hard counter Control Warrior. Ladder play is not advised.

Even though Paladin is relatively weaker than other classes, it is able to find ladder success. Anyfin Paladin remains the most popular Paladin archetype, with ShtanUdachi hitting #1 legend on EU with his Curator variant recently. Aggressive Paladin decks are also present, with some players finding success with different variants, such as Muzzy’s top 10 legend build.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

As most of the community knows, there was a high profile Priest appearance this past weekend in the America’s Last Call Invitational, with Fr0zen bringing an extremely Anti-Control Warrior teched build. The build ended up losing to Control (C’Thun) Warrior. You couldn’t make up a better story to explain Priest’s current state in the game.

However, Fr0zen’s plan was solid as Priest is extremely good at beating specific control decks if you know what you are going up against ahead of time. The match itself was very unfortunate for Fr0zen, as SilentStorm drew incredibly well at that game, winning a very unfavorable matchup.

In other news, not much has really changed as Priest sits at the very bottom of overall ladder play. Zetalot is having some midseason success and has hit legend with a nifty anti-Midrange Shaman build featuring Corrupted Healbot. Thijs has beaten Reynad 9-3 in a Bo17 at the Celestial Invitational utilizing a Control Priest heavily teched against Shaman. This build performed quite well in the series. If nothing else, Priest can be a lot of fun, and the Zetalot/Thijs lists as well as the Dragon lists are definitely a good time if unique games are your thing.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

We generally try to stay positive and provide answers to the current Meta. We’re out of answers when it comes to Mid-Range Shaman. This is a very, very difficult archetype to target. While some individuals may possess the ability to overcome the inherent disadvantage when playing against Shamans, the Meta as a whole appears to be incapable of correcting itself. Our (albeit limited) data suggests that people are playing less Hearthstone or even quitting the game altogether.

It’s been weighing on us as well. Blizzcon can’t come soon enough.


Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,600 contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.

Preparing our weekly article requires a significant amount of time and effort from many individuals. We would like to wholeheartedly thank our current Patreons, whose generous donations help us fund computing and server costs.

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Special thanks to Leo G. and Hitokage for supporting us for the month of October.

Contributors

Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report:

wwloschandygallondemigodcheesee-hunterHC015hotmeowth-warlockfenom-mageTzachiFenomlookitzjoeEndofDaysNaramoSentenzaliimujx-content-creator pizzahsryzingxfire

14 Comments on vS Data Reaper Report #23

  1. Do you have any statistics on the spread of individual players winrates with the different decks? It would be interesting to see how the best players did with the different decks, and not just a compound number for everybody.

  2. One question regarding the win rate:
    Are the mirror matches included there? (I think so)
    It would be nice to have a “biased” table, where the mirror matches does not count.
    If 25% of all players play midrange shaman, the relative strength of mid range is somewhat too bad compared to the rest of the deck.
    I would assume somewhat like 3% more win rate for shaman in this biased table (0.25*0.25 / 2 ) so being 6% ahead of the 2nd best deck.

  3. If nearly any matchup would be shaman, all the people would play Mage… So what is the point? Obviously data reflects the meta better than personal point of view. 😉
    There is always a best deck. There has to be.
    And quitting because of that is sad and kind of faint-hearted.
    There will come days with not so many shamans on ladder. Latest next year with new standard card pool.

    • Of course there’s always one strongest deck, but the important thing is the degree of dominance of a deck. It’s a simple fact that this is one of the most lopsided metas of hearthstone history. And even freeze mage is just slightly favored while being terrible against any warrior, so switching to freeze mage is no option.
      I honestly don’t understand what’s exactly “sad” or “faint-hearted” about being bored of mostly playing against a single deck.

  4. Big fan of these, I wish there was more distinction in the class sections between the ladder experience and the tournament decks personally. I know the stats come from the ladder feed though which is nice.

    The whole report is amazing though. Great job.

  5. The black boxes look really unappealing in the Matchup Win Rates. May I recommend replacing them with a dark gray “X” instead of a solid black fill?

  6. Are you guys going to make the Blizzcon tournament analysis like the one you did for America and Europe Summer Preliminaries? I am waiting for your post to cast my vote!

  7. One data improvement/refinement I would like to see is a change to the matchup win rate table that has the vertical list of decks be for the decks which have the first turn and the horizontal list of decks be for the same decks, but which start second (with the coin). I think this might give a deeper level of analysis for things like mirror matchups as well as in which situations you can expect to win or lose against a particular archetype. For example, if I am Spell Druid against Midrange Shaman, am I more likely to win if I go first or if I go second? Maybe this could be a second table rather than replacing the one you have. Not sure if this is even feasible with your data set, but it would be highly useful to me!

  8. Strange that the weekly report has midrange shaman at 19.8%, but data reaper live has never had them above 18% (17.8% reported today, which is the highest I’ve seen… was around 15-16% a few days ago).

    • The other classes seem to stick around between ranks 15 and 10, but already at rank 9 it’s basically only midrange shaman. My Pirate Warrior list went on a win streak from rank 13 to 9 before finally hitting a wall due to an excess of midrange shamans with too many taunt totems for me to win.

  9. How do you figure out that people are playing less, or dropping the game altogether? Not that I’m questioning the veracity of the statement, but I’m simply wondering how you would come to that conclusion from matchup data.

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