Welcome to the 30th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,000 active contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.
Number of Games
Class Frequency by Day (Since MSoG Launch)
Class Frequency by Week
Shamanstone is making a comeback. The class has overtaken Warrior as the most played class at all levels of play. There are three main archetypes seeing competitive ladder play, with Aggro Shaman being the most popular by quite a margin. This single archetype is nearing 20% representation at legend rank. However, Shaman’s rising trend appears to have stabilized for the moment.
Warrior is seeing a significant internal shift. Combined with an overall decline in the class’ numbers, Pirate Warrior numbers are dropping while Dragon Warrior is rising. This is particularly true at legend rank, where Dragon Warrior has almost caught up with its close cousin. In addition, Control Warrior is making a return, after being nearly absent in the first couple of weeks of December.
Miracle Rogue has exploded, and it seems like our prediction came true: the non-legend Meta is catching up with the legend Meta, where Miracle Rogue is the 2nd most played archetype in the game. Other Rogue archetypes are not very common.
Warlock is taking a small step back. The hordes of Miracle Rogue are proving to be a difficult challenge for Reno Warlocks, but the archetype continues to be a very popular choice for many players and is a favorite amongst high level pros in a tournament setting. Meanwhile, Zoo Warlock has vanished into thin air. How the tides have turned.
Priest continues the trend of being a class that becomes less common as you go up in ranks. This is a somewhat worrying trend, and we’re a bit fearful Reno Priest may not be able to retain its ladder presence with so many Miracle Rogues and Reno Warlocks, but we do expect Dragon Priest to stay very relevant going forward.
The Druid population is collapsing. The class is struggling to find its place in a Meta that doesn’t allow you to breathe from turn 1. There is much experimentation with the class, with many players trying to restore it to its former glory. We’ll have to wait and see whether these attempts end up being successful.
Mage is seeing an uptick in play, largely due to Reno Mage being experimented with heavily by many players over the past week. The class seems to have a place in the Meta, albeit a niche one at the moment.
Paladin and Hunter are just gone. If you’re currently climbing to legend from rank 5, you might run into a Hunter once every 200 games. Let that sink in.
The top 4 decks play Patches and Small Time Buccaneer. Coincidence?
Aggro Shaman has established itself as the best deck in the game, and at all levels of play, eclipsing Miracle Rogue’s one week of fame at Tier 1. Many of Miracle Rogue’s easiest matchups are declining on ladder, which is causing the archetype to face decks more geared to beat it. It is certainly defining the Meta at the moment, and despite Miracle Rogue’s score at legend dropping, it is still in a great position, and is one of the strongest decks around.
Let’s talk more about Shamans. Aggro Shaman is number 1 at every metric, and is the sole Tier 1 deck once you get past rank 5. In addition, Midrange Shaman and Midrange Jade Shaman are sitting pretty at Tier 2. So the Shaman class has three viable archetypes which are all very strong in their own right. Seems like you can’t go wrong with the class as long as you have Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem in your deck.
Pirate Warrior is certainly a strong deck, but it starts to get countered at higher levels of play which pushes it out of Tier 1. At those levels, Dragon Warrior appears to be better equipped to deal with the current Meta, which lines up with the trend we’re seeing in Warrior archetype representation. Dragon Warrior has a pretty strong matchup spread, is much more difficult to shut down, and it does very well against the Meta tyrant, Aggro Shaman. Its prime weaknesses are the matchups against Reno Warlock and Miracle Rogue (Contrary to popular belief, Miracle Rogue is comfortable facing Dragon Warrior).
Control Warrior is making its first appearance. At legend ranks, it’s a Tier 3 deck, which isn’t too bad. Its biggest selling point is good matchups against the aggressive decks of the Meta, and it’s the strongest counter to Aggro Shaman that we’ve seen while also having a reasonable matchup with Miracle Rogue. People also don’t expect it when they queue into a Warrior. Seeing Warriors armor up on turn 2 these days may cause them to immediately concede in confusion!
So what’s the problem with the archetype? Jade decks, Reno decks and Midrange decks that possess late game longevity just completely obliterate Control Warrior. These decks are less present at legend rank, but they are still there. Reno decks are comfortable waiting to gain maximum value off their Kazakus and other win conditions while never being threatened. Dragon Priest can accumulate resources off of their powerful discover effects, putting incredible pressure on the board without ever being blown out by a Brawl. Midrange Shamans squeeze their hero power’s value until the Warrior cannot answer a Bloodlust or a Thunder Bluff Valiant. Jade decks pressure the Warrior until he has exhausted his single target removal to deal with the Golems. These extremely polarizing matchups are interesting and can explain why some players may have good runs with the archetype if they run into the right opponents. This makes Control Warrior a very strong tournament deck in the right line up, but also a very erratic ladder deck with mixed results depending on your queue variance, or your ability to tech your late game to deal with your very bad matchups. It’ll be interesting to see how this archetype develops further and whether it can solve its weaknesses.
Reno Warlock is a favorite for many, but the Meta is certainly posing a challenge for the archetype. Miracle Rogue is the biggest problem, and is the biggest suppressing effect on its performance, but the deck is also not very consistent in aggressive matchups, which can be very draw dependent. Reno Warlock will continue to have a strong ladder presence, as it’s a good all-around deck and fun to play and master, but it’s definitely beatable.
Much like Reno Warlock, Reno Priest is suffering from the dominance of Miracle Rogue at higher levels of play. Then, when you add the fact that the matchup with Reno Warlock can be just as painful, you can see why Priest is being pushed out of the Meta, particularly at higher levels of play. Dragon Priest, however, is holding its own, and can deal with these matchups better, which gives it a far greater chance to thrive in the future.
Druid is struggling to find its place in the Meta. Jade Druid looks very weak at all levels of play, which correlates with its continuing decline in numbers. Other archetypes are trying to appear, some of them very gimmicky, others are gimmicky but also promising, but we can’t evaluate them properly just yet.
Reno Mage continues to look like a great choice for a climb to legend, with many players having success with the archetype. It seems to have taken a step back at legend rank, with more players experimenting new builds to varying degrees of success. Even under this turmoil, it is still the best performing control deck out there and a very interesting choice to combat the current Meta.
Anyfin Paladin appears to be the only Paladin archetype that is remotely playable at the moment. Meanwhile, Rexxar has announced his retirement from Hearthstone to spend more time with his family. Whether he makes a comeback remains to be seen.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Shaman continues to be a dominating presence on ladder. While the aggressive Shaman archetype is the one that has been seeing most success on ladder, Midrange and Control lists are starting to pop up.
Let’s start first with Aggro Shaman. Spo’s Jade Aggro Shaman list continues to perform well on ladder and is the most common build, geared to the mirror matchup and aggressive Warrior decks, being the most consistent build to fight for early board control. A minor change that was made to the deck was taking out one Flamewreathed Faceless for Leeroy Jenkins, which is a response to the prevalence of Rogue (especially at Legend ranks). Other versions, with the same matchup in mind, keep two 4 mana 7/7’s, and include one Doomhammer instead of a Spirit Claw or a Maelstrom Portal.
Demigod has been an advocate of forgoing the Spirit Claws package altogether and playing two Doomhammers with the Jade package. After hitting #1 legend earlier in the month with such a build, he has now hit #2 with a very different list based on the same concept. His new build has extremely heavy cycle with two copies of Ancestral Knowledge, low minion count (which gives Miracle Rogue less removal targets to build up tempo with) and the maximum amount of direct damage spells with Lava Shock also present. This build is geared to dominate Miracle Rogue, and does so very successfully at the cost of being less consistent against other aggressive decks.
There are still variants of Aggro Shaman that don’t run the Jade package, though they are becoming less common. Thijs, for example, ran a Jade-less list all the way to the championship of the recently concluded ELC Superstars tournament.
While not as common as its more aggressive counterpart, Midrange Shaman is starting to make somewhat of a comeback on ladder. Fishy piloted Killinallday’s Midrange Shaman list all the way to rank #1 Legend. The deck is well equipped to handle all the aggressive decks with its 2 copies of Jinyu Waterspeaker, 4 AOE spells, and 5 taunt sources. The deck can also hold its own against slower decks with its burst potential via Bloodlust, which is a key card in the matchup against Renolock, an otherwise difficult challenge.
Control Shaman has been re-appearing lately, though its numbers are still very low relative to other Shaman archetypes. wiRer got to Legend with a Control Shaman list that boasts a high win percentage against one of the most ubiquitous decks on ladder: Aggro Shaman. While equipped to handle aggressive decks quite well with its 5 AOE spells and 2 Healing Waves, it also has a robust N’Zoth package to challenge control decks.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Spo’s Spirit/Jade Aggro Shaman
- Demigod’s Doom/Jade Aggro Shaman
- Thijs’ Spirit/Doom Aggro Shaman
- Killingallday’s Midrange Shaman
- Nalguidan’s Jade Shaman
- Loyan’s Jade Shaman
- wiRer’s Control Shaman
Well, being at the top was fun while it lasted. After only a week, Warrior once again falls behind Shaman, due entirely to the significant, and expected, drop in Pirate Warrior. A very poor matchup against Aggro Shaman, the deck with both the highest usage and win rate, pushes Pirate Warrior down. However, the dominance of Miracle Rogue means that Pirate Warrior, being Rogue’s hardest counter, will likely remain a very relevant archetype going forward.
Pirate Warrior’s loss is other Warrior archetypes’ gain. Dragon Warrior is in hot pursuit for the top spot, having increased in usage significantly, almost matching Pirate Warrior’s numbers at legend rank. It has less polarizing matchups than Pirate Warrior, and one of its strengths is good matchups against both Aggro Shaman and Pirate Warrior. It’s also proven to be a far more popular tournament choice, with both finalists at SeatStory Cup bringing the deck, while very few players brought pure Pirate Warrior.
As Jade Druid falls, and with many Renolock builds opting to forgo Lord Jaraxxus in favor of more anti-aggro tools, Control Warrior is starting to see more play on the back of its good matchups against some of the more aggressive decks on ladder. Stancifka brought a fascinating, heavily-teched list to SeatStory Cup, packing 2 copies of Cleave and Dirty Rat, along with other interesting choices. He actually had some success with it, winning several games convincingly. Control Warrior’s still not in a great spot currently, but it’s not as hopeless as some were predicting before the expansion. Fibonacci, who is probably the most proficient Control Warrior player in the world, has managed to peak at the top 10 with his latest build.
Arcane Giant Blood Warrior has also reared its head, with HotMEOWTH reaching #40 legend with a deck adapted from Blood Warrior legend Rage’s list. It packs several interesting cards from Gadgetzan in I Know a Guy, Sleep With the Fishes and Stolen Goods, and might be a deck worth looking into in the next few weeks.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Sintolol’s Pirate Warrior
- Inderen’s Dragon Warrior
- Orange’s Dragon Warrior
- SuperJJ/Lifecoach’s Hybrid Dragon Warrior
- Fibonacci’s Control Warrior
- HotMEOWTH’s Blood Warrior
Reno Warlock has been subjected to a harsh counter in the form of Miracle Rogue on ladder, especially at legend, and therefore is not quite as good as it was earlier in the month. Its popularity has declined a bit as a result, but it is still a great tournament pick, as seen in SeatStory Cup VI, where Orange used it in his tournament winning lineup. Renolock is one of the most refined archetypes out there, with most of the card choices reaching consensus. Twisting Nether is a Meta choice, being strong against Midrange decks, Rogue, Dragon Priest and the mirror matchup. Some players are opting to include Ragnaros instead of the previously cut Jaraxxus, to add a faster late game threat that can pressure Rogue, or in a tournament setting, Freeze Mage.
Meanwhile, Zoo Warlock is still nowhere to be seen and it is difficult to see a way out for the archetype. It is constantly outclassed by pirates, who are capable of getting on the board even faster, while pushing the Warlock away from the board with the backing of early game weapons. In addition, the Meta is packed with AOE spells, which just obliterate Zoo’s game plan. Its hero power advantage does not matter anymore because the pirate decks can easily win before running out of cards, while Reno Jackson or Kazakus usually end all hopes of the Zoo deck winning no matter how many life taps are available.
It’s been three weeks since the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan and Valeera sits very comfortably around the top of the Meta.
Most recently, Miracle Rogue made a huge splash at SeatStory Cup VI where it carried Orange all the way to victory and managed to 3-0 in four matches during the whole tournament (LHS format). While some people are still experimenting with cards like Questing Adventurer and Red Mana Wyrm, most people play the “Classic Miracle” with the Pirate package – a build popularized by MrYagut and Xzirez. However, there is still some discussion about the optimal way to build the deck. Deadly Poison, Conceal, Shiv, Shadow Strike and a second Counterfeit Coin rotate in and out as players test what combination of these cards is right for the Meta they are facing.
Malygos Miracle Rogue is barely showing any signs of life as it just can’t match the speed and efficiency of Cold Blood builds. N’Zoth Jade Rogue is also on the decline as the deck turned out to not be as good as most players initially estimated. Some players still experiment with Gadgetzan Auctioneer-based Jade builds, but at this point it feels rather futile with the Meta being so fast that it forces you to race, and there is no better way to match an aggressive deck’s pace by utilizing Cold Blood.
Finally, Aggro/Tempo Rogue started out as a very promising deck but no further refinements has been made in the last week. This time we are featuring one of the decks that Purple tried on his stream in an attempt to build a faster, more aggressive version of Rogue.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Mr.Yagut’s Miracle Rogue
- Casie/YouKnowWP’s Questing Miracle Rogue
- SchtanUdachi’s Malygos Miracle Rogue
- RuFeng’s Aggro Pirate Rogue
- Purple’s Aggro Coldlight Rogue
- J4CKIECHAN’s Jade N’Zoth Rogue
It would seem that testing with Priest has hit a wall. With the emergence of Miracle Rogue, an archetype that historically has always given Priest fits, things have started to stagnate.
There are other reasons the Priest play has slowed, but seeing Rogue grow more and more every day is definitely a troubling sight for fans of the class. That being said, the class is still in a really good spot overall, as the two main variants of Reno and Dragon are fairly strong ladder considerations. Dragon Priest, specifically, looks very strong in the current Meta with no particularly hard counters. While the majority of highlander styled players are opting for Mage or Warlock for their Reno hijinks, Reno Priest still has the tools that provide it with some really interesting targeting options in tournament ban formats.
Dragon Priest was predicted to be a very strong archetype before the expansion, and it seems that the prediction was spot on. The problem is that the deck’s only slightly weaker matchups (Pirate Warrior/Dragon Warrior/Reno Warlock/Miracle Rogue) make up a significant portion of ladder play. The good news is that a couple of those archetypes are starting to slowly decline, so going forward the deck is primed really well for strong legend pushes this season. Moreover, Dragon Priest is a flexible deck that can improve matchups with strategically switching a few cards. Acidic Swamp Ooze and Potion of Madness are strong against aggressive Pirate decks, while increasing the consistency of your mid-game curve with Blackwing Technician and Twlight Drake might help in the matchups where you need to apply pressure.
- Priest Class Radar
- Ant’s Dragon Priest
- Thijs’ Dragon Priest
- Zetalot’s Velen Dragon Priest
- Zetalot’s Velen Reno Priest
- Savjz’ Dragon Reno Priest
Druid has not had a good week on ladder. The class has seen a decrease in play this week, partly due to Jade Druid not being as strong as it was hyped up to be. The decrease is due to some of Druid’s worst matchups, like Shaman and Rogue, becoming extremely popular. Druid was in a great place before the expansion but still had some weaknesses. Mean Streets of Gadgetzan didn’t bring a lot of powerful cards to Druid which also diluted the power level of Raven Idol. The expansion gave other classes things that Druid struggles to deal with, namely wide boards and explosive early openings that don’t give the class the time to ramp up and execute its game plan.
The deck did have some success at SeatStory VI with Orange winning the tournament with Jade Druid in his lineup. His list is similar to JustSayian but is geared slightly less towards Pirate Warrior. The problem with Jade Druid right now is that it’s too slow in the current Meta. The Jade Golems aren’t impactful in the early game and often Jade Druid gets rushed down by aggressive decks because it can’t deal with the board. The deck does retain really good matchups against control decks that rely on exhausting the opponent’s resources, but it remains to be seen whether that could keep Jade Druid relevant.
The Combo Kun Druid hasn’t really caught on. The deck can pull of some ridiculous combos but much like Jade Druid, it struggles against early aggression. The decklist for this archetype hasn’t been completely optimized so it still has potential.
There have also been some solid meme Druid decks popping up this week. Feno used his Zoo Druid, built around the Menagerie Beast/Dragon/Murloc synergy, to reach top 50 on EU. The deck features Finja, the Flying Star, which is a good enough reason to play the deck for fun purposes alone, and it utilizes Zoobot and Curator to tie up the triple tribal synergy. It’s an interesting deck that can steal wins with an early Finja through Innervate or from the surprise factor alone.
Another deck with a strong meme score is J4CKIECHAN’s Egg Druid. J4CKIE’s claim to fame was using Egg Druid to reach high ranks but this version of the deck has yet to prove itself over the long run. The deck is much more aggressive than most Druid decks and relies on flooding the board with tokens and leveraging board control through Savage Roar and Soul of the Forest.
- Druid Class Radar
- JustSayian’s Jade Druid
- Orange’s Jade Druid
- HotMEWOTH/Tictac’s Malygos Druid
- Tictac’s Malygos Druid
- Feno’s C’Thun Druid
- Feno’s Zoo Druid
- J4CKIECHAN’s Egg Druid
Despite the massive decline in Mage’s popularity after the expansion, the class is appearing to be returning to relevance on the back of some ladder and tournament showings.
In SeatStory cup, there were a decent amount of players who included Freeze Mage in their lineups as a counter to the popular Renolock and Miracle Rogue archetypes. Though Freeze Mage was more popular, it was Tempo Mage that stood out more in the tournament. Sjow made it all the way to the finals with Tempo Mage. His build is very much geared to beat control matchups, with no Mirror Image or Water Elementals, and the addition of a Polymorph to remove a big threat. If you’re facing a lot of Pirates on ladder rather than a deck like Renolock, Apxvoid’s build is likely a better fit, so we continue to feature it instead.
On ladder, many players have been having success with Reno Mage, which seems to be doing very well in the current Meta, particularly at the bottleneck to legend. Fenom hit top 10 legend with a Reno Mage built by ZachO. This list is very different from other Reno Mage builds with the addition of both Inkmaster Solia and a Pyroblast. The package provides Reno Mage with a way to actively set up a burst combo to finish the game in a Freeze Mage like fashion. Inkmaster Solia, Pyroblast and a Roaring Torch, or a Fireball (with an Emperor discount), provides a reach of 16 damage from hand. This inevitability is very useful in matchups against Miracle Rogue and Renolock, who are not capable of defending against it effectively, and can give Reno Mage a winning line of play against decks that have too many resources to handle with its toolkit, like Dragon Priest and Jade Druid.
Alternatively, the more common win condition in Reno Mage is playing Antonidas, which is slower to set up but has more value attached to it. Largoodie hit top 40 with such a build while JAB has also hit top 100 with a similar list.
- Mage Class Radar
- ZachO/Fenom’s Reno Mage
- Largoodie’s Reno Mage
- Jab’s Reno Mage
- Apxvoid’s Tempo Mage
- Standard Freeze Mage
It looks like Uther & Liadrin are cementing their position at or near the bottom of the class hierarchy. This seems to be a problem with the Grimy Goons classes in general, as the Handbuff mechanic, at least in the current Meta, appears to be a dud. Warrior is bailed out by the fact that they have super aggressive minions and weapons in Pirate form (???), as well as tremendous Dragon synergy, and even Control Warrior may be trying to come back; however, none of those are remotely using the Grimy Goons signature cards and mechanic.
Paladin was not in a very good place before the expansion and instead of receiving legitimate support for any existing archetypes, the class was pushed into this new handbuff territory, and with the handbuff cards that Paladin received, you are rewarded for including as many minions as you can in your deck, which pigeonholes the kind of cards you can use, as well as over-prioritizes drawing your handbuff cards. Without these handbuff cards, your deck is just a loose collection of minions that are not fast enough to handle an explosive Pirate opening, and don’t have the value to outlast Reno decks – especially since the cards that do the handbuffing are such a tempo loss when actually played.
Currently, there isn’t much experimentation in Paladin. Aggro and Murloc Aggro decks, while being quite skill intensive and fun to play, have been largely abandoned. Midrange Paladin handbuff builds are extremely erratic and untested. The only Paladin archetype that sees any sort of play at the more competitive levels is Anyfin Paladin, on the back of Finja being an interesting addition to the build.
- Paladin Class Radar
- apDrop’s Anyfin Paladin
- J4ACKIECHAN’s Anyfin Paladin
- Dog’s Aggro Paladin
- Firebat’s Murloc Paladin
- Orange’s Murloc Paladin
Hunter remains in its abysmal state as very little development has happened for the class this past week. In fact, Hunter now holds the record for least played class since we started the Data Reaper Report. Hunter simply cannot beat out fast pirate openings from Shaman, Rogue, or Warrior, since its already weak early game gets swept up by weapons. Rather than try to continue fighting a losing battle in the early game, it seems like Hunter’s best option is to instead try to obtain powerful swing turns.
The idea of swing turns is taken to the extreme in NickChipper’s latest build of Secret Hunter, which forgoes all minions other than Barnes, Highmanes, Huntresses, and Y’Shaarj. Powerful Huntress and Barnes turns are able to compensate for the void of early game, but the deck is still extremely inconsistent. Because there are so few minions, the deck is forced to run subpar spells, like a single Infest to try to eek out value while still maintaining the relevance of Barnes. Although the deck got top 100, the feat was done by one of most prominent Hunter players in the world. Don’t expect Hunter to be relevant on ladder anytime soon.
It’s hard to counter the Meta with a single deck, and that’s perhaps the best thing about the game after the expansion. Aggro Shaman is the strongest deck in the game at the moment, but it has many potential counters and is certainly far from unbeatable. The challenge is to find a counter that doesn’t horribly suffer at the hands of other decks in the Meta, such as Miracle Rogue and Reno Warlock.
Reno Mage still has great potential as a result, and a Control Warrior deck that posts reasonable win rates against everything that isn’t aggressive, could emerge.
Until then, one of the safest choices to run is Dragon Warrior. The archetype seems to be making its return to the glory days of Whispers of the Old Gods, where it smacked down Tunnel Troggs and Totem Golems. It’s also very strong against Pirate Warrior, another well-known ladder epidemic.
Its weaker matchups, which are Miracle Rogue and Reno Warlock, are certainly winnable with the right build. Arcanite Reaper and Ragnaros are your friends when facing Valeera, so we’re recommending Inderen’s build with which he reached #1 legend earlier in the month.
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,000 active 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.
Special thanks to Leo G. and Chungfr for supporting us for the month of December.
You can also help support the Data Reaper Report by visiting our store and buy some vS merchandise!
Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: