Welcome to the 32nd edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,200 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
The legend Meta at the end of the month exhibits a behavior that we’ve learned and observed since we’ve launched the project. Players eventually run to the tried-and-true, safest and strongest deck in order to try and get those HCT points. Aggro Shaman was the prime candidate, and it has surged in its popularity after taking a step back last week. Midrange Shamans are still very present, and the Shaman class is displaying frequency numbers that are similar to the pre-MSoG period.
It appears that the Warrior class is shifting once again, in the opposite direction. Pirate Warrior is on the rise while Dragon Warrior is declining, which correlates perfectly with the performance trend we’ve spotted last week. The abundance of Miracle Rogue at legend is the prime cause for this shift as they are the juiciest targets for an Arcanite Reaper swing, and the still significant presence of Reno Warlocks is also pushing Warriors to play faster.
After its initial surge post-expansion, Rogue has been at a standstill for the last couple of weeks. Miracle Rogue is still a favorite at the highest levels of play, but we’re wondering how long can it keep up these kinds of numbers when facing a Meta that is becoming more hostile towards it every week.
Warlock is spiraling downwards. Renolock’s numbers at legend ranks have dropped by a quarter compared to last week, a signal that it hasn’t been doing too great. Indeed, there needs to be either a Meta shift that favors it (such as a possible future decline in Miracle Rogue), or an internal shift in its own build and strategy, for it to be successful going forward. Some players are already on it, as the archetype is known for its flexibility.
As Reno Warlock falls, Reno Mage rises. Mage ended the month as the 4th most popular class at legend, with Reno Mage being the 4th most popular archetype. Its numbers at all levels of play are drastically increasing, and the Meta is beginning to acknowledge its dominance over the field. This is the era of Ronald.
Sneaky Priest is now the 4th most popular class in the game overall. Of course, at the higher levels of play, Priest numbers significantly drop, but it’s still a sign that Anduin hasn’t said his last words when it comes to this expansion. Meanwhile, Druid is continuing its fall as it adjusts to its new status as an off Meta, slightly fringe class. Tree huggers don’t deal with Pirates very well.
Paladin and Hunter in 2017?
There are no surprises when it comes to the top deck, as Aggro Shaman continues to lead the pack. However, its performance at the highest levels continues to be suppressed to some degree, so it’s not completely out of control. When looking at the legend table, we can spot that three of the five archetypes with a score of over 50% are Shamans. It’s just hard to go wrong when it comes to the class, and while Patches and Kazakus are clearly very dominant aspects of the Meta, we’re still playing Shamanstone in different packaging.
Reno Mage is showing no signs of stopping, and at this point, we can crown it as the 2nd best deck in the game in the current Meta. The key word being ‘current’ Meta, which is evident at the higher levels of play, where Reno Mage is at a fantastic spot. Throw in a little bit of diversity in the form of Priest and Druid, and it’s certainly weaker, but its reliability in challenging the Meta tyrant cannot be underestimated.
Warrior is also in a good spot. Dragon Warrior has been slightly suffering recently from the polarizing Meta of Patches and Kazakus. Reason being, it’s a difficult archetype to build to beat both aggro and control decks, so its matchup trends can be quite erratic (for example, it’s getting better against Rogue while getting worse against Aggro Shaman’s latest hybrid approach). However, it’s very strong when picking the right build at the right time, and it seems to be responding to the Meta well. Meanwhile, Pirate Warrior’s mouth is watering at the sight of all these Miracle Rogues, while Control Warrior is continuing its comeback. It has been improving its performance every week as builds become more refined, and it is definitely a legitimate choice in the current aggressive Meta.
Miracle Rogue is beginning to crack under the pressure. Its performance is collapsing, particularly at the highest levels, which is an alarming sign for an archetype that looked so promising early on. The reason is simple; the hostility in the Meta towards it becoming extreme. Warlocks and Druids are declining, while Priests are becoming less popular as you climb the ranks. These are the classes Miracle Rogue has feasted upon. Instead, Valeera has to deal with more and more Shamans and Warriors that look to bash her face in. This is taking its toll, and the archetype needs to adapt further in these matchups to survive, or falter.
Reno Warlock needs to change in order to survive in this Meta and we’re seeing signs of it. At the moment, it continues to suffer at the hands of Rogue while Pirate Warriors also prove to be a difficult challenge, with the matchup often turning into “Reno or bust”. The irony is that, should Reno Warlock’s numbers continue to fall, the Meta could shift in its favor eventually because of the impact it has on Rogue losing favorable matchups. Time will tell but our advice to any Reno Warlock player: move away from the established combo-centric builds, and read the Warlock class section for details.
It’s becoming more apparent to us that a resurgence in Dragon Priest might be likely. This is based on the fact both Miracle Rogue and Reno Warlock are showing signs of cracking, and they are two major ingredients that keep Dragon Priest down at higher levels of play. Should they decline further, we might reach critical mass where Dragon Priest becomes a Meta Breaking deck. Dragon Priest can survive in a Shaman Meta, and it’s one of the biggest counters to Reno Mage, so it has a few important things going for it that may serve it well in the future. The same could be said of Reno Priest, which can benefit significantly for those reasons.
While Jade Druid’s theoretically stronger in a Meta in which Reno Mage is increasing in play, there is a ceiling we feel it may not be able to crack. Unlike Dragon Priest, Jade Druid matches up terribly against Shaman. It is an absolutely miserable endeavor, which may keep it permanently on the fringes of the ladder Meta, and a niche tournament choice.
There is a small story that’s not shown in the vS Power Ranking. It’s about Control Shaman. The archetype has seen a significant shift in its performance this week, to the point where we had to press the ‘reset’ button on its matchups. Due to its small sample size, we’re waiting to see whether there is more to it than the variance effect of an underrepresented archetype that is highly experimental, but it is potentially underrated in the current Meta and worth exploring.
Class Analysis & Decklists
The last days of the December 2016 season did little to dislodge Shaman as the most dominant class in Hearthstone. Multiple top legend finishes are testimony to how powerful the class is.
Aggro Shaman is still one of the most powerful forces on the ladder. Even with other Shaman archetypes on the rise, it is the most popular choice within the class. Spo’s take on Aggro Shaman, which utilizes both a Pirate and a Jade package, is the most common variant of the archetype and the one with the most success currently. Amnesiac finished top 5 legend with a build very similar to Spo’s, with the difference being the inclusion of an Azure Drake instead of a Maelstrom Portal. Some Aggro Shaman lists even include two Azure Drakes, which is the result of the Meta slowing down and demanding longevity from the Shaman, especially in the matchup against Reno Mage.
Mid-Jade Shamans are also present. The utilization of multiple board clears and the snowball effect of Jade Golems to control the midgame makes this archetype a contender in the current Meta. It can be built with or without a Pirate package. Bearnugget uses a light Pirate package to give the build a more consistent and proactive early game, while a build such as RayC’s opts for a more reactive approach, boasting Lightning Bolts and 4 AOE spells, which can help if you fall behind against an aggressive deck but are weaker in control matchups.
The bogeyman of the pre-MSOG Meta is still very much alive. Classic Midrange Shaman decks forgo running Jade cards and instead rely on good old reliable Thunder Bluff Valiant to snowball its pilot to victory. Jinyu Waterspeakers give the deck a reliable source of healing, which was missing beforehand. To help shore up its mediocre matchups against Reno decks, a singleton copy of Bloodlust is commonplace.
Although Control Shaman is the least represented archetype of the class, it has been seeing a moderate amount of success on ladder. NickChipper had a solid legend ladder climb with his take on the deck, running 5 sources of board clears alongside a hefty N’Zoth package, which gives it the tools it needs to fight against both all-in aggressive decks, and removal-centric control decks. CrumbleCake’s Jade/N’Zoth build is also intriguing, and the archetype may have potential to establish a presence in the current Meta.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Amnesiac’s Aggro Shaman
- Bearnugget’s Mid-Jade Shaman
- RayC’s Mid-Jade Shaman
- Killingallday’s Midrange Shaman
- CrumbleCake’s Jade Control Shaman
- NickChipper’s Control Shaman
Warrior stays relatively steady for another week, with Pirate Warrior and Dragon Warrior continuing to be well-represented throughout the ladder.
Many variants of Pirate and Dragon Warrior continue to be developed, with this week’s highlight being Xzirez’s slightly slower Pirate Warrior list packing Bashes and Bloodhoof Braves in order to provide strong swing in aggressive matchups while still retaining a lot of potential damage against control. The list plays 2 copies of Mortal Strike; one of the more hotly-discussed Pirate Warrior cards, and chooses to forgo Southsea Deckhands, which is generally one of the lowest value cards in the deck. The deck was piloted to rank 3 legend by Xzirez himself, and then to rank 1 on Asia by the Korean player AirTraX. Another list, made by GameKing, utilizes Grimy Gadgeteers alongside Argent Horseriders in an effort to give it some more gas against slower decks. GameKing finished 14th on AM with the build. It looks like Pirate Warrior is doing as good a job at adapting to the Meta as the Meta is doing at adapting to it.
The most significant changes to Dragon Warrior seem to already be behind it, with C4mlann and Twobiers’ hybrid variant and the classic Curator lists being the main takes on the archetypes. Slam, a former Dragon Warrior staple that was mostly cut after release of The Curator, finally makes it back into a build piloted by Bearnugget to hit #1 legend on both AM and Asia. This list cuts other tech 1-offs such as Blood to Ichor and Arcanite Reaper, and tops out at Deathwing. Deathwing is a Bearnugget favorite which he popularized back in the golden days of Dragon Warrior during the WoToG Meta.
Control Warrior is finally getting some results to back up its gradual trickle into the Meta, with VLPS leading the charge. After peaking at rank 8, he managed to lock down a rank 17 finish with his Dirty Rat list. Casie got to rank 21 by trading the Dirty Rats for Ragnaros and Ysera. Control Warrior is a Meta-dependent choice which can excel against aggressive decks. Understanding your opponents and the Meta you’re facing, and playing to your outs in bad matchups, is key to the deck’s success.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Sintolol’s Pirate Warrior
- Sjow’s Pirate Warrior
- Xzirez’ Pirate Warrior
- GameKing’s Pirate Warrior
- Bearnugget’s Dragon Warrior
- Powder’s Dragon Warrior
- C4mlann/TwoBiers Hybrid Dragon Warrior
- VLPS’ Control Warrior
- Casie’s Control Warrior
With Aggro Shaman, Reno Mage and Pirate Warrior establishing themselves as the top Meta decks, while Reno Warlock takes a step back and Druid continues its decline, Rogue is facing a more hostile ladder, which is why there are attempts to improve the deck’s chances in the common matchups.
Due to the fact that Shaman’s Maelstrom Portals have a huge presence in the Meta again, most players have opted to cut Violet Teacher for Conceal, which can be key in control matchups. Other somewhat common options for that flex spot include Shadow Strike, second Counterfeit Coin and Southsea Deckhand.
This week’s innovation in Miracle Rogue comes from Lifecoach and SuperJJ, by including Shaku the Collector in their build. The reasoning behind running the inconspicuous 3 mana 2/3 minion is simple: not only is it a reasonable stealth minion that can be used to activate Cold Blood, it’s also a value generator that fits well into the curve and gives Rogue a proactive turn 3 play. In this build, a 2nd Counterfeit Coin is utilized instead of a Sap. This opens up more opportunities for Miracle Rogue’s strongest weapon in aggressive matchups: an early blow out Edwin Van Cleef.
Questing Miracle Rogue is also seeing development, though some players prefer the consistency of the “Classic Miracle” lists over the potential power Questing lists offer. However, Questing Adventurer can certainly improve the deck’s performance in control matchups, like Reno Mage, which makes it a worthwhile consideration. Feno’s hit #1 legend early this month with a build that cuts Sap for a Shadow Strike and omits Bloodmage Thalnos.
Non-Miracle Rogue decks are slowly dying out, as it doesn’t seem like the expansion has provided the class with enough support to be able to move away from Auctioneer-based builds. Or has it? This week we’re featuring Lemon’s Stealth Rogue with which he almost finished top 200 legend on EU. The deck utilizes the stealth package of Shaku/Shadow Sensei/Lotus Assassin/Silent Knight, but doesn’t include the meme’ry of Shadow Rager. It definitely looks interesting to play and experiment with, and perhaps could give rise to the next non-Miracle Rogue archetype that the community wishes for?
We also continue to feature SilentStorm’s Aggro/Pirate deck that utilizes the strong mid-game core of Miracle Rogue and the synergy between its array of 1-mana pirates and Southsea Captain, though this deck has not gained any traction recently.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Xzirez’ Miracle Rogue
- Lifecoach/SuperJJ’s Shaku Miracle Rogue
- Casie/YouKnowWP’s Questing Miracle Rogue
- Feno’s Questing Miracle Rogue
- SilentStorm’s Aggro/Pirate Rogue
- Lemon’s Stealth Rogue
It’s a Dragon Priest world, and we’re living in it, at least in the Priest world that is. For the most part, people are ignoring Reno Priest as Reno Mage fulfills a similar role but has a stronger matchup spread and is more difficult to counter.
The Dragon Priest archetype is primed for strong ladder performance, considering that it’s one of the strongest counters to the rising Reno Mage archetype. Shoop took his Dragon Priest variant to a top 100 finish. This list is built to beat down opponents, with the approach that Dragon Priest’s success in many matchtups is often determined by its ability to execute its curve and carry an aggressive approach in the mid-game. Book Wyrm is a reactive card that mostly shines in midrange matchups, and is omitted from this list. Instead, Blackwing Technician and Priest of the Feast shore up the consistency of the Priest’s curve, while Ooze and Potion of Madness are tech choices that can swing the game against Patches decks.
wiRer has also found success with his Inner Fire list, hitting #40 legend. This build is quite different, featuring two Book Wyrms and Entomb, which gives the deck more late game power.
Outside of Dragon Priest there really isn’t too much to tell, however, innovation with Priest is most definitely not finished. There are all sorts of really strong tools not actually being fully utilized by the class, and Reno Priest may still have a chance to find its way into the Meta. This is definitely a good time for the class and we’re far away from the bleak pre-MSoG days.
- Priest Class Radar
- Shoop’s Dragon Priest
- wiRer’s Dragon Priest
- Trump’s Dragon Reno Priest
- Zetalot’s Velen Reno Priest
Renolock is continuing its decline, due to facing a very hostile Meta, much different from the early days of the expansion. While Renolock is not as powerful as it used to be, it still proves itself to be a decent deck overall and performs well against the new influx of Midrange Shamans. As the December 2016 season wrapped up, many players chose Renolock as their deck of choice for high-legend laddering, with the understanding that for the archetype to stay relevant, it needs to evolve beyond established builds. Th3Rat peaked at #1 legend utilizing a build which does not include the Leeroy Jenkins+Faceless Manipulator combo. Fr0zen was able to peak at top 50 piloting a different non-combo version.
For the month of January, Stancifka has hit legend with a different Renolock build. This one techs in Corruption as a cheap removal which can be used on a dangerous early game minion. It also cuts many cards that were considered staple, but are powerful mainly in combination with other cards, such as Sylvanas and Shadowflame. This makes the build less prone to having clunky hands, which helps in aggressive matchups.
The combo package has lost its value in the current Meta. It is poor against aggressive decks, and is nearly useless against Reno Mage due to Ice Block. This is the reason why people are gravitating back into including late game bombs like Ragnaros, Jaraxxus and Alex instead. The biggest advantage of the combo lists is the mirror matchup, which is occurring less often due to the archetype’s slow decline.
There is still no hope for Zoolock on the horizon. It is not fast enough for aggressive matchups, due to Patches decks’ ability to bully it off the board with weapons, and does not have the longevity to power through Reno decks and their plethora of board clears and recovery potential.
While Zoo has almost completely disappeared off the face of the earth, the Data Reaper’s own Fenom was able to peak at top 200 with his fun and unique Reno Zoo deck. The deck is very much experimental, and it’s interesting to see whether the idea of building a singleton Zoo deck that is both aggressive and has the recovery potential of Reno and Kazakus, could be long lasting. Note that since the achievement, the build has been altered, so we’re giving you the latest update.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Th3Rat’s Reno Warlock
- Fr0zen’s Reno Warlock
- StanCifka’s Reno Warlock
- Fenom’s Reno Zoo Warlock
Reno Mage has established itself as one of the best decks in the game, continuing to increase in its popularity on the back of a really strong position in the Meta. It boasts good win rates against many of the aggressive decks on ladder while also proving to be a difficult challenge for Reno Warlock and Miracle Rogue, with its only weakness being the slightly off-Meta classes, Druid and Priest. Dragon Priest and Jade Druid can generate so many resources that they can exhaust Reno Mage’s removals without being threatened, and then overwhelm it.
Many popular players have reached top 100 legend piloting Reno Mage, and some players, such as Rage and TerrenceM, hit top 10. Noblord took it one step further and peaked at #1 legend with his combo-oriented build featuring Inkmaster Solia and Pyroblast. RastaFish was also the first player to hit legend during the month of January with Reno Mage.
Most Reno Mages are running similar lists to last week’s, with most decks hovering between two main approaches. One Reno Mage approach is to play defensively, with a good amount of removal, a solid minion curve and light late game. This approach aims to win mostly off of exhausting the opponent’s resources, and against control decks, building up value through Kazakus combo’s with Manic Soulcaster/Brann. Good examples of such lists were used by Thijs, TerrenceM and RastaFish. This approach works well against aggressive decks.
The second approach is more combo-oriented, with a bit more card draw while relinquishing some of the mid-game minions. These builds look to actively end the game by bursting down the opponent, through either Inkmaster Solia/Pyro combo’s or stockpiling burn with Antonidas. Noblord’s and Rage’s updated lists carry this element, and this approach works better against decks that are susceptible to burst, such as Renolock.
An interesting addition to some builds is Burgly Bully. The 4/6 body for 5 mana is pretty resilient, and is usually enough of a threat that it will often need to be dealt with by a spell, generating a coin for the Mage. This coin can later be used with Antonidas, to create a significant threat to end the game.
Other Mage decks have been largely abandoned. Tempo Mage is nearly forgotten while Freeze Mage is a niche deck for a select few.
- Mage Class Radar
- Thijs’s Reno Mage
- TerrenceM’s Reno Mage
- RastaFish’s Reno Mage
- Noblord’s Reno Mage
- Rage’s Reno Mage
- Apxvoid’s Tempo Mage
- Standard Freeze Mage
Things are looking bleak for the Druid class. It is the least played of the seven classes in Hearthstone. Druid’s presence on ladder continues to drop due to the class having few good matchups on ladder, only consistently beating control decks while getting rushed down by most aggressive decks. Early in the season, Druid is even a worse call due to the high amount of aggression during the initial ladder climb. However, the increase in play of decks like Reno Mage and Control Warrior could shape a better environment for the class. Basically, play Druid if you are fed up with your opponents getting rich or if Warriors are trying to put you to sleep instead of smashing your face with Arcanite Reaper.
Jade Druid continues to be the most popular Druid archetype, but due its very straight-forward nature, there haven’t been any innovations for the past few weeks since early in the expansion’s life, with Acidic Swamp Ooze and Mulch being popular tech choices
Kun Malygos Druid is the only other Druid archetype seeing significant play. Most people play a build similar to TicTac’s. Another build worth considering is the Barnes version of the deck. The build has very few bad targets off of Barnes and sometimes you can high roll and pull off game breaking combo’s with it.
If you’re looking for some memes there is always the Zoo/Menagerie Druid. Some players claim the deck is really good when you can Innervate a Finja but that doesn’t always happen. To conclude, unless there is a big shift towards control decks, Druid will likely be left behind.
- Druid Class Radar
- JustSayian’s Jade Druid
- Orange’s Jade Druid
- Tictac’s Malygos Druid
- Barnes Malygos Druid
- Feno’s C’Thun Druid
- Feno’s Zoo Druid
“At least I’m not a Hunter!”
-Lady Liadrin, overheard while walking through the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan.
We won’t belabor the point: Paladin continues its vanishing act.
Brief archetype rundown: Murloc Aggro Paladin is almost completely gone. We haven’t seen any significant development for such a deck since the very early days of the expansion and it has vanished off our radars.
Aggro Paladin is seeing very low playrates. Midrange Handbuff Paladin still does not exist. Anyfin Control is the only other verified archetype being played and the list seems to be fairly refined at this point. If you see a Paladin on ladder, especially at high ranks, chances are it is this deck.
Aggro, Midrange, Control, Combo. Long ago the four styles of decks lived in harmony. Then everything changed when Kazakus and Patches attacked.
Only Rexaar, master of SMOrc, could disrupt the Meta. But when the world needed him most, Blizzard made his cheapest weapon cost three mana.
Players vying for a higher ranking in the final few days of the season deleted whatever Hunter decks they had saved in their precious decks slots to switch to one of the seven real classes. With a new season starting and less on the line, someone may make innovations in the class. With open tournament season starting, there’s a chance a player will come up with a tournament list that is solely focused on beating control. These lists would be extremely niche, and on ladder, the weak Midrange and Secret builds will remain the best of the worst Hunter options.
Aggro Shaman is currently the strongest deck in the game, and Reno Mage is the deck that beats it in the most consistent manner while staying strong against the other decks of the Meta. If you want to focus on that matchup from the Reno Mage perspective, a defensive, removal heavy build works best (Like Thijs or RastaFish). Amnesiac’s Aggro Shaman variant is very powerful, and a 2nd Azure Drake can help you in control matchups instead of a low drop card such as Southsea Deckhand or even Finley. These two decks are currently shaping the Meta, with Reno Mage being weaker at lower levels of play where some of its counters are more present.
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,200 active contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.
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