Welcome to the 34th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,400 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 Week
Shamanstone is taking over the game. The class has seen a spike in its representation and has eclipsed the 25% barrier. It gets worse as you climb up the ladder. At the bottleneck to legend (ranks 1-5), Shaman is well over 30% of ladder opponents, and one archetype, Aggro Shaman, is at nearly 22%. If you’re trying to hit legend with a deck that doesn’t have a good matchup against the Meta tyrant, you’re going to have a bad time.
With Shaman’s rise, Warrior takes a small step back, with Pirate Warrior declining at legend rank. This isn’t surprising to us, since one of Pirate Warrior’s worst matchups is against Aggro Shaman. Pirate Warrior is a very powerful deck, but it has two popular counters that keep it in check, with Reno Mage also being very prevalent at higher levels of play.
Miracle Rogue has been holding firm in its numbers for the past few weeks, despite the Meta becoming quite hostile towards it. While Aggro Shaman is not a good matchup for the Rogue, the suppressing effect the Meta tyrant has on Pirate Warrior’s numbers actually help the Rogue in a roundabout way. However, this also means that Miracle Rogue can never be truly dominant and may struggle once again towards the end of the month.
Mage is the 4th most played class at legend, and Reno Mage sees significantly more play at the higher levels, where it enjoys beating up on the top Meta decks. The archetype has firmly established itself as the most dominant control deck in the game, and unless Druids and Priests find a way to break into the Meta in a significant manner, Reno Mage is unlikely to go anywhere.
Priest continues to be popular at lower ranks, but struggles to find a niche at the top end of ladder play. We’re observing much more experimentations with Reno Priest at legend than last week, with players trying to find a way to solve the Priest puzzle and establish a consistent build that alleviates some of the archetype’s weaknesses.
Warlock is beginning to slightly crack under the pressure of the top Meta decks. Reno Warlock doesn’t reliably beat any of the “big 4” (Aggro Shaman, Pirate Warrior, Miracle Rogue, Reno Mage), which gives it an inherent disadvantage against the field. The archetype is very effective against some of the slightly off Meta decks, so it requires a shift in the Meta to become stronger.
Druid is in an interesting spot. The class overall is in a state of stagnation, but we can observe an uptick in Jade Druids at legend rank. This is likely due to the increase in play of control decks that look to counter aggression, with Jade Druid looking to spoil their party. However, considering that we’re playing in a Meta that is still dominated by Patches, it’s unlikely that Druid can break this ceiling and establish itself as more than just a niche class.
After just a week at the 52% tier, Pirate Warrior falls back below that threshold. The cause? The rise in Aggro Shamans makes it very difficult for the archetype to maintain these win rates, not that we’re complaining. We do realize that many things will change once the new standard year rolls out and a rotation occurs, but we do have some concerns when it comes to Pirate Warrior. Make no mistake; it’s an extremely powerful deck that’s being held back by an even more powerful deck. Now, picture this scenario: Aggro Shaman becomes weaker due to losing Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem, while nearly every control deck in the current Meta loses its ability to heal for ridiculous amounts in order to survive. Meanwhile, Pirate Warrior loses Finley, and that’s it. The next expansion needs to be pretty defensive in nature in order to keep Pirate Warrior in check!
We find the most interesting table this week to be the one of ranks 1-5. As you’ve seen earlier, the population of Shamans at the bottleneck to legend is extremely oppressive. This makes it so that decks that have a bad matchup against Aggro Shaman struggle to break the 50% barrier, while decks that specialize in beating the Meta tyrant are much more valuable. Control Shaman is a perfect example, breaking into Tier 2 on the back of its really good matchup against Aggro Shaman, while Reno Mage is well known for its ability to keep it in check.
Both Reno Priest and Dragon Priest are enjoying the small decline in Reno Warlock’s numbers. The class is just waiting for Miracle Rogue to drop next. Whether this occurs, remains to be seen, but such an event opens up an opportunity for the Priest class to establish a firmer grasp on the Meta because of its ability to handle Shamans fairly well.
We see a direct correlation between Jade Druid’s growing numbers at legend rank and its improved win rate score there. The Meta at the higher levels is more forgiving to the archetype due to the increased presence of aggro counters, rather than just aggro. Perhaps, for the first time in quite a while, Druid looks like a more legitimate option for ladder, at least at higher levels of play. It continues to be limited, however, by the overbearing presence of Shamans, which might become even worse towards the end of the month.
Let’s talk about Anyfin Paladin. This archetype has spiked in its performance over the past week to the point where we considered rebooting its win rates, much like we’ve done with Control Shaman recently. We haven’t pressed that button yet, because we’re waiting to see whether it manages to keep up this recent performance level consistently for more than one week, but the iterations by Senfglas and Mr.Yagut appear to be promising at the moment. If you only counted one week’s worth of data in the archetype’s relatively low sample size, Anyfin Paladin’s score would be 51% overall, placing it firmly in the upper tier. From past experiences, we know that archetypes with low representation can behave in an erratic manner, which is why we’re still cautious about drawing conclusions at this point in time.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Shaman continues its hot streak as the class with the highest representation on ladder. It is also ever present in the tournament scene. A vast majority of the participants in the WESG tournament brought Aggro Shaman, with Mid-Jade Shaman builds making appearances as well.
Aggro Shaman is largely considered to be the strongest deck in the game. It combines the fastest and most efficient early game minions with a plethora of burn spells. The archetype is at a very refined stage and has settled into a standard build. Staz, the winner of the WESG tournament, brought Amnesiac’s exact list, card for card. In this build, initially popularized by Spo, there are a few flex spots. A second Azure Drake could replace Finley, as they serve similar purposes (longevity), with Azure Drake having more synergy with Spirit Claws and Maelstrom Portal. A second Maelstrom Portal is sometimes included as a tech for the mirror match and Pirate Warrior. One Doomhammer can be an option to improve the matchup against Miracle Rogue and Dragon Priest. To make room for these options, Flamewreathed Faceless and Southsea Deckhand are often the choices to flex out one copy.
Mid-Jade Shaman is a good option if a player is interested in avoiding being countered by lineups that aim to punish aggressive decks. While we have seen Mid-Jade lists that use a light Pirate package, PNC and Talion opted to do away with it in the lists they brought to the WESG. To handle quick starts from aggressive opponents, single copies of Lightning Bolt and Feral Spirit can be seen. Meanwhile, Bloodlust is becoming a very popular choice in Midrange builds as it provides burst and reach to improve matchups against control decks.
Control Shaman is the under-the-radar archetype of the class, and may become more relevant in the near future. VLPS’ version was designed to handle the aggressive decks in the Meta, with multiple AOEs, strong healing and early weapons. The deck also has the potential to outlast other control decks with the inherent snowball effect of Jade Golems and the incredible value its N’Zoth package can generate, though Kazakus can nullify this value with a well rolled mass polymorph potion.
With this weakness in mind, as well as the archetype’s poor performance against Rogue, StanCifka built a different list, with which Paradox hit top 10 legend on EU. This build cuts the N’Zoth package, as well as the Spirit Claws/Azure Drake package, for more consistency in Jade generation, as well as Devolve. Devolve is useful in many matchups, but is an incredibly good tech against Rogue in particular, as it annihilates concealed Auctioneers, Questing Adventurers and Edwin Van Cleef.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Amnesiac’s Aggro Shaman
- Bearnugget’s Mid-Jade Shaman
- PNC/Talion’s Mid-Jade Shaman
- Pathra’s Mid-Jade Shaman
- Killingallday’s Midrange Shaman
- StanCifka/Paradox’s Jade Control Shaman
- VLPS’ Jade Control Shaman
Warrior is settling into the life of being Hearthstone’s number two class, with miniscule changes in deck representation.
The shift towards Southsea Captain in Pirate Warrior appears to be complete, with almost every deck at the competitive level choosing to play two copies of the card nowadays. There are four flex spots in the build at the higher end of the curve, which are usually filled by Naga Corsair, Mortal Strike and Leeroy Jenkins. Some players opt to include Bash instead of Mortal Strikes.
Dragon Warrior is chugging along nicely, keeping up with the Meta but never becoming dominant. Its main advantage is a pretty balanced matchup spread, meaning it’s not particularly strong against any strategy, but is much more difficult to hard counter than Pirate Warrior. It is also extremely flexible, and can be fine-tuned to improve in any specific matchup. Orange piloted his Dragon Warrior to a 9-0 performance in what would end up a second-place finish at the WESG finals. His list contains several singletons that have often been cut from other lists, such as Execute and Ravaging Ghoul, while cutting some late game such as Grommash Hellscream. This list should be strong both in tournament lineups and ladder.
Control Warrior keeps up its modest success rate, generally still being more popular as a tournament deck but having potential to make some noise at the top end of ladder play. With NaviOOT’s double Gorehowl list, there is another top-quality list to challenge VLPS’, though the lists are very similar and realistically, Control Warrior is going to be a very predictable deck. Its ladder win rate has improved dramatically over recent weeks and it can now be considered to be a very legitimate contender on the ladder. Just avoid Druids.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Muzzy’s Pirate Warrior
- Sjow’s Pirate Warrior
- Bearnugget’s Dragon Warrior
- Orange’s Dragon Warrior
- Zalae’s Dragon Warrior
- VLPS’ Control Warrior
- NaviOOT’s Control Warrior
Over the past few weeks, Miracle Rogue has seen an internal shift in its builds which appears to be complete at this point in time. Players have abandoned the “Classic” build that Xzirez and MrYagut popularized in the early days of the expansion, in favor of decks that revolve around Questing Adventurer/Edwin Van Cleef blowouts. Questing Adventurer significantly improves matchups against Reno decks, and with two Counterfeit Coins, isn’t a completely dead card against aggressive decks either, since the Rogue’s primary win condition in its bad matchups is an all-in play. Feno and Ostkaka have both hit #1 legend last week, mostly dodging aggressive decks on the way there, with builds that only differ in one card: Sap and Shadowstrike. Other than that, there is very little variation in the most popular Questing Miracle Rogue builds at the moment, with some of them flexing in an SI Agent, Shaku or Bloodmage Thalnos.
Pirate Aggro Rogue is once again on the radar as Muzzy managed to hit Legend rank on the EU server with a build similar to SilentStorm’s. The deck is based around the synergy between the early game Pirates, Southsea Captain and the strong midgame skeleton of Miracle Rogue. Muzzy has managed to display some very solid stats against Rogue, Shaman and Warlock and the deck definitely has potential to catch some players off guard.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Ostkaka’s Questing Miracle Rogue
- Feno’s Questing Miracle Rogue
- Muzzy’s Aggro Pirate Rogue
I think we are at the point where we can crown Dragon Priest as the strongest Priest archetype ever, if not at least top 3. The deck is extremely strong and extremely fun. It’s in a decent spot in the current Meta as it poses a difficult challenge to Reno Mage and performs fairly well against all of the Shaman variants. It’s unfavored against Reno Warlock, Miracle Rogue, and faster Warriors, but with practice, these matchups do not feel insurmountable, though they do hold the deck back to some degree.
The Dragon Priest is different from most decks, because you really do feel like you have the tools to win any game with the card generating mechanics at your disposal.
There are a couple different variants to examine, with minimal, albeit strong differences. There is the Hotform variant built around a late game plan with higher AOE totals and more card generating options in the form of Museum Curator. Then there are the faster, more tempo focused builds like the Shoop and most recent Zetalot variant, with which Zetalot hit top 30 legend this week. These lists opt for more early game minions that can fight for board control like the criminally underrated Blackwing Technician. Zetalot’s list is very similar to the VLPS build we’ve featured last week, but cuts removal for two copies of Defender of Argus, which is a great card in the matchups against all three of the Patches classes, often locking up games beyond their reach.
Reno Priest remains the black sheep of the Kabal, but it’s still better than being the black sheep of the Grimy Goons or the Jade Lotus. There has been a lot of experimentation this week for potential win conditions in the build, as that still remained the biggest challenge when it comes to the construction of the deck. This is all starting to change though as most players experimenting with Reno Priest decks have started and finished with the Dragon Skeleton. Thijs, StrifeCro, and Kolento had a lot of success in the past week utilizing lower curved builds with minimal late game, in order to increase the archetype’s consistency against aggressive decks.
- Priest Class Radar
- Shoop’s Dragon Priest
- Zetalot’s Dragon Priest
- Hotform’s Dragon Priest
- Thijs’ Reno Priest
- StrifeCro’s Reno Priest
- Kolento’s Reno Priest
Warlock is a class on the decline, especially at legend ranks, where its numbers are dwindling significantly. This is mainly because of the prevalence of the other top 4 Meta decks, all of which have an even to great matchup against Reno Warlock. While the Warlock possesses plenty of tools to potentially deal with these decks, they don’t come up consistently enough. Warlock has life tap and easier access to strong win conditions, but it can’t get the same value out of Reno Jackson as Mage can, with its ability to Ice Block and force an over extension from its opponent.
Despite Reno Warlock’s current struggle on ladder, it is still considered to be one of the stronger decks in the game. Jaraxxus is very prominent once again, as it is one of the best win conditions in the game when playing against other control decks, while Ragnaros is also a good late game option to add if you’re looking to beat Reno Mage. On the other hand, Stancifka’s teched-out list with Corruption and Voidwalker can improve matchups against some of the more aggressive decks.
The fabled Warrior God, Fibonacci, has been slinging a Reno Warlock deck with Krul the Unshackled, with which he broke into top 10 legend. His list also plays Jaraxxus, along with Doomguard and Voidwalker for more Krul targets. With Krul in the build, a 10 mana Kazakus potion that adds three demons to your hand becomes a much more attractive option.
Early in the expansion’s life, Reno Mage was written off as the most gimmicky of the three Kazakus classes. Now, it stands tall as the most powerful and consistent control deck in the game, and arguably the second strongest deck in the game overall. With its incredible defensive tools and versatility, it is able to post good results against all of the other top Meta decks.
Reno Mage continues to be in a state of constant refinement, and that is unlikely to change. The class just has so many good options available to it, and many possible flex slots to improve particular matchups. This makes it extremely powerful not only on ladder, but in tournaments as well, as it is able to target aggressive decks while still keeping a package of cards that can focus on another matchup. A good example this flexibility is the Solia/Pyroblast combo, which turns the matchup with Reno Warlock from being decent, to being very favorable.
There are three main approaches to Reno Mage at the moment, and we’re providing you with three strong representative decklists of each to take to ladder.
JAB’s Reno Mage, with which he hit top 10 legend this week, represents the value oriented plan. This is a grindy build that does particularly well in mirror matchups which often go into fatigue, where maximizing value and minimizing cycle is best.
ExDe took Rage’s Reno Mage, with a small modification, to top 40 legend. This build represents the cycle plan, and has a pretty nasty package targeted at Rogue, with cards like Harrison Jones, Burgly Bully, Frost Nova and Ice Barrier being a great help in this matchup.
The final approach includes the Solia/Pyro plan, which is becoming more and more of a favorite at higher levels of play and the tournament scene. Many players are modifying Steelo’s build, either adding cycle, value or more defensive tools depending on the matchups they’re trying to focus. As we’ve said earlier, Solia/Pyro makes the matchup incredibly difficult for Reno Warlock to overcome, and Solia can also enable strong swing turns that can flip other matchups around, especially against midrange decks like Dragon Priest, that are also vulnerable to your burst damage.
In other Mage news, RDU has won a 256 player open cup with an aggressive line up including Tempo Mage. It’s been weeks since we’ve seen any high level player take this archetype to a spin, so we’re featuring the list, which has a pretty straight forward curve up to Ragnaros, and also includes a copy with Burgly Bully.
- Mage Class Radar
- JAB’s Reno Mage
- ExDe’s Cycle Reno Mage
- Steelo’s Solia/Pyro Reno Mage
- RDU’s Tempo Mage
- Standard Freeze Mage
There have been some changes in the Meta this week that might bode well for Druid. Last week, we rated Control Warrior as one of the best decks at the legend ranks and the deck has started seeing an increase in play there. However, at the bottleneck to legend, the number of Druids remains unchanged because aggressive decks are more popular, which isn’t a good field for Jade Druid. Druid still isn’t the best class for ladder but is perfect if you are running into a lot of Control Warriors or Reno decks.
Most Jade Druid lists are only a few cards off from each other, and they usually vary at Mulch, Gadgetzan Auctioneer, Ancient of War and Feral Rage. One Mulch has become the standard due to the importance of the card in both control matchups and against Shaman and Rogue. Two Gadgetzan Auctioneers is considered greedy, but improve the consistency in control matchups.
Malygos Kun Druid is the second most played archetype and is seeing very little play, but has enjoyed some individual success recently with Sjow peaking at top 10 legend with his build.
C’Thun Kun Druid had also had some success this week albeit with a small sample size, with StanCifka reaching legend on Asia with a 14-1 record utilizing a mill version of the deck that plays Naturalize and Coldlight Oracles.
- Druid Class Radar
- JustSayian’s Jade Druid
- Orange’s Jade Druid
- Sjow’s Malygos Druid
- Tictac’s Malygos Druid
- StanCifka’s Mill C’Thun Druid
Paladin continues to be a very niche class, more present at low levels, while making the occasional appearance at legend. Maybe once Pirates get whatever nerf is coming to them, and Reno Jackson rotates out, the class will see a renaissance, but we can only wait. There is definitely a challenge presented to the design team in remaking Paladin into a viable class at the next Standard year, especially because its only competitive archetype at the moment, the Anyfin combo deck, is going to retire to Wild.
Anyfin Paladin is the only moderately successful Paladin deck and MrYagut had a new take on it this week, notably riffing on Senfglas’ tech of Mistress of Mixtures. MyYagut added Wickerflame Burnbristle back into the list, and the most remarkable aspect of the deck is the exclusion of Tirion Fordring, which makes some sense in a world where you can reliably expect to queue into Hexes, Polymorphs, Saps, and weapon removal. With the archetype’s recent success at legend ladder and appearance in the tournament scene as well (being a Chinese favorite), Anyfin Paladin might have more to say in the current Meta.
All other Paladin archetypes are either eclipsed by superior versions in other classes, or are nonexistent.
Aggro Paladin is vastly inferior to Pirate Warrior and Aggro Shaman since it requires setup time, which it cannot really afford in a Meta that is extremely unforgiving from turn 1.
Midrange Paladin, much like other archetypes that rely on the Handbuff mechanic, might be better in a world where you are not expected to take 10 damage by turn 3. It is currently way too inconsistent to reliably beat either extreme ends of the current Meta spectrum of Kazakus and Patches.
Dragon Paladin is a deck you might occasionally encounter, but seems like an inferior take on Dragon Synergy when compared to the Priest and Warrior Dragon archetypes.
N’Zoth Control Paladin is outclassed by Reno and Jade decks. These decks can comfortably out-value it, while Control Warrior has more efficient removal and a consistent game plan.
If you’re still playing Paladin on ladder, and it’s not the Anyfin combo deck, we would ask you to take a deep breath and, upon exhaling, look introspectively at your life and your choices and utter one word out loud: “Why?”
- Paladin Class Radar
- Senfglas’ Anyfin Paladin
- Mr.Yagut’s Anyfin Paladin
- Kolento’s Midrange Paladin
- Kolento’s Dragon Paladin
- Dog’s Aggro Paladin
“I think that Paladin and Hunter specifically have been seeing a low amount of play, but the future for them I think is pretty bright as long as the Meta slows down a little bit, and a lot of that has to do with the pirate package, and if the pirate package continues to stay the way it is in terms of population, I think that we would step in and do something about it.”
This quote, from Hearthstone’s design team, is the only encouraging part of last week, as Hunter continues to sit even deeper in the dumpster than Paladin. Perhaps these small hints towards a balance change will soon become reality, allowing Hunter to develop as a counter to control decks without completely rolling over to Aggro, but the future still seems dubious. Kazakus gives a way for Reno decks to counter the turn six Highmane with the Polymorph potion, as well as cheaply punishing Hunters for going wide on board. Although slowing down the pirate decks can certainly improve Hunter’s status in the Meta (it can’t get any worse), even with potential changes, it’s unlikely that Hunter will suddenly become dominant.
The current Meta is dominated by Aggro Shaman. It is the Meta-defining deck that is not only ubiquitous on ladder, but is nearly ever present in the tournament scene. In order to break the current Meta, you need to break Aggro Shaman.
Currently, we can observe four decks that boast good win rates against it.
Reno Mage has established itself as the most dominant of them all by quite a margin, with its incredible build flexibility that is perhaps matched by no other deck in the game. The other three are more niche, with some glaring weaknesses to them: Control Warrior, Control Shaman and Reno Priest. The good news is that three of the four decks are also very potent against Pirate Warrior, which means they can form a pretty effective anti-aggro Conquest line up.
Reno Priest is less consistent than the other three when it comes to dealing with aggression in general, but the builds that we’ve featured this week are very lean and defensive in nature, and some smart tech choices can certainly increase that consistency, for example, a Greater Healing Potion. The deck’s biggest problem is dealing with Miracle Rogue, which is a miserable matchup, and with Reno Warlock.
Control Shaman also faces the same problem when dealing with Miracle Rogue and Reno Warlock, but the latest build from StanCifka, with which Paradox hit top 10 legend on EU, may provide a solution for the Rogue matchup and be the difference maker in the archetype’s standing in the current Meta.
Control Warrior is the ultimate Pirate counter, not only being able to beat Aggro Shaman and Pirate Warrior, but Miracle Rogue as well. It has a severe problem with decks that are capable of generating a lot of value and exhaust its removals, but with a Dirty Rat or two, it can steal games in these bad matchups. There are other approaches, instead of the removal plan. These are value-centric Control Warriors that can potentially challenge other control deck’s late game plans, such as N’Zoth builds. These decks might get more refined in the future. Either way, we expect it to be a very strong choice at the end of the month’s legend ladder, when everyone sells their soul to Patches to get those HCT points.
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