Welcome to the 1st edition of the Classic Data Reaper Report!
Contributing to the Data Reaper project through Hearthstone Deck Tracker or Firestone allows us to perform our analyses and to issue the weekly reports, so we want to wholeheartedly thank our contributors. Without the community’s contributions, there would be no project. Contributing data is very easy, so if you enjoy our content and would like to make sure it remains consistent and free – Sign up!
Number of Games
|Gold through Legend||16,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
The launch of Classic format has required us to adjust our normal rank brackets to reflect where most of the player population is located. Since star bonuses are completely reset, and a new expansion was launched just shortly after Classic, many players have not committed to the time-consuming grind to legend. They have been slowly climbing through Bronze and Silver, while Gold players more closely reflect legend players in Standard. Of course, as players eventually hit the ranking which reflects their skill level, we will re-adjust the rank brackets in the future. We do notice a dramatic skill difference between Bronze and Gold for this report’s database.
Combo Druid is one deck that increases in play the higher you climb ladder. This extremely diverse archetype centered around Force of Nature and Savage Roar exhibits many different approaches and sub-variants, and we will provide an extensive look into them. Since most builds highly overlap in their card choices, splitting the archetype is not currently possible.
Warlock is the only class in the format that exhibits two highly popular archetypes that are wildly different from each other. Handlock is very popular at Bronze, but starts to diminish in play at higher ranks, while Zoo Warlock significantly grows in popularity. Zoo is historically remembered as a Combo Druid counter, so it makes sense that its popularity growth matches that of Druid’s.
Miracle Rogue is probably the most memorable deck from Classic and the one remembered as the strongest in the game. Initially looking highly experimental with its builds, the archetype has quickly solidified into the recognizable shell of years ago. Aggro Rogue is also around in low numbers.
The original Control Warrior is looking like another pillar of the format. The deck is well remembered as the most expensive one in the game with a high number of legendary minions and was nicknamed “Wallet Warrior” as a result. Builds slightly vary between a passive approach and a more proactive one.
Face Hunter is displaying a very interesting popularity pattern as well as an internal build pattern. Initially very popular at Bronze, the deck seems to fade at higher ranks to a very modest play rate, which may surprise some players who remember how much of a menace this deck felt like to play against. But this isn’t the entire story, as builds of Face Hunter at higher ranks are also dramatically different. Sunshine Hunter, also known as Midrange/Beast Hunter, is a slower Hunter deck that runs Savannah Highmane and Houndmaster to produce board-driven pressure on the opponent rather than immediately direct all its attention to the opponent’s face.
Mage boasts a modest play rate, split between the combo-centric and unique Freeze Mage and the more aggressive Burn Mage, which utilizes the direct damage spells available to the class in combination with a minion curve.
Shaman was a quiet class back in Classic that felt viable but never created too much fuss or attracted much fanfare, and its current play rate reflects that. The generic Midrange Shaman archetype is what the class has to offer, though builds can vary quite a bit and there is much experimentation going on. The main point of divergence is how aggressive the deck wants to be.
Paladin and Priest are well remembered as the two weakest classes of the format, a consequence of their old and inadequate classic set. This was a glaring hole in the game which caused Team 5 to constantly push the power level on their expansion cards for them to find viability over the years. Paladin is represented by the healing Control Paladin, as well as the highly aggressive, Divine-Favor-fueled Aggro Paladin, more commonly known in Classic as Shockadin. Priest is almost entirely comprised of Control Priest, with builds wildly varying as players struggle to figure out how to make the best use of the class.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
The first Power Ranking table of Classic format is full of shocking findings that suggest that Classic format was never solved!
- Miracle Rogue is one of the most unique decks we’ve ever evaluated. It looks nothing special at lower ranks, barely scraping a positive win rate, but becomes gradually more powerful as you climb ladder. At higher ranks, it’s clearly the strongest deck in the game and the only Tier 1 deck in the Classic meta. Its skill ceiling is one of the highest we’ve ever (x10) seen, showing remarkable improvement at every relevant matchup at higher MMR’s. The legend of Miracle Rogue was true, and our analysis can identify its mythical prowess with ease. The only soft counters to Miracle Rogue are Freeze Mage (a very niche deck with major issues) and Handlock. The Handlock matchup numbers are quite surprising but are likely the product of Warlock’s imposed mulligan conundrum and Rogue’s own tech choices.
- Aggro Rogue is a competitive deck with a few good matchups that may keep it around as a situationally good choice, but there are too many popular decks in the meta that counter it very effectively, such as Control Warrior and Zoo Warlock.
- Combo Druid is predictably strong, but its performance at higher ranks may come as a surprise to many players who expected the deck to be far more dominant, especially when taking into consideration its increasing popularity. But Combo Druid has clear matchup issues that prevent it from being truly dominant throughout ladder. Zoo Warlock clearly carries an edge against it, and players are very aware of it as we’ve seen in the deck frequency graphs, but Miracle Rogue also becomes a major issue for Druid at higher levels. The matchup initially looks Druid favored, then completely flips as you climb ladder and run into stronger Miracle Rogue players. The meta at Gold+ is increasingly hostile to Druid, which pushes it off Tier 1.
- But it’s important to remember that Combo Druid is not very refined. Many different approaches are being tested and this report will feature the strongest directions for the class. Druid deckbuilding of the past clearly had holes, and we thoroughly discuss them.
- The performance of the two Warlock archetypes is also fascinating. Zoo Warlock is one of the best decks in the game thanks to its strong matchup against Combo Druid, but once again, the deck falls off Tier 1 at higher ranks due to the increasingly difficult Miracle Rogue matchup.
- Handlock is sitting at Tier 3 due to its difficulty in dealing with the BGH-wielding Combo Druids as well as the hyper aggressive Hunters, but it could find more joy as the meta further develops. It’s the strongest counter to Miracle Rogue on ladder since they’re forced to consider the possibility of facing Zoo in their mulligan, as well as their justified reluctance to run two copies of Sap. Handlock’s performance issues are also highly related to its builds. It is one of the most poorly optimized decks in the game, and we strongly suspect it is capable of dramatically improving several matchups with better card choices.
- Control Warrior is ironically the strongest deck at Bronze due to its dominance in the Face Hunter matchup, but the deck becomes progressively worse as it encounters more Combo Druids as well as stronger Miracle Rogue players (sensing a pattern?). Still, there’s quite a bit to improve on common ladder builds as players haven’t grasped the importance of winning initiative in the format, even while piloting decks that carry a reputation of being passive.
- One of the biggest surprises of Classic format is how underwhelming Face Hunter appears to be. The popularity patterns don’t lie, as players hitting higher ranks are reaching the conclusion that the deck isn’t particularly good. It gets destroyed by both Control Warrior and Combo Druid, and it is incapable of beating Miracle Rogue. What’s more is that Face Hunter is another deck that’s horribly built on ladder. It’s possibly a product of inertia, with players persisting with the “same” deck as before Unleash the Hounds was nerfed to 3 mana, but there might be more to it and we discuss it in the Hunter section. Sunshine Hunter isn’t making any waves either. Dare we say, Hunter was not a very good class in the latter half of Classic and its popularity was fueled by perception.
- Here’s where thing really get crazy. The quiet Midrange Shaman looks like the 2nd best deck in the format as we climb further on ladder. We don’t think anyone ever expected this, but Shaman seems to have very powerful tools that were previously underutilized. What’s more is that Shaman is nowhere near solved as a class, and on top of further improving its established deck, has the potential of birthing a true unicorn deck that was never discovered. It will be interesting to see whether this potential could come into fruition, but our observation is that the class carries top tier potential, with an extremely well-rounded matchup spread that exhibits no real weaknesses. We’ve found our first Classic Meta Breaker!
- Mage’s Classic prospects look grim. Freeze Mage is one of the only consistent counters to Miracle Rogue but is hampered by serious issues in other matchups that make it a very niche choice for ladder. It gets demolished by Control Warrior and Combo Druids, so if the meta is diverse and you can’t specifically find your best matchup, it’s not a good deck. Burn Mage is also flawed as an archetype and gets consistently exploited by the top tier decks. We don’t think it can survive.
- Think Paladin was dead in Classic? Think again! Shockadin is proving to be a viable choice on ladder, and though it seems to taper off at higher ranks, it is as an underutilized deck that did not get worked on much. We’ve identified ways to clearly improve it, so there’s a decent chance it will be a good option to pick up your Paladin wins going forward.
- Priest is the only class that’s truly dumpster in Classic. We did work hard to refine Control Priest into a more respectable deck, and there’s room to improve it as it’s clearly plagued by massive deckbuilding traps, but it’s unlikely that refinement will be enough to lift it from the hole it’s in.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Combo Druid is an extremely versatile archetype, and we found it difficult to provide a single “optimal build” since there are several approaches that can work quite well on ladder. Considering that the Classic meta is young and unsolved, we think it would be best to provide multiple approaches that we’ve identified to be successful, and then narrow things down once the meta further develops. The good news is that they’re all very strong, so you can pick whatever you like best.
What’s important to understand about Classic format is that minions are far more likely to stick to the board. With generally weak removal and no rush minions, gaining initiative is key since whoever gets ahead is very likely to win the game. Developing minions every turn gives you a far greatest chance to respond to your opponent, since removal mostly comes down to trading. This is why mana efficiency is extremely important and passing turns can be very punishing. This is particularly true for Druid and is the main factor behind our deck building decisions for the class. As a Druid, if you’re not developing minions, you’re never winning the game.
The Standard Combo Druid looks to shore up every mana slot with greatest consistency, so we have a better chance of efficiently spending our mana. Running just Chillwind Yeti at the 4-mana slot alongside the situational Keeper of the Grove is something that was done in the original Classic format but looks like a questionable decision. A turn 2 Wild Growth without immediate follow up is a losing scenario, and the same can be said when we have an Innervate in hand on turn 2 and nothing to do with it. This is why we’re running both Yeti and Shieldmasta, the latter providing us with some protection and forces good trades against many 3-drops in the game. Having more 4-drops also increases the chances of efficient plays on turns 8 and 9, where we want to develop two minions.
Our 5-mana slot is stacked with good options and we opt for the flexible Druid of the Claw alongside Azure Drake. Card draw is important in a ramping deck, since the moment we run out of minions to play is the moment we begin to lose the game. At 6 mana, we make sure to still have strong threats to develop since it’s often an “empty” slot in current builds. Cairne and Sylvanas are the best options available and look superior to Argent Commander. Ancient of Lore is our turn 7 refill.
The 3-mana slot is where we really break conventional wisdom. Harvest Golem is a near-permanent inclusion but Earthen Ring Far is the better 3-drop for this deck. The healing is extremely useful at staying out of lethal range or healing a minion after a value trade. Harvest Golem might be sticky, but it doesn’t trade favorably into 3/3’s. We also advocate to run two Big Game Hunters. The upside of this card is crazy, while the stats aren’t even that bad for a 3-drop. Don’t be too hesitant to drop BGH to the board without a target just for board control and pressure, and you’ll understand. This card was very rightfully nerfed. The 2nd BGH could be Black Knight only in the case where Ancient of Wars become popular.
This brings us to our second build, which is the Defensive Combo Druid that’s about spamming taunts. Since removal is weak and rush minions are non-existent, taunts are the best way for the Druid to defend itself while developing. Sunwalkers replace the 6-mana legendaries, while Ancient of Wars are added. Taunt spamming can seriously exhaust your opponents by forcing them to go through a great amount of effective life.
The final build is the Token Combo Druid, which is the fastest variant that looks to aggressively contest the board in the early game. Violet Teacher is our 4-drop choice alongside Power of the Wild and sticky early game minions. In this variant, Harvest Golem is stronger, and we don’t need to stack the mid-game curve since we have cheaper minions to fill the gaps. As we’re looking to play more aggressively and finish games earlier, Big Game Hunter’s window of usefulness is shorter.
Zoo Warlock is one of the most effective ways to beat Druids, which is why the archetype has proven to be quite successful in Classic, and one of strongest in the format.
The featured build simply runs the most efficient minions available. Shattered Sun Cleric is not always included in ladder builds, but it’s Zoo Warlock’s best 3-drop. The debate for this mana slot is between Harvest Golem and Scarlet Crusader, and Golem works a little better with our 4-drops. Dark Iron Dwarf isn’t great, but the deck needs a serviceable turn 4 play alongside Defender of Argus.
Shieldbearer is bait. Ironbeak Owl is overrated. Leeroy Jenkins clashes with Doomguard and often ends up being discarded. Leper Gnome is auto included in every aggressive deck alongside Argent Squire. Mortal Coil is essential since the meta has many 1-health minions it can pick off. Power Overwhelming may have only become strong enough in Naxxramas due to the introduction of Nerubian Egg and Haunted Creeper, while in Classic format it seems to be Power Underwhelming.
Handlock is a little trickier to build, and we think its win rate could significantly improve with some refinement. Its matchup with Miracle Rogue is particularly promising and is likely the result of the mulligan headache the class imposes on opponents as well as Rogue’s lack of incentive to run two Saps.
The archetype’s main issue on ladder is the popularity of Big Game Hunter, which takes a lot of wind out of its sails. The solution to combat BGH is to double down and stack more threats alongside Mountain Giant and Twilight Drake, which is where Faceless Manipulator comes in. This card offers devastating follow up to your turn 4 plays (copying a Twilight Drake is a very underrated play), but most importantly, heavily punishes the opponent at any point in the game once its removal options are depleted. If a giant is ever ignored and your opponent tries to race you, Faceless allows you to get to lethal first.
We also strongly recommend running Ragnaros over Alexstrasza. It’s one mana cheaper and is absolutely devastating with Faceless, while providing an immediate impact on the board. You can think of Ragnaros as the additional threat to take down the opponent once BGH is used on your Mountain Giant. Sylvanas is also extremely powerful in this deck, offering an incredible combo with Shadowflame or Power Overwhelming (if you run the latter). We lean towards running 2 Shadowflames and 1 Hellfire because of the Miracle Rogue matchup (Watcher/Shadowflame deals with a concealed Auctioneer), but it is matchup dependent and there isn’t a strictly correct choice (Hellfire is better against Zoo and Shaman).
The late game is a crossroads. You can run Jaraxxus and play the control game alongside Siphon Souls, with the purpose of grinding out the opponent and maximizing survivability. Or you can run Leeroy Jenkins alongside Power Overwhelming to burst them down. Mixing the two win conditions often leads to diminishing returns, where neither is effective. The combo option wants redundancy with its pieces (running one Faceless and one PO makes the Leeroy combo very inconsistent). What’s great about running two Faceless and two PO’s is that they are flexible outside of the combo. We’ve said why Faceless is a good option for this meta, while PO has great synergy with both Sylvanas (turning her into an immediate Mind Control) and Shadowflame. Leeroy Jenkins also works well with Shadowflame when needed!
Tales of Miracle Rogue’s dominance in Classic are proving to be truthful. This deck’s greatness is now backed up by publicly available data, with a remarkably high skill cap that shifts many matchups in its favor in the hands of better players. It is undoubtedly the best deck in the game at higher MMR brackets.
Building Miracle Rogue has proven to be very interesting. The more layers you peel, the more you understand how desperately this deck needs cycle. If it cannot find Auctioneer, Miracle Rogue needs a way to accelerate towards it. Therefore Shiv, a seemingly harmless card we expected to fall through the cracks, is surprisingly good. We never keep Shiv in our opening hand but being able to cycle through our deck when we happen to draw it is valuable. The same is true for Fan of Knives, and both cards are helped by Bloodmage Thalnos to turn into more efficient removal. These cards are also obviously fantastic alongside Auctioneer and Preparation.
Maximizing card draw means that Azure Drake is essential. There was early talk of cutting it, but it is total nonsense. This leads to a difficult decision where we can’t maximize card draw without giving up elsewhere. It means we cannot run two Farseers or two Saps. Farseer should become less important with Face Hunter’s disappointing performance, and the same is true for Sap and its usefulness against Handlock above all. You could run the 2nd copy of either card instead of Shiv or Conceal, but that will hurt you in the mirror. Cutting Blade Flurry may also seem questionable considering how well Zoo Warlock and Shaman are doing.
Aggro Rogue is a very fast paced deck that looks to kill the opponent as soon as possible with burst damage. It can find edges against Handlock and Face Hunter, and its low play rate means it can catch Miracle Rogues off guard, but it has serious issues against decks that excel at taking the board, such as Zoo Warlock and Mid Shaman, as well as Control Warrior which can outlast it. We don’t have too much data on it, but we can very confidently tell you that you want to run two copies of Defias Ringleader. It’s an incredible card with the coin.
Control Warrior is surprisingly the best performing deck in the game at Bronze, which you could attribute to its domination of the Hunter matchup, but things change when Face Hunter falls off and the domination of the Rogue/Druid duo becomes clear. It’s still a good deck at higher levels, but it cannot be considered top tier while consistently facing these matchups. Druid is a massive pain in the neck for Warrior.
The key to success with Warrior is proactivity. You can’t always rely on removal to carry you to victory, as the Rogue/Druid matchups are very difficult to outlast, and you need to take initiative more often to find success against them. This means that having good on-curve plays in the mid-game is important. Kor’kron Elite is the original rush minion, as it kills both Azure Drake and Gadgetzan Auctioneer, and can be used to pressure the opponent.
Warrior highly values card draw and did not play enough Azure Drake 7 years ago. The dragon also forms an interesting combo with Whirlwind which is quite relevant against Zoo Warlock. Harrison Jones is an option that’s stronger against Rogues, but terrible against Druid. The 6-mana slot is where we see the duo of Cairne and Sylvanas. Sylvanas can be used with Shield Slam to steal a big threat from the opponent. Cairne is massive against Druids, as it’s so hard for them to remove.
The top end is all about lethality and game ending plays. Baron Geddon is your finisher against Zoo Warlock, and you will find this matchup to be difficult without him. Alexstrasza puts your opponent at 15, setting up Grom Hellscream close to lethal range. Ragnaros helps you stack BGH targets similarly to Handlock. A card we’re not fond of is Gorehowl. It’s just way too slow in most matchups. Brawl is also not as useful in Classic since Druid can easily play around it and Rogue is comfortable playing one minion at a time. The desperation brawl against a Concealed Auctioneer is not something that merits a 2nd copy.
Remember that just because you’re playing Control Warrior doesn’t mean you should be sitting back and waiting for the opponent to make plays. Sometimes attack is the best form of defense.
Aggro Warrior is a cute aggressive archetype that’s not very good. Not running Argent Squires is a crime though. You’re better off prioritizing board control minions over running a mediocre charger such as Bluegill Warrior or Wolfrider. Let your weapons be the charge minions.
Face Hunter might be the biggest underperformer in Classic format, as players remember a stronger deck than what’s currently displayed, even after Unleash the Hounds was nerfed to 3 mana. However, what’s clear to us after observing the archetype’s data is that Face Hunter was never refined after the nerf to Unleash, as players stuck to cards that are clearly not performing.
The biggest bait of this report? Starving Buzzard might have ended up being nerfed months later, after the release of Naxxramas, but the card is proving to be actively bad in Classic Face Hunter. The same is true for Timber Wolf and Hunter’s Mark, two more cards that mostly work with the Buzzard/Unleash combo.
What Face Hunter wants to do is jam efficient minions in the early game and start going face. The true MVP with Unleash the Hounds in Face Hunter is Knife Juggler. Alongside a plethora of 1-drops, Hunter needs to consistently play threats in the early game and not skip turns, which is something that common ladder builds are very susceptible to since they run too many situational cards.
Once we reach the mid-game, we’re all about burning down the opponent while stalling its ability to race us. Explosive Trap achieves that in aggressive mirrors, while Misdirection massively helps us in the Miracle Rogue matchup. Rogue has few minions, and its main game plan to beat the Hunter is to put Cold Blood on something. Misdirection disrupts that line and can buy you time to whittle them down with your direct damage and hero power. Perhaps, with builds resembling the featured one in this report, Face Hunter’s win rate can climb to a more respectable number. We can see that happening based on our observation, though it’s unlikely that Face Hunter can ever be top tier.
Sunshine Hunter is the Beast Hunter deck originally pioneered by Lifecoach, who called the deck after his own daughter, Sunshine. The game plan of this deck is to develop beefy mid-game threats that can pressure Druids and Warriors more effectively. In this deck, the Buzzard/Unleash package is far stronger since the Hunter can afford to play it slower and wait for its combo turns.
The problem is that building Hunter to be slower guts its matchup against aggressive decks. One of the most famous cards in the deck was Oasis Snapjaw, which was utilized as a juicy target for Houndmaster. Turns out it’s not very juicy at all, as the 4-drop looks quite unplayable. Cards that we do like in this build are Stranglethorn Tiger, Scavenging Hyena and Snake Trap. Tiger is a strong standalone threat alongside Highmane, while Hyena offers a payoff to the token-centric game plan the deck possesses.
Mage isn’t in a good position in the format. Freeze Mage is a very niche counter to Miracle Rogue and Warlock that completely rolls over to Control Warriors and Combo Druids. We can see how this deck could occasionally find success at top legend if you meet an endless horde of Miracle Rogues, but against a diverse ladder field, it’s quite weak.
Building Freeze Mage is straightforward. The only thing we’d highlight is the importance of Mirror Image. It’s massive in stalling games in multiple matchups and works well with our card draw since it’s easy to dump from hand. Two copies are likely correct. We would also recommend running Antonidas, as it gives you a better chance at winning your oppressive matchups, though if you’re running into them constantly, you probably want to play a different deck.
Burn Mage is when Freeze Mages become impatient and want to fling their spells at their opponents’ faces earlier, but this deck isn’t very good either. It would probably be better if it ran Argent Squire (one of the most underrated cards in the format), but not to the extent where it would be a serious player.
Shaman is the biggest sleeper of Classic format. This class was quietly trodding along through most of Classic’s timeline and is not seeing much play these days either. Yet it is proving to have the tools required to stand against the very best decks in the game. We also strongly suspect that it never got the attention and refinement work it likely needed to fulfill its potential. We’re here to change that.
Midrange Shaman is pretty much the only archetype seeing play within the class, but we anticipate that it could end up splitting into two more distinct playstyles. The fatal flaw in common Midrange Shaman builds of the past is that they were far too slow and content with playing drawn out games. Builds running both Fire Elementals and Argent Commanders are very clunky, and the deck’s data screams at us that Shaman wants more lethality. It desperately wants ways to finish games.
Turns out that Shaman had incredible burst options that were criminally underutilized. Rockbiter may have been nerfed only years later, but it was already a very powerful card alongside Doomhammer. Lava Burst is a fantastic direct damage spell that gives the Shaman so much reach to end the game with Lightning Bolt. The best way to navigate this archetype is to take control of the early board while accumulating resources, but once Doomhammer is drawn, turn things up a notch and start going at the opponent’s throat. Al’Akir acts as the 2nd Doomhammer which is a bit more versatile as a board control option, since running two Doomhammers might carry diminishing returns. Removal such as Hex and Lightning Storm help you stall the game and deny the opponent’s pressure.
But one thing we’ve discovered about Shaman is that it can get even more aggressive, and though we can’t guarantee anything until we see more of it, this could be a direction that elevates the class even further in power. An Aggro Burn Shaman utilizing a lower curve, cuts situational removal and goes after the opponent’s throat from turn 1 looks like a unicorn deck that never truly existed all those years ago.
Leper Gnome looks fantastic in Midrange Shaman builds that seem confused about what they want to do. Knife Juggler is amazing in any board-centric deck. Loot Hoarder is a faster way to draw cards compared to the more passive Mana Tide Totem. Earth Shock is the only removal we need since it’s a cheap way to deal with big taunts compared to Hex. At the top end, we have Doomhammer fueled by Rockbiter. Alongside it, we’re building a cracked up Al’Akir with Leeroy Jenkins and Windfury.
What’s important to understand is that Windfury can be played on any minion alongside Rockbiter to provide burst damage in case we did not draw Doomhammer, and Leeroy is a hell of a card by itself. With the board control tools of Shaman, as well its burst damage, it’s looking like a real gem.
Paladin is surprisingly competitive in Classic thanks to its aggressive Shockadin deck, which aims to vomit minions to the board early, reload with Divine Favor and finish off the opponent with over-the-top damage through Truesilver Champion, Leeroy Jenkins and Avenging Wrath. The deck might not be that strong at higher levels, but it’s a serviceable deck, which is more than what many thought the class would offer in this format.
Much like other aggressive decks, we’ve found that players put too much value in mediocre chargers (Bluegill and Wolfrider are weak cards) rather than prioritizing early board control, which eventually helps you push more damage in the long run. You want 1-drops in your aggressive decks, but you’re particularly desperate for them in a deck that runs Divine Favor. King Mukla is a good card in the deck because it further fuels Divine Favor. Elven Archer is the original Pen Flinger and works well with Equality in removing a big threat.
Beyond the early minion curve, the deck carries over the top damage and comeback mechanics. You’re meant to seize the board early, push as much damage as possible until you fall behind, then use Equality in combination with Consecration and Avenging Wrath to swing back and land the last few fatal blows.
Control Paladin is bad. The best direction for the archetype is to taunt up and heal up. Much like in Control Warrior, it’s very important to not just sit and float mana in the mid-game. Fight for the board with your curve of minions and exhaust the opponent through forcing trades, then heal up chip damage with Guardian of Kings and Lay on Hands. Equality and Stampeding Kodo enable your swing turns. As we’ve said, it’s not a great plan, but it’s probably the best it can do.
Priest has delivered on its promise in being the worst class in Classic. There is likely nothing that Anduin can do to climb out of Tier 4 territory with its weak tools, but we did craft a Control Priest deck that might be able to scrape the top of Tier 4. Priest wasn’t just bad, it was horribly unrefined, with many bad cards being considered as staples and a game plan that was very inconsistent.
First, Shadow Word: Death and Thoughtsteal at 3 mana are not good cards. SW:D is only consistently good against one deck that’s going to kill you at some point since it either runs Jaraxxus or plays a burst combo you can’t avoid. Rather than sit around and passively wait until it can utilize its conditional removal, Priest needs to… you guessed it, develop minions at every turn, giving it a greater chance of value-trading to remove threats and taking advantage of its hero power as well as its Cleric/Circle package.
Injured Blademaster is fantastic at starting out a proactive game plan but needs follow up to take advantage of. Sen’jin Shieldmasta is an underrated 4-drop in the format, Azure Drake is basically always good in every class we’ve found it in and Cabal Shadow Priest is the best kind of removal since it allows you to develop while creating a tempo swing. It’s one of Priest’s best cards.
Of course, we still have removal options thanks to Auchenai Soulpriest and Wild Pyromancer, and Northshire Cleric is one of the format’s best card draw engines, but the question is what are we trying to draw into?
Priest, much like Shaman, is desperate to find ways to kill the opponent and end games. This is where Velen and Mind Blasts come in. This win condition seems essential for Control Priest decks, alongside damage-based removal that can also go face such as Holy Smite and Holy Fire. Ragnaros is also included to increase Priest’s lethality by giving it a way to deal 8 damage to the opponent’s face if it’s successfully established board control.
Relentlessly fight for board. Utilize your board swings if you’ve fallen behind. Set up the right moment to activate Cleric for a big draw turn. Find your lethality pieces and end the game in a proactive fashion. We can overcome Priest’s pathetic power level, together.
The first Classic report brings with it new discoveries about the format that the Hearthstone community never unearthed. Though some might have been worried about a report causing staleness in the meta, it turns out that publicly available data will likely lead to increased meta diversity, at least for a while.
Though Miracle Rogue’s greatness is certainly confirmed, the biggest news coming out of this report is the untapped potential of the Shaman class. Thrall never got the publicity back then, and many of his old tools are proving to be absolute game changers.
Midrange Shaman is an extremely well-rounded deck that carries game against any opponent, with a plethora of flexible options that players have never utilized to their fullest potential, especially when it comes to its burst damage.
Furthermore, the class’ affinity for aggression, which can be identified in the data, has led us to craft a purely aggressive Shaman deck that carries these underappreciated burst tools. Both archetypes exhibit Tier 1 potential, depending on other meta developments.
We’re looking forward to seeing Classic format further develop and collect more data on our initial findings. By the second report, we’re hoping to figure out more things about the format, adjust to resulting meta trends sparked by this report, and see whether our suggestions can be perfected further.
Good luck on your long grind to legend. May the elements guide you.
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.
vS Gold is a new membership plan aimed to support our efforts towards improving our content and data analysis while receiving some bonuses and extra features.
Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: