It’s been over a month since the MSoG expansion released, making it a good time to examine statistics on the most played cards in the current Meta. These statistics will be helpful to both experienced players as well as to new players who are wondering which cards they should be investing their dust into. In addition, there’s been much discussion about the power level of the classic set compared to the expansions, and it seems that the Hearthstone design team is looking to reduce the power level of some evergreen cards in order to keep the Meta fresh from year to year. Thus, we are also interested to see how prevalent each set is in the current Meta, and how reliant is each class on the basic/classic set.
The data we present is based on 467,000 games from the months of December and January. The statistics we present are the following:
- The top 25 most frequently played cards filtered by:
- The percentage of cards played from each set:
- Class specific
A couple of important notes on the cards played data:
- The percentage reported is the frequency of a particular card being played as a fraction of all cards played in our sample of games.
- This analysis gives us a sense of cards played, rather than cards used in decks. This produces a bias in favor of certain cards:
- Low-mana cost cards, or mulligan priority cards, since they get played more often than expensive, late game cards.
- Neutral cards over class cards, since they can be played by all classes. This pertains to general tables (not to the tables that report each class separately).
- Non-legendary cards, since you can have two copies of them in each deck.
It is very apparent that despite the presence of the maximum six expansions/adventures possible in the standard year, the evergreen set is extremely impactful. 50% of the cards played in the current Meta are Basic and Classic cards. Whether this is due to the classic set being too powerful, or the expansion sets being too weak and/or lacking volume, is a separate issue. To answer this question, we’ve normalized the pie by accounting for each set’s number of cards, so we can get an understanding of the usage rate of an average card in each set.
We can see that the classic set is not particularly powerful when you compare it to expansions. In the current Meta, League of Explorers is the most impactful set, card for card, quickly followed by Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, with its Meta defining tools in Patches/Small Time Buccaneer and Kazakus. Whispers of the Old Gods and The Grand Tournament are the weakest expansions by a significant margin. So the main cause of the evergreen set being so prevalent in the current Meta is not its power relative to the expansions, but the sheer volume of cards it offers compared to the expansions. This will be even more apparent at the beginning of the standard year, when the rotation occurs and the card pool is at its smallest.
Indeed, in order for the Meta to be truly “fresh” every year, a combination of things may need to occur:
- The evergreen set needs to be gutted in terms of power level.
- The expansion sets need to be more powerful, card for card, with less room for filler cards like Pompous Thespian or Ice Rager.
- The evergreen set either needs to shrink, with a significant amount of cards rotated to Wild, or a smaller core set needs to be determined (rotating or not).
- The expansion sets need to contain a larger volume of cards.
Next, let’s look at the class specific pies (not normalized):
There is also quite a difference when looking at each class’ dependency on the classic set. Rogue is the class most reliant on these cards, with 62% of the cards it plays consisting of the evergreens. Priest and Shaman sit on the other end of the spectrum at 38%. A change in the power level of the evergreen set will certainly impact some classes more than others. Once again, the cause for this is debatable. Is Gadgetzan Auctioneer or Azure Drake too strong? Or does printing class cards like Shadow Rager and Gadgetzan Ferryman result in a lack of viable, alternative deck building options? Or maybe, it’s a little bit of both.
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.
This article was brought to you by: