Welcome to the 100th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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- This is the final Standard report for The Witchwood. The Data Reaper will be taking a break and likely return on August 16th to provide the first report for The Boomsday Project. The beginning of an expansion is the most exciting time to analyze data, so consider signing up to join our current data contributors and help us provide the best analysis we can produce.
- The beginning of August will bring about the 2nd vS Gold raffle for Data Contributors (details about the raffle are listed here). Make sure to check your registered E-Mail account at that time. You can follow @ViciousHS on Twitter for information on the launch of the raffle.
- We’re not done with Witchwood, however. A Wild report will be published this Sunday, July 29th, to summarize The Witchwood meta.
Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
With the card spoiler season underway, the Hearthstone meta reaches a point where innovation and experimentation are brought to an almost complete halt other than some late expansion memes. In this report’s class sections, we will focus on summarizing how each class shaped out in Witchwood.
Warlock will enter Boomsday as the most popular class in the game, but we do see a relaxation in its numbers at all levels of play. Last week, we saw signs of the meta adapting to the class’ high prevalence, with all of its archetypes having their win rates dented. This week’s response comes in the form of this small decline. One development in Warlock comes with the emergence of Control Warlock builds running the Treachery/Howlfiend combo. There is no great story to tell here: these decks are really bad!
All of Druid’s archetypes are exhibiting signs of stabilization in their numbers. Players continue to shift away from Taunt Druid but at a very slow pace. It’s very hard to predict what Druid deck you’re facing as the class has an absurd amount of options available to it, but the rule of thumb is that the higher you climb, the more Malygos Druid and less Taunt Druid you meet.
Rogue tells the same story of last week: Odd Rogue continues to grow while Miracle Rogue is declining. This lines up with our recent findings regarding these decks’ power levels. Odd Rogue is thriving in the Warlock meta while Miracle Rogue is struggling with recent trends.
With the small decline in Zoo and the further rise in its own numbers, Shudderwock Shaman is now the most popular deck at legend. Even Shaman retains a very small presence in comparison.
Hunter is the class that’s changing the most in the current meta, with players at lower ranks catching up with the trends observed last week at higher levels of play. Cube Hunter has seen a pretty big spike in popularity, while the older Kathrena Hunter is fading away.
Big-Spell Mage is declining in its numbers, which is likely a result of the increased Shudderwock presence. Elemental Mage has surged in its popularity and is displaying a noticeable presence at lower ranks. There isn’t a competitive reason for it: Elemental Mage is a very weak deck that has been experimented with by popular streamers recently.
Odd Paladin’s numbers are rising at legend, which is a perfect response to last week’s findings. As a strong counter to Cube Hunter, Odd Paladin has found a new matchup to thrive on in the current meta.
Priest and Warrior sit at the bottom with dwindling numbers. These classes are not as bad as their frequency numbers suggest, but the lack of interest from the player base is still an issue that should be a concern. New playstyles are sorely needed here.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
The post-patch Witchwood meta will be remembered as one of the most, if not the most, balanced and diverse meta’s in Hearthstone. The current fabric of strategies is so different than the one we’ve observed at the launch of the patch that it’s truly remarkable. New decks rose to power, others have fallen, and power levels of existing decks have spiked or crashed every week.
This week is no different. After being booted down by the rise of Zoo, things have drastically changed for Odd Paladin for the better over the last two weeks. The rise of Cube Hunter, as well as this week’s decline in the Warlock population, has seen Odd Paladin’s stock rise at all levels of play, putting it as the #1 deck at legend once again. Paladin will end Witchwood much like it started Witchwood: strong.
Malygos Druid is not too happy about the rise of Cube Hunter, so it has taken a hit in its win rate. However, this shouldn’t dissuade players from learning the deck on the eve of the current expansion, as the archetype is tipped by many players to be just as dominant in the next expansion. Floop is coming.
The small rise in Paladins and the small decline in Warlocks are making Token Druid quite happy. Overall, Druid is a very good class with very good decks that play very good cards. The class seemingly does everything well: a master of all trades.
Warlock might be the most popular class, but currently, it’s not the best performing class. All of its primary archetypes boast positive win rates, but the meta has certainly learned to deal with them to the point where their presence is not oppressive.
Cube Hunter has found its way to Tier 1 at all levels of play, fulfilling its expected rise in win rate this week. Even now, the archetype is very diverse in its builds and it’s tough to finalize an optimal list of 30 cards for it. It may never happen in this expansion. The fact that it’s a Tier 1 deck that showed up in the last month of Witchwood is quite impressive. Kathrena Hunter is experiencing a collapse in its win rate which is a result of the rapid prevalence decline, what we’ve called in the past “abandonment syndrome”. It’s a unique phenomenon for rapidly declining decks in which competitive players who follow the meta more closely, quit playing it first. This results in a player quality crash, leading to its win rate looking even worse.
While the small decline in Warlock is slightly felt in Odd Rogue’s win rate, it remains one of the best decks in the game. Meanwhile, Miracle Rogue is struggling to adapt to the current field and sees its win rate crash to the bottom of Tier 3 alongside Taunt Druid. Cube Hunter is just another bad matchup to add to the long list of struggles the deck faces at the moment.
As the most popular deck at legend, it’s quite impressive that Shudderwock Shaman maintains a good win rate at higher levels of play and even sees it climb further. While we do think it’s overplayed relative to its performance and the existence of many other strong decks, it’s similar to Quest Rogue in its unique win condition and playstyle, making it an attractive change of pace from “normal Hearthstone”. It’s also the ultimate late game deck, which all other strategies are forced to pressure. Considering that there are still two expansions left until Grumble and Saronite Chain Gang rotate out of standard, there is plenty of time left to “break” its infinite late game potential.
Mage ends Witchwood in a mediocre spot. Big-Spell Mage is a pretty decent deck for climbing to legend, but it becomes worse at legend due to the overbearing presence of Shudderwock. Aluneth Mage remains a below average archetype throughout ladder. The biggest story for Mage this week is that the noticeable presence of Elemental Mage, especially at lower ranks, is inflating the win rates of the rest of the field. Alongside Howlfiend Control Warlock, it’s a generous Tier 5 donator of wins, which explains the larger amount of “Tier 1” performing decks this week in general.
Priest gets a bad rap, but it’s really quite good. Control Priest has a good matchup against Cube Hunter (thanks to Psychic Scream), and has also benefitted from the previous rise in Zoo, elevating its win rate to a good number. We can understand players not giving Warrior a chance, since Taunt Warrior has definitely fallen off in recent times, but don’t be afraid of running Control Priest if you like the deck. It’s genuinely strong.
Class Analysis & Decklists
While Warlock was popular heading into Witchwood, it was in a much less interesting position than it is in right now: the dominance of Cubelock evaporated after the balance changes, and instead, we found ourselves ending the meta with a variety of Warlock archetypes all competing in different ways. While it’s the most popular class by a large margin, none of the Warlock decks are without strong counters.
Cube Warlock was the second most dominant and meta defining deck in the pre-patch meta after Even Paladin. Even after the balance changes, Cube Warlock never really left us. Although its play rate is quite low, it continued to see success, especially at higher levels of play and in tournaments. While its defensive tools weakened, its win condition is still very powerful and hard to deal with.
Even Warlock became the dominant Warlock strategy after the balance changes, and it was a very effective response to the rise of Odd Paladins. Its beat-down playstyle was accessible at all levels of play and put pressure on slower decks, but it still had the defensive tools to carry it in aggressive matchups. Much like Cube Warlock, it saw its power level toned down due to the rise in Rogues.
Zoo Warlock was the biggest story in the eve of The Witchwood meta, skyrocketing in its play rate overnight and becoming the most popular Warlock archetype, seemingly out of nowhere. Its new healing centric build was a surprisingly powerful variant that took over ladder and drastically changed the entire landscape, proving that even in what appears like a “stagnant and solved” meta, massive shifts can still occur.
As the most popular class in the game, Warlock is representative of what the post-patch Witchwood meta has ended up being: balanced, evolving, and diverse.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Zoo Warlock
- Even Warlock
- Cube Warlock
As the Witchwood meta concludes, avid Druid players couldn’t be happier with the state of their class. People seem to forget that Druid had troubles finding an identity during the K&C expansion, but its struggles have been washed away during The Witchwood, when it sports multiple top-tier archetypes. We have seen the emergence of many successful Druid decks over the past few months: Taunt Druid, Token Druid, Big Druid, Malygos Druid and Togwaggle Druid.
This success centers on the core ramp mechanic and Druid’s extremely powerful defensive tools. The class has a very strong core, on top of which any win condition seems to be working. This is why we struggle to envision a Boomsday meta in which Druid is not one of the most powerful classes.
- Druid Class Radar
- Malygos Druid
- Token Druid
- Taunt Druid
- Big Druid
- Togwaggle Druid
For a set that included only one fringe playable Rogue class card (Blink Fox), Witchwood has been pretty good for Rogue overall. Hench-Clan Thug has largely carried most of the Rogue archetypes, providing a really solid 3 drop that synergizes well with Rogue’s use of the Hero Power on turn 2.
We have seen Miracle Rogue and Odd Rogue remain ever present in the Witchwood meta, with their representation fluctuating a fair bit as the meta ebbed and flowed. Quest Rogue made a huge comeback at the beginning of Witchwood before receiving its second nerf, and then briefly made a comeback again towards the end of the current meta, in tournaments at least. While Quest Rogue has caused a big headache for Team 5, both Odd and Miracle Rogue contributed greatly to balancing the current meta, keeping Warlock from spinning out of control.
So far, Boomsday seems like it may push Rogue into the unknown once again. There isn’t a class that receives more off-the-wall cards that push boundaries than Rogue, which is intended by design. Valeera plays more tricks than any other: sometimes she serves as a diversity enabler, and sometimes she goes too far. Lab Recruiter seems to open up many possibilities, and so does Myra’s Unstable Element, with the synergy between them obvious.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Miracle Rogue
- Odd Rogue
- Kingsbane Rogue
- Radless’ Tempo Rogue
- Tarei’s Quest Rogue
Shaman is ending the Witchwood meta on a positive note, with its usage rate the highest it has been in several months. Shudderwock Shaman was hyped as the deck-to-beat when The Witchwood was released, but it was only after the balance changes that lead to the disappearance of Quest Rogue that Shudderwock saw success. It is now the most popular archetype at legend, though its win rate remains hovering around the average, and the meta is not too intimidated by it. Going forward, Shudderwock remains a very dangerous card, and the deck built around it can be considered a ticking time bomb. Any tool that would increase its consistency or its defensive options, could push Shudderwock Shaman over the edge.
Hunter in Witchwood was a story of innovation and excitement. Before the balance patch, the class was limited to pretty much just Spell Hunter, which wasn’t even that great considering the high presence of Even Paladin and Cube Warlock in the meta. Following the balance patch however, Hunter flourished, spawning several new archetypes with its biggest counters severely nerfed. Kathrena Hunter was one of the biggest surprises of the meta, being a fantastic response to the overwhelming greed at the time. As the meta trended back towards aggression, however, Kathrena Hunter became weaker. Hunter players adapted to the evolving meta, utilizing Devilsaur Eggs and Cubes to launch a spin on Katharena Hunter, Cube Hunter, which allowed the deck to carry more initiative against faster strategies. Until the final whistle of Witchwood, the Hunter class kept changing, a stark contrast to its dark days, when it was the quickest class to be figured out and pushed aside.
Hopefully, we will see Hunter continue to be a symbol of innovation in Boomsday.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Cube Hunter
- Kathrena Hunter
- Spell Hunter
- Midrange Hunter
- Face Hunter
As the Witchwood meta comes to a close, Mage exits similarly to how it entered, in the middle of the pack. Big-Spell Mage and Aluneth Mage have been the primary archetypes of the class, with Big-Spell performing impressively during most of the post-patch period. However, the Witchwood meta had plenty of surprises for Mage players. Who would have thought the murloc army would find its way to the class? It may not be the most stylish combination, but Murloc Mage is certainly functional. In addition, we’ve had a very late development in Big-Spell Mage, with builds running Keleseth and heavier minion shells. These builds ended up performing very well, and are powerful playstyle alternatives to the recognized standard. Turns out Keleseth is a good card!
- Mage Class Radar
- Big-Spell Mage
- Aluneth Mage
- Murloc Mage
The Witchwood was pretty good for Paladin, and it has been a powerful class in both its pre-patch and post-patch phases.
While Odd Paladin had the initial hype of the first few days, once the dust settled down, Even Paladin looked like the stronger deck. Not only was Even Paladin strong, but as it was further refined, it turned out to be an oppressively strong deck that took over ladder by storm.
The deck was alarmingly consistent, had great answers at all stages of the game, as well as tremendous reach at the end of the game with burst through Avenging Wrath and Argent Commander. The card that really made the deck tick though was Call to Arms. As one of the most powerful cards ever printed, it was nerfed about halfway through the lifecycle of the Witchwood meta.
With Call to Arms nerfed and Even Paladin being largely abandoned, Odd Paladin was left alone to carry the class to the finish line, and it did so successfully. Odd Paladin became the litmus test for early game, and had a massive impact on the meta. The rise of Spreading Plague, the fall of Taunt Druid, and the rise of Zoo Warlock were very much influenced and dictated by Paladin’s ladder success.
With an increasingly larger and larger card pool, Genn and Baku decks are likely to get stronger. Considering that Even Paladin turned out to be quite alright even without Call to Arms (though it’s still somewhat of a secret), there are reasons to believe we may continue to see them in Boomsday along with a potentially new Mech Paladin.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Odd Paladin
- Murloc Paladin
- Playchen’s Even Paladin
The Witchwood has been a weird meta for Priest. Control Priest was an extremely powerful deck before the balance changes, as it was a very consistent counter to Even Paladin. But the class struggled to find a role after the balance changes and was reduced to niche ladder presence even after it has found recent trends favorable. Perhaps Priest’s main complaint is that most of the current Priest decks feel like worse versions of their K&C counterparts rather than being anything new. The one exception is Quest Priest, which is not very impressive power-level-wise, but seems to be getting support in the new expansion.
Priest finds itself at a crossroad. As most of its identity was largely unchanged from pre-rotation days, other classes got stronger and looked different, especially after the balance changes. Priest could use new build-around cards that push it in different directions. Its shell is quite strong, but it also feels slightly old, and that might be why the player base is not very enthusiastic about it.
- Priest Class Radar
- Control Priest
- Combo Priest
- Quest Priest
Warrior is in a slightly better spot than where it was at the end of K&C. This is not saying much, of course, as K&C was a very dark period in the class’ history. Warrior remains the least played class with one seriously viable deck in a meta where some classes have had three or four. Taunt Warrior carried the class to relevance during Witchwood, but it was still a frustratingly polarizing deck that bended over to any intimidating late game strategy.
The problems the class has faced since the nerf of Fiery War Axe remain. The class requires too many dedicated slots to shore up its early game, and the class’ late game options are horrendously sub-par. Warrior’s inevitability is weak, its finishers are not intimidating, and its once grindy playstyle is nowhere near as strong as other classes’. Fatigue is just not a viable win condition in Witchwood.
We’re looking forward to Warrior being given an actual late game that needs to be accounted for. Whether it comes with proactive finishers, or support towards a value plan through DMH, it needs something, or it will remain the 9th class.
We’re in the midst of a card spoiler season, and we’re all too tempted to mention cards we feel could be extremely impactful and “break” the meta in The Boomsday Project, so here are some of our thoughts on what we’ve seen so far:
Giggling Inventor is one of the strongest neutrals we’ve seen printed in a very long time. This card’s power level reminds us of Sludge Belcher and could even surpass it since we can see it being played in a very wide variety of decks, both aggressive and defensive. Hello! Hello! Hello!
Biology Project is terrifying when Ultimate Infestation is in the format, since UI trivializes card disadvantage through ramp. It’s also terrifying since Master Oakheart is so absurdly powerful that your opponent is incapable of dealing with it no matter how much mana is available to it. Bio Project also acts as a coin in the late game in order to help execute combo’s, easily replacing Innervate. It’s a card we hope is not as good as we think it might be.
Flobbidinous Floop makes Malygos Druid so much stronger since it will be able to execute a perfect OTK without needing to break Twig. Weapon destruction will become an ineffective tech against what is already one of the strongest decks in the game, and the damage potential with Twig becomes so high that armor gain needs to be very high in order to stay safe.
Myra’s Unstable Element reminds us of The Caverns Below. It’s hard to theorycraft a perfect way to abuse this card before actual games are played, but if one consistent method is found, it could shape the entire late game meta around it. The fact that we’re getting Lab Recruiter in the same expansion makes it more likely that this win condition is found. Having Gang Up on a minion that can be tutored by Elven Minstrel increases the consistency of creating a desirable and potentially infinite late game. Watch out for these two together, and if you’re a Wild player, watch out for an onslaught of Coldlight Oracles.
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