vS Data Reaper Report #106

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from over 60,000 games.

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Welcome to the 106th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 5,200 active contributors and we thank them wholeheartedly. Contributing to the Data Reaper project through either Track-o-Bot or Hearthstone Deck Tracker (recommended) allows us to perform our analyses and to issue the weekly reports. Without the community’s contribution, there would be no project. Contributing data is very easy and takes a few simple steps, after which no other action is required. If you enjoy our content, and would like to make sure it remains consistent and free – Sign Up!

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Class/Archetype Distribution | Class Frequency | Matchup Winrates | vS Power Rankings | vS Meta Score | Class Analysis & Decklists | Meta Breaker of the Week | How to Contribute | Credits

Number of Games

Overall 60,000
Legend 8,000
Ranks 1-4 22,000
Ranks 5-9 20,000
Ranks 10-14 6,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

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Class Frequency

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Class Frequency Discussion

There are two contrasting trends when we’re looking at Druid and Warlock. Outside of legend, Warlock is the most popular class and has significantly risen in play with both Zoo and Even Warlock climbing in popularity. Druid has declined, and all of its archetypes have taken hits.

At legend, things are a bit different. Druid has slightly increased in popularity, remaining the #1 class, with every archetype except for Malygos Druid showing growth. Even Warlock’s growth continues at legend, but Zoo Warlock has actually slightly dropped in play.

Rogue is exhibiting somewhat similar numbers to last week’s. Odd Rogue is declining outside of legend, but ascending at legend. Quest Rogue’s numbers continue to be fairly low outside of legend, but at higher levels of play it’s one of the most influential decks in the game. Experimentation with other Rogue archetypes is in decline.

Cube Hunter has significantly declined at legend, while Secret Hunter has risen in play outside of legend. Spell Hunter has almost entirely disappeared at higher levels of play.

Mage exhibits nearly identical numbers outside of legend, but Aluneth Mage has made a pretty big jump in prevalence at legend. Last week, we saw the increased power level of the archetype at higher levels of play, the result of a decline in aggressive decks and the rise of both Quest Rogue and Even Warlock. The player base has picked up on these favorable trends and is using the deck to counter last week’s duo Meta Breakers.

Shaman is a class that seems to have barely changed from last week, save for a small overall uptick in play. It continues to receive very little attention from the player base, and very few players are trying to make improvements to its currently established archetypes.

Odd Warrior’s decline at legend last week seems to have trickled down to lower levels of play this week. Experimentation with other Warrior archetypes continue, but no other deck seems to be gaining significant traction.

Priest has climbed in prevalence thanks to the increased interest in Resurrect Priest. The deck has trickled down from legend to all levels of play and is now the most popular Priest archetype at all rank brackets. Priest is still fractured into many different archetypes, and even though they’ve all seen individual success at some point, none of them have proven to be consistent performers in the current meta.

Paladin lies in the bottom of play rates. We do see an increase in the number of Exodia Paladins thanks to Thijs’ success with the archetype, which means that when it comes to deck diversity, the class is a little better off than it used to be. Will this last or is it a temporary fad?

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vS Meta Score

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vS Power Rankings Discussion

There are quite a few surprises in this week’s Power Rankings, including results that heavily clash with players’ perceptions, so it’s important to understand why decks are behaving the way they are. We’ll give you a small preview: many of these surprises come from the growing influence of Aluneth Mage at legend.

Token Druid’s win rate continues to get knocked down as the meta settles into its presence. Two good examples of the increased hostility are Even Warlock’s rise in play and Quest Rogue’s shift into Fan of Knives builds. However, even when we take all of this into account, Token Druid is still the strongest deck out there. It’s just so versatile and flexible that it’s difficult to truly knock it down. The deck isn’t simple to play since it can play out very differently in different matchups, but learning when to pull its switches is highly rewarding.

Cube Hunter has also been slightly curbed, but its consistent matchup spread has kept its win rate high for a few weeks now. It performs very well against the Druid class, and some of its weaker matchups, which are usually aggressive decks, aren’t deal breakers.

Even Warlock completes the top 3. Much like Cube Hunter, it performs well against the Druid class. It also performs well against board-centric aggressive decks like Zoo. Finally, its ability to pressure with a strong mid-game makes it quite threatening against slower decks. Even Warlock has a bit of everything, and that makes it very well rounded against the field.

Odd Warrior has climbed back to Tier 1 at all levels of play. The increase in Warlocks outside of legend, and the increase in Odd Rogue and Aluneth Mage at legend, has benefitted the deck tremendously. Odd Warrior is still a very polarizing deck, which means it can blow hot and cold depending on what it happens to run into, but if you take advantage of the right field, the deck is extremely rewarding. While it’s heavily countered by Quest Rogue, it’s also somewhat enabled by it, since it can capitalize on aggressive responses to Quest Rogue. Together with Quest Rogue, Odd Warrior propagates the most polarizing meta we’ve ever seen (and in the near future, we will show you that this statement is made with the data to back it up).

Since we just talked about why Odd Warrior rose in power, it’s easy to understand why Quest Rogue dipped in power at legend. The deck’s win rate against Aluneth Mage is certainly being felt. Without Aluneth Mage in the meta, Quest Rogue would probably take the #1 spot at legend and spin completely out of control. It’s also not getting nerfed. The pleasure is mine.

Now we get to the juicy part: Even Shaman has jumped in its win rate to carve out a Tier 1 spot at most rank brackets. The deck almost no one cares to play, is actually quite strong right now. Despite its weak standing against the Druid class (which is likely why players avoid it), it has so many other good matchups that the math checks out in its favor. It performs very well against Hunter and aggressive decks, and it demolishes Aluneth Mage. Generally, it does very well in a faster meta. Recent individual results also line up with our observation, as multiple players have had high legend success with the archetype, including a player hitting #1 legend. This is not a coincidence; the deck is genuinely slept on. It definitely has its weaknesses, and its win rate might also be a result of being so underplayed, but it should be given more respect because it wins Hearthstone games.

Probably the most positive aspect of the Boomsday meta is that there are many competitive decks, including decks that don’t see as much fanfare. Odd Paladin can definitely feel frustrating, but it benefits from the same meta trends that favor Even Shaman. Odd Rogue, Aluneth Mage, Zoo Warlock and Secret Hunter are all successful aggressive decks of different flavors. Cube Warlock and the various Druid decks sitting at Tier 2 are all successful late game strategies of different flavors. That’s a bit too much Druid for some people’s tastes, but we can understand (regardless of whether or not we agree) why Team 5 decided not to nerf the class based how they see it perform.

And when we talk about the decks that currently look below average, we still find room for improvement. We maintain that Midrange Shaman would look stronger if the Corpsetaker package was fully embraced (it’s getting there). Big-Spell Mage would also look stronger if Keleseth was the popular variant. Neither deck would be meta breaking, but the variants we feature significantly outperform others.

More decks that aren’t listed in the Power Rankings but look competitive:

Odd-Taunt Warrior is as good as Odd Warrior.

Big and Spiteful Druid. Both hover around 50%.

Cube Rogue. Likely not played due to redundancy with Cube Hunter but it’s a perfectly viable deck with a decent win rate of around 50%.

We finish with the disappointing news. Resurrect Priest is just not very good. Exodia Paladin couldn’t make it to the power rankings, but if it did, it would also not look very good. These recent seeds of innovation have unfortunately not bloomed into decks that could become bigger players in the meta.

Class Analysis & Decklists

Druid | Hunter | Mage | Paladin | Priest | Rogue | Shaman | Warlock | Warrior

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Druid has stood still this week, with its primary archetypes showing relatively similar prevalence numbers to last week. Token Druid is the most popular Druid deck outside of legend, but it hasn’t surpassed Malygos Druid at legend.

Scavenger Token Druid has proven to be the superior variant for the archetype, and it is rising in popularity over the Violet Teacher variant. At the highest levels of play, Violet Teachers are almost never seen. Tyler has been frequently seen at #1 legend this week running the featured standard build.

Other Druid archetypes haven’t seen many changes. The featured Malygos Druid and Togwaggle Druid builds are very reliable and should perform best against the current field. Taunt Druid has enjoyed a lot of success in the AM playoffs thanks to a greedy tournament meta and its strong matchups against other Druid decks. Its dominance of Druid mirrors also makes it a relevant option for ladder play.

Overall, Druid continues to be very strong, carrying many competitive options. It’s hard to go wrong with any deck that runs the current shell available to the class.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock has seen a rise in play, with both Even Warlock and Zoo Warlock growing in popularity.

Even Warlock is now one of the top performing decks thanks to its good matchups against most Druid decks (Taunt Druid is the exception). If you want to beat Druid, Even Warlock is a reliable way to do it while keeping a decent matchup spread against the rest of the field. You still generally want to avoid Rogues, Mages and Cube Hunters. The increased focus on Secret Hunter over Cube Hunter is a very good development for Even Warlock, as the former is a significantly easier matchup.

Zoo Warlock tells a similar story to last week’s. We highly recommend running the Dreadlord variant on your legend climb especially because it performs much better against Token Druid. We feel that Doomguard is a bit of a trap card. It’s being auto-included in Zoo builds based on tradition rather than merit, and against a bigger slice of the current meta, Dreadlords are just better.

There are still Cube and Control Warlock sightings on ladder. Mecha’thun has ascended above meme status and is delivering surprisingly capable results in a Control Warlock shell. This is less true for Cube Warlock, where some players have experimented with running a Galvanizer/Mecha’thun/Dark Pact finisher with some success. Unlike Control Warlock though, Cube doesn’t need a super late game finisher since it thrives on beating down opponents in slower matchups.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

It’s been a steady week for Rogue, with the class sitting third in overall popularity. Both Odd Rogue and Quest Rogue are big players in the current meta.

xBlyzes hit #1 Legend recently with the featured Standard Quest Rogue build. This list has proven to be very successful, but Wax Elementals are still very common inclusions in the deck, usually replacing one Stonetusk Boar and either Mimic Pod or Elven Minstrel. Quest Rogue performed very well in the AM playoffs against a favorable field, though it could still struggle against aggressive line ups.

Other Rogue archetypes have fallen to the wayside due to either being too weak and outclassed by Quest Rogue (Miracle/Malygos/Kingsbane) or made redundant by other alternatives (Cube).

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Hunter remains relatively stable in its builds but both of its primary archetypes are shifting in their play rates. Cube Hunter has declined a decent amount over the past week, especially at higher levels of play. We’ve seen Mind Control Tech increase in popularity as a tech card for aggressive matchups and Token Druids, backed up by PhysicsKing’s high legend success.

Secret Hunter, meanwhile, is receiving a lot more attention at high legend ladder and tournament play. JustSaiyan and Tincho both utilized the deck in their lineups to qualify for the Fall Championship.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

As predicted last week, Aluneth Mage has seen a sharp spike in play amongst legend players, riding the wave of Quest Rogue and Even Warlock. In addition, the deck’s decent matchup against Token Druid put it in the strongest position it’s ever been during Boomsday. Uberer hit #10 legend with the standard Bloodmage Thalnos list.

On the other edge of the spectrum, Big-Spell Mage continues to plummet in play rate amongst high ranking players. The number of inevitable win conditions present at legend ranks makes life difficult for the archetype. However, at lower ranks where aggressive strategies are more popular, Big-Spell Mage can still hold its own. Another issue for the archetype is the player base’s preference for Doomsayer/Raven builds. There’s a reason we don’t feature them anymore: our data says “Keleseth all the way”.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Probably the most underrated class in the game, it is fair to consider Shaman to be underplayed considering how well Even Shaman is performing at the moment, including the highest levels of play. Atome has recently hit #1 legend with the Corpsetaker variant. The notable difference from common builds is the absence of Knife Jugglers and the inclusion of Mossy Horror as a tech card targeting Spreading Plague and the difficult Druid matchups. We do wish the archetype saw more play if only to be able to better evaluate and refine Even Shaman, since there are a few questions left unanswered when it comes to its optimization.

Ike, the original creator of the Midrange Shudderwock Shaman deck, has finally taken our advice (Thanks – Zalae) and embraced Corpsetakers on his way to #13 legend, cutting Zola the Gorgon and Kalimos for Lightning Storms. This deck is also a bit underrated and stronger than it’s perceived to be.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Despite some concerns over Odd Warrior’s standing in the meta last week, things may have actually gotten better for Warrior this week. The increase in Zoo Warlock, Even Warlock, Secret Hunter and Aluneth Mage are all favorable trends, in addition to the decline in Cube Hunters. Odd Warrior still has its terrible matchups, which are more popular at higher levels of play, but its dominance of aggressive decks means it’s very well positioned on the climb to legend. The tournament scene is a different story, where the AM playoffs were littered with lineups meant to hard counter Odd Warrior. These hard counters are nowhere near as popular on ladder, which is why there is a discrepancy in the archetype’s value between the two formats.

While Odd Warrior remains king, other options are still available, and we maintain that we like both Odd-Taunt Warrior and Mecha’thun Warrior as competitive ladder options that offer different strengths. The addition of the quest in Odd Warrior helps a lot against inevitable win conditions (Togwaggle/Shudderwock) while Mecha’thun Warrior is much stronger against a deck like Token Druid due to the availability of Warpath/Blood Razor.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

One day, Priest will be able to build decks with strong win conditions. That day is not today. Priest has always struggled to reliably win games unless heavily supported by expansion cards (Raza/Big Priest). Its classic set is incredibly weak, and it pays the price for it every time it whiffs on a new set. The revolving boom/bust cycle of both Paladin and Priest is the most dramatic symptom of the evergreen set, especially when you compare it to the state of Druid and Rogue which are blessed with strong, everlasting foundations.

For now, Control Priest is probably your best bet for ladder play as it can occasionally find success. The problem is that Control Priest is almost the same deck it was two expansions ago and that usually doesn’t translate into solid play rates.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Odd Paladin remains the name of the game and it just isn’t that interesting or new. It’s an aggressive deck with extremely polarizing matchups that make you feel like you’re playing Russian Roulette on ladder. Considering the demoralizing Druid matchups, it’s not surprising to see it being abandoned by the player base despite maintaining a solid win rate.

Exodia Paladin’s promise has been met with disappointment. It’s just not good enough. Paladin’s late game is so slow and weak that it pales in comparison to what other classes are capable of doing.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

We’re very curious to see what would happen to Even Shaman if it saw more play. Is it a deck that’s temporarily benefiting from a more favorable field and staying under the radar? Is it a deck that hasn’t actually seen its potential unlocked due to lack of interest from both players and content creators?  What we do know is that it’s been winning games often, and that makes it worth checking out at least, and answering these questions for ourselves.

Shaman has been plagued with boredom and lack of real meta developments recently, so it’s a refreshing change to see it do so well. Hopefully, this won’t be the last surprise of Boomsday. With balance changes being skipped this expansion it seems, we’re going to need natural shakeups in the meta. We are going to need them, badly.

Even Shaman

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