vS Data Reaper Report #108

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from over 55,000 games.

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Welcome to the 108th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 5,000 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!

Quick Links

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 55,000
Legend 12,000
Ranks 1-4 17,000
Ranks 5-9 18,000
Ranks 10-14 4,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

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Class Frequency

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Class Frequency Discussion

Staleness is beginning to take root in the Boomsday meta. While decks continue to make tweaks, and new decks can still occasionally emerge, the experience feels very similar to what it was last week. The dramatic shifts we could observe weeks ago have died down and were replaced by a slightly flexible status quo.

Druid is experiencing a small decline in play. Most of its archetypes are in similar states to where they were last week, though a new archetype is currently branching out from Togwaggle Druid. An Oaken Summons Mecha’thun Druid utilizing the core Druid shell has been seeing more play and success recently. While Druid decks are generally very similar to each other, making them relatively challenging to reliably recognize separately compared to other classes, this poses a new level of difficulty. Both Togwaggle and Mecha’thun Druid have carbon copy game plans of aggressively drawing through their deck while carrying identical builds save for their unique win conditions, which can sometimes be hidden until the super late game (and often never played in aggressive matchups). Further testing will be required to determine how to approach them going forward.

Even Warlock has proven to be one of the most well-rounded decks in the current meta, and this has resulted in its numbers increasing. Zoo Warlock is also showing signs of climbing in popularity, helping to close the gap on Druid at higher levels of play.

Rogue has also risen in play, especially at legend. Following Druid’s decline and Warlock’s rise, Odd Rogue has immediately climbed in response. Quest Rogue is also showing slightly increased play.

Hunter has declined, with Cube Hunter falling at the rank 1-4 bracket. However, at legend, Hunter holds firm with identical numbers to last week. Both Cube Hunter and Secret Hunter display changes in their builds as players look to optimize their last two or three slots.

The success of Aluneth Mage born from killing Quest Rogues at legend is causing the deck to also be picked up more at lower levels of play. Other Mage decks, such as Big-Spell Mage, see minimal play.

After gradually declining over the past few weeks, Warrior is seeing increased play. Odd Warrior has made a significant jump in prevalence, which is particularly noticeable at legend.

Enthusiasm for Priest is cracking. Resurrect Priest’s numbers have taken a big hit at legend, while other archetypes maintain a very small representation. The decline in the class is still ongoing and may send it back into irrelevance before long.

Paladin remains at the bottom. Odd Paladin is a perfectly viable deck, but one that carries little interest amongst the player base. Exodia Paladin has failed to gain traction. The class’ eggs were placed in the mech basket for Boomsday, and nothing substantial has hatched there.

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vS Meta Score

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vS Power Rankings Discussion

Even Warlock and Token Druid are the overall best ladder decks in the game, and it’s not too difficult to understand why:

They have very well rounded matchup spreads. The Boomsday meta is extremely polarizing in general, but Token Druid and Even Warlock are two of the least polarizing decks in the game. This leads to a relatively stable experience when taking them to ladder.

They have few glaring weaknesses, and their worst matchups are usually either tolerable (not hard counters) or uncommon.

They are very flexible in their game plans, and can win in numerous ways. Both can play very defensively or very aggressively depending on the situation. In a diverse meta that boasts decks with extremely different playstyles, that’s a very good trait to have.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to go very wrong when picking a deck to take to ladder. There are various competitive and successful decks out there. Following Even Warlock and Token Druid is a long list of strong decks that have seen success at all levels of play.

Odd Warrior is enjoying the decline of Resurrect Priest as well as the uptick in aggression. In any aggressive meta, this deck is absolutely dominant and can make for a very easy climb in the right situation.

Quest Rogue has been hit by the same trends that Odd Warrior appreciates. Nevertheless, this deck is so dominant against late game strategies that it’s never going anywhere. It will continue to fluctuate in its power level on a weekly basis and punish the meta whenever it becomes too complacent.

And this is where the feeling of staleness is creeping up in our data analysis. Based on these results and our research, we struggle to find new developments to discuss and highlight. Decks could be increasing or decreasing in their win rates due to small changes in the meta, and there could be interesting card choices that we highlight in the class sections, but the meta dynamics seem to be established and somewhat predictable. We haven’t found a game-changing trend that could shake things up significantly and alter decks’ power levels beyond the normal cycle. This is why this week we will do something a bit out of character: we will talk about why the Boomsday meta could be diverse and balanced on paper, yet many players don’t find it to be fun or interesting. We do think the main problem in the Boomsday meta lies in two areas:

Quest Rogue and Odd Warrior. These decks are a design problem, because their dominance of different ends of the meta spectrum makes card choices less meaningful overall, since there is little counterplay to their core mechanics. Discoveries of new strategies are limited by the confines of what these two decks “allow”, and games against these decks often feel like grinding water: you’re not making meaningful decisions often enough, whether you are overwhelmingly favored or oppressively unfavored. Decks that are littered with 80-20 and 70-30 matchups are unhealthy and unfun.

Druid’s generic core. It’s too powerful. It’s so powerful that the win condition sprinkled on top of that generic core loses its meaning.

Sure, it may be that Druid has multiple different archetypes seeing play, but how different are they really when they all play the same 20+ cards, and opponents experience playing against these cards over and over again? A good example is Branching Paths. It’s just good no matter which Druid archetype you’re playing: it’s an auto-include card that requires no thought or deck building decision whatsoever. The game plan of ramping into Ultimate Infestation is good no matter which Druid archetype you’re playing. Ramping with Wild Growth and Nourish used to carry the drawback of sacrificing card advantage and risking the follow-up plays. With Ultimate Infestation, ramping has no meaningful drawback: instead, we now ramp to gain card advantage. Along with Spreading Plague punishing wide boards, too many of Druid’s core weaknesses have been shored up.

In contrast, other classes are pushed in different directions and forced to make real decisions in their card choices. The biggest “choice” Druid has to make is giving up Spreading Plague in order to play Witching Hour. Druid just doesn’t need to make real choices, and we definitely do not want all classes to be “as diverse” as Druid is right now, because its diversity is based on labeling and isn’t fully translated to the game experience. This is also why the complaints about Druid are so prevalent despite it not looking too strong in the numbers.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Multiple players have had top legend success with Mecha’thun Druid at the end of September. This latest iteration doesn’t run Gadgetzan Auctioneer to burn through the deck with cheap spells quickly. Instead, it relies on the familiar defensive Druid shell to stall the game until it can execute the Mecha’thun/Innervate/Naturalize finishing combo. As such, this variant very much resembles Togwaggle Druid and it can be quite difficult to differentiate between the two until the later stages of the game. Since Mecha’thun Druid runs less “dead cards” than Togwaggle Druid, it performs better against aggressive decks. However, it is brutally countered by Skulking Geist and Demonic Project, with even less room to maneuver around them compared to Togwaggle Druid.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Even Warlock is one of the strongest decks in the current meta, and it continues to rise in play across different rank brackets. Demonic Project has become a more common tech recently to target Druids, but we strongly disagree with the inclusion of the card. The featured build is already geared to perform well against all types of Druids, and running a niche tech that’s usually awful in other matchups is definitely not worth it. Skulking Geist, Mossy Horror and Bonemare are proactive Druid techs that remain powerful in other matchups as well.

Zoo Warlock is the most popular deck in the game, and remains split between the Doomguard variants and the Dreadlord variants. Enthusiasm to counter Druid at all costs is also present here, with Mossy Horror growing in popularity. Much like Demonic Project in Even Warlock, Mossy Horror is an overkill tech in Zoo Warlock and we can’t recommend it unless you run into Druid literally every other game (and not just feel like you are!).

Cube Warlock isn’t played much, and it’s not as strong as the aforementioned two, but it still has a pretty good win rate. Control Warlock has recently seen experimentation with Howlfiend/Treachery builds that aim to discard your opponent’s card. These builds might be fun, but they are pretty bad.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Rogue is a very powerful class with two of the most influential decks in the game. Both Quest Rogue and Odd Rogue have proven to be very successful in producing strong finishes in the September season.

Rage finished #1 legend with a Quest Rogue build that runs Lab Recruiter and Backstabs. Lab Recruiter allows the deck to patiently grind out late game matchups without worrying about fatigue. This does have hidden value related to decision making that you wouldn’t see in raw stats, but the card is very weak outside of these late game scenarios. Backstabs help you fend off early aggression in some of your worst matchups (Aluneth Mage, Zoo) but at the cost of late game consistency. The pairing of Backstabs together with Lab Recruiter is smart in that regard, since each choice helps cover for the deficiency created by the other. We do still like the power of Wax Elementals and Stonetusk Boars, so we would consider the final 3 slots flexible and playstyle dependent.

One trend that can be observed in Odd Rogue involves cutting Void Ripper for a Blink Fox or Edwin Van Cleef. Void Ripper is strictly a Druid tech, and players usually avoid playing Odd Rogue when they run into too many Druids anyway. The other debate is on Myra’s Unstable Element inclusion, and here we have a more clear answer: it is absolutely correct to include it.

Perhaps a surprising Rogue deck to see performing well is Cube Rogue, but it is an archetype that displayed a competitive win rate before disappearing. Riku97 piloted his build to #6 legend in the last couple days of September while Lindred took the same build to #1 legend on Asia in October.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Cube Hunter helped several players hit top legend ranks. One card that’s picking up traction recently is Zilliax, which is strictly used as a pseudo removal and stabilization tool against aggressive decks. This week we’re featuring two builds that best represent the options available for the archetype.

FroStee hit #2 legend with a fairly standard build that techs Ooze primarily for the Twig Druid matchups. Zalae’s build utilizes Mind Control Techs to perform better in aggressive matchups, in the mirror and against Token Druids. MCT has risen in popularity in the last couple of weeks and performed quite well. Zalae’s build also includes Defender of Argus at the 4 slot while reducing the Kathrena package to a minimum of 3 beasts.

Secret Hunter hasn’t seen as much success recently, as players seem to have opted for other options at higher levels of play. The most notable trend for the archetype recently has been the inclusion of Snipes in order to disrupt Quest Rogues in the early game, as exhibited in HotMeowth’s iteration of BoarControl’s list. Snipes are also quite useful against Aluneth Mage, further justifying their inclusion in a Quest Rogue meta.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

As Quest Rogue continues to dictate the meta at higher levels of play, Aluneth Mage shows up to crush it. Many players have had top legend success with the archetype by riding on this dominant matchup; two of them are Viper and Ostkaka. Both players include Lifedrinker in the final flex spot to offer further direct damage to the opponent’s face, while they only differ in the 3rd secret  – debating between Counterspell and Mirror Entity. It can pay off to switch up the secret package and catch your opponent off guard. Players have become so accustomed to playing around Counterspell and Explosive Runes that a tiny switch can turn games on their head (though Runes is too good to ever cut).

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Shaman is around the middle of the pack in terms of usage on ladder. It’s not as attractive as the meta-defining classes of this expansion, but it’s definitely strong enough to perform well. Not much has changed within the class since the recent refinements in Even Shaman and Midrange Shaman. Both of these archetypes have been doing quite well on ladder, while Shudderwock Shaman is more of a tournament deck, where its weaknesses can be partially covered in the presence of a ban.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Things are going well for Warrior. This week sees some beneficial changes in the meta, with a rise in Odd Rogue, a (predictable) fall in Resurrect Priest, and a rise in Aluneth Mage headlining the good news. Odd Warrior has been a very relevant player at higher levels of play, with multiple players reaching top legend ranks by taking advantage of its matchup spread.

It’s abundantly clear at this point that aggressive decks will never leave the meta, and while Quest Rogue is a terrible matchup for Odd Warrior, it drives aggressive decks play rates up, which then creates an opportunity for Odd Warrior to thrive in. The co-dependency between the two most polarizing decks in the game has driven many meta trends observed in Boomsday.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

There isn’t too much to elaborate on Priest this week. Resurrect Priest saw its win percentage increase last week, but it wasn’t anything to brag about, and it’s already beginning to decline as Asmodai’s success with the deck has not been replicated. It’s been notably absent from the long list of top legend success stories at the end of the month.

Resurrect Priest remains the most popular Priest deck in what can be considered to be a memey period for Anduin. The class has really struggled to land on an identity ever since the balance changes during Witchwood, and though players have continuously attempted to find a consistently successful strategy, nothing has really made its mark in Boomsday.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

And so goes yet another week of utter boredom for Paladin. The entire class is in danger of falling off the meta radar, not necessarily due to a lack of competitive viability, but due to the lack of compelling new mechanics or playstyles that failed to establish themselves in Boomsday. Odd Paladin is a strong deck, but it is also painfully predictable and demoralizingly poor against Druids, and the current player base really, really hates losing to Druids.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

The Boomsday meta needs a shake-up and we’re concerned that one isn’t showing up on the horizon. For now, Even Warlock and Token Druid are the most reliable and consistent decks in the game for the reasons we’ve previously highlighted. A real Meta Breaker will have to wait.

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 5,000 active contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.

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  1. I totally agree with your points on the current metagame. Thanks and well done, Vicious Syndicate.

    I’d like to add, that there should be reliable, neutral Combo disruption in the evergreen set. For my liking, a card like Coldlight Oracle is also lacking in the format. If not neutral, because of design space, give it to some classes. Demonic and Research Project both don’t do the job for me by a large margin. (Demonic project is a liabilty and Research Project should be a minion).

  2. Why in any tempo mage list is not considered Leeroy Jenkins as an alternative? Its 1 more mana than lifedrinker and do double damage. 1 more mana than fireball and do the same damage. Is “the face damage” card…

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