Welcome to the 110th edition of the Data Reaper Report! This is the first report following the balance changes.
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
After the sneak preview we gave you last week, we’re back in full force. Many things in the Hearthstone meta changed as a result of the balance patch, and many things didn’t. Judging by current perception of power levels, we estimate that the meta should significantly shift over the next couple of weeks.
Contrary to player expectations, Druid has dropped in play over the past couple of weeks. At legend, it is still the most popular class, barely ahead of Warlock. Malygos Druid is the most popular archetype and rises in play significantly at legend. Token Druid has fallen off in popularity since it is the Druid deck that was most affected by the balance changes after losing Giggling Inventor. Remember that Togwaggle and Mecha’thun Druid are still merged together under the name “Togg-C’Thun” for recognition bias reasons.
Warlock is the most popular class outside of legend and displays a very similar pattern to the pre-patch days. Zoo and Even Warlock are the two primary archetypes, followed by modest representations of Cube and Control Warlock.
Cube Hunter has become the most influential deck in the current meta and the most dominant late-game strategy. Secret Hunter has kept a smaller presence, while Spell Hunter remains very niche in comparison.
Quest Rogue has significantly fallen off in play, though we still see a small and stubborn presence of the deck at legend. Odd Rogue has slightly declined in play compared to pre-patch days. This void was filled by other Rogue archetypes: Miracle Rogue (both Espionage and non-Espionage builds), Cube Rogue and small buds of Kingsbane and Malygos Rogue.
Paladin, a class that was nearly forgotten before the balance changes, has drastically spiked in popularity following the patch. Odd Paladin has emerged as the hardest counter to Cube Hunter in the game, making it one of the most important components in the new meta. We can also see Even Paladin raising its head, while other Paladin archetypes have faded away.
Shaman is another class that has substantially risen in play, with players quick to jump back on the Shudderwock Shaman bandwagon following Quest Rogue’s decline. Even Shaman also sees increased play, but Midrange Shaman has pretty much disappeared after the loss of Giggling Inventor.
Priest has mostly grown in its numbers at higher levels of play, with Resurrect Priest returning to the field after its quick boom & bust cycle in the weeks before the patch. Combo Priest is the 2nd most popular archetype, followed by a fracture of slower strategies.
Mage has suffered the biggest fall in play, which was an expected outcome. Aluneth Mage, one of the most popular decks in the pre-patch meta, has vanished into thin air as a result of the destruction of Mana Wyrm, its most powerful minion. Big-Spell Mage, an archetype that was pretty much abandoned before the patch, has risen in play and has become the most popular deck for the class. Filling the void of aggression, we notice a small number of Murloc Mages while we also spot the usual jank you’d expect from Elemental Mage.
With Paladin’s rise, Warrior is once again left to sit at the bottom of the play rates, after slightly declining in prevalence over the past two weeks. It has received little attention from the player base and hasn’t had much refinement work done to it compared to other classes.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
It’s relatively simple to understand how the top decks in the new meta got there.
Cube Hunter is the strongest late game strategy in the game, tremendously benefitting from the disappearance of one of its best counters in Quest Rogue. Cube Hunter also beats Druid consistently and doesn’t have a single matchup that’s truly terrible (Odd Paladin beats it 60%-65% of the time, depending on the Hunter’s tech).
Odd Paladin is the best performing deck on ladder because no other deck beats Cube Hunter as consistently as it does. It obliterates Rogues and mostly loses to decks that are heavily discouraged by Cube Hunter’s presence. While Spreading Plague is still a problem, countless players have successfully hit top legend ranks with the deck by teching Void Rippers to hedge as much as possible against Druids while riding on Odd Paladin’s dominating matchup spread against the rest of the field.
Even Warlock is another very successful ladder deck at the moment because it’s even better-rounded that it was before. Aluneth Mage and Quest Rogue were its worst counters, so every matchup in the current meta feels winnable. It does fall off slightly at higher levels of play but it’s one of the most reliable and stable ladder climbing decks in the game.
Even Shaman quietly performing at a high level is pretty much routine at this point. It is being overshadowed by Odd Paladin in its role, since Paladin performs better against Hunters (and Rogues), but Shaman fares considerably better against Druids and Zoo Warlocks, which is something worth keeping in mind.
There are also quite a few other decks seeing little play but performing very well, with the player base not yet caught up to their potential:
Cube Warlock has dramatically improved with the patch, celebrating the death of Mana Wyrms. It has a very well rounded matchup spread with many winnable matchups, making it not too different from Even Warlock in that regard. But, Cube Warlock has a much higher skill ceiling in comparison.
Even Paladin looks very strong to us considering not much work has been done to refine the archetype. We think it can possibly break into Tier 1 at all levels of play. While most of the attention is given to Odd Paladin, what makes Even Paladin so enticing is its performance against the Druid class. There is no other deck in the game besides Even Paladin that can consistently beat both Druid and Hunter, and that’s a sign of a potential meta breaker down the road.
Cube Rogue is the least refined archetype in the table, and yet it’s showing a decent win rate despite being heavily experimental. Odd Paladin is a problematic matchup, but it does quite well against most other decks, with decent matchups against Druids and Hunters. Definitely an underrated deck that we’d like to see explored more.
As we’ve said last week, Druid is definitely not as strong as it’s advertised to be. Cube Hunter’s overbearing presence is proving to be quite punishing to Malfurion, especially when he plays defensively. The better performing Druid archetypes are Token and Malygos Druid for a good reason: they work to proactively kill their opponents rather than turtling up until the super late game.
While Malygos Druid is still unfavored against Cube Hunter, it is capable of bursting down the Hunter over the top before it’s overwhelmed on the board, which is not possible to do for Togwaggle or Mecha’thun Druid.
Token Druid performs best against Hunter because of its higher tendency for aggression, and it’s also an archetype that has room for refinement, with players still not fully transitioning to the Violet Teacher build.
While Taunt Druid does perform well against other Druids, the sacrifice in aggressive matchups makes it not worthwhile in most scenarios and its passivity still leaves it vulnerable to Cube Hunter.
Based on these results, we think both Zoo Warlock and Odd Rogue might be overplayed considering they see far more play than other early game strategies we’ve mentioned that could become stronger alternatives. Odd Rogue and Zoo Warlock don’t reliably beat Cube Hunter, especially when the Hunter is built to perform in aggressive matchups. Overall, there is definitely room for diversification when it comes to the aggressive side of the meta spectrum.
The control side of the spectrum also has some room to change. The player base is shying away from Big-Spell Mage and Odd Warrior largely due to their poor matchups against Cube Hunter, but these decks are so good at beating aggressive decks that it still makes them worthwhile ladder considerations, and their matchups against Hunter are hardly Quest Rogue-esque. Shudderwock Shaman and Togwaggle/Mecha’thun Druid are usually the bigger headaches for anti-aggro strategies to deal with.
Priest is doing better, much better than before the patch. Its two best decks are still sub 50%, but now they’re well within the competitive range. We don’t expect miracles from Anduin, but this week’s power ranking table indicates that the post-patch Boomsday meta will have no “dead classes.” The rise in Shudderwock Shaman’s win rate also indicates it is far stronger on ladder than it was before, and recent high legend success with the archetype also lines up with this finding.
Finally, a few words about lower sample archetypes:
While Hunter is thriving with both Cube and Secret Hunter looking like very strong decks, Spell Hunter doesn’t look like it’s joining the party. Its current standing is projected to be Tier 3 at best. Too many Druids are a problem.
We don’t think Quest Rogue will make a comeback in this expansion. The nerf to Giggling Inventors seems to have severely hampered it to the point where it’s not currently a threat. It’s sunk all the way down to Tier 4. It doesn’t look like Kingsbane Rogue will slot into the control counter niche either, as it still looks a bit too weak to become relevant.
While Miracle Rogue still looks statistically bad, we will say that non-Espionage Miracle Rogue actually looks quite strong. This may be an early meta Miracle Rogue syndrome, but the Gyong build is currently very competitive. If you love the archetype, it’s a good time to try it out.
Murloc Mage is a competitive aggressive deck but one that isn’t better than most options put there, which is why it may struggle to become a more relevant meta player. Mage could be a 1-deck class until the next expansion.
Class Analysis & Decklists
The Druid class has fallen in its overall numbers after the balance changes, which may come as a bit of a surprise. However, at legend, it is one of the two most popular classes in the game. It is also one of the classes that have changed the least as a result of the patch, with only Token Druid looking like a significantly different archetype.
Malygos Druid is the most popular Druid archetype, and its numbers rise at higher levels of play. We consider 29 cards as core to the deck, with the 30th either being The Lich King or the 2nd Mind Control Tech. Although we have seen several players find success running Faceless Manipulator, we haven’t found it to be a worthwhile inclusion in most matchups.
Togwaggle Druid has also found success after the balance changes, but Cube Hunter is a big problem for the archetype. Togwaggle’s most popular variant runs the Oaken Summons package, which is really strong against aggressive decks, especially Odd Rogue. The other approach runs Mind Control Techs, which specifically targets the difficult Cube Hunter matchup. ETC hit #1 legend last week running the MCT variant. Togwaggle Druid’s close cousin, Mecha’thun Druid, remains competitive and unchanged.
Token Druid has drastically fallen in popularity but is still finding its feet after the balance changes. We recommend running the Violet Teacher build. So far, it has proven to be the superior performer in the current meta.
Finally, Taunt Druid has slightly grown in popularity, which might have to do with its strong Druid matchups. It’s the Druid deck that beats other Druid decks, but be mindful that this comes at a cost of your aggressive matchups.
- Druid Class Radar
- Malygos Druid
- Taunt Druid
- Togwaggle Druid
- Mecha’thun Druid
- Token Druid
At least initially, Warlock was a big winner coming out of the Boomsday patch. Both Mana Wyrm and The Caverns Below were build-around cards that were a real pain to deal with for slower Warlock strategies.
Even Warlock continues to be a force in the meta, and now it is a harder deck to counter, meaning that it might be more consistent than before the disappearance of Quest Rogue and Aluneth Mage. We wouldn’t alter the pre-patch build, with the main debate revolving around Mossy Horror vs. the 2nd Dread Infernal at the 6 mana slot. We like Mossy Horror’s blow out potential against Druids, and it’s just as useful as Dread Infernal in the increasingly popular Odd Paladin matchup.
Zoo Warlock has suffered from a decline in both its prevalence and its win rate after the patch since aggressive decks are not as highly valued without Quest Rogue running rampant. While Dreadlords have always outperformed Doomguards, the disparity is even larger now due to the rise of Odd Paladin. We highly recommended Dreadlords at the moment.
Cube Warlock has reappeared in more sizeable numbers, benefitting from the Mana Wyrm nerf most of all. Both BoarControl and Ike have found high legend success piloting the archetype, running similar builds to the featured list. BoarControl opted to run Spellbreaker instead of Shroom Brewer for those turn 3 Devilsaur Eggs, while Ike ran a 2nd Faceless over Spiritsinger Umbra.
Control Warlock hasn’t been as successful, and the archetype remains very susceptible to multiple top meta decks. Zyrios peaked at #26 legend a couple of weeks ago with a Corpsetaker build, but we haven’t seen much promise from this archetype since.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Zoo Warlock
- Even Warlock
- Cube Warlock
- Control Warlock
Thanks to avoiding the nerfs, Hunter has become one of the strongest and most popular classes in the game. With Quest Rogue out of the picture, Cube Hunters in particular have more time to get on the board, making the archetype one of the strongest late game strategies available.
Over the past couple of weeks, Cube Hunter has proven to be quite flexible, being able to change cards in order to target specific matchups. The two featured builds best describe the spectrum of options available. If you’re interested in strengthening aggressive matchups, such as Odd Rogue, Zoo Warlock and Odd Paladin, the double Argus/MCT build by Xixo adds significant percentages against these decks. If you’re interested in dominating Druids harder, adding a 4th big beast (Highmane or Devilsaur), an Ooze to break Twigs and a Mossy Horror to nuke Spreading Plague is also a very successful route. You can also hybridize these variants as you see fit.
Secret Hunter remains largely unchanged following the patch, with a moderate number of players running the archetype. Although the deck is mostly filled with well-rounded matchups, the Odd Paladins that have risen to beat Cube Hunters are also dealing a heavy blow to Secret Hunters.
Spell Hunter is the best Hunter archetype to deal with aggressive decks, but it’s also very vulnerable to Druids, making it more meta dependent than the aforementioned archetypes.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Cube Hunter
- Secret Hunter
- Spell Hunter
Rogue has been heavily impacted by the balance changes, with the most dominant late game deck in the meta, Quest Rogue, hit hard by the nerf to Giggling Inventor. While early on Uberer managed to hit #1 legend with the archetype, signaling that the deck could still be competitive, it’s become clear over the following week that the deck is not nearly as strong as it used to be. Quest Rogue could make another comeback eventually (perhaps with the next expansion), but for now it’s settled in a fairly niche role.
A deck that has brushed off the balance changes better is Odd Rogue. While Giggling Inventor was heavily utilized by Odd Rogue, it was also used as an effective stalling weapon against it. With no Giggling Inventors around, Cobalt Scalebane has become the alternative 5-drop of choice, as it’s quite powerful against Druids.
The biggest winners for the Rogue class have been the forgotten decks that have been receiving renewed attention from the player base. Miracle Rogue continues to look atrociously bad in the numbers, but once again it has Academic Espionage to blame. The archetype tends to perform better in an early meta, but for now, a standard Miracle Rogue with Myra’s Unstable Element is actually quite strong.
Cube Rogue might be getting the most hype at the moment, and for a good reason: It was never a bad deck in Boomsday, and it has only gotten stronger with the balance changes. The build we featured in last week’s Early Impressions article has been working quite well. Corbett recently hit #21 legend with a different list that’s heavy in taunts, including Tar Creepers and Defenders of Argus. We’re confident that Corpsetakers are the way to go.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Odd Rogue
- Cube Rogue
- Miracle Rogue
- Quest Rogue
Paladin is back to the big leagues. After performing a pretty gnarly disappearing act for the majority of the Boomsday meta, the class has reappeared and skyrocketed to the top of the meta following the balance changes. Vegeta’s scouter is measuring Uther’s power level at over 9000.
Odd Paladin has emerged as the hardest counter in the game to Cube Hunter, and may very well be the best ladder deck in the current meta despite Druid’s prevalence. Its swarming of the board is lightning fast, beyond Rexxar’s ability to keep it contained. Giggling Inventor was also a huge obstacle for Odd Paladin to deal with in the mid-game, so its disappearance is very welcomed. Many players have hit high legend ranks with Odd Paladin over the past week, and we’re featuring two slightly different builds. Lightburn’s #1 legend build runs Boisterous Bard, which punishes opponents planning to clear the Paladin’s board the following turn. Gyong’s #4 legend build runs 1-drop mechs to improve early game consistency, dropping the 3-drop package of Raid Leader/Stonehill Defender. Void Ripper is a must-tech in the current meta because Druids give you the biggest problems, and the tech improves this matchup by a significant percentage.
Even Paladin is a bit slept on, but we could see it emerging to become just as strong as Odd Paladin is. It doesn’t counter Hunters as hard (though it is still a favorable matchup for the Paladin), but it performs much better against Druids due to the availability of single target buffs, the explosiveness of Corpsetaker and a heavier curve that can go tall against Spreading Plague. Players might be skeptic about our featured build which runs a crowded 8 mana slot and many weapons (that can, sometimes, get clunky), but since the deck lacks card draw, it’s very important to run a higher curve in order to guarantee drawing heavy hitters in the late game.
Mech Paladins centered on Kangor’s Endless Army and a deathrattle package have received more attention following the balance changes, but the archetype has lost some steam over the past week and we’re a bit more skeptical about its chances of lasting in the current meta.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Odd Paladin
- Even Paladin
Shaman has seen an increase in play. It’s still not one of the powerhouses defining the ladder meta, but it’s slowly becoming more and more influential.
While maintaining its status as a tournament staple, Shudderwock Shaman has seen an uptick in ladder play at all ranks, and its competitive viability has substantially increased as well. While there is some room for flexibility in the deck, the standard build will likely produce the best results. If you want to perform better against Cube Hunter, running two Earth Shocks and cutting an Acolyte of Pain is one good adjustment that you can make for this matchup. XHope had early high legend success running a Corpsetaker package with Zilliax, but we think it’s an inferior variant to running Mind Control Tech, one of the most busted neutrals in the current meta.
Even Shaman remains a strong ladder deck, but once again finds itself under the radar with most of the spotlight given to Odd Paladin. Midrange Shaman seems to have completely fallen off the face of the earth since Giggling Inventor’s disappearance. The card was very important for the archetype’s success, so we’re not surprised to see the deck vanish as a result.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Shudderwock Shaman
- Even Shaman
Priest has improved its standing in the meta following the balance changes. A more favorable field emerged for the two most popular Priest archetypes (Resurrect Priest and Combo Priest) thanks to the disappearance of Aluneth Mage and Quest Rogue, and the rise of Cube Hunter.
Resurrect Priest boasts one of the best matchups against Cube Hunter. To be more precise, Psychic Scream is one of the strongest cards in the game against the dominant Hunter deck since it completely resets its board development. For a similar reason, we recommend the hybrid Combo Priest from Zalae rather than the lower curve lists that cut Scream and Diamond Spellstone.
But even with its improvement, Priest is hardly a world beater and is unlikely to climb out of Tier 3 at this point. As a class that was so far behind in relevance from the rest of the field, a small climb up the bracket is not enough to bring it back to its glory days. Priest is a class that needs an influx of playable cards to pass mediocrity. That being said, at least it is competitively viable on ladder now. Our tip is to avoid the hype surrounding the meme decks running rampant within the class at the moment (memes have always been Priest’s forte) and stick to the more consistent options available shown.
- Priest Class Radar
- Resurrect Priest
- Combo Priest
The nerf to Mana Wyrm hit Mage hard. The play rate of the class has been cut in half and Mage now sits second from the bottom in class popularity.
The traditional Aluneth Mage has crashed and burnt. From its ashes, rises an army of angry fish men swearing vengeance. They helped Guiyze peak at #22 legend. However, Murloc Mage lacks the burst damage that Aluneth Mage possessed, and is a board centric deck that is much more vulnerable to AOE than its vanilla counterpart.
Big Spell Mage continues to hang around in the meta at a similar frequency to that in the pre-patch days. Big Spell Mage finds its niche role in punishing aggressive decks while being overwhelmed by Carnivorous Cubes and infinite damage/value decks. Its strength against aggression, however, is enough to put it at a pretty competitive spot on ladder right now.
While Warrior finds itself garnering relatively little attention compared other classes following the balance changes, it’s definitely looking strong enough to see play.
Odd Warrior still dominates aggressive matchups to the point where it’s hard to ignore. Odd Paladin is another victim of the archetype’s resilience, and even though it puts up a better fight than Odd Rogue or Zoo Warlock, it still finds itself in an unfavorable position against the piles of armor Warrior can build up. Players might be intimidated by Odd Warrior’s poor matchup against Cube Hunter, but hard teching for it with double MCT and double Owl does help quite a bit. Cube Hunter is nowhere near Quest Rogue’s dominance of the late game. Your biggest problem is dealing with Deathstalker Rexxar, rather than the Cube/Kathrena package, and the matchup is usually decided by how early the Death Knight is drawn. For this purpose, as well as gaining a few percentages against Druids, a sneaky Faceless Manipulator or a timely Azalina Soulthief can make a difference. Alternatively, you could include Fire Plume’s Heart and put a clock on your difficult opponents rather than playing strictly on the defensive and trying to win in fatigue.
Uther’s back in business and his mission is clear: wipe the grin off of Rexxar’s face. Odd Paladin has emerged as the frontrunner of the Hearthstone post-patch Boomsday meta thanks to its ability to deal with the meta defining deck that is Cube Hunter.
While Odd Paladin is the current #1, we do expect the meta to launch hostility towards it sooner or later. Thankfully for Uther, should the meta begin to stack AOE and scarabs against him, he can swap Baku for Genn and beat opponents by developing taller boards.
As we’ve hinted in the article, we should be guaranteed another week or two of meta shifts, before the spoiler season for the next expansion likely shoots a tranquilizing gun at Hearthstone ladder. We’re looking forward to what Blizzcon has in store for us.
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