Welcome to the 112th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 4,600 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!
Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
There’s a trend of diversification and experimentation in the current meta, which is a familiar pattern from previous expansions. In the final month of an expansion, players are more inclined to try out new stuff just to freshen up their experience. As a result, established meta decks usually decline in their play rates, at least before the month draws to a close. Both Zoo and Even Warlock exhibit such a decline in their play rates (more significant in Even Warlock), leading to the class falling in its overall popularity.
Druid is another class that’s seeing declines across most ranks, though this has been an ongoing trend for several weeks now. While Druid is certainly stagnant when it comes to developing new ideas, this decline is also the result of community perception overvaluing the power level of the class initially before coming to terms with its actual performance.
Hunter is holding firm while also beginning to form ‘new’ archetypes. Non-Secret Midrange Hunters are branching out (though they’re still in their diapers and would require another week to statistically evaluate). Odd Hunter is also showing up in small numbers.
Rogue hasn’t changed much at lower levels of play, but the legend meta for Rogue is probably the best example of late expansion experimentation. Every archetype other than Odd Rogue has grown in popularity at higher levels of play, and all of them are displaying a change in their card usage. The archetypes that display this pattern most dramatically are Cube Rogue and Kingsbane Rogue.
Paladin isn’t seeing much experimentation, so the fall in play of Odd Paladin lines up with what we see from other established meta decks. Even Paladin continues to grow and establish a more noticeable presence after showing much promise over the past couple of weeks.
Shaman displays the biggest growth in prevalence over the past week. Enthusiasm has grown for Shudderwock Shaman, while Even Shaman is getting recognized for its top-tier performance level. At the bottleneck to legend (ranks 1-4), Even Shaman has become popular enough that it’s very hard to call it an “under-the-radar” deck anymore. It’s a pretty big dot on the radar now.
Priest, much like Rogue, is showing significant growth in its numbers at higher levels of play due to the increased experimentation at legend rank. Players are trying out pretty much anything the class has to offer, including a return to Spiteful Priest! The class’ most established archetype, Resurrect Priest, has also risen in play on the back of its pioneer’s latest high legend success (Asmodai).
Big-Spell Mage is seeing an uptick in play and is the only established meta deck for the class, though Murloc Mage’s increased presence at legend rank is still noticeable.
Warrior has declined across the board and is now the least popular class at every rank bracket. Odd Warrior remains the only competitive option for the class, and while it has definitely proven to be strong enough to find success, we do hope both Warrior and Mage will find opportunities to build new archetypes in the next expansion since they are somewhat lacking in the creative department.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
While there are a few interesting trends and observations that are worth discussing, there does seem to be an overall stabilization of power levels when it comes to the established decks. To put it in simple terms, the meta looks “solved.” It’s becoming unlikely that we will see dramatic changes in the meta at this point, especially when all eyes will be on the card reveal season of Rastakhan’s Rumble.
There is a strong correlation between the words “Odd”, “Even”, “Cube” and “Winning”. The Boomsday Project is heavily defined by Genn and Baku, and they have completely taken over the Hearthstone meta, especially when it comes to early game board control. We wouldn’t be as concerned with this development if not for the fact that Genn and Baku have 16 more months to spend in Standard format after RR releases. Considering how efficient and consistent Odd/Even decks are, it’s hard to envision early game mechanics that successfully push them out. Rotation is not guaranteed to make things better, so changing the meta might be a difficult challenge for Team 5. In Wild, this issue is even more profound, and with no rotation, there’s no end in sight.
Carnivorous Cube has proven to be a hell of a card, and more classes are unlocking its value potential and deathrattle synergies. Cube Rogue has joined the fray after a successful refinement phase that’s still ongoing and has shot up its win rate further at higher levels of play. There’s still quite a disparity between the performances of different builds, which leads us to believe further improvement is certainly possible.
Druid has long settled down in a decent, yet not dominating spot, boasting several viable archetypes with solid win rates. Its generic core is certainly not ideal and we’ve highlighted this problem ourselves. However, even in the worst case scenario where nothing changes, the rotation will solve this problem since the class stands to lose so much of its core in April. This isn’t true for Genn and Baku, which is why our primary concern does not lie in the Druid class.
Success with Rogue experimentation is not exclusive to Cube Rogue. Kingsbane Rogue has made its appearance in the power rankings and quite shockingly, looks the strongest we’ve ever recorded it to be. To put things into context, the archetype has drastically climbed in its win rate (4%+) over the past couple of weeks from a position where we didn’t think much of it to what we see today. Refinement leading to top legend success is currently trickling down ladder and is the reason why the deck performs better at higher levels of play at the moment. Kingsbane Rogue, as expected, folds to aggressive decks but is very annoying to deal with for several late game strategies.
Quest Rogue has a lower play rate, which is why it’s not shown in the table, but it’s also made continuous improvement from “dumpster” to “playable” during this period. Should the archetype receive another strong support card in the new expansion, we can certainly see it make yet another comeback to the top of Hearthstone’s meta. Keep your eyes on token generators and low-cost minions with strong static abilities.
Odd Warrior is suffering a decline in its win rate that’s most noticeable at higher levels of play, and it’s easy to understand why. A rise in oppressive counters such as Big-Spell Mage and Shudderwock Shaman, alongside the increasingly experimental meta and the appearance of control counters such as Kingsbane Rogue, has been making life more difficult for Garrosh lately.
We finish with Priest. Has the experimentation with the class been as successful as it appears to be for Rogue, based on our low sample estimates?
Resurrect Priest is still the best the class has to offer, and we do consider it to be a legitimate and competitive deck. Combo Priest is 2nd best, though its play rate has dropped to the point where it’s now off the table (similar power level to before, Tier 3-ish).
Spiteful Priest is not very good.
Control Priest looks Tier 3-ish.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Just like last month, Even Warlock’s play-rate has declined after the month ended, which is the typical behavior of a top meta deck. We fully expect the archetype to rise once again as the month draws to a close, as it has consistently proven to be one of the most reliable decks in the game. Success with the archetype has continued with several players hitting high legend spots over the past week. The featured build is the most standard approach you can take, though some players spice it up with a few techs such as Doomsayer, Stubborn Gastropod and Sacrificial Pact (for the Warlock mirror).
Zoo Warlock’s play-rate has also slightly declined, though it remains the most popular aggressive deck in the format. Builds of Zoo continue to vary by the selection of Dreadlords or Doomguards, while the rest of the shell has remained locked in place through most of this expansion. The most popular tech in the deck that’s not seen in the featured builds is Spellbreaker, and the card is not particularly strong against the current field.
Cube Warlock’s presence has remained very niche, confirming our belief that its position in the meta is being overshadowed by the more straightforward choice of Even Warlock. Both are very well-rounded decks that are difficult to counter, but Even Warlock is probably stronger for the majority of the players, while Cube Warlock may shine brighter for the top echelon.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Zoo Warlock
- Even Warlock
- Cube Warlock
- Control Warlock
Druid’s slow and steady decline continues for another week. Compared to most classes in the game, developments in Druid’s archetypes are few and far between, with most of them optimized in the early days after the patch. As for choosing the right Druid deck for a particular meta, we echo last week’s summary, which is still very relevant today.
While Druid boasts many different win conditions, its generic core shell is being utilized by practically all of its archetypes. We hope that Rastakhan’s Rumble diversifies the class, and forces its archetypes into different build directions. We recognize that it will be a tough task to successfully push Druid away from its current tools, though rotation should take care of that in April.
- Druid Class Radar
- Malygos Druid
- Taunt Druid
- Togwaggle Druid
- Mecha’thun Druid
- Token Druid
This week has seen increased interest in several of the late game Rogue archetypes that currently see modest play: Cube, Quest and Kingsbane Rogue have all seen some top legend success recently which spurred these archetypes to higher play rates.
Meanwhile, Odd Rogue continues to plug along. In a meta dominated by Odd Paladin, it’s hard for Odd Rogue to challenge the top tier, but it’s still a favored choice for many players. Aggressive decks have significantly slowed down over the past year, and Odd Rogue is probably the fastest one at the moment.
Cube Rogue’s numbers at legend have increased by 50%, and players continue to tweak it, attempting to find its best iteration. After evaluating its cards further, the one change we’ve done is removing Hench Clan Thugs. We’ve found that Thugs are not too impressive in this archetype since they clash with the deck’s best plan (Shinyfinder, Necrium Blade, Devilsaur Egg, and Corpsetaker) and it’s better to mulligan harder for that plan than keep Thug in most situations.
Furyhunter hit #1 legend with Kingsbane Rogue. His build omits Cutthroat Buccaneers and includes Zilliax, which is becoming more popular just as a standalone card in slower late game strategies to provide pseudo-removal and healing.
Finally, Quest Rogue is still making some noise with players taking the archetype to high legend ranks over the past week. Builds mostly center on Uberer’s iteration, and while Quest Rogue is still a weaker deck without Giggling Inventor, its performance has improved over the past couple of weeks to put it at a competitive spot on ladder.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Odd Rogue
- Cube Rogue
- Quest Rogue
- Kingsbane Rogue
- Miracle Rogue
Cube Hunter has changed very little this past week, although lists are trending towards being greedier to have advantages in the mirror and in late game matchups. ZittunPunk hit #1 legend with Portia’s build, which runs both Highmane and Devilsaur, as well as Defender of Argus, but no Mind Control Tech.
Although its representation is still too small to reliably evaluate, non-Secret Midrange Hunter is beginning to pop up as a result of Casie’s success with a Sea Giant variant. Combined with Unleash the Hounds, Sea Giants can swing the game pretty hard in aggressive matchups.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Cube Hunter
- Secret Hunter
- Spell Hunter
- Casie’s Midrange Hunter
You could make the case that Paladin is currently the strongest class on ladder, boasting two top-tier archetypes. Odd Paladin is an early game wrecking ball, while Even Paladin is potentially just as dominant.
Odd Paladin is largely unchanged in composition, but will likely remain near the top of the meta as long as Cube Hunter endures. The one downfall of the deck is that its matchups are somewhat polarized, and it does have some strong counters. However, as Odd Paladin you’d currently feel comfortable queuing into most decks on ladder.
Even Paladin is where things are getting a bit spicier. The archetype is continuing to grow in popularity with many players finding success with it at all levels of play. It has regularly found top legend success over the past couple of weeks, cementing it as one of the best decks in the game. It is a great response to a meta attempting to counter Odd Paladins, since Even Paladin doesn’t fear AOE and Spreading Plague nearly as much.
Shaman made the biggest gains in popularity this week. More people are jumping onto the bandwagon, with both the class’ primary archetypes rising in stock.
Shudderwock Shaman has gotten stronger after the balance changes, though the enthusiasm for it might have exaggerated. It has become one of the more popular decks in the game despite displaying a sub 50% win rate across all ranks. You’re still going to have a hard time dealing with Cube Hunters and Druids, so be wary of that.
Even Shaman has significantly grown in popularity in the climb to legend, with players recognizing the archetype’s strong performance against the field. Even Shaman comfortably beats Cube Hunter and Zoo Warlock, and out of the top meta decks, only runs into a significant disadvantage when facing Even Warlock.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Shudderwock Shaman
- Even Shaman
As players gear up for the next expansion, Priest experimentation has shot up with several archetypes reappearing after being gone for most of this expansion’s timeline.
Asmodai hit #11 with his Resurrect Priest, making a small adjustment by cutting Bloodmage Thalnos for a Witchwood Grizzly. Grizzly is a strong resurrecting target against aggressive decks, as proven by its success in the hybrid combo variant.
Sjow hit legend this month with Control Priest. The one significant strength of this archetype in the current meta is its good matchups against the Paladin class, while Psychic Scream can still do some work against Cube Hunters.
Spiteful Priest made a small comeback, rising in play mostly at lower ranks, with inspiration coming from Sonagi #10 legend peak earlier this month.
- Priest Class Radar
- Resurrect Priest
- Combo Priest
- Sjow’s Control Priest
- Sonagi’s Spiteful Priest
Several bad matchups for Odd Warrior have increased in popularity this week (Shudderwock Shaman, Big-Spell Mage) leading a fall in its win rate. Just as it was before the balance changes though, Odd Warrior is simply too good against the aggressive spectrum of the meta to not be relevant, and even with meta shifts, there will always be a baseline level of aggressive decks as there has been throughout the history of the game. With such ridiculously skewed matchups, Odd Warrior should always be able to pick up wins, even if it may feel like when you queue it on ladder you’re rolling a dice rather than playing a Hearthstone game. If you’re interested in making it less of a polarizing experience, running Odd-Taunt Warrior reduces it to some degree.
Big-Spell Mage has risen in popularity as more players realize it’s a worthwhile meta consideration. After all, it’s the best deck in the game against the most popular class in the game, being able to beat both Zoo and Even Warlock comfortably.
The archetype is still split between the Keleseth builds and the non-Keleseth builds, though Sjow’s Astromancer list has proven to be proactive enough to close the performance gap between the two approaches.
While outside of legend Big-Spell Mage is the dominant strategy for the class, we still see the sizeable pocket of Murloc Mage at legend. This deck is very fast paced and very polarizing. The snowballing nature of the murloc tribe makes Murloc Mage a pretty good threat against slower strategies that don’t contest the board early. However, aggressive matchups are extremely difficult to deal with, as you will often fall behind and have no reliable way to come back into the game.
- Mage Class Radar
- Big-Spell Mage
- Murloc Mage
Cube Rogue is a pretty strong deck that hasn’t stabilized in its builds or risen to a recognized status, but one that we can see perform much better in the hands of players who are up to date with its refinement. Much like the more established Hunter and Warlock archetypes, it abuses deathrattle activators alongside Carnivorous Cube and other strong deathrattle minions to create oppressive board states.
Corpsetaker has proven to be quite strong since it offers a way to swing back board and health against aggressive decks while offering a dangerous threat to control decks, especially with the availability of Cold Blood. Sonya Shadowcaster, not too different from her role in Quest Rogue, can often lock an opponent out of the game in spectacular fashion. Both are definitely worth including.
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 4,600 active contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.
Preparing our weekly article requires a significant amount of time and effort from many individuals. We would like to wholeheartedly thank our current Patreons, whose generous donations help us fund computing and server costs.
vS Gold is a new membership plan aimed to support our efforts towards improving our content and data analysis while receiving some bonuses and extra features.
Tier 3+ Patrons
Special thanks to Leo G, Aaron B, Jed M, Drew M, Alan J, Eric L, Zolstar, Lim E, Sean H, Steve F, Andrew N, NObdy, Mark S, Alonso P, msKang, Andrew R, Andrew H, James Y, PinkMageDiaries, Je-ho, seungwon, and Capilano for supporting us for the month of November.
Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: