Welcome to the 116th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
The Rastakhan meta is changing, but it’s changing at a much slower pace than we anticipated. As a result, the disparity between the legend meta and the meta outside of legend is still quite high. We’re not sure why the information is trickling down so slowly. Perhaps it has to do with the holidays, but we’re only left to speculate. What it means is that the meta composition hasn’t changed too drastically from last week, and that the game at legend still feels very different compared to the game outside of legend.
The Hunter population remains very high, especially at lower levels of play, where Spell Hunter is absurdly popular. The archetype’s numbers have slightly dropped at ranks 1-4, and it is also no longer the most popular deck at legend after being overtaken by Midrange Hunter.
The legend meta is far quicker to change, and we see that with Midrange Hunter, one of the fastest growing archetypes in the game. Midrange Hunter is seeing a lot of development after enjoying a significant amount of success at higher levels of play. The most important development is the appearance of Hybrid Hunters which run Master’s Call alongside a Spellstone package. These Hybrid Hunters are currently included within the Midrange Hunter archetype but could be split off to their own archetype or merged with Secret Hunter, depending on the direction they take. We will have to do some recognition testing before deciding on the best approach here, since it’s still very early and their numbers in this data-set have yet to reach a critical mass for proper testing.
Cube Hunter’s numbers are stable across the board, but Secret Hunter has significantly declined. This is likely due to the attention being given to Hybrid Hunter, which attempts to utilize Spellstone in a different minion shell. Competition within the same niche often leads to such a decline through redundancy.
There are a couple of classes that enjoy the Hunter meta, and Paladin is one of them. The class has grown at all levels of play behind its three primary archetypes: Exodia, Even and Odd. Odd Paladin has spiked in prevalence the hardest and is now very noticeable after “taking a short break” as a result of the balance changes.
Priest is also rising in play, especially at legend, where Resurrect Priest’s numbers have nearly doubled after recent high legend success gave it good publicity. Control Priest has also grown in prevalence, and we’re witnessing a significant change in its card usage, something we pushed for last week. Meanwhile, APM Priest is fading away, joining the list of Priest archetypes that haven’t carved out a place in the meta yet (Mecha’thun, Vanilla Quest and Inner Fire Combo).
Rogue is in the process of cleaning up, though it still has some way to go. Odd Rogue, last week’s meta breaker, has grown in popularity at all levels of play. Tempo Rogue’s decline comes down to the gradual disappearance of Hooktusk non-believers. Miracle Rogue is also seeing a higher concentration of the new Raiding Party Myracle Rogues over the older Sprint variants as well as the meme Espionage variants.
Last week, Warlock was struggling, and this is translating into an overall decline in its numbers. Cube Warlock is the only deck holding firm, becoming the most popular class archetype from rank 4 onwards. Both Even Warlock and Zoo Warlock are fading, while Control Warlock remains very niche. The interesting development in the class is the appearance of Mecha’thun Warlock, which nears 1% at legend. Its numbers are still too low to confidently evaluate, but we can get a better grasp of its power level.
Outside of legend, Warrior seems to have stabilized, but at legend, it’s declining. Odd-Taunt Warrior is now significantly more popular than Odd Warrior. Unfortunately, non-Baku decks of the class have all but disappeared, with Rush Warrior quickly abandoned after making a guest appearance during the first week of the balance changes.
Mage is suffering a sharp decline in its popularity at all levels of play, with all of its archetypes becoming a rare sight, especially at higher levels of play: not a single Mage deck hits 2% at legend, with Big-Spell Mage being the most popular one.
Shaman isn’t having a great time either, at least when it comes to deck diversity. Every single deck other than Even Shaman has died out, and Even-Shaman retains a very modest representation at all ranks.
Druid is sinking deeper into the gutter, boasting similar numbers to Shaman during Kobolds & Catacombs. Every pre-patch Druid deck is quickly disappearing, and there are attempts at establishing new shells. The most significant one, which is particularly noticeable at legend, is Miracle Druid running Gadgetzan Auctioneer and a Mecha’thun finisher. An old idea from Boomsday that has previously failed to gain traction is now re-emerging, as players attempt to save the Druid class from going under.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
The meta being slow to change is also causing the power levels at the top to remain mostly unchanged. Despite taking a hit in its win rate due to the rise of aggressive matchups, Cube Hunter is still the strongest performer in the game, with Odd Rogue becoming stronger in the legend meta where there are less Hunters running Spellstone. However, the rest of the table does present some significant changes that are important to discuss, and we will be focusing our analysis on them.
Odd Paladin is back in Tier 1, finishing a quick refinement phase to compensate for the loss of Level Up. In the early days of the patch, Odd Paladin carried some very sub-optimal builds, and once they faded away from existence its win rate shot up. So, did the balance changes achieve nothing with respect to the archetype? Losing Level Up definitely hurts the deck and it’s much more vulnerable than it used to be. However, this is offset by the disappearance of Druids carrying Spreading Plague, and the rise of Hunters. The post-patch meta has just become extremely favorable for Odd Paladin, which is the only deck in the game that can consistently beat every single Hunter archetype. This makes it a very attractive choice on ladder, since there sure are a lot of Hunters around!
Even Paladin is a less polarizing deck that would certainly perform better in a more diverse meta, but it doesn’t obliterate Hunters like Odd Paladin. It’s a great choice if you’re interested in “having a chance” against everything since it’s much more flexible in its game plan.
Exodia Paladin is a terrific deck on the climb to legend since it performs so well against Spell Hunter. This establishes Paladin as the best class at ranks 1-4 where it has three of the four Tier 1 representatives. However, Exodia Paladin significantly falls off at higher levels, where the meta is more hostile to it, with less Spell Hunters, fewer Warriors and more difficult matchups such as Resurrect Priest.
Midrange Hunter is not just rising in popularity, it’s also rapidly rising in its win rate. At legend, where its refinement is at a more advanced stage, it jumps all the way to Tier 1. While the original Master’s Call builds are very strong, our early analysis indicates that the Hybrid builds could be even stronger. Considering that Midrange Hunter’s optimization is still far from finished and it’s still weighed down by outdated lists, the hype surrounding the archetype seems to be justified. It could well become “the” Hunter deck.
With Cube Hunter dominating and Midrange Hunter rising, Spell Hunter is left behind when it comes to its performance. While it’s certainly a strong deck, its play rate is massively inflated, and we wonder when the bubble will burst. Players at rank 14 certainly love the deck, but it’s quite exploitable in a more competitive meta. There are plenty of ways you can take advantage of this matchup to climb up ladder very quickly. Priest and Paladin have the most consistent ways to do it. Pick one and farm away.
While Resurrect Priest has received most of the attention, it’s Control Priest that’s showing even more promise while going through a highly successful refinement phase. It turns out that when you take out bad cards and add good ones, you have a better deck! Control Priest has a very strong matchup spread, dealing with most Hunter decks very well, comfortably beating faster Paladins and obliterating Warlocks. There is only one hard counter to Control Priest, which are the armor stacking Odd Warriors.
Judging by the way Warrior is performing, Control Priest may have more reasons to celebrate. Warrior is beginning to establish a pattern where it starts a new meta strong and then gets countered to hell. Both Odd and Odd-Taunt are suffering the effects of increased hostility led by the rise of Exodia Paladin and Resurrect Priest. At higher levels of play, Odd-Taunt Warrior has been quickly kicked out of Tier 1, while the more vulnerable Odd Warrior has sunk all the way to Tier 3. The rise of Odd Rogue has not been enough to offset these negative trends, and Garrosh will now be hoping that the meta wakes up and transitions to a more favorable spot for him.
Warlock continues to fall as the previous rivalry it’s had with Druid now looks more like a convenient alliance. Druid has kept many hypothetical counters to Warlock out of the way, and now that they are gone, Gul’dan is bleeding games at an alarming pace. Even-Warlock has now dropped to Tier 3, while Zoo Warlock is sinking deeper into irrelevance. Only Cube Warlock is keeping its head above the water thanks to a couple of very strong matchups (Exodia Paladin, Spell Hunter).
Outside of Odd Rogue, things for Valeera may seem bleak, but the class is stronger than it appears. As Tempo Rogue is embracing Hooktusk builds, its win rate continues to rise. We think it’s a pretty good deck with Tier 2 potential, though it does need Spell Hunter to significantly decline before it can thrive (and it’s part of the reason why it performs much better at legend). Within the messy Miracle Rogue archetype, the Myracle variant shines. J_Alexander’s build, which we’ve already featured last week, is far closer to Tier 2 than it is to Tier 4.
Things look genuinely grim for Jaina, and unlike Valeera, she doesn’t have a good excuse for it. Big-Spell Mage’s win rate is collapsing, and neither Odd Mage variants appear to be breaking out. Rather than mediocrity, the Mage class could be sinking into something worse.
Shaman is a one-deck class. That one deck is strong and has also improved in its performance over the past week thanks to a few favorable meta trends, but Even Shaman is all that’s left of the class. Don’t expect anything surprising to emerge over the next few months.
Is there any hope for the Druid class? Miracle Druid’s numbers are still too low to confidently evaluate, but while individual success has been seen with the deck, we wouldn’t hold our breath about its chance to break into the meta. Its projected win rate is still deep in the Tier 4 territory. Other experiments with the class could have a tier of their own, and APM Priest is waiting to welcome them there.
Within the experimentation that is still ongoing, we will mention Mecha’thun Warlock. The deck has had a drastic increase in its win rate to climb out of the dumpster. It’s still not enough to become a meta deck, but it is on a decent trajectory and its refinement is still ongoing. It looks better than Mecha’thun Druid by a fair bit and is more comparable in its power level to Mecha’thun Priest. We could see it end up being better than both.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Hunter is pretty good! The class has a ridiculous number of options for a successful ladder climb, and it’s developing even more of them.
It’s hard to argue against Cube Hunter being the best deck in the game today. It’s a very powerful strategy that can generate an obscene amount of pressure that renders any removal plan against it futile. While there are some tech choices that can be included in the deck, we’ve found that tech options carry narrow advantages, and strong all-around cards win more in the long run, so Stitched Trackers are included in the featured build instead. Let our opponents worry about us.
Spell Hunter is still hugely popular, but the archetype is falling behind other Hunter decks in power level. Its build has been refined very early and there isn’t much room to improve it, while other decks continue to optimize. The deck is still strong, just not as strong as other options and certainly not as strong as it’s perceived to be.
Secret Hunter is similarly stable in its builds, and it’s currently being overlooked due to the attention given to Midrange Hunter, as well as its hybrid builds. The deck is still very powerful, and its proactivity gives it some benefits over running Spell Hunter.
Midrange Hunter is blowing up, with several players hitting top legend ranks with the archetype. While the Token Master’s Call build from last week is still very good, iterations that fit a Spellstone package might be even stronger and have been at the center of successful innovations recently. The hybrid builds gained traction only recently, so we will need another week to thoroughly test their card choices and form our own opinions, but we’ll provide with two different approaches that have hit #1 legend.
WiRer is the hybrid variant’s pioneer, hitting #1 legend towards the end of the month with a build he has iterated a couple of times. The principle of the deck is to cut a few “unnecessary” cards from the Token Midrange Hunter in order to fit a Spellstone package. WiRer cuts some of the token synergy (Unleash, Timber), mid-game beasts as well as Tracking and Candleshot to achieve that goal.
Corbett hit #1 legend on the first day of 2019 by keeping Timber Wolf, supporting it further with two Snake Traps and board development secrets, and focusing on cutting removal such as Flanking Strike and Hunter’s Mark. This variant is slightly faster and more proactive. Since hitting #1, Corbett cut two Unleash the Hounds for a single Flanking Strike and Zul’jin.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Cube Hunter
- Spell Hunter
- Midrange Hunter
- Secret Hunter
Priest continues its strong post-patch form, with its two primary archetypes, Resurrect and Control Priest, producing strong ladder results at all levels of play.
Resurrect Priest was taken to #1 legend by Theo, who made changes to the standard list by running Witchwood Grizzlies over Shadow Essence. Grizzly has been successfully utilized during Boomsday as a strong resurrect target against aggressive decks, and now it’s made a return. Our initial impression is that Grizzly is still a very good card in the deck and worth slotting in, while Shadow Essence is a reasonable cut. This adjustment helps the deck perform significantly better against its worst matchup, Odd Rogue. Theo also runs Shadowreaper Anduin, which occupies a flex slot that can also be filled by Shadow Word: Death.
Control Priest’s performance is improving, which directly correlates with the decline and rise of specific cards we’ve mentioned in last week’s report. The main takeaway in the refinement of Control Priest is that Holy Fire, Crowd Roaster and Cabal Shadow Priest are extremely valuable core cards, while Wild Pyromancer, Divine Hymn and Primordial Drake are poor performers. We’re very confident that our featured build is the optimal version for the archetype at the moment, performing particularly well against the Hunter class. Should Odd Paladin blow up, we could consider running Dragonmaw Scorcher, but at the moment it’s too narrow of a tech.
- Priest Class Radar
- Resurrect Priest
- Control Priest
- APM Priest
- Mecha’thun Priest
As the Rastkahan’s Rumble meta twists and turns, it’s becoming very clear to us that Rogue is a very powerful class. However, the numbers currently fail to reflect that, as some archetypes continue to display sub-optimal card usage that dramatically decreases their average win rates. This issue is gradually resolving itself, but our message is that there are some real gems to be found in the Rogue class today if you search hard enough, or alternatively just go to ViciousSyndicate.com, where we already found the gems for you!
The obvious success that is fully reflected in the numbers is Odd Rogue. It’s a very good choice to bring against Cube Hunter, Priests and Warlocks. Its obvious weaknesses are the Warrior and Spell Hunter matchups, but their prevalence is not high enough to suppress Odd Rogue’s superb performance against the rest of the field. The methodology behind the featured build is very simple: run cards that help you kill your opponent efficiently without teching for narrow cases.
Tempo Rogue might as well be called Hooktusk Rogue, because of her power level and importance. This archetype continues to improve in its win rate daily as more players join the church of Hooktusk. After analyzing our suggested inclusions from last week, we’ve found that both Graal and the Lich King are very powerful cards in the deck and fit the featured build perfectly, exceeding our own expectations of them.
Finally, we think Miracle Rogue is at the strongest position it’s been in a very long time. The new Myracle Party build pioneered by J_Alexander is proving to be a very strong direction for the archetype, one that is far superior to the older variants. Both Myra’s Unstable Element and Raiding Party look extremely powerful in this deck, to the point Sprint simply cannot compare.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Odd Rogue
- Tempo Rogue
- Miracle Rogue
- Quest Rogue
Paladin looks very powerful, with three top-tier archetypes that don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
Our concerns of Exodia Paladin losing some power with upcoming meta trends have been allayed. The continuing high prevalence of non-Cube Hunters makes Exodia Paladin a terrific ladder choice at all levels of play. While the archetype appears “solved” in its build, we think there might be some oversight regarding an underutilized card in the archetype: Blessing of Kings. This card doesn’t see much play but looks very good in internal metrics. In the presence of Blessing of Kings, Lynessa Sunsorrow also becomes that much more absurd. We think there is certainly room to include at least one copy of the buff and suggest even running two and testing whether any of the omissions are truly missed.
High Priest Thekal is quite good on turn 3, but its power significantly diminishes later, to the point where its average power level makes him a luxury, so it’s already been absent from our list last week. A second Time Out also carries diminishing returns, while Truesilver Champion is relatively underwhelming except for one matchup where it truly shines (Odd Rogue). We suspect that the loss of these cards doesn’t compare to the added benefit of Blessing of Kings, allowing Exodia Paladin to add a secondary and truly intimidating win condition. Late game strategies carrying a secondary, beatdown win condition have historically been very good, so there is potential for the deck to increase its power level. If you’re interested in a more versatile take on Exodia Paladin, try our Kings version and we’ll see how it performs over the next week.
Even Paladin is an extremely well-rounded deck. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a stable ladder climb and hate polarizing matchups. The deck has game against every meta deck, with its biggest weakness being Control Priest and Even Shaman, and even these matchups are not that terrible. The best Even Paladin build is all about playing “good stuff” on curve while avoiding situationally good cards. One of the biggest mistakes Even Paladin players make is underestimating Blessing of Kings. You might be throwing it away in the mulligan more often than you should, especially in slower matchups.
Odd Paladin is back in business. Perhaps, it never really went away. The upgraded hero power is so powerful that it’s carrying arena cards into the constructed format. The loss of Level Up definitely hurt the deck, and Odd Paladin has gotten worse in several matchups as a result, but the deck is still a menace for Hunters and that significantly boosts Odd Paladin’s win rate in the current meta. If you want to beat the crap out of Hunters, there is no better choice. It’s the only deck in the game that carries a matchup advantage against every single Hunter deck out there.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Odd Paladin
- Even Paladin
- Exodia Paladin
Cube Warlock is standing out over other Warlock decks as the best ladder choice for the class. Its dominant matchups against Spell Hunter, Exodia Paladin and Odd-Taunt Warrior are its main selling points. The deck has historically been well rounded, but in the current meta it’s more polarizing than it used to be, with Priests and Odd Rogues being the biggest sore spots.
Even Warlock has fallen in popularity and taken a backseat to Cube Warlock as its good matchups are becoming a rare sight. It carries a similar weakness to Priests and Odd Rogue, but also falls prey to most of the popular meta decks, including all Hunter archetypes. It’s hard to find a good reason to play Even Warlock right now, especially when Cube Warlock is simply superior in every way that counts.
Zoo Warlock’s numbers are beginning to collapse, as the archetype is primed to fade away from the scene, pushed out by a very hostile meta that shows no mercy. The disappearance of Druid gave space for other decks to emerge that happen to destroy Zoo: Exodia Paladin, Control Priest and Odd Warrior are good examples. The nerf to Saronite Chain Gang has also impacted Zoo Warlock’s performance more than other decks, with Soul Infusion becoming a much weaker card as a result. We don’t think there’s a miracle fix here.
Mecha’thun is gaining traction as a win condition in Warlock decks. We identify two different approaches to Mecha’thun builds. The first utilizes the package in a Control Warlock shell with the familiar build centered on Skull, Voidlords and Bloodreaver Gul’dan, as exhibited by Mr. Yagut’s top 100 legend build.
The second approach utilizes Mecha’thun in a cheap, cycle heavy build with Corpsetakers. This approach was initially popularized by Schwah, who included several unconventional choices, such as Cheaty Anklebiter. While this choice may seem strange at first, we’ve found that Cheaty Anklebiter is a sleeper MVP of the deck! It has so many utilizations that it’s almost always useful. The featured build is C4mlann’s iteration of the deck, taking out several underperforming cards (Hellfire, Nether), for a cheaper, leaner build that makes it easier to dump your hand while cycling as quickly as possible. This Mecha’thun Warlock deck looks superior to the Control Warlock iteration and may spark the emergence of a new archetype in the Rastakhan meta.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Even Warlock
- Cube Warlock
- Control Warlock
- Zoo Warlock
- C4mlann’s Mecha’thun Warlock
While Warrior’s stock this week has fallen, Odd-Taunt Warrior is still a strong deck, posting a pretty good win rate across the board, mainly as a result of its good matchups against non-Cube Hunters, Odd Rogue, and Control Priest. The deck’s ability to kill opponents within a reasonable timeframe, unlike non-quest Odd Warrior, mitigates the inevitability of Deathstalker Rexxar.
This added bite comes at the cost of slightly weaker matchups against aggressive decks and resilient, midrange decks (which don’t rely on a single, slow card to kill you). Of course, there’s still little to be done about late game win conditions such as Exodia Paladin as well as incredibly high-value and sticky decks such as Cube Hunter and Cube Warlock, but in the context of this ridiculously Hunter-skewed meta, Odd-Taunt Warrior works out pretty well.
Oondasta is great at sealing the game against faster decks, as the tempo swing it provides at the top of the curve is impossible for these decks to deal with. Pulling a 12 health Witchwood Grizzly is simply back-breaking.
Odd Warrior is a decent deck that is much more vulnerable to inevitability but performs better against faster decks as well as Cube decks, since it carries more removal options thanks to the dragon package. Currently, passivity is heavily punished in the meta which is why Odd Warrior’s win rate is inferior to that of the quest variant.
Mage hasn’t been able to find a hugely successful deck after the balance changes. Big-Spell Mage is serviceable, which is why it’s the most popular Mage archetype at higher levels of play, but the deck is also frustratingly polarizing. It has a similar weakness to Odd Warrior, which is passivity. As it sits around and waits to draw Frost Lich Jaina, plenty of opponents carrying inevitable win conditions are ready to punish it.
Odd Mage doesn’t seem to bring any good news either. The deck is popular at lower ranks but slowly disappears as you climb ladder since players are more aware of its limitations. Furthermore, Aggro-Odd Mage hasn’t taken off through its various experimentation, including our own, and doesn’t seem to be anything more than a mediocre aggressive deck.
All in all, Mage is in a familiar position to where it’s been through most of the last 8 months: mediocre and stale.
- Mage Class Radar
- Odd Mage
- Aggro-Odd Mage
- Big-Spell Mage
Shaman wishes it was as stale as Mage. This class is truly hopeless when it comes to new ideas. The big advantage it has over Mage is that Shaman is genuinely well positioned in the meta, with Even Shaman proving to be a very reliable ladder deck that carries one of the best win rates against Cube Hunter. The problem is that Shaman has nothing beyond this one deck, and players who enjoy the class must be frustrated at how little development it has shown over the last 8 months.
When it comes to Even Shaman, we do have a bit of novelty to offer. Much like Exodia Paladin, it also has a card that sees little play but performs well: Rain of Toads. We’ve found that this 6-drop is extremely powerful when played on curve, and seals aggressive matchups very often. It’s also a strong reload tool in slower matchups and can become quite a threat alongside Flametongue Totem and Dire Wolf Alpha. Through sheer inertia and disinterest in Even Shaman, Rain of Toads may not have been experimented with enough.
Finding space for Rain of Toads might not be hard. The deck is overloaded with 2-drops and can consider cutting a couple. Knife Jugglers are the weakest 2-drops and prime candidates for removal. In addition, while Hex is a tempting removal card, it’s often underwhelming and gets stuck in hand too often (Spellbreaker is similarly weak). To increase Rain of Toads’ consistency of being dropped on turn 6 (its biggest strength), we add a Storm Chaser to the build. We believe that this adjustment has the potential to improve a wide spectrum of matchups but would ideally like a larger sample to confirm Rain of Toads’ power level.
Things continue to look poor for Malfurion. The Druid class has been burnt to ash alongside Teldrassil. There are various attempts to salvage the remains, and most of them should prove to be futile. There is one noticeable development with promise, and that’s the increase in Miracle Druids at higher levels of play carrying a Gadgetzan Auctioneer cycle package, usually alongside Mecha’thun as a finisher.
Miracle Druid avoids the pain of playing any of the nerfed cards, and utilizes Biology Project as its ramp of choice, a card that can also act as a coin in order to fuel Auctioneer turns. To empower Auctioneer, we run a huge number of cheap spells, including 6 that cost no mana. This guarantees that once Auctioneer is drawn, we’re capable of drawing the entire deck very quickly. Pyromancer helps clear wide boards and has great synergy with several of our spells, such as Barkskin. The deck is very cheap as a whole, which makes it easier to dump our hand before executing Mecha’thun. The featured build was taken by Meati to high legend ranks and runs one Oaken Summons, to pull either an Acolyte of Pain (card draw acceleration) or a Pyromancer.
We recommend you keep an eye for Midrange Hunter. This deck is under a heavy transitional phase that may see it coming out as a very dominant deck. Its Hybrid Hunter variant is already considered a meta breaker by many top players and we’ll have to see how good it really ends up being next week. If you’re interested in jumping on the most recent Hunter bandwagon, go right ahead. We won’t stop you.
However, if you’re interested in punishing Hunters, there is one reliable way to do it.
Odd Paladin is the Hunter killer. Rexxar still has nightmare from the sound of Silver Hands Recruits reporting for duty. No matter which Hunter deck you play, once you see a Paladin portrait and Baku popping up to declare “None will survive”, you’re in trouble. The early swarming of the board is simply too hard to consistently deal with for Hunter’s toolkit.
Despite being nerfed, Odd Paladin has seen its weaker new form boosted by the lack of Spreading Plague. If the Hunter population doesn’t start dropping to more manageable levels, more players will be tempted to hunt them with Odd Paladin.
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