Welcome to the 118th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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A Wild vS Data Reaper Report will be published this Sunday, January 20th!
Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
The transition in Hunter continues, as well as the class’ overall decline in play. Spell and Cube Hunter are dropping, while Hybrid and Midrange Hunter are relatively more common. Secret Hunter, which is the older Subject 9 deck that utilizes secret synergy minions such as Secretkeeper and Masked Contender, has completely disappeared.
Priest is catching up and is very close to reaching Hunter’s numbers at higher levels of play. At legend, Resurrect Priest has risen further in play to become the most popular deck by a fair margin, heavily influencing the meta and perhaps incentivizing a potential rise of some of its hardest counters in the future. Control Priest, last week’s meta breaker, has stabilized in its play rate.
Paladin has also increased in play, thanks to the emergence of a new archetype: Holy Wrath Paladin. This deck initially appeared at the beginning of the expansion but fell flat on its face. Now, it has re-reappeared after the balance changes in a slightly different form and has been given a lot of attention by high-level players. Not only has it blown up at legend within days, it is also a popular participant in the upcoming Americas’ playoffs, after being absent from last week’s European playoffs.
Odd Rogue has declined at all levels of play, and Tempo Rogue has sunk further into obscurity, but Miracle Rogue is seeing renewed interest with the Auctioneer variant rearing its head.
After declining in its win rate last week, Cube Warlock has crashed in popularity. Warlock is now a fractured class with no less than 5 different archetypes seeing play. Thankfully, Mecha’thun Warlock has slightly risen in play and given us a better chance to evaluate its builds. There are two main variants to remember from last week: The Voidlord version and the Corpsetaker version.
There’s not much to say about the Warrior class, which is continuing its decline in play. The one encouraging sign is a recovery in its numbers at legend. Odd Warrior and Odd-Taunt Warrior dominate representation of the class, though there are a few experiments seen with non-Baku Warrior decks.
Druid’s representation has risen at lower levels of play, but declined at legend, with Miracle Druid losing some favor amongst the player base. Following Miracle Druid, there’s a noticeable presence of Malygos Druid, but it’s still quite small.
Mage looks very stagnant, with most of its archetypes gradually declining as the class appears to have run out of ideas. Big-Spell Mage’s numbers are very modest at all ranks, while Odd Mage variants are a very rare sight at legend.
With an increased interest in the Druid class, Shaman has now sunk to the bottom of play rates, despite having a very competitive deck. It seems that the player base simply cannot embrace Even Shaman, the only noticeable Shaman deck on ladder. Experiments with other Shaman decks are few and far between.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Both Hybrid Hunter and Midrange Hunter are top tier, and the choice between them comes down to the matchups you’re seeing. Hybrid Hunter has a more stable matchup spread and performs better against faster opponents. Midrange Hunter has a more polarizing matchup spread and shines against slower opponents. With more Resurrect Priests and less Odd Rogues this week, the pendulum has swung in favor of Midrange Hunter. The difference in the Resurrect Priest matchup specifically is drastic. Hybrid Hunter goes 50-50 with the Priest. Midrange Hunter demolishes it with a win rate exceeding 65%.
Cube and Spell Hunter have fallen behind the first two Hunter decks, but they’re still very good. Cube Hunter performs better at legend, where the meta is slower, but things are a bit more difficult for it on the climb. Spell Hunter is strong all around, despite being outclassed in its own class.
Uther is here to remind you that Genn and Baku are still busted. Both Odd and Even Paladin are firmly entrenched at Tier 1 until something significant changes in the meta. Things are worse for Exodia Paladin, which is continuing to suffer from recent meta shifts that have pushed out Spell Hunter in favor of other Hunter decks and brought in more Resurrect Priests and Mecha’thun decks. It finds itself at Tier 3 at all levels of play.
Tier 3 is where Holy Wrath Paladin also makes its debut in the table. However, Holy Wrath Paladin is a new deck that hasn’t had a chance to finish its refinement phase, so based on our experience, there’s a good chance it will improve in its win rate over the next couple of weeks. It looks like a viable, competitive option for the class as it stands. It has good matchups against non-Cube Hunter decks, Odd Rogue, Odd Paladin, and Control Priest. Its biggest problem is the popular Resurrect Priest matchup, which is hurting its win rate at legend the most.
With Resurrect Priest becoming public enemy number 1, it’s unlikely to increase in its win rate. It’s a strong deck but it has some very hard counters that would immediately rise in popularity at the first sign of the deck growing too popular, and these decks are all Tier 1 at legend (Odd Rogue, Even Paladin, Midrange Hunter).
Control Priest is harder to counter, which is why it’s the stronger ladder deck and the more successful tournament deck. Its skill cap is very high, born out of a very complex playstyle that requires often unintuitive decision making. It reminds us of Hybrid Freeze Mage back in Un’Goro, a deck that utilized both an Alexstrasza burn plan and a minion development plan.
The new emergence of Miracle Rogue doesn’t seem too promising, though the archetype does have a very strong matchup against Resurrect Priest, which boosts its performance at legend. The ironic story about the Rogue class comes from Tempo Rogue. It has dropped below the threshold to be presented in the table, but its decline mostly came down to the disappearance of the non-Hooktusk builds. With its smaller, but cleaner sample of Hooktusk Rogue, we can more confidently say that the deck belongs in Tier 2, and it is probably the most underrated deck in the game.
Cube Warlock is the best Warlock deck, but this is not saying much considering other Warlock decks are languishing with unimpressive win rates. The one, very important insight we’ve gained about the class this week comes from Mecha’thun Warlock. The archetype hasn’t made progress in its refinement, but we’re now much more certain that the less popular Corpsetaker version is significantly better than the Voidlord version. If only the Corpsetaker Mecha’thun variant was played, we estimate that its win rate would be close to 50%. It’s unlikely to be one of the stronger decks in the meta considering its very poor Priest matchups, but it doesn’t belong in the dumpster.
We anticipated that Miracle Druid could improve by a couple of percentages and were pleasantly surprised that it’s made a more significant gain this week thanks to the meta slowing down. With Miracle Druid jumping to Tier 3, Druid is out of the dumpster! Furthermore, the low sample of Malygos Druid is giving us signals that this archetype isn’t dead and could be competitively viable. We would like more data on Malygos Druid before making a more conclusive statement since it’s been mostly tested by players at higher levels (which might have boosted its performance). Nevertheless, the deck is worth a shot considering the increasing popularity of Priests and Paladins, two classes that Malygos Druid generally does very well against.
Warrior looks firmly locked at Tier 3. It performs better at lower ranks where aggressive decks are more popular but has a miserable time against the horde of OTK decks present at legend. Queuing Odd Warrior on ladder is walking a tightrope that most players don’t seem to appreciate.
Big-Spell Mage is stuck at Tier 4, while other Mage decks are not even prevalent enough to confidently evaluate. Even Shaman is seeing its win rate collapse across all ranks, making it even less likely that players will pick it up, despite the fact that its performance against the field is still good. These are sad times for Jaina and Thrall.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Though it’s being chased down by Paladin and Priest, Hunter remains the key driving force of the meta. Most of its archetypes have fallen in their play rate except for Hybrid Hunter, one of the hottest decks in the current meta.
Hybrid Hunter continues to perform very well, utilizing most of the powerful cards available to the class. We maintain what we’ve said last week about the strongest build for the archetype: Timber Wolf is underrated, Dire Frenzy is overrated, and proactive development of the board is better than reactive removal.
Spell Hunter has long been outclassed by Hybrid Hunter, but it’s still a powerful deck that other classes would kill to have. We’ve seen an increase in Flare as a tech card for the Hybrid Hunter matchup. It’s strong in the mirror but very weak outside of it, so we’d only consider it if the number of Hunters you’re seeing is abnormally high.
Cube Hunter is seeing a decline in play associated with a rise in its bad matchups. Odd Paladin is the biggest enemy of Cube Hunter, but unfavored matchups against a rapidly growing Priest class has led to Cube Hunter’s downward trajectory. Cube Hunter is still a strong deck, but it’s weaker than it used to be a few weeks ago.
Finally, Midrange Hunter has proven to be as powerful as Hybrid Hunter, maintaining relatively stable play rates this week. It’s a more polarizing deck that tends to struggle against aggressive strategies but performs significantly better in slower matchups compared to Hybrid Hunter. The rise of Resurrect Priest in recent weeks is an important factor in why Midrange Hunter has remained popular: it’s one of the most lopsided matchups in the game.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Hybrid Hunter
- Midrange Hunter
- Cube Hunter
- Spell Hunter
Priest is a very powerful class, boasting two extremely influential decks that continue to perform well both on ladder and in tournaments.
Resurrect Priest is the most popular deck at higher levels of play thanks to success stories by several high-profile players. The standard build is very well rounded, capable of bursting down opponents with Velen and Malygos or generating a significant amount of value through Lyra and the Lich King.
Over the last couple of weeks, a different variant of the deck has been experimented with and refined, one that only runs 4 minions: Velen, Malygos, Radiant Elemental and Zilliax. This version cuts the value generation tools to focus on bursting down opponents through Diamond Spellstone and Zerek’s Cloning Gallery. It also runs a copy of Vivid Nightmare to combo with Eternal Servitude for the same purpose. After following its rise in play and refinement, we can say that neither variant is necessarily better than the other. The 4-minion version is stronger in the mirror and slower matchups, which is why it has gained more traction recently, but it’s more miserable when facing the deck’s natural counters and does generally worse in faster matchups. It’s more one-dimensional and limited in its path to victory, but it’s more dangerous and consistent in reaching a One-Turn Kill.
Control Priest is having a good time. It’s a deck that’s very hard to target unless you specifically choose a Warrior deck, since it’s flexible enough in its game plan to beat a wide array of strategies. However, it does require a deep understanding of how to identify its win condition in every matchup, and when to switch gears between playing defensively and playing aggressively.
The featured build is still very much what you’d like to take to ladder, with the repeated mention of the 3-drop slot. If you want to perform better against Odd Rogues and Spellstone Hunters, cutting Acolytes of Pain for Tar Creepers is a good adjustment. The deck can also fit a Gluttonous Ooze if weapon tech is needed. Odd Paladin numbers on ladder are currently still too low to justify additional AOE.
- Priest Class Radar
- Resurrect Priest
- Control Priest
- APM Priest
Odd Paladin remains one of the best ladder decks in the game, dominating most matchups while not being completely out of any matchup it runs into. Priest and Warlock are the main predators for this deck, and with Priest’s rise in play, Divine Favor becomes more important to include. We still like the option to flex it out for Witch’s Cauldron if we run into a faster meta where board tension can net you significant card advantage.
Even Paladin is arguably stronger, especially in the tournament scene due to how difficult it is to target the deck. Nearly every deck can make a couple of adjustments in order to gain percentages against Odd Paladin, but tech cards are less effective against Even Paladin since its game plan is much more flexible. Enrico recently hit #1 legend with a list that runs two Avenging Wraths while omitting Val’anyr. Avenging Wrath is a very good card against both Control and Resurrect Priest, since it gives the Paladin more reach to close the game, usually when the Priest manages to stabilize at low health after a Psychic Scream. We did make a small adjustment in Enrico’s build, bringing back two Argent Protectors and cutting the single Amani Berserker. Argent Protector is a strong card in Even Paladin because it scales much better into the late game.
While Exodia Paladin remains a capable option in the current meta, Holy Wrath Paladin has emerged as another late-game option for the class. This deck is much faster than Exodia Paladin and is entirely built to power cycle and reach its win condition as soon as possible. The final combo involves reaching fatigue, using Baleful Banker on a discounted Shirvallah and then casting Holy Wrath for 25 damage. This can be done again the next turn with the second copies of Banker/Holy Wrath. While 50 damage is certainly enough in most matchups, the deck can still execute the horsemen win condition by using Baleful Bankers to shuffle horsemen, so healing/armor is not a particularly effective counterplay option against the deck. An alternative version cuts one Baleful Banker and one Holy Wrath for Youthful Brewmasters. This accelerates the horsemen win condition at the cost of Holy Wrath’s reach.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Odd Paladin
- Even Paladin
- Exodia Paladin
- Holy Wrath Paladin
Rogue remains fairly stagnant, and it seems like it has figured out what it can and cannot do in the current meta.
Odd Rogue is the most consistent performer for the class, both on ladder and tournaments. Its performance against Resurrect Priest keeps its win rate high, while matchups against Odd Paladin, Odd Warrior, and Spell Hunter are the ones you should be worried about. We’ve spotted Snapjaw Shellfighter seeing a bit more play recently, but it’s not enough to confidently compare its performance to that of Scalebane. A card we’re not impressed with at the 5-mana slot is Captain Greenskin.
Kyouma hit #10 legend with an old-fashioned version of Miracle Rogue but runs Myra’s Unstable Element over a 2nd Gadgetzan Auctioneer, which is a sensible choice considering how powerful MUE has proven to be. However, we’re not sure this tweak is enough to make this variant stronger than the Raiding Party Myracle Rogue from J_Alexander. Low play rate of Miracle Rogue makes this harder to assess.
Although Tempo Rogue has fallen in its play rate, it’s still quite strong thanks to the Hooktusk/Corpsetaker package. Captain Hooktusk may need to wait until rotation to win over the player base, but she is an extremely powerful card that is certain to make waves in the future.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Odd Rogue
- Tempo Rogue
- Miracle Rogue
While most Warlock archetypes are currently seeing very little experimentation or card innovation, Mecha’thun Warlock is a notable exception that’s currently driving the class to new territories.
As we’ve discussed last week, there are two notable approaches to Mecha’thun Warlock: the Voidlord version and the Corpsetaker version. The Voidlord version runs Skull, Voidlords and Bloodreaver Gul’dan to offer a powerful anti-aggro package that can help the deck win faster matchups without executing the Mecha’thun combo. The Corpsetaker version runs an extremely cheap curve with additional card draw, meant to help us cycle as quickly as possible to get to our win condition.
With the archetype’s play rate rising, we’ve had a better chance of evaluating the optimal ladder approach, and it’s become clear that the Corpsetaker version wins by a landslide. While our love affair with Corpsetaker is well documented, it’s not the reason why this version is superior. The cheap curve of the build allows us to life tap and draw cards more consistently, which makes Mecha’thun a more effective win condition. While Voidlords are tempting, they reduce the deck’s overall efficiency in reaching its primary win condition, which more than offsets the benefits of the Voidlord package. They can also create awkward scenarios in which we cannot get rid of them in order to execute Mecha’thun. In the famous words of Admiral Ackbar, it’s a trap!
Since we win every game in which we drew our entire deck and live to see our next turn, we want to increase these occurrences, and any expensive card that slows down our ability to draw cards every turn, slows down our clock. An execution of Mecha’thun being delayed by one turn can be the difference between winning and losing a game, especially in a meta that’s filled with decks carrying similar OTK capabilities.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Cube Warlock
- Mecha’thun Warlock
- Even Warlock
- Zoo Warlock
- Control Warlock
Warrior is firmly entrenched in mediocrity. Odd Warrior is still around in its two forms, but each is about as average as the other, able to string wins into ladder results but generally too inconsistent to be worthwhile due to polarizing matchup spreads. Warrior is not in a terrible spot, but it’s outclassed by the truly powerful classes of Hunter, Priest and Paladin.
One bright spot this week comes from Thijs’ 15-0 run to #3 legend, piloting Neirea’s non-Baku Taunt Warrior. This deck trades Tank Up for Warpath and Blood Razor, making it extremely dominant against Odd Paladin. However, it doesn’t escape Warrior’s vulnerability to counters and doesn’t perform very well against Hunters in general.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Odd Warrior
- Odd-Taunt Warrior
- Neirea’s Taunt Warrior
Druid is trying its best to become a more relevant class on ladder, and there are little sprinkles of hope, mostly coming from legend ranks, that it might successfully do so.
After the rise of Miracle Druid builds, mostly running Mecha’thun as their win condition (with some running Togwaggle/Hakkar), it is now Malygos Druid’s turn to rise. It has become noticeably more popular at higher levels of play following the #2 legend success of Zorkthar. His build runs two Innervates to help sate Malfurion’s growing hunger for mana following the nerfs to Wild Growth and Nourish. We did make one card change to the build, by running a second Wild Growth over a Wrath. At 3 mana, Wild Growth is still a card the deck very much wants to find in its early turns.
- Druid Class Radar
- Miracle Druid
- Malygos Druid
Mage continues to tumble down in play rate and now sits as the second lowest played class in the game at legend. Big Spell Mage is still by far the most popular Mage archetype and the only Mage deck that has “successfully” been established in the meta. However, with a wide array of terrible matchups, the deck isn’t very tempting to play on ladder either.
Things can be slightly different in tournaments, where the availability of a ban allows Big-Spell Mage to become a decent piece in an anti-aggro lineup, as exhibited by Viper in the EU Playoffs.
Other Mage decks have almost vanished from play at higher levels. Odd Mage, Aggro-Odd Mage, and Aluneth Mage may see sporadic success but are too flawed to consistently perform. The latest success story came from die hard Mage expert, Apxvoid, who hit #8 legend with Aluneth Mage.
Shaman’s inability to procure anything new or interesting has caused it to drop to the bottom of the charts, and there’s not much to say about its ladder performance over the past week. Even Shaman is consistent, solid and very competitive, but its play rate has been historically low since it struggles to attract players for whatever reason.
The biggest story for Shaman this week is Viper’s EU playoffs success with a Control Shaman build he calls “Peanut Shaman”. This deck is meant to target aggressive decks such as Odd Paladin and Odd Rogue, so it was a good fit for the purpose of his lineup. We highly doubt this deck can be successful on ladder because it has no reliable win condition beyond grinding out the opponent. We’re featuring Viper’s ladder version of the deck rather the tournament version, which ran two copies of both Primordial Drake and Dragonmaw Scorcher to lock Odd Paladins out.
Much of the spotlight has been put recently on Hybrid Hunter, but Midrange Hunter is showing us that a Hunter deck can still be powerful even when it doesn’t run Spellstone or Cubes. With the meta slowing down, and Priests becoming more prevalent, Hunter is incentivized to run a deck that’s more punishing to late game strategies.
Emerald Spellstone is an extremely powerful, meta defining card, but it does have two weaknesses. The first is that it requires us to run secrets, which are low-pressure cards against decks that can afford to sit back and play defensively. The second is that it’s a very predictable card that can be anticipated by decks capable of clearing it with AOE spells. This makes Hybrid Hunter less effective at beating late game strategies utilized by Priests, Paladins and Warlocks.
Midrange Hunter gives up Spellstone to increase its threat output consistency, making it harder for slower decks to outlast its board development, but giving up Spellstone means it’s much worse against aggressive decks that rely on leveraging initiative.
We expect the Hybrid-to-Midrange pendulum to swing back and forth as the meta speeds up or slows down, but one thing is certain: Hunter is a very good class and it’s not going anywhere.
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