vS Data Reaper Report #119

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from over 50,000 games.

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Welcome to the 119th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

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Class/Archetype Distribution | Class Frequency | Matchup Winrates | vS Power Rankings | vS Meta Score | Class Analysis & Decklists | Meta Breaker of the Week | How to Contribute | Credits


Number of Games

Overall 50,000
Legend 6,000
Ranks 1-4 18,000
Ranks 5-9 17,000
Ranks 10-14 4,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

Hunter’s decline appears to be slowing down, and we might be reaching a point of stabilization. The massive disparity in the popularity of its archetypes between different rank brackets still exists. Spell Hunter is the most popular deck in the game (!) at ranks 14-10 yet falls off far behind Hybrid and Midrange Hunter at legend.

Priest numbers have also stabilized, with a small downtick visible at legend, where Resurrect Priest remains the most popular deck in the game. Its polarizing matchup spread makes it highly influential when it comes to the power levels of other decks in the meta. It heavily promotes several aggressive and midrange decks while choking out slower late game strategies. This can lead to some surprising and unintuitive results.

Out of the top 3 classes, Paladin is changing the most. While Odd Paladin remains the most common archetype outside of legend by a significant margin, Holy Wrath Paladin is now the most popular class archetype at legend. This is negatively affecting Exodia Paladin, which is likely declining due to its competition with Holy Wrath over the same niche.

Warlock is also transitioning, with Mecha’thun Warlock becoming the most popular deck at all levels of play. Within the archetype, we can observe that the promising Corpsetaker variant is increasing in popularity, while the underperforming Voidlord variant is declining. The class is still quite evenly distributed between five different archetypes, with Zoo Warlock fading away at higher levels of play.

Rogue is mostly dominated by the numbers of Odd Rogues, which is the only Rogue deck that has proven to be a consistent ladder performer in the current meta. At legend, we can see an increase in Miracle Rogue and Malygos Rogue, likely due to players searching for more Resurrect Priest counters.

Mage was in the process of withering away, but things have turned around this week. The class has increased in popularity at all levels of play, thanks to Aggro-Odd Mage reappearing in greater numbers. The shift is most dramatic at legend, where this deck was almost non-existent last week, but nears 1.5% of the field today. Odd Mage is also showing signs of rising in play.

Warrior is sinking deeper towards the bottom of play rates. We do see an increase in the number of non-Baku Taunt Warrior this week, and it now displays a similar play rate to the two Odd Warrior decks.

Druid and Shaman have been put on ice. No significant changes in archetype or card usage observed. These classes look ready for the next expansion.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion

Last week, we talked extensively about the merits of Midrange Hunter and Hybrid Hunter. Hybrid Hunter is stronger in a faster meta, since its secret package is highly disruptive to decks that rely on early game initiative. Midrange Hunter is stronger in a slower meta, since it has a higher density of threats and puts a greater amount of pressure on opponents that like to sit back.

With the rise of Holy Wrath Paladin, there is now a greater incentive to play Midrange Hunter. Somewhat similarly to Resurrect Priest and Mecha’thun Warlock, Holy Wrath Paladin is an “AFK until I OTK” deck. It’s comfortable not activating secrets for a long period of time, carries effective board wipes against Emerald Spellstone and has healing to offset any burn-centric pressure on its life total. For that reason, it comfortably beats both Spell and Hybrid Hunter, but struggles against the stickier and more persistent Midrange Hunter.

Savannah Highmane is a great card against Equality and helps Midrange Hunter a lot in the matchups with slow Paladin decks. For a similar reason, Cube Hunter has also gotten a bit better. Eggs and Cubes do a lot of work, giving Cube Hunter the edge against Holy Wrath Paladin.

But these are hardly Holy Wrath Paladin’s biggest problems. We do think the deck will likely get better once its fully optimized in its build, since it’s not refined yet (hint: Brewmasters are traps). It does have a glaring issue which currently puts a hard ceiling on its win rate, especially at higher levels of play. OTK mirrors are usually very volatile and heavily favor the deck with the faster clock. Holy Wrath Paladin is one of the slowest OTK decks around, which is why it gets beat by Resurrect Priest, Mecha’thun Warlock, and Miracle Druid. These matchups put a big dent on a deck that otherwise has a solid matchup spread across the board. The only slower OTK deck in the current meta is Exodia Paladin, which exhibits even more profound struggles for the same reason.

Meanwhile, Paladin’s early game is still top tier. Genn and Baku continue to carry the class to high win rates for another week. That’s unlikely to change any time soon. Odd Paladin is too good against Hunters, and Even Paladin is too good against Resurrect Priest.

Speaking of Resurrect Priest, the deck’s high play rate has been attracting a lot of counters in recent weeks, and its win rate suggests that it’s probably a little overplayed and overhyped. It’s powerful, but if you’re repeatedly queuing into 70-30 counters, you’re not going to have a good time. The most you can do about it is to avoid the 4-minion all-in variant when running into an aggressive meta.

Aggro-Odd Mage looks good upon its return to the meta. Almost way too good, it seems, considering how it faded away. But, since its disappearance, the meta has changed quite a bit in its favor. It has a good matchup against Midrange Hunter (compared to the terrible matchup against the declining Spell Hunter), and a dominating matchup against Resurrect Priest: it’s another deck that stomps it at a 70% clip. Any deck that crushes Resurrect Priest looks stronger at legend, with Odd Rogue and Miracle Rogue providing good examples. Aggro-Odd Mage now looks to establish itself in the meta in greater numbers and become the flag-bearer of a class that was closing on its death, and it’s trying to do that while playing Nightblade!

Warlock remains underwhelming, but it’s ironic that the deck that has the worst displayed win rate is the one we think is the best deck within its class. Mecha’thun Warlock is improving in its performance as the Voidlord variant declines and the Corpsetaker variant rises, but this shift is still quite slow and nowhere near completion. While we don’t think Mecha’thun Warlock is a game-changing meta breaker, since its Priest matchups are poor, its optimal build is closer to Tier 2 than it is to Tier 4.

There are two other decks that see too little play to be included in the power rankings but are worth talking about. Malygos Druid’s performance is estimated to sit at Tier 3, and it seems to have broken out of the dumpster it was sent to after the balance changes. While the deck is not that powerful, it might be a better choice than Miracle Druid if you’re looking to finish that “win 3 games with Druid” quest. It’s still a great counter to Control Priest and Odd Paladin.

Cube Paladin, also known as Kangor’s Mech Paladin, or Deathrattle Paladin, could be a breakout deck. It’s currently still a bit of a secret, circulating mostly at higher levels of play, which might be artificially boosting its win rate. However, its performance still suggests that there is merit to explore this archetype and see what it can do. Much like Odd Paladin, Cube Paladin performs very well against the Hunter class. Its biggest problem is dealing with Priests and Psychic Scream.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Data Reaper Report - Hunter

The ongoing transition within the Hunter class isn’t showing any signs of stopping. We continue to see Hybrid and Midrange Hunter becoming relatively more popular, while Spell Hunter is declining. This was also captured at last week’s playoffs, where 41 players brought Hybrid Hunter, while only 3 chose Spell Hunter in their line-up.

As Rexxar rests on his laurels, his decks haven’t seen many developments or changes. All four major archetypes are in steady card usage states, and there’s not much to say about them other than things we’ve already said in previous reports.

Hybrid Hunter is the most well-rounded Hunter deck, with a very balanced matchup spread that gives it a solid chance against any deck in the game. Therefore, the deck is a very reliable ladder climber regardless of the opponents you happen to queue into.

Midrange Hunter shines at higher levels of play, where the meta is slower and there are more Priests to punish, but it will have a harder time dealing with aggressive decks. On average, it’s currently more powerful than Hybrid Hunter due to recent meta shifts, but it’s more sensitive to whatever meta shifts come next.

Cube Hunter has almost been forgotten, but it’s still an extremely powerful deck with an intimidating late game kit that can apply an incredible amount of pressure on opponents. High legend success with the deck is a very normal occurrence, so while it has been somewhat overshadowed by the Master’s Call decks, don’t underestimate it.

Spell Hunter is the weakest of the 4, and it’s becoming a less and less common sight at higher levels of play. Its main draw is the good matchups against the Master’s Call decks as well as Odd Rogue, but it gets exploited by Priests and Paladins more easily compared to the Master’s Call decks.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Priest is enjoying a dominating stretch that could be compared with its K&C days. Both Control and Resurrect Priest are very powerful decks in both ladder and tournament play.

Resurrect Priest is the most popular deck in the game, driven by the success of notable streamers such as Asmodai, who’s been maintaining top legend ranks on both servers with it. There are two main variants of Resurrect Priest that we’ve discussed last week, and both are powerful enough to justify playing. The Standard build is best if you’re looking to have a reasonable all-around matchup spread, while the 4-minion version specializes in the mirror and slower matchups. The 4-minion version’s main flex spot is Mass Dispel, and one copy is often swapped out for a Shadow Word: Death or Shadow Word: Pain.

Control Priest is also in a refined state, with Acolyte of Pain and Tar Creepers competing for the 3 mana flex slots. We’re not too impressed with Omega Medic or Gluttonous Ooze, as they’re a bit too situational to justify inclusion in most scenarios on ladder. Unlike Resurrect Priest, it’s very hard to target the deck, so if you master Control Priest, you’ll feel very little incentive to ever switch decks. Save for Odd Warrior, every matchup feels winnable.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

The only reason Paladin is not the undisputed #1 top meta class is the same reason why it is so high up in the first place – Hunter. As long as Hunter maintains its dominance of the meta, Paladin will remain one of the strongest classes available to beat it.

Odd Paladin is probably the best ladder choice for the legend climb. It’s not hard to pick up, learn and find success with, and not many decks in the current meta can exploit its weaknesses. It farms Hunters consistently and even its weaker matchups are very winnable. There are two flex spots in the build that should be occupied by two of the following three cards: Prince Liam, Divine Favor and Witch’s Cauldron. Can’t go wrong with any choice.

Even Paladin is a more flexible deck that’s arguably stronger. It is highly favored in the tournament scene because it’s difficult to target and it annihilates Resurrect Priest. Two copies of Avenging Wrath continue to perform very well in a Priest meta, so we’re sticking with them.

Holy Wrath Paladin has become the most popular Paladin deck at higher levels of play. It has a very similar matchup spread to Exodia Paladin but performs better against Warlocks and Control Priests due to its faster clock and burst damage capability. After collecting more data on Youthful Brewmasters, we found them to be hard to justify over running two copies of Bankers and Holy Wraths. We think RDU’s list is well built and would only consider swapping the 2nd Potion of Heroism for the 2nd Hammer of Wrath. Shrink Ray is also a reasonable tech card to slot in, but it’s not mandatory.

Exodia Paladin is still a serviceable deck, but its win rate has fallen over the past few weeks and it’s been overshadowed by Holy Wrath Paladin recently. Out of the plethora of powerful Paladin decks, it’s clearly the weakest one.

But Paladin is not done. Yet another archetype is beginning to emerge following the success of Zeh, hitting #16 legend with Cube Paladin, a deck built around the Mech Deathrattle package and Kangor’s Endless Army. BoarControl followed up Zeh’s success by hitting #3 legend, swapping Shirvallah for a Blessing of Kings, and HibeePin hit #1 legend with that same 1-card swap. This deck is strong against every Hunter archetype, but performs miserably against both Priest archetypes, since its entire game plan is countered by Psychic Scream. Nevertheless, its current low sample win rate and matchup spread suggest a lot of promise.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Rogue is in a steady state. Odd Rogue remains the most notable Rogue archetype in terms of ladder representation. Its dominant matchup against Resurrect Priest, the most popular deck in the game right now, helps keep it in the meta as a counterbalance to greedy decks.

Miracle Rogue and Tempo Rogue are viable ladder options but have been pushed out due to the dominance of Odd Rogue and the difficulty in finding their own places outside of Odd Rogue’s shadow.

On the fringes, Malygos Rogue is the one Rogue deck that has slightly climbed in popularity thanks to the success of Jackiechan, hitting legend with the archetype, but don’t expect miracles here. Malygos Rogue is a limited deck that gets easily rolled over by more than a few top meta decks, so its estimated win rate is very low. It’s a polarizing deck that’s meant to counter Priest, late game Paladin decks and other slow archetypes.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Mecha’thun Warlock might be the biggest hope for the Warlock class going forward, and it’s unfortunate that it’s still not at a refined state on ladder, causing its win rate to look worse than it should be. It has become the most popular Warlock archetype at higher levels of play, and we do see that its card usage is gravitating to where success lies, but it’s still an ongoing process.

The build we’ve highlighted last week, which excludes the Voidlord package and maximizes cycle, is a very strong ladder deck that’s only limited by its Priest matchups. It performs well against all Paladin decks, non-Cube Hunter decks, and Rogues. Noblord took 29 cards of the list, swapping Voodoo Doll for Hellfire, to finish top 4 in the Americas playoffs.

With Cube Warlock’s win rate continuing to decline, and Even Warlock being a major disappointment on ladder as well as at recent playoffs, we estimate that Mecha’thun Warlock is the best deck within the class when built correctly.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Mage is showing new signs of life, with Aggro-Odd Mage rising in popularity and displaying a promising win rate. It has benefited from the rise in popularity of Resurrect Priest, Holy Wrath Paladin and Midrange Hunter in recent weeks, while aggressive decks haven’t really taken off to potentially punish its inconsistent early game. Aggro-Odd Mage is a pretty strong deck when it’s allowed to develop a board without resistance, so it lines up well against the “AFK until I OTK” playstyle that’s becoming more and more common. After all, a Spiteful Summoner that always summons Ragnaros is powerful against strategies that sit back and let the opponent punch them in the face.

When looking at current Aggro-Odd Mage builds, there is room for improvement. Nightblade is a card that looks poor from every angle we examine it, while Fungalmancer is a superior 5-drop that should be a 2-of. We also observe that running 4 secrets improves the consistency of both Secretkeeper, our only truly threatening 1-drop, and Kirin Tor Mage.

But those are not Mage’s only news this week. Thijs is currently rejuvenating Control Odd Mage, piloting the archetype to a very strong win rate at high legend ranks. His build includes both Blazecallers and Astromancers at the 7-mana slot, offering more threats to a deck that normally suffers from its passivity. We think this adjustment makes the deck considerably stronger.

Big-Spell Mage is too slow to be consistently successful in the current meta. With so many OTK decks running around, Mage has no reasonable counterplay options to deal with them in the late game. Jaina’s best option on ladder is to hit face, hit it hard and hit it fast.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

With all relevant archetypes of Warrior having very similar matchups to each other save for a few specific ones (Taunt Warrior with even cards almost never loses to Odd Paladin, for example), any change in the meta will affect Warrior as a whole, unlike some classes which always have a variety of decks and strong options.

We’re at a late enough stage of the meta for major changes to be unlikely. This pretty much cements Warrior’s status as “average, but polarizing” for the foreseeable future. The class does boast 3 different relevant archetypes, but all of them have essentially the same weaknesses. Warrior’s late game lethality is simply too low to compete with classes that carry infinite value, infinite damage or a combination of both.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Druid has stabilized in its representation, with Miracle Druid being the most common deck on ladder, followed by Malygos Druid. Despite enduring some of the biggest nerfs we have ever seen, the class has turned out to be playable. It’s not particularly strong or an attractive choice for ladder, but it is good enough to be somewhat competitive.

Miracle Druid mostly shines against slower decks that don’t pressure it enough before it’s able to execute its win condition. But it’s susceptible to midrange decks that build tall and sticky board that are difficult to remove with Pyromancer combos. It also struggles against Priest decks, which carry enough lethality to finish games earlier. All in all, it’s quite flawed on ladder but has some interesting applications in tournaments.

Malygos Druid is still a very hard counter to Control Priest and Odd Paladin, but the nerf to its ramp makes it significantly worse against aggressive and midrange decks. The Druid core’s best cards will rotate in a few months, and there is concern that Druid will have no reasonable foundations to build decks around. We think Druid’s future prospects look bleaker than Warrior’s were after the nerf to Fiery War Axe.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Shaman is now the least played class at all levels of play, with Even Shaman being the sole competitive deck available for the class on ladder. Interest in the class seems to be at a very low point.

If you want a deck that performs reasonably well against most of the field, then Even Shaman is a decent choice. If you want to be a hipster and play a cool new deck that most players have not picked up yet, find another class to do it with. If you’re not playing Even Shaman and you’re playing Shaman on ladder, then you’re probably having a bad time, unless you don’t care about winning.


Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

We’re running a bit low on Meta Breaking decks. Perhaps, it’s because the meta is settling down and it’s becoming harder to break it. Therefore, we’ll highlight a deck that we’re not yet sure is a real meta breaker but has potential to be one based on its current performance.

Sometimes low sample decks appear with fantastic win rates but quickly fall off since they initially circulated among high-level players (a phenomenon we call ‘source bias’, where a deck’s performance is influenced by its origin). Therefore, we’re usually careful about placing decks in the Power Ranking table when they’re still under 1% of the field. This happened most recently with Malygos Druid, which was tested by many players at top legend a couple of weeks ago, which inflated its win rate before it dropped back down to earth.

But since the meta might be feeling a little stale for you, we’ll give you a tip under the current limitations: Cube Paladin looks very good right now.

Zeh’s success with the archetype created the first wave, and he was followed up by BoarControl and HibeePin who hit #3 and #1 legend, respectively, by swapping Shirvallah for Blessing of Kings. We think there is still room to test the 2-drops in the deck, and wonder if there’s a way to improve its Priest matchups. In any case, this deck beats Hunters consistently and has a good chance against most other decks in the current meta, so we’ll take a long look at the archetype over the next week, with hopefully more data, and see how it fares.

 


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Contributors

Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report:

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