vS Data Reaper Report #121

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

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Welcome to the 121st edition of the Data Reaper Report! This is the first report following the balance changes.

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 4,500 active contributors and we thank them wholeheartedly. Contributing to the Data Reaper project through 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!

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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 3,000
Ranks 1-4 17,000
Ranks 5-9 23,000
Ranks 10-14 6,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

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Class Frequency

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Class Frequency Discussion

There’s a new meta, and it’s quite different from the one we’ve seen before the balance changes. The patch has sparked an influx of new experiments and we can see several new decks rising in popularity. The legend meta is particularly filled with experiments, while the meta at ranks 1-4 is a bit more “competitive” since players tend to go for safer decks on the climb to legend.

Priest is in the process of overtaking Hunter in popularity, which is something we expected to happen as a result of the patch. What we did not expect was the rise of an entirely new archetype: Wall Priest. This deck was popularized by Dekkster before the patch, and then completely blew up on the days following the patch. Since it also incorporates the resurrect package, we’ve renamed the old Resurrect Priest to “Gallery Priest” to better differentiate between them. Both archetypes exhibit similar play rates at higher levels, and they’re followed by Control Priest, completing a trifecta of popular Priest strategies.

Hunter has taken a big hit, and some of its archetypes are in the process of dying out. Both Hybrid Hunter and Spell Hunter have drastically dropped in play. Spell Hunter is still popular at ranks 14-10 but is barely visible at higher levels of play, and we see a similar pattern with Hybrid Hunter. The two survivors of the balance changes are Midrange Hunter and Cube Hunter. Midrange Hunter has skyrocketed in popularity, especially at legend, and is the most popular deck in the game. Cube Hunter maintains a more modest share of the field.

Late game Paladin decks have nearly disappeared, with Holy Wrath, Exodia and Cube Paladin looking like obvious casualties of the Equality nerf. Odd Paladin has taken over and is the most popular class archetype. It is followed by the rising Secret Paladin as well as Even Paladin, establishing Paladin as strictly an aggressive class.

Warlock still looks very diverse in its strategies, and it has climbed in popularity in response to the balance changes. Zoo Warlock has made quite a comeback. After nearly disappearing from the game, it is now looking to become the most popular Warlock deck, rivaling Even, Cube and Mecha’thun Warlock. For semantics, we’ve renamed the Keleseth Control Warlock builds “Midrange Warlock” to better describe their style of play.

After showing much promise before the patch, making it into our last Meta Breaker section, Aggro-Odd Mage has soared to become one of the most popular decks in the game in the post-patch meta. Slower Mage decks, such as Odd Mage and Big-Spell Mage, have remained relatively niche in their representation.

Warrior is showing signs of recovery. Odd Warrior has made a big comeback and instantly became the most popular Warrior deck after the balance changes, surpassing Odd-Taunt Warrior. However, Baku decks are not the only story when it comes to the class. We can see Rush Warrior being heavily experimented with, and non-Baku Taunt Warriors are also around. Are things turning around for Garrosh?

The Rogue class is fractured into many archetypes, and the most popular strategies are currently Malygos Rogue and Miracle Rogue. Odd Rogue has crashed in popularity and is hovering around the 1% play rate. It looks like Rogue has taken a big hit due to losing Cold Blood, and the player base seems reluctant to trust Valeera. Has she finally lost her touch? Does Valeera not always find a way, after all?

Druid is in a similar spot from before the balance changes, at least when it comes to its play rate. Miracle Druid continues to carry the flag, followed by multiple attempts to revive old strategies, with Malygos Druid being the most prominent one.

Shaman looks buried, with a play rate nearing 1% at legend. The last bastion of competitiveness, Even Shaman, a deck that players were already reluctant to take into ladder, has now lost Flametongue Totem. This has resulted in its collapse into near non-visibility at higher levels of play. Play rate wise, we’re entering Kobolds & Catacombs territory.

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vS Meta Score

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vS Power Rankings Discussion

There are some very big surprises this week, and the power ranking table suggests more than one meta breaking development. In fact, the current meta is very likely to drastically change over the next few weeks, judging by these results. It’s important to note, however, that we’re in the first week of a new meta. Nothing is close to stabilizing, and some archetypes are significantly more refined than others.

Odd Paladin is on top. Again. While the Hunter population dropped, it hasn’t dropped enough to hurt Odd Paladin’s matchup spread. In addition, the Hunter decks that survived, Midrange Hunter and Cube Hunter, are more vulnerable to Odd Paladin than Hunters with Emerald Spellstone. Alongside a rise in Aggro-Odd Mage (another easy matchup) and a relatively janky meta, you have a field that’s extremely favorable for Odd Paladin to farm. Beyond decks with consistent and repeatable AOE, it’s just hard to stop, making it the easiest and safest ladder climber in the game.

But that’s not all for Paladin. Secret Paladin has finally made it to the power ranking table after its climb in popularity, and it also looks very strong. It has good matchups into Priests (which matters a lot), it performs well against Mage, and it’s an aggressive deck that doesn’t even lose to Odd Warrior (Divine Favor is a hell of a drug).

The other button Paladin deck is also doing well. Even Paladin seems to have shrugged off the loss of Equality and continues to display an impressive win rate.  While it’s no longer the top performer in the meta, losing its spot to Odd Paladin, we wouldn’t be surprised if history repeats itself and they flip back. Even Paladin is just very consistent and hard to counter, much like it was before the patch. Losing Equality means it’s no longer as dominant against Gallery Priest, but the matchup is still very favorable.

Hunter has been completely kicked off Tier 1, but this result might be slightly misleading. Both Midrange Hunter and Cube Hunter are suffering from sub-optimal card choices in the aftermath of the nerf to Hunter’s Mark. We expect both decks to get better once they shore up their final card slots and clean up, but they do have some meta hostility to deal with as well. Cube Hunter is not enjoying a Priest meta that’s also heavy with Odd Paladins. Midrange Hunter is so popular that it developed a big target on its back, with many decks optimizing their card choices specifically to beat it.

Wall Priest can be considered a Meta Breaker, displaying the highest win rate of any Priest deck at most rank brackets. Priest is overall performing quite well, but all Priest decks seem to be declining in their win rates at higher levels of play. There’s a good reason for it. The legend meta is heavily focused on countering Priests, even with relatively niche strategies such as Malygos Druid and Malygos Rogue. That does take its toll.

Garrosh is back, and so far, all meta trends are going in his favor. The late game Paladin decks died out, and nothing really replaced them. Aggressive decks are still very prevalent and there are many matchups which Odd Warrior just farms. The decline in OTK decks that represent the hardest counters have quickly led to Odd Warrior jumping to Tier 1 and looking like one of the strongest decks in the game. With such a polarizing nature and a likely climb in popularity, there’s always a chance that hard counters will return to dent Warrior’s success. For now, Warrior is in a very good spot.

But that’s not all the good news for Warrior. Rush Warrior looks legitimately competitive with a pretty good win rate that places it in Tier 2. This deck is not even refined yet, so there is room for optimism that this archetype can finally establish itself in the meta. It’s very strong in aggressive mirrors, comfortably beating Odd Paladin, Aggro-Odd Mage and Midrange Hunter. It can also carry enough threats to challenge late game strategies. A deck to watch and follow, for sure.

Think Valeera lost her touch? Think again. Miracle Rogue, a deck that couldn’t break a positive win rate through most of this expansion, has stepped out of Odd Rogue’s shadow and is now Tier 1. The death of Emerald Spellstone has been massive for this archetype, alongside its terrific matchups against Priest. There’s also a very easy way it can significantly improve its matchup against Odd Paladin, making us believe it can get even better. If you want to make Priests cry, this is the deck you do it with. Forget about Malygos Rogue, that one’s a lost cause.

Mage’s relevance has been recovered. Aggro-Odd Mage is performing well enough to merit its place in the meta. There is still room to refine the archetype further, so there is potential for the deck to get better.  However, there are some concerns about its future. It has crippling matchups against Odd Paladin and Odd Warrior, which are on the rise, and it’s also giving initial signals of carrying a low skill ceiling. It’s not likely to be a dominant player on ladder, just a competitive participant. Slower Mage decks are not particularly well positioned on ladder.

Warlock is showing contrasting trends. On one hand, both Zoo and Even Warlock have drastically improved in the new meta. Many of their worst matchups were either nerfed to oblivion or significantly weakened, and that has allowed them to carve out a much better place in the new meta. On the other hand, slower Warlock decks are struggling. Cube and Midrange Warlock are lingering in Tier 3, while Mecha’thun Warlock is buried in Tier 4 due to its terrible Priest matchups. As we’ve learned by now, it’s important to perform well against Priests, or at least avoid getting demolished by them.

Many of the nerfed decks are dying for a good reason. Based on their low sample of games, they look quite weak. Hybrid Hunter looks drastically inferior to Midrange Hunter, while Spell Hunter and Holy Wrath Paladin are buried in Tier 4. The balance changes pretty much killed them.

Druid doesn’t seem like it’s made an improvement in its performance as a result of balance changes, though we still think Malygos Druid is slightly underrated and has potential to do better in the current meta than Miracle Druid. The play rate of Shaman is so low that we can’t confidently say how good Even Shaman is after the balance changes, but we can say it’s not in the dumpster. At least when it comes to its win rate, Shaman is not in as bad of a shape as it was during Kobolds & Catacombs.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Following the balance changes, Hunter has been left with two primary archetypes: Midrange Hunter and Cube Hunter. Both decks have not changed much from their pre-patch versions, although the Hunter’s Mark nerf has required players to reevaluate both decks’ options.

When it comes to play rate, Midrange Hunter has become the most dominant archetype in the current meta. Players have almost completely abandoned decks built around Emerald Spellstone in favor of Midrange Hunter, thanks to its strong matchups against the Priest class. While Hunter’s Mark weakened due with its increased cost, it is still more worthwhile to include over several other options we’ve seen being tested, such as Revenge of the Wild or Headhunter’s Hatchet. Hunter’s Mark is particularly important against the new Wall Priest and is still very effective against Gallery Priest. We still don’t see much merit in Dire Frenzy, which must be one of the most overrated cards we’ve ever evaluated since working on the report. It’s only “reasonable” against Odd Warrior, and even then, the matchup comes down to drawing Deathstalker Rexxar more than anything else.

Cube Hunter has turned up in a worse position following the balance changes, as its matchup spread against the most popular meta decks is very weak, outside of a favorable Aggro-Odd Mage matchup. It struggles to deal with the overbearing number of Priests and their Psychic Screams. It has a losing matchup against Midrange Hunter, and it gets demolished by Odd Paladin. Without Hunter’s Mark, it also doesn’t perform as well as it used to against decks with a critical number of threats, such as Even Warlock.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

As expected, Priest turned out to be a big winner following the balance changes. The class has become the most influential in the meta, with several archetypes performing at a high level. What wasn’t expected was the meteoric rise of a new archetype, Wall Priest, joining the familiar faces of Control and Gallery Priest. With three powerful decks available to him, Anduin looks to finish the Hearthstone year strong.

Wall Priest is an innovative new build which Dekkster took to high legend ranks. This list runs the resurrection package alongside high health taunts in Witchwood Grizzly and Mosh’ogg Enforcer. These two minions join Tar Creeper as incredible Master Oakheart targets, making the 9-mana legendary as ridiculously powerful as it has been for Taunt Druid in the past. To top it all off, these high health minions work very well with a Divine Spirit win condition complemented by either Inner Fire or Topsy Turvy, making it extremely dangerous for opponents to leave any of the Priest’s minions up.

When we look at the build, we must give credit to a list that was very well built and carefully thought out. The most glaring issue we’ve found in its card choices is Topsy Turvy. With Skulking Geist not very popular in the meta, it might be better to run two Inner Fires. It also might be better to run a 2nd Mass Dispel over either Shadow Madness or Divine Hymn. Mass Dispel is very important to the deck, and this change improves Shadow Visions consistency further.

Gallery Priest, formerly known as Resurrect Priest, is doing fine even though it has been eclipsed by Wall Priest’s superior matchups against the meta’s faster decks. The deck still faces a terrible matchup in Midrange Hunter, and the rise of Aggro-Odd Mage is also preventing it from growing stronger. Outside of these two popular matchups, Gallery Priest does quite well against most other common decks in the meta. With Priest becoming more popular than before, the 4-Minion version is becoming a more enticing option to dominate mirrors and is currently slightly stronger than the Standard version.

Control Priest is very good, with several players hitting top legend ranks with the archetype. Control Priest’s matchup spread is extremely well rounded, with only Odd Warriors proving to be a thorn in its side. Outside of Tank Up, Control Priest has no glaring weaknesses and has a chance against any deck in the game. Our original Roaster build is still proving to be very successful, with Acolytes of Pain occupying the flex slots. Since Hybrid Hunter and Odd Rogue drastically dropped in play, Tar Creeper currently looks like an inferior option. Dragonmaw Scorcher and Primordial Drake are two possible techs to keep in mind for the Odd Paladin matchup.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

The balance changes have sparked drastic changes to Warlock.

Zoo Warlock has practically risen from the dead overnight and become moderately popular. Many decks that used to dominate Zoo are nearly gone from the meta: Odd Rogue, Spell Hunter, Hybrid Hunter, Even Shaman, and Holy Wrath Paladin were all difficult matchups, so Zoo Warlock has gained a lot from the latest patch.

With Odd Paladin on the rise, Dreadlords are very important inclusions to counter the wave of dudes. The Soularium is an important reload tool against all Priests, so it merits inclusion. A Spellbreaker or two can also do quite a bit of work against Wall Priest, specifically. Tar Creepers help in faster matchups, such as Aggro-Odd Mage, Odd Paladin, and Midrange Hunter.

Even Warlock has also shown an encouraging recovery in its performance, with many tools that were effective against it nerfed: Cold Blood, Hunter’s Mark and Equality. The deck’s biggest obstacle to ladder success is Priest, which tends to wipe the floor with Even Warlock regardless of the archetype. Therefore, our featured build looks to focus on Priest matchups by including Mojomaster Zihi and Nerubian Unraveler, two very effective anti-Priest tech cards that have risen in value lately.

Cube Warlock has lost quite a bit of ground as a result of the balance changes. It has a terrible time facing Priests, and Wall Priest is a particularly hard counter. Unlike Even Warlock, it doesn’t have room to effectively tech against the Priest class, so we expect it to decline in popularity over the next few weeks.

Mecha’thun Warlock is suffering from the same problem: its Priest matchups are terrible, and there is no way to make them any better. As long as Anduin dictates the meta, we can’t see this archetype shining on ladder.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Mage’s revival has been accelerated by the balance changes, with Aggro-Odd Mage leading the way as one of the most popular and powerful decks in the new meta.

Aggro-Odd Mage has long been littered with sub-optimal card choices, but since the deck was not very popular, it was hard to find breakthroughs in its refinement. The archetype’s drastic rise in popularity has finally allowed us to successfully find ways to improve it.

Subject 9 has risen in popularity thanks to Turna’s success with a build featuring the legendary, and its performance suggests it is a fantastic addition to the deck. Not only is it the most powerful turn 5 play we’ve seen from the archetype, but it also enables a bigger secret package that makes Kirin Tor and Secretkeeper stronger. This allows us to cut Clockwork Automaton, a card that has been underwhelming through most of this deck’s history and is inferior to Fungalmancer.

Big-Spell Mage and Odd Control Mage make up a modest share of the meta, and these decks haven’t gained much from the balance changes. Both decks enjoyed matchups against Odd Rogue and Hybrid Hunter, so the patch hasn’t promoted a friendlier field for these slower mages.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

The golden age of Paladin is over… or not. Paladin is still a very powerful class, even though its late-game strategies have been nuked from orbit as a result of the nerf to Equality. It is only the aggressive spectrum of Paladin that currently shines.

Odd Paladin is loving the fact that Hunter hasn’t declined in popularity as much as many, including us, expected. The very high prevalence of Midrange Hunter, as well as the rise of Aggro-Odd Mage, have promoted a favorable field for Odd Paladin to thrive in, even though its matchups against the Priest class can still be challenging. Odd Paladin dominates early game board control like no other deck, making it a nightmare for any opponent that relies on establishing an early game initiative. Only decks with multiple forms of AOE can consistently beat Odd Paladin by depleting its resources.

Taking Odd Paladin’s only weakness into consideration while keeping the Priest prevalence in mind, it’s become very clear that both Prince Liam and Divine Favor are extremely powerful cards in the current meta. Not only are they incredible against Priest specifically, but they give Odd Paladin enough juice in other late game matchups to overcome unfavorable odds. Witch’s Cauldron is still nice in aggressive mirrors, but it seems like a luxury in comparison.

There are two other aggressive Paladin decks that see success in the current meta. Even Paladin can adjust its build to make up for the loss of Equality by running Spellbreakers to pass through those pesky Wall Priest taunts. Avenging Wrath has become much weaker without Equality, so we suggest cutting it entirely. Instead, Dinosize can offer the burst and reach against Priest that used to be provided by Avenging Wrath. Mojomaster Zihi has also become more powerful in the current meta due to its effectiveness in the Priest matchups. Finally, we recommend running Val’anyr once again due to its massive impact against the rising Odd Warriors.

Secret Paladin has finally risen in its play rate to a more noticeable level, and its performance is quite promising. It performs quite well against Priests, making it a very effective choice against some of the most popular decks in the meta.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Warrior comes out ahead as a result of the balance changes. Good cards in other classes being nerfed is obviously a positive thing, but the main difference result from the effect of the balance changes on the field. Odd Paladin and Odd Mage are two big winners, which is great news for Odd Warrior since both are favorable matchups. The transition from Gallery Priest to Wall Priest is another favorable outcome, and the disappearance of Holy Wrath Paladin, while no other OTK has emerged in its place, is a terrific outcome for Odd Warrior. The hard counters to Odd Warrior still exist, such as Miracle Druid and Mecha’thun Warlock, but their share of the meta has overall declined, significantly elevating Odd Warrior’s win rate.

With less OTK decks, there is also less incentive for Warrior to have a clock of its own, which is why we see Odd Warrior come out ahead of Odd-Taunt Warrior in the new meta, significantly eclipsing it in both popularity and win rate. When it comes to Odd Warrior builds, we’ve observed quite a few different lists, but none of them were as solid and consistent as the Dragon build. It’s often underestimated just how good Smolderthorn Lancer and Crowd Roaster are in Odd Warrior. A deck that’s extremely reliant on its removal game plan is much more likely to win games by drawing… removal cards. Add the benefit of running Dragonmaw Scorcher to make Odd Paladins cry, and you have an extremely powerful package for the current meta that we can’t get behind ever cutting.

But Warrior’s success in the new meta is not just limited to Baku decks. We can see signs of other Warrior decks shining thanks to other classes dropping in their efficiency. Vanilla Taunt Warrior is a crippling counter to Odd Paladins and it’s also fast enough to give Priests problems. Rush Warrior has re-emerged and it looks quite good. We’ve built a new list in the Data Reaper’s lab that’s meant to perform better against… yep, Priest. If you haven’t noticed by now, this meta really rewards you for adding percentages against Anduin.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

The nerf to Cold Blood has unsurprisingly hampered Odd Rogue and discouraged most players from piloting the deck. Its representation has drastically dropped across all ranks, and from a clear favorite, it’s now been usurped in its representation by both Malygos and Miracle Rogue.

In response to anticipating a slower meta, players turned to Malygos Rogue as one of the quicker combo decks available. The problem is that Malygos Rogue is an extremely one-dimensional combo deck with very weak defensive tools, making it notoriously bad against faster decks. It’s a great counter to Priest, but it doesn’t do much else and utterly folds at the first sign of aggression.

The Rogue deck that may have gained the most from the balance changes is Miracle Rogue. Sure, losing Cold Blood hurts, but Deadly Poison has proven to be a serviceable replacement that also fits with the Raiding Party package. In the current meta, we think Fan of Knives is very important in order to combat one of the deck’s worst matchups: Odd Paladin. Myracle Rogue performs extremely well against Priest and has benefitted tremendously from the disappearance of Hunters running Spellstone. It’s in a much stronger position than it was before the balance changes.

While Odd Rogue has been abandoned by many players, we don’t think its decline is entirely justified and there are indications that the deck is still very competitive. After all, Emerald Spellstone was its worst enemy and it still performs well against Priests. J_Alexander’s #6 legend build runs Crazed Chemists in order to fill the gap left by Cold Blood, and it also runs Void Rippers in order to answer Wall Priest’s taunts. There is a place to experiment with other mid-game threats as well. Bunnyhoppor hit #7 legend running a heavier list that includes King Mukla, Cobalt Scalebane, Captain Greenskin, and Snapjaw Shellfighter.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Druid remains on the fringes of the meta, though it’s still early to say that its standing in the field cannot improve.

Miracle Druid is the most popular archetype for the class, and it’s split between the Mecha’thun win condition and the Hakkar/Togwaggle win condition. For a long time, Mecha’thun looked strictly superior, but we have noticed that this gap got smaller after the patch since the Hakkar build performs better against the Priest class.

Malygos Druid has potential in the current meta. It performs well against Priests, Paladins and Mages. Its issue has always been dealing with Hunters (Midrange, Cube), so the balance changes may have improved its standing in the field since many of its better matchups have grown in popularity.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Shaman’s play rate has collapsed as a result of Flametongue Totem’s omission from Even Shaman, bringing the pain to the only Shaman deck that looked competitive in Rastakhan’s Rumble.

However, things aren’t as bad as they were in the Kobolds meta from a year ago, as signs point towards Even Shaman staying a playable deck. While it’s true that the deck has weakened, we’ve seen two players piloting the archetype to top legend ranks over the last week: RDee and Zeeland. Judging by its very low sample, Even Shaman’s win rate is also around the average.

When we investigate post-patch Even Shaman builds, we must replace Flametongue Totem, but Primalfin Totem and Knife Juggler should also not make the cut, since they’re incredibly weak in the absence of the former (and each other). Considering that alternative 2-drops are not very good beyond Acidic Swamp Ooze, it’s better to bolster the mid-game and fill the gaps with cards that may have increased value after the balance changes.

Hex is far better in the current meta due to the prevalence of both Gallery and Wall Priest, so it’s a sensible 2-of. Mojomaster Zihi has substantially gotten stronger in midrange decks due to its performance against Priest. Fire Plume Phoenix used to be almost good enough in the deck, so it gets nudged into the build. The result is an iteration that improves upon the builds utilized by RDee and Zeeland to reach top legend ranks.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

Meta breakers, meta breakers everywhere! There are quite a few decks that we believe have the potential to significantly increase in popularity and re-shape the meta. This report is a pretty good example of why balance changes can freshen up things and encourage discovery. Sometimes it’s the result of space being given to decks that used to be oppressed, but sometimes it’s the willingness to try something new that causes new decks to rise.

Wall Priest was innovated before the balance changes, but the patch has given the player base the “excuse” to try it out, and it’s been very successful. It was able to carve out a separate niche from Gallery Priest and find advantages of its own.

Odd Warrior has made a big comeback. As a very polarized deck, it’s enough to move the needle by a few inches to significantly change its fortunes. The balance changes sent the meta in a direction that ended up landing Odd Warrior in a dream destination, with hard counters failing to replace themselves, so far.

Miracle Rogue is a terrific counter to Priest and has enough game to challenge aggressive decks without being rolled over. It is also flexible enough to adjust to some of its difficult opponents. If Emerald Spellstone is gone, Miracle Rogue will accept whatever adversity comes instead.

Secret Paladin is a lightning fast aggressive deck that seems capable of performing well in a Genn/Baku dominated meta, which is not something you can take for granted. Divine Favor is its MVP in Priest matchups.

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  1. Wall Priest was not created by Dekkster. He found it on HSReplay and gave it its name, but he’ll be the first to say that he didn’t come up with it.

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