Welcome to the 122nd edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
It’s the second week of the patch, and Hunter doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In fact, the class has risen in popularity at higher levels of play. Midrange Hunter has completely taken over the legend meta, where it is more popular than any other class and three times as popular as the second most prevalent archetype.
Priest is seeing declines in play across the board, but the most drastic decline is in its numbers at legend. Last week, we talked about how focused the legend meta was at countering Priests, and this seems to be taking its toll. Another trend we can observe is a transition from Gallery Priest to Wall Priest, with the latter carrying a higher win rate recently.
A transition can also be observed in Warlock. More attention is given to Even and Zoo Warlock, while Cube, Mecha’thun and Midrange Warlock are in decline.
The Rogue class is extremely diverse and it’s very hard to guess what you’ve just run into on ladder. Odd Rogue is recovering in its play rate. Miracle Rogue is sticking around after its promising results recently. Malygos Rogue is sticking around despite looking very weak, and we can also see various other decks being played at lower rates: Quest Rogue, Cube Rogue, Tempo Rogue, Thief Rogue, and Even Rogue are the notable ones.
Paladin is exhibiting a small uptick in play, born from Even Paladin and Secret Paladin. These decks have recently shown very strong performance levels, and there’s an increased interest in trying them out.
Warrior is continuing to climb in popularity following the balance changes, but this rise is exclusive to non-legend ranks. At legend, the class has dropped in popularity. Odd Warrior is the most popular archetype of the class, followed by Odd-Taunt Warrior and Rush Warrior.
Mage’s growth has been stopped, with Aggro-Odd Mage declining in popularity across the board. Last week, we found that while the archetype was competitive, it was not as powerful as it was perceived to be by the player base. Its play rate is now beginning to reflect that.
Druid is seeing another archetype rise in popularity at legend, overtaking both Miracle Druid and Malygos Druid at legend. The old Togwaggle Druid has resurfaced at higher levels of play (labeled ‘Tog-M’Thun Druid’ due to its identical core to the Mecha’thun version of the deck. Remember that we do not split between Mecha’thun and Togwaggle lists, since it’s impossible to do so correctly as a result of recognition bias. We split archetypes based on their shell consisting of the other 28-29 cards in the deck). This non-Auctioneer version runs the familiar Druid core which has received brutal nerfs at the beginning of this expansion, much like Malygos Druid.
Shaman is showing no major signs of life. Elemental Shaman started seeing more play recently, but at legend, Shaman’s play rate is still close to 1%.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
The top 3 win-rate decks are all Paladin decks, and while Odd Paladin clearly wins a lot of games, Even Paladin now performs better from rank 4 onward, which is a result we’ve suspected would eventually come to pass. None of the Paladin decks are flashy or “feel” as powerful as they are, which might be why they are relatively underplayed. However, they are absurdly consistent. Genn and Baku are the epitome of “boring consistency” that enables successful strategies, and Paladin’s hero power is the strongest one to upgrade since it’s guaranteed board development and resources. After staying at Tier 1 despite losing two of their best cards to balance changes, we’re not convinced that rotation is going to hurt these decks at all. We’re not sure the player base can stomach one more year of Odd Paladin!
We’re genuinely concerned about Genn and Baku. They heavily promote coin differential (the win rate difference between going first and having the coin). Baku is a heavy promoter of excessive meta polarization. Subjectively, many players find the experience they create to be non-compelling game-play. And yet, Genn and Baku still have an entire year left in standard format.
Team 5, if you find these cards to be too complicated to change (we understand the headache involved in balancing them), can we see them being sent to the Hall of Fame as an emergency measure, for now, to guarantee a clean, fresh slate in the next standard year, free of the overpowering sets of KFT, K&C as well as Genn/Baku? We think many players would be excited by this prospect. Think about it.
Warrior is another very successful class to utilize on the climb to legend, thanks to Baku and Tank Up. However, at higher levels of play, players have been very quick to respond to the rise of Odd Warrior by either employing counter strategies or teching their decks for this matchup. This has resulted in Odd Warrior’s fall from Tier 1 at legend and is also part of the reason why Odd-Taunt Warrior is generally performing better now: its more proactive game plan gives it more control against the “narrow hard counters”.
Sick of Tanking Up? Warrior finally has a competitive alternative with the promising Rush Warrior. This archetype beats aggressive decks with great efficiency, and the build we’ve featured last week in the report has been performing very well. Rush Warrior’s matchup against Midrange Hunter is so strong that it nearly puts it at Tier 1. The deck’s worst matchup is Odd Warrior, an archetype that could be nearing a downswing as well.
Midrange Hunter has recovered in its win rate due to adjustments made after the balance changes and returns to Tier 1 at most rank brackets. To be able to exhibit this win rate is impressive, considering its very high play, and therefore its overall Meta Score at legend is the highest by quite a margin.
Cube Hunter has also recovered in its win rate for a similar reason. We don’t expect it to perform as well as Midrange Hunter, since it is limited by its Odd Paladin and Priest matchups, but it’s still a strong ladder deck that can do a lot of work, especially against Warriors.
Priest is feeling the heat. All its archetypes have dropped in their win rates, lining up with the popularity trends we’ve observed. The shift from Gallery Priest to Wall Priest also makes sense considering that Gallery Priest is the most polarizing deck of the three, making it the most vulnerable to being countered. As a result, its win rate has fallen the hardest.
Zoo Warlock now looks like the best Warlock deck, which is quite a turnaround from its status before the balance changes. Even Warlock also greatly benefited from the balance changes and stays safely in Tier 2. Other Warlock archetypes are still struggling due to the popularity of Priest and Hunter.
Aggro-Odd Mage’s win rate is beginning to decline as our concerns about its prospects materialize. The deck has a massive issue dealing with Paladins and Warriors. In fact, Odd Mage is surpassing its performance at higher levels of play due to its absurdly good matchup with Midrange Hunter. Turns out that Midrange Hunter is so prevalent that a deck can afford to beat almost nothing outside of Midrange Hunter and still end up with a Tier 2 overall win rate.
While not looking elite, Miracle Rogue is still performing at a surprisingly high level and remains in Tier 1 at legend. Its performance against Priests and Hunters makes it a legitimate meta contender that shouldn’t be underestimated. Odd Rogue is in a solid spot in the meta but has been surpassed following the balance changes since it hasn’t found as good of a replacement to Cold Blood.
Poor Thrall. Nobody wants to play his decks so we can’t even tell how good they are with great confidence. We can tell you with a little bit of confidence that Even Shaman is average.
The big story about Druid is not the one you see in the Power Rankings. Based on its low sample of games, which we’re still careful about due to it being skewed towards higher levels of play, Togwaggle Druid is performing incredibly well. It seems that Togwaggle Druid solves the issue that kept Malygos Druid a hair away from being a consistent meta player. While the old Druid core is still very effective against Odd Paladins and Priests, Odd Warriors gave Malygos Druid a lot of issues. With the Togwaggle win condition, Odd Warriors are almost free wins. The deck still has problems performing against Hunters and Warlocks, but alongside good matchups against Rogues and Mages, the math checks out: As of the time of writing the report, Togwaggle Druid looks like a Tier 1 deck.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Midrange Hunter’s popularity is far and beyond any other deck seems to muster. That also makes it the most targeted deck in the meta, which means it’s harder for it to display an excessively high win rate. However, Midrange Hunter’s strength is very clear.
The meta has slightly changed around Midrange Hunter, so some card choices are getting stronger. Two Tundra Rhinos are quite strong due to the rise of Odd Warriors. For the same reason, we don’t recommend ever cutting Savannah Highmanes as it’s so powerful in this matchup, as well as in other slow matchups. The rise of Odd Warrior is also improving the performance of Dire Frenzy, but the benefit of Unleash the Hounds in beating Odd Paladins is currently greater than the benefit of Dire Frenzy in beating Odd Warrior.
Cube Hunter lists are beginning to react to the tough Priest matchups, with TheCantelope popularizing a Nerubian Unraveler tech that helped PaperNinja reach #1 legend. Psychic Scream is Cube Hunter’s biggest nemesis, so the ability to disrupt it has become quite valuable even though Unraveler is a fairly weak card in faster matchups.
Firmly entrenched in the top 2 most popular classes, Priest is enjoying a mostly positive fallout from the balance changes, boasting several strong ladder decks. Wall Priest, the most recent archetype that has risen in play, proves to be one of the stronger decks on ladder.
Our suggested Wall Priest build from last week indeed looks like the correct approach. In a meta lacking Skulking Geist, two Inner Fires are significantly better than Inner Fire/Topsy Turvy. Divine Hymn is also weaker than running two Mass Dispels. This improves the consistency of Shadow Vision as well as our win condition.
Gallery Priest is the most easily targeted Priest deck, which makes it vulnerable to a meta that has made countering Priest its priority. As a result, it’s taking a backseat to Wall Priest. Builds continue to be split between the Standard version and the 4-minion version. If you’ve found the meta to be favorable to Gallery Priest, you might as well milk its better matchups for all their worth, which the 4-minion version excels at.
Control Priest’s build is tried and true. We wouldn’t change anything about it unless you were constantly running into aggressive decks (where Tar Creepers get better over Acolytes of Pain), or you’re constantly running into Odd Paladins (where Dragonmaw Scorcher/Primordial Drake might be worth looking at).
- Priest Class Radar
- Gallery Priest
- Wall Priest
- Control Priest
Zoo Warlock is all the talk in the Warlock locker room. The nerfs to Hunter and Odd Rogue have been game-changing for the archetype, and it finds itself in a great position in the meta. We emphasize the importance of Dreadlords in the current meta, which perform significantly better than Doomguards thanks to the popularity of Odd Paladin. The Soularium is not as popular as it should be; the card is specifically insane in the Priest matchups and carries a lot of value against other opponents such as Odd Warrior.
Even Warlock is also performing much better after the balance changes. The key to performing optimally in the current meta is teching against combo decks and Priest. Mojomaster Zihi, once an underwhelming tech card in the deck, does a lot of work in today’s climate. Nerubian Unraveler is another card that’s extremely irritating to deal with. Both techs give Even Warlock more time to punch its opponent in the face with big minions.
Cube Warlock’s population looks to be dwindling. The archetype finds itself in a less favorable field after the patch, with Even and Zoo Warlock offering better matchup spreads.
Mecha’thun Warlock has almost completely disappeared at the highest levels, which could have been easily predicted considering the rise of Priest. The deck simply cannot survive these terrible matchups, and its win rate has nosedived into the dumpster.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Zoo Warlock
- Even Warlock
- Cube Warlock
- Midrange Warlock
- Mecha’thun Warlock
Rogue has embraced a lot of memes in the post-patch meta. The class is filled with many different decks, and many of them perform as poorly as you’d think, but the primary meta decks seem to be adjusting well enough to the loss of Cold Blood to merit competitive play.
Miracle Rogue, or the Pirate Myracle Rogue deck, is now the best deck available to the class. It demolishes Priests like no other deck and matches up well enough against the Hunter class. Run Fan of Knives, and you’ll find the Odd Paladin matchup to be nowhere near as oppressive.
After evaluating many Odd Rogue builds, we’ve found J_Alexander’s list to be the most consistent one. While Crazed Chemist isn’t nearly as good as Cold Blood, it offers a mid-game threat at a decent enough power level that present immediate damage. This makes it more valuable against Priest and Hunters than cards that only offer big bodies of stats. Void Ripper is also strong in the current meta, since it counters Wall Priests and has enough applications outside of this matchup to not be a liability.
While the rest of the Rogue class is mostly filled with memes, there are two decks that might be strong enough to be competitive choices. They see more play at legend, where players are more inclined to experiment.
The never dying Quest Rogue offers strong matchups against Priests and Warriors, while Fan of Knives always gives it a solid chance to beat Odd Paladins. Aggressive decks are still the obvious issues with this archetype, but if you’re mostly seeing a slower meta, then this archetype can certainly thrive.
A “Big” version of Cube Rogue, popularized by Blackhinder and inspired by the wild version of Big Rogue, has also been spotted in our radars. The deck looks surprisingly playable, cheating out Deranged Doctors and Charged Devilsaurs through the interactions between Kobold Illusionist and Silver Vanguard. If you’re looking for a fun deck that’s stronger than it looks, give it a spin.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Odd Rogue
- Miracle Rogue
- Malygos Rogue
- Cockroach Quest Rogue
- BlackHinder’s Big Cube Rogue
Paladin has three Tier 1 decks, all leaning towards the aggressive side of the spectrum. While Odd Paladin makes up the vast majority of the class’ play rate, we have been seeing Even and Secret Paladin receiving more attention over the past week.
Odd Paladin is probably the best deck for the legend climb, as it is one of the best answers available to the popularity of Hunter. Odd Paladin is incredibly consistent and can always overcome its worse matchups with the art of the high-roll. For that purpose, we continue to recommend Divine Favor and Prince Liam. They offer more gas against Priests and Odd Warriors, which are well equipped to slowly deplete you of resources in their absence.
Even Paladin is still very good, and while its comeback potential isn’t as strong without the Pyromancer/Equality combo, its ability to constantly pressure cannot be underestimated. We really like the performance of the featured threat-dense build. It gives extra percentages against Priest and Odd Warriors, which are worthwhile opponents to tech against.
Secret Paladin’s growth in popularity has given us a better chance to evaluate its cards, and the insights we’ve gathered are somewhat surprising. Corpsetakers are not worth it. Yes, this is a sentence written in the Data Reaper Report. It’s better to invest these slots in order to improve other areas of the deck. Amani Berserkers improve Call to Arms’ power level and consistency. Vinecleaver is extremely strong, so running two is not as outrageous as it seems. By running two Vinecleavers, two Fungalmancers also become more dangerous. The featured build may seem greedy, and it does slightly clash with Divine Favor encouraging us to play cheaper cards, but it works out well. Paladin’s focus, if you haven’t noticed by now, is to perform better against Priests and Warriors. Alternatively, we could slightly reduce the top end of the curve and run Lost in the Jungle, but the card is not nearly as strong as it is in Odd Paladin.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Odd Paladin
- Even Paladin
- Secret Paladin
Warrior is rolling in the wake of the balance changes. The class is putting up good results with a variety of decks in a way that it hasn’t done in a long, long time. A favorable meta which seems to be eating up its counters is doing Warrior a world of good.
Odd Warrior beats any deck that doesn’t carry a completely absurd late game or draws Deathstalker Rexxar on curve. Odd-Taunt Warrior runs the quest, providing it with a lethality clock that helps deal with some of the archetype’s worst counters, at the cost of its overall consistency.
Rush Warrior is the big news of the week and might be the non-Baku Warrior deck that has finally found consistent success to merit a place in the meta. The archetype’s win rate is legitimately strong, its matchups against aggressive decks are superb and the build we recommend improves percentages in the more difficult slower matchups. If you want to completely dominate Hunters, Paladins, and Rogues, this deck does an incredible job.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Odd Warrior
- Odd-Taunt Warrior
- Taunt Warrior
- Rush Warrior
As the new meta begins to settle, Aggro-Odd Mage remains the predominant Mage archetype. Although Aggro Odd Mage still carries a pretty good win rate, players at higher levels of play are beginning to shy away from it. This is likely a response to the increase in Paladins and Warriors, as well as the decline in Priests. In terms of builds, Subject 9 continues to look very strong and we highly recommend running it. It’s one of the most powerful turns available to the deck, pushing out low-quality choices such as Nightblade and Clockwork Automaton.
Odd Mage and Big-Spell Mage play rates carry over from last week. Their spot in the meta is mediocre at best. Odd Mage is an extremely polarizing deck with several popular matchups that are completely miserable. Big-Spell Mage is less polarizing but doesn’t have notable strengths against the field that merit play over other late game options.
- Mage Class Radar
- Aggro-Odd Mage
- Odd Mage
- Big-Spell Mage
This week sees the return of old Togwaggle Druid, built on the nerfed Druid core rather than the Miracle/Auctioneer package. To help its weakened ramping ability, most builds run Greedy Sprites alongside Oaken Summons and Ironwood Golem. We also highly recommend running two Innervates for the same reason.
Togwaggle Druid is quite well positioned in the current meta. It beats Priests, Paladins and Rogues quite comfortably, and unlike Malygos Druid, eats Odd Warriors for breakfast. Its worst matchups are Hunters and Warlocks, since it struggles to deal with pressure coming from mid-sized minions. However, its matchup spread is good enough to merit a place in the meta, and it might have turned out to be the strongest Druid deck in this expansion after the Wild Growth nerf.
- Druid Class Radar
- Miracle Druid
- Malygos Druid
- Togwaggle Druid
Interest in the Shaman class is nearly dead. While Even Shaman is playable, nobody cares if it is. The class has had very few new ideas or interesting decks emerging over the past year, and the few that did emerge got nerfed. The latest news, which gives some hope for the class, is the rise of Elemental Shaman. Posesi hit #1 legend with it just recently, so we’ll have to wait and see whether this is a one-off occurrence or that the archetype has a legitimate claim to the meta.
Nevertheless, Thrall desperately needs new mechanics to find relevance, and hopefully the class will find a new focus in the next Hearthstone year.
This week’s meta breaker section will mention three underrated decks that deserve more attention for different reasons.
Even Paladin still looks busted. While the loss of Equality worsens some of its matchups, it’s still stupidly consistent. If you’re looking to seamlessly climb ladder, this is the deck for you.
Rush Warrior is genuinely strong and might end up being stronger than Odd Warrior decks thanks to its terrific matchup against Midrange Hunter. If you happen to have the cards (or the wallet for them), it feels like old school Tempo Warrior from Whispers of the Old Gods.
Togwaggle Druid’s play rate is still too low and skewed towards higher levels of play for us to confidently place in Tier 1, but it looks like a Tier 1 deck that is only really crippled by Cube Hunters and Warlock decks. Everything else looks like fair game, so here’s your chance to play more Ultimate Infestations before April comes along. Candle Smash!
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