Welcome to the 123rd edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
We’re soon entering the final month of Rastakhan’s Rumble, the point at which drastic changes in the meta are becoming less likely. Not necessarily because the meta is solved, but the player base is less receptive to innovation and generally starts “waiting” for the next expansion. Hunter is on top and there is nothing to suggest that its numbers will fall in the next month. It should remain the most popular class in the game until April.
The class that has fallen hard this week is Priest. While Priest does have some strong decks, you could argue they were overplayed based on their performance levels. The meta seems to be catching up to that reality, and the class has declined at every rank bracket.
The meta is also catching up to the reality that Paladin is busted, with the class rising in play, backed up by its three top tier archetypes. Both Secret Paladin and Even Paladin are becoming more noticeable, with Even Paladin surging at higher levels of play.
Warlock is beginning to settle into 3 archetypes rather than 5 or 6. Zoo Warlock’s stock has risen, followed by Even Warlock, while Cube Warlock is lagging. Mecha’thun, Midrange, and Control Warlock are dying archetypes.
Mage is slightly declining in play, with enthusiasm for the class waning, establishing it in its familiar middle-of-the-road spot. Its three main archetypes (Aggro-Odd Mage, Odd Mage, and Big-Spell Mage) display relatively similar play rates to last week’s, and not much has changed in their card usage.
The extremely diverse Rogue class has risen in play, with Cube Rogue spiking in its popularity and becoming the most popular archetype of the class at ranks 4-1, which is remarkable. The deck seems to be a refreshing experience in a meta that feels stale to many players. Another archetype that seems to be rising is Tempo Rogue, with Corpsetaker/Hooktusk builds making a return after the balance changes saw them disappear. The usual common suspects are also around: Miracle, Odd and Malygos Rogue. You never know what you’ve run into when you meet Valeera on ladder.
Warrior has declined at higher levels of play, which lines up with what we’ve found last week: the meta at legend is much more hostile to Odd Warriors. The promising Rush Warrior is also still around in smaller numbers.
Our labeling of Togwaggle Druid as a metabreaker last week may have lit a fire under Malfurion, and the Tog-M’Thun archetype has risen further in play. Miracle Druid is in decline, as the old Druid core has proven to be a stronger shell for Druid’s win conditions than the Auctioneer cycle package, despite receiving brutal nerfs to Wild Growth and Nourish two months ago.
Shaman is showing signs of life, as Elemental Shaman has risen in play and become quite noticeable on ladder following its #1 legend achievement last week. Have Thrall’s fortunes changed? Is Elemental Shaman the real deal? Are we about to witness the most dramatic late-expansion turnaround in Hearthstone’s history?
We’ll save you the trouble of anxiously scrolling down to the Power Ranking table. The answer is no.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
So just before this article was released, a new announcement was published by the Hearthstone team regarding standard format in the Year of the Dragon. The big news is that Genn and Baku will both be added to the Hall of Fame, removed from standard format a year early, which was something we also suggested in last week’s report. We’re very happy to see this change, and look forward to the next expansion. Needless to say, Paladin decks are currently extremely strong, and we were doubtful that these archetypes would be negatively affected by rotation. With Year of the Mammoth gone as well as Genn/Baku, the Hearthstone meta should completely open up in April.
Midrange Hunter is very strong, as usual. Cube Hunter is also very strong, jumping in its win rate thanks to a decline in Priests as well as aggressively teching for these matchups with Nerubian Unraveler (there are very few examples of cards that can swing matchups this hard, we’ve calculated that it’s worth nearly 10% against the Priest class by itself!).
Our estimate that Togwaggle Druid was a Tier 1 deck last week has been confirmed with this week’s larger sample size. Remember that a small portion run Mecha’thun instead of Togwaggle in this deck, and since they’re statistically aggregated together, they’re labeled “Tog-M’Thun”. This is a very different deck from Miracle Druid, which does run Togwaggle or Mecha’thun as possible win conditions but utilizes the Auctioneer/Pyromancer spell cycling shell. Togwaggle Druid’s matchups against the most popular decks in the game are the key to its success: it annihilates Odd Paladin thanks to Spreading Plague, it is nearly incapable of losing to Odd Warriors, has decent to great matchups against Priest, and doesn’t get run over by Midrange Hunter. My Greetings. Malfurion is back in business.
Odd Warrior and Odd-Taunt Warrior are still very strong on the climb to legend, but they clearly run into more problems at legend. If Togwaggle Druid rises in play further, these decks are going to struggle to keep their current strength against the field.
Don’t panic about Rush Warrior’s fall in win rate. The deck is still good but is being hurt by experiments from players that dropped Keleseth for an early game package consisting of Woodcutter’s Axe, Battle Rage and Armorsmith. That build is atrocious and really dragged the archetype through the mud. Haven’t we learned by now that if we can run Keleseth in a deck, we shut up and do it?
The state of the Rogue class is fun and makes us wish every class was this interesting and full of ideas. The Big Cube Rogue deck that runs Deranged Doctors is legitimately competitive on ladder (albeit polarizing), and we think it can make some further improvements in its build. Miracle Rogue has fallen in its win rate due to the decline in Priests and the rise in Paladin, but it’s still in a solid spot alongside Odd Rogue.
We still can’t confidently discuss Tempo Rogue’s win rate, since its rise in popularity is recent and it’s currently very bi-polar in its build approach. What we can say is that Hooktusk still looks powerful and we estimate that the Corpsetaker/Hooktusk Tempo Rogue build is a Tier 2 deck.
Mage, once again, looks to be settling into mediocrity after a promising phase a few weeks ago. However, we will say that Aggro-Odd Mage is stronger than it looks because most players are not running Subject 9 yet. The Subject 9 build is dramatically better than its alternatives, so if you want to optimize your experience with the archetype, run the featured build in the Mage class section.
While all the hype usually surrounds Wall Priest, it is Control Priest that seems to be best equipped to handle a meta that has become increasingly hostile to Anduin. It just doesn’t have too many bad matchups that expose its weaknesses. Its biggest counters are Odd Warrior and Togwaggle Druid, and if the latter rises in play, it will hurt the former’s popularity.
Zoo Warlock is now Tier 1 at all levels of play, completing a massive turnaround in its fortunes as a result of the balance changes. It sure is nice not to run into Emerald Spellstones anymore. Even-Warlock doesn’t look as strong, but we will say that you can perform better with the archetype if you aggressively tech against Priests with Mojomaster Zihi and Nerubian Unraveler. Remember when we wrote off Zihi early in the expansion and said she was weak? She was indeed weak, but Zihi is a meta dependent card and the current meta after the patch really wants to take a sip. Just a sip. Then you are mine.
Elemental Shaman is the cake in Portal. Don’t fall for it. Don’t listen to GLaDOS. Get out of there.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Midrange Hunter’s dominance isn’t showing any signs of relenting. In both ladder and tournaments, it’s the most popular deck by a large margin, while carrying a very strong win rate despite the entire meta trying its best to beat it. We don’t expect that to change until the next standard year, when the deck loses Deathstalker Rexxar, a card that has allowed it to win late game matchups much more often than it reasonably should. Without Deathstalker Rexxar, it will be much easier for slower decks to run the Hunter out of steam. Master’s Call is still a fantastic build-around card that gives the archetype card draw, but it’s nowhere near being an “I win” card.
Cube Hunter might be overshadowed by Midrange Hunter, but it’s still a strong deck. Nerubian Unraveler is a solid tech card against Priests, but we’ve also run into another interesting tech card recently: Deadly Shot. Without Hunter’s Mark, Cube Hunter’s single target removal is far weaker, and Deadly Shot helps fill that void surprisingly well. We think Deadly Shot is worth trying out and could prove to be strong enough to be labeled a core card down the road.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Midrange Hunter
- Cube Hunter
Priest is locked in as the second most popular class on ladder, seeing a significant drop in play from last week at all rank brackets. The meta’s hostility towards Priest has increased recently, with many archetypes tuning their card choices to perform better against Priest, as observed in the rise in popularity of both Mojomaster Zihi and Nerubian Unraveler.
Even so, Priest is hardly weak now, sporting three archetypes with decent win rates. The enthusiasm for Wall Priest has slightly waned, but the deck is still quite powerful. Control Priest is as consistent as ever, backed by its dragon core led by Duskbreaker. Gallery Priest is the weakest of the three but is still good enough to merit competitive play.
- Priest Class Radar
- Gallery Priest
- Wall Priest
- Control Priest
Zoo Warlock leads the class in popularity and win rate. Not much has changed in its optimal build. Dreadlords are still significantly better than Doomguards at the 5-mana slot. The Soularium is still nuts against Priests. Having a Spellbreaker or two against Wall Priest is particularly nice.
Even Warlock is also looking strong. Once again, we will highlight that it is currently most successful when it aggressively techs for the Priest matchups by running Mojomaster Zihi and Nerubian Unraveler. The two Spellbreakers are also quite important and allow the Warlock to push more face damage. Keep an aggressive mindset in slower matchups and you’ll find success.
Cube Warlock has generally gotten worse since the balance changes. It’s still competitive, but it is somewhat overshadowed by the stability that Even Warlock offers. Mecha’thun Warlock is a dying breed due to the prevalence of Priests.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Zoo Warlock
- Even Warlock
- Cube Warlock
- Mecha’thun Warlock
It’s becoming clearer to the player base that while Paladin is an aggressive class, it isn’t a one trick pony. As Odd Paladin continues to see the lion’s share of play rate, Even Paladin is shining brighter, and Secret Paladin isn’t far behind. We’re running out of ways to talk about Genn and Baku and how consistent and defining they have been this year. At first, it was interesting, but it’s gotten old quite quickly due to the playstyle they promote, which tends to be repetitive.
Odd Paladin continues to be a dominant ladder deck, thriving on its Hunter matchups and performing well against any other deck that relies on establishing the initiative. The upgraded hero power is just extremely oppressive in the early game for many strategies that cannot keep up with the consistent resources available to the Paladin. The only way to beat Odd Paladin is by conceding the early turns and punishing it with multiple forms of AOE.
Even Paladin doesn’t boast as high of a play rate but might be stronger than Odd Paladin and the best ladder deck in the game. Running a heavier top end as exhibited in our featured build is just correct in the current meta. A heavier top end helps a lot in both Priest and Warrior matchups since these classes beat you when they deplete your resources. Val’anyr is particularly amazing against Warriors and can carry the matchup by itself. Mojomaster Zihi’s performance has skyrocketed after the balance changes, and it is now one of the deck’s strongest cards. Don’t underestimate the addition of Dinosize either: it’s another incredibly strong card against Priests that steals games you’d otherwise have no hope of winning.
Secret Paladin is a somewhat refreshing addition to the meta since it’s an aggressive deck that doesn’t rely on Genn or Baku. This makes it inferior at contesting Midrange Hunter, but it does have a pretty good matchup spread overall. Cutting Corpsetaker still looks like a correct decision, allowing us to get greedier through Vinecleaver and Fungalmancer.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Odd Paladin
- Even Paladin
- Secret Paladin
There are two main developments in the Rogue class.
The first is the rise of Big Cube Rogue, which centers on cheating out threats through Kobold Illusionist and Silver Vanguard. We’ve looked at Blackhinder’s original build as well as other iterations of the deck, and we’ve gathered a few insights: 1. Fan of Knives isn’t worth it. It’s a good card against Odd Paladin but a liability in other matchups. Miracle Rogue utilizes the card better. 2. Sap is extremely important, and we should run two copies of it. 3. Umbra is a pretty strong addition since she can never be ignored and we need something to do if we can’t draw Illusionist on 4.
The second is the return of Tempo Rogue running Hooktusk. This deck disappeared after the balance changes due to the loss of Cold Blood but has made a return to the meta and looks extremely effective. We wouldn’t be surprised if it became the strongest Rogue deck. Multiple players, beginning with LOKShadow, hit high legend ranks with the deck. When we look at the popular build that is currently circulating, Fal’dorei Strider and Elven Minstrel are clear weaknesses. There are also only 2 taunts in the deck to activate Corpsetaker, and 4 pirates for Captain Hooktusk. We add Tar Creepers to better contest aggressive mirrors as well as a Southsea Captain to improve the consistency of Captain Hooktusk. We also add Graal, a card that performed very well in the deck before the balance changes and was forgotten.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Cube Rogue
- Odd Rogue
- Miracle Rogue
- Tempo Rogue
- Malygos Rogue
After Mage’s resurgence a couple of weeks ago, it seems to be settling into a familiar spot of mediocrity in the Year of the Raven. Aggro-Odd Mage is likely the class’ most consistent ladder deck, though its win rate has been hurting recently and not helped by a player base slow to pick up the Subject 9 build, which is far superior to any other build.
Control Odd Mage is the biggest counter in the game to Midrange Hunter, which counts for a lot considering Midrange Hunter is the most popular deck in the game by a very large margin. However, queuing Odd Mage on ladder may produce erratic results: You could run into a streak of Midrange Hunters and farm away, or you could run into other matchups and develop a burning desire to delete your deck.
Big-Spell Mage isn’t as polarizing as Odd Mage, but it doesn’t have great things going for it. It doesn’t beat any of the most popular decks in the meta, so we don’t anticipate it growing any further than its niche presence.
- Mage Class Radar
- Aggro-Odd Mage
- Odd Mage
- Big-Spell Mage
Warrior is chugging along nicely, with solid winrates being put up by a variety of decks, as Odd Warrior, Odd-Taunt Warrior and Rush Warrior all provide compelling reasons to play them.
Odd Warrior farms aggressive decks like it always has. The dragon build is far better than any other build we’ve seen on ladder. We’re fully aware of the tech heavy builds that run Carnivorous Cube and Faceless Manipulator, but these lists are so much worse that we can’t recommend them. Other than the mirror matchups, they carry little merit, and the mirror matchup is a small percentage of ladder.
Odd-Taunt Warrior is an interesting choice for those who embrace Tanking Up yet want to avoid the completely hopeless matchups by having a more proactive game plan with a lethality clock. We continue to recommend Blackwald Pixie, since it is very effective in Priest matchups. That 16-damage burst threat can steal a lot of games, and the card isn’t bad with Tank Up either.
Rush Warrior is a nice change of pace, showing that Warrior can do more than just Tank Up. It carries terrific matchups against other early game decks such as Odd Paladin and Midrange Hunter, making it the ultimate “Anti-Aggro Aggro deck”.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Odd Warrior
- Odd-Taunt Warrior
- Rush Warrior
Druid is all about going back to the old ways. The disappearance of the old Druid core from the meta has led to the rise of many archetypes that have traditionally fallen prey to pre-patch Druids. Their numbers have grown so much that Druid, even at its weakened ramping state, can find many good matchups on ladder to the point its win rate is now quite impressive.
Malygos Druid was still a step away due to its terrible matchup against Odd Warrior, but Togwaggle Druid has struck a balance that led to a real breakthrough, making it one of the strongest decks on ladder thanks to its favorable standing against nearly all classes but two: Hunter and Warlock.
Miracle Druid has been a cute, yet underwhelming, deck for ladder play over the past couple of months. It hasn’t really made a big mark. If you want to win more ladder games, you’d do better by abusing Ultimate Infestation and Spreading Plague for another month before they’re gone from standard format.
- Druid Class Radar
- Togwaggle Druid
- Miracle Druid
- Malygos Druid
Enthusiasm for the Shaman class has risen this week, with the promising rise of Elemental Shaman backed by Posesi hitting #1 legend with the archetype last week.
It was a promising rise, but as the dust settles down, the deck doesn’t seem to be living up to its promise and looks more like a fluke. Elemental Shaman still looks like a horribly flawed deck with a win rate that doesn’t even merit competitive consideration. The class will probably need to wait until the new expansion in order to search for a new way to play the game.
Rastakhan’s meta just didn’t feel right. Ever since Wild Growth was nerfed, the BM meta drastically regressed. Turn 2 was solely carried by Anduin healing his own face, vowing that the light will burn us. No longer did Hearthstone possess the turn 2 Wild Growth greetings, or the “Hmm… Well Played” mid-game Ultimate Infestation.
Not to worry, it seems that smug Malfurion is coming back. He may not be as intolerable as he was before, but Druid still packs a BM punch the likes of which both Anduin and Uther wished they’d never see again.
The stars have aligned for Togwaggle Druid. Silver Hand Recruits swarming. Duskbreakers dropping. Warriors armoring. All fall prey to the screeching sound of scarabs and the might of the Candle Smash. Win Hearthstone games? Is Kobold way!
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