Welcome to the 124th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
A Wild Data Reaper Report will be published this Sunday, March 10th.
Class Frequency Discussion
Had enough of Hunters? Here are some more! The most popular class in the game is only growing in popularity thanks to the rise of Cube Hunters, especially at higher levels of play. At legend, Midrange Hunter alone is more popular than any other class, while Cube Hunter is top 3 alongside Odd Paladin. Greetings, traveler.
The fall of Priest continues for another week, and its popularity is beginning to align with other classes in the game boasting similar power level standings. At legend, Priest has lost the 2nd spot to Paladin. Out of the three common archetypes of Priest, Wall Priest is most popular outside of legend, but things are quite evenly distributed at higher levels of play.
Paladin is creeping up, with Odd Paladin remaining one of the most popular decks in the game due to its excellent matchups into Hunter. Even-Paladin and Secret Paladin remain relatively modest in representation, but we’re already aware they’re just as strong, if not stronger than Odd Paladin.
It’s hard to keep up with Rogue and its long list of archetypes. We’ve got Miracle Rogue, Odd Rogue, Cube Rogue, and Malygos Rogue. Hooktusk Tempo Rogue builds are getting more popular. Thief Rogue is seeing more play (though it probably shouldn’t!), and then there are the truly fringe decks such as Even Rogue and Quest Rogue. You just never know what Valeera has in store for you when you meet her on ladder.
Not much has changed for Warlock, Mage, and Warrior. All are mostly represented by three archetypes. Zoo Warlock is getting more attention from players looking to climb to legend after its resurgence following the balance changes.
Miracle Druid is declining, as players are becoming fonder of the “old Malfurion” decks: Togwaggle and Malygos Druid. It makes sense considering how weak Miracle Druid’s performance on ladder has been, and how strong Togwaggle Druid has proven to be.
Shaman is still buried at the bottom. Elemental Shaman is seeing play, but it seems like a quest filler rather than a meta contender. Thrall is mostly waiting for the next expansion.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
We’ll admit, preparing this report induced several yawns from us. The meta has recently felt very stale, and most archetypes haven’t changed at all over the last week. There are a couple of leads for potential breakout decks we will mention, but the player base is not very receptive to changes at this point. Paladin and Hunter have a firm grip on the meta and regardless of the small meta shifts that may occur, it’s unlikely that these classes will let go of that hold. They are just so strong.
Oh boy, we sure are happy that Genn and Baku are rotating out of standard format a year early. We’re also very happy to see Death Knights, including Deathstalker Rexxar, rotating away. It’s a huge sigh of relief, and we’re hopeful that the meta will be refreshed in April. Early game strategies and late game win conditions that have no chance to see play in the current meta, could suddenly become viable. The Year of the Raven sets have some cool mechanics and synergies, but they’ve largely been suppressed by the overbearing power level exhibited in Year of the Mammoth sets. Many of the infinite value/damage/health interactions will be gone, which means resource management may matter once again in Hearthstone. Remember that thing called resource management? We missed it.
We know Paladin and Hunter are very strong, but let’s talk about high power level exhibited in other classes. Warrior tends to truly shine on the climb to legend, where players are more tempted to play aggressive decks that get farmed by Tank Up. Togwaggle Druid might be the most underrated archetype in the game thanks to its great matchup spread against some of the most popular decks. Miracle Rogue is a sleeper deck, especially at higher levels of play where it is legitimately a top performer.
Priest is usually found in Tier 2, after being heavily targeted by the meta in recent weeks. Control Priest and Wall Priest are on the stronger side, while Gallery Priest is struggling to get back to a positive win rate due to a very poor matchup against Midrange Hunter.
Rogue’s diversity is not just about players fooling around with meme decks like Thief Rogue. It has competitive diversity with several Rogue decks hovering around the 50%-win rate mark. Don’t be fooled by Tempo Rogue’s win rate either: it is bogged down by sub-optimal builds. The Corpsetusk Tempo Rogue variant is slowly taking over, which is resulting in a continuing rise in the archetype’s win rate. We estimate that an “optimal” Hooktusk Rogue is at least Tier 2, and it might even be the strongest deck the class has to offer.
Warlock is in a balanced state. Zoo Warlock has taken a bit of a hit in its win rate, pushing it out of Tier 1, while Cube Warlock is showing significant recovery. Even-Warlock is in a fine spot and would likely look stronger if more players picked the right 6-drop techs for this meta. Still playing Skulking Geist and Mossy Horror? Thumbs down. Mojomaster Zihi and Nerubian Unraveler? Thumbs up.
Mage is mediocre. This has been the story for the class throughout the year. Aggro-Odd Mage is a fine deck, but it’s brutally polarizing. Mage’s late game is slow and just doesn’t compare to other classes, which means Odd Mage and Big-Spell Mage aren’t that great.
Elemental Shaman has risen in its win rate, placing it in the outskirts of Tier 3. That’s a cause for celebration, isn’t it? We’ll bake a cake.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Midrange Hunters this week have been trying to adapt to perform better in the mirror by cutting Savannah Highmane. This is a mistake, as Highmane provides much needed midgame pressure for the deck and is far stronger in the mirror than it’s perceived to be (it’s a net positive card in the mirror, the opposite from being a liability). Highmane is nearly impossible to remove and seals games unless you’re horribly behind. The insistence on Dire Frenzy (the actual worst card in the mirror, as well as many other matchups…) while cutting Highmane makes this trend even more counterproductive.
Cube Hunter saw a nice spike in popularity this week at higher levels of play. We did spot an increase in its win rate last week, which has likely contributed to its rise in play. There might be another factor though, which is the introduction of the Specialist format. Cube Hunter is one of the most flexible archetypes in the game, allowing it to easily turn around matchups with some sideboard cards. Thus, we’ve seen many players this week getting some practice in with Cube Hunter as they prepare for the slew of open tournaments.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Midrange Hunter
- Cube Hunter
Paladin is crazy good. Having three top-performing archetypes is nothing to sneeze at and is largely due to the existence of Genn and Baku taking advantage of an extremely strong hero power.
Odd Paladin, much like war, never changes. There are maybe a couple of slots you can swap cards in and out, but for the most part, the deck builds itself. If you aren’t playing Odd Paladin, you need to have a plan for playing against it because you will run into it on ladder.
Even Paladin is more prevalent at higher levels of play, where it is dominant. The deck is more flexible than Odd Paladin and isn’t as vulnerable to AOE. Mojomaster Zihi is an extremely strong tech choice in the post-patch meta.
Secret Paladin is an aggressive deck that doesn’t rely on its hero power to become a threat. It is less consistent but can be quite explosive. If you’re bored of button decks, Secret Paladin is a cheap alternative.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Odd Paladin
- Even Paladin
- Secret Paladin
Priest saw another week in which its popularity dropped, and at higher levels of play, it’s been overtaken by Paladin. The class remains strong, however, with three viable variants in Control, Gallery, and Wall Priest.
Wall Priest is likely the strongest Priest deck. Its win condition is quite powerful against slower decks, while its ability to cheat out taunts always gives it a chance against aggressive decks.
Control Priest might be the most consistent archetype at the class’ disposal, and players are starting to catch on to its strength against a field that has grown increasingly hostile to the class.
Gallery Priest is the most polarizing, and therefore inconsistent Priest deck. It can blow hot and cold depending on the matchups you run into, which is why it doesn’t look that strong.
- Priest Class Radar
- Gallery Priest
- Wall Priest
- Control Priest
Zoo Warlock is becoming more common on the climb to legend, with players growing aware of its standing as quite the powerful deck. Jimboslice hit #1 legend with a list that he net-decked… from us. Want to hit #1 legend too? Just net-deck from Vicious Syndicate! #sponsored
Even Warlock is also a decent deck in the current meta if you build it right. Mojomaster Zihi and Nerubian Unraveler are so strong against Priests, they’re truly mouth-watering. Once you improve your performance against Priest, the deck’s matchup spread looks very well-rounded.
Cube Warlock has risen in its win rate this week thanks to the decline in Priests. Unlike Even-Warlock, it cannot tech for these matchups effectively, so its success is more meta dependent than the other two.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Zoo Warlock
- Even Warlock
- Cube Warlock
- Mecha’thun Warlock
Things are getting a little more difficult for Aggro-Odd Mage. The decline in Priests in favor of Paladins certainly hurts the archetype’s matchup spread but the high number of Midrange Hunters does keep it somewhat relevant on ladder.
Slower Mage archetypes struggle to remain relevant as their passivity leaves them vulnerable. Odd Mage and Big Spell Mage are usually found in Tier 3 and there’s little reason to believe their fortunes can improve. Jaina is patiently awaiting the Year of the Dragon for an opportunity to become more than a mere footnote.
- Mage Class Radar
- Aggro-Odd Mage
- Odd Mage
- Big-Spell Mage
Rogue is a very diverse class with many competitive decks. Rogue’s biggest problem on ladder is Odd Paladin, and the rise of Paladin at the expense of Priest is not good news for Valeera. However, this is offset by the rise of Hunter, which Rogue can certainly handle well. With the hype surrounding Cube Rogue dying down, Miracle Rogue has become the most popular Rogue deck at higher levels of play once again.
But while Miracle Rogue is largely considered to be the strongest Rogue deck for a good reason, there is a possibility that Tempo Rogue is just as strong in the current meta. The return of Captain Hooktusk looks very successful and based on its performance (and considering the performance of its optimal build compared to a significant amount of sub-optimal noise), it could be the strongest Rogue deck. Our build, which we’ve featured last week, has been doing work.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Cube Rogue
- Odd Rogue
- Miracle Rogue
- Tempo Rogue
- Malygos Rogue
While players are reluctant to play Warrior more than they have, the class is in excellent shape, and it hasn’t been this strong in a very long time. The bad news for Warrior is that it’s about to lose Baku to the Hall of Fame, which increases doubts about the class’ late-game prospects in the Year of the Dragon.
While there is some worthwhile discussion about the merits of Odd-Taunt Warrior compared to Odd Warrior, since their matchup spreads are quite different, what carries these archetypes to their current win rates is Tank Up. This hero power upgrade is extremely oppressive to any aggressive deck, as well as to any-limited burn deck, and offers Warriors some very easy matchups.
Rush Warrior has an even more defined role in terms of the decks it beats. The amount of available early-game tempo swings against faster decks gives it a great matchup against every strategy that relies on establishing initiative. Rush minions are extremely effective at taking away that initiative and leveraging it further. However, since rush minions cannot attack face on the turn they’re played, Rush Warrior is not as effective at beating slower, defensive decks that are more passive when developing the board.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Odd Warrior
- Odd-Taunt Warrior
- Rush Warrior
Don’t be fooled by its play rate, Druid is a very strong class in the current meta, and Togwaggle Druid is proving its worth at the highest tier. The player base has historically been very reluctant to pick up decks that were previously nerfed even when they were strong (Cube Warlock and Even Paladin are great examples), but if you do pick Togwaggle Druid, you will likely be rewarded for it.
While it is inferior to Togwaggle Druid, Malygos Druid is also performing at a decent level. Despite the nerfs to Wild Growth and Nourish, the old Druid core seems to be holding its own in a meta that has grown increasingly favorable after the balance changes.
A core that isn’t working out as well is Miracle Druid. This shell is too vulnerable against too many strategies to be a consistent ladder deck, and ever since the re-discovery of “old Malfurion”, it has gradually declined in play.
- Druid Class Radar
- Togwaggle Druid
- Miracle Druid
- Malygos Druid
The small wave of excitement created by Shaman’s Elemental experiment has ended. There has been nothing new of note for the class within the past week. It might be safe to assume that Shaman’s role in the pre-rotation meta has ended and there’s nothing for Thrall to do but wait until the new expansion launches. At this point, it’s hard to imagine things getting any worse.
It’s obvious that Paladin and Hunter are strong classes, but Rogue’s strength is a bit more sneaky, true to lore. There are so many different Rogue decks that you could easily get lost, so we’ll adjust your focus towards one of the most promising ones.
Tempo Rogue’s current state is very unrefined, which is why its win rate isn’t very impressive. We should know by now that it’s extremely important to look at the win rate in context. If Tempo Rogue is currently littered with terrible card choices, what truly matters is how the best variant performs.
Therefore, Tempo Rogue looks promising, carrying a matchup spread that is extremely well-rounded. We’ve been tracking the increase in popularity of the featured variant in this report, and alongside its rise in play, comes a drastic rise in the archetype’s win rate that is still an ongoing process. This means that it is very likely that Tempo Rogue will easily break through the 50%-win rate mark, and perhaps kiss the 52% mark, provided its refinement will finalize.
We think Captain Hooktusk is going to be one of the most powerful and meta defining cards after rotation, but it’s already busted enough to compete with Year of the Mammoth sets in the current meta. Hooktusk says it herself: she doesn’t fight fair, and when she drops on turn 8, it doesn’t seem fair.
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