vS Data Reaper Report #140

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from 35,000 games.

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Welcome to the 140th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 4,200 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 35,000
Legend 2,000
Ranks 1-4 11,000
Ranks 5-9 17,000
Ranks 10-14 4,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

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Class Frequency

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Class Frequency Discussion

So many Shamans! The class has spiked in play for the 2nd consecutive week, and it is the most popular class in the format. Quest Shaman is the most common deck in the game by a wide margin, and this gap is only narrowed down at legend. Its representation nears 20% of the field at ranks 4-1, where it is, by far, the most important deck to beat on the climb to legend.

Last week’s meta breaker, Combo Priest is the 2nd archetype to surge in popularity over the past week, and it’s hot on Quest Shaman’s heels at higher levels of play. Resurrect Priest is fairly common at low ranks, but dramatically fades away as you climb the ranks, which is the mark of an unsuccessful deck.

Warrior is quite evenly split between Control and Aggro, with Bomb Warrior remaining very fringe in comparison. The class’ overall numbers have stabilized, with the exception of an increase in play at legend, where it is the 3rd most popular class.

Hunter is seeing declines across all levels of play. Highlander Hunter remains the most prominent deck within its class, followed by the usual list of fringe archetypes. The one interesting development for the week is the budding of Quest Hunter, which has become slightly more noticeable.

Druid has mostly remained entrenched on the climb to legend, though the early legend meta is indicative of a decline in Quest Druid’s numbers. This is likely due to the explosion of Combo Priests, which is particularly felt at higher levels of play.

Paladin has declined across the board. Murloc Paladin’s play rate slightly dropped, while Quest Paladin has suffered a more dramatic decline in its numbers. From rank 4 onwards, Quest Paladin has been reduced to a fringe deck in the presence of an overbearing number of Priests. Interestingly, Holy-Wrath Paladin is the most popular Paladin archetype at legend, where it is likely used as a soft counter to Priests and Shamans.

Rogue is continuing its gradual decline which was kickstarted by the balance changes and the collapse of Mage. Aggro Rogue is the more competitive archetype, while some players stick to Quest Rogue for the fun of it. The Thief Rogue archetype has always seen more play than it “deserved” on ladder, especially at lower ranks, where we see the same historical pattern repeat for Quest Rogue.

Zoo Warlock has seen a small uptick in play for another week, continuing a rise in interest sparked by the balance changes. One of the most interesting questions in the current meta is whether Zoo can avoid its familiar pattern of initially looking relatively strong in a new meta before fading away.

Mage remains at the bottom, attracting little interest after suffering from debilitating nerfs. The large majority of Mage players are trying to make Highlander Mage work again, with other archetypes looking completely gone.

Matchup Win Rates Header

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vS Meta Score

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vS Power Rankings Discussion

All hail our Priest overlords. Combo Priest is not just dominating the top end of ladder, it is now dominating the climb to legend too. While the deck is quite skill testing and difficult to min/max, its raw power level means that even players who haven’t completely mastered the deck will find a lot of success playing it. It dominates both Quest Druid and Quest Shaman, and there are very few decks that can beat it consistently. Its worst matchups are still very winnable for Priest, especially at higher levels of play. It’s just that damn good.

Once you hit rank 4, the two other best ladder decks are Control Warrior and Highlander Hunter. There’s a good reason for this: both decks have very well-rounded matchup spreads, and specifically, exhibit decent matchups against Combo Priest and Quest Shaman. They’re able to survive and thrive in a meta that is dictated by these two.

Murloc Paladin is seeing declines in its win rates, which is pretty much what we expected to happen. While it is still very strong at lower ranks, it’s been kicked out of Tier 1 at higher brackets. Many decks are improving their performances against it, and multiple matchups become worse for Murloc Paladin as you climb ladder. It’s a one-dimensional deck with a very powerful play, but its weaknesses are being exploited by players who understand them well enough.

Speaking of Quest Shaman, we think this deck has been overhyped. With a play rate of nearly 20% at ranks 4-1, its win rate is just 50%. It is getting overplayed and punished for it, especially in a meta that is becoming more influenced by Combo Priest and more focused on beating Shamans. It’s easy to understand why Quest Shaman’s win rate is so average: It doesn’t reliably beat any of the top meta decks other than Murloc Paladin (which, as we’ve said, is quickly falling off). In a meta that is becoming more and more competitive, it struggles to justify such a large presence.

Quest Druid has also been hurt by Priest’s rise in popularity, but it’s doing slightly better than Quest Shaman due to a better matchup spread into the top meta decks, including a good matchup against Quest Shaman. As long as Priest is top dog, we think quest decks’ potential is limited. The good news is that this new ceiling keeps them from being Tier 1, rather than bury them in Tier 4. Of course, one exception is Quest Paladin, a deck that is so utterly hopeless against Combo Priest that it’s been completely dumpstered by it.

Considering Murloc Paladin’s decline, we think Aggro Warrior is the most resilient aggressive deck in the game. Without Control Warrior’s presence, it might be unstoppable, as there is no other deck that reliably counters it. This single, very bad matchup against Control Warrior keeps it from sitting comfortably at Tier 1.

Aggro Rogue is hovering around the average. Its performance against Combo Priest and Quest Shaman is keeping it relevant, preventing the class from fading into obscurity, but the presence of Warrior and Druid is preventing it from doing any better.

Once again, Zoo Warlock is exhibiting a decline in its performance in the 2nd week of a “new meta”, falling to Tier 3 at the higher brackets. Zoo’s problem is that it doesn’t perform well enough against the meta-defining decks. Its only claim to fame is its strong matchup against Quest Druid, but it needs to do better than that to maintain a strong win rate. Warriors are still the usual nightmare, Quest Shamans blow Zoo out with Mind Control Techs, Priest handles Zoo better with experience and Hunters aren’t the pushovers you might expect them to be.

Highlander Mage, the only hope that remains within the class, has now fallen to Tier 4. We don’t expect any miracles here. Things look quite bad for Jaina, and she might go on vacation until new cards enter the scene.

There are some interesting insights we can gather from some of the decks that have too low of a play rate to include in the Power Ranking table:

Quest Hunter looks competitive and merits more exploration. Its biggest problem is the Priest matchup, which is why its performance may fall at legend, but it challenges the rest of the field quite well. We estimate it’s Tier 2 on the climb to legend and could be a sleeper.

Holy-Wrath Paladin has gotten better, and its presence at legend isn’t a coincidence. It happens to do well enough against some of the top meta decks, and it’s benefiting from current meta trends. It’s still not an amazing ladder deck (it’s better in tournaments where it can constantly run into 3 specific matchups), but it’s certainly better than what it looked like a week ago.

There has been some hype related to Highlander Paladin. It doesn’t look like a meta breaker, but its performance is good enough to attract further interest. It’s certainly a deck we can’t write off and would like to see more of in order to accurately assess.

Bomb Warrior isn’t popular because it’s bad, it just seems weaker than Control Warrior so it’s being passed over. There’s a good deck here that just needs to find some niche that’s placed outside of Control Warrior’s shadow.

Midrange Hunter has had some very recent developments that may bring it back into the meta, but those developments have come too late for this report’s data. If the archetype gains traction over the next week, we’ll be discussing it in the next report.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Quest Shaman has seen its play rate increase even more this week, but the deck might be overexposed and getting punished as a result. The rise of Combo Priest is making it difficult for the archetype to display a top tier performance. It’s still a strong deck, but one that is running into difficult matchups more often.

The featured build remains the same as last week. If you’re interested in gaining some percentages in the difficult Priest matchup, Earth Shock can be helpful in nullifying some of their aggression. Former Champ’s main selling point is its performance against Druid, and some even run two in order to improve this matchup. Bog Slosher should usually be the card to flex out if you’re interested in making these kinds of adjustments.

Aggro Shaman has seen builds revert back to Token-Bloodlust variants. Before the patch, Doomhammer variants were stronger due to the Mage matchups, but things are a lot closer now that burst from hand isn’t as important. For example, you’d much rather run the token deck against Druids, while the difference against Priests is very minor.

Murloc Shaman continues to see little play, but has seen some development. Carnation took Murloc Shaman to high legend ranks by running the Mogu Fleshshaper/Mutate package, a list originally made by FU4FREE. Considering how strong this package currently is in Quest Shaman, it’s very possible that Murloc Shaman similarly benefits from it.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Warrior might be the most versatile class in the game, capable of utilizing a spectrum of archetypes to great success. There is something for everyone in this class.

Players have woken up to the fact that Control Warrior is still one of the best decks in the game, and have re-crafted their Dr. Boom. There is little reason to deviate from the featured build, as it will serve you very well. Dyn-o-matic is much stronger after the patch as it’s very effective against many of the emerging decks, such as Quest Shaman and Aggro Warrior.

Aggro Warrior will bemoan the return of Control Warrior, but the deck’s otherwise terrific matchup spread is more than enough to keep it at a high-performance level. Its ability to contest Priests is one of its strongest traits in the current meta.

Bomb Warrior is underrated. The featured build can turn on the aggressive switch very quickly. With the reactive tools missing, it is more vulnerable to Druids and Priests, but this is offset by its performance against Hunters, Shamans and Control Warriors.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Combo Priest is the best deck in the game, and it isn’t a close call. Combo Priest comfortably beats both Quest Druid and Quest Shaman, and its explosive rise in popularity is largely responsible for their currently modest power levels.

In terms of build, we cannot understate how good Bwonsamdi is. You could technically play without him, but the deck will certainly be worse off. In a meta where the Priest mirror is becoming very common, double Silence is essentially mandatory. It is largely responsible for most game-winning swings that occur in the mirror matchup, which is an extremely volatile affair that usually ends in a turn 3-4 blow out, with little chance of a comeback.

One adjustment we’ve made is swapping an Acolyte of Pain for a Topsy Turvy. As we’ve said last week, Topsy Turvy isn’t an amazing card in the deck, but it’s specifically strong in the mirror (though not as strong as Silence). One other benefit of running Topsy Turvy is that it provides combo redundancy, which helps you use Inner Fire earlier and more freely. We’ve cut the 2nd Acolyte after noticing that it displays diminishing returns in the presence of Bwonsamdi.

Resurrect Priest is quickly disappearing from higher ranks, and for a good reason: it isn’t very good. The deck is just a little too clumsy to be consistently effective. If you want to tear through ladder with a Priest deck, the way to do it is obvious.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Highlander Hunter has gotten stronger this week. It’s comfortable queuing into the rising number of Combo Priests and Control Warriors, while Paladin numbers are declining.

Highlander Hunter has one of the stronger win rates against Priest due to its highly disruptive secret/removal package. Snipe, Rat Trap, Freezing Trap and Pressure Plate are all difficult to play around for the Priest. Zephrys, Eagleborn Bow, Deadly Shot and Unleash the Beast provide strong answers to Priest’s common board development. This allows the Hunter to survive long enough to reach its late game, where it is usually able to consistently deny the Priest from sticking a threat.

Quest Hunter has seen some experimentation after the patch, with Firebat being the most notable player to have success with the archetype. After looking into its builds, we think Knife Jugglers are a bit overrated and generally weaker than Hench-Clan Hogsteeds. Sea Giants are very good and offer strong board swings, especially in faster matchups. Quest Hunter’s issue is the Priest matchup, which is absolutely horrible. We think that’s keeping the archetype from gaining further traction.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Paladin is showing quite a bit of diversity in playstyles, as well as contrasting trends between its archetypes.

Murloc Paladin’s time in the spotlight may have already come and gone. The deck is still performing well, but our expectation that Shaman and Warrior would eventually develop a significant edge in the matchup has come true. In addition, other decks have also improved their performance against Murloc Paladin as they have slowly refined and settled down after the patch. Murloc Paladin’s limited skill ceiling and one-dimensional game plan are hindering its ability to stay at the top for long.

Quest Paladin has crashed into the dumpster, and is non-existent at higher levels of play. After all, you have to be a masochist to queue up this deck into one Priest after another. This matchup, as well as the matchup against Quest Shaman, are so horrendous that any good matchup of Quest Paladin is completely offset with added interest.

After Holy-Wrath Paladin’s weak post-patch start, the deck has seen a significant improvement in its performance over the past week. This is a result of the meta becoming fixated on a few matchups that the deck happens to do well in, which is the same reason why it is quite common in tournaments at the moment: it has decent matchups against Combo Priest, Quest Shaman, and Quest Druid.

After having more time to evaluate Holy-Wrath Paladin builds, we’re not convinced it’s worthwhile to sacrifice two copies of Truesilver Champion and Shrink Ray in order to improve Zephrys’ “consistency” in the late game. We’re sacrificing our consistency throughout the game in order to marginally improve Zephrys’ performance in a narrow window that arrives late in the game.

Shrink Ray and Truesilver Champion are so strong overall, and specifically incredible in the Priest matchup, that it’s hard to pass up their 2nd copies. Thekal is only really good on turn 3, and falls off hard when drawn later. Equality is not a bad card, but it isn’t as good as Shrink Ray and is heavily dependent on being played alongside Pyromancer or Consecration in order to be effective.

Highlander Paladin has seen some development and increase in play, driven by Trump’s success with the archetype. We’ve slightly tweaked Trump’s build, by adding Siamat/Sandbinder (very good package, even in aggressive decks), to reach the featured list.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Quest Druid’s ascension to the top of the meta has been ruthlessly upended by the rise of Combo Priest. Quest Druid has good matchups into Warrior, Shaman, and Hunter, but is consistently frustrated by Priest’s early blow out potential. It’s interesting to note how difficult this matchup remains despite the nerf to Extra Arms, which is no longer a significant factor.

Builds of Quest Druid have homogenized, and the two lists we’re featuring are only two cards different, strictly emphasizing small nuances in your options:

  1. Phaoris, Nomi and Elise are your late-game win conditions. Don’t get baited by a random and obscure success story with Malygos. The Goose ain’t it, chief.
  2. You normally run 2 of them. Running all 3 is clunky and unnecessary.
  3. Phaoris is the only wincon that can be run alone to success, without the other 2, making for a faster build that runs less dead cards against aggressive decks.
  4. Elise significantly boosts your slower matchups and works best with Nomi for that purpose (but she can work with Phaoris too). She’s generally gotten stronger over the past week since Control Warrior has risen while several aggressive decks have declined.
  5. Thalnos is excellent against Priest and faster matchups. Power of the Wild is good when you’re the aggressor and you run Phaoris.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Rogue players have mixed feelings in the current meta. A bright spot is Aggro Rogue’s good matchup against Priest, due to its ability to beat it off the board through weapons and early game removal (this matchup is quite weird in the sense that Rogue often acts as the “control deck”).

Rogue’s problem is that its troubles can no longer be pinned down to one class, as Druid has joined Warrior to become another bane in Rogue’s existence. The good news is that Aggro Rogue seems quite capable of beating Shamans and Hunters, so it’s definitely not a dumpster deck, just one that isn’t quite as strong as the top meta decks.

Post-patch experiments in Rogue have fallen flat. There seems to be nothing good coming out of other potential archetypes of the class. It will likely stick to Aggro Rogue until the next expansion.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Zoo Warlock is in a precarious spot after dropping off in its performance once again. Zoo players will be concerned about the rise of Warrior, but can at least take comfort that the matchup vs. Combo Priest is winnable.

One adjustment we’ve made this week to the Lackey Zoo deck of last week is adding Abusive Sergeants, which are very strong against Priest. They enable critical early game trading, often needed to remove a Northshire Cleric before it snowballs out of control.

We’ve also added the Vulture Zoo build, which performs at a similar level to the full Lackey version. It’s slighty better against Druid, and slightly worse in aggressive mirrors. Keep that in mind.


Data Reaper Report - Mage

Mage looks bad. Highlander Mage, which is the only archetype of the class that looks remotely competitive, doesn’t have any meaningful reason to see play. The class seems to have been crippled by the nerf to Luna’s Pocket Galaxy and Conjurer’s Calling.

Two notable stories this week came from BoarControl and RDU who were having success at high legend ranks with a Luna’s Pocket Galaxy Highlander build. We’re featuring Boar’s list, which is less greedy, omitting Power of Creation and Puzzle Box.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

The best deck, and the decks that can live with it, are the three best choices for ladder at the moment.

Combo Priest is very strong, and if you learn how to play it well, you’re going to have a good time on ladder. Just try not to get tilted by mirrors!

Control Warrior is making its return, but we have to wonder how impactful will the discover changes be on its performance. Frightened Flunky, Omega Assembly, and Elysiana have all been affected. We suspect the deck will still be good, but it might take a knock.

Highlander Hunter has almost been ignored recently, but meta trends over the past week, including the rise of the previous two, have put it in a stronger position going forward. It has a good matchup against both Control Warrior and Combo Priest, and best fits the Meta Breaker title today.

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  1. quest hunter will be the meta breaker next week. highlander hunter and other priest counters will cut priest play rates, and quest hunter will rise due to its main bad matchup declining in popularity. once people realize leeroy is a must have due to its burst potential with hounds, and stop playing the less refined variants.

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