Welcome to the 141st edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
A Wild Report is coming on September 29th!
Class Frequency Discussion
Quest Shaman is finally showing signs of decline in play, especially from rank 4 onwards. The archetype’s performance on ladder hasn’t lined up with its popularity, and you could definitely say that it’s been overplayed for whatever reason (stream exposure, power level perception, fun aspect). Meanwhile, Murloc Shaman is creeping up, with the Fleshshaper/Mutate variant increasing in popularity.
Priest continues to rise in play, and why shouldn’t it? Combo Priest has consistently proven to be the strongest deck in the format over the last few weeks, and reliable counters to the archetype haven’t emerged in great numbers. It is the most popular deck at legend, but it’s important to note that it is nowhere near as prevalent at lower ranks of ladder. At ranks 14-10, you’re more likely to meet a Resurrect Priest!
The discover changes seem to have significantly affected Warrior’s play rate. Both Control Warrior and Aggro Warrior have declined at all levels of play. Whether the Discover changes have actually negatively affected the performances of these decks remains to be seen. Is Warrior’s decline born out of misguided perception or genuine experience?
Hunter has risen in play. We see more Highlander Hunters on the climb to legend thanks to its strong standing against the field, but other Hunter decks are also emerging. Quest Hunter’s rise in popularity continues, while Midrange Hunter has come back from the dead to have another go.
Druid isn’t wavering. Like a solid & immovable rock, it’s firmly placed in the middle of the pack. Quest Druid is one of the most popular decks in the game, but there is little else to see within the class.
Paladin keeps declining. The class’ composition is very different depending on which rank you are. Learning the game at lower ranks? Expect to meet mostly Murloc and Quest Paladins. Making your climb to legend? Assume Murloc Paladin, but keep Holy-Wrath and Highlander Paladin in mind. Trying to reach high legend ranks? This is where Holy-Wrath Paladin becomes the majority.
Rogue is seeing some changes, with Quest Rogue re-attracting interest at higher levels of play while Aggro Rogue has stagnated. Quest Rogue’s rise in play is mostly driven by J_Alexander’s recent success with the deck.
Warlock is losing traction. While Zoo Warlock has proven to be a viable ladder deck and stronger than it was before the balance changes, it hasn’t really made the impact required to put it in the elite group of performers. Its decline in play lines up with its recent decline in win rate.
Mage is still attracting very little interest. Highlander Mage is the only noticeable archetype within the class.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Another week of the Data Reaper Report is another week in which we tell you about how strong Combo Priest is. It’s strong!
Combo Priest is well positioned in a meta that is dictated by Quest Shaman and Quest Druid, which are good decks but not exactly the world beaters they’re often made out to be. Their performance on ladder continues to be “just okay”. The reason why Quest Shaman and Quest Druid struggle against Priest is that their early game is too passive, and they capitulate initiative too easily to the Priest and his Northsire Cleric.
This leads us to Combo Priest’s most notable weakness: If its early game is heavily contested, it has a harder time. Combo Priest cannot afford to ever lose the board, so decks that are quick to get to the board and answer Priest’s minions, challenge it better. Aggro Rogue and Aggro Warrior are two very good examples.
But, keep this weakness in mind no matter which deck you play: prioritize initiative above all else. Fight as hard as possible for the board in the early game and try to answer every minion that Priest develops, even if it means deviating from your normal game plan (example: Quest Druid players are often too fixated on completing the quest asap in this matchup). Remember: if Priest doesn’t have the board, it cannot win.
The performance trends of the Warrior class are very interesting. It appears that Control Warrior has been genuinely hurt by the discover changes, but Aggro Warrior was not negatively affected. In fact, Control Warrior’s decline has made Aggro Warrior stronger at higher levels of play. We think Aggro Warrior is one of the best ladder decks in the game because its matchup spread is straight up ridiculous. Take out Control Warrior from the equation and Aggro Warrior is basically unstoppable.
Murloc Shaman is dramatically improving in its performance, and you can thank Mogu Fleshshaper for it. The recent inclusion of this card has been game changing, and it seems like its previous exclusion was a pretty severe oversight. The transition of the archetype into the Flesh/Mutate variant has not yet been completed, so we anticipate that Murloc Shaman will continue to rise in its performance, perhaps even hitting Tier 1 thanks to its good Priest matchup.
Highlander Hunter still looks very strong at all levels of ladder play, and we don’t expect to see its standing worsen in the near future. Its two biggest obstacles (Murloc and Quest Paladin) are in decline, so the deck is enjoying a very favorable field in which every matchup seems winnable.
Quest Hunter makes its debut in the Power Ranking in a pretty decent spot. As we’ve said last week though, its Priest matchup is a big problem, which is why it falls to Tier 3 at legend.
Things continue to get worse for Paladin. Murloc Paladin is still a strong deck but has fallen hard from its initial lofty heights. Quest Paladin is essentially dead. Highlander Paladin doesn’t look promising enough due to poor matchups against Combo Priest and Quest Shaman. Holy-Wrath Paladin still looks fairly niche, and one interesting development is how its matchup with Combo Priest changed over the past few weeks. It has completely lost its edge: Priest players on ladder have learned how to play this matchup better!
A few other aggressive decks have benefitted from the decline in Warrior: Aggro Rogue is looking stronger, and its Priest matchup has given it a new role in the post-patch meta. Mech Hunter has also risen in its win rate, but this might be temporary if Aggro Warrior’s stock comes quickly back up. Zoo Warlock has improved, but not to the point where it’s more than just playable.
Highlander Mage is making a recovery in its win rate, pulling it out of the dumpster. That’s great news, but is there a genuinely good reason to play Mage on ladder? We’re a little skeptic about that, but we’ll have to see whether this positive trend continues. If Highlander Mage nears the 50% mark next week, that will be a promising sign.
Quest Rogue’s rise in win rate looks unimportant until you dig deep into the archetype and find a big discrepancy in the performance of several cards in the deck to the point we’re convinced that the stats don’t reflect the archetype’s true potential. We don’t think Quest Rogue is some amazing deck in the current meta, but it’s better than it looks. When you have players deciding that Questing Explorer isn’t worth it, while Shadowstep and Spirit of the Shark are commonly played (and Shark sucks in spectacular fashion, by the way), it’s going to be hard for Quest Rogue to look any good.
Class Analysis & Decklists
While Quest Shaman remains the most popular deck in the format, it is beginning to decline at higher levels of play, which is indicative of its lukewarm win rate. Quest Shaman has failed to gain a meaningful edge against most of the the top meta decks, and the continuing rise of Combo Priest is proving to be a big problem.
As we’ve said last week, if you insist on queuing Quest Shaman into a Priest meta, consider swapping Giggling Inventors for Earth Shocks. Earth Shock would be a staple card in the deck if it wasn’t so weak in many other matchups (it does next to nothing facing the mirror, Quest Druid and Hunter), but it’s the card that makes the biggest difference against Priest. This matchup is all about preventing the Priest from snowballing the early game out of your reach, and if you can neutralize its threats and push it off the board, you usually win.
Murloc Shaman is a viable alternative within the class, if you’re interested in a better Priest matchup. The deck gets on the board faster and can punish the Priest’s own board developments with a well-placed Toxfin. After evaluating the build from last week, which incorporates the Mutate/Fleshshaper package, we can say that these cards are indispensable. Fleshshaper makes such a massive difference that it probably should have been in the deck from the very beginning. We anticipate that the archetype will significantly rise in its win rate once this package takes over completely.
We’ve seen some Control Shamans popping up over the past week on ladder, and we can safely say that the archetype is not going to gain any further traction. It looks remarkably weak.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Quest Shaman
- Murloc Shaman
- Aggro Shaman
Combo Priest continues to dominate. It is now the most popular deck at legend, and increasingly common during your climb to legend. It punishes quest decks heavily, and it doesn’t have hard counter matchups. That makes it the best deck for ladder, provided you have an adequate understanding on how to navigate it.
We’re content with the featured build, as double Silence is proving to be very valuable in the current meta where the mirror is so common. Nohandsgamer took the same list to #1 legend this week.
Resurrect Priest is playable, but not particularly good and pales in comparison to Combo Priest. Zetalot recently piloted the archetype to top 25 legend by running Blatant Decoy, which is proving to be a serviceable card in the deck.
With the Discover changes of last week’s patch, reducing the power level of Frightened Flunky, Omega Assmebly and Discovery Drone, Warrior has suffered a small knock in its play rate and win rate. However, both Flunky and Assembly should remain unscathed in Warrior builds. Flunky is still strong enough to be played in every Warrior deck, even after losing its “Echo” keyword: Flunky finding another Flunky is only one third as likely to happen as it was before.
Therefore, nothing has changed in regards to our recommended builds for each archetype. Control Warrior still dominates aggressive decks while providing strong resistance to Combo Priest, while Aggro Warrior will be thrilled to see its worst matchup (Control Warrior) decline. There is no other deck that can beat it consistently.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Control Warrior
- Bomb Warrior
- Aggro Warrior
Highlander Hunter continues to enjoy a fairly favorable meta, and it’s one of the strongest ladder climbers in the format. It lines up pretty well against most of the top meta decks, and it’s also benefitting from the decline in Murloc Paladin.
Mech Hunter isn’t as successful since its performance against Priest, Druid, and Warrior is worse, and it’s more vulnerable to aggressive decks such as Zoo Warlock.
Quest Hunter is a relative newcomer that has proven to be surprisingly effective. Its sore spot is Combo Priest, but even in the presence of this terrible matchup, it manages to maintain a positive win rate against the field. Its other matchups are just good. After looking into Knife Jugglers for another week, we’re convinced that cutting them was correct.
Midrange Hunter is making a bit of a comeback following the success of SirVilguadas with the archetype. Hench-Clan Hogsteeds allow us to fight off Priest’s early game more consistently. We think Tracking is generally overvalued and cutting both copies may not punish the deck at all. Midrange Hunter’s strongest trait in the current meta is its good performance against Quest Shaman, especially when it runs double Scalehide/Frenzy, making things very difficult for Shamans to burn the Hunter out.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Highlander Hunter
- Mech Hunter
- Midrange Hunter
- Quest Hunter
Quest Druid is in a similar spot to where it was last week. It benefits from the massive presence of Quest Shaman but suffers from Combo Priest’s dominance. This keeps it at a competitive level, but it’s not the strongest ladder deck around.
What we’ve said last week about build choices remains relevant today. There has been a slight increase in Malygos variants, spurred by its recent tournament appearances. However, Malygos Quest Druid makes less sense on ladder than it does in tournaments, where it is used to dodge some specific Nomi counters you never see on ladder (Deathwing, Hakkar) and has a more favorable field due to the relative scarcity of Hunters. On ladder, it is significantly worse than the Nomi build.
Paladin continues its slow decline in play rate. Experimentation within the class has mostly stagnated, with its archetypes proving to be inferior to the top meta decks for different reasons.
Murloc Paladin has declined in its win rate pretty subtantially. Murloc Paladin’s fall is so dramatic because most of its power is concentrated in a single play, which makes navigating it relatively trivial compared to other decks. The field had more room to grow and adjust, while Murloc Paladin’s scope for improvement was minimal. The deck remains very powerful throughout most of ladder, but eventually hits a wall at the highest levels of play.
Holy-Wrath Paladin is still a better choice for tournaments than it is for ladder. When it’s able to hit specific matchups, it can do some work, but in a more diverse field, it struggles to perform consistently. The best way to explain the discrepancy is by providing examples: Aggro Warrior and Highlander Hunter are two decks that exhibit low play rates in tournaments but are quite prominent on ladder, and they specifically give Holy-Wrath Paladins a difficult time.
Highlander Paladin has grown to become a bit more noticeable on ladder, but we think it’s unlikely to gain further traction. Its matchup spread is quite decent, but it loses to the two decks that shape the meta the most: Combo Priest and Quest Shaman.
Quest Paladin is just bad. While Highlander Paladin struggles against Shamans and Priests, Quest Paladin gets completely destroyed by them. It’s simply a suicidal choice for the climb to legend.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Murloc Paladin
- Quest Paladin
- Holy-Wrath Paladin
- Highlander Paladin
Rogue’s presence remains fairly niche on ladder, though Aggro Rogue will be encouraged by the rise of Priests and the decline of Warriors. Rogue’s struggles vs. Warrior are well documented, but its ability to beat Priests off the board is proving to be its most important asset in the current meta. Aggro Rogue acts as the control deck in the matchup, focusing on removing Priest’s minions and denying their incredible snowballing capabilities. Once the Priest cannot establish board presence, the Rogue should inevitably wither it down with little comeback potential available.
J_Alexander hit #12 legend with a Quest Rogue build that runs Fan of Knives instead of Blade Flurry, and Lab Recruiter instead of Togwaggle’s Scheme. We think these are good updates to older builds, and there is some potential in the archetype that might be statistically clouded by poor lists. A well optimized Quest Rogue is capable of handling Combo Priest and Control Warrior quite well, but Quest Druid remains a nightmare that’s difficult to overcome.
Enthusiasm for Zoo Warlock is waning as the deck looks inferior to the top meta decks. However, it is strong enough to see success and we wouldn’t write it off as a bad deck. Warlock’s biggest problems is that Quest Shaman remains a prominent and annoying matchup while Warriors are still very popular and generally give it a hard time.
Meanwhile, slower Warlock decks are so weak that they likely require a set at the power level of K&C to make them playable in the next expansion. Late game Warlock strategies have always needed on-demand healing alongside a win condition worth life tapping into. Right now, they have neither.
The scarcity of news regarding Mage is so severe that it’s really hard for us to even find good talking points about the class. As for now, Highlander Mage is not threatening enough to challenge the strongest decks in the current meta, and other Mage decks have completely disappeared without any hope of seeing them return (because they’re really bad).
The recovery in Highlander Mage’s win rate this week is encouraging, but we need to see more of it.
It’s a bit early to make this conclusion, but it’s possible that Control Warrior transitions away from being the dominant force that relentlessly choked out aggressive decks.
In addition, Combo Priest’s dominance means that early board development, combined with efficient removal, is highly valued in the current meta.
This leads us to our suggested Meta Breaker. Aggro Warrior is pretty untouchable in the absence of its one oppressive counter, so it’s a good time to take advantage of the fact that Control Warrior’s power level, as well as its perceived power level, are in decline.
In the famous words of Grom Hellscream:
“I can trade no longer!”
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