Welcome to the 143rd edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 3,900 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!
Number of Games
Data Reaper Updates: Wild Invasion
- It is expected that the introduction of 23 Wild cards back into Standard format, as discussed in Blizzard’s blog post, will occur next week.
- In the event that this happens, there will not be a Data Reaper Report on that week.
- However, we are planning to publish a theorycrafting article before the patch, in which we will discuss each class’ prospects in the post-patch meta.
- The Wild cards are expected to be announced tomorrow (Friday). So far, N’Zoth and Ragnaros are confirmed to be 2 of the 23.
Class Frequency Discussion
This is likely the last Data Reaper Report for the Saviors of Uldum meta we know today. While we don’t have confirmation on which cards will be introduced, a set of over 20 “meta-defining” Wild cards being brought back to Standard should completely change the format, much like an entire expansion would (if not more, depending on their power level).
With this sense of excitement and speculation regarding the future, it’s no wonder that transitions in the current meta have slowed down. When everyone is looking forward to new decks and “new cards”, innovation within the current game halts.
For example, Aggro Shaman is very slowly climbing in popularity and remains mostly noticeable at legend. If Jambre’s Mutate variant was discovered during the first couple of weeks of the expansion, it would have likely blown up within days. Instead, we only see a continuation of last week’s trend: Quest Shaman slightly declining, aggressive Shaman decks (Aggro, Murloc) slightly rising.
Combo Priest is also experiencing a small decline in play, which is likely the response of hostility to the deck trending upwards last week.
We can observe another rise in play of Highlander Hunter this week, especially at legend. The archetype has proven to be very strong against the field and is one of the most reliable ladder decks in the game.
Aggro Warrior is rising at legend, as more players realize it is one of the strongest decks in the game. The relatively modest popularity of Control Warrior is also helping convince players to give Aggro Warrior a shot.
Quest Druid is unmoving. It’s actually incredible how this archetype is stuck in place, showing no signs of being affected at all by the meta that surrounds it.
Another week means another decline in Paladins. It’s a very diverse class, but none of its archetypes have made a significant impact on the meta, especially at higher levels of play.
At the bottom of the meta, Warlock is declining, while Mage is rising. Below rank 4, Mage has actually become a more popular class. Highlander Mage has recently recovered in its win rate, while there are also attempts to revive Cyclone Mage at legend. It’s a bit too late for this meta, but might it be relevant for the next one?
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Meta trends slowing down you say? That’s good news for Combo Priest, a deck that’s taking advantage of the fact that the player base is still hung up on Quest Druid and Quest Shaman. There is a more conscious effort to beat Priest outside of these decks, but it’s not enough to push it off the elite pack. As time goes on, Combo Priest players get better at the deck and adjust. The worst performers drop the deck, and that leads to an incremental increase in win rate, which tends to happen for decks with a high skill cap.
There isn’t much to separate Combo Priest from Highlander Hunter though. We consider both to be the best ladder decks in the game, closely followed by Aggro Warrior. Hunter and Warrior provide strong resistance to Priest’s dominance while having terrific matchup spreads in general. These three make up your Tier 1. Enjoy them while you can.
Finally making its debut in the Power Rankings, the new Mutate Aggro Shaman looks like the real deal. Give it another week, which it may not have, and the deck would likely hit Tier 1. Good matchups against Combo Priest, Quest Druid, and Quest Shaman justify last week’s Meta Breaker label.
Control Warrior has taken a big hit this week. Interestingly, this decline isn’t the result of meta changes, but worsening matchups against some of the most popular decks. Most notably, it’s losing percentages against Quest Druid and Quest Shaman.
Quest Shaman and Quest Druid are firmly implanted in Tier 2. We don’t think there is any way they are better than that on ladder due to the popularity of Priest. This matchup is simply too difficult, with both decks being at the mercy of Priest’s draws to survive. The better the Priest player is, the worse the matchup gets for them too.
Murloc Paladin is a fairly strong ladder deck, but it’s not even the best murloc deck once you reach higher levels of play. This is where Murloc Shaman’s superior Priest matchup kicks in. Murloc Shaman is a very polarizing deck, but you won’t find another deck that performs as well as it does against Combo Priest and Quest Druid.
Zoo Warlock and Aggro Rogue are shaping up to be the lesser aggressive decks of the format. Other than beating Druids, Warlock doesn’t do anything exceptionally well. Rogue is heavily limited by its Warrior and Druid matchups. It’s hard to shine under the shadow of two classes that simply choke you out.
Highlander Mage’s win rate has settled down. Mage in the current patch won’t be remembered as one of the worst classes we’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly mediocre. Its matchups happen to align well into the increasingly predictable and narrow Shield-Conquest line up we see in Grandmaster League, but ladder presents a very different field.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Shaman remains the most popular class in the game, with three archetypes that have proven themselves to be competitive and successful on ladder: Quest Shaman, Murloc Shaman, and Aggro Shaman.
Quest Shaman has stabilized, and its build has been established for a while. You won’t see changes here until the wild invasion.
Aggro Shaman has been taken over by Jambre’s variant, and this deck’s performance over the past week has only reinforced what we’ve said about it last week. It’s very good.
Murloc Shaman has seen some tweaks this week, with Root piloting a build that runs Beaming Sidekicks to high legend ranks. After looking into the card, it could be worthwhile. It synergizes well with the deck’s general plan of early game snowballing.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Quest Shaman
- Murloc Shaman
- Aggro Shaman
With hostility towards the deck on the rise last week, we’ve seen Combo Priest slightly decline in play for another week. However, it’s still in a strong position in the meta thanks to the persistent popularity of Quest Shaman and Quest Druid. It’s important to note that outside of these two matchups, the meta has grown to contest Priest quite effectively. Hunter, Warrior, Rogue, Warlock and aggressive Shaman decks are very capable of giving Priest a real challenge. Thankfully for Priest players, the power perception surrounding quest decks is intact.
Highlander Hunter might be the best deck on ladder right now for most players. It barely has any bad matchups, and it can find a win against any opponent. It’s a very versatile deck that can pick and choose whether it wants to play aggressively, or whether it wants to stall into its power spikes, depending on the situation at hand. If you’re interested in a swiss army knife deck, there is no better choice.
Other Hunter decks don’t offer the same kind of versatility, and will usually run into a few matchups that are difficult to overcome. We think Highlander Hunter, much like before the balance changes, is in a strong position going forward. It may also be able to utilize Ragnaros and/or N’Zoth successfully, so its late-game options could become even scarier soon.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Highlander Hunter
- Mech Hunter
- Midrange Hunter
- Quest Hunter
Both Aggro Warrior and Control Warrior have proven themselves to be strong ladder decks, but Aggro Warrior looks to be superior at the moment.
While Control Warrior is suffering the consequences of balance changes, it was kept in a competitive spot thanks to the meta speeding up in order to contest Combo Priest’s early game. Since it’s very difficult to perform well against both decks, when the spotlight and attention are on beating Priest, the meta becomes more vulnerable to the removal game plan of Warrior.
Aggro Warrior is an extremely good choice if you want to perform well against the “big 3” (Combo Priest, Quest Shaman, Quest Druid). The archetype is thriving as a result of Control Warrior not being too popular. The Highlander variant is a viable alternative to the standard version, and there’s very little that separates the two in terms of power level.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Control Warrior
- Bomb Warrior
- Aggro Warrior
Quest Druid’s standing in the field is unchanged to a remarkable degree. The deck has barely moved an inch over the last couple of weeks, in both its play rate and win rate. Its builds are split between the Nomi/Phaoris variants and the Malygos variants, and the gap in performance between these two groups is large. We can’t recommend ever running Malygos, at least when it comes to ladder.
The most interesting question regarding Quest Druid is whether one of the Wild cards re-introduced to the format could be a Choose One card. If that is the case, it could make a big difference.
Paladin will be looking forward to the Wild invasion, which will surely spark some new ideas into the class. Current ideas have gotten a bit stale.
Murloc Paladin is a strong deck throughout most of ladder, but certainly hits a wall once it reaches higher levels of play, where it is barely existent. It’s the strongest counter to Highlander Hunter, a deck that is normally difficult to consistently beat, so it has that going for it.
Holy-Wrath Paladin has proven to be a bit fraudulent. Initially looking to have a niche role in the meta, we now question if there’s an actual niche for it. It has completely lost its edge against Combo Priest, while other decks that perform far more consistently in this matchup have emerged. If you want to beat Priest, there are just far better options around.
Highlander Paladin is playable. It just isn’t amazing. Could this archetype establish a viable control playstyle with the addition of N’Zoth? It’s certainly possible and an interesting idea to think about.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Murloc Paladin
- Quest Paladin
- Holy-Wrath Paladin
- Highlander Paladin
While Rogue’s ability to contest Priest’s early game has been valuable in keeping it somewhat relevant in the current meta, it hasn’t been enough to lift it to a stronger position. Rogue’s biggest issue in the aftermath of the balance changes has been the rise of Quest Druid. It could live with Warrior’s popularity by beating the rest of the field, but the emergence of another oppressive counter is significantly limiting success with the class.
Normally, Quest Druid has a challenging time beating aggressive decks, but Aggro Rogue’s playstyle is unique from others. It doesn’t have a snowballing early game, and only starts to apply pressure on turn 3. It doesn’t flood the board, and usually has 1 or 2 minions up at any time, leaving it to be blown out by a single Oasis Surger. It’s heavily reliant on burn from hand to finish games, which makes it very susceptible to a Hidden Oasis. Rogue’s game plan just lines up terribly against Druid, and it’s paying the price for it.
Warlock might be the least refined class in the game, and we say it because Zoo Warlock has yet to settle down to a single, optimal variant. Many players on ladder are stuck on the Thrasher/Vulture curve, and yet it’s the less popular Lackey/Tekahn variant that’s proving to be superior on ladder. The biggest difference comes in the Warrior matchups. The Lackey build is better against Control Warrior because it has stronger late game longevity and value generation, and it’s better against Aggro Warrior because it’s generally built better for aggressive mirrors.
Highlander Mage has saved the class from being completely extinct following the balance changes. The archetype has a modest presence on ladder, which is also driven by its common appearance in Grandmaster League. In this specific format, which has grown quite stale with the same decks being constantly played, it’s positioned quite well: it beats Control Warrior and has close matchups with Quest Druid, Quest Shaman, and Combo Priest. We will note that its decent performance against Priest is reliant on running Polymorph and Voodoo Doll, which are strangely uncommon on ladder.
The Meta is about to be broken, but it won’t be because of a new deck in the current format. Instead, the invasion of Wild cards into the format is likely to shake things up. If the power level of this upcoming set is on par with Ragnaros and N’Zoth, we’re about to play an entirely different game.
If you happen to read tomorrow’s announcement of what the cards are, and end up feeling lost about what’s coming next, worry not! The Data Reaper will be here to talk to you about the impact of the set, and soothe your netdecking needs. Watch out for our upcoming theorycrafting article. It’ll be a thorough one, as usual.
For now, go play some Tier 1 decks.
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 3,900 active contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.
Preparing our weekly article requires a significant amount of time and effort from many individuals. We would like to wholeheartedly thank our current Patreons, whose generous donations help us fund computing and server costs.
vS Gold is a new membership plan aimed to support our efforts towards improving our content and data analysis while receiving some bonuses and extra features.
Tier 3+ Patrons
Special thanks to Leo G, Aaron B, Jed M, Drew M, Alan J, Eric L, Zolstar, Sean H, Steve F, Andrew N, NObdy, Mark S, Alonso P, msKang, James Y, PinkMageDiaries, Je-ho, Ziqiao Y, Stephen H, William H, and Patrick L for supporting us for the month of October.
Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: