Welcome to the 145th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
The overbearing presence of Shaman keeps rising, and we’ve now reached Hunter levels from Rastakhan following the Wild Growth/Nourish balance changes. The class has now eclipsed the 35% mark at ranks 4-1, where it is nearly 3 times more popular than the next class, and where Quest Shaman alone makes up over 20% of the field. Quest and Aggro Shaman are more evenly distributed at legend, where the Shaman population has actually stayed put compared to last week.
Rogue is the 2nd class that has spiked in popularity this week, with two archetypes leading the charge: Deathrattle Rogue and Tempo Rogue. While both decks have risen in play across all ladder, Deathrattle Rogue has become particularly popular at lower rank brackets, while Tempo Rogue’s rise is most noticeable at legend.
The expected change in the Priest class is occurring, but it’s happening very slowly. Resurrect Priest is in decline, while Combo Priest is mostly seeing an uptick in play at legend.
Quest Druid is slightly trending down, with an observed shift from the Malygos variant to the Nomi variant. However, this shift is slow and the Nomi build has yet to even make up the majority of Quest Druids on ladder.
Cyclone Mage is fleeing the scene in embarrassment after being exposed as a Tier 6 deck (or is it Tier 7-8?). The deck has collapsed in play, especially at higher levels. Meanwhile, interest in Highlander Mage has grown, and we’re seeing an alternative variant rise to challenge N’Zoth’s supremacy within the archetype. This is thanks to the success of J4ckie’s #1 legend Big-Spell burn build.
Paladin has mostly stayed put, but its decline at legend is significant. Highlander Paladin hasn’t been able to solve the Shaman problem, while Holy-Wrath Paladin hasn’t been able to solve the “everything else” problem.
All Hunter archetypes have nearly disappeared, with the exception of Secret-Highlander Hunter, a deck that’s also not attracting too much interest despite looking strong. This had led to the class’ decline, and it is even less popular than Warrior at legend.
Control Warrior is now mostly made up of N’Zoth builds, despite what we’ve said about their performance on ladder last week. The archetype is experiencing regression in refinement, likely driven by tournament influence. Aggro Warrior has been sleepy since the beginning of the event, displaying modest representation and barely any development.
Warlock is dead. It’s the worst class we’ve seen in a long time, rivaling Shaman during Rastakhan. Warlock’s play rate at legend is 1.5%. We’re not sure how many of these players actually want to play Warlock, or have a quest to get out of the way. If it’s “win 3 games with Warlock”, it might take a while!
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Last week, we were optimistic that the meta would probably not get worse than what it already was. There were signs of some self-correction forces that would keep Shaman in check. After seeing this week’s results, our optimism is challenged.
The key is understanding what’s occurring with Combo Priest and Tempo Rogue. Tempo Rogue is seeing a significant increase in its win rate which correlates with several developments in its post-patch refinement. This makes Tempo Rogue a leading candidate to become this week’s “meta breaker”. Its influence on the meta is already beginning to show, and it is clearly very promising, with a win rate that’s trending upwards.
But so far, Tempo Rogue is not displaying an ability to consistently beat either of the two dominant Shaman archetypes. What Tempo Rogue does do is beat Combo Priest, and it does so very effectively. Tempo Rogue’s rise is suppressing Combo Priest’s performance against the field, especially at legend, where the two decks are most prevalent. With Combo Priest slowed down, Quest Shaman has free rein while Aggro Shaman benefits from Rogue’s rise as well, leading to the Shaman class possibly dominating the field even harder at higher levels.
Therefore, the direction in which the meta is headed to is dependent on how Tempo Rogue improves its performance against Shaman. If it can gain an edge against Quest Shaman, while breaking even against Aggro Shaman, it will establish itself as the real deal. Our featured build attempts to do just that.
Highlander Hunter is very strong at lower brackets but starts to fall off from Tier 1 at rank 4. The rise of Tempo Rogue is not helping its cause, and much like most of the meta, it’s incapable of beating Shaman consistently.
Highlander Paladin is experiencing similar issues. It cannot gain an edge against Shaman, while Tempo Rogue is one of its worst matchups, leading to its noticeable decline in win rate.
Aggro Warrior displays decent matchups into Shaman, but it doesn’t exhibit an advantage against any common meta deck elsewhere, leaving it with a decent win rate, but not an exceptional one. Meanwhile, Control Warrior’s performance on ladder has completely tanked due to the sins of N’Zoth and the bizarre rise of Deathrattle Rogue, a deck that beats almost nothing besides Control Warrior.
Quest Druid continues to look unimpressive for the reasons we’ve laid out last week. However, even at its peak potential through the Nomi build, it wouldn’t be able to challenge Shaman due to its struggles against Aggro Shaman and Combo Priest. What Quest Druid will be hoping for is Tempo Rogue’s success, as it’s a good matchup for the Druid, though one that has become more difficult recently.
Resurrect Priest and Highlander Mage sit at the top of Tier 3. Both decks struggle to outvalue Quest Shaman’s unrelenting hero power, and see their N’Zoth boards stolen by Mind Control Techs. However, Mage has begun exploring other paths to victory, which is paying off in its overall performance and matchup against Shaman. If you haven’t noticed by now, N’Zoth is quite an overrated win condition in the current meta.
Zoo Warlock has recovered in its win rate, and it now sits only at the bottom of Tier 3, making it remotely playable. It is still significantly weaker than other aggressive decks in the format, including ones that have been completely overshadowed by stronger alternatives within their own class, such as Aggro Rogue and Murloc Shaman.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Shaman’s momentum has yet to stop, with the class rising further in play across most ladder ranks, though it may have reached saturation at legend. Both Quest Shaman and Aggro Shaman are two of the best decks in the game, while Murloc Shaman is no slouch either.
We expected to see Quest Shaman’s popularity being restrained this week, and this has occurred at legend, but more players are gravitating to the archetype during their ladder climb. The optimal Quest Shaman build is pretty straight forward, and there’s no reason to change it.
Aggro Shaman is just as strong, and Control Warrior’s failure to gain momentum over the past week is reinforcing this fact. We’ve had a chance to get more data on our featured build, which is a bit different from what you commonly see on ladder, and we were impressed.
Spirit of the Frog is definitely worth building around, but it’s even better with our uncommon additions. Haunting Visions is a stronger 3-mana spell than both Feral Spirit and Lightning Storm, while Hex is particularly game-changing against both Priest archetypes.
As we’ve said last week, Murloc Shaman is in a weird spot. It’s clearly strong and yet falls short of the power level exhibited by the two more popular Shaman archetypes. The class is an embarrassment of riches.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Quest Shaman
- Aggro Shaman
- Murloc Shaman
Rogue has had a big week. From a class that looked competitive yet not quite at the level of the best decks, it’s now looking to take a spot in the elite pack thanks to innovations occurring in Tempo Rogue.
Questing Adventurers were initially played by J_Alexander at the launch of the event to some success, in a non-Togwaggle build. The thinking behind them was their strength against Quest Druid and Quest Shaman, decks that aren’t equipped to consistently deal with them before the snowball begins.
Last week, we’ve reached a very firm conclusion that Heistbaron Togwaggle is a core card in the current meta: it’s just way too good to ever omit, and Wonderous Wand happens to synergize well with Adventurers too.
But one of the issues with QA’s is their anti-synergy with Waggle Pick. The breakthrough, initially implemented by Sezoklo, has been to remove the weapon. If you’re looking to beat quest decks, the featured build performs best against them. Keep in mind that Waggle Picks and SI:7 Agents are still useful cards, and cutting them does come with a toll on your Priest matchup, so we can see them being situationally better than the featured flex cards.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Tempo Rogue
- Aggro Rogue
- Quest Rogue
While its presence outside of legend remains modest, Combo Priest is exhibiting a rise in play at higher levels. Its win rate indicates it is still one of the best decks in the game, with its strong matchup against Quest Shaman proving to be extremely valuable. However, the rise in Tempo Rogue is proving to be an unexpected hindrance that is slowing it down.
Resurrect Priest isn’t at the same level. It looks competitively viable, something we couldn’t say about it before Doom in the Tomb, but its poor matchup against Quest Shaman remains a thorn in its side. As we’ve said last week, don’t waste your time playing the quest: it’s pretty useless.
Quest Druid is seeing a shift back from Malygos to Nomi, which is helping its ladder win rate. However, its performance is still not as good as it could be, since the Nomi build is far from taking over the archetype completely. We estimate that the Nomi build is not even 50% of current Quest Druids on ladder.
With that being said, even at its peak potential, Quest Druid does have some issues in the current meta that would prevent it from being at the same level as Combo Priest and the dominant Shaman decks. The matchup against Combo Priest is extremely difficult, and Quest Druid finds itself struggling against Aggro Shaman and Highlander Paladin as well. Is it better than the stats currently suggest? Significantly so. Is it better than Shaman and Priest? No.
As expected, Cyclone Mage is drastically declining in play after failing to look even remotely viable. We can’t recommend running this deck on ladder, as any iteration we’ve seen from it is terrible.
Meanwhile, Highlander Mage is seeing an uptick in play. N’Zoth builds have started to cut Luna’s Pocket Galaxy and Stargazer Luna for more defensive tools. With Control Warrior seeing little play, we’re not pressured to be greedy and can afford to allocate more slots in order to shore up faster matchups.
Meanwhile, J4ckie hit #1 legend with a Big-Spell variant of Highlander Mage running Naga Sand Witch and Pyroblast. We’ve found this combo to be surprisingly effective in the current meta, since it allows the Mage to close out games a bit faster (and cutting N’Zoth means we’re no longer a sitting duck to Mind Control Tech). There is one obvious change in the featured build, which is swapping Blast Wave (worst card in the deck) for Ray of Frost (unquestionably mandatory). While Blast Wave is a decent card against Shaman, and the list certainly aims to improve the Shaman matchups as much as possible, it is too weak of a card against other popular classes.
Highlander Paladin is the only Paladin deck that’s making any serious noise in the current meta. It has a pretty good matchup spread, and mostly suffers against Tempo Rogue and Resurrect Priest. The former has very good tools to push it off the board effectively, while the latter is quite effective at outlasting it since Highlander Paladin usually isn’t fast enough to kill the Priest before it stabilizes.
While Highlander Paladin isn’t a terrible deck to play against Shaman, both Quest and Aggro Shaman are challenging matchups that put you at a slight disadvantage, which is why we don’t believe that the deck has meta breaking potential.
As for builds, we’ve seen a rise in N’Zoth being played alongside Sylvanas and Khartut Defender. We don’t hate it, but this package mostly helps you in matchups you do well enough already (Quest Druid, Highlander Hunter, Control Warrior).
Holy-Wrath Paladin is the only deck in the game that boasts positive matchups against both Quest and Aggro Shaman. You’d expect this would make it a surefire meta breaker, but this is far from the truth. The deck is extremely polarizing and has a few utterly dreadful matchups, such as Quest Druid, that completely write off whatever edge it has against Shaman.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Highlander Paladin
- Holy-Wrath Paladin
Things generally don’t look too good for Warrior, but many of its struggles aren’t purely related to its potential in an optimized meta. Instead, they have more to do with occurrences that swim against the flow of the meta’s river.
For example, Deathrattle Rogue has risen in play. The deck absolutely sucks, and loses to almost every deck in the game… except for Control Warrior. This matchup is nearly hopeless for the Warrior, since the only good thing Rogue does (near-infinite N’Zoth), happens to hard counter a deck with a game plan centered on removal.
The second problem is N’Zoth Control Warrior builds. Instead of falling off, they’ve taken over due to their recent prevalence in the tournament scene. Regardless of how they perform in a ban format against a different field, their performance on ladder is absolutely terrible. This is massive, massive bait which only makes your Quest Shaman matchup worse.
While Control Warrior is struggling to perform, Aggro Warrior is doing fine. It lines up well enough against Shamans and Combo Priests. The popularity of Resurrect Priest is keeping it from displaying a stronger win rate, and it doesn’t have exceptionally strong matchups against most of popular decks in the current meta.
It’s been an uneventful week for Hunter, as the class is becoming less diverse and focused on its only successful archetype in the current meta: Secret Highlander Hunter.
Little has changed for the deck. It remains one of the best ladder choices, though it’s not infallible. It has a hard time beating Resurrect Priest, and Highlander Paladin is effective at pressuring it out of the game. Tempo Rogue, the fastest rising deck in the current meta, is also proving to be a difficult challenge. Thanks to the additions of Ragnaros and Call of the Wild though, it performs better against Quest Druid than it did before the launch of Doom in the Tomb.
Warlock looks like a dead class. Zoo Warlock is the only archetype that’s remotely competitive and it’s significantly worse than any other aggressive deck that’s out there. There is no real reason to play it, which is why its play rate has declined. At legend, it has sunk under 1% of the field.
Slower Warlock strategies are some of the worst decks you can play in the current format. Some of them run N’Zoth. Some of them run Mecha’thun. Some of them run Supreme Archaeology. It doesn’t matter. They are all very, very bad.
Shaman is now banned from this section, and we’re only going to feature “fair”, meta breaking decks until the next expansion. Otherwise, we’re going to bore ourselves to tears.
This makes our choice easy: Tempo Rogue has been the breakout performer of the week, and has had a large influence on the power level of several decks at higher levels of play. We expect its presence to begin trickling down to the rest of the ladder, with one key question remaining: Can Tempo Rogue reliably beat Shaman?
Right now, the data says no. However, since the archetype is still under heavy refinement and aggregates various builds, the answer could change in the future.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
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