Welcome to the 147th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
Shamanstone is going on strong, but there are big changes within the class. At all levels of play, Aggro Shaman is rapidly climbing in popularity, while Quest Shaman is waning. At legend, Aggro Shaman has become the most popular deck in the game. This development is tied to the archetype’s recent success on ladder, its continuing refinement, and its higher win rate compared to Quest Shaman.
Rogue looks firmly established as the format’s 2nd most influential class, with Tempo Rogue leading the charge after enjoying plenty of success recently. Other archetypes are dwindling down to fringe status.
Druid remains uneventful. It’s been sitting at a play rate hovering around 10% for a long time, with Quest Druid making up nearly its entire population. Don’t expect to see any big changes here.
Combo Priest has settled into a more modest role in the meta due to the rise of Tempo Rogue, one of the deck’s most difficult matchups. Resurrect Priest’s prevalence is similar at higher levels of play.
Hunter continues to be focused on its Secret Highlander archetype. We’re seeing a bit of Quest Hunters popping up, but not enough to get a good picture of.
Paladin is in decline across the board, with Highlander Paladin struggling to shine in a meta that is dominated by Shamans and Rogues, while Holy-Wrath Paladin is struggling in general.
Mage is the third class that’s largely carried by its Highlander archetype to lukewarm results. As we’ve said last week, it’s split between a N’Zoth variant and a Big-Spell variant, and there isn’t much that separates the two in terms of performance.
There’s a noticeable rise in Control Warrior at legend, which might be driven by the transition we’ve observed in the Shaman class. Quest Shaman is a challenging matchup, but Control Warrior is the best counter in the game to Aggro Shaman. Players might be sensing an opportunity here.
Warlock’s play rate remains very low. It is mostly comprised of the underwhelming Zoo and an assortment of junk Quest Warlock decks. Players sure love their Quest Warlock memes.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
The transition to Aggro Shaman is no accident. As the archetype continues to refine its two main variants (Bloodlust and Doomhammer), its performance is improving in multiple matchups. Most importantly, it is beginning to exhibit a slight edge against Quest Shaman, a matchup that was split right down the middle a couple of weeks ago. This has opened the gap in the performance between the two, with Quest Shaman being kicked out of Tier 1 at legend. This no longer seems to be a case of option 1A and option 1B: Quest Shaman is strong, but Aggro Shaman is nuts.
As we’ve noted last week, it’s easy to understand why Aggro Shaman is stronger. It performs much better than Quest Shaman in multiple key matchups: Quest Druid, Tempo Rogue, and Combo Priest. Tempo Rogue has actually improved its performance against Quest Shaman to the point where it may have a small edge against it, but Rogue cannot beat Aggro Shaman consistently. The rise of Aggro Shaman is the main culprit for Tempo Rogue’s decline in win rate at legend.
But, Aggro Shaman is not invincible. There is one opponent it truly struggles to deal with, and that’s Control Warrior. The rise of Control Warrior at legend isn’t a coincidence: it performs significantly better at higher levels of play due to the heightened popularity of Aggro Shaman. At lower ranks, it has a harder time because the meta is less favorable, but its performance has relatively improved at all levels of play. It’s benefitting from the meta trends we’ve highlighted earlier.
Combo Priest’s win rate continues to decline, and there are two factors at play here. The first is, of course, the decline of Quest Shaman in favor of Aggro Shaman. Aggro Shaman presents a much more difficult matchup that thoroughly frustrates the Priest. However, the second factor has nothing to do with matchups, but all to do with the emergence of new builds. For some reason, it was deemed to be a good idea to cut 1-drops and Bwonsamdi in favor of Mass Hysteria. It was at this moment that Combo Priest knew… it f…ed up.
Quest Druid remains okay, but it’s unlikely to get stronger for the same reason Priest and Rogue have plateaued. Aggro Shaman is the truly oppressive force that’s preventing the meta from being able to correct itself in any fashion.
Highlander Paladin is putting up an admirable fight considering the circumstances. It has seen its Shaman matchup worsen and its biggest counter, Tempo Rogue, become a prominent meta feature. Its matchup spread is pretty strong, but its weakness against three of the most influential classes in the game is very limiting. Meanwhile, Holy-Wrath Paladin has lost its edge in the Aggro Shaman matchup due to the rise of Doomhammer builds.
Highlander Hunter has a somewhat similar story. It’s very strong at lower ranks, but crumbles to Shamans and Rogues at higher levels of play (those matchups become worse for the Hunter when you add experience and skill on both sides). This leaves Hunter with a good win rate, but one that certainly falls short of Shamans’ and Rogues’.
The transition in the Shaman class is also good news for Resurrect Priest and Highlander Mage, which perform much better against Aggro Shaman. Their win rate gains at legend are very noticeable, but we’re still looking at fairly mediocre decks.
Big news! Quest Warlock’s increase in play has given us a large enough sample size to put it in the Power Rankings. The biggest takeaway is that Quest Warlock looks stronger than Cyclone Mage, so it’s not the worst deck in the game. Warlock nerfs, when?
Class Analysis & Decklists
Shaman should remain the dominant class on ladder until the next expansion. Evolve was too good of an addition to Shaman’s available synergies, and until it rotates, opponents are simply left wishing their opponent does not have the early game blowout turn that they cannot stop.
Recent developments seem to push Aggro Shaman in favor of Quest Shaman, especially at higher levels of play where Aggro has eclipsed Quest to take the top spot in popularity. Aggro Shaman’s win rate is higher across the board as it has stronger matchups into Quest Druid, Tempo Rogue, and Combo Priest. Interestingly, it is also beginning to develop an edge in the Shaman mirror, as it continues to refine its card choices.
Aggro Shaman has two variants to choose from. Both are very powerful, and data suggests there isn’t a clear winner out of the two. The Bloodlust build is stronger in faster matchups since it prioritizes board control; it performs better against other Shamans, Tempo Rogues, and aggressive decks. The Doomhammer build is stronger in slower matchups since it prioritizes damage and reach; it performs better against defensive decks such as Quest Druid, Highlander Mage, and Control Warrior.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Quest Shaman
- Aggro Shaman
- Murloc Shaman
Rogue appears to be settling down as the 2nd best class in the game behind Shaman. While it’s not able to topple the meta tyrant, it is able to find success in the Shamanstone era.
Tempo Rogue is largely responsible for the class’ success, and our insights regarding its optimal build have not changed. Questing Adventurers are superb and invaluable against both Quest Shaman and Quest Druid, while Waggle Picks have proven to be dispensable. Shaku might be weak in the late game, but it’s very strong in the early game and particularly good against Shaman, which is why we’ve given him the nod.
We’ve also noticed Spirit of the Shark popping up recently, and if you’re wondering how it performs in the current meta, the answer is “terrible”. Running two copies of Shark in your Tempo Rogue deducts over 2% from the deck’s win rate on ladder. It’s only good against Control Warrior and Quest Druid, so don’t run Shark on ladder (but it could be okay in tournaments if you’re just looking to beat these two decks).
- Rogue Class Radar
- Tempo Rogue
- Aggro Rogue
- Quest Rogue
Quest Druid’s presence in the meta is a constant that is barely changing. It has recently benefitted from the rise of Rogue and the fall of Priest, and sits at a comfortable Tier 2 spot on ladder. However, we think it’s unlikely to get stronger in the future due to the observed transition from Quest Shaman (a reasonably close matchup) to Aggro Shaman (a clearly unfavored matchup).
The Malygos variant is still quite common, but remains inferior to Nomi on ladder. The only matchups in which Malygos outperforms Nomi is Resurrect Priest and N’Zoth Control Warrior, due to their usage of Hakkar and the need to bypass a N’Zoth board. In any other matchup, Nomi either breaks even or performs significantly better, which is why we continue to recommend Nomi.
While Priest has suffered from the rise of Rogue, it remains very competitive on ladder. The class’ main issues recently have more to do with wayward experimentation rather than actual meta trends.
One glaring development in Combo Priest is cutting Bwondsamdi, Lightwarden and Beaming Sidekick for reactive removal: Mass Hyseria, Holy Ripple and Mass Dispel. We’ll quickly go over the pros and cons of this adjustment.
Pros: Altruistic. Helps your opponents win more Hearthstone games and makes them happy.
Cons: Helps your opponents win more Hearthstone games and makes them happy.
The moment Combo Priest loses the board, it loses the game. Mass Hysteria doesn’t help you develop the board, so it will usually not bring you back to the game once you’ve fallen behind. Bwonsamdi is an amazing card in the deck and offers real comeback potential through reload, and Lightwarden is a threat at all stages of the game. Giving them up is just nonsense.
As we’ve said last week, Highlander Hunter is a strong ladder deck, but one that doesn’t particularly line up well against the very best decks, with the exception of Combo Priest. Tempo Rogue has proven to be a difficult matchup in which the Hunter struggles to keep control of the board. The Shaman matchups are just slightly unfavored, but there is nothing the Hunter can do against a turn 4 Evolve, so player agency is in the Shaman’s hands. This is why the deck performs very well throughout most ranks, but starts hitting a wall at higher levels where the meta is more competitive. Note that while this drop off does occur, there is no level of play that deems Highlander Hunter to be weak. It simply turns from an outstanding deck, into just a good one.
Paladin is in decline, with both of its primary archetypes looking flawed against a field that’s dictated by Shamans and Rogues.
Highlander Paladin falls short of the very best decks. It cannot beat Shamans, Rogues or Priests. Rising up the tiers under these conditions is basically impossible, and success with the archetype is reliant on running into Druids and Hunters, which offer you the best matchups.
Holy-Wrath Paladin is decent against Shamans, but climbing with this deck is a very frustrating affair. As you profusely sweat over every Shaman encounter, and navigate these matchups in order to maintain your small edge, Malfurion shows up to ruin any progress you’ve made. Valeera and Rexxar do that too. This deck is simply too narrow to be consistently successful, and the emergence of Doomhammer wielding Aggro Shamans presents a new problem. You don’t beat those.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Highlander Paladin
- Holy-Wrath Paladin
Highlander Mage looks doomed to sit in Tier 3 until the next expansion. It simply doesn’t beat the best decks. You could aggressively tech in order to gain percentages in one matchup, but you will pay the price for it in other important matchups. The bottom line is that Mage is not capable of overcoming all of the hurdles set by the meta-defining decks, no matter which build it decides on. It’s not impossible to succeed with Highlander Mage, but you’re certainly turning up the difficulty setting by running it.
Warrior sits in an okay spot. Both of its archetypes are viable options that make good, but not outstanding decks.
Aggro Warrior is a pretty strong deck if you’re interested in countering quest decks. The passivity of Quest Shaman and Quest Druid can be heavily punished by Warrior’s early game blowout potential. The archetype has a more difficult time in faster matchups that don’t allow it to leverage Bloodsworn Mercenary as easily.
Control Warrior is a bit of the opposite. It shines when facing faster decks, because it’s very effective in removing initiative from the opponent and stabilizing. Where it fails are late game matchups, since its removal kit isn’t strong enough to outlast the waves of resources that some decks in the current meta are capable of producing, such as Quest Druid.
We don’t understand why players complain so much about Warlock being weak. After all, Demons are perfectly viable in Hearthstone Battlegrounds. There’s your Warlock fix!
Hearthstone is in a dire state. Unless action is taken quickly. the entire player base is doomed to disappear and move on to other games. While the dominance of Shaman might be tolerable, and the frustration with Hare/Evolve can be tempered, the last straw to break the meta, and the camel’s back, has arrived this week alongside the latest patch.
Squelch. Does. Not. Work.
Indeed, without a functional squelch, Hearthstone is essentially unplayable. Our thorough data analysis shows that rage quit occurrences are now at an all-time high. It’s one thing to cheat out three 4-drops and an 8-drop on turn 4, but it’s another thing entirely when this play is accompanied by “Greetings, Friend”, which currently has no counterplay whatsoever.
Team 5, you may keep your Evolve, but for the love of God, fix Squelch before the salt levels spin out of control.
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