Welcome to the 148th edition of the Data Reaper Report! This is the last Data Reaper Report for Saviors of Uldum.
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 3,000 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
Following Hearthstone Battleground’s pre-release, we’ve seen ladder activity taking a hit, which is reflected in this week’s report. Activity has fallen even harder with the launch of the open beta, which would be relevant for next week’s report rather than this one.
Seeing that we don’t expect to collect a meaningful sample of games for next week, we’ve decided to take a break from data reports a week earlier than we’ve initially planned. So, this will be the last report for Saviors of Uldum.
As always, we’re planning to publish a comprehensive card preview for Descent of Dragons, as well as a theorycrafting article, once all cards have been revealed. Both of these articles have been very popular, so we appreciate the support!
Moreover, we’re planning to be more active during card reveal season, and post small articles with initial thoughts on cards as they’re revealed during the next few weeks. We hope you stick along for the ride.
Class Frequency Discussion
It seems that players at the higher end of ladder have given up and switched to the best deck in the game, Aggro Evolve Shaman. 25% of the field at legend is represented by Aggro Shaman. Outside of legend, Quest Shaman is still the more popular deck, but it’s certainly in decline throughout ladder, and the gap is tightening.
Rogue, Druid, and Priest are the next most relevant classes in the current meta. Tempo Rogue and Quest Druid have been the dominant archetypes for their classes, while Priest is split between Resurrect and Combo Priest. We haven’t seen many changes here over the last week, other than the rise of Combo Priest and Quest Druid at legend.
Hunter, Mage, and Warrior are the stagnant classes. Cyclone Mage has disappeared, leaving Highlander Mage alone to hold down the fort. Control Warrior is noticeably more common at legend, possibly preying on the large population of Aggro Shamans. Highlander Hunter is fairly popular outside of legend, but becomes a relatively rare sight at legend.
Interestingly, Paladin is the class that’s had the most development this week. Thanks to the introduction of Sathrovarr, Holy-Wrath Paladin has seen increased interest, especially at the top end of ladder. Could this addition be the catalyst for the archetype to find a stronger foothold in the meta?
Warlock is the dead class of the format. Only 1.5% of the field from rank 4 onwards accidentally queues up this class into ladder.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Aggro Shaman is just better than any other deck in the game, with a matchup spread that is nearly green across the board. Its representation at the top end of ladder doesn’t lie. Hare/Fleshshaper/Evolve is nuts. Having Spirit of the Frog to consistently draw you Evolve is nuts. Quest Shaman is nice, but the best quest to complete in the current meta involves blowing out your opponent on turn 4. This strategy isn’t just strong in Standard, it’s apparently very strong in Wild too, the format where everything is supposed to be broken. So, what chance does Standard format have against it?
We can see the effects of Aggro Shaman very clearly on the field. It’s just slowly killing it, and all you need to look at is the Meta Score graph for legend. While the meta at the 4-1 bracket seems to have a “healthy” amount of decks at Tier 2, the only reason they’re surviving is that Aggro Shaman is, quite frankly, extremely underplayed everywhere but at legend. When you look at the legend meta, which is where we should be, these decks are cracking under the pressure. Win rates of nearly all of the other top meta decks are noticeably declining because they cannot handle the Aggro Shaman matchup. Only Combo Priest’s win rate has risen at legend because of the quick disappearance of Mass Hyseria builds, which “masked” the peak potential of the deck.
Interestingly, Aggro Shaman is so prevalent at higher levels of play that Control Warrior, the most polarizing deck in the current meta that boasts several utterly horrid matchups, is suddenly very strong because it’s the only real counter available to it. The success of both Aggro Shaman and Tempo Rogue has pushed Warrior into a pretty good spot at legend. However, throughout the rest of ladder, it’s still a fairly weak deck.
Evolve being gone with the launch of the next expansion is a huge blessing. Hindsight is 20/20, but the current meta proves that the card had no business re-entering Standard format. The fact it will be gone leaves room for optimism that what we’re witnessing now will not repeat itself. The combo of Mutate/Fleshshaper is strong, but it wasn’t that crippling without Evolve and its synergy with Desert Hare. It can certainly be called one of the most toxic Hearthstone combos of all-time.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Aggro Shaman has completely taken over the game at higher levels of play. It seems that the established narrative, based on its recent performance, that it is the best deck in the game has finally reached consensus amongst high-level players. While Quest Shaman is a strong deck, it is in decline because Aggro Shaman is just stronger, more flexible and more consistent across the board.
With Aggro Shaman mirrors growing increasingly common, we recommend running the Bloodlust build over the Doomhammer build at higher levels of play, and results over the last week support it. While these mirrors are often determined by who gets their Evolve turn first, the Bloodlust build has stronger board control tools and will more consistently claim the initiative in this matchup, while the Doomhammer build is often forced to engage in a life total race. We estimate that this mirror is 55%-45% favored for the Bloodlust variant.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Quest Shaman
- Aggro Shaman
- Murloc Shaman
Tempo Rogue is admirably fighting off the hordes of Shamans to good results, though it is clearly incapable of stopping the meta tyrant from taking over the game. Rogue is probably the strongest non-Shaman class you could take to ladder, since its matchup spread is very well-rounded and its worst common matchup (Quest Druid) is still fairly winnable thanks to Questing Adventurers.
Other Rogue decks cannot strike a good enough balance to survive in this meta. Deathrattle and Quest Rogue are generally too slow and vulnerable to Shaman shenanigans, while Aggro Rogue has been made redundant by the less polarizing and more versatile Tempo Rogue.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Tempo Rogue
- Aggro Rogue
- Quest Rogue
Quest Druid has been trending up recently, benefitting from Combo Priest’s downward trajectory. We do think that the archetype has never really shown its maximum potential in the current meta due to the persistent popularity of the Malygos variant, and the lack of consensus around the Nomi build, which has consistently been the best performing variant for this archetype. The Banker build, while stronger than Malygos, is also ultimately inferior to Nomi.
Over the last week, we’ve seen experimentation with Sathrovarr, the new legendary that was released in last week’s patch. Sathrovarr has obvious combo synergy with Kun due to the latter’s high impact and zero cost. However, after looking into the card, we’re not too impressed with Sathrovarr. It isn’t terrible, but it’s also very situational. Cenarius clearly looks like a superior 9-drop in the deck, so cutting it for Sathrovarr is counterproductive.
Combo Priest is in a strange and unfamiliar spot. From a dominant deck that ruled all, it has suddenly become slightly polarizing and matchup dependent. Tempo Rogue and Aggro Shaman have both proven to be opponents that Priest wants to avoid, due to their strong early game removal. What Priest wants to see are quest decks: decks that do little in the early game and get easily snowballed by a Northshire Cleric.
The good news for Combo Priest is that Mass Hyseria builds are gone, so its win rate has recovered as a result and looks more in line with its real potential on ladder: a strong deck, albeit one with a couple of key bad matchups.
Resurrect Priest has looked stronger recently because the rise of Aggro Shaman over Quest Shaman is very good news for the archetype. Quest Shaman was the one matchup that utterly frustrated this deck and prevented it from growing in strength. Now that Quest Shaman is finally taking a step back, Resurrect Priest might look just a little better.
Control Warrior has turned into an extremely polarizing deck in the current meta. We’re talking about Odd Warrior levels of polarity back in the Boomsday days. It’s really incredible how matchup dependent this deck is, and how queueing it up on ladder feels like a glorified roll of the dice.
And yet, the situation is calling for Control Warrior. The meta at higher levels of play has become so skewed towards Aggro Shaman that it has pushed up Control Warrior’s win rate in impressive fashion at legend. As the only real counter in the game to Aggro Shaman, Control Warrior could serve an important role in this scenario. We suspect that the deck performs well at top legend, where Aggro Shamans likely makes up over 40% of the field. Do note that outside of legend rank, Control Warrior just isn’t worth running because the popularity of Aggro Shaman is nowhere near enough to justify it.
Aggro Warrior provides a more stable experience if you want to play Warrior without it feeling like you’re playing a queue simulator. It has a lot of close, winnable matchups against the top meta decks, so it always stands a chance. Aggro Warrior’s issue comes from its stability. While it isn’t excessively weak to anything, it also doesn’t particularly excel against anything.
Paladin has some bad news, and some good news.
The bad news is that Highlander Paladin is still a pretty bad deck to bring into a playground full of Shamans and Rogues. It cannot handle these matchups very well as it’s very often pushed out of the board without any chance of a comeback.
The good news is that Holy-Wrath Paladin is seeing a bit of a revival thanks to the addition of Sathrovarr. After carefully looking into this card, we can only conclude that it’s a fantastic addition to the deck. Sahtrovarr’s interaction with Shirvallah is straight-up nuts, it’s a Baleful Banker on steroids that can win the game by itself. While it’s not enough to pull Holy-Wrath Paladin out of its current predicament, one has to watch out for this combo in the build-up to the next expansion.
To make space for it, we cut Thaurissan. The Emperor is a luxury card that’s not too important for the deck’s game plan. You could replace a removal card such as Subdue instead, but we don’t like this idea. Removal is much more impactful to our survival than the discount offered by Emperor, which is not necessary for our OTK.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Highlander Paladin
- Holy-Wrath Paladin
Much like Highlander Paladin, Highlander Hunter cannot seem to thrive in the Shaman/Rogue playground. Its performance continues to be very good at lower ranks, but the deck hits a wall once it reaches the overwhelming swarm of the top meta decks. Worsening matchups at higher levels of play aren’t helping matters either. Strong Shaman and Rogue players are consistently better at exposing the Hunter’s limitations. At the end of the day, Highlander Hunter is a predictable deck with a streamlined curve and anticipated answers. It doesn’t do very well when opponents force it out of its comfortable game plan by making it play inefficiently. Shaman and Rogue are extremely flexible classes with a wider spectrum of decisions (lackeys have a lot to do with that, by the way) and that gives them most of the agency in these matchups.
Much like Resurrect Priest and Control Warrior, Highlander Mage benefits from the shift into Aggro Shamans. This is slightly moving the needle in favor of the deck, and particularly in favor of the Big-Spell variant that specializes in the Shaman matchups. While Highlander Mage is still very flawed in most other matchups in the meta, it might be a decent pocket pick against the Aggro Shaman/Control Warrior duo.
Keep in mind, however, that Highlander Mage doesn’t really counter Shamans. The Big-Spell variant is very slightly favored against them. Since Shaman is so difficult to stop, every edge against them is often overemphasized and magnified since it’s so rare to see. We’re still talking about a very small edge that may not translate into good results for an individual who’s not experienced with the deck.
May we interest you in a Data Reaper Report that talks about how strong Warlock is? It isn’t this one.
Most ladder players are very lucky that Aggro Shaman isn’t catching on as quickly as it should be. This isn’t the case for the top end of ladder, where the deck is in the process of burning the meta into the ground.
If you’re interested in the fireman’s role, Control Warrior is the only effective answer against it, and it is extremely effective. If you’re rolling the dice in Hearthstone Battlegrounds, might as well do it on ladder too?
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 3,000 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, Zolstar, Sean H, Steve F, Andrew N, NObdy, Mark S, Alonso P, msKang, James Y, PinkMageDiaries, Je-ho, Ziqiao Y, Stephen H, William H, Patrick L, and 1RiceBowl1 for supporting us for the month of November.
Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: