Welcome to the 153rd edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
Druid’s rise in play is pretty incredible. The class now makes up 30% of the field at ranks 9-1 and 25% of the field at legend. Embiggen Druid hovers around a play rate of 20% throughout ladder, dwarfing most decks in the current meta.
Rogue is declining in response but maintains the top play rate at legend, where Galakrond Rogue is still the most popular deck. It’s currently draining players away from Highlander Rogue, a deck that was consistently shown to be inferior.
Hunter is in a holding pattern, with its three archetypes maintaining similar play rates to those we reported last week. There is a shift in Highlander Hunter towards more aggressive builds that cut Zul’jin, born out of the tournament success of Bloodyface with such a build at Masters Tour Arlington.
Warlock is in decline, and none of its archetypes seem to be thriving at the moment. Control Warlock had more joy running into a narrow Rogue meta. Zoo Warlock is mostly carried by its Embiggen Druid matchup. Handlock is close to extinction.
Warrior took another hard fall this week, as players shy away from the class that’s most vulnerable to Embiggen Druid. Galakrond Warrior is now a niche deck that sees sporadic play, while Highlander Warrior is fading after failing to impress. Pirate Warrior is just gone.
Little has changed for Mage and Priest. The underwhelming Highlander Mage is all the Mage class has since Cyclone Mage is a meme. Resurrect Priest is the most common choice for Priests to try and beat up on Druids, but the deck fades at legend where the large presence of Rogues becomes an issue. Combo Priest remains underplayed and relatively ignored, though we’ve said before, it’s the stronger Priest deck at the high end of ladder.
Paladin is waking up, with Mech Paladin rising in play throughout ladder. We’ve shown in the last report that the deck’s performance against the field is quite strong thanks to the rise of Embiggen Druid. Will Mech Paladin’s win rate decline now that it increased in play, or will Druid’s further rise in play provide it with yet another boost?
Shaman has risen in play thanks to initial enthusiasm and experimentation with The Fist of Ra-Den. We can already tell you, however, that this is enthusiasm has faded and the class is geared to return to the dumpster from which it came.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
The further rise in Embiggen Druid has pushed Mech Paladin’s performance even higher, and it now looks like the strongest deck in the game outside of legend, where it’s part of a tight group of high performing strategies. However, Druid’s large presence is not solely responsible for Paladin’s success. Looking at its matchup spread, Mech Paladin handles everything but Rogue, so the decline in Rogue resulting from Druid’s rise is even more important in order to understand Mech Paladin’s surge.
Hunter looks pretty incredible, with three Tier 1 decks at legend. Highlander Hunter has little to no weaknesses in the current meta. Quest Hunter continues to be astonishingly underrated (and we’ll keep saying it). Face Hunter has benefited from a decline of both Galakrond Warrior and Resurrect Priest, and it also gained a few percentages in the Embiggen Druid matchup. It jumps to Tier 1 at legend because of the low prevalence of its hardest counters, but it might run into fresh issues should news of Mech Paladin’s dominance continue to spread.
Galakrond Rogue’s performance ramps up at legend, which correlates perfectly with its higher presence. The field has definitely grown hostile to the deck in the last couple of weeks, but competition could become more favorable if Mech Paladin significantly increases in play. While Highlander Rogue carries some benefits, it’s mostly worse than Galakrond.
The hype for Embiggen Druid was certainly justified last week, but perhaps we’ve now reached a point of saturation and it’s time to take a chill pill. With the meta expected to target it more effectively, Embiggen Druid may gradually weaken and become a less worthwhile choice than the alternatives, and it’ll be harder to maintain its massive play rate.
With Embiggen Druid dominating and Token Druid continuing to perform very well, it may seem strange to you that we’re mostly excited about developments surrounding Quest Druid this week. That’s because Quest Druid’s performance may jump through the roof next week if the new non-dragon variant that runs Rising Winds becomes the consensus. We estimate that this variant is currently performing at a Tier 2 level (at least).
Warlock is doing okay, but it’s clearly worse than the top meta decks. Zoo is heavily reliant on running into Druids, and its matchup spread outside of it looks quite poor. Despite being a drastically different deck, Control Warlock has similar struggles to Zoo’s against a wide variety of classes. Handlock faces the same struggles but doesn’t even have a good Rogue matchup, which is why it’s the worst performer out of the three.
Galakrond Warrior is average at best, but it’s mostly worse than that. Embiggen Druid is a truly horrible matchup, and until their numbers relax, we can’t expect to see Warrior doing well. Pirate Warrior’s win rate has completely collapsed as it faded from existence (a common phenomenon), while Highlander Warrior still looks fairly weak.
Resurrect Priest looks okay outside of legend, and pretty weak at legend, which lines up with its play rate. Highlander Mage is pretty weak everywhere and is more successful in a tournament format with a ban (usually a Hunter ban). Shaman looks done.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Rogue is adjusting to a meta that’s now centered on Druid rather than itself. Embiggen Druid’s numbers have grown so much that it’s becoming increasingly viable, though not always optimal, to start teching against it.
We continue to recommend Faceless Corruptors, SN1P-SN4P and Zilliax in the featured Galakrond Rogue. They provide the most well-rounded results in a variety of matchups, but we’ve seen an increase in two specific cards that perform well against Druid. Questing Adventurer is a strong threat that softly targets Embiggen Druid, while Dragonmaw Poacher offers a more extreme answer. It’s important to note that Poachers can be strong in other matchups (Highlander Mage/Hunter, Control/Hand Warlock), so their performance isn’t as narrow as other tech cards we’ve written off in the past. Skyvateer and SI:7 Agent are more suitable tech choices for faster matchups.
Dragonmaw Poacher is even better in Highlander Rogue and should make the cut. We’ve also seen players running The Black Knight to combat Emerald Explorer and Winged Guardian to pretty good results. If you’re running many Druids, cutting SI:7 for TBK can help, and it’s also very strong against Priest.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Galakrond Rogue
- Highlander Rogue
- Malygos Rogue
Outside of legend, Embiggen Druid has become the most popular deck in the format. As such, it is also attracting the meta’s attention, with several decks making adjustments to improve against it, but the deck is still performing very well.
Token Druid is around, and it’s performing very well across ladder. The deck’s strong matchup against Embiggen Druid counts for a lot, and it has close matchups against most of the top meta decks, though its growing struggles against Rogue at higher levels of play are noticeable.
Quest Druid may have gone through the biggest breakthrough this week. The addition of Rising Winds has spurred players to experiment with non-Dragon builds, and the new card has proven to be one of the archetype’s very best cards. We can confidently say that the featured build significantly outperforms Dragon builds. Based on our estimate, Quest Druid could become another strong and competitive ladder option for the class should the optimal variant take over.
- Druid Class Radar
- Embiggen Druid
- Token Druid
- Quest Druid
Hunter deserves to be talked about in the same breath as Rogue and Druid. It’s a highly successful class, both on ladder and recently, in tournament play.
Highlander Hunter is one of the most well-rounded decks in the game, challenging Embiggen Druid and Galakrond Rogue quite effectively in direct matchups. We’ve seen more aggressive builds pop up, cutting Zul’jin and reducing the secret package for higher minion density. These builds aim to gain percentages against Embiggen Druid, and the high prevalence of the target deck makes this switch worthwhile.
Face Hunter has gotten stronger over the last week thanks to some its hard counters declining. However, Mech Paladin is another oppressive matchup that’s likely to become more common in the future. Out of the three Hunter archetypes, it might be the most vulnerable one.
Quest Hunter has received a big upgrade at the 4-mana slot with Sky Gen’ral Kragg, and while the card has only been released a couple of days ago, it’s very likely that it should be included (and we’ll know for sure next week). Licensed Adventurer allows us to cheat it out a turn earlier, which can be very powerful. We dropped Sea Giants into tech options not because they’re no longer good, but because they’re too uncommon for us to confidently evaluate. If you’re not interested in crafting Halazzi and Flark for this deck, Sea Giants (or Bone Wraiths) are easy replacements.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Highlander Hunter
- Face Hunter
- Quest Hunter
Life outside of the top 3 classes exists, but can be fairly difficult, as shown by Warlock’s latest developments.
Control Warlock has held onto its modest presence thanks to its good Rogue and Druid matchups. Its biggest issues are Hunter and hard control decks that can grind it out, such as Highlander Mage. It shined when the meta was exceedingly focused on Rogue, but ended up declining when the field diversified away from its good matchup.
Zoo Warlock is beginning to struggle with matching the top meta decks. We’ve seen non-Galakrond builds emerge to accelerate the pace and gain percentages against Embiggen Druid. However, cutting Galakrond worsens some of the deck’s other matchups, so we’re unsure whether this is a good move and will wait another week before making a clearer determination.
Handlock is in danger of completely fading out of the meta due to major problems facing both Hunters and Rogues. The deck doesn’t really have a common matchup that it can depend on, leading to its spiraling win rate.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Zoo Warlock
- Hand Warlock
- Control Warlock
Highlander Mage has a decent showing in Arlington, and as often is the case, success in tournament play often leads us to wonder about a deck’s prospects on ladder. We’re here to diffuse that enthusiasm.
On ladder, Highlander Mage cannot ban Hunter (or Rogue), and Hunter’s presence is overwhelmingly crippling to Mage’s win rate. While the featured build can give Rogue a close matchup, it’s not guaranteed to beat it with any consistency either. As we’ve highlighted before, a deck’s success on ladder is highly dependent on its ability to match up to the top three classes. A deck that miserably loses to one of them is unlikely to be able to boast a positive win rate overall.
Until the meta drastically changes and displays an unlikely decline in Hunters, Mage will remain a viable tournament class with a ban, but a fairly weak class on ladder.
Embiggen Druid truly shattered Warrior’s dreams. While the nerf to Scion of Ruin certainly affected the performance of Galakrond Warrior to the point it was no longer dominant, it was the rise of Druid that hurt it most. This matchup is too difficult and too common for Warrior to be able to thrive. The best way to adjust to Druid’s presence is by running Frothing Berserkers to give us early game blow out potential.
Meanwhile, other Warrior decks are also fading. Highlander Warrior looks mediocre while Pirate Warrior has completely fallen out of favor. Not a good time for Garrosh.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Galakrond Warrior
- Highlander Warrior
- Pirate Warrior
Priest has had an uneventful week, and what’s been said last week is true today. Resurrect Priest is a serviceable ladder deck that’s extremely polarizing and stronger at lower ranks than it is at legend, where the Rogue population is particularly high compared to the number of Embiggen Druids.
Combo Priest is an underplayed deck that’s stronger than Resurrect Priest at higher levels of play. It doesn’t fold to Rogue and performs quite well against Embiggen Druid, so we wonder why it isn’t being played more. Traditionally, it’s an archetype that’s always been more common at legend than outside of it because of how stressful its decision making can be, so this might have something to do with it.
Paladin’s fortunes are changing. Knowledge of Mech Paladin’s strong performance against the field has spread, and its rise in play has not negatively affected its win rate at all. Mech Paladin’s matchup spread just looks very good: it beats down Druid (one of the best counters to Embiggen), Hunter and Warlock in impressive fashion. Its most notable weakness is its Rogue matchup, which might be why its popularity at legend is lower. However, those slightly unfavorable matchups do not come close to offsetting its many advantages, which is why it looks strong at all levels of play.
The build we’ve settled on last week looks right. Faceless Corruptor is a trap card for this deck since it can be awkward to have a token target on turn 5 and 6 when Paladin generally wants to go tall through magnetic buffs.
No signs of life for Shaman. The Fist of Ra-den hasn’t sparked any build we can consider to be competitively viable. We’ve seen Galakrond Shaman experiment with Totemic Smash as a 1-mana spell to enable Spirit of the Frog chains, and while the card seems to perform well, it cannot lift the archetype from the dumpster it’s in. Aggressive Shaman decks see very little play, so it’s difficult to tell how good, or how bad, they can be. Just another sad week for Shaman without too much to tell.
Embiggen Druid may have risen in popularity to the point it’s overplayed, and if you need to convince your fellow Hearthstone players to switch away from it, just queue up Mech Paladin and inflict misery upon them.
It also helps that Mech Paladin does well in most other matchups, such as classes that aren’t Rogue. Indeed, the reason why Mech Paladin might not be too popular is its struggle against Rogue. However, even at legend where Rogues are most prevalent, Mech Paladin remains one of the best performing decks in the meta.
And hey… it’s a Tier 1 deck that isn’t Rogue, Hunter or Druid, so we pretty much have to feature it in this section.
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