vS Data Reaper Report #154

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from 30,000 games.

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Welcome to the 154th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 2,700 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!

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Class/Archetype Distribution | Class Frequency | Matchup Winrates | vS Power Rankings | vS Meta Score | Class Analysis & Decklists | Meta Breaker of the Week | How to Contribute | Credits

Number of Games

Overall 30,000
Legend 3,000
Ranks 1-4 11,000
Ranks 5-9 13,000
Ranks 10-14 3,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

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Class Frequency

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Class Frequency Discussion

With chapter 4 released a couple of days ago, we’re close to a full analysis of the meta with the entire set of Galakrond’s Awakening available. As usual, we will analyze the meta of the previous week’s chapter 3.  We’re aware that Chapter 4 has multiple cards that could potentially be very powerful in multiple archetypes, so while we will only be able to provide our data-driven verdict on them next week, in this report we provide some guidance on where they might eventually land in each class’ respective section.

Chapter 3 has brought about another remarkable transformation of the meta, as the Hunter class looks like the biggest winner of the week. The highly successful and diverse class has eclipsed both Druid and Rogue at higher levels of play, and it’s done so in spectacular fashion: its play rate has increased by 60% at ranks 4-1, and by 90% at legend.

Rotnest Drake has made a big impact in elevating interest in Highlander Hunter, while birthing a new aggressive archetype in Dragon Hunter. Dragon Hunter is still in an experimentation phase, so data related to it won’t be too informative on its first week, but we will have an estimate regarding its potential power level. As for Quest Hunter, Sky Gen’ral Kragg has given the archetype the “publicity” it needed to rise in popularity. We’ve already shown in the last couple of weeks that Quest Hunter was a top tier deck, but it was mostly ignored by the player base. Kragg made sure Quest Hunter couldn’t be ignored any longer.

The Druid boom of Chapter 2 caused a drastic decline in Rogue, and now the Hunter boom of Chapter 3 has caused a milder decline. Galakrond Rogue is holding firm as the most popular deck at legend, while Highlander Rogue is beginning to look a little shakey. There is also an important development in Galakrond Rogue, which is the emergence of a new variant that utilizes the Bazaar Burglarly quest strictly to activate quest payoff cards: Questing Explorer, Licensed Adventurer and Sky Gen’ral Kragg. We’ll talk about that later.

What goes up, must come down, and that’s the main story for Embiggen Druid. Last week, we could tell that the deck has saturated ladder, and its play rate has now drastically crashed down: 40% drop at ranks 4-1 and 65% drop at legend. What’s interesting is the meteoric rise of Quest Druid at higher levels of play. It has instantly become the most popular Druid deck at legend! We’ve hinted that its new non-dragon variant looked very promising, so we’ll have to see how it performs after taking over the archetype.

Last week’s Meta Breaker, Mech Paladin has substantially risen in play. It continues to be more popular outside of legend, where it enjoys strong matchups against Druids and Hunters. At legend, players are still more wary of Rogues.

Warlock is becoming less diverse. Only Control Warlock has managed to stabilize in the Hunter meta. Handlock has nearly disappeared, while Zoo is also showing signs of a collapse, which we’ll need to confirm later.

Other than Hunter and Druid, Priest is another class that’s in transition. Galakrond Resurrect Priest builds that exclude the quest are beginning to take over the archetype, and this variant has attracted more interest, even at legend where the deck is usually frowned upon.

Mage, Warrior, and Shaman are stagnating and there’s very little to say about them. Highlander Mage, Highlander Warrior, and Galakrond Warrior have proven to be underwhelming ladder choices recently, while Shaman’s got nothing going for it.

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vS Meta Score

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vS Power Rankings Discussion

Quest Hunter is now the best performing deck in the game. While it was already at Tier 1 last week, its win rate has improved further thanks to the addition of Sky Gen’ral Kragg, which has proven to be an incredible card for the deck.

Hunter is spoilt for choices. Highlander Hunter remains an excellent performer at all levels, while it’s very likely that Dragon Hunter will also find itself at Tier 1 in next week’s Power Ranking table. Face Hunter is the only hard counter to Quest Hunter, but the deck’s win rate has suffered this week due to the rise in play of a couple of its own hard counters (Mech Paladin, Resurrect Priest).

Mech Paladin is holding up well and hasn’t dropped out of Tier 1 despite the decline of Embiggen Druid, one of its stronger matchups. The deck thrives in the current meta because it performs well against Hunters, especially those of the more aggressive kind.

Galakrond Rogue has enjoyed the decline of Embiggen Druid, though it might be worried about another Druid deck gaining traction which we’ll talk about in a moment. For now, its performance on ladder is even slightly sub-optimal due to the increasing popularity of the Quest variant, yet it’s still Tier 1 at all levels of play. Highlander Rogue has crashed below the 50% mark and we genuinely question whether it has a place in the meta because almost everything it does, Galakrond Rogue does better.

Embiggen Druid was overplayed, took a lot of heat for it and now dramatically dropped in its win rate at all levels of play. This is a combination of increased meta hostility (such as the rise in Mech Paladin), the increase in popularity of tech cards targeting Druid (Dragonmaw Poacher) and subsequently, worsening matchups against many of the top decks in the meta, such as Galakrond Rogue (Druid still looks favored but it gets close at higher ranks).

Even though Token Druid currently displays the highest win rate, we believe that Quest Druid may eventually turn out to be the strongest Druid deck. Just look at the monumental rise in its win rate (nearly 4% at legend within a week is remarkable). This rise in win rate is still ongoing, so even though the current snapshot of its standing and matchup spread looks underwhelming, it’s rapidly improving every day. We wouldn’t be surprised to see it flirt with a Tier 1 win rate next week at legend, because Quest Druid is shaping up to be the strongest Galakrond Rogue counter yet. The only thing that could theoretically stop such a surge is the arrival of Frenzied Felwing.

Resurrect Priest remains okay through most of ladder, but it’s still a deck you generally don’t want to take to legend ladder because of its Rogue matchup.

We’ve talked about a monumental rise in win rate, how about a monumental collapse? Zoo Warlock has fallen into the dumpster this week, broken by the huge meta shift that saw the Hunter class rise to the top (Zoo performs terribly against every Hunter deck). While not shown in the table, Handlock has similarly collapsed in its performance, which is why it has disappeared. Control Warlock is surviving in relative terms but is also weakened. Chapter 3 was not good for Gul’dan.

Highlander Mage is a major victim of the Chapter 3 shift that saw its counter class, Hunter, rise to the top of the meta. You couldn’t make up a worse outcome for this deck if you tried.

Class Analysis & Decklists

Druid | Hunter | Mage | Paladin | Priest | Rogue | Shaman | Warlock | Warrior

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Chapter 3 of Galakrond’s Awakening, introducing Rotnest Drake and Sky Gen’ral Kragg, has pushed a class that was already very successful into the most dominant position in the meta. Hunter is spoiled for options with several competitive archetypes that make top tier choices for ladder.

Highlander Hunter has embraced Rotnest Drake, and the card has quickly emerged as a top performer and an auto-include. Deadly Shot is already a good card, but adding a 6/5 body for just two additional mana is bonkers. Boompistol Bully has actually not looked that great and we would only consider it to be a tech option if you’re running into an overwhelming number of Rogues or other Galakrond decks (Warrior, Warlock). It’s very weak outside of these matchups. We’ve upgraded Leeroy into a flex card rather than a tech card because it performs well in the increasingly common Hunter mirrors where it helps you race for lethal. It was less effective when the most popular matchups by far were Galakrond Rogue and Embiggen Druid.

Rotnest Drake has also sparked experimentation with non-Highlander Dragon Hunter. This archetype has popped up with a noticeable play rate and could replace Face Hunter as the aggressive Hunter deck of choice. Both Stormhammer and Rotnest Drake work incredibly well in the build, allowing you to continuously pressure your opponent.

Sky Gen’ral Kragg was the wake-up call needed to bring Quest Hunter into more people’s attention. The archetype is now growing in popularity while improving its performance to become the best performing deck in the game. While we know that Quest Hunter was already a Meta Breaker waiting to happen a couple of weeks ago, Kragg has given it another boost in its win rate which even exceeded our expectations. It is the very best card in the deck.

Chapter 4 notes: Escaped Manasaber looks like a great fit for Highlander Hunter, as the deck is missing a strong turn 4 play. Frenzied Felwing might be added by every Hunter deck that isn’t Quest Hunter.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Galakrond Rogue is one of the strongest decks in the game, but the archetype’s win rate could have been higher this week, if not for a growing trend to run the Bazaar Burglarly quest in it.

This idea initially came from China. The deck never intends to complete the quest, but use it in order to activate Questing Explorer, Licensed Adventurer and now, Sky Gen’ral Kragg. Several pros and streamers are convinced this is actually a good idea. Mind-blowing.

Starting the game a card down is not offset by a Questing Explorer. It’s as if you played a River Crocolisk in regular Galakrond Rogue and got back the card you initially gave up for no reason, and this is the best-case scenario for the deck on turn 2! On average, by the time you’ve drawn and played two of the quest payoff cards, you have spent a critical portion of the game with less cards and less options in general. Though you could logically shoot down this variant without looking at data, we did look at the data, and this Questionable Rogue would likely be Tier 3 or 4 if it was classified as its own archetype.

The only matchup in which Questionable Rogue outperforms the featured standard build is Quest Druid, but that’s not because of the “payoff” cards, it’s because Questing Adventurer is utilized in the variant. If you want to perform better against Quest Druid, just play Questing Adventurer in your normal Galakrond Rogue and we guarantee you’re better off starting the game with the extra card rather than the coin that Licensed Adventurer occasionally give you (Reminder: Umbral Skulker was widely agreed to not be good enough in this archetype).

Chapter 4 notes: Galakrond Rogue will strongly consider Escaped Manasaber. Frenzied Felwing will spark experiments with an aggressive Rogue deck that runs Hooked Scimitar and Waggle Pick.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Druid is undergoing big changes. Embiggen Druid has seen its numbers decline across the board, both in its play rate and its win rate. This is a result of increasing meta hostility that we’ve already seen signs of in last week’s report, and Hunter receiving more attention after the release of chapter 3 in Galakrond’s Awakening.

Meanwhile, the promising non-dragon variant of Quest Druid has skyrocketed in popularity to become the most popular Druid deck at higher levels of play. We’ve also seen Cenarius make its return to the deck. Since the card was previously absent from the archetype, we couldn’t speculate how good it might be. With its play rate rising, it’s become clear that Cenarius is core to the deck and one of Quest Druid’s best cards.

We’ve also had a chance to evaluate Sky Gen’ral Kragg, and while not as impressive, he’s certainly good enough to be included and performs particularly well against Hunters. We’ve cut Worthy Expeditions from the deck to make room for these two, while Phaoris remains an option if you want an even stronger late game.

Chapter 4 notes: A couple of cards are borderline but probably not going to be good enough for Quest Druid (Beetle, Manasaber). Embiggen Druid will be very interested in Felwing.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock is transitioning into a less diverse class, with only Control Warlock maintaining a stable play rate while both Zoo and Handlock are declining.

Control Warlock is surviving in the meta since it has close matchups against all of the top meta decks. While it doesn’t beat any with conviction, the fact it isn’t crippled by either Rogue, Druid or Hunter is already an achievement considering the state of other decks in the “bottom 6” classes. We’ve seen Bad Luck Albatross rise in play and replace Fiendish Rites, a move influenced by recent tournament builds that looks to have some justification.

Zoo Warlock’s win rate is declining due to the decline of Embiggen Druid, the one matchup it relied upon most for success. Galakrond and non-Galakrond builds are equally mediocre. The rise of Quest Hunter, which completely obliterate Zoo with ease, is very bad news for the archetype’s future prospects. It might completely die out soon enough.

Handlock is hardly even playable at the moment. The rise of Hunter has been backbreaking for the archetype and put the final nail in the coffin for a deck that was already struggling against two of the three most popular classes.

Chapter 4 notes: Chaos Gazer is an idea for Control Warlock, but not a surefire winner. Grand Lackey Enkh would have been interesting in Handlock if the deck wasn’t dead. Zoo, like every aggressive deck, will look to add Felwing.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Remember what we said about Mage’s greatest struggle against the Hunter class and how it prays and wishes for a decline in its numbers? The worst has happened, and not only is Hunter going nowhere, but it is also now establishing itself as the top class in the format.

This means that Mage’s position in the meta has only worsened, and we really can’t see it having consistent success on ladder unless you either dodge Hunters or constantly outplay them. Possible for some, not so much for most.

Chapter 4 notes: Escaped Manasaber has good synergy with Highlander Mage’s gameplan. The Amazing Reno better be amazing.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Mech Paladin won’t mind current meta developments. The deck performs very well against the Hunter class and only finds greater resistance against Quest Hunter, which is an even matchup. Any shift away from Rogue is generally good news for Mech Paladin, although we feel that the matchup is not as bad as it is often perceived. We’re talking about a 60-40, not some Quest Rogue vs. Odd Warrior type of affair. Even though Rogue is quite popular, that is not going to offset the countless strong matchups Mech Paladin has on ladder.

Chapter 4 notes: Shotbot will probably replace two of the flex slots in Mech Paladin.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Warrior has stagnated, and while there are a few memes being experimented with, the established archetypes haven’t shown significant movement. In terms of builds, there isn’t much to tell. We keep saying Battle Rage is bad. People keep playing it. We’re just waiting for a new deck to come out from China that runs the Hack the System quest alongside Explorer/Adventurer/Kragg and the circle will be complete.

Chapter 4 notes: Frenzied Felwing could be a great fit for Galakrond Warrior since it has, in theory, perfect synergy with its hero card.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

While most of the bottom six classes have fallen asleep when it comes to development, Resurrect Priest has had a major breakthrough with a non-quest Galakrond build taking over. What’s interesting is that the small Galakrond package (Time Rip and Galakrond) isn’t performing to the level of a core package, but it might be stronger than the conditional removal that’s available to the class. Taking out the quest may also be a factor in the variant’s success, as the extra card at the start of the game could be more important in the current meta than the reward’s impact in the late game. Bad Luck Albatross is another card that’s a symptom of early game importance. It’s good on turn 3 while falling off late, and we’ve noticed it has gotten stronger over time as a result.

Chapter 4 notes: Priest doesn’t excite us too much here. Escaped Manasaber could allow Resurrect Priest to curve into a Khartut Defender the next turn. That’s not bad, but probably a stretch.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Shaman sucks.

Chapter 4 notes: Shaman will still suck.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

We think Quest Hunter is the best deck in the game and the most reliable ladder climber if you’re interested in something that can beat pretty much any deck out there (the only exception is Face Hunter). Sky Gen’ral Kragg is really, really good.

Another apt Meta Breaker choice for the week is Quest Druid. It’s an excellent answer to Galakrond Rogue and unless aggressive strategies that can punish this archetype’s passive early game really rise in prominence due to Frenzied Felwing, it should have a good standing in the meta.

The Quest Druid list kinda builds itself with the exception of King Phaoris. Phaoris is strong in the mirror and in slower matchups, which is more relevant at legend, but not so much for the rest of ladder at the moment. This might change in the future if Quest Druid starts trickling down to all levels of play, so keep an eye out for the King.


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1 Comment

  1. I legit laughed out loud when I read the “Questionable Rogue” part…
    Also it seems that your prophecy about quest Hunter was right.
    Great analysis overall !

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