Welcome to the 155th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
Galakrond’s Awakening is finally over, and the entire set is now available on ladder. The last week of the adventure has seen yet another big meta shift, once again involving the Hunter class. Dragon Hunter has spiked in popularity and has become the most popular Hunter deck at all levels of play. With all of the attention and focus placed on Dragon Hunter, we’ve seen the other three Hunter decks decline in play.
Druid’s fall continues. Embiggen Druid is still very popular at lower ranks, but the higher you climb ladder, the less of it you see. At legend, its presence is very modest. Quest Druid’s momentum at higher levels of play seems to have been halted by Hunter’s rise as well.
We can see a small decline in Rogue this week, but Galakrond Rogue is still the most popular deck in the format at legend while Highlander Rogue’s play rate has stabilized. While there have been experiments with new cards, Rogue has not been too receptive to them compared to other classes.
Paladin is rising in play thanks to the continued success of Mech Paladin and its strong matchups against Hunter. Other Paladin archetypes haven’t been able to gain a footing in the current meta.
Mage has risen in play the most this week, doubling its prevalence at most rank brackets. The Amazing Reno sparked increased interest in Highlander Mage, a deck that’s been struggling under the weight of Hunter’s domination.
Chapter 4 has brought about a surge of Galakrond Warriors at legend, backed by the additions of Risky Skipper and Frenzied Felwing. It’s very likely that this rise in play is also supported by Embiggen Druid’s fall, with their play rates perfectly (and negatively) correlating throughout ladder.
The transition in Resurrect Priest continues, as players switch off their quest builds into non-quest builds running the small Galakrond package. Warlock and Shaman have been uneventful.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Dragon Hunter has entered the Power Ranking at Tier 1, which is what we expected to see after examining its smaller sample last week. The archetype looks very powerful, with only Mech Paladin proving to be a consistent counter to it at the moment. However, we do expect the meta to adjust to it much like it’s adjusted to Embiggen Druid, and there are a couple of decks that should gain significant percentages against Dragon Hunter within the next couple of weeks.
Speaking of Embiggen Druid, the deck’s power level has been dramatically curbed and it’s not even a great ladder choice anymore, especially at ranks 4-1 where players are heavily focused on countering it with either their deck choices (Paladin, Priest) or their tech choices (Poacher).
Highlander Hunter has fallen behind Dragon Hunter because of their direct matchup, in which Dragon is significantly favored. Hunter mirrors are usually about racing, and Dragon Hunter is the faster deck with the more consistent curve. Highlander Hunter does not look redundant, however. We expect to see meta developments that may close the gap between the two, so Highlander Hunter should remain a pillar of the format.
Galakrond Warrior’s win rate is spiking hard. The archetype has benefited from the decline of its biggest nemesis in Druid. At legend, it is closing on a Tier 1 win rate. Considering that it’s deep in a refinement stage and its common builds aren’t close to being optimal yet, it definitely has the potential to get there.
While Quest Hunter has found itself ignored once again, it is still performing at a remarkable level and might be forever underrated. Meanwhile, Face Hunter is beginning to struggle for relevance. Dragon Hunter is similarly aggressive, but its game plan isn’t as easily countered. The emergence of Galakrond Warrior also has the potential to erase Face Hunter from the competitive field. Much like in the early days of DoD, this matchup is a classic ‘bottom right’, and it should only get worse for the Hunter.
Last week, Quest Druid had a clear path to becoming a Tier 1 deck, but Dragon Hunter’s rise has put the breaks on this dream. This matchup is turning out to be quite difficult since Druid struggles to clear the Hunter’s mid-sized minions and Hunter’s pressure can persevere through the Druid’s massive life gain. Quest Druid also struggles against Highlander Mage, which we’ve seen dramatically rise in popularity.
Galakrond Rogue has benefited from recent meta trends that saw Druid decline. While Hunter does provide resistance to the archetype, Galakrond Rogue prefers to run into Hunter over Druid, and many of its Hunter matchups improve at higher levels. The deck should also not be concerned with Galakrond Warrior potentially establishing itself as a top tier deck. All Rogue players care about is seeing Quest Druid gone.
Highlander Rogue seems to be getting worse every week. There’s almost no reason to play Highlander Rogue over Galakrond Rogue, unless you want a few extra percentages against Quest Druid, and that’s not enough to make up for the losses in many other matchups.
Highlander Mage has risen in play. It has also risen in its win rate at legend, and The Amazing Reno looks like a good addition to the deck. However, the meta is still extremely hostile to Highlander Mage. Dragon Hunter is a horrid matchup that’s on par with Face Hunter. Those dark red Hunter matchups just kill Mage’s win rate. We think Highlander Mage has a lot of potential in tournaments where Hunter can be banned, but in this ladder environment, it’s hard to have a good time unless you’re Apxvoid.
Resurrect Priest is improving at the pace in which the non-quest variant is taking over the archetype. This build is legitimately strong for ladder with only Rogue proving to be a huge barrier that prevents it from rising to the leading pack of decks.
Warlock is turning into a one-deck class. After the downfall of Handlock, Zoo is quickly following in its footsteps and is likely to eventually disappear. Control Warlock displays the potential to survive, but it’s still largely mediocre. Dragon Hunter is not a fun matchup for this deck.
Class Analysis & Decklists
It’s hard to argue against Hunter being the most versatile class in the game. After all, it has multiple top tier archetypes and feels like it can do no wrong. The boost of dragon synergy that came from Rotnest Drake was followed by Frenzied Felwing’s fantastic fit with the class.
Dragon Hunter benefitted the most from Galakrond’s Awakening, emerging into the scene just a couple of weeks ago and instantly jumping to Tier 1. Frenzied Felwing is crazy strong in this deck because it’s so easy to fully reduce its cost in the early game. To make space for Felwing, we cut a couple of secrets and kept the minimum 2 Snake Traps for Phase Stalker. We also noticed Big Ol’ Whelp seeing play in the deck and it might be a little stronger than Lifedrinker. The increased consistency of dragon synergy seems to beat Lifedrinker’s Felwing synergy here, though it’s close.
Highlander Hunter also received upgrades. We’re thoroughly impressed with Escaped Manasaber in this deck. Turn 4 is a weak spot for Hunter and Manasaber plugs it perfectly while also serving as a huge threat. If not killed within a turn, it can accelerate us into Brann or Siamat which is often game winning. Another turn 4 we’ve added is Evasive Feywing, which works well with Stormhammer. Dragonmaw Poacher is losing its effectiveness due to the ongoing decline in Embiggen Druid, while Deadly Shot looks stronger than Kill Command even though it doesn’t have a 6/5 attached to it.
Nothing has changed in Quest Hunter. The deck is still very strong but attention has been pulled away to Dragon Hunter over the past week. Face Hunter has declined because its role in the meta seems to be occupied by a stronger alternative.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Highlander Hunter
- Dragon Hunter
- Face Hunter
- Quest Hunter
In shocking news that no one expected, Rogue is still a very strong class in the aftermath of Galakrond’s Awakening.
Galakrond Rogue has received a tempting new option to experiment with in Manasaber, but the cat doesn’t quite make the cut here because its competition is too strong. Both SN1P-SN4P and Zilliax are invaluable in a Hunter meta, while Faceless Corruptor scales better.
Manasaber does make the cut in Highlander Rogue, though it isn’t as strong as it is in other Highlander decks. Don’t be too desperate to keep it in your opening hand, especially in fast matchups where you might be run over by the time you can attack with it.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Galakrond Rogue
- Highlander Rogue
- Malygos Rogue
Druid’s momentum has been halted. Embiggen Druid is continuing to decline, especially at higher levels of play, after being heavily targeted by the meta. Quest Druid has also lost steam due to the rise of Dragon Hunter, a matchup that’s very different and much more difficult than Face Hunter.
We’ve seen Steel Beetle tested in Quest Druid, and it’s potentially stronger than Power of the Wild, but we would need another week of data in order to be 100% certain of it. We’re also beginning to lean towards Phaoris over Kragg, though the latter cannot be discounted as a very good card against Hunter. A card that started showing up in Token Druid is Rising Winds, and it looks like a decent fit for the deck. Could make the cut.
- Druid Class Radar
- Embiggen Druid
- Token Druid
- Quest Druid
Is Warrior headed for good days again? Chapter 4 has made a big impact in improving the performance of Galakrond Warrior and the deck is enjoying the decline in Druid, which has been its most problematic matchup on ladder.
Refining the deck over the past week hasn’t been easy and there are still a few questions left unanswered. Risky Skipper looks quite good, but it is a different 1-drop from Eternium Rover and shouldn’t be mindlessly played on curve. While most common builds have dropped Rover, we’re unsure whether it’s correct to cut it since Rover has consistently been a strong performer for the archetype and Skipper doesn’t replace Rover as a strong turn 1 play.
Another big question is Frenzied Felwing. On paper, it should be a strong card since Warrior is able to activate it in the early game thanks to invokes and it’s a very powerful draw off an upgraded Galakrond in the late game. However, it tends to accentuate the deck’s poor draws and looks a bit reliant on Kor’kron Elite’s presence in order to be consistent enough, and it’s possible that the deck would better off without this package.
The one sure thing is that Armorsmiths look essential in the current meta, as they have excellent synergy with Risky Skipper and are invaluable against Hunters. It’s quite difficult to beat Dragon Hunters without them. Leeroy offers a finishing option that gives you greater reach than Kor’kron Elite against Rogue, but the difference between them is marginal and as we said earlier, Kor’kron is an important enabler for Felwing.
In terms of card draw, it gets even trickier. We’ve noticed that Risky Skipper has improved the performance of Acolyte of Pain, and we think it’s the best card draw option for the deck. Acolyte can be dropped on turn 3, act as a threat, soak removal and not interfere with our curve. It will also draw the same number of cards as the average Battle Rage, and it can be effectively used with Risky Skipper as early as turn 4 without the need of having other minions in play.
Battle Rage continues to look like an inconsistent card even with Risky Skipper, and its improvement alongside it is surprisingly small despite the obvious synergy between them. It’s still too difficult to play efficiently at a reasonable time and stays dead in hand too often, but we’re keeping an open mind that it could turn out to be okay in a meta that’s slower than what we see right now.
A card we’re extremely curious about alongside Risky Skipper is Frothing Berserker, because from the little we’ve seen of it this week, it performs at a strong level. However, we haven’t seen enough experimentation to safely conclude whether it’d be a good choice today.
This is why we’re offering you two different lists. The first was reliably curated with the data we had available, and is similar to common builds that exist on ladder. The main flex spot here is Felwing, which can be swapped for Battle Rage if the meta you’re encountering is slow and more demanding of resources.
The second build is more theory-crafted and assumes that A. Rover is still a core card that was wrongfully cut. B. Frothing Berserker is a sleeper C. Kor’kron/Felwing package is actually a burden on the deck. Once again, the option is there to swap in Battle Rage (and a 2nd Mercenary) if the meta is slower and you need to find your burst combo to finish the game.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Galakrond Warrior
- Highlander Warrior
Mage has generated a lot of enthusiasm over the last week thanks to the release of the Amazing Reno.
This brings us to two important questions: 1. Is the Amazing Reno a worthwhile inclusion in the deck? 2. Did Highlander Mage get stronger, warranting its rise in play?
Yes and no. The Amazing Reno does look like a decent performer in the deck and worth running. It’s not at the level of the Highlander payoff cards, but it’s good enough. What it doesn’t do is help us against Hunter, which is the class that gives us the hardest time on ladder.
This is also the reason why we’re perplexed to see Khartut Defender declining in play. While both Escaped Manasaber and The Amazing Reno are understandable additions, cutting one of our best anti-Hunter cards looks like a grave mistake. Khartut Defender also has direct synergy with Manasaber on curve. We would cut Stargazer Luna instead. Much like in Highlander Rogue, do not fixate on Manasaber in your mulligan. It’s not a game-winner without game-winning follow-up.
Mech Paladin remains one of the stronger ladder decks in the game thanks to its strong matchups against Druid and Hunter. The higher presence of Rogue at legend curbs its performance and popularity at legend, but it’s still one of the stronger decks in the format.
The expected upgrade of Shotbot looks justified. The weakest performers in the build were Explodinator and Blessing of Kings, so they’re the ones which make way for the 2-drop. Clean and simple adjustment.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Mech Paladin
- Holy-Wrath Paladin
Warlock is in trouble, as it’s becoming clear that only one of its archetypes looks capable of surviving in the current meta. Handlock is dying out, while Zoo is also headed to oblivion.
Control Warlock has seen some experimentation with Chaos Gazer as an alternative 3-drop to Bad Luck Albatross. The experiment is a clear failure, as Chaos Gazer has proven to be a horrendously bad card. Both Albatross and Gazer aren’t very good in the late game, but Albatross is a strong early-game play while Chaos Gazer on 3 is a complete waste of time. The only good news is that once this experiment is abandoned, Control Warlock’s win rate should recover to some degree. It’s possible that this isn’t the deck for Chaos Gazer and the current aggressive Hunter meta does not suit it either, but it was interesting to see the results being so dramatically negative.
We can comfortably say that the quest is a liability in Resurrect Priest and that its reward is mostly irrelevant in the current landscape. It’s much more important to have extra resources in hand in order to survive, which is what the Galakrond build does with the extra card on turn 1. The upside of the Galakrond package mostly comes down to its removal. Time Rip is non-conditional, which Priest usually doesn’t have. The hero power and value engine isn’t as important.
What we’ve also noticed about the new variant is the performance of Sandhoof Waterbearer. It looks like a quest specific card that falls off in the non-quest build, so we’ve completely cut it. We added another Forbidden Words (more removal: good) and Grave Rune, as the latter is deceptively powerful in the current meta and a legitimate win condition against many decks.
It’s hard for us to evaluate Shaman and come up with any insights about the class, because when a class is in this kind of state, it’s filled with garbage. Think of searching for a treasure that’s buried in the middle of a thick and messy jungle. Even if that treasure existed (Unicorn Shaman), it’d be near impossible for us to actually find it in the current sample.
So, Shaman probably sucks, but even if it didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to tell at this point.
Dragon Hunter reshaped the meta over the past week and can be considered as the new deck to beat, but the most appropriate Meta Breaker choice for this week is Galakrond Warrior.
The archetype has enjoyed a massive surge in its win rate thanks to favorable meta developments that saw its Druid counters fall. The most important finding relevant to Galakrond Warrior’s Meta Breaking potential are its Hunter matchups.
Interestingly, when looking at current data, the deck does not appear to beat Dragon Hunter and is even slightly unfavored against Highlander Hunter. However, there is one key card that changes things, and it’s currently grossly underplayed.
We estimate that Armorsmith gains around 10% in the Dragon Hunter matchup compared to non-Armorsmith builds, turning it into a favorable one (~55-60%). It also gains 5% against Highlander Hunter, which helps Warrior break it close to 50-50. Armorsmith is also surprisingly effective against Rogue, as it is very annoying for them to remove.
Of course, there are still questions left to be answered when it comes to Galakrond Warrior’s refinement, which we’ve highlighted in the Warrior section.
Maybe next week, we’ll have more answers.
And by the way, a Wild Report is scheduled to be published this Sunday, on February 23rd. We know you’ve been waiting for too long.
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