Welcome to the 156th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
Hunter continues its transitioning phase. Dragon Hunter is chipping away at Highlander Hunter’s popularity, significantly overtaking it as the most dominant archetype within the class. Quest and Face Hunter are very niche compared to the two dragon decks.
Rogue has risen in popularity, with Galakrond Rogue nearing 20% of the field at legend. Last week’s decline in Druid was good for the class, and the player base has responded. Even though Highlander Rogue has not been performing at nearly the same level, its presence is maintained and it’s not showing signs of fading yet due to some individual top legend success that’s keeping it in the news.
Another transition is happening in Druid. Quest Druid is rising in play, which is likely a response to the rise of Galakrond decks, while Embiggen Druid is declining. After its initially dominant entrance to the field and the meta’s ruthless response, Embiggen Druid saw its performance drastically decline. Players are flocking to the hotter midrange smasher in Dragon Hunter for an efficient climb instead.
Warrior is continuing its dramatic rise in play, with Galakrond Warrior emerging to be a strong player in the format. Highlander Warrior is also slightly rising in popularity after being touted as a reliable counter to aggressive decks of all kinds.
The Highlander Mage hype is beginning to fade just a bit. Its play rate is declining outside of legend, where Hunter’s overbearing presence must be frustrating to Mage players. At legend, Highlander Mage looks stable in what is likely to be a more favorable meta (less Dragon Hunters, more Quest Druids).
Mech Paladin is in decline, which could be the result of Warrior’s rise, as Paladin does not match up well against either Warrior deck. Its play rate at legend has always been lower, but now it is particularly low. The increased popularity of both Rogue and Warrior is likely scaring players away from queuing it up.
Priest is unmoving and is largely focused on its Resurrect archetype. At this stage, the non-quest Galakrond variant is significantly more popular than the quest build, and we’ve seen this trend continuously improve Resurrect Priest’s performance against the field.
Warlock is stagnating, with none of its archetypes looking established in the current meta. Even Control Warlock, which has been hanging in there at higher levels, is currently in decline. One development we’ve found is the rise of Quest Warlock, running a new build focused on lackey synergy with Dark Pharaoh Tekahn and Grand Lackey Erkh.
Shaman looks dead in historical levels.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
For the first time since Journey to Un’Goro, there is no Tier 1 deck at legend! With the meta settling down in the aftermath of Galakrond’s Awakening, the field looks extremely balanced with many decks performing at a similar level that we can’t really separate. No strategy is too dominant, and every strategy seems to be kept in check by another. There is no real “best deck”. There are 6 different classes with archetypes boasting a positive win rate, while the 7th class (Mage) is very close to getting there.
With that being said, we do want to talk about the decline in Galakrond Rogue’s win rate. It is likely that Rogue is indeed stronger than its win rate currently suggests because of the perils of netdecking. A couple of players hit top legend ranks by cutting SN1P-SN4P and Zilliax for Skyvateers, and those lists have spread and are ironically more prominent at legend since high-level players are quicker to take up new lists.
Of course, cutting SN1P-SN4P did not contribute to these players’ success. They just happened to do well despite this substitution because they were playing Galakrond Rogue in a small sample size. We’ll say it very clearly: SN1P-SN4P and Zilliax are completely nuts in the current meta and cutting them is wrong. This is another case of players overvaluing card draw in favor of strong tempo plays.
Dragon Hunter continues to outperform Highlander. It is stronger against Druid, Mage, Priest and other Hunters (including the direct mirror). Highlander Hunter does have its advantages, which is handling Rogue and Warrior better, so both decks have a place in the meta. Dragon Hunter just happens to enjoy a more favorable field at the moment and displays the higher weighted win rate as a result.
Quest Hunter’s win rate has fallen hard due to Galakrond Warrior’s rise. Outside of Face Hunter, this is the most difficult challenge that Quest Hunter can face. In an otherwise green/neutral matchup spread, Quest Hunter now faces a red box that’s growing more popular every day.
Druid is sending us mixed signals. Quest Druid is not looking great outside of legend, where Hunter is extremely popular. However, its performance vastly improves at legend because of its strong matchups against Galakrond decks. Both Rogue and Warrior are more popular here, so Quest Druid manages to gain a positive win rate. Embiggen Druid is still competitive, but it’s nowhere near dominant, and many of its matchups get worse at higher levels of play (hinting at a low skill ceiling). Token Druid is suffering from poor matchups against Galakrond decks.
Warrior’s looking good, and we think Galakrond Warrior has the potential to get even stronger once it finishes its refinement phase. Building Galakrond Warrior has been very interesting and challenging for everyone, but a few extra steps were made this week. We’re also impressed with Highlander Warrior. It performs well in aggressive metas that are often seen outside of legend. Rogue and Mage are its biggest issues, and they’re more popular at legend.
Just look at Priest go! Resurrect Priest is the top-performing deck at the 1-4 rank bracket. It has tremendously benefited from its own refinement, as well as meta trends. Priest players could not have wished for a better opponent to rise in prevalence, as Galakrond Warrior makes for easy prey. This is a 70-30 stomp, which is why Priest’s win rate got boosted so hard this week. It is genuinely one of the strongest decks in the format, and the biggest factors that keeps it from spinning out of control are Rogue and Mage. Much like Highlander Warrior, Resurrect Priest struggles to deal with the obscene mana cheating that these classes are capable of dishing out.
Highlander Mage is a pretty bad choice through most of ladder, but gets better at legend where the meta is more favorable. Dragon Hunter is simply a nightmare matchup that any Mage player would want to avoid in order to not want to delete his deck. If Hunters ever decline in popularity, that would be the time to watch out for Mage to really break out, but this may never happen in this expansion. In the tournament scene, we think Highlander Mage could well be top tier.
Mech Paladin continues to perform at a high level on the legend climb, but it does decline at legend where its biggest counters are more common (Warrior, Rogue). Paladin will be thankful it has a relevant and competitive deck in the current meta, something we struggle to say about the next two classes.
Warlock’s in trouble. Control Warlock doesn’t seem to handle the latest meta trends well. It performs poorly against Dragon Hunter, Mage and Warrior. Zoo continues to linger in Tier 3 despite making some gains this week. Handlock’s dead. Quest Warlock is Tier 4 because there is no Tier 6 to put it in.
AVENGERS INFINITY WAR SPOILERS (did you really not see this movie yet?):
Remember when Thanos made people disintegrate for the sake of balance? Thrall is Spiderman.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Galakrond Rogue is the most popular deck at higher levels of play. In a very competitive field, it’s also largely perceived to be the strongest because its matchup spread is well-rounded and it doesn’t have a matchup that feels impossible to win.
In terms of card selections, we’ve seen the rise of Galakrond Warrior influencing many Rogue players to include Boompistol Bully in their deck. The card is very powerful at shutting down Warrior and is also quite strong in the mirror. However, it’s an atrocious card against Hunter, Druid and most other classes. It’s a very polarizing card that’s situationally strong against two specific decks. This means it will usually not be one of the 30 best cards you could play throughout most of ladder (on average), but it can be very effective in spots so its usage has understandable merits.
Another card we’ve seen rise in play is Skyvateer, but it’s far less impressive as it is too focused on the early game while being a useless draw later. Builds that cut SN1P-SN4P and Zilliax for Skyvateer are missing the mark. SN1P-SN4P is strong against Rogue, Hunter, Warrior, and Druid, which are the four most popular classes in the format. It is also strong at all stages of the game. With Hunter being as popular as it, Zilliax is also a very strong performer. Don’t give up on those mechs. They’ve never been better.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Galakrond Rogue
- Highlander Rogue
- Malygos Rogue
Hunter isn’t losing any momentum, with three top tier archetypes. We’re seeing a shift from Highlander Hunter to Dragon Hunter, since the latter has been performing at a higher level recently
Dragon Hunter’s build is pretty much solidified, with another week confirming Big Ol’ Whelp to be superior to Lifedrinker. The only real flex slots are the secrets. Do we run 2 Snake Traps? So we run 1 Snake and 1 Freezing? We’ll explain what each is good at. Snake Trap is the better secret against Rogue and Druid. Freezing Trap is the better secret against Warrior and Hunter. With Warrior rising in popularity, Freezing Trap is becoming more competitive with Snake Trap, so we’ve opted for the 1 to 1 split this week. The other advantage of the split is that you can pull both secrets from your deck with one Phase Stalker even if your opponent didn’t activate the first pull.
Highlander Hunter has 33 common options that are good. Boompistol Bully has its moments, but as we’ve said in the Rogue section, it depends on meeting more Galakrond decks than the average. Faceless Corruptor is a nice swing card, but one that isn’t as strong in Highlander Hunter because it can be tough to activate it without drawing Desert Spear. We’ve seen builds that fit both in by cutting Phase Stalker and secrets, but Phase Stalker is too good. Deadly Shot and Kill Command are interchangeable, but Deadly Shot is superior against Rogue, Druid, and Warrior, while Kill Command is only better in the mirror.
Quest Hunter has taken a hit in its win rate due to the rise of Galakrond Warrior, which has become one of its most difficult matchups. On the other hand, Face Hunter gets absolutely destroyed by both Galakrond Warrior and Quest Druid, so it might be lights out our good ol’ Leper Gnomes.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Dragon Hunter
- Highlander Hunter
- Face Hunter
- Quest Hunter
Another week of analysis has given us new information about the refinement of Galakrond Warrior. After wondering last week about the disappearance of Eternium Rover, Monsanto has popularized a list that runs all six 1-drops while cutting all charge damage (Kor’kron, Leeroy) and Felwing. It’s performing very well and can be considered a breakthrough, confirming our suspicion that the Kor’kron/Felwing package was a burden to the deck that accentuated the deck’s inconsistency.
First of all, Rover should have never been cut in the first place. It is clearly a core card for multiple reasons:
- Rover is a natural 1-drop, which Risky Skipper isn’t and cannot replace. Skipper is a very powerful combo card that you want to draw later in the game, but it is actually surprisingly weak in the early game.
- Rover is strong in the late game because it is one of the best Galakrond pulls. There’s a misconception that you want charge minions to get buffed with Galakrond in order to kill your opponent. It’s more important to have cheap buffed minions that you can play on the same turn you play Galakrond (if it’s later than turn 7). Rover is an extremely good draw to help you stabilize after Galakrond for that reason.
- Rover makes both Risky Skipper and Battle Rage better cards. With 6 1-drops, Battle Rage is actually tolerable. The more consistent early game makes Battle Rage more forgiving to run since you’re running less situational cards. The additional cheap minions make it easier for you to combo Risky Skipper with Battle Rage in order to draw multiple cards, and the heavier emphasis on a strong early game makes card draw more necessary for late-game longevity.
- SN1P-SN4P is very powerful and becomes even more powerful with Rover. Never touch this card or think about cutting it in the current climate. It looks like a superior 3-drop to Bomb Wrangler, which is largely perceived to be undroppable.
This leaves us with new and interesting questions that mostly center on the absence of Leeroy. We can easily tell that Leeroy is a very good performer in the archetype, and we can also tell that without charge damage, both Inner Rage and Bloodworn Mercenary become much weaker.
This has led us to our featured build, which makes two changes from Monsanto’s. We add Leeroy and the 2nd Bloodsworn Mercenary, replacing one Bomb Wrangler and one Battle Rage. Mercenary becomes a far stronger card when Leeroy is available, while Bomb Wrangler drops in priority when SN1P-SN4P and Rovers are available. One Battle Rage becomes acceptable when we’re running 6 1-drops, but we never want to draw more than one Battle Rage during a game. The second copy is almost always useless.
While Galakrond Warrior has sparked a lot of interesting discussion, we can no longer ignore that Warrior has another very competitive deck in Highlander Warrior. It is extremely powerful against aggressive decks and can even outlast Quest Druid and Resurrect Priest. Its main problem is Highlander Mage, which not only has the resources to pressure the Warrior, but Galaxy to overwhelm it with absurd mana cheating. Thankfully for the deck, Mage is a little bit overhyped on ladder, so Highlander Warrior’s future looks pretty solid. With recent data and its increasing popularity, we’ve updated the build to include Boom Squad and Grand Lackey Erkh, which are a little faster and stronger than the Dragon Roar/Voone combo.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Galakrond Warrior
- Highlander Warrior
The rise of Galakrond Warrior has solidified Quest Druid’s role in the current meta. It is the ultimate killer of Galakrond decks, boasting significantly favored matchups against both Rogue and Warrior. Needless to say, many players have taken advantage of these matchups to hit top legend ranks, and opinions on Quest Druid have become more favorable, though it is still a little polarizing and matchup dependent. Dragon Hunter, Mech Paladin and Highlander Mage are not fun opponents to run into.
A new build has emerged thanks to Viper’s experimentation with the archetype, running the Bees/Gloop combo. Gloop is very powerful in this build because it can enable massive tempo swings through Starfall/Bee turns. The build also runs Power of the Wild due to its synergy with Bees, and Worthy Expedition as a soft late game card. We want to point out that Expedition is a late-game card, and not a card you keep in your opening hand to play on turn 2. Find the cards that reliably win you games instead (like Oasis Surger and Nourish).
We’re featuring both the Innervate build and the Gloop build. There’s not much performance difference between them, and their matchup spreads are very similar. They’re just stylistically different. The Innervate build is more defensively minded and can take more punishment, like a Tank. The Gloop build is faster and more aggressive, like a Fighter Jet. Do you want to drive a tank or fly a plane?
- Druid Class Radar
- Quest Druid
- Embiggen Druid
- Token Druid
Not much has been said about Mage that hasn’t been said already. Highlander Mage would have been a far stronger ladder deck if not for its atrocious Hunter matchups. It is a hard counter to Quest Druid, and has relatively close matchups with Galakrond decks (though still slightly unfavored due to burn damage potential). It finds success at higher levels of play when Quest Druid thrives on beating Galakrond decks and Hunters take a break. In short, you gotta be a little lucky to dodge Hunters in order to feel good about queuing Mage.
Not much has changed in the build either, and there’s always one card that feels a little too good to cut. We’ve seen players cut Khartut Defender, and we largely disagree with this move due to its importance against Hunter, Rogue and now, Warrior. We’ve seen players cut Mountain Giant, but Giant is a very powerful card in the deck. Stargazer Luna feels too good because of her late-game blowout potential. Escaped Mana Saber feels too good because of its synergy with Reno and Dragoncaster. Orange recently had success by cutting Flamestrike, and we think there could be justification for it due to the arrival of a superior late-game board clear in the Amazing Reno.
Warlock’s somewhat depressing decline continues. Handlock’s gone. Zoo is pretty much irrelevant, and Control Warlock is barely surviving in a meta that’s becoming increasingly hostile.
There are also no real developments that we can speak of. We can see Control Warlock switching back to Bad Luck Albatross over Chaos Gazer, but both Zoo and Handlock seem to have completely run out of ideas on how to improve. We’ve seen Zoo experiment with Frenzied Felwing, but the card is actually not very good in the deck.
The situation is so desperate that Gul’dan is beginning to meme. Quest Warlock has grown in popularity due to the individual success of a couple of players utilizing a lackey build with Grand Lackey Erkh. This is a solid Tier 6 deck. We don’t feature Tier 6 decks, unless the class is so bad that we’re keeping one token decklist for it out of good will (*cough* Shaman).
Priest looks quite strong in the current meta. There’s the obvious Rogue problem, and Highlander Mage is also a pain, but Resurrect Priest performs pretty well against Hunter, Druid, and Warrior. In fact, it is the hardest counter in the game to Galakrond Warrior, so it very much enjoys the recent surge in this deck’s popularity. This matchup is as easy as the Face Hunter matchup. If you hate playing against Resurrect Priest, you might consider thanking Valeera for keeping them at bay. They’d be everywhere if Rogue wasn’t one of the most dominant classes in the meta.
What we’ve said last week about Resurrect Priest’s build is also true today. The quest is bad, so don’t play it. Not playing is what got Resurrect Priest to where it is today. Grave Rune is very good. Sandhoof Waterbearer is not necessary.
Mech Paladin has slightly weakened over the past couple of weeks due to the rise of Warrior, which makes the Rogue matchups look tame in comparison. Since Quest Druids and Hunters are still around, Paladin should remain a strong ladder option, but its matchup spread doesn’t look as ridiculous as it did a few weeks ago.
Other Paladin archetypes are dead. It is a bit unfortunate that Paladin is usually relegated to play an aggressive tribal deck as the only way to remain competitive. It might just be the class’ flavor, but we do sometimes wish it had an actual late-game to build towards.
Imagine Control Paladin being a deck.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Mech Paladin
- Holy-Wrath Paladin
Imagine Shaman being a class.
Galakrond Warrior is rising and being hyped up as the next big thing. That’s a great time to play Resurrect Priest and make people miserable.
Of course, Resurrect Priest can’t be considered a narrow counter deck anymore. It’s good against many classes and many popular strategies. It only has serious issues dealing with Rogue and Mage. The deck can’t handle Galakrond the Nightmare and Luna’s Pocket Galaxy. The pressure that results from these cards is too much for a deck that’s focused on doing one good thing at a time.
But on the legend climb, you will find Priest to be surprisingly efficient.
If you told us we’d feature Resurrect Priest in the meta breaker section a month ago, we would have called you crazy, but this is a crazy meta.
Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.
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