Welcome to the 161st edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Diamond 4 to 1||22,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||27,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
It’s a new season, but the same adversary awaits us on our ladder climb. Demon Hunter has only grown more popular over the last week, displaying jaw-dropping numbers. Demon Hunter represents over 30% of the field at Diamond 4-1, with nearly all of it made up by Aggro Demon Hunter. The entire meta is focused on one thing, which is to find a way to beat Illidan.
Last week’s Meta Breaker, Enrage Warrior is the only deck that has shown the capability of consistently beating Aggro Demon Hunter. The archetype is rapidly rising in play, and we expect it to represent around 15% of the field at legend next week. At top legend, it’s obviously far more popular and warping. Generally, the higher you climb ladder, the more Warriors you see.
Rogue is the second most popular class in the game, but this position could be under threat from Warrior. Galakrond Rogue has stabilized and now mostly consists of the secret variant, while Highlander Rogue has declined in play after recently underperforming.
Hunter is rising further, with players beginning to appreciate the class’ strengths and versatility in the current meta. Face Hunter is the most popular archetype outside of legend, and it’s still largely comprised of outdated Porcupine builds. Highlander Hunter is more popular at legend, with players favoring its balanced matchup spread. Dragon Hunter has fully embraced Stonetusk Boars and nearly finished its refinement.
Priest is continuing its transition into Galakrond Priest, while we see less of the Highlander and Resurrect archetypes. Galakrond Priest is also still deep in refinement, with new builds making some bold and dramatic changes that we’ll talk about later.
Mage has slightly declined, with a couple of important meta developments to note. The first is the noticeable appearance of Puzzle-Box Mage, which is a control-ish shell that incorporates Dragoncasters alongside big spells. The second is the rise of Imprisoned Observer in Highlander Mage. After repeatedly alerting the community about the power level of this card, the message was finally registered and about 50% of Highlander Mages currently run it on ladder, largely thanks to BoarControl hitting #1 legend with the deck.
Warlock has flipped. Zoo is now the archetype you should expect to see more of compared to Control Warlock. Zoo is continuing to develop in a more degenerate direction every day, with Wolfriders making their return to the format thanks to the ridiculousness of Imprisoned Scrap Imp.
Druid is on a downward spiral. Its archetypes have stagnated and struggled to find any justification to be played. It’s not an unlikely scenario that Druid will be just as irrelevant as Paladin and Shaman are in the current meta. Paladin and Shaman, by the way, are currently fading from existence as players have pretty much given up on them.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
The changing of the guard has transpired. While Aggro Demon Hunter is the most popular deck in the game, Enrage Warrior is the best deck in the game. This is not a close call. Enrage Warrior’s dominance of Demon Hunter in the direct matchup is very profound, and its matchup spread against other classes is also extremely impressive. Only Priests provide an obstacle to Warrior’s complete and utter domination of the format.
Aggro Demon Hunter’s win rate has declined for multiple reasons. The rise of its direct counter is certainly a big factor, but we can see other archetypes also improving their performance against it. The meta is succeeding in making life a little harder for Illidan. However, we want to make it clear that we can only identify one (relevant) deck outside of Enrage Warrior with the potential capability of countering Demon Hunter consistently (read about it soon). Therefore, the deck’s matchup spread still remains quite ridiculous and there’s no doubt regarding how oppressive and warping it is. It just so happens that its direct counter is even more busted.
Galakrond Rogue has declined in its performance, and it’s running into one major issue in the current meta, which is striking a balance between the Demon Hunter and the Warrior matchups. It will be interesting to see if the archetype can find a solution. Highlander Rogue performs better against Warrior, but worse against Demon Hunter and many other decks, so its standing against the field just isn’t very strong.
Hunter is quite underrated considering how well its archetypes perform. Highlander Hunter is well-rounded against almost everything out there. Dragon Hunter is similarly powerful, though more vulnerable to Warrior. Face Hunter looks the weakest of the three, but we think it’s as strong as the other two, if not stronger.
Out of every archetype in the game, Face Hunter is the least refined. It displays a very large disparity in its performance across builds.
We estimate that the Teron/Porcupine/Mok’Nathal build that was popularized early in this expansion is just straight up garbage. This is still the most popular build on ladder today because very few players have been actively trying to refine the archetype.
The novel Stonetusk Boar/Imprisoned Felmaw build that we presented in last week’s report performs at a Tier 1 level. Remember when we mentioned finding another Demon Hunter counter a few paragraphs above? This is the counter. This specific list also counters Rogue while the common build goes 50-50 against it. It’s the real deal.
Highlander Mage has jumped to Tier 2 at legend, with well over a 1% increase in its win rate at this bracket. Its performance against Aggro Demon Hunter has improved by a few percentage points, and we estimate that Highlander Mage can rise further to a 45% win rate in this matchup, once everyone runs Imprisoned Observer. In addition, Highlander Mage is beginning to develop a noticeable and critical edge in the Warrior matchup, offering another answer to the best deck in the game. From a mediocre Tier 3 performer, Mage now looks like a potential sleeper with a strong matchup spread that is only limited by the Hunter class.
Zoo Warlock is another deck that’s doing better and better because it understands what must be done. Abusing Imprisoned Scrap Imp is what must be done. The recent builds running basic chargers look like a clear upgrade elevating Zoo into a positive win rate. Are you ready to ride?
Priest is in an interesting spot in the meta, and we want to discuss Galakrond Priest in more detail. You may wonder why it performs at a Tier 3 level while you’re hearing about how it’s fairly common in tournaments, how multiple players did well at top legend with it and so on.
Galakrond Priest’s success comes down to how many Warriors it meets. While Warrior is currently trending towards improving this matchup by a few percentages thanks to Grommash and cutting Teron/Eggs, we expect the matchup to settle at around 60-40 for the Priest considering that Priest is also going through refinements that positively impact the Warrior matchup.
Throughout most of ladder, Warrior is still not very popular. Rogue, a very difficult matchup for Priest, is far more prevalent. Galakrond Priest doesn’t beat Demon Hunter, doesn’t fare well against Mages and gets destroyed by non-Face Hunters. Its matchup spread in a field that isn’t completely flooded by Warriors just isn’t very good, so it’s not surprising that its weighted win rate is this low.
At top legend, you meet Warriors all the time. They could make up 30%, maybe even 40% of the meta. It’s also a deck that’s played in basically every tournament line up. That’s when Galakrond Priest’s standing could be very different.
The bottom line is that Galakrond Priest could be a pretty weak ladder deck at nearly every rank, and still see success at certain scenarios. One occurrence does not contradict the other. If you don’t run into a very high number of Warriors, Priest is just not very good.
With that being said, considering that Warrior is continuing to rise in popularity and that Priest is going through some critical improvements in its build, Galakrond Priest will probably get better as a ladder deck, but it’s unlikely to be a consistent ladder deck.
As Galakrond Priest receives all the attention, we do want to mention that Highlander Priest is continuing to outperform it by a significant margin. This deck looks very underrated considering that it’s hardly being explored.
The best word to describe Druid is stagnation. Spell Druid is just sitting and twiddling its thumbs while other decks get better. Big Druid beats Warrior and pretty much nothing else. Does Druid even have a fringe role in the meta? Priest is needed to stop Warrior from getting completely out of control, but what is Druid even good for?
Actually, we take it back. Druid does serve an important role, which is getting rolled over by Totem Shaman and Murloc Paladin. If Druid did not provide these decks with free wins, they’d look even worse than they are at the moment. So thanks, Malfurion.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Aggro Demon Hunter has lost its position as the top meta deck to its counter, Enrage Warrior. However, don’t let that fool you into believing that Demon Hunter is actually a fair and balanced deck. Its matchup spread is still utterly ridiculous, with no other deck displaying a positive win rate against it so far.
Over the last week, we’ve seen some builds attempt to cut Priestess of Fury/Raging Felscreamer for Frenzied Felwing/Frozen Shadoweaver, with the intention of building an advantage in the mirror. However, this move is a downgrade, since the non-Priestess build doesn’t actually beat the Priestess build! Frenzied Felwing is a much weaker card these days while Priestess is an extremely underrated performer in the mirror. Demon Hunter does not have a good way to deal with her, which means she’s usually just a game-ending play. In addition, Priestess of Fury is a top performer in many matchups, and we just can’t find a way to justify ever cutting her.
We do like Frozen Shadoweaver, though it is a bit polarizing in its performance across matchups. It’s good against Demon Hunters and Warriors, but terrible against Priests, Mages, and Rogues. We see it as a viable tech choice, but not a card that’s always effective.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Aggro Demon Hunter
- Highlander Demon Hunter
Enrage Warrior is now the top dog of the meta, and the only class that looks capable of stopping it consistently is Priest. As we’ve said last week, there is an effective way to adjust to this matchup to make it less unfavorable with Grommash Hellscream.
Grommash has become more prevalent recently, but we now realize that even we underestimated how good it is. After seeing more data on Daddy Hellscream, we conclude that he is not just a game-changer against Priest, but a game-changer in most matchups. including the mirror (!). The card is just an excellent performer in the deck, and not running Grom looks strictly suboptimal. The featured build is likely still the best way to go.
We do think that both Serpent Eggs and Teron Gorefiend are a little overvalued, especially the latter. Teron is weak against Demon Hunters (too slow), Rogues (Blackjack Stunner), Priests (Shadow Madness), and Mages (Freeze/Zephrys/Amazing Reno). It is only stronger in the mirror, but the advantage Teron provides in the mirror alongside Serpent Eggs is very small and doesn’t make up for its weakness elsewhere.
One other interesting avenue is to cut Tol’virs for Executes. Execute is quite strong in slower matchups, such as Priest and Mage. It is also quite decent in the mirror since it can answer Rampage or Brute, but it’s a pretty bad card in faster matchups (DH, Hunter, Rogue).
Control Warrior started appearing in small numbers, but we’re not too impressed with the archetype so far. If we build the deck extremely defensively, we can counter Aggro Demon Hunter and Enrage Warrior but lose horribly to Rogue, Mage, and Priest. If we add the Bomb package into a more proactive shell (a stronger path), we drastically improve the Rogue/Mage matchups but lose significant ground against the top two. We haven’t found a build that can strike the right balance in the current meta, so we’ll have to gather more data on the archetype before we provide a more informative take.
Rogue seems to have established itself as one of the stronger classes in the meta, but below the oppressive forces of Demon Hunter and Warrior.
The secret variant of Galakrond Rogue has taken over the archetype and pushed it to the forefront of the class. We’re pretty happy with the featured build from last week, and Spymistress continues to impress us. We estimate that the 1-drop actually gives you a small edge against Demon Hunters.
The biggest decision comes down to Eviscerate or Faceless Corruptor, and this decision has become more difficult to make compared to last week. Eviscerate is stronger against Demon Hunter, while Faceless Corruptor is stronger against Warrior, so we understand why the latter is valued so highly. Against other popular classes, the difference between Eviscerate and Faceless is minuscule.
Highlander Rogue is taking a backseat, once again. It seems to perform better than Galakrond Rogue against Enrage Warrior but performs worse in multiple key matchups such as Aggro Demon Hunter, Highlander Mage, and Galakrond Priest.
With Enrage Warrior skyrocketing in popularity, Priest’s role in the meta is to keep it in check to some degree. While Priest’s performance overall isn’t stellar, the fact that no other class looks capable of beating Warrior consistently keeps Priest as a relevant and important player in the meta.
Galakrond Priest has updated its build, with Moyen’s list looking the cleanest and most successful. The big change is cutting Holy Nova and Mo’arg Artificer, which previously looked like a crutch package for the archetype, but were possibly holding the deck back due to their situational use. Two copies of Shadow Madness do a good enough job of cleaning up Demon Hunter’s early boards alongside Breath of the Infinite, and Shadow Madness is a stronger card in other matchups. We needed no convincing that Apotheosis was nuts and should be a core 2-of, while Plague of Death was not relevant in most matchups.
Last week, we were unsure about Sethekk Veilweaver but we’ve warmed up to the card since. Specifically, it performs well against Warriors, which have significantly risen in popularity. To avoid mis-utilizing Veilweaver, consider it a late-game draw engine that’s only occasionally strong earlier than turn 6-7. Because of its 2 mana cost, it’s often a mulligan bait, so you need a good reason to keep it in your opening hand (hint: it’s ‘generally’ a bad idea to keep it against classes that can easily remove it such as Rogue and Demon Hunter).
Highlander Priest has a near-identical matchup spread to Galakrond Priest, but performs much better against Hunters. The featured build seems to carry the right balance between proactive plays and removal. We think this archetype is severely underrated.
Resurrect Priest also has a very similar matchup spread to the other two Priest decks, except that it’s worse in every way, making it both weak and redundant.
- Priest Class Radar
- Galakrond Priest
- Resurrect Priest
- Highlander Priest
Highlander Hunter is the most well-rounded Hunter deck. It’s the best choice if you’re not interested in groaning whenever you queue into a Warrior or a Priest. The deck can put up a fight against Warrior, and it utterly destroys Priest. The featured build, after the addition of Imprisoned Felmaw, looks very good. We’ve noticed many lists don’t run Guardian Augmerchant, but the card is nuts in this deck. It’s there on merit.
Dragon Hunter has a very similar matchup spread, performing better in Hunter mirrors but worse against Enrage Warrior. We can confirm that Dragonbane is still an incredible card in the deck, so it should be there.
Face Hunter is the most polarizing of the three but might have the greatest potential. We’ve had a chance to evaluate the featured build, which we’ve floated last week based on our initial analysis of the archetype. We can confirm that Imprisoned Felmaw is as powerful in Face Hunter as it’s proven to be in the other two archetypes. Stonetusk Boars are very strong. Dragonebane is obscenely good.
This build dramatically outperforms all other Face Hunter lists by a significant margin and has Tier 1 potential due to incredible matchups against Demon Hunter and Rogue offsetting the more difficult Priest/Warrior matchups. In fact, Face Hunter could become the 2nd reliable counter to Demon Hunter, but this cannot be seen in current archetype-aggregated stats.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Highlander Hunter
- Dragon Hunter
- Face Hunter
Imprisoned Observer has finally made its breakthrough. With BoarControl hitting #1 legend with a list that includes the card, Observer has grown in popularity and subsequently boosted Highlander Mage’s overall win rate, changing the very standing of the archetype in the current meta. Its performance in Highlander Mage was not some temporary anomaly either: it is a deck defining card that’s simply difficult to appreciate without seeing the perspective of your opponents.
One change BoarControl has made is swapping out Blizzard for Siamat. Blizzard is a card we were tempted to cut as it was only a decent performer against Rogues. The move seems sensible, but the swapped out card could also be Overconfident Orc. Another tech choice we’ve seen rise in popularity is Acidic Swamp Ooze, due to Feno’s success with a list that includes it. It’s an effective Warrior tech since it disrupts their turn 3, making it a reasonable inclusion in the deck. However, it’s not as powerful against Demon Hunter as you’d intuitively assume.
Other Mage decks haven’t looked very competitive. The recent rise of a Puzzle-Box Mage archetype running Dragoncasters alongside big spells hasn’t looked very promising. The deck is so far away from the level of Highlander Mage that we struggle to see it compete. Zephrys/Reno/Alex are just too strong. If you want to scam people with Puzzle-Box, you’ll have to settle for running just one in your deck.
Both Warlock archetypes are currently going through an interesting transition.
Control Warlock has been floundering since the balance changes, but BoarControl has had success with a build that runs the lackey package. We think this could be an improvement on older builds that’s worth exploring. One tweak that might be worth testing is cutting Sacrificial Pact. The card has become lukewarm in the current meta, and isn’t even that great in aggressive matchups, so we wonder if Control Warlock can just do without it. It’s something to think about, but more data is required to find the right answer here.
Zoo Warlock is getting more degenerate by the day, with a charge variant originating from RobotWizard taking over and looking very successful. This build runs Bluegill Warriors and Wolfriders alongside the already common Stonetusk Boars, turning Zoo into a dangerous burst deck. Once again, we’ll reiterate that Scrap Imp Zoo is very different from Zoo Warlock decks of the past. It’s much more combo-centric and extremely fixated on drawing specific cards to win rather than “curving out”. A turn 1 Flame Imp is not winning you the game. What matters is a turn 2 Scrap Imp.
Druid is getting closer and closer to the Shaman/Paladin Tier of “what is this class even doing here?”. Spell Druid has been choked out by the top meta decks and cannot seem to find a way to come back. Big Druid looks terrible, even though it hard counters Enrage Warrior. Go figure.
There is a possible direction that Spell Druid could take, which is lowering the curve and dropping Overgrowth. We’re featuring a faster token list that performs much better against Priest, which is a huge problem for the Overgrowth builds. The deck still sucks against Demon Hunter and Enrage Warrior, but there’s little to do to save these matchups.
As the top meta decks continue to optimize, Paladin and Shaman move further away from the light and the elements. These classes just look unplayable right now, and we struggle to see how they could become playable this expansion unless they get some significant buffs. Nerfing the trifecta of doom (Demon Hunter/Rogue/Warrior) could help, but it’s probably not going to be enough here.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Murloc Paladin
- Shaman Class Radar
- Totem Shaman
The most appropriate Meta Breaker for this week would still be Enrage Warrior, since we expect the deck to continue to rise in popularity and re-shape the meta, but that would be kind of boring, right? We know the story. It’s the best deck.
Instead, we’ll highlight decks that have made big improvements in their performance this week, and that we think have the potential to get even better.
Highlander Mage has turned things around with Imprisoned Observer, providing it with critical improvements in several matchups, the most important one being Aggro Demon Hunter. Highlander Mage looks capable of giving Warrior legitimate difficulties and performs really well against most classes besides Hunter.
Zoo Warlock just feels like a deck that’s waiting to get broken at some point in the future (watch out for this one if Warrior/Demon Hunter get nerfed). Imprisoned Scrap Imp reminds us a lot of Necrium Apothecary. The charge build looks quite promising, and although Zoo can’t be top tier in a meta that’s defined by Demon Hunter and Warrior, it does quite well against other classes.
Face Hunter could be a big breakthrough in terms of finding another deck that reliably beats Demon Hunter. The Felmaw/Boar build looks extremely powerful, and we would have absolutely made it the sole Meta Breaker for this week if it didn’t crumble to Warriors.
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