Welcome to the 164th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project has 2,700 (HDT) active contributors and we thank them wholeheartedly. Contributing to the Data Reaper project through Hearthstone Deck Tracker or Firestone allows us to perform our analyses and to issue the weekly reports. Without the community’s contributions, there would be no project. Contributing data is very easy, so if you enjoy our content and would like to make sure it remains consistent and free – Sign up!
Number of Games
|Diamond 4 to 1||24,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||24,000|
Vicious Syndicate launches the Data Reaper Podcast!
Last week, we’ve launched the Data Reaper Podcast, in which we expand on subjects that are discussed in each weekly Data Reaper Report. If you’re interested in learning more about developments in the Hearthstone meta, the insights we’ve gathered as well as other interesting subjects related to the analysis that is done to create the Data Reaper Report, you can listen to RidiculousHat and ZachO talk about them every week. The Podcast comes out on the weekend, a couple of days after each report is published.
There can be plenty of untold information that doesn’t make it into the final written product, so you may want to tune in! This week’s upcoming episode should have much to reveal.
Updates on content are always announced on our Twitter.
Class Frequency Discussion
Demon Hunter’s decline in popularity has stopped, and it’s now beginning to rise in play as everyone is becoming aware that the class is still pretty busted despite being nerfed three times. Aggro Demon Hunter is the most popular deck in the format, only rivaled and possibly eclipsed by the Warrior population at high legend.
Hunter has ceded the top spot to Demon Hunter, which isn’t surprising considering that Highlander Hunter has a difficult matchup against Aggro Demon Hunter. Nevertheless, Hunter is generally flourishing and is largely considered to be the strongest class that isn’t named Warrior or Demon Hunter.
Warrior has risen in play, with both Bomb-Control Warrior and Pirate Warrior becoming more noticeable. Both of these decks performed at a Tier 1 level last week based on their low sample estimates, so it’ll be interesting to see how they hold up this week. Enrage Warrior’s play rate is quite modest considering how strong it has been, though this is a common phenomenon with the deck. It’s just not very common unless you’re playing at top legend (where you get sick of meeting them constantly).
Rogue’s decline continues as the class is still unsure of the best way to approach the current meta. Stealth and Secret builds of Galakrond Rogue are both common, while Highlander Rogue is looking like a fringe alternative.
Druid has risen in play, encouraged by its recent ladder success. Spell Druid is making progress in fine-tuning its two primary variants (Roar/Dragon), though there is still quite a bit of overlap between them and we even see Savage Roar builds attempting to utilize Breath of Dreams. The class is definitely not done experimenting.
Priest has declined despite the rise of Warrior and the decline of Hunter and Rogue. There is an argument that the class was grossly overplayed and it’s beginning to shrink to a more justifiable play rate. The class mostly consists of Galakrond Priest, followed by a small presence of Highlander Priest.
Mage has also declined, and enthusiasm for Highlander Mage might have been affected by the rise of Bomb-Control Warrior and Aggro Demon Hunter.
Quest Warlock builds have solidified, and its rise in play rate has been brought to a halt by the rise of Bomb-Control Warrior. Other Warlock decks are fading from existence.
Paladin is heading to the bottom of the meta as players realize that the class still sucks. Shaman is Shaman.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
The good news is that Aggro Demon Hunter saw a decline in its win rate at all levels of play. The bad news is that no one else is catching up except the Warrior class, which could eventually seize the top spot at legend. While some archetypes are still developing, and we can spot a couple of classes with the potential of improving their performance against Demon Hunter, the fact remains that no non-Warrior deck has proven to be a consistent performer against it. For now, Demon Hunter still looks as busted as it did after the day 1 nerfs, with a perfect meta score at every rank bracket.
Highlander Hunter is in danger of being kicked out of Tier 1. Its matchup spread is very strong, but its poor Demon Hunter matchup acts as a spoiler to its potential ladder dominance. Save for a couple of matchups, Dragon Hunter looks like a watered-down version of the highlander deck.
Control Warrior has certainly lived up to last week’s meta breaker label. Its matchup spread is tremendous, and the only class that seems to pose serious issues for the deck is Priest. Control Warrior sits comfortably at Tier 1 at legend, and there are further developments in its refinement that lead us to believe it can only get stronger. The archetype’s growth in popularity is very likely to continue.
Enrage Warrior’s matchup spread isn’t as well rounded as Control Warrior’s. It’s worse against Mages, Druids, and Warlocks. However, it benefits from an extremely dominant matchup against Aggro Demon Hunter, while Control Warrior is only slightly favored against the current meta tyrant. With Demon Hunter being as popular as it is, it counts for a lot. The direct matchup between Enrage and Control Warrior is very close and is likely build-dependent. Based on this data and Control Warrior’s scope for improvement, we can reach the conclusion that Control Warrior is an elite deck that shouldn’t be taken lightly when compared with the more established Enrage Warrior. They’re both exquisite.
Pirate Warrior’s win rate has fallen with the rise in its play rate, which is something that we expected to see based on our experience. However, it still performs at a very good level and it also has some very easy ways to improve several of its matchups. We’re impressed with its ability to beat highly defensive decks such as Control Warrior and Galakrond Priest, but we’re also aware that it doesn’t match up too well against the dominant Aggro DH and Enrage Warrior, decks that excel at seizing the board early.
Spell Druid feels like it’s on the brink of something special, but it’s still missing something to be an elite ladder deck. Both of its variants show great promise and Spell Druid’s matchup spread is very clean and is almost without a weakness. Druid’s only issue is, you guessed it, the Demon Hunter matchup. If it can find a way to gain percentages against the meta tyrant without sacrificing too much in other matchups, it will become a surefire Tier 1 deck.
Rogue is struggling and might be in its most vulnerable position in quite a while, falling to Tier 3. Galakrond Rogue might be the least refined deck in the format, littered with builds that attempt to alleviate its issues, but by patching one hole, another one cracks open. While the archetype’s diversity certainly hurts its win rate, it is a symptom of a bigger problem: Rogue is failing to optimize against the top meta classes. Performing well against Demon Hunter and Hunter requires specific cards. Performing better against Warrior requires other cards. Druid has now entered the fray and given Rogue a highly problematic matchup that demands its own adjustments. When trying to refine Rogue, we end up wanting to play 36 cards. The end result is that Rogue doesn’t perform as well as it can in all of these matchups, leading to it failing to consistently beat any of the top meta decks.
Highlander Mage is still a pretty good ladder deck, but it’s declining in its win rate due to other decks becoming more efficient. While it appreciates a decline in Hunter, it doesn’t appreciate it when they’re replaced by Wrenchcalibur. Mage is probably the most vulnerable highlander deck when its highlander payoffs are deactivated by the Warrior’s disruption. It doesn’t have a solid game plan without Zephrys, Reno, and Dragonqueen Alexstrasza.
Speaking of being disrupted by Wrenchcalibur, Quest Warlock is in serious pain. You may ask us whether the modest presence of Control Warrior is really the cause of Quest Warlock’s fall to Tier 3, and the answer is “yes, because the matchup is 80 freaking 20.” You can even do some very simplified math and come close to the exhibited drop in Quest Warlock’s overall win rate. If Control Warrior continues to rise in popularity, Quest Warlock is in danger of being reduced to a fringe role on ladder.
Priest has some room for optimism since many of its counters are trending down. If the meta becomes extremely fixated on Warrior in the future, we could see Priest having a stronger part to play. It’s already better at top legend, where Warrior is extremely popular. We don’t anticipate Priest to be very strong, but the needle could move in its favor a little bit. We’re also quite impressed with how well Highlander Priest is doing in comparison to Galakrond Priest despite its low play rate.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Aggro Demon Hunter maintains a very dominant matchup spread against the field, though Enrage Warrior proves to be a very consistent counter. The nerf to Priestess has made the Enrage Warrior matchup even more difficult, and there isn’t a great way to improve it through internal means.
Another week of evaluating the archetype’s builds is making us lean harder towards keeping Crimson Sigil Runner. Card draw is currently very important for Aggro DH, since it is much more reliant on finding Altruis in the late game than it did when Priestess was an option. XiaoT recently hit #1 legend running two copies of Spectral Sight and one copy of Eye Beam. We think Eye Beam is generally a stronger card than Spectral Sight in the current meta since it is invaluable in the mirror and very strong in any faster matchup, such as Hunter. Spectral Sight is the most awkward source of card draw we have, and running two copies mostly targets slower matchups (Control Warrior, Quest Warlock, Galakrond Priest).
Though Hunter is still powerful, we’re not surprised to see its performance slightly drop as the meta is becoming increasingly focused on the dynamic between the top two classes (Warrior and Demon Hunter).
Highlander Hunter’s excellent matchup spread is tainted by its difficulty in dealing with Aggro Demon Hunter. The deck relishes being the aggressor and likes extra time & space to exert pressure, something that Demon Hunter refuses to allow. Hunter lacks good defensive plays and comeback mechanics, which makes it a natural prey for vengeance.
Nagrand Slam is a card we can comfortably run in the current meta due to the rise of Control Warriors, adding another slow matchup in which it is quite invaluable. Acidic Swamp Ooze is a popular choice in ladder builds, but it looks like a trap tech card. It’s a good card against Warrior, but it is proving to be very weak and ineffective against Demon Hunter.
Dragon Hunter is a more ruthless counter to slower decks that don’t like seeing their life total pressured, such as Highlander Mage and Quest Warlock. However, compared to Highlander Hunter it is worse against Aggro Demon Hunter and Enrage Warrior, resulting in a slightly inferior performance on ladder.
Face Hunter is starting to decline in its performance as the meta optimizes around it, and looks like the real casualty of the nerf to Scavenger’s Ingenuity.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Highlander Hunter
- Dragon Hunter
- Face Hunter
Warrior is not only dominating through the power of Enrage Warrior, which is the deck to beat at higher levels of play, but it showcases two other decks with power levels that other classes would envy.
No news is good news for Enrage Warrior. We still favor the Greenskin build because it improves the matchups that Enrage Warrior is most vulnerable against (Priest, Mage, Druid). It makes Enrage Warrior more well-rounded in its performance. The Egg build accentuates the deck’s strengths and weaknesses, leading to a more polarizing experience. Contrary to common perception, the Egg build doesn’t have a significant advantage in the mirror (it’s very close to 50-50).
Control Warrior has developed further, with new insights and discoveries. Asmodai has popularized EVIL Quartermaster, and the 3-drop has proven to be absolutely insane in the deck, but it raises an interesting question regarding how Bomb Control Warrior should be built assuming EVIL Quartermaster is core. Quartermaster helps you stabilize, provides you with a bit of value, and is a very nice activator for Skipper if you’re playing defensively and just need two guaranteed damage procs in one card.
Bomb Wrangler is the inferior 3-drop, becomes more redundant alongside EVIL Quartermaster and is nowhere near as powerful in this archetype as it is in Enrage Warrior (it also has some anti-synergy with Bladestorm). We’re very comfortable keeping Quartermaster in the mulligan, but Wrangler is a very questionable card in the early game (it’s more of a turn 5/6 card). So, it makes perfect sense to actually cut this seemingly untouchable card to make way.
However, you could make the argument that Sword & Board should be replaced instead, but Sword & Board is very important against Demon Hunter and cutting it gives up around 4-5% in the matchup. Cutting S&B also makes Grom Hellscream weaker, and we highly favor Grom Hellscream over Kargath Bladefist since both are strong in the mirror, but Grom is much better in other matchups. The featured build attempts to maximize the archetype’s advantage against Demon Hunter, while still maintaining its late-game lethality.
One other interesting option we’ve found that doesn’t work too badly is cutting one Sky Raider for Hoard Pillager. Running both Greenskin and Pillager might look a little greedy, but it’s a reasonable tech in a slower meta.
We’re very impressed with the Pirate Warrior build we’ve featured last week, but after receiving more data on the archetype, we’ve found that the deck can be improved with a bit more consistency in the early game. Therefore, we’ve opted to add Blazing Battlemage instead of Hoard Pillager. Hoard Pillager provides late-game longevity to the deck, but it can be clunky in a deck that already has so many weapons to equip. Let’s kill them on turn 6 instead.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Enrage Warrior
- Control Warrior
- Pirate Warrior
Rogue might have entered a real crisis for the first time in well over a year. The meta’s increasing hostility as a result of the rise in Druid and Warrior, as well as the lack of solidified builds for its primary archetype has dragged its win rate through the mud. Galakrond Rogue must look for a solution for the issues it is currently facing, and another week of data has given us more solid evidence that could help Valeera find her footing in the current meta.
Galakrond Rogue’s savior could be Questing Adventurer. The card is an exceptionally good performer in our worst matchup: Druid. We estimate it could be worth around 6-7% against the pesky Malfurion, making the matchup a much closer affair. The most important finding about Questing Adventurer is that it’s also a good card against Warrior. This means that we could give up Faceless Corruptors to hedge for Druids without hurting our standing against the strongest class in the format.
Recently, Questing Adventurers have made their way to Secret Galakrond Rogue through a build initially crafted by YouKnowWP. Since Bamboozle has anti-synergy with QA’s, it is cut in favor of two copies of Dirty Tricks. Prep is also a very good card in this build thanks to QA’s (alongside Hanar), allowing us to cheat secrets for tempo. The build’s main issue is the absence of Spymistress, making it significantly worse against Demon Hunter.
After collecting more data on Stealth Galakrond Rogue, we’ve found the turbo build to be surprisingly competitive with the standard build. The increased consistency of Greyheart Sage made up for the absence of both EVIL Miscreant and Pharaoh Cat! The turbo build performed extremely well in slow matchups. However, the absence of Cat and Miscreant made faster matchups worse. The deck was basically more polarizing.
So, after confirming how Greyheart Sage can significantly benefit from additional stealth minions, we’ve added Akama to the standard deck. Unlike Worgen Infiltrator, Akama is a solid card that’s good enough to run on merit. We add Questing Adventurers after learning how they perform against Druid from the secret variant. What we like the most about the stealth build is how well it performs against Demon Hunter and Hunter thanks to Spymistress. In general, if you’re running into a fast meta, the stealth variant outperforms the secret variant.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Galakrond Rogue
- Highlander Rogue
The Druid class is continuing to develop and show much promise on ladder, despite its recent failures in the tournament scene. Both variants of Spell Druid are attempting to clean up and sort out the final slots in their builds.
With the rise of Control Warrior and the decline in Hunter, the meta has slightly slowed down and made threat density more important. We’ve opted to cut the single Wild Growth in Roar Spell Druid for Ysera. We still have major reservations about Ysera in this variant, and think the deck will likely benefit from adding faster threats for slower matchups, and this is where we encourage some exploration. Alternatively, the 2nd Soul of the Forest could be a stronger card than Ysera in slower matchups, though we don’t have a way to provide a concrete answer here.
There have also been experiments with Hybrid Spell Druid builds that run both Savage Roar and Breath of Dreams, which makes Ysera a much stronger inclusion. Since both Savage Roar and Power of the Wild are very crucial to this deck, the card that should make way for Breath of Dreams is Moonfire, as it is the weakest spell in the deck.
Another card that’s an interesting addition to Roar Spell Druid is Claw. It’s quite difficult to find room for it in the deck, but we’re impressed by how well it performs against Demon Hunter, which is our worst matchup. It might be worthwhile to experiment replacing Moonfires for Claws in the vanilla build, and seeing whether Moonfire’s smoother synergy with Mountseller is worth giving up for a stronger early game removal card.
Dragon Spell Druid could make another major step in its refinement by cutting an uncuttable card. Glowfly Swarm is largely underwhelming in a deck that doesn’t run Savage Roar, Soul of the Forest, or Power of the Wild. It is a major liability against Warrior, and only a net positive against Rogue. To replace Swarm, we add the 2nd Wrath and a Wild Growth. We estimate this is an upgrade, or a sidegrade, in every matchup besides Rogue.
We’ve also added another possible option for you to explore: What if Malygos and Swipe/Moonfire are just not carrying their weight? It’s possible that making the deck stronger in the early game by adding more ramp and survival options, in addition to a stabilizing late game dragon such as Twin Tyrant would be an overall upgrade. Try replacing the 5 cards we’ve marked as flex with the 5 cards listed as tech, and see what happens.
Though Priest still isn’t particularly strong, things are a little better for the class this week. Highlander Hunter slightly dropped in its power, Galakrond Rogue is struggling and Quest Warlock is crippled by bombs. It seems that all the bad matchups for Priest are losing some of their grip on the meta, while Warrior and Druid (more favorable opponents) are continuing to succeed.
This is exactly what the doctor ordered for Anduin. Priest has no room for improvement through internal means since Galakrond Priest’s build is basically perfect already. So, it needs the meta to move in its favor, and that’s what could be happening.
In addition, Highlander Priest has cleaned up some of the jank it experimented with on the first week of the post-patch meta, and it once again looks even stronger than Galakrond Priest! Both decks have very similar matchup spreads, but Highlander Priest performs better in faster matchups (Demon Hunter, Hunter) since it possesses stronger tools to counter-pressure. We’ve said it before but this archetype is a little underrated.
- Priest Class Radar
- Galakrond Priest
- Highlander Priest
Highlander Mage is another top performer that we expected to see fall off slightly once the meta became more efficient, and this has certainly occurred. It might benefit from a decline in Highlander Hunter in theory, but not when those Hunters are replaced by Bomb Control Warriors. This matchup is equally irritating for the Mage, since it lacks strong healing to mitigate bomb damage and it cannot consistently pressure the Warrior without its highlander cards (Hunter does a better job of that).
Therefore, Highlander Mage remains a good ladder deck, but it’s no longer an elite one. It also completely lost favor in tournaments since it doesn’t fit line ups that ban Warrior while leaving up Hunter and Demon Hunter.
Our concerns of Quest Warlock being impeded by Bomb Control Warrior’s rise were certainly justified. Even with Control Warrior’s moderate presence, the matchup is so crippling (80-20) that Quest Warlock has been severely affected by it. In a game of fine margins, every percentage point has major implications.
It doesn’t help that Quest Warlock hasn’t really gained a noticeable edge against other common meta decks besides Priest. It has close, winnable matchups against most decks, but exhibits a weakness to Hunter that also doesn’t help its case.
You may ask, then why not run Ooze? If you’re running into Wrenchcalibur often enough to ever justify running Ooze, you just shouldn’t be playing this deck. Ooze might be worth 5% in the matchup, but you’re still looking at a 25-75. The featured build is perfect against other decks, but there’s no fixing this one.
Paladin will likely return to the dumpster in which Shaman sits in. Pure Paladin is hilariously effective against Warriors, but doesn’t beat any other common deck in the meta. Murloc Paladin is not a deck you want to queue into Warriors and Demon Hunters, so that ship has also sailed. We’ll see you again in two months?
There is only one class that currently looks capable of stopping Demon Hunter, and we think it’s severely underplayed throughout ladder (besides top legend). We expect to see Warrior continue to rise in popularity in order to stop Illidan’s relentess assault on the meta.
Enrage Warrior is an extremely effective counter to Aggro Demon Hunter. Its ability to remove the Demon Hunter’s threats, counter-pressure, and stack armor is unrivaled. Many consider it to be the best deck in the game and ladder data may end up aligning with that claim, even though it does have some more difficult matchups.
Bomb-Control Warrior is a more balanced deck in its matchup spread, while offering a softer answer to Demon Hunter. However, we think that running both EVIL Quartermaster and Sword & Board (something that isn’t being done at the moment) will likely improve this matchup further. Point is, this deck is really strong and could still get better.
Both Warrior decks are excellent ladder choices and may end up competing for the #1 spot before long. It’s just about picking one and remembering to emote when you meet a Demon Hunter.
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 2,700 active contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.
Preparing our weekly article requires a significant amount of time and effort from many individuals. We would like to wholeheartedly thank our current Patreons, whose generous donations help us fund computing and server costs.
vS Gold is a new membership plan aimed to support our efforts towards improving our content and data analysis while receiving some bonuses and extra features.
Tier 3+ Patrons
Special thanks to Leo G, Aaron B, Jed M, Drew M, Alan J, Zolstar, Sean H, Steve F, Andrew N, NObdy, Alonso P, James Y, Je-ho, Ziqiao Y, Stephen H, William H, Patrick L, 1RiceBowl1, Alex S, Kaushal A, PeejTreon, Dunks406, Benedict H, Josh G, Sam, James C, and Jolyon C for supporting us for the month of June.
Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: