Welcome to the 166th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project has 2,500 (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||23,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||25,000|
Balance Change Updates
Yesterday, Blizzard announced a card change that would go live today (Thursday, June 18th). Twin Slice (and Second Slice) is now a 1 mana spell that gives your hero +2 attack this turn. This is a very significant change that should have implications on the meta. Of course, this change was announced after we’ve finished writing this week’s report.
We’ve left the report as it was written, but added Editor’s Notes throughout the article, with some thoughts regarding the impact of this change on each class.
We’re not yet sure on the publication date of the next Data Reaper Report, as it depends on the pace of our data collection. We would prefer it to be next Thursday, but it could be postponed. If you’d like to help us collect more data for the report, simply use Firestone, or install our plugin for Hearthstone Deck Tracker.
Class Frequency Discussion
Demon Hunter can’t be stopped. While the class may have reached saturation at legend, it is becoming increasingly popular at lower ranks, where it has proven to be the strongest class without much competition. The entire meta is trying to target Demon Hunter, but these efforts don’t seem to be bearing fruit.
Warrior has stabilized. While the class has proven to be very successful at higher levels of play, we’ve seen the meta begin to aggressively target it (Ooze’s popularity has gone up), which may have halted its growth. Its presence at top legend continues to be overwhelming.
Druid has declined, seemingly incapable of breaking through the glass ceiling that Demon Hunter and Warrior impose. Spell Druid has cleaned up and is fairly refined, though there might still be a way to slightly upgrade it further.
Galakrond Rogue is also cleaning up, though there is still a significant scope for improvement within the archetype. Questing Adventurer is becoming more popular, and so is the Stealth variant.
Priest has risen in play. Galakrond Priest has seen quite a bit of success at top legend thanks to the extremely high prevalence of Warrior, and this is affecting players’ deck choices at lower ranks as well.
Hunter continues to slip in its play rate, with players wary of the class’ poor standing against Demon Hunter. The higher you climb ladder, the less Hunters you see, and this is usually not a good sign for Rexxar.
Mage seems to have recovered in its play rate after a few players had success with Highlander Mage at top legend, giving the deck the exposure needed to become a more common choice. Based on its recent performance throughout ladder, you could definitely make the case that Highlander Mage merits more play.
Quest Warlock is continuing its gradual decline, as more players run into the Bomb-Control Warrior matchup and delete their decks in frustration. Quest Warlock has failed to gain a significant edge against any of the top meta decks (besides Priest), and that’s causing it to lose steam.
Paladin and Shaman are nearly entirely irrelevant factors in the current meta.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
With the rise of both Priest and Acidic Swamp Ooze, Bomb-Control Warrior’s momentum has been stopped. The deck’s relentless rise in win rate, which would have firmly established it as the best deck in the game today, has hit a snag. This has forced what is essentially a three-way tie between Aggro Demon Hunter, Enrage Warrior, and Bomb-Control Warrior at legend. Neither deck is giving up an inch. We will note that the higher you climb legend, the more popular these decks are, which strengthens Warrior and weakens Demon Hunter.
Indeed, the meta seems to be stuck in a loop, in which Demon Hunter and Warrior are just that much stronger than everything else. Other classes have generally failed to live up to the initial promise they’ve shown early in the patch. What’s striking is that it was Demon Hunter that found a way to optimize further against the other classes, rather than the other way around. This has kept the gap in power despite the rise in efficiency of the rest of the field that naturally comes with refinement.
Editor’s Notes: Team 5 must have identified the same thing. There was initially some optimism early in the patch that the power gap could close, but it became clear to us this week that it wasn’t happening.
When we look at the remaining classes, Mage seems very underrated considering it sees less play than Druid, Rogue, Priest, and Hunter but performs better than all of them. Highlander Mage’s matchup spread has improved even further this week, with players running Ooze to successfully gain percentages against Bomb-Control Warrior. Today, only Hunter looks like the clear bad matchup for the deck, and as we’ve said earlier, it’s been constantly declining.
Speaking of Hunter, we don’t expect it to make a big return. It will probably remain competitive and viable, but it’s got almost no scope for improvement. Unless Demon Hunter suffers a massive setback, this is as good as it gets for Rexxar.
Druid can’t seem to make the breakthrough. Although there are still some tweaks that could elevate the performance of Spell Druid, it doesn’t help that Demon Hunter adjusted to make its early-game snowballing even more brutal for the Druid. If your matchup against Demon Hunter is bad, you just can’t make real progress. Ask Hunters.
Editor’s Notes: Did someone order a massive Demon Hunter setback?
Rogue is making progress, though it’s doing it slowly. The rise in its win rate is the result of the best Galakrond Rogue build making up a larger share of the archetype. We still estimate that Galakrond Rogue would comfortably sit at Tier 2 if it cleaned up completely, though it wouldn’t be Tier 1.
Galakrond Priest is also making small steps, but it’s unlikely to be a consistently winning choice throughout most portions of ladder, with the exception of the Warrior-infested top legend ladder. Its matchup spread just isn’t good, besides acting as a silver bullet for Warrior.
Alongside its decline in play rate, comes Quest Warlock’s continued decline in win rate. Don’t expect to see this deck perform better than Tier 3 as long as Bomb-Control Warrior is one of the best decks in the game.
We’re out of witty one-liners regarding Paladin and Shaman. Paladin is bad and Shaman is worse than bad. They’ve got no chance unless balance changes, new cards or both arrive.
Editor’s Notes: An exciting couple of days are in store for Paladin and Shaman, until everyone realizes they’re still terrible (probably)!
Class Analysis & Decklists
Aggro Demon Hunter is mostly split into two slightly different approaches that come down to the final 3-4 cards in the deck, and both are performing well in the current meta. You can either focus on your snowballing, or your finishing.
The Brawler variant is better in faster matchups since your early game board development is more consistent. Bonechewer Brawler is another threat that’s very awkward to remove if it’s buffed by a Sidekick or an Augmerchant.
The Cycle variant is better in slower matchups since your late-game combo potential with Altruis is more consistent. This variant looked inferior last week, but the rise in Priest accompanied by a decline in Druid makes the choice between the builds more difficult.
Editor’s Notes: Twin Slice is, by far, the strongest card in Aggro Demon Hunter, and its current iteration is very limiting to other classes’ competitive viability. It dominates early-game board control alongside the Demon Hunter hero power while providing devastating synergy with its most lethal late-game piece, Altruis.
This change represents the most dramatic nerf to the class so far, as Twin Slice was a key component in Demon Hunter’s dominance throughout all stages of the game. Battlefiend, Satyr Overseer, Glaivebound Adept, Warglaives of Azzinoth, and Altruis are all directly impacted by the nerf to Twin Slice. Demon Hunter’s game plan could now be a turn slower in many situations. We do want to note that the new iteration of Twin Slice is still a strong card, so we anticipate that Demon Hunter will be able to adjust. But perhaps, this change will allow opponents the extra turn or two they need to mount a more effective resistance.
Warrior is arguably the most powerful class in the game, especially at higher levels of play, where it’s been extremely dominant.
Since the Teron/Egg build of Enrage Warrior is still very popular, we wanted to feature it in order to make the direct comparison to the Greenskin/Deathwing build, much like we did for the Demon Hunter ‘variants’. Both variants perform at a similar power level with notable differences in their matchup spreads.
The Teron/Egg build is focused on the early-game, so it is stronger against Demon Hunter and Hunter. Its first few turns tend to be more explosive, but both Serpent Egg and Teron Gorefiend scale very poorly in the late game. That is, if your early-game assault did not snowball you into a victory, you will find it harder to close the game late.
The Greenskin build is focused on the late-game. It is stronger against the three most difficult matchups for Enrage Warrior: Priest, Mage and Druid. Your early game is not as explosive, but your combo potential in the late game is stronger thanks to the 2nd Kor’kron. Plus, Greenskin is excellent at applying pressure in slower matchups, and Deathwing offers you another comeback tool in case you’ve fallen behind.
Bomb Control Warrior’s build looks perfect. The only adjustment we would consider making is swapping out Greenskin for Hoard Pillager, but this is only a good move if you’re running into a lot of weapon tech. Greenskin is a stronger card than Pillager because it’s a bigger body that applies more immediate pressure, so only do this swap if your Wrenchcaliburs constantly get Oozed.
Editor’s Notes: Many players may assume that Warrior’s position in the meta is in some danger as much of its success had to do with its ability to counter Demon Hunter. However, Warrior is a very flexible and well-rounded class that can adjust to a different meta. Enrage Warrior can prioritize the Greenskin build if it ends up running into slower opponents more frequently, while Bomb-Control Warrior still carries a terrific matchup spread against any class that isn’t Priest, and has a couple of tricks up its sleeve as well. Even Pirate Warrior could benefit from the weakening of Demon Hunter. The meta still needs to prove it can reliably stop Warrior. You can’t count on Priests alone to do the job.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Enrage Warrior
- Control Warrior
- Pirate Warrior
Spell Druid declined this week, as it became somewhat clear that Demon Hunter and Warrior are too big of an obstacle for the deck to turn into an elite ladder performer. However, Spell Druid is still in a fine place in the current meta and this week might produce a final push in its refinement.
Both finalists in Masters Tour Jonkoping, Warma and Pignas, brought a Dragon Roar Spell Druid list that included two copies of Moonfire and Claw. Upon initial glance on ladder, we like how the cards perform together to increase Mounseller’s consistency even further. The problem with running both Moonfire and Claw is that you’re forced to cut Power of the Wild and/or Savage Roar. This is a big price to pay.
But perhaps, we can minimize the cost by cutting a card that may have overstayed its welcome. Soul of the Forest has mostly been a burden for this deck. While its inclusion makes complete sense in tournaments, where Quest Warlock is very prevalent, it is a questionable card on ladder, especially considering recent meta developments that have crushed Warlock’s standing in the field. It’s not an essential card in any other matchup, so we think it might be worthwhile to cut altogether.
Which brings us to update the builds for the two variants of Spell Druid. The Vanilla build can afford to keep both copies of Power of the Wild and Savage Roar by cutting Soul of the Forest and reducing Wild Growth to one copy (again). The Breath build can keep one copy of Power of the Wild and two Savage Roars.
Which variant to run? That decision is fairly simple. The higher you climb ladder and the more Warriors you see, the better it is to run Breath of Dreams and Emerald Explorer. This variant slightly taxes your other matchups (by reducing the potency of Fungal Fortunes and Glowfly Swarm) in order to give you a significant boost in the Warrior matchup (+5%).
Editor’s Notes: Druid directly and immediately benefits from the nerf to Twin Slice, since it is one of the classes that’s most vulnerable to Demon Hunter’s early game snowballing. Spell Druid’s matchup spread outside of Demon Hunter is nearly flawless, so we anticipate a spike in its popularity early on. My Greetings.
Galakrond Rogue is cleaning up as an archetype, which has resulted in its improvement. The popularity of Spymistress and Questing Adventurer has risen, while the Stealth variant is becoming a more common feature.
Both featured builds of Galakrond Rogue can be considered to be optimized for the current meta. The Stealth variant of Galakrond Rogue is stronger on ladder, and we generally recommend it over the Secret variant. It performs significantly better against Demon Hunter (~10% better, which makes Stealth Galakrond Rogue the best DH counter in the game outside of the Warrior class), while also carrying smaller advantages against Hunters and Warriors. The Secret variant is stronger against Priest (~5%) while also performing slightly better against Mage and Druid thanks to Blackjack Stunner.
Editor’s Notes: Rogue has a theoretical answer to nearly every opponent. The problem in the current meta has always been its ability to fit all of these answers together, which has made its refinement phase difficult to complete. A rise in Druid’s popularity could certainly become problematic and reinforce Rogue’s need to utilize Questing Adventurers, but other questions remain difficult to answer (Stealth or Secret? How greedy can we be?). We think Rogue is less likely to shine early on, and it will take a week for us to tell how good it can be.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Galakrond Rogue
- Highlander Rogue
As Warrior’s success continues, Galakrond Priest’s standing in the field improves. Anduin is pretty much the only hero standing between Garrosh and world domination. Priest doesn’t beat any other notable class in the game, but it excels against one of the top performing decks (Bomb-Control Warrior) and the Teron/Egg variant of Enrage Warrior. Some players run Ooze to make life even more miserable for Warriors, but the tech choice is not really necessary, and cutting a Sethekk Veilweaver is meaningful in other matchups.
Therefore, Priest has two roles in the current meta. The first is to provide an emergency break for Warrior’s constant presence at top legend. The second is to irritate players throughout ladder by existing.
Editor’s Notes: Priest actually benefits from the current meta to some degree, so there is some concern that an increase in ladder diversity will weaken it. Galakrond Priest needs to prove that it can beat any other class besides Warrior for us to get behind the idea of it becoming a top deck in the post-patch meta, especially when we take into account its terrible Highlander Hunter matchup.
In addition, should the meta slow down, other classes will have more leeway to “greed up” and punish Priest in the late-game. Our initial reaction to the balance changes when it comes to Priest’s standing in the field isn’t too optimistic.
- Priest Class Radar
- Galakrond Priest
- Highlander Priest
Hunter’s fall has been pretty dramatic in just a few weeks. From a class that looked like one of the strongest on ladder, it is now just competitive. This is mostly because both Highlander Hunter and Dragon Hunter are incapable of effectively adjusting to the Demon Hunter matchup, which has become increasingly common. Add the worsening matchups against other common meta decks that found a way to improve through refinement, and you’ve got the result: a Hunter stagnation.
Editor’s Notes: We expect that many players will immediately jump on the Highlander Hunter bandwagon, since the Demon Hunter matchup is the biggest factor preventing the deck from establishing itself as one of the strongest in the game. There is no subtlety here: there should be a big spike in Hunters in the first couple of days of the patch. The only question is, will Highlander Hunter fall off again once the meta settles down, as it tends to do?
- Hunter Class Radar
- Highlander Hunter
- Dragon Hunter
- Face Hunter
Players seem to have rediscovered Highlander Mage over the past week, appreciating its solid matchup spread into most of the top meta decks. We’ve also seen the rise in popularity in Acidic Swamp Ooze, which is a strong tech against both of the dominant Warrior archetypes and makes the Bomb-Control Warrior matchup very close. Ooze is generally a better fit for Highlander Mage than other decks for two reasons: 1. It’s a highlander deck, so its power is already concentrated in a few singular cards. 2. It’s a reactive/defensive highlander deck (unlike Highlander Hunter), so it can afford to concede initiative and hold onto cards.
We will ask you to stop keeping Ooze in your opening hand against Demon Hunter. You’re actually hurting your chances of beating them, and we cringe every time you do that instead of searching for cards that make a bigger impact in the matchup (there are about 10 of them). Unless your hand is already nuts and you have a good plan established until turn 5, don’t keep Ooze.
Editor’s Notes: Highlander Mage could suffer early on from the rise of Highlander Hunter, but it could still make up for it in other areas. The secret package is necessary in the current meta in order to keep the Demon Hunter matchup close, but if Demon Hunter weakens, we could see Mage cutting it in order to boost its late game prowess (with a card like Conjurer’s Calling, for example). So, the initial reaction to Mage’s standing in the post-patch meta isn’t favorable because of its Hunter matchup, but we have to remember that Highlander Mage still carries an outstanding matchup spread against every other class, and its ability to improve them further is somewhat of a low hanging fruit.
Quest Warlock has been reduced to a smaller role on ladder due to the rise of Bomb-Control Warrior. Running Ooze in this deck does not make life any better for you, since the matchup is still crippling and Ooze is a horrid card in other matchups.
The bad news for Warlock is that this archetype is all it has left. Control and Zoo Warlock have both disappeared from the landscape, and the class might now be looking forward to the next expansion rather than the next development in the meta.
Editor’s Notes: Warlock will be praying that Bomb-Control Warrior crashes and burns in the post-patch meta, but we don’t think that’s happening. The deck is just too well rounded. Add the potential rise of Highlander Hunter, and we’re not feeling Quest Warlock’s post-patch prospects. Still, Gul’dan will welcome another roll of the dice before he waits for the new expansion.
There are no real news with the bottom two classes in the game. Bunnyhoppor hit legend with an astonishing 83% win rate while piloting Wirer’s Malygos Highlander Shaman (sample size was 6 games, by the way). The deck is probably as bad as Highlander Shaman can be, but we do like the additional win condition in slow matchups. Shaman’s problem is that it can’t kill opponents. It’s got the ferocity of a Sloth, so it usually just sits there and waits for you to concede out of embarrassment that you’re losing to Shaman. 40% of the time, it works every time.
Editor’s Notes: Don’t expect any miracles here. Shaman still can’t kill anyone in the late-game, or establish a board in the early game. A nerf to Demon Hunter doesn’t solve that problem. Paladin still doesn’t possess the card draw to compete with other classes’ more consistent late game plans, and it will be exposed for it should the meta ever slow down. We’ll be surprised if one of these classes ends up jumping out of the dumpster.
Nothing can really break the current meta, which is held by the tight grip of the Warrior and Demon Hunter classes. Every other class seems strictly inferior, though the best of the rest might surprisingly be Highlander Mage. The archetype has demonstrated quick adaptability to the rise of Bomb-Control Warrior, and has game against every opponent. It is only vulnerable to the Hunter class, which is expected to continue its gradual decline. Indeed, if you’re unwilling to take one of the top two classes to ladder, your best bet might be to pray to Yogg for salvation.
Editor’s Notes: Druid and Hunter are the immediate winners of the balance changes. Expect them.
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, 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: