vS Data Reaper Report #167

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from 110,000 games.

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Welcome to the 167th  edition of the Data Reaper Report! This is the first report following the change to Twin Slice.

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Class/Archetype Distribution | Class Frequency | Matchup Winrates | vS Power Rankings | vS Meta Score | Class Analysis & Decklists | Meta Breaker of the Week | How to Contribute | Credits


Number of Games

Overall 110,000
Legend 36,000
Diamond 4 to 1 20,000
Diamond 10 to 5 24,000
Platinum 13,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 17,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

The Twin Slice change has led to a drastic decline in Demon Hunters, although the class is still the most popular in the format. Alongside a fall in Aggro Demon Hunter’s popularity, we see the emergence of Control Demon Hunter builds utilizing Magtheridon. Did Aggro Demon Hunter actually take a hit in its performance, or did our initial impression from the early days of the patch (discussed in Episode 4 of the Data Reaper Podcast) stand the test of time?

Both Druid and Hunter have risen in play, two classes that we expected to benefit from the patch due to their poor matchups against Aggro Demon Hunter. Spell Druid has nearly matched the popularity of Aggro Demon Hunter, making it highly influential. Highlander Hunter’s recent downward spiral has reversed its course.

There has been a small decline in Warriors at legend, which is likely caused by the decline in Demon Hunters. The archetype that has suffered the biggest hit in its play rate is Bomb-Control Warrior, so it’ll be interesting to see whether this trend is supported by a decline in its win rate. Enrage Warrior is fairly stable, while Pirate Warrior has seen a slight uptick in its play.

Rogue and Priest’s popularities are fairly unaffected by the patch. Strangely, Galakrond Priest has risen in popularity at legend despite the decline in favorable Warrior matchups. Highlander Rogue is slowly disappearing at higher levels of play, while Galakrond Rogue seems to have finalized its refinement. Questing Adventurer and Spymistress have become a consensus in the large majority of the archetype’s builds, whether they are Secret or Stealth.

Highlander Mage has seen a slight uptick in play, as it looked fairly impressive before the patch. On the other hand, Quest Warlock is trending down, despite the decline in its oppressive matchup: Bomb-Control Warrior.

Interest in Paladin (Pure and Murloc) has slightly picked up after the patch at the higher end of ladder, but Shaman continues to attract very little interest.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion

Aggro Demon Hunter keeps getting away with it. The Twin Slice change has done nothing to address its power level in a meaningful way. In fact, the deck is stronger after the patch since the meta has become more favorable as a result of everyone’s assumption that it would be weaker! Aggro DH isn’t weaker; it remains an absolute powerhouse with a near-perfect matchup spread only blemished by two Warrior decks and one variant of Galakrond Rogue.

Still, we can identify some small differences in Aggro Demon Hunter’s performance in some matchups, which are partly responsible for the change in these decks’ weighted win rates in the Power Rankings as well. The increase in Twin Slice’s mana cost has decreased Aggro Demon Hunter’s early game snowballing, so its matchups against Spell Druid and Highlander Hunter have become less favorable. On the other hand, the new Twin Slice has increased the deck’s late-game damage potential, so Aggro Demon Hunter performs better against defensive decks that try to outlast it, such as Galakrond Priest, Bomb-Control Warrior, and Quest Warlock.

So, Aggro Demon Hunter’s extremely dominant early game is just slightly weaker, but probably not weak enough to make any other early-game, board-centric deck capable of beating it. At the same time, it’s even harder for the slower decks in the current meta to beat it. In addition, we’ve identified a possible build path that allows Aggro Demon Hunter to re-establish its dominant early game snowballing capability and gain back the percentages lost against Hunter and Druid, while not losing anything in slower matchups. The only question is whether it can perform well enough in the mirror after making these adjustments. We talk about it in the Demon Hunter section.

Enrage Warrior is currently sitting as the 2nd best deck in the meta, though we expect it to close the gap on Aggro DH once the population of Demon Hunters rises again. It has also seen some new developments in its build that have contributed to improving its performance against several decks, so it didn’t decline in its win rate despite meta trends you could consider to be unfavorable.

On the other hand, Bomb-Control Warrior has certainly weakened due to an increase in meta hostility, a decline in Aggro Demon Hunters, and a worsening matchup against them. It is also becoming difficult for the archetype to balance its build between beating Druid and Demon Hunter since their play rate is very similar.

Spell Druid and Highlander Hunter are looking quite strong at the moment. Their matchup spreads are nearly flawless, with just the lingering unfavorable matchup against Aggro Demon Hunter proving to be an obstacle on their path to Tier 1. It will be interesting to see how this matchup changes over the next couple of weeks, with the result determining how these decks will trend going forward.

Galakrond Rogue has recovered from its underperforming period, and it now looks closer to where it belongs. While the difference between the Stealth and Secret variant is very small at the moment, we do give an edge to the Stealth variant. Since Aggro Demon Hunter is expected to rise in play, Stealth’s edge over Secret will likely grow.

Galakrond Priest’s standing in the format has become worse, which isn’t surprising considering the decline in Warriors and the rise of Highlander Hunters. Interestingly, Highlander Priest seems slightly better in the current meta, but both are quite inconsistent throughout most of ladder. They just don’t possess enough favorable matchups against the top meta decks.

Highlander Mage is doing okay, but it seems to have been eclipsed by Druid and Hunter. Things have been a little bit more difficult with Highlander Hunter’s rise in popularity, but Mage’s decline is partly self-inflicted. Cutting Arcane Mysteries and Flame Ward has become fairly common after the patch due to the expectation of a weakened Demon Hunter, but this move has hurt the matchup and subsequently, Mage’s overall performance.

Quest Warlock has seen a small rise in win rate, mostly caused by the decline in Bomb-Control Warrior. Unfortunately, the rise in Highlander Hunter and the increased difficulty of the Aggro Demon Hunter matchup has offset some of the gains it could potentially make.

One possibly positive early outcome of the patch is the viability of Paladin. Both Pure Paladin and Murloc Paladin are producing some decent results that would certainly take them out of the Shaman tier. Pure Paladin is in reasonable company alongside Quest Warlock and Galakrond Priest, while Murloc Paladin looks like a legitimately strong deck to climb to legend with. The question is whether they can sustain their performance once the meta settles down and Aggro Demon Hunter grows in popularity and becomes more efficient. Unfortunately, our money is on the answer being “no”.

Class Analysis & Decklists

Demon Hunter | Druid | Hunter | Mage | Paladin | Priest | Rogue | Shaman | Warlock | Warrior

 


Aggro Demon Hunter simply refuses to be effectively nerfed. Despite being repeatedly hit with balance changes over the last three months, the archetype can still be recognized as the best deck in the game today.

The Twin Slice change has proven to be a sidegrade, not negatively affecting the deck’s overall performance against the field. However, it did cause a very slight shift in the deck’s power that we can identify in some of its matchups. Aggro Demon Hunter’s early game is a little bit weaker since some of its on-curve plays have been hit by Twin Slice’s mana cost increase. This affects matchups in which the Demon Hunter wants to snowball on the opponent. In contrast, its late game is even stronger, since the reworked Twin Slice provides additional burst damage and reach that isn’t conditional upon drawing Altruis (by the way, this makes the old cycle build worse). This affects matchups in which the Demon Hunter needs to finish off the opponent.

Furthermore, we may have identified a way in which Aggro Demon Hunter bolsters its early game snowballing back to its familiar excellence. MrLiu has won the China Gold Championship by running an Aggro Demon Hunter list that includes two Amani Berserkers alongside two Guardian Augmerchants. While this novel list isn’t perfectly built (it cuts one Twin Slice and runs no Altruis, which should still be considered untouchable), we’ve been impressed with the Amani Berserkers trickling into ladder play.

The key is the early game consistency of the Brawler/Berserker/Augmerchant/Sidekick package. Guardian Augmerchant has been performing at such a high level that we wanted to run two copies of it in the deck. However, the card did not have enough enticing targets to buff besides Bonechewer Brawler, so Amani Berserker serves a similar role.

Instead of cutting Altruis and Twin Slice, the featured build cuts Eye Beams and one Frozen Shadoweaver. This tweak maintains our prowess in slower matchups, but helps us dominate Druid and Hunter once again. What’s particularly striking is that our early game is now so strong that cutting Eye Beam/Shadoweaver may not hurt us in the mirror anymore since we’re more consistent at initially seizing the board (we’ve been very hesitant to cut Eye Beam until now because of its importance in the mirror). We’ll re-evaluate this novel build next week and see whether its matchup spread lines up with our estimates.

There have been experiments with other Demon Hunter decks. However, both Control Demon Hunter and Highlander Demon Hunter have looked miles off being competitive, and we couldn’t find any potential solutions within the data in order to improve them yet. We’ll take a second, more thorough, look at them in the next report, and see whether we can uncover a gem inside the mess.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Spell Druid is feeling quite good in the aftermath of the Twin Slice nerf. Its only bad matchup, Aggro Demon Hunter, is not as potent as it used to be in its early game snowballing. However, this reprieve could be temporary should the Demon Hunter section prove to be prophetic. Spell Druid does not want to face Amani Berserkers and two Guardian Augmerchants whatsoever.

We do like the builds we’ve settled on before the patch, running both Claws and Moonfires, which increases the consistency of Mountsellers while providing early game answers. In both the Breath variant and the non-Breath variant, we ended up swapping Soul of the Forest back in to replace one copy of Power of the Wild. There is very little difference between the cards in the post-patch meta, so we want to diversify our options with Soul of the Forest’s more unique effect in specific matchups. The 30th card in the deck is certainly not pinned down yet.

We’ll reiterate what we said about the two variants before the patch: The Breath build taxes other matchups to improve against Warrior, so it’s the better option in the Warrior heavy meta often found at high legend. The non-Breath build tends to be better elsewhere on ladder.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Refinements in Warrior this week are mostly focused on improving the Spell Druid matchup, which is close and challenging for all Warrior decks.

Execute has seen a rise in play in Enrage Warrior, and the card is performing at a pretty good level, making it a possible consideration for the 29th and 30th slots. Outside of looking extremely powerful against Druid, it’s good in the mirror, and useful when facing other matchups such as Rogue, Priest, and Warlock. Its weakest matchups are Demon Hunter and Hunter.

Bomb-Control Warrior is beginning to run two Brawls in order to have more answers for Glowfly Swarm, Exotic Mountsellers, and Ysera. The card you’d cut for the 2nd Brawl is usually a copy of Sword and Board.

Pirate Warrior is getting greedier with Upgrades, and Maiev Shadowsong is a card that has emerged to be a strong answer to Druids attempting to stabilize through Ironbark.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Galakrond Rogue has recovered in its performance and once again returns to Tier 2, but this development wasn’t the result of the patch. Players now simply understand the importance of Spymistress and Questing Adventurer in the current meta, and the cards are now widely popular.

As such, we haven’t really made any changes to both variants of Galakrond Rogue. We still estimate that the Stealth build is the slightly stronger choice for ladder due to its superiority when facing Demon Hunter. Its matchup against the meta tyrant continues to be quite favorable. Galakrond Stealth Rogue is the only non-Warrior deck in the game that seems capable of beating Demon Hunter with any consistency.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

We expected Hunter to benefit from the balance changes, and upon initial glance, it certainly did. The question remains whether Highlander Hunter can maintain a more reasonable matchup against Aggro Demon Hunter, or end up suffering the same fate it did a few weeks ago once Illidan peaks in popularity once again.

We’ll reiterate that Highlander Hunter doesn’t seem capable of adjusting to this matchup effectively. Acidic Swamp Ooze is a huge bait in the matchup, and there aren’t any other cards that we can identify as matchup changers. The featured build is pretty much the best one you can take to ladder.

Both Dragon Hunter and Face Hunter have gotten stronger after the patch, but they could be benefitting from the early patch clunkiness of other decks experimenting with new things. We’re just as wary of their ability to sustain success once the meta settles down to a composition that’s similar to the one we saw before the patch.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Galakrond Priest might be the biggest loser of the Twin Slice change, which has specifically become a more powerful card for Demon Hunter in the matchup. In addition, the increase in meta diversity and rise of Highlander Hunter has exposed Priest’s fairly limited matchup strengths. The class will be hoping to see a return to a meta that’s tilted in the direction of Warrior, where Priest can find a place to succeed, especially at high legend ladder. For now, its position in the meta has suffered a blow.

No, Reckless Rocketeer is not the answer.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Highlander Mage has seen a decline in its win rate, with unfavorable meta shifts that also saw some classes improve their performance against it. However, this decline might be temporary should the meta see a return to its pre-patch days. The deck hasn’t seen any notable developments. We’re very wary of cutting the secret package due to its strength against Aggro Demon Hunter, which we expect to see rise in play in the next couple of weeks.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Quest Warlock has stayed in place, with meta developments mostly cancelling each other out when it comes to Warlock’s standing in the field (Druid/Hunter rising and Warrior declining). The deck’s build is largely agreed upon. Ooze performs quite poorly in the deck unless you’re facing a lot of Warriors, so keep that in mind. Cutting a Soulfire or a Questing Explorer hurts your other matchups more than you think.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Paladin is actually showing signs of life in the first week of the patch, but we can’t help but doubt whether it can last. Pure Paladin seems to have improved its Aggro Demon Hunter matchup, but we’re already seeing signs of adjustments within the meta tyrant that could reverse any gains made, with this matchup looking worse at higher levels of play. Murloc Paladin has benefitted from the rise in popularity of Druid and Hunter, as well as the decline of Demon Hunter and Warrior. However, all indications are that the two best decks in the game (Aggro DH, Enrage Warrior) should return to dominate the field, and both of them are horrid matchups to Murloc Paladin. So, once the tribal deck returns to the Power Ranking table next week, its position in the meta could already look significantly worse.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

We haven’t identified any promising leads within the Shaman class. It still looks pretty unplayable and a waste of time. Just another month to wait until the new expansion.


Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

Aggro Demon Hunter is the best deck in the game, and it might even get better once it finds a way to adjust to the reworked Twin Slice. Frozen Shadoweaver and Eye Beam are mirror tax cards that you could potentially cut if you could find a build that goes 50/50 in the mirror without them, since their value in other matchups is lower.

The featured build looks to increase the deck’s early game consistency to the point in which it always threatens to snowball on turn 2, while taking advantage of the fact that Twin Slice is much stronger in the late game. Twin Slice now provides you with more reach to finish off the opponent after you’ve done enough damage early in the game, but its increased cost means that Demon Hunter could benefit by adding other ways to develop in the early game beyond its 1-drops and Satyr Overseer.

The Brawler/Berserker/Sidekick/Merchant package looks so plain and “vanilla” and yet it works because of Demon Hunter’s board control tools, its consistent hero power, and its relentless damage. It’s simply so good at pushing an advantage. Nothing has fundamentally changed in the deck when it comes to its matchups: While some small shifts may exist, you’re still favored against most things that aren’t Warrior.

So at the moment, Aggro Demon Hunter is largely underplayed. Not for long.

Aggro Demon Hunter


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Contributors

Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report:

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