Welcome to the 168th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Diamond 4 to 1||25,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||32,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
Demon Hunter is in the process of re-taking full control of the meta, after the change to Twin Slice failed to curb its power level. Aggro Demon Hunter is spiking in popularity at an alarming pace. By next week, we estimate that it should reach a play rate of 25% at Diamond 4-1, and easily eclipse 20% at legend. This will make Aggro Demon Hunter more prevalent and more dominant than it was before the most recent patch.
The initial growth of Spell Druid and Highlander Hunter in response to the patch has been stunted. The rise of their most difficult matchup is causing players to reconsider taking them to ladder, and we can already identify that they’re beginning to trend down.
Warrior is shifting. Bomb-Control Warrior has significantly declined in popularity while players are flocking to Enrage Warrior. With Aggro Demon Hunter’s improved performance against slower decks following the Twin Slice change, Enrage Warrior is now perceived as the sole reliable answer to the meta tyrant.
Both Galakrond Rogue and Galakrond Priest are seeing internal changes. Rogue players are embracing the Stealth variant, while the Secret variant is fading away. Priest players are experimenting with a Dormant variant of Galakrond Priest that runs Grave Rune and Psyche Split initially popularized by NoHandsGamer, as well as Highlander Priest.
Mage and Warlock seem fixated in their ways. Players continue to experiment with decks that aren’t Highlander Mage or Quest Warlock, but they aren’t gaining any traction.
There is very little interest in the Paladin class, and there’s even less interest in Shaman.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Aggro Demon Hunter has successfully adjusted to the Twin Slice change, and is arguably stronger now than before the patch. The increased damage potential of Twin Slice has made it more difficult to outlast, while its early game is just as strong thanks to the rise of the Enrage build. Based on its performance, we expect it to continue to rise in play, as it certainly has yet to reach the point of saturation.
The only other clear Tier 1 deck is Enrage Warrior, due to its terrific matchup against Aggro Demon Hunter. While Bomb-Control Warrior is still a strong deck that is certainly favored against Aggro Demon Hunter, it’s not as strong as it was before the latest patch.
Both Druid and Hunter have seen their win rates decline, which is something that we fully expected to see happen. The meta is simply correcting itself back to a similar field that we saw before the Twin Slice change. Spell Druid and Highlander Hunter continue to struggle against the meta tyrant, so the rise in this difficult matchup is causing them to wither.
With Druid and Hunter falling, Highlander Mage has re-emerged as a strong deck if you aren’t interested in piloting the two best decks. As long as you focus on performing to the maximum level against Demon Hunter, you should have a fairly good time.
Galakrond Rogue might be the only deck that exhibits an improving win rate against Aggro Demon Hunter, a result of its internal shift towards the Stealth build. It’s another solid, yet not outstanding, deck in the format.
Priest remains fairly mediocre outside of a specific top legend meta that is swarmed by Warriors that look to counter Demon Hunters. Not much has changed in its position in the meta, though its internal development is currently quite interesting.
Quest Warlock is a little better thanks to the decline in Bomb-Control Warrior, and it might get stronger if it is followed by a significant decline in Highlander Hunter. However, we can’t see a way for this deck to break out in greater numbers unless Priest’s position in the meta drastically improves.
Both Murloc and Pure Paladin have declined in their performance as a result of hostile meta trends and the increased efficiency of other classes. Murloc Paladin is quite strong at lower ranks but dives in its win rate once it meets a high population of Demon Hunters and Warriors.
Out of all the fringe decks currently lingering in Tier 4, Control Demon Hunter might have the best chance of escaping the dumpster. The archetype is still fairly unrefined but displays a significant scope for improvement. We don’t think it’s going to be a great deck over the next month, but it might be able to climb to Tier 3 if it finds a missing piece.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Aggro Demon Hunter is once again exploding in popularity, exhibiting a dominant matchup spread only blemished by the Warrior class.
The Enrage build has been a resounding success, with its performance against the field strongly lining up with our theoretical estimates. It dominates Druid, excels against other classes (such as Hunter and Mage), and does not lose any percentages in the mirror despite cutting Eye Beam and a Frozen Shadoweaver. There has been some experimentation with cutting another card in order to re-introduce the 2nd Frozen Shadoweaver, but we don’t see a clear upgrade here. The featured build is heavily responsible for the archetype’s elevated performance in multiple matchups, which helped keep Aggro Demon Hunter fairly dominant despite the rise in its most difficult matchup: Enrage Warrior.
Control Demon Hunter could have some potential if it finds a way to increase its damage output or establish a more consistent win condition alongside Hoard Pillagers. While evaluating the deck, we’ve found that cards that get stuck in hand for too long are very disruptive to Skull of Gul’dan and Spectral Sight. Cutting Chaos Nova for a 2nd Aldrachi Warblades was easy since the weapon is very important for the deck’s survivability. Zephrys and Thalnos are cheaper cards that can be more easily thrown away, but we wonder whether they can be replaced with a more playable card that fits the game plan better.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Aggro Demon Hunter
- Control Demon Hunter
Warrior seems to have returned to its previous role as the only class capable of curbing the dominance of Demon Hunter, which means its primary archetypes benefit from improving this matchup further.
The Teron/Egg variant of Enrage Warrior is now fairly close in its performance to the non-Egg variant thanks to its stronger Demon Hunter matchup. We’ve seen Injured Tol’virs being re-introduced to the non-Egg variant and think it’s a worthwhile consideration in order to shore up the deck’s early game. Execute remains an option if you’re running into a lot of Druids, but since this class has recently declined in popularity, Execute is not as good as it was a couple of weeks ago. The availability of the 2nd Kor’kron Elite gives the Tol’vir build stronger matchups into slower decks.
Bomb-Control Warrior should also be leaning back towards improving the Demon Hunter matchup over the Druid one, which is why the 2nd Sword & Board is likely stronger than the 2nd Brawl. This deck still beats Aggro Demon Hunter, but this matchup has become more difficult as a result of the change to Twin Slice, giving Demon Hunter more damage and reach in the late game.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Enrage Warrior
- Control Warrior
- Pirate Warrior
Spell Druid has suffered a big blow as a result of the rise of Aggro Demon Hunter, as well as the emergence of the Enrage variant, which is particularly ruthless in this specific matchup. Spell Druid has fallen in both its play rate as well as its win rate.
The archetype’s builds shouldn’t change in the current environment. We still value Claw in the current meta due to its strength in the Demon Hunter matchup, and yes, it’s still a good card even though it doesn’t answer the Enrage package as effectively. Power of the Wild is a slightly better card in other matchups, but Claw is a bigger contributor to your bottom line.
Galakrond Rogue’s spot in the meta isn’t great, but it’s quite okay. We’re not fond of its Druid and Warrior matchups, but we’re impressed with what the Stealth variant is capable of doing against Demon Hunter.
This brings us to our main point. With Demon Hunter rising in popularity again, it’s very hard to justify ever running the Secret variant anymore. The Stealth variant has taken over ladder and pretty much keeps Rogue afloat, as it’s the only non-Warrior deck that can beat Aggro Demon Hunter with any consistency.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Galakrond Rogue
- Highlander Rogue
Once again, Highlander Hunter is crashing under the weight of its poor Aggro Demon Hunter matchup. Amani Berserkers have ensured that the experience is just as painful as it used to be with a 0 mana Twin Slice. Highlander Hunter is still a pretty strong deck, but not a dominant one and certainly not one that can challenge the meta tyrant.
In the initial aftermath of the patch, we saw Druid significantly rise in play, which incentivized faster versions of Dragon Hunter running Stonetusk Boars in order to rush down the opponent. Since the meta has now returned to its previous Demon Hunter/Warrior focus, it’s once again better to play a slower, midrange game (you don’t become better against Demon Hunter, but you’re certainly better against Warrior).
- Hunter Class Radar
- Highlander Hunter
- Dragon Hunter
- Face Hunter
Galakrond Priest has seen some development, with a new Dormant variant gaining traction thanks to the success of NoHandsGamer both in tournaments and ladder. This variant focuses on a stronger early game with the capability to pressure and snowball opponents through Psyche Split. Another new addition to the deck is Escaped Manasaber, pioneered by Gle, which works better than Fate Weaver since we’re running less invokes and want a strong Psyche Split target on curve.
After evaluating this variant, we’ve reached the conclusion that the 2nd Imprisoned Homunculus is very likely better than the more situational 2nd Grave Rune. Homunculus is one of the stronger cards in the deck, and doesn’t fall off in its performance after turn 1 thanks to its powerful combos with Apotheosis and Psyche Split. This deck is generally still a work in progress and might not be fully optimized just yet. We wonder whether the deck can shed more of its reactive tools in order to pressure more effectively (Example: Is dropping Time Rip for Shield of Galakrond a viable option?).
So, is the Dormant variant currently better than the more familiar Thief build? That doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment. The Dormant variant is stronger against Demon Hunter because it can contest its early game more effectively, but it’s much worse in slower matchups (such as Rogue, Mage, and the mirror).
Meanwhile, players continue to toy with Highlander Priest builds, but we haven’t seen one that performs better than the Dragon variant. We generally like the proactivity and card draw that dragons offer, and updated the build to include Vulpera Scoundrel, Escaped Manasaber and Siamat.
- Priest Class Radar
- Galakrond Priest
- Highlander Priest
The decline of Hunter is very good news for Highlander Mage, which finds itself in a familiarly strong spot in the meta thanks to a very balanced matchup spread. We’ll reiterate what we said in the last report: the Arcane Mysteries/Flame Ward package is too strong against Demon Hunter to cut. You contest Aggro Demon Hunter surprisingly effectively with the featured build, but start to struggle against them without the full secret package.
Quest Warlock might be encouraged by the fact that Bomb-Control Warrior is not as strong as it was before the Twin Slice change, but the problem remains that the archetype does not beat any of the top meta decks with the exception of Priest.
Experimentations continue within the class, as players attempt to revive Control Warlock and Zoo Warlock. Alas, these decks look firmly placed in the Shaman tier.
It’s back to mediocrity with Paladin. The rise of Demon Hunter and Enrage Warrior has hit Murloc Paladin’s initially promising performance in the early days of the patch, while Pure Paladin has been left behind. You can probably do very well with Murloc Paladin at lower ranks, but it becomes more difficult to succeed the higher you climb ladder.
Shaman is still deep in the dumpster, and while we continue to monitor the class for potential discoveries, we can’t find anything valuable.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Pure Paladin
- Murloc Paladin
- Shaman Class Radar
- Highlander Shaman
Demon Hunter is out of control, and until it gets hit with real balance changes, the best way to deal with it is by playing Enrage Warrior. The deck has a chance of taking the #1 spot at legend at some point in the future, but whether it does so or not, there is no doubt that Demon Hunter and Warrior are that much stronger than everything else.
Enrage Warrior provides you with two viable pathways. If you’re interested in beating Aggro Demon Hunter even harder, you run the Teron/Egg build. If you’re interested in having a more balanced matchup spread, you opt for the non-Egg build, add the 2nd Kor’kron Elite, and use your flex spots wisely.
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