vS Data Reaper Report #17
Welcome to the 17th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,100 contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.
More contributors mean more accurate win rate information. With the new adventure rolling, we need as many contributors as possible to quickly identify new archetypes, and better evaluate their power levels. If you have not done so already, please sign up with your Track-O-Bot information here: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. If you’d like to help support our initiative to provide high-quality data-driven content to the community for free, you can join our team by supporting us on Patreon:We begin with our deck frequency charts for games recorded between August 31 and September 6. The first chart shows all ranks, and the second can be switched between different ranks. For the entire week, we’ve compiled 67,000 games overall. We recorded about 23k games at ranks 1-10, 23k games at ranks 11-15 and 3k games at legend (Mostly on the final day of the month).
A Note about Hunter: As always, we’re following the inner Metagame within classes very closely. We’ve been noticing a pattern in the Hunter class that has begun since Kindly Grandmother was released, which is the convergence of Mid-Range and Hybrid Hunter. Many Mid-Range builds are starting to add more early game minions, accepting the Hybrid doctrine of fighting for the board in the early game in order to deal with aggression. Essentially, the archetypes are now so close together that they are one and the same, with some cards being tech choices rather than archetype defining. In order to properly evaluate the current strength of Mid-Range Hunter, we’ve reset the win rates of the archetype from the point Kindly Grandmother was released to properly account for the dramatic change it has experienced since then. We are always ready to do these resets once we identify that something has drastically changed in certain matchups, in order to always be up to date with the changing Meta.
‘By Rank’ Games
Next is a graph displaying the popularity of classes during the last 16 weeks, since the Data Reaper Project launched.
Class Frequency by Weeks
- Is the previous order slowly being restored? Warrior is finally recovering from the dramatic fall it has experienced over the past few weeks. We’re not surprised, as it is the best class in the game when it comes to dealing with Aggro Shaman. Both Dragon and Control Warrior are good options to keep the Metagame tyrant in check, and Warrior’s rise is simply a countering act against an archetype that has spun out of control.
- With Warrior’s rise, Shaman is starting to show a small decline. This pattern is very similar to the one we’ve seen after the launch of standard format and the Old Gods expansion.
- The release of Medivh and Medivh’s Valet has caused a spike in the amount of Mages on ladder. Tempo Mage is an archetype that is very popular with the masses, as it’s a fun deck to play, but we’re also seeing slower Mage decks appearing. Reno Mage is largely untested and has massive variance in its builds, while Control Mage is very new. We’ll have to see if these archetypes can stand the test of time.
- Druid falls, but that is largely because of the Beast Druid hype dying out. Yogg Druid maintains respectable numbers; though it is a deck many players shy away from due to its relatively complicated nature, despite its obvious power in the right hands.
- Zoo Warlock is making a comeback behind Malchezaar’s Imp. This minion makes discard mechanic builds much stronger and players are finally compelled to play with an archetype that was largely ignored since Karazhan’s launch.
- Rogue is seeing more play, and it is a class in utter experimental turmoil, searching for its identity. The Burgle builds are showing up, but we can’t really narrow them down to a consistent structure yet. Many players are having fun experimenting with Ethereal Peddler in both Miracle builds and non-Miracle builds.
- Priest’s decline is continuing. After the initial outrage at Purify, and then the counter hype surrounding Priest of the Feast and Onyx Bishop, the class is starting to display a frequency pattern of play of a class that…. loses. A lot. We’re also seeing Dragon Priest beginning to appear again, though we still need a bit more time to properly evaluate how strong that archetype can be with the addition of Book Wyrm and Netherspite Historian.
We now present the updated “vS Power Rankings” table for week # 17. The numbers we report are the expected win rates of each archetype based on their matchups against the field, factoring in the frequency of all potential opponents on ladder at different rank groups over the past week.
- We’re beginning to see a slight decline in Aggro Shaman’s score. Though it is still quite insanely high, Dragon and Control Warrior are beginning to do their work at correcting the Meta. We’ve always said that Warrior as a class was not the problem during the Old Gods timeline; it was the solution to a highly oppressive archetype that warps the Meta like no other. If you want to deal with Aggro Shaman though (or just have a better deck to climb ladder in general), drop that Prince Malchezaar!
- Mid-Range Hunter has established itself as one of the most powerful decks on ladder as well as one that is relatively easy to pilot and succeed with. Kindly Grandmother is not a flashy card, but it is certainly one of the most influential in the Karazhan set, providing that sticky board presence that Hunter needed. The one issue that Hunter’s overbearing presence creates is the crippling effect on control decks on ladder, scavenging on them with a single (or two) card: Call of the Wild. As a result, in the tournament scene, you often see quite a different Metagame that doesn’t surround the class, as it is very possible to counter with specific lineups.
- Mid-Range Shaman is now tier 1. We’ve followed this archetype closely and expected this to happen sooner or later. The new tools it has received put it over the top, and it has really good matchups against the rest of the field. It’s better against Warriors than Aggro Shaman, keeps relatively good win rates against Druids and Hunters, and it also does well against Aggro Shaman. We feel this archetype has massive potential going forward on ladder, and it could also dramatically change the tournament scene and the way lineups are being structured.
- Yogg Druid is barely out of Tier 1, though it’s definitely one of the best decks in the game and a favorite in the pro scene due to the difficulty in countering it in a tournament format. Note that any archetype that has a score of over 50% is really good. We’re also seeing that Yogg Druid is recovering from the experimental turmoil it has experienced last week, so we don’t expect it to stay out of Tier 1 for long as a result.
- Although the increase in Warriors is hurting Zoo, we can definitely see in our internal numbers that the deck, in a vacuum, spiked in its power with Malchezaar’s Imp. The increase in Soulfire/Doomguard builds might also affect some of its matchups going forward, which we are monitoring.
- Tempo Mage may have hit a ceiling. We think the deck’s potential is very strong, though an optimal list may have yet to be found. The faster burn variant of Tempo Mage, which is very much under the radar amongst the masses, might be better overall for ladder play, potentially having better matchups against faster decks. For more details, read the Mage section.
- Evolve Shaman has really fallen off. We suspect this may be a result of players learning how to deal with it better over the past week. Overtrading and keeping the board clean is a very strong counter against a deck that heavily relies on having multiple bodies to leverage its win condition.
- The current state of Paladin and Priest looks grim. While the Dragon variants of these classes are very much in an experimental phase, and there’s hope for them still, the control archetypes look quite weak when it comes to ladder play. Anyfin Paladin appears to be a superior choice to Control Paladin as the combo deck’s faster cycle might help it find its tools to deal with aggressive decks more consistently, while also putting a clock on control decks. Meanwhile, Priest sucks. See you in three months, Anduin?
The biggest winner of ONiK, Hunter, remains in a very good spot, being the most popular class in the game overall following the influx of cards that has propelled its strategy into new heights. Many players have been laddering and experimenting with new Hunter builds this week.
Abar, who recently qualified for the America’s Summer Championship, has made a really innovative & interesting spell-centric “Fun and Interactive “ Hunter build, peaking at top 50 legend on AM. His build only includes 2 minions, Barnes & Y’Shaarj, as well as a slew of secrets and spell-based removals to stall and deal with the opponent’s threats, until playing out its own threats. With only these 2 minions, Barnes (almost) guarantees summoning a 1/1 copy of Y’Shaarj, which then pulls the real 10/10 Y’Shaarj from the deck. This is a very powerful play that can win games as early as turn 4.
Towards the end of last season, Eloise managed to reach top 10 legend with a hybrid style Mid-Range Hunter build. Her deck features 1 Argent Horserider, 1 Argent Squire and two Unleash the Hounds to synergize with Dire Wolf Alpha and two Abusive Sergeants. These minions help fight for the board in the early game in order to deal with fast paced, minion-centric aggressive decks.
Fr0zen won the 2016 ONOG Pax Prime finals this week, featuring another Mid-Range Hunter deck similar to Eloise’s list in his lineup. The only difference from Eloise was swapping out an Abusive Sergeant for Tracking, which can often help dig into specific cards in certain situation and in different matchups. Remember, Tracking is not a turn 1 play!
In the current state of the Meta, Mid-Range Hunter remains a dominant archetype of the class, with most players focusing on a more minion-based list that synergizes with Barnes. However it will be interesting to see whether new innovations for the class that are more spell-centric in nature, such as Abar’s deck, or the Cloaked Huntress trap builds, can measure up to the same levels.
- Abar’s “Fun and Interactive” Hunter
- Eloise’s Mid-Range Hunter
- Frozen’s Mid-Range Hunter
- Lifecoach’s Mid-Range Secret Hunter
Warriorstone may be over, but the class is still performing well even after taking a hit in popularity due to the rise of Midrange Hunter. This week it showed signs of slowly recovering. A couple of Warrior variants still prove to be viable, with several innovations developed over over the last week. Fibonacci, a top Control Warrior player, has been experimenting with several ONiK cards including Fool’s Bane and Violet Illusionist. After setting up a Fool’s Bane on a previous turn, dropping down a Violet Illusionist lets you clean up most board states with no danger of putting you within lethal range. Fibonacci also opts to run Ironforge Portals, on which the verdict is still out. Sometimes it will make a 7/7; sometimes it will pull a 1/1 with taunt.
While Yogg has been hotly debated in competitive play, it is finding its way into spell-centric Control Warrior variants, such as Cipher’s Elise Warrior. The lists’ spell-heavy package features cards such as Blood to Ichor and the previously mentioned Ironforge portal to power up a game-ending Yogg, while being useful in their own right. Elise gives the deck a plan B if Yogg goes awry, allowing it to stay in the game after a poor outcome.
Another Old God, N’Zoth, remains a solid win condition for Control Warrior as well with Fibonacci recently taking such a variant into top 5 legend. The build is very similar to Cipher’s build, but cuts Blood to Ichor and an Acolyte for Cairne and Infested Tauren to synergize with N’Zoth as a late game value bomb. It also drops Elise for Alex, as Elise isn’t as important in a deck packing so much value. This build is much more grindy in nature.
In the tournament scene, Luminosity’s Fr0zen took ONOG with a top-heavy Dragon Warrior list. Updating Sjow’s build by adding a Deathwing, Fr0zen’s lineup is well positioned against mid-range decks if it survives to the lategame. However, cutting a Ravaging Ghoul means that it is weaker against some aggressive decks such as Zoo. His teammate, Chakki, also included a new tech in Dragon Warrior: Book Wyrm. It performed very well for him, chewing through a Fandral and a Stampeding Kodo like nobody’s business.
- Cipher’s Yogg Control Warrior
- Fibonacci’s N’Zoth Control Warrior
- Fibonacci’s Hipster Illusionist Control Warrior
- Fr0zen’s Dragon Warrior
Shaman is certainly one of the big winners of the adventure, if the class wasn’t strong enough already. Maelstrom Portal has become popular in all archetypes of the class. Its ability to clear a board while developing a minion at the same time is outstanding and complements the strategy of both Aggro and Mid-Range Shaman. Wicked Witchdoctor is also an interesting card that was overlooked by many and is seeing play in a totem-centric Mid-Range Shaman build. Its stats aren’t the best for the cost, and it faces tough competition at its mana slot, but its ability to quickly snowball the game and synergize with cards such as Bloodlust, Totemic Might and Primal Fusion are strong enough to elevate it into a respectable spot in the Meta. Witchdoctor also fits well with the last class card of the set, Spirit Claws. Much like the previous two cards the class has received, Spirit Claws was underestimated and is seeing a lot of experimentation. It might have initially seemed like these three cards couldn’t impact the Meta but their flexibility ended up being a great boon to the Shaman card pool.
- Standard Aggro Shaman
- Xixo’s Totem Mid-Range Shaman
- BoarControl’s Mid-Range Shaman
- Cerasi’s Mid-Range Shaman
Mage has received a lot of help from the recent adventure. In the past, Freeze Mage was by far the dominant archetype in high-level tournaments but it has seen almost no play in the past week. Tempo Mage is becoming a favorite amongst players who are still trying to refine an optimal list for the changing Meta. There are two main approaches of Tempo Mage, and most builds vary somewhere between them: The first one is the slower, value-centric build with Cabalist’s Tomes, Babbling Book and a heavy late game usually featuring either Antonidas and/or Medivh. This variant has less consistency in its direct damage and sometimes depends on a well-fed Yogg-Saron to push out a victory, but it possesses incredible longevity against control decks. The second variant is much more focused on consistent burn and card draw, with the addition of Forgotten Torch, Fireland’s Portal and Acolyte of Pain. It’s a lot faster and more aggressive, and after initial control of the board in the early game, often flips the switch and starts burning face once it has accumulated enough damage. We feel this build is better equipped to deal with faster decks, as it has more tools to influence the board from hand and its racing potential is stronger. There is also a third, less common approach, which is cutting some of the spells and card draw for Water Elementals and Faceless Summoners, which makes the deck a lot more minion/curve-centric, in which case Ragnaros often replaces Yogg.
The release of Medivh and Medivh’s Valet has also sparked the evolution of some Control Mage builds. Some lists take the Freeze Mage shell, but instead of the normal win condition of Alex + burn, they utilize Medivh and high cost spells to generate incredible late game value. Medivh is also finding its way to Reno Mage, taking the same approach, though that archetype is still under heavy experimentation.
The Mage class has greatly increased in its diversity with ONiK’s release, both with the formation of new archetypes and the different approaches that are being taken with the most established one on ladder. We’re waiting to see how the class evolves further, but the signs are very promising.
- Standard Freeze Mage
- Rootftrellen’s Value Tempo Mage
- Thijs’ Value Medivh Tempo Mage
- Chakki’s Burn Tempo Mage
- StrifeCro’s Medivh Control Mage
The final wing of Karazhan was released this week but not much has changed for Druid in terms of new decks. The popularity of Druid on ladder plummeted this week due to players moving away from the initial hype of Beast Druid. Although the deck isn’t terrible, there are just better options on ladder.
Order has been restored within the class, with Yogg Druid remaining the most prominent Druid archetype and one of the most powerful decks in the game with the addition of Arcane Giant. Another change to Yogg Druid post-Karazhan is the emergence of Malygos as a late game finisher complemented by Moonfires. Within the archetype, there are some variants that can differ by the inclusion of certain packages: (1) the spell finisher package of Malygos/Moonfire and (2) the Token package of Violet Teacher/Power of the Wild.
Within Malygos Druid, there is also variation with two main builds: The Token plan or the Miracle plan. The most popular Token build would be Fr0zen’s list, which he used to win ONOG 2016 Circuit Finals. Many players have also enjoyed success with the same list in tournaments and on ladder, with APXVoid finishing rank 1 legend on Americas with the deck.
The Miracle variant of the deck that runs Gadgetzan Auctioneer for extra cycling power is also extremely powerful. Xixo used his list to finish top 10 on EU last month and Chakki used the same list to finish 2nd in the ONOG tournament.
Both variants of Malygos Druid dropped Ancient of War, which can be a very valuable card against aggressive decks. Some players believe that an Ancient of War Malygos build would be the most powerful due to the large presence of aggressive decks. No matter the build, most players believe that Malygos Druid is the most powerful deck in the game as it seems to have very few bad matchups and is almost impossible to counter in tournament formats.
Beast Druid remains the second most played archetype of Druid, though there isn’t any specific build that has been particularity impressive lately. Ramp Druid got a possible new card this week in Moonglade Portal, though it hasn’t seen much innovation either. Other variants of Druid aren’t really tested because of Yogg Druid’s overwhelming presence. It’s a favorite amongst many high level tournament players, who aren’t particularly motivated to try other archetypes. The growing feeling amongst many players is if you are playing the Druid class, there should probably be a Yogg in the deck if you want to win a lot. This narrative is also starting to spread to other classes as well.
With the release of Malchezaar’s Imp during the final week of Karazhan, Zoo Warlock has gained a surge of power. Malchezaar’s Imp synergy with Doomguard, Soulfire, and Silverware Golem allows Zoo to unleash huge tempo turns while negating the card’s downside. With the addition of two Soulfires to assist Malchezaar’s Imp, players have begun to cut Power Overwhelming, not wanting to go overboard on 4 damage effects. This new discard variant of Zoo also appears to have a stronger matchup against Aggro Shaman than old versions of Zoo, since the addition of Soulfires allows the Warlock to swing control of the board in the early game by removing a Totem Golem or a Tunnel Trogg before it starts to snowball.
In the ONOG finals, we saw glimpses of Reno Warlock, with both Dog and Eversiction bringing the deck. While Eversiction’s build is much more standard, Dog’s build is a dragon N’Zoth variant. By using dragons in the build, Dog is able to better contest the early game with Twilight guardian, Blackwing Technician, and Faerie Dragon. N’Zoth allows the deck to compete for value with slower control decks. While it remains to be seen whether Dog’s version is better than standard Renolock, it is certainly an enjoyable deck to mix up your ladder experience with.
Now that all of the adventure cards are out, Rogue experts have been experimenting with a strategy that can only be named one thing: “Mr. Steal Your Girl”. This is achieved by utilizing the new cards from ONIK, Swashburgler and Ethereal Peddler in combination with Burgle. The strategy is very fun to play, stealing your opponents’ cards and turning those resources against them is one of the most fun aspects in all card games. With the cost reduction from Ethereal Peddler, you’re to take a tempo hit in order to cast Burgle, as the peddler allows you to “gain back” the mana that was spent on casting Burgle, on top of a respectable 5/6 body.
Feno hit rank 1 legend with a Deathrattle/Burgle list topping out at both N’Zoth and Yogg-Saron, while Mr. Yagut has also had success playing a very similar build with an Auctioneer. Rogue is a class searching for its identity, and it seems to be doing alright by stealing others’. What hasn’t worked out for Priest seems to be working out for Rogue, and of course, the key to success with any spell heavy deck seems to be putting Yogg-Saron in your deck. Bow down to the God of Death.
The party at Karazhan has ended and it appears Anduin has taken the place of Medivh as the one lost in all of those portals! Seriously, where have our Priest mains gone? Who could have guessed after looking at all of the cards 35 days ago that Priest would still be bottom tier when the dust settled?
Most of us, actually.
The last wing released some dragon synergy cards that should be fueling the testing of a possibly strong new variant of Dragon Priest, unfortunately not too much has surfaced yet. While there are decks being made, none of them are making an impact just yet, and until we’ve seen something significant happen with Dragon Priest, we can’t really count on it.
The Control variant is really just one of two builds at the moment. We have the standard Zetalot style build that has opted away from some of the wackiness for a consistent mid-game heal strategy, and then we have the Kolento style full resurrect Clown Fiesta Barnes cheese. What can be said is that both styles can be a lot of fun, though the overall strength of Priest still remains far below most of the other classes.
Have faith though, as the dust settles on the new expansion, one can make out the silhouette of a potential horned horse beast in the distance! Oh wait, that’s just another Yogg.
Though still not a popular tournament pick, Paladin made another successful appearance with Eversiction piloting an N’Zoth Paladin list to top 4 in the ONOG finals this past weekend. The deck still has a place in some line ups and is much stronger in a ban format.
On ladder, Dragon Paladin has propelled to become the most common Paladin archetype. Players continue to experiment with different builds for it, as it seems that optimal lists remain undetermined. The release of Book Wyrm and Netherspite Historian opened up the possibility for more control oriented Dragon Paladin decks, rather than the aggressive Zoo/Curator based lists that often feature cards such as Vilefin Inquisitor and Zoobots.
Anyfin Paladin is the second most common deck on ladder, with Neville recently hitting #1 legend with a non-Curator build that also includes Barnes.
Mid-Range Shaman is one of the biggest winners of the adventure. Spirit Claws, Wicked Witchdoctor and Maelstrom Portal are all very strong cards that have pushed this archetype into the very elite group of decks. Many players are having success on ladder with different builds, which points out to its tremendous flexibility in adjusting according to what kind of opponents the player could be facing.
Some Mid-Range Shamans are faster, have a lower curve and are focused on Wicked Witchdoctor and totem synergy, such as Xixo’s build, and some have a heavier late game, with Azure Drakes, Al’Akir and Fire Elementals that give the deck more staying power. The archetype is superbly positioned in the Metagame, as it possesses the ability to deal with the increasing amount of Warriors better than Aggro Shaman (especially if you run a greedier list), and it has a decent matchup against the Metagame tyrant as well. This cannot be underestimated, and has Meta breaking potential, which is why we expect this archetype to explode very soon.
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