vS Data Reaper Report #18
Welcome to the 18th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,200 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 completely out, 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 September 7 and September 13. The first chart shows all ranks, and the second can be switched between different ranks. For the entire week, we’ve compiled 59K games overall. We recorded about 2.5K games at legend ranks, 33.5K games at ranks 1-10, and 16K games at ranks 11-15.
‘By Rank’ Games
Next is a graph displaying the popularity of classes during the last 18 weeks, since the Data Reaper Project launched.
Class Frequency by Week
- Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Shaman has exploded on ladder, with Mid-Range Shaman numbers doubling over the last week. With two extremely powerful archetypes, the class has established itself at the very top of the Meta. At legend ranks, the number of Shamans is incredible…. and concerning. We’re witnessing Warrior levels of dominance pre-Karazhan.
- Where Shamans rise, Hunters fall. Both Shaman archetypes are a strong counter to Hunters, and this has resulted in a drop in its numbers. At legend ranks, people are shying away from the class for the same reason: it’s not a fun matchup for the Hunter.
- While the number of Warriors slightly dropped, the class is quite well positioned in the Meta. Control Warrior is the most common control archetype in the game, and its numbers are significant at the highest level of play, where Hunters are not as common.
- Yogg Druid’s presence is humble overall, but at legend ranks, it’s the go-to deck for many players. While the matchup against Shaman isn’t inherently great, it’s quite close, and the archetype’s flexibility means you can definitely adjust to Shaman’s overbearing presence to good success.
- Mage and Warlock have stabilized and have decent spots in the current Meta. Tempo Mage and Zoo are very popular decks that are powerful enough to earn their place at the highest levels, but they seem to be just a nudge below the very elite.
- Rogue is a class in chaos. We’re observing it closely and have noticed that there are two main groups of Rogue decks: The Miracle builds and the mish-mash of experimental decks that can appear and disappear within days. Once we find consistent archetypes emerging, we will of course let you know.
- While Paladin is struggling to establish significant ladder presence, it has its bright spot. Anyfin Paladin appears quite often at legend ranks, as it has decent matchups against Shaman, Warrior and Warlock.
- While Priest is struggling to establish significant ladder presence… Wait, there’s no bright spot here. Priest is in terrible shape, and there’s a good reason why at legend ranks, it barely scraps 1% of the Meta.
We now present the updated “vS Power Rankings” table for week # 18. 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.
- Mid-Range Shaman has launched itself to the very top of the Power Rankings, and we’re not surprised. This archetype has meteorically risen in its performance against the field after Karazhan’s release. Its capability of beating Aggro Shaman has resulted in a massive internal shift within the class. With Shaman now possessing the two statistically strongest decks in the game, we’re waiting to see if there’s any class that can unseat it from its throne.
- The class that might match up best against Shaman is Warrior. While Control Warrior has a modest overall power ranking, it’s a stronger deck at the highest levels, and it’s capable of beating both Shaman archetypes consistently, though Mid-Range Shaman builds that are greedier might pose a bigger challenge to it. Dragon Warrior is also a well-established counter to Shaman, being able to beat it off the board in the early game and snowball from there. We think Warrior has a good chance of rising in its popularity, especially if Hunter continues to drop in numbers.
- Mid-Range Hunter is still a very strong archetype statistically, and it’s an excellent deck to climb ladder with, especially if you’re well versed in how to adjust your build according to the opponents you’re facing. Together with Warrior and Shaman, this trifecta of rock-paper-scissors seems to be shaping the current Meta. Secret Hunter is also showing its potential. We’ve noticed that this archetype is becoming faster lately, and this has aligned with an increase in its performance level.
- The one outlier to the Meta defining trifecta is Yogg Druid. It’s an extremely strong archetype with great flexibility and few weaknesses. It can beat every deck in the game, which is why many pro players claim it’s actually the best deck in the game: you cannot counter it in a tournament line-up, and that is a very, very big deal.
- Zoo Warlock and Tempo Mage retain decent power levels. They are very often called into battle in tournament lineups due to being “the best of the rest”, and they are decks that can achieve good success in the right hands.
- Non-Warrior Dragon decks appear to be a disappointment. While Dragon Paladin and Dragon Priest are not yet in a refined state, the experiments don’t seem to be bearing fruit at the moment. Defensive Mid-Range decks have a problem establishing themselves in the current Meta, which is the reason why Tempo Warrior died out as well.
- Reno archetypes are also struggling. It’s very difficult to find strong Reno builds in a Metagame that punishes curve inconsistency so ruthlessly. The recovery that Reno offers just doesn’t win consistently enough when you still find yourself hopelessly behind on board. A different mentality in Reno deck building might be needed.
- Remember when we mentioned earlier that there’s a good reason why Priest barely sees any play at the legend ranks? It’s not a very good class if you want to win.
The rise of Mid-Range Shaman is incredible. Since the final Karazhan wing released, the ladder has been filled with many different variants of the archetype. Many players are racing to find the best build to get a competitive edge, and almost all of them have concluded that Spirit Claws possesses insane value. Both Maelstrom Portal and Spirit Claws synergize perfectly with the Mid-Range package, and having access to an early game AOE without a drawback is definitely what the deck needed. As a result, an old friend of Shaman, Bloodmage Thalnos, is making a return to the archetype, packing a greater punch with these two new cards in the mix.
Shaman has always been about burst damage. You’ll find that most of its builds have different ways to finish the game with burst. For example, the VLPS variant includes two finishers in Bloodlust and Doomhammer, while Cerasi’s deck uses Al’Akir the Windlord. The popularity of Mid-Range Shaman has caused a decline in Aggro Shaman as it boasts a good matchup against it. Aggro Shaman hasn’t seen too much innovation, though a variant utilizing Thalnos, Azure Drakes and Spirit Claws has emerged with good success on ladder.
- Standard Aggro Shaman
- Xixo’s Spirit Claws Aggro Shaman
- VLPS’ Faceless Mid-Range Shaman
- Xixo’s Totem Mid-Range Shaman
- Cerasi’s Mid-Range Shaman
Innovation doesn’t happen every week for classes, but that’s not always a bad thing. After its dramatic drop since Karazhan’s release, Warrior is slowly stabilizing. Cipher’s Yogg Control Warrior is still performing extremely well, with pro player Rosty hitting #5 legend with the build. Dragon Warriors still can’t decide on whether Deathwing is a worthwhile inclusion, although Fr0zen’s list from the recent ONOG should still perform well.
If you are looking for a more interesting deck to ladder with, Rage has expanded on his previous Blood Warrior build to include Yogg-Saron and Elise, giving the deck a vastly better late game versus Control decks. Be forewarned: this deck is as hard as it is rewarding. If you’re a fan of combo decks, you can catch Rage while he is streaming at twitch.tv/Rage_hs. He does a good job of explaining the ins and outs of the deck, and the intricate decision making required to make the most out of his build.
- Cipher’s Yogg Control Warrior
- Fibonacci’s N’Zoth Control Warrior
- Fr0zen’s Dragon Warrior
- Rage’s Blood Warrior
Over the past week, the number of Hunters has been dropping, likely due to the dominance of Shamans, which is a pretty strong counter class. While Hunters fare against aggression better than before, it is still a struggle for a class that relishes being the aggressor, so it’s not surprising that at the highest levels of play, where Shamans are rampant, Hunters are taking a step back.
Although Hunter seems to decline in ladder play, the class has been doing pretty well in recent big tournaments and has established itself as a solid line-up choice in competitive play. GundamFlame recently won the Japanese HCT prelim qualifier final with a Hunter list similar to Fr0zen’s in his lineup, with the addition of a Carrion Grub teched for a better Houndmaster target to taunt up against aggro decks early on. Hong Kong player Shy has also won the Hearthstone Thailand major with a Mid-Range Hunter build in his lineup.
At the moment, Mid-Range Hunter varies, ranging from faster builds that contest the board early against aggressive decks, to slower builds that pack more longevity against control decks. Most Hunter builds fall somewhere on this spectrum, with a few cards that make the difference. The best current example for a faster, “hybrid” build is Fr0zen’s. For a slower build, Muzzy’s list is a solid choice.
Cloaked Huntress carried a lot of hype before the release of the adventure, but its role appears to be more niche than expected. The card seems to fit best in a very fast tempo deck. NickChipper, a popular European streamer who specializes in the class, has made an updated Face Secret Hunter list that seems to make the most out of the card.
Tempo Mage continues its success, with Asmodai reaching rank 1 legend with the double Cabalist’s Tome variant, similar to the build Rooftrellen used to reach rank 1 legend two weeks ago. One very interesting tech that’s included in the list is Arcane Explosion. By putting in a low cost AOE card, Tempo Mage is able to increase its win rate against Zoo and Shaman, which are very popular on ladder.
With the release of three solid Mage class cards in Karazhan, Control Mage and Reno Mage are both still being toyed around with, although most high level players have abandoned these archetypes in favor of more consistent and tested decks. Rather than going with a full control build, opting to run with the Tempo Mage shell of early board control while adding the value centric late game seems to be the best way to go at the moment.
While Reno Mage can succeed thanks to Mage’s glut of solid removal tools, the deck can often draw poorly and get punished, especially against the massive amounts of Shamans roaming the ladder. Gallon’s list is an interesting example of a non-highlander build (running two copies of Frostbolt, Doomsayer and Ice Block) that minimizes greed to increase consistency.
Laughing has recently been experimenting with a more OTK-centric variant of Freeze Mage, testing out a build with Evolved Kobold. The Kobold variant provides more burst potential against Warriors and Control Paladins, but sacrifices win rate in the Shaman and Zoo matchups. While the deck is an interesting take on Freeze Mage, the Standard build is most likely still better, as Shamans are currently swarming ladder.
- Asmodai’s Value Tempo Mage
- Chakki’s Burn Tempo Mage
- StrifeCro’s Control Mage
- Gallon’s Reno Mage
- Standard Freeze Mage
- Laughing’s Kobold Freeze Mage
Yogg Druid continues to be one of the most popular decks at higher levels of play with other Druid archetypes not being represented. It is a different story at the lower ranks where Druid isn’t as common but there is a greater diversity in archetypes.
Being one of the most powerful archetypes on ladder, Yogg Druid exhibits significant build diversity, with some key packages that differentiate between variants: Malygos, Token and Ancient of War. The Malygos package is currently the most popular with the Token package becoming less common. Many players have been having success with the new Miracle Malygos list that cuts Thalnos for a Moonglade Portal. Xixo created the list, which TicTac used to hit top 10 legend on EU and Muzzy used to hit rank 1 legend on AM. Moonglade Portal was a card we felt many players underrated and is shown to be a powerful tool to either stabilize or have a play on turn 6, as the random pool of six drops is very strong on average.
Some players are bringing back Ancient of War to the Malygos build, which we’ve talked about briefly last week. Orange used an Ancient of War build for the WESG Sweden Qualifiers, with which he never dropped a game.
Fr0zen’s original list with both the Token package and the Malygos package is still around. Dropping the Token package turns the deck into more of a traditional combo deck, where the Token package provides the deck with a more flexible game plan.
Other archetypes of Druid aren’t really seen due to Yogg Druid’s power level and popularity. Beast Druid has disappeared at the high ranks after its initial hype due to the deck not being as powerful as most players believed and there being better options on ladder. We expect Yogg Druid to remain the dominant Druid archetype for quite some time as it doesn’t really have inherently bad matchups, and the archetype is flexible enough to adjust to a specific deck or a changing Meta.
Zoo, fueled by Malcheazzar’s Imp, is finding its place in the new Meta. Deck builders have diverged on several points, but aside from the inclusion of Demonfire, Lance Carrier and the occasional Silverware Golem/Darkshire Librarian, most lists are within four cards of pre-ONiK Zoo. They’re slightly more resilient against board clear, but the playstyle is highly similar.
Meanwhile, experiments with Renolock have not been fruitful. Neither Eversiction nor Dog managed to place highly at PAX with their respective lists, and Reno has not seen major ladder or tournament success otherwise. Hopefully some creative home brewer will come up with the right Control Warlock build soon (looking at you, J4ckieChan).
As for other archetypes, Mr. Yagut built an interesting Dragon Warlock with Malygos as an end game finisher to decent success, peaking at top 40 legend. Malygos Warlock used to be moderately popular before Dark Bomb was rotated out, and this is an attempt at a revival of the archetype. Thijs took a similar list, swapping Drain Life and Siphon Soul for a 2nd Defender of Argus and 2nd Hellfire, to top 30 legend.
- Zananananan’s Zoo Warlock
- Muzzy’s Zoo Warlock
- Thijs’ Malygos Warlock
- Eversiction’s Reno Warlock
- Dog’s Dragon Reno Warlock
Paladin maintains a relatively small but steady presence on ladder this week. Anyfin has risen to be the most popular of the Paladin archetypes, likely attributed to its decent matchups against aggressive decks and its recent tournament presence. Neviilz recently took Rank 1 AM with his version of the deck which includes Barnes for its synergy with a large number targets in the list. With the potential to summon an extra Murloc, a situational Wild Pyromancer, or even Ragnaros the Lightlord or Tirion, the card seems to be a fitting choice. Ivory Knight also shines particularly well in Anyfin Paladin since it has a chance of pulling a third copy of Anyfin Can Happen, and it can add more consistency to the deck’s board clears, healing and card draw tools. Dragon Paladin and Control Paladin continue to maintain comparable numbers on ladder as well, while an optimal Dragon Paladin list has yet to be found. Jambre, well known for his innovation with Secret Paladin, recently hit #5 legend with his build.
- Neville’s Anyfin Paladin
- Eversiction’s N’Zoth Paladin
- StrifeCro’s Control Dragon Paladin
- Jambre’s Secret Paladin
Rogue is a class suffering from the effect of the current Meta. The nerf to Blade Flurry appears perplexing, as the class has not received any powerful weapons that would justify the “design space” that was created. This has hurt Rogue significantly as aggressive decks are not deterred to extend their boards against it, something they would never do against Paladins and Warriors for example. The class has not received any alternative AOE, and is heavily reliant on Fan of Knives being combined with spell power, which isn’t very reliable.
Rogues also lack any form of healing, which is crippling against a Meta filled with decks that demand sustainability from their opponent. While the thief theme that has been supported by the new Karazhan cards can be fun to play, it doesn’t appear to be the launch pad from which the class can truly rise. We still believe that Rogue is a class that can find its place in the right situation in tournaments, but it’s becoming more difficult to find these situations, and as other decks become more efficient, Rogue is being left behind to experiment with tools that appear to be largely inferior.
A short letter from Wwlos to the community:
“There is nothing new. Priest is just not a good class, and this won’t change until 2017 or the next expansion. How much can be done for a class with a mediocre base set of cards though? While winning with Priest is possible, it doesn’t even feel good anymore. You know you only won because of a stronger starting hand, or a sweet Resurrect roll or two. There is no more strategic conservation of resources, like holding back your Sylvanas and Shadow Word: Death for that perfect moment. There is no more strategic feel for a class, that either desperately stays caught up to eventually stabilize, or dies. This is the Control class, there is no such thing as an aggressive or tempo variant, because that is how the class has been designed since the beginning. Its hero power is about control, its core set is control, this entire class is essentially a study on the long term ladder; Control isn’t viable enough or rewarding enough compared to other options, just like this class. I don’t hate the Dragon Priest build, I think it might be strong enough, but it is still essentially a weaker Dragon Warrior. This might sound like whining or bitching, but it’s really just the comments of a concerned and saddened Priest player. I’ve spent so many thousands of hours with this class, and it feels like it’s just been ripped away from me. God bless the dozen or so remaining Priest mains, and good luck. I only play this class now out of necessity, not joy, and that actually breaks my heart. “
The Shaman class seems to be dominating the Hearthstone scene at all levels of play. The tempo tools it has at its disposable are just incredible. The class possesses the strongest early game minions, multiple sources of burst damage to finish the game, the best single target removal in Hex, multiple AOE removals, and an array of tools to generate enough value that helps its late game longevity. We’re interested to see whether decks emerge simply for the sake of countering the class, and we’re beginning to see signs of it.
One question though, is left answered:
DID YOU BRING SOME FISH???
Tier 3 Patrons
Special thanks to Leo G. for supporting us for the month of September.
Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: