vS Data Reaper Report #181

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from 265,000 games.

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Welcome to the 181st edition of the Data Reaper Report!

A Wild Data Reaper Report is making its return on Sunday, December 13th!

Contributing to the Data Reaper project through Hearthstone Deck Tracker or Firestone allows us to perform our analyses and to issue the weekly reports, so we want to wholeheartedly thank our contributors. 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!

Quick Links

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 265,000
Top 1K Legend 7,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 7,000
Diamond 4 to 1 29,000
Diamond 10 to 5 48,000
Platinum 45,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 129,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

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Class Frequency

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Class Frequency Discussion

Aggro Demon Hunter is taking over the format. It’s now the most popular deck at every rank bracket, including top legend where it eclipses Soul Demon Hunter. Its presence at Diamond 1-4 is particularly alarming: it’s been a while since we’ve seen a deck reach 20% of the field on the climb to legend. Lifesteal Demon Hunter is slightly rising in play, making it noticeable at top legend, with new Polkelt builds emerging.

Warrior is rising in play throughout ladder, but interestingly, its numbers are dropping at top legend where Control Warrior makes up about 12% of the field (down from 15%). Its joined by itsy bits of Bomb and Enrage Warrior.

Rogue has a slight uptick in play that’s more noticeable at legend. Miracle Rogue is growing, and also seems to be birthing a new secret-less variant. This new variant is centered on Combo cards and the forgotten Whirlkick Master, a card that has seen no competitive play since its release in Saviors of Uldum.

Paladin is getting a bit more respect at top legend, where Libroom Paladin has been gaining traction. It’s now more popular than Pure Paladin, with new builds moving away from Old Gods.

Shaman has suffered a big decline in play, likely the result of Aggro Demon Hunter’s rise. All Shaman archetypes greatly struggle in this matchup, and we’ve seen them drop in their performance last week. The only Shaman deck that seems to survive the increasing hostility is Evolve Shaman.

Has Druid found new life? Highlander Druid has come out of nowhere this week, following the top legend success of a couple of players. It’s instantly become the most popular Druid deck, surpassing both the struggling Malygos and Clown archetypes.

Highlander Hunter is a stable presence in the meta, but other archetypes seem to be disappearing. Deathrattle Hunter is fading away following its failures, and Face Hunter seems to have been made redundant.

The good news is that Nazmani Bloodweaver’s bug was fixed last week, which means the card now functions as intended. The bad news is that Control Priest is a complete and utter mess, with a variety of builds spreading all over the ladder. It’s tough to make sense of what’s happening there. Highlander Priest is more of a stable archetype at the moment.

Both Mage and Warlock appear to be dead classes. The only noteworthy news is that Highlander Mage seems to be making a whimpering return to the format, trying to relive its past glories.

Matchup Win Rates Header

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Power Rankings Header

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vS Meta Score

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vS Power Rankings Discussion

  • Demon Hunter
    • The meta is certainly responding to Demon Hunter, to the point the win rates of both Aggro and Soul Demon Hunter aren’t extremely excessive. The problem is that the meta’s balance doesn’t just come down to win rate, but play rate as well. Considering that they’re still two of the best performing decks, even when Demon Hunter is nearing 30% of the field at legend, is a cause for concern. It means that Demon Hunter may not be as oppressive as its Ashes of Outland iterations, but it still chokes out many different strategies that you just cannot see anymore. We expect to see both of these decks getting hit with nerfs sometime soon.
    • Lifesteal Demon Hunter is going through a significant transformation, and its builds are becoming dramatically different from the first iterations we’ve seen early on in the expansion. These changes appear to be hitting the mark, with the archetype rapidly climbing in its win rate. We wouldn’t be surprised to see it eventually display a positive win rate, especially at top legend (it’s a fairly difficult deck to play). Another key factor in helping the archetype perform better is the rise in Aggro DH. Lifesteal DH is as hard of a counter as they come, and Aggro DH’s extreme popularity is doing a lot to offset Lifesteal DH’s more problematic matchups.
  • Warrior
    • Control Warrior has fallen from Tier 1 in remarkable fashion at higher levels of play, an event that we didn’t expect because part of it is a result of meta trends that… don’t make sense! Some of its decline in win rate can certainly be attributed to other top meta decks targeting it harder with their card choices. But, but when a Tier 5 deck emerges into the scene and basically does nothing but beat Control Warrior, you can only sit back and admire the fireworks. Thank you for your sacrifice, Highlander Druid players, you’ve done some good this week.
    • Think that nerfing ETC Warrior will make the class go away? We strongly suspect that Bomb Warrior is just lurking around and waiting for that deck to get nerfed before it returns to the scene. It’s already very good, the player base is just sparing you (and themselves?) from the experience. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
  • Rogue
    • Miracle Rogue is the best performing deck at legend? Astonishing things seem to be happening when Rogue players run two Cats in their decks. Indeed, the secret build is cleaning up at higher levels of play, helping push the archetype’s win rate to the point it is sitting at the top of the legend meta.
    • But this isn’t the main reason why Miracle Rogue is this week’s Meta Breaking deck. The new Whirlkick Master build (which isn’t even refined, btw) could very well end up being superior to the secret build, and its propagation is a large factor in why the archetype’s win rate is spiking. Watch out for this one, or netdeck it in the Rogue section and join others who simply can’t stop winning.
  • Paladin
    • Pure Paladin has dropped to Tier 2 at legend, which we expected to see last week. It’s definitely one of the most limited decks in terms of skill ceiling. It’s powerful, but its matchups consistently get worse at higher levels of play, against almost any opponent.
    • We’re still watching Libroom Paladin as it gradually improves in its performance. It has definitely not reached its peak, and the relatively low interest in the deck is causing its refinement to be slower compared to others.
  • Shaman
    • Evolve Shaman is certainly a tier below the top meta decks, but the rise of Aggro DH did not cripple it to the point it isn’t good. Progress in its refinement is helping it gain ground against Soul DH and Ctrl Warrior, and both of its primary variants are producing good results. If Miracle Rogue blows up, Evolve Shaman is a pretty good answer.
    • Aggro Shaman is certainly one deck that’s being crippled by Aggro DH, though it is attempting to transition into a different build in order to better contest the Demon Hunter’s early game. Totem Shaman can still vibe on some Highlander Druids.
  • Hunter
    • The rise of Aggro DH hurts a little, but Highlander Hunter’s matchup spread is still very good and it seems like a perennial Tier 1 deck that’s going to be hard to move from its spot. Face Hunter is also doing reasonably well but it’s just not HL Hunter. We’re going to say that a lot.
  • The Other Classes
    • So, about that Highlander Druid… it’s about as bad as Control Warlock, which says it all. It just doesn’t seem like a real deck. Back to the drawing board for Malfurion.
    • Control Priest, as we’ve said, is currently a dumpster fire of an archetype that is filled with garbage. Its current win rate means little, though we’ve yet to see a truly promising build that can take over and lift the archetype. It should be given more time as it’s been historically difficult to build.
    • Highlander Priest mostly exists to annoy Warriors. We think it can improve its win rate if it hedges for the Aggro DH matchup a little.
    • Highlander Mage is actually quite ‘okay’, but its performance may have already peaked and its win rate is now on a downward trajectory. It seems more playable than other Mage decks but not really what the class needs to be a relevant force in the meta.
    • No real news on the Warlock front. Zoo is depressingly underwhelming and the class is still getting pummeled by Demon Hunters.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Demon Hunter continues to dictate the format, with two extremely powerful decks as well as a quickly improving third that is now looking like a more serious contender.

Aggro Demon Hunter is the most popular archetype at all levels of play. The build we’ve featured last week, running Polkelt/Altruis alongside Skull, is working extremely well. There is some debate regarding Umberwing and Cult Neophyte. Umberwing is more powerful in the early game and very valuable in the mirror. Neophyte is stronger post-Polkelt and in some slower matchups (Warrior, Priest, Druid). Generally, Umberwing is the stronger card.

Soul Demon Hunter is seeing no changes, with the consensus build looking perfect for the current meta. Consume Magic will only grow in importance following the ascension of Miracle Rogue,

Lifesteal Demon Hunter is making remarkable progress in its performance, which is the result of its dominating matchup against the rising Aggro DH (70-30), as well as its internal refinement. Its internal improvement is largely attributed to the introduction of Polkelt to the build, which greatly increases the consistency of the deck’s win condition. It allows you to find Il’gynoth faster, while also discounting it to 1-mana, making your burst potential so high that even armor-stacking Warriors could struggle to prevent an OTK. Acidic Swamp Ooze has become more popular in order to remove Bulwark of Azzinoth, but it’s also useful against other Demon Hunters. A rare good showing by the classic tech card.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Warrior has seen greater meta hostility this week, with players increasingly focused on punishing it to the point they’re willing to tinker with bad decks like Highlander Druid.

Minefield has consistently looked like an extremely powerful early game removal tool for the last couple of weeks, and the continued rise in popularity of Aggro Demon Hunter (now running the more challenging Polkelt build), has pushed us to include it in Control Warrior. It should help gain significant percentages in this matchup, and it’s generally useful in other matchups too.

A card we’re bringing back to the deck is Brawl, which can help mitigate some of the newfound hostility the deck is seeing. It’s strong against Highlander Druid, and it’s expected to get better considering Miracle Rogue’s imminent spike in play.

To make space for these additions, we drop Stage Dive (the weakest cycle card), Pen Flinger (late game combo redundancy matters less), and Zephrys (the meta is speeding up, making it less likely that you’ll have it active). If you’re facing a lot of mirrors at top legend, we recommend running Silas over Zephrys, as it’s a better answer to Rattlegore and can be useful in other matchups before the super-late game.

Other Warrior decks haven’t seen notable development. Bomb Warrior is very good as long as you run Minefield. Enrage Warrior has been tinkering with running the ETC combo, but we haven’t been impressed.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Miracle Rogue is the biggest story of the week, benefitting from refinements to its old secret build, as well as the emergence of a new build that could prove to be superior.

First, the secret build looks very fleshed out and settled. We’ve seen players experiment running Spymistress over Pharaoh Cat, an adjustment we don’t disregard. The thinking behind it is the Aggro Demon Hunter matchup, where Spymistress is stronger on turn 1 and guarantees a good trade. The problem is that Cat is much better in other matchups, and it’s far more useful in the mid-to-late game.

The new Miracle Rogue build is focused on the combo mechanic and the value-engine of Whirlkick Master. While Whirlkick Master is strongest in the late-game, its enablers shine early on. Combo Miracle Rogue is very effective in faster matchups such as Aggro DH thanks to the inclusion of SI:7 Agent and Prize Plunderer, but has great longevity in slower matchups such as Control Warrior too. Foxy Fraud is, of course, great in any Rogue deck, but it’s particularly strong in this build.

Much like in the secret build, one copy of Questing Adventurer is more than fine, especially when Whirlkick Master is another card that mostly shines in similar timings to QA. We’ve noticed that Combo Miracle Rogue can struggle against big minions due to the absence of Blackjack Stunner, which makes Rogue mirrors extremely erratic. We recommend running Coerce to prevent getting blown out by Edwin every time it’s played.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Libroom Paladin is attracting more attention this week, with the emergence of a new build that looks to gain percentages against both Demon Hunter and Control Warrior.

Redscale Dragontamer has been an enticing card in Paladin since its release due to its synergy with Amber Watcher, but other dragons available to the class aren’t very good, and the question was whether running only two Watchers was a consistent enough package.

The answer seems to be yes, since drawing guaranteed healing from your 2-drop is very helpful in both of the popular Demon Hunter matchups. Sometimes, Dragontamer turns into a River Croc in the late game (if you’ve already drawn both Watchers), but the average outcome of the card is still a net positive.

Another card that’s becoming increasingly popular in the deck is Hammer of the Naaru (already a common choice in Pure Paladin), replacing Devout Pupil. Hammer is strong against both Demon Hunter and Warrior and a more consistently strong tempo play as it’s not reliant on drawing your Libram of Wisdom to be good.

The final addition to the deck is Silas Darkmoon. Paladin is probably the class most suitable to run Silas as a strong standalone card rather than a tech choice because of its hero power. It’s obviously great against Warrior, but it’s extremely valuable in many other matchups as well (Mirror, Priest, Rogue) since it allows you to deal with a single big threat without spending your Lord Barov or Libram of Justice.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Aggro Demon Hunter’s rise in popularity has been scaring players away from the Shaman class, though it’s still doing okay under the more difficult circumstances.

Evolve Shaman is the best Shaman deck thanks to its decent all-around matchups into anything that isn’t Aggro DH. We’ve also gathered more information on the two different builds we discussed last week: the Coaster build and the Corruptor build.

The Corruptor build from last week looks to have been correct. The only adjustments we would make this week is cut Clacker to bring back Inara Stormcrash, which responds to the rise of both Warriors and Druids. She doesn’t have great synergy with the deck, so we wouldn’t consider her to be an important card or a must-craft.

The Coaster build was worked on by Jambre, who hit #1 legend with the deck a few days ago. The most important feature is Animated Broomstick, which alleviates the build’s weakness of not having spells to react to the opponent’s board, by turning your newly evolved minions into pseudo-removal. We switched the 2nd Clacker for the 2nd Cable Rat (just a better card).

Aggro Shaman has tanked in its win rate, crippled by its awful Aggro DH matchup. Players have been attempting to transition the archetype into one that fights for the board in the early game more aggressively while cutting some of the more expensive cards in the deck. A promising avenue seems to be running Whack-a-Gnoll Hammer and Lorekeeper Polkelt, allowing us to cut a Doomhammer since Polkelt will give us the one copy we need in case we don’t get it off Cagematch Custodian.

This build’s lower curve and weapon package push us to run Storm’s Wrath and a more “floody” style of play, which makes Voracious Reader a more reasonable choice than it was in the Rockbiter/Lava Burst build.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

#1 legend decks can be very misleading, and Highlander Druid is a great example of that. The deck has emerged following some individual success and temptingly good matchups against both Soul Demon Hunter and Control Warrior. You’d think this deck was meta breaking based on this information, but Highlander Druid suffers from a similar problem we saw in Clown Druid: it gets destroyed by the rest of the field.

In fact, Highlander Druid is just worse than Clown Druid. Zephrys creates a perception of safety and the ability to answer difficult situations, but it’s just that: perception. Elise makes you think she’s covering for lack of duplicates, but the deck’s overall consistency is a big price to pay for it. Unless we see a dramatic improvement through refinement (which is unlikely considering the deck is ‘obvious’ to build, unlike Lifesteal Demon Hunter), then we expect Highlander Druid to disappear.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Highlander Hunter continues to performs extremely well in the current meta thanks to its strong all-around matchup spread that also makes it very resilient to meta shifts. It’s a consistently powerful ladder deck since it’s not super weak into any opponent. The Aggro DH matchup is the toughest one to handle, but Hunter fares much better in this matchup than Shaman, for example. We suggest running Explosive Trap to gain a little bit more here.

We can’t think of a competitive reason to run Face Hunter over Highlander, so while the deck’s win rate is perfectly fine, it’s been made completely redundant by the face deck with Dinotamer Brann and Zephrys.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Priest is a mess. Working on data related to this class has been really difficult because the class has devolved into total jankness. Many players aren’t even aware that Nazmani Bloodweaver saw its bug fixed last week, continuing to run older builds. Other players have experimented with full ‘Miracle’ builds running Gadgetzan Auctioneer, and those are particularly horrid. The stats don’t tell us much about Control Priest when it’s at this state.

We did dig into the mess and curated a Nazmani Bloodweaver list that might not be the final refinement product, but a vanilla benchmark to iterate on. A card that performs very well in the deck is Power Word: Shield. Not only does it snowball both Bloodweaver and Veilweaver, but it’s also extremely powerful with Wild Pyromancer, a key card in the Demon Hunter matchup alongside Apotheosis. Shadow Word: Death is another card that seems important, especially if we’re going to run into more Rogues over the coming week. We think Cabal Acolyte and Wave of Apathy are not particularly good in this meta, and we’re not sure how important Illucia truly is in a build that’s so anti-synergistic with her. We need better data to answer this question.

Highlander Priest can cut some of the greedy cards in order to perform better against Aggro DH. Early game removal is key, with Shadow Word: Pain, Shadow Madness, and Holy Smite offering more ways to deal with Demon Hunter’s early turns.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

There is some news surrounding the Mage class. Highlander Mage has made a small return to the scene with a somewhat tolerable win rate, but we don’t really see this deck making a big impact or gaining significant traction. It’s a way to get your quests done with the class, but that seems to be it. The best build is also old-school, running big spells alongside the familiar defensive shell.

Other archetypes of the class are very weak. Players are experimenting with C’Thun Spell Mage, and we’re featuring a cool build from Languagehacker that can turn those pieces into stronger spells through Deck of Lunacy in faster matchups. It’s cool, but not very good.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock looks pretty finished. We will note that Zoo Warlock is okay, but players are very reluctant to play it due to how poorly it lines up against Demon Hunter, and how redundant it seems to be with Aggro DH looking like the superior aggressive deck, by far.

Gul’dan is just waiting for balance changes.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

A Meta Breaker section that doesn’t feature a Demon Hunter or a Warrior deck? Incredible!

Miracle Rogue has stopped fooling around with Zephrys and started to get serious. The archetype is spiking in its performance at higher levels of play thanks to the cleaning of the secret build as well as the emergence of the new Whirlkick Master variant, which we think could end up being the superior list in the current meta.

This new iteration performs very well against Aggro DH due to the strong early game tempo cards, and these tempo cards turn into late game value in slower matchups thanks to a forgotten epic card that’s about to rotate, and will surely cause headaches for players on whether to craft it or not.

The featured build’s matchup spread looks quite insane. Ladder iterations of the deck currently don’t run Coerce, so we’ve noticed they can struggle in matchups that require single target removal. The addition of Coerce should help alleviate that weakness, and at that point, we’re not sure there’s anything that consistently beats this deck besides Evolve Shaman.

Watch your back.

Miracle Rogue

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