Welcome to the 183rd edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||6,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||34,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||32,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||34,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
A guy walks into a bar, sits next to a beautiful woman drinking a glass of wine. He leans in and whispers in her ear “Hey, babe. Lots of Shamans out there. Over 25% at the Diamond 4-1 bracket, with most of them being Evolve Shaman. There is no sign of the class reaching saturation yet.”
The woman replies “Yes, but what about Rogue? You see more of them as you climb ladder. They peak at top legend where they match Shamans. These two classes make up nearly 50% of the top legend meta.” The guy asks for her number and they agree to continue discussing this subject at a more private dinner.
Meanwhile, Warrior is at a standstill. Control Warrior hasn’t picked up any steam. Bomb Warrior is a rare sight as a result of its poor Shaman matchup and Stickyfinger presence. Enrage Warrior continues to be exclusively common at top legend.
Warlock has significantly risen in play. Galakrond Warlock has become a popular choice on ladder after recently showing some promise, eclipsing the hapless Control Warlock. Zoo is also around, but still in small numbers.
Demon Hunter continues to fade at every level of play. Aggro DH is the most common archetype throughout most of ladder. At top legend, Lifesteal DH still has a fairly large presence, but it seems to be declining after the deck’s underwhelming results recently.
Priest is in the process of specializing. We’re seeing the Bloodweaver Control Priest builds declining, while players flock to Highlander Priest at top legend in order to match up best against the top meta decks.
A small downtick in Paladin is affecting both Pure and Libroom Paladin. The frequency pattern of these two decks at different rank brackets is unchanged. You should know the drill by now.
A small uptick in Hunters isn’t changing the fact that the class is not receiving much attention. At top legend, the class is generally ignored, with players opting to experiment with a meme OTK Beast Hunter deck over the ol’ reliable Highlander Hunter.
Mage decks see quite a bit of play at lower ranks, but the top legend meta is a good indicator of where the class truly stands. Only Highlander Mage’s presence can be noticed there.
The top legend meta should also tell you that Druid is in trouble. Well, every rank bracket suggests that at this point. The class doesn’t seem to have anything going for it, anywhere.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
- This week’s data suggests that there is no real answer to Evolve Shaman. The meta has been doing its best to target Shaman with all its might, and the result is just a small downtick in its win rate. We expect Shaman’s win rate to drop off further next week, but not to the extent required to break its hold on the format. Kobold Stickyfinger might be preventing the deck from exhibiting greater dominance, but that’s about it. Nerfs are the only way to address this, and while most classes have playable decks, there’s a clear gap in power between them and Shaman that cannot be ignored.
- Miracle Rogue is as busted as Evolve Shaman. The Combo variant is much stronger than the Secret variant, which is declining in play but does weigh down the overall win rate of the archetype. So, we estimate that Combo Miracle Rogue sits very close to Evolve Shaman in power. There is no Kobold Stickyfinger to put a dent on this deck. It’s nearly untargetable.
- Control Warrior is the strongest choice when looking to perform best against both Miracle Rogue and Evolve Shaman, but its matchup spread is flawed in a more diverse field, which is part of the reason why it performs better at top legend. It has an issue when it runs into other classes.
- Considering the presence of Kobold Stickyfinger and Evolve Shaman, it’s quite surprising (and scary) to see Bomb Warrior still performing so well. It might take a bigger hit in its performance next week, but it’s a deck that’s very likely to blow up in the event of Shaman/Rogue nerfs.
- Enrage Warrior’s exclusivity at top legend makes some sense. It’s one of the few decks in the current meta that exhibits a close matchup against both Miracle Rogue and Evolve Shaman, while failing against other classes in the field. It’s in a similar situation to Control Warrior, since it performs best in a narrow meta where you constantly run into the same opponents.
- Galakrond Warlock looks like a legitimate ladder deck, with some flaws that prevent it from being top tier. Its scope for improvement is still fairly high considering that the choice of 2xStickyfinger is doing wonders for its Shaman matchup (it becomes slightly favorable). Its main issue at higher levels is the large presence of Lifesteal DH, which is a horrible matchup, but signs point to that deck declining in play. Therefore, we expect it to continue to improve in its win rate.
- Zoo Warlock looks even better. Its matchup against Shaman is now dead even, with Rogue being the main obstacle for the deck’s success. Considering its performance level, it merits more play than it sees.
- Demon Hunter
- Rumors of Demon Hunter’s death have been greatly exaggerated, with both Soul and Aggro DH looking much better than they did last week. This is mostly a result of a more favorable meta for Demon Hunter, born out of its own decline, which gave room for a class like Warlock to rise in play.
- Aggro DH mostly shines at lower rank brackets where Rogue isn’t super prevalent. This matchup is quite horrible after the nerfs and the rise of the Combo Miracle Rogue variant, keeping Aggro DH very weak at top legend as a result.
- Soul DH is remarkably impressive throughout ladder, with a big spike in its win rate. This level of performance certainly suggests that the nerfs it has received were justified and nowhere near an overreaction. Nerfs to Rogue and Shaman may even allow it to return to the top tier, considering it’s mostly limited by their current presence.
- Lifesteal DH is improving, but not at the pace it needs to. Unplayable at lower rank brackets, and still quite underwhelming at higher levels. Its recent decline in play looks justified.
- Unplayable at lower rank brackets. Playable at top legend. This is a good way to describe Priest, and more specifically, Highlander Priest. The deck looks capable of success where Warrior currently thrives, but is extremely vulnerable in a more diverse field. Galakrond Warlock is generally the biggest limiting factor to this deck’s success, and why it cannot be top tier in the current climate. This is a 25-75 matchup, as hard of a counter as anything you can find in the format.
- Paladin looks fine, even though the large presence of Rogue might be scaring players away from the class. Both Pure and Libroom Paladin have positive win rates at all levels of play. A Soul Demon Hunter revival could be what the class needs to become even more powerful, and some Rogue nerfs could be very nice too, of course.
- Highlander Hunter is its normal underrated self. The deck has been able to take the nerfs in stride and continue to exhibit a good power level. What’s interesting to see is the re-development of Face Hunter, which is beginning to hint at a new build with a new package of cards that looks promising and could re-introduce it to the format. More details in the class’ section.
- Highlander Mage is another deck that may deserve more respect considering that it has managed to produce even matchups against both Evolve Shaman and Miracle Rogue (!). Of course, it’s got its matchup flaws that keep its win rate grounded, but it has now climbed to Tier 2 thanks to the success of the Dual God build.
- Based on this week’s results, it’s safe to say that Druid is the worst class in the game. Surprisingly, no class is truly dead and unplayable in the oppressive Shaman/Rogue meta, with multiple classes having Zephrys to thank for bailing them out from difficult situations.
- However, Highlander Druid is awful and Clown Druid still loses to both Rogue and Shaman even when optimally built to target them. Other classes have been able to deal with at least one of these classes to make things fair, but Druid hasn’t found a solution. This means that, while Clown Druid has a Tier 3 win rate that doesn’t suggest dumpster territory, there is no real reason to play it, even over the other fringe classes of the format.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Evolve Shaman is still broken. The entire meta has been relentless over the last week in its attempts to target this deck, yet Evolve Shaman still sits comfortably at Tier 1 while exhibiting a nearly perfect matchup spread. It’s clear that this deck needs to be nerfed, and it’s a question of when.
The best way to build Evolve Shaman in the current meta accounts for two major factors: 1. The mirror matchup 2. The desperate meta that attempts to target it as hard as possible with Kobold Stickyfinger.
A card that has grown in its power over the last week is Revolve. Since many decks will be looking to steal your Boggspine Knuckles, having an alternative path to produce an evolved board can be game-winning. Hare/Revolve is a very effective play against these decks. Revolve’s problem is that it’s terrible in the mirror, which is why the rest of the build attempts to cover for that.
For the mirror matchup, it’s important to run Sea Giants, which is why the card is included even though it can be somewhat of a liability in other matchups. The advantage you get in the mirror is far too significant to give up.
Perhaps, the greatest indication of how warped (and quite frankly, stupid) the meta is, is our finding that Kobold Stickyfinger is a good card in Evolve Shaman. It’s obviously very strong in the mirror matchup (which is mostly why it’s good), but it’s also relevant against other decks that commonly play Stickyfinger. Having Stickyfinger in hand allows you to equip Knuckles on 5 without using a charge, and should your weapon be stolen, you can steal it right back and activate your Hoard Pillagers.
We’ve reached Fingerception.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Evolve Shaman
- Aggro Shaman
- Totem Shaman
Miracle Rogue is still kinda broken. At this point, the Combo/Whirlkick variant is so much stronger than the Secret variant that we can no longer recommend running the latter. The Combo variant performs much better against Evolve Shaman, where it forces a close matchup. The recommended build remains the same, with Brain Freeze helping to enable Whirlkick Master and Questing Adventurer.
Aggro Rogue is also quite good, though its low play rate and the lack of development within the archetype makes it difficult for us to figure out the best list for it. The featured build performs well, and we think the deck doesn’t see much play mainly because players find no reason to do so while Miracle Rogue looks as strong as it is.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Miracle Rogue
- Aggro Rogue
- Galakrond Rogue
Control Warrior is the only deck in the format with the potential to beat both Miracle Rogue and Evolve Shaman, which makes it a very strong choice at top legend. But, what’s holding this deck back from truly breaking the meta is the rest of its matchup spread. It loses to other, less powerful classes such as Druid, Mage, Paladin, Priest, and Warlock. The more diverse the meta is, the worse it gets for Control Warrior.
As we’ve said before, the choice of Warrior’s win condition (provided you avoid C’Thun) is less important for the deck’s success. What’s more important is running two Brawls to keep that edge against Evolve Shamans and keep Rogues on their toes.
Bomb Warrior would likely be extremely powerful in the aftermath of a Shaman nerf, as this one matchup largely keeps it in check.
Enrage Warrior is a favorite amongst high-level players and we can certainly see why. It’s another deck that feels very comfortable in a meta that’s dominated by Shaman and Rogue, and much like Control Warrior, its failures are evident against the rest of the field. The choice between running ETC/Rattlegore/Broom vs. Kor’kron/Grom/Shield comes down to the meta you’re seeing. The ETC combo makes you better against other classes, but weaker against the dominant duo. If you’re playing at top legend and look to target Shaman/Rogue, you’re more likely to focus on these matchups.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Control Warrior
- Bomb Warrior
- Enrage Warrior
Warlock is back from the dead and looking relevant once more as a competitive option, albeit one that is clearly inferior to Shaman and Rogue (much like everything else is).
Zoo Warlock, as we’ve expected it to, has improved its matchup against Shaman to become a 50-50. The Miracle Rogue matchup will continue to be a problem with the ongoing takeover of the Whirlkick variant. After another look at the data this week, we’ve unfortunately found that Mosher and Rascal clash with each other and a choice must be made between them as Zoo seems to highly prioritize a low curve. Mosher has the small edge here, but running Rascal isn’t necessarily worse.
Galakrond Warlock is a viable deck in the current meta, even though it’s not particularly powerful. The double Finger build is performing very well, giving you a much better chance of beating Evolve Shaman. We would have liked to have space for the 2nd Sacrificial Pact, but Siamat is necessary to activate Tickatus consistently, while Ironbeak Owl is a very impactful late-game answer against both Rogue and Warrior.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Zoo Warlock
- Galakrond Warlock
- Control Warlock
Demon Hunter seems to be recovering from the balance changes, with both Aggro and Soul DH producing better results on the second week of the patch. Rather than dramatic changes in its card choices, the class is simply enjoying a more favorable meta, with certain decks that are vulnerable to the class and were previously non-existent (Galakrond Warlock is the best example) rising in play.
Interestingly, Lifesteal DH is still not looking very impressive, even at higher levels of play where it is fairly popular. We expect the deck to continue to improve but the extent of that improvement may not be enough to lift it to a positive win rate.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Soul Demon Hunter
- Aggro Demon Hunter
- Lifesteal Demon Hunter
Priest continues to look like a very fringe choice that is exclusive to top legend. This is where the meta is so narrow that Highlander Priest can find a way to succeed by maximizing its performance against Rogue and Shaman, beating Warriors and utilizing Illucia against the relatively common Lifesteal DH. The problem is that this plan isn’t foolproof, and if you ever run into Galakrond Warlocks, you’re going to have a tougher time. This makes the archetype situationally stronger at this rank bracket, but pretty useless outside of it. We’ve updated the list with a few more proactive cards that we’ve seen perform well over the last week (Cleric of Scales, Vulpera Scoundrel, Twilight Drake).
Other Priest decks are not recommended, pretty much anywhere on ladder. Control Priest might be alright, but we can never tell since it seems to be obsessed with Bloodweaver builds that are miserably failing to produce any acceptable results.
- Priest Class Radar
- Highlander Priest
- Control Priest
- Resurrect Priest
Paladin is a surviving class of the Shaman/Rogue oppression. It can certainly fight off Shamans effectively, but Rogue is the limiting factor that keeps it around Tier 2 at higher levels of play.
We’ve updated our Libroom Paladin build to reflect some findings about last week’s build. We’ve noticed that Salhet’s Pride is a bit too weak under the previous package, so we’ve brought back Argent Braggarts to the deck. Even without Ironbeak Owl, the Warrior matchup should be good enough. We will note, however, that Argent Braggarts aren’t particularly impressive in this deck and it’s possible that Novice Engineer would do a better job of boosting Salhet’s Pride consistency. We’re leaving that up as something to potentially experiment with, since we know that card draw has been historically important to this deck.
Hunter has managed to shake off the balance changes and remains fairly strong, even though it doesn’t see much play or respect. Highlander Hunter is one of the strongest non-Shaman/Rogue decks in the format, utilizing the same secret build it did before the patch.
Meanwhile, Face Hunter is making a return with new builds that look to move the archetype past its previous focus on Polkelt and Voracious Reader. A package that we found to be promising in the archetype is a burn package: Toxic Reinforcements, Leper Gnome, Kobold Sandtrooper, Wolfrider, and Knife Vendor. Knife Vendor has looked particularly impressive and we think it might be core to every Face Hunter deck going forward.
The thinking behind the burn package is to target the Rogue and Shaman matchups. Rogue traditionally struggles against burn strategies and, besides Edwin, doesn’t have an explosive enough opener to consistently win lethal races against them. Valeera has a particular disdain for a turn 1 Toxic Reinforcements too.
Evolve Shaman is another deck that’s slow to get off the ground, giving the Hunter time to put more focus on Thrall’s face in the early game rather than snowballing the board and playing into Mogu Fleshshapers and Sea Giants. This is another matchup in which a turn 1 Toxic Reinforcements can be quite effective.
The featured build tweaks current ladder iterations of the Toxic variant by keeping the Scavenger’s Ingenuity package with Wolpertinger.
Highlander Mage has joined the prestigious club of decks that are able to force close matchups against both Evolve Shaman and Miracle Rogue. This already puts it in a viable and competitive spot, and we’ve seen the archetype rise to a positive win rate this week while exhibiting a fairly impressive matchup spread.
The hardest part is looking at Highlander Mage’s build and believing it is actually good. A deck with C’Thun and three other 10-drops actually works? Well, it does! This build has been working quite well all week, and we see no merit to changing it.
- Mage Class Radar
- Highlander Mage
- Spell Mage
- Secret Mage
There are Shamans. There are Rogues. There are other classes. Then, there are Druids.
Every class in the game, even under these extreme circumstances, has found some competitive niche, as small as it might be. The only class that we see no justification to ever play on ladder, other than the sole desire to play it, is Druid.
The problem with Clown Druid is that even when it’s perfectly built, it struggles against both Evolve Shaman and Miracle Rogue. It’s not a class that utilizes Stickyfinger well since it doesn’t have good early-game removal to clean up the Shaman’s board before Knuckles comes down. It almost always loses to an early Edwin. Its best plan in these matchups is to ramp up and hope to pull off a Thresher swing.
So, while the deck’s win rate isn’t terrible, it’s just not relevant. Nerfs to Shaman and Rogue could significantly change that, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Our best hope is that next week, Team 5 comes back from the holidays and instantly introduces balance changes to address the current meta’s ailings. There is no real meta breaker in the current climate other than the next patch.
At the very least, the current meta does have a functional deck for nearly every class. The problem is that they’re just strictly worse than the following two monsters.
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