vS Data Reaper Report #185

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from 195,000 games.

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Welcome to the 185th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

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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 195,000
Top 1K Legend 9,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 18,000
Diamond 4 to 1 32,000
Diamond 10 to 5 42,000
Platinum 29,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 65,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

The nerf to Boggspine Knuckles seems to have dealt a big blow to Evolve Shaman, as the archetype has collapsed in play throughout ladder. Furthermore, while it is still fairly popular at lower rank brackets, it is becoming non-existent at top legend, where Aggro Shaman has turned out to be the primary archetype for the class.

Rogue seems to be here to stay. We can observe a significant decline in Miracle Rogue, a reaction to the Edwin nerf, but the resilient archetype is in the process of recovery and already established itself as one of the most popular decks at legend. The Edwin nerf has also encouraged players to experiment with the previously overshadowed Aggro Rogue, with the hyper-aggressive stealth variant seeing most of the play.

Warrior is exhibiting a similar play pattern to its pre-patch days. The higher you climb, the more you see of the class, and its numbers dramatically spike at top legend. Bomb Warrior, Control Warrior and Enrage Warrior are the class’ primary archetypes. Bomb has become the most prevalent one throughout most of ladder, while Enrage Warrior, true to its history, is a favorite amongst high level players.

Warlock has become one of the most popular classes in the format, but its two main archetypes behave very differently. Galakrond Warlock is very popular outside of legend, but dwindles at legend. Zoo Warlock shows the exact opposite pattern, taking over at legend and spiking hardest at top legend, which isn’t typical of an aggressive deck. This pattern suggests that Galakrond Warlock is overrated (and/or performs drastically worse at higher levels where the meta is more advanced) while Zoo Warlock is one of the strongest decks in the format, and players at lower ranks haven’t realized this since the information has yet to trickle down.

Demon Hunter’s play rates haven’t changed much. We mostly see Aggro and Soul Demon Hunter throughout ladder, with the usual spike of Lifesteal DH at top legend.

The balance changes have sparked increased interest in the Druid class, especially at higher levels of play where Malygos Druid is fairly common. Did the nerfs to Knuckles and Edwin elevate Druid to a more competitive spot? We will have to see how Clown, Highlander, and Malygos Druid perform in the post-patch meta in order to find out.

Paladin is another class that has risen in play in the aftermath of the patch. The play pattern of Pure and Libroom Paladin is the same as it’s ever been. Pure Paladin is extremely popular throughout ladder before disappearing at top legend, while Libroom Paladin is fringe at most rank brackets and becomes the flagbearer at top legend.

Priest is as messy as it’s been throughout the Darkmoon Faire, with Highlander Priest acting as the only archetype that looks remotely solidified at legend. Its presence at top legend is quite high, so we’ll have to see whether the decreased presence of Galakrond Warlock (its hardest counter) as well the increased presence of Warrior is helping it perform better there.

There isn’t much movement in the Mage class. It’s still mostly represented by Highlander Mage, but other archetypes of the class haven’t gained significant traction. Unless Highlander Mage’s standing improved in the new field, it’s not looking too great for Jaina.

Hunter is quite popular throughout ladder, with both Face and Highlander Hunter remaining common choices, but the class drastically shrinks at top legend. Is the increased presence of Skipper/Armorsmith crippling the class’ chances of success, or does Hunter continue to be a class that high-level players simply have no interest in piloting? Answers below.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion

  • Rogue
    • If this meta was allowed to develop for a few weeks, Miracle Rogue would very likely establish itself as the clear best deck in the game (which is already beginning to show at top legend). Its matchup spread is just too good, and the only class that is proving to be a consistent pain in Valeera’s neck is Warrior (the nerf to Edwin did hurt these matchups in particular). This explains the gravitation to Warrior at higher levels, with top legend players identifying a meta that is moving in the direction of “play Rogue or beat Rogue”.
    • Of course, this may seem a little too extreme of a take, as you can point to plenty of other decks that are currently enjoying plenty of success. But, if Miracle Rogue is currently underplayed and these decks don’t have good matchups against it, they will likely become worse over time as more players come back to Miracle Rogue until it reaches a 15-20% play rate.
    • Aggro Rogue is stronger than it looks, but still likely inferior to Miracle Rogue. Its scope for improvement is high and we can see it kissing the Tier 1 mark post-refinement (we have some ‘interesting’ suggestions in the Rogue section on how to make it perform better), but ultimately, it just isn’t as well-rounded.
  • Warrior
    • Enrage Warrior is more popular at top legend simply because it performs better at higher levels. It’s the strongest answer to Miracle Rogue and is one of the more skill-testing decks in the format. Meta trends should push its win rate further over the next week, bringing it closer to Miracle Rogue and eclipsing some of the other frontrunners shown in the table that don’t have a good matchup against Rogue.
    • Control Warrior is also good and will likely get stronger since it’s mostly countered by some of the fraudulent classes that see more play than they should at the moment (*cough* Druid/Priest).
    • Bomb Warrior boasts a very different matchup spread compared to Enrage/Control. It’s extremely powerful in slow matchups and struggles against burn-centric aggression. Should the meta slow down thanks to the emergence of Warrior’s Skipper/Armorsmith decks, it could open up more space for Bomb Warrior to produce better results. The Warrior class is currently its own positive feedback loop, and all of its primary archetypes show great promise going forward.
  • Warlock
    • Remarkably, Zoo Warlock has taken the #1 spot at every rank bracket besides top legend, where Miracle Rogue is in the process of taking over. Its difficult matchup against Miracle Rogue doesn’t bode well for Zoo’s chances of maintaining the top spot in other ranks, but that’s a nice problem to have. Even if it’s knocked down a notch, Zoo Warlock is likely to remain one of the strongest decks in the game. Its solid standing against the Warrior class should keep it top tier at higher levels too.
    • There was a point in the first day of the patch when Galakrond Warlock looked like a Tier 1 deck, but that only lasted a few hours before the meta turned in the worst possible direction for the archetype. Unrelenting burn damage, coupled with a few hyper-aggressive decks, have brought the deck to its knees. The deck is still serviceable at lower ranks where the meta is not very developed, but it’s already at Tier 4 at top legend. There are ways it can adjust (for peep’s sake, stop playing Stickyfinger!!!) but it’s probably not enough.
  • Demon Hunter
    • Illidan seems to have his mojo back, with Aggro Demon Hunter looking very powerful throughout most of ladder. It suffers a top legend tax because of the increased presence of its crippling matchups: Enrage Warrior, Miracle Rogue and Lifesteal DH. This suggests that Aggro DH’s prospects of improving aren’t great from a meta trend standpoint, but it’s currently going through a promising refinement phase. A new build centered on Il’gynoth as its late-game finisher is outperforming the older Altruis build. Check it out in the class’ section.
    • Soul Demon Hunter is also doing well. The nerf to Edwin helped its Rogue matchup, and it doesn’t lose too badly to Warrior, though much like Aggro DH, it will likely hit a ceiling in its performance once the meta settles down. The deck’s biggest issue is Paladin.
    • Lifesteal Demon Hunter seems to be developing into a fringe counter for Miracle Rogue, but the rest of its matchup spread is pretty weak. It’s a hard deck to play well, but so is Miracle Rogue and Enrage Warrior. The difference is that Miracle Rogue and Enrage Warrior are genuinely powerful, so you can win games with them even if you don’t play “perfectly”. Lifesteal DH has a heightened sense of player agency because it’s underpowered and punishing when not piloted “perfectly”. That sense of agency doesn’t mean it’s actually good at higher levels of play, which is a trap many players fall into. Will likely get better as Miracle Rogue grows in popularity, but not sure that’s enough to lift it into a positive win rate.
  • Paladin
    • Paladin is very strong at the moment. Both Libroom and Pure Paladin look top tier at every level of play, and while the rise of Miracle Rogue may drop Pure from Tier 1 at legend eventually, Libroom Paladin should stick around and continue to impress. The matchup against Miracle Rogue post-Edwin nerf is quite close for Libroom, and Paladin performs extremely well against the best answer to Rogue: Warrior. In particular, Paladin destroys Enrage Warrior in ways no other class does. This is serious food for thought for those quick to write the class off. Libroom Paladin is a legit contender against the very best decks in the meta.
  • Druid
    • Druid looks pretty bad. Ironically, it’s Clown Druid that’s performing best against the field even though players at higher levels are gravitating to Malygos and Highlander Druid. Highlander Druid is barely competitive on its best day, while Malygos Druid isn’t any better. There was a point early on when Malygos Druid looked like it might have been a good counter to the ‘dominant’ Galakrond Warlock, but we all know what happened there. This ain’t it, chief.
  • Priest
    • Priest is another class that still looks doomed to fight for scraps. Highlander Priest is stronger at top legend due to a more favorable, Warrior-driven meta, but we’re not sure Priest is the best choice to use in order to counter Warrior. Control Priest is still comprised of garbage builds, so it doesn’t even have a chance to display competitive win rates.
  • Shaman
    • Evolve Shaman looks gone. While its current win rate isn’t a total disaster, it’s in the process of further declining. It’s quite likely that it completely disappears within a couple of weeks, especially if new cards encourage players to try other things. The tyrant is dead.
    • But this doesn’t mean Shaman is dead. Aggro Shaman has emerged from the shadows of Evolve Shaman and looks top tier! Now, it will probably not stay there for long as many of its wins come from matchups against some of the worst, overplayed decks in the format. But its current win rate suggests that the class still has a very good, competitive option to succeed with. Note that due to its plethora of damage and reach, it performs well into Warrior and doesn’t roll over to Rogue either. Its biggest problem is Paladin (too strong defensively while proactively developing taunts/threats) and other aggressive decks that can push damage faster than the Shaman.
    • Totem Shaman is another deck that seems to perform well, but its matchup spread is worse than Aggro Shaman’s, and it’s likely to tank pretty hard once the weaker classes it farms drop in play. We’re not high on this one.
  • Mage
    • The current meta is actually worse for Highlander Mage, a deck that now has to worry about a burn-centric meta when it lacks the life gain to sustain through it. It was more comfortable constantly running into Shamans, Rogues, and Warriors, playing Stickyfinger, and waiting for the late game to scam opponents into wins. A race for survival is not where it shines.
    • Secret Mage, much like Totem Shaman, is a deck that may look good early on, but carries a matchup spread that highly suggests it will tank once people realize that Druid, Priest, and Galakrond Warlock are not very good. It performs surprisingly well against Warrior, but doesn’t have much else to boast about.
  • Hunter
    • Hunter is still very good. Yes, it drops off at top legend as a result of a Warrior tax, but Highlander Hunter still seems to perform well in a Warrior-driven meta. Face Hunter is a more polarizing deck that’s easier to counter, so may drop off as the meta settles down. High-level players don’t find Hunter to be too powerful because it isn’t, and might generally be bored of it. So the answer was: “a mix of both”.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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

 


Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Miracle Rogue has taken advantage of Evolve Shaman’s fall to climb to the very top of the meta at higher levels of play, shaking off the Edwin nerf and exhibiting a dominant matchup spread. Only the Warrior class seems capable of consistently beating it.

We still recommend running the same Miracle Rogue build from before the patch, including a 4-mana Edwin. Edwin is no longer a card you can keep in your opening hand and expect to consistently abuse, but it’s still quite strong at the later stages of games. The nerf simply cut down on its early blowout potential.

Aggro Rogue has risen in popularity following the balance changes. It looks like a strong deck, but one that may not be able to eclipse the dominant Miracle Rogue. We do identify a scope for improvement in its common build, and we’ve found some unconventional insights.

Backstab is a weak card in the deck, and should be cut (!). Your combo damage enabler is Foxy Fraud, but keep in mind that Foxy Fraud’s role in this deck is very different from its role in Miracle Rogue. It’s not a card you should actively keep in your opening hand if your early game curve isn’t established. Its purpose is to make Cold Blood, Swindle and Hooked Scimitar smoother to utilize.

Sap is fairly overrated as well, especially in this meta. Unless you consistently run into Paladins and Priests, you will find it to be underwhelming. It’s possible to cut one Cold Blood for a Sap, but every bit of damage increases your chances of closing games, especially in tougher matchups such as Warrior.

Finally, the mid-game curve is quite important. Jandice is a must, while Lillian is a strong card as well (though perhaps, not as mandatory, and could be replaced by a Sap).

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Warrior might be the only class in the game capable of restraining Miracle Rogue, with all of its three primary archetypes exhibiting an edge in this matchup.

There has been much debate over the preferred win condition for Enrage Warrior. Should it be the ETC combo, or the Kor’kron combo? In the aftermath of the balance changes, the answer could be both. Other important notes are that EVIL Quartermaster is superior to Bomb Wrangler as a 3-drop, and Grommash is stronger than Rattlegore in the current field.

Control Warrior hasn’t changed much from before the balance changes. The options still come down to Silas OTK and ETC, though we’re leaning towards the ETC wincon at the moment. Double Brawl is still good in the current meta due to the rising popularity of Zoo Warlock.

While the two Risky Skipper decks shine in faster matchups, Bomb Warrior thrives on beating down on the slower opponents that often give Control and Enrage Warrior problems. We slightly tweaked our featured build, adding the second Hoard Pillager and cutting Kronx. More bombs against the current field = more wins.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Galakrond Warlock initially looked promising on the first day of the post-patch meta, before getting annihilated by crippling meta trends that have pushed it down the Power Rankings in dramatic fashion. It simply struggles to survive in this meta, which has been populated by fast-paced aggressive decks and burst damage. We will note that most Galakrond Warlock players still run Kobold Stickyfingers, which is ridiculously wrong. Sacrificial Pacts and Mortal Coils are needed to improve your survivability.

Control Warlock’s survivability issues are even worse, so while we did work on building it as well as we could this week, we don’t recommend that you actually take it to ladder. It pretty much sucks.

Zoo Warlock has skyrocketed to the top of the meta, and has become the premier aggressive deck of the format. Its vulnerability to Rogue and Demon Hunter are noticeable, but its ability to stand up to Warrior is notable. Following the patch, Man’ari Mosher is absolutely core to Zoo. If we ever find space to add Rascal again, it would have to be alongside it.

The Demon Hunter class might be the most fair it’s ever been, with a couple of strong decks that seem to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes. Illidan is finally behaving.

After keeping the same Soul Demon Hunter build since the pre-expansion theorycrafting article, it’s finally time to make some adjustments to the deck. With the meta becoming more aggressive, Wandmakers are quite strong these days. We drop Consume Magic (less important after the Edwin nerf) as well as one Blade Dance.

Aggro Demon Hunter is seeing more drastic changes, with a new build that utilizes the Il’gynoth/Aldrachi Warblades combo as its late-game burst finisher, enabled by Lorekeeper Polkelt and Skull of Gul’dan. We suspect that this build was born out of players seeking alternatives to the nerfed Dreadlord’s Bite. Relentless Pursuit is added as a source of damage that synergizes with the combo, while Manafeeder Panthara comes in to replace the nerfed Voracious Reader. This variant looks clearly superior to the older iteration utilizing Bite/Reader/Altruis.

Lifesteal Demon Hunter has a new build emerging that looks to activate Zephrys earlier in order to perform better in a faster meta. It runs many 1-of’s for that purpose, replacing the nerfed Blade Dance for alternatives forms of AOE in Chaos Nova and Throw Glaive.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Permanently underrated, Paladin is one of the strongest classes in the format and the one that’s best positioned against Warrior decks of all kinds.

Pure Paladin may want to consider running both Shotbots and Argent Braggarts in the post-patch meta, replacing its slower win conditions (Murgur, Liadrin) in order to have a more powerful mid-game to better compete with Rogue and Warrior. Braggart helps us produce more difficult boards for these classes to deal with, while Shotbot shores up our early game consistency against aggressive decks.

Libroom Paladin can now cut Stickyfingers and boast a stronger all-around deck. Hammer of the Naaru is very strong in a non-Finger meta, and is particularly impressive in many common matchups such as Warrior, Warlock, and Demon Hunter. Amber Watchers are great into many aggressive decks, as well as other decks that rely on burn damage. Braggart is good in Libroom Paladin post-patch for the same reason it’s good in Pure Paladin.

Highlander Paladin is the most promising deck we’ve found boasting a low sample of games, and we estimate its current win rate is in the Tier 1 territory, possibly dropping to Tier 2 only at top legend. It’s Finley’s time to finally shine.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Druid might be the most fraudulent class in the post-patch meta, displaying an inflated play rate that isn’t backed up by widespread results. We can only come to the conclusion that it is simply overrated.

Clown Druid is the strongest of the bunch, but gets completely obliterated by aggressive decks. Malygos Druid has a similar problem, and the deck was probably just overhyped on day 1 of the patch as a result of Galakrond Warlock’s initial popularity. Highlander Druid performs better against aggressive decks since it isn’t as greedy and has Zephrys to bail it out from difficult situations, but its matchups against slower decks are worse.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

We don’t see too much promise in the Priest class. The current meta, at least early on, is too diverse for the class to excel in. Control Priest continues to look like a janky, unrefined mess, but even its best theoretical build shouldn’t be very good. Resurrect Priest, much like it’s been throughout this expansion, is just a meme-ish deck mostly played at lower ranks.

Highlander Priest is the only competitively relevant archetype, and once again, its only role might be to counter Enrage and Control Warriors at top legend. But even there, Paladin just seems like the better choice for this purpose. Much like Druid, Priest’s reputation is inflated.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Evolve Shaman has fallen from its dominant position at the top of the meta, and the rest of the field can breath easy again. It’s incredible what difference a single point in Boggspine Knuckles’ attack makes, but that damage scaled with Hoard Pillager and most importantly, enabled Dread Corsair.

Now that Evolve Shaman is forced to hold the first charge before impacting the board, it’s just too slow. In fact, if you insist on playing this deck, we recommend that you cut Dread Corsair for Tour Guide.

But Shaman is far from dead, with Aggro Shaman proving that there’s more to this class than just evolving. The deck was a sleeper we’ve mentioned throughout the expansion, but was never popular enough to prove it, since it was overshadowed by the previous meta tyrant within its own class. Now that it exhibits the performance level of a Tier 1 deck, it should no longer be ignored.

Totem Shaman is also performing remarkably well, though the archetype is notorious for looking strong early on before fading away after the competition becomes fierce. Its poor matchup against Miracle Rogue tells us you shouldn’t get your hopes up about history not repeating itself again.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

The post-patch meta has not been kind to Highlander Mage, as it has seen the rise of Warlocks and Hunters, which present problematic matchups. As a result, the deck is in a worse spot than before the patch, when it could focus on just a couple of matchups in order to find success.

Secret Mage is performing well, but its matchup spread suggests that this success could be very temporary, as it mostly benefits from the elevated popularity of bad decks that it happens to farm.

With a couple of decks that don’t look particularly impressive, the Mage class is likely to lay low until the mid-expansion set arrives.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

The Hunter class is performing very well throughout most of ladder, with a noticeable dip at higher levels of play as a result of more fierce competition and an increased Armorsmith presence.

Face Hunter has begun to add Rinling’s Rifle to its Toxic variant, and the card has proven to be exceptionally strong, at the level of Dragonbane. Both should be included in the deck at the expense of Wolfriders, as they occupy a similar role of finishers.

Highlander Hunter is nearly unchanged and its matchup spread isn’t as polarizing as Face Hunter’s. It’s tougher to counter, while losing percentages against decks that are vulnerable to getting burnt out (and simply can’t handle Face Hunter’s relentless damage potential).


Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

The current meta may not last long, as a mid-expansion set is likely coming soon. This could be a blessing, as early indications are that Miracle Rogue would have likely taken over the format without much difficulty. The deck isn’t as powerful “in a vacuum” due to the Edwin nerf, and we can identify that in several matchups, but it’s still the most flexible, versatile, well-rounded deck in the game, and it doesn’t need to deal with Evolve Shaman anymore.

Imagine a Hearthstone deck with an extremely consistent early game (running a mana curve that resembles an aggressive deck), combined with great late game longevity that allows it to last practically forever in every control matchup. Imagine a deck with powerful removal tools, obscenely efficient card draw and value generation, and multiple ways to win different matchups.

Such a perfect Hearthstone deck surely doesn’t exi…

Miracle Rogue


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Contributors

Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report:

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