vS Data Reaper Report #189

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from 175,000 games.

Data Reaper Report Logo

Welcome to the 189th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

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!

A Wild Report is planned for next Sunday, March 7th!

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 175,000
Top 1K Legend 10,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 30,000
Diamond 4 to 1 32,000
Diamond 10 to 5 33,000
Platinum 26,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 44,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

[TABS_PRO id=45700]

Class Frequency

[TABS_PRO id=45716]

Class Frequency Discussion

Rogue has taken over the format. Aggro Rogue is the most popular deck throughout ladder, with the exception of top legend, where Whirlkick Rogue dramatically spikes in its play rate and eclipses it. Either of these decks are more popular than any other class, and together they make up nearly a third of ladder opponents at higher levels of play. These numbers are pretty crazy.

Druid has picked up interest, with slower strategies seeing more play. Beyond Gibberling Druid, the biggest Aggro Rogue counter available, Guardian and Highlander Druid are quite visible. Guardian Druid has dropped Carnival Clowns (which is why we renamed it from Clown Druid). Highlander Druid is mostly seeing play at top legend.

Not much has changed in Warrior. Enrage Warrior is notable for its strong Rogue matchups, so it maintains a noticeable presence at top legend. Control Warrior sees a little bit of play. Bomb Warrior players are frightened of Aggro Rogue. We’re also seeing the budding of a new archetype, an Aggro Warrior built around a rush package.

Priest knows what it wants to do, and that’s run Zephrys. Non-Highlander decks see fringe play, with Resurrect Priest recently proving to be the most competitive on ladder, albeit a polarizing one.

SD Mage lost a lot of steam, which makes sense considering that its performance did not really justify its play rate. It seems like it will stick around, but at a more reasonable level. The other two notable Mage decks are Secret and Highlander, and both decks have become more visible.

Cheese Paladin has seen a big decline in play at all rank brackets following the Alura nerf, and the deck is now non-existent at top legend! Pure Paladin is rising in popularity in response, while Libroom Paladin is pretty much all you see from the class at higher levels.

Lifesteal Demon Hunter continued its decline over the last week, especially at top legend, while other Demon Hunter decks are barely noticeable throughout ladder.

Highlander Hunter and Totem Shaman are the primary representatives of their classes. Totem Shaman seems to have picked up a little traction, but neither of these classes is drawing any interest at higher levels.

Matchup Win Rates Header

[TABS_PRO id=45717]

Power Rankings Header

[TABS_PRO id=45718]

vS Meta Score

[TABS_PRO id=45719]

vS Power Rankings Discussion

  • Rogue
    • Rogue may not display the most offensive win rates we’ve ever seen, but when you take into consideration its play rate and the meta’s best attempts to counter it, there is a problem with it being just a little better than everything else. The meta is a bit stuck because truthfully, Rogue is just the strongest class in the format, and there’s no real debate about that.
    • What’s interesting is that Whirlkick Rogue continues to be the superior choice between the two, and it’s easy to understand why when looking at the data. Aggro Rogue is powerful but has clear counters that are extremely effective against it. If you see a lot of them, you can punish them very easily with a few deck choices. There is no great way to punish Whirlkick Rogue. Cheese Paladin was a tough matchup, but it is disappearing. Enrage Warrior is the only soft counter available. The deck is nearly flawless.
  • Druid
    • Gibberling Druid has become stronger and is one of the best choices on the climb to legend largely because it completely obliterates Aggro Rogue in a way no other deck does (around 70-30). It drops off a little bit at top legend, but still exhibits a good standing against the field. Its stock has definitely risen.
    • Slower Druid decks still suffer from their polarizing matchup spreads, which makes them situationally strong. Highlander Druid in particular looks like a deck that was built with the top legend meta in mind. It is not very good outside that field.
  • Warrior
    • If you want to beat Rogues consistently, no matter who they are, your only choice is Enrage Warrior. At the top legend meta of over 30% Rogues, it looks very comfortable. Control Warrior is a little worse, but still quite good. Bomb and Big Warrior get demolished by Aggro Rogue, which hurts the consistency of their success.
    • The deck that isn’t popular enough to be in the Power Rankings is Aggro Warrior, and our estimate is that it sits in the Tier 2 range. Very playable and competitive.
  • Priest
    • It seems that Highlander Priest’s standing against the field has gotten weaker, and the reason is a bit difficult to catch with a simple glance at the data. When you dig deeper, you find out that the deck’s matchups against both Rogue decks are getting worse. Nitroboost Poison has become a very common choice in WK Rogue, and this card is extremely impactful against Priest. The Flinger build also provides big problems for the highlander deck, as Aggro Rogue’s game plan doesn’t fail when faced with premium removal. The amount of off-board damage is simply too much to handle, even when the Rogue’s minion damage is kept in check.
  • Mage
    • Mage isn’t great, but it’s okay. SD Mage is a great answer to both Aggro Rogue and its primary counter, Gibberling Druid. The problem is when the deck starts facing a lot of Enrage Warrior and Libroom Paladins at top legend. It’s also not very comfortable dealing with Whirlkick Rogue.
    • Secret Mage remains quite impressive despite receiving little to no publicity. Highlander Mage also sits in the competitive range. The class looks diverse and balanced.
  • Paladin
    • Cheese Paladin still looks quite good at lower ranks but nosedives pretty hard at top legend, and we wonder if this kind of performance will start trickling down. In any case, the nerf to Alura seems to have done its job in reducing the power level of the deck, leading to its decline in play. The Cheese isn’t as annoying when it’s not too common.
    • Libroom Paladin is one of the strongest decks in the format and looks extremely well rounded. It doesn’t really have hard counters, just a few soft ones that keep it inferior to Whirlkick Rogue.
  • Demon Hunter
    • Lifesteal Demon Hunter is still facing a tough field. It’s a deck with a steep learning curve that we can tell is dramatically stronger at top legend when you strictly look at its matchups in a vacuum. But the top legend matchup spread also becomes more hostile, which cancels out gains it could have otherwise made. It just seems like whenever the deck raises its head, a random bad matchup arrives to revert any progress made, with Highlander Druid being a recent example.
    • Soul Demon Hunter may have dropped from the table, but we estimate it still sits around the Tier 2 range. Aggro DH also seems okay, albeit suffers from bad matchups at top legend. Players mostly seem bored of these archetypes, and their play rates are mostly a reflection of that.
  • Warlock
    • Slower Warlock archetypes get completely obliterated by Aggro Rogue, so they never stand a chance in this meta. Zoo Warlock looks very strong throughout ladder, and it seems to mostly be in a great spot, but even this deck loses some steam when it runs into the large number of Rogues you see at top legend. There’s a limit to what it can do in these matchups.
  • Shaman and Hunter
    • Highlander Hunter’s strong matchup against Aggro Rogue is paying off in the current meta, and the deck is surprisingly strong at the moment. Totem Shaman holds its own in this matchup, while demolishing some of the slower decks in the meta. Players simply do not care, which is its own problem, but it’s good to know that it isn’t a power-level problem.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Data Reaper Report - Rogue

The post-patch meta finds Rogue to be well established as the dominant force of the meta. While its win rate isn’t grossly alarming, its play rate at top legend is indicative of a meta that seems to be stuck on Rogue being the best choice. We can’t disagree.

Whirlkick Rogue is the most well-rounded deck on ladder, one that has almost no weaknesses, and is impossible to target effectively. Its early game board control and late-game value engines are just too strong of a combination, and only Enrage Warrior seems to be able to consistently beat it at higher levels of play. Furthermore, the addition of Nitroboost Poison is a big boost to its lethality, allowing WK Rogue to close out games faster even when it (somehow) doesn’t have the upper hand when it comes to card advantage. We can’t see how it isn’t the best deck in the game.

Aggro Rogue has attracted a lot of heat recently and complaints from the community, not necessarily due to its power level. After all, there are multiple decks in the meta that are capable of beating it, and some of them counter it very effectively. But the emergence of the Flinger build has turned Aggro Rogue into a pure damage calculating deck (which can be interesting in its own, perverse way), as it’s very often correct to ignore whatever your opponent is doing and go face. This aspect is frustrating, as the relentless amount of damage combined with limitless card draw makes it almost impossible to outlast. To beat Aggro Rogue, you need to have counter-pressure. In other words, you need to remove their tempo while developing yours!

Secret Rogue has been overshadowed by the dominant duo, so it doesn’t see much play anymore. However, we will note that its best build has consistently looked competitive, so if you want to be a hipster, you can still do it while playing the class and win games at a pretty good clip.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Gibberling Druid might be the best ladder deck outside of the top legend meta, where we know some of its worse matchups dramatically rise in play. It’s easy to understand why it’s grown in power post-patch considering its matchup against Aggro Rogue is one of the most lopsided in the format.

Building Gibberling Druid is not too difficult. You can either enhance its strengths by maximizing initiative in the featured build, or hedge for its weaker matchups by adding Solar Eclipse and Soul of the Forest.

Guardian Druid has dropped its Clowns and is now building around a dragon package with Breath of Dreams and Dreaming Drake. There are two big factors leading to this transition, which began before the patch but wasn’t really worthwhile until recent meta developments. The rise of Aggro Rogue is discouraging Druid from being too slow and greedy, and the rise of Flik Skyshiv in Whirlkick Rogue is further discouraging the utilization of Clowns.

Highlander Druid can no longer be considered a bait, though it’s clearly a top legend deck, similar to Highlander Priest. It has good matchups against Lifesteal DH, Enrage Warrior, and Libroom Paladin, three decks that see drastically more play at top legend. It has very bad matchups against many decks that don’t see as much play over there too. We’re featuring an anti-aggro build that slightly flattens the archetype’s polarizing matchup spread, and seems to work best throughout ladder.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Enrage Warrior might be the only deck that can truly keep Whirlkick Rogue in check, and alongside its good matchup against Aggro Rogue, is the best way to survive against the onslaught of Valeera at higher levels of play.

But while most Warrior decks look very settled in their builds, a new archetype of Aggro Warrior has popped up in low numbers, and we can estimate that it’s a legitimate deck with a pretty good win rate throughout ladder.

This build essentially replaced the older Pirate Warrior lists, and runs a core that is centered around a rush package. The deck focuses on weapon damage, board control through rush minions, and even has a finishing combo with ETC and Playmaker. The only clear improvement we can make to the original build is replacing Skydiving Instructor with Parade Leader. Instructor is a cute way to pull your Gan’arg, but you’d much rather play the 1-drop on turn 1. Parade Leader is actually one of the best cards in the deck.

Bit of a shame that this new deck will likely get nuked by a nerf to Nitroboost Poison.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Highlander Priest lost some of its strength at the top legend meta due to the rise and refinement of Rogue. Whirlkick Rogue’s utilization of Nitroboost Poison has pushed this matchup in Rogue’s favor, while a similar process is observed in the matchup against Aggro Rogue due to the rise of the Flinger build. The Flinger build does not care if you manage to remove every single minion it develops, as its off-board damage paired with its insane drawing capabilities is well enough to kill the Priest on most occasions. The only meaningful way to stop some of this damage is by running weapon tech, and it’s imperative that you take over the board, setting up an Apotheosis.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

The hype surrounding Spell-Damage Mage has predictably died down. While it’s still a fantastic deck against Aggro Rogue and Gibberling Druid, it has serious issues at higher levels of play that stem from its horrendous matchups against the Warrior class (the Enrage Warrior matchup is particularly miserable), and its struggles against Libroom Paladins as well. These classes’ capability to pressure while gaining life in the process is a big obstacle to Mage’s primary game plan.

Overall, Mage is in a pretty decent spot in the meta, though none of its decks can be considered to be elite choices, three of them are solid: SD Mage, Secret Mage and Highlander Mage.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

The Alura nerf seems to have done its job. Cheese Paladin is still strong at lower ranks, but clearly hits a wall at legend, indicative of its significantly lower power level. The deck should no longer be a massive problem as the format is winding down.

Libroom Paladin is now clearly the strongest Paladin deck, and we’ve also found what might be the strongest build. In the debate between Crabrider and Libram of Judgment, the answer seems to be “why not both?”. Running one Libram of Judgment alongside a 7th Pride target (Argent Braggart or alternatively, Hoarder/Engineer) seems to deliver the most well-rounded experience.

Crabrider is just far too good in the early game and is massive in the difficult fight against Aggro Rogue. We consider it to be uncuttable at this point. Meanwhile, a single Libram of Judgment seems to be enough to get the job done in slower matchups. Bonk.

Lifesteal Demon Hunter is one of the more difficult decks to play in the format. We can see its improvement in multiple matchups at higher levels. We’ve never been blind to it and we’ve always been highly interested in such disparities.

Lifesteal Demon Hunter is poorly positioned in the meta. Even when taking into consideration its projected improvement at higher levels, its matchup spread is still not anywhere near a spot to put itself in the conversation as one of the strongest decks in the format.

These statements are not mutually exclusive. Both are true, and realizing this, the player base has proceeded to move away from the deck, leading to a significant decline in its play rate at top legend.

Alongside the fall of other Demon Hunter decks, the class might be the weakest it has been since its launch at Ashes of Outland. That is to say, it still has three very competitive decks, but none of them are dominant. The era of vengeance is over… for now.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Zoo Warlock remains a respectable representative of its class. The deck is strong throughout ladder and is a very good choice to climb to legend with. Things become more difficult at top legend, where it needs to deal with a ridiculous number of Rogues. If there’s something Zoo players don’t want to see, it’s Valeera’s portrait. Both Whirlkick and Aggro Rogue are problematic matchups in their own way. WK Rogue is too good at controlling the board in the early game and outpacing the Warlock before it gets Flesh Giants online. Aggro Rogue is too good at killing the Warlock, making its own game plan backfire in the most dramatic way possible.

Data Reaper Report - ShamanData Reaper Report - Hunter

The forgotten classes are still doing good work on ladder, and are nowhere near dead.

Highlander Hunter is actually very well positioned in the current meta due to its strong Aggro Rogue matchup. We can safely say that it’s gotten better after the patch.

Totem Shaman has attracted slightly more interest recently as a counter to passive decks, and it’s delivering more punishment in slower matchups by running two copies of Bloodlust. Interestingly, its matchup against Aggro Rogue is close. Totem Shaman tends to lose to aggressive decks, but the new Aggro Rogue ignores the board to such an extent that it can backfire against the snowballing capabilities of the Shaman.


Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

Most Hearthstone players may run into Aggro Rogue more often, but the dominant deck of the current meta is actually Whirlkick Rogue. Its near-flawless matchup spread, which was also helped by the Alura nerf, is simply too good compared to any other deck out there.

Whirlkick Rogue is the most popular deck at top legend because high levels players like to avoid being countered, and there’s no clear answer that consistently beats this deck and can dissuade them from this choice.

In addition, Nitroboost Poison has given it added lethality on top of Eviscerate that allows the Rogue to switch off the value plan more often, and go into the killing plan. Killing the opponent is good.

As we’ve said in a previous report, this is the perfect Hearthstone deck and the culmination of 6 strong Rogue sets. Many of its key pieces are going away soon, but it’s sure closing out its place in history on a high note.

Oh, up to no good? Me too!

Whirlkick Rogue

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.

vS Gold is a new membership plan aimed to support our efforts towards improving our content and data analysis while receiving some bonuses and extra features.

Tier 3+ Patrons

Special thanks to Leo GAaron B, Jed M, Drew M, Alan J, Zolstar, Sean H, Steve F, Andrew N, NObdy, Alonso P, James Y, Je-ho, Ziqiao Y, Stephen H, William H, 1RiceBowl1, Alex S, PeejTreon, Josh G, Matthew H, Bruno B, Amir, Matthew P, nmbrthry, amenbrotep, Karhu, Fisherington, Christopher N, Eric F, Eric L, Munchma, BraveLittleStove, Lime, Yasin, Fireproofflame, Weston W, Brandon G, and Kaushal for supporting us this month.


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

EndofDayswwloscheesee-hunterspacemonkey-paladin TzachilookitzjoeSentenza