Welcome to the 190th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||11,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||17,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||35,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||50,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
The Rogue situation is difficult to fully understand with just a simple glance at the data. The class is rising in popularity throughout most of ladder, indicating that its point of saturation has yet to be reached. But, at top legend, it’s been slightly declining in play and there’s a sign of some relaxation. Whether this is a result of players’ desire to experiment with other things (especially with Ironforge coming this weekend), will be something we’ll have to look into. There’s also some shift from Aggro to Whirlkick Rogue, and a re-appearance of Secret Rogue at top legend.
The story of this week might be the rise of Zephrys, with players beginning to experiment with other Highlander decks beyond Priest in greater numbers. Highlander Druid, a deck we’ve identified in the previous report to be more suitable for the top legend meta, exhibits the most noticeable rise in play following promising results from multiple individuals.
Highlander Mage is also creeping up, following some adjustments in its build and a rise in interest from players wanting to target several decks that see more play at higher levels (HL Priest, Libroom Paladin, Enrage Warrior). Spell-Damage Mage seems to be stagnating.
Highlander Priest looks firmly entrenched in its position in the meta after suffering from the refinement of Rogue decks that prevented it from rising higher up the win rate charts. However, under the surface, a novel card choice is emerging, alongside its rise in other Highlander decks.
Libroom Paladin has seen a slight uptick in play after enjoying great ladder success over the last month, establishing it as a top-tier deck. That does come with a burden, which is that players have started to pay more attention to it.
Lifesteal Demon Hunter seems to have stopped the bleeding in its play rate and now looks settled as a moderately popular deck at higher levels of play. We still don’t see much of other DH decks.
Warrior has gone through a significant decline in play, which might have to do with the increase in the meta’s greediness. Enrage Warrior is generally not well-positioned against highly defensive decks with tons of late-game value, which is something Highlander decks execute very well (unless you’re playing Hunter).
Not much enthusiasm in Warlock, except for a small rise in Zoo at top legend. Could be something, but could also be nothing. We’ll have to see what the win rates tell us here.
Hunter and Shaman are essentially dead classes in terms of development, even though we know they’re fairly playable and nowhere near the dead classes we’ve seen in the past that couldn’t break into Tier 3.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
- While Rogue might be too prevalent and slightly more powerful than the field, the meta that seems to be building around it looks remarkably balanced. In a rare moment that only happened in this report a few times in its history, there are no Tier 1 decks in the top rank bracket. Indeed, win rates at top legend are so flat that there is no deck that’s truly dominating the current meta.
- This might be a result of an increased effort at countering Rogue, or at the very least, improving a deck’s performance against it. We see evidence of this across multiple archetypes, but especially the Highlander decks of Priest, Druid, and Mage. The improvement of all these decks against Rogue is not a weird coincidence and can be pinpointed to the rise in prevalence of one card across all three archetypes: the mighty Ogremancer.
- Yes, this seemingly harmless neutral that hasn’t been touched since its release at Scholomance Academy is proving to be an absurdly good card that all of us have been blind to. Let us be clear: while its performance against Rogue is outstanding, the card is strong in nearly every matchup on ladder, and these decks are benefitting from including it across the matchup board. We don’t know whether Ogremancer is a good enough card to throw into non-Highlander decks, but it seems to serve an important stabilizing role for Highlander decks in faster matchups, while still acting as a very annoying threat against slower decks.
- The rise of Zephrys and Ogremancer has led to the current meta, with an astonishing number of 18 Tier 2 decks across 8 classes within the top legend meta. Many decks have been greatly affected by the Highlander shift, and if you want a more detailed explanation as to why some of the more common and familiar decks in the meta are behaving the way they are, head over the class sections and find out what’s happening. In this section, we will just mention the key takeaways and highlights:
- Rogue: Competition between Aggro and Whirlkick Rogue is tightening. As the meta is becoming more greedy, Secret Rogue has re-emerged to take advantage of several matchups at top legend to put it in a surprisingly strong spot there.
- Druid: Highlander Druid has clearly gotten stronger, though might be the weakest of the three Highlander decks we discuss. Ogremancer destroys Gibberling Druid, and the two decks that utilize it best (Mage and Priest) already do very well in this matchup.
- Mage: Highlander Mage looks very good. Counters Priest/Paladin/Warrior trio. Ogremancer clearly increased its win rate, making us remember the impact of Imprisoned Observer back in Ashes of Outland. Spell-Damage Mage is struggling, with multiple bad matchups holding it back, including the rise of new ones.
- Highlander Priest looks great. Ogremancer boosted Rogue matchups. Great into Highlander Druid. Paladin matchup also got noticeably better. Resurrect Priest very viable counter to Enrage Warrior and Libroom Paladin. Still miserable in the mirror.
- Libroom Paladin actually has a tough time dealing with new meta hostility. Highlander decks are becoming a problem, especially Mage, while it can’t catch up in the Aggro Rogue matchup.
- Lifesteal Demon Hunter is collapsing under the weight of another bad matchup rising in play in Highlander Druid. It’s looking incredibly weak even at top legend.
- Enrage Warrior has been kicked off Tier 1 by the Highlander decks, all proving to be bad matchups for it.
- Zoo is looking stronger thanks to the increasingly greedy meta, but has another tech up its sleeve that’s being slept on and could take it another level. Galakrond Warlock looking slightly more playable thanks to good matchups into Highlander decks.
- Players still don’t care about Hunter or Shaman decks.
Class Analysis & Decklists
While Rogue continues to dictate the meta, it doesn’t seem to dominate it in terms of performance. The field has caught up and looks very capable of competing with the class, and while the meta at higher levels certainly feels overpopulated with Rogue, its presence isn’t particularly offensive compared to the true meta tyrants we’ve seen in the past.
Both Aggro Rogue and Whirlkick Rogue look very refined and it’s hard to find improvements over what’s been established. Meanwhile, Secret Rogue has popped up again on ladder and looks fairly interesting. The archetype offers a response to slower matchups, with a noticeable edge into Highlander decks, Whirlkick Rogue and Libroom Paladin. Aggression is where Secret Rogue falters compared to its Whirlkick counterpart, and this is why the featured build continues to outperform other iterations of the deck on ladder.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Aggro Rogue
- Whirlkick Rogue
- Secret Rogue
The emergence of Highlander Druid has been the biggest news coming out of the class in recent weeks, with the deck looking stronger than when it initially emerged before the Darkmoon Races. Arbor Up has been a massive addition to the deck since and is the biggest reason why its fortunes have somewhat changed.
However, we will reiterate that Highlander Druid is mostly good enough at top legend, where it demolishes Lifesteal DH and Enrage Warrior. Outside of that meta, we generally can’t recommend it.
One card that’s making waves in every Highlander deck is Ogremancer. This card looks absurdly good in so many matchups that not running it is just gimping yourself. We’ve also detected Shadow Hunter Vol’jin seeing more play in Highlander decks, but we think its strength is more matchup dependent. It’s decent in slow matchups (where you have more soft removal targets, but also more time to bounce your own Zephrys with it) but it’s very weak in faster matchups, and its usage in Druid is particularly optimistic.
- Druid Class Radar
- Highlander Druid
- Gibberling Druid
- Guardian Druid
- Treant Druid
One deck falls, as another one rises. Spell-Damage Mage is struggling to handle current meta trends. The decline of Aggro Rogue, one of its best matchups, is compounded by a worsening matchup against Libroom Paladin as well as the rise of Highlander Druid. Add the crippling matchups against the Warrior class, and it’s easy to understand why the deck is having a harder time than when it initially emerged.
Meanwhile, Highlander Mage’s stock is rising. Its strong standing against Warrior, Priest, and Paladin put it in a good position to succeed. Its improvement in the Rogue matchups is noticeable, thanks to some smart card choices.
Ogremancer is nuts, and is so incredibly effective against Aggro Rogue that running Stickyfinger makes no sense anymore since Ogre is an infinitely better card in other matchups. We’ve also noticed an increase in the usage of Combustion, which is extremely powerful against Rogues and adds a couple of percentages against them. Vol’jin is better in Mage than in Druid, but still not mandatory for ladder.
- Mage Class Radar
- Spell-Damage Mage
- Highlander Mage
- Secret Mage
- Spell Mage
- Mozaki Mage
Highlander Priest was the most established Highlander deck in recent weeks, and the one that may have benefitted the most from the addition of Ogremancer, which is helping Priest gain back percentages in the Rogue matchups alongside its incredible utility against other classes as well. With the ability to buff and heal the Ogre, the 5-drop becomes even more annoying to deal with.
It’s becoming quite difficult to fit all the cards we want into the Priest decklist. We’re reluctant to cut Galakrond due to its massive importance in the mirror and against Paladin. Acidic Swamp Ooze can be cut if you’re not running into Aggro Rogue, but its strength in this matchup alongside Ogremancer is still worthwhile. What we said about Vol’jin in Mage is also true for Priest.
- Priest Class Radar
- Highlander Priest
- Illucia Priest
- Resurrect Priest
- Control Priest
Libroom Paladin is starting to feel the heat. As the meta is becoming greedier with Highlander decks, its standing in the field is getting worse. We’ve noticed that it’s losing matchup percentages against both Highlander Priest and Aggro Rogue, while previously fringe decks such as Highlander Mage and Resurrect Priest creep up to counter it. Though not too popular yet, Shadow Hunter Vol’jin could also be a disruptive influence.
It’s likely best to run Loot Hoarder as the 7th Pride target to decrease the chances we run out of resources, but Paladin is a bit stuck running Libram of Judgment despite the weapon tech. It’s essential for closing out games against defensive decks, even if they do pack an Ooze and an Ooze-discovering Zephrys.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Libroom Paladin
- Pure Paladin
- Cheese Paladin
Things look grim for Lifesteal Demon Hunter’s life on ladder, as the recent rise of Highlander Druid is adding salt to the wounds of a deck that was already facing an extremely hostile field. Highlander Druid is a crippling counter, so much so that Demon Hunter players would rather try their luck at racing Priests before they find their Illucia. The rise of Druid has pretty much dumpstered Lifesteal DH to the point where even the Church of Patron Warrior faithfuls have run out of excuses to justify its poor win rate. All in good fun.
The irony is that with Demon Hunter’s “best deck” label shattering into reality, it may now enjoy a better time in tournaments, as players might become more forgiving with their deck choices, and less fixated at countering the OTK deck. As we’ve said before, part of the deck’s problem was how powerful it was perceived to be.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Lifesteal Demon Hunter
- Aggro Demon Hunter
- Soul Demon Hunter
As Highlander decks pressure Libroom Paladin into great discomfort, Enrage Warrior is suffering a worse fate. The deck is particularly vulnerable to the triangle of Highlander decks that is rising in play at top legend, to the point it was dramatically kicked out of its Tier 1 standing.
There isn’t a great solution for these meta developments either. When Enrage Warrior gets countered, it tends to get thoroughly demolished. Still a good deck of course, but not an elite one. Perhaps, Enrage Warrior players can find comfort in the fact that truly elite decks in the current meta don’t actually exist anymore!
- Warrior Class Radar
- Enrage Warrior
- Control Warrior
- Bomb Warrior
- Big Warrior
- Aggro Warrior
Warlock is enjoying a more favorable field, as it tends to shine when decks become greedy. Zoo Warlock is licking its lips at the rise of Druid while seeing Rogue numbers slightly relax across the board.
But Zoo has ways to improve its standing further in the face of current meta trends, and it’s by adding a card that used to not be good enough. Revenant Rascal is incredible against Highlander decks, and is the best addition to capitalize on their rise. What you think Cult Neophyte does (but fails to do), Rascal executes perfectly. By stalling their high mana curve and preventing them from developing rather than just slightly irritating their removal toolkit, Zoo can extend their pressure and end games before they can stabilize. The main choice is between running Soulfire/Merchant (finishing potential in slow matchups, discard consistency) and Animated Broomstick (board control in faster matchups, comeback potential).
Galakrond Warlock may not be great, but it’s gotten better. Highlander decks tend to give their opponents time, and if you give Warlocks time to corrupt and play Tickatus, they will win games. We’ve adjusted the build to provide the Warlock with more survivability against faster decks (through expanding the soul package), as Tickatus should be enough to carry these slower matchups by itself.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Zoo Warlock
- Galakrond Warlock
- Control Warlock
These classes are so ignored by the player base that nobody even considered running Ogremancer in them!
Just imagine how powerful and meta breaking Highlander Hunter would be if it received the same attention as the other Highlander decks? Maybe not but… surely it’s Ogremancer time?
- Shaman Class Radar
- Totem Shaman
- Midrange Shaman
- Evolve Shaman
- Aggro Shaman
The Hearthstone meta is quite diverse and competitive, even though Rogue might be a little too good. Things are still changing in the buildup to Ironforge and we’ve not sunk into a stale meta just yet. Several decks are showing promise with significant rises in their win rates, challenging the top class in the format.
And much of it has to do with one Ogre boy, popping up and increasing the power level of Highlander decks to the point where they are legitimate contenders. This has created a negative reaction in Paladin and Warrior, which is sure to snowball into affecting the entire landscape over the next week.
Give it up to a card that was probably good enough for the constructed format when it was released, but was written off in such a consensual fashion that it never got a chance.
Playtime is OGER.
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