vS Data Reaper Report #195

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from 275,000 games.

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Welcome to the 195th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

The Wild Data Reaper Report returns this Sunday, May 9th!

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 275,000
Top 1K Legend 8,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 33,000
Diamond 4 to 1 31,000
Diamond 10 to 5 39,000
Platinum 39,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 125,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

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Class Frequency

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Class Frequency Discussion

The Paladin population keeps growing, with the class becoming extremely prevalent on the climb to legend, eclipsing a 30% play rate. A Paladin reprieve only exists at top legend, where the popularity of Aggro and Secret Paladin happens to flip.

Mage is also growing in popularity. Spell Mage is very common throughout ladder, but it particularly dominates play at top legend.

Rogue is seeing small deviations. Outside of legend, where Paladin is very popular, we’re seeing Secret Rogue creep up in play. At higher levels of play, Poison Rogue is becoming increasingly noticeable as an effective Mage/Priest counter. Miracle Rogue is unchanged.

Priest is undergoing major developments, rising in play at top legend where Warlocks are fading away. Flesh Giants builds are gaining traction, though Control Priest is still very diverse in its builds, as usual.

Warrior is stagnant. Not significantly changing in its play rate or its composition. Rush Warrior looks settled. Control Warrior is done for now.

Hunter is slightly declining. Face Hunter has been a solved archetype for a while, typically popular on ladder to prey on Warlocks. At top legend it becomes a game of preying on Mages and Rogues.

Druid is generally very quiet, but Gibberling Druid has risen in play at top legend, an interesting development that correlates with the rise of greed and decks such as Poison Rogue.

There’s a noticeable decline in Warlock, though the class is still fairly popular on ladder. Control Warlock only heavily drops in play at top legend, allowing Priests to take control.

Demon Hunter looks like a dead class that players are still trying to make work, something we can’t say about Shaman. It might have to do with the fact that Demon Hunter has powerful cards and combos, but suffers from meta related issues, while Shaman doesn’t feel like it has very powerful cards to begin with.

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vS Meta Score

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vS Power Rankings Discussion

  • Paladin
    • Paladin continues to dominate ladder. What shocked us more than anything is that both Secret and Aggro Paladin now sit alone at Tier 1 at top legend, when we fully expected them to drop off, even a little bit. The problem is that the meta has become so greedy at higher levels that Paladin is taking advantage of the Priest mirror wars as well as free wins off Poison Rogue. Secret Paladin, though less popular than Aggro at top legend, is enjoying even more success due to its stronger matchup against Spell Mage.
    • And then throughout the rest of ladder, nothing touches Paladin. The class looks that much stronger than whatever is 2nd best. This can only be fixed through balance changes, which are thankfully coming next week.
  • Mage
    • Spell Mage has its matchup flaws, which means if it’s as popular as it is, it’s going to get targeted. But, the deck did make a new adjustment this week that seems to improve its performance in some matchups, so that’s worth checking out.
  • Rogue
    • Both Secret and Miracle Rogue are having trouble keeping up with the meta. The popularity of Rush Warrior, as well as recent developments in Priest and Mage are proving to be quite troublesome. There are too many things that these decks need to worry about, and answers to those things clash with each other, relegating the two archetypes to a middling position.
    • Poison Rogue is another story. The deck has free reign to beat down on Priests and Mages at top legend. The lower play rate of Paladin and other aggressive decks helps a lot, and it’s now the best performing Rogue deck at higher levels of play. It’s hilarious how bad it is in a meta with 30% Paladins, but that’s a product of an extremely polarizing matchup spread.
  • Priest
    • While the archetype is generally difficult to evaluate due to the diversity of its builds, Control Priest is exhibiting very promising signs of self-improvement. Note that its win rate at top legend, where it is becoming increasingly popular, is rising to a significant degree. This is happening despite a meta that’s becoming increasingly hostile to Priest following the further rise of Mages and Poison Rogues.
    • Internal analysis indicates that the Flesh Giant/Devouring Plague package that is gaining traction within the archetype (but is mostly common at top legend), is improving Control Priest’s performance against Spell Mage. This is not noticeable in aggregated data yet, but if Priest can gain on this matchup, it could have meta breaking implications, especially if Warlocks completely disappear following a possible nerf to Tickatus. More details in the Priest class section.
  • Warrior
    • While enjoying a lot of success throughout ladder as Paladin’s deputy, Rush Warrior is not enjoying these Priest developments, and things could get worse for the deck if its biggest counter proves to be very powerful following its current refinement phase. Rush Warrior has little room to grow by itself.
  • Druid and Hunter
    • Gibberling Druid and Face Hunter have grown surprisingly stronger at top legend over the last week, despite receiving very little attention. This is a product of Poison Rogue’s popularity. Many players underestimate favorability and the effect of extremely one-sided matchups. Even Warlock’s small presence at top legend is having a massive effect on Priest’s win rate, so Poison Rogue donating free wins to Druid, Hunter, and Paladin while beating down on what many players consider to be the strongest classes (Mage, Priest) is having an underrated impact on ladder performance.
  • Warlock
    • There’s a decent chance that Tickatus will be nerfed next week, simply due to its popularity and the negative reactions it draws by many players. It certainly won’t be a result of its win rate, since Warlock is still quite terrible.
    • No, there is absolutely no build that performs well.
    • No, it’s not good in the hands of “good players”. It’s looking consistently worse against good players.
    • No, it’s not good because players brought it to Grandmasters this week. Specialist is a stupid competitive format.
  • Demon Hunter
    • Demon Hunter is another zombie class that refuses to die out, but probably should. Its matchup spread into Paladin is unbearable, though you’ll be interested to find out that Deathrattle Demon Hunter almost goes 50-50 against Secret Paladin these days. That’s the one exception in a sea of dark red.
  • Shaman
    • Nope.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Paladin continues to dominate ladder, and as other decks become increasingly greedy to beat each other, the class only further benefits.

The legend meta is increasingly fond of Spell Mage and Control Priest, which makes Secret Paladin the better choice to queue into them at higher levels of play (contrary to the current player base’s choice to run Aggro Paladin at top legend). The secret package is extremely disruptive to their ability to respond to your threats.

While the Nerubian Egg build is performing well on ladder, we’ve found that Righteous Protectors are deceptively stronger, and cutting them for the egg package isn’t necessarily worth it. We’ve reverted back to a build similar to the one we’ve featured two weeks ago, with just the addition of Alex. We think the best 5-secret package is the one we’ve settled on, in which we only run one holy secret (Avenge). It’s quite common on ladder to meet an Avenge/Reckoning split, but Galloping Savior is way too strong to be considered a 1-of, and you want to minimize the chances that Knight of Anointment draws a secret.

Aggro Paladin doesn’t need to choose between Nerubian Egg and Righteous Protecor, so the build we’ve featured last week looks perfect. Teron Gorefiend works well with all of your early game minions and is clearly stronger than other choices we’ve mentioned last week.

Libram Paladin is quietly observing the domination of Aggro and Secret Paladin. In this deck, Reckoning is the 5th secret over Avenge.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Spell Mage is beginning to utilize a novel card choice that seems very promising. Thanks to visibility at Orgrimmar, we’ve seen Shooting Star rise in play and performing extremely well. With Primordial Studies and Font of Power, there is enough spell-damage available to make it consistently strong, and it’s so effective at cleaning up boards that we’ve completely changed our stance regarding Flamestrike and no longer think it’s a “necessary evil”.

The key is that Shooting Star enables Mask of C’Thun better than Flamestrike ever did, especially after an Incanter’s Flow, since you can combo them together on the same turn in order to direct more Mask damage to face. Since Shooting Star allows you to clean up boards earlier alongside other cheap removals, Flamestrike becomes redundant. We advocate cutting Flamestrike completely and running two Shooting Stars, and we’re not concerned it will have a negative effect on Ring Toss.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Rogue is stagnating, stuck between a few matchups that push it out of its comfort zone. Beyond Rush Warrior giving the class a lot of problems, Rogue is facing an issue where it is incentivized to pressure Mages early, yet that same game plan translates poorly into the Priest matchup where it wants to be more patient with its resource management.

This is why a card such as Venomous Scorpid is losing value in Miracle Rogue. It’s nice to have against Priest, but it is fairly useless against Mage. Secret Rogue’s matchup against Mage is also beginning to trend red since the secret package doesn’t carry a lot of value against Mage and Shooting Star is very strong against Rogue’s board development.

The one Rogue deck that behaves very differently is Poison Rogue, since it is a very effective answer against both Mages and Priests. It’s unplayable when Paladin makes up 20-30% of the meta, but at top legend, it continues to do work. Could this deck become a serious threat after some Paladin nerfs? Worth keeping an eye on.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Priest has gone through massive changes over the last week, introducing a new package in Control Priest that could be the answer it needed to deal with the difficult Spell Mage matchup and increase the deck’s proactivity in others.

The Flesh Giant/Devouring Plague combo started to gain traction following NoHandsGamer hitting #1 legend with a build made by Ranlit, and others have followed with their own Control Priest iterations that include the package. Priest’s key to victory against Mage is putting big stats on the board, and denying their Masks of C’Thun from connecting face since it has enough healing to offset the damage done by Fireballs and Apexis Blasts. This is where Flesh Giants are amazing at pressuring the Mage, with Devouring Plague often answering their turn 5 Apexis Blasts extremely effectively too.

The first featured build attempts to maximize the deck’s performance at top legend, since this is where Priest is viable on ladder and Warlocks don’t come out to play much. This means we want to do well in the mirror and against Mages, while not ignoring other popular matchups. It’s easy to get lost when targeting the mirror, only to find out you can’t deal with Paladins anymore.

Sethekk Veilweaver has always been a good card in the mirror, so we run it over Insight, which can be awkward in a Flesh Giant build when utilized early and tends to be weak in the mirror. We also run Ysera, since she’s strong against both Priest and Mage. Her value in the mirror is obvious, but against Mage, she helps us put more stats on the board and deny Mask just like Flesh Giants. We end up cutting Condemn since it’s not as necessary when we’re running both Devouring Plague and Samuro/Xyrella. It’s a weak card vs Mage/Priest, and it’s also gotten weaker against stickier Paladin boards. Illucia is interchangeable with 2nd SW:D depending on how many Rogues and Demon Hunters you meet, but be warned that she’s often a liability in the mirror.

Alternatively, we could run Kazakus, since its ability to pressure the opponent should synergize perfectly with Flesh Giants, and our first experiment with Kazakus was pretty close in power to the previous, more passive, Control Priest build. At least in theory, Kazakus should help us in mirrors, and some of our more difficult matchups such as Poison Rogue. In this build, Condemn becomes more necessary without Samuro and Xyrella, but Illucia could sneak into the list by replacing one of these copies.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Rush Warrior remains a very strong ladder deck, but any aspiration to be the top meta deck is over. Its Paladin matchups have gotten noticeably worse over the last week, and while it still maintains an edge against Secret Paladin, it’s now slightly disadvantaged against Aggro Paladin. Should Control Priest build momentum on the back of its new discoveries, Warrior is expected to further lose some of its hold.

Overall, Rush Warrior has exploded into the scene and then proceeded to stagnate quite quickly in terms of developments. What limits this archetype’s potential is its lack of card draw. If it had cheaper card draw, it would probably be busted because it’s already doing well for a deck that feels like a very strong arena draft!

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Playing Face Hunter on ladder makes for a polarizing experience; perhaps not as much as it is when playing Poison Rogue, but not that far off. The deck is basically hoping to run into as many Mages and Warlocks as possible. That’s the bread and butter of Hunter’s success on ladder, and while it can adjust for other matchups, it’s better off changing its Hunter cards into Paladin ones. We’re hoping some space opens up following a patch for other Hunter strategies, perhaps value-centric ones, to succeed.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Druid has settled into a middling position in the meta. Gibberling Druid has a reasonable matchup spread. Clown Druid looks promising in a post-patch meta under the assumption of more Paladin nerfs. Both of these decks currently benefit from becoming greedier. It means running Soul of the Forest against Priests, and finding your Carnival Clowns as soon as possible via Taelan too.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Control Warlock remains weak, and there aren’t ways it can truly adjust to matchups in a meaningful way that gives it a chance of consistent success on ladder. Its matchup spread is littered with red, and at higher levels of play, many of its matchups get even worse since top level players are able to punish its limitations harder. Warlock has a solid defensive shell packed with removal, so it’s possible that the archetype will find success in the future with new cards that allow it to move away from its current fatigue-focused win condition. Zoo Warlock needs more than just a couple of new cards. Remember that deck?

There isn’t a class that stands to benefit more from Paladin nerfs than Demon Hunter. The entire class is being held back by these oppressive matchups that simply don’t allow it to function. It’s very possible that Paladin nerfs will have a big impact on Demon Hunter’s viability, much like Watch Post nerfs elevated Rush Warrior from the dumpster.

A deck such as Deathrattle Demon Hunter shows promise to be competitive in such a case, with a new build running Felsteel Executioner developing nicely. Lifesteal Demon Hunter is a deck that many players at top legend insist on playing, and they could have a better reason to do it next week. Illidan is just waiting.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

We don’t expect Shaman to do much better after balance changes. Its issues aren’t just related to the strength of its opponents, but its own flaws. Defensive Shaman decks simply cannot function without reasonable life gain, resource options, and a real win condition. Board-centric Shaman decks are desperate for reload potential and a Bloodlust-esque game ending card that can leverage their… entire game plan of holding the board. Until we get those things, don’t expect this section to have much to say. We’ll be pleasantly surprised if it there’s anything new and exciting until the mini-set.

Working on Control Priest this week has been fascinating, as there are so many different approaches for the archetype, and developments of Flesh Giant builds are still young. We don’t believe that “Giant Priest” is an archetype in itself, but a package of cards that makes Control Priest a stronger deck. More proactivity pushes opponents to expend their resources inefficiently, and you can’t do that against Priest and expect to do well in the late game.

Unfortunately for Priest players, the class is still fairly unplayable through large portions of ladder since commonly running into Warlocks is devastating to the class’s win rate.

Secret Paladin, on the other hand, is strong everywhere on ladder. Abuse it while you can, because it’s going to get nerfed.

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

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