vS Data Reaper Report #198

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

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Welcome to the 198th 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 8,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 8,000
Diamond 4 to 1 25,000
Diamond 10 to 5 39,000
Platinum 31,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 84,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

Shaman is back! The previously dead class has been completely revived thanks to Primal Dungeoneer and Wailing Vapor, bringing two of its failing archetypes to the front (and even sparking some experimentation with Evolve Shaman). Elemental Shaman is very popular throughout ladder, and is split between a Whack-a-Gnoll build and a Doomhammer build. Doom Shaman is more popular at top legend, and is an off-board Doomhammer deck which has a similar playstyle to other weapon decks such as Poison Rogue, Soul Demon Hunter, and Bomb Warrior (we don’t like calling it ‘Aggro Shaman’ because it isn’t an aggro deck).

Deathrattle Demon Hunter may have received the most obvious upgrade in Wailing Caverns, and the resulting hype caused its play rate to spike at launch. It is one of the most popular decks in the format at every level of play. Lifesteal Demon Hunter exhibits the usual play pattern we’ve come to know from it.

While not particularly enthusiastic about its new card draw options due to its grindy game plan, Control Priest is embracing other cards in the set. We’re seeing the N’Zoth build going through a lot of experimentation with Naralex, Mutanus, and the Cabal Acolyte package thanks to Against All Odds. Control Priest becomes increasingly common at higher levels of play, which is its usual behavior.

Warrior is hot for some turtle power. Both Rush Warrior and Control Warrior are attempting to incorporate Kresh into their builds, with a highly diverse spectrum of experimentation. Control Warrior is a bit more popular at lower ranks, while Rush Warrior interestingly spikes at top legend.

Druid is split into three main archetypes. Token Druid is a renamed Gibberling Druid, since a new variant has entered the fold which runs Deviate Dreadfang and carries a nearly identical shell. We’ll discuss what’s better later. Clown Druid hasn’t seen any changes. Celestial Druid is seeing a bit of play at legend, with many players swearing that with the addition of Lady Anacondra, it’s certain to shed its meme tag and begin to dominate the Hearthstone landscape.

Rogue seems uninterested with Wailing Caverns, sticking to what the class has already been doing before. Miracle Rogue makes up the majority of the class’ play rate, with a small presence of Secret and Poison Rogue following it.

The Hunter set wasn’t very inspiring either, leading to Face Hunter sticking with the tried and tested. But what’s interesting to note is that Face Hunter has become more popular at higher levels of play, where it’s normally ignored.

At the bottom of the play rates, you will find classes that received uninspiring sets, running decks that are perceived to be struggling. Spell Mage is pretty much the only Mage deck that looks competitive in the format. Control Warlock is crashing under the weight of power crept around it, while nothing inspiring seems to be emerging within other archetypes. Paladin’s population has collapsed after receiving more nerfs, leading to the player base agreeing that ‘enough is enough’. Are things truly that different?

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new meta. One health on Hand of A’dal. One minion off First Day of School. An Elemental Mana Wyrm. Card draw in Shaman. The Hearthstone world has flipped upside down. Shaman is at the top of the meta. Paladin is at the bottom.

  • Shaman
    • Both Elemental and Doom Shaman look like top-tier decks, as their game plans are dramatically more consistent now. Both exhibit some scope for improvement: one variant is clearly better in Elemental Shaman (Whack), while Doom Shaman has a few slots that could be upgraded. Doom Shaman may have the higher ceiling, as its performance at legend is on an upward trajectory while Elemental Shaman could decline in some matchups. We also don’t think that Face Hunter, which is Doom Shaman’s biggest counter at the moment, will remain this strong, so its matchup spread is extremely promising.
  • Demon Hunter
    • Deathrattle Demon Hunter is legitimately scary now, though it does have some pretty hard counters and it currently benefits from beating down on some of the worst decks in the format. A refined meta will likely give it a greater challenge to stay an elite performer. Lifesteal Demon Hunter hasn’t changed its position in the meta: unplayable through most of ladder, improved at higher levels but not quite strong enough to be more than acceptable.
  • Priest
    • Control Priest looks quite intimidating at higher levels considering how well it’s performing since it tends to improve over time. We know that players are very eager to counter it if they can, and counters are thankfully available, so we don’t think it will ever look oppressive. The most interesting aspect about the deck is how to build it, since it has a lot of options. Miracle Priest is a worse Lifesteal Demon Hunter in terms of its behavior at different rank brackets.
  • Warrior
    • Rush Warrior is looking very strong, appreciating the addition of Kresh and exhibiting a balanced matchup spread that only suffers from a Priest problem. If you want an answer to Elemental Shaman, there is no better choice. Control Warrior is a failed experiment. The deck’s power level is still not there, and it’s actually gotten worse as a result of Wailing Caverns since its game plan is highly dependent on removal and it’s facing an extremely greedy meta stacked with threats.
  • Druid
    • The best Druid deck is still Token Druid running Gibberling, and it’s positioned at Tier 1 thanks to its fantastic matchup against Deathrattle DH. The Deviate Dreadfang experiments aren’t working and should fade, which means that Token Druid is even better than it looks. But, we do expect the field to become more hostile to it over time.
    • Clown Druid is in a middling position, but its performance is somewhat inflated by its complete domination of weak decks that should disappear. We’re not sure it’s going to have a great time once things settle down. Its scope for improvement is also non-existent.
    • Celestial Druid is one of the worst, if not the worst deck we can remember evaluating in reports. It’s so bad that its matchup with the innkeeper might be unfavored. It takes a special kind of deck to display a 35% win rate while maintaining any significant meta presence.
  • Rogue
    • Miracle Rogue is okay, though unspectacular. Its matchup spread remains very flat and balanced, though it’s had initial struggles adjusting to the field and is slightly suffering from wayward experimentation. Its performance at higher levels is on an upward trajectory, so there’s little worry it will crash out of the format. Secret Rogue looks decent as well, specializing in slower matchups. Poison Rogue is generally weak, only looking somewhat playable at legend.
  • Hunter
    • Face Hunter looks like the most powerful deck in the format, even at higher levels of play. It’s exhibiting strong matchups against Shaman as well as Deathrattle DH, and it generally excels at punishing inefficient decks. Once the meta settles down and becomes more ruthless, we expect Hunter’s performance to relax, especially if Rush Warrior and Control Priest continue their upward trajectory. But, Face Hunter is likely to remain a very strong competitor.
  • Mage
    • Spell Mage is hanging in there, but things don’t look great for the archetype. Likely trends should result in a more hostile field for the deck, and since it isn’t performing particularly well already, it should remain quite fringe. Considering how bad other Mage decks are (*cough* Wildfire), the class is set up for a discouraging couple of months.
  • Warlock
    • If you think Control Warlock was bad before, just look at it now. The deck is not remotely competitive and suffers from horrible matchups across the board. Even its matchup against Priest is shaping up to become more competitive (potentially ‘just’ a 65-35).
  • Paladin
    • Paladin might be done. Both Secret and Libram Paladin are experiencing a continuing and drastic decline in their win rates. What looks like Tier 3 today, may end up Tier 4 at most relevant rank brackets next week. We can’t identify any development that could stop the bleeding either. Shaman is Paladin. Paladin is Shaman.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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

 


Deathrattle Demon Hunter has been significantly boosted by Wailing Caverns, and now looks like one of the strongest decks in the format. Both Felrattler and Devouring Ectoplasm are tremendous fits next to Razorboar and Razorfen Beastmaster and have quickly become core cards. We’re also impressed with Eye Beam, a card that wasn’t played before the patch but became common now.

Fitting everything in is quite a difficult task, and most successful builds have dropped Trueaim Crescent. Considering how important the weapon proved to be for the archetype before Wailing Caverns, this can seem counterproductive, but the results so far speak for themselves in a meta that is far greedier.

Regardless of Trueaim Crescent, Ace Hunter Kreen seems too strong to omit. The main questions are whether we run Mankrik or Kurtus Ashfallen, and whether we run Fishy Fly or Mutanus. Mutanus and Mankrik are the stronger cards in slow matchups, while Kurtus/Flyer are obviously better at contesting board.

Lifesteal Demon Hunter remains niche. The hybrid Blackthorn build seems to have faded away, and we have no way of knowing how good it is right now. We’re left with the standard combo built, which is solidified in its card choices. The matchup-dependent decision is mainly whether we run Throw Glaive or Ooze. We could run both and drop one Ethereal Augmerchant, but when decks are so greedy and Mutanus is everywhere, combo redundancy is nice.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Shaman is back in spectacular fashion, with two archetypes impressing on the first week of Wailing Caverns.

Elemental Shaman has been given an incredible boost thanks to Wailing Vapor as well as Primal Dungeoneer, two cards of the highest quality. Vapor helps it develop initiative in the early game, while Dungeoneer provides it with the resources and consistency it needs to maintain longevity.

The best approach for the archetype is to run Whack-A-Gnoll Hammer rather than Doomhammer, as it excels at snowballing a board lead, synergizing with the deck’s early game plan. You do possess a mid-to-late game burn plan thanks to a Nature spell package as well as minion battlecries. At the top end, Alex looks a little stronger than Al’Akir as a result.

Doom Shaman exhibits immense potential and may prove to be the stronger deck down the road. We also suspect that the deck has a greater scope for improvement. It’s important to understand that Doom Shaman is similar to Soul Demon Hunter in its playstyle, and isn’t a purely aggressive deck.

Wailing Vapor is added alongside Cagematch Custodian to make for a small elemental package. Vapor is simply treated as a Dire Mole, a cheap body that can contest the board. Thanks to Dungeoneer and Custodian, we almost always find Doomhammer on 5. Selfless Sidekick is completely unnecessary.

The final three slots in the deck could be improved on. We’re not too happy with Wandmaker, so there’s a decent chance that a better card can be found eventually. Bru’kan shows promise when our ability to draw nature spells is more consistent. Speaker Gidra looks pretty good though not mandatory. It might be worth experimenting with a Novice Zapper/Landslide package as shown.

Evolve Shaman popped up a little thanks to the addition of Selfless Sidekick, but the deck isn’t too impressive. It has some cute new synergies, such as Naralex/Knuckles, but it doesn’t strike us as a deck that will survive the refinement process of the field.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Control Priest is looking quite strong at higher levels of play and has received a few cards that supplement its strategy as well as provide new potential build paths to explore.

The standard N’Zoth build has received two new legendaries that look very strong in Mutanus and Naralex. Mutanus is amazing for disruption purposes while Naralex is a value engine that can blow out an opponent with the right roll. Illucia can either slot in instead of Condemn or Hysteria. Sethekk Veilweavers are becoming increasingly important due to the popularity of the mirror.

Another approach provides a strong answer to greedy decks that go tall with threats, with the popularity of N’Zoth a big factor in why it’s been successful. This alternative build runs the Wave of Apathy/Cabal Acolyte combo, which has received another key piece in Against All Odds. Cutting both Condemn and Hysteria looks crazy, but it works since the deck looks to swing the board rather than remove everything that’s in play.

Needless to say, the deck that runs more AOE is better against things that go small and wide, such as Token Druid and Miracle Rogue, while the Yoink build is stronger in slower matchups (including the mirror).

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Rush Warrior is one of the meta’s early frontrunners, seeing a boost to its late-game prowess thanks to the addition of Kresh, which incentivizes players to add N’Zoth to the deck’s top end. This comes at the expense of Warmaul Challengers.

We’ve also seen experiments adding Saurfang to the deck in order to repeatedly revive Kresh and Stonemaul Anchorman, but running both N’Zoth and Saurfang looks too greedy, even for the current meta. One way it might work is by cutting the seemingly untouchable Troublemakers. We see some promise in that direction, which involves a 4-card swap as shown in the decklist. Worth testing further.

Control Warrior, on the other hand, looks terrible. Nothing in this archetype looks remotely playable. We’ve done our best to improve the deck by adding Rattlegore and cutting N’Zoth, but that still doesn’t lift the deck off Tier 4. Considering the popularity of Priest, Control Warrior is almost forced to run C’Thun, and we all know by now how taxing the card is to your other matchups.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Druid looks successful, but it isn’t thanks to any new cards it has received in Wailing Caverns.

The Deviate Dreadfang variant of Token Druid has bombed. The Gibberling variant continues to be the path to success within the archetype and the one responsible for placing it in the elite pack of performers.

Clown Druid is seeing quite a bit of success, though things could quickly go south for the archetype considering its polarizing matchup spread and the fact it’s taking many of its wins from some of the weaker decks in the format.

Celestial Druid is one of the worst decks in the history of Hearthstone. We honestly can’t remember a deck that saw enough play to be placed in the Power Rankings and displayed a 35% win rate at best. Lady Anacondra hasn’t made a big enough impact here, clearly.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Rogue is doing alright, but much like Druid, nothing about its archetypes has changed. None of the new cards have proven to be good a fit for its current strategies, though it might be too early to write Shroud of Concealment completely off. Miracle & Secret Rogue look competitively viable. Poison Rogue is on the weaker side of the spectrum. The deck codes remain the same as before.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

As usual, Face Hunter is thriving in a new meta filled with janky and inefficient strategies. The meta is so greedy that it is even the best performer at top legend, though this is likely temporary.

There are ways to improve the deck just a little bit against this field, which is running Wriggling Horror. Face Hunter tends to consistently find the initiative in most of its matchups these days since it often faces slower opponents that pack threats but no great board clearing tools. This means that leveraging a board lead is a common opportunity, which Wriggling Horror capitalizes on very well. Trueaim Crescent can help you squeeze more damage out of your Trampling Rhinos, so we’ve added it as well.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Spell Mage is barely surviving in the current meta, benefitting from some slow matchups that may not be around for long, while suffering from crippling matchups against decks carrying burn. There’s a limit to what it can do beyond beating Control Priest in the emerging meta.

But the story of Mage is also about the failure of any new strategy to emerge. The freeze package just isn’t good enough. It doesn’t offer any inevitability, a win condition Mage can build around, and its deck-building cost is far too restrictive. Attempts to go Fire & Ice with Wildfire and Mordresh, in order to add inevitability, led to the creation of a deck that’s slightly better than Celestial Druid. Slightly.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock is in a pretty difficult position. Control Warlock has gotten drastically worse following the release of Wailing Caverns, which says a lot considering how weak it already was before. Its play rate has crumbled at the upper portions of ladder and only the biggest Tickatus fanatics continue to play the deck and lose a lot of Hearthstone games in the process.

Stealer of Souls has encouraged players to experiment with Zoo Warlock again, but all experimentations have resulted in a power level not too dissimilar from that of Control Warlock.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Paladin has taken one too many nerfs, combined with a mini-set that boosted the power level of other classes while giving it essentially nothing, the class has gone from being the top meta class into one that is in danger of completely falling off the landscape.

There are no alternatives to First Day of School and Hand of A’dal. Both Paladin archetypes still want to run them, but they’re significantly weaker than before, which means the decks have gotten weaker. Experimentation with the class is also at a low point, with the player base seemingly experiencing justice fatigue. With an early game that is no longer intimidating and a late-game that’s been outclassed by stronger N’Zoth options, Uther could be done.


This is one of the jankiest meta’s we’ve seen in a while, and as such, it makes sense that the most hyper-aggressive deck in the format would thrive. Face Hunter’s presence will prevent some decks from going out of control with their greed, and the meta will slowly weed out the garbage and settle down, relaxing Face Hunter’s win rate to a more familiar range.

But the biggest news this week is the return of Shaman. From being completely irrelevant, the class is now a top meta contender. Just a great example of what happens when a strategy in a card game is allowed to draw cards. Maybe we should see more of that and classes won’t be dead for months at a time… hmm?


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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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