vS Data Reaper Report #21
Welcome to the 21st edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Last week, we launched a new section on the website called the Deck Library. Each archetype now has a dedicated archetype page for easier and more convenient navigation. With the balance changes going live, we will continue to monitor the development of each archetype and update the information on these pages accordingly.
The deck library also contains card usage radar maps. These maps show the inner metagame within every class, as well as every archetype. The purpose of these maps is to show you exactly which cards are being used by every archetype, and how common certain builds are. These maps will also help the community understand how we observe and identify changes in the Meta, and the emergence of new decks, as well as assess the build variance of every deck. Much like our win rates charts, these radars will be updated on a weekly basis. For more explanation on how the radars work, click here.
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,500 contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.
More contributors mean more accurate win rate information. We need as many contributors as possible to quickly identify new archetypes, and better evaluate their power levels. If you have not done so already, please sign up with your Track-O-Bot information here.
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. If you’d like to help support our initiative to provide high-quality data-driven content to the community for free, you can join our team by supporting us on Patreon:
We begin with our deck frequency charts for games recorded between September 28 and October 4th. The first chart shows all ranks, and the second can be switched between different ranks. For the entire week, we’ve compiled 61k games overall. Of those, about 5.6k games were at legend ranks, during the last few days of the September season.
‘By Rank’ Games
Class Frequency by Weeks
Next is a graph displaying the popularity of classes during the last 21 weeks, since the Data Reaper Project launched.
- As the balance changes hit, Shaman sits comfortably at the very top of the Meta. Mid-Range Shaman numbers are extremely high, particularly at the legend ranks, where the class made up of nearly 30% of the opponents. While we do expect these numbers to drop with the balance changes, it might mostly be due to Aggro Shaman being hit with the nerf bat, or a knee jerk reaction more than anything else. If Mid-Range Shaman continues to be as powerful as it was before, we may observe these kinds of numbers at the end of this month as well.
- Hunter maintains a strong presence, being a clear 2nd to Shaman. The nerf to Call of the Wild may change things, as the card is so critical to both of the most popular Hunter archetype’s game plans. While Call of the Wild for 9 mana is still very good, we may see people shy away from the class soon, at least initially. Balance changes tend to not only have an effect on a deck’s performance, but the perception of its performance amongst the player base.
- Druid has slightly dropped this week. With Shamans being so dominant on ladder, Druid has been struggling to keep up. The change to Yogg-Saron may also affect… Yogg Druid. Will it stay “Yogg Druid”? Or will we need to find another name for the archetype? It’s too early to say at the moment, though early indications are that the card may still remain a staple in the spell-centric archetype.
- With Sjow finishing the month at #1 legend with Zoo Warlock, the deck is enjoying some of the spotlight and is seeing slightly more play. While the matchup against Shaman is tough, this is true for every nearly deck in the game. Reno Warlocks are also ready to reappear in the case the Meta starts slowing down.
- Most classes are not showing any significant trends. Rogue may start appearing more if Aggro Shaman becomes extinct. Warrior is seeing a gradual decline as Shamans may be adjusting their builds to the matchup. Mages might benefit from the weakening of other classes. Paladins continue to be almost irrelevant on ladder, which has been the case since Standard format was released. A lot has been said on how bad of a state Priest is in, but Paladin has been suffering almost as much.
- If new cards can’t do it, an iconic character and a pretty face will! The release of Tyrande has sparked more players to play Priest. Sadly, most of them have paid quite a few ladder ranks, as well as some bits of their sanity, to do so.
We now present the updated “vS Power Rankings” table for week # 21. The numbers we report are the expected win rates of each archetype based on their matchups against the field, factoring in the frequency of all potential opponents on ladder at different rank groups over the past week.
Note that most of this data is from before the balance changes. We will closely monitor the developments in the performances of all archetypes, and if there are big changes in how they perform, we will perform resets, as we’ve done before. We’ve already reset Combo Warrior’s data as the Worgen OTK combo is no longer possible with the change to Charge, so it is absent from the rankings.
- Right before the balance changes, Mid-Range Shaman is exhibiting untenable power levels. 55% is Undertaker Hunter territory. Its performance has improved over the last week across multiple decks, with one notable change being its adjustments against Control Warrior. Increasing the amount of threats in the Shaman’s build means it is much more difficult for the Warrior to suppress the Shaman’s board development. This is no longer a matchup we can consider to be a reliable counter to Mid-Range Shaman. We have also been seeing players tearing up ladder and hitting legend in no time while piloting the archetype, even after the changes. The changes may well hurt Aggro Shaman’s performance, but were these changes enough to curb the power level of Mid-Range Shaman?
- Secret Hunter has now fully eclipsed Mid-Range Hunter in power at all levels of play. We also have reasons to believe that Secret Hunter will be able to deal with the change to Call of the Wild better, as it is less dependent on curving out. It will be interesting to see how the Hunter class performs after the change, and how big of a drop will the class suffer from, if at all.
- Despite its matchup against Mid-Range Shaman turning to even, Control Warrior is still very strong at high levels of play. We can see that at legend rank, it is one of the strongest archetypes in the game. While the nerf to execute may hinder it slightly, Control Warrior should not suffer much from it, as it tends to float mana quite often in the late game. The change may affect the power level of Dragon Warrior more, as it relies on execute to create a tempo advantage. Should the number of Hunters on ladder decrease due to the Call of the Wild change, Control Warrior will become even stronger. It is a tier 1 deck in a Meta low on Hunters according to our internal calculations.
- It will be interesting to see how shifts in the Meta may increase the viability of other archetypes. Aggro Shaman and Hunters have been keeping many decks from being viable. A reduction in their numbers may see other decks rising, so while Mid-Range Shaman should remain very powerful, there is a chance it could be indirectly affected by the balance changes due to other decks rising to challenge it.
We knew that with the current state of the Meta, some Shaman changes were coming sooner or later. Tuskarr Totemic created a lot of frustration amongst the Hearthstone community. The ability to spawn non-basic totems created so much swing and often put the Shaman far ahead, which felt unfair because of the high degree of variance. Tuskarr’s ability to summon totems may still keep it a playable card, as its synergy with Thing from Below remains, and the higher chance of rolling Wrath of Air Totem means it can also be a strong card with Spirit Claws and the Shaman’s array of spell removal tools. However, with the Shaman class having so many other good options available, Tuskarr might not make the cut. But in any case, we fully expect Mid-Range Shaman to remain one of the most powerful archetypes in the game.
Meanwhile, Aggro Shaman got hit harder by the changes. Abusive Sergeant is a much weaker option for the archetype, that previously lost Leper Gnomes. In addition, Aggro Shaman depended much more heavily on Rockbiter Weapon, and the card’s flexibility as an efficient removal tool in the early game as well as late game burn was greatly affected. This might shift the deck into becoming slower. The most popular build utilizing Tuskarr and Thing from Below will likely fade away, and the archetype might resort to the old style builds which Ant has been having success with before the balance changes hit.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Ant’s Aggro Shaman
- Tictac’s Mid-Range Shaman
- Rosty’s Totem Mid-Range Shaman
- apDrop’s Concede Shaman
Hunter has been on the rise on the eve of the balance changes, particularly Secret Hunter, but the Call of the Wild nerf may put a halt to the class’ momentum. Although it doesn’t seem like a big nerf, delaying 1 turn to play CotW can change the matchup significantly, mostly impacting midrange matchups, such as Druid and Dragon Warrior. With Abusive Sergeant being changed as well, faster builds of Hunter have also been affected. Blizzard has been targeting the Face Hunter archetype since early in the game’s life, and many of its potential tools were nerfed.
With all the changes, it’s hard to say what kind of build is optimal for Hunter at the moment. Hunter specialist, NickChipper, recently made a few builds that seem to do well on ladder at the moment. His Secret Mid-Range Hunter build is similar to the lists we featured last week, while opting to put in more anti-aggro cards (Unleash the Hounds and Avian Watcher) in the list. Emperor Thaurissan might also be an option to discount Call of the Wilds in order to play them earlier. He also experimented with a Secret Face Hunter build, which we’ve featured before, opting to put in aggressive, tempo cards and chargers to end the game quickly, while forgoing the late game of Highmane/CotW.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Fr0zen’s Fast Mid-Range Hunter
- Ikealyou’s Classic Mid-Range Hunter
- VLPS’s Curator Secret Hunter
- BoarControl’s Secret Hunter
- NickChipper’s Mid-Range Secret Hunter
- NickChipper’s Face Secret Hunter
Warrior was hit by the nerf bat from the recent balance changes, but the changes overall might be a good thing for the class. While Execute at 2 mana is a huge blow for tempo-based Warrior decks, the counters to Warrior were hit harder. Call of the Wild at 9 mana should halt the surge of Hunters on ladder. Meanwhile, the nerf to Tuskarr should result in fewer uncontrollable early board states. However, our Warrior expert and the several dozen other Worgen OTK players on ladder are inconsolable, as the nerf to Charge means the death of the archetype in its current state.
Rage, a very proficient Combo Warrior player, remains unfazed by the Worgen change, hitting legend with his Blood Warrior Giants build very early in the month. His list might be the future of Combo Warrior decks, and amazingly, it excludes Fiery War Axe, Ravaging Ghoul and runs just one copy of Execute.
It remains unclear whether Yogg-Saron is still a good choice for Control Warrior players, although Rosty has recently hit legend with such a list after the balance changes. For any deck building enthusiasts, now is a good time to experiment and see what innovations can be made with Shaman and Hunter weakened.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Rosty’s Yogg Control Warrior
- GeorgeC’s Soggoth Control Warrior
- Disdemon’s N’Zoth Control Warrior
- Fr0zen’s Dragon Warrior
- DrHippi’s Dragon Warrior
- Sjow’s C’Thun Warrior
- Rage’s Blood Combo Warrior
With the balance changes, the Mage class likely benefited, only losing some power off of Yogg, which was not crucial to the overall strength of Tempo Mage. It remains to be seen whether the new version of Yogg is still powerful enough to be included in Tempo Mage, but our initial reaction is that unlike Druid, the Mage class has alternative ways to clear the board and come back from a losing position, so the Old God may not make the cut. Good alternatives for Yogg are either late game win conditions like Ragnaros/Medivh, or Flamestrike, as the latter is also a strong card to reset the game when you’re behind.
In addition, Shaman losing the critical early game removal of Rockbiter Weapon allows Tempo Mage more of an opportunity to take control of the early game, with Lightning Bolt being less efficient of an answer to Mana Wyrm and Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Meanwhile, Aggro Freeze Mage, based on pre-standard variants by Tiddler and LBYS, has begun to emerge. The deck incorporates the aggressive potential openings of Tempo Mage, while also including the stall and burn of Freeze Mage to do the extra damage once the opponent stabilizes on the board. The deck is still in an early stage of development, and has some very polarizing match ups, but one thing going for it is that much like Freeze Mage, it beats Mid-Range Shaman.
- Mage Class Radar
- Value Tempo Mage
- Burn Tempo Mage
- Aggro Freeze Mage
- Standard Freeze Mage
- Kobold Freeze Mage
- Gallon’s Reno Mage
This week has seen the biggest change to Druid in quite some time due to the new Yogg-Saron nerf. Does the change mean the end for Yogg-Saron? Do we need to start calling “Yogg Druid” by another name? The change obviously makes Yogg less powerful and more inconsistent in removing an opponent’s board. However, early testing seems to indicate that Yogg might still find a place in Druid builds. Yogg-Saron was played because Druid lacked good removal for huge boards and already ran a lot of spells to synergize with the Old God.
Even if Yogg doesn’t end up seeing play, Druid is a good class because its basic set, namely Wild Growth and Innervate, are so powerful. For this week, we will continue to feature Yogg in our lists until the Meta settles down and the community figures out the most optimal spell-centric Druid builds. Potential replacements for Yogg include Bloodmage Thalnos, which is already a good fit in some Malygos builds, or a late game threat like Onyxia or Cenarius in the more Token centric builds.
On ladder, Druid seems to be on the decline, even before the change to Yogg-Saron. There was a strong debate a few weeks ago on whether Druid or Shaman was the best class in the game. Ladder data suggested Shaman, while some tournament results showed the power of Druid. It seems that the numbers did not lie, and Druid has slowly taken a back seat to Shaman, being unable to beat it consistently.
- Druid Class Radar
- Xixo’s Miracle Malygos Druid
- Fr0zen’s Token Malygos Druid
- Tyler’s Medivh Malygos Druid
- DrHippi’s Token War Druid
- Muzzy’s Beast Druid
For Warlock, the impact of this week’s balance changes is less about how Zoo deals with the Abusive Sergeant change and more about how other classes respond to their own changes. Sjow, who piloted his Zoo build to finish Rank 1 Legend on AM last season, proposes Crazed Alchemists as a drop-in replacement for Abusive if the card ends up not being good enough after the change. Crazed Alchemist has its merits against the current ladder king, Shaman, but both options still seem solid. The Mid-Range Shaman matchup will be impacted more by the tempo loss from the Rockbiter change and the lack of Tuskarr blowouts. Meanwhile, it’s an open question whether Shaman has slowed down enough to allow Renolock back into the Meta. An anti-aggro list like Thijs’ Renolock might be able to hold its own. Dragon Renolock is also an option, with many of the Dragon synergy cards matching up quite well against the Shaman’s minions (the Leeroy combo can also be cut for more defensive tools if the Meta you’re facing is fast).
With the most recent balance changes, nobody is happier than those in the Defias Brotherhood. Shaman has been the main factor holding back Rogue from being successfully played on ladder, with Aggro Shaman being the bane of Valeera’s existence. Rogue players may now be able to queue up into ladder with the potential of more interactive and enjoyable games.
Both Tuskarr and Rockbiter were ways for the Shaman to get ahead early against Rogue and Rockbiter was the mid-late game burst tool that often ended the game, with Rogue having no defense against a Doomhammer or an Al’Akir. With Rogue rarely having early game minions to contest the board, Tuskarr Totemic high rolls on turn 3 often put the Rogue in an insurmountable disadvantage, as the resource commitment to clear a Totem Golem or a Mana Tide Totem had a snowballing effect.
Though Rogue has not had much innovation over the last week, we expect it to change. Both Questing Adventurer lists and Malygos lists have potential, with Questing lists being the faster and more aggressive options.
- Rogue Class Radar
- ShtanUdachi/SilveName’s Malygos Rogue
- DrHippi’s Classic Miracle Rogue
- Ikealyou’s Questing Miracle Rogue
Tyrande was released, which saw a spike in players playing with the class for a moment, a very brief moment. Some pro players got excited. For example, Thijs spent an entire 8 hour stream not moving a single rank on ladder playing Priest. Others, like Amaz, tried out new Tyrande builds with mild success at the beginning of the ladder. Amaz’ build is focused on N’Zoth, which is probably the best positioned win condition to succeed for Priest after the balance changes. Finally, Kibler had a respectable win rate climbing with a Resurrect/N’Zoth hybrid build that seems to be promising.
Dragon Priest still hasn’t made any real strides in its development, but many Priest enthusiasts believe the proper build could really perform in the upcoming Meta. The surge in Priests as players obtain Tyrande should hopefully churn out some strong ideas from the player base overall. In the tournament scene, Priest continues to be absent, with not a single player bringing the class to the Asia Pacific Summer Championship.
- Priest Class Radar
- Zetalot’s Resurrect Control Priest
- Amaz’ N’Zoth Control Priest
- Kibler’s Resurrect/N’Zoth Control Priest
- VLPS’s Dragon Priest
While Paladin was not directly affected by the recent patch, the class only stands to gain from the balance changes. Three of Paladin’s traditionally weak matchups: Shaman, Hunter, and Druid, will each be weakened by a change of a core card in their builds. Hopefully, this will result in a rise in Paladin’s ladder success in the coming weeks. While there were no Paladins present in the lineups for the Asia Pacific Summer Championship this past weekend, Anyfin Paladin is expected to continue being a niche pick for certain tournament line-ups.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Neviilz’s Anyfin Paladin
- Hotform’s Control Paladin
- Hotform’s Dragon Paladin
- Jambre’s Secret Paladin
We’re trying very hard not to feature Mid-Range Shaman in this section because truthfully, we don’t want people to play it! While Control Warrior isn’t as good of a counter as it used to be, it’s one of the better decks to pilot in order to beat the highly oppressive archetype. We also expect the number of Hunters to drop this week, which means Control Warrior is less likely to hit its worst match up. We’re not sure how good Yogg-Saron still is in the deck, but there are multiple potential alternatives, such as simply running a Doomsayer. We definitely like the choices of Harrison Jones and Baron Geddon in the current Meta.
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