Welcome to the 213th edition of the Data Reaper Report! This is the first report following the release of the Deadmines mini-set.
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||8,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||4,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||16,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||24,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
Druid has been one of the frontrunners of the Deadmines meta, with Taunt Druid looking strong and well represented across ladder. Celestial Druid and its new build featuring Mr. Smite has also attracted a lot of attention and makes for a common opponent.
The explosion of Quest Warrior following the release of several powerful Warrior cards was expected. The archetype’s Aggro variant has almost completely taken over, driven by the introduction of Defias Cannoneer and Mr. Smite. This is the most popular deck in the format at every rank bracket. We’re seeing just a little bit of Big Warrior, but defensive Warrior decks are generally not common.
Garrote Rogue remains a popular deck at higher levels of play. We’ve renamed it to its more common nickname since Field Contact has become a focal point for a Barrens-styled Miracle Rogue deck running Mr. Smite as its finisher, so we wanted to differentiate between the two. Quest Rogue and Poison Rogue are also around and experimenting with new cards and packages.
Face Hunter is also seeing new iterations running a buff package centered on Doggie Biscuit, but that’s the only Hunter deck that has a significant presence. Quest Hunter is very fringe and Deathrattle Hunter never stood a chance.
Warlock has quickly embraced Shadowblade Slinger, and the class seems to display two playable (?) decks again. Handlock is obviously the first, but Zoo Warlock is attempting to make a comeback. There are both Quest builds, and non-Quest builds of Zoo. We’ll discuss what’s better later.
Paladin is fractured, trying a lot of different things but most of them are not gaining much traction. We’ve split Libram and Secret-Libram Paladin, and the former is the one seeing the most play. There’s also a new Stealth Paladin deck picking up a bit of play.
Shaman is uneventful. Players are trying some new cards in Quest Shaman, and that’s pretty much it. Elemental Shaman has significantly shrunk in size compared to before Deadmines.
Outside of a small and persistent population of Lifesteal DH at top legend, Demon Hunter looks a bit lost. Proving Grounds Big DH has attracted some attention, but other decks within the class aren’t very noticeable.
Quest Mage is still out there in great numbers, especially at lower rank brackets, but its numbers did decline across the board following Deadmines. It seems to have been partially replaced by the popularity of Quest Warrior. Quest Mage builds are mostly identical to the ones seen before the patch. Mostly.
Priest is a big mess. Players are trying out Undying Amulet, and different kinds of Shadow Priest builds. No Priest deck has managed to carve out a place in the meta.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
We’ll be talking about the emerging meta with a view towards next week’s balance changes, which bring nerfs to Razormane Battleguard, Garrote and Sorcerer’s Gambit, as well as a buff to Renew. What can we expect?
- Taunt Druid looks broken. We will say that some meta trends will likely result in a relaxation of its win rate over time (Celestial Druid should not be this popular, for example), but nothing is likely to push this deck out of its dominant position in the meta besides balance changes.
- Celestial Druid is struggling, mostly because it has an oppressive matchup against the deck at the top of the table, but it also hard loses to other aggressive decks. Seems to be as polarizing as ever, and the current meta does not favor its game plan.
- Quest Warrior seems fine, but it’s arguably overplayed, overhyped, and overrated to some degree. The Taunt Druid matchup is a big problem, and it doesn’t seem to have good matchups against the very best decks in the format, so we don’t think it’s particularly powerful in a settled meta. Its skill ceiling also seems to be very low, as its performance in many matchups worsens at higher levels of play. We can see why it isn’t touched in the upcoming balance patch.
- Big Warrior, if you’re wondering, is estimated to be a solid Tier 2 deck throughout ladder, and likely stronger than Quest Warrior at higher levels of play where the Mage population is smaller.
- Garrote Rogue has gotten much stronger following Deadmines and looks like a clear Tier 1 deck at top legend. Not only did it get an upgrade in the form of a new card (Cutlass), the meta has become much more favorable to it. Lifesteal DH was a top counter pick that helped curb Garrote’s power before Deadmines, but the rise of Celestial Alignment and Quest Warrior has crippled its standing in the meta, and Garrote Rogue is now almost uncontested at higher levels. Celestial Druid is favored against Garrote Rogue, but to a lesser degree. It’s also a much weaker deck, with a lower play rate compared to pre-Deadmines LSDH.
- Quest Rogue is also pretty good and is quite impressive considering its best build is far from figured out. Should Garrote Rogue be crippled by the nerf to its win condition, the class does have a good backup plan. Miracle Rogue doesn’t seem like one though.
- This isn’t a good meta for Poison Rogue to thrive in, but things could change after the balance changes and a nerf to Taunt Druid. What makes Poison Rogue likely to stick in some capacity is that it’s one of the only decks that looks capable of consistently beating Handlock.
- Face Hunter is looking great and might get even better after the balance changes. The one explanation as to why it has been untouched despite seeing other Tier 1 decks nerfed is that defensive decks such as Control Warrior and Fel DH could rise after the patch and counter Face Hunter effectively. But, it’s going to be hard to shake it off the top tier, especially when it’s the premier counter to Handlock in the format. By the way, Taunt Druid is no longer a counter to Face Hunter if you play the “good build” we feature in this report.
- We have greater concerns at Handlock being left alone while seeing Quest Mage and Garrote Rogue nerfed. There might be very few reliable answers to Handlock in the format after the balance changes, assuming Quest Mage and Garrote Rogue disappear or significantly decline. Beyond Face Hunter and the fringe Poison Rogue, Handlock seems unanswerable. Unless late-game strategies can properly greed up for this matchup after the patch, you might be looking at the new deck to beat.
- Zoo Warlock looks statistically weak, but the archetype is a bit of a mess. Non-quest versions of the deck look clearly superior to the quest versions, but even they are largely unrefined. We’re not giving up on this one just yet.
- Libram Paladin looks like another major winner of the balance changes. This is simply a dream patch for the deck. Quest Mage and Garrote Rogue are the deck’s oppressive and popular matchups, while it has no reliable answer to a turn 2 Razormane Battleguard either. Thanks to the nerfs Handlock has received before, Libram Paladin can match it in the late game, so watch out for this deck next week.
- Paladin also has other options, but most of them sit around Tier 3 currently. We’ll see if they start attracting more interest with the nerfs to Taunt Druid, which has kept the more aggressive options of the class at bay.
- Both Quest and Elemental Shaman are somewhat struggling. Elemental Shaman falls off hard at higher levels, which has always been the case to some degree, but the previous meta was far more kind to it. Taunt Druid is just too fast for it and Druid of the Reef is a big swing in the matchup. Quest Shaman would love to see Quest Mage disappear, but a meta dominated by Handlock could almost be as bad on paper.
- Demon Hunter
- We estimate that Lifesteal DH is around Tier 3 at top legend. Its performance has been crippled by the presence of Celestial Druid and Quest Warrior, but it could improve over time if these decks lose some ground.
- It may not see much play, but Fel DH might be the strongest deck within the class thanks to its strong matchups against Taunt Druid and Face Hunter. It should also majorly benefit from the Garrote nerf, and it’s capable of forcing a 50-50 matchup with Handlock. The only other problem is Paladin.
- Deathrattle DH cannot thrive in a meta dominated by Taunt Druid, and Big DH looks like a big, unplayable meme.
- Quest Mage doesn’t look very good, certainly worse compared to before the patch. The matchup with Quest Warrior has flipped thanks to the additional off-board damage available to the Warrior now. It’s getting obliterated by Garrote Rogues and Face Hunters. So why is it getting nerfed, you may wonder?
- Nerfing Garrote Rogue without nerfing Quest Mage would have almost certainly resulted in a big spike in the latter, and it’s very likely that Team 5 are not interested in seeing another meta where Quest Mage dominates the public discourse. The strength of Handlock after the patch positions Quest Mage very well too, so it would have likely become much stronger if it wasn’t addressed in tandem with Rogue.
- Another issue is its current strength in the field. We have identified a way in which Quest Mage improves its performance, by over 1% in some rank brackets, thanks to the addition of a new card. This is probably something Team 5 did not identify when they decided on the changes, but it makes us sigh in relief. Quest Mage’s best build is better than the stats suggest and might be Tier 2 even now. A positive win rate of Quest Mage would have continued to perpetuate its already inflated presence, so it’s a good time to nerf the deck and open late-game options for the next expansion.
- Priest is a pile, but within all the garbage, we did find a Shadow Priest variant that has potential to be Tier 2 in the current meta. A nerf to Taunt Druid and a stronger hold of Face Hunter in the format could further encourage this approach after the balance changes, so it’s worth checking out if you miss the deck. Other Priest decks are some of the worst in the game, and we don’t think Renew is their savior if Handlock ends up as strong as we think it’s going to be.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Taunt Druid has started off Deadmines looking extremely dominant but it is about to be hit with a nerf to its very best card in Razormane Battleguard. Post-set builds have largely preferred Park Panther over Kazakus due to the former’s incredible strength in faster matchups. We were unimpressed with the final three slots of the deck. Far Watch Post and Squirrel have gotten worse, but the Carpenter/Sow package isn’t particularly great either and Mr. Smite looks like a non-starter.
We’ve opted to run one Carpenter with two Sows, but there might be something better. The clear new inclusion to the deck that performs at a high level is Druid of the Reef.
The new Celestial Druid hasn’t impressed, getting obliterated by Taunt Druid and other faster decks. The strongest direction for this archetype could be cutting Multicaster for Best in Shell. The maximum OTK potential of this deck isn’t as important as its survivability, and we’ve noticed that Best in Shell is a very good stabilizing play in the deck’s worst matchups. You could go for a 1-1 split between the cards, or even cut Multicaster completely. The nerf to Taunt Druid could help this deck become better, but the nerf to Quest Mage means it’s losing its best matchup too.
The rise of Quest Warrior might be the biggest story of Deadmines, but while the hype and play rate of the deck has been extremely high, results suggest that the deck is in a reasonable spot.
There are two things we’ve instantly noticed about Aggro-Quest Warrior’s build that most players are not doing. The first is that Man the Cannons is an extremely important card in the current meta, especially in the difficult Taunt Druid matchup. Run two copies, no question. The second is that Whetstone Hatchet is a very good 2nd weapon to go alongside Blacksmithing Hammer. It has great synergy with Defias Cannoneer.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have much to work with when it comes to the more defensive control variant of Quest Warrior. Perhaps, we’ll get a chance to do so after the balance changes.
Big Warrior isn’t played much but might be the better Warrior deck at higher levels of play. Strangely, we haven’t seen much of Man the Cannons in this archetype. We suggest cutting Sword and Board for it.
Garrote Rogue is spinning out of control at higher levels of play, which is probably the reason why it’s getting nerfed. With the fall of Lifesteal Demon Hunter under the weight of overly played Celestial Alignments and Pirate Warriors, there’s nothing to keep this deck in check. It also received some upgrades. Blackwater Cutlass is very, very good and fits the deck perfectly. Cult Neophyte is the one to make way, though you could cut Pen Flinger and a Wand Thief instead.
Quest Rogue is also a pretty good deck, though it’s having card selection headaches. It’s difficult to balance the need to contest the early games of the faster decks in the format, against maintaining adequate late game lethality. The featured build is lean and aimed at contesting Druids, Hunters and Warriors with all of Rogue’s strong early game tools. Spymistress is good in these faster matchups, so the stealth package just fits. Edwin works particularly well with the lower curve. Blackwater Cutlass is just good, and remember, it can also discount a gizmo.
Several options to greed up the deck in favor of the expanded stealth package are listed and might come into play following the balance changes. Mr. Smite does not impress us currently.
The new iteration of Poison Rogue centered on Mr. Smite and Bloodsail Raider is cute, but the current meta is a big mismatch for this deck. Taunt Druid is pretty much the last deck it wants to face.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Garrote Rogue
- Quest Rogue
- Poison Rogue
Face Hunter is going through some exciting and major developments in its build. Its strongest variant is beginning to focus on board buffs to snowball an early game lead and contest other aggressive decks more effectively.
At the center of it all is Doggie Biscuit, which has proven to be a superb card that has strongly promoted this direction. Ramming Mount suddenly looks like a core selection, and Arcane Anomaly is not a meme. It is a genuinely good 1-drop in the deck.
Most importantly, the featured build completely negates Taunt Druid’s long-standing advantage in the matchup, going just about 50-50 against it. Face Hunter can now snowball the board against the Druid through value trades thanks to the buff package, pressing its own initiative.
Quest Hunter has been quiet, with not much development. Other Hunter decks have displayed no competitive promise.
Handlock looks very strong and could end up the biggest winner of next week’s balance changes. Shadowblade Slinger has been a fantastic addition to the deck and is absolutely core. We think 28 cards in the list are set in stone, and then there is some competition for the final two slots. We tend to favor Mortal Coil because of its overall strength against the field, and a specific strength against Druid and Hunter. Unstable Shadowblast is better mostly against Warrior and Rogue but doesn’t look too important otherwise. The value of Altar of Fire has dropped due to the decline of Lifesteal DH. We can see a world in which Cult Neophyte rotates out of the deck, but we’re not currently living in it.
Zoo Warlock underperforms statistically but is very underexplored. We would direct players to investigate non-Quest iterations and seek improvements on them. We’re not particularly happy with the featured Bartender list, but we struggled to find upgrades on existing choices. The best synergy of the deck involves Shady Bartender, Fiendish Circle, Wicked Shipment, and Ritual of Doom.
Raise Dead is awkward with our token generators, while Wriggling Horror and Traveling Merchant are mediocre board payoffs, but they seem to be the best things available to take further advantage of the deck’s strengths. Mr. Smite and the discard package of Matron/Whispers/Hand have looked awful.
Paladin has been relatively quiet. There are no significant developments in Libram Paladin, the most prominent deck within the class, but it’s certainly poised to make a big impact after next week’s patch. Squawker doesn’t make the cut. Secret-Libram Paladin hasn’t changed either.
There has been some experimentation with a Stealth Paladin deck which takes advantage of the synergy between Blessing of Authority and Sunwing Squawker. It’s very comparable in power to standard Handbuff Paladin. We think there is merit to cut Mr. Smite and one Conviction to increase the odds of drawing Authority from Knight of Anointment. Once again, we’re not impressed with Mr. Smite appearing in a deck without great use of his ability beyond being a 6 mana 6/5 charge.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Libram Paladin
- Secret-Libram Paladin
- Stealth Paladin
- Handbuff Paladin
- Secret Paladin
Shaman doesn’t look too great in the current meta, but Quest Shaman did find a way to improve its results. Cutting Primal Dungeoneer for Multicaster seems to be an upgrade, with a couple of tweaks to make the best use out of the neutral draw engine (adding Primordial Studies as an Arcane spell is one). Brilliant Macaw is not so brilliant in this deck.
Elemental Shaman has gotten worse. The field is just not as enticing for the deck as it was before the mini-set, when things perfectly lined up for it to excel. Its competition has gotten better while it stayed in place.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Quest Shaman
- Elemental Shaman
Demon Hunter is in a bit of a mess. The rise of Quest Warrior and Celestial Druid has strongly repressed Lifesteal DH’s presence at top-level play. We did find out that Need for Greed is a great card in the deck. Deathrattle DH is struggling to compete for early board control against some of the lightning-fast strategies available in the format. Big DH is possibly the worst deck in the format. We’ve curated its potentially best build, but we still don’t think it has a chance.
Fel Demon Hunter might be the strongest deck available to the class, if given a chance. It still performs extremely well into Face Hunter and Taunt Druid, so if you want to dominate these matchups while maintaining close matchups against the rest of the field, it’s a good choice. Much like LSDH though, you still want to dodge Celestial Alignments.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Lifesteal Demon Hunter
- Fel Demon Hunter
- Deathrattle Demon Hunter
- Big Demon Hunter
The upcoming nerf to Quest Mage could be very timely. Nerfing Garrote Rogue by itself would have led to another explosion of Mages, especially when considering the likely decline of Quest Warrior and Celestial Druid.
But on top of external changes, Quest Mage would have likely improved its performance due to internal changes as well. The moment we’ve started seeing Multicaster being used in this deck, is the moment the deck’s outlook changed.
Multicaster solves the deck’s final two slots and looks like a powerful addition that increases the consistency of the deck across the board. It’s worth a 1-2% improvement to the deck’s win rate, so Quest Mage’s potential is quite a bit stronger than what it currently exhibits against the field. Thankfully for those who are a bit worn out of queuing into this deck, we’re not going to witness this potential being realized.
Priest looks mostly trash. We did manage to find one promising direction in Shadow Priest, which is running Gandling on top of an expanded Shadow spell package to enable Defias Leper. This is likely a stronger direction than the non-Gandling builds and could be as good as Tier 2 in the current meta.
The Renew buff is nice as well as the Mage/Rogue inevitability nerfs, but we’ll see if it manages to bring Control Priest back from the dead.
Rather than talk about the Meta Breaker of today, how about we talk about the Meta Breakers of next week?
Handlock’s prospects look very good after the balance changes, and we think it might become the deck to beat on day one. You could argue it should have been nerfed alongside Mage and Rogue considering its current level of performance.
Face Hunter is Handlock’s primary counter and may evolve into the format’s premier aggressive deck following a potential decline in Taunt Druid. The only question is whether defensive decks with life gain and removal will be encouraged to show their face again following the potential decline of Quest Mage and Garrote Rogue.
Libram Paladin is getting its dream patch, seeing three of its primary counters nerfed while its ability to match Handlock in the late game cannot be underestimated.
Should be an interesting affair.
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