Welcome to the 217th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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!
Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||8,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||25,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||29,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||35,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
Uh oh. From what seemed like a diverse field, the meta is now headed in a very different direction judging by the play rates seen at top legend, where we usually focus on because they’re often predictive for the rest of ladder. Thief Rogue has completely taken over higher levels of play, and its influence is trickling down to the rest of the ladder, with the double Preparation build spreading fast. Poison Rogue is another deck that’s beginning to pick up more play, and it’s hilariously the 2nd most popular deck at top legend with an 8% play rate, following Thief Rogue sitting at 27% (!!!). Why is this happening? Answers later.
The main development in Druid is the emergence of Beast Druid, with a new build popularized by NoHandsGamer gaining traction. Ramp Druid is also picking up more interest. The class is still exhibiting a lot of different decks and it’s hard to predict what you just queued into when faced with a Druid. It could be many different Druid decks. It could also just be Rogue.
Shaman is in a similar position to Druid, with lots of different archetypes seeing bits of play, though Bolner and Quest Shaman seem to be ‘taking over’ where the meta is most advanced in its development and where Rogues are just much more popular.
Wildfire Mage has declined. It’s still popular on ladder, but it becomes decreasingly common the higher you climb. At top legend, it’s mostly Mozaki Mage that’s seeing play.
Face Hunter remains the dominant archetype of its class, with bits of Big-Beast Hunter looking secondary, but all other Hunter decks vanish from top end play. It’s the same story with Libram Paladin, Handlock, Fel DH and their respective classes. You mostly see one deck from these classes at top legend, and these decks are obviously dwarfed by the presence of Rogues.
Quest Warrior has declined, but the deck is still very prevalent through most of ladder. It’s the most common opponent you will run into until you hit legend, where Rogue just takes off and Warrior nosedives. The dive is so hard that Warrior becomes the least popular class at top legend.
Not a lot of development in Priest. The class is stagnant and none of its archetypes show signs of an awakening.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
- Uh oh. The refinement phase of the meta has led to an undesirable outcome. Thief Rogue has gotten stronger and more efficient thanks to the propagation of its “perfect 30” build, and it’s the one deck that has gotten stronger over the last week. We’re seeing dramatic spikes in its win rates at lower ranks too, where the archetype was less refined and is beginning to catch up. Meanwhile, the rest of the field is crumbling under the weight of what now looks like a tyrant’s oppression. Other decks have failed to stop Thief Rogue despite their best efforts to counter it. The Meta Score chart at top legend is extremely lop-sided, and other portions of ladder will eventually get to this point too.
- What happened? Running double Preparation makes Thief Rogue’s early game more explosive, so its dominance of early board control has only gotten better. Wildpaw Gnoll is demolishing any deck that tries to seize initiative in the early game and you simply can’t compete with it in combination with Double Agent.
- But most importantly, Preparation makes Edwin more dangerous in combination with Mr. Smite in the late game. Thief Rogue’s ability to burst opponents down from almost full life has circumvented one small weakness it possessed last week: removal. So, you’re seeing strong defensive decks incapable of reliably beating this deck in the late game since they give the Rogue too much time to execute Edwin/Smite. The only deck that can counter Thief Rogue reliably is Handlock, since it doesn’t just remove threats, it puts big threats on the board that are easily replayed post-Shadowcrafter Scabbs. It has unmatched counter-pressure. Indeed, without Handlock in the format, Thief Rogue would be Tier S.
- But that’s not the only problem found in Rogue. Poison Rogue is insane. It is the only deck capable of matching Thief Rogue’s power at higher levels and the only other Tier 1 deck. While extremely powerful in all Rogue decks, Shadowcrafter Scabbs is particularly absurd in Poison Rogue since the deck can simply chain Cloak of Shadows into Scabbs and become untouchable for multiple turns.
- Quest Rogue is still a very good deck, but it falls to Tier 3 at top legend. It’s unfavored against Thief Rogue, which isn’t great, but what really kills the deck is an 20-80 matchup with Poison Rogue. It’s a bloodbath. Nerf those two decks and Quest Rogue recovers very quickly.
- The good news is that these are easy problems to fix, and once that’s done, the format should recover. There’s a diverse field choking under a couple of decks that are simply too strong.
- Beast Druid is looking like a strong, non-Rogue deck. The new build is promising. We suspect it has room to improve, but it will take a bit more time to figure it out. It stands a better chance against Thief Rogue compared to Taunt Druid because it doesn’t rely heavily on establishing early game board control.
- Ramping Druids have generally gotten worse because early Wildpaw Gnolls hurt a lot. They’re also likely to suffer from a rise in Beast Druid, since that’s pretty much a hard counter matchup, so we’re seeing decks like Ramp Druid and Clown Druid drop off a bit compared to their promising results last week.
- Bolner and Quest Shaman are shaping up to be the best Shaman decks since, you guessed it, they have better matchups into Thief Rogue. Decks such as Elemental and Evolve Shaman suffer from Rogue’s rise because they don’t have great ways of fighting through their early game dominance.
- Mozaki Mage is getting hard countered by Poison Rogue, which keeps its win rate mediocre even at higher levels where it improves in its performance in several matchups. Nerf Poison Rogue and Mozaki Mage becoming a Tier 1 deck isn’t some fever dream. It is a very dominant deck against any strategy that allows it to survive to turn 7 with any consistency.
- Wildfire Mage is Tier 3 on its best day and the meta is too ruthless to give it any breathing space.
- In a Rogue-dominated format, Face Hunter might be the best non-Rogue deck. Though it doesn’t enjoy the Thief Rogue encounter, it does demolish Poison Rogue. It is also very effective against Handlock and Mozaki Mage. There are enough good matchups to keep it strong, but it’s not quite strong enough to be a Rogue deck.
- Big-Beast Hunter will be eagerly waiting for some Rogue nerfs. It’s still doing very well where Rogue doesn’t make up 40% of the field, and where Mozaki Mage isn’t popular. Other Hunter decks will also be waiting.
- Libram Paladin is still very strong, though in typical Paladin fashion, it does drop off as you climb your way through legend. It can handle the Rogue matchups well, but the better Shaman decks are starting to give it a harder time, and Beast Druid may also become a new problem down the road.
- The only deck that’s capable of stopping Thief Rogue is Handlock, one of the better decks in the format. Its ability to counter Thief Rogue at higher levels of play is limited, though, due to the presence of Poison Rogue and Mozaki Mage. In a way, these decks perpetuate Thief Rogue’s dominance and prevent the format from utilizing its only solution since they destroy Handlock so hard.
- Demon Hunter
- Fel DH is feeling the effects of Preparation more than any other opponent. Its matchup with Thief Rogue is now 50-50 at higher levels thanks to the boost in power of the Edwin/Smite combo. Add a bad Poison Rogue matchup, and suddenly Fel DH is a weak choice to bring into a Rogue-dominated format. How the tables have quickly turned.
- Deathrattle DH is an initiative-focused deck that’s reliant on taking early board control and leveraging it to snowball. This means it gets destroyed by Wildpaw Gnolls, which means its prospects in the current format are grim.
- If you think the performance disparity of Quest Warrior last week was funny, how about the disparity this week? Quest Warrior is Tier 1 outside of legend, with popular demands to be nerfed. It’s Tier 2 at legend and Tier 4 at top legend. It is basically unplayable at higher levels. Yes, the large number of Thief Rogues at top legend is destroying the last traces of its competitive viability, but its historically unprecedented low skill ceiling is a bigger factor. It’s kinda garbage.
- Miracle Priest is okay if you fully dedicate yourself into learning the deck, but other than that, the class stands little chance of competing, and Thief Rogue is not really the problem here. Big and Quest Priest do just fine in that matchup. But whenever grinding out doesn’t work, these decks don’t work.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Unfortunately for the format, Thief Rogue has made the biggest improvements in its refinement thanks to the addition of Preparation. It has made Thief Rogue’s early game more explosive thanks to Reconnaissance, but more importantly, it has added consistency to Thief Rogue’s burst combo with Edwin and Mr. Smite. This has put the brakes on the ability of defensive decks packed with removal to reliably counter it, and the only way to do so is by launching incredible counter-pressure that is somewhat resistant to Shadowcrafter Scabbs, which is a unique trait only exhibited by Handlock. This deck is getting nerfed.
Poison Rogue is ironically the only other deck in the format that can compete with the sheer dominance of Thief Rogue at higher levels of play. It’s the strongest it’s ever been since the release of Swinetusk Shank, with Shadowcrafter Scabbs plugging its biggest weakness, allowing it to completely reset the board and negate all pressure from the opponent. Its off board burst damage thanks to Guild Trader and Blackwater Cutlass discounts is so high that it can OTK opponents without even hitting the opponent in the face with its weapon. Couple that with chains of invulnerability through Cloak of Shadows setting up Scabbs, and there is an absence of reliable counterplay that can push this deck off Tier 1. This deck is also getting nerfed.
Quest Rogue is a good deck, but not as good as the first two, and since it gets annihilated by Poison Rogue, it has fallen off hard at higher levels of play. Garrote Rogue is outclassed even harder, as Poison Rogue simply utilizes Garrotes better.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Thief Rogue
- Poison Rogue
- Quest Rogue
- Garrote Rogue
- Secret Rogue
Druid is still exhibiting great deck diversity, but the pressure of early Wildpaw Gnolls is taking its toll on ramping Druid decks. The biggest news this week is coming from Beast Druid, with the emergence of a new variant thanks to the work of PTJon7 and NoHandsGamer.
This build has greater spell density, looking to leverage Oracle turns harder with both Umbral Owl and Frostsaber Matriarch. It’s currently exhibiting more promise than previous iterations considering it performs well despite running some clearly sub-optimal cards.
It was tricky to work on this variant for this report, as it doesn’t have great card choice diversity, with players largely copying the NHG build. We will direct you to where we can see improvements. There are 6 slots up for grabs.
Wildheart Guff isn’t too great of a fit since this deck doesn’t really want to go too hard into the late game. Keeping it in your opening hand is usually a losing line since you want to power spike around the mid-game. Ivus carries highly optimistic synergy with Oracle and largely depends on finding Guff, which isn’t a great card in the deck anyway. Kazakus seems like a theoretically good fit with the lack of 4-drops, but it looks very underwhelming. Speaker Gidra isn’t terrible, but other than Arbor Up, it doesn’t have great activators. Living Seed tutors Matriarch and Owl, but the card is a bit slow, and we can see it being cut as well.
No significant news in other Druid decks. We like the work that was done with them last week. Clown Druid is leaning more towards Guardian Animals to fare better against Rogues.
- Druid Class Radar
- Beast Druid
- Quest Druid
- Ramp Druid
- Spell Druid
- Clown Druid
- C’Thun Druid
- Celestial Druid
- Taunt Druid
- Drek’Thar Druid
Shaman is in a decent spot. Bolner Shaman and Quest Shaman look like the decks that can best handle current meta developments due to their reasonable matchups with Thief Rogue.
A common cut from Quest Shaman is Canal Slogger, but we think this is generally the wrong move. Slogger is a very strong card in the deck that is quite important in some matchups (Face Hunter) and enables some strong openers in the first phase with Lightning Bloom. Some advocate for Bru’kan of the Elements. It is good against Thief Rogue, which is the main reason why it’s beginning to see more play. But, even a 30% Thief Rogue presence at top legend doesn’t make it worthwhile. At ~50% it starts to make sense! It costs 8 mana and that’s a bit rough for this deck. Play it only if Thief Rogue is truly everywhere at your rank.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Freeze Shaman
- Bolner Shaman
- Burn Shaman
- Elemental Shaman
- Quest Shaman
- Evolve Shaman
Mozaki Mage is prevented from being a dominant deck at top legend thanks to the presence of Poison Rogue. Is this the kind of meta correction we want in the format? Probably not, which is one reason we expect this deck to be addressed alongside Poison Rogue. The other reason being that you can die on turn 6 without an actual game of Hearthstone being played thanks to Incanter’s Flow and Siphon Mana.
Wildfire Mage is playable, but not very good. Its optimized builds sit around Tier 3, and the messiness of the archetype does make it look worse, but there are better decks to play.
- Mage Class Radar
- Mozaki Mage
- Wildfire Mage
Face Hunter is a very strong deck that simply can’t compete with Thief Rogue’s early game dominance through Gnolls. The Crescent build does help but not to the point this matchup becomes comfortable in any way.
Big-Beast Hunter continues to look quite good on ladder but dips at higher levels once again due to the relentless pressure of Rogues. Other Hunter decks haven’t picked up play.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Face Hunter
- Big-Beast Hunter
- Quest Hunter
- Secret Hunter
Libram Paladin is one of the stronger decks in the format, and one that can compete with the dominant Rogue decks, though Shaman is beginning to expose some of its vulnerabilities. This is one of the reasons we’re liking Mr. Smite in the deck. When your board is constantly frozen by Windchills and Snowfall Guardians, having access to burst from hand can be a game changer.
Handlock is the only deck in the format standing between Thief Rogue and a Tier S status. The strong removal suite and life gain combined with cheap threats that can be easily replayed after Shadowcrafter Scabbs is the exact combination that consistently frustrates the otherwise unstoppable Rogue strategy. Play this deck if you want to counter the best deck in the format but be wary of Mozaki Mage and Poison Rogue. Neophytes help in these matchups, but their existence still prevents Handlock from becoming more popular and able to suppress Thief Rogue any further.
Fel Demon Hunter has stagnated a bit after seeing its Thief Rogue matchup worsen. This is a matchup where the Edwin/Smite is highly relevant, and through better play and better card choices, Rogue’s ability to utilize it has improved. The matchup has now become very close rather than DH favored, which means Fel DH lost a big selling point to potential pilots.
We’ve also had a chance to properly look at Magtheridon. It is very good against Druids, Paladins and Warlocks, but not so good against the rising Rogue decks, which is why it’s looking more like a tech card than a core card in the current format. You’d rather have two copies of Chaos Leech to deal with Wildpaw Gnolls.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Fel Demon Hunter
- Deathrattle Demon Hunter
- Quest Demon Hunter
- Big Demon Hunter
Quest Warrior is certainly one of the strangest decks we’ve ever seen. A dominant ladder performer throughout most ranks, it becomes arguably unplayable at top legend since its predictable play patterns are dramatically exposed by stronger players.
This has led to a weird situation. There’s a very fair argument to nerf the deck because of how strong it is for most Hearthstone players, and yet the class would be completely deleted in such a case. Perhaps it’s a good time to buff other aspects of the class. But most importantly, Control Warrior decks are in desperate need of card draw because Outrider’s Axe and a couple of tutors just are not enough to make any late game strategy remotely consistent.
Miracle Priest is okay at higher levels and that’s about it. Slower Priest strategies simply give too much time for their opponents to execute their own win conditions, and those win conditions tend to be faster and more effective. Until that changes, expect Big and Quest Priest to see quite a bit of play, have a few people occasionally swear of their viability, only to produce the same results every week.
- Priest Class Radar
- Big Priest
- Quest Priest
- Miracle Priest
Valeera has done it again. A format that was filled to the brim with options, has two options that are simply that much better than everything else. Thief Rogue is nearly the perfect deck, and only a very specific combination of traits is capable of consistently beating it. Poison Rogue has reached its peak form, with just about the most uninteractive game plan you could muster in Hearthstone. We think there is little chance that these decks will be left alone.
We’re just wondering whether Team 5 will hit Shadowcrafter Scabbs or nerf around Shadowcrafter Scabbs. Wildpaw Gnoll and Cloak of Shadows are the most likely targets based on our analysis.
For now, abuse them while you still can.
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.
vS Gold is our membership plan aimed to support our efforts towards improving our content and data analysis while receiving some bonuses and extra features.
Tier 3+ Patrons
Special thanks to Leo G, Aaron B, Jed M, Drew M, Alan J, Zolstar, Sean H, Steve F, Andrew N, NObdy, Alonso P, James Y, Je-ho, Ziqiao Y, Stephen H, William H, 1RiceBowl1, Alex S, PeejTreon, Josh G, Matthew H, Bruno B, Amir, Matthew P, amenbrotep, Karhu, Fisherington, Christopher N, Eric F, Eric L, BraveLittleStove, Lime, Fireproofflame, Kaushal, David, Joshua B, Jeff C, Pi, Reharl, Turd F, Scott L, Jeff P, Mark P, Keith C, The Big Dawg, Michael N, Stephen K, nburst, Alex S, Jess M, Peter, Lepton, Bob L, Gary W, TGinge, Philthy, Jip P. and Charlah R for supporting us this month.
Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: