Welcome to the 218th 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||11,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||16,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||35,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||46,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
We’re entering Apocalyptic levels of Hearthstone oppression. The format is withering under the outrageous pressure of Rogues. Thief Rogue is more popular than any other class by the time you enter Diamond 4. The Rogue class reaches a 30% play rate at legend and is on its way to achieve a 50% play rate at top1k legend. With ladder relevant for the competitive scene and players trying their best for top ladder finishes, Rogue’s play rate has very likely eclipsed 50% play at top 100 according to our estimate. The further rise of the class is mostly attributed to Poison Rogue, which has begun to spike very hard in play a few days ago, birthing a new variant that runs Maestra. Yes, Masquerading Poison Rogues running Wildpaw Gnolls have arrived.
The less is said about the rest of the field, the better. This report will be relatively short, as nearly every other class is crumbling. There are almost no significant developments to speak of, with the format screeching into a halt, unable to answer the most burning question: can anyone stop Rogues?
Perhaps Druid is the only class that is experiencing increased interest in play inside the desecrated tavern, with both Ramp and Beast Druid attempting to do something productive.
Bolner and Quest Shaman are gasping for air, trying to keep their head above water, while other Shaman decks have long been submerged. Wildfire Mage’s play rate is hilariously misguided, while Mozaki Mage refuses to go away at higher levels. Handlock, Libram Paladin, Face Hunter and Fel DH are reduced to fringe strategies. You’re statistically more likely to queue into a Rogue disguised as a Priest, than an actual Priest at top legend. And then, you’re twice less likely to find a Warrior compared to a Priest. Quest Warrior is a phenomenon mostly observed outside of legend, where it isn’t a complete joke.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
- The Death Blow
- If you think things couldn’t get any worse compared to last week, think again. Turns out that Maestra Poison Rogue makes Maestra Thief Rogue look like a perfectly balanced deck.
- This new Poison Rogue, which is packed with all the toxic cards available to the class, is so ridiculously powerful that it is elevating Poison Rogue into terrifying new heights. The archetype has already become the best performer at legend, but make no mistake, its win rate is still climbing further at an electric pace with many players not even aware of this new variant just yet. It is completely running away with the game.
- Wildpaw Gnolls are making its aggressive matchups significantly better to the point only Face Hunter or Taunt Druid offer somewhat reliable counters. We estimate that Maestra Poison Rogue is slightly favored (!) against Thief Rogue. It’s the better Maestra deck and it’s not even close. The only way Thief Rogue could possibly be favored is if it started running Vipers.
- If you thought Thief Rogue was an oppressive tyrant, look at what Poison Rogue is doing to the rest of the field by just existing at a 13% play rate at top legend (which is quickly rising every day). It is absolutely destroying the format, sinking supposedly strong and competitive decks into Tier 3, while weaker decks are sunk into unplayability. There are only two non-Rogue decks at top legend displaying positive win rates. If Poison Rogue is left alone to run amok for another week or two with this new build, the game might uninstall itself from everyone’s devices.
- As Maestra Poison Rogue is trickling down with its new variant, rest assured that the plague will spread to the rest of ladder, leaving nothing in its path of destruction. Indeed, there is no way out of the Poison Rogue hell beyond significant nerfs to its toolkit. Something must be done with Cloak of Shadows and Shadowcrafter Scabbs. Something must be done with Wildpaw Gnoll.
- ‘Just run Vipers’, you say? The problem with teching Vipers to counter Poison Rogue is that the card is a complete liability against Thief Rogue. If the entire meta started mass running Vipers, it would only make Thief Rogue stronger, a deck that we’ll remind you is still extremely powerful. Scabbs has the field completely checkmated since there’s no way to stop both decks.
- The class sections in this report only specify some adjustments we’ve found that are necessary to somewhat survive in the current meta. Most classes are doomed and cannot adjust at all. The main message is that by playing a non-Rogue deck, you are putting yourself at a clear disadvantage. Here’s why, in short points:
- Beast Druid is one of the only decks that can survive in this meta, but constantly running into Rogue is still not a great experience. It’s mostly doing well because Ramp Druid, a deck that is sinking into trash tier under the pressure of Wildpaw Gnolls, is overplayed.
- Shaman can no longer handle Rogue. It held its own until Poison Rogue started playing Wildpaw Gnolls. Then it was over for the class. Both Bolner and Quest Shaman, the last bastions of competitive viability for the class, are dying.
- Wildfire Mage’s play rate is Copium in its purest Hearthstone form. Mozaki Mage is getting destroyed by Poison Rogue. But it would be a Tier 1 deck at higher levels of play if Poison Rogue was deleted from the format. That’s something to keep in mind when it comes to future balance changes, as we are extremely concerned with the possibility of nerfing the last of its hard counters while leaving it alone. You don’t want to switch from a Poison Rogue tyranny into a Mozaki Mage one.
- Handlock was meant to be the meta’s savior, keeping Thief Rogue in check. But the worst enemy is no longer Thief Rogue, it is Poison Rogue, and Handlock cannot handle it whatsoever.
- Paladin is fighting the good fight, but it also stands little chance of stopping Poison Rogue, especially when the deck’s dominance encourages the utilization of Vipers, which directly hurts Paladin too.
- Face Hunter still counters Poison Rogue, but the matchup becomes more difficult with Wildpaw Gnolls, and the fact the deck gets destroyed by Thief Rogue means there is no way out here either. Thief Rogue is still far more popular than Poison Rogue and protects it from its only effective and competitively viable counters.
- The shift from Thief Rogue to Poison Rogue will likely make Fel DH worse over time, much like Handlock. Fel DH showed early promise in potentially providing an answer for Thief Rogue, but this dream is long dead.
- Quest Priest is a stronger deck than Quest Warrior at top legend. That’s a sentence we never expected to write this expansion. Of course, both of these classes are pure garbage, so it doesn’t really matter. You win the Tier 4 bragging rights, Priest players.
Class Analysis & Decklists
This is game over for the format. Poison Rogue with Maestra and Wildpaw Gnoll is one of the most broken decks in the history of the game. The addition of early Gnolls means that even most aggressive decks in the format cannot reliably beat Poison Rogue, and Gnoll is even more consistent in this deck since Swindle draws it 50% of the time. It gives the deck so much breathing room since it keeps the opponent occupied with defending itself instead of mounting any kind of pressure on the Rogue, and it’s already hard enough to pressure the Rogue when they can chain Cloaks into Scabbs as early as turn 5.
The cards to make way are Sinister Strikes and a Preparation. Tradeables are very important in this build since they’re the only way you can discount Gnolls. We might reach a point where Rustrot Viper starts to make sense as a tech for the mirror (replacing an SI:7 Extortion), but it does make Swindle worse in every other matchup besides possibly Paladin. You generally want to minimize the number of minions and avoid running neutrals in the Maestra variant.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Thief Rogue
- Poison Rogue
- Quest Rogue
- Garrote Rogue
- Secret Rogue
We haven’t identified any Beast Druid build that is superior to the one we’ve featured last week. We dropped Mutanus from Ramp Druid because it’s almost useless against Rogue, adding the 2nd Guess the Weight instead.
- Druid Class Radar
- Beast Druid
- Ramp Druid
- Clown Druid
- Quest Druid
- C’Thun Druid
- Taunt Druid
Bolner Shaman is a deck that could run double Viper and not be significantly hurt by it. We’ve also added the Lurker Below to help against Thief Rogues. One other minor finding is that Burn Shaman wants to run Bru’kan.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Bolner Shaman
- Quest Shaman
- Elemental Shaman
- Freeze Shaman
- Burn Shaman
Mozaki Mage should now be running two Ice Barriers if it wants to have any chance of even remotely competing with Poison Rogue. It also helps against Face Hunter, which is another difficult matchup. We’ve dropped Hot Streak (not important) and one Brain Freeze to make way.
- Mage Class Radar
- Mozaki Mage
- Wildfire Mage
Cult Neophytes in Handlock are becoming increasingly important, even outside of top legend. Rustrot Viper is a futile tech for the Poison Rogue matchup because if you’re seeing a high number of them, you’re better off switching decks.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Face Hunter
- Big-Beast Hunter
- Quest Hunter
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Fel Demon Hunter
- Deathrattle Demon Hunter
- Priest Class Radar
- Big Priest
- Quest Priest
- Miracle Priest
The presence of Poison Rogue has always made us uncomfortable. ZachO once said in the podcast that “you never want Poison Rogue to become a pillar of the format”. This was when the deck was a very fringe Tier 3/4 performer that no one was really concerned with. Some players called it Weapon Rogue. For us, ‘Poison’ was always the more apt name to describe it.
And now, it has reached its final form, by utilizing an imbalanced package of cards that wasn’t meant to be utilized this way. Running Gnolls and Maestra without a single actual “thief” card in the deck, and it being this powerful, just feels very wrong.
We don’t think that the balance changes related to Standard are particularly difficult to execute. Nerf Gnoll. Nerf Cloak. Nerf Shadowcrafter Scabbs. Nerf Mozaki Mage, because it’s another binary deck that refuses to play the actual game and could become the “next problem”.
Sort this out and you’ll have that promising, diverse pack of decks we saw emerge a couple of weeks ago potentially come back from the dead.
How did everything go wrong so quickly? Can best be summed up by a video made by Domjat, one of our Gold subscribers (Warning to headphone users: this can get a bit loud).
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: