Welcome to the 221st edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||9,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||5,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||21,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||33,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
The Ramp Druid train will not stop. The deck has only risen in play over the last week with players expecting a more favorable field for the deck after the rise of several of its good matchups. Furthermore, Celestial Druid, the more extreme version of Ramp Druid, is making its return at top legend to try and exploit the slower field. Taunt Druid has risen in play throughout most of ladder, but Beast Druid is strangely declining.
The dramatic shift in the Shaman class becomes clearer as you climb ladder. Players are moving away from Bolner Shaman and picking up Burn Shaman. Burn Shaman has become the most popular Shaman deck at top legend and is finalizing its best build. Quest and Elemental Shaman are stable.
Handlock is another very stable deck in its play rate. Owl Warlock is being favored over Fatigue Warlock following its superior results.
Priest is well established in the competitive format. Both Shadow and Miracle Priest display noticeable play rates at the top end of ladder.
Face Hunter has gone through a huge decline, especially at top legend where its numbers have been cut by nearly 50%. Players seem discouraged by the rise of several hard counters to the deck and the expectation is that the deck got weaker. Interestingly, we’re seeing a bit more Quest Hunter this week.
Wildfire Mage is declining at lower ranks of ladder while rising in play at top legend. This might be a product of the Control Warrior presence. Meanwhile, Mozaki Mage is seeing a small decline.
Demon Hunter is picking up more interest. Fel and Deathrattle DH are the main opponents you meet on ladder, and Lifesteal DH replaces DRDH at the highest levels.
Rogue continues its march to the bottom. Thief Rogue is fading away. Quest Rogue has stagnated. Even Poison Rogue has declined compared to last week.
Interest in Paladin has picked up, with Irondeep Troggs rising in play within the Libram Paladin archetype. The previously extinct Buff Paladin has also awakened, looking to counter some of the decks that have risen in play.
Control Warrior has doubled its play rate at top legend. The archetype is still in progress of fully embracing the Galvangar win condition while letting other variants go. Galvangar builds are split between Barov and Vanndar. Quest Warrior is only popular at Platinum and below and barely visible elsewhere.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
To explain the current format best, we want to take a macro view on things. Commentary on specific deck performance is available in the respective class sections, but things are happening in a way that is difficult to appreciate unless you look at the entire field together.
The meta started to re-formulate when Wildpaw Gnolls were essentially deleted from the format. Decks that relied on early game initiative began to thrive without Rogue heavily suppressing their game plans, and the popularity and hype surrounding Ramp Druid further encouraged the rise of aggressive decks.
To counter the aggressive decks, we started to see more decks that carried a strong survivability kit. Quest Shaman was an established example, but suddenly Control Warrior looked competitive once it found an appropriate win condition, and Fel Demon Hunter was flirting with a Tier 1 status. In addition, we saw other decks being rewarded for running strong defensive shells, such as Owl Warlock. Countering aggressive decks became a successful approach.
There are two ways to answer strong defensive shells. The first is to run a strategy with very high lethality and inevitability, while neglecting defensive tools yourself. Decks such as Mozaki Mage and Poison Rogue are good examples, but the rise of Celestial Druid, and its estimated Tier-2 win rate at top legend, is the next step in the race for ultimate greed. While these decks aren’t super common, their matchup spreads are often so polarizing that even at small frequencies they can quickly cause the anti-aggro strategies to decline in performance quite dramatically, as evidenced by the fall of Control Warrior, Fel DH and to a lesser extent, the more well-rounded Handlock and Quest Shaman.
But there’s another way to counter defensive decks, and that’s by increasing your threat density to the point they cannot deal with everything you develop, and if that also happens to successfully pressure the high lethality decks, you end up with Buff Paladin displaying a Tier 1 win rate despite folding to many decks that outpace it in the early game.
At the end of the day, players like to play greedy decks, and top-level players are even quicker to pilot those decks whenever they show the slightest signs of being good. The result is that snowballing decks continue to perform at a higher level than their play rate shows. Face Hunter is fine despite its decline in play. Shadow Priest is very strong. Beast Druid and Taunt Druid are severely underrated. None of these decks have super well-rounded matchup spreads as they still lose to a wide variety of defensively sound decks, but punishing greedy decks is worth more now, and no deck is without weakness in the current meta.
This brings us to our final point. The current meta is cyclical and balanced. What’s good today may not be good tomorrow. Some may suggest that the meta is polarizing, but there are plenty of decks that are well rounded and carry balanced matchup spreads if you’re into that. The highly super polarizing decks exhibit low play rates, and despite their high influence on the performance of other decks, aren’t too visible. This is especially true at lower ranks of ladder, where you still see greedy decks, but the ones that aren’t very good like Quest Priest.
So, the meta is oddly forgiving. In fact, the current format has the highest average game length we’ve seen since Forged in the Barrens. You can do well with any kind of strategy. We even see complaints from people that the meta is ‘too diverse’ and they have no idea what to target! That’s a solid foundation to a mini-set that’s likely to come soon. We’ll see what happens next.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Ramp Druid has gotten better over the last week due to the expected rise of several decks it happens to do well against. It still isn’t great on the climb to legend but performs decently at higher levels where the meta has become increasingly greedy.
Celestial Druid is making its return. It’s a very polarizing deck that’s dependent on running into specific matchups to find success, but those matchups seem popular enough to make it a worthwhile consideration. We’re high on Germination and running two copies is a legitimate option over Goldshire Gnolls. Mulverick isn’t bad, but a bit niche in its use. If you constantly run into Trogg decks to make him worthwhile, you probably want to switch decks.
Beast Druid might be the best deck in the format today. It thrives on punishing slower Druid decks while maintaining good matchups into aggressive opponents. The list we’ve settled on last week is superb. Perfect 30.
Taunt Druid is in a similar position to Beast Druid. Its matchup spread is slightly different but the same upside exists – punishing Ramp Druid while excelling in aggressive matchups. AOE decks just aren’t common enough to keep the faster Druid decks down.
- Druid Class Radar
- Ramp Druid
- Celestial Druid
- Beast Druid
- Taunt Druid
- Clown Druid
The meta is becoming a bit more hostile to Quest Shaman and Bolner Shaman. Quest Shaman’s board dominance still makes it a very relevant player in the format, but the slow win condition available to Bolner Shaman might be getting outclassed by the faster burst plan utilized by Burn Shaman.
Burn Shaman is looking quite good and we’re very impressed by the list we featured last week. In the case of a rising number of Paladins, you could swap out Notetaker for Viper (Notetaker isn’t that great anyway). Wildpaw Caverns is a huge help in some of the deck’s most difficult matchups, and we consider it to be uncuttable.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Quest Shaman
- Bolner Shaman
- Burn Shaman
- Elemental Shaman
Handlock is starting to feel the heat. While it’s still very powerful on the climb to legend, it is facing an increasingly hostile top legend meta. The deck’s flexibility can be helpful but there isn’t a golden answer to all the problems that the field is presenting. We continue to advocate for Mortal Coils, and this week’s data has only strengthened our position of it being the best card to fill the last two slots. Showstopper is very strong in the increasingly popular Burn Shaman matchup.
Owl Warlock is competitive but might not be as well rounded as Handlock. We’re a bit fonder of Thalnos with the meta becoming slower and greedier. Generally, either Thalnos, Spice Bread Baker or 2nd Full-Blown Evil is left out. Two Owls and two Shipments are good. We’ve yet to see enough of Hysteria to be able to comment on the card, but it’s something that’s just starting to pop up as a Full-Blown Evil alternative.
Fatigue Warlock is unlikely to be very successful in this field. It’s a very polarizing deck that’s being punished by the current meta. No reason to play it over Owl Warlock.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Hand Warlock
- Owl Warlock
- Fatigue Warlock
Priest looked very well positioned in the current meta and is the strongest the class has looked in months.
Shadow Priest is very successful at punishing slow Druid decks, as well as other greedy decks with poor removal tools. It is very vulnerable to every strategy that’s defensively sound, but the math checks out in its favor despite a checkered matchup spread.
Miracle Priest is a very different deck, but similarly benefits from facing more opponents that do not possess the removal tools needed to answer its blow out turns. We’ll repeat ourselves from last week and say that Bless deserves to be a 2-of selection in the current meta. The Rally variant has started to creep up and performs at a similar level to the Malygos variant, possibly slightly better.
- Priest Class Radar
- Shadow Priest
- Miracle Priest
- Quest Priest
- Big Priest
Face Hunter continues to do well but faces stiff competition from Shadow Priest as the premier face deck of the format. Face Hunter does perform better than Shadow Priest in some important matchups (such as Handlock and Beast Druid) so there’s no danger of being made obsolete by its competitor.
Quest Hunter has started to see slightly more play and doesn’t look too bad. The archetype is unrefined, so its current performance isn’t a dealbreaker. We’ve started to notice more players running Multicaster, and while the card is nowhere near as strong and consistent as it is in Mage or Shaman, it prevents the Hunter from running out of gas. That’s important and we see Tier 2 promise in the featured build.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Face Hunter
- Quest Hunter
- Big-Beast Hunter
Mage’s week has been uneventful. Hostility has increased for Mozaki Mage which has resulted in a declining performance, though it remains competitive at higher levels. It’s highly dependent on finding Warlocks and Shamans to hit success.
Wildfire Mage would be better if Ramp Druid wasn’t as prevalent. It’s not one of the stronger decks around but the buffs certainly worked to bring it in line with a competitive field.
- Mage Class Radar
- Mozaki Mage
- Wildfire Mage
Fel DH is being ruthlessly countered by some of the emerging strategies of the last week. Celestial Druid, Control Warrior and Buff Paladin present lopsided matchups that kill Demon Hunter’s performance even at low play rates. Lifesteal DH is facing a similar issue and is now very unlikely to rise in play unless the meta dramatically shifts in its favor.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Fel Demon Hunter
- Deathrattle Demon Hunter
- Lifesteal Demon Hunter
Rogue is settling for mediocrity. Poison Rogue looks decent at higher levels where the meta is more favorable, but it’s a highly situational deck that gets rolled when facing the wrong kind of opponents. Quest Rogue is the most well-rounded option but looks lukewarm and not very enticing as an ‘old deck’. Thief Rogue may find a solution in some new cards that could make up for the hit on Wildpaw Gnoll.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Thief Rogue
- Poison Rogue
- Quest Rogue
Paladin has grown dramatically stronger this week at the top end of ladder thanks to an increasingly greedy meta that is easily punished by the Paladin’s simple game plan of developing threats while buffing them.
Libram Paladin is being rewarded for a more proactive early game snowballing route with Irondeep Troggs becoming progressively stronger since the Rogue nerfs. Meanwhile, the reactive Lord Barov is losing value in a format where Paladin is greatly encouraged to get ahead.
Buff Paladin has crept up in play and shows surprisingly strong results everywhere on ladder, but most shockingly at top legend. Between Control Warriors, Warlocks, Ramp/Celestial Druids and Demon Hunters, the deck suddenly finds itself in a great position to excel. It carries relatively low player agency and is highly dependent on finding the right opponents to succeed, as it is vulnerable to any deck that is faster to get to the board, or Shamans that constantly freeze its threats. But its recent success is a testament to how greedy the meta has become.
Control Warrior might be one of the biggest culprits for the increasingly greedy meta as opponents are greatly encouraged to carry sustained pressure to beat its removal kit. The game becomes more about Warrior’s ability to survive than it is to execute its win condition, and it finds itself heavily pressured by rising opponents that can stress its survivability tools.
This might give you a hint on the outcome of the debate between Lord Barov and Vanndar. After looking at more data related to the archetype, it’s become clear that Barov is the superior option. The additional removal has become increasingly valuable, and while Vanndar is nice to accelerate your late game, he doesn’t move the needle enough in the matchups he’s supposed to.
As we’ve said before, you can do well with a wide variety of decks in the format and there isn’t one deck that’s clearly outclassing everything else. Every Tier 1 performer in the format has clear flaws and weaknesses and in the context of a slightly different meta, could even be weak.
But if you want to be a successful hipster, Beast Druid stocks are currently very high and they’re not too likely to fall considering how much people love playing their Ramp Druid. The featured build has been so successful for vS netdeckers over the last week that we took note. Believe in Jerry Rig Carpenters. They deliver.
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