vS Data Reaper Report #222

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Welcome to the 222nd edition of the Data Reaper Report! This is the first report following the release of Onyxia’s Lair.

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!


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Class/Archetype Distribution | Class Frequency | Matchup Winrates | vS Power Rankings | vS Meta Score | Class Analysis & Decklists | Meta Breaker of the Week | How to Contribute | Credits


Number of Games

Overall 240,000
Top 1K Legend 12,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 36,000
Diamond 4 to 1 38,000
Diamond 10 to 5 48,000
Platinum 36,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 70,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

The release of Kazakusan has made the biggest impact on the meta. The card has completely taken over as the premier win condition in Ramp Druid, and if players tended to overplay this archetype before, they absolutely love playing it now. A massive spike in Ramp Druid can be observed throughout ladder, but Ramp Druid builds are quite diverse, far from complete refinement and coalescence. Beast Druid is visible, but has a far smaller presence, followed by bits of Taunt and Celestial Druid.

Priest is another class that attracted a lot of players due to being seen as a potential home for Kazakusan. Together with Onyxia, Netherdrake and Horn of Wrathion, a Control Dragon Priest was formed.  At top legend however, this archetype fades in favor of Shadow and Miracle Priest.

SI:7 Smuggler has greatly encouraged players to take another chance on Quest Rogue, and the deck has significantly grown in popularity. The only other Rogue archetype with some real ladder presence is Poison Rogue at top legend.

Burn Shaman is taking over the class and is seen as the strongest Shaman deck in the format thanks to good matchups into both Ramp Druid and the aggressive decks looking to counter it. Bolner, Quest and Elemental Shaman see far less play.

Face Hunter is popular on ladder as players look for ways to kill Ramp Druids, but Quest Hunter has emerged from its slumber and looks to find a place in the format with the additions of Furious Howl and Dragonbane Shot.

Warrior is the third place where Kazakusan is heavily played in, and the card has transformed Control Warrior, replacing the Galvangar OTK win condition. This is the 2nd most popular archetype at top legend, only dwarfed by Ramp Druid and looks to prey on aggressive decks.

Kazakusan has found itself played in Control Warlock too, but this archetype largely disappears from top level play. Handlock declines as you climb ladder, while Owl Warlock rises.

Fel DH sees a far smaller presence compared to its anti-aggro counterpart in Warrior. The archetype is also split between the normal build and a quest build that has dripped into ladder from the tournament scene. Non-Fel Quest Demon Hunters with Ironbound Brute and even Kazakusan are being experimented with as well.

Wildfire Mage remains a highly popular deck at lower ranks of ladder that declines on the climb. Mozaki Mage retains a very fringe presence at top legend. There’s not much happening in the class beyond experiments with Drakefire Amulet.

Interest in Paladin is low, as new cards haven’t inspired anything new with the class. There’s Libram, Buff and that is it.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion

(Note: Remember that this is a new, experimental meta with a high percentage of ‘bad decks’ that boost overall win rates of the field. This will deflate over the next couple of weeks)

  • Rock, Paper, Scissors, Hearthstone
    • The combination of Kazakusan and ramping mechanics is highly oppressive to slower strategies. Druid’s ability to quickly ramp into Kazakusan, while having Wildheart Guff to abuse treasures with an excessive amount of mana makes treasures such as Locusts or Embers of Ragnaros almost impossible to respond to. On the other hand, a Druid strategy that looks to maximize playing Kazakusan as early as possible is utterly hopeless against aggression.
    • This has shifted the dynamics of the current meta to be very polarizing. The high presence of Ramp Druid and its poor matchups against aggressive decks is greatly boosting their performance. Decks that hard counter Ramp Druid are running away with the format in terms of overall win rates, particularly at top legend where the field is more curated.
    • On the other end, you’ve got several effective anti-aggro strategies led by Control Warrior that tend to demolish aggressive decks, but they aren’t anywhere near as popular as Ramp Druid.
  • Druid
    • Ramp Druid currently sits around Tier 2 at most ladder brackets, but the archetype is not refined whatsoever. There is a significant performance disparity between its best builds and its worst builds, and the best ones exhibit clear Tier 1 potential. Ramp Druid will still lose to most aggressive decks post-refinement, but it should become far more effective and require even more aggression to keep it in check. Its potential is much higher than the Old Gods build from before the mini-set and will likely remain highly popular.
    • In terms of answering Ramp Druid, there is no better choice than Beast Druid. It is the strongest deck in the format thanks to this matchup and the relative small presence of its counters (mostly Warrior and Shaman). While Taunt Druid is an even harder counter to Ramp Druid, Beast Druid’s matchup spread is a bit more well-rounded.
    • Celestial Druid is decent at top legend and rivals Ramp Druid’s performance there.
  • Priest
    • Shadow Priest kills Ramp Druid, so it’s good. Miracle Priest is okay when built well, but the meta has become more hostile to it with the mini-set. Dragon Priest is absolutely trash, and the same is true for Quest and Big.
  • Rogue
    • Quest Rogue can kill bad Ramp Druid builds, but there are doubts about its ability to counter the ‘good’ Ramp Druids. This is a matchup we expect to get worse over time, so while Quest Rogue is strong enough to see play, it’s unlikely to be a top performer.
    • Poison Rogue won’t go away. Somehow this deck doesn’t beat Druid, gets rolled over by aggression and still displays a Tier 1 win rate at top legend. The reason? It demolishes some decks with 80% and even 90% win rates. That extreme polarization makes Kazakusan Druid look balanced. Good news is we expect the deck to relax its performance once the meta settles down. It can’t get too popular.
  • Shaman
    • Burn Shaman’s matchup spread might offer the very best one for players who are frustrated with RPS Hearthstone. The deck performs well against most opponents and can even run a tech card to deal with one of the tougher counters. It also happens to be a top 3 deck in the format. We expect some of its advantage against Ramp Druid to be chipped away, but performing well against Druid while also beating aggressive decks looking to counter Druid is a winning formula in the current meta.
    • Bolner Shaman behaves differently. It holds up well enough against Ramp Druid and destroys Control Warrior. The poor matchup against Burn Shaman is likely the main reason why Burn Shaman has taken over the class.
    • Quest Shaman isn’t very comfortable now. It gets progressively worse as you climb ladder and meets more high lethality combo decks that circumvent its dominance of the board.
    • Elemental Shaman kills Ramp Druid. That’s almost good enough to place it in Tier 1 at top legend.
  • Hunter
    • Face Hunter kills Ramp Druid, so it’s good. However, the deck hits a wall at higher levels of play because it’s poorly positioned against other decks that kill Ramp Druid. It doesn’t match up well against Burn Shaman, Shadow Priest, or the fast Druid decks. That’s a problem going forward, and Face Hunter may not be the optimal choice in a ladder infested with Ramp Druids.
    • Quest Hunter would have looked much stronger if Ramp Druid weren’t so popular, as it performs extremely well against most classes that aren’t Paladin or Rogue. With the new draw option available to it, even Control Warrior cannot outlast its onslaught of damage. That’s quite impressive. The deck is very competitive on ladder, though the meta at top legend is a big problem.
  • Warrior
    • Control Warrior with Kazakusan is another deck that contributes to the high polarization of the meta. Its presence “protects” Ramp Druid from many of its counters by destroying aggressive decks, and it can’t really dominate a format that’s filled with equally brutal counters led by Ramp Druid itself. The strength of Kazakusan in Control Warrior could lead to the archetype dominating post-rotation should late game lethality decline and ‘board-based’ gameplay rise to greater prominence. Be careful what you wish for.
    • Quest Warrior has gotten better outside of legend, but this is mostly the result of very bad decks giving it free wins. We expect this deck to sink once the meta becomes more ruthless.
  • Warlock
    • Handlock gets progressively worse as it climbs to the more curated and ruthless meta that’s advanced at higher levels. Its matchup against Ramp Druid has flipped to unfavorable thanks to Kazakusan. Plenty of other popular decks kill it very effectively, and more have emerged, such as Quest Hunter. The Demon Seed has never ‘oppressed’ the format less than it does today.
    • Owl Warlock performs better at higher levels, where it functions as an anti-aggro deck that hard counters Control Warrior. Very valuable in the tournament scene as a result, but still highly vulnerable to certain strategies such as Mozaki Mage and Poison Rogue, and it doesn’t do very well against Ramp Druid either.
    • Control Warlock with Kazakusan looks like a non-starter.
  • Demon Hunter
    • Fel Demon Hunter doesn’t perform as well as it could on ladder. This is a case where players are influenced by tournament success and run a variant not suitable for the current ladder environment. It is particularly true outside of legend, but even at top legend, Quest Fel Demon Hunter is ladder bait. There’s a very good reason why it performs well in tournaments.
    • Quest Demon Hunter without the Fel package is straight up awful. There’s some serious junk here and you should steer clear.
  • Mage
    • Mozaki Mage is barely playable at top legend. It’s getting killed by Kazakusan and many of the Kazakusan counters. These are not good traits.
    • Wildfire has gotten worse after seeing the format upgrade around it. Once again. Ramp Druid proves to be a pain in the butt.
  • Paladin
    • It’s Buff Paladin’s turn to be underrated. This deck kills Ramp Druid, so it’s good. It also kills many of the combo strategies in the format, such as Owl Warlock and Poison Rogue, so it performs surprisingly well at top legend, where it’s by far the stronger Paladin deck compared to Libram.

Class Analysis & Decklists

Demon Hunter | Druid | Hunter | Mage | Paladin | Priest | Rogue | Shaman | Warlock | Warrior

 


Data Reaper Report - Druid

Kazakusan has taken ladder by storm, with Ramp Druid viewed as its most suitable home. The ability to ramp into Kazakusan and its treasures very early, combined with Wildheart Guff opening more mana for treasure abuse in the late game, makes for a particularly powerful synergy that you can’t find elsewhere.

Ramp Druid is far from refined, and while all its builds are vulnerable to aggressive decks, there is a big disparity in the performance of its best builds from its worst ones. We’ve identified two builds that look very promising with Tier 1 potential. Both builds omit Capture Coldtooth Mine, not going all-in on playing Kazakusan as quickly as possible and not relying on him as heavily, making them less one-dimensional and enabling stabilization through Cenarion Ward and Raid Boss Onyxia. Onyxia, by the way, is a fantastic card.

The first approach runs Glowfly Swarm, Fungal Fortunes and Arbor Up. This build takes advantage of the token synergy available with Raid Boss Onyxia and Scale of Onyxia to pressure slower decks very effectively. This variant dominates the Druid mirror and excels against defensive decks since it can be very threatening before Kazakusan is even played.

The second approach runs a full ramp package with Innervate, Wild Growth and adds Malygos as a late game draw engine. This build leans more on Kazakusan as a primary win condition but keeps Cenarion Ward/Onyxia as stabilizing payoffs for ramp. Malygos helps you find Kazakusan and Wildheart Guff in slower matchups and can also help defend yourself with Ironbark. This build isn’t as polarizing, being better against aggressive decks and even matching up evenly with Burn Shaman, while losing to Glowfly Swarm.

Both Beast Druid and Taunt Druid are excelling on ladder due to the high popularity of Ramp Druid, as they obliterate any of its variants. There are no changes in their best builds.

Celestial Druid sees a bit of play at top legend, where it’s decent. Raid Boss Onyxia is a great addition to the deck.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Shadow Priest is unsurprisingly strong in the current meta. The same pre-patch build is making Kazakusan Druids cry. Miracle Priest is ‘playable’ at top legend if you don’t bait yourself with new cards. The pre-patch builds are the ones that perform, and Horn of Wrathion looks like bait.

When it comes to slower Priest decks, they look utterly hopeless. We’ve tweaked Kazakusan Dragon Priest (Hysteria is weak in the current meta), but this deck still ain’t it. Quest Priest and Big Priest are also extremely poorly positioned. Mi’da received a lot of criticism before launch, but the legendary is actually pretty good in these decks. Not its fault.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Quest Rogue has become the dominant archetype of the class thanks to the addition of SI:7 Smuggler, which has instantly become one of the deck’s strongest cards. Smuggler and the popularity of Ramp Druid has encouraged Quest Rogue to utilize a full SI:7 build that even runs Inflitrators to vomit as many stats to the board as possible. Anything that doesn’t contribute to the vomit game plan should generally be cut.

While this build is quite effective against Druid, its aggressive matchups are weak, and it also doesn’t perform well against defensive decks such as Control Warrior due to the lack of burst. The alternative build cuts some of the ‘vomit’ cards to run Edwin/Smite/Tenwu and Plunderers. This worsens the Ramp Druid matchup but makes the deck a bit more well-rounded against other opponents.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Burn Shaman is one of the best decks in the game. Its matchup spread is incredible, only looking highly vulnerable to Control Warrior and Quest Hunter. The rise of aggressive decks has made Windchill mandatory. The 30th card can either be Primal Dungeoneer, Rustrot Viper (helps against Warrior because of Bulwark) or Instructor Fireheart.

The rise of aggression has also made Bolner Shaman want to run two Spammy Arcanists. Quest Shaman does not want to give up Canal Slogger for the same reason.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Face Hunter wants to kill Druids, so Cult Neophyte has massively risen in value and performance compared to before. Low curve Furious Howl builds do not look good.

Quest Hunter is seeing a lot of experimentation following the additions of Furious Howl and Dragonbane Shot. Dragonbane Shot is a perfect card for the deck, but Howl needs some adjustments for best usage. The strongest direction seems to be cutting the expensive, 4-mana shots (Piercing, Spring), allowing you to churn through your deck quickly thanks to Howl/Bunker/Multicaster, completing the quest and dealing damage post-completion more efficiently.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Control Warrior is embracing Kazakusan as its primary win condition, replacing the Galvangar OTK package. Kazakusan builds look far superior. Raid Boss Onyxia and Onyxian Drake are strong cards that fit the deckbuilding restriction. Sword & Board is superb and looks much stronger than Provoke. The deck could run Barov and Mutanus, but that means Kazakusan cannot be played as soon as possible.

Quest Warrior is mostly playable at lower ranks. Despite clashing with Juggernaut, Rokara the Valorous looks pretty good in the deck now. The hero power helps close games and is strong in aggressive mirrors.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Handlock is having a more difficult time in the current meta, and a very striking change from before is how much stronger Cult Neophyte is (common pattern, you’ve probably noticed). It’s now very close in power to Mortal Coil, which we’ve previously considered untouchable. Coil is better vs Aggro, Neophyte is better in slower matchups.

Owlock does a good job of beating aggressive decks thanks to its removal kit, while dealing oppressive damage against slower decks that give it time to breathe. Goldshire Gnoll is a recent discovery that looks very strong in the deck, replacing Full-Blown Evil.

A quest variant of Fel DH has looked impressive in the tournament scene, but its strong results haven’t translated into good ladder results due to the different meta composition. The quest version is better into slower matchups but is far worse against aggressive decks (only being slightly favored rather than dominant). It was a smart pick in last weekend’s Master’s Tour since anti-aggro lineups were much more common than aggro line ups. But since aggressive decks are far more popular on ladder, and decks such as Owl Warlock are less visible, the vanilla version is superior.

Therefore, the recommended build for ladder remains the same. Magtheridon is quite strong against the new Kazakusan iteration of Ramp Druid. Viper is strong against Warrior (Bulwark). You can cut one Chaos Leech to fit both cards if you don’t see a lot of aggression.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Mage’s time in Onyxia’s Lair has been uneventful. Both Mozaki Mage and Wildfire Mage look underwhelming, and the new Mage cards in the set don’t look like great fits. Drakefire Amulet is borderline in Rune Wildfire Mage.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Libram Paladin is further pushed into a beatdown role with the rise of Kazakusan Druid. At this point, not running Irondeep Trogg is a cardinal sin, while Mr. Smite is stronger than Lord Barov by some distance.

Buff Paladin is the stronger choice at higher levels of play since it’s more suitable to pressure the opponent, and it gives Druid a very hard time. The tweaks we’ve made in the build are reflective of Druid’s popularity. Cult Neophyte and Guardian Augmerchant have become core inclusions. Varian Wrynn has been cut alongside Saidan and Pack Mule. These cards are too slow to matter.


Beast Druid is the top performer of the format across the entirety of ladder, and you can’t argue with its results. Its utter domination of the Ramp Druid matchup, which is the most important matchup in the format thanks to the Kazakusan craze, combined with a matchup spread that’s not too crippling elsewhere, makes for a surefire winner.

We do expect Ramp Druid to get stronger after refinement, and the meta will have to become particularly ruthless to keep it in check. This is creating a format that’s hyper polarized, and most decks’ success are reliant on not hitting those one or two matchups where they get destroyed.

For those who do not like to experience this, Burn Shaman is probably the best fit. A top 3 performing deck, Burn Shaman’s counters aren’t too prevalent, and Viper is nearly a 10% bonus against Control Warrior if you want the insurance. Ramp Druids aren’t going to be as easy after this report is out though, so be aware of that.


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Contributors

Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report:

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