Welcome to the 238th edition of the Data Reaper Report! This is the first report for Murder at Castle Nathria.
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||43,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||39,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||126,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||206,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
Warlock has been one of the most impactful classes at the launch of Castle Nathria. Imp Warlock has instantly become one of the most popular decks in the format starting on day 1. At the upper Diamond ranks, its play rate exceeds 20% as it is largely perceived to be the strongest choice on the climb to legend. Most of the archetype consists of a standard aggressive build, but there are some experiments with slower builds running an Abyssal Curse package or Denathrius. Phylactery Warlock is mostly seen at top legend. Curse Warlock (without Imps) is seeing fringe play.
Enthusiasm for Mage is similarly high. Wildfire Mage has incorporated a Volatile Skeleton package to become Spooky Mage! This archetype exhibits a stable play rate of around 15% throughout ladder. It is split between normal-sized lists and extra large Renathal lists, the latter intended to combat Hunter’s and Warlock’s aggressions. Big-Spell Mage sees very little play in comparison, while Secret Mage never took off.
Shaman is exhibiting a steady and consistent rise in play throughout ladder since launch day, and its popularity peaks at legend where it is a top 3 class. Players at lower ranks didn’t get the memo, but Control Shaman is looking like a pillar of the format. While it is currently experimenting with many builds, a specific Renathal variant popularized by Habugabu has taken off and is leaving all other builds behind.
Ramp Druid has been highly visible since launch. Denathrius/Topior/Mine variants were taking off early, with the goal of drawing Denathrius as soon as possible and winning through a Brann/Kael’thas combo. Some builds have begun to abandon that plan and look for Naga Giants and Herald of Nature to have a more versatile set of possible win conditions. Celestial Druid is hanging around with a lower play rate, mostly sticking with Kazakusan, but a minority is flirting with Brann/Denathrius.
Hunter has been gaining more traction every day, with three visible archetypes that have all incorporated Wildseeds into their builds. Face Hunter is the most popular deck, mostly running Collateral Damage at the top end. Beast Hunter has kept the big beast package and paired it with Wildseeds. Quest Hunter is experimenting with Wildseed packages of different sizes.
Rogue has been trying many different approaches, and none of its decks seem to have found a footing just yet. Thief Rogue is figuring out whether it wants to run a secret package or not, and whether it wants to run Renathal or not. Miracle Rogue is mostly played at legend, with players at higher levels trying to figure out if it is the new APM bait or the new Garrote Rogue. Deathrattle Rogue is converging back to Naval Mines after some teasing with Stoneborn General and Masked Reveler. Almost no one is playing Quest Rogue.
Priest is seeing modest play. Quest Priest is the most common opponent at lower ranks of ladder, while Naga Priest shows up a bit more at legend, but is as unpopular as ever. Other decks are not very visible. Even Boar Priest barely sees any play at top legend.
Paladin, Demon Hunter, and Warrior are already non-existent at top legend, which is bad news for the rest of ladder. If players at higher levels are uninterested in experimenting with them, it means no new builds can trickle down from content creators and influencers, and the classes’ presence will only dwindle further. Pure Paladin, Deathrattle DH, and Enrage Warrior are the most noticeable archetypes at lower ranks because they got some day 1 exposure, but it’s been very quiet since.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
The most glaring characteristic of the first week of Murder at Castle Nathria is that the good classes are good, and the bad classes are very, very bad. The strongest decks in the format will always have inflated win rates in a new meta since they’re facing many bad decks. These bad decks eventually disappear, leading to a more competitive field in which top meta decks will have their win rates decline to some degree. We will discuss some potential power outliers at the top end, but we can’t say that this is where things are most egregious when we look at next week’s potential patch. The biggest power outliers are at the bottom. We can’t remember when so many classes were this bad, void of any competitive aspirations.
Imp Warlock is obviously very strong. It was the clear frontrunner deck on the first day of the expansion, but other decks have caught up and are challenging its top spot. It gets reliably countered by Control Shaman and Spooky Mage, since they have very good board stalling tools and the Warlock is completely reliant on board development to win games. Warlock shines in the popular Druid matchup. Implock obliterates any sort of Ramp Druid deck as well as Rogues lacking the ability to respond to their stat vomit. We think it is likely to receive some sort of tuning next week, but we would caution from making heavy-handed nerfs. A very light touch might be more appropriate. At a reasonably strong power level, Imp Warlock is a healthy deck for the format. Nerf it too hard and you will create a new problem: it is largely responsible for keeping Druid in check, and Ramp Druid looks extremely powerful in the absence of Imps.
Not much else can be found in the class. Curse Warlock is weak. Phylactery Warlock is serviceable at higher levels (Tier 3) as a Shaman counter.
Spooky Mage gets a lot of hype, but we can’t see an overly powerful deck here. The archetype hovers around an average win rate, even sinking below it as we get to higher ranks. It’s effective against Imp Warlock while breaking even with Shaman, but has a massive problem dealing with Druid and Hunter. It can do better against Face Hunter by running Renathal, but this tanks its performance against Ramp Druid, and without the extra life cushion, it gets destroyed by the relentless damage Hunter can dish out. It’s a deck that players seem to have a lot of fun with, which leads to its high play rate, but not something we should be concerned with whatsoever.
The best Mage deck is the one that doesn’t see much play. Incredibly, Big-Spell Mage is producing a Tier 1 performance level despite barely adding any new cards from the Nathria set. It is one of the most reliable answers to Control Shaman, a deck that’s quite difficult to counter and should heavily influence the format going forward. We’re not sure BSM would be this good if it were actually popular, but it’s certainly the biggest sleeper of the week.
Control Shaman looks fantastic, with a strong win rate and a very good matchup spread. It is the deck that seems to be the most difficult to counter, making it arguably the best and most reliable deck in the format. There are just a couple of options available that are clearly favored against Control Shaman (Big-Spell Mage, Phylactery Warlock).
So is Control Shaman gearing up to become the new meta tyrant that must be stopped? We’re not sure this would be an apt description. Shaman may be hard to counter, but it’s not favored into many decks either. It beats bad decks, looks favored into highly board-centric decks (Imp Warlock, Beast Hunter, Naga Priest) and goes 50-50 with many of the other good decks in the format. It doesn’t seem to dominate the emerging field, and we will explain a little bit later on what kind of impact heavy-handed Shaman nerfs would have on the format.
Ramp Druid is a powerful deck that’s kept in check by an oppressive matchup against Imp Warlock. The high presence of Imps is relegating the archetype to an average win rate rather than one that would have clearly placed it at the top tier. The deck is also further developing, with refinement lagging behind other popular classes that have figured out something close to their optimal builds. Druid is still fixated on its early expansion iterations. We can identify ways to make the deck stronger, and we likely have not seen the deck’s final form in this week’s database.
Celestial Druid is struggling. It does much worse than Ramp Druid in matchups like Control Shaman and Face Hunter, while Imp Warlocks are nearly unbeatable opponents. The archetype is ill-equipped to handle the current format, so concerns over Celestial Alignment have not materialized.
Hunter is a top 3 class in the format considering it currently has 3 top tier archetypes. It seems to be highly influential on how the ‘good’ classes are built too, as its popularity is partly responsible for the surge of Renathal decks. But, we do know that Hunter tends to be a strong frontrunner and all of its decks excel at punishing the kind of inefficient garbage you see at the beginning of an expansion. This might be what’s happening here.
Face Hunter is the most popular and the most successful Hunter deck at the moment, but its success seems to be highly driven by countering some of the ‘lesser’ decks in the format rather than great matchups into the best decks. It’s strong against Spooky Mage, and has been encouraging that archetype to run Renathal (in which case, the matchup becomes 50-50). It punishes the weak and underwhelming Rogue class, but doesn’t actually do much else. It doesn’t beat Ramp Druid or Control Shaman. It loses to other Hunter decks. It loses to Imp Warlock and Naga Priest. When you take a deeper look at its performance, you realize that Face Hunter is unlikely to remain top tier in a refined and settled meta.
Quest Hunter is a harder counter to Mage, and beats Spooky Mage even when it runs Renathal. It beats Face Hunter in the direct matchup too, but pays for it with a much worse Druid matchup. Quest Hunter gets obliterated by any form of Ramping Druid deck, so if it ever gets popular, there’s a clear-cut answer available. We think it’s going to be stronger than Face Hunter, but it is unlikely to become much better than it is right now.
Beast Hunter may have the worst matchup spread of the three. Since it is more board centric and doesn’t have as much burst from hand, it is significantly worse against Mage and Shaman. It also doesn’t handle Ramp Druid well. You’d think this deck doesn’t have an actual future based on these statements, but Beast Hunter has relatively more room for improvement, as well as a way to solve some of its issues in common late-game matchups. We don’t think it will be a top-tier deck, but it should be alright.
Rogue is standing on shaky ground. Its archetypes all have question marks surrounding them and the lack of novelty is concerning.
Miracle Rogue’s current performance is horrendous, including at top legend where it is most prevalent. It’s interesting to note that it is currently the deck with the highest skill ceiling in the format. It improves a LOT at higher levels of play. In fact, its average matchup improves by nearly 10% from Platinum to Top legend. These are Garrote-esque numbers. Considering that the deck is very unrefined and new to players, who are just learning how to pilot it, it is very reasonable to assume it can get better. The question is how much better? Its current win rate at top legend is 44%. It would have to make a very dramatic climb in its performance in order to become competitive. Otherwise, it will be a terrible deck at lower ranks, and a bad deck at higher levels. We’ll have to wait and see.
The secret package is terrible, so terrible that any experimentation in Thief Rogue that incorporates this package looks like a crime against Hearthstone. Renathal doesn’t work in Rogue either. Thief Rogue currently performs at its best when it runs no new cards, and even this ‘best’ is not much better than Tier 4.
This leaves us with Bomb Rogue, currently taking over the Deathrattle Rogue cluster. This looks like the most competitive Rogue deck, and it still isn’t stellar. We wouldn’t expect it to gain much traction as it runs no new cards and doesn’t counter a deck we’re desperate to counter. It also suffers from the popularity of Renathal.
Naga Priest looks very good. The Control Shaman matchup is difficult but it handles the rest of the field well. It contests early board control against Face Hunter and Imp Warlock. It wrecks Druid. It even does well against Mage despite the number of freeze effects they possess. Unlike Shaman, it’s hard for Mage to get rid of buffed minions. It doesn’t have a Primordial Wave. It can stall for a long time but it’s hard to do that while mounting an effective counterattack against the Priest. Cathedral of Atonement is amazing in the deck and has been a big consistency boost. The only problem with Naga Priest is that, once again, almost no one cares to play it. There’s something about it that must be incredibly off-putting.
Other Priest decks… not so good. Quest Priest looks pretty bad. The Spooky Mage matchup is brutal, while Ramp Druid isn’t much better. Purified Shard is getting outclassed in the late-game meta that’s developing, and things are unlikely to get better. Shadow Priest doesn’t seem to work, while Boar Priest might be Tier 3 at top legend.
Paladin, Demon Hunter & Warrior
It’s pretty clear-cut. These classes look unplayable. Unless there’s an incredible discovery, it’s unlikely you’ll see much of them in this format. Pure & Holy Paladin are high Tier 4 at best, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them get worse as they exhibit no scope for improvement. Demon Hunter and Warrior are in a different universe. Their decks exhibit win rates in the 30’s. They are so far away from being remotely playable. They might be the two worst classes we’ve ever seen at the launch of an expansion. Reminds us of Paladin and Hunter during Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. For them to see play next week, they need to be buffed.
It’s very likely that we have a balance patch next week, and based on our analysis, it’s going to be very challenging to hand out big nerfs to some decks without making the meta worse rather than better. Here are the key points on why this could be a big headache for Team 5:
Let’s say we decide that Control Shaman is a developing meta tyrant and we comply with demands to nerf Snowfall Guardian, which would be a very significant change. What happens is that it forces us to nerf Imp Warlock harder, as without a powerful Shaman deck keeping it in check, it can spin out of control.
Giving Imp Warlock heavy-handed nerfs means we’re significantly boosting the power level of Druid, which could go completely unchecked and take over the format. In the event of a crippled Imp Warlock, Druid displays Tier S potential, with an unpopular Naga Priest the only counter available.
If we’re then pre-emptively nerfing Druid to solve this potential problem, Hunter is next in line to become a massive problem, as we’ve just nerfed Warlock and Druid, its two most prominent counters!
So now we need to nerf Hunter, but if we’re nerfing both Hunter and Druid on top of Shaman and Warlock, we’re now risking Spooky Mage becoming a whole lot stronger. This deck is already popular at a very modest and very healthy power level, would we be better off with Spooky Mage being…. spookier?
When you look at the whole picture, the current meta is actually pretty balanced at the top. There are five classes seeing similar levels of play, and most strategies have an answer that keeps them in check. Control Shaman is the most difficult to counter, but it’s also a deck that exhibits a lot of 50-50 matchups. It’s not destroying everything in its path. There is a fair concern it would find a way to get even better and start destroying everything, but it’s also possible that other decks will start targeting it harder. It’s hard to say what’s more likely to occur.
The most pressing question is whether widespread nerfs would actually make the game better. Would it give us more decks to play with? Are some touches to the top classes going to make anyone play Demon Hunter and Warrior? Would it help Rogue and Paladin from dwindling further into irrelevance? Or is it just going to make everyone feel worse because they’re playing worse decks?
The reason the bad classes are bad… is because they’re bad. We need to make them less bad, and “more good.” If they could compete and stand with the rest, this would be a very successful meta. It’ll be interesting to see what Team 5 decides to do, as buffs rarely happen on the first patch of an expansion, but they seem very necessary if we want to have more than 6-7 classes in the game for the next month or two.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Imp Warlock has had an expectedly impressive start to Castle Nathria, with the archetype looking like one of the most dominant strategies in the format. The flexibility of the Imp package has also led to some surprisingly effective experimentation with the deck, demonstrating that it might be equally comfortable going into the late game, thanks to Impending Catastrophe.
First, the standard build of Warlock that we feature is the most popular direction available. Due to the deck’s popularity, adjusting for a strong mirror matchup is beneficial. Grimoire of Sacrifice is excellent for that purpose, while Sea Giants are utilized for the same reason. However, Sea Giants are very underwhelming unless paired with Smothering Starfish. Don’t even bother running Giants without it!
The most difficult matchups for Imp Warlock are Control Shaman and Spooky Mage, due to their plethora of freeze effects. Starfish helps you break the deadlock and releases your board to attack. Though it does silence your buff effects, playing Starfish and then buffing with a Library charge is still a strong play, and can lead to some lethal outs.
The final slots can either be filled with Demonic Assault or Imp Swarm. They are at a very similar power level. You can run both and cut Sea Giants if you’re not seeing much of the mirror. Shadowblade Slingers are weak.
An alternative build that looks very promising was popularized by MadThanos. This list looks to scam games with Kael’thas, cheating out Gigafin or Denathrius as early as turn 6 with the help of Murlocula. The deck is very comfortable going into the late game with Dreadlich Tamsin. It looks better against Mage, Hunter, and Priest but it is less explosive early, which means some price is paid in the mirror matchup and even against Shamans.
We do wonder how Brann would fare in this deck to allow a double Denathrius combo, or even Insatiable Devourer as another Kael’thas target. There is some potential for Imp Warlock to become an even slower deck than what we see now, or than what was thought about it initially at launch.
Another slower variant of Implock that is observed runs an Abyssal Curse package, but this direction appears to be significantly weaker than Denathrius, so we skipped it.
Other Warlock archetypes don’t appear to be as successful. Phylactery Warlock looks like a Tier 3 deck at higher levels of play where it is utilized as a soft Shaman counter, but its huge weakness to Hunters keeps its play rate low.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Imp Warlock
- Phylactery Warlock
Spooky Mage running the Wildfire and Skeleton packages is one of the most popular decks in the format. However, hype surrounding the deck has been tempered by increased hostility that limited its success on ladder. There are two main approaches to Spooky Mage: the medium-sized 30-card build, and the extra-large Renathal build.
Medium Spooky Mage’s build seems to be solidifying around Frostweave Dungeoneer and minimizing non-frost spells to Wildfire and Arcane Intellect. Not only is Dungeoneer a great card in the deck by having it activated more often, but the curated package of spells makes Magister Dawngrasp much better too.
Finley is still important to the deck as we need to find our hero card in case it’s at the bottom of our deck, since we can’t function without it. Theotar is hugely important against Druid. Lady Naz’jar is a great card against Hunter, which is our worst matchup by far. She is underrated and underplayed in this variant. Brann serves good utility with numerous strong targets. As for Multicaster, we think one copy is sufficient. We have enough draw thanks to Dungeoneer, and we don’t want to draw Multicaster too early, when it’s less likely to draw 2-3 cards due to the low number of Fire and Arcane spells in our deck.
XL Spooky Mage was popularized due to its stronger Hunter and Warlock matchups. It does far better against Hunter (~+10%) due to its extra life total, and slightly better (~+5%) against Warlock due to the presence of Blizzard. It also performs well in the Mage mirror (~+2%) after refinement. It is worse against Shaman (~-5%), and much worse against Druid (~-15%) since its primary game plan is far less consistent.
There are two builds that caught our eye. One runs Solid Alibi, Treasure Guard, and Multicaster. The other swaps them for Deepwater Evoker, Grey Sage Parrot, and Rune of the Archmage (Habugabu, again). We’re less sure on whether Evoker is better than Multicaster, but the most intriguing byproduct of the “big-spell” package is Parrot potentially repeating Deathborne and Blizzard. We think this could merit the inclusion of Parrot even without Rune, though Rune is a good card against Shaman and Druid so it might be smart to include it anyway. Having potentially 4 copies of Deathborne is backbreaking in the Mage mirror while 4 copies of Blizzard are obscene against Warlock and Shaman. Who says Shaman is the only class with Snowfall Guardian and Brilliant Macaw?
But this isn’t all for Mage. Very quietly, Big-Spell Mage is proving to be the strongest Mage deck and one of the overall best in the format. Forensic Duster has been underwhelming, but Nightcloak Sanctum is nuts. Add Theotar and you’ve got some disruption potential too. If you have not bought any Nathria packs yet, we still have a Tier 1 deck for you!
- Mage Class Radar
- Spooky Mage
- Big-Spell Mage
Control Shaman is well on its way to become the strongest deck in the format, exhibiting almost no unfavored matchups, with Habugabu popularizing a Renathal build that is taking ladder by storm. It is by far the strongest Shaman build out there, with alternatives within the archetype looking significantly weaker.
What has changed to make Shaman suddenly able to utilize Renathal successfully? Part of it is meta related, as it shores up the Hunter matchups, but a lot of it has to do with the ingenuity of the build itself. By running Primal Dungeoneer alongside two nature spells and Schooling, we find Snowfall Guardian 22% of the time (66% chance to draw a Nature spell and an Elemental, and a third of that to find Guardian ahead of Sleetbreaker/Amalgam). This does not consider that Schooling and Sleetbreaker are highly kept mull targets, and that Amalgam can be drawn off Ravager, boosting the chance of drawing Guardian off Dungeoneer further.
This means we’re running at least 2.44 copies of Snowfall Guardian in our 40-card deck, which is very close to the likelihood of drawing our best card in a normal 30-card deck without Dungeoneer. Without this increased chance of finding Guardian, our Renathal health cushion is pointless, offset by our decreased defensive consistency, as Guardian is crucial to our survivability.
The only tweak we make to the build is to shore up our turn 4 in the absence of Wildpaw Caverns. One option is Blademaster Okani, the other is running Crud Caretakers and cutting Glugg. Caretakers aren’t good opening hand targets (the card should only be kept if you have Muck Pools), but they’re strong with Muck Pools and Brann/Bolner throughout the game.
Druid is its usual self, making a lot of noise and drawing much ire but settling around the average win rate. Topior and Denathrius have been at the center of deck development as the primary win conditions of the class.
The Ramp Druid concept shown in our theorycrafting article, in which we draw Denathrius with Capture Coldtooth Mine, was all the rage in the first few days of the expansion. However, problems with the build have arisen, as it was found to be one-dimensional. The Druid almost always has to win slower matchups with a full Brann/Denathrius combo and is highly dependent on finding Topior to turn the corner against faster decks. The Mine plan also leaves Druid extremely vulnerable to an opposing Theotar, as Mine telegraphs the right moment to strike.
Since then, new iterations have developed that look more promising. The Naga Giants/Herald of Nature approach is the most promising we’ve seen. This build doesn’t go all-in on Denathrius, and has other ways to pressure the opponent and win the game. Naga Giants allow us to run Earthen Scales, which is a huge stabilizer in aggressive matchups. Herald of Nature has great synergy with Flipper Friends, leveraging our ability to develop wide boards. It is particularly devastating with Brann and gives the dwarf something else to do besides pairing with Denathrius. This multi-pronged approach means our opponents can’t precisely identify the perfect moment to drop Theotar, and can find themselves under pressure from other threats, which gives us the time we need to eventually land Denathrius.
This is unlikely to be Ramp Druid’s final form though, as many things have yet to be fully explored. For example, if Naga Giants are so good, should we not look at bringing back Oracle and Ivus? Could that be a stronger win condition than Herald of Nature? Food for thought.
Celestial Druid is not looking great. Aggressive decks destroy it, and it needs a very specific field to thrive. It does seem that Brann/Denathrius can successfully replace Kazakusan in this archetype as well, with builds dropping the dragon looking more successful.
Some may raise eyebrows at running Flipper Friends when Jerry Rig Carpenter drawing a split Nourish has become such a crutch for Celestial Druid players. We think this is worth testing further. The ability to fuel Denathrius and Insatiable Devourer cannot be underestimated. Devourer can just end games. The card is looking like the biggest sleeper of Castle Nathria in terms of impact.
Finally, an Aggro Druid deck has popped up, cutting the Oracle/Matriarch package, and just going low to the ground. It’s hard to say, but it might be as good as Tier 2. It destroys other Druids, and has a surprisingly decent Shaman matchup, which is not what you’d expect. Mage is the real problem.
However, with no new cards, the likelihood of it gaining traction isn’t high.
- Druid Class Radar
- Ramp Druid
- Celestial Druid
- Aggro Druid
Hunter has been running rampant on ladder, boasting three top-tier decks backed up by the power of Wildseeds. Wild Spirits is the star of the show and a top 3 card in every Hunter deck.
(Note: Unfortunately, this was written before an imminent bug fix for Collateral Damage was announced to Master Tour players. Twinbow Terrorcoil will no longer cause Collateral Damage to double the overflow damage to minions that died from the first shot. This is an unintended bug, and the fix will be a nerf to the build, though it’s hard to say how impactful it would be. We’ll have to analyze how Face Hunter is affected after the change).
Face Hunter has been the most popular choice on ladder, utilizing a full Wildseed package. Turns out that slowing down for Wildseeds is very much worth it even for the most aggressive Hunter strategy. Even Ara’lon is an insane card in the deck.
Perhaps some of it has to do with Hunter being so content with reaching turn 8 and playing Collateral Damage. The pressure Face Hunter puts on an opponent’s life total is forcing them into a race for the board, which leaves them vulnerable to the big nuke.
We obviously advocate running two copies of Collateral Damage, and think it makes a lot of sense to cut one Quick Shot for it. Quick Shot is rarely going to draw a card when our curve is this high, and it looks like the weakest card in the deck. Peasant is the best 1-drop, so run it over Trogg (good tweak for Shamans). One thing to note about the mulligan in this deck: hard mull for Poacher/Wild Spirits. Ara’lon is great in slow matchups. Don’t immediately settle for a 1-drop if you don’t have these cards.
The Beast Hunter list from our theorycrafting article looks very strong, but it might have the potential for further improvements. Altimor is an insanely good card in the deck as it is trivial to infuse it, and some players have been experimenting with other infuse late game cards in the deck. We’re particularly impressed with… you guessed it, Insatiable Devourer and Denathrius. The Devourer arms race against Shaman just got real.
We dropped Kodobane, Trackings, and Battle Rams, going back into the single Saber plan with Pet Collector. We’ve also added Frenzied Fangs, as it is another very good infuse card in the deck.
Quest Hunter is the strongest counter to Mage in the format and has decent standing against Shaman as well. The theorycrafting article list works great. Some players have tried to incorporate the full Wildseeds package into the deck, including Poacher and Ara’lon. We’re interested in more data on these cards, but the problem was cutting the secret package to make room. That’s a big no-no. We would look to make room for Poacher/Ara’lon by cutting a combination of Marked Shot and Multicaster.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Face Hunter
- Beast Hunter
- Quest Hunter
Rogue is not in a good spot, but it does show some signs of life in contrast to other classes. If nothing comes to fruition though, stagnation and disappearance could come next.
Miracle Rogue displays one of the highest skill ceilings we’ve ever seen. The question is whether the deck is good when piloted by the best players, and we would give it some time before coming up with any conclusion. Currently, it isn’t. We do think the deck is very unrefined, and there are some important findings with this week’s data.
Gadgetzan Auctioneer is the most consistent draw engine for the deck that seems to make it more coherent. We think Shadowcrafter Scabbs is mandatory. It’s a hero card and we have a billion coins, so you always play it. Wicked Stabs and SI:7 Extortion are both better than Tooth of Nefarian. Blackwater Cutlass is weak, as you don’t need the discounts it offers, just the spell density for Auctioneer. Smothering Starfish is essential at closing out games against Mage and Shaman. Circumventing a freeze effect could be the difference between winning or losing a game. It’s also helpful at bypassing taunts that are in the way of Draka’s dagger.
Thief Rogue is plagued by terrible secret builds, though it still isn’t great even at peak potential. The best way to build it seems to be running no new cards, as depressing as that may sound. Vessel variant is unchanged from the previous expansion. Jackpot variant wants to run SI:7 Extortions to deal with some snowballing early game minions such as Flustered Librarian.
Players have tried experimenting with Deathrattle Rogue, but the best way for this archetype to compete seems to be going back to Naval Mines. This is the most competitive Rogue deck, though still not better than Tier 3. Once again, no new cards. Copy/paste from Sunken City.
Quest Rogue sees very little play, but ‘could’ be a Tier 3 deck. Sinstone Graveyard is great in this deck. Draka isn’t. This is the only deck that seems to make good use of Door of Shadows, so far.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Miracle Rogue
- Thief Rogue
- Bomb Rogue
- Quest Rogue
Naga Priest looks like one of the best decks in the game despite seeing very little play, which seems to be typical for the archetype. Cathedral of Atonement is a huge boost to the deck’s consistency across the board. Pelagos is a threat, but not as strong in the early game as it was expected to be.
Partner in Crime, however, looks very underwhelming and may not make the cut. Boon of the Ascended is what you want to run at the 4-slot. Amazing stabilizer and threat closer, and very much worth running as a spell despite concerns of Thrive/Wig consistency.
Another thing we’ve noticed: the deck’s thirst for Nagas. The small and subtle cuts to the Naga tribe resulting from the addition of new cards look very clear in our analysis. We want more ways to duplicate Serpent Wigs, which has caused School Teacher’s stock to rise. We even advocate running two Teachers and cutting Najak Hexxen. In this format, Najak looks nowhere as good as it was during Sunken City.
Quest Priest is bad. The power level of the format just went up and it didn’t find enough upgrades. Theotar might be nice to have, but it’s more painful to play against. We’ve tweaked the build to run more mass removal and silence effects, which are pretty good against Warlock. Don’t expect this deck to be much better than Tier 4.
We can group these classes together because they’re all looking so bad that there’s very little to say about them. Pure Paladin is a complete dud. Holy Paladin is weak. The only deck we found to have some potential in Paladin is a Flex Tape Control Paladin with the usual suspects: Renathal/Brann/Kael’thas/Devourer/Denathrius. It might be playable.
But Demon Hunter and Warrior? Forget it. There’s absolutely nothing that looks remotely competitive and worthy of featuring for this report. We’re not talking about Tier 4. This is Tier 14. Relics aren’t good enough. Enrage Warrior is incomplete. Control Warrior got zilch.
We don’t see this situation changing with some nerfs. These classes need buffs or new cards. You don’t display a win rate of under 40% and suddenly become viable because of some light touches to other classes. You either nuke every other class to be as bad as Warrior and Demon Hunter (probably a very bad idea), or you buff these classes to give them a chance.
Let’s see what happens next week. For now, pretend they don’t exist.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Control Paladin
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Warrior Class Radar
Control Shaman is shaping up to be the strongest and most well-rounded deck in the format. During Sunken City, it was already good against board-centric decks, but it fell a bit flat when it came to late-game matchups. Thanks to Castle Nathria, Shaman got major late-game upgrades and the deck can now challenge the most powerful win conditions in Standard. Its disruption tools are stellar with the addition of Theotar, while Sire Denathrius provides it with the finisher it was missing. This is the deck to beat after the first week.
Big-Spell Mage is barely noticeable, yet performs incredibly well. It is also the best and most well-rounded answer to Control Shaman. Players might not be too excited to run a very similar deck to what it was during Sunken City, but if you want to punish the Shaman surge that’s likely to occur, there is no better choice.
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