Welcome to the 241st edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||21,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||32,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||61,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||77,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
The impact of the balance changes is massive and can be most dramatically observed by the rise of Relic Demon Hunter, which has become the most popular deck in the format. This deck is continuing to rise in play every day and becomes more prevalent at higher ranks, where it’s nearing a 20% play rate. The Deathrattle package has been cut for value cards such as Venomous Scorpid and School Teacher. Aggro DH can also be found, but in smaller numbers.
Though Druid is still one of the most popular classes in the game, both Ramp and Aggro Druid are in an ongoing decline. Ramp Druid has suffered a big nerf to Wildheart Guff, while Aggro Druid needed the popularity of Ramp Druid to produce strong results before the patch. We’ll see where they stand later.
Priest’s 4 archetypes haven’t changed, but the class is enjoying increased popularity. Quest Priest remains a favorite deck for many players. Naga and Bless Priest become more visible at top legend. Boar Priest sees fringe play.
Edwin Rogue has been hit hard by the balance changes, and the deck is only noticeable at legend. Thief Rogue seems to have awakened, mostly running Renathal and becoming the most popular deck within the class outside of top legend. Shark and Bomb Rogue see small bits of play.
Control Shaman is coming back, encouraged by the nerfs to Druid and Mage and the buff to School Teacher, looking to establish itself once again as a top meta competitor.
Hunter is another benefactor of the balance changes. Beast Hunter has spiked in play and makes up most of the class, with Face Hunter remaining at a low play rate. The nerfed Quest Hunter seems to be an exclusive choice at lower ranks of ladder.
Add Imp Warlock to the list of decks rising in play. With the nerf to Kael’thas, most builds include the Curse package. Impless Curse Warlock sees little play.
Mage has fallen harder than Druid in terms of play rate. The class is still popular but becomes gradually less common as you climb ladder. Despite this decline, it doesn’t appear that Big-Spell and Spooky Mage are going anywhere. Current play rates are stabilizing.
Warrior has picked up a little bit of interest, but not much traction yet. Enrage Warrior and Charge Warrior are the most noticeable archetypes, with the Galvangar finisher attempting to make a comeback.
Very few people care about Paladin.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
This report is a bit unique since it covers the first 4 days of a patch, and it shows. Aggressive decks with solidified builds are performing well, while some of the archetypes that don’t appear as powerful need some time to figure things out. No overreactions needed.
- Demon Hunter
- Relic Demon Hunter is not that hot. The deck hovers around a 50% win rate throughout ladder, and its high popularity is likely to lead to a significant decline in its win rate since it invites counters. Hunter, Naga/Bless Priest, Imp Warlock, and Rogue all seem to take advantage of it very effectively. There are some questions regarding its refinement, but the deck might experience a collapse in its performance next week if it doesn’t adjust. This is no Spooky Mage or Ramp Druid, decks that managed to hold out decent win rates despite having the entire meta try to target them. Demon Hunter is easy prey in comparison.
- Aggro Demon Hunter performs slightly worse but displays a clear scope for improvement that may eventually lead to it becoming the stronger DH deck. We wouldn’t expect it to be better than Tier 2, but it should be a solid option in the format.
- Ramp Druid appears to have been weakened by the balance changes, but we wouldn’t write it off. There are definitely a few things it can do to adjust to the new format and recover. The important thing is that it can’t get away with taking over the format at huge play rates. It has become more situational. The nerf to Guff succeeded at reducing its late game dominance while maintaining its competitive viability.
- Aggro Druid performs very well throughout ladder and remains a good choice on the climb to legend, but it is still quite dependent on running into Ramp Druid to see success. It isn’t particularly good against some of the decks we expect to rise in play over the next week.
- Sorry, Feno, but Naga Priest looks nuts.
- To be fair, we’re not too worried about how good Naga Priest currently looks, because it’s clearly taking advantage of the high popularity of Ramp Druid and Relic Demon Hunter. We can’t imagine it would be able to maintain this level of performance if its play rate was significantly higher. There are answers available to punish this archetype if it ever takes off, and there are also easy adjustments for other decks to make that improve their performance against it. This deck historically doesn’t attract a large player base as well, so we find it hard to believe it would even hit a 15% play rate at any rank bracket to become a prevalent issue.
- Quest Priest is okay. Not good enough to be overwhelmingly popular, but not bad enough to dissuade the people who enjoy playing it. It’s still a very polarizing deck that’s highly dependent on the matchup it faces. Thankfully, most other decks don’t display high matchup polarization. The format has leveled out.
- Bless Priest is more of a top legend specialty compared to Naga Priest. It is a more difficult deck to pilot, so it doesn’t perform well at lower ranks. It performs better in specific matchups like Hunter and Rogue but is worse overall since it is much more vulnerable to mass removal.
- Boar Priest doesn’t look good, even at top legend, and that poor matchup spread isn’t expected to get any better.
- Edwin Rogue now only looks like a reasonably good deck at legend ranks. It doesn’t have the kind of raw power that could carry a less proficient player to success, and it’s not in Tier 1 anywhere on ladder.
- Thief Rogue has significantly improved its performance after the patch. It’s now a real deck rather than a figment of people’s imagination. Its improved performance at higher levels is a mix of an above average skill ceiling, the increased popularity of DH (which is helping all Rogue decks), as well as the usual poor optimization occurring at lower ranks with this archetype. This data mostly reflects the Renathal build.
- Bomb Rogue is another deck that performs better at higher ranks, but this is likely a case of a favorable field. It eats Relic Demon Hunter for breakfast. It doesn’t excel in any other matchup.
- The Edwin nerf seems to have hurt Shark Rogue a lot.
- Control Shaman is back to being a very well-rounded deck with an even matchup spread. Relic DH looking overrated is also good news for the archetype, since it has been slightly struggling there. The loss of Snowfall Guardian means that matchups such as Imp Warlock and Beast Hunter are more difficult. Those are the ‘problematic’ matchups: they are 45-55 and they can be improved with a small tweak. If you want to play a deck that has a chance against anything, this is it.
- This could very well be early patch Hunter tax, but have we nerfed everything to the point Beast Hunter is now the nuts? The deck looks extremely powerful throughout ladder with an absurd matchup spread that offers almost no counters (Bless Priest is the only reliable counter!). Playing Beast Hunter over the last few days has been like playing Hearthstone in easy mode. Do note that we have yet to notice a decline in its win rate as of the writing of this report, but we’ll see how things shape up next week before we reach any solidified conclusions.
- With Face Hunter, we clearly see it. This deck should remain powerful at lower ranks but is expected to decline in its performance at higher ranks. It should remain inferior to Beast Hunter by some margin, so even though it exhibits a very good win rate, it could remain at its low play rate due to being made redundant.
- If Quest Hunter wasn’t nerfed, it would have been absurd now as well. Its matchup spread is much worse after the nerf to its first phase, which saved us a lot of trouble. It’s experiencing major issues dealing with Beast Hunters, Druids and Shamans, holding it back at Tier 3.
- Imp Warlock is looking good, much like most refined aggressive decks in the format. The early game passivity of Relic Demon Hunter is very inviting. It doesn’t perform as well against some of the more successful decks in the format, so we expect things will become more difficult for it over time. Should remain in a good position, nevertheless.
- Mage is noticeably weaker, but far from dead. Big-Spell Mage exhibits a positive win rate at every rank bracket. Spooky Mage shows some indication of an improvement in its performance over time, so if it can make good adjustments to the new format and the nerfs it received, it will be in a fine spot in the meta. No longer an overwhelmingly prevalent class, but still very competitive.
- Enrage Warrior is close. We can identify ways it can easily improve its performance against the field too. It might not be a great deck, but it should feel better for those who enjoy it. A new card from the mini-set could be all it takes.
- Charge Warrior is not an embarrassing option on ladder, slotting into Tier 3. Its win condition is quite intimidating, and it can find it very quickly with its new build. Theotar is also not that big of a problem as it has plenty of redundancy with its combo pieces. The problem is that the meta is very likely to become much more hostile to it over the next week, so we’re not optimistic about its ability to survive the oncoming trends. The Beast Hunter matchup is very difficult.
- Paladin couldn’t make it for the Power Ranking table this week but is likely to make it next week. Pure Paladin is estimated to be around Tier 3 today. The problem is that it has no scope for improvement, which means it could get left behind. We haven’t seen anything new that’s promising within the class. It needs more than a bigger banana.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Relic Demon Hunter has become the most popular deck in the format, but it doesn’t really justify that kind of faith from the player base. It’s a decent deck, but far from being the most powerful. However, there are some interesting findings regarding its build that could improve it.
This deck is all about finding relics and playing them as quickly as possible. Venomous Scorpid and School Teacher see play in this deck because they can discover relics, but there’s another card that’s a more reliable relic finder that’s beginning to see play and displays impressive metrics: Dispossessed Soul! Relic Vault is the most important card in the deck, but there are situations in which you find it but miss your relics. Soul gives you that extra bit of consistency in setting up your game plan.
Another weird inclusion that merits more experimentation is Ambassador Faelin. It has great synergy with Topple the Idol, turning it into a very powerful and consistent board clear. The specific synergy with Finley is not important. Finley performs well in the deck by itself since Relic DH is heavily reliant on finding a specific package of cards.
We’re less convinced by Chaos Strike. It’s a filler card that doesn’t really make sense. Alexstrasza is another popular yet underwhelming finisher, and we don’t even like Denathrius in the deck, though we’ve kept it for now (it seems better than Alex).
We question Theotar’s inclusion in the deck. In most matchups, Relic DH has more success focusing on its game plan rather than trying to disrupt the opponent’s (Quest Priest and Ramp Druid are good examples. Theotar is just not necessary in these matchups). The only popular matchup in which Theotar performs well is the mirror, because taking away a relic from your opponent furthers your game plan on top of setting your opponent back. You can switch out Flanking Maneuver if you want to include Theotar.
But this isn’t all for the class, Aggro DH is also showing signs of life and may end up the better deck post-refinement. Common builds don’t run enough 1-drops, which this deck is desperate for. Sigil of Alacrity is far too slow for this archetype, while Kryxis looks like bait! No need to bother crafting this one.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Relic Demon Hunter
- Aggro Demon Hunter
Ramp Druid is having a tougher time with a weakened Wildheart Guff, though it’s still the best card in the deck. After looking into the archetype, we don’t think it is dying, but there are some interesting effects caused by the nerf to Guff that require some adjustments.
The two cards that have been hit hardest by the Guff nerf are Oracle and Ivus. Both cards needed the Druid to ramp up quickly to reach their power turns, and we’ve seen a big drop in their metrics post-patch. We advocate cutting them for more survivability.
More survivability is the name of the game now. Ramp Druid’s late game is still very good, so we just need to get there. Despite the nerf to Smothering Starfish, the card is extremely important in the current meta, and is likely to become even more important after a rise of Naga Priest. Spammy Arcanist is also incredible in the current meta. We advocate running two copies of these two tech cards.
Aggro Druid hasn’t changed. Less Ramp Druid means it is less powerful, but the nerf to Mage helped offset that. Instead of a polarizing format, it now exists in a balanced one with a lot of close matchups.
Priest is in a good position in the meta with multiple competitive decks.
Quest Priest’s position in the format has worsened at higher levels of play since countering Rogue isn’t as important, but it appreciates the decline of Mage and Ramp Druid throughout ladder. This has made the rise of Relic DH more bearable. We figured out the featured build before the patch. Dropping one copy of Condemn and Lightbomb looks perfect.
Naga Priest is one of the best performers in the format, if not the best. The buff to School Teacher was particularly important, as it was the only deck that still played the card as a 4/3. Add a Smothering Starfish nerf on top of favorable meta trends, and you’ve got one scary deck, though there are certainly good answers to it in case it spikes in play. No need to change its pre-patch build.
Bless Priest is a bit narrow in its usefulness and is a worse deck overall. It performs better against Hunter and Rogue since they have no means of handling its blow out turn.
Boar Priest looks like the worst Priest deck, even at higher levels. It has very poor matchups against some of the most popular and powerful decks in the format.
- Priest Class Radar
- Quest Priest
- Naga Priest
- Bless Priest
- Boar Priest
The nerf to Edwin Rogue means it is no longer the best deck at higher levels of play, though it is still competitive. Edwin remains the cornerstone card for the archetype and there is no merit to adjust the pre-patch build.
Thief Rogue has gotten better thanks to the balance changes. Most builds run Renathal, though we’re not sure whether it’s better than a 30 list, so we’re featuring both for now. We have little data on 30 builds, so don’t take the featured list as gospel.
Sprint and Edwin help Renathal Thief Rogue find a bit more consistency. Murloc Holmes is about as good as a Spider Tank.
Bomb Rogue hasn’t changed. Shark Rogue has been severely set back by the nerf to Edwin.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Edwin Rogue
- Thief Rogue
- Bomb Rogue
- Shark Rogue
Control Shaman looks good again. Not only did it benefit from the nerfs to Druid and Mage, but it also got its own buff with School Teacher, which it used to play when it had 4 health.
The most common build on ladder is Meati’s #1 legend list, but it requires some tweaks. You always run two Insatiable Devourers because that card is way too good in too many matchups to only run one copy of. Crud Caretakers have dropped off in power because of the addition of School Teachers. Along with Wildpaw Caverns, the 4-mana slot has now become too crowded. The 40th card is a mystery, perhaps solved by Murloc Holmes! But it’s possible that there’s a better card out there that’s not seeing play. We have no data on the following suggestion, but we’re curious about Raid Boss Onyxia. Shaman appears to desperately want late game swing cards, and you can think of Onyxia as a 3rd Devourer: a way to deal with an opponent’s big board.
Beast Hunter is one of the top performers in the format. We’re featuring the same build we’ve tweaked weeks ago, which has been tearing up ladder after the patch, but we are curious about some adjustments to the deck, so we’re also showing an alternative build.
Samuro is very strong against Aggro Druid and Imp Warlock, but very weak otherwise. This could justify cutting it alongside Castle Kennels. K9-0tron needs 6 1-drops to be a stronger card, so we added Irondeep Trogg. We’re also swapping the underwhelming Stag Charge for Ramming Mount. This gives us greater potential for early-game snowballing, especially with a more consistent K-9tron and additional 1-drops. Finally, we’re adding Barak Kodobane as a draw engine alongside Tracking, to give the deck some more fuel in place of Selective Breeder.
We would expect the alternative build to be stronger in slower matchups and weaker against aggressive decks.
Face Hunter is also performing well, though we can see it dropping off following more refinement within the rest of the field. We maintain that the 2nd Collateral Damage should always be better than the 2nd Quick Shot.
No changes to the nerfed Quest Hunter.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Beast Hunter
- Quest Hunter
- Face Hunter
Imp Warlock has significantly benefitted from the balance changes, with the Curse build looking to be in great shape. The decline of Ramp Druid means it is less important to apply pressure through the board, which means the slower variant of the deck works better (Brann, 3-mana Tamsin, Touch).
But the Denathrius build may not be dead yet. Cutting the Kael’thas package still leads to a well-functioning list that performs better in several matchups (Hunter, Druid, Rogue). Based on the preliminary data of this variant, it could be just as good as the Curse build.
Mage is down, but certainly not out. We initially thought Spooky Mage was going to be fully reliant on Renathal, but it seems that both builds are equally viable.
The somewhat surprising finding is that going 30 isn’t worse against Hunter, as your ability to race them is quite impactful. This is also true against the passive Relic Demon Hunter, which likes to extend the game and not be drawn into a race. Since 30 Spooky Mage is highly incentivized to play aggressively, we’ve also noticed Theotar becoming worse in the deck. We’ve previously knocked Sivara, and she’s still not a great card, but we would rather have her in the current format.
The Renathal build has stayed the same, but we would recommend some experimentation. We’re not convinced the Big-Spell package is still worth including, and Deathborne has fallen off hard with the decline of Mage mirrors. That’s a package of 9 cards that’s “open for business” (Evoker, Parrot, Rune, Deathborne and Kel’Thuzad).
Big-Spell Mage looks better. The decline of Aggro Druid means the Renathal build has dropped off and you should be playing the list of 30. The School Teacher buff also makes the card a prime candidate for the deck alongside Brann, and it makes us wonder whether Teacher should be a consideration in Spooky Mage as well. The issue is that Smothering Starfish and Spammy Arcanist are likely to become stronger over the next week due to the Naga Priest and Beast Hunter matchups, respectively, so it’s hard to find space. Theotar should be cut, regardless.
Enrage Warrior may become a real deck post-refinement. The key to success with Enrage Warrior is to lower the curve and be extremely aggressive. Two of the most popular decks in the format (Relic DH, Ramp Druid) have an extremely passive early game, so the featured build maximizes snowballing. Don’t worry about the late game. You’re not winning at that point anyway.
Charge Warrior has also popped up and looks more competitive than any slow Warrior deck we’ve seen since the launch of the expansion. Sanguine Depths works very well in this deck as an Acolyte/Execute/Charger activator. We suspect Execute is going to become more important as Naga Priest rises in play, so we suggest running two copies and cutting Bash. Heavy Plate is also a superior card to Bash.
What’s nice about this build is that it has some combo redundancy, which makes it more resistant to Theotar. A Ring of Tides from Azshara can act as a 2nd copy of To the Front. Grom can offer an alternative to Galvangar. Games aren’t over if one of these cards gets taken away.
If you’ve heard about the revival of Paladin somewhere, we haven’t seen it. Based on its low sample of games, Pure Paladin is likely to be around Tier 3 at best. There has been no other deck within the class that has shown any promise. If we don’t find something next week, you can safely put Uther in the mini-set waiting room.
The current meta is in its diapers and any sort of grand statement would be premature, but these two decks currently stand above the rest by some distance despite not seeing much play just yet.
Beast Hunter looks extremely difficult to counter and demands the meta to catch up in refinement to put it down. Next week, we’ll have to see whether this is an early patch mirage or if it’s the real deal.
Naga Priest is taking advantage of a lax field full of Relic Demon Hunters and Ramp Druids that sit around and do nothing for 4 turns. If you’re up to wear some Serpent Wigs, Naga Priest currently delivers superb results, but there are answers to this deck in case it spikes in play.
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