vS Data Reaper Report #242

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Welcome to the 242nd edition of the Data Reaper Report!

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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 568,000
Top 1K Legend 25,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 75,000
Diamond 4 to 1 92,000
Diamond 10 to 5 115,000
Platinum 82,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 179,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

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Class Frequency

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Class Frequency Discussion

Beast Hunter has expectedly spiked in play at every rank bracket after its impressive showing last week. It is the 2nd most popular deck in the format at Diamond 4 and above. It will be important to see how its performance has been affected as a result, as decks have undoubtedly tried to target it more aggressively.

Relic Demon Hunter remains very popular, though its growth has stopped as it wasn’t delivering particularly good results. More experimentation with ‘Felic’ builds running Jace over Denathrius as a secondary win condition have popped up at higher levels of play.

Priest has risen to become the most popular class at top legend, with a very diverse set of decks. Thief Priest is a new deck that was beginning to pop up last week and got traction thanks to some individual successes. Naga Priest has risen in play, but not too much, with player reluctance continuing to be a factor for this deck’s popularity. Bless Priest was the only counter to Beast Hunter we identified last week, so it was expected to rise to some degree. As you drop down the rank brackets, you see less of Bless/Naga/Thief and more of Quest Priest.

Thief Rogue is rising in play, while Edwin Rogue is in decline. We’re also seeing a shift within Thief Rogue, as 30-builds are picking up traction and rivaling the popularity of Renathal builds. We’ve now had a chance to compare the two and determine what’s better.

Druid has continued its decline throughout ladder, with both Ramp and Aggro Druid dropping in play. It’s still the most popular class at Diamond 5 and below but takes a more middling spot as we reach legend ranks.

There is increased interest in Imp Warlock at all levels of play, with the archetype returning into a strong position in the meta. Most builds run the curse package, but new Denathrius builds can also be found. Not much else is going on with the class.

Control Shaman is settling into a modest play rate throughout ladder. It’s always there at every rank bracket, but you never see too much of it.

The Mage bleeding has stopped. Spooky and Big-Spell Mage are visible, though decline at higher rank brackets and become less noticeable.

Not much activity within Warrior and Paladin. Both Charge and Enrage Warrior are in decline. Some players are trying Renathal Control Paladin builds.

Matchup Win Rates Header

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Power Rankings Header

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vS Meta Score

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vS Power Rankings Discussion

  • Hunter
    • We were wondering what was going to happen with Beast Hunter this week, since we know this deck has previously started strong in new fields before declining in its performance after the format settled down. We got our answer: it’s not happening this time. In fact, Beast Hunter appears to be getting stronger! It looks like the best deck in the format at every rank bracket by a significant margin. This includes top legend, where it tends to get disrespected.
    • What happened? This might be partially our fault. Turns out Beast Hunter still had ways to get even better. We managed to improve its build to the point it is tearing up the competition. The rise of a new, more ruthless build is negating some of the increased hostility towards the deck resulting from its increased popularity.
    • But Beast Hunter is also just good. The late game of several classes got nerfed to the point the format is less swingy. There are no Snowfall Guardians that lock you out of the game and punch you for 10+ damage. Druids don’t get to 13 mana on turn 6. Mages’ late game scaling isn’t as fast. It means that decks get rewarded for taking incremental advantages. Beast Hunter plays a ‘fair game’ of Hearthstone. A high-powered format doesn’t suit it. A low-powered format, much like we’ve seen at the last month of Sunken City when Renathal came out, is where it shines.
    • Remember which deck in the format has the capability of executing a crazy turn with such an absurd number of stats that the Hunter can’t deal with? Bless Priest. That’s the only way to beat Hunter consistently.
  • Demon Hunter
    • We expected Relic Demon Hunter to drop off in its performance considering it is extremely popular and not too powerful. It also loses to all the Tier 1 decks. Players enjoy the Relic package regardless, which makes it a very successful design.
    • However, we will note that we found something within the archetype that made us change our view on the Fel package with Jace. It’s now looking more promising and worth trying out over the standard builds.
    • Aggro DH has dropped off, but we maintain that building it properly will yield much better results that would put it close to the 50% WR mark. Players are not running enough 1-drops, while Kryxis is killing this deck. Kryxis is kept 50% of the time in the mulligan too, which makes it even worse. It causes us physical pain to see it.
  • Priest
    • Naga Priest is good. No big news there, though its win rate did decline with more attention directed to it. Its matchup spread is strong, but nowhere near as resilient as Beast Hunter’s. It is fair to say it’s the 2nd best deck in the format.
    • Bless Priest has gotten stronger and is increasingly more powerful at top legend. Its value is rising as the sole reliable answer to the most powerful deck in the format, so the spike in Beast Hunter had a lot to do with why it’s getting better throughout ladder. It’s also developing an edge against Naga Priest. Furthermore, it’s a deck with a high skill ceiling, some of its matchups dramatically improve at top legend (Beast Hunter is one of those).
    • Quest Priest is declining in its performance. It’s a deck that’s relatively settled in its build and doesn’t have much room for improvement, meaning it will tend to lose some matchup percentages against other decks that are getting refined, while the meta is not shifting in a favorable direction for it.
    • Thief Priest doesn’t appear to be very impressive, even at top1k legend, but we can understand why it would have some individual success leading to players swearing by it.
      • You can imagine that the meta increasingly narrows as you reach the #1 legend rank, meaning there are more Beast Hunters, more Naga Priests and more Bless Priests that look to counter both. Thief Priest is a hard answer to that specific Tier 1 internal meta since it destroys Naga/Bless Priests while having a close matchup with Beast Hunter (trending towards 50/50 at top level play).
      • It’s a very weak deck outside of that specific context, so it can’t be a consistently successful choice in a more diverse environment. It’s also a difficult deck to play, as evidenced by how unplayable it looks outside of top legend, though this also has to do with the different field, since it’s seeing more of its bad matchups.
  • Rogue
    • Edwin Rogue is the one deck in the format that gets destroyed by all Priest decks, so a nightmare scenario is playing out for it at top legend, which is the only place where it looked strong enough to see much play after the Edwin nerf. If you’re meeting a lot of Priests, you will not have a good time with this deck.
    • Thief Rogue handles Priest matchups better but has a lukewarm matchup spread. It doesn’t really beat anything or lose to anything, so its win rate should continue to hover around 50%. We will note that going 30 might help the archetype pick up in its win rate. It would have fallen harder if it exclusively stuck with Renathal.
    • Bomb Rogue is very quietly the best performing Rogue deck that most players do not care to play. Shark Rogue is getting better over time at top legend, which makes sense since it is the most skill intensive deck in the format, but it’s still not great.
  • Druid
    • News of Ramp Druid’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. The meta at the upper Diamond bracket is a bit rough with a higher number of Aggro Druids and Imp Warlocks compared to other parts of ladder, but it does decently at legend. Not many players are adjusting its pre-nerf builds, which is also hurting it somewhat. Nerfed decks tend to see less refinement work done to them.
    • Aggro Druid is falling from Tier 1 at every rank bracket on ladder because of the continued decline of Ramp Druid. It’s also suffering at top legend because it struggles against Priest decks.
  • Warlock
    • Imp Warlock remains Tier 1 throughout ladder. It gets destroyed by Naga and Bless Priest but isn’t too scared of most other matchups, where it will have the advantage. One of the better choices for climbing ladder, up to the part where the number of Naga/Bless Priest becomes unbearable.
  • Shaman
    • Control Shaman looks like a very balanced deck. It’s basically impossible to counter but doesn’t counter anything relevant besides Bless Priest thanks to Primordial Wave. Naturally it would trend towards the 50% WR mark as the meta settles down.
  • Mage
    • Spooky Mage has recovered in its win rate and is hovering around 50% throughout ladder. Big-Spell Mage is producing good results despite not getting much attention. Don’t be fooled by its decline in play following its nerfs, Mage is still very competitive at every level of play.
  • Warrior
    • Warrior has gone as far as it can with Charge and Enrage Warrior. These decks are now getting destroyed by the rise of Beast Hunter, which is reversing a lot of the progress they’ve made in their attempts to become competitive. The class is close but needs a good mini-set to build on previous buffs.
  • Paladin
    • Paladin might not be the worst class in the game anymore! Amongst the garbage found within the Renathal/Control Paladin cluster, we can identify one build that shows competitive promise. Yes. Paladin might not be totally dead.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Turns out that Beast Hunter had ways to get even better. The Alternative Beast Hunter list we’ve featured last week looks straight up broken. What’s interesting is that its Imp Warlock matchup turned out to be much better than the common build despite cutting Samuro. Instead, the Hunter is greatly rewarded for having a stronger early game to pressure the Warlock and prevent it from comfortably generating curses.

Aggro Druid is the only matchup in which the new build loses about 5%, but there are gains across the board in almost every other matchup (Relic DH, Ramp Druid, Spooky Mage, All Priests, All Rogues, Control Shaman). You want to run the new build, no question.

There is a common suggestion from players that Insatiable Devourer should be cut from the deck. Our response is… devour deez nuts. You hit yourself with a big penalty by cutting both Devourers in the current format.

The Jace/Fel variant of Relic Demon Hunter didn’t start off this patch particularly well and looked inferior to the Standard builds, but this may have been the result of lack of refinement. The script has been flipped and we now recommend running it over all other builds.

McBanterFace might have been the one to make the breakthrough by including Xhilag in Felic DH. Xhilag was previously omitted from this variant, and this looks to have been an error as the colossal is an important win condition for the deck. Blademaster Okani is another card that isn’t common in the variant but probably should be. Starfish is an alternative tech choice if you’re seeing a lot of Naga/Bless Priests.

The higher you climb ladder, the better ‘Felic’ is compared to ‘Relic’. We estimate that the featured build is the best one from Platinum and above.

Cutting Kryxis from Aggro Demon Hunter looks like the correct move, and the featured build is a lot better than what the aggregated data for the archetype shows. The difference is around 2-3% in overall win rate, so Aggro DH should be close to a 50% WR when optimized. Most builds just don’t run enough 1-drops and waste their time on Kryxis, and it’s absolutely killing their performance.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Priest is becoming increasingly influential on the format, with 4 different archetypes seeing significant play.

Thief Priest is the latest strategy to emerge within the class. It’s an attrition-based strategy that looks to grind out the opponent without having a clear finisher, which is where it’s different from Quest Priest. The absence of a clear game plan and the need to pivot your lines of play according to the cards you steal or generate makes it more difficult to pilot compared to Quest Priest. It’s also highly dependent on certain matchups (Naga/Bless Priest) to see success, as it’s an extremely polarizing deck that gets destroyed by late game strategies with high inevitability (Relic DH/Ramp Druid/Spooky Mage).

There’s not much wrong in the most common build, innovated by Glory and popularized by Bunnyhoppor. No cards are outright terrible, though Brann and Murozond would be the first two cards we would cut to make way for any experimental additions.

Naga Priest remains very well positioned. Its rise in play has invited some counters, mostly coming from its own class. Bless Priest has grown stronger due to its strong matchups against both Beast Hunter and Naga Priest, the top two decks in the format. It is the only way to reliably counter Beast Hunter.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

After an additional week of data and the growth in popularity of Thief Rogue without Renathal, we can say that 30 is better than 40. The gap in power grows the higher you climb ladder, as Rogue becomes more reliant on finding its power spikes rather than survive and grind the opponent out. It seems that Renathal carries some perception of power that’s hard to shake, causing it to sneak into archetypes through inertia and without much merit.

Turns out the deck that wants to execute Jackpot/Trickster scams, wants to draw this combo more often. The 30th card is either Sprint or Denathrius. It’s very close between those two cards and it’s hard for us to decide. Denathrius is dramatically better against Mages, Quest/Thief Priests, and other Thief Rogues, but Sprint is better in most other matchups (DH, Druid, Hunter, Shaman). Yes, Denathrius works fine in a non-Renathal build and without Shadowsteps.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

There are no unexpected side effects to cutting Oracle and Ivus from Ramp Druid, so the defensive build from last week seems to function well. Aggro Druid is okay, though clearly losing some steam because meta developments are not treating it well.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Imp Warlock looks very good. While the Curse variant is the most popular one, the Denathrius variant still performs very well with the right adjustments and might be better! The general rule of thumb is that the Curse variant is stronger in slower and grindy matchups (Mage, Thief/Quest Priest), while the Denathrius variant is stronger elsewhere (Druid, Hunter, Rogue).

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

39 cards are locked down in Control Shaman, and both Murloc Holmes and Raid Boss Onyxia are good enough to be the 40th. Average game length of Control Shaman is around 9.5 turns, so Onyxia has enough uptime to be a relevant card, and she’s usually very impactful once you get there. Has good synergy with Denathrius and Devourer. Murloc Holmes looks a little better post-patch since the meta slowed down after the nerfs.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Spooky Mage has recovered and looks like a 50% win rate deck throughout ladder. 30 and 40 versions are equally viable. No changes in our recommended Big-Spell Mage list. The class doesn’t see as much play because it was nerfed, but it still functions well.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

It’s not looking good enough for Warrior. The meta seems to have left the class behind and it’s struggling to keep up, staying on the fringes of competitive viability. No further room for innovation in either Charge or Enrage Warrior. Both are flawed strategies that need new cards to compete.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Paladin might be alive after all! A new build of Control Paladin running Renathal and Denathrius popped up and is showing promise. The promise is a potential power level comparable to Control Shaman, and we do see a lot of similarities between the two decks. This build has a close matchup with Beast Hunter and Relic DH, while beating Naga and Bless Priests thanks to Equality and Righteous Defense. Knight of Anointment means you draw those key removal pieces more often. The late game is less versatile than Shaman’s, but you still have finishing potential through Lightforged Cariel, Mr. Smite and Denathrius. It’s an uninspiring but effective 40 health minion pile.

We can only imagine what would happen if a Rogue/Druid/Mage/Priest deck displayed the kind of power and matchup spread that Beast Hunter is currently displaying. That deck would probably see twice Beast Hunter’s current play rate and choke out the format.

Thankfully, Beast Hunter is a deck that runs a ‘fair’, board-based playstyle that isn’t visually striking, nor does it draw significant ire from those that lose to it. It found the perfect time to dominate, just before a mini-set that’s likely to shake up the format ahead of any talk of nerfs gathering traction. An increase in the power level of the format is also likely to temper the dominance of this deck, so we’ll have to see just how powerful the upcoming cards are.

For now, turn down the difficulty of the game and just win with this deck. The featured build is genuinely busted. Early game is more consistent with extra 1-drops. Snowballing is more consistent with Ramming Mount. Kodobane and Tracking help the deck find its good cards more often. No need for Samuro when you’re always ahead.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing all this! Do you have a recommended resource for learning what to mulligan for each of the decks? Having trouble piloting naga priest and I think I’m failing in the mulligan. Great report as always!

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