Welcome to the 244th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||18,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||52,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||65,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||80,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
One of the classes most positively affected by the Hunter nerfs is Rogue, as all of its archetypes had difficulties dealing with Beast Hunter. There is a lot going on in the class, which has become the most popular at top legend. Thief Rogue, almost exclusively running Renathal, is the most popular deck within the class. We had to name change Edwin Rogue to Miracle Rogue, as an emerging build coming from China has dropped Edwin for Sprint. Secret Rogue is identified by the Vanndar build (Thief Rogues running a Secret package are counted as Thief Rogues). Shark Rogue is sneaking up at higher levels too. Rogue rivals Priest in strategic diversity now.
The most dramatic spike at all levels of play comes from Imp Warlock, which was largely tipped to become the next big thing, as its matchup spread before the patch was extremely well-rounded. It is the most popular deck throughout ladder, peaking at a 20% play rate at the high Diamond bracket. The Curse build makes up the majority of Imp Warlock builds. Not much else is going on other than the occasional Impless Curse Warlock that someone would swear is good before exhibiting a 40% win rate.
Druid displays a small rise in play. Ramp Druid is a popular deck, while Aggro Druid’s presence is more modest. Jailer experimentation in Ramp Druid seems to have picked up. We’ll see if anything changed in its performance after the patch, as Hunter tended to do well against it.
There’s a very significant rise in Mage’s popularity at higher rank brackets, with Spooky Mage once again returning to the spotlight. What’s interesting is that 30-card variants have picked up in play, especially at legend, over the 40-card variants. Renathal was most helpful in the Hunter matchup, so the nerfs seem to have shifted priorities. Big-Spell Mage can be found in smaller numbers, and is going through an opposite transformation, with Renathal variants becoming more popular. Secret Mage hasn’t made a move after the patch.
Somewhat surprisingly, Demon Hunter hasn’t picked up in play, and even declined in some rank brackets, with Aggro DH particularly shrinking in its presence. The rise of Imp Warlock may have dissuaded Relic DH from seeing more play, though we will note it’s still one of the most popular decks out there. The Jace package, as usual, is much more popular at higher ranks.
Priest hasn’t changed much. Thief and Quest Priest are relatively more common at Diamond 5 and below. At top legend, you see a lot more of Bless Priest and a bit more Naga and Boar Priest. Bless Priest was mainly utilized as a Beast Hunter counter before the patch, but it also happens to be a very strong counter to Imp Warlock, so it hasn’t lost its relevance.
Control Paladin has picked up play, while Pure Paladin has declined. There are two main build paths for Control Paladin: 1. Generic minion pile into Denathrius 2. Jailer all-in. Pure Paladins are mostly of the Dude kind.
Beast Hunter has drastically declined. We’re talking about a 75% decline at top legend and a 60% decline at high Diamond. It is still a popular deck, but its play rate is much more reasonable.
Shaman has been very quiet, with Control Shaman remaining relatively fringe. No Warrior deck has gained any significant traction post-patch at any level of play.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
- Thief Rogue doesn’t seem that strong. Even at top legend where both its play rate and win rate peak, it’s a Tier 3 performer. Its matchup spread tells the story. It tends to lose to other strategies possessing a strong late game. This makes sense considering that Renathal Thief Rogue’s late game can be very slow and inconsistent. There’s no guarantee that a 30-card build would do better, as it doesn’t see enough play to confidently evaluate, but it’s a logical next step to experiment with in order to do better in the late game. Based on our experience in other archetypes, we don’t think Renathal helps you in the Imp Warlock matchup either because of the Curse package.
- Miracle Rogue looks very powerful at the moment. However, the deck’s matchup spread is quite vulnerable with some very hard counters available in case it rises in play, so it’s likely to relax towards the 50% win rate mark. It’s been highly rewarded for its good matchup against Imp Warlock. We will note that it does have some scope for improvement considering that the hyped Chinese Sprint build is clearly not the best choice.
- Thanks to a new build, Shark Rogue exhibits Tier 2 potential at top legend, which is quite remarkable. Much like Miracle Rogue, it might encounter a more hostile environment that will lead to a decline in its performance next week, but Shark Rogue has never looked this good on ladder before. It might be time to pay attention to the most skill intensive deck in the game.
- We initially didn’t take Secret Rogue too seriously, as it seemed gimmicky, but its steady improvement in performance over time has been surprising. It’s a reasonable Tier 3 deck across ladder, and outperforms Thief Rogue outside of legend. We’re not sure how much more it can improve compared to the unrefined Thief Rogue, since its build is very solidified, but there is one clear mistake players are making.
- Imp Warlock is the best deck in the game outside of top legend, with perfect 100 Meta Scores across ladder. It does have its counters, and those counters also happen to be the best performing decks at the top end of ladder, but they aren’t played much outside of it. Miracle Rogue, Naga Priest and Bless Priest have a combined play rate of 4% at high Diamond, for example. Aggro DH and Enrage Warrior also have good matchups against Imp Warlock, but are widely ignored.
- Ramp Druid doesn’t look too hot. The decline of Beast Hunter leading to a rise in Imp Warlock is a net loss for Ramp Druid’s performance. The Defensive Ramp Druid build nearly goes 50-50 vs Curse Imp Warlock, so there is some room to optimize the archetype’s performance against the field. Ramp Druid can be flexible enough to target faster or slower matchups, but it can’t do both at the same time.
- Aggro Druid shadows Imp Warlock, being a bit worse across ladder but still looking like a Tier 1 deck that provides another answer to the greedy pairing of Ramp Druid and Relic DH. The main issue is that it doesn’t have the kind of late game that Imp Warlock possesses, so it struggles against decks with strong defensive shells like Control Paladin.
- Spooky Mage is good, and the patch has been a game changer in how it should be built. If you’re playing at legend ranks, you should never be touching Renathal. 30-card Spooky Mage flirts with Tier 1 at these ranks, while 40-card Spooky Mage is very underwhelming and brings the win rate down. Having a stronger and more consistent late game has become very important. We will also note that you gain nothing against Imp Warlock by running Renathal, because the Curse package means you cannot sit and play defensively forever. You need to counter pressure their life total. It’s a very different matchup to Beast Hunter.
- Big-Spell Mage looks even stronger than Spooky Mage. Very underrated deck, as it tends to be. Very good answer to fast Priest decks (Naga/Bless) if they ever rise in play.
- Secret Mage is not completely terrible, but there’s no good reason to play it considering how much worse it is compared to other Mage decks.
- Demon Hunter
- Both Demon Hunter decks look solid, hovering around the 50% WR across ladder. Relic DH is the late game king, beating all other late game strategies, but is far less comfortable when it gets pressured or blown out early. Aggro DH has good matchups against other aggressive decks, but struggles against the defensive tools of Mage and Paladin specifically. Both decks are very happy to see Hunter’s decline.
- We’re once again living in a world where Naga Priest is a Tier 1 deck across ladder and not many players care to play it. It’s a great counter to Imp Warlock. It performs well into Druid and Demon Hunter. It doesn’t get completely destroyed by strategies that target Bless Priest. It’s a less polarizing deck.
- Bless Priest is mostly powerful at the upper end of ladder. It’s the hardest counter to Imp Warlock, and it beats the other Imp Warlock counters. Basically, Bless Priest is the Tier 1 deck that beats the other Tier 1 decks. The issue is that if you really want to, you can completely destroy it with oppressive counters such as Big-Spell Mage, Control Paladin, Quest/Thief Priest or Control Shaman.
- Quest Priest might be feeling its return to a niche counter role, especially at higher levels of play where it destroys Naga/Bless Priest as well as Miracle Rogue. However, it’s still a very weak to strong later game strategies such as Relic DH, (30) Spooky Mage and Ramp Druid, It also loses to Imp Warlock, keeping it in Tier 3 across ladder.
- Thief Priest is very similar to Quest Priest, but way worse. It’s a more difficult deck to play, but it’s also a more difficult deck to win with, because it’s not good. Unless you’re TicTac.
- Boar Priest performed well at the recent MT and also looks reasonable on ladder, with an estimated win rate close to 50% at top legend.
- Control Paladin is legit. Solid performance across ladder, with a very balanced matchup spread that only shows significant weakness to Relic DH and Quest Priest. This is also one of the least refined archetypes in the game, so its scope for improvement is high and there are some interesting developments worth mentioning in this report regarding its best builds.
- Pure Paladin looks underwhelming, and could decline in its performance since it has very little room for growth. The inferior option in the class.
- Beast Hunter is doing more than fine. It is a Tier 1 deck outside of legend, remaining one of the best choices for the climb. It maintains a positive win rate at legend, though it looks far more reasonable and balanced there. The nerfs toned it down without destroying its competitive viability. While it remains very strong at lower ranks, it’s not out of control like it was before the patch, when it was nearing a 60% win rate at Platinum and below. This should be considered a success.
- You would think Control Shaman was struggling based on its play rate, but it looks very competitive across ladder. The most noticeable weakness is its late game. Renathal decks are successful in the format, but they clearly struggle whenever they face a more consistent late game strategy. Ramp Druid is the only Renathal deck that shows major late game prowess thanks to Wildheart Guff unlocking options that other classes don’t have access to. As a Shaman, you’re not too happy meeting a Demon Hunter, Druid or Mage on ladder.
- Enrage Warrior is a bit of a sleeper considering its refined form is Tier 2 (it should get there by next week). The Beast Hunter nerfs massively helped the deck. It has great matchups against Imp Warlock, Relic DH, Aggro Druid and Ramp Druid. We do wonder if Enrage Warrior shares a similarity to Naga Priest, which is that players don’t find it fun or appealing to play, leading to its low play rate.
- Charge Warrior is trying to hang onto a Tier 3 placement. That’s probably as good as it gets, so we don’t expect much from the archetype moving forward. Control Warrior remains unplayable.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Rogue has been rejuvenated by the Hunter nerfs and looks competitive through a variety of strategies.
Thief Rogue has shot up in popularity with a large majority of builds running Renathal. A secret package seems to work reasonably well in Renathal builds, with 4 secrets (Perjury, Double Cross), Private Eye and Ghastly Gravedigger. Sprint has also shot up in value over Blood in the Water. Theotar is always included yet looks like the worst card in the deck.
One thing we can notice about Thief Rogue is its weakness in the late game. It tends to lose to most late game strategies (Relic DH, Ramp Druid, Spooky Mage), which makes the popularity of Renathal even more curious, as it dilutes Rogue’s best tools in these matchups. We’d like to see more data on 30-card Thief Rogue builds, running Serrated Bone Spike and Sprint, which work well together.
A non-Thief Secret Rogue running Vanndar and Field Contact has already started to appear before the patch and looks somewhat competitive now. Crabatoa is bizarrely omitted from this archetype. We think cutting one secret to make way for it is possible. Theotar isn’t as bad in this deck as it is in Thief Rogue because of the Vanndar discount potential.
Miracle Rogue looks very powerful at higher levels of play. A build cutting Edwin for Sprints has emerged following the Master’s Tour, a popular choice amongst Chinese players. However, all indications are that the Edwin variant is superior. Sprint does make Stenographers better, but Stenographers are hardly necessary for the deck’s success, with Sinister Strikes appearing to be at least equally effective (if not better) in the Edwin build.
Shark Rogue might be hitting peak form in the aftermath of the balance changes. A novel build from Capilano running Auctioneers appears to be drastically stronger than previous Edwin iterations. It might not necessarily be the Auctioneers that are the reason for this success, but just the presence of a more consistent form of draw compared to the nerfed Edwin and better synergy with Stenographers. It’s interesting that Miracle Rogue wants to run Edwin, yet Shark Miracle Rogue appears to benefit from cutting it.
Sprint may also work well, as suggested by J_Alex. We think this new Shark Rogue variant could hit Tier 2 at top legend once it’s refined.
Bomb Rogue is very likely to function well at higher levels of play, but the attention on Miracle Rogue appears to overshadow it, so it doesn’t get much traction.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Thief Rogue
- Secret Rogue
- Miracle Rogue
- Shark Rogue
- Bomb Rogue
Imp Warlock is very, very good. You will experience a higher difficulty running this deck at top legend, where its counters are far more prevalent, but the deck experiences a very comfortable climb to legend.
After the decline of Beast Hunter, we’ve noticed Okani and Denathrius perform slightly better in the Vanilla variant. Curse Imp Warlock tends to be stronger at legend ranks, while the Vanilla build is better at Bronze through Gold. Their performance levels are close at Platinum/Diamond.
Ramp Druid is not enjoying the current format, as some of the best performers happen to be Ramp Druid’s biggest counters. Still, there’s some room for flexibility with the decline of Beast Hunter.
First, we’ve noticed a spike in The Jailer’s performance in Ramp Druid. The card went from “unplayable” to “decent” after the patch, which surprised even us. Finley started to pop up too, and it looks very good in the deck. We suggest cutting Kelpkeepers in the Defensive Ramp Druid build to accommodate Finley/Jailer. This is likely the best build for the archetype on ladder, as it handles some of Druid’s most difficult matchups better. We do wonder if Ambassador Faelin is ever a good idea here, but we obviously have no data for it (read Paladin section for why we would suggest Faelin).
There is a viable, slightly worse alternative in which we abandon defensive cards for more greed. Druid of the Reef, Spammy Arcanist and Attorney-at-Maw make way for Naga Giants, Oracle of Elune, Mutanus and Ivus. This approach makes the deck drastically more competitive against Relic DH, dominates the mirror and is generally very scary for any deck that looks to challenge Druid in the late game. Naturally, aggressive matchups are going to be painful.
No changes for Aggro Druid. Composting has only gotten better after the patch.
- Druid Class Radar
- Ramp Druid
- Aggro Druid
Things have completely flipped for Spooky Mage. Before the patch, the Renathal variant was superior on ladder due to its stronger matchup against Beast Hunter. But after the patch, there is a greater importance to late game consistency. Medium Spooky Mage is about as good as XL Spooky Mage around Diamond ranks, but completely blows it out of the water at legend ranks and is the only competitive choice at top legend, where Renathal is borderline unplayable (!).
If you do decide to run XL Spooky, add Multicasters to the deck by cutting Theotar and Sivara. The absence of draw can be game losing against other late game strategies. Theotar is only good in the mirror now (since you can steal a card that works in your deck) and against Paladin (because of Order in the Court). It seems to be a bad card in every other popular matchup on ladder.
Big-Spell Mage has experienced a complete transformation last week with Habugabu popularizing the Renathal variant, which did a better job at combating Beast Hunter. If there was a report last week, we would have recommended running Renathal.
Following the patch, the power gap has shrunk and it’s a bit more difficult to say what’s better considering that the 30 build is not adjusted to the new format. Smothering Starfish and Spammy Arcanist have fallen in power, while Theotar wasn’t even good before the nerf, and now it’s particularly terrible yet auto-included. We suggest running School Teachers or Suspicious Alchemists for the final two slots until people actually decide to play Naga Priest and then Starfish makes sense again.
The Renathal build is a bit more forgiving in its card choices (Theotar stays). We took Habugabu’s original build and dropped Murloc Holmes for Denathrius. Very likely that Denathrius works well in a minion-dense deck with Renathal.
Secret Mage is the worst Mage deck, but it’s not terrible after the patch. We updated the build to omit Explosive Runes, so that Magister Dawngrasp always casts Wildfire.
- Mage Class Radar
- Spooky Mage
- Big-Spell Mage
- Secret Mage
Relic Demon Hunter should still be running the Fel package. It’s stronger everywhere above Platinum. There are two slots up for grabs that can include Finley, Aldrachi Warblades, Mel’Tranix and Okani.
Finley is generally good across the board. It only started to pop up after the patch and we like it a lot. Aldrachi Warblades is good against Mages and Rogues since they often try to burn you down. Mel’Tranix shines against Rogues and Priests. Okani is most powerful against Hunters and Druids.
Aggro Demon Hunter hasn’t changed. Most players are running the featured Dreadprison build.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Relic Demon Hunter
- Aggro Demon Hunter
There are no noteworthy developments regarding Priest builds. Naga, Bless & Boar Priest are fully refined. Theotar stays in Quest & Thief Priest.
- Priest Class Radar
- Quest Priest
- Thief Priest
- Naga Priest
- Bless Priest
- Boar Priest
Control Paladin is a serious meta contender at this point. The Denathrius build appears to be the best one. Spammy Arcanist is a relatively recent addition that looks very good. We strongly disagree with running one copy of Famished Fool. It should be two every time. One Azsharan Mooncatcher is enough to provide Varian consistency, while Seafloor Savior is a filler 2-drop that’s not particularly good outside of the Mooncatcher synergy. You shouldn’t be aiming hard for that synergy anyway.
There is an alternative build that’s not much worse, and it runs The Jailer. Thijs has figured out a way to make the card work in Paladin by adding Ambassador Faelin. This doesn’t just delay your fatigue after playing Jailer, but you get more immune threats to put on the board and checkmate your opponent. We did make some tweaks to Thijs’ build. Wild Pyromancers are terrible outside of Equality usage, while Bunker Sergeant and Spammy Arcanist are better standalone cards that can combo with Equality. Bunker Sergeant is amazing against Fiendish Circle, specifically. Stonehearth Vindicator doesn’t do much in this deck, and we’d rather have more healing. Healing is game winning post-Jailer and Lightforged Cariel. Reno Jackson and 2nd copy of Holy Maki Roll are added instead.
Pure Paladin is unexciting. Going Dude is best, but don’t expect amazing results, especially at higher levels of play.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Control Paladin
- Pure Paladin
The nerfs to Beast Hunter haven’t changed our recommended build, which runs School Teachers and Insatiable Devourers. There is an alternative Tarantula build that’s much better against specifically Bless Priest, but the standard list is generally stronger and more well-rounded on ladder.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Beast Hunter
- Quest Hunter
Control Shaman hasn’t changed either. Theotar got noticeably weaker, but it still makes the cut as it fits with the deck’s disruption plan. Not much else is going on. Murloc Shaman is out there in small numbers, but it’s not very good outside of the low MMR brackets.
Enrage Warrior’s refined build is strong. Players either don’t know it, or don’t care. Charge Warrior got better following the Hunter nerfs, but it still doesn’t seem great.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Enrage Warrior
- Charge Warrior
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