vS Data Reaper Report #25

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from over 53,000 games.

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Data Reaper Report LogoWelcome to the 25th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

We have a group stage recap on the Hearthstone World Championship! You can check it out here.

For your convenience, this report has been translated into the following languages: português, русский, français, español, 中文, deutsch, and 한국어.

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Number of Games

Overall 53,000
Ranks Legend-10 36,000
Ranks 11-15 9,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

drr-25-class-distribution-all-ranks

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Class Frequency by Week

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  1. Finally, a plateau! The increase in Midrange Shamans has halted. Despite it being the most powerful archetype in the game by a large margin, the player base refuses to base its deck choices solely on power, and looks to experiment and find ways to circumvent Shaman’s advantages on an individual level. Thankfully, Hearthstone players do not follow a Nash Equilibrium. Otherwise, Shamans would literally be everywhere.
  2. Hunter jumps forward to establish itself as the second most played class in the game. Its Secret based archetypes are showing further growth and at this point, it’s well recognized that the class has a strong place in the Meta, with Face Hunter being one of the only decks in the game that can trade punches with Midrange Shaman and stay standing.
  3. Warlock has seen a surge in play on the back of recent ladder success with the Zoo archetype. We believe the archetype has been underrated for a while, with many players focused on its bad matchup against Shaman and Warrior rather than its good matchups against many other popular decks on ladder. The bottom line is that against the current matrix of opponents, Zoo still wins more often than it loses.

Matchup Win Rates Header

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Power Rankings Header

We now present the updated “vS Power Rankings” table for week # 25. The numbers we report are the expected win rates of each archetype based on their matchups against the field, factoring in the frequency of all potential opponents on ladder at different rank groups over the past week.

drr-25-power-rankings

  1. With the player base reluctant to counter Midrange Shaman with one of its worst matchups, Midrange Shaman, the archetype is continuing to grow in strength against the field and has once again crossed the 55% win rate mark. With no ability of the Meta to correct itself effectively, we don’t expect this to change until an influx of cards, balance changes, or a combination of both, arrive.
  2. Hunter is starting to be kept in check, which we anticipated in some degree. Face Hunter, like many other aggressive all-in decks, can catch people off guard when not accounted for, but when it starts becoming more common, the response from the opponent will usually be more effective. Hunter is still a very strong class, in a healthy position of being good without being oppressive.
  3. As we’ve said earlier, up until very recently, Zoo Warlock has been the ladder sleeper hit deck. It has great matchups against many common opponents in the Meta: Tempo Mage, Hunter and Druid. This offsets its struggles against Shaman and Warrior, and puts it at a strong overall position in the Meta. We’ve noticed it’s also gone through a slight internal uptick in its performance, which is likely a result of the recent refinement it’s been going through.
  4. Control Warrior is starting to collapse. Over the past few weeks, it lost its advantage against Midrange Shaman. Its struggles against any Hunter deck that plays Savannah Highmane is well documented. In addition, it also falters against decks that pack strong minions as well as burst damage, such as Spell Druid, Tempo Mage and Miracle Rogue. Overall, it is an archetype that is currently not well positioned in the Meta and is very susceptible to being countered. Many high level players are also beginning to shift away from it in the tournament scene.
  5. The Power Ranking table shows how balanced the Meta would be in a world where Midrange Shaman is not so potent. There are many viable decks hovering around the 50% mark, and many other decks would be there as well if not for one archetype keeping them down. It doesn’t feel like it when you grind your way up the ladder, but we’re deceptively close to a balanced game. There’s just one clear problem.

Class Analysis

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

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Is the majority of the Hearthstone community tired of seeing this one deck, Midrange Shaman, dominating ladder play? Probably. It’s a very strong deck against the current Meta and refining it further just gives it that extra edge. Continuing the report on the World Championship, some of the players that brought teched-out decks got through to the top 8, such as Amnesiac with his unique Kobold list as well as Dr.Hippi featuring Defender of Argus, though many players changed their lists for the top 8. Gaara altered Amnesiac’s original list by adding Harrison instead of Rag, which improves the mirror matchup further, and made it to #1 legend. Eloise has also achieved a high ranking finish with a slightly different list utilizing one Kobold. It appears that the Kobold Geomancers add further fuel and consistency to the AOE spells at Shaman’s disposal (as well as Spirit Claws), which gives it the advantage in the mirror, where a well-placed Lightning Storm or Maelstrom Portal is critical to victory.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

This week, VLPS piloted a new variant of Secret Hunter to top 100. The deck cuts Infested Wolves and Houndmasters in favor of Horseriders and Explosive Traps, while still including the midrange endgame of Savannah Highmane and Ragnaros. In addition, the deck opts for one copy of both snipe and snake trap, bringing the total secret count up to eight. With this many secrets, the deck is able to utilize Cloaked Huntress more consistently and back up the early pressure by dropping a Highmane. Additionally, with the removal of Houndmasters, which were beginning to appear in many midrange secret decks, Barnes has zero bad targets to hit. This build’s purpose is to maintain a decent matchup against Shaman, much like Face Hunter variants, while also not getting rolled over by Control Warriors.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Very little has changed in terms of ladder representation for Warrior. It falls further behind Hunter in competing for the number two spot, though its overall share of the Meta remains almost the same. Control Warrior still leads the pack while C’Thun Warrior is the big winner, jumping ahead of Pirate Warrior and Dragon Warrior. C’Thun Warrior’s advantages over Control Warrior are a better matchup against Spell-based Druid decks as well as a favored matchup against Control Warrior itself.

Some C’Thun Warrior lists have experimented with leaving out Doomcaller, considering it unnecessarily clunky in faster matchups and finding that Elise Starseeker is enough to have a chance of winning slower matchups. On the Control Warrior side, Hoej managed to pilot his Dragon Control Warrior to top 100 this week, proving the deck is somewhat viable, though it remains inferior to the more popular N’Zoth, Yogg-Saron and Vanilla variants. Meanwhile, there is little change in the standard lists for Dragon and Pirate Warrior, with both decks seeming to have been mostly figured out, though Dr.Hippi’s Dragon Warrior build for the top 8 at Blizzcon is certainly unconventional.

In the tournament scene, which is currently dominated by Blizzcon, it turns out it may have been a mistake after all to bring a lineup without Warrior, with all three players who decided against bringing the class failing to qualify for the top 8, and Warrior enjoying a 57% win rate so far in the tournament. C’Thun Warrior in particular seems to have found success, with all 4 C’Thun Warrior players advancing. Warrior, as it turns out, is always a safe pick to bring to an event, though HotMEWOTH has thrown safe out the window by bringing Rage’s relatively untested Blood Warrior deck to the top 8. This deck is almost non-existent on ladder and it will be exciting to see how it fares at the biggest stage of them all.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Tempo Mage continues to perform relatively well on ladder. APXvoiD finished top 50 in October with his burn centric Tempo Mage build. In the group stage of the World Championship, where 10 of the 16 players brought Tempo Mage, the archetype was consistent, and performed very well throughout. It is quite flexible, and as a result, difficult to target and shut out. HotMEOWTH even went as far as banning OmegaZero’s Tempo Mage while leaving up Shaman and Druid, which ended up working out well for him.

Freeze Mage, on the other hand, still only has modest presence on ladder. Freeze Mage is very good when you face Midrange Shamans and Zoo Warlock, but it is very weak against Hunter, Druid, Warrior, and Tempo Mage. This polarizing nature makes Freeze risky to play, unless the particular individual performs significantly better than the rest of the field, and even in these cases, it’s hard to justify running Freeze.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

It hasn’t been the best week for Druids. Secret Hunter has seen an increase in play on ladder and Druid struggles to deal with the deck’s early pressure, especially from an early Cat Trick. Zoo, which is historically one of Druid’s worst matchups, has also seen more play this week due to Ant and Bearnugget hitting #1 legend with the deck. Also, Shaman unsurprisingly remains at the top of play which is another matchup Druid can struggle against. A big part of improving these matchups is learning to mulligan against these decks. With the right pilot, Druid can still be extremely effective on ladder.

There hasn’t been much in new decks for Druid because the Meta has been pretty stale as of late. We start with the weekly Xixo netdeck, who is the best source for both building Malygos Druid correctly as well as playing it. If you are running into a lot of weapon classes, you can consider swapping the Bloodmage Thalnos for Harrison Jones. Malygos Druid is extremely flexible so there are many ways to build it, but as long as the core cards are there, it should be a strong ladder deck.

At Blizzcon Opening Week, Druid had one of the lowest winrates of the tournament. Malygos Druid struggled to find wins in some series and OmegaZero’s Token Druid got reverse sweep by Pavel. However, many high level players argued that Druid struggled due to the poor play rather than the deck being weak, with which we can agree to some extent as some errors were made by the deck’s pilots during the event. Spell Druid can be an extremely tough archetype to master, even for high level players, but can be equally rewarding to the right player. Overall, it’s a fun and challenging deck that’s worth learning.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

There are a lot of positives and negatives coming from Warlock this week. While the class underperformed at the Hearthstone World Championship, Zoo Warlock has found reasonable success on ladder. Even though the basic shell of Discard Zoo has been well established over the past few weeks, players’ tech choices have altered its success. This is most evident from Bearnugget’s Zoo list where notable players, Ant and Bearnugget, both hit #1 legend throughout the season. The tech choice of Crazed Alchemist is included over a second copy of Direwolf Alpha. The card is flexible in finding use by self-buffing minions, killing Shaman totems, and removing Doomsayers, which are key in the matchup against Freeze Mage, a deck that has seen a rise in play to answer the prevalence of Mid-Range Shamans.

Renolock still seems to be a poor choice on ladder as its favorable matchup against Control Warrior is just not enough to hold relevance compared to its bad matchups across the board. The deck has also seen zero representation during the HWC thus far. Of those that brought Zoo to the HWC, only JasonZhou and Che0nsu advanced to the top 8, though the deck is being given faith by many players who advanced to the top 8, due to its good matchup against Tempo Mage and Druid.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Despite low expectations from the community and pros alike, Rogue managed to get the highest win rate out of the 9 classes represented in the Hearthstone World Championship group stage. It should, however, be noted that the sample size is low and the only thing we can really say is how strong Rogue is at targeting specific decks. In a ladder environment, Rogue is still in a very peculiar spot as it has clearly defined strengths, but also exploitable weaknesses.

Malygos Miracle Rogue hasn’t seen any noteworthy development this week, but it still remains a strong deck for picking off Druids, Control Warriors, the occasional Reno Warlocks, Priests and Paladins. However, Valeera struggles to put up a real fight against face and burn-centric decks like Face Hunter, Pirate Warrior and the more aggressive versions of Discard Zoo Warlock and Tempo Mage.

Questing Miracle Rogue remains stagnant as well. While it is the stronger version of the Miracle archetype when it comes to fending off aggro decks, it can still get awkward draws and get run over by fast decks. Cards like Swashburglar, Argent Squire and Southsea Deckhand are all techs that can give the deck that early drop it so desperately needs.

Several Rogue experts have deviated from the common builds during the last weeks of October. MrYagut tried climbing high ranks on the EU server with a more traditional, board-centric build that includes Violet Teacher. Casie, another well-known Rogue specialist, decided to bring back the Southsea Deckhand + Faceless Manipulator combo, which landed him into Top 30 on EU with a whopping 21-5 record.

We would, however, advise to go for the less greedy builds in the opening weeks of ladder as the Meta will presumably be very aggressive and unforgiving towards Rogue.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Step aside, Ben Brode. Fall back, Kolento. Kneel down, Zetalot. We have our new overlord, and his name his Hamster. For those Priest fans living under a rock, Hamster managed to advance past the group stage to the top 8 of Blizzcon, with Priest included in his line up. The N’Zoth Control variant he piloted seems to be holding its own, and might be worth your time.

Outside of this variant, we mostly see a huge matrix of experimentation. Zetalot voiced some confidence in a Shadowform spell Priest deck with some interesting card choices. Similar to the Rage Purify list, these sorts of lists perform best when they’re still secret to the majority of the public, so enjoy it while you can! The Dragon Priest landscape has stayed relatively the same. JAB and Gaara have shown to have quite a bit of success with their variants, and they can be pretty easy to tech to what you are seeing on the ladder.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Paladin continues to struggle in the ladder Meta as its poor matchups remain largely unchanged in their popularity. The class struggles with finding early game board control, relying too heavily on drawing Doomsayer and Truesilver Champion early on. The popularity of Midrange Shaman has especially hurt the N’Zoth build, as Hex removes both the current threat and weakens the impact of playing N’Zoth later on. Anyfin remains the most popular Paladin archetype, likely because of its favorable matchup against the popular Control Warrior, as well as it as its stronger cycle which can help draw answers against aggressive decks more consistently.

In tournament news, Hamster, the sole player who brought Paladin to the World Championship Group Stage, successfully piloted his Anyfin-N’Zoth Paladin to victory this past week, even winning two traditionally unfavorable matchups against Malygos Druid and Tempo Mage to qualify for a top 8 spot. Though Hamster sported an interesting hybrid list, the Anyfin parts of his list were largely insignificant since the Murloc cards played had little impact on his games compared to the standard N’Zoth pieces. All in all, it was a tournament success for Paladin as Hamster did not struggle to take a win in each of his matches.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

The Meta Breaker of this week will be the announcement of the new expansion at Blizzcon. With the Meta growing stale, there’s definitely a need for change. Midrange Shaman is overpowered by every metric imaginable and the archetype needs to be toned down. We’re hoping the expansion releases soon after Blizzcon, but if it doesn’t, a balance change to some prime offenders, such as Thing From Below, will be welcomed as well.

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,700 contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.

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Contributors

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

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6 Comments

  1. A question on the Nash Equilibrium comment: Do you mean that the Standard Meta is not, in fact, a Nash Equilibrium (i.e. every viable ladder deck is optimal against all the other viable ladder decks, which seems clearly not to be the case) or that players are not actually trying to achieve a Nash Equilibrium (meaning they can still change their decks to gain an edge or that they don’t care if they’re not being optimal against as many strategies as possible)?

    In short, are you saying a lot of players are playing heavily tuned lists against midrange shaman…even if it hurts their odds against the rest of the meta in the long run?

    • The comment is that if the ladder were to follow a Nash Equilibrium, everybody would just play Shaman. What they mean is that most Hearthstone players are playing the game to enjoy themselves to some extent and try to innovate and come up with new answers to the current meta, so people are not always going to just play the optimal strategy for ladder, which, in the case of the current meta-state, they argue, is pretty much Midrange Shaman.This is an oversimplification, of course. Freeze Mage has a positive matchup against Midrange Shaman and Face Hunter, Control Warrior, and Renolock are close to 50-50. So I guess they could be saying that both the ladder will not be able to follow a Nash Eq and that players will not be “rational” enough for it ever to reach a Nash Equilibrium.

      Even ignoring a Hearthstone player’s desire to have fun and do things that are theoretically sub-optimal, Hearthstone ladder will never be in a state of equilibrium unless there is a deck whose worst matchup is the mirror, or the best viable decks have 50% winrates against each other. Even then, this ignores the idea that you must be somewhat familiar with your opponent’s deck to perform against it a lot of the time. For example, if everyone only played shaman for 3 months, and then one player started playing Warrior, the Warrior would do dis-proportionally well because everyone would have their decks and mulligans tailored for the Shaman matchup.

  2. tier-1 and tier-2 decks is tempo and face decks. Control warrior is tier-4 deck… C’tun druid is more powerful than c’tun warrior… Pirate warrior is tier-2 deck…That things really hurts me, why you gave them so strange rating?

    • Yes, i know that tempo and face decks is powerful but NOT ONLY face decks make sense and can be in tier-1 and tier-2.

  3. Trackobot this very weak with that delimitation of decks a few archetypes and we can not even crear our decks to have better monitoring, not counting the times you fall the wrong way.

    • just use HSTracker and make it broadcast your results to your trackobot account so that their api can be used by VS to get all the data. I agree, trackobot sucks as your personal tracker – believe me, HSTracker is way better and the sync between it and your trackobot account works flawlessly

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