Welcome to the 254th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||25,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||146,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||102,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||111,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
Rogue may have been nerfed, but it doesn’t feel like it. While the class’ play rate has dropped from its previously extreme level, it is still the most popular class at higher levels of play, by far. Rogue has a near 30% play rate at top legend. Thief Rogue is visible throughout ladder. Miracle Rogue is mostly seen at high MMR. Both of these archetypes have dropped the mask, cutting Maestra and Gnolls for alternative options.
Mage has seen a rise in play. The class is very diverse. Big-Spell Mage is the most popular archetype within the class, though Frost Mage becomes the primary choice at top legend. Casino Mage has seen some experimentation thanks to the buffs to Vast Wisdom and Energy Shaper. Wildfire and Quest Mage have also picked up play.
Pure Paladin has gained a lot of traction post-patch, even at higher levels of play where it usually declines, likely due to its matchups against a Gnoll-less Thief Rogue and the hyped Phylactery Warlock. Dragon and Control Paladin are around in small numbers; the latter is split between normal builds and Reno builds. Don’t ask about the Reno builds.
Death Knight has seen some encouragement following the balance patch. Unholy-Aggro Death Knight has awakened with several approaches trying to take advantage of its buffs. The players’ favorite Blood-Control continues to attract most of the attention. Frost-Burn is modestly present, not forgetting the nerf to Glacial Advance that held it back slightly.
Through most of ladder, Warlock is sticking with Imps, both Curse and Curse-less. At the top legend bubble, Phylactery takes over, though the deck hasn’t gone through the meteoric rise that some expected it to.
Priest is mostly trying to take advantage of the buffs to its Undead package. We’re seeing several different takes of Undead Priest being experimented with. Fractions of Control, Quest, Svalna and Bless Priest are also seen, but none of them is gaining much traction.
Quest Demon Hunter has disappeared following the crippling nerf to Final Showdown, which was pretty much intended to kill the deck. Fel Demon Hunter has stuck around, abandoning Sinful Brand and going back to Relics. It’s split between Scythe builds and non-Scythe builds, the former being more popular. Aggro DH is also around, but Outcast DH has failed to attract much interest.
There is a greater willingness to play Evolve Shaman after the patch, making it quite noticeable throughout ladder, even at higher levels of play. Not much else is going on in the class.
Ramp Druid has declined across the board. The Astalor nerf as well as the aggressive field seem to have discouraged interest in the deck, which hasn’t been good for a while but always seemed to pull bigger play rate numbers than it could justify. Aggro Druid remains fringe.
Spitter Hunter has fallen off hard after the 2nd Spitter nerf, becoming a more fringe player in the format. The deck is now slightly less popular than Beast Hunter. Hunter is still very present on ladder but seems to have been abandoned at top legend.
A small uptick in play is all that Warrior could manage with its dedicated buffs. Control Warrior has gone full Renathal in its attempts to find a competitive build. Enrage Warrior is mostly ignored.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
With the balance changes coming last Thursday, the meta was far from settled as we got started working on the report this week. Expect to see many changes in the power of certain decks next week due to expected changes in the field and key refinement breakthroughs that we have to mention. Context is very important to these win rates right now.
- Miracle Rogue looks very competitive at top legend and very bad outside of top legend. While the deck has always been difficult to play, the disparity between rank brackets this week indicates the faster pace at which high-level players make the correct adjustments in their play according to the changes in the deck. The emerging Miracle Rogue builds that drop Wildpaw Gnolls require a slightly different approach, both in their game plan and their mulligan. Necrolord Draka has become a key win condition once again, while Sinstone Graveyard’s role has been diminished as a result of its nerf.
- This might sound like Miracle Rogue is on a trajectory of improvement that could see it reclaim its status as a Tier 1 deck at top legend once players fully optimize their play. However, the loss of Wildpaw Gnolls has made a massive difference in Miracle Rogue’s performance in some matchups that we don’t think can be overcome with ‘skill.’ Most notably, Frost Mage and Frost Death Knight, the premier burn decks of the format, give Miracle Rogue a very hard time now since Gnolls were key at preventing them from dealing early chip damage with their minions. A matchup like Pure Paladin is not as easy as it used to be either. At the same time, the removal of stealth from graveyard ghosts can also be noticed in Miracle Rogue’s matchup against slower decks running removal. The deck can survive and succeed, but it’s no longer the unstoppable force it used to be.
- Thief Rogue is not a good deck, but that’s never stopped a large number of players from playing it. Its late game is still strong, so it will perform well against defensive decks that look to grind out opponents. Still, Thief Rogue struggles against a wide spectrum of opponents, making it very unlikely that it can ever be better than a Tier 3 deck in this format. A Tier 4 placement, after the meta settles down and becomes a bit more ruthless, is not out of the question either.
- With Wildpaw Gnoll gone, Frost Mage has become the Rogue killer. It’s no surprise it is the best-performing deck at top legend, where the Rogue population is high. Its strong matchup into Pure Paladin is quite relevant too. There aren’t many opponents that give Frost Mage a very difficult time. Big-Spell Mage and Phylactery Warlock are probably the toughest. Most other opponents present very winnable matchups.
- Big-Spell Mage is looking like its normal self. Extremely powerful on the climb to legend. Takes a big dive at top legend due to a low skill ceiling. The Rogue matchups are more comfortable than they used to be, so it’s still a solid deck there.
- Wildfire Mage is much better than it looks. Players have been baited by running all sorts of Casino packages in the deck. That has had a negative impact on the archetype’s performance. It is very comfortably a Tier 2 deck when optimized. Casino is just never the way to go. If you need proof, look at how Casino Mage is doing.
- Pure Paladin is looking very strong. It is the best-performing deck outside of legend, and it’s producing strong numbers at legend too. We do think that its Tier 1 status at top legend is very temporary. A rise in Frost Mage and Frost Death Knight should be painful enough to drop it to Tier 2 or even worse. The field should catch up to it, establishing it as a ‘noob stomper’.
- There’s merit in exploring Control Paladin further. Its win rate should improve once players drop the Reno build. Seriously, drop the Reno build. Players at top legend don’t run the Reno build, and Control Paladin is very comfortably a Tier 2 deck there. Dragon Paladin doesn’t have the same room for growth unfortunately. It is much more limited.
- Early numbers for Unholy-Aggro Death Knight mean nothing. The deck has been figured out at around day 5 of the patch by Otsuna and it’s been going through a rapid rise in win rate since. From the early day 1-2 iterations looking like dumpster Tier 4 decks, Unholy-Aggro DK should establish itself as a Tier 1 deck once its refinement phase is done. Yes. Unholy. Tier 1. This is not a drill.
- Frost-Burn is also very good. It’s a good counter to Rogues now, which boosts its performance at top legend. It has a more difficult time at rank brackets where Blood-Ctrl is popular, one of its only counters. It’s a very well-rounded deck that’s only hard-countered by an obscene amount of life gain.
- Blood-Control still isn’t great. It’s strangely strongest where it’s played the least (top legend) because the field is more forgiving to the deck, but its matchup spread is still generally flawed. It might get a bit of a boost once Unholy-Aggro spikes in play. It’s a very good counter to Unholy’s refined builds.
- Phylactery Warlock looks lukewarm currently. The hype for it encouraged players to relentlessly target it in the early days of the patch, as evidenced by Pure Paladin’s popularity at top legend. It’s important to note that Phylactery Warlock has a strong matchup against Frost Mage, a deck we anticipate will spike in play after this report. If Pure Paladin goes through an expected decline, meta trends indicate that Phylactery could look significantly stronger next week. Miracle Rogue is still going to be a very problematic matchup going forward.
- Curse-Imp Warlock looks very strong at all levels of play. Its matchup spread isn’t perfect, showing weakness to burn decks that are arguably underplayed at the moment. We think it’s likely to decline in its performance to some degree, but not to the point it stops being good. Running the curse package seems to be the way to go. Imp Warlock without curses is okay, but significantly worse.
- There’s a chance Undead Priest improves its performance through refinement, but we haven’t identified a build that makes us particularly excited. It’s playable, which is a big improvement on its dumpster status before the buffs, but not great.
- Other Priest archetypes have yet to exhibit competitive potential. They are very messy, so we’re not ruling anything out, but there’s nothing to show in this report. We’ll keep wading through the garbage and try to find something next week.
- Fel Demon Hunter looks good. It’s got a solid matchup spread which should help it maintain a positive win rate at all rank brackets, as it isn’t too sensitive to meta trends. If you enjoy Souleater’s Scythe, it’s still going strong. The nerf to Final Showdown helped Fel DH, since it struggled against Quest DH.
- Aggro DH is not great. There are many better aggressive decks out there, so this one’s hard to justify playing. Outcast DH is not competitive based on its low sample size, by the way.
- Evolve Shaman is looking great throughout ladder. It might be the cleanest deck in the format in terms of refinement, so it might get a little worse as other decks catch up and figure out how they want to be built. One of our recommendations for an easy climb to legend. Other Shaman decks don’t appear relevant. Murloc Shaman is a mediocre aggressive deck.
- Druid is in a rough spot. Ramp Druid is barely playable, despite the loyal population of players that persist with it. Aggro Druid’s future isn’t looking good either if meta trends stay the way they are. The deck started well, but its win rate has been collapsing. The meta is headed in a direction that’s going to be harsh to both decks. This might be the worst Druid has looked in a very long time. Druid haters, savor the moment. It doesn’t happen often.
- Hunter is quietly performing well. Spitter Hunter is no longer the insanely oppressive deck it was at large portions of ladder before the patch, but it’s still very competitive. Beast Hunter looks like the stronger option within the class now, though it’s unlikely to gain traction because of how old it is. You can definitely have a lot of success with Hunter if you like playing these decks.
- We’re aware that very few players are likely to care about this, but Enrage Warrior looks competitive after the patch. It’s no longer limited by an intense need to be as aggressive as possible, with the slower Fire build looking like a viable option. The class is not dead.
- Control Warrior somehow got worse after its buffs. Those buffs baited players into building terrible decks, which is the reason why it almost looks like the deck was nerfed. Renathal is a trap card for the archetype.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Miracle Rogue looks to survive the balance changes by cutting the unusable package of Maestra/Gnoll and returning to the Mailbox Dancer/Draka build. Draka is very important in the current format, as Sinstone Graveyards have become less effective in some matchups, demanding an off-board source of damage since Ghosts are now vulnerable to targeted removal.
Astalor’s performance in Miracle Rogue has fallen off a cliff, and it’s now a borderline choice in the deck. If you do want to run Astalor, you can cut one Mailbox Dancer.
Thief Rogue has similarly dropped Gnolls and Maestra, though with far less success. In this deck, it’s all about finding the next best available cards (Tooth of Nefarian, Gone Fishin’). There are two very important post-nerf adjustments that most players are not aware of. Without the ability to discount Gnolls, Potion Belt is a terrible mulligan keep in this deck! Putricide has declined in its performance as well, since Gnolls were important enablers for its ability to generate immediate value. Miracle Rogue still comfortably keeps Potion Belt in the mulligan and has more tools to leverage Putricide.
Frost Mage is a fantastic deck at higher levels of play due to its strong Rogue matchups. Without Gnolls, Rogue has a much tougher time fighting off the Mage’s early-game aggression. The minion-based damage sets you up for success against a class that doesn’t have reliable sources of healing. No need to make any changes to the build, as it’s a proven winner. Nightcloak Sanctum is obviously strong because it’s good in faster matchups and becomes a relevant answer to Sinstone Graveyard at top legend.
Big-Spell Mage has the incentive to cut Arcane Defenders now that the popularity of Ramp Druid and Demon Hunter has declined. We’ll keep monitoring this, but for now, we suggest running School Teachers to make sure you’re able to cheat out Rune of the Archmage more consistently through Barbaric Sorceress and Balinda Stonehearth.
Wildfire Mage is quite strong as long as you run the “good list”. That means not getting baited by Vast Wisdom or some Casino package and sticking with the build we’ve settled on before the balance update.
- Mage Class Radar
- Frost Mage
- Big-Spell Mage
- Wildfire Mage
Pure Paladin is looking very strong after the balance changes and has even found a better standing at top legend, where it normally struggles. The deck looks like the best choice to climb to legend with. There are two equally viable approaches.
The standard build is not much different than it was before; looking to play Countess as soon as possible thanks to Order in the Court and Stonehearth Vindicator. We dislike the inclusion of For Quel’Thalas in this build since it’s such a poor draw off Vindicator. Blood Crusader is better now since Demon Hunter has declined, but the deck still struggles against Frost Death Knight and Frost Mage, two opponents that take advantage of Paladin’s tendency to hurt itself.
A new build has appeared that improves Pure Paladin’s poor matchups, shaving off some of Pure Paladin’s unfavourability against the Frost decks while also improving its performance against Evolve Shaman and Miracle Rogue. The idea is to remove Stonehearth Vindicator and go heavier at the top end with Lightforged Cariel, not looking to play Order in the Court as soon as possible. This means you’re not as strong against opponents that require the Paladin to pressure through Countess, ‘leveling’ the matchup spread to be less polarizing.
Control Paladin and Dragon Paladin are looking like reasonable options on ladder. Stay away from Reno Jackson Control Paladin builds, as they are terrible and have made the archetype look statistically worse. Dragon Paladin doesn’t have much potential to improve, so it’s as good as it gets, which is inferior to Control.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Pure Paladin
- Control Paladin
- Dragon Paladin
Blood-Control Death Knight is a little better than it was before, but still not a great deck in the format. Ironically, it’s best where it’s played the least (top legend) because of its improving Miracle Rogue matchup. Obliterate is now stronger than Asphyxiate since Sinstone Graveyard ghosts no longer have stealth. Far Watch Post is still a good card, though Venomous Scorpid is another option. You can add more disruption through Theotar and Mutanus, but their merit in an aggressive format is questionable for now.
Frost-Burn Death Knight’s small nerf of Glacial Advance is looking like a good preventative measure as its matchup spread would have been quite scary otherwise. The deck still performs very well, only struggling against massive life gain. We’ve seen no reason to change the build. Astalor is worse but still okay.
Unholy-Aggro Death Knight is finally looking like a strong deck, still going through a refinement phase which is lifting its win rate daily. Otsuna’s iteration has looked impressive. Peasant is currently looking better than Irondeep Trogg. Cutting Chillfallen Baron looks correct, as Famished Fool takes care of our need for draw. Blightfang is the best card in the deck. School Teacher gives the deck a turn 4 play and the discover effects are very valuable in the class, even in an aggressive deck.
- Death Knight Class Radar
- Blood-Ctrl Death Knight
- Frost-Burn Death Knight
- Unholy-Aggro Death Knight
Phylactery Warlock was a bit overhyped going into this patch. It’s a much better deck these days, but it still doesn’t have a great matchup spread. Its good matchups against some of the rising decks in the format could help it get better over time.
There’s not much else to discuss, but we did notice that Dar’Khan Drathir now looks like a promising inclusion in non-curse Imp Warlock. No other synergies are required. The card is just a decent 7-drop on its own.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Imp Warlock
- Curse-Imp Warlock
- Phylactery Warlock
Undead Priest has been helped by buffs to its key cards and is now looking far more competitive, though it’s not expected to be one of the best decks. Refinement could lift it closer to the 50% win rate mark.
There are two decent takes on Undead Priest that play quite differently. We might eventually split them if they continue to move away from each other in their card choices.
The first focuses on Bonecaller and the most valuable Undead minions that are strong resurrection targets as well as good minions to play with Undying Allies. Brittleskin Zombie, Haunting Nightmare and Shadowed Spirit are the best choices (Scourge Rager kinda sucks, unfortunately for us Rager enthusiasts). This build has a strong late game and can stack up a lot of pressure on the opponent’s life total through Undying Amulet and Xyrella the Devout.
The second version is more aggressive and resembles the old Shadow Priest deck from Stormwind, cutting Bonecaller and running a low curve of swarming Undead minions.
Bless Priest is ‘playable’ at top legend, but every other Priest looks bad currently.
- Priest Class Radar
- Undead Priest
- Bless Priest
Quest Demon Hunter may have died, but Fel Demon Hunter is looking great running the Spellic build that saw success before the nerf to Relic of Dimensions and the rise of Sinful Brand. There are some Fel Demon Hunters not running Souleater’s Scythe, but they’re vastly inferior.
Aggro Demon Hunter looks okay but isn’t great. Outcast Demon Hunter? Forget it. It’s got a long way to go.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Fel Demon Hunter
- Aggro Demon Hunter
Evolve Shaman is extremely successful in running the same build as it did pre-patch. Murloc Shaman is a very mediocre aggressive deck that we don’t expect to see much of. There are just better things to do.
Ramp Druid is looking quite weak, struggling against a large portion of the format. In its attempts to stay alive, it’s running Renathal. It’s not working. Aggro Druid is okay, but several aggressive decks are doing far better.
It’s almost business as usual for Hunter. Spitter Hunter has been nerfed and is certainly feeling the effect, but the deck is still quite successful, and there is no reason to give up on Shockspitter, a card that was clearly overlooked during its design. At 4 mana, it’s still one of the best cards in the deck!
Our build recommendation remains the same as before the patch. With Demon Hunter’s decline, there’s less of a reason to run Harpoon Gun/Doggie Biscuit, but if your field isn’t aggressive and you’re seeing a lot of Miracle Rogues at top legend, it can make sense.
Beast Hunter is generally looking stronger than Spitter Hunter these days. The deck is old and tired, so we don’t expect to see it gain much traction, but it’s still delivering good results for whoever’s willing to play it.
Enrage Warrior is…. strong? There are promising signs from the archetype. Its Fire variant is looking very good since there’s an incentive to slow down in some matchups. We would try out Nellie in this variant. Unfortunately, there’s not much data to refine this deck, but if it picks up ‘some’ traction, we’ll see what we can do.
Control Warrior got nerfed. The buffs were a rabbit hole, leading players to build some of the worst decks you can imagine. We’ll say this once: if Team 5 ever wants this deck to be good again, it needs a way to actively win games rather than more tools that delay its losses. It had proactive ways to win during Sunken City. It had proactive ways to win in Darkmoon Faire. It had proactive ways to win during Rise of Shadows. It had proactive ways to win back in Classic. The number of times Control Warrior strictly won by trying its best not to lose and being successful while doing so is almost zero.
Hearthstone is a game that rewards decks that try to win and there’s nothing wrong with that. Give Control Warrior a way to win.
Three decks stand out after the first 5 days of the patch.
Pure Paladin is the premier ladder climber. If you want the easiest climb to legend, look no further than The Countess to carry you there. An alternative build is also featured in case you find yourself frustrated by a potential rise of burn decks. Both are equally viable, with the Turbo Countess build potentially looking a little better outside of legend, while the Cold Blooded Cariel build offers a slightly better spread at legend.
Frost Mage is an incredible top legend choice at the moment. If high level players continue to obsess over the Rogue class, overplaying Thief Rogue the way they do, Frost Mage is an easy way to punish them. There are no Wildpaw Gnolls to bail them out anymore.
Watch out for Unholy-Aggro Death Knight. This deck’s win rate is spiking insanely hard. A Tier 1 placement is a forgone conclusion based on the pace of its improvement. It might be the most appropriate choice for the format’s Meta Breaker. If you want to play the flavor of the week, this is it.
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