Welcome to the 257th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||34,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||13,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||90,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||132,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
Though Death Knight remains the most popular class on ladder, the class has very clearly declined in play since the patch. Frost-Aggro Death Knight has fallen to a very reasonable play rate of well under 10% across all ladder brackets. Blood-Ctrl continues to be a popular deck but is seen less and less as you climb ladder. Unholy-Aggro has popped up again, attempting to provide an aggressive alternative to Frost. Frost-Burn is fading away.
The biggest story might belong to Undead Priest. The deck has spiked in play after the nerfs, which directly impacted its two biggest counters of the previous format: Death Knight and Evolve Shaman. Its play rate peaks at legend, where Priest also becomes the most popular class in the game. Many of Undead Priest’s emerging counters in the new format come from its own class because of the availability of Shard of the Naaru and a strong package of healing. Control Priest, Quest Priest and Svalna Priest are slightly popping up. Even Bless Priest has re-appeared. There’s a lot going on.
Rogue has changed a little bit. Thief Rogue continues to display its familiar play pattern at top legend, while Miracle Rogue seems to have been released from Frost-Aggro DK’s shackles and becomes more visible too.
Pure Paladin is making a bit of a comeback. This is one of the decks that was suffering the most at the hands of Frost-Aggro DK, so the balance changes have been very helpful. In addition, a return of ramping Druids to the scene has given this deck another purpose: targeting Guff. Another deck that seems to be emerging is Pure-Control Paladin. It’s a conceptually different deck that doesn’t look to cheat out the Countess as soon as possible through Order in the Court, instead playing a more patient game while utilizing the defensive tools of Control Paladin.
A month or so before United in Stormwind’s retirement to Wild, one of the least competitive questlines in Standard has found a competitive purpose. Rake has encouraged Ramp Druid to embrace Lost in the Park. The new Quest Druid has made an impact, with its secondary win condition complementing the primary Brann/Astalor/Anub finisher. Old Ramp Druid builds are fading away.
The decline in play of Frost-Aggro DK has helped other aggressive decks come out of their hiding, no longer severely restricted by Construct Quarter. Imp Warlock is another example. Players still try to make Chad Warlock work, while Phylactery Warlock keeps a small presence at top legend after the Goldshire Gnoll nerf.
Mage suffered at the hands of Frost-Aggro DK, so the class is looking in better shape, but players aren’t too quick to pick up the class since the established Mage archetypes don’t bring anything new to the table. It’s Big-Spell, Frost and Wildfire.
Demon Hunter seems to be coming back alive, with its major presence mostly limited to legend ranks at the moment. We’ve split the two major variants apart. There is the Scythe-utilizing Spell DH and the Scythe-less Fel DH. Fel DH is significantly more popular.
Hunter, Shaman and Warrior are currently ignored by high-level players, which means there’s not much going on with them. Evolve Shaman seems to have been completely destroyed by the nerf to Goldshire Gnoll while no traction is found with alternatives. Hunter sees very little play through Spitter, Quest and some attempts at various Beast builds. Warrior has been completely forgotten.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
- Undead Priest looks like a strong deck at the start of this patch, but we believe it’s a good deck to have in the format and we have no concerns over its power. This is no meta tyrant or anything close to that. There are plenty of developing counters to the archetype and plenty of existing decks can improve their performance against it with optimized card choices. Once you evaluate Undead Priest’s standing against a theoretically optimized format, it doesn’t really dominate. It tends to farm wins off of weak decks, which made it really good on the first couple of days, but if those lesser decks decline in play as they usually do, Undead Priest will find it harder to pick up those easy wins. One thing it has going for it is that it’s not yet refined itself, so there’s some room for improvement that can help it hold up as the field catches up. A drastic fall in performance is not currently observed.
- Control Priest is cooking up a response to Undead Priest. This is one of the most effective counters to the popular deck, though Control Priest does have a polarizing matchup spread, which makes it very dependent on finding its prey. We don’t anticipate it doing better than Tier 3 at high MMR brackets.
- Quest Priest is a bit more stable and easier to play than Control Priest, so it’s more accessible to players at lower ranks, but similar issues exist. It’s very matchup dependent so can deliver inconsistent results over a small run of games.
- Svalna Priest seems like another niche counter to Undead Priest that’s much more difficult to play than Control or Quest Priest. It’s likely to maintain a small presence at top legend, but it’s too early to figure out where it stands in terms of power. Currently sitting at a Tier 3-ish win rate, there is still time for a delayed high skill ceiling win rate spike to occur. It’s a common phenomenon with these decks as players take time to learn them, so we’ll wait.
- Bless Priest is performing really well at top legend. As it stands, it’s performing at a Tier 1 level, but it gets countered by defensive Priest decks even harder than Undead Priest, so might suffer some collateral damage.
- Frost-Aggro DK still looks like a good deck, but it’s much more fair with a 4 mana Construct Quarter. As one of the better ladder climbers out there, it’s likely to become more popular than it currently is, but its matchup spread is no longer absurd. There are some real counters out there, some of them overlapping as Undead Priest counters too. The nerf did its job and concerns that it wasn’t a big enough nerf can lay to rest.
- Unholy-Aggro DK looks fine. The decline of Frost-Aggro helped it a lot, even though the Construct Quarter directly affected it too. The problem is that Unholy still looks worse than Frost in most rank brackets, while losing the direct matchup. The exception is top legend, where Unholy currently outperforms Frost because of the rise of Demon Hunter and Druid there.
- Blood-Ctrl looks rough. Not only did the nerf to Quarter hit it hard, the meta has gone in a hostile direction for it. Undead Priest is a tough matchup. The rise of Demon Hunter and Druid does not bode well for the future. Despite its persistent popularity, Blood looks unplayable at higher rank brackets.
- Thief Rogue continues to look pretty bad relatively to how popular it is. The matchup against Undead Priest is fine and can be further improved by running Ransack, but outside of decent matchups against defensive decks, it doesn’t have too much going for it.
- Miracle Rogue Tier 1 at top legend again? The nerfs to Evolve Shaman and Frost-Aggro DK have been huge here and the early expansion menace is looking to make a big comeback. As it currently stands, Miracle Rogue is on its way to seize the #1 spot, but it might be targeted more aggressively if it gets popular. Ghosts not having stealth means that Miracle Rogue is vulnerable to targeted removal, so we’ll see how the field evolves in the case it jumps in play. Some of the Undead Priest counters are quite effective against Miracle Rogue too.
- Deathrattle Rogue is very underrated and underplayed. You’re looking at another Tier 1 performer in the Rogue class based on its limited sample size. Jambre is no false prophet.
- Pure Paladin is looking good and it’s likely to remain a very dominant strategy at low rank brackets. It stomps at Bronze though Platinum. This pure deck does seem to have a tough time dealing with the dirty Undead. The matchup against aggressive Death Knights is still very difficult, while Undead Priests are also a problem. History suggests this deck’s low skill ceiling eventually exposes it to some degree and we can already see a win rate fall brewing up at high MMR’s. Unless Quest Druid blows up further, Pure Paladin will be a middling deck at best there.
- Pure-Control Paladin is generally inferior to Standard Pure but seems to be a better deck at higher levels of play. It’s a good answer to Undead Priest and Frost-Aggro DK. Its role is very similar to Control Priest, utilizing removal and life gain to outlast opponents, though it’s a bit more proactive thanks to The Countess.
- Once again, Druid is establishing itself as the late game king thanks to Wildheart Guff and the Astalor combo, though this now comes inside a survivability package with the Druid questline. The big upside of Quest Druid is that it doesn’t roll over to just any aggressive deck. In fact, it beats decks that are highly reliant on burn. For example, Frost-Aggro DK and Frost Mage struggle against it. In order to counter Quest Druid, you need to develop an extremely dominant board that snowballs hard, so you’re looking at Pure Paladin, Imp Warlock and Miracle Rogue as the hard counters. It seems impossible to have a favored matchup against Quest Druid if you let the game go late. The matchup spread is quite scary and is only held back by these counters.
- Imp Warlock is having a much better time. Aggressive Death Knights and Undead Priests are the tough matchups, but the deck is positioned well otherwise. Snowballing the board is very important in the current meta, especially when taking Quest Druid into consideration, while the fall of Blood Death Knight makes the Abyssal Curse package less important.
- Chad Warlock looks pretty bad. There are some new builds that look like clear improvements on older iterations, but it’s not a deck that can survive in the format because the Undead Priest matchup is terrible.
- Phylactery Warlock looks a bit rough currently but a ‘control craze’ at top legend can possibly bring this deck back. If players start targeting Undead Priest and Miracle Rogue with removal and life gain, Phylactery can then come in and punish that.
- Both Fel and Spell DH look good and the Demon Hunter class looks primed for a revival after the fall of Evolve Shaman. Though Spell DH is less popular, it currently performs better than Fel DH at Diamond 4 and above. Initially, we thought that running Souleater’s Scythe is just the better choice in this format. However, we’ve found that Fel DH builds are simply making a big deck-building mistake that, once corrected, could establish it as the superior choice after all. Generally, these variants have very similar matchup spreads.
- Despite a very low play rate, Frost Mage is currently the best performing deck at legend and the sleeper of the format, with a steadily climbing win rate outside of legend ranks too. A decent matchup against the Rogue class and Undead Priest is driving its current success, while the Construct Quarter nerf has been a huge help. We don’t anticipate this high win rate to persevere in the case it spikes in play at top legend, but the strong matchup against Miracle Rogue could keep it very relevant in that developing meta.
- Big-Spell Mage is also doing better, but that low skill ceiling is already proving to be very limiting at high MMR’s. The nerfs have allowed it to return to its previous position of a very good deck outside of legend ranks. It also gets soft targeted by those looking to beat Quest Druid with board-centric aggression through Pure Paladin and Imp Warlock.
- Wildfire Mage benefitted the least from the nerfs, as it was fine dealing with Evolve Shamans while the fall of Blood DK means the meta has become more difficult. You might think it becomes stronger at top legend if a “control craze” occurs, but it struggles against Phylactery Warlock.
- It’s not as bad as it looks for the Hunter class. We can tell, based on the small samples we have, that Spitter and Quest Hunter are very playable decks. They might not be viable at high MMR’s, but they’re pretty good on the climb to legend. Interest in Hunter might be dead but the class itself isn’t.
- The situation with Enrage Warrior is a bit frustrating because the deck’s play rate is too low, but we strongly suspect the deck is competitive and functional. We just can’t actually do any meaningful work on it, because the player base has decided that Warrior is completely unplayable. When it comes to Control Warrior, they’re right.
- Shaman is the only really dead class. There’s nothing here we’ve seen that can possibly work, so either a unicorn has yet to be found or Shaman is in purgatory for the next month. Evolve Shaman has been obliterated.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Undead Priest has emerged as one of the strongest decks in the format thanks to the nerfs to its primary counters in Death Knight and Shaman. The best list is the burn variant that we’ve featured before the patch, while adding Najak Hexxen. Najak is quickly proving to be one of the strongest cards in the deck, synergizing very well with Whispers of the Deep and giving the deck some comeback potential.
Bless Priest is another deck that looks extremely successful, mostly at higher levels of play. The same build you’re familiar with has Tier 1 potential based on its low sample size.
Control Priest might also become a relevant player in the format. The archetype has seen drastic improvement in its performance once TicTac’s build was propagated. We switched out the two copies of Shadow Word: Ruin to add the 2nd copies of Mind Eater and Cannibalize. Ruin isn’t as important anymore since you’re not worried about stealthy ghosts and your targeted removal is excellent thanks to Cannibalize.
If you’re looking to maximize your performance against Bless Priest at top legend, you can keep Ruin and cut Clean the Scene. Finley and Najak are possible cuts too if you want to keep all the removal. The deck works very well as a counter to Undead Priest and Frost-Aggro Death Knight.
Quest Priest is a simpler and easier option to target the same matchups Control Priest does, but with Blood-Ctrl Death Knight seemingly falling off, the quest isn’t as important for a defensive Priest deck to close out games.
Svalna Priest has also popped up as an answer to Undead Priest/Frost-Aggro Death Knight by running a heal package with Cannibalize and Lightshower Elemental. Some players are flirting with Spirit Guides and Psyfiend, which gives the deck an OTK option. Hard for us to tell what’s better with the sample available.
- Priest Class Radar
- Undead Priest
- Bless Priest
- Control Priest
- Quest Priest
- Svalna Priest
Frost-Aggro DK is still a good deck, but not as crazy as it used to be. Might of Menethil is a very good card in this format because it’s extremely powerful against Undead Priest. We’d cut the Astalor and Brann to run two copies of the weapon. There’s a clear decline in the performance of Brann/Astalor following the decrease in Blood DK’s. This is particularly true for Brann, which is looking worse in multiple decks. Note that Construct Quarter is still a good card in the deck, but it’s no longer the insane mulligan target it used to be. You’re incentivized to keep other early game plays in the mull rather than fixate on Egg/Quarter alone.
Unholy-Aggro DK has gotten better. Despite the Quarter nerf, the decline of Frost-Aggro has proven beneficial and opened up some space for it to succeed.
Blood-Ctrl DK is a significantly worse deck. Undead Priest is not a good matchup and Blood DK’s preferred facing more Frost DK’s before the patch. Add Quest Druid’s rise and you’ve got a more hostile meta that’s not really giving this turtle deck room to breathe.
Frost-Burn DK is disappearing from the format.
- Death Knight Class Radar
- Frost-Aggro Death Knight
- Unholy-Aggro Death Knight
- Blood-Ctrl Death Knight
Thief Rogue is as lukewarm as ever, but we will note that Ransack helps a lot in this format. The card is particularly good against Undead Priest, so we recommend running it over Gone Fishin’.
Miracle Rogue benefits a lot from Frost DK’s decline, so it’s looking top tier at higher levels of play once again. Astalor has gotten a bit worse in some decks, but not in Miracle Rogue. It’s still very important for its late game.
Deathrattle Rogue is also showing great potential. We’ve seen some data on Yoink replacing Tooth of Nefarian. It’s not bad. You can consider both cards to be just about equally useful. We do not like Perjury, especially with Evolve Shaman gone.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Thief Rogue
- Miracle Rogue
- Deathrattle Rogue
Pure Paladin looks to be branching out. The standard list is a hard counter to Quest Druid and has been a popular choice to target this deck. The decline of Frost-Aggro DK has been a huge boost for it too. It’s a very strong deck on the ladder climb though it does drop off at higher ranks.
Pure-Control Paladin has popped up and while it’s normally inferior to standard Pure, it seems to be a little better at top legend. It’s also an emerging counter to Undead Priest and Frost-Aggro DK, sitting in a similar spot to Control Priest but its ability to be proactive makes it less polarizing of a deck.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Pure Paladin
- Pure-Control Paladin
- Dragon Paladin
Guff is having a final run as a serious competitor in the format and it’s coming from the unlikely source of Lost in the Park. The addition of Rake has propelled Ramp Druid decks to utilize the quest, as Rake is such a good card that it pushes Pounce and Feral Rage into playability. Note that Quest Druid is pretty much Ramp Druid utilizing Brann/Astalor/Anub as its primary win condition. Pathmaker is an incredible follow-up to Nourish that helps you quickly find your combo pieces. The quest is a source of armor and a secondary win condition against decks looking to burn you down.
What’s interesting is that Spammy Arcanist and Lingering Zombie are currently proving to be a slightly better defensive package than Scale of Onyxia and Underking. This is driven by the rise in popularity of Pure Paladin and Imp Warlock, Quest Druid’s primary counters. Arcanist and Zombie do much better in these matchups.
Ramp Druid is a much inferior choice. When refining the deck, we quickly realized that it is basically Quest Druid that doesn’t run the quest. No reason to do that.
- Druid Class Radar
- Quest Druid
- Ramp Druid
- Aggro Druid
Imp Warlock has come alive. Very similarly to Pure Paladin, the decline of Frost-Aggro DK combined with the rise of Quest Druid has put it in a strong position in the format. Currently, you’re better off not running curses as the late game scaling isn’t as important.
Phylactery Warlock should not be running Gnolls anymore. Their performance has fallen off and the deck seems to function better without them.
Chad Warlock looks better running a Soul Rend build, but it still isn’t very good.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Imp Warlock
- Curse-Imp Warlock
- Phylactery Warlock
- Chad Warlock
Both Fel & Spell Demon Hunter look like powerful decks in the meta with similar matchup spreads. Spell looks superior at higher rank brackets, but after digging deeper into the data, we’ve found that Fel DH builds might simply be making a card selection mistake.
Most of them don’t run Silvermoon Arcanist, which is an extremely important card for the archetype, especially in the Undead Priest matchup. We advocate running two copies of Arcanist on top of Guild Traders. The redundancy of spell damage is huge defensively but often just allows you to OTK your opponent thanks to Dimensions discounts alongside Unleash Fel and Fel Barrage. The big bait here is Brann. Spectacular when it works. Unnoticed when useless. We suspect many players will not be listening.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Fel Demon Hunter
- Spell Demon Hunter
- Aggro Demon Hunter
Things are looking up for Mage after the decline of Frost Death Knights. Frost Mage is looking like the best performer at legend ranks since it’s well positioned against Undead Priest. Big-Spell Mage is also doing better though its low skill ceiling has been evident for a long time. Wildfire Mage is the only Mage deck that didn’t get better.
All three archetypes have been solved for a while and we haven’t found a way to improve their builds this week.
- Mage Class Radar
- Frost Mage
- Big-Spell Mage
- Wildfire Mage
Hunter is very quiet and seems to be dead, but it might just be playing dead. Spitter Hunter is looking much better based on its low sample, the question is whether players are interested in going back to it. Quest Hunter is also looking fine. Even Beast Hunter could be playable with an adjusted build that drops K9, though we’re less confident about that.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Quest Hunter
- Spitter Hunter
- Big-Beast Hunter
Current data does not allow us to say much about these two classes. Evolve Shaman is dead after the nerf to Gnoll and we haven’t found a deck within the class that looks competitive, though we’ll keep an eye out. We have good reasons to believe Enrage Warrior is competitive, but the player base is unlikely to be moved by such a statement and the sample is so low that we can’t even do the bare bones work of refining it for this format. Maybe next week.
As we’ve said earlier, we’re not too worried about Undead Priest. The format is far from solved and as players continue to flock to the hyped Priest deck, Frost Mage is looking better and better. It might even become the strongest performing deck through most of ladder. Top legend is where it could lose its #1 spot, with Miracle Rogue players licking their lips at the opportunity to terrorize their opponents once again with a Draka dagger. However, much like in the case of Undead Priest, Miracle Rogue has clear counters that could be utilized in case it blows up. The meta is wide open. Decks of every kind are viable and even some of the neglected classes are showing competitive capabilities if given a chance.
This looks like a healthy format to bridge the way to the next expansion. Speaking of the next expansion… Where announcement?
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