Welcome to the 264th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||23,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||104,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||99,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||121,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
The balance changes have made a big impact on the Death Knight class. Unholy-Aggro DK has significantly declined at all levels of play due to being directly nerfed. Blood-Ctrl DK is trending down, especially at higher levels of play, where it served as a counter to Unholy DK and Spell DH. Meanwhile, Frost-Aggro DK is on the rise, finding an opportunity to succeed in the face of many balance changes that have weakened its competition.
Demon Hunter has also gone through a massive shift. Spell DH, previously terrorizing the format, has completely disappeared due to the nerf to Sinful Brand. Relic DH has made an expected comeback, with Spell DH no longer holding it back. It has rapidly become the most popular deck at top legend. Big DH and Outcast DH have stuck around through the DH nerfs, though Outcast doesn’t have much presence.
The Control Priest hype is very high. The nerf to Zok Druid, in addition to lethality going down across the board, has encouraged players to flock to Priest. Multiple players have posted strong results with the deck. Undead Priest has declined in response to the nerf to Basaleph.
While it did suffer a small dent in its play rate due to the Stenographer nerf, Miracle Rogue’s presence is very similar to what it was before the patch. The difference is that other Rogue decks are creeping up. Secret Rogue is trying to make a return, while Pirate Rogue has surprisingly re-appeared, looking to target some of the most popular decks in the emerging format.
Warrior is back on the map. Enrage Warrior’s Fire build has spiked in play and looks to establish itself as a serious meta contender, with players finally warming up to the archetype. Control Warrior is another deck players have been eager to try, with the buffed Chorus Riff and From the Depths. Menagerie Warrior can be found, albeit at a low play rate.
Players have been desperate to make Chad Warlock work, so it’s no surprise that the balance patch has reinvigorated attempts. The 5-mana Symphony of Sins is seeing widespread play in the class, including the unpopular Imp Warlock. Curse Warlock is making yet another appearance. Can it finally get out of its permanent Tier 4 placement?
Mage has picked up more interest. Spooky Control Mage has been the most popular deck for the class, but it seems that Burn Mage is finally getting a little more attention at higher levels of play, being consistently the better performer until the patch.
Zok Druid has drastically declined, reeling from the Anub’Rekhan nerf. Big Druid can be found, but it’s not too common. The class is standing on shaky ground.
Pure Paladin has seen a small uptick in play, but not the explosion you might have expected, considering the nerfs to some of its hardest counters. It continues to display the same play rate pattern as before: popular outside of legend ranks, but drastically diminishes at top legend.
Hunter and Shaman haven’t seen noteworthy changes, so they’re currently struggling for relevance. Naga Hunter and Totem Shaman are the last decks players want to try.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
At first glance, the meta looks in very good shape following the balance changes. Every class in the game looks competitive, even the least popular ones that many players might think are “dead.” Meanwhile, the most popular decks are not close to being the best performers, suggesting that the format is far from solved. Every single class at top legend has a deck that’s at least Tier 2, which is very difficult to achieve. The format looks similarly healthy at all rank brackets, with every playstyle available to players of different tastes.
- The nerfs to Unholy-Aggro DK have successfully toned down the deck without killing it. It remains a strong, competitive option but no longer dominates the format. The nerfs to Blightfang and Battlefield Necromancer have helped loosen its chokehold in aggressive matchups. It’s still very good against faster decks, but some percentages have been lost.
- Some players voiced concerns about Blood-Ctrl DK before the patch, but we never expected this deck to improve after the balance changes. It was extremely likely that nerfing both Spell DH and Unholy DK would lead to a more hostile environment for the deck, which is exactly what has transpired. The Demon Hunter transition from Spell to Relic DH is terrible news for Blood-Ctrl. The rise of Control Priest is another major problem. Blood-Ctrl DK displays a decent win rate outside of legend, where the meta is not developed but crashes once its counters rise at legend. At top legend, it is borderline unplayable and very likely to decline.
- Frost-Aggro is the Death Knight deck on the rise, looking like the best performer at top legend and upper diamond. Its matchup spread looks very scary at an initial glance, showing almost no weaknesses. However, we should note that the format seems unprepared for Frost-Aggro DK, so it might look less powerful once things settle down. Many decks can improve their performance against it with better card choices, while others are well on their way to developing an edge.
- Relic DH is not as strong as it’s perceived to be. It had a strong start, a product of Blood-Ctrl DK and Control Priest being highly popular and Spell DH being obliterated by the patch. Relic DH took advantage of a greedy format that wasn’t equipped to pressure it effectively. However, since the first couple of days, top legend players have begun to target the deck aggressively, and it hasn’t been able to respond. From a Tier 1 win rate, it has fallen to Tier 3 within a couple of days. Its matchup spread is filled with vulnerabilities. Many of its counters are sleeper decks we expect to rise in play over the next week. There might be a way to improve Relic DH’s performance through refinement, but we have no power concern with the deck.
- Big DH is the primary counter to Frost-Aggro DK, while displaying a strong matchup against Relic DH and Control Priest. It’s certainly in a good position in the meta, benefitting from the fall of Spell DH and making the nerf to Felscale Evoker look very sensible in hindsight.
- Outcast DH doesn’t see much play, but it is clearly very good, especially at higher levels due to its high skill ceiling. It is very difficult to pick up and do well with, so we can understand why it isn’t popular, especially when its Death Knight matchups look daunting. The deck is very similar to Miracle Rogue in that sense.
- Control Priest is another deck that’s been very hyped but isn’t producing the kind of results that match the hype. It had good matchups against many of the popular decks at the launch of the patch, but its rise in play has drawn a huge target on its back. The player base, many of them fuming at any loss to Anduin the emote spammer, have been relentless at targeting this strategy. Relic DH’s popularity is highly driven by the desire to counter Control Priest, while Frost-Aggro DK also presents a problematic matchup. It is difficult to adjust Control Priest’s build to perform optimally against both Relic DH and Frost-Aggro DK. Furthermore, other strategies are currently rising in play with the specific purpose of countering Control Priest.
- Undead Priest’s decline in play has been reactionary, as the deck looks like a top performer throughout ladder despite the nerf to Basaleph. The nerfs to Spell DH and Unholy-Aggro DK, its two primary counters, have outweighed the reduction of its power in a vacuum. As in the case of Big DH, this is looking like a wise pre-emptive nerf.
- Miracle Rogue’s position in the format hasn’t changed too much, though it seems to be less forgiving to pilot now. It looks like a good, competitive deck at higher levels of play, with a matchup spread that boasts clear strengths and weaknesses. The deletion of Spell DH, which was a huge boost to the deck, was offset by the pre-emptive nerf to Stenographer. The deck currently suffers at the hands of Control Priest and Frost-Aggro DK, but has a good matchup against Enrage Warrior. Incredibly, a matchup against a Warrior deck is going to matter.
- What the balance changes did encourage is more options within the class. Secret Rogue is currently on an upward trajectory, cleaning up its build to perform extremely well in slower matchups such as Control Priest. Pirate Rogue is surprisingly strong at top legend, as it looks like a very effective counter against both Control Priest and Relic DH. These decks are unrefined outside of the highest MMR bracket, so there’s room to improve.
- The joke era is over. Warrior might be one of the strongest classes in the format. Enrage Warrior displays meta-breaking potential. It is particularly strong at top legend because it’s the best Relic DH counter we’ve seen. It gives major problems to Big DH too, since its snowballing capabilities often bypass the effectiveness of the Arcanist/Unleash Fel combo. Critically, it’s a great choice against Death Knights. Based on the progress of its refinement, we expect it to have an edge against Blood, Frost, and Unholy.
- This means that Enrage Warrior is the best deck you can take to ladder, or a Heroic Tavern Brawl, if your priority is to combat a horde of Death Knights and Demon Hunters. Of course, its matchup spread isn’t perfect, as it is weak to Priest and Rogue, but its rise in play could significantly shake up the field.
- Control Warrior is not showing the same kind of promise, but frustratingly, many players still commit the same mistakes in building the deck. Its ceiling scrapes the bottom of Tier 3. Not great, but definitely not in the low 40’s. There’s a huge performance disparity between the best builds, and the most popular builds.
- Menagerie Warrior’s sample size isn’t quite big enough for us to confidently place it in the table, but based on our estimate, it is very comfortably a Tier 2 deck, giving the class another serious option for the ladder climb.
- Chad Warlock is making progress. It is as good as Control Priest at top legend, as hilarious as that sounds. It is very vulnerable to aggressive decks, which means it is not very good on the climb to legend, but it’s okay if it’s given time to breathe. It might also be able to improve a little in some of its worst matchups.
- Imp Warlock is a serious contender now, a sleeper deck most players are unaware of being this good due to its low play rate. While the buff to Symphony of Sins has been helpful to Chad Warlock, it has become one of Imp Warlock’s best cards. New developments are also occurring, with the archetype introducing a new variant that shows promise.
- Curse Warlock is still very, very bad.
- Burn Mage deserves more respect, as it’s another sleeper deck that matches up extremely well against the current field. It abuses the Relic DH/Control Priest duo very effectively. With Solid Alibi at its disposal, Mage would rather face Frost than Unholy, so the balance changes improved its standing. It is another name in a list of strong decks that most players are unaware of, meaning that the field should diversify over time as the information gets out there. Players are too stuck at the established strategies that are perceived to be the best.
- Spooky Mage just isn’t very good. Players continue to play this variant over Burn to their detriment. Even the Control Priest matchup, which is supposed to be one of this deck’s better matchups, is handled better by Burn Mage. There are many matchups in which the Spooky Mage is a sitting duck since it cannot kill off opponents. Its win condition is extremely unreliable, which is a critical flaw for a strategy that’s supposed to benefit from extending the game.
- Zok Druid is done. The most gentle change to Anub’Rekhan was still too much to handle. This isn’t surprising, considering that the entire deck revolves around this card, so the fact that it requires setup and cannot guarantee an Underking follow-up has killed the deck. It’s still okay in slow matchups since you’re more likely to have armor at the start of the Anub’Rekhan turn, but the faster matchups have become impossible to overcome.
- Thankfully, Big Druid is viable. We’re not sure it’s the kind of deck that can gain much traction, but it’s definitely strong enough to do well with. It benefitted from the deletion of Zok Druid and Spell DH, while the decline of Unholy-Aggro DK helped too.
- Pure Paladin has replaced Unholy-Aggro DK as the most ‘dominant’ deck at lower ranks of ladder, but its power at these ranks doesn’t seem to be a major concern, as there are many other decks that ‘stomp noobs’ to a similar degree. Nerf one, and it’ll be replaced by another. This is no ‘70% win rate at Bronze’ Quest Warrior.
- Its power at Diamond 4 and above should decline to some extent. We still expect it to be better than before the patch, possibly staying Tier 2 at top legend, but not more than that.
- Mech Paladin is generally worse and doesn’t have any interesting niche that separates it from Pure in the current format.
Hunter & Shaman
- The problem with Hunter is clearly not power, but desire. Naga Hunter is a very strong deck throughout ladder, hugely benefitting from the decline of Unholy-Aggro DK. It’s a great choice on the climb to legend and continues to perform well at top legend, thanks to its Relic DH matchup. But it seems like a deck that few players are interested in.
- The same issue is observed in Shaman. Totem Shaman is a good deck. The Blightfang nerf probably helped it more than any other deck, but the player base doesn’t seem to care.
- If a deck is good, but nobody cares to play it, does it matter? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether a deck is good on paper. What matters is whether it sees play and gives opponents a fresh encounter. The fact Hunter and Shaman are not visible enough on ladder means a less diverse experience for everyone.
This brings us to the next point. The current meta is quite nice. The balance changes have done a good job of addressing power outliers, preventing other decks from becoming too strong, and diversifying the format. But, if there’s one notable complaint from the player base, it’s that Festival of Legends didn’t leave a lasting impression. Hopefully, the upcoming mini-set will.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Relic Demon Hunter has made a lot of noise but doesn’t seem too threatening in the emerging format. There are interesting developments in the archetype, with some players cutting the S’theno/Predation package and delivering very promising results.
The cards that replace this package add survivability and disruption to the deck. Okani, Pozzik and Mel’tranix are all very effective in slower matchups and can be devastating when discounted by Relic of Dimensions. On the other hand, the buffed Rotten Applebaum provides stabilization against aggression. 12 effective life is quite a lot. We do wonder if more decks could potentially utilize this protective tree.
Big Demon Hunter has not changed. Surprisingly, the nerf to Predation hasn’t pushed the Enforcer build ahead in its performance. The two variants continue to look close in power.
Outcast Demon Hunter should experiment with cutting S’theno/Predation/Dispose after the patch. The deck has a low play rate, so there’s little movement from its established build and we can’t evaluate alternatives. Rancher is very strong currently, so we recommend running two copies. We are curious about running Snakebites, two copies of Rush the Stage and Pozzik/Astalor. A crazier idea is to run Tony, dropping him before you swing the second charge of Glaivetar. There is a little bit of data on the card, but not enough to say whether it’s any good.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Relic Demon Hunter
- Big Demon Hunter
- Outcast Demon Hunter
The nerf to Blightfang has pushed the card out of Unholy-Aggro Death Knight. We suggest running the second Famished Fool and improve the deck’s performance in slower matchups. There are no significant developments in either Blood-Ctrl or Frost-Aggro, but we will note that Dirty Rat looks awful in the current meta since Zok Druid is gone.
- Death Knight Class Radar
- Blood-Ctrl Death Knight
- Frost-Aggro Death Knight
- Unholy-Aggro Death Knight
Bone Flinger seems to look better than Amalgam of the Deep in Undead Priest after the patch. One of the causes could be the nerf to Battlefield Necromancer, as Flinger cleanly answers it now. We did notice Flinger’s performance improving in this specific matchup.
Control Priest is currently focused on its most popular counter on ladder, which is Relic DH, so Demolition Renovator is a popular choice that makes sense at top legend and brings the matchup closer to 45-55. Audio Amplifier is huge in the Control Priest mirror, so it’s an important inclusion. If the meta moves away from Relic DH, it could be wise to drop the questionable tech cards (Renovator, Rat), adding more life gain in the form of Armor Vendor and Sunfury Clergy. Control Priest has a tough time against Frost-Aggro DK without these cards.
The greedy format is bringing back Secret Rogue into the fray. Cheat Death and Double Cross look better than Sticky Situation and Ambush after the patch because of the rise of slower matchups. Tess Greymane has also gotten better, synergizing with Hanar and Azshara to give you a late game bomb.
An emerging deck in the format is Pirate Rogue, which is specifically stronger at top legend because of its matchups against Relic DH and Control Priest. The featured build looks like the best way to go, prioritizing damage over value.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Miracle Rogue
- Secret Rogue
- Pirate Rogue
It’s a new era in Hearthstone, with Warrior now challenging the top of the meta. Enrage Warrior is one of the strongest decks in the game, with a build that has finally captured the hearts of Hearthstone players, a reminiscence of its Risky Skipper iteration.
The fire package with Thori’belore and the Riff package both look invaluable. Wild Pyromancer provides redundancy to Sunfury Champion, to enable your Anima Extractor and Imbued Axe turns. We do not like School Teacher in this deck, despite its supposed synergy with Roaring Applause. One Instrument Tech is highly recommended as finding Imbued Axe is very important. The 30th card is Acolyte of Pain. We’re not attached to this card, so there could be something better, but otherwise the list looks very clean.
Menagerie Warrior is also showing promise based on its low sample. It is extremely likely to be displaying a positive win rate at all levels of play. The featured build looks very good. The 30th card is either Astalor or Famished Fool. Astalor seems currently stronger, but we’d obviously like to see more data on the archetype. We might be able to fit both cards in. The reliance on a good Roaring Applause turn in slower matchups makes Fool appealing in providing some draw redundancy.
Control Warrior is very unrefined, with its ceiling potentially hitting Tier 3 if optimized. Many players are making the mistake of not running 6 mana threats. You absolutely want to run Silverfury Stalwart in this deck over Sword Eater. Olgra is also likely to be better than Voone. From the Depths replaces School Teacher.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Enrage Warrior
- Menagerie Warrior
- Control Warrior
The buffed Symphony of Sins is making a big difference in the Warlock class, perhaps in decks it wasn’t expected to shine this brightly in. After the patch, it now looks like a core inclusion in the standard Fatigue Imp Warlock build. You should run both Symphony and Dar’Khan, on top of adding Astalor, while dropping Imp Gang Boss. You want all the late-game tools you can afford.
In a shocking development, an alternative Imp Warlock variant is looking just as strong, incorporating a Chad package. This Chad Imp Warlock, or Chimp Warlock, stitches up three packages together to create the ultimate monstrosity, winning more Hearthstone games than it reasonably should. It just works!
Chad Warlock is also looking better post-patch, though it still isn’t a great deck. We’ve been looking for an upgrade to Alex and Zola for a while, and we may have found it in Siphon Soul. The card is huge in the oppressive Pure Paladin matchup, very good against Demon Hunter, and useful in numerous other matchups (like Miracle Rogue). Sometimes, the Cannibalize we have at home is good enough.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Imp Warlock
- Chad Warlock
Burn Mage is one of the most underrated decks in the game. Its strength in slower matchups can be further improved by the addition of Infinitize the Maxitude over Bloodmage Thalnos. Don’t keep the legendary spell in the mulligan though, unless you’re certain that your opponent is a Control Priest.
- Mage Class Radar
- Burn Mage
- Spooky Mage
- Mech Mage
Zok Druid is dead, brutalized by the nerf to Anub’Rekhan. Big Druid looks like it could keep the class competitive. We haven’t found a reason to change its build after the patch.
Pure Paladin looks strong following the nerf to Unholy-Aggro DK, but it doesn’t seem dangerously powerful. Believe in The Garden’s Grace. It’s the way to go.
Naga Hunter has benefitted massively from the nerf to Unholy-Aggro DK, though not many players seem to care. The Collateral Damage variant seems to be the best way to combat the current meta.
Totem Shaman is another deck that can breathe easier after the patch, but much like Hunter, there’s a serious lack of interest in whatever it’s doing. This is a good deck, make no mistake.
Enrage Warrior is the hottest deck in the game, looking to break the perception surrounding the domination of Death Knight and Demon Hunter. If your opponents are imprisoned by the idea there are only two classes worth playing, Enrage Warrior should shut them up very quickly.
Unlike previous iterations, Enrage Warrior has finally caught the attention of top-level players, who have started to believe. They are reminded of this archetype’s greatness during Ashes of Outland, with this build allowing them to recapture Risky Skipper’s greatest moments. No longer ‘curving’ out, Fire Enrage Warrior builds up to swing turns and can set up burst damage against defensive opponents that rely on removal to clear your threats, making it more versatile.
If you liked Enrage Warrior of Ashes of Outland, you’re very likely going to enjoy Enrage Warrior of Festival of Legends. Even its biggest nemesis, Control Priest, should remind you of those days. Perhaps, you’d rather forget that part.
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