Welcome to the 282nd edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)
|Diamond 4 to 1
|Diamond 10 to 5
Class Frequency Discussion
Excavate Rogue’s play rate continues to spike to unreal numbers at top legend. We’re now at a play rate of over 35%. We’ve talked last week about why this deck is so popular at higher levels of play, which is a combination of being strong and hard to beat, as well as being attractive to play.
Druid is the other very popular class at top legend, forming a duo that has completely taken over that field. Druid is more strategically diverse, with Treant Druid spiking in popularity to become the most popular deck at Diamond ranks.
The rest of ladder is much more diverse, though most classes are in some form of decline or stagnation. When the top legend field is this narrow, it can have a chilling effect on new discoveries, since this is where new builds are invented. The one exception might be Control Warrior, with players searching for a way to combat Rogues and settling on it.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
- Excavate Rogue is starting to look scarier in terms of performance, not just its play rate. Over the last week, we’ve seen the deck outpace its competition in terms of refinement, with superior new builds that provide effective answers to any type of challenge placed in front of it. In some respects, Rogue getting stronger is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If players only care about learning and refining one deck, it will get optimized better and faster than other decks, but this is not intended to distract from the fact the deck is truly powerful.
- Its late game got stronger, gaining percentages against Control Warrior to the point the matchup now looks even. Other decks that rely on resource depletion, such as Reno Priest, are also finding this matchup more difficult than before.
- Its matchup against Treant Druid is trending in a favorable direction, with a clear edge for the Rogue now observed at higher levels of play that has completely shifted the power dynamics between the two at the top legend bracket.
- Excavate Rogue’s skill ceiling isn’t particularly high, but it’s well above average, which has also contributed to a soft and incremental increase in its power over time.
- Rogue generally seems impossible to reliably counter. There are very few decks that show even a minor edge against Rogue. Its win rate not being extremely high is a factor of most of its favorable matchups not being better than 55-45. It doesn’t dominate opponents, but it drags them into close matchups where it will usually have the upper hand.
- So even though it doesn’t display a particularly dominant win rate, and it doesn’t really dominate opponents, the view that it’s the best deck certainly aligns with reality in many ways.
- Treant Druid is losing the direct battle against Excavate Rogue, which means that at top legend, where Rogue is over 35% of the field, its performance has collapsed, hitting close to 50%. The deck remains the best performer where Rogue’s presence isn’t extreme.
- Dragon and Reno Druid have better matchups into Rogue, which is why they perform better at top legend. There are also some very recent developments in a new Druid archetype that show promise. Druid generally seems to be the class most suitable to combat Rogue, which is why these two classes have taken over.
- Chad Warlock is another deck that shows an above average skill ceiling that causes a soft increase in its power over time. This isn’t surprising considering it’s APM intensive, but its matchup spread still suggests a limit to how powerful it can become (it’s not good against Rogue, Treant Druid or Warrior).
- Sludge Warlock is improving its performance across most of ladder because it’s strong against the rising Treant Druid, but it’s suffering at top legend because it’s weak to Excavate Rogue.
- Control Warrior is a good deck, but it’s not quite strong enough to break the dominance of Druid and Rogue. The loss of its advantage in the matchup against Rogue has closed the door to a development that could have helped diversify the field. Its difficulties against Treant Druid, regardless of its variant, are also a limiter to its growth.
- Plague Death Knight’s expected fall in performance across ladder is occurring, with the archetype trending to Tier 4 at top legend. The Treant Druid matchup is responsible for some of this decline, while Plague DK’s very low skill ceiling is another major factor. A smaller decline can be observed in Blood-Ctrl DK, which tends to mimic Plague DK’s behavior on a softer scale.
- This week was never going to go well for Rainbow Mage, considering the difficult matchup against Treant Druid. Excavate Rogue is also not giving up any ground in the matchup, leading us to wonder whether repeatedly nerfing Rainbow Mage was the right move, or whether it has contributed to Rogue’s overbearing presence. Mage was a good sponge to soak player interest.
- Reno Priest may have lost its edge against Excavate Rogue, but it’s still better than it looks, since there’s a big performance disparity between its builds. It’s very unrefined. Unlikely to be strong, but it should be closer to 50%-win rate at legend.
- Naga Priest sees very little play but looks strong when it shows up.
- Automaton Priest may have found a breakthrough in its build that allows it to reach a higher power level. Still not expected to be amazing beyond Diamond 5, but significantly more respected.
- Naga Demon Hunter loses to Rogue, so there’s no great incentive to play it at top legend, where it’s usually most popular. It’s decent against Druids.
- Paladin is in its familiar place of being very strong on the climb but ranging from mediocre to unplayable at top legend. Hunter is a weaker form of Paladin in that regard.
- Reno Shaman is pretty good, maintaining a small edge against Rogue, but largely ignored. We don’t see much of Nature Shaman anymore.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Excavate Rogue is mostly concerned with other Rogues and Druids, which has led to a surprising development in its build. Recent iterations are cutting the Concoction package. Turns out that this is a positive move, because it lessens hand space issues and helps Scorpion become a more convenient payoff.
What’s more is that cutting the Concoction package allows us to re-add some of the “lesser” cards in the deck. Breakdance gets a little better as a Scorpion bouncer when our hand isn’t clogged as often. Queen Azshara can be added. The key addition is Cult Neophyte because it’s strong against both Excavate Rogue and Druid. We still don’t like Gear Shift.
Some players even run Tess Greymane, but the current field doesn’t demand more resources from the Rogue. The deck is already jam packed with value, more than enough to outlast most decks in the format.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Excavate Rogue
- Wishing Rogue
- Mech Rogue
Treant Druid doesn’t have the tools to adjust to the Rogue matchup, so its dip at top legend is inescapable. The deck continues to look insane wherever that matchup isn’t extremely common.
There have been several attempts to build a Topior Druid in recent weeks that produced underwhelming results and didn’t get much traction, but very recently, a new list that cuts Embrace/Nourish is showing more promise. The Highlander payoffs don’t perform very well, but historically, it’s been a better idea to run a normal, draw heavy deck with a Highlander payoff that activates close to fatigue, rather than playing a Highlander deck with a couple of duplicates, since the first few duplicates in a deck are the ones that delay an active payoff the most. We’ll have a chance to look into the deck’s card choices more closely next week.
- Druid Class Radar
- Treant Druid
- Dragon Druid
- Reno Druid
- Chad Druid
We’re quite content with where we’ve landed on both Sludge and Chad Warlock. Sludge Warlock has a few cards that could be improved upon on paper (Furnace Fuel/Disciple of Sargeras), but we haven’t found clear upgrades. We can see a mini-set injecting a couple of good cards and lifting the deck significantly as a result.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Sludge Warlock
- Chad Warlock
- Reno Warlock
The Renathal Control Warrior build we’ve landed on last week seems to provide a good balance on trying to fight off both Excavate Rogue and Treant Druid. However, note that Rogues have gotten stronger in this matchup and Druids will still give you a difficult time.
Blackrock Warrior doesn’t see much play but could be considered a fringe competitive deck based on its low sample. It’s not good, but things have gotten better for it after Paladin’s decline, since that matchup is oppressive. Run two Trenchstalkers.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Control Warrior
- Blackrock Warrior
- Enrage Warrior
Plague Death Knight must be running Hardcore Cultist in the current format, as otherwise Treant Druid cannot be dealt with. There aren’t other notable adjustments the deck can make. Blood-Ctrl Death Knight is as good as it can be too.
- Death Knight Class Radar
- Plague Death Knight
- Blood-Ctrl Death Knight
Mage has been suffering from the spike in Treant Druid’s play. One idea is to run Heat Wave, but the card isn’t currently seeing much play for us to evaluate. A few weeks ago, Heat Wave was popular and didn’t seem too out of place, so it might be worth a shot in either build.
- Mage Class Radar
- Rainbow Mage
- Rommath Mage
- Secret Mage
It’s a bit of a shame that Reno Priest is an unrefined mess of an archetype, because we can see that the featured build does surprisingly good work in the current meta. Leaning harder into Elise just doesn’t seem to be worth it against the current field.
Naga Priest is extremely underplayed. School Teacher provides a lot of stability to the deck. If you insist on running Pelagos/Valishj, we don’t think Teacher should be the card to make way.
A new variant of Automaton Priest has been popping up, looking superior to the established variant. This list plays at a faster pace with Crimson Clergy, Funnel Cake, and Thirsty Drifter. The general impression we get from judging this archetype’s data is that you should be focused on running good cards rather than caring about the ‘purity’ of Animate Dead’s resurrection pool.
- Priest Class Radar
- Reno Priest
- Naga Priest
- Automaton Priest
- Undead Priest
The Greedy/Sigil variant in Naga Demon Hunter has consistently outperformed the Sightless variant at top legend in recent weeks, so we recommend that. If you’re not proficient with the deck, you’ll find the Sightless build more forgiving to play.
Paladin decks have been figured out for a while, with the balance changes impacting the performance levels of Prismatic Beam and Keeper’s Strength, but not to the point we want to cut them from decks.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Pure Paladin
- Reno Paladin
- Earthen Paladin
Reno Shaman is still quite good, but many players may have dusted Holli’dae and decided the deck isn’t attractive enough to merit a recraft. We do notice that the current batch of Reno decks in this expansion don’t carry the same pull as some Highlander decks in the past.
Hunter is quite good until a certain point on ladder where it drastically drops off in effectiveness. All three of its archetypes are fleshed out, but none attract a large audience.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Reno Hunter
- Cleave Hunter
- Arcane Hunter
Excavate Rogue is proof that a deck can dominate a format without displaying the most eye-popping win rate. Simply drag your opponents into close matchups in which you generate 30 cards and win slightly more often. Player perception will do the rest of the work.
The deck can generate so much value that Concoctions can be cut, which suggests that Rogue has a solid foundation for a deck post-rotation, as long its Excavate package doesn’t get nuked (this is a concern).
We don’t expect balance changes to come anytime soon, since the next major patch will likely introduce a mini-set. If Rogue’s play rate remains high after the mini-set, we expect a nerf to Velarok, which is the biggest power outlier of the deck.
The good news is that throughout most of ladder, Rogue’s presence isn’t overbearing, so you can play a lot of different decks, have fun and success.
But until a reliable counter is found to Rogue at higher MMR’s, it’ll be tough to break its hold on that field.
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