Welcome to the 284th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)
|515,000* (High bot activity in Asia server)
|Diamond 4 to 1
|Diamond 10 to 5
Class Frequency Discussion
For this report’s frequency graphs, we had to exclude the Asia server from calculations due to its abnormally high bot activity. The exclusion will continue in future reports until the issue is addressed.
Delve into Deepholm’s early days were characterized by great enthusiasm for Reno Warrior. The much anticipated Brann has taken over its class, with Control Warrior nearly disappearing from the landscape while Reno Warrior surges to a ~20% play rate across Diamond and Legend ranks. Many builds are being experimented with. Reno Warrior dips at top legend, where a few other classes are gaining more momentum.
One of those classes is Druid, with Topior Druid evolving into a Ramp Druid deck utilizing Naga Giants, Pendant of Earth and Shattered Reflections. A couple of days after the patch, a Renathal build running Dew Process has begun to take over, turning into the dominant strategy within the archetype. Treant Druid is popular on the climb to legend, but isn’t seen much at legend. Dragon Druid sees little play. Reno Druid is gone.
Excavate Rogue took a 24h break from the format while Velarok was bugged at Deepholm’s launch, but surged back once it was fixed, becoming the most popular deck at top legend once again.
Another class in great momentum is Warlock, with Sludge Warlock seeing heavy experimentation with different card choices. This aggressive deck seems to be favored more at high MMR’s compared to Aggro Paladin and Treant Druid. Chad Warlock isn’t seeing many changes, but a new combo deck has emerged in small numbers: Insanity Warlock. It kills opponents with Encroaching Insanity and Lady Darkvein.
Paladin was one of the most talked about (and complained about) classes in the first week of Deepholm. Various builds incorporating the Excavate package have emerged, but the most popular list drops Countess for a full Excavate package, so we’ve renamed the archetype “Aggro Paladin”. In typical Paladin fashion, the class has dominated the early janky meta and remains very popular at upper diamond ranks, but doesn’t look overwhelming elsewhere. We’re sensing some stagnation and decline in its numbers at top legend. We’ve seen this movie before.
Plague Death Knight has remained a popular choice on ladder, with a new role in the format: targeting Reno Warrior. Blood-Ctrl Death Knight has collapsed, while Rainbow Death Knight has lost all traction it has gained before Deepholm.
Demon Hunter isn’t a very visible class throughout most of ladder, but the persistent Naga Demon Hunter has carved out its place at top legend. Quick Pick has been a hot addition for the deck.
Reno Shaman has incorporated an Excavate package to its build, but the deck isn’t popular. Other experiments in the class have failed to gain much following.
Mage is very stagnant, looking like a class that did not experience a mini-set launch. Rainbow Mage stocks appear to be the lowest they’ve ever been.
Arcane Hunter has picked up a little bit of interest with the addition of a couple of new cards, but players remain indifferent to the class. Reno Hunter has stayed unchanged.
Priest is probably the most stagnant class in the format. We’ve seen basically nothing new coming from it, with its play rate carried by the small population of players of who will play some type of Control Priest deck no matter what’s going on.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
As usual, you can split the format into two. Throughout most of ladder, the pace is being dictated by three aggressive decks (Aggro Paladin, Treant Druid, Sludge Warlock) that are taking advantage of an unrefined format, alongside Plague Death Knight, which is exploiting the high popularity of Reno Warrior. At top legend, a more ruthless format is forming that surrounds 4 decks (Excavate Rogue, Ramp Druid, Sludge Warlock, Naga DH). As time passes, it’s becoming clear that they are the only decks worth playing from a competitive standpoint. The gap in power between them and the rest of the field is growing every day. It’s entirely possible that if this format is left alone for another week, they’ll remain the only decks exhibiting a positive win rate at top legend.
- Early iterations of Ramp Druid looked like Tier 3/4 decks. Despite the noise they were making, they weren’t winning a lot of Hearthstone games. The emergence of the Dew Process/Renathal build has completely transformed the class. This build is absolutely terrifying, dominating other late game strategies and forcing all other opponents to take on the beatdown role in this matchup. Dew Process is already carrying Ramp Druid to a Tier 1 win rate at top legend despite the archetype’s extremely unrefined status, as its aggregated win rate and matchup spread is heavily weighed down by weaker variants. Once Dew Process completely takes over, Ramp Druid is a serious threat to become the best performing deck at top legend within days. As it stands, its win rate is on an upward trajectory, estimated to reach 54%. This is the best deck in the game at higher levels of play.
- Treant Druid is performing very well on the climb to legend, but drops off at top legend due to the popularity of Excavate Rogue. Dragon Druid is largely expected to stagnate.
- Excavate Rogue looked like a Tier 4 deck when Velarok was bugged, but has been a consistent Tier 1 performer since the bug was fixed. Its matchup spread is as strong as it was before Deepholm, looking incredibly hard to counter. Together with Ramp Druid, Rogue forms the dominant late game duo that no other class is able to challenge at high MMR’s. Furthermore, Excavate Rogue protects Ramp Druid by dominating the aggressive decks that try to target it. It demolishes Aggro Paladin in particular. Excavate Rogue’s only bad matchup is Ramp Druid, which is why it is expected to deputize Ramp Druid in its overall win rate at top legend. Its room for improvement through refinement isn’t as high.
- What might be the biggest surprise of the week is Sludge Warlock’s exceptional performance across ladder. This archetype isn’t even fully refined yet, but is already looking like it’s going to become the best aggressive deck in the format. While it doesn’t counter Ramp Druid with the same effectiveness of Aggro Paladin or Treant Druid, it doesn’t roll over to Excavate Rogue. It is much more well rounded and difficult to counter, since its off-board damage provides less counterplay options for the opponent. Both the Rogue and Druid matchups seem close, which means that Sludge Warlock is capable of surviving in a format dominated by the Rogue/Druid duo. Its top legend play rate is no accident. Still, we can’t call it the best deck at top legend, as we estimate the win rate gap it currently exhibits over Rogue/Druid at this rank bracket should disappear.
- Chad Warlock has stood still while other classes got stronger, so its performance has been underwhelming. Watch out for Insanity Warlock though. A few balance changes and it could be in serious business.
- Reno Warrior might be popular, but it doesn’t look good. At top legend, it’s straight up unplayable. It could handle the early Ramp Druid iterations, but the matchup against Dew Process Druid is oppressive. It gets destroyed by Sludge Warlock. To add salt to the wounds, it gets exploited for its high play rate by Plague Death Knight, which is the worst matchup of them all (25-75). To provide some room for optimism, the archetype isn’t refined. Some builds are very weak, while others outperform them by a significant margin. We did identify some good ideas. There’s a decent chance that Druid and Rogue get nerfed hard next week, opening up a lot of space for Reno Warrior to perform better.
- There are no indications that Control Warrior is any better than Reno Warrior, for those who are likely to ask. After the refinement of Reno Warrior, Control Warrior is likely to be worse in the current meta.
- Aggro Paladin is currently the best performing deck outside of legend ranks, which isn’t too surprising. However, its back breaking matchup with Excavate Rogue is killing its performance at top legend, offsetting the benefit of its Ramp Druid matchup. As it stands, meta trends suggest that Paladin is free falling to Tier 3 at this rank bracket.
- Earthen and Reno Paladin don’t look too good. Earthen Paladin might benefit from a build change. Reno Paladin, much like any other deck that’s a bit slow, finds it hard to survive in this format.
- Plague Death Knight is feasting on Reno Warrior, which is why it performs so well across most of ladder. But the deck is well known for its extremely limited skill ceiling, one that causes it to fall off at top legend harder than the “simplest” aggressive decks. Let’s be perfectly clear: it loses to Dew Process Druid. In fact, it doesn’t beat any real good deck out there. In a format that isn’t full of Reno Warrior, it’s kind of garbage.
- Blood-Ctrl DK is a slow attrition deck, which means its ability to compete in the evolving format is basically non-existent, with things only getting worse over time.
- Naga Demon Hunter quietly stands amongst the best decks at top legend. Its internal matchup spread with Druid/Rogue/Warlock means it should be able to maintain this level of performance going forward. It won’t be the best deck, but it’ll be close to it.
- It’s not looking good for Reno Shaman. Sludge Warlock is a “new” matchup that seems quite difficult and harder to handle compared to Treant Druid or Aggro Paladin. The Plague DK’s are out in force to counter Reno Warrior, with Reno Shaman getting hit with collateral damage. As Dew Process takes over Ramp Druid, that matchup will become increasingly difficult to deal with too.
- Full Excavate Shaman is unplayable. Totem Shaman might be okay, but will any of you care if it is? Thought so.
- Mage is a strong contender for the worst class in the game. Rainbow Mage looks done and dusted. The Druid matchup is a nightmare. The Warlock matchup might be even worse. You can revert every nerf the deck got hit with and it’s probably still not strong enough to compete in this format.
- Arcane Hunter looks quite good across most of ladder, but as with most aggressive decks, once you hit the top legend Rogue wall, you fall off. The biggest problem of this deck though is that it got some new cards and almost no one cares. Reno Hunter got no new cards and no one cares. The pattern with Hunter over the last few years is that it’s either insanely powerful that it can’t be ignored, or no one cares.
- Priest shares the bottom of the barrel with Mage. Reno Priest hilariously gets destroyed by Reno Warrior. It gets destroyed by a lot of things. Druid is the least of its problems, as amazing as that sounds. Deck is unplayable.
Class Analysis & Decklists
The most successful Ramp Druid variant has been the Renathal/Dew Process build. Before this build emerged, Ramp Druid did not seem particularly strong or scary. It had the threat potential of Eonar, Naga Giants and Shattered Reflections, but its late game was not close to dominating other strategies. With Dew Process and Renathal, Ramp Druid adds another win condition to its macro game plan, which is fatiguing the opponent to death. This means that decks that could beat Druid by running it out of threats could no longer reliably do so. Now, they are on the clock, forced to kill the Druid before the timer runs out, which proves to be much more difficult.
When it comes to optimizing the build, we’ve once again encountered the same issue we’ve seen before in Druid. Lifebinder’s Gift is a trap card when it’s paired with Embrace of Nature and Nourish. The only way Gift can be correct is if we’re cutting Embrace of Nature, which some builds are doing. Embrace has been successfully cut from Topior Druid before the mini-set, so it’s not a sacred cow, but Embrace and Gift together are just bad. We’ve done analysis three times on this subject, across three different archetypes in three different time periods. The result is the same, every single time. Cutting one of them leads to better results.
A card that’s underplayed in the deck is Crystal Cluster. It performs very well, either accelerating Druid into the late game, or providing a stabilizing play in the late game, while discounting Naga Giant. Wild Growth is a bait mulligan target, so we’ve cut one copy.
Finley is strong in this build because its utility in fatigue becomes relevant, especially in the mirror matchup. Fizzle is also a decent card in the mirror.
Rehydrate is often cut from lists, but the card currently outperforms alternatives such as Chitinous Plating or Lunar Eclipse. It’s the better spell with Topior.
- Druid Class Radar
- Ramp Druid
- Treant Druid
- Dragon Druid
Excavate Rogue spent one day in Tier 4 while Velarok was bugged, before coming back to a dominant position in the format once the bug was fixed. There have been some developments in the deck, as it attempts to curate itself to stand the best chance against Druid.
First, if there was any doubt before, Concoctions should be cut from the deck. They perform poorly against Dew Process Druid, for obvious reasons. Cult Neophyte seems almost mandatory in the current format.
We’ve talked in the last report about Tess Greymane becoming a decent option if it’s paired with Sketchy Stranger. We’ve found a way to run Strangers without cutting Neophytes, which is done by cutting Flint, Finley, and Shadow of Demise. Flint is less important if it’s replaced by other cards that activate Velarok. It’s also weak in the Druid matchup. Shadow of Demise is surprisingly tame. Finley’s utility in this deck is generally overrated, so it’s very cuttable.
Sludge Warlock might become the hottest trending deck this week. It’s performing extremely well, despite not finding its optimal build yet. One card we are unimpressed with is Fracking. Fracking makes little sense anymore as it’s completely redundant. Sludge Warlock should be running both Waste Remover and Chaos Creation, so you have more than enough cards that spit out the Barrels at the bottom of the deck. An aggressive deck shouldn’t run Tracking for the sake of that synergy when it has better options.
There are two directions we’ve identified to be promising and want to see more data from. The first is the suicide Horror build. Imprisoned Horror is strong alongside Flame Imp, Elementium Geode, Tour Guide, and the Fatigue package. We’re less impressed with Soulfreeze specifically in this deck. Every build on ladder chooses between Imprisoned Horror and Waste Remover when the deck can certainly run both. Big stats are good against Druid.
The second build leverages Forge of Wills alongside Waste Remover and Gloomstone Guardian. This deck plays very differently, prioritizing finding Forge of Wills in the mulligan and power spiking on turn 4. Monstrous Form can also help us land Forge targets. You don’t have to forge Guardian in this deck, and you definitely don’t blind keep it in the mulligan to forge it on turn 2 when you don’t have Forge of Wills. You’re counting on filling your hand with Barrels and discarding them when you play it. We suspect many players misuse the card by caring too much about the discard drawback.
Chad Warlock has mostly stayed the same deck, but it’s trying to increase its max damage potential to deal with Druids and Warriors. For that purpose, it’s running Steamcleaner and Zola. Both are relevant in the combo turn. Zola can copy your Silvermoon Arcanist, while Steamcleaner can launch the Barrels at the bottom of your deck.
Insanity Warlock has emerged as a new combo deck for the class. The goal of this deck is to play Encroaching Insanity (ideally twice for maximum damage), then follow it up with Lady Darkvein, Void Virtuoso, and Defile.
The featured build looks very clean, running 4 freeze effects for incredible stalling potential. Furnace Fuel looks awful. To clarify, Furnace Fuel is a card you never want to draw and are hoping to discard exclusively through Fracking or Scourge Supplies, but this synergy is not quite reliable enough, and Fuel needs to be somewhat worth playing as an Arcane Intellect too. If the deck becomes more desperate for draw, there might be better alternatives. Reno is a popular bait card in the deck. If you’ve drawn close to your entire deck to activate Reno, you should already be able to kill your opponent. There is barely a window of opportunity to play an active Reno. There is an option to sacrifice some of the freeze effects for Trogg Gemtosser, to have more damage.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Sludge Warlock
- Chad Warlock
- Insanity Warlock
Reno Warrior has been struggling to justify its hype, but we’ve done a lot of work this week attempting to curate the archetype into competitive forms. There is some promise in two directions that outperform others by a significant margin.
The first approach is the Odyn approach. Adding Odyn alongside armor gain makes Reno Warrior less reliant on finding Brann to win games. General Vezax is a nice card in this deck. Your ETC should have Kobold Miner and other useful battlecry minions post-Brann.
This build is better against Rogue since it has little defense against Odyn. It’s better against Plague Death Knight (Steamcleaner is overrated) since you have a better chance of beating them by bonking them. It’s better in the Warrior mirror too. It’s still atrocious against Dew Process Druid, as most Reno Warrior builds are.
The second approach drops Odyn and most armor gain, focusing on removal and Brann synergy. This build runs a special ETC package with Boomboss Tho’grun and Gaslight Gatekeeper, which you’re meant to discover post-Brann. With the help of Audio Amplifier, you play Boomboss/Gatekeeper on 11 mana as a finishing combo after Brann. This win condition gives you a better chance of beating Dew Process Druid.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Reno Warrior
- Control Warrior
The best Aggro Paladin build drops Countess to run a full excavate package. There are two main benefits. The Azerite Dragon is a relevant piece in some key matchups, so getting it faster and more often is worth running Kobold Miner and Burrow Buster. The second is Finley, which is a very weak card if you don’t run a full excavate package but becomes very powerful if you do.
Reno Paladin is not the most refined archetype out there, but the featured build is relatively solid.
Earthen Paladin shows promise through running a Pure build with a partial excavate package.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Aggro Paladin
- Reno Paladin
- Earthen Paladin
Not much has changed in Plague Death Knight. You could cut Magatha for Prison of Yogg-Saron if you’re looking for more bail outs, but the location has never looked great in this deck.
Rainbow Death Knight might be underexplored. We’ve added Mining Casualties and Quartzite Crusher to the Corpse Bride build that made some noise before the mini-set’s launch.
- Death Knight Class Radar
- Plague Death Knight
- Blood-Ctrl Death Knight
- Rainbow Death Knight
Quick Pick is a very nice card in Naga Demon Hunter, offering us card draw that isn’t tied to a spell, which allows us to cut Spectral Sight from the deck. This makes Sharpshooter better. Felerin is better than Finley as the 30th card.
Reno Shaman benefits from an Excavate package because dual class Finley is nuts in this deck. Maruut is barely good enough, which is disappointing for a highlander payoff.
There’s a new Totem Shaman build which cuts some of the swarming synergies and builds around Gigantotem/Shroomscavate as a finisher.
Mage has been destroyed by the current format. Players have abandoned the Keyboard build in Rainbow Mage, likely because it’s too slow for the current format. Reliquary Researcher and Blastmage Miner provide you with some sort of early pressure in the Excavate build, but the deck is still quite unplayable.
Nerf Sif btw.
Reno Hunter has not gone through any noticeable changes, though it seems most players have gravitated to the Renathal build. Maruut is probably too slow for the deck, which is already greedy enough.
Arcane Hunter looks like the stronger Hunter deck thanks to the addition of Shimmer Shot alongside Mantle Shaper. You should be keeping the 5/5 in the opening hand since that’s when it’s strongest (it’s quite bad to draw later in the game). The popular build runs Collateral Damage and Star Power, which are both awful. We suggest adding Starshooter to help our reach and activate Krakenbane more easily at the later stages of the game.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Reno Hunter
- Arcane Hunter
There’s absolutely nothing that Reno Priest can do to deal with the current format. It’s just horrendously positioned against most of the top tier decks.
Automaton Priest should probably be running Shattered Reflections, but it’s hard for us to recommend the deck.
All other Priest decks have mostly disappeared, so we can’t tell how good they are.
While Paladin will draw most complaints from those looking to climb to legend, the class is likely to become an afterthought at top legend, if it isn’t already. Excavate Rogue and Ramp Druid will take over the top legend field and set the tone. If you can’t deal with them, you’re done.
There is only one aggressive deck that is able to survive in the presence of the dominant duo. Its matchup spread is more resilient than the one offered by Aggro Paladin and Treant Druid. It’s more difficult to counter, due to its off-board damage. It’s more dynamic, with its performance currently holding up admirably well at high MMR’s without losing percentages in the two most important matchups.
Sludge Warlock is one of the best decks to climb to legend with. It’ll remain one of the best performers at top legend. But most players are not aware of how good it is. Now they should be, which means the deck is likely to spike in popularity. Its best build has yet to be figured out, but the two builds we’ve featured in this report should provide a strong foundation for further assessment. Try the one you like more, as they seem close in power currently.
Enjoy a slimy and gooey weekend.
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