vS Data Reaper Report #286

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Welcome to the 286th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

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Class/Archetype Distribution | Class Frequency | Matchup Winrates | vS Power Rankings | vS Meta Score | Class Analysis & Decklists | Meta Breaker of the Week | How to Contribute | Credits

Number of Games

Overall 1,415,000
Top 1K Legend 53,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 220,000
Diamond 4 to 1 321,000
Diamond 10 to 5 263,000
Platinum 194,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 364,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

Note that the data for this report does not reflect any time period after the addition of the gift cards and Harth Stonebrew. None of the decks in this report feature these cards, as we had no chance to evaluate them yet.

There are two different undercurrents in the format. Across most of ladder, the growing narrative is that Control Warrior is rising to counter Sludge Warlock. However, it seems that the top legend field has already moved beyond this phase. Sludge Warlock is rising in play at high MMR’s, where it’s nearing a 30% play rate. Meanwhile, Control Warrior is in decline. Reno Warrior is on its way to completely disappear from top level play too.

An internal shift in Death Knight is occurring, in which Plague DK is declining, while Rainbow DK grows. This lines up with Rainbow DK proving to be the superior deck across all levels of play.

Excavate Rogue has abandoned the nerfed Shattershambler iterations and is fully focusing on different builds. There is growing interest in the class at higher levels of play, as players seek alternatives to Warlock and Warrior, while finding most other classes to be dead, or unattractive.

Ramp Druid has gone through a significant transformation this week, in which a new iteration of the Death Beetle variant has taken over the archetype very rapidly, leading to Druid’s sudden burst of growth at top legend. Druid has looked completely directionless before this spark of life seems to have brought it back to relevancy.

Reno Priest has risen in play, a sign of its relative success against Control Warrior. There has been increased focus across all classes and archetypes to try and target Control Warrior this week. With the field seemingly unable to deal with Sludge Warlock, decks have moved on to try and gain advantage against the next in line.

Another sign of this new focus is the decline of Naga Demon Hunter. Naga DH has a very poor matchup into Warrior, so players have moved away from it.

Paladin is still very visible on the climb to legend, but it’s almost non-existent at top legend. There are some rumblings of Big Paladin going around, with the deck hailed as an effective counter to Sludge Warlock. This deck’s play rate is still very low.

Mage, Shaman and Hunter behave like dead classes. They either have no competitively viable decks, or they have ones that players don’t care about.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion


  • In one of the most remarkable turnarounds we can remember, Ramp Druid has gone from a dead archetype into the 2nd best performing deck at top legend in less than a week. Albeit, the gap in power between it and Sludge Warlock looks quite big. Ramp Druid still has some room for improvement through refinement, so we’ll see if it manages to narrow it down a bit.
  • How did this happen? There was no sign of this turnaround in the last report’s data. We noticed Ramp Druid’s Death Beetle variant, but it didn’t perform particularly well. It didn’t look like a deck that would be able to seriously compete. The change occurred when players started to run Funnel Cake, which has proven to be one of the deck’s best cards. The card has spread like wildfire. We estimate it is responsible for a ~4% win rate spike in the deck’s performance. Death Beetle Druid running Funnel Cake now looks like the best non-Warlock deck in the game, one that has usurped Control Warrior as the late game defining strategy.
  • While many other decks in the format have made major adjustments to perform better against Warrior, Ramp Druid has emerged as a very hard counter to the archetype, leading to Control Warrior’s collapsing performance at top legend. We expect Warrior’s downfall at higher levels of play to accelerate this week.
  • Ramp Druid’s rise is not necessarily a good development for the already deteriorating health of the format, since the deck still loses to Sludge Warlock. By potentially killing off Control Warrior, Ramp Druid is crowning Sludge Warlock as the undisputed, unstoppable tyrant of the format. It now becomes clear why the top legend field is seeing a rise in Warlock again, after the deck’s growth was initially slowed down by Control Warrior. News of Ramp Druid’s rebirth just hasn’t trickled down.


  • Ramp Druid’s shock return locks Sludge Warlock down as the best deck in the game. In addition to the help it’s getting from Druid, Sludge Warlock has made its own build adjustments to deal with Control Warrior better. These adjustments have proven to be effective. It’s possible that a Warrior collapse will lead Warlock down a different build path again, but the deck is proving to be extremely versatile and flexible. Sludge Warlock also doesn’t seem to lose any ground in its performance at higher levels of play, which makes it quite different from decks like Aggro Paladin and Treant Druid.


  • It might be over for Control Warrior. Unless it finds a way to adjust to the Ramp Druid matchup, perhaps through disruption, its days of domination have been cut short. The one positive for Warrior players is that Death Beetle Ramp Druid may not translate well to lower rank brackets, as it seems relatively difficult to play and faces a more hostile field. This would keep Warrior strong elsewhere on ladder. We expect Ramp Druid to hit a 10-15% play rate at top legend, but as it stands, its play rate at upper Diamond may not even reach 5%.
  • Reno Warrior seems to have a very difficult time at higher levels of play, and it’s not because of Ramp Druid’s rise. This matchup is actually reasonably close. Reno Warrior’s underlying issue seems to be a very low skill ceiling. It’s comparable to Plague DK, leading to it getting exposed by stronger players. Reno decks in this expansion seem to have very low player agency in general. Highlander decks don’t necessarily have to behave this way. Raza Priest was one of the most skill intensive decks in its time, for example.

Death Knight

  • A transition from Warrior to Druid may prove to be disastrous for Death Knight. Rainbow DK has been holding up well, but its Ramp Druid matchup is atrocious. Plague DK doesn’t enjoy the Druid matchup either. Much like Warrior, Death Knight will be hoping Ramp Druid’s rebirth is contained to high MMR ladder. Death Knight’s collapse at top legend seems inescapable.


  • Excavate Rogue is showing a clear improvement in its performance, a result of its adjustment to the Shattershambler nerf with new builds. Secret Rogue may also have found a breakthrough in its build, which could raise its ceiling. However, we’ll have to see how Rogue further adjusts to a rise in Druid. This is not a good matchup for either Excavate or Secret Rogue. Mech Rogue does have a very strong matchup into Druid, which is why its win rate is currently in the process of spiking.


  • Reno Priest is still in play to compete. Its matchup against Ramp Druid seems close, so the fall of Control Warrior may not be too big of a problem. The one factor to keep in mind is that to perform best against Ramp Druid, Reno Priest may want to be built differently from how it wants to be built against Control Warrior.

Demon Hunter

  • On paper, Naga Demon Hunter should be greatly encouraged by recent developments. It has a strong matchup against Ramp Druid. If Warrior declines to a significant degree, its performance will very likely improve.


  • There is one soft counter to Sludge Warlock, but its play rate is too low to confidently place in the table: Big Paladin! The problem is that Big Paladin has an oppressively poor matchup against Ramp Druid, so we’re not sure it will gain much traction over the next week. In contrast, Aggro Paladin is a very dominant counter to Ramp Druid, but one that we know performs worse at higher levels of play. Part of the reason why Ramp Druid performs better at top legend is that the Paladin population is non-existent, compared to Aggro Paladin’s play rate at Diamond ranks. Indeed, Ramp Druid’s dramatic recovery may not have been possible if Treant Druid and Aggro Paladin were more relevant players in the format.

Mage, Shaman, Hunter

  • There is nothing to say that hasn’t been said already, so we’ll skip commenting on these classes.

Class Analysis & Decklists

Death Knight | Demon Hunter | Druid | Hunter | Mage | Paladin | Priest | Rogue | Shaman | Warlock | Warrior


Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Sludge Warlock has responded to the rise of Control Warrior by adjusting its build to be far greedier. Currently, the best performing direction cuts the Fatigue package, which isn’t very good against Warrior, for stronger threats. Even though Symphony of Sins has some anti-synergy with Barrels of Sludge, it’s a strong late game card, especially when paired with Finley. Pozzik is a sticky threat that’s hard to remove. Sargeras is the ultimate late game card. Astalor is seeing more play in multiple decks across ladder as a low hanging fruit that’s universally strong against Warrior. Another card we almost put in the deck is Dar’Khan.

Though it might be fun to pile more greed into the deck, it’s possible that Druid’s recovery steers Warlock back into wanting to snowball early. Cult Neophytes are an option to think about if you’re seeing an increased number of Druids at top legend.

We like Shallow Grave’s performance in Insanity Warlock. It makes the Warrior matchup significantly stronger, to the point we’ve added a second copy for maximum damage and consistency. We’ve dropped Finley and Glacial Shard to make space.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Control Warrior is facing a tougher field that’s responded very effectively to its rise. We’ve added the second copy of Sanitize to the 40-Excavate build, since there’s more pressure on the Warrior to find AOE in certain matchups. A second copy of From the Depths looks correct in the 30-Cycling build. The 30th card here is either Slam, or Shield Slam.

Reno Warrior seems to have stagnated in terms of refinement.

Rainbow Death Knight is adding Astalor for the Warrior matchup. The card that makes way is one Chillfallen Baron. Some players cut Gold Panner for Nerubian Vizier, but we don’t like this change. Card draw is more valuable than generation in this deck. Panner is a better performer throughout the game. If we’re cutting a Baron, we don’t want to cut more draw.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

The Thunderbringer build of Excavate Rogue seems to do well, but an alternative has emerged, which is running Antique Flinger. The card provides a decent response to Sludge Warlock, but also Ramp Druids, which have picked up more traction recently.

Another adjustment geared to the potential rise of Druid is dropping Breakdance and Sketchy Stranger for Greedy Partner and Cult Neophyte. Against a Druid deck with OTK capabilities, you want to frontload as much power and mana as possible, rather than focus on long term value.

Secret Rogue has started running Pozzik, which is a less extreme way to generate threats from Illusionist compared to Thunderbringer. This adjustment looks very promising.

Wishing Rogue currently performs better without the Excavate package.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

The transformation of the Beetle variant of Ramp Druid from a deck that looked weak to a strong and competitive option comes down to the addition of Funnel Cake. Funnel Cake makes the execution of a full OTK with Beetle/Eclipse/Reflections easier. It’s also just a good swing card. We highly recommend running two copies of Funnel Cake. The deck just isn’t good without it.

The other reason why Beetle Druid has managed to come out alive of the brutal balance changes was that the nerfs to Pendant and Shattered Reflections haven’t drastically affected its core win condition. Shattered Reflections is a combo piece to copy charge damage, so adding a copy of Death Beetle to your hand doesn’t matter if you’ve killed your opponent. Pendant’s value in this deck comes from being a consistent minion tutor. It’s less critical to gain massive amounts of armor since you don’t aim to win by grinding out the opponent.

This also means that Naga Giants aren’t core pieces to the deck anymore. Some players run Topior and Yogg instead to have more defensive swing potential. Not much separates Yogg/Top from Giants, but we’re confident on the other 28 cards in the deck. We don’t think Fizzle is necessary.

This is also the first Druid deck where Embrace of Nature and Lifebinder’s Gift co-exist successfully, but it’s easy to understand why, since the discount from Gift is relevant for the deck’s OTK execution. Try to discount Funnel Cake, Solar Eclipse, and Shattered Reflections with Gift.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

The targeting of Warrior is bad news for Reno Priest since it somewhat relies on the popularity of Control Warrior to succeed. The good news is that the new Ramp Druid looks like a close matchup, which often comes down to whether you can Rat/Theo your opponent’s Beetle. The featured build is geared for a field that’s assuming a decline in Warrior and a rise in Druid.

Naga Demon Hunter is in a poor position in the format and will be hoping to see Ramp Druid further curb the Control Warrior population.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

There’s been some hype over Big Paladin. The deck does seem to have a good matchup against Sludge Warlock. The problem is that it’s not particularly well rounded beyond this one matchup. Some room for improvement does exist. Keeper’s Strength doesn’t perform well in the deck, so we’ve swapped it for Hand of A’dal. Tirion looks like a good threat.

Reno Paladin is trying to run Renathal to deal with Warrior. We don’t think the archetype is well positioned, regardless of build.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

It’s quite incredible how bad Rainbow Mage is these days. We’re hoping the class gets a nice set in Whizbang’s Workshop. It desperately needs a power injection.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Reno Shaman started running both Dirty Rat and Theotar, which is basically its one last gasp of desperation before it stops breathing. The deck’s late game just can’t compete with other strategies, so it resorts to trying to stop opponents from executing their game plan. It doesn’t seem to help enough.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Players have taken a long break from the Hunter class. This break is likely to persist up until the next expansion. The class needs fresh new ideas.

Ramp Druid is the major story of the week, transforming from a dead archetype with its best build looking like a high Tier 4 deck, to potentially the strongest non-Warlock deck in the format. However, this development isn’t going to create a more diverse format. Druid is simply usurping Warrior and locking Sludge Warlock down as the #1 deck, with no threat to its seat. The current meta is expected to have a massive power vacuum, with Warrior and Death Knight the most likely classes to suffer major hits. Other classes will be trying to fill this vacuum, such as Rogue. The problem is that so many classes seem irrelevant, that choices remain very scarce.

Our experience following Blizzard’s patch cadence leads us to believe that balance changes are very likely coming next week. However, hard nerfs to Sludge Warlock could lead to Ramp Druid becoming a dangerously dominant deck once again. The power vacuum in the format is making it very easy for any deck that emerges with a functional late game to immediately jump to the front of the queue, which is creating a game of Whac-A-Mole. Such is the state of a game where more than half the classes in the format have no late game to speak of.

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