vS Data Reaper Report #288

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Welcome to the 288th edition of the Data Reaper Report! This is the final report for Showdown in the Badlands.

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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 1,838,000
Top 1K Legend 59,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 211,000
Diamond 4 to 1 317,000
Diamond 10 to 5 237,000
Platinum 258,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 756,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

At this stage of the expansion, there normally isn’t a lot of movement in the meta, but the last balance patch had such an impact on the format that it’s still changing today. This is particularly true at higher levels of play, where Mage has taken over and cannibalized a significant portion of Rogue’s play rate. Rainbow Mage has nearly hit a 30% play rate at top legend. 30-card builds are the standard, with the initial Renathal variants fading off.

We can also see a small uptick in Warrior, likely as a response to Mage, with Control Warrior fully committed to the 30-card cycling Odyn build. Death Knight, Warlock and Demon Hunter have declined in play. Druid has not gained further traction after showing signs of recovery last week. Priest has completely collapsed, with all hype for Thief Priest gone.

It’s also worth noting that a couple of decks are becoming a new point of interest for high legend players and content creators. The first is Nature Shaman, attempting a final hurrah before Bioluminescence leaves Standard. The second is Overheal Priest! The deck still sees very little play, but a new build is getting some traction in the last couple of days.

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vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion


  • Rainbow Mage is proving to be a fairly difficult deck to counter. Warrior seems to be the most reliable answer. Reno Druid, as well as an optimized build of Ramp Druid can also do some damage. It seems that Mage has become the go-to class for top legend players due to its well-rounded matchup spread and strongest performance level out of every non-aggro deck in the game.


  • Control Warrior is very good. The 30-card cycling Odyn build has proven to possess a strong and consistent late game that few decks can punish. Plague Death Knight is an oppressively hard counter, but beyond that, the deck looks comfortable facing any other opponent. The good matchup into Mage makes it very enticing.
  • Reno Warrior’s late game is also strong, but the deck’s skill ceiling is very low. It is comparable to Plague DK in player agency, which is historically low for a control deck. Add some unfavorable meta changes (such as the drastic fall of Priest), and the deck has fallen to Tier 3 at top legend.


  • Excavate Rogue has essentially been displaced by Rainbow Mage. Once it was established that Mage is favored in the matchup, Rogue’s position in the format has been relegated to a “worse version of Mage”. The decks are very similar in their playstyle and matchup spread (including a struggle into Warrior), but Mage is superior across the board.
  • Secret Rogue might be handling the the meta’s shift a bit better. It can drop Pozzik and go all-in on Drilly to greed up its late game.
  • Miracle Rogue looks alright at higher levels of play. The deck is very difficult to pilot, so it’s unplayable outside of top legend, before sneaking into a ~49% win rate at high MMR’s.

Death Knight

  • While Plague DK continues to stagnate, due to getting increasingly outplayed by Rainbow Mage, Rainbow DK is showing signs of recovery. Rainbow DK has a better matchup into Mage compared to Plague, while benefitting from the decline of Rogue and Priest. It’s now Tier 2 at top legend, while staying the best performing deck at every other rank bracket.


  • Sludge Warlock has been spiking in its performance thanks to very favorable meta trends. It struggles against both Excavate and Secret Rogue. Meanwhile, Rainbow Mage is a close, but comfortable matchup. The fact Mage is cannibalizing Rogue is very good news for Warlock. In addition, Death Knight and Demon Hunter are also in decline. Seeing all of its unfavored matchups decline is pushing Sludge into Tier 1 across ladder. However, Sludge Warlock is unlikely to become the focal point of the meta again. It benefits from its low play rate, since there is little incentive in trying to counter it. The meta is focused on beating Mage and Warrior, which pushes decks into very greedy directions, allowing Sludge Warlock to punish.


  • Although Ramp Druid hasn’t gained much traction this week, we’re confident the deck is stronger than it looks in the current format. It is very unrefined in general, but even the build we landed on last week can be improved. The key is building the deck as greedily as possible to beat both Mage and Warrior. This means Naga Giants and running two copies of Shattered Reflections, while abandoning defensive swing cards. The modified build we’re featuring in this report performs at a power level close to Rainbow Mage.
  • Dragon Druid also looks solid, but the deck has been suffering from low player interest for a while. Reno Druid is a worse late game strategy than an optimized Ramp Druid, by some distance.


  • Nature Shaman is alive! The deck is a Tier 2 performer capable of contesting Mage, Rogue, and Death Knight. Even the Warrior matchup is very winnable. Sludge Warlock is the terrible matchup to avoid, so it makes sense why this deck has become viable after the nerfs to the Sludge package.
  • Totem Shaman is also a fine deck, but struggles to attract players since it gets outclassed by Sludge Warlock and Aggro Paladin at different rank brackets.


  • Reno and Thief Priest have no chance of competing when Mage’s presence is so high. Rainbow Mage has been a consistent pain in the butt for slow Priest decks throughout the last two expansions. However, some good news has arrived from a surprising direction.
  • Although Overheal Priest’s play rate is still very low, meaning that we’re not confident in placing it in the Power Ranking table, it looks extremely promising. Based on our rough estimate, Overheal Priest is projected to be a Tier 1 deck across ladder. This would make it the best deck at top legend. Yes, it’s performing at an estimated higher level than Mage, Warrior, and Warlock! A year after the Overheal mechanic was introduced, an Overheal Priest deck has finally become meta. Not just meta, but a bubbling Meta Breaker.

Demon Hunter

  • Spell DH’s performance is improving at lower ranks, but declining at higher ranks. It’s not particularly bothered by the spike in Rainbow Mage, but by the Warrior response to Mage. Its matchup spread is well rounded, but tarnished by how difficult of an opponent Control Warrior is proving to be.


  • Paladin has been very difficult to balance. Aggro Paladin is close to being the best deck outside of top legend (2nd only to Rainbow DK), yet it’s also close to being unplayable at top legend. This leads to a huge disconnect in the narrative surrounding the class amongst the general player base and content creators.


  • Hunter is basically a weaker Paladin, which explains why its play rate is so low, despite Reno/Arcane Hunter looking like reasonable choices at lower MMR’s.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Data Reaper Report - Mage

Mage is a class that started the expansion quite well, proceeded to fade with balance changes, until it disappeared. Just a few weeks ago, it was the worst class in the game, but that changed when Energy Shaper was buffed, which gave Rainbow Mage a new avenue in which to win games.

Now, it finishes the expansion stronger than it started, becoming the favorite choice amongst top legend players. Energy Shaper will be gone in rotation. The Rainbow set sticks around, but we know it could no longer hold its own weight. Will Mage find another way to complement Sif, or will it find a new direction?

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Warrior has gone from strength to strength this expansion, gaining more traction as other classes saw their win conditions nerfed. The class is extremely well positioned going into rotation. Not only are its most important sets surviving rotation, but Warrior is getting an amazing Core set boost with the addition of Fiery War Axe and Town Crier.

Reno Warrior will be looking to succeed in Hearthstone’s next late game battle, should lethality be brought down in rotation. Astalor might be going away, but Deepminer Brann is the type of card that’s not too difficult to leverage, considering battlecry minions are the most commonly competitive minions in the game.

Control Warrior centered on Odyn should also remain intact. The loss of Renathal means that its excavate grindy game plan is at risk of falling off, but its 30-card build is poised to become one of the most intimidating late game strategies that are surviving rotation.

For Warrior, the new set is a free hit. It doesn’t need much to compete.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Excavate Rogue has seen Mage eclipse it in the Casino game plan, losing favor amongst players. For the class, rotation is quite brutal, leaving it with little else to rely on beyond the Excavate package, which is also being hit with the loss of Scourge Illusionist.

The class’ upcoming direction is more about draw, rather than generation. The pirate package may seem ominous at first, with Rogue potentially revisiting its disappointing Sunken City venture, but these sets couldn’t be more different. Watch out for Toy Boat. This could be the card that turns Rogue’s pirates into the most dynamic tribe they’ve ever been.

Death Knight players should be looking to the future with some optimism, as the most important thing to watch out for isn’t a specific card, but a revamped design philosophy from Team 5.

Triple rune cards are going to be rarer going forward. Rune restrictions are being relaxed, which means deck building decisions could become more meaningful. For example, if Vampiric Blood is the only triple Blood card, then perhaps tapping into Unholy to grab the Headless Horseman isn’t such a crazy idea.

Both Rainbow and Plague Death Knight will survive rotation. In fact, most Death Knight archetypes that have been competitive at some point, have not had the door firmly shut in their face thanks to Core set updates.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock started this expansion with a bang that only lasted a couple of days, before Snake Warlock got obliterated. Sludge Warlock was initially a dud, but a good example of buffs saving a set that ended up underpowered at release.

A few buffs and a mini-set card suddenly turned Sludge Warlock into an overpowered monster. Thankfully, the deck wasn’t nerfed too hard and is still very good today. It loses nothing in rotation, which puts it in a good position in theory. The question is whether players will be interested in the deck once it officially becomes “old”. Aggro decks tend to struggle maintaining a long shelf life even when they stay viable.

The class’ next set is late game oriented, with big demons on the menu. Core set updates are also very supportive of the nostalgic Handlock archetype. There’s a decent chance that Warlock will have multiple competitive options.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Druid has been a bad boy this expansion, causing much mayhem after the mini-set, which gave players bad memories of its Titans’ antics. The class has shown impressive resilience in the aftermath of balance changes, though Ramp Druid will need to reinvent itself with new win conditions available in Whizbang’s Workshop.

Druid’s Dragon-centric set of Badlands has been quite successful early on, but its shelf life has proven to be quite short. Some of it has to do with balance changes nerfing Whelp and Nestmatron, but its playstyle has also come into question, with players quickly losing interest in Dragon Druid. Treant Druid has never been a player favorite, disappearing once it stopped being strong.

Reno Druid has lost a lot of favor amongst the player base as well. Initially testing Reno decks with some duplicates, players cracked the code once they ran a duplicate deck with a lot of card draw to activate Reno. The success of these decks has dealt a huge blow to the relevance of Reno decks, something we can also see in the Warrior class to a lesser extent.

Should the Highlander condition be updated in the face of more card draw available in the format? If the answer is no, then Highlander cards going forward may need to remain proactive in nature (like Doctor Holli’dae), so they don’t become defensive payoffs to fatigue decks. Reno’s inclusion in duplicate decks is a result of being one of the strongest defensive cards ever printed.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Shaman has had a rough expansion. Reno Shaman’s early success was warped by how powerful Doctor Holli’dae ended up being, which made it feel like a one-card deck. Once the card was toned down, interest in the archetype was lost. The introduction of Reno Warrior in the mini-set, further elevating Plague DK in the process, finished off Reno Shaman’s competitive viability.

Other archetypes have never seen much play. Totem Shaman was a fringe deck for the entire expansion. Big Shaman saw a bit of interest after big buffs, but quickly lost steam. There’s a bit of a revival in Nature Shaman at higher levels of play. The deck looks good, so if you’re up to playing some Bio combos again, you have a couple of weeks before it’s gone.

On a positive note, Shaman probably has one of the most exciting sets in Whizbang’s Workshop. Shudderblock is a fantastic late game enabler that we think will revive the player base’s interest in the class.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Overheal Priest has flopped throughout the year, but in an ironic twist, the archetype may have finally found a competitive level just this week.

Slower Priest decks remained fringe throughout the expansion. No matter how many nerfs hit other classes, they always fell a bit short, a bit too situational, to become a serious player in the meta. Reno Priest, much like other Reno decks, could not build a large following. The spike of Thief Priest after the recent buff patch shows there is a hunger for this type of deck, but its casino game plan could not stand up to Jaina’s roulette skills.

What Control Priest decks are desperately missing is a proactive win condition of their own. Priest needs to find their Odyn. Their Sif. A win condition they can build up to and finish off opponents with, rather than looking to grind opponents forever and then lose to effective finishers available in other classes.

Thankfully, the class is getting exactly that with Zarimi. A complete game changer in what seems to be a very powerful Priest set. Buckle up.

Demon Hunter is a class in crisis. Its only competitive option throughout most of the expansion has been Naga Demon Hunter, a deck reviled by many high-level players for its play patterns, while ignored by low MMR players due to its difficulty in execution.

Initially nerfed lightly to maintain its viability, the hammer finally came down on Sharpshooter in the last patch, leaving the deck dead. In compensation, Spell DH, another deck with a checkered history, was revived with buffs. The deck is fine, but players haven’t warmed up to it.

We’re not sure where the class is headed in Whizbang’s Workshop. Most of the class sets have some obviously powerful cards that can offer a strong foundation to new strategies. We’ll think about it more, but we’re not getting a similar vibe from Demon Hunter.

It seems that once the Relic package fell out of favor, Demon Hunter has been unable to establish a competitive strategy with play patterns that both players and developers found acceptable.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Paladin has spent another expansion proving to be difficult to balance between different levels of play. Whenever Paladin was powerful at top legend, it looked broken outside of legend. Once it’s reasonably balanced at Diamond ranks, it looks underpowered at higher levels of play.

Paladin’s simplistic design and identity is often seen as a strength. A class that fits players starting out their Hearthstone adventure. Uther helps young Hearthstoners learn about board control and trades. The existence of simple decks can be important for the health of the game.

But perhaps this expansion has shown that simplistic design does not always smell of roses. If the deck is too easy to play, to the point it tells players how to play the game, it can become unbearably powerful at lower ranks, outclassing other strategies while giving young Hearthstoners a negative play experience (another historically good example is Quest Warrior).

Once this strategy is toned down to break its low MMR dominance, it’s no longer relevant at the higher ends of ladder. That could be considered fine and acceptable, but it does contribute to reduced class diversity at higher ranks.

The next Paladin set might be more of the same. Raw stats and little subtlety in power. We’ll be surprised if the class is any different in its behavior, but the addition of Leeroy Jenkins to a handbuff archetype might make it tougher to play around and more dynamic.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Hunter has become Green Paladin lately. Similar pattern of behavior, but in a far more desperate situation. While Paladin attracts a sizeable player base and can’t be considered as a class in a crisis, Hunter barely gets any attention. It is weaker than Paladin but might also be less attractive to the average player.

What the class is most desperate for is interesting cards. It needs power, but that’s not enough. It needs to capture the hearts of players. Is Hunter’s class identity compatible with widespread appeal in 2024? Or has it become a class that only sees significant play when it’s an extreme power outlier?

In what can only be described as a fitting end to the Hearthstone year, Overheal Priest might have emerged as the best deck in the game in the last week before patch 29.0. This build has multiple paths to victory. It possesses strong board control and board swing tools thanks to Injured Hauler and Thirsty Drifter. It can deal OTK damage through Hedanis/Pip/Cake. It’s got great card draw potential with Crimson Clergy acting as an Auctioneer-esque engine.

It’s likely that this deck will prove to be quite difficult to play, but as it stands, its matchup spread looks very good. The only bad matchup seems to be Warrior, due to the combination of removal and armor gain, requiring the Priest to execute a big Hedanis/Pip/Cake combo to finish the Warrior off.

It’s a bit of a shame that this deck may never reach a significant play rate this expansion considering how late it has emerged, but it could make some serious noise in Whizbang’s Workshop. If you’re an Overheal enthusiast, now is not the time to wait for the next expansion. Now is the time to log in and jam some Hearthstone.

Remember that we have the final card reveals for Whizbang’s Workshop coming out on Saturday, March 9th. Exclusive on this website. Don’t miss it!

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