Welcome to the 29th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
This the first report after the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, and boy oh boy, we have much to discuss! Surprises are in store as the Meta is rapidly changing every day. While it is still early, we can observe some very interesting and impactful developments. In addition to that, rank detection has been fixed by the Track-o-bot developer, so we’re able to see the Meta at every level of play much more easily. We give much thanks for that.
Number of Games
Class Frequency by Day (Since MSoG Launch)
Class Frequency by Week
The Meta, at first glance, is fascinating to us stat nerds. There are actually two different Meta’s: one at legend rank, and the other is at non-legend ranks. We highly suspect that the Meta at legend is a foreshadowing of what’s to come for the game, as it’s a step ahead of the non-legend Meta when it comes to evaluating the power of each deck. Eventually, the two Meta’s will converge. It’s already happening according to our live metrics.
Pirate Warrior started off the expansion firing on all cylinders, but it’s already losing its place as the dominant archetype. At ranks 1-5, Aggro Shaman is king, and at legend rank, the number of Pirate Warriors, while still significant, is cut by nearly a half. Aggro Shaman obliterates Pirate Warrior, and there is a direct correlation between the rise of Shaman and the fall of Warrior. Dragon Warrior is also becoming more relevant as we climb the ranks.
Valeera is back. The number of Miracle Rogues at legend rank is astonishing, and Rogue is the second most popular class there. Pirate Warrior is a direct counter to Miracle Rogue, and as they drop in numbers, Miracle Rogue finds itself in a terrific position in the Meta. How terrific? Read on.
The Warlock class has been turned upside down. Reno Warlock is the dominant archetype and is one of the most popular archetypes in the game. Zoo is an afterthought and is barely even seen. It’s hard to remember a period in Hearthstone’s history where Zoo looked this irrelevant.
Jade Druid is the third most popular archetype in the game overall, but at legend ranks, its numbers drastically drop and the trend is continuing. Many people have hyped the archetype to be Meta defining before release, and some also feared it would kill the viability of control decks. Control Warrior is certainly hiding under a rock somewhere. The Druid class looks to be declining, with heavy experimentation being done with combo Druid builds that move away from the Jade Golem mechanic.
Priest is an actual class in Hearthstone. It’s relevant, it’s seeing play and it has two viable archetypes with significant presence at the moment: Reno and Dragon. Much like Druid though, the class is seeing a decline in numbers at legend ranks, and this is likely due to the large amount of Reno Warlocks and Miracle Rogues roaming around there. However, we don’t expect the class to decline much more from the initial hype, as it has clear strengths against certain archetypes.
Mage is not seeing much play or experimentation. Tempo Mage did not get many tools that fit the archetype in this expansion, so the interest in playing the deck is currently low. Reno Mage is more popular and has a steady presence, but has been written off by many as an inferior deck to Reno Warlock and Reno Priest. How much of that is true remains to be seen!
That’s our initial assessment regarding the ladder presence of the seven classes in Hearthstone. Wait, there are two more classes? Where are they? Should we issue a search warrant for Paladin and Hunter? Anyone who finds one of these opponents at legend rank, let us know and we’ll investigate.
Looking at these tables at first glance certainly helps explaining the legend Meta and why it’s so different from the non-legend Meta. Let’s dissect the factors which are leading to these numbers!
Aggro Shaman is incredibly powerful, and there is no doubt about that. The new Pirate and Jade-related tools it has received in the expansion have pushed it over the top and it’s displaying an extremely high win rate. Midrange Shaman, while not being nearly as dominant as it was before, is still very strong. So, are we back to Shamanstone? We don’t believe so. While Aggro Shaman is currently enjoying itself feasting upon Pirate Warriors and Jade Druids, the Meta is certainly responding to it. This is not the Karazhan Meta where there is a dominant deck that no one can beat. Aggro Shaman has viable counters. Midrange Shaman has viable counters. These counters can rise in response and knock them down a peg or two.
Pirate Warrior is certainly strong, but the Meta is in the process of suppressing it. Its most prevalent counter, Aggro Shaman, has unseated it from its throne. Interestingly, Dragon Warrior is a stronger choice at legend as well as at the bottleneck to legend (ranks 1-5). Both of these archetypes have very different matchup spreads, and the key difference is the matchup with Aggro Shaman. Aggro Shaman destroys Pirate Warrior, but gets countered (!) by Dragon Warrior. In addition, Dragon Warrior beats Pirate Warrior. The disadvantage of Dragon Warrior is worse matchups against Miracle Rogue, Reno Warlock and Priest. The bottom line, there’s a balance to be struck, and as a result, we expect to see the shift from Pirate to Dragon to continue until a certain steady state is reached. If you enjoy playing fast paced Warrior decks, identifying the Meta you’re facing, and knowing which deck is stronger at any given time, will help you win more games!
Remember when everyone thought Rogue would be the worst class in the game? What a difference a couple of weeks make. Not only is Rogue viable, it could be argued that Miracle Rogue is the BEST deck in the game. The decline of Pirate Warrior, which is Miracle Rogue’s biggest counter, is setting up the stage for Miracle Rogue to take over. It is a tier 2 deck in a Meta rampant with aggression, but at legend, it is placed firmly at tier 1 with a score that surpasses even Aggro Shaman. But doesn’t Aggro Shaman counter Miracle Rogue? Not anymore. While it is certainly favored, most Aggro Shamans these days do not wield the dreaded Doomhammer, and it makes the matchup with Miracle Rogue much closer than before. In addition, the pirate package Miracle has embraced, gives Rogues a proactive early game that helps them contest the board against aggressive decks. The board-flooding Midrange Shaman is actually a scarier opponent for Rogue at the moment than Aggro Shaman, and all the while, Miracle Rogue is destroying Druids, Priests and Warlocks. We’ll have to wait and see whether more Shamans return to equip Doomhammer in order to smash Valeera’s face in.
Jade Druid is looking like the most overrated deck in the game. Its matchup spread is very weak and it’s a deck we expect will fade away as the Meta is quickly learning how to beat it. It gets stomped by Shamans and any form of aggression, it gets stomped by Miracle Rogue, it gets beaten down by Dragon Priest, and its advantages against some control decks are just not worth it. It doesn’t even beat Reno Warlock reliably, with the matchup being dead even. The deck’s win condition appears to be just too slow. Malygos Druid looks even worse, but unlike Jade Druid, this deck’s sample size is relatively small and its build variance is too erratic to write off (same could be said for C’Thun Druid). It hasn’t settled down from its experimental stage, so it could very well establish itself as a strong deck eventually. We don’t see the same room for growth in Jade Druid that we see in Malygos Druid (Hint: Tictac is a good deckbuilder, try his lists).
Let’s talk about an underrated deck. Apparently, there’s a deck out there that can beat Aggro Shaman, Midrange Shaman, Pirate Warrior, Dragon Warrior, Miracle Rogue and Reno Warlock. It’s called Reno Mage. The written off archetype is looking like a potential Meta Breaker waiting to happen. Why is it so ignored and under the radar? When looking at its matchup spread, you can see how polarizing it is. Reno Mage gets countered by two classes: Druid and Priest. It cannot handle Jade Druid whatsoever, and it greatly struggles against both Dragon and Reno Priests, so it’s understandable why people have been reluctant to play it so far. However, both Druid and Priest are declining to different extents, and Reno Mage becomes much stronger at higher ranks where they are less present. These circumstances set up Reno Mage at a place where it could potentially explode into the scene. It is the most consistent and effective anti-Aggro Reno deck, and the only control deck that seems to be able to trade punches with Miracle Rogue and be left standing. That is a very big deal, and we’re wondering if there is a specific build that can alleviate some of the archetype’s weaknesses. If there is, it might surprisingly end up being the best Reno deck in a not so distant future Metagame. Inkmaster Solia is waiting.
Priest passes the test of viability, with two archetypes hovering between Tier 2 and Tier 3. While not being as strong as some people expected the class to be, it is certainly strong enough and has room to grow. Much experimentation is being done with the class to try and improve its worst match ups, and this is certainly a good time for Priest mains to enjoy the game, especially for Zetalot – the Eternal Priest Masochist that for whom we’re all rooting. Meanwhile, Zoo has been shoved down to the gutter, and we can also spot the remnants of the Hunter These Hunters appear to be losing a lot of games at the moment. Hearthstone has been turned upside down. Except for Paladins. Poor Paladins.
There are decks that due to a very low play rate, we just can’t evaluate yet. Decks like Control Warrior and Control Shaman are almost nonexistent, and if they are present, they are so erratic in their builds that it’s very hard to draw any conclusions on their performance. Once they appear on our radars, they’ll be added to this table.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Shiver me timbers! The new expansion sees Warrior surge to the very peak of the Meta, almost entirely due to two cards: Small-Time Buccaneer and Patches the Pirate. These two cards provide Pirate Warrior with much-needed consistency as well as additional board control and damage in the early game, with Patches in particular providing the totally free value that hugely benefits aggro decks. Pirate Warrior is the most played deck everywhere but Legend, which is a function of its power, its speed and its relative simplicity compared to other decks in this Meta. It seems unlikely that such a level of usage will continue, however, with people figuring out how to beat the deck and slower decks being constantly refined. Pirate Warrior is likely to fall away slightly as the Meta adapts, then resurge as the Meta stops trying as hard to beat it. List-wise, the standard was set as early as day 1 by established Pirate Warrior player, Sintolol, who hit Legend within 2 days of release playing the deck. Despite rigorous experimentation, his deck continues to be the most consistent, with the only real flex spot being Acidic Swamp Ooze. Other players have experimented with cards like Hobart Grapplehammer and Southsea Captain, but generally people return to this list.
Dragon Warrior is the other deck that benefited from the addition of Pirates. Being a relatively fast deck, it takes advantage of the additional board control gained from a free 1/1 charge, and cards like N’Zoth’s First Mate fit pretty nicely into the deck already. Inderen hit #1 legend with a list featuring an Arcanite Reaper, while Zalae hit top 50 with a more standard list cutting the 5 mana weapon for a 2nd Blood to Ichor.
Lifecoach and SuperJJ took a list also running Bloodsail Cultist to Esports Superstars, with JJ finishing as runner-up. Dragon Warrior appears ready to make a bigger splash, with a significantly higher usage rate at higher ranks, suggesting the deck is better than the majority of people give it credit for, which is backed up by its solid winrate.
If Pirates aren’t your thing, you might be in for a rough time in this Meta. An almost unwinnable matchup against Jade Druid makes it very hard to consistently win games with any variant of Control Warrior, although Fibonacci managed to put together a solid list with which he hit legend. His list is noteworthy as it does not include Justicar Trueheart. Should Jade Druid’s numbers fall, Control Warrior might see a return to relevance. Until then, it looks very bleak for Control Warrior fans, and not at all a fitting swan song to Justicar’s time in Standard.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Sintolol’s Pirate Warrior
- Inderen’s Dragon Warrior
- Zalae’s Dragon Warrior
- Fibonacci’s N’Zoth Control Warrior
A new expansion has arrived and we have the same old class dominating the Meta, at least initially. While Pirate Warrior has first emerged to be the most dominant aggressive deck on ladder, it was quickly eclipsed by Aggro Shaman, a deck that completely obliterates it. With the new Pirate package and another early game weapon, Aggro Shaman’s explosive openings are now even more consistent, and can quickly run over every deck in the game.
Aggro Shaman currently boasts incredible build diversity. This diversity is centered around its weapons, and the packages built around them. The newly introduced Jade mechanic has found itself to be a terrific fit for Aggro Shaman, as the early game weapons synergizes with the Pirate package perfectly. Plus, the token golems, even if small, help contest the board and further enable Flametongue Totem swing turns. Jade Lightning is another source of direct damage that Aggro Shaman can’t have enough of, being versatile enough to act as both removal and burn.
In addition to the Jade package, Spirit Claws, as well as the Doomhammer package with Rockbiters, both remain viable options. You will find that every Aggro Shaman build will consist of two of these weapons, and that’s where most lists differ.
Spo’s build opts for Jade/Spirit Claws, forgoing Doomhammer. This provides the deck with incredible consistency in its early game, as it is able to seize board control, and activate its Pirates often and early, making it the best deck to play in the mirror matchup or against other aggressive decks. It is also the most successful and common build, with which Tyler nearly hit #1 legend on THREE different servers at the same time! Since then, Spo has suggested dropping one Flamewreathed Faceless for Leeroy to improve the matchup against Miracle Rogue, as the lack of Doomhammers means this matchup is much closer than before, and Rogue possesses one of the best answers to the 4 mana 7/7 in Sap. If you’re facing a lot of Druids, consider keeping the double Faceless. Aya Blackpaw is an interesting inclusion to the build which provides a sticky mid-game threat that increases the deck’s longevity and synergizes further with the Jade package.
Demigod, one of the most accomplished Aggro Shaman players in the game, has found great success with a Jade/Doomhammer build, hitting #1 legend. This list cuts Spirit Claws, as well as a Maelstrom Portal, which are cards that often conflict with Finley. This build most resembles the Aggro Shaman decks of old, focusing on charge minions and burst damage.
Non-Jade Aggro Shamans are also present. Thijs brought to the ELC Superstars event a Spirit Claws/Doomhammer list that keeps Thing From Below, a card that was cut from most builds,. Xixo hit top 10 legend with a different build that focuses on overload synergy with Unbound Elemental. In general, Doomhammer builds are stronger when the Meta is slower and you need extra reach to finish an opponent, or when you’re facing a deck that doesn’t carry taunts or heals, like Miracle Rogue. The presence of weapon tech is also important, considering that nearly every deck on ladder at the moment might carry an Ooze to ruin your fun.
Midrange Shaman continues to enjoy success. The good ol’ Midrange Shaman that has terrorized the Meta since ONiK might not be as oppressive as before, but it is still an incredibly efficient deck that is well positioned in the Meta, though players are not quite ready to embrace it once again after its long period of overexposure. ImmortalLine hit top 10 with his build, carrying two Waterspeakers to improve matchups against aggressive decks. Consider adding a White Eyes instead if you’re running into Reno Warlocks, which is currently one the deck’s biggest counters and requires more threats to topple.
Finally, Midrange Jade Shaman builds are also having success. These decks rely on Jade Golem generation as sizeable late game threats rather than just small early game tokens. Nalguidan hit #1 legend with his build, while Loyan, another accomplished Shaman player, peaked at #2 with his take on the newly established archetype, which is geared towards beating control.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Spo’s Spirit/Jade Aggro Shaman
- Demigod’s Doom/Jade Aggro Shaman
- Xixo’s Spirit/Doom Aggro Shaman
- Thijs’ Spirit/Doom Aggro Shaman
- Vanilla Midrange Shaman
- ImmortalLion’s Midrange Shaman
- Nalguidan’s Jade Shaman
- Loyan’s Jade Shaman
With the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, Druid has introduced some new archetypes. Before the expansion, Druid performed well against most decks on ladder but wasn’t too dominant due to Shaman’s popularity. After the expansion’s release, Shaman is still seeing a lot play which isn’t good news for Druid, as all Druid archetypes get obliterated by the most dominant class in the game. The new expansion also brought in a lot of aggressive decks in general, which Druid doesn’t perform particularly well against, unless heavily teched against them. Indeed, this is a period when Druid builds will have to adjust to their new environments, or otherwise sink.
The Druid archetype that most players predicted to succeed before MSoG’s release was Jade Druid. This archetype, fueled by the never ending potential value of Jade Idol, has established a significant ladder presence upon release. Justsaiyan piloted his Jade Druid list to reach rank 1 legend last week. The Ancient of War and Acidic Swamp Ooze are included to battle aggressive decks. Jade Druid performs well against control decks but can struggle in more aggressive matchups like Shaman. With the popularity of these matchups on ladder, as well as control decks being built with more proactive win conditions that can prevent the Druid from executing his super late game oriented plan, Jade Druid might not be as strong as some people hyped it up to be. Jade Druid should shine if control decks get too popular or in a tournament lineup targeting control.
A surprising new combo that is now utilized by a few Druid archetypes abuses the interaction between Aviana and Kun the Forgotten King. At first this combo just seemed like a good meme, but it has actually performed well for some players. Kun decks are built either for C’Thun or Malygos as the finishers. Feno modified Sengflas’ original list and got top 10 legend using the C’Thun Combo Druid deck. Various other players have also had success with the Malygos variant, such as HotMEOWTH, who hit top 10 legend using a build originally made by Tictac. Tictac since then has further altered the build, cutting the Moonfires for Raven Idol and one Druid of the Claw for a 2nd Ancient of War.
These lists are still not refined and have been built in many different ways, so their full potential might not have been reached just yet. Kun decks in general perform extremely well against control decks, especially against Reno Warlock. It will be interesting to see how these Druid archetypes develop and whether they can produce better results against the more aggressive decks on ladder, which are keeping them down for now.
Token Druid got a new card in Mark of the Lotus but the archetype hasn’t been developed. Feno hit #1 legend piloting a Token Druid deck early on in the season but it doesn’t appear to have caught on, and the archetype in general has not seen much exploration.
To conclude, Druid has great potential, particularly in matchups against Reno decks. However, at the moment, it might be overrated, particularly in the case of Jade Druid. Further refinements need to be made so that these Druid archetypes don’t roll over and die whenever Patches gets shot out of his cannon on turn 1.
- Druid Class Radar
- JustSayian’s Jade Druid
- HotMEWOTH/Tictac’s Malygos Druid
- Tictac’s Malygos Druid
- Feno’s C’Thun Druid
- Feno’s Token Druid
The new expansion ignited Reno Warlock to make a huge comeback. This was expected to some degree with the final expansion of the Standard year because a singleton deck is always at its highest potential when the card pool is at its largest. However, the biggest cause for this surge is Blizzard heavily pushing singleton decks for the Kabal classes (Mage, Priest, Warlock) with the addition of Kazakus, which is one of the most powerful cards ever released in the game. Moreover, Warlock also has access to very strong defensive class cards for the first time this year. AOE spells like Spreading Madness and ‘DOOM!’ are very weak, but Abyssal Enforcer, Felfire Potion, and Blastcrystal Potion are all very welcome in a Warlock’s defensive toolkit.
Abyssal Enforcer is Hellfire on top of a 6/6 body that only costs 3 additional mana, which makes for an incredibly high value card. Felfire Potion is Hellfire on steroids. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s a good additional AOE card that could turn to be very relevant should more midrange decks become prominent. Blastcrystal Potion is a low cost single-target hard removal with a downside that is often completely trivial in the late game, because you’re usually at 10 mana or close to it by the time you need to remove a big threat anyway. The two extra mana saved over Siphon Soul can be very crucial for fitting in additional plays on the same turn, and it is a more elegant mind control combo with Sylvanas than Power Overwhelming. Of course, Reno Warlock gaining access to two late game hard removal spells is also very important.
Asmodai recently hit #1 legend with Reno Warlock while Thijs won ELC Superstars with his take on the archetype. Jaraxxus is starting to lose its spot because it is irrelevant in most common matchups on ladder. A total of 15 health puts you at Leeroy combo range in the mirror, and other decks are looking to burst the Warlock at that life total as well. The 9 mana cost means it’s a dead card against aggro decks as well.
Zoo Warlock has gotten a lot of great cards this year and has succeeded despite a wide array of counters like Ravaging Ghoul and Maelstrom Portal. It has always been a staple throughout the history of Hearthstone, but now, for the first time, it is on the fringe. All of the new Warlock cards that can be played in Zoo are quite situational, with two centered on demons and one centered on murlocs. Weapon based classes got all the love in this expansion when it comes to aggressive strategies, which is making Zoo’s ability to take over the board in the early game a much tougher task. Zoo is largely untested at high levels, and not many players are willing to give it a spin, so a refined list has yet to be determined.
It took patience, and the force feeding of strong cards, but it has finally happened; Priest doesn’t completely suck. It is not the completely overpowered, overbearing class some were predicting as the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan cards were rolling out, but at least it’s finally competitive.
While the fast Warriors and combo decks can give it fits, Dragon Priest has come out swinging as many thought it would as a truly competitive deck. Dragon Priest was a part of Thijs’ ELC title winning lineup, and it performed spectacularly well for him during the tournament. The midrange playstyle of the deck fairs well against Jade Druid, which gives the Reno variant of Priest all sorts of fits. This is a theme between the two archetypes seeing play right now – if one is weak at something, the other can usually handle it. Unless of course it’s a combo oriented list against which both decks still struggle mightily (Miracle Rogue, Combo Renolock, Malygos Druid).
Winning the matchup against Renolock can often be frustrating. With the lack of burst Priest has for the late game, it usually finds itself being either outvalued through Jaraxxus, or burst down by the inevitable Leeroy combo with no ability to pressure the Warlock. Zetalot put together a list with a Prophet Velen package that increases the win rate for that particular matchup (He’s done that for a Dragon Priest build as well, with which he hit top 30 legend). Meanwhile, Kazakus is a hell of a card, especially when paired with Brann Bronzebeard. If you are able to read the state of the board correctly, and maintain some semblance of control while executing the combo, you can often just win from there.
Also, Dirty Rat is hilarious and a terrific fit for Reno Priest in particular, since it has so many reactive cards that can deal with the pulled minion from the opponent’s hand. The success of players such as Savjz (hitting rank 1 legend) and Hotform (steamrolling to and at legend) has the Priest players in the room very excited.
Pure excitement about the class has never really been as high as it is now. Priest currently has enough resources to possibly introduce other archetypes. Could Reno-less Control Priest make a return? How about a tempo oriented Resurrect variant? Or maybe Aggro Priest? Thinking Meme- however you do it.
- Priest Class Radar
- Zetalot’s Velen Reno Priest
- Savjz’ Dragon Reno Priest
- Thijs’ Dragon Priest
- Hotform’s Dragon Priest
- Zetalot’s Velen Dragon Priest
Yarr mateys! With the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, Rogue (just like the other classes with cheap weapons) has adopted a pirate-based early game. The new “Pirate Package” that consists of Patches the Pirate, Small Time Buccaneer and Swashburglar makes an appearance pretty much across the board and is a very welcome addition to Rogue, as it now has access to a very powerful and proactive early game.
Miracle Rogue is making a comeback at the top of the Meta, with the archetype exhibiting power levels not seen since the old days of pre-Naxx Hearthstone. The Classic Miracle Rogue with Cold Blood is the most popular and consistent archetype at the moment, as Cold Blood provides a great chance of racing aggressive decks. Many high level Rogue players have cut Questing Adventurers for the Pirate package and the new Counterfeit Coin. MrYagut managed to hit rank 1 Legend with a list that utilizes the Pirate early game and one copy of Violet Teacher, a card that has been absent from most Rogue lists since the release of ONiK.
Despite several players showing great results with builds similar to MrYagut’s, experimentation continues. Casie and YouKnowWP displayed solid results on ladder with their Questing-Pirate Miracle Rogue, while Feno combined the Pirate Package with the new Red Mana Wyrm, a surprisingly effective and deadly minion in spell-based Rogue decks that has some merit of inclusion over the Questing Adventurer.
With the rise of Aggro and the fall of Control Warrior, Malygos Miracle Rogue has declined heavily as the deck is often just too slow to keep up and lacks the racing potential Cold Blood lists possess. However, not all is lost as several Malygos Rogue enthusiasts figured out that Pirates are a good fit even in this comparatively slow archetype of Rogue. While the lists vary a lot at the moment, we would recommend starting with ShtanUdachi’s build as it looks like the most streamlined variant of the deck so far.
Aggro/Tempo Rogue has also benefited from the cheap Pirates – Purple and Reynad have done well with the archetype on their streams while Chinese player RuFeng managed to climb all the way to rank 1 Legend on CN server with a Pirate-based Aggro Rogue deck. An optimal list has not been found just yet, and it remains to be seen whether this archetype has the longevity to last in the Metagame, but the deck does show some promise.
Finally, several players have explored the new Jade cards released for the Rogue, Druid and Shaman class. The result of that is N’Zoth Jade Rogue: a powerful tempo deck at its best and a much gimped Miracle Rogue at its worst. It’s very hard to judge the actual power of the deck, but it’s refreshing to see Rogue play in a different manner and we hope to see more diversity within the Rogue class in the future!
- Rogue Class Radar
- Mr.Yagut’s Miracle Rogue
- Casie/YouKnowWP’s Questing Miracle Rogue
- Feno’s Red Mana Wyrm Miracle Rogue
- SchtanUdachi’s Malygos Miracle Rogue
- RuFeng’s Aggro Pirate Rogue
- J4CKIECHAN’s Jade N’Zoth Rogue
Mage definitely has some cool new cards that can redefine the class. Reno Mage seems to have risen up to be the dominant archetype of the class on the back of Kazakus. However, other than Reno Mage, the class has dropped significantly in popularity with the new expansion’s release. Specifically, Tempo Mage and Freeze Mage did not receive new tools that can fit their builds successfully, or so it seems for now.
Dog had a successful climb to legend early in the month with his Reno Mage build. His list seems to be one of the more refined lists for the archetype at the moment. StrifeCro also built a list that slightly varies from Dog’s version of the deck. Reno Mage has certainly sparked our curiosity regarding its potential based on its performance against the field, so we’ve added two new and very different lists that have had a successful climb to legend recently: A Dragon Reno Mage created by Blackwood95, and an N’Zoth Reno Mage created by MazeMangler
For Freeze Mage, some players have tested a few cards that might fit the archetype, such as Freezing Potion and Volcanic Potion for alternative forms of stalling and board clears. However, Freeze Mage expert, Laughing, is still running the same pre-MSoG build, which is an already refined list that can’t seem to be able to fit in new cards, at least until the Meta settles down. Freeze Mage is a good counter to the popular Renolock archetype as well as Miracle Rogue, which seems to be on the rise.
Tempo Mage is still in growing pains, searching for a way to adapt to the new Meta. Apxvoid, one of the most accomplished Tempo Mage players, reached top 50 legend very recently. His build has no cards from the new expansion but features tech cards such as Mirror Image and Acidic Swamp Ooze to counter aggressive pirate decks. Tempo Mage retains a very good matchup against Reno Warlock, and does fairly well against control decks in general, but much like Druid, needs to adapt to an aggressive Meta in which many archetypes pressure it early on.
- Mage Class Radar
- Dog’s Reno Mage
- StrifeCro’s Reno Mage
- Blackwood95’s Dragon Reno Mage
- MazeMangler’s N’Zoth Reno Mage
- Apxvoid’s Tempo Mage
- Standard Freeze Mage
While Paladin has a bunch of cool new toys, its performance as well as it prevalence doesn’t seem to be in the class’ favor at the moment. We’re still a long way from the Meta settling down and Paladin has had less refinement and experimentation than some of the sexier decks out there, or ones that are straight forward to build.
There are three main archetypes with some semblance of ladder presence- Aggro, Murloc Aggro, and the Anyfin combo deck. Aggro Paladin archetypes are lightning fast, explosive, can be a blast to play with all the handbuffs and major draw effects, and are quite difficult to pilot correctly. Anyfin Paladin relies on stalling through board clears and powerful heals. The major downfall of both Paladin archetypes in the current Meta seems to be consistency, as not drawing their cards in the right order can quickly lead to an unrecoverable board state. Aggro Paladin requires some set up through hand buffs, and Control Paladin requires a combination of cards to swing the board.
Aggro and Murloc Paladin succeed against decks that they can pressure and overwhelm, such as Druid, but are ultimately overcome by archetypes that boast multiple board clears, such as most Reno decks and Shamans. One of the other commonalities in the Aggro Paladin lists is aggressive cycling and card draw. Most lists are using Handbuffs+Meanstreet Marshal with Divine Favor alongside Small-Time Recruits, and Murloc lists have the benefit of being able to exploit additional draw options such as Coldlight Oracle and Finja, The Flying Star.
The WotOG/ONiK Meta for Paladin was largely defined by two Control decks: N’Zoth and Anyfin, and thus far, N’Zoth Paladin has disappeared from the radar. Anyfin Paladin, however, has a small presence as players have been trying to work Finja, The Flying Star into their lists to get to their combo pieces faster and improve consistency. N’Zoth is not completely absent, however, and players are trying out different iterations, with notable additions being Dirty Rat and Eadric the Pure as tech choices for the Meta; the latter appearing to be a solid counter for the various Jade strategies we’re seeing.
apDrop’s Anyfin list has been performing well, and wiRer recently took his list of N’Zoth Control Paladin from Rank 5 to Legend.
As mentioned previously, the Paladin class is certainly not “solved” yet, and for the aspiring deckbuilder there are a lot of tools at your disposal to experiment. Paladin may be looking weak at the moment, but that could certainly change.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Dog’s Aggro Paladin
- Firebat’s Murloc Paladin
- Orange’s Murloc Paladin
- apDrop’s Anyfin Paladin
- wiRer’s N’Zoth Control Paladin
The new expansion has seen Hunter become the least played class, and for good reason. The new handbuff tools Hunter received are too slow to contest insane pirate openings and lack the value required to consistently get through Reno decks. When Hunters had Call of the Wild at 8 mana, they dominated control matchups, simply because of the massive value lying in their deck, but with only two Highmanes, Hunter is unable to push past a full heal of Reno. In addition to that, Hunter’s lack of an early game weapon at 1 or 2 mana means it cannot enable the Pirate package as well as other weapon classes. The class is definitely missing Glaivezooka at the moment.
While Hunter is currently considered one of the two worst classes, there remains hope, as the same thing occurred during WoToG as well as after the nerf to Call of the Wild, with players writing off Hunter as a bad class, before the lists were optimized and the class became a powerhouse. For now though, here are the two major decks which have come up for Hunter in Gadgetzan.
The Midrange, Handbuff Hunter lists aim to take advantage of large Rat Pack/Dispatch Kodo swing turns in the midgame to try to cover up their weak early game. Ant’s Handbuff Hunter utilizes the swing cards to their full potential, running Abusive Sergeants to buff up Rat Pack on board and spawn more tokens, as well as Tundra Rhino to take full advantage of the Rats before they get cleared by an AOE spell. The list cuts Smuggler’s Crate, as it is deemed too slow without providing enough value to beat control. Ragnaros is in the deck as an additional threat to try and beat Control decks, though it is much more difficult than before. We would recommend staying away from this archetype until more development occurs, as it currently appears to be very weak.
A slightly better variant of Hunter comes from NickChipper in the form of Secret Hunter. The major innovation in the archetype is an inclusion of a token package featuring Knife Juggler, Snake Trap, Alleycat, Scavenging Hyena, and double Unleash the Hounds. The tokens allow the deck to better compete against fast pirate openings by creating more opportunities for swing turns, and Scavenging Hyena can help blow out aggressive decks by growing out of their reach. Although the Secret Hunter archetype still requires much experimentation in the Gadgetzan Meta, this list is at least a start.
Let’s be frank. The Grimy Goons look like a bunch of weaklings, not an intimidating bunch at all. The Jade Lotus can be strong, if you give them time to summon their golems, but time is not something that they can afford. The Kabal are legitimate badasses, and Kazakus’ potions are top tier beverages.
But who rules the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan? A bunch of ragtag Pirates. Patches is in charge now, and those who have his number on speed dial, appear to be the strongest at the moment.
Aggro Shaman is back to terrorizing Hearthstone, while Miracle Rogue has returned to power levels we haven’t seen since Gadgetzan Auctioneer cost 5 mana. They are currently the two Meta defining decks, with Miracle Rogue dominating at high levels of play where Pirate Warrior is falling. We are also very intrigued by the potential of Reno Mage, and think the archetype has merits for exploration.
The Meta is sure to keep changing. These decks can be countered, but for now, they rule these streets.
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