vS Data Reaper Report #290

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Welcome to the 290th 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 1,860,000
Top 1K Legend 46,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 421,000
Diamond 4 to 1 253,000
Diamond 10 to 5 227,000
Platinum 222,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 691,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

In a very unsurprising development, Demon Hunter has taken over the format behind its Umpire’s Grasp/Window Shopper centered archetype. The class’ play rate exceeds 20% past Diamond 4, while hitting a near 35% play rate at top legend. Reno Demon Hunter is quite popular at high MMR’s too, running duplicates of Grasp/Shopper, but the normal Shopper DH is still the most common opponent by some distance.

Odyn Warrior has fallen off a cliff, shrinking to a very low play rate, but the class remains prominent across ladder thanks to Reno Warrior taking over. A new Boomboss build propagating at top legend is pushing out the Tentacle build. The Tentacle build is most popular outside of the top legend bracket now.

Death Knight’s popularity has been surpassed by Demon Hunter past Diamond 4. Rainbow and Plague exhibit similar play rates across most of ladder, with Plague DK looking more popular at lower ranks. At top legend, Rainbow takes over while Plague shrinks. This isn’t surprising considering Plague DK’s known struggles at higher levels of play.

The fall of Odyn Warrior seems to have encouraged Rainbow Mage to come out of its shell. While Spell Mage has completely fallen off, Rainbow has become more visible and established itself as a favored choice amongst top legend players.

Gaslight Rogue is another deck that might have been encouraged by the Odyn nerf, though it’s far less popular than Rainbow Mage. This might not be the only competitive choice for the class, with a new Virus Rogue deck popping up. This deck runs a small mech package with a Power/Virus Zilliax that’s meant to kill opponents with very little counterplay as early as turn 6, abusing the stealth mechanic to hide from removal.

While Wheel Warlock might be encouraged by the popularity of Reno Warrior and Death Knights, the Demon Hunter dominance can’t be a good thing for the deck, so it hasn’t grown in popularity following the balance changes. In fact, its top legend numbers have been cut by over 40%.

Zarimi Priest maintains a low play rate. We suspect the Demon Hunter matchup is heavily discouraging players in this case. Other Priest decks don’t seem competitive.

A new Dragon Druid build is gaining a little bit of traction. This is not the aggressive deck we remember from Badlands, but a late game focused strategy running Aviana. Boomkin Druid is fading away from the format.

Token Hunter has declined across ladder, nearly disappearing from top legend play.

Both Nature and Reno Shaman have been hit with nerfs. Nature Shaman, with intention. Reno Shaman, due to the nerfs to its dual class cards. The class has fallen off and sees little play across ladder.

Paladin has been obliterated by the balance changes, with the class sinking to the bottom of the format.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion

Demon Hunter

  • At first glance, Shopper Demon Hunter looks like an oppressively powerful deck. Its win rate hovers around 60% across most of ladder, only dipping at top legend, where the mirror matchup is extremely common. On paper, you can’t find any counters to the deck, with only Reno Warrior exhibiting slight favorability at top legend against it. It’s undeniable that Shopper DH is a meta tyrant that is forcing all other strategies to either target it, or fall off the map.
  • The good news is that we can find some effective answers to the deck once you dig into the aggregated data and isolate specific builds. Reno Warrior should develop into a reliable counter to Demon Hunter once its strongest variant completely takes over the archetype (close to 60-40). Rainbow Death Knight can be built to be the best Demon Hunter counter in the format, with the ceiling of the matchup exceeding 60-40. Shockingly, Dragon Druid is another deck that exhibits potential to be favored in the matchup once it’s optimized.
  • While we expect Demon Hunter to continue to dictate the format at most rank brackets, the top legend field is showing signs of being able to curb it to some degree. In fact, Demon Hunter is currently in decline at higher MMR’s thanks to the development of Reno Warrior. It’s very likely that the top legend field will need to respect both of these decks equally, rather than go all-in on countering Demon Hunter alone.
  • Reno DH’s performance is inferior to Shopper DH. Part of it is because Reno DH is less refined. Optimized Reno DH builds that cut some questionable cards and imitate Shopper DH’s playstyle are notably stronger than initial iterations of the archetype. However, even at peak potential, Reno DH does not currently reach Shopper’s level. The fall of the Odyn Warrior matchup is a large factor why Gunslinger Kurtus’ stock has fallen. Furthermore, we expect more targeting of highlander payoffs by Rainbow Death Knights that try to counter Reno Warrior. That will affect Reno DH as well.


  • Reno Warrior has had a massive facelift, performing at a Tier 1 level at top legend while looking very mediocre at other rank brackets. The reason is that the new iteration of the deck is mostly played at top legend. The takeaway is that the Tentacle build that’s popular on ladder sucks, while the Boomboss build that’s popular at high MMR’s rocks.
  • The new build is clearly favored against Demon Hunter. It is the reason why Shopper DH doesn’t look completely dominant at top legend. We suspect that Reno Warrior will improve in its performance across ladder once this information trickles down and the Tentacle build is replaced.
  • The nerfs have hit Odyn Warrior hard, and it currently looks very weak. It’s possible that it needs to do some adjustments, but we have doubts on whether it can be competitively relevant when Reno Warrior is clearly superior.

Death Knight

  • Rainbow Death Knight doesn’t look strong, but we suspect that the absence of optimization for the post-patch format is at fault here. Most players are not aware of the sheer number of silver bullets that the deck can equip to significantly improve some of the most important matchups on ladder. An optimized Rainbow DK is the best Demon Hunter counter in the format. The deck can also be effective against Reno Warrior with the right adjustments. Once players wake up and run two copies of Threads of Despair, aggressive matchups should also improve. The only matchups that represent a huge struggle for Rainbow DK are Wheel Warlock and Rainbow Mage. Thankfully, we’ve got all the information you need to turn Rainbow DK into a Swiss Army Knife and a solid Tier 2 performer that matches up well against the top two decks in the format.
  • Plague Death Knight is less versatile. A strong counter to Reno decks, but inferior to Rainbow DK in basically all other matchups.


  • Rainbow Mage is a competitive deck that’s in better standing than it used to be, but we can’t help but notice that it is being somewhat overrated when you consider its play rate at high MMR’s. Despite some suggestions that it can counter Demon Hunter, we’ve seen no indication that it does. Its matchup against Reno Warrior is also rough. Those are your top two decks in the format and Mage loses to both. It is also vulnerable to board flooding decks such as Token Hunter and Zarimi Priest (where Sleet Skater doesn’t get much value). Mage counters Warlocks and Death Knights, but nothing else that’s competitively relevant.


  • Gaslight Rogue is another solid deck that sees its potential limited due to its unfavored matchups into Demon Hunter and Warrior. It is very strong against Mage and Warlock.
  • Virus Rogue looks like the best Rogue deck, as well as the best deck at top legend that’s not Demon Hunter or Warrior. Much like Gaslight Rogue, it doesn’t do very well into Demon Hunter and Warrior, but it does make up for it by being extremely annoying against decks that don’t have a way to kill a stealthed Zilliax or cannot pressure the Rogue early. The Death Knight matchups are what truly separates it from Gaslight Rogue, on top of being a Gaslight counter. We apologize in advance for bringing this deck into light. Once you queue into it, you’ll understand why we are deeply sorry.


  • Wheel Warlock is strong where Demon Hunter isn’t extremely popular, but dips at top legend because this matchup is horrible. It is so horrible (30-70) that even its strong matchups into Reno Warrior and Death Knight cannot make up for it. Some players express concern that Wheel Warlock will become overpowered once Demon Hunter is nerfed, but we don’t share these concerns. It has multiple other counters in Rogue, Mage, and Priest that can step up if needed.
  • Though the sample size is low, we’ve been impressed by recent data concerning Pain Warlock. The archetype looked very bad early in the expansion, but recent builds are worth talking about, even if they’re not good into Demon Hunter.


  • Zarimi Priest is the sleeping giant of the format. The deck’s play rate is very low compared to how good it is. Its matchup spread is insane, with the clear blemish being the Demon Hunter matchup. This is the only reason why Priest isn’t the strongest class in the game today. Once Demon Hunter gets nerfed, we think Zarimi Priest will become the deck to beat. Even Warrior doesn’t beat it. The only non-Demon Hunter card that clearly counters it is Threads of Despair. Just wait a couple of weeks. The Zarimi prophecy will materialize.


  • Druid has returned from the grave. The new iteration of Aviana Dragon Druid is showing competitive potential. There’s still a lot of room for refinement, which could establish it as the 3rd deck with a favored matchup against Demon Hunter. It’s a bit early to make conclusive statements, but it’s clear that Druid is worth exploring further. Its main issue is the Reno Warrior matchup.


  • A repeating story is emerging in the Hunter class following the balance changes. Token Hunter is the second best performing deck on ladder after Shopper DH, but falls off at top legend to a sub 50% win rate. A limited skill ceiling and poor matchups into Shopper DH, Boomboss Reno Warrior (Hunter beats the Tentacle build) and defensive Rainbow Death Knights are the contributing causes for this decline.


  • Shaman looks terrible, possibly the worst class in the game. Nature Shaman gets obliterated by Shopper DH and Reno Warrior. Reno Shaman can put up a fight against Demon Hunter, but gets destroyed by other decks. The Death Knight/Reno Warrior duo has been horrible for it ever since the Deepholm mini-set. It gets destroyed by Wheel Warlock too. Shaman’s late game just doesn’t stand up to the competitive classes.


  • Handbuff Paladin looks destroyed. Based on its low sample, Aggro Paladin is gone too. Unless some card adjustments are able to save Handbuff Paladin, this archetype seems to have been overnerfed to the point it can’t compete. If the class dies as a result, it’s very unfortunate. The Shroom change alone might have been enough to properly tone the deck down. Paladin got very harsh treatment when compared to Hunter.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Shopper Demon Hunter has two slightly different paths. Following the patch, we’ve noticed that the Ticking module of Zilliax doesn’t carry its weight in decks that don’t have ways to easily enable it. Demon Hunter doesn’t tend to flood the board, so it’s hard to get Zilliax down. This makes its Power/Haywire form the strongest option for the deck, contingent on running Frequency Oscillator and Drone Deconstructor.

However, another option is to drop the Mech early game package and run Vicious Slitherspear alongside Illidari Studies. In this case, your 4-drop would be Pozzik rather than Zilliax, as Power/Haywire Zilliax is far worse without Oscillator.

The other adjustment is to re-add Going Down Swinging. This isn’t necessarily because opposing players flood the board more this patch, but it’s a way to break your weapon even when you’re frozen.

Reno Demon Hunter’s best approach is the one that tries to imitate Shopper DH as much as it can, by playing aggressively. We’ve tweaked our imitator build slightly, adding Vicious Slitherspear and Going Down Swinging, while dropping Greedy Partner (awkward as a mull keep when you want Grasp) and Saloon Brewmaster.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

A new Reno Warrior build has made waves at top legend, dropping the Tentacle approach, while going for a more diverse set of win conditions that is backed up by stronger defensive tools. Your primary win conditions are all amplified by Brann: The Azerite Ox, Inventor Boom, and Boomboss Tho’grun.

The Azerite Ox needs no introduction, as it’s something Reno Warrior has done before rotation. Inventor Boom’s primary resurrection target is Perfect/Twin Zilliax, which can be tutored by Town Crier and becomes very powerful post-Brann. Boom is a game ender in faster matchups. Boomboss is the primary win condition in slower matchups.

The featured build is the most common and looks very well built. The ETC contains Gaslight Gatekeeper for Boomboss follow-up, as well as the Vendor/Projectionist combo, which can give you 24 armor post-Brann. This is a powerful play against Rainbow Mage and a big reason why Reno Warrior has become favored against it.

You could cut Projectionist for Audio Amplifier to allow you to Boomboss/Gatekeeper on the same turn at 11 mana. This can be relevant in the mirror, as the one who manages to get Boomboss off first often wins. Another option is to run a second Rat, which can be a big disruption tool post-Brann.

Odyn Warrior has drastically weakened. We’re not sure it has a place in the format, though it could use a little bit of refinement. One emerging approach is to cut Razorfen Rockstar and Verse Riff for Shield Slam and Fizzle/Ignis. Shield Slam is a good answer to Window Shopper, while Ignis/Fizzle provide more late game power to compensate for Odyn being slower.

Another thing we’ve noticed is that Aftershocks looks quite weak now. Acolyte is still a good turn 3 play and works well with Bladestorm, but we think it’s time to drop Aftershocks to bring back Trial by Fire.

Rainbow Death Knight is probably the trickiest deck to refine for this format, but we think we landed on a novel build that runs the best possible composition of cards to target Demon Hunter, Warrior, Mage, and Warlock. The latter two are your worst matchups. The featured build is the best Demon Hunter counter in the format too.

For Shopper DH, double Quartzite Crusher is needed to freeze your opponent and deny them the ability to break their Umpire’s Grasp. This works on the coin. If the Demon Hunter has the coin, they can play Grasp on turn 2. In this case, you still need to be able to answer a Window Shopper. Thankfully, Death Knight has the perfect removal for it in Death Strike. Not only does it cleanly remove a Shopper, but it heals you for all the damage that Umpire’s Grasp has dealt.

Glacial Shard is another option to freeze Demon Hunters early, but it’s a bit redundant after turn 4 and isn’t as versatile in other matchups compared to Crusher. You could fit Shard in and hard lock Demon Hunter down, but it requires a sacrifice in other matchups on ladder that we don’t think is worth making.

Reno Warrior’s new build proves to be a surprisingly close matchup. Helya is the best card in the matchup, as it offers you a way to disable their Brann early, but it requires you to discover Staff of the Primus from Runes of Darkness. Adding Down with the Ship makes this line of play far easier to execute, and it drastically reduces Warrior’s late game power.

Helya and Down with the Ship also carry great value in other matchups, such as Reno Demon Hunter and Wheel Warlock. Against Warlock, do not play Helya early! Wait for them to play Wheel and then shuffle as many plagues into their deck as you can. This is your best chance of killing them in an otherwise difficult matchup that requires you to deal with their threats first.

Mage is another difficult matchup, where Dirty Rat is your only form of counterplay against Sif. Dirty Rat is also a good card against Reno Warrior, as it is very impactful if you can pull one of their key win conditions (Brann/Boomboss/Boom/Ox).

To make way for all these silver bullets, we drop Frost Strike, Hematurge and Maw & Paw. That’s quite a bit of discovering power. Normally, Frost Strike and Hematurge are decent value cards, but in such a narrow format, you want guaranteed answers to certain decks. This does require a little bit of adjustment from your play, as you need to draw enough cards off Acolyte of Death to avoid running out of resources. If you do that, you should be fine.

Maw & Paw is weak in common matchups. Easy to remove for Warrior, Death Knight, and Mage (Reverb). Warlock does not care about it at all. It’s not great against Demon Hunter either. It’s an impressive looking stabilizer when you’re already in a winning position in the matchup.

Final word on Threads of Despair. Run two copies. Running 1-copy of the class’ best board clear is one of the strangest persistent trends we’ve seen in a while. We think everyone will understand how important this card is once Zarimi Priest inevitably blows up.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

For Rainbow Mage to survive in the Demon Hunter dominated format, it needs freeze effects. With Frostbolt and Cryopreservation, it has enough ways to stall the Window Shopper until it can get frozen by Sleet Skater on turn 5. This isn’t as strong of a game plan denial as what Death Knight has to offer, but it makes the Demon Hunter matchup relatively close.

The other thing you want to do is run Audio Amplifier alongside at least one Molten Rune. This gives you more reach against Warrior, while making the Warlock matchup more comfortable.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

For Gaslight Rogue, the nerf to Ticking Zilliax has made the card very questionable in a deck that doesn’t consistently flood the board. This is the same issue we’ve observed in Demon Hunter. We think it’s worth testing a Zilliax cut for a more consistent Pit Stop. Last week, we were pondering between Gold Panner and Mic Drop. It might be possible to run both now with the exclusion of Zilliax, as well as one Drone Deconstructor. More draw means faster Giants.

A new Virus Rogue deck is centered on a Power/Virus Zilliax, which you can keep buffing with Sparkbots and re-stealth with SP-3Y3-D3R. Zilliax can just solo kill the opponent if they don’t have non-targeted removal for it, and you must kill it twice thanks to the Reborn keyword. Some decks are simply incapable of doing that.

Frequency Oscillator and SP-3Y3-D3R are your other mechs that can be found with Pit Stop. A build that only runs 6 minions makes Dig for Treasure a very consistent tutor too. You basically always drop Zilliax on the board by turn 4-5, preferably when it’s buffed by Pit Stop and can already hit for 8 the next turn. Hit face, re-stealth with SP-3Y3-D3R and you’re dealing 22 damage the following turn without taking Sparkbots into account.

The rest of the build is very annoying for the opponent too. Deafen and Sap invalidate taunting up against the big Zilliax. Tar Slick gives you some board clearing capabilities with 4 copies of Fan of Knives in your deck.

If your Zilliax gets cleared, Harth Stonebrew is your backup plan, which you can find very consistently thanks to Dig for Treasure and the low minion count.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

A new Wheel Warlock shows enough promise to take over the archetype eventually. This build prioritizes card draw, running both Elementium Geode and Furnace Fuel. Furnace Fuel has an interesting interaction with Wheel of Death. Wheel destroys cards one by one according to their order in the deck, so if Furnace Fuel is not at the bottom of your deck, it will draw cards before they get destroyed by Wheel. Therefore, you will not take fatigue damage.

This build is interesting because of its minion selection too. Besides Geode, you only run Loken, Sargeras, and Fanottem. This makes Loken more consistent.

We’ve seen Endgame in other lists and haven’t been impressed. However, the extra draw in this build makes the synergy with Dark Alley Pact more likely to impact the game.

You’re probably thinking that this build loses to the mirror matchup because of the absence of Doomkin. Surprisingly, this build is significantly favored in the mirror. As it turns out, finding Wheel more often is the most important factor in the mirror matchup. This deck finds Wheel faster thanks to its extra card draw.

Another development in the class is the emergence of a new Pain Warlock build that looks more promising than previous iterations of the archetype that we’ve evaluated early in the expansion. The key is Celestial Projectionist, which might have been an inspiration taken from Gaslight Rogue. The card makes discounting Imprisoned Horrors and Molten Giants twice more dangerous for the opponent. Sheriff Barrelbrim is also very powerful in this deck, the first time we’ve seen the card impress.

This deck is weak into Demon Hunter, so we don’t expect to see it gain a lot of traction. But after Demon Hunter inevitably gets nerfed, we think it’s worth saving the deck code for. Its matchup spread is very promising.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Zarimi Priest looks clean and quite intimidating after potential Demon Hunter nerfs. Shadow Ascendant did not impress, so we’ve opted for Starlight Whelp and Leeroy. Leeroy is not great in this deck, but it gives you a bit of reach against Reno Warrior and Rainbow Death Knight, which have a lot of board clears.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

A late game focused Dragon Druid with Aviana is showing promise of competitive viability. The original build runs a bunch of bad single copies to get Rheastrasza and Reno online earlier, but we know from history (Topior Druid) and math that you’d rather run a more consistent deck, leaving the highlander payoffs for the super late game. We somewhat question the inclusion of Reno/Rhea due to the possibility of Rainbow Death Knights ramping up their targeting of Reno Warrior with Helya/Down with the Ship.

The featured build keeps Reno/Rhea, but swaps out the obviously bad cards for better ones, such as Dragon Golem, which is strangely absent from the original build. It’s hard to believe this card isn’t strong when our dragon count is so high, and we run a Ticking Zilliax. Another card that must be included as two copies is Spinetail Drake, as it’s one of the cleanest answers in the format to a Window Shopper. This is where Dragon Druid’s promise in the Demon Hunter matchup lies. All current builds run only one copy of Spinetail Drake.

Dragon Tales is the secret sauce of this build. You’re meant to choose the cheaper dragon option and hope to find Zarimi. Each Dragon Tales has a 12% chance of finding Zarimi, which is a game ender in this deck. You can also find Zarimi off Aviana.

Don’t treat this build as final. The archetype is only in its diapers. We’re hoping to collect more data and learn about its potential card choices.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

No changes to the Token Hunter build. Ticking/Pylon Zilliax is still great in board flooding decks. It’s just a more balanced card now.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Shaman looks very bad in this format. We can’t recommend any of its decks. Dryscale Deputy is needed in Nature Shaman now to copy your damage spells, since you have less damage after the Thrall’s Gift change. Cactus Cutter helps you find the damage spells more consistently.

We’ve done our best to tweak Reno Shaman, but the meta is simply horrible for it. It’s not Demon Hunter that’s the problem. It’s everything else.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Paladin has been demolished. Deputization Aura is an unplayable card now, which also means Trinket Artist can’t be played in Handbuff Paladin either. We’ve tried to compensate for it by adding Acolyte of Pain and Magatha. The Excavate build might be salvaged this way. The Deckhand build looks buried.

Leeroy used to be the best card in the deck. It’s now one of its worst. Shroom was the biggest factor.

While Demon Hunter has started strong and established itself as the meta tyrant we expected it to become last week, a new Reno Warrior build has transformed the archetype, turning it into a powerhouse at high MMR ladder. This is something Reno Warrior hasn’t been able to achieve since the introduction of Deepminer Brann.

Therefore, we expect the format to be defined by a dominant duo, rather than a single class. The rest of the meta will have to find solutions to curb the power of both decks.

The new iteration of Reno Warrior is very flexible, with multiple win conditions that are not reliant on each other. This makes Reno Warrior difficult to target, as it has several paths to victory and knocking one down does not impact the others. It is also less reliant on Deepminer Brann.

Odyn may have fallen, but Garrosh is not done playing dictator.

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