vS Data Reaper Report #292

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Welcome to the 292nd 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 1,632,000
Top 1K Legend 53,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 562,000
Diamond 4 to 1 358,000
Diamond 10 to 5 270,000
Platinum 154,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 235,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

A massive balance patch focused on nerfing AOE effects and win conditions has seen Warrior take over the format. With Wheel of Death and the Death Knight Plague package no longer capable of keeping it in check, Reno Warrior has surged across ladder, boasting a play rate that exceeds 20% past Diamond 5.

With late game lethality coming down, Excavate Rogue has emerged as a favored choice amongst top legend players. Its ability to generate endless random value is now under the spotlight. A Thief Cutlass Rogue sees a little bit of play, while Gaslight and Virus Rogue disappeared after getting hit with nerfs to their cornerstone cards.

Druid has made a comeback to the format, with a new strategy that no one saw coming. A new archetype incorporates three different packages (Dragon, Spell Damage, Hero Power), with none of them truly defining the deck. Therefore, we decided to call it ‘Hybrid Druid’. Hybrid Druid is quickly rising in play and trickling down ladder from top legend, where it’s only behind Reno Warrior and Excavate Rogue in its popularity.  The other notable development is the return of Reno Druid. Reno decks have awakened following the rework of highlander payoffs in Badlands, making them immune to Plague-based disruption.

Wheel and Pain Warlock have both fallen off, but the class has not disappeared. Once again, we see old Badlands decks coming to the forefront, with both Snake and Sludge Warlock attempting a comeback.

Before the patch, there was a trio of elite aggressive decks that looked very strong: Pain Warlock, Zarimi Priest, and Token Hunter. All three got nerfed, but Token Hunter is the only one that looks unaffected by the patch. In fact, its popularity has slightly risen.

Paladin is another class that is trying a comeback, with both Aggro (Showdown) and Handbuff Paladin becoming more active and visible.

Zarimi Priest has drastically declined after the nerf to Zarimi, but the archetype is showing signs of recovery at top legend.

Nature Shaman has taken a big hit in its popularity at top legend, while Reno Shaman has reappeared.

Death Knight has taken a massive hit in its play rate. While the class seems perpetually popular at lower MMR brackets no matter what happens, its presence at higher ranks has nosedived. It’s almost irrelevant at top legend.

Spell Mage has attracted more interest after the buffs to Manufacturing Error and Sunset Volley, but the deck hasn’t blown up. Rainbow Mage has fallen off, with the Salesman Oil nerf affecting its late game combo execution.

Demon Hunter has been the least popular class in the game since the Umpire’s Grasp nerf. Shopper DH hasn’t completely disappeared, but it sees little play.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion


  • Reno Warrior dominates the format’s late game. With Wheel of Death gone and Death Knight no longer able to shut off Brann before turn 6, there is nothing that can reliably beat Reno Warrior if the game is prolonged. With multiple win conditions available to it, as well as the ultimate clock for a grindy deck in Boomboss Tho’grun, all other strategies are forced into the beatdown role in the Reno Warrior matchup. The rework of Boomboss, by the way, has done little to change that.
  • The only exception might be Snake Warlock, which has been able to carve out a slight advantage thanks to the bugged interaction between Alexstrasza and The Azerite Snake. But, this matchup is trending to become a 50-50 affair at top legend.
  • Reno Warrior is a dominant deck, but it’s not unbeatable. It just has a very warping effect on the rest of the field. The way to beat it is to kill it before it reaches the late game. There are multiple aggressive decks that are capable of doing that, and we’ll highlight them throughout this discussion. In those matchups, the nerfs to Sanitize, Trial By Fire, as well as Reno, made their mark.


  • Excavate Rogue’s play rate disparity between top legend and the rest of ladder makes sense in the context of its performance. It’s a weak deck outside of top legend, but nears a 50% win rate there. Excavate Rogue seems to have a high skill ceiling relative to the rest of the field, but the poor Reno Warrior matchup makes it impossible for the deck to rise above mediocrity.
  • Cutlass Rogue has a decent matchup against Reno Warrior, but it is very vulnerable to any kind of aggression. It only seems to do well against decks that give it a lot of time to ramp up.
  • There are no signs of Pirate Rogue stepping out of meme territory after the buffs it has received.


  • Hybrid Druid is a competitive deck with a decent performance level across ladder. We expect it to improve its performance in a few matchups thanks to its continued refinement, but there are some decks that give it a very hard time, such as Handbuff Paladin and Zarimi Priest. Both are currently “sleepers” that are likely to grow in popularity, so we don’t think Hybrid Druid can become a top tier deck in the current meta.
  • Reno Druid is a viable deck, but it can’t be great due to its poor Reno Warrior matchup. You’ll see this throughout the report. If your deck has late game aspirations, Reno Warrior lowers the ceiling of its potential success.
  • Dragon Druid has a similar matchup spread to Reno Druid. It’s faster and much more aggressive, but not fast enough to overcome the Reno Warrior matchup. On the other hand, the absence of defensive tools makes it very vulnerable to aggression.


  • Wheel Warlock has been crippled by the balance changes. Losing Reno, delaying Wheel by a turn, on top of nerfing Forge of Wills, was too much to take. The deck looks unplayable now.
  • Snake Warlock is trying to replace Wheel, but we’re not optimistic about its future prospects. It’s currently exploiting a bug to perform reasonably well against Reno Warrior. Without Alex, this matchup should become unfavored. In addition, Snake Warlock has a very low skill ceiling and a poor matchup spread in general. We don’t think the deck sticks.
  • Sludge Warlock is the best performing Warlock deck. The reason is simple: it’s one of the best counters to Reno Warrior. We do wonder whether this initial performance level can last, especially at higher levels of play, where we see signs of a decline brewing.
  • Pain Warlock has a good matchup against Reno Warrior, but it is far too vulnerable to Token Hunter. Should Zarimi Priest spike back up in play, Pain Warlock’s standing in the format should improve. After all, its initial breakout was sparked by its very strong matchup against Zarimi Priest.
  • Though the sample size is too low to confidently say more, Insanity Warlock is showing promise as a burn deck that’s effective against Reno Warrior.


  • Token Hunter is the best performing deck throughout most ladder brackets. It’s not particularly close. The distance between Token Hunter and the next best deck is as high as 4-5%! Only at top legend, you can see the power gap vanish. The deck is a strong counter to Reno Warrior, while generally being very hard to beat. We think Hunter highly benefitted from the nerfs to board clears, much more than the Jungle Gym nerf hurt it. The third charge was barely relevant in most games anyway.
  • Reno Hunter is showing some signs of promise and could be competitive, though its sample size is low.


  • Paladin is back to being a top tier class after seeing the rest of the field get nerfed.
  • Aggro Paladin is an aggressive deck that dominates other aggressive decks thanks to its Showdown combo. It is very hard to maintain board control against it thanks to its powerful swing turns. It is the only hard counter in the format to Token Hunter, which establishes it as a top 3 deck across ladder. The way to beat it is through removal, which has been watered down across multiple classes.
  • Handbuff Paladin is back to Tier 1. The archetype is split between an Excavate variant and a non-Excavate variant. We highly recommend the non-Excavate variant, which sees more play at top legend, where it is a proven counter to Reno Warrior. Handbuff Paladin has significant room for improvement through refinement too, so we can see it becoming a major threat at the very top of the meta. Unlike Aggro Paladin, it is vulnerable to faster decks, while having a better time against slower decks.


  • Reports of Zarimi’s death are greatly exaggerated. Zarimi Priest is quickly establishing itself as the best deck at top legend, thanks to a very simple tweak to its build that requires changing a single card. We expect Zarimi Priest to spike in its popularity and return to where it was before the patch. Much like Hunter, the nerfs to AOE effects have helped Priest more than the Zarimi nerf hurt it. Its matchup spread remains incredibly strong, only showing weakness to Pain Warlock, Shopper DH and Aggro Paladin. You have to push it off the board in the early game if you want to reliably beat it. It is favored against Reno Warrior.


  • In the first few days of the patch, Nature Shaman looked weak, placing at Tier 4. But in the last few days, we’ve seen it recover in its performance at higher MMR’s. We suspect the deck is still very competitive at top legend, with both of its primary variants showing at least Tier 2 potential. The Jive variant is a good choice if you want a better chance against Reno Warrior.
  • Reno Shaman is back to a competitive performance level. Its matchup spread is generally very balanced, but Reno Warrior is its sore spot. We’re sounding like a broken record, but Reno Shaman has a very difficult time trying to overcome Warrior’s late game.

Death Knight

  • Death Knight can be considered a zombie class. It sees quite a lot of play across most of ladder, but it’s no longer good. Plague DK hasn’t been particularly good for a while, but Rainbow DK has now collapsed under the weight of the nerfs to its board clearing capabilities.


  • The good news is that Spell Mage’s win rate improved by 10%! The bad news is that it went from 30% to 40%. There is one approach in Spell Mage that comes close to scraping the bottom of Tier 3, but the archetype needs more help.
  • Rainbow Mage is dead. The Salesman Oil nerf killed its Sif-based win condition. With that, Mage can be considered the worst class in the game. Unless a spectacular discovery emerges, it’s gone until the mini-set.

Demon Hunter

  • Shopper DH is back. The archetype was completely dead after the nerf to Umpire’s Grasp, but nerfing the entire format has brought it back to life. You have the option to run the Sharpshooter build at top legend to match up better against Reno Warrior. For the rest of ladder, the standard build is better due to its strength in faster matchups.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Data Reaper Report - Warrior

The Reno Warrior post-patch build is straightforward, with a focus on the mirror matchup. Viper is included to remove an Ignis weapon. Fizzle is a good choice for an ETC band member, alongside Rat and Vendor. Fizzle/Rat are what you want against other Warriors. Armor Vendor helps you stabilize against aggression.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Excavate Rogue wants to be as grindy and greedy as possible to try and make the Reno Warrior matchup more tolerable. We’re not impressed with Cult Neophyte in the current meta. It’s bad against aggressive decks, while not being impactful enough against Reno Warrior. The format is very minion-centric, so spell disruption isn’t currently powerful. Meta shifts can change our minds.

Cutlass Rogue’s build was easier to figure out. 29 cards look solid, then the 30th card is up for grabs. Flint Firearm seems like an underrated card in Rogue. It performs well in Excavate Rogue, and we know that Cutlass Rogue appreciates durability extenders such as Sweetened Snowflurry.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Hybrid Druid is the hottest new deck in the meta. Sunq pioneered the deck, which merges three packages into one deck: Spell Damage, Dragon, and Hero Power.

The build looks good, with one exception. The Ticking/Pylon Zilliax does not impress us, as the deck doesn’t consistently flood the board. We strongly suspect that this deck would appreciate Aviana, due to its synergy with Bottomless Toy Chest. Aviana could be the card that helps the deck match up better into Reno Warrior and its Boomboss late game.

Reno Druid is a much better deck these days, but the Reno Warrior matchup is a major obstacle. It’s a Dirty Rat/Fizzle angle.

It’s hard to say at this stage how good Boomkin Druid is. Its performance level is currently very weak, but it is a difficult deck to play, so we’ll wait to see how it develops. We’re featuring TicTac’s build, which looks like the strongest direction.

We’ve tweaked Dragon Druid by dropping the nerfed Gatekeepers.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Snake Warlock was hyped as a potential Reno Warrior counter, but the matchup is trending to 50-50. An imminent Alexstrasza bug fix should turn the matchup unfavored. We’re featuring the build without Alex, but we don’t have much faith in it being competitive.

Sludge Warlock is a very effective counter to Reno Warrior. Forge of Wills is dropped. Demonic Studies can help you play Waste Remover a turn earlier.

Pain Warlock is mostly unchanged. Ticking/Pylon Zilliax can help you snowball on Warrior harder.

Insanity Warlock is another deck that was cooked up by Sunq and looks like a strong Reno Warrior counter. The game changers here are Fizzle and Sketch Artist, which can amplify Encroaching Insanity to levels that the Warrior cannot outlast. Just be careful not to kill yourself.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Token Hunter wants to be greedy so it can kill Reno Warrior more effectively. Leeroy Jenkins’ power has risen a bit after the patch since you just want reach against Warrior. Barak Kodobane has also become stronger, offering a reload against their removal. Camouflage Mount is very strong in this matchup. We are not impressed with Painted Canvasaur or the outdated Glacial Shard.

Reno Hunter might be competitive based on its low sample size. The popular lists run Thunderbringer and Obsidian Revenant, but we’re not convinced this package is worth running. Hollow Hound is likely very important against aggressive decks.

Our tweaks are meant to leverage Mystery Egg better. ETC is dedicated to doing that.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Aggro Paladin excels at aggressive mirrors, dominating board control like no other deck in the format thanks to its Showdown combo. Boogie Down and Crusader Aura are consistently found by Hi Ho Silverwing. You’re playing an aggressive deck in a Reno Warrior dominated format, so Leeroy Jenkins goes in.

Handbuff Paladin is back in business. The best direction drops the Excavate package, as it is too slow against Reno Warrior. You want to kill them fast. The featured build is a real counter to Reno Warrior, while the Excavate build is unfavored in the matchup. We’ve added Acolyte of Pain for more draw and synergy with Living Horizon.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Zarimi Priest is still a very powerful deck, possibly the best deck in the game, if you make one simple tweak to the build. Run one Clay Matriarch. That’s it. A single Clay Matriarch takes care of Zarimi’s condition being nerfed to require more dragons, as you always find it with Scale Replica. While Zarimi is a slower and weaker card now, the deck enjoys a format with worse AOE effects.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Much like any other deck with late game aspirations, Reno Shaman needs to tweak its build to give it the best chance against Reno Warrior. Your most powerful curve is generally Hagatha, then Shudderblock into a Slime that casts Wish Upon the Star. If you get that going, Warrior may struggle to clear your threats, since every minion in your deck becomes massive.

Alternatively, Dirty Rat and Fizzle can give you a chance against the inevitability of Boomboss.

Nature Shaman might be able to recover from the nerfs to Flash of Lightning and Crash of Thunder. The Jive direction gives you a much better chance in the Warrior matchup, especially if you run Fizzle. The Geomancer build is better in faster matchups.

Death Knight is in very bad shape. It’s no longer able to shut off Brann with its plagues, with the Reno Warrior matchup flipping as a result. Its board clearing capabilities have been weakened. We’ve optimized Rainbow Death Knight for the current meta, but we have little faith in its ability to compete. Plague Death Knight wasn’t a serious player before the patch, and now it lost its biggest asset. It looks grim for Arthas.

Shopper Demon Hunter is eyeing a comeback after seeing the entire field getting nerfed. The Standard Mech build is the best one for the ladder climb, but the Sharpshooter build is better at top legend, thanks to its strong Reno Warrior matchup, as well as its good matchups into other slower decks in general.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Mage looks doomed. The only remotely competitive direction for the class has come from a Spell Mage build that cuts the expensive curve and focuses on burn. Rainbow Mage is done after the Salesman nerf.

The current format is largely dictated by Reno Warrior, restricting the success of other decks that look to win in the late game. In general, late game power has fallen off a cliff over the last few months. Between the balance changes in the second half of Badlands, rotation, as well as the balance changes during Whizbang, Brann has turned from a card that looked very weak on its release, into the most powerful late game card in Standard.

What’s left is to fight for early game supremacy. Plenty of decks are capable of getting under Reno Warrior before it takes over with its grindy game plan.

Initially, it looked like Token Hunter was clearly running away as the premier initiative-focused strategy. However, the emergence of Aggro Paladin as a hard counter might shake things up in that department.

Paladin’s early game board control isn’t the only thing it seems to excel at. Handbuff Paladin is indicating a return to a powerful standing, with its faster variant looking like a clear Reno Warrior counter and one of the biggest sleepers in the format.

But the best deck in the game, once the dust settles, may once again end up being Zarimi Priest. With a single card change, it’s able to recover from the nerf to Zarimi. The deck’s strength lies in its versatility. It is fast to get on the board, gain the initiative, and snowball. Yet Zarimi gives it a powerful swing turn that makes the deck a scary opponent in slower matchups too.

Paladin and Priest are certain to have more say on this format. Expect to see a lot of changes in the meta next week, should they blow up.

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