vS Data Reaper Report #294

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Welcome to the 294th 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 1,521,000
Top 1K Legend 59,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 334,000
Diamond 4 to 1 391,000
Diamond 10 to 5 326,000
Platinum 177,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 234,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

Pain Warlock has been flying high since the release of the mini-set. The introduction of Mass Production has elevated the deck’s consistency, while ‘INFERNAL!’ has provided a deceptively effective source of healing and stabilization for the deck. Molten Giants are often coming down on turn 4, with no room for counterplay, leaving opponents helpless. The increased power of the deck has contributed to its spike in play across ladder, while becoming the most popular deck at top legend. Insanity Warlock has been reduced to a smaller presence, while other Warlock strategies have mostly disappeared.

The thirst for Spell Mage amongst the player base may have been sated. The historically popular archetype failed to establish itself at the launch of the expansion, but Malfunction has provided the deck with a tremendous stabilization tool. The low curve, burn-centric variant has taken over. With the exception of top legend, where it’s second to Pain Warlock, Spell Mage is now the most popular deck in the format. Rainbow Mage sees little play in comparison.

Business as usual for Excavate Rogue, an archetype that has maintained its popularity, especially at higher levels of play. Under the surface, other Rogue strategies are attempting to carve out a bigger presence behind the addition of Dubious Purchase. Gaslight and Sonya Rogue are the notable two. Cutlass Rogue can also be observed.

While Reno Warrior has declined in play, the archetype is proving to be very resilient in the face of a 2 mana nerf to its cornerstone card. Many players, including ourselves, expected the deck to be dealt a bigger blow, perhaps even completely disappearing from the picture. However, late game power hasn’t increased as a result of the mini-set, helping Reno Warrior remain one of the more popular decks in the game. Mech Warrior experimentations were popular early, but are currently fading. The trend gathering more traction recently is the return of Odyn Warrior, backed up by a Perfect/Virus Zilliax package with Inventor Boom and Part Scrapper.

Paladin’s position in the format looks rock solid. Aggro and Handbuff Paladin see similar play rates across ladder, with an awakening of Reno Paladin observed. The new cards don’t see much play in the class.

There’s a brewing trend of non-Warrior Reno decks picking up more interest, with the weakened Brann possibly not dominating these matchups as much as it did before. Reno Priest is the most popular of the group, utilizing Puppet Theatre and Funhouse Mirror. The deck has gone from looking completely unplayable before the mini-set, into one that has carved out a sizeable play rate. We know there’s a portion of the player base who will always jump on a Control Priest deck, so we’ll have to see how much it has improved in this new format. In contrast, Zarimi Priest enthusiasm is very low, with Pain Warlock known to be a hard counter to the deck.

Death Knight has picked up in play. Plague DK is a deck that players at lower ranks will stubbornly hold on to. Rainbow DK is seeing a lot of experimentation with Reno builds. Handbuff DK is the emerging archetype from the mini-set, with many different approaches. However, it’s notable that interest in the class is already low at top legend.

Token Hunter has been dealt a huge blow with the nerf to Saddle Up. The deck seems to have suffered more than Reno Warrior, considering it has become fringe. The Hunter class is still quite visible, thanks to new experimentations in Secret Hunter with Product 9, as well as Reno Hunter.

Druid is fractured into a lot of different strategies. The most notable one is Reno Druid, attempting to step out of Reno Warrior’s shadow. The rest, such as Hybrid or Dragon Druid, see little play.

Shaman also seems mostly focused on its Reno archetype, which is trying to leverage Murloc Growfin with Shudderblock. Nature Shaman sees a little bit of play at top legend, but there’s nothing else going on.

Demon Hunter is largely ignored. Shopper DH has gone through minimal changes, while the class has not been inspired to try anything else.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion

For most decks in the format, this is as good as it gets. The refinement process is relatively quicker after a mini-set compared to an expansion. However, there are several decks whose peak potential is not reflected well by their current aggregated performance level, as they are not optimized. There are also several promising decks with a play rate that’s too low to include in the table. It’s important to pay attention to those, as the format is still young.


  • Pain Warlock is clearly very powerful, boasting a nearly perfect matchup spread. The only reliable counter to the deck is Aggro Paladin, which demolishes it (70-30). This explains why both decks sit at the top two spots across ladder.
  • Insanity Warlock is still very strong, but its poor matchups into both Pain Warlock and Paladin have placed it a little behind them. The deck is extremely powerful against Reno decks thanks to its late game lethality, which is why the upcoming patch should boost its standing.


  • Spell Mage is competitively viable, standing at Tier 2 across ladder, just above a 50% win rate. Its matchup spread shows plenty of weaknesses, so we don’t expect it to become dominant. Its popularity stems from its attractiveness.
  • Rainbow Mage fell into a rabbit hole of a build that looks atrocious, involving Darkmoon Magician, Mes’Adune, and Ragnaros. It’s a real mess. One variant of the archetype looks far more promising. We’re not sure it’s strong enough, but it’s much closer to a 50% win rate than a 40% win rate.


  • No real changes in Excavate Rogue’s standing in the format. Competitive at high MMR’s thanks to a relatively high skill ceiling compared to other decks in the format. It’s worth noting that in most expansions in the last few years, Excavate Rogue would have been considered slightly above average in terms of player agency. Skill expression in the current format is very low, so Excavate Rogue looks “big brain” in comparison.
  • Based on low sample sizes, Gaslight Rogue shows competitive promise at higher levels of play. Possibly Tier 2. Cutlass Rogue is estimated to be Tier 3. Sonya Rogue borderline Tier 3/4 deck at top legend.


  • Reno Warrior’s performance has somehow improved following the nerf to Brann, placing at Tier 1 at legend ranks. Of course, the deck has gotten much worse in a vacuum. We can clearly see that in its matchup spread, where its chokehold on other late game strategies has been loosened. There are now a couple of Reno decks that can beat it in the late game, something that wasn’t possible before. The reason Reno Warrior has gotten “better” is that the meta is no longer trying to relentlessly target it, as it’s no longer extremely popular. In addition, the decline of Token Hunter and Insanity Warlock, which were two big counters to the deck, has promoted a more favorable field for the archetype. Spell Mage is a good matchup, for example.
  • Another reason Reno Warrior is still competitive, despite seeing its cornerstone card nerfed by 2 mana, is that no new late game synergies were introduced that can get under a doubled Boomboss. Late game power in the format is generally very weak, characterized by being slow and grindy, which lines up well for a Boomboss clock to remain effective.
  • Mech Warrior looks completely unplayable. We have yet to find an iteration of the archetype that looks remotely competitive. On the other hand, Odyn Warrior is showing promise and might successfully re-establish itself.


  • Aggro Paladin is the best performing deck in the game thanks to its continuing early game dominance. It simply destroys other aggressive decks, such as Pain Warlock, because it punishes you for playing minions. The nerf to Showdown should be a game changer here, weakening its blow out potential. Defensive minded decks that are happy to sit back and play the removal game, tend to do well into Aggro Paladin.
  • Handbuff Paladin is another top tier performer. The nerfs to aggressive decks should make it stronger on paper, as it tends to struggle when the opponent takes over the board and snowballs. For a slower deck to beat Handbuff Paladin, it needs a very strong defensive shell packed with removal. Even then, Handbuff Paladin is flexible enough to get greedier when necessary.
  • Reno Paladin is competitive again. Paladin’s defensive toolkit seems good enough to handle the aggressive decks in the format relatively well. Where the deck seems to come up short is in the Reno mirrors. Spirit of the Badlands is a slow value engine that can get outclassed in some of those matchups.


  • Reno Priest is on the competitive map, nearing a 50% win rate at top legend. The Reno Warrior matchup has flipped, with Priest now holding a clear advantage. Reno Priest seems to handle aggressive decks fine, but we think it can do even better in those matchups with some refinement. The balance changes may not put it in a better position in the format though, should they lead to a rise in Insanity Warlock, a terrible matchup for any Reno deck. The popularity of Spell Mage also limits how good it can be. Reno Priest will be hoping that Handbuff Paladin takes over, as its defensive toolkit is strong enough to handle the Paladin’s pressure.
  • Zarimi Priest is a very powerful deck that’s been relentlessly countered by both Aggro Paladin and Pain Warlock, making it seem inoffensive. Outside of these matchups, Zarimi’s dominance is evident. A nerf to the deck in tomorrow’s patch is completely understandable considering the context of those two counters getting nerfed.

Death Knight

  • Reno variants of Rainbow DK are holding the archetype back. So far, the best direction for the archetype has been its tried and true duplicate build. Should it take over, Rainbow DK would sit around the 50% win rate mark. It’s also possible that the Reno variants are not optimized as well as they could be.
  • Plague DK needs to be less greedy and stronger defensively in the current format. We made some adjustments, but we don’t think the deck is particularly good regardless.
  • Handbuff DK performs the worst out of the three, but may have the highest potential! Most builds of Handbuff DK that have been tested are admittedly terrible, but there’s a promising direction worth further exploration. Don’t count out this archetype just yet.


  • Token Hunter has drastically fallen in power, especially at higher levels of play, where it’s completely irrelevant. The other aggressive decks in the format outclass it. Perhaps, the nerf to Showdown will give it a chance to return. The Aggro Paladin matchup is simply unbearable.
  • Secret Hunter is competitive, with a further scope of improvement through refinement, but a suspected low skill ceiling that may be hard to overcome at high MMR’s.
  • Reno Hunter might be the best option for the class to compete across all skill levels. It has the highest scope for improvement through refinement, mostly because its Secret variants have not been working out too well and its Egg direction still looks like the best approach. However, we’ll be surprised if it captures a sizeable audience. There are plenty of Reno decks out there, and Reno Hunter might be the least attractive one to the general audience.


  • Reno Druid beats Reno Warrior now, thanks to its value generation through Rheastrasza and Aviana. It also beats Reno Priest. It’s the king of grindy matchups, the new Reno deck to beat all other Reno decks! The problem is that it gets destroyed by aggression. The balance patch tomorrow should help its cause.
  • Treant Druid has a chance to compete through a relatively underexplored path. Not much hope should be placed in other Druid decks, as things stand.


  • Reno Shaman is not too bad, but we think it should be a little greedier if it wants to compete better in Reno mirrors. It doesn’t have the value generation of Paladin or Druid, nor does it have the removal toolkit of Priest and Warrior.
  • Nature Shaman’s presence is very small and it’s only played by few, dedicated players at top legend. It’s hard to say how good it really is.

Demon Hunter

  • Shopper DH is fine, but few players care.  The archetype stopped being popular the moment it stopped being the strongest thing to do.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Pain Warlock is nuts. Both Mass Production and ‘INFERNAL!’ are incredible cards for the deck. The list builds itself to some degree, as there are no great debates involving card choices. Speaker Stomper is the worst card in the deck, but it’s quite good against Spell Mage, and we haven’t found a clear upgrade.

Insanity Warlock is also very strong, though it has taken a relative back seat due to its unfavored matchup against Pain Warlock. Symphony of Sins is the worst card here, though it got a little better after the mini-set.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Spell Mage is now competitive thanks to the addition of Malfunction, which has been a life saver in aggressive matchups. The best approach has consistently been a low curve burn variant.

Rainbow Mage has been struggling, but one approach exhibits more promise than others. Watercolor Artist and ‘Buy One, Get One Freeze’ is a decent pairing that can help us execute Sif combos more easily following the nerf to Snake Oil.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Excavate Rogue is having the most success running both Greedy Partner and Antique Flinger. Leeroy has become less important with the decline in play of Reno Warrior. We’re not impressed with Cult Neophyte, even with the popularity of Spell Mage in consideration.

Cutlass Rogue wants to run Twisted Pack over Thistle Tea Set. We’re not sure Dubious Purchase is better than Mic Drop in this deck, specifically.

In both Sonya Rogue and Gaslight Rogue, Dubious Purchase is a massive upgrade on Mic Drop.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Reno Warrior is still powerful. The main adjustment is running Greedy Partner to help us play the more expensive Brann a turn early. Virus/Perfect Zilliax has become increasingly popular over the established Twin/Perfect Zilliax. Armor Vendor is another important card in the current format.

Trial by Fire is getting dropped from lists for being too slow, alongside Steam Guardian. The ETC is mirror focused. Fizzle/Rat is very important there. Safety Goggles can save you against aggressive decks.

Odyn Warrior is attempting a comeback, incorporating a Virus/Perfect Zilliax package. Town Crier tutors it. Part Scrapper discounts it. Inventor Boom resurrects it. This is an effective win condition in faster matchups, and the deck still possesses the damage potential of Odyn in slower matchups. Try to duplicate your damage pieces with Fizzle.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Aggro Paladin has looked dominant this week. No reason to change anything about its build from before the mini-set. It’s tried and true.

Handbuff Paladin has been experimenting. We’ve settled on two builds reflecting the best approaches from the Charger and the Excavate variants. We consider them to be clean.

Gnomelia has dropped off. Drone Deconstructor is a decent 1-drop for the archetype. Power/Twin Zilliax is starting to gain traction and might be the best choice. Astral Serpent helps the Charger variant accumulate resources and increases the consistency of its burst finishers. Both variants are close in power when fully optimized.

Reno Paladin is promising. We’re not convinced a Holy spell package is worth running. Minion density is important to the deck. You want maximum impact from Spirit of the Badlands.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Zarimi Priest has been getting countered by Aggro Paladin and Pain Warlock, but its matchup spread is otherwise scary, so it’s getting nerfed alongside its counters to prevent it from taking over. A 1-mana nudge to Thirsty Drifter is likely but shouldn’t hurt the deck too much. The featured build should remain perfect.

Reno Priest is finally showing competitive promise. Puppet Theatre is a powerful card in control mirrors. Funhouse Mirror is needed to answer giants. We think this archetype is relatively unrefined. The general impression we get is that mass removal is underrated. The Pain Warlock matchup should be better when you run all three of Shadow Word: Ruin, Lightbomb, and Repackage.

Rainbow Death Knight has seen a lot of experimentation with Reno builds, but they look inferior to the established list.

Plague Death Knight needs an anti-aggro lean, so we’ve built it to be faster and more defensive minded.

Handbuff Death Knight might be competitive, but it likely needs to give up on Spinel Spellstone and go all-in on Yodeler/Puppeteer as its power spike. You should never drop Reska from this deck, and you want both Hollow Hound and Gnome Muncher.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

The nerf to Saddle Up hurt Token Hunter, but it doesn’t change how the deck wants to be built. Saddle Up is still an important card for the deck in slower matchups to fight off AOE effects.

Secret Hunter looks viable and competitive, but not refined just yet. A Mantle Shaper approach seems to work best. Something most players have yet to catch up to is that you want to run single copies of secrets, to make Product 9 more powerful. The only secret you should run two copies of is Hidden Meaning. The second copy of Bargain Bin is surprisingly weak.

Reno Hunter is experimenting with a secret package too, but we’re not convinced it’s better than the Egg approach. You want to be greedy in the current format, so we’re back on the Thunderbringer train.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Reno Druid wants to be as lean as possible to match up better against aggressive decks. Your late game is taken care of by Rheastrasza, Aviana, and ETC. We’ve put a lot of thought into the ETC band. Try to use Fizzle or Brewmaster with your two core win conditions. Proper use of Rheastrasza in a Reno mirror could be the difference between winning or losing a game.

Treant Druid builds have initially looked weak, but a slower approach with Drum Circle could be competitive.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

No major surprises in Reno Shaman. Growfin is a great card in the deck. We think Armor Vendor is a better 1-drop than Shock Hopper. Hex gives us an early answer to a Giant. ETC should have Fizzle in it if we want to perform better in slower matchups.

Not much is going on in Shopper Demon Hunter. Sock Puppet Slitherspear is great in the Sharpshooter variant. That’s about it.

Taking into consideration the upcoming balance changes tomorrow, we think Handbuff Paladin and Insanity Warlock are major winners and should grow in popularity next week. They’re seeing many of their counters nerfed, while not being touched themselves. We would invest in their stocks.

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