vS Data Reaper Report #295

Data Reaper Report Logo

Welcome to the 295th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

Contributing to the Data Reaper project through Hearthstone Deck Tracker or Firestone allows us to perform our analyses and to issue the weekly reports, so we want to wholeheartedly thank our contributors. Without the community’s contributions, there would be no project. Contributing data is very easy, so if you enjoy our content and would like to make sure it remains consistent and free – Sign up!

Quick Links

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 1,177,000
Top 1K Legend 49,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 363,000
Diamond 4 to 1 291,000
Diamond 10 to 5 203,000
Platinum 115,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 156,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

Excavate Rogue has nearly doubled its numbers from last week to become the most popular deck at top legend, exceeding a 20% play rate. The deck’s rise in play across other ranks is more modest, with its performance consistently proving to be underwhelming outside of high MMR’s, throughout this expansion. Beyond that, there’s a small, but noticeable number of Gaslight Rogues.

Warlock has changed its tune after the nerf to Molten Giant. The Pain Warlock population has drastically shrunk, with players going back to Insanity Warlock. The class’ current state is not different from what it was before the mini-set.

Experimentation in Odyn and Mech Warrior has died out, while Reno Warrior has grown in its play rate. It’s still far from 6-mana Brann numbers, but Reno Warrior is one of the most popular decks across ladder.

The nerf to Showdown has hit the Aggro Paladin population hard, but the class remains very relevant, with both Handbuff Paladin and Reno Paladin inching forward.

There is a lot of enthusiasm for Reno Priest, after it has proven to perform at a competitive level last week. Zarimi Priest has declined following the nerf to Thirsty Drifter, but it didn’t see much play before the patch either, so not much has changed this week.

There’s a very small rise in Reno Druid, but the more glaring development is the appearance of Boomkin Druid at top legend, which has sprung into a 5% play rate out of nowhere. The archetype’s most popular build incorporates Dorian with Oaken Summons. Either Boomkin Druid is suddenly competitive, or there’s a desperation amongst high MMR players to find a late game win condition that can counter the grind fest of Reno mirrors.

Spell Mage has maintained strong play rate numbers throughout most of ladder, but its top legend play rate has declined by over 50%. We think this is a natural two step process. At first, initial enthusiasm over its newly discovered competitive power. Then, understanding that while the deck is competitive, it’s not one of the stronger strategies out there.

Death Knight continues to enjoy healthy play rates across ladder, but the class is a bit shunned at higher levels of play, where only Rainbow Death Knight gets some daylight. Rainbow DK is dominated by Reno variants. Experimentation with many different builds is ongoing.

A similar story is found in Hunter. The class has three different archetypes on the competitive map (Secret, Token, Reno), but none of them interest top legend players.

Shaman is unpopular across ladder. Reno Shaman is the most common deck, but the situation changes at top legend, where Nature Shaman becomes the more common strategy.

Few players care about Demon Hunter. The class is treated as an outcast.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion


  • We’re starting to see a lot of similarities between current Whizbang Excavate Rogue and Badlands Excavate Rogue. Both decks exhibited resilient matchup spreads, where they were very difficult to counter. The worst matchups on paper still hover around 45-55, making them feel very winnable. The Reno Warrior matchup, which used to present the biggest problem for Excavate Rogue, is now very close at top legend (47-53) after a specific breakthrough in its build. Neither version of Excavate Rogue completely dominated matchups, but they were well rounded. Top legend players favor Excavate Rogue because of the absence of hard counters and the sense of agency in every matchup, something that often goes missing in a Reno mirror.  It’s possible that Rogue wears down the format and hits a Tier 1 win rate again. Outside of top legend, Excavate Rogue doesn’t reach the same heights. Relatively to most decks in the format, it’s complicated to play at an optimal level.
  • Gaslight Rogue is strong and very difficult to beat. At most rank brackets, it’s stronger than Excavate Rogue, while also acting as its soft counter. However, this deck is far less attractive to players, possibly due to its all-in, “high roll” game plan. If you do enjoy gaslighting people, it’s time to take it up again. Just be mindful of the Warrior matchup. That’s the tough one.


  • Insanity Warlock looks very powerful again. The nerf to board flooding strategies has given it the space it needs to dominate slower matchups. However, its matchup spread isn’t as perfect as it looked before the mini-set. Some emerging strategies are capable of dealing with it well, such as Gaslight Rogue and Nature Shaman, which have a faster late game clock. Of course, the hardest counter is Handbuff Paladin, the deck that prevents it from being the top performer across ladder.
  • Pain Warlock initially looks fine on paper, but the tables have turned, and the deck is now outclassed by Insanity. It’s also very likely that its performance, especially at top legend, will sink over the next week. We’re noticing cracks there, with some of its worst matchups rising in play. It’s now unfavored against both Insanity Warlock and Excavate Rogue, which is a bad sign for it going forward.


  • It’s unlikely that Reno Warrior will dominate the format like it did before the nerf to Brann. There are some clear, popular counters available to punish it. The Reno mirrors are more difficult than they used to be, while Excavate Rogue has gained some ground in the matchup, but the deck refuses to go away.
  • Odyn Warrior just isn’t as strong. There is also a nasty trend that we’ll talk about throughout the report that hurts this deck’s game plan more than any other. Mech Warrior continues to look unplayable. No sign of that changing.


  • It doesn’t come as a surprise to us, but Handbuff Paladin is the best performing deck on ladder. This is true across all levels of play, including top legend. Insanity Warlock initially looked like the #1 deck, but Paladin’s dominant matchup against it has taken its toll, allowing Paladin to leapfrog Warlock over the last few days. With the nerfs to board flooding decks, Handbuff Paladin is enjoying a more comfortable format that doesn’t punish it for its relatively passive early game that’s vulnerable to snowballing. Reno is a very strong card against it, but most Reno decks are not able to muster an advantage in the matchup. Rogue and Warrior have decent matchups against it, so it does have some answers, but it’s unlikely to become the focus of the format when its play rate is this modest. That’s good news for those that choose to play the deck.
  • Aggro Paladin has a very similar story to Pain Warlock. On paper, it still looks fine, though obviously weaker than before. It’s now outclassed by Handbuff Paladin, which is clearly the better choice. Its win rate is showing signs of cracks at higher levels of play. There’s a steep decline over the last few days, with other decks going through refinement, while it stands still.
  • Reno Paladin is a fine choice. It’s effective at contesting the board, so it’s comfortable in faster matchups where Spirit of the Badlands presents enough value to grind out aggressive decks. The Handbuff Paladin and Insanity Warlock matchups are decent. In slower matchups, its late game is lacking, so it comes up a bit short against Reno Warrior and Excavate Rogue.


  • Reno Priest is facing two issues that currently suppress its performance and prevent it from stepping out of Tier 3. The rise of Insanity Warlock, which is an oppressively bad matchup, is a big problem. Another thing we’ve noticed is that Reno Priest no longer shows clear outplay potential in popular matchups at higher levels of play. It seems that top legend players have learned how to play around its game plan better, with Puppet Theatre the most noticeable example of a card they’ve learned to circumvent. From looking like an Excavate Rogue in terms of skill differential, it’s now looking like a typical Reno deck. It doesn’t help that these players absolutely despise Reno Priest, to the point they queue up stuff like Boomkin Druid just to beat it.
  • Zarimi Priest is hilariously strong. Our concerns with Pain Warlock and Aggro Paladin do not apply for Zarimi Priest when it comes to its performance. This deck will continue to produce strong results at all levels of play, for those willing to pilot it. The main issue is that players are unwilling to play it.


  • Boomkin Druid… does not look good. There’s a case to be made that the deck is “skill intensive” and may improve its performance over time, but we’re not seeing that right now. Based on its current trajectory, it’s not stepping out of Tier 4. We would need to see a Nomi Priest level of turnaround.
  • Reno Druid is stronger thanks to the decline of board flooding, aggressive decks. It’s a decent ladder climber now, though obviously not one of the strongest ones. Handbuff Paladin and Insanity Warlock are still tough, but more manageable than Pain Warlock and Aggro Paladin. Its late game is good enough to handle the Reno mirrors. Rogue exposes it a bit at higher levels of play.


  • Spell Mage is fine, hovering around a 50% win rate past Diamond 5. Its main role in the format is to kill Reno Priests. It’s not great against the most prominent classes at higher levels of play (Paladin/Warrior/Rogue/Warlock), which is why its top legend play rate is relatively lower.
  • Rainbow Mage doesn’t look good. There might be a new way for the archetype to compete better in the format. Unfortunately, it involves… Reno. We might have 8 classes in the game that employ highlander decks to compete in the late game.

Death Knight

  • Rainbow Death Knight might be able to stick a good landing if it figures out a “perfect 30” Reno build. The slower format has helped Reno variants perform better since they’re less pressured to find defensive answers early. If it works out, you can add it to the pile of Reno decks with a ~50% win rate.
  • Some refinement and a slower format has made Handbuff DK look less terrible, but we don’t see a great reason to play it over Handbuff Paladin. The access to charge damage makes a big difference in the slower matchups. Handbuff DK is much more vulnerable to removal as a result.


  • All Hunter decks are good choices to climb to legend with. Token Hunter is still very strong outside of top legend, where it falls off hard. Secret Hunter goes from top tier to average. Reno Hunter is the most balanced deck across ladder.


  • Nature Shaman is strong at top legend again. If you’re looking for a deck to OTK opponents, it seems like a much better choice compared to Boomkin Druid. The Jive build is doing work. The deck benefitted from the nerf to board flooding decks.
  • Reno Shaman will continue to look tame as long as it can’t handle the Reno mirrors. Staff of the Nine Frogs is the weakest highlander payoff in a Reno mirror, since every Reno deck runs Viper.

Demon Hunter

  • Shopper DH is a good deck. The Naga variant is particularly strong at top legend, while the vanilla build does decent work elsewhere. The class doesn’t have a performance issue, it has a design issue. Players are not interested in a strategy that’s focused so heavily on just two cards, making the rest of the deck feel like filler. This was only tolerated when Shopper DH was the strongest thing to do.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Data Reaper Report - Rogue

The most notable development in Excavate Rogue, one which we expect to spread across every late game strategy in the format, is the inclusion of Yogg-Saron. There are two main reasons why Yogg has become much more powerful.

The first is the propagation of Perfect/Virus Zilliax. Yogg is a strong counter to Zilliax due to its mind control ability, which is a huge swing in the game. It’s particularly powerful against Reno Warrior since it can deny their Inventor Boom.

The second, more subtle reason, is that the meta has slowed down. Aggressive decks aren’t as capable of rushing you down. Handbuff Paladin, for example, likes to scale up slowly and go tall. There’s more time to swing the game with Yogg.

The decline of Aggro Paladin makes Fan of Knives weaker in Gaslight Rogue. We’ve opted to replace it with Mic Drop.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Ticking Zilliax has gotten significantly worse after the patch due to the decline of board flooding decks. We’ve dropped it from Insanity Warlock to run both Sketch Artist and Symphony of Sins. This gives us an even stronger late game against the slower matchups we thrive in.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Though Yogg-Saron has no synergy whatsoever in Reno Warrior, adding Yogg is probably the best answer to opponents using their Yogg to steal your Virus Zilliax. You just steal it back! We’ve dropped Slam to make space, as it’s less impactful than other options.

We’ve also added Yogg to Odyn Warrior. Cutting Brawl makes a lot of sense in the current meta.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Perfect/Virus Zilliax is one of the most annoying cards to deal with as a Handbuff Paladin, so Yogg shows promising initial results even in this deck. Stealing Amitus in the mirror matchup can also be game winning. Air Guitarist is not a bad card, but if Paladin starts to get targeted with Vipers, it might become significantly weaker. Astral Serpents are a bit weak, but we’ve kept them for reload in the more difficult Reno matchups. A 1-1 split with Air Guitarist is fine too.

The Excavate build is completely outclassed by the Charger build, especially at higher rank brackets. At top legend, the Excavate build looks terrible, and is barely seen as a result. We highly recommend running the Charger build. It’s not just stronger overall, but it has more agency in matchups (especially the Reno matchups).

Reno Paladin is a Reno deck, so Yogg is more than good enough to get in.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Reno Priest needs to be built very differently after the last patch. Mass removal is far less important now that Pain Warlock has declined. The featured build is greedier and more value oriented, with Ra-den synergizing with Puppet Theatre to have more diverse copy targets. Copying a Virus Zilliax is suddenly a very good play when Ra-den is in the picture.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Boomkin Druid doesn’t perform well. We can’t see a way to improve on the established Dorian list either. We like the Reno Druid list we settled on last week, because it already ran Yogg.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Early game has slowed down, so Spell Mage can afford to cut Flame Geyser for the greedier Frost Lich Cross-Stitch. Water Elementals can be annoying to deal with for Handbuff Paladin.

Rainbow Mage has been struggling to find a build that’s strong enough to be competitive, but a new Reno path shows relatively more promise. It’s Reno for everyone.

Slowing down the format has helped the Reno variants of Rainbow Death Knight, as early game defensive consistency is less important. Some refinement has also occurred, prioritizing a cheaper curve. This deck doesn’t need a lot of greed, though a Fizzle inside ETC can always help in those extremely grindy Reno mirrors. We don’t like the way Foamrender is performing. It might be an ETC band member, but main decking it is suspect.

For Plague Death Knight, we’ve gone back to more greed. Yes, Yogg goes in here too.

We’ve made some drastic changes in Handbuff Death Knight, such as cutting The Primus. Ultimately, we don’t think this deck can compete.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Hex and Armor Vendor are less important after the patch in Reno Shaman.

Nature Shaman is looking competitive again at higher levels of play. It’s all thanks to the Jive build. Recent trend has been to add back Miracle Salesman, which we can get behind because Thalnos and Cactus Cutter aren’t great.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

For the secret variant of Reno Hunter to be successful, it needs to pretend it’s Secret Hunter. You’re playing an aggressive deck that happens to run Reno. The featured build looks like it can measure up to the Thunderbringer variant. Yogg goes into both decks. Virus Zilliax is a huge counter to your game plan in general.

Barrel of Monkeys is too weak of a card to be worth running in Secret Hunter. We’ve replaced it with another copy of Bait and Switch, as well as Pozzik. We don’t like the Zilliax options tested in this deck (Power/Haywire and Ticking/Pylon).

Shopper Demon Hunter is a strong deck in the current meta, but barely anyone cares. Demon Hunter needs its next expansion set to be a banger, because the player base is done with the class in its current state.

The current meta can be described as “Aggro vs. Reno”, with Rogue acting as the most prominent exception to the label. The most interesting fact about this expansion is that every class in the game, besides Druid, saw at least one of it decks nerfed at some point since launch. Basically, every mole has been whacked. Now, we’re back to Handbuff Paladin looking like the best performer in the format, just like it did during the first couple of days of Whizbang.

We’re likely on a relatively long break from balance changes. Thankfully, the current format isn’t imbalanced. There are plenty of options, viable decks in every class, as long as you don’t mind a lot of Reno in your Hearthstone diet.

Preparing our weekly article requires a significant amount of time and effort from many individuals. We would like to wholeheartedly thank our current Patreons, whose generous donations help us fund computing and server costs.

vS Gold is our membership plan aimed to support our efforts towards improving our content and data analysis while receiving some bonuses and extra features.

Tier 3+ Patrons

Special thanks to LeoJed M, Drew M, Alan J, Zolstar, Sean H, Steve F, Andrew N, Alonso P, Je-ho, William H, 1RiceBowl1,  Alex S, PeejTreon, Josh G, Amir, amenbrotep, Karhu, Christopher N, Lime, Kaushal, Joshua B, Jeff C, Scott L, Mark P, The Big Dawg, nburst, Jess M, Peter, Bob L, Charlah R, Chocobo, Chad K, Alex W, Ashton F, Swift, Logan, Fisherington, WorldEight, Jacob M,  Timothy M, Darren J, Wyatt P, Kevin, Michael N, Noah E, Nezoomer, Dooshenbarf, mikey, Dooshenbarf, Aaelle, Michael S, Divock, BraveSurRobin, Daniel R, Clint D, Neil R, Keith W, Michael D, Hisham M, Milkman Dan, PapaPloKoon, Scott D, Jolagh, Howie, Kevin F, bruh, Lacial, Jwaf, and Nick M for supporting us this month.

Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: