vS Data Reaper Report #296

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Welcome to the 296th 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 1,631,000
Top 1K Legend 55,000
Legend (Excluding Top 1k) 218,000
Diamond 4 to 1 265,000
Diamond 10 to 5 250,000
Platinum 215,000
Bronze/Silver/Gold 628,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

For most of ladder, the current meta is quite diverse when it comes to class choices. 9 classes boast play rates hovering between 7-14%, with only Shaman and Demon Hunter struggling for relevance. No deck is overwhelmingly popular. At top legend, things narrow down (as they usually do) and Rogue takes over.

While there’s been a steady rise in Excavate Rogue’s play rate across ladder, the more notable development has been the emergence of Gaslight Rogue. Still dwarfed by Excavate Rogue’s popularity, Gaslight Rogue is now a noticeable deck at top legend, where the class nears a 30% play rate.

There’s a small uptick in Reno Warrior, with the deck now taking more active steps to improve its late game matchups (Yogg has become more popular after last week’s report).

Insanity Warlock has grown in popularity on the climb to legend, with information trickling down about the deck’s success. At top legend, the deck has slightly declined in play, possibly due to the increased presence of Handbuff Paladin.

Handbuff Paladin has seen significantly increased play across ladder, after the deck looked like the best performer in last week’s report at every rank bracket.

Reno Priest is in decline, after seemingly hitting a wall in some matchups. There’s little movement in Zarimi Priest, with the deck looking very fringe.

Enthusiasm for Boomkin Druid has waned, with the top legend bubble bursting. Reno Druid looks unchanged.

Spell Mage has moderately declined in play outside of legend, while falling off hard at top legend. This is the second week in a row where we see this drastic fall in play rate, when it stood at 14% just two weeks ago.

There’s a very small uptick in Nature Shaman at top legend, but it looks like the deck hasn’t gained much traction following its success last week. Reno Shaman is stagnant.

Very little movement in Death Knight, Hunter, or Demon Hunter. Death Knight continues to boast a large presence at lower rank brackets, but only Rainbow DK sees a minimal amount of respect at top legend. Hunter is visible on the climb, but none of its three archetypes are notable at higher levels of play. Demon Hunter is largely ignored at all levels of play.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion


  • While Excavate Rogue is very popular at top legend, it’s not dominating the format. We were a bit concerned it was gradually improving last week, but it seems like the field is fighting back. The matchup spread continues to be very balanced, but there are two matchups that might have caused Excavate Rogue’s plateau. The Reno Warrior matchup has now gotten a bit worse again, with Warrior players becoming more mindful of the Yogg-Saron in the Rogue players’ decks. Gaslight Rogue is a rising matchup that’s not easy to deal with either.
  • Gaslight Rogue looks powerful. It is strong against both Insanity Warlock and Handbuff Paladin, the two best performing decks in the format. It is not easy to target, as you need mass removal to deal with its blow out turns. Not many decks possess that capability, nor are they encouraged to run it, since Gaslight Rogue isn’t popular.


  • Reno Warrior has settled down in Tier 2, which is where it is likely to stay. It’s not difficult to target in the current meta, with Insanity Warlock the easiest choice to punish Warrior with. Odyn Warrior is a bit stronger than it looks. When refined, it could be a Tier 2 contender.


  • Insanity Warlock’s performance has been tempered by the rise of Handbuff Paladin and Gaslight Rogue, two of its best counters. It seems that the formula to beat it is to develop overwhelmingly tall boards, ones that are resilient to Crescendo blow outs. Insanity will likely stay strong due to its dominance in slower matchups, but the field has figured out how to control it.
  • Pain Warlock has made a remarkable recovery in its performance, which makes it a bit underrated now. The decline of Spell Mage has been very helpful, as it’s positioned quite well against the rest of the field. The format doesn’t have a lot of burn that can punish the Warlock for getting low enough to develop Molten Giants.


  • Handbuff Paladin stays on top. It’s still not popular enough to make players want to actively target it, so it benefits from all of the attention being directed at Excavate Rogue. Gaslight Rogue and Zarimi Priest are difficult matchups that don’t see much play, for example.
  • Aggro Paladin is alright, but clearly outclassed by Handbuff. Reno Paladin is limited by how weak its late game is in the Reno mirrors, as well as the Excavate Rogue matchup.


  • Zarimi Priest is a Tier 1 deck at all levels of play, making it extremely underplayed. Perhaps, the unfavored matchups into Rogue are having some impact on its desirability, but those are the only popular matchups that Zarimi loses. We think its desirability is mostly negatively affected by the fact it’s an aggressive Priest deck that got nerfed multiple times this expansion. It’s going through a “Naga Priest” phase.
  • Reno Priest has a hard ceiling on how good it can be, because its matchup spread is very vulnerable. As long as Insanity Warlock and Spell Mage are prominent decks, it’s going to be difficult for Reno Priest to hit a positive win rate.


  • Boomkin Druid is showing little to no improvement in its performance, something that we’ve noticed last week and hasn’t changed. The class’ Reno archetype is its best chance of competing.


  • Spell Mage is progressively getting worse every week because the best decks beat it, and they continuously rise in play as the meta settles down. The deck has sunk to Tier 3 past Diamond 5. The player base’s infatuation with Reno Priest is its saving grace, but Mage doesn’t beat any other popular deck. Rainbow Mage looks doomed.

Death Knight

  • Much like Druid, Death Knight’s best chance of competing seems to be Reno. Rainbow DK has looked “respectable” through that path after the nerf to board flooding aggressive decks has put less pressure on its need to consistently find removal. Plague DK is incredibly weak at higher rank brackets.
  • Handbuff DK is mediocre, but interestingly, not completely helpless. We expected it to sink this week, but it has actually managed to improve. Perhaps, some further cooking is possible. If it can improve its Reno matchups, there might be something here.


  • Nature Shaman has lost momentum due to the rise of Handbuff Paladin and Gaslight Rogue. Those are two of its worst matchups. Reno Shaman’s weak late game continues to sink its competitive prospects.


  • Hunter is perfectly competitive, even at higher levels of play, with Reno Hunter delivering solid results there. People just don’t want to play Hunter, a pattern we’re familiar with. Token Hunter is one of the best choices to climb to legend with, with Secret Hunter not far behind.

Demon Hunter

  • We’ll say it again. Shopper DH is good. The Naga variant is very strong at top legend. The low play rate of the class is an indication of the player base’s rejection of its design, rather than ignorance of its power level. Titans was a dud. Badlands was all-in on Sharpshooter, a power outlier with questionable play patterns. Whizbang was all-in on Umpire’s Grasp, a power outlier with questionable play patterns. Bring us back to the days of Jace, Malicia and Xy’mox.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Both Excavate Rogue and Gaslight Rogue look like powerful decks in the current meta. Yogg-Saron is mandatory for late game strategies. Antique Flinger is as good as the number of Handbuff Paladins you’re encountering.

We’re not impressed with Ticking/Perfect Zilliax in Excavate Rogue, but players aren’t experimenting with Virus. The potential synergy of Ticking Zilliax with Sonya might be the reason why it’s been kept in this deck.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Reno Warrior is fighting back in the Excavate Rogue matchup. Yogg-Saron has proven to be an extremely powerful card in the deck, more than we expected it to be last week.

Odyn Warrior is a very competitive deck when refined. We like the list we settled on last week. Acolyte of Pain and Aftershocks look like traps.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Insanity Warlock is trying to address Handbuff Paladin, its most difficult matchup, by adding Domino Effect. The card is a bit reliant on seeing a decent amount of Paladin, but the decline of matchups like Reno Priest and Spell Mage (where it’s very bad) is helping its cause.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Handbuff Paladin looks clean with the build from last week. An Air Guitarist can replace one copy of Astral Serpent. We think at least one Serpent is needed. Without it, we’re very reliant on finding Magatha to avoid gassing out in slow matchups.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Reno Priest needs to be greedy in the current meta, as aggressive decks are not very popular, so the trend has been to cut removal for more minions. Realistically, a major spike in Gaslight Rogue could reverse this trend. Ra-den adds a lot of late game power to the deck in combination with Puppet Theatre.

Zarimi Priest is extremely effective relative to how popular it is, but the people want to play their Control Priest.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Very little is happening in Druid. The Dorian build of Boomkin Druid is not flexible and doesn’t seem to have room for adjustments.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

The Reno variant of Rainbow Mage is disappearing due to a lack of interest. We can’t say any variant of Rainbow Mage is doing well. We’ve swapped Cross-Stitch back to Flame Geyser in Spell Mage. Early game has become increasingly passive, to the point where there are often no targets to hit on-curve with Cross-Stitch.

In the last podcast, we’ve talked about the biggest issue of Handbuff Death Knight. Since it doesn’t have charge damage and cannot reliably buff Leeroy or Deckhand, it’s very vulnerable to defensive minded decks carrying removal, or just Reno.

This has sparked an idea in the mind of a Korean player named Pnamu, which involves running Saloon Brewmaster. Brewmaster’s purpose is to bounce a Frail Ghoul into our hand, which becomes an incredible buff target as a 1-mana charge Undead minion. It doesn’t matter if the Ghoul dies at the end of your turn, when your opponent is dead. It’s a slow play, ideally done on turn 4 (before you develop Puppeteer), but it’s meant for the slow matchups.

Considering this archetype is a bit stuck in terms of development, we’ve decided to float this idea and see whether it pans out. We’ve built the rest of the deck around it with the best performing cards.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Gaslight Rogue is a very bad matchup for Nature Shaman, almost as bad as Handbuff Paladin, so it has taken a step back in its power at higher levels of play. There is no way to adjust to it.

Reno Shaman looks a bit doomed, as its late game is too weak compared to other Reno decks.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

The Hunter lists we’ve settled on all look strong on the climb. Reno Hunter‘s two variants are a lot closer in their power level compared to a couple of weeks ago.

Sock Puppet Slitherspear has finally been tested in the vanilla variant of Shopper Demon Hunter. It looks strong to the point that cutting the early game Mech package is a viable path. Chaos Strike helps juice it up.

Top legend players are beginning to understand the power of gaslighting their opponents. With the format becoming more greedy, often cutting mass removal options for more value, a Playhouse Giant blowout turn becomes more powerful. In addition, Gaslight Rogue enjoys the absence of fast aggressive decks. Handbuff Paladin and Insanity Warlock both take time to scale up their power, which leaves them vulnerable to the Rogue’s scam potential.

We’re under no illusion that this will change anything about its play rate, but Zarimi Priest is still really good. If you’ve enjoyed playing this deck throughout this expansion, it can continue to serve you well.

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1 Comment

  1. It’s impressive to me how such a versatile (class wise) meta managed to kill all the decks I actually like.

    I miss wheel warlock in particular.

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