vS Data Reaper Report #41

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from over 74,000 games.

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Welcome to the 41st edition of the Data Reaper Report!

Note: This week, we have published a piece containing card review polls for expansions that are about to rotate out of standard after the release of the Journey to Un’Goro. In addition, we’ve included the results of the card preview poll we conducted before the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. You can check it out here and we would appreciate your participation in the polls!

For your convenience, this report has been translated into the following languages: русский, 中文, and 한국어.


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Class/Archetype Distribution | Class Frequency | Matchup Winrates | vS Power Rankings | Class Analysis & Decklists | Meta Breaker of the Week | How to Contribute | Credits


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Number of Games

Overall 74,000
Legend 3,000
Ranks 1-5 21,000
Ranks 6-10 19,000
Ranks 11-15 19,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency by Day

Class Frequency by Week

By the end of the month, we predict that the Meta will be very similar to the one we’ve had before the balance changes. Pirate Warrior will play the role of Aggro Shaman, and more players will flock to the deck as the season draws to a close. The spike in Warrior play is already starting, and the steep climb we can observe isn’t showing signs of stopping. The deck is just very strong against the field, and its biggest counters are nearly non-existent on ladder due to their weakness against the rest of the field. Pirate Warrior has free reign.

As Warrior is rising, Shaman is falling. Shaman is still one of the strongest classes in the game, but it is no longer as dominant as it used to be, so players are switching to the new flavor of the month. Most Shamans are of the Mid-Jade archetype, but as we reach higher levels of play, we can observe more experimentation in Aggro Shaman. Aggro Shaman was hit hardest by the balance changes, and has collapsed into a small ladder presence, but it’s not a dead archetype. It has already established a respectable presence at the high level tournament scene, with new builds adjusting to the changing environment.

Druid maintains a strong ladder presence and is now the 2nd most popular class. It’s beginning to see more play at the higher levels, with new builds coming to light that look to improve some of its weaknesses. Will it be enough to make it rise in its performance to be considered a truly top tier ladder deck? It remains to be seen, but the effect that Jade Druid’s presence has on the Meta cannot be underestimated. Its interaction with Pirate Warrior is the driving force around which the current Meta is built.

Priest is seeing a significant increase in play at all levels. Players are realizing the deck’s potential and great matchup spread in a Meta without Small-Time Buccaneer, and the deck has also gone on to perform very well in the Heroic Tavern Brawl as well as in the tournament scene. Pirate Warrior will continue to be a limiting factor to the deck’s growth, but even so, it’s very likely that Dragon Priest will remain a Meta staple for the next month.

Rogue is enjoying unprecedented diversity. The class has always been a favorite amongst legend players and this Meta is no exception. Water Rogue is a very powerful archetype that has carved out a significant portion of the Meta, while Miracle Rogue is still around despite the overbearing presence of Pirate Warrior. Interestingly, while Water Rogue is the go-to Rogue deck at the bottleneck to legend, Miracle Rogue becomes more popular at legend rank. This is likely a response to Jade Druid, as Miracle Rogue is one of its strongest counters.

Warlock is finding itself in a familiar spot, similar to the one before the balance changes. It is a middle of the road deck. Many players expected the deck to dominate after the balance changes due to the expectation that Mid-Jade Shaman would be the top Meta deck, and considering Reno Warlock’s good matchup against it. However, the current duo of Pirate Warrior and Jade Druid makes life difficult for Reno Warlock. It is very flexible, and can gear itself to have a better matchup against either of these decks, but not at the same time. This keeps the deck in a decent spot, but not in a great one.

Mage is falling off a cliff. Reno Mage is one of the only decks capable of beating Pirate Warrior on a consistent basis, but its matchup against Jade Druid is one of the most miserable experiences you could go through in a game of Hearthstone, which is why most players have been avoiding it. Reno Mage might find a successful niche at top legend ranks at the very end of the season (similar to how Fibonacci exploited Control Warrior’s matchup against Aggro Shaman in a Meta that was 60% Aggro Shaman), but until then, it will mostly be used in the tournament scene in anti-aggro line ups. Meanwhile, Tempo Mage is certainly a decent ladder deck, but not a great one, and it’s been mostly overlooked.

The new rank floors sometimes help us remember that there are two more classes in Hearthstone. What are they called again?

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Pirate Warrior is pretty good and this kind of power level will likely lead to a further increase in its play rates. Decks that have a really powerful early game combined with charge damage and reach through weapons are always in danger of becoming “busted.” But, we believe that Pirate Warrior is not objectively stronger in a vacuum than Aggro Shaman was before the balance changes. The rise of Jade Druid prevents Pirate Warrior from being countered more consistently. While we have seen an improvement in this matchup from the Druid’s perspective over the past week, it’s unlikely to ever be more than a 50-50 affair. So, Jade Druid can never have a significant debilitating impact on Pirate Warrior’s presence. What Jade Druid does instead is preventing any counter to Pirate Warrior from being ladder-viable by completely annihilating it. In order to deal with extreme amounts of uninteractive burn and weapon damage, you need extreme sustainability and mitigation. Sustainability and mitigation is the exact opposite of what you need in the Jade Druid matchup, which forces you to be the aggressor or lose to inevitability. Pirate Warrior has losing records against Control Warrior, Reno Mage and Control Shaman. All of these decks get completely destroyed by Jade Druid. Imagine a game of Rock/Paper/Scissors where Paper gently wraps itself around Rock, Scissors can cut a few holes in Paper, but Rock…. Rock just smashes Scissors to pieces and leaves nothing behind. This is the current situation in Hearthstone. We suspect that the only way for the control playstyle to be strong enough is by being given excessively stronger win conditions that can act as a real clock to Jade decks in the future.

Speaking of Jade Druid, while the deck is under much debate in the community and has a relatively high play rate, it’s not particularly strong in the Meta it has helped shape. Having said that, we have seen some small improvements in its performance. Many of the popular decks focus on a strong early game and establishing the tempo advantage, which is a playstyle that Druid struggles to deal with due to the lack of strong comeback mechanics in the form of AOE. Jade Druid needs to ramp up its mana and its jades, get ahead and stay ahead. Should it fall behind, it’s usually in a losing position as it is not capable of dealing with a flooded enemy board very well. Rogue, Priest, Warrior and Shaman all do well enough to exploit these weaknesses, so it’s likely that as the month draws to a close, the Druid population should eventually drop to some extent.

Dragon Priest has seen a slight drop in its performance which correlates with the increased presence of Pirate Warrior and its very powerful early game removal tools, which are quite problematic for the Priest. Reno Warlocks have also begun to respond to the increased presence in Dragon Priests. As a result, we are beginning to see this adjustment affect the win rate for this matchup (as Jaraxxus is getting back into builds, Warlock is gaining an edge). Dragon Priest is still in a very good spot due to its good matchups against the Jade decks and the rest of the field, so it’s unlikely to lose its spot as one of the strongest decks on ladder that carries very few inherent weaknesses.

The two very solid Shaman decks and two Water decks make up the rest of the upper tiers. We still feel there is room for improvement in Aggro Shaman, while Mid-Jade is a bit more figured out. Water Warrior is hard to justify when the standard Pirate Warrior seems to be much stronger against the field, but Water Rogue has certainly made its mark and solidified itself in an elite spot backed by the Finja package. The more interesting deck that currently hovers around the 50% mark is Zoo Warlock. We feel that the archetype is quite underrated by ladder players and can find a lot of success in the tournament scene as well. It is the biggest counter to Jade Druid, which just gets dominated by the board flooding and pressure that Zoo excels at. This one matchup carries Zoo quite far, even though some of its other matchups are not particularly impressive, so it definitely has a place in the current Meta as long as Druids are this prevalent.

Below the 50% mark, we have some solid yet unspectacular decks. Tempo Mage is back to being relevant at least. Miracle Rogue is fantastic in the tournament scene, yet struggles when facing so many Pirate Warriors on ladder. Reno Warlock continues to juggle its builds, struggling to find a sweeter spot, while the dedicated anti-aggro decks are just crumbling under the weight of Jades.

Way below the 50% mark, we have Hunter and Paladin. These classes are still in an incredibly bad spot, seeking comfort in their ability to make their cards sparkle in their hands. Sparkling cards in hand don’t win Hearthstone games, folks.

Class Analysis & Decklists

Druid | Hunter | Mage | Paladin | Priest | Rogue | Shaman | Warlock | Warrior


Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Last week doesn’t seem to be a fluke, with Warrior firmly establishing itself as the top class to play in the current Meta. Unlike the early days of the expansion, when Pirate Warrior’s numbers quickly crashed as the Meta adapted to beat it, the usage of Pirate Warrior doesn’t show any signs of decline. The change to Spirit Claws and Shaman’s difficulty in fitting the Pirate package into its builds mean that Pirate Warrior has a much better chance of winning early game board control. Even if some Jade Druids are replaced by Mid-Jade Shamans, it will hardly affect Pirate Warrior as the deck has the small edge against both archetypes, build depending.

There’s been very little innovation when it comes to Pirate Warrior, with most players going with Sjow’s minion-heavy list, Cursed’s burn-heavy list, or somewhere in between. Unless a radical new strategy is discovered, it seems likely that every Pirate Warrior from now until the next expansion will look very similar to one of these two builds.

Dragon Warrior is one of the better performing decks in the current Meta, yet it’s still used by a relatively small proportion of players due to the overshadowing effect of Pirate Warrior. A new build was taken to rank 1 legend by Japanese player Aclon, who included some of the Pirate mid-game cards in Bloodsail Cultist and Naga Corsair. The most notable and surprising inclusion is the choice of Bog Creeper over The Curator, while still keeping a single Fierce Monkey. Bog Creeper seems to be a tech choice designed to add some percentages to the Pirate Warrior matchup.

Control Warrior remains in a similar spot to where it was last week, with the numbers of Jade Druids remaining so high that it’s difficult to navigate the archetype successfully. On the bright side, Control Warrior God Fibonacci finally made it to Legend piloting a heavy build utilizing Burgly Bully with the intention of trying to put pressure on Jade Druid while being able to drop a big threat earlier with the coin.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Druid’s play rate has continued to increased, taking the second spot behind Warrior, with Jade Druid establishing itself as the second most popular deck in the game. However, its performance against the field remains lukewarm. While the hit to Aggro Shaman is welcomed by all Druid players, there are still many decks in the current Meta that have a clear edge against the class by abusing its prime weakness: its lack of reliable AoE and ability to swing board control after falling behind.

With that in mind, multiple players have hit 12 wins in Tavern Brawl (HTB) while piloting Jade Druid and we’re featuring three lists that best represent the choices available. Firebat’s build is the most defensive. It focuses on pure tempo, packing six taunts aimed to target Pirate Warriors and other generally strong standalone cards. His list also contains Emperor, which is a high tempo card that can enable the deck to build a threatening a board over the next few turns, and Bloodmage Thalnos, which can help clear a board in combination with Swipe earlier in the game than Azure Drake. JustSaiyan’s build is also relatively defensive, with double Feral Rage as well as one Living Roots. Brann enables strong mid-to-late game plays in combination with a Jade minion. Tictac’s build is stronger against control, with Auctioneer being a very threating card in these matchups. Yogg adds a comeback mechanic to the deck and particularly shines in the Shaman matchup.

As tempting as it is to queue a variant of the Malygos Aviana Kun deck on ladder for the dream OTK finish, it remains a deck that is relatively difficult to climb with as it doesn’t have the ability to out-tempo opponents as early in the game as Jade Druid, and it’s harder to fit in strong defensive cards in its build. Against most decks in the current Meta, it is often forced to use all of its damage spells in hopes of surviving the onslaught, and even against Reno decks, which it should counter on paper, inconsistent draws or a well-placed Dirty Rat can ruin your day.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Shaman is still a very potent class, though it’s becoming clear that it’s not the dominant force it was before the balance changes.

Mid-Jade Shaman continues to be the most represented archetype of the class, and several different approaches to the deck are beginning to take form. The most popular one at higher levels of play is Iner’s build, which he has taken to impressive results this week in the Heroic Tavern Brawl. The build features the strongest early game minions available to the class with Tunnel Trogg and the overload package that supplements it. From there, it can edge out aggressive decks such as Pirate Warrior with AOE spells, taunt minions, and healing. The build maintains a modest Jade package that increases its longevity against control decks.

Other builds are slightly faster and look to end games with Bloodlust or a snowballing Thunder Bluff Valiant, a card that has been rotating in and out of lists. Jia hit rank 1 Legend with a build utilizing one copy of both. Bloodlust helps in control matchups since it punishes decks that look to squeeze more value out of their AOE, such as Renolock. It’s also useful in some situations when racing aggressive decks. Thunderbluff Valiant is an unexpected threat that has to be removed on the turn it’s played, which can make it a good Meta dependent call.

A different approach to Mid-Jade Shaman was taken to a 12 win run by RayC, the Pax East ONOG champion, as well as Orange. This build is more passive in nature and doesn’t run the aggressive early game package. Instead, it opts for more AOE and healing, as well as the full Jade package including the slower Jade Spirit and Jade Chieftain. Devolve is a tech choice targeted at Dragon Priests and Rogues.

Aggro Shaman, once king of the Meta, is now a fringe ladder player with relatively untested potential. Although the deck is still strong, the loss of Spirit Claws and Small-Time Buccaneer has severely debilitated the deck. Still, some players continue to play Aggro Shaman on ladder, HTB and in tournaments to decent success. Nostam’s build has become the go-to standard list, but there is also some experimentation to bring back Pirates to the deck. Freakeh reached legend this season with a build that includes Southsea Deckhands and a Bloodsail Corsair as Patches enablers. Much of the upside to Patches in Shaman is the incredible synergy it has with Flametongue Totem, so there might still be merit to playing a list that runs three Pirate one drops just to enable strong Flametongue Totem lines of play.


Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Water Rogue continues to impress with great performances in the Heroic Tavern Brawl, as well as a high win rate against the field on ladder. The stealth package build, which includes Silent Knight and Shadow Sensei, has gained significant traction, on the back of multiple players having success with it. It is quickly establishing itself as the standard Water Rogue build which is most common at higher levels of play.

A second approach to Water Rogue has also taken shape in the form of the “Coin package” Water Rogue. These builds look to drop threats earlier utilizing Counterfeit Coins and Tomb Pillagers. An early Finja or Edwin Van Cleef can be devastating, and the extra mana allows the Rogue to curve out more consistently, while also helping it get ahead in the early game against a deck like Pirate Warrior. Luffy and Impact beefed up their original build to include Shado-Pan Rider, which acts as a strong mid-game threat. A turn 4 coined-out Boulderfist Ogre can be quite an intimidating play, helping to alleviate one of the weaknesses of the build, which is a lower density of threats.

Miracle Rogue has recently taken a back seat to Water Rogue, though the high amounts of Jade Druids keep it relevant in the current Meta, and it remains an extremely powerful deck in the tournament scene due to the ability to ban its biggest counter in Pirate Warrior. Dog hit 12 wins in the HTB with a lean build that cuts Leeroy for a 2nd Southsea Deckhand. It also includes a Shadow Strike instead of a Sap, which has a decent amount of targets in the matchups against Pirate Warrior, Shaman and Dragon Priest.

After being mostly gone for a very long time, Malygos Rogue has begun to appear as a result of the balance changes. WiRer recently displayed how powerful Malygos Rogue can be in a slower environment, hitting 12 wins in the HTB. His build utilizes Jade Shuriken as an extra removal and burn tool while also finding a place for Xaril, a card neglected by most Rogue players until it saw a bit of play in Pirate Aggro Rogue just before the balance changes.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock has been seeing plenty of play over the past week. Reno Warlock is still the most common archetype, although Zoo has seen an increased presence since the balance changes. Renolock is perhaps the only control deck on ladder that sees some consistent success due to its ability to adapt to the Meta and deal with Jade Druid better than other slow decks. Varying builds can play cards such as Voidwalker and Bloodsail Corsair to improve the matchup against aggressive decks, while top-heavy cards such as Ragnaros can give it some extra percentages in control mirrors or Jade Druid.

Savjz used an anti-aggro Renolock to secure a 12 win Heroic Brawl run. His list cuts Mountain Giant, is very taunt heavy, and plays Bloodsail Corsair and Patches, similarly to Cursed’s list. JustSaiyan also piloted Renolock to a 12 win run. His list includes Sylvanas, which hasn’t seen much play in Renolock recently, but has added value in the Druid matchup.

Although it is not yet a prominent Meta deck, most players have started making adjustments in their mulligans against Warlocks just in case they are facing Zoo. Zananananan hit 12 wins using a fairly standard Demon Zoo build that includes a Crystalweaver. RDU reached 12 wins with a build that includes Mayor Noggenfogger and was developed by the Hearthstone mastermind, loldajoe. RDU had a perfect record of 12-0, and never played the Mayor, which was mostly used as discard fodder, a psychological blow to display his superiority over his opponent.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Priest is enjoying a golden age in which one of its archetypes, Dragon Priest, is one of the strongest ladder decks in the game boasting an incredibly high win rate. Indeed, Anduin is getting a little dizzy sitting at the lofty heights of the Meta!

Many players have enjoyed great success with Dragon Priest at the Heroic Tavern Brawl. Trump went a perfect 12-0 with a fairly standard build without much targeted tech. Most notable is the inclusion of two Blackwing Technicians, which is quite an underrated card and improves the deck’s consistency at curving out threats, an important ingredient in the deck’s success recipe. The five health on turn 3 is very powerful, and most decks do not have a clean answer to it, especially Druids.

JustSaiyan hit 12 wins (he’s done that quite a lot this week!) with a more teched out list that runs two Oozes, aiming to significantly improve the Pirate Warrior matchup. Fiery War Axe is the bane of Dragon Priest, and being able to answer it while protecting your minions and taunts is very valuable. Dragon Priest is a deck that doesn’t suffer too much from the inclusion of a few vanilla minions, as Ooze can just be played on curve in a matchup against a non-weapon class without a large penalty, and can even become a threat if it’s connected by a Talonpriest on curve. Another interesting choice is running two Dragonfire Potions, which is a card that shines against Mid-Jade Shamans and can also be used to kill a pesky Finja waiting to blow you out of the game.

One Defender of Argus is becoming fairly standard in builds, as it’s extremely strong in aggressive matchups where the Priest begins to win the board and just needs to protect its life total and stabilize before being run over. It’s also a strong tempo play against Druid and Rogue, as it often upgrades minions out of these classes’ removal range. Some lists opt to run a Drakonid Crusher over a Book Wyrm at 6, although Book Wyrm is an extremely strong card in the current Meta and one copy should always find a valuable target. Ragnaros can also be added as a late game threat should you encounter a slower Meta.

If you’ve been procrastinating at farming the golden portrait of Anduin, now is certainly the perfect time to do so.


Data Reaper Report - Mage

Things look grim for the Mage class on ladder. The prevalence of Jade Druid puts Reno Mage in a bind as it is one of the most lopsided matches out there. In addition to that, Dragon Priest is also on the rise, which is another rather difficult matchup that puts further strain on the archetype’s performance. While Tempo Mage looks better than before the balance changes, its performance against the field is not particularly impressive, though it appears to be the better Mage deck to pick at the moment. Reno Mage should find more success in tournament line-ups with a strategy to counter Pirate Warrior and other forms of aggression, or in pocket Meta’s where the ratio of Pirate Warriors to Jade Druids is extremely high.

Reno Mage builds mostly focus on countering aggression, and differ in the presence of the Solia/Pyro package. LeonHaluto hit legend early in the month with an anti-aggro build that heavily focuses on beating Pirate Warrior by including Ooze and Harrison Jones, as well as cards like Twilight Flamecaller and Refreshment Vendor. Portia has also found success at the top legend ranks, peaking at #3 with a similar build that techs in a Flame Lance and utilizes Inkmaster Solia as a pure tempo card. Reno Mage will likely stick as a niche Pirate Warrior counter that can find some success in specific opportunities.

Tempo Mage hasn’t undergone much experimentation either, with most builds being quite similar to Apxvoid’s. There is an option for players to run builds that include more minion pressure and less cycle and burn, with cards such as Burgly Bully and Faceless Summoner making life more difficult for Druids, though this route hasn’t been fully explored just yet.

The innovation in the class this week comes from Vlps, who has piloted Aggro Mage to decent results at the Heroic Tavern Brawl (10-3 and 7-3). This deck is all about card draw and burn, and is similar in its playstyle to the Aggro Freeze Mage deck that popped up from time to time during the Karazhan Meta. This build even utilizes Freezing Potion as a stalling tool as well as another enabler for Ice Lance’s burst combo’s. It’s too early to tell how good this deck can be in the current Meta.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Another week passes with Paladin remaining pretty much irrelevant. Players continue to experiment, especially in this brave new world of rank floors, with Handbuff Midrange/Aggro and Dragon variants, but nothing has landed effectively to date. We have included two decklists that Savjz and TerrenceM took into the Heroic Tavern Brawl last week.

Otherwise, it is the same old Anyfin story for Paladin. In a world where you can guarantee you will see mostly control decks, this archetype can work to some extent (e.g. tournaments), but on ladder there is too much Pirate Warrior to justify even a teched variant of this deck. All other Paladin archetypes simply can’t hang in the current Meta.

The next expansion can’t come soon enough for Paladin enthusiasts.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Hunter has managed to retain the small bump in play from the release of patch 7.1. Although some of the play increases may be from Hunter being slightly less bad than before, the primary cause of Hunter’s play increase is likely the rank floors. These floors have allowed players at higher ranks to play the off-meta decks and complete quests. Before the patch, Hunter was barely even visible on the rank 5-1 chart, but thanks to the rank floors, even a class as awful as Hunter has managed to get close to hitting 1% in the rank 5-1 range.

NickChipper has returned to his famous habit of winning games with Hunter on ladder, using a Secret-Murloc build to reach legend. The list exploits the broken potential of Finja, Cloaked Huntress, and Barnes, to consistently forge a swing turn at some point in the mid-game. Bear Trap takes the place of Cat Trick, which is a response to the Meta being very aggressive.

Meanwhile, in Heroic Tavern Brawl, a couple of streamers decided to meme up the Meta and play Hunter. Kibler played a faster midrange deck, teched with Oozes for the Pirate Warrior matchup and Dire Wolves for Dragon Priests, finishing with a 3-3 record. This build represents a return to the style of decks that were seen in the WotOG Meta. Noblord had a bit more success, going 8-3 at first with his N’Zoth Murloc Hunter, before succumbing to the woes of Hunter and going 3-3 in a subsequent run.

The one thing Hunter has going for it once the rotation hits is that most of its stronger packages (N’Zoth, Finja, and secrets) remain in the game, but it will be interesting to see what new Dinosaurs Rexaar will have to tame in order to reclaim his dominance. And the beginning of the unveiling is slated for tomorrow!

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

We’re looking for a deck that beats Pirate Warrior while not rolling over to Jade Druid. As we’ve said earlier, it’s a difficult puzzle to solve since the two decks demand very different tools to beat them. Solve this puzzle, and you’ll have the next ladder Meta Breaker. Until then, Pirate Warrior is taking over.

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,200 active contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.

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3 Comments

  1. I said it last week and I’ll say it again: Dragon Water is a mouthful.

    One name for water dragons is Hydra. Hydras often have three heads. Dragon Water Warriors have three tribes: Pirates, Murlocs, and Dragons. Thus, this archetype should be called the Hydra Warrior!

  2. looking at the matchup winrates. Pirate warrior vs anyfin paladin. They both have red blocks vs each other. how can this be possible?

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