Welcome to the 42nd edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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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.
Number of Games
Class Frequency by Day
Class Frequency by Week
Pirate Warrior continues its climb in popularity. The closer we are to the end of the month, the more competitive ladder play gets, as people are inclined to play the best decks in order to climb as high as they can. Pirate Warrior has established itself as the dominant deck in the current Meta with a strong performance level against the field over the last couple of weeks. Other Warrior archetypes have shrunk in size to the point where they are hardly noticeable. Dragon Warrior is quite strong in the current Meta, but it’s being overshadowed by its more aggressive counterpart so it’s rather neglected by most players.
Shaman has seen a rise in play and has overthrown Druid’s short stint as the second most popular class. The more interesting thing to note is that at legend rank, Aggro Shaman has made its grand return and is currently more popular than Mid-Jade Shaman. This behavior pattern is an indicator that the Aggro Shaman archetype has recently undergone significant changes, which are appearing at higher levels of play, and will eventually trickle down to the lower levels. This is the direction of the flow of information in Hearthstone (and many other games too). Does Aggro Shaman justify these kinds of play rates? Read on.
Druid is beginning to show the chinks in its armor, which isn’t that formidable to begin with. The class is trending down and continuing to decline, with Jade Druid not really able to assert itself in the Meta it has shaped. With most decks on ladder able to outpace it without waiting for those 10/10’s to appear, Druid is struggling to find good matchups, and when a low win rate remains this consistent, a lower play rate often follows it. We expect Jade Druid to continue its decline as the month nears its end, as the Meta is likely to become even more punishing for it.
Rogue is beginning to hit a wall. Most of the decline we can observe in the Rogue class is attributed to Miracle Rogue’s fall. With less Jade Druids and more Pirate Warriors, the archetype is struggling to find a good field of opponents to work with. Water Rogue numbers remain steady however, with the archetype carving out a decent place in the current Meta.
Warlock has seen a slight rise in play, with Reno Warlock becoming a very popular choice at legend rank. This is on the back of several players having success with the archetype, with some adjustments being done to improve its performance against the shifting Meta. While this is a favorable trend for the deck, it’s unlikely to make it dominant, as the field is still quite polarizing and unpredictable, which forces the Warlock to continue juggling cards in order to keep up.
Priest maintains a steady presence, but Dragon Priest remains a deck that is relatively neglected at higher levels of play. This is likely due to the increases in play of Pirate Warrior and Reno Warlock, which are the two matchups that Priest struggles to deal with, and cannot effectively tech to beat without weakening its performance against the other. For Dragon Priest to truly assert itself on the Meta, one of these decks will have to take a fall. Should this happen, the archetype will rise in play as its matchups against the rest of the field, save these two decks, are very good.
Mage continues its decline. Reno Mage still struggles under the weight of Jade Druid (and to a lesser extent, Dragon Priest), though the current trend we’re witnessing might eventually lead it towards a more favorable spot in the Meta. Tempo Mage is not a bad deck, just not a great one, and since there are better options available, it’s being left behind.
Uther and Rexxar are still sitting in the bar, drinking their sorrows away while reminiscing of better times when they dominated the Meta. They are checking their Twitter timeline on their smartphones to see which cards they’re getting in the next expansion. Uther saw Dinosize, and then proceeded to order another drink.
Note: Now that the month has been progressing into its 2nd half, we’ve collected enough post-patch legend data to implement legend win rates to the vS Power Ranking table, and so the legend power ranking has returned and tells quite a few interesting tales.
Aggro Shaman is the best deck in the game. This is not a quote from February. We are a few weeks after balance changes that were intended to cripple one of the most prominent archetypes in the history of the game, and now it’s back. Of course, we’re talking about the legend power ranking table and there’s a clear and very rare discrepancy between the deck’s score at legend and the deck’s score overall. What’s the cause? Some of it has to do with the changing field of opponents between legend and non-legend ranks, but most of this discrepancy is caused by the flow of information. Refined and successful decks start at the top of the ladder, and trickle their way down. The trickling down part has yet to occur for Aggro Shaman, which is evident by the deck’s play rates. Players at high levels are playing more refined lists that perform best against the current Meta, while at lower levels, the deck was mostly ignored due to the balance changes. As time goes on, these numbers will seek to converge. A good example of this is the Pirate Warrior matchup, in which the new iterations perform remarkably better. Indeed, these results indicate that Pirate Warrior’s throne is at risk, for its biggest predator, which has unseated it from the top spot very early on after the release of MSoG, is looking to do so once again.
With Pirate Warrior potentially facing its biggest counter, a huge shift in the Meta may occur. Dragon Warrior, for example, could establish a stronger niche on ladder since it performs far better against Aggro Shaman than Pirate Warrior. It’s difficult to predict what exactly is going to happen when it comes to the Warrior class, but its spike in popularity may be eventually brought to a halt, and it could go through a period of diversification depending on how quickly Aggro Shaman catches on.
Dragon Priest definitely hits a wall at higher levels of play, where its performance significantly drops at the hands of Pirate Warrior and Reno Warlock, but it is still one of the strongest decks in the current Meta. More so, the potential shift from Pirate Warrior to Aggro Shaman could be of great benefit to the archetype, as Dragon Priest has a very good matchup against Aggro Shamans that no longer utilize Small-Time Buccaneer or Spirit Claws. The possibility of Dragon Priest becoming the answer to the strongest deck in the game is certainly there.
We can definitely see an improvement in the performance of Reno Warlock, which correlates with the changes it’s been undergoing in order to fare better against the changing Meta. However, that isn’t quite enough to move it into the upper tier in terms of power level, though it remains a relatively strong deck and a good choice for players experienced in adapting its build according to the changing environment. Zoo’s standing in the Meta is less optimistic. With Jade Druid’s decline, there is less easy prey available to feed on, and so its score is dropping.
Rogue’s stagnation in its play rates is showing with its recent win rates. While it remains a strong deck for the ladder climb, Water Rogue has crashed out of the upper tier at legend. This is a result of the established builds struggling to consistently deal with Pirate Warrior at higher levels of play while Dragon Priest is another matchup which the archetype struggles with and is becoming more common. Indeed, the surprisingly successful Murloc based Rogue will likely have to go back to the drawing board and pull some more innovations out of its hat in order to find solutions to these weaknesses and retake its place in the Meta. Miracle Rogue has long been oppressed on ladder by Pirate Warrior’s menacing weapon damage, and this week is no different.
Jade Druid is sinking deeper into mediocrity, and if Aggro Shaman continues to rise in play, its standing in the Meta is only going to get worse. The archetype has been under much scrutiny recently due to its impact on the Meta and the ramifications of some of its tools, which are certainly valid points we ourselves have brought up. However, what’s also true is that it’s making more noise than it is winning games at the moment, and its weaknesses are beginning to be exposed in the tournament scene as well. Curving out Jade Golems might be a tempting strategy for some players, but if they’re looking to consistently win games at higher levels of play, they may need to heed the advice of Elsa, and let it go. Or play Shaman. Of course, a deck with a mediocre win rate can find individual success, especially when it has such a high play rate, but it seems like these are the exceptions rather than the rule.
Interestingly, we can see some anti-aggro archetypes raising their heads at higher levels of play, most notably Reno Mage and Control Shaman. Reno Mage is still in a tough spot, far away from its previous lofty heights, but could become more relevant with recent trends. Control Shaman is another deck that’s strong against both Pirate Warrior and Aggro Shaman, and its improving performance correlates with an increase in play rates of the Madam Goya Control Shaman build we’ve been featuring over the last couple of weeks. We think it’s a deck that’s definitely worth a shot and exploration.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Pirate Warrior, still widely considered to be the best deck in the game, continues to rise in popularity, with a higher usage at high ranks. Few decks have been able to come out of the Pirate Warrior matchup with a win rate above 50%. The ones that have, like Control Warrior, tend to be preyed on by other decks to the point where they’re barely viable choices, but with Aggro Shaman’s return, things might be different.
In a deck with about 3-4 flex spots, there’s little room for innovation, but Tholwmenos managed to hit rank 1 this week with a build somewhere in between those of Sjow and Cursed. It plays one Bash, one Mortal Strike and an Acidic Swamp Ooze to improve the mirror, but also keeps two Southsea Captains in order to have more resilience in slower matchups.
Dragon Warrior is still chugging along with its decent winrate, though there’ve been no noteworthy performances with it this week. It still remains one of the better decks, however, and is worth a try for people who are bored of Pirate Warrior and want something a little different. It might establish a more relevant niche towards the end of the month with the expected rise of Aggro Shaman as well. Innovation in Dragon Warrior could certainly have merit.
Control Warrior is around, but it’s not doing much. It has a very good winrate against Pirate Warrior, as well as good matchups against other aggressive decks like Aggro Shaman and Water Rogue. But, it has terrible matchups against the rest of the field. If you keep queueing into aggressive decks, it’s possible to have very good results with Control Warrior, but it runs a risk of backfiring due to how poorly the deck performs in many other matchups.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Tholwmenos’s Pirate Warrior
- Sjow’s Pirate Warrior
- Cursed’s Pirate Warrior
- Nicslay’s Water Warrior
- Weghuz’ Dragon Warrior
- Aclon’s Dragon Warrior
- Ersee’s Dragon Water Warrior
- Windello’s Control Warrior
- Fibonacci’s Control Warrior
Shaman continues to be one of the strongest classes in Hearthstone. Mid-Jade Shaman and Aggro Shaman are the two archetypes that constitute most of the class’ usage rates. Both are excellent choices for climbing the ladder, with Aggro Shaman gaining more and more traction as the month draws to a close.
Mid-Jade Shaman is highly versatile, but the more recently successful variations utilize the best early game minions the class has to offer, with Tunnel Trogg backed up by the overload supporting minions of Totem Golem and Feral Spirit, and a modest Jade package. This approach is faster and more aggressive, usually carrying a burst finisher in either Bloodlust or Al’Akir. The early pressure is very important against Druid, and Bloodlust helps a lot in the Reno Warlock matchup. Jia’s and Iner’s builds are good example of highly successful ladder lists.
Aggro Shaman might have initially fallen in popularity in response to the balance change, but it has made its return to the forefront of the Meta quite quickly and remains a very powerful deck. Feno hit #1 legend with Aggro Shaman this week, piloting a version that utilizes the pirate package. It’s almost identical to Freakeh’s build which we featured last week, with the only difference being the inclusion of a 2nd Azure Drake instead of Bloodmage Thalnos. Several other players have had success with the pirate package in Shaman, which usually includes two Southsea Deckhands and a Bloodsail Corsair. The Deckhands (and Patches) have great synergy with Flametongue Totem, and Bloodsail Corsair adds consistency to getting Patches to shoot out of the cannon, as well as being a decent tech choice against Pirate Warrior’s Fiery War Axe.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Iner’s Mid-Jade Shaman
- Jia’s Mid-Jade Shaman
- Feno’s Aggro Shaman
- SirVilguadas’ Control Shaman
Jade Druid continues to shape the Meta rather than dominate it, and it’s likely to decline further in play. As the month draws to a close, the legend ladder should become more aggressive and punishing for Druids. Pirate Warrior is the expected go-to for many players looking to seize high ranks, while Aggro Shaman’s return also does not bode well for Druid’s chances of success.
Jade Druid builds mostly differ in the presence of Auctioneer. Anti-aggro lists like Firebat’s and Justsaiyan’s focus on tempo and strong standalone cards, and should do better against Pirate Warrior. Druid of the Claw is a key card in this matchup, being an earlier taunt that lines up well against the threat of an Arcanite Reaper. Auctioneer greatly improves the matchup against control decks, while Yogg is a solid tech in matchups against midrange decks like Mid-Jade Shaman and Dragon Priest.
The other Druid archetype that maintains a modest ladder presence is the Aviana-Kun-Malygos combo Druid deck. Fr0zen is a big advocate for the archetype, with his team, Luminosity, opting to take it into the ESL Trinity Series. He will also be taking the deck to the HCT Winter Championship in the Bahamas. The deck’s biggest weakness is aggressive matchups, but the swing and burst potential it possesses carries it to good matchups against control and midrange decks, which makes it a viable choice in some tournament line-ups.
- Druid Class Radar
- Firebat’s Jade Druid
- JustSaiyan’s Jade Druid
- Tictac’s Jade Druid
- Fr0zen’s Malygos Druid
- Tictac’s Malygos Druid
Rogue remains in a decent spot in the current Meta, boasting unprecedented diversity. The days of Valeera being a Miracle one trick are pretty much over. Miracle Rogue generally struggles to reach the same heights on ladder, but remains an incredibly good deck in tournaments due to the ability to ban out Pirate Warrior.
Not much has changed for Water Rogue in terms of builds this week. The most common build contains the “Stealth package” of Silent Knight and Shadow Sensei, which is a very powerful combination that can blow an opponent out of the game on turn 4, though its weakness is its obvious draw dependency. Much like its use of Finja, Stealth Water Rogue looks to abuse swing turns in a way that puts its opponent in an unrecoverable state, and having multiple ways of achieving it increases the consistency of its success.
The “Coin package” build is an alternative take on the archetype that doesn’t see much play at the moment. By running Tomb Pillager and Counterfeit Coin, you gain the ability to shore up a more consistent curve, as well as generate massive swing turns by cheating out Finja or Edwin Van Cleef. The Data Reaper’s founder, ZachO, hit legend earlier this month with a build similar to the Luffy/Impact build we featured last week, but instead of Shado-pan Riders, includes Stranglethorn Tigers and the Curator. This alleviates the prime weakness of the coin package, which is running out of steam, while the Curator itself is stronger in a deck that has the ability to drop it earlier. The mana cheating mechanics of the coin package aims to target Pirate Warrior by outpacing it in the early game, while being very strong against Jade Druid as well due to Druid’s struggles in dealing with powerful early tempo plays that set it behind on the board.
Speaking of diversity in Rogue, another archetype has popped up on the radar, with one of the wackiest builds yet. Ruby8647 hit top 10 legend with a Jade Rogue list that runs Mistress of Mixtures, Cold Blood, Shadowcaster and Cult Master (!). The deck, at first glance, is not very greedy. It has no N’Zoth, and tops out at Aya Blackpaw. Mistress of Mixtures and Defender of Argus are meant to improve the archetype’s biggest weakness, which is getting smashed in the face by aggressive decks. Cult Master is the deck’s draw engine, and might have merit due to the deck’s tendency of generating tokens. Finally, Journey Below, Unearthed Raptor and Shadowcaster are utilized as the value engine of the deck, while Cold Blood is kept as an alternative way of ending the game faster. Intriguing, weird, but looks pretty fun. No Jade Rogue on ladder looks like this, so it’s difficult to assess at this point how good this deck can really be.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Apara’s Stealth Water Rogue
- ZachO’s Coin Water Rogue
- Standard Questing Miracle Rogue
- Dog’s Questing Miracle Rogue
- Ruby8647’s Jade Rogue
- WiRer’s Malygos Rogue
Warlock remains very much relevant in the current Meta. Reno Warlock is the only control deck that sees consistent success in the ladder environment due to its flexibility. While it cannot have good matchups against both Pirate Warrior and Jade Druid with the same build, a player who pilots Reno Warlock and makes a good Meta call can be rewarded.
Tarei hit #1 legend this week with a list that includes both Jaraxxus and the Leeroy/Faceless combo. While Jaraxxus has returned to be somewhat of a staple in lists these days, the Leeroy combo is more situational and provides an advantage in the mirror matchup as well as being strong against Jade Druid. If you’re looking to improve some percentages in other matchups in which the combo is less useful, JustSaiyan’s list is a good example of a build that cuts the combo pieces for more defensive cards.
Zoo Warlock remains a deck that is middle of the road on ladder, while finding a bit more success in tournament, being utilized in aggressive lineups that look to punish decks that are vulnerable to aggression, such as Jade Druid. Zanananan has seen the most ladder success with Zoo this month on ladder, with his latest take on the archetype taking him to the top 100.
It’s been nice to see Priest as an actual strong class in Hearthstone, even though its prevalence drops somewhat at higher levels of play. The consistency of the Dragon Priest’s curve has made it one of the most formidable options in the game in a Meta that isn’t dominated by Small-Time Buccaneer, which was a big stumbling block in the Priest’s early game plan. The deck itself hasn’t really changed too much over the last few months, with a few flex slots remaining open for Meta dependent adjustments.
With Pirate Warrior being so dominant, Acidic Swamp Ooze is a popular choice, with some builds even running two, such as Justsaiyan’s. Dragon Priest can afford running vanilla minions more than other decks since its main recipe for success is curving out well, and dropping a 3/2 on 2 isn’t too crippling in other matchups, especially if it’s followed up by a Kabal Talonpriest. Fiery War Axe is the main cause for Pirate Warrior’s dominance in the matchup, as it allows the Warrior to beat the Priest off the board and preventing it from stabilizing. Defender of Argus has become staple in lists, since it is a great tool for stabilizing in aggressive matchups, and can also generate a lot of tempo against Druids and Rogues. In terms of AOE, most lists run one Holy Nova and one Dragonfire Potion. Holy Nova has the added utility of being a card draw engine in combination with Cleric, while Dragonfire Potion is a stronger board clear that is particularly valuable against Shamans and Rogues. Ragnaros is also an option if you’re looking to beat slower decks, such as Reno Warlock, which can be a challenging matchup since Priest doesn’t possess the burst damage that can pressure a Jaraxxus play.
Other Priest archetypes don’t look too great in the current Meta, since they lack the ability to proactively pressure opponents. The Dragon Reno build is the only other real option that should be considered at the moment. Zetalot has been having quite a bit of success with it on stream, taking his particular list to top 200 legend, then following it up by taking a Dragon C’Thun variant to the top 100.
- Priest Class Radar
- Trump’s Dragon Priest
- JustSaiyan’s Dragon Priest
- Zetalot’s Reno Dragon Priest
- Zetalot’s Reno C’Thun Priest
Mage has been relegated close to the bottom of the ladder along with Hunter and Paladin. Unlike the hopeless twosome, Mage still has two acceptable archetypes that are seeing success in tournaments with Tempo Mage and Reno Mage as well as modest ladder play. Outside of the VLPS Aggro Mage however, there have not been any breakthroughs in terms of powerful new archetypes for the class.
The problem with Mage’s two archetypes on ladder is that they need to be teched heavily to beat specific matchups. When you do this with any deck, you lose percentage points across all other matchups, and the numbers don’t add up very favorably for the class. Tempo Mage gets outclassed by the other aggressive decks in the Meta, and its matchups against Shaman and Priest can be quite crippling. Its niche in the tournament scene is in all-aggro line ups, being utilized alongside aggressive decks.
Reno Mage is in a troublesome spot as well because established builds are still pretty weak to large portions of the ladder. Even with Pirate Warrior’s high representation, the deck is strained by a continuous stream of Jade Druid, Jade Shamans, and Dragon Priests. Should you add more threats and win conditions that attempt to improve these matchups, you’re sacrificing percentages in your bread and butter, which are the aggressive matchups. The archetype, however, remains very much viable in the tournament scene, as the availability of a ban improves your chances of dodging matchups you’re not built to beat and focusing on targeting a specific strategy successfully. The one player who seems to be doing well with Reno Mage on ladder this month is Portia. His latest build took him to rank 3 legend, and includes both Inkmaster Solia and Sylvanas. With no Pyroblast in the build, Solia is used as a tempo card that can help you to swing the board, while Sylvanas is an excellent tech against both Druid and Priest, which are your worst matchups. We’re fans of this build and it’s likely the best Reno Mage deck you could take to ladder at the moment.
Paladin continues to limp toward the finish line. The last time Paladin was a good class was when they had a strong, proactive game plan back in the days of Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle. These early game cards enabled pretty powerful archetypes such as the notorious Secret Paladin as well as the Quartermaster backed Midrange Paladin.
When these cards rotated out of Standard, it seems that Team 5 couldn’t quite decide what the class identity would be, but a solid, proactive gameplan wasn’t there. This left Paladin to be relegated to playing reactively and from behind, while the class was never really given adequate tools to be able to find consistent success in this niche.
This is pretty much the primary reason that Handbuff Paladin is naught but a meme. The archetype is more vulnerable to poor draws than most others, and once it loses the board, good luck taking it back with a hand full of minions and no comeback mechanics.
That being said, Rage has hit legend with a Secret Finja Paladin list that is at the very least giving Mysterious Challenger a sendoff before he retires to Wild in a few weeks. This deck does something that other Paladin builds struggle to do, which is establishing its own proactive gameplan, reminiscent of Jambre’s old Secret Paladin lists from pre-Karazhan, before Shaman gained 2 tools in Maelstrom Portal and Spirit Claws that made fighting for the early board impossible for Paladin.
Otherwise, Anyfin is still the only Paladin deck with meaningful representation on ladder. So if you want to go OTK some control decks with a gimmicky 10 mana spell, these are your last couple of weeks to do it.
Hopefully, Team 5 found the Paladin class identity in the Un’Goro crater.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Senfglas’ Anyfin Paladin
- Mr.Yagut’s Anyfin Paladin
- Thijs’ Anyfin Paladin
- Rage’s Secret Finja Paladin
Hunter takes another streamer as victim this week, with Dwayna attempting to win with the class throughout the week. Although Dwayna initially had a tiny amount of success with NickChipper’s Murloc Secret Hunter, Hunter began to do Hunter things and gave Dwayna lots of legend points to collect. By the end of the week, Dwayna switched to a midrange build with a lower curve. The deck uses Rat Packs as a way to set up swing turns in advance, through either Houndmaster, Knife Juggler, or Scavenging Hyena. With its lower curve and pirate tech, the deck fares better than most other Hunters against Pirate Warrior, but gives up a little in return against control decks. This trade off still keeps Hunter deep in the dumpster, until Un’Goro comes at least.
- Hunter Class Radar
- NickChipper’s SMrgl Secret Hunter
- Dwayna’s Midrange Hunter
- Kibler’s Midrange Hunter
Thrall’s brilliant plan has come to fruition. People were fed up with him always being in the spotlight, so he was a bit bored and wanted a vacation. By nerfing Small-Time Buccaneer and Spirit Claws, Garrosh has risen in play and taken his place as Warchief… or the the top Meta deck, while Jade Druid was killing off all of the anti-aggro counters. Now, Thrall has returned from his vacation seemingly as a hero to kick Garrosh off the throne and rise again in a Meta that is less hostile to him, and is farming wins off of his easiest targets.
Being serious, Aggro Shaman is not unstoppable, and its current high win rate at high levels of play is a result of the Meta not accounting for it. It does have weaknesses, and some of the decks that boast good win rates against its new iterations may become more valuable as it rises in profile, such as Dragon Priest, Reno Mage and Control Shaman, but for now? Eat those Pirate Warriors and Jade Druids for breakfast.
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