Welcome to the 43rd edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Note: With the expansion expected to release on April 6th, this is our last report for the current standard year. Once the new cards are out, we will need a couple of weeks to perform all kinds of analysis related to perfecting our deck definitions algorithm for the new Meta, as well as gather enough data related to it. We might have something preliminary to show a week after the expansion is out with regards to the new Metagame, but our next full report will be coming out on the 20th. Thank you for all of your support, and if you haven’t done so, consider signing up to contribute your data. It’s very important and beneficial that we have as many active contributors as possible.
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has 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
The Shamanstone order is in the process of being restored. Warrior is falling, while Shaman is rising once again. The main culprit is the deck that refuses to die no matter how many times it gets nerfed. Aggro Shaman just will not go away, and once a new build accounting for the balance changes was perfected, it skyrocketed in its performance and took over the game once again. No Spirit Claws? No worries, we’ll just take the next best weapon available (Hammer of Twilight) and hit your face with that. No Small-Time Buccaneer? It’s alright; we’ll just play three other pirates with Patches because that Stonetusk Boar is pretty strong, with or without STB. The fact that Aggro Shaman is a direct counter to Pirate Warrior means that the latter’s era of domination, which lasted a couple of weeks, is pretty much over. At legend ranks, Shaman has already overtaken Warrior in popularity, and Aggro Shaman is far more prevalent than Mid-Jade, in sharp contrast to lower levels of play where the “old Meta” still exists. Make no mistake; if you’re a high level player that looks to farm those HCT points, accounting for Aggro Shaman is the number one priority as the month reaches its end. It’s likely to be your most common opponent.
As expected, Druid’s numbers are continuing to decline. While Jade Druid is not a bad deck and can find success, its win rate hasn’t really justified such a high play rate, and so it’s falling back to earth. The recent rise of Aggro Shaman doesn’t do it any favors either. However, should anti-aggro decks show up again in response to Aggro Shaman’s rise, such as Reno Mage and Control Warrior, Jade Druid might be able to find opportunities to prey upon these decks. In order to increase its own viability against the field, Jade Druid just needs to let these decks live a little. It chews them up a bit too quickly and scares them away when it boasts an excessive play rate.
Reno Warlock is seeing a small uptick in play. This is likely a response to the decline of Druids and the rise of Shamans, which is a Meta shift that slightly favors the archetype. However, this shift does not favor Zoo Warlock, as its main prey is the cumbersome Druid that lacks effective AOE. While Zoo definitely has a decent place in the tournament scene, this timeless board centric deck will have to wait another week for a chance to make its mark in a new ladder environment.
The other classes seem to be staying put. Priest continues to be a favorite at lower levels, while displaying much lower play rates at legend. Rogue retains a middle-of the-road presence at all levels, with Water Rogue going through a small decline. Reno Mage is raising its head just a bit as a result of Jade Druid’s fall in numbers, while Paladin and Hunter continue to be completely irrelevant. We need those Dinosaurs, Blizzard.
Aggro Shaman is going to sit on its throne for another week. It’s currently in the process of booting Pirate Warrior off of the 52% win rate mark, a mission that should be accomplished within the next couple of days. While Midrange Shaman may have been the most oppressive deck of the year during the period of Karazhan, Aggro Shaman has been at or near the top of the Meta throughout most of the year. Turns out that having the strongest early game while boasting multiple sources of direct damage makes for a pretty good Hearthstone deck. To the delight of many, Shaman is about to lose that early game, and it is possible that the days of bloated stat lines on 1-drops and 2-drops are over.
The most dramatic result this week is the collapse of Dragon Priest’s performance at legend. This definitely correlates to its lower play rate. Some of the decline in performance has to do with adjustments in builds of other archetypes, such as Reno Warlock and Mid-Jade Shamans becoming greedier. Another contributing factor is a glaring weakness that Priest hasn’t shaken off and we’ve also observed before the balance changes. Dragon Priest hits a wall and gets punished more often at higher levels of play, and has consistently displayed a low skill cap relative to other decks. While it is a very good deck for climbing ladder, it doesn’t seem to be as good in climbing the legend ladder.
The fall of Pirate Warrior and the increase in Reno Warlocks is creating interesting shifts in some of the decks’ power levels. Miracle Rogue is breathing easier now, as its matchup with the new Aggro Shaman builds is fairly close while Pirate Warrior is its biggest counter. Water Rogue also benefits from the change for similar reasons. Jade Druid is getting stronger as it sees less play, since it’s not driving off its better matchups, and Mid-Jade Shaman is falling due to Reno Warlock’s rise in popularity.
There are also two underdog archetypes that see very little play but have potential to succeed in the shifting Meta. Control Shaman’s score is quite astounding, and this is the result of an increase in popularity of the Madam Goya build we’ve been mentioning over the past couple of weeks. The deck has some poor matchups against other control decks, but it does really well against both Pirate Warrior as well as Aggro Shaman, which causes its score at legend to be so high. We think it’s an underrated ladder deck, and very strong in an aggressive environment. Another archetype that’s intriguing us is Anyfin Paladin. Pirate Warrior is a big obstacle to the deck’s viablity, so the shift from Pirate Warrior into Aggro Shaman and Reno Warlock has caused its score to spike, making it quite a decent option against the current field.
Even though its score is looking grim, Control Warrior has been doing well for numerous players, such as Rosty, at the top legend ranks as a result of the pocket Meta there being so aggressive, while there are barely any Druids or Priests. The same can be said for Reno Mage, which can also find success at these ranks for similar reasons. The rise in Aggro Shaman and decline of Jade Druid and Pirate Warrior has ruffled some feathers and opened up opportunities for control decks to make their mark towards the end of the month.
Class Analysis & Decklists
The Year of the Kraken has been very kind to Thrall. Throughout this season, Shaman has been the Meta-defining class in Hearthstone. The class was not only inherently powerful, but also very flexible. The class’ array of powerful tools meant that multiple balance changes couldn’t bring it down. Mid-Range Shaman during the Karazhan Meta was one of the most dominant decks in the history of the game, while Aggro Shaman was at or near the top of the Meta throughout most of the year, surviving multiple nerfs and coming back time and time again. As we close this wildly successful year for Shaman, its two most represented decks are still Aggro and Mid, bolstered by the Jade package given to the class in MSoG.
Aggro Shaman took a break for a couple of weeks as a result of the balance changes earlier in the month, but the archetype has made a comeback and is once again at the top of the Meta, particularly at higher levels of play. This week, Tylerootd hit Rank 1 Legend on two servers with Feno’s Aggro Shaman list, a feat he’s done before with the archetype multiple times.
Mid-Jade Shaman is taking a backseat to its more aggressive counterpart lately, but the deck’s good matchups against Aggro Shaman keeps it relevant, with multiple board clears, taunts and healing that can give its aggressive counterpart problems. The deck can also handle control matchups fairly well, either utilizing Bloodlust as a burst win condition to finish games early, or through utilization of the full Jade package, providing it with longevity. Dwayna hit #1 legend this week with a build that takes on the second approach.
Several key Shaman cards are going to rotate out of standard this year, with Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem, the engines of the class’ early game dominance, being the most notable ones. This rotation leaves Shaman’s fate as a class uncertain, though with so many good cards given to it during the past year, it’s not out of the question that it will remain in a strong position.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Feno’s Aggro Shaman
- Dwayna’s Mid-Jade Shaman
- Jia’s Mid-Jade Shaman
- SirVilguadas’ Control Shaman
Warrior finishes a thoroughly successful Year of the Kraken. At most ranks, Pirate Warrior is more popular than any other whole class, with small amounts of Dragon and Control Warrior rounding things off.
Pirate Warrior’s successes on ladder are too many to count, and this weekend’s Winter Championships showed us a good deal of its standing in the tournament scene. Lineups either ban it or very specifically target it, and the latter appears to be a questionable strategy based off some of the results. The majority of tournament lineups should be playing Pirate Warrior, if only to make sure your other decks are able to be played. There’s still miniscule variation in lists, with the choice between more burn and a more minion-heavy build being the only real difference.
Going into the final few days of Dragon Warrior’s existence, it’s still a solid deck which is arguably underplayed based on its good matchups spread. All that remains is to look back fondly at the original Aggro Shaman counter which was discovered well into the WotOG Meta and kept Tunnel Troggs in check, before the next rotation renders it obsolete in standard play.
Control Warrior faces similar existential questions at the end of the standard year with the loss of Justicar Trueheart, Bash and Revenge. It’s possible that it returns in some form in the Year of the Mammoth should the support it’s hinted to be getting is strong enough. Currently it still suffers from a prevalence of awful matchups at lower levels of play, but some players are having success with it at the very high end of ladder, where Aggro Shaman is extremely popular and there aren’t many Druids or Priests running around. Rosty, who is an accomplished Control Warrior player, hit rank 5 legend with a list that’s packed full of early game to really shore up the matchups in which it’s meant to be good.
Overall, it’s been a great year for Warriors. It’s had a wide variety of successful decks and has generally been at or near the top in terms of usage. No other class came close to the diversity it has exhibited throughout most the year, and hopefully that can be replicated in other classes as well.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Tholwmenos’s Pirate Warrior
- Cursed’s Pirate Warrior
- Weghuz’ Dragon Warrior
- Rosty’s Control Warrior
Warlock remains one of the most popular classes in Hearthstone, with Reno Warlock being a favorite choice for many players, especially at the highest levels where the flexibility of the archetype is highly valued. Builds can be changed to improve specific matchups, so the deck feels like it always stands a chance against any opponent.
Most Renolock builds utilize both Jaraxxus and the Leeroy combo. Tarei’s list is a good example. However, Orange hit #5 legend with a build that features Alexstrasza instead of Jaraxxus. Popular flex cards are Ragnaros and Sylvanas, which are particularly valuable against Jade Druid and Dragon Priest, while Soulfire is popular due to its importance against aggressive decks as well as Rogue. Defender of Argus is sometimes selected instead of Faceless Shambler, though the latter is usually more common because of its synergy with the Warlock’s turn 4 plays as well as Power Overwhelming.
Zoo is still neither out of the Meta nor in it. While it does have its weaknesses on ladder, it is very good in aggressive tournament lineups. Skywalker had success with an unconventional Zoo deck on ladder, taking it to top 50 on EU. His list cuts cards thought of as staples in Zoo, such as Darkshire Councilman and Defender of Argus. Instead, he plays a demon heavy build with Wrathguard, Succubus, and Tiny Knight of Evil, along with the pirate package and Crystalweavers.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Tarei’s Reno Warlock
- Orange’s Reno Warlock
- Zanananan’s Zoo Warlock
- Skywalker’s Zoo Warlock
As the month comes to a close, it’s not surprising to see many Druids falling to the wayside. At legend ranks, the Meta is becoming more aggressive as we approach the 31st, which makes it more difficult for the class to find success, though some continue to do so. Dwayna used Jade Druid in his legend climb, before switching to his Shaman build to hit #1, while Mr.Yagut managed to hit #1 with a more unconventional build that features the almost forgotten Moonglade Portal, as well as Yogg-Saron.
Druid has come a long way since the release of the expansion. Jade Druid lists started off with ‘infinite value’ plan in mind, with many players including two copies of Gadgetzan Auctioneer, Raven Idols, and Brann Bronzebeard in their decks. The deck now focuses much more on tempo and less on value, with Druid of the Claw becoming a popular choice, and Auctioneer usually being a one-off, and sometimes not included at all.
Multiple variants of the Aviana Kun combo Druid also saw some play during the length of the expansion, with most builds utilizing Malygos as its end game finisher. Tictac is one of the most accomplished Malygos Druid players, hitting top 10 with his latest build that utilizes a heavier late game, with two Auctioneers as well as two Ancients of War.
- Druid Class Radar
- Dwayna’s Jade Druid
- Mr.Yagut’s Jade Druid
- Fr0zen’s Malygos Druid
- Tictac’s Malygos Druid
Rogue maintains a respectable presence on both ranked ladder and in tournaments. At the Hearthstone Winter Championship, Rogue was the second most popular class with 13 out of 16 players putting their faith in Valeera.
In a tournament setting where Pirate Warrior can be banned, 10 out of 13 Rogue players decided to bring Questing Miracle Rogue and some of those lists excluded the pirate package, which is ever present in ladder-oriented Miracle Rogue builds, due to its importance in aggressive matchups. Considering the ban, you could afford the luxury of running slower cards such as Barnes and Bloodmage Thalnos in order to focus on non-aggressive matchups, but those builds would likely fare worse on ladder because of its aggressive nature.
Water Rogue remains the stronger choice for ladder play as the deck can often keep up with Pirate Warrior, while also boasting decent matchups against the rest of the field. Builds continue to be relatively varied, with the most popular choice being the Stealth package list that runs Silent Knight and Shadow Sensei, while other options include running a Coin package and/or The Curator. What’s worth noting is that Shaku the Collector has solidified itself as a very strong card in multiple iterations of Water Rogue, and is sometimes also seen in Miracle Rogue. It is utilized as a card engine and a stealth body that the opponent can’t remove easily, allowing the Rogue to set up a stronger tempo play the following turn with a threat that has a high priority of being removed by the opponent.
Jade and Malygos Rogue still see some play, though they are still quite vulnerable to aggression. Many players are experimenting with Ruby’s unique Jade Rogue, and it’ll be interesting to see whether this archetype could sneak into the Meta with the addition of some duplicate and bounce mechanics that are being given to the class in Journey to Un’Goro.
- 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
Priest is a tale of two ladders right now. At legend, its poor matchups are very popular so it is seeing a lot less play compared to lower levels where the Meta is more diverse. This is still a really positive period for Priest compared to some of the dark days of the past. Dragon Priest was heavily featured at the HCT championship as a go to deck for most players including runner-up Fr0zen. The key to the final days of laddering with Dragon Priest is to tech according to what you are seeing. The Justsaiyan version has Ooze for Pirates, and Dragonfire Potions for the Rogues out there, while Fr0zen’s build is more focused on beating decks that aren’t as fast. The main mid skeleton stays the same across the majority of the builds.
The Reno Dragon variant remains a popular choice amongst some players like Zetalot, who’s continuing to tweak an interesting C’Thun Dragon Reno variant in the last days of the month. The addition of C’Thun provides the deck with a more proactive game plan and a way to end the game, which is particularly important against the inevitability of Jade Druid as well as Jaraxxus.
- Priest Class Radar
- Fr0zen’s Dragon Priest
- JustSaiyan’s Dragon Priest
- Zetalot’s Reno Dragon Priest
- Zetalot’s Reno C’Thun Priest
Mage still seems to be mostly a niche choice on ladder, while remaining a decent choice in the tournament scene due to the availability of a ban. While Tempo Mage can struggle to find good matchups at the moment, the high amount of Reno Warlocks at legend rank, as well as the low numbers of Priests and Mid-Jade Shamans, seems to help it find some individual success. Both Apxvoid, who’s perhaps the most prominent Tempo Mage player, as well as VLPS, who dropped his full Aggro list, hit top 10 legend with the archetype this week. The high number of Reno Warlocks as well as the rise in Aggro Shamans at these levels of play is also boding very well for Reno Mage, as it’s able to find its good matchups more consistently while dodging the Druids that Shamans are beginning to suppress, creating a pocket Meta that is more similar to the one Reno Mage thrived in before the balance changes. Noblord hit rank 5 legend with his previous Reno Freeze build, only swapping Harrison for a Dirty Rat. Should Aggro Shaman’s dominance at high levels of play continue as the month draws to a close, Reno Mage might be a rewarding choice for players looking to counter the Aggro Shaman/Pirate Warrior/Reno Warlock axis.
With Journey to Un’Goro coming soon, as well as the new yearly rotation, the Mage class is at a crossroads. All of its current archetypes, including Freeze Mage, are going to disappear, with iconic Mage cards being sent to wild as well as important neutrals that the class particularly depended on. The class will miss Flamewaker, Arcane Blast, Forgotten Torch, Ice Lance, Azure Drake, Reno Jackson and Emperor Thaurissan. It remains to be seen how the class will look with the release of the new expansion, but out of every class in Hearthstone, Mage might be the biggest mystery.
There’s no real reason to play Paladin right now unless you’re memeing or just happen to like the class more than you like winning. Anyfin Paladin is the only deck seeing real ladder representation, and somewhat decent results, and the build has long been solved. Remember that the titular card, Anyfin Can Happen, is rotating out of Standard in about a week, so if you want to summon a horde of huge Bluegill Warriors on ladder, time is running out.
Rage’s Secret Finja Paladin list is surprisingly resilient and is a fun change of pace if you’ve been used to the last year or so of slow, plodding Paladin archetypes. It’s also the last chance to drop Mysterious Challenger on the board in standard format.
The majority of experimentation over the past week was actually with the dormant N’Zoth Paladin archetype. VLPS’ list is pretty greedy, and utilizes 2 copies of Dirty Rat to maximize the powerful board wipes that Equality can enable in more grindy control matchups, while Strifecro’s list is somewhat more teched to be able to handle aggro on ladder.
So far, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about what Paladin might look like after the rotation, as surely, things can’t get any worse. It’s getting a mini Muster for Battle as well as a Quartermaster in a Dinosaur suit that synergizes with it. That’s already something.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Senfglas’ Anyfin Paladin
- Mr.Yagut’s Anyfin Paladin
- Thijs’ Anyfin Paladin
- Rage’s Secret Finja Paladin
- Kibler’s Midrange Paladin
- VLPS’ N’Zoth Paladin
- StrifeCro’s N’Zoth Paladin
The standard year is coming to a close for Hunter and it’s good to move on from these dark times. It’s also important, however, to look at why Hunter failed so miserably in Gadgetzan. Fundamentally, Hunter needs early board control to win the game. Their low initial impact minions and uninteractive hero power drives the need to win the early game. Patches has stifled any ability for Hunter to get ahead early, and early game weapons for Shaman and Warrior have only furthered Hunter’s inability to seize the board. It’s easy to see the issues when you compare a turn 1 Alleycat versus a turn 1 N’Zoth’s First Mate.
As strong as Savannah Highmane can be, it’s much weaker when it’s dropped into a board controlled by the opponent. It’s especially worthless when staring down three enemy minions that just ignore it while your life total is the one under pressure. Luckily, there is a distant ray of hope awaiting Hunter in the distance. Blizzard has printed some cards which could help Hunter fight for the early game board control against Pirates, while the class has also been given tools that may help it last longer in attrition based matchups. The dark times for the original SMOrc class might be over, travelers.
- Hunter Class Radar
- NickChipper’s SMrgl Secret Hunter
- Dwayna’s Midrange Hunter
- Kibler’s Midrange Hunter
Aggro Shaman is still in the process of “breaking the Meta”, but there’s another Shaman deck that might be worth a shot if you happen to have Madam Goya and want to counter the aggression that comes with the end of the season and the beginning of a new one. Control Shaman is a pretty fun deck and a change of pace from the normal ladder experience. We’ve been impressed with the performance of the Madam Goya build ever since it showed up on our radar, so it might keep you occupied until the shiny new cards of Un’Goro hit the board.
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