Welcome to the 44th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
This is the first report since the release of Journey to Un’Goro.
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Number of Games
Class Frequency by Day
Warrior and Rogue were the early frontrunners of the expansion, each boasting two powerful archetypes. Pirate Warrior was already an established menace before the expansion, and hardly lost anything due to the rotation of cards. Taunt Warrior and Crystal Rogue were the two quest decks that worked on day one, and achieved a lot of success on the first couple of days, while Miracle Rogue came on slightly later, and began to dominate the unsettled, unrefined and young Meta. We can see that all of these decks, save for Miracle Rogue, don’t see an increase in popularity at legend ranks. The Meta at legend is actually very diverse, and while some of it is a case of players being more “free” to experiment, most of it has to do with the fact that while these decks were frontrunners and deemed to be the most obvious and immediate powerhouses, the Meta has quickly caught up.
The thirst to play Hunter, a class that was essentially deleted from the game for 4 months, is clearly visible in these charts. At legend, the number of Hunters gets cut by over a third. Nearly all Hunters have a similar Mid-Range skeleton, though there is quite a bit of build diversity within the archetype in terms of card usage. Any experimentation with Carnassa Hunter, has quickly faded away past the first few days.
Mage is a tale of two Meta’s. At lower levels, players are still goofing around with the quest centered Exodia Mage, but at legend, Freeze Mage has established itself as a dominant archetype. Play rates of Freeze Mage skyrocketed in response to the Rogue infested Meta, and if you were a legend player, dealing with the deck has been one of your biggest priorities. The rotation of Ice Lance seems to have done little to hurt the deck, as the tools it has received in compensation are some of the strongest available in this expansion. We can also see aggressive Burn Mages establishing their place in the Meta, and other Mage archetypes are also beginning to form. The class is currently extremely diverse and seems to possess a lot of potential beyond one playstyle.
Paladin is in a similar spot to Mage, where it’s the new hotness at high levels of play while the Meta at lower levels still has some catching up to do. The class is also boasting quite a bit of diversity. Midrange Paladin builds mostly hold a Murloc package, but we’re also seeing alternative non-Murloc builds. Murloc Paladin is much more aggressive and all-in on Murloc synergy, and is relatively new to the Meta. Even Control Paladin and Elemental Paladin, the latter being focused on the forgotten handbuff mechanic, have come to play. A class that seems to have had no identity before the expansion, found quite a few identities down in the Un’Goro Crater.
Druid has had quite a facelift. From being dominated by a midrange archetype that packed infinite late game value in Jade Druid, the class is now mainly represented by the highly aggressive Token Druid. The second most popular Druid deck is Ramp Druid, which has shades of Astral Druid in terms of being very extreme in its swing turns and possesses a beatdown style of play. Losing Mulch, the only reliable hard removal that Druid possessed, is an underrated cause of this transformation. Jade Druid is still around, but in much smaller numbers. It seems like the predictions that it would take over the Meta post-rotation were slightly off the mark.
Priest is a class in chaos, and we’re not saying it in a bad way. It boasts multiple interesting archetypes. Miracle Priest is in its baby steps compared to other archetypes in terms of refinement, and the Unicorn riding Silence Priest, with the best meme card in the game, Purify, has also taken to the stage. Dragon Priest was predicted to be extinct with the rotation, and yet it found a way to survive without most of the Dragon skeleton. Turns out that Drakonid Operative is worth building a deck around! As for Deathrattle Priest, which is focused on the quest; it’s nearly gone from higher levels of play, and we’re seeing a very small amount of N’Zoth focused Priest that don’t even run the quest. We’ll have to wait and see how good these decks can be.
Shamanstone, it’s been nice knowing you. The most dominant class during the Year of the Kraken is now one of the least played classes in the game. Elemental Shaman was highly touted as a potentially dominant archetype, but that has failed to materialize, at least so far. We’re seeing a tiny bit of Jade Shamans running around, and more than a tiny amount of Aggro Shamans with new characteristics: Token flooding into Bloodlusts rather than pure direct damage. The Murloc quest, much like most of the other quests which were introduced in the expansion, has been abandoned at high levels of play.
Warlock is the bottom played class in the game. Let that sink in. When has that ever happened in the history of Hearthstone? The class is struggling to establish itself in the Un’Goro Meta. Zoo Warlock is being outclassed by more resilient decks, while Handlock can’t get a foot off the ground with the limited healing available to it. Turns out Life Tap doesn’t work when the cards you draw kinda suck.
Note: The win rates that are taken into account do not include the very first few days of the expansion, where builds were very chaotic and unrefined. This is done in order to best calculate the power level of decks at their more recent, stabilized states. However, the Meta is still very young, and some archetypes are more refined than others. New archetypes are still emerging, and some archetypes are not played enough to gather credible data to properly assess. Therefore we do not include them in this table at the moment. We will mention specific archetypes that we feel (key word: feel) have potential of a higher ceiling than the results indicate based on their build diversity, though that obviously does not guarantee that they will improve.
Pirate Warrior sits at the top of the table with a very high score at all levels of play. Good news is you don’t need to buy any Un’Goro packs to be competitive in this Meta! The Rogue infestation is a large part of Pirate Warrior’s high score, which would otherwise not be nearly as high since there are now several decks that deal with the archetype fairly well. Pirate Warrior just eats Rogue’s lunch, especially the notorious Crystal Rogue. Aggressively teching against Pirate Warrior may net you a few percentages, but it’s not going to turn an almost 70-30 matchup into a favorable one. Meanwhile, Taunt Warrior appeared to be an unstoppable monster in the early days of the expansion, but its power levels seem to have been curbed. Warrior will undoubtedly be a strong class in this Meta, but its biggest counter class is beginning to emerge which may put an end to Warrior’s domination. Paladin is hitting the scene.
Let’s talk about Rogue, and start with the most talked about deck in the game, which is the quest driven, Crystal Core Rogue. This archetype’s matchup spread looks like a board of checkers. It counters any control deck that doesn’t have the capability to pressure it in the early game, but gets utterly destroyed by aggressive decks that do just that, as well as several of the Mage archetypes that carry burn damage and Ice Block. The fact its matchup spread is so polarizing means it will always be relevant to some degree, especially in the tournament scene, and at high legends ranks where counter-queuing is common. However, the deck that defined the Meta in the early days of Un’Goro, is not dominating it. It has glaring weaknesses that can be exploited. We do observe that at legend ranks, it has slightly better performances in some matchups, which is the result of more updated, refined builds at these levels of play (Vanish for example, is seen more at legend, which directly impacts the Taunt Warrior matchup). However, this only leads to a small improvement in its power level, which is mostly offset by a changing Meta that is becoming more and more hostile towards it.
Miracle Rogue has a different story from Crystal Rogue. It actually looked fantastic in terms of win rate a few days into the expansion, placing firmly at Tier 1 with a win rate of over 52%. This explains its representation at legend over the past week, being more popular than Crystal Rogue. But then, as time went on, Miracle Rogue slowly came crashing down. The prime antagonist of this story if you’re a Miracle Rogue enthusiast is the Mage class. The surge in popularity of Freeze Mage in particular, led to Miracle Rogue taking a lot more losses, especially at legend ranks, where it now finds itself to be below the 50% win rate mark. The increase in aggressive decks aimed to punish Crystal Rogue also means that Miracle Rogue gets caught in the crossfire, so while Rogue is definitely a strong class, it gets focused down and targeted a bit too easily to sit at the top for long.
Mage is one of the most intriguing classes to assess. Freeze Mage is clearly a dominant force that cannot be underestimated, but it’s interesting to see how its win rate drops at higher levels of play. The cause? Since Freeze Mage was pretty popular at legend over the past week, players adjusted and teched accordingly to improve this matchup specifically. A good example is Taunt Warrior, where its win rate is over 50% against Freeze Mage at legend while it is below 50% overall. This is due to Taunt Warrior players adjusting their builds and changing it from the early Un’Goro taunt spam builds, into ones that include Shield Blocks and Armorsmiths, which significantly swings the matchup in the Warrior’s favor. This doesn’t mean, however, that Freeze Mage is about to get kicked out of the Meta. It will definitely stay relevant and has the potential to completely dominate ladder play if not accounted for, since teching against it carries a penalty in other matchups. In short, Freeze Mage is a strong Meta dependent deck that is likely to ebb and flow.
But Freeze Mage is not the only Mage deck that piques our interest. Aggressive Burn Mage builds are also doing well, as well as Secret Mage, which has been quite a success story kept in…. secret. These archetypes carry punishing tools against Rogues, which is leading to their high score. Spellbender and Potion of Polymorph, for example, can ruin a Crystal Rogue’s day. Control Mage was also beginning to form on the back of PsyGuenther rank #1 legend run just as we were wrapping up the database for the week, so it’s too early to properly assess.
Let’s talk about the actual, best class in the game in the current Meta, which is Paladin. This class is displaying absurdly good win rates considering the diversity within its archetypes and the relatively young refinement stage it’s in. Mid-Range Paladin is looking like a powerhouse, with both Gentle Megasaur Murloc-centric builds and non-Murloc Lightfused Stegodon builds doing very well (though we’re leaning towards the more pro-active Murloc versions that are becoming more common). The archetype demolishes Taunt Warrior and displays no glaring weaknesses other than a very slight vulnerability to Rogue. However, the even more promising Paladin archetype when glancing at the data is the aggressive Murloc Paladin. It beats down Crystal Rogue, it does fairly well against Pirate Warrior, and it pretty much loses to literally no other deck in the game besides the very niche Elemental Shaman. Another very important thing to consider is that the faster Murloc Paladin beats Midrange Paladin, since its early game is more consistent and it outpaces its slower brother. This leads us to believe that Murloc Paladin is a bonafide Meta Breaker about to take over the game (if it hasn’t already by the time you’re reading this!).
Hunter has finished its Gadgetzan hibernation period and is relevant again. Midrange Hunter is displaying win rates of an upper tier deck, though its performance drops at higher levels of play, which also correlates with its lower play rates at legend rank. Nevertheless, Hunter is definitely a strong choice in the current Meta, and has a very stable and balanced matchup spread, which means that it’s one of the classes that are less likely to suffer the consequences of massive shifts in the Meta. ‘Slow and steady’ is how you can describe Mid Range Hunter’s power level.
Druid launches itself to the top of the Meta, on the back of Token Druid’s impressive performance, especially where the Meta is infested with Rogue at legend rank. You think Pirate Warrior counters Crystal Rogue? There is no matchup more miserable for the Rogue than Token Druid. It’s a bloodbath. Token Druid, much like the deck it counters, has very polarizing matchups. It gets demolished by Taunt Warrior, and doesn’t enjoy playing against Freeze Mage either. This makes it very Meta dependent, and should Crystal Rogue fall in popularity, Token Druid is likely to fall with it. As for other Druid decks, current Ramp Druids seem a bit inconsistent and aren’t doing too well, while Jade Druid is an afterthought.
Priest shows nice deck diversity, with Dragon Priest actually boasting the strongest win rate against the field. However, Priest generally struggles against Warrior and Rogue, which means it’s being inhibited as long as these classes remain popular, and the rise of Midrange Paladin doesn’t do the class any favors either. We do want to mention though that Miracle Priest is one of the most experimental and chaotic archetypes in the game, with several different approaches being fairly common, so it needs a bit of time to settle down before we can give it a “final verdict”.
Shaman’s power level seems to be fairly average, but there are indications that it could become more relevant as time goes on. Elemental Shaman is another deck that gets severely limited by Crystal Rogue’s presence, so a decline in Crystal Rogues could lead to an increase in the Shaman deck’s viability, especially if Freeze Mage follows suit. These two decks just bring the pain to the Shaman, which could otherwise thrive in a Meta filled with aggression. It boasts excellent matchups against every aggressive deck in the game at the moment, so don’t count the class out, especially in the tournament scene. Aggro Shaman is showing a lot of diversity and experimentation, and we’re intrigued by the new board flooding decks centered on Bloodlust. Non-Elemental Jade Shaman doesn’t see enough play for us to assess, while the Murloc quest is performing very poorly. We’re actually seeing aggressive Murloc decks that do not play the quest whatsoever, beginning to show.
Warlock’s play rates correlate with its archetype’s win rates. Translation: the class is in the deep dumpster. Zoo has multiple matchups which are absolutely miserable, starting with Freeze Mage, Taunt Warrior and even Paladin. It doesn’t seem to be remotely close to having any grasp on the Meta, while Handlock’s lack of healing gets exploited easily by decks with any amount of burn. Zoo’s got no one to blame either, since none of the common builds that we’re seeing are using the Discard quest. Zoo is quite a stable archetype, which means any potential improvement seems to be very limited unless the Meta literally turns upside down just for the sake of Gul’dan.
Some decks centered on quests are not present in this table due to very low play rates. There’s a good reason nobody plays them: they’re doing very poorly. Paladin, Druid, Warlock, Priest and Hunter quests have incredibly low win rates, even lower than those that appear in the table, such as Mage and Shaman. The one non-quest deck with a low sample that isn’t present in the table but looks a bit promising is Tempo Rogue. Much attention has been given to the “big two” archetypes of the class, but aggressive Rogues, whether they include the Finja package or not, are doing better than the established twosome. Low play rates, but still important to note. Finja is still a card, and Water Rogue was pretty damn good before the rotation. Worth exploring.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Rogue, almost as always in the beginning of an expansion, started off guns blazing. On the back of a quest that was severely underestimated by most in the Hearthstone community, Crystal Rogue became the most frightening sight during the early days of Un’Goro. Meanwhile, Miracle Rogue brushed off the loss of Azure Drake, Tomb Pillager and Conceal, and proceeded to utterly dominate the top legend ranks with multiple players performing extremely well with the archetype.
Then came the Pirate Warrior and the aggro, then came the Freeze Mage, and Rogues have been enduring a much more difficult time.
Most current Miracle Rogue builds are centered around Arcane Giants as the primary win condition. With the loss of Conceal, Questing Adventurers are more difficult to support and Arcane Giants synergize better with Auctioneer turns by being drawn off the top. The loss of Conceal has also led to Cold Blood losing favor, as it’s more difficult to get value off of it, which also resulted in Leeroy Jenkins being less common in builds. What Rogue has gained are some very powerful flower flavored cards. Razorpetal Lasher is a strong 2 drop that provides the Rogue a combo enabler that synergizes with Auctioneer and Arcane Giants. Vilespine Slayer is the powerful hard removal that Rogue has lacked up until this point, and has become staple in many lists, often substituting a Sap. Finally, Sherazin was one of the most underestimated Un’Goro legendaries, providing the Rogue with a strong turn 4 play as well as incredible longevity. It’s the Shaku story all over again!
Earlier in the month, Eloise hit rank #1 legend with Cross’ Miracle Rogue list. Casie has been maintaining a top 50 legend spot with his take on Miracle Rogue, which includes one Questing Adventurer as an additional threat on the board as well as Mimic Pods instead of the Pirate package. This adjustment makes the deck stronger against control, with the build being less likely to run out of gas.
Crystal Rogue has undergone many changes since Dog lit up the ladder with his initial iteration of the deck on the first day of the expansion. Violet Teacher and Moroes have since been deemed to be too slow and unnecessary. The deck has become more focused on cheap minions, with Fire Fly and Igneous Elemental becoming a common package that allows the Rogue to complete the quest far more easily with just the generation of Flame Elementals.
Many players started to include cheap defensive minions instead of spell based removal in order to increase the deck’s synergy and consistency with the quest as well as provide some defensive mechanics against the deck’s biggest weakness, which are matchups against aggressive decks. Bilefin Tidehunder, Glacial Shard and even Doomsayer have been common examples of minions that can help in matchups such as Pirate Warrior. The one spell that has entered most of the high end ladder builds is Vanish, which is a huge swing card for when Rogue completes the quest and finds itself behind on the board. The card can also be used to replay minions in order to complete the quest, reload charge damage, and is particularly back breaking for Taunt Warrior.
With this in mind, there are two main approaches for Crystal Rogue. Feno has hit #1 legend with a build that keeps spell removal and runs Coldlight Oracle in order to increase the deck’s consistency in drawing quest pieces. The other approach that is becoming more common is running a minion heavy build with the Elemental package, best shown by Misplaced’s build. Some players, Xixo being the example, have begun dropping Swashburglars from lists, as Patches becomes infinitely more powerful when shot out of the cannon with Southsea Deckhand post quest completion, and making it drop on turn 1 almost seems like a waste. It’s a Wisp Meta.
Other Rogue decks haven’t received much attention, though they might have untapped potential. Sempok hit legend with a Tempo Rogue build that runs a Burgle mechanic package with Obsidian Shard, while Sintolol won an open utilizing a new build of Water Rogue.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Cross’ Miracle Rogue
- Casie’s Miracle Rogue
- Feno’s Crystal Rogue
- Misplaced’s Crystal Rogue
- Xixo’s Crystal Rogue
- Sempok’s Tempo Rogue
- Sintolol’s Tempo Water Rogue
It’s been a great start to the Year of the Mammoth for Warrior. It was clear from the moment it was revealed that Warrior’s quest was one of the better ones and it’s proved to be so, being the first deck many people tried out. It’s been very successful in both ladder and tournament play, with Sjow getting the ball rolling by hitting rank 1 legend with his Taunt Warrior build 3 days into release. The deck has benefitted heavily from the new taunts released in Un’Goro, with Primordial Drake, Direhorn Hatchling, Tar Creeper and especially Stonehill Defender doing a lot to support the Warrior’s quest. There have been two prominent variants of the archetype. The first one, piloted by Sjow to the #1 spot, has a heavy taunt curve in an attempt to finish the quest as quickly as possible. The other version, piloted by RayC to hit top 10, utilizes Armorsmiths and Shield Blocks, and is geared towards the rise of Freeze Mage at legend ranks. In the mirror matchup, the taunt spam build will perform better, but without multiple forms of armor gain, the Freeze Mage matchup is quite difficult for the Warrior.
Pirate Warrior was the elephant in the room at the start of Un’Goro. Having lost only Sir Finley Mrrglton and Bash to rotation after a Meta where it was the dominant deck led to concerns that it would be obnoxiously centralizing and stifle creativity in the new Meta. This hasn’t quite happened yet, and although Pirate Warrior continues to be a very strong deck, it does have poor matchups against certain common archetypes and is not head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. The prevalence of Golakka Crawler as well as the introduction of defensively statted early drops like Fire Fly and Tar Creeper has kept Pirate Warrior from spiraling out of control. Pirate Warrior lists look, predictably, very similar to how they used to. Although some experimentation is being done with cards such as Worgen Infiltrator, Spellbreaker and Bittertide Hydra, most players run the standard list from Gadgetzan with a second Mortal Strike replacing Finley.
There’ve also been various experiments with other Warrior archetypes, with a limited degree of success. Experiments are being done with non-Quest N’Zoth Control Warrior, as well as midrange Tempo Warrior builds, but nothing substantial has materialized yet. As strong as the Warrior class is right now, it seems like Taunt and Pirate Warrior are the only established archetypes, for the moment.
Mage experienced a downtick in popularity and power level prior to Journey to Un’Goro, and there were many questions regarding the viability of the class due to the loss of some iconic cards such as Flamewaker and Ice Lance. But the class seems to have shaken it all off and established itself in the Meta in impressive fashion, boasting incredible diversity that might be second to none in Hearthstone.
The common denominators of every successful Un’Goro Mage deck are Primordial Glyph and Arcanologist. Both are incredibly strong cards that add consistency to any of the various Mage game plans. Primordial Glyph allows for cheating of higher costed AOE and can generate burn spells which change how decks have to approach protecting their life total. A discover effect at no tempo loss, makes for an incredibly versatile tool. Arcanologist is almost as good as Mad Scientist, which makes it preeeettty good.
Despite the loss of Emperor Thaurissan, Forgotten Torch and Ice Lance, Freeze Mage has taken off as one of the most dominant decks in the game. The Un’Goro Meta is not packed with healing at the moment, and Control Warriors no longer stack infinite armor as they previously did. In addition, Arcanologist helps fish for that key Ice Block or Ice Barrier against aggressive decks, a huge boon in these matchups, especially against Pirate Warrior, which is no longer a hair pulling affair. The new weakness of Freeze Mage though is that it can no longer OTK, and usually requires two turns post-Alex to finish an opponent off, making it more vulnerable to healing. Builds at the moment mainly differ at the top end of the curve. Some run Pyroblast and Antonidas, and some run double Pyroblast. Two Pyroblasts are stronger against Taunt Warrior since without Emperor Thaurissan, it’s much harder to squeeze more than two, sometimes even one Fireball from “Tony”, and you usually prefer the immediate damage over giving the Warrior another turn. It’s also guaranteed damage which is not vulnerable to a Dirty Rat. Antonidas has a higher overall ceiling of damage and works particularly well with Primordial Glyph.
Burn Mage is also becoming quite popular, with players such as APXVoiD and Flamingobums having success with the hyper aggressive archetype. Much like Freeze Mage, this deck looks to burst opponents down with direct damage. Rather than waiting around and stalling like Freeze Mage, Burn Mage has a fast paced early game fueled by Mana Wyrm, which is probably the most powerful 1-drop in the Standard Meta after Tunnel Trogg’s retirement to Wild. There are also builds experimenting with Hemet, such as WiRer’s list. Hemet essentially turns the game into a clock where the opponent has to either kill the Mage within the next few turns or try to survive through up to 32 drawn damage, which is a tough task!
There are other under the radar Mage archetypes that are seeing success. Secret Mage is showing great potential in our metrics, and makes Crystal Rogue’s life utterly miserable with Potion of Polymorph and Spellbender. PsyGuenther hit rank #1 legend with a Control Mage build that runs Medivh as a late game value bomb. Elemental Mage builds are also relatively unexplored. What has been explored and doesn’t seem to be working out is the Exodia/Time Warp Mage. Whether it’s running the Apprentice/Reflection/Tony infinite damage combo, or Alex/Giants, it’s been performing very poorly. The potential of the quest is extremely powerful, and ruling out such a mechanic would be premature, but current iterations are very weak.
- Mage Class Radar
- Monsanto’s Tony Freeze Mage
- Viper’s Double Pyro Freeze Mage
- APXVoiD’s Burn Mage
- Flamingobums’ Burn Mage
- WiRer’s Hemet Burn Mage
- Latryna’s Secret Mage
- Butters’ Elemental Mage
- PsyGuenther’s Medivh Control Mage
Paladin is, perhaps, the biggest success story to come out of Un’Goro. The class was nearly extinct during the Gadgetzan era, and was struggling to find an identity beyond a gimmicky combo deck. Now, it boasts multiple viable archetypes, with a few of them looking like top tier choice in the Un’Goro Meta.
We’ll start with the most popular shell discovered to date: Midrange Paladin. For the most part, players are running a modest Murloc package to generate value off of the tokens made by Vilefin Inquisitor, with Murloc Warleader and Gentle Megasaur acting as Pseudo Quartermasters (as well as the incredibly versatile Sunkeeper Tarim). Another advantage of the Murloc package is giving the class a way to get on the board in the early game, which can lead to explosive starts that generate a lot of pressure.
There has been a lot of experimentation with this archetype and many people have had success with different forms of this deck. Tidesoftime pioneered the build, with StrifeCro following it up with a take of his own. Machamp then hit #1 legend with the archetype, while Neirea carried it to a victory in an open cup. Stampeding Kodo seems to be filling the 5 mana slot for the deck quite nicely, as it has great synergy with Aldor Peacekeeper and The Curator, and is particularly powerful in the Taunt Warrior matchup, where eating up an Alley Armorsmith or a Bloodhoof Brave can be game changing.
There are also non-Murloc versions of Midrange Paladin, utilizing Lightfused Stegodon as the token value generator. Savjz made a pretty incredible tear through high legend with a build on the hybrid side, leaning towards a control playstyle with Dirty Rats and Wild Pyromancers, but the inclusion of Lost in the Jungle, Vinecleaver and Lightfused Stegodon give the deck proactive plays in the mid-game that can generate quite a bit of pressure.
Two of the biggest stars in Midrange Paladin are Hydrologist and Stonehill Defender. With the increased chances of discovering a class card, Stonehill Defender is almost guaranteed to offer a Paladin legendary as a choice, which is incredible value. Hydrologist is extremely versatile, and can be abused to generate value, for example, with Getaway Kodo. It is also a potential game winner against Freeze Mage. If you can discover an Eye for an Eye, pop the Ice Block at 1 and play the secret, it is checkmate on the Mage and one of the reasons this matchup is surprisingly close.
Murloc Paladin, not to be confused with the Midrange Paladin build that adopts some Murlocs, is a hyper-aggressive archetype that abuses the synergistic low-cost tribe alongside Paladin’s access to some extreme draw effects. Very recently, Newton and Tholwmenos hit #3 and #1 legend with the archetype, respectively, and the deck has exploded at higher levels of play. Tholwmenos’s build is slightly slower, curving out at Tirion, while both builds run Tarim, which is perhaps the best legendary of this expansion. This is a pretty skill-intensive aggressive deck, and should be pretty rewarding if you put in the time to understand its intricacies, as it is very well positioned in the Meta, and might be the strongest deck in the game.
More passive, Control Paladin builds are also present, with some of them utilizing N’Zoth as the primary win condition while the rest of the deck is geared to be more defensive with the purpose of stalling until the Old God is dropped. A good example is VLPS’ N’Zoth Paladin. There are also other builds, such as Sjow’s, which don’t include a N’Zoth package and rely on exhausting the opponent out of resources in order to win. This archetype is relatively unexplored compared to its midrange counterpart, and it remains to be seen how good it can be in the current Meta.
Kolento has become known as the Handbuff Mad Scientist these days, and he surprised everyone in HGG by pulling out a Paladin list featuring his signature Handbuff cards, wrapped in an Elemental package. The Elemental curve of taunts and high statted minions seem to synergize well with the mechanic, and cards like Fire Fly, Igneous Elemental and Servant of Kalimos help in keeping your hand size fairly large so that handbuffs drawn later in the game have potential to generate more value.
The only Paladin related failure of this expansion seems to be the Last Kaleidosaur. The quest hasn’t gained any traction, and most of experimentations related to it did not bear any fruit. This is just not the right Meta for it, with so many taunts in the game, as well as Brawl, Vanish and freezes, the win condition is far from guaranteed, and the cost of building the deck around it with situational spells that require you to have the board, is far too great.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Machamp’s Murloc Midrange Paladin
- Savjz’ Hybrid Midrange Paladin
- Tholwmenos’ Murloc Paladin
- Newton’s Murloc Paladin
- VLPS’ N’Zoth Control Paladin
- Sjow’s Control Paladin
- Kolento’s Elemental Paladin
After four long months, Hunter has finally returned to the Meta. Crackling Razormaw is an excellent addition to any Hunter deck, allowing you to quickly snowball early game presence into a win. The Razormaw is aided by Jeweled Macaw as well, giving Hunters another strong early game option. Golakka Crawler is a slightly awkward tech choice in some classes, but is a more natural fit for Hunter, which makes the previously nightmarish matchup against Pirate Warrior much more manageable.
Midrange Hunter is the most popular of the Hunter archetypes, overtaking Secret Hunter for the first time since the change to Call of the Wild. With the added early game, Midrange Hunter stands a much better chance against aggressive decks than before, especially since Golakka Crawler has been added to many of the lists. Current builds are vastly different from one another, with cards changing at almost every mana slot. One of the more top heavy builds is Orange’s list, which incorporates a soft handbuff package of Beastrager and Rat Pack. The build also runs Nesting Rocs, which are becoming a common choice at the five slot, offering a sturdy defense against aggression. Orange’s list is best used when encountering taunt Warriors, as it provides two ways to get past big taunts in the form of Deadly Shot as well as a Volcanosaur to up the threat potential.
A more token based build of mid hunter was piloted to high legend ranks by the Hunter God himself, NickChipper. This deck utilizes the strong combo of Knife Juggler/Unleash to swing the game against aggressive decks, foregoing the more situational Golakka Crawler. The build also runs Scavenging Hyenas, which synergize perfectly with the token generating nature of the deck, and can quickly snowball games out of control, especially against classes that aren’t equipped with hard removal, such as Paladin. This build isn’t as strong as Orange’s against control, but fares better against non-pirate aggro, due to not being reliant on Golakka Crawler for the swing in a game.
Secret Hunter has become a much more niche deck compared to the ubiquitous Midrange Hunter, primarily due to Mid Hunter being able to better take advantage of new and powerful beast synergies. The deck may still have a place in the Meta as a strong aggressive choice, with Mitsushide utilizing the archetype’s face potential. His build is more token heavy, trying to convert board presence into damage through Knife Juggler and Scavenging Hyena. Face Secret Hunter is forced to go with a more board oriented route now that Quick Shot, a key component to bursting opponents down, has rotated to wild.
Carnassa Hunter was a thing people tried out on day one. It runs out of steam way too quickly to be anything more than a distraction to the actual viable archetypes.
Druid is in a weird spot in the Meta. From being the ultimate value class during the Gadgetzan days, it has reverted into being mostly aggressive in nature, and even its slow Ramp decks are very extreme and carry a beatdown style of play. The Jungle Giants quest seems to be a dud, and has failed to materialize into a viable deck of note.
Aggro Token Druid has been popping up on the ladder due to its great matchup against some decks in the field. In particular, it has an astoundingly high win-rate vs. the notorious Crystal Rogue, and a good matchup against Miracle Rogue, as well as Pirate Warrior. The deck floods the board in the early game, and leverages that early board control with Mark of the Lotus and Power of the Wild. The deck doesn’t fizzle in the mid game either, as Living Mana and the Finja package allow it to immediately pose a massive threat to the opponent and deliver substantial face damage. An alternative build is to run a more resilient mid game with Violet Teacher, Defender of Argus and Bittertide Hydra, the latter being particularly threatening in control matchups.
While not seeing the most play on ladder, Ramp Druid is another archetype that gained some interesting cards from the expansion. Giant Anaconda is a great ramping target, and its deathrattle can pull massive minions on turns they have no business being on the board. Earthen Scales is a great card for stabilizing your life total after winning the board, and Primordial Drake offers Druid a tool for clearing a board full of small creatures, something that the class generally struggles with. Fr0zen initially pioneered the build, and with some small alterations, AdaMiries took it to #1 legend. The deck does suffer from inconsistency, as not drawing ramp early can be lights out against many of the aggressive decks in the field. The deck pulls off some spectacular games when the cards come in the right order, or when Barnes hits a highly sought deathrattle.
Jade Druid’s chances of establishing a spot in the Meta do not look great. As was the case in The Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, the deck still faces the problem of having extremely polarized matchups, but some of its advantages against control decks were lost. Control Warrior is no longer the complete pushover it used to be with its quest reward being extremely powerful, and the loss of Mulch means that a big late game minion such as Tirion becomes a massive issue. Earthen Scales in addition to Feral Rage allow the archetype to get some help against aggressive decks as well as Freeze Mage, but the loss of Azure Drake makes the deck’s card draw less consistent. Of course, the biggest problem is Crystal Rogue, which just demolishes Jade Druid and seems to have taken its spot as the “control killer” of the Un’Goro Meta.
- Druid Class Radar
- Xixo’s Token Druid
- Greensheep’s Token Druid
- Fr0zen’s Ramp Druid
- AdaMiries’ Ramp Druid
- OmegaZero’s Jade Druid
- Senfglas’ Jade Druid
Many people predicted the demise of the Priest with the new standard year, but the class is certainly not dead. The likely loss of the only viable Priest archetype in Dragon Priest, and what seems to be a fairly weak quest, left many pessimistic about the class’ chances of establishing itself in the Meta. But Lyra the Sunshard, equipped with a couple of trusty Radiant Elementals and Shadow Visions, had some other ideas.
While the aforementioned combo was predicted to be quite powerful, there was a lot of early hate for Lyra, which now seems to be completely unjustifiable. Even if a month passes and we see Priest fall out of the Meta, Lyra has proven to be an extremely strong card, and has fueled the emergence of a spell centric, Miracle Priest archetype.
There are two main approaches for Miracle Priest. The first one is the combo version, which looks to draw as aggressively as possible and finish games off with Divine Spirit/Inner Fire. Shadow Visions really help with the consistency of the deck by fishing out key pieces when they are necessary. The second approach is the value version, which looks to prolong the game, grind out the opponent, and takes advantage of the synergy between Elise the Trailblazer and Shadow Visions, with the latter’s role being to discover the Un’Goro pack after Elise is played.
The second popular Priest archetype is the fabled Unicorn Silence Priest, with a card like Humongous Razorleaf elevating the archetype into playability. While the deck still doesn’t seem to be fully fleshed out, it’s most certainly made a mark with Seven piloting his take on the archetype to top 10 legend.
While Dragon Priest did lose most of its Dragon shell, Drakonid Operative remains one of the most powerful cards in the entire game, and decks surrounding it continue to see play and success. Primordial Drake and Shadow Visions have come in and helped fill the newly opened slots, and the gameplan remains mostly the same. TerrenceM had some immediate success with the archetype in the opening days, while Machamp and Gcttirth have taken the archetype to high legend spots.
Kazakus decks are also undergoing experimentation. Both TerrenceM and Zetalot have had success hitting legend and taking different builds into high legend ladder. Neither build sports the new Priest Quest, that so far has unfortunately proven to be far too slow. VLPS took a simple midrange style Deathrattle Priest build into legend, as cards like Tortollan Shellraiser and Crystalline Oracle prove to be as strong as most predicted they would.
- Priest Class Radar
- J4ckieChan’s Miracle Combo Priest
- Zetalot’s Miracle Combo Priest
- StanCifka’s Miracle Value Priest
- Tictac’s Miracle Value Priest
- Seven’s Silence Priest
- Kolento’s Silence Priest
- Gcttrith’s Dragon Priest
- Machamp’s Dragon Priest
- VLPS’ Deathrattle Priest
- Zetalot’s Kazakus N’Zoth Priest
- TerrenceM’s Kazakus N’Zoth Priest
Shaman finds itself in a spot it hasn’t been in for a very long time. It is one of the least played classes in the game. Losing Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem means the class no longer has a strong early game, forcing it to look into alternative playstyles, with the Elemental tribe being the first and most obvious path.
Much iteration of Elemental Shamans has been tested, but as time went on, none of them have seen widespread success in a ladder environment. BoarControl’s build includes both Jade and Pirate packages, with Jade Claws and Jade Lightning being extremely powerful removal tools, and the Pirates providing the deck with a more consistent early game. Bloodlust, as well as a couple of higher value minions, could replace the pirates in order improve matchups against control.
Jade Shaman is still around, though in much fewer numbers. Weghuz hit Rank #4 Legend on EU sporting a build that packs a ton of AOE, including two Volcanos, in order to swing the board back in the Shaman’s favor since its passive early game means it will likely fall behind on board. With the loss of Azure Drake, the build opts for Far Sight as a source of card draw, and interestingly utilizes Spirit Echo as a value engine. Spirit Echo has great synergy with Jade Golems, since playing it with Jade generators on the board will further fuel the mechanic’s potential into the late game.
Aggro Shaman has also been lurking and taking on new forms. While the old style Lava Burst/Flamewreathed Faceless build is still around in very small numbers, a different, token based approach has begun to gain traction as a result of Nagon hitting rank #1 legend with Abar’s Aggro Token Shaman build, with which multiple players hit top 10 legend. This deck plays similarly to Token Druid, by flooding the board early and leveraging the board advantage into burst damage to finish the game with Bloodlust. The deck has a pretty sizeable Jade package, since Jade Spirit and Aya Blackpaw work well with the deck’s win condition, and the scaling golems give the build some longevity. J4ckieChan has been experimenting with a different take that utilizes the Finja package and Call in the Finishers, but doesn’t include the Unite the Murlocs quest. Outside of the very early days of the expansion, Megafin has been largely abandoned.
- Shaman Class Radar
- BoarControl’s Elemental Shaman
- Weghuz’ Jade Shaman
- Abar’s Aggro Token Shaman
- J4ckieChan’s Aggro Murloc Shaman
Who predicted that Warlock would be the least played class in the game two weeks after Un’Goro’s launch? Probably no one, yet here we are. While the class has received new and interesting tools in Un’Goro, it lost a lot more. Zoo lost Imp Gang Boss, Power Overwhelming and Dark Peddler, which were extremely powerful cards for the archetype. Potential Control Warlock archetypes lost these cards, as well as Reno, which means their ability to heal and recover is very limited. This put a dent on Handlock’s ability to establish itself with significant numbers.
Still, individual success with the class has been found, with Zananananan, one of the more accomplished Zoo Warlock players, hitting top 5 legend on EU with a build that utilizes Ravenous Pterrordax and one Devilsaur Egg.
WtyBill hit top 20 legend on NA with his version of Handlock, which boasts two Spellbreakers and two Faceless Manipulators and no Siphon Soul, heavily leveraging a board advantage to win a game quickly.
One new Warlock archetype that has been seeing some experimentation is Doomlock. This deck is based around the synergy between Doom and Bloodbloom, which Stancifka used in his lineup in Throne of Cards IV. The deck mainly plays a control game and looks to outvalue opponents through Jaraxxus and Medivh.
Uther has been waiting one year for this moment, the moment when his portrait would be feared once again across The Innkeeper’s Tavern. He’s ready to unleash bloodthirsty Murlocs upon all the heretics, while spamming emotes of “WELL MET!” and “THANK YOU” in the process, BM’ing his opponent into submission. Just like in the good ol’ days.
We conclude that Midrange Paladin is an extremely powerful deck, one of the strongest in the game.
We also conclude that Murloc Paladin is the absolute best deck in the game based on its power level trends and the Meta it is facing. Soon enough, it may unseat Pirate Warrior off its throne and usher a new age of MRGLMRGLMRGL.
Only one question remains open.
Are we entering a Crab Meta?
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