vS Data Reaper Report #47

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from over 88,000 games.

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Welcome to the 47th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,600 active contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.

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

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Number of Games

Overall 88,500
Legend <500
Ranks 1-5 13,000
Ranks 6-10 21,000
Ranks 11-15 33,500

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency by Day

Class Frequency by Week

Journey to Un’Goro is a golden age for Hearthstone. Nearly every class is seeing a fair amount of play, and there is no class or archetype that dominates the field. Potential opponents are very diverse, and you can’t really tell what you’re playing against when the opponent’s class is revealed. We’re only left admiring the frequency bars that show how close classes are to each other in terms of play rates. Compare it to the Karazhan or Gadgetzan days and it looks like a different game.

Druid is pulling slightly ahead at higher levels of play (Remember, this is early in the month), with Token Druid being the only archetype that has a play rate that exceeds 10%. Jade Druid also has a fair bit of representation. Token Druid is very well positioned in the Meta and is a very flexible deck to build, while Jade Druid has been performing quite well since it finished its post-Un’Goro refinement stage.

Warrior is still a very popular class at low levels, but it’s been a while since it was the most popular class at the top end of ladder. Taunt Warrior is a strong archetype but the Meta has caught up to it and exposed some of its weaknesses, leading to its decline. Pirate Warrior is being controlled by numerous counter decks that can deal with it fairly well, so it’s not likely to spin out of control.

Paladin is seeing a slight uptick in play, with three different archetypes having a fair amount of representation. Murloc Paladin is more powerful against the rest of the field, and it has an advantage in the mirror matchups due to its early game consistency. Midrange Paladin’s numbers have stagnated somewhat, and this is likely due to the decline in Taunt Warrior, one of the deck’s best matchups. What keeps Control Paladin very relevant is its superb matchup against Token Druid (a difficult challenge for the faster Paladin decks) due to its ability to shut down its early game with a Doomsayer, its access to an early, cheaper board clear with Pyro/Equality, as well as its superior recovery tools.

Mage is a close 3rd in class popularity at ranks 5-1, and we’re seeing the Secret Mage archetype grow as a result of some very impressive results that the archetype has achieved at the top legend ladder this week. We’ve said since the beginning of this expansion that Secret Mage is a hidden gem, and it looks like the secret is out, finally. The archetype’s prevalence is continuing to rise on a very steep curve, and it looks like it’s about to explode and trickle down to all levels of play.

Rogue’s numbers have stabilized after its sharp decline from the beginning of the expansion. Crystal Rogue is seeing slightly more play at the top end of ladder which correlates with the performance levels we’ve observed for the archetype for the last couple of weeks. Miracle Rogue is continuing to shrink in size and is now a relatively niche ladder deck. It’s unlikely that the class will grow in popularity due to the prevalence of Token Druid, and the class’ future prospect may be even less optimistic than that. If Secret Mage continues to rise in play, it will be another brutal matchup that Crystal Rogue will have to run into quite often, and you do not want to run into Secret Mage when you’re playing Rogue!

Priest is another class that looks very diverse, with three different archetypes having similar play rates. Silence Priest has pulled ahead at higher levels of play due to the amount of success it has had recently, which we’ve discussed last week. It’s continuing to steadily rise in play, and while it’s unlikely to become a dominant archetype, it will be relevant on ladder going forward as it has some really strong matchups, most notably Jade Druid.

Hunter has firmly established itself as the new players’ class. Midrange Hunter is very cheap to craft and legendaries are not really required for it to be competitive, so it’s very popular at low levels of play. At the top end of ladder, it definitely hits a wall, and you see its numbers drastically drop. Still, Midrange Hunter is not a weak archetype, it has a fairly balanced matchup spread and its builds can be very flexible. It’s just not at the very top of the Meta.

Shaman appears to be a fractured class. It has many different archetypes seeing play but with low numbers, while nothing seems to really stick and gain traction. It might be that nothing comes out from the experiments and Shaman remains a niche class, but something could work out, resulting in a strong archetype being established on ladder. It’s hard to say.

At the altar of Un’Goro, Gul’dan was sacrificed to the titans, while the eight other classes were having a Meta party. His sacrifice was not in vain. May Warlock rest in peace for the next three months. Probably.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

Note: Since it’s early in the month, we’ve applied legend win rates to the ranks 5-1 table in order to best capture the power levels of decks at higher levels of play, since the sample size at legend is still too small to build a reliable frequency chart. The numbers in the 5-1 table are being compared to last week’s legend table. Notice that there is an overall deflation in win rates compared to last week as a result of the Meta being highly competitive at the bottleneck to legend.

Journey to Un’Goro continues to surprise us on a weekly basis. We have a new archetype that we can consider to be the strongest in the field, and it’s none other than Secret Mage. The archetype has been performing well according to our metrics since very early on in the expansion, and we were wondering how long it will take for the top players to catch up and start working on refining its build. It appears that they have done just that. With multiple players reaching high legend placements over the past week, it’s now receiving more attention, and that has done little to hurt its performance (so far). It has shot up and surpassed the very best decks in the game, and it is the only deck that exhibits a win rate that exceeds 52% at higher levels of play. It appears to have very few weaknesses, with the Paladin class looking like a soft counter. Expect to see more of this deck going forward, and it will be interesting to see how the Meta responds to its rise as well as how the deck performs once it becomes a little more predictable. Meanwhile, Burn Mage continues to exhibit impressive numbers and versatility, and is definitely one of the strongest decks in the game. Mage looks like a very powerful class.

Murloc Paladin is feeling the bites of Hungry Crabs, but that’s not enough to make it drop off the top of the Meta. Midrange Paladin is lagging behind due to the drop in the numbers of Taunt Warriors, as well as its poor matchup in the mirror against Murloc Paladin. The deck is also inferior to its aggressive counterpart in the matchups with Crystal Rogue and Burn Mage, where exerting early game pressure is very important. Control Paladin also looks like a decent ladder choice, though its strength against the field is more Meta dependent and can blow hot and cold.

Token Druid’s rise in popularity aligns with a rise in its win rate as a result of Taunt Warrior’s decline, but Token Druid is not in danger of taking over the game due to how hard it can get countered by control decks. Some players, for example, have found success early in the month with Control Paladin by taking advantage of the excessive number of Token Druids that were present. Decks with clear and cut answers that are effective against them is a recurring theme of the expansion, which is one of the reasons why the Meta is as balanced and as diverse as it is.

Crystal Rogue is struggling to stay at the upper tier due to the hostility of the Meta towards it, and if Secret Mage becomes the breakout deck for this week, things might get worse for the archetype. Secrets like Counterspell, Spellbender and even Potion of Polymorph can just end games on the spot, and the Mage’s aggressive curve and direct damage is capable of mounting unbearable pressure on the Rogue’s life total before it can stabilize or execute its game plan. Miracle Rogue, of course, gets caught in the crossfire, and since its win condition is far slower, its position in the Meta is generally weaker.

Silence Priest has lowered its head a bit as its entrance into the Meta has certainly generated a response against it. However, it’s still performing quite well against the field and there is individual success with it at the very top end of ladder, so we’ll have to wait and see how the legend Meta stabilizes this month. The archetype’s effectiveness against Jade Druid is highly valued in the competitive scene, so expect it to be very relevant going forward. Dragon Priest appears to be an inferior choice while Miracle Priest has sunk into the dumpster. However, Miracle Priest does have an excuse, for now. Many of the builds that are being run focus on value and a playstyle that is grindy, reactive and slow. There is quite a bit of success with Miracle Priest builds that focus on a faster win condition built around Divine Spirit/Inner Fire, much like Silence Priest. If Miracle Priest moves in that direction, its performance against the field could improve.

Hunter remains a solid yet unspectacular choice, while the experiments in Shaman archetypes do not appear to be bearing fruit at the moment, and the class might be falling deeper behind the rest of the pack. The aggressive, Bloodlust fueled Shamans, however, maintain a pretty respectable record against the field and we still think they merit more play than what they’re getting.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Druid is establishing itself as the most popular class at the highest levels of play on ladder, while also being fairly common and impressive in the tournament scene. Token Druid has been one of the staple top Meta decks for a while, while Jade Druid has been putting on a dominating performance in the CN vs. EU tournament, and many players agree that it is a deck to be feared.

With its ability to outlast control decks, and an improved performance against aggressive decks due to its plethora of armor gain and the addition of some very powerful neutral cards, Jade Druid might be stronger than it’s ever been since the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. The JustSaiyan build remains the standard choice, with two Primordial Drakes alleviating one of the class’ prime weaknesses in lacking strong AOE. Tar Creeper helps fill the curve at the 3 slot and stem aggression, while Gluttonous Ooze is very strong in the current Meta due to the prevalence of Warriors, Paladins and Medivh wielding Mages. An alternative build swaps the 3 drops for Druids of the Claw.

Token Druid is no slouch either, and is the most popular deck in the game from rank 5 onwards. Outside of the deck’s natural strength of flooding the board and buffing them out of removal range, cards such as Innervate, Vicious Fledgling and Finja give it huge potential for instant blowouts. The deck is very comfortable running into aggressive mirrors as a result, and thrives in a Meta that is low on AOE spells. Torlk hit #1 legend early this month with a build that drops the Finja package and runs Bittertide Hydras and Genzo the Shark instead, which might be worth considering if you’re running into a lot of Hungry Crabs and/or the Meta you’re encountering is slower.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Paladin is exhibiting diversity and success in multiple forms, perhaps eclipsing all other classes in that regard. Whether you’re busy getting your Mrgl on or controlling board states while generating late game value, chances are you’re having a pretty swell time being a champion of the light these days.

Murloc Paladin is pretty much the closest thing we have to a Meta tyrant, though it can be targeted and teched against which keeps it in check from going out of control. The archetype is pretty much solved at this point, with just a few flex slots available in the deck for your own personal tastes and/or local Meta. Most builds are of the hybrid kind that tops at Tirion, rather than being pure aggro decks, with some even playing Stonehill Defenders which helps the deck last well into the late game. You will lose the occasional match against a Hungry Crab wielding opponent, but even with all the hate towards the tribe recently, the archetype’s performance against the field is still very impressive.

Midrange Paladin is also murloc-based, but runs a more modest package and has an array of defensive tools in its arsenal such as Aldor Peacekeeper and Equality. While it’s capable of very aggressive starts, it is usually comfortable going into an extended late game plan and grinding out opponents with value. Murloc Tidecaller has established itself as a standard 1-drop in Midrange as it increases the consistency of having explosive starts with Rockpool Hunter along with Vilefin Inquistor. The main advantage of Midrange over pure Murloc is the control matchups, such as Taunt Warrior, while in other matchups where you’d rather be faster and more proactive, such as Rogue, Murloc Paladin is a better choice.

Control Paladin is the most defensive archetype of the three and specializes in beating more aggressive decks by exhausting them out of resources. Doomsayer, Wild Pyromancer, and Forbidden Healing replace any kind of proactive early game strategy, with the purpose of strictly stalling to your late game value engines (Which could be N’Zoth, Elise or the Curator).

Data Reaper Report - Mage

There is very little doubt that Mage is one of the strongest and most versatile classes in the game. It has numerous viable archetypes, with the most prominent ones being Burn, Freeze and Secret. The most popular Mage deck at the moment is the PsyGuenther Burn Mage variant, with multiple players achieving top ladder finishes with it last month, as well as performing well with it during the early days of May. The power of the deck lies in its flexibility, as it is capable of reaching victory through different paths. It is also very flexible in its tech choices. A good example is some players running two Volcanic Potions in order to combat Token Druids, while other players are experimenting with Pyros as a high value card that performs well in the difficult Jade Druid matchup. Needless to say; Burn Mage is an absolute powerhouse in the tournament scene as a result.

Secret Mage has been performing extremely well for weeks yet has remained underplayed and under the radars of most players. These days appear to be over, as the archetype has broken through and achieved some tremendous ladder success over the past week. Puksin hit #2 legend with an Ethereal Arcanist build that runs Yogg and a multitude of different secrets, though the build that has really spread all over the legend ladder comes from Sytrax. His list took him to rank #4 legend, while Sveiks took the same list to the #1 legend spot, with many other players climbing to the top legend ladder with the deck. This build has a very consistent curve and focuses on the secrets that guarantee you tempo, Mirror Entity and Counterspell. It could be a reasonable strategy to mix the secrets up in order to be unpredictable and force inefficient plays from your opponent, and certain secrets might be stronger depending on the Meta (Spellbender is pretty strong against Paladins and Rogues, for example, while Mirror Entity becomes much worse in a Doomsayer Meta), but Mirror Entity and Counterspell are the most consistent choices if you’re not targeting anything specific and want to snowball a board advantage.

There are also other experimentations being done with the class. Some players are utilizing a slower Secret Mage deck that tops at Medivh and cuts Lackeys, sacrificing some of the early game consistency for late game longevity. Tempo Mage is also a deck that is around in very small numbers; with Lektron hitting legend early in the month utilizing a build that runs two secrets simply for the sake of enabling Arcanologist, one of the strongest Un’Goro cards and a main driver of the class’ success.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Warrior remains an extremely popular class but it’s relatively stagnant compared to the various new strategies that keep springing up for other classes. Warrior has none of these, having largely been solved as a class as early as the first week.

Taunt Warrior is still going strong, but simply isn’t very exciting and has thus been neglected by numerous major innovators. Lists, which were largely figured out as soon as the first week, have a very large proportion of core cards, with very few flex spots. Kolento’s Dirty Rat-free list remains among the best but depending on the Meta, tech choices can always be tinkered with. Common flex cards include: Armorsmith, Dirty Rat, Tar Creeper, Slam, Battle Rage, 2nd Brawl, Shield Block and Shield Slam.

Pirate Warrior is facing some challenges in a Meta that keeps it in check. Large numbers of Token Druids are bad news for the deck, while Burn Mage also does reasonably well against it. A potential rise in Control Paladins can also prove to be troublesome since Pirate Warrior very much prefers playing against the faster, Murloc based archetypes. In addition, Jade Druid, with its new anti-aggro tools, is now a fairly close matchup, so the Druid class being as popular as it is means Pirate Warrior does not have free reign. Even Crystal Rogue is attempting to gain a few percentages with the addition of Tol’vir Stoneshaper, though make no mistake, this is still a good matchup for the Pirate Warrior and a sharp increase in Rogues,  for whatever reason,  would be very good news for our eyepatch-wearing friends.

After a short flurry of activity among other Warrior archetypes, the flame has somewhat died again. Experiments are still being done with various Control Warrior archetypes but they haven’t gained any traction, while Tempo Warrior’s brief showing appears to be just that for now.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Rogue has been on a slow decline for a few weeks as the Meta becomes more hostile towards it. Crystal Rogue is forcing decks to become more proactive and possess the ability to kill it as soon as possible, and they are following suit. Token Druid in particular has established itself the most dominant counter to the archetype, and it’s very difficult for the Rogue to acquire effective counterplay against it. What we’ve observed is that Crystal Rogue is becoming a more common ladder choice in tandem with other decks, with the player queuing it up when he feels the field is more “forgiving”.

When playing Crystal Rogue, there are hands that you draw and find to be impossible to lose with, no matter what the opponent is. The ability to “nut draw” and completely dominate opponents at times could certainly be skewing perception with regards to the power level of the deck. Make no mistake, the deck is certainly strong, it’s just not a deck that is powerful in every situation and requires constant adaptation to the Meta, which makes it inferior to other archetypes. The most optimal plan is to tech your deck with cards that can shift popular, bad matchups into a more favorable spot.

An interesting innovation recently that was pioneered by Xixo adds Tol’vir Stoneshapers to the build. With Firefly, Glacial Shard and Igneous Elemental, there are certainly enough activators to proc its powerful battlecry. The drawback is that it’s an expensive card that doesn’t synergize with the deck after the completion to the quest. However, the deck’s main weakness in the current Meta is surviving before quest completion, which this card helps a lot with. It is also always a strong card to drop against all aggressive decks, rather than being a narrow tech choice such as Hungry Crab or Golakka Crawler that also requires good timing.

Rase hit #1 legend this month utilizing a line-up of decks that includes a Crystal Rogue (which, as we’ve said, seems to be the way to go with the archetype on ladder). His build is very similar to Rdu’s Doomsayer build, but cuts Wisps for Backstabs in order to further help the deck stem aggression.

Miracle Rogue seems to be in a worse spot. As a control counter, it is outclassed by Crystal Rogue, a deck that is much more dominant in any slow Meta that Miracle could potentially thrive in. This creates significant redundancy, as it’s hard to justify playing Miracle Rogue over it. In addition, Miracle Rogue has a pretty bad matchup in the Rogue mirror, because its win condition is much slower. Overall, the archetype finds itself lingering in relative mediocrity.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

The Priest stock market is shifting. Dragon and Miracle are dropping, while Silence Priest is on the rise. It’s interesting to note how the class has reacted to the different weeks of the Un’Goro Meta. In the beginning, the only fleshed-out archetype was Dragon, so it was seeing quite a bit of play, and succeeding in the early slow Meta. Then, aggressive decks came, and there was some individual success with the Miracle archetype. The deck was extremely exciting as Lyra showcased just how strong she could actually be. Then everyone started realizing that Lyra doesn’t really need a billion reactive spells to be successful, as she’s a fantastic complementary piece in just about all of the Priest builds.

In the background of all of this, was little old Unicorn Silence Priest. Its strong curve can often win games on the spot if your opponent doesn’t have the answers to your silence targets. The deck seems to be producing consistent results, with several players finishing in the top 100 with the deck last month, and Ostkaka hitting #1 legend with it this week. Each week it seems a different archetype becomes the new trend, but it appears that Silence Priest might be consistent enough to stick.

Dragon Priest still performs well in the correct pocket Meta, with Meati recently hitting top 10 legend with the archetype.

Miracle Priest seems to be in a worse spot, though it may have to do with its standard builds being slow and value oriented. Sjoesie hit top 10 legend with a build that, much like Silence Priest, utilizes the Divine Spirit/Inner Fire combo as a faster win condition that enables a more proactive game plan that can be quite threatening to opponents. Titan hit legend piloting a deck with a similar combo concept but features an Elemental shell complementing its primary win conditions of DS/IF, Lyra and Elise. Whatever Priest deck it is, it seems like Divine Spirit and Inner Fire are important pieces for the class to enjoy consistent success on ladder at the moment, rather than utilizing a slow and reactive playstyle.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Hunter builds are becoming increasingly stable, especially since at the beginning of the new season, many players decided to try out and improve on the more complicated decks in the Meta, leaving Hunter in a more stale state.

NickChipper is continuing to tweak his build of Midrange Hunter, with his latest list once again including Shaky Zipgunners. The Zipgunners can provide a ton of tempo for turn four if you miss out on a Houndmaster draw. Alongside the inclusion of Volcanosaur in the build, they make the deck perform better against control, but worse against aggro. Another trend in the build that is beginning to be more common across Hunter decks is having only one Tundra Rhino. Drawing both the Rhinos can be really awkward, as they serve a specific purpose rather than being a generally strong card, so usually only one is needed, though some will still keep two due to how powerful the card is in the Paladin matchup.

If you are seeing lots of Token Druids, Pirate Warriors and Crystal Rogues, then FreddyKuhl’s hybrid build is the way to go, while Xzirez’s list is a strong shell which is less tilted towards beating either control or aggro.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Other than Warlock, Shaman might be the class that’s falling behind the rest of the Meta. No archetypes have firmly established themselves to boast significant usage on ladder. Shaman does have some good tools that can fuel aggressive variants as well as defensive ones, but we have yet to see a consistent list that has really made its mark.

Most Shamans are trying to incorporate the Elemental package in some capacity. We’ve seen builds that add the Jade package to complement an Elemental package, but Dwayna’s list, with which he used on his legend climb this month, omits the Jade cards for different forms of removal. Fire Plume Phoenix helps shore up the curve into Servant of Kalimos, while Lightning Bolt, which has been missing from most lists, is also included.

The key weakness of slower Shaman builds, whether they are Elemental, Jade or Control, is their inability to exert early game pressure. Taunt Warrior, Jade Druid, Crystal Rogue and Burn Mage are happy to sit back and execute their game plans at a steady pace, while Shaman doesn’t really have the tools to throw them off balance. While some card choices could help alleviate specific matchups, it’s not enough to erase the inherent disadvantages of the class.

The one archetype that does seem to be performing well despite having fairly low usage is Aggro Shaman. Focused on leveraging Tokens with Bloodlust rather than relying on the power of over-statted minions, this archetype is capable of developing a lot of pressure in the early game that can punish opponents who cannot clean up the board in a timely manner.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock appears to be a barren wasteland. The class’ play rates are at all-time lows that match Hunter during the Gadgetzan era and it’s been very difficult to find anyone doing anything remotely well with the deck.

There is one janky development, and that is Ponta hitting top 15 legend this month with a Discard Handlock build. This build runs Twilight Drakes, Mountain Giants, as well as Doomguards and Lakkari Felhounds, to make for a very strange hybrid deck that doesn’t really spell “synergy”. This is the only development we can find regarding the class for the past week, and it might be worth a shot if you want to cause your opponent to concede in confusion, if they aren’t already confused enough because you’re playing Warlock.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

The Journey to Un’Goro Meta is far from being figured out, and it seems like there’s a twist and turn every day. Secret Mage has finally broken out in its usage on ladder, and it is displaying the strongest win rate recorded at higher levels of play. Most of this rise can be attributed to Sytrax’ build, which has a very consistent curve. Secret choices might change depending on the Meta, but Mirror Entity and Counterspell are a good neutral starting point.

This deck is all about tempo. The ability to cheat out secrets at 0 mana cost is very powerful and shores up the prime weakness of the Mage’s expensive secrets. In addition, playing secrets reduces the cost of your Kabal Crystal Runners, resulting in even more tempo gain. The Crystal Runners are particularly powerful cards, and prove once again that minions with the ability to be played at a discount, much like Thing From Below and Arcane Giant, have the potential to be Meta defining.

Puksin’s build runs a larger and more unpredictable package of secrets in addition to Ethereal Arcanists that provide snowballing mid-game threats at the 4 mana slot. There are also builds seeing success at the tournament scene that drop the Kabal Lackeys for a bit more late game power through Medivh, playing similarly to Burn Mage without the reactive cards. There is a lot of room to be explored with the archetype, which is already powerful enough to launch itself towards the top of the Meta.

What is the best way to deal with Secret Mage? Murloc and Control Paladin appear to do fairly well, though the deck doesn’t really have a terrible matchup at the moment. Its matchup spread is fairly balanced, and its most polarized matchup is the misery it dishes out to Crystal Rogue.

It’s just a bit of a shame that Eater of Secrets isn’t a crab.

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,600 active contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.

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  1. I have some dust and I am thinking in craftar finja for complete token druid and murlock paladin or complete The secret mage. What you guys think it’s better?

    • I’d go with Finja. I usually prefer crafting non class cards, since those can be more flexible.

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