vS Data Reaper Report #53

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from over 55,000 games.

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Welcome to the 53rd edition of the Data Reaper Report!

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has 2,500 active contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help. If you’d like to sign up to share your game data with us, click here.

For your convenience this report has been translated into 한국어.

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

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 Number of Games

Overall 55,000
Legend 5,000
Ranks 1-5 18,000
Ranks 6-10 15,000
Ranks 11-15 12,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency by Day

Class Frequency by Week

Class Frequency Discussion

Rogue, Rogue, Rogue. This is the answer to many questions that will rise from the data we’ve collected over the past week. Crystal Rogue’s numbers at legend have increased further and it has become the most popular deck at higher levels of play, a stark contrast from its numbers at the bottleneck to legend. Rogue’s numbers are a response to slow decks that attempted to battle the two popular board flooding archetypes of Shaman and Druid. Control Priest is the best example, as it has skyrocketed in its popularity at legend on the back of individual success from several players. Whenever a control deck rises in play, there is an immediate rise of Rogues to counter it.

Priest is undergoing many changes. Miracle Priest’s two sub-archetypes, the Control variant and the Combo variant, have moved away from each other enough for us to reliably separate. Of course, the class is still in transition and could go through further changes that will require us to make additional updates to our recognition algorithm. As always, we will respond accordingly to any changes in card usage patterns that could re-define archetypes.

Token Druid’s numbers at legend have dropped by almost a third. It is still very popular, but we’ve already seen it’s been heavily targeted by the meta, and based on its performance against the field over the past few weeks, it was clearly overplayed. This decline is mirrored at all levels of play and should, in theory, further encourage Rogues to run amok.

At the bottleneck to legend, Token Shaman is now the most popular deck in the game. However, at legend ranks, its numbers significantly drop. This is consistent with last week’s results, and is likely due to the presence of Freeze Mage at higher levels of play, which is a crippling counter to this archetype. Meanwhile, the Jade and Elemental Shaman clusters are merging into one Midrange unit. There is a movement away from a commitment to one synergistic strategy. Both of these archetypes have failed to establish more than a niche ladder presence, so we’re not surprised at this development.

Most other classes have remained steady, with little movement in their frequency patterns. Paladin is getting faster, with the Murloc archetype becoming more common. Pirate Warrior is seeing a slight uptick in play at legend. Mage has become the most popular class at the bottleneck to legend, but that is more to do with the decline in Druids rather than a rise in its play. Hunter continues to go through the motions, while Warlock still looks like a dead class.

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vS Power Rankings Discussion

Is the Journey to Un’Goro meta losing its balance? It appears to be the case, and the primary culprit is Crystal Rogue. Its overbearing presence at the highest levels of play is crippling some decks while enabling some of its aggressive counters. Crystal Rogue is not dominating the game, but it’s definitely getting stronger across all levels of play, is exhibiting a pretty high skill cap according to our metrics, and is greatly benefitting from Token Druid’s decline in play, another important factor affecting the power levels of all the current meta decks.

Pirate Warrior is the biggest winner this week, benefiting from both the fall of Druid and the rise of Rogue, and is nearing an astonishing 55% win rate at legend. At the moment, it appears to have blown away the competition and is clearly the best deck in the game once you ding the golden rank, after being an also-ran for most of the Un’Goro timeline. It’s probably a good time to start paying attention to this deck. We’ve almost forgotten how good it can be, and it is particularly dangerous when it’s not accounted for.

Two additional winners from the latest trends are Murloc and Midrange Paladin. The decline in Token Druid has resulted in the decline in play of Hungry Crabs, which means these archetypes can now breathe easier. Both have experienced increases in their scores across all levels of play, and it’s very possible that a rise in their play rates could follow. However, these decks struggle against Pirate Warrior, so this archetype could end up canceling out any advantage they’re getting at the moment if its gets more popular. Meanwhile, Control Paladin is enduring the opposite effect on its win rate, since Token Druid is one of its best matchups while Rogue is a huge struggle.

Mage has received a lot of focus from the meta and all of its archetypes have seen declines in their win rates. Even so, Mage is still the strongest class in the game, and it’s stronger at legend due to how well its archetypes match up with Rogue relative to other classes. Freeze Mage also appears to be the most skill-intensive deck in the game based on our metrics, and is very rewarding should you learn to master it. One of the things Freeze Mage has successfully done is halt Token Shaman and Token Druid’s growth, and this can also be observed in the win rate of these decks at legend. Even though its presence is small, Freeze Mage is so dominant in these matchups that it matters quite a bit. Just watch out for those pesky Priests and Jade Druids.

We can understand why Control Priest has seen some success over the past couple of weeks. It does well against Token Druid, which was the most dominant deck in the meta for a long time, and is also a hard counter to Freeze Mage, which has been very popular at the top legend ranks due to the prevalence of token decks. However, the rise in Priest has brought about the rise in Rogue, which has a crippling effect on the performance of Priest. We’re already beginning to see Priest decline in play over the past couple of days, and we expect that to continue towards the end of the month. Things do not look very good for the archetype moving forward; it just can’t seem to perform well against the meta on a consistent basis. It’s a bit too early to say anything about its Combo-centric cousin, which is seeing far less play, but it doesn’t appear to be doing great either.

Midrange Hunter has improved its win rate across all levels of play, which can be attributed to the rise of Rogue, but its biggest problem is that it doesn’t really beat anything else and it’s a deck that’s hard to min-max at higher levels of play, so it continues to be mostly ignored for better alternatives.

Within the somewhat bleaker power ranking table, a unicorn being ridden by a murloc appears. You’re not imagining things: there is a Warlock deck that’s displaying a power level that is quite competitive and even surpasses a 50% win rate at legend. Now, we will be cautious and say that under normal circumstances, a deck with such a low play rate would not be included in this table. However, Murloc Warlock has consistently been improving on a weekly basis, and it has made another jump in its performance this week to put it within the meta decks. There are two builds for the archetype, the popular one uses Doomguard and the less common one plays Sea Giants. It is possible that should this deck rise in play, its win rate will end up crashing down, since it’s something that can happen with decks that have such low play rates. But, what if it doesn’t? Mrgling intensifies.

Interestingly, even though we’re very deep into the Un’Goro timeline, there are other archetypes that see little play, but have potential to be competitive. Elemental Paladin looks quite decent, with a similar power level to that of the normal Control Paladin. Tempo Water Rogue could very well be stronger than Miracle Rogue with a bit more refinement and care, considering the Auctioneer-driven archetype has seen quite the crash in its performance this week. Control Warrior has also gone through a lot of development lately with recent N’Zoth builds, and we maintain it could definitely be stronger than Taunt Warrior. Ramp Druid has woken from its slumber and is showing potential and improvement every week. It is an archetype that emerged early in the Un’Goro days and died out, but has recently been showing signs of life. Late bloomers are certainly a possibility, and what holds back some of these decks from seeing more play might be redundancy rather than anything else.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Freeze Mage has greatly influenced the popularity of decks at the highest levels of play due to its suppressive effect on Token Shaman. Laughing’s list, which includes Eater of Secrets for the mirror matchup with Burn Mage, remains the standard list. StrifeCro recently hit rank 1 legend with an impressive 11-0 run on stream with the deck. Portia hit top 10 legend with a hybrid Freeze Mage list that cuts some of the cycle to add the value late game package of Fireland’s Portals and Medivh. This helps the archetype against some of its difficult matchups, such as Jade Druid and Control Priest, decks that pack healing or armor gain to counter the Freeze Mage’s primary strategy of Alex followed by direct damage to the face.

Burn Mage remains the most popular Mage deck at all levels of play, and is a favorite for many players due to its flexibility. Its ability to adjust to a rapidly changing meta sets it apart to some degree from the two other Mage decks, as a change in its tech choices can significantly alter its performance against the field. This propels it to be the most popular Mage deck in tournament formats as well. Most builds are similar to the GeorgeC or Muzzy list, with GeorgeC’s list shedding the random value cards of Babbling Book and Kabal Courier for specific tech choices.

While Secret Mage continues to do well on ladder, its presence in the tournament scene is relatively small due to its matchup spread not translating well to the most popular line ups. It’s an aggressive deck that can struggle against some other aggressive strategies, and while it doesn’t have a significantly weak matchup, there aren’t many decks it truly dominates. Even so, it’s a great ladder deck to climb with if you’re not looking to counter a specific strategy and just want to maintain a solid win rate against a diverse field of opponents.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Token Druid and Jade Druid have an odd synergy, strengthening each other by each deck beating the other’s counters. Freeze Mage and Taunt Warrior do very well against Token Druid, but get run over by Jade Druid. Likewise, Jade Druid struggles against Crystal Rogue and Murloc Paladin, which Token Druid beats. With that in mind, there has been an increase in Rogue play at legend. Token Druids, being the primary predator of Rogues, could benefit from the favored matchup. In turn, many decks that prey on Token Druids will have their shot. This is when Jade Druid can come in, collect the wins and continue the cycle.

Feno’s Token Druid build with Bittertide Hydras and Genzo will do well against Crystal Rogue and perform better against control decks that look to counter Token Druid. On the other hand, the Finja version can be very strong in aggressive and midrange matchups due to the swing potential it offers in the mid-game. With the reduced presence of Murloc Paladins, the meta may not be so heavy with Hungry Crabs as well, which was the biggest factor in the shift towards the Hydra builds a few weeks ago. There is also an option to cut some of the early game cards, such as Hungry Crab or Golakka Crawler, for Shellshifter and/or Druid of the Claw, for a different boost in mid-game power.

If you’re interested in playing a different Druid deck, perhaps a BIG Druid deck, look no further than Ramp Druid. This deck is similar to early Un’Goro iterations which attempt to cheese games by dropping big minions on the board on turns they have no business being on the board. This is with the help of the normal ramp, Barnes and Giant Anaconda. Ostkaka included a list that’s one card off this one (dropping one Anaconda for an Ancient of War) in his line up at the Titanar qualifier, and did quite well with it.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Token Shaman is now the most popular deck in the game and your most common opponent at the bottleneck to legend. Interestingly, its presence is reduced at legend, likely due to the meta targeting it relentlessly with the rise of Freeze Mage at higher levels of play. This is the deck’s most difficult matchup.

Even so, this archetype has now firmly established itself as one of the pillars of the current standard metagame. The archetype is also the least diverse in terms of card usage, with the majority of players using exactly the same list of 30 cards. Very few people want to tinker with a list that is already doing so well, and there’s a good reason for that. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

Midrange Shaman is in a different state. It is an archetype with a much more diverse set of synergies, and is under a lot of experimentation. Some players run a full Jade package, others utilize a full Elemental package, and others run hybrids of these two approaches. Hotform’s Jade/Elemental list, which he used to hit legend a little over a week ago, tries to take the best out of both worlds. This approach has recently become more popular, and focuses on running “good cards” rather than trying to overcommit to one synergy. Slow and conditional cards which are popular in Jade lists, such as Spirit Echo and Jade Chieftain, are excluded. Similarly, Servant of Kalimos and Tol’vir Stoneshaper are also missing due to the inconsistency in activating them on curve. Both Jade builds, and Elemental builds, have failed to establish themselves on ladder for quite a while.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Pirate Warrior could well be, for the first time in Un’Goro, the best deck in the game. It has bad matchups against Token Shaman and Token Druid, but decent to good matchups against everything else, especially Rogue. With a sharp rise in Rogue at legend, it might be a good time for players to dust off the old Rusty Hook and beat some Rogues into submission. The standard list remains the same, but Rookie managed to hit #1 legend with a list packing two copies of Bittertide Hydras and a Fire Fly, at the cost of Naga Corsair, Mortal Strike and, most interestingly, Leeroy Jenkins.

It’s remarkable how profoundly different Taunt Warrior and Pirate Warrior are in terms of matchups. While Pirate Warrior is held back by its matchups against Token Shaman and Token Druid, Taunt Warrior is saved by them. Since the token decks don’t make up most of the meta, Taunt Warrior is overall a worse deck than Pirate Warrior, but in certain pocket metas that are dominated by these token decks, Taunt Warrior can really thrive.

There’s a small stir in the Control Warrior camp again, with Titan hitting #3 legend with his N’Zoth build containing all sorts of interesting cards such as Doomsayer, Twilight Summoner and Grimestreet Informant. Thijs has also had success this week at the legend ladder with NaviOOT’s build. Time is running out for Control Warrior to establish itself as a serious contender, but it’s not for want of trying.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

It’s a strange week in the world of Paladin. The class continues to have 3 solid archetypes near the top of the tier list, but hasn’t seen any real iteration or innovation in weeks – until now. No one really expected the innovation to come in the form of the revival of an archetype that has been dormant since the opening weeks of the Un’Goro meta, Elemental Paladin.

When we last saw it, Elemental Paladin was a midrange deck trying to outpace and out-pressure its opponents relying on handbuff synergy. That archetype was quickly overtaken by the far more powerful and consistent murloc-based versions. In contrast, the new Elemental lists are actually control-based (Doomsayer, Pyromancer+Equality) with the power of the elementals giving the deck long-term value as opposed to early board presence and on-curve hijinks. Hamakatsu reached top 10 legend with his take on the archetype. Why do the Elementals make sense in a class that wasn’t really given class specific synergy with the tribe? Since Ragnaros the Lightlord is an Elemental, you are very likely to be given the option to take it off Servant of Kalimos. Such are the joys of the discover mechanic, as already exhibited by Stonehill Defender.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Rogue has soared in its popularity on the legend ladder, with Crystal Rogue proving itself to be very powerful in the current meta, while also being effective as a counter-queue deck to respond to slower archetypes that look to beat aggression, such as Control Priest.

Meati hit #1 legend on EU with a build that brings back Wisps, which can be quite strong in the mirror matchup due to the ability to drop a 5/5 on the board upon quest completion. Just days before, Twink hit #1 legend on both servers using a list running Backstabs, with the omission of Stonetusk Boars being a common feature of the Backstab builds. Backstab is an important tech against aggressive decks, and might be stronger than Tar Creepers due to the ability to remove popular threats in the early game that sometimes beat Rogue by themselves as a result of its lack of removal, such as Mana Wyrm or Vicious Fledgling.

Gy0ng hit #4 legend playing a Razorpetal heavy version of Miracle Rogue, leaning on the Razorpetal and Evolved Kobold synergy that we saw in Rastafish’s Yogg Rogue featured last week. It adds back Arcane Giants, which do synergize with the large amount of spells available to the deck.

Water Rogue has made another significant step towards relevance on the back of Sudaka’s success with the archetype. His build took him to top 20 spots on two servers, which is a sign that this archetype could be a late bloomer in this expansion just like it was during MSG.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Priest has seen somewhat of a resurgence over the past week, with several players having a lot of success with it. Priest is the counter class to Freeze Mage, and with the archetype being quite popular at the highest levels of ladder play (in response to Token Shaman/Druid), Priest found a niche to thrive. Asmodai tuned his Control Priest to include single copies of Divine Spirit and Inner Fire, which can open a win condition in matchups the deck struggles against, such as Jade Druid and Crystal Rogue. This build took him to the #1 legend spot (until all the Rogues came and ruined his fun).

Another deck that hit #1 legend is Kolento’s Miracle Combo Priest, which was originally built by J4ckiechan and slightly altered. This deck sheds the late game value and focuses more on tempo and using the Divine Spirit/Inner Fire combo to finish the game early. Injured Blademaster makes a comeback, while Lightwarden also shows up and is a secondary win condition that can really go off if left untouched.

Priest innovation doesn’t stop there. Gcttirth took Sequinox’ Horror Control Priest to legend and other players such as Firebat started experimenting with it (though as of this moment, this build sees significantly less play than the Yagut/Asmodai control variants).

The deck is another example of how irreplaceable Shadow Visions is in the Priest landscape. How did Priest ever function without Shadow Visions in the past? With all of the mediocre, situational spells Priest is forced to run, Shadow Visions adds consistency to the class’ ability to combo two spells together. It is essentially a patch for the Priest class, making it run better than it ever had before. The build is pretty interesting, as the two Mind Controls will make you feel like you’re right back in 2014. Pint-Sized Potion is the prime enabler of the deck, both for AOE (Horror) and single target removal (Kabal Shadow Priest).

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Hunter continues its slow and depressing decline this week, with very few innovations in traditional midrange builds, no representation in the top sixteen of Dreamhack Summer, and play rates at legend approaching Warlock levels.

Even with its decline in play rate, Midrange Hunter is still a useful deck for new players to climb. Although the deck is certainly capable of hitting legend, you are better off switching to decks with less linear playstyles. The one reason you might want to consider using Hunter at legend is the massive prevalence of Crystal Rogues, nearly doubling the amount at ranks 5-1. However, Token Druid and Pirate Warrior have even better win rates against Rogue, so it’s hard to justify playing Hunter even in that situation.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock continues to hover at the very bottom of the Un’Goro food chain; however, the class has had its first noteworthy developments in recent memory. SkyWalker managed to pilot Murloc Warlock to legend while Ike achieved the same with an Elemental Warlock deck.

Skywalker’s Murloc Warlock includes a pirate package and two Sea Giants instead of Doomguards. While health is something Warlock is stingy to part with these days, Seadevil Stinger is an excellent card, and can provide a massive tempo swing when coupled with Finja or one of the 3-drop murlocs. While Murlock is not expected to elevate the class to the top of the meta, it might be a viable and competitive deck going forward. Time will tell.

Ike’s Elemental Warlock has a much higher curve, and carries more reactive spells and defensive tools. While Warlock has no great synergy with Elementals (other than Tar Lurker), its class minions are so weak that tribal synergies might well be the way to help carry the class to a playable state. The taunts in the deck help take the pressure off the Warlock’s life total, while a Curator package is also included, and is likely to draw you Alex, one of your big self heals.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

There are too many Rogues at the legend ladder, and we might need to make a deal with the devil to get rid of them. Equip your Arcanite Reapers, matey’s, for it is time to smack Valeera and Maiev, right in their fair elven faces.

Pirate Warrior looks really strong at the moment as a result of the decline in one of its biggest counters (Token Druid) as well as the rise of its biggest prey (Crystal Rogue). Unlike the token decks that give it trouble, it is far more resilient to defensive archetypes that pack AOE, since it can often get over the finishing line with the ridiculous amount of off-board damage it carries.

Now is the time to plunder ladder before Gluttonous Oozes and Golakka Crawlers start showing up in every deck again. Pirate Warrior has never been stronger during Journey to Un’Goro, save for perhaps the very first few days of the expansion.

Pirate Warrior

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