Welcome to the 54th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Note: This article was written and finalized before the announcement of the balance change to The Caverns Below, which will surely throw the meta into a loop once it goes live. Once it does, we will make the necessary adjustments to provide the post-patch picture.
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has 2,400 active contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.
Number of Games
Class Frequency by Day
Class Frequency by Week
Class Frequency Discussion
Rogue is showing two different trends in terms of its play rate. At lower levels, it’s rising in play. At legend, Rogue’s numbers have actually taken a step back. The driving force of these trends is Crystal Rogue, but we can see that Miracle Rogue’s numbers at legend have taken a significant hit as well. In addition to these two archetypes, we’re seeing small seeds of activity concerning Tempo Rogue decks. Some of them carry the Finja package, some of them carry Elementals, and some are just vanilla.
The Mage class has seen a slight uptick in play at legend which pushes it just above Druid in popularity. This results in Mage becoming the most popular class at all levels of play once again. Within the class, the archetypes have mostly stabilized with Freeze Mage trending up and Secret Mage trending down. While Freeze Mage is becoming more popular at all levels of play, its numbers at legend are still significantly higher.
Expectedly, Pirate Warrior’s numbers have increased at all levels of play in response to the increase in Rogues. Taunt Warrior, as usual, is not showing any movement whatsoever. Out of all the classes in the game, Warrior has changed the least from the early days of Un’Goro, with both of its archetypes being figured out quickly and offering little developments in terms of card usage since launch. Paladin, Druid and Shaman are beginning to settle into a similar situation where their archetypes are not showing much movement in their play rates or card usage.
Priest is going through a significant decline in play across all levels. This is mostly attributed to Control Priest, which failed to capitalize on the success of a few individual players and struggled to consistently net wins since then. It’s apparent that the Un’Goro meta has six well established classes, and Priest is falling behind them just a bit. Behind Priest is Hunter, which is also continuing its decline. You will not encounter Hunters at legend very often. Behind Hunter is the one class that looks totally dead, which is Warlock.
Based on our experience, the meta after an expansion usually stabilizes 2 months after launch. With Un’Goro, it took nearly three months for it to show consistent signs of stabilization. We don’t think everything there is to discover has been discovered regarding Un’Goro, but content fatigue is setting in, fewer games are being played and activity regarding the game is down across the board until the new expansion launches. This hurts the chances of something new gaining traction.
vS Power Rankings Discussion
This week’s power ranking is another indication to the overall health of the Un’Goro meta. Remember the MSOG days when we said Aggro Shaman was the best deck in the game, with a 53%+ win rate and a 20% play rate and how the next week the table would stay the way it was? Look at what happened to Pirate Warrior over the course of a week in comparison. As soon as a deck gains an edge over the field and exhibits a strong performance level, the meta immediately makes it a priority to challenge it. The balance has been restored.
What’s the breakout deck that’s probably going to get focused next? The answer seems to be Token Druid. The rise in Crystal Rogues brought about the rise in Pirate Warriors, and both of these decks are susceptible to Token Druid. This has translated to a very strong increase in the archetype’s win rate, the highest at legend due to a relatively favorable meta where many of its preys are common while some of its counters, such as Control Priest, are going through a decline.
An interesting development is the performance of Crystal Rogue at lower levels of play compared to legend. At legend, it’s been consistently strong for quite some time, with many players having great success with the archetype. While it isn’t the strongest deck in the game, it is definitely amongst the strongest decks, and this hasn’t changed. However, at lower levels, the deck used to struggle quite a bit. Over the past few weeks, we’ve noticed that players have gotten better at playing the deck, and its performance outside of legend is beginning to converge with its performance at legend. This is a great example of how a deck with a steep learning curve can get better over time.
Token Shaman might be the best deck for climbing ladder overall, but its performance at legend has been consistently suppressed to reasonable levels, much like other decks in the game such as Murloc Paladin and Secret Mage. Freeze Mage is keeping it down at the highest levels of play and preventing it from spiraling out of control.
We still maintain that Mage, overall, is the strongest and most consistent class in the game. Its three archetypes have been displaying elite level win rates week after week, but it’s the probably the worst “best class” in the history of Hearthstone. All of its archetypes have viable counters. Perhaps, the most difficult deck to hard counter is Burn Mage, which could be another reason why it is the most popular Mage deck despite its overall win rate being lower than that of the other two Mage decks.
Poor Murlock. The archetype has dropped in its score at all levels of play. To be fair, this was expected. An archetype that is played so little is going to behave very erratically due to the variance that comes from a low representation. This is why we normally do not include such archetypes in the power ranking table, and we’ve made a special exception for Warlock because of the unique situation the class is in. Still, Murlock is a viable deck and merits more play and exploration than it’s getting, but it’s suffering the effect of Warlock being so terrible in general that people don’t touch it. A class that sees no attention and no refinement is going to look worse than it actually is. Don’t get us wrong, Warlock is weak, but it’s probably not too far away from being a good class once again.
As far as less played archetypes, what we’ve said last week mostly sticks this week. Elemental Control Paladin is very similar in its power level to Control Paladin. BIG Ramp Druid might be even better than Jade Druid in some situations considering how lukewarm the latter is at the moment. Control Warrior is a good counter to aggressive strategies, perhaps more consistent than Taunt Warrior. If we had to bet on the next deck to breakout, however, it would be Tempo Rogue. Sudaka’s Water Rogue list has taken over our radar and it looks extremely promising. It might be the best Rogue deck out there, period. We just need to see it rise in play and assess whether it can maintain its current win rate after losing its possible surprise factor. At the moment, the archetype’s win rate is Tier 1 worthy.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Burn Mage remains steadfast as one of the most popular decks around. Counterspell is becoming a more popular choice and is generally stronger against control, while Ice Barrier is an anti-aggro tech. Some players have also been teching in a Doomsayer to help shore up aggressive matchups.
Freeze Mage is in a good place in the meta. It has established a fairly large representation at legend ranks, and is very popular at the top legend ranks. GinjaNinja recently joined the growing list of rank 1 legend Freeze Mage players, using Laughing’s list, which seems to have been accepted as the optimal list by the majority of the player-base. Despite that, there are still experimentations brewing with hybrid lists that utilize Fireland’s Portal and Medivh, with quite a bit of success behind them.
Secret Mage is declining. While the archetype is still performing well on ladder, its matchups against some of the aggressive decks in the meta is causing players to shy away from it. Mirror Entity is fairly weak against these decks, as well as decks that run Doomsayers, so it might be better to run an Ice Block or a Spellbender in these situations. TheCantelope hit top 10 legend with a similar build to Ant’s, swapping Mirror Entity for Spellbender and Pyros for Tar Creeper.
Tempo Mage master, Apxvoid, has been refining a new build that tops out at Arcane Giants as late game threats, which took him to #5 legend. The list also runs Cabalist’s Tome, which provides extra card draw and synergy with the giants, as well as two Volcanic Potions, an important card against the token decks.
Exodia Mage sees very little play outside of some appearances in tournaments and a couple of individual success stories on ladder, but it is extremely fun and challenging. RastaFish hit #2 legend this week with his take on the archetype, which is heavy on stall and freeze effects and runs Acolytes rather than Coldlight Oracles.
- Mage Class Radar
- Muzzy’s Burn Mage
- GeorgeC’s Burn Mage
- Laughing’s Freeze Mage
- Portia’s Hybrid Freeze Mage
- Ant’s Secret Mage
- Celticguard’s Secret Mage
- Apxvoid’s Tempo Giants Mage
- RastaFish’s Exodia Mage
The BIG story this week is the EZ BIG EZ DRUID EZ deck. Both Xixo and Ostkaka brought a similar Ramp Druid deck to Seat Story Cup, and it put on a great show. It runs Wild Growth. Mire Keeper and Nourish as its ramp, and runs a plethora of threats, including Ysera, Y’Shaarj, and both Deathwings. For defense, Moonglade Portals, Earthern Scales and a few taunt minions, are included. Other cards that sometimes see play in this archetype are Bright-Eyed Scout, which increases the high-rolling potential of the deck, and Bog Creepers. All in all, the deck has similar matchups to ramp Druid decks of the past. Decks that allow the Druid to breath and ramp up without punishing it get run over by the seemingly endless number of threats. Faster tempo decks kill the Ramp Druid before it ever has time to get to its late game. Huge minions and Earthen Scales give the deck a good chance against Mages, as Jaina and her friends often rely on a limited amount of burn to finish the game. The Ramp Druid deck has better high roll potential compared to Jade Druid (and destroys it in the mirror), but has a much more inconsistent early to mid-game.
Token Druid is still a force to be reckoned with on ladder. With Rogue and Pirate Warrior being very popular at legend ranks, Token Druid definitely has some good matchups to queue into. The deck is challenged by decks that run an increasing amount of AOE, with Mage in particular being able to contend with both aggressive decks that flood the board and Crystal Rogue. Pavean recently hit #5 legend on Asia with a list slightly different from Feno. Shellshifter and Druid of the Claw have become more popular inclusions lately. They are decent cards against control decks (and Rogue) since they can apply quite a bit of mid-game pressure while not being too vulnerable to AOE, and also offer taunts options that can be effective in aggressive mirrors.
Jade Druid sees a great amount of tournament play due to its ability to shut down control decks. One build that’s beginning to see more play is StanCifka’s Moonfire Jade Druid, with which he hit top 10 legend. It runs a package containing Acolyte of Pain, Wild Pyromancer and Moonfire. All of these cards have great synergy with each other and can enable faster cycling. Being a 0 cost spell, Moonfire also works extremely well with Auctioneer. Wild Pyromancer offers early counterplay to board flooding decks that generally give Jade Druids a hard time, and essentially takes the spot filled by Primordial Drake in the standard build as the AOE of choice. Note that the deck omits Jade Spirit, which is compensated somewhat by the extra card draw to get to your Jade cards.
- Druid Class Radar
- Feno’s Token Druid
- Pavean’s Token Druid
- Tyler’s Token Druid
- Standard Jade Druid
- StanCifka’s Moonfire Jade Druid
- EZ BIG EZ Ramp Druid
Crystal Rogue has performed well both on ladder and in tournaments over the past week. Both Mitsuhide and Ostkaka made it to the finals of Seat Story Cup VII with the deck. Mitsuhide took the title with the standard Backstab list, while Ostkaka dropped the Backstabs in favor of 1 Hungry crab and 1 Golakka Crawler, specific tech choices for the Paladin and Warrior matchups. These tech choices look to exploit an opportunity to beat these decks in Last Hero Standing, since they are often queued in response to Rogue.
In the Backstab list, which is becoming fairly standard, there is still an option to swap Swashburglar for Stonetusk Boar, which is aimed to improve the Rogue’s burst damage after the quest is completed at the cost of value and consistency pre-completion. DamDam recently reached #1 legend running Boars, but many players are having success with either option. Meanwhile, Meati has also hit #1 legend with his Wisp build that omits Backstabs. This list is geared to win the mirror, as the Wisps are extremely good tempo cards post-completion and can also be decent bounce targets in other fast matchups as well.
Miracle Rogue has had a quiet week, with not much to write home about in terms of ladder success. But other Rogue archetypes are beginning to emerge with great results at the top legend ladder. Doyahhoi reached top 10 legend on Asia with Sudaka’s Water Tempo Rogue deck, while RB8647poke achieved the same with Elemental Tempo Rogue. There is definitely potential for other Rogue decks to be successful, if given a chance, since so much focus and attention is given to the two most popular Rogue archetypes.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Swash Crystal Rogue
- Boars Crystal Rogue
- Meati’s Wisp Crystal Rogue
- Muzzy’s Giants Miracle Rogue
- Gy0ng’s Petal Miracle Rogue
- Sudaka’s Water Tempo Rogue
- RB8647poke’s Elemental Tempo Rogue
The rise in Crystal Rogue across all ranks is having the expected effect on the Warrior class. Pirate Warrior has seen a significant increase in usage and maintains a good win rate as a result of this excellent matchup. Fire Fly is becoming more and more popular as a result of its versatility – it can be used both as an extra turn 1 play and as a way to fill out curves in order to keep pressure on. Tholwmenos hit rank 1 with his list, which looks to be among the best in the current meta.
Taunt Warrior is in a very different spot, looking as mediocre as it ever has right now. It has very few good matchups and many very bad ones, so without some luck when it comes to queuing into specific matchups, Taunt Warrior will have a very harder time climbing. Its matchups against already-established decks seem to be getting worse as well, something that has been happening for a while as people continue to figure out this very linear deck. Something pretty drastic needs to happen for Taunt Warrior to have a significant impact on the meta again.
As for Control Warrior, Titan is continuing to tinker with the archetype, and his latest build, running a Dragon package, took him to top 10 legend once again.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Tholwmenos’ Pirate Warrior
- Standard Taunt Warrior
- NaviOOT’s Control Warrior
- Titan’s N’Zoth Control Warrior
- Titan’s Dragon Control Warrior
Paladin continues to see success at all levels of play with a wide variety of viable archetypes. Last week, we experienced the rumblings of Elemental Paladin breaking back into the meta – and while the archetype did see an uptick in play this week, it is hardly crowding out the established archetypes.
Murloc Paladin saw some development this week, as SkyWalker piloted his hyper-aggressive list to #35 legend, utilizing Steward of Darkshire while forgoing the typical includes of Spikeridged Steed and Tirion Fordring. Steward of Darkshire has obvious synergy with the Murloc tribe and Rallying Blade, as well as tricks with the secrets you pull off of Hydrologist (e.g. Noble Sacrifice gaining divine shield). This list has a lower curve and is more aggressive than many of the others we’ve been seeing in the past few weeks, but it seems that any Paladin deck built on the backbone of the murloc tribe will find success to some degree.
Midrange and Control Paladin are still strong, but ladder has recently been encouraging more aggressive approaches due to the prevalence of Mages and Rogues. As a result, Murloc Paladin has established itself as the clear winner of the three archetypes as far as ladder success is concerned.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Standard Murloc Paladin
- Ender’s Murloc Paladin
- SkyWalker’s Murloc Paladin
- Zanananan’s Midrange Paladin
- Xzirez’ Hybrid Midrange Paladin
- Underscore’s Control Paladin
- Ostkaka’s N’Zoth Control Paladin
- Hamakatsu’s Elemental Control Paladin
Shaman sustains its strong meta presence, with Token Shaman being one of the most popular archetypes in the game, while Midrange Shaman is still trying to find its feet.
Robust threats from early to late game and even to solid matchups against most of the meta leaves little to wonder why Token Shaman is so popular. Despite its popularity, the deck has seen very little innovation. Mitsuhide won SeatStory Cup with a list that swaps Devolve for Sea Giant. Sea Giant is an interesting card since it’s an additional threat, which helps you against control decks, and it’s also a good card in a board flooding mirror.
Midrange Shaman is less common on ladder and hasn’t seen nearly as much success, but players continue to experiment with it as well as find some good situations for it to shine. Dwayna took a more control-oriented list all the way to #1 legend. This build is extremely defensive in nature and is meant to target Token Shaman, Token Druid and Pirate Warrior. You will have a harder time beating Rogue or Jade Druid with this list, which is the primary reason why Midrange Shaman is struggling to establish a bigger niche on ladder. Similarly to Priest, it can do well against a narrow field of opponents, but the diverse spectrum currently seen on ladder is making it hard for the archetype to shine on a consistent basis.
Priest’s role in the Un’Goro meta appears to be one of a counter class to some of the more popular decks on the ladder. If you are seeing a decent amount of Freeze/Burn Mages or Token Druids, you can count on Control Priest to get you some real quality wins; it’s just that running into the other top meta decks won’t do you any favors. Knowing your counters and being able to abuse an influx of certain decks after a popular streamer might have just finished playing it, is a skill in its own! Make Priest a handy tool in your utility belt and you can find success playing the class.
Silence Priest might be the strongest of the Priest archetypes by the numbers, and remains one of the best counters to Jade Druid if you are seeing a lot of them. Dragon Priest shares a similar set of favorable matchups to Silence Priest, but fares better against Shamans. If you want to play Priest, it’s all about practicing with the different archetypes and deciding which is best for what you are seeing at any given moment.
- Priest Class Radar
- Asmodai’s Control Priest
- Mr.Yagut’s Control Priest
- Kolento’s Miracle Combo Priest
- Ostkaka’s Silence Priest
- Titan’s Silence Priest
- Meati’s Dragon Priest
- Zetalot’s Dragon Priest
Another week, another small decline for Hunter, as midrange variants are consistently being exploited on ladder for their linear playstyle. In the past few weeks, there were very few notable developments in Hunter to report. However, someone finally managed to do well with the class, with NickChipper taking his build of Hybrid Hunter to top 100 legend on both NA and EU.
The NickChipper Hybrid Hunter list works by not worrying about teching for control and focusing techs solely on aggressive decks and Crystal Rogue. The full four crab package ensures a consistent swing in the early game, while the presence of Strangethorn Tiger and Leeroy Jenkins help lock up the Rogue matchup. The two five drops ensure that even if Rogue nut draws and is able to finish their quest quickly, the Hunter is able to switch to a full face game plan. As always, make sure to pick your meta wisely with this deck, as it is much more susceptible to control than most Hunters. If you find yourself facing more control decks, your best bet is to switch to a build similar to Freakeh’s Midrange Hunter.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Freakeh’s Midrange Hunter
- NickChipper’s Hybrid Midrange Hunter
- Kranich’s Secret Face Hunter
Warlock continues to linger at the bottom of the Meta, waiting until the next expansion arrives. While the situation looks grim, the class does have potential, it just needs a few key tools in the next set that can make the difference. Murlock would probably be a very good deck if it had more murloc 1-drops to play, such as Paladin’s Vilefin Inquistor and Grimscale Chum. This would enable Rockpool Hunter and Murloc Warleader to become much more explosive in the early game, consistently. Zoo needs stronger class minions, as it has suffered the most from the reduction in the power level of the neutral card pool. Control Warlocks need healing and maybe a couple of impactful spells that synergize with Bloodbloom, which is a busted card in theory. It’s not out of the realms of possibility that Gul’dan gets some of these tools and makes a comeback.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Doomguard Murloc Warlock
- SkyWalker’s Sea Giant Murloc Warlock
- Firebat’s Doom Handlock
- Vandoom’s Zoo Warlock
The Un’Goro wheel of fortune continues to spin, and this time it lands on Token Druid and its ability to beat both Crystal Rogue and one of its primary counters, Pirate Warrior. Of course, if this is the case, we should expect AOE decks to make a comeback to then counter Token Druid, which will once again cause a shift in Rogue’s favor, completing the cycle. The one constant in all of this is Mage, a class capable of thriving at any point in the cycle, which is why we (and others) consider it to be the strongest. While the Meta at this stage of an expansion will always feel repetitive to some degree, it does appear to be cyclical and can change every day. Every problem, at least, has a solution in Un’Goro, even if you could argue that some of them are not ideal, design-wise (crabs).
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