vS Data Reaper Report #55

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from over 60,000 games.

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Welcome to the 55th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

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.

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 60,000
Legend 10,000
Ranks 1-5 12,000
Ranks 6-10 10,000
Ranks 11-15 15,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency by Day

Class Frequency by Week

Class Frequency Discussion

Most of the Un’Goro meta has stabilized, as we can see the flatling in the frequency patterns of many classes. However, Un’Goro continues to exhibit significant changes in specific classes that are quite dramatic. Considering we’re entering the 4th month after the release of the expansion, it’s quite an impressive phenomenon.

The class that has shifted the most in its card usage is Paladin. Previously, popular Midrange Paladin builds consisted of numerous reactive tools, such as Aldor Peacekeeper, Equality and Primordial Drake, while aggressive and hybrid lists were more heavily centered on the tribal synergy of murlocs. These defensive midrange lists have significantly dropped in play (especially at the top end of ladder), and the class has been taken over by the hybrid builds inspired by Hoej. In addition, the aggressive clusters are also changing, with some new builds coming to light, such as Jambre’s UK Paladin. Since the class has shifted so dramatically, we changed its structure of archetyping and rebooted its win rates. Midrange Paladin refers to the higher curve murloc builds, while Aggro Paladin refers to the front loaded lists. We feel that this newly drawn line is a better representation of the current state of Paladin as well as its matchups, though we will continue to refine it if/when necessary.

Another class that’s dramatically changing is Mage. More specifically, Freeze Mage has exploded with newfound diversity, as both standard and hybrid builds have climbed in their popularity. The archetype’s play rate has skyrocketed at the highest levels of play, matching that of Burn Mage. We’ve long said that Freeze Mage had incredible potential in the Un’Goro meta, and it seems like it has finally caught up to the player base.

Druid has seen a spike in popularity across all levels of play, which is attributed to the rise in Token Druid. We’ve seen an identical spike in the archetype last month, which aligned with the end of a season and the beginning of a new one. Token Druid is a go-to deck for many players trying to climb ranks (and legend ranks) quickly. In addition, the archetype has been in a favorable spot in the meta due to the increase in Rogues followed by an increase in Pirate Warriors over the last few weeks, pushing its win rate to be the highest at legend ranks in our previous report. This trend is certainly expected and not surprising to us at all.

With both Freeze Mage and Token Druid rising, Rogue is beginning to decline in its popularity in response. This is true for both Crystal and Miracle Rogue, as they have a hard time dealing with the Mage class’ mechanics in general (Ice Block, stall, direct damage), and the numerous aggressive strategies that are currently flooding ladder.

Hunter has seen a rise in play. However, this doesn’t mean much considering it has displayed a similar pattern with the beginning of the previous season. When ladder resets, we notice the class sees an uptick in play, and then proceeds to gradually decline for the following weeks ahead.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Power Rankings Discussion

Freeze Mage is the best deck in the game. Along with the spike in its play rate at the highest levels of play, comes a significant spike in its win rate. This correlates with the archetype’s newfound flexibility and the increased popularity of hybrid Freeze Mage decks. Medivh is becoming a popular win condition in Freeze Mage lists, sometimes replacing Archmage Antonidas. Mana Wyrms and Fireland’s Portals (the latter synergizing with Medivh) are also becoming more common. Freeze Mage is no longer a one-trick pony, and has turned into a deck that can find ways to adjust to the meta and catch it off guard. Why is Freeze Mage better than Burn Mage, an archetype that is seeing a noticeable decline in its performance? Freeze Mage is far more consistent against aggressive strategies because it has more built in defensive mechanics. It dominates Token Shaman and Token Druid in impressive fashion. It also fairs significantly better against Crystal Rogue due to its arsenal of freeze effects that can delay the game and protect your Ice Block for those critical extra turns. It does worse in the mirror against Burn Mage as well as against decks that run armor gain or healing, but that’s not nearly enough to offset the big advantages it possesses.

Secret Mage is also showing an impressive score, and a lot of it has to do with the popularity of the top two classes. Secret Mage displays favorable matchups against both of the two other Mage archetypes, and does quite well against the Druid class as a whole, which has seen an increase in play this week. This is enough to launch it over the 52% win rate mark at the top end of ladder play.

The two most popular decks at legend over the past few weeks have both crashed and burned. Token Druid and Crystal Rogue display a significant drop in their scores. Both drops heavily correlate with Freeze Mage’s rise, a deck that dominates both of these archetypes. In addition, Rogue is suffering the effect of an increasingly hostile meta, while Token Druid has also earned a target on its back recently with its rise in play.  Ironically, this is the first time Crystal Rogue is doing better at lower levels of play than at the top end of ladder. That’s quite the turnaround.

Much like the Mage class, Paladin’s internal shifts also appear to be beneficial. Both murloc centric archetypes are looking quite strong against the field, while Control Paladin is enjoying the increase in popularity of its best matchup (Token Druid) and the decline of its worst (Crystal Rogue)

A somewhat surprising rise in win rate comes from Dragon Priest. While the archetype’s representation is fairly modest, it seems to be benefitting from the current trends we’re witnessing. The rise in Freeze Mage, decline in Crystal Rogue and the high presence of token decks that are vulnerable to AOE all bode well for the archetype. It is also displaying an internal improvement in its performance, which is tougher to pinpoint. We will have to see whether this jump is caused by the erratic behavior of an uncommon archetype, or one that’s beginning to merit more attention.

While still quite lukewarm against the field, Jade Druid is enjoying the higher presence of Freeze Mages on ladder. It is also licking its lips at the upcoming balance change to The Caverns Below, a card that’s heavily suppressing its performance against the field. Meanwhile, Ramp Druid has seen a small spike in play, and its build consistency is good enough to make an appearance in the power rankings. As can be observed, this deck is no laughing matter. BIG Druid is a decent deck and might be strong enough to see more play, especially if the upcoming balance change slows down the meta, even by a bit.

One thing we’re hoping for is that the balance change causes the player base to look into alternative Rogue strategies. We’ll repeat what we’ve said last week; there is a lot of potential to be found with Tempo Rogue decks. Water Rogue is very promising, and Elemental Rogue decks also merit more attention. They might be better than the two established Rogue archetypes already. Sadly, there’s not much to say about Warlock. Not many players are touching the class. Murloc Warlock isn’t bad, but it isn’t quite strong enough for people to pay attention to. We bit our lips, and took the class completely off the table since none of its archetypes justify being included with their current sample sizes. Gul’dan threw a bit of a fit, so hopefully the next expansion’s announcement cheers him up.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Freeze Mage’s rise in popularity at the highest levels of play is the story of the week, with many players finding great success with both traditional Freeze Mage builds, as well as hybrid builds that are becoming more common. The standard Laughing list remains strong, and there is an option to cut Eater of Secrets for Loot Hoarder should you not encounter many mirror matchups at your rank. Volcanic Potion is also a strong tech against Token Druid, instead of the slower Flamestrike.

GeorgeC hit legend early this month with a Freeze Mage build that runs Medivh instead of Antonidas and includes Fireland’s Portals. The Medivh/Portal package has become more popular recently, originating from earlier experiments, such as the Portia list we featured in previous reports. It offers the deck a value/pressure plan against archetypes with a great amount of life gain, such as Jade Druid.

Zalae hit #3 legend for the month of June with a hybrid build that also runs Mana Wyrms, inspired by Zumpp’s Dreamhack build. Zalae’s build is more defensive, passing on Antonidas or Medivh, relying solely on the additional damage and board control Fireland’s Portal offers. It’s easy to fit Medivh or Antonidas into the build if you’re running into more control decks, by cutting Bloodmage Thalnos for example. There is also an option to run Volcanic Potion and/or Flamestrike instead of Blizzards, while some players run Counterspell as the 3rd secret instead of Ice Barrier. Many different variations of Hybrid Freeze Mages are currently seeing play.

Burn Mage remains the most popular deck overall, but it’s losing favor compared to Freeze Mage due to the latter’s greater consistency in beating aggressive decks. Even though Mage is extremely diverse, Mana Wyrm is now a common card in all of its archetypes, so mulligan with the priority of being able to answer it.

The emergence of Tempo Giant Mage by Apxvoid has been followed up on with a different list from Surrender, who peaked at #13 with a Secrets Giants build that runs Kirin Tor Mage. Arcane Giants are also being used as a win condition with Open the Waygate. Spe6 hit legend this month with the Giants version of the Exodia deck.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Druid remains one of the most popular classes in the game, with two of its archetypes boasting significant ladder representation. Token Druid is the premier aggressive deck of this meta, boasting strong matchups across the board while only being hard countered by Freeze Mage and Taunt Warrior. Jade Druid’s standing in the meta is far weaker, but its ability to counter the very same decks that stop Token Druid in its tracks, keep it relevant.

The upcoming nerf to Caverns Below has massive ramifications on the Druid class, and is likely to heavily impact its archetypes. Token Druid’s bread and butter is its ability to dominate Crystal Rogue, so its stock may fall to some degree once the patch goes live.

Much has been said about the Rogue quest pushing control decks out of the meta, but its effect on Jade Druid’s performance is just as crippling. Jade Druid stands to benefit the most out of the balance change, in two ways. First, it loses its absolute worst matchup in the game. Crystal Rogue vs. Jade Druid is a miserable affair that is laughably lopsided. Moreover, the expected rise in control decks means that the field will be even more favorable for Jade Druid to thrive in. Indeed, the much fabled “control meta” may encounter an obstacle it has seemingly forgotten about, which is the never-ending resources available to the Druid class as well as its ability to comfortably cycle its deck into the super late game through the vast amount of card draw available to it.

Even though we expect the archetype to significantly increase in play, at least initially, there are still counters to Jade Druid that are present in the current meta which may keep it firmly in check: look for Miracle Rogue and Midrange Paladin to respond to the expected rise of the archetype.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

As everyone will be aware of by now, The Caverns Below is being nerfed. Many players got in some high legend finishes in what could be the last end-of-season run it sees. Most builds have stabilized and are very similar to each other, save for the odd tech choice, such as running a Doomsayer or a Tar Creeper in order to fend off aggressive openings.

Rogue also saw high representation at Lifecoach’s Summer Mansion tournament, with the self-ban format allowing players to exclude their own Crystal Rogue if the opponent’s lineup was abundant with counters. 14 of the 16 players brought Crystal Rogue, with Mr. Yagut being the only player bringing Miracle Rogue instead. Crystal Rogue is also the single most represented deck at the upcoming Shanghai Spring Championships, with 11 of the 16 players including the deck in their lineups. No other Rogue deck is set to make an appearance this weekend.

Miracle Rogue might be one deck that benefits greatly from the nerf to Caverns Below due to the potential rise of control decks as well as Jade Druid. Currently, it’s caught in the crossfire of aggressive strategies looking to punish Crystal Rogue, making life miserable for dedicated Miracle Rogue players on ladder.

Life continues as normal for those Rogue decks on the fringes, and we will have to wait and see if the nerf to Caverns Below incentivizes players to look into alternative Rogue strategies, since the class exhibits vast potential beyond its two established archetypes, even now.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Warrior continues to be a class that is heavily shaped by the meta around it. Different levels of aggro decks and anti-control decks decide whether or not Pirate Warrior and Taunt Warrior will see success.

With so many Rogues in the meta, things are lining up well for Pirate Warrior, which also benefits from the presence of Freeze/Burn Mages on ladder. While the matchups with the Mage archetypes are fairly close, Freeze Mage suppresses the population of Token Druid and Token Shaman, which are Pirate Warrior’s worst matchups.

The elephant in the room, of course, is the impending nerf to The Caverns Below and the effect on the meta that it will have. Crystal Rogue is Pirate Warrior’s best matchup, so its disappearance will surely be bad news for the hyper aggressive archetype. Jade Druid, which is expected to fill the gap after the balance change goes live, is a much a more difficult challenge for the Warrior. For now, Pirate Warrior remains one of the stronger decks to climb with.

The decks that give Pirate Warrior the most trouble are the same decks that Taunt Warrior looks to queue into. Any increase in Token Druid and/or Token Shaman brings about a more favorable meta for Taunt Warrior. Several players achieved top 100 finishes with the deck while taking advantage of these matchups. Battle Rage is becoming more and more popular, with many lists including one or even two copies, while Armorsmiths have become a widely accepted staple due to the popularity of Freeze Mage. Eloise secured a top 50 finish this season with a fairly standard build, while RayC did the same teching Shield Blocks, a nod to the Mage matchups.

Fibonacci’s pulled it out of the bag again, peaking at #10 and securing a top 25 finish with his standard-looking Control Warrior list. After experimentations with all kinds of wacky techs and builds, the Warrior God brings about a return to the basics and delivers once again.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Token Shaman remains one of the most popular decks in the game, and an excellent all-around deck with very few weaknesses in the meta. The rise of its biggest counter at the top end of ladder play (Freeze Mage), means it is not able to take over the game and its population is suppressed. Even so, Token Shaman is a very strong deck to climb ladder with. Freeze Mage is a deck that players shy away from due to the difficulty in piloting it, so you will see greater success with Token Shaman at lower skill levels where its counter is less prevalent.

In terms of builds, while Token Shaman has mostly stuck to its standard 30 card core, we are seeing some variation involving the archetype. Sea Giant is becoming more common, and is a strong card in the deck due to its strength as an extra threat against control, while also being very strong in mirror matchups as well as matchups with other decks that tend to flood the board, such as Token Druid. Amnesiac hit #5 legend last month, with a build that cuts one Doppelgangster for Sea Giant. Other players keep the Evolve package intact, and cut a Bloodlust or a Devolve for the Sea Giant instead. We’re also seeing Barnes being experimented with, due to its synergy with Evolve and the various static abilities in the deck. RDU and Hoej are bringing a Token Shaman list to Shanghai that cuts one Stonehill Defender for Barnes.

Midrange Shaman continues to do very poorly in the current meta, while Control Shaman appears to be a dead archetype. However, the nerf to The Caverns Below might revitalize these archetypes. The core issue with non-Token Shaman decks is their inability to apply early game pressure and kill opponents quickly. The Jade mechanic as a primary win condition is very slow, while the Elemental tribe is defensive in its nature. These decks’ matchups with Crystal Rogue are utterly horrible as a result. The potential disappearance of the Rogue menace will surely spark interest in these decks once again, and at least encourage some experimentation to be done.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Paladin is undergoing a change in its murloc-centric archetypes. Hybrid Midrange Paladin builds are becoming more common; with Hoej’s list gaining traction in both ladder and tournament play. The more aggressive, low-curve variants are pulling away to one end of the spectrum, while the older midrange builds that incorporate Equality, Aldor Peacekeepers and Primordial Drake are significantly declining in their ladder representation as a result of the shifts in the meta, encouraging the class to move to the extremes in terms of its playstyle. You either play fully defensively in order to try to beat the aggressive decks on ladder, or you’re looking for a consistent explosive start in order to pressure Mages and Rogues.

The biggest development this week comes from Jambre hitting #1 legend on the final day of June with his unorthodox Aggro Murloc list. It incorporates 4 early game weapons, a Patches package with Dread Corsair, as well as Argent Squires to synergize with the plethora of buffs in the deck. Interestingly, the deck finds no room for Tirion.

Control Paladin hasn’t seen much development, and it’s quietly waiting for the upcoming balance change that could help its standing in the meta. With the amount of aggressive decks, Rogues and Mages on ladder, a N’Zoth package does not seem to be necessary, and Underscore’s build will likely net you more success with its extra healing through Ivory Knights. Consider including Harrison Jones if you’re encountering the increasing amount of Mages that run Medivh. Destroying Atiesh is a huge swing turn that often wins you the matchup by itself.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Priest seems to have lots of options when it comes to grinding the ladder at this early point in the season. Are all of these options good? We wouldn’t confidently say that any of them are truly worth playing over other classes, but hey they are fun.

Decks like IAmTheKing’s Medivh Control Priest or Tictac’s N’Zoth Control Priest are capable of top 100 finishes as they have proven at the end of June, but the consistency of these decks in an unpredictable meta can be questionable. What these wacky Priest decks are best at is catching your opponents off guard. The surprise factor of even running into a Priest might just be enough to shake your opponent to his core.

As we get closer to a new expansion, we are seeing fewer Priests overall. It isn’t bottom of the barrel, and probably won’t be anytime soon while Shadow Visions is in the Standard pool. The card simply pushes Priest into playability, and creates all of these different styles that are capable of pulling crazy wins out of nowhere.

The main thing to remember with Priest is to examine whatever pocket meta you are running through and play the decks accordingly. If that means don’t play Priest at all, then it’s okay not to. If you start seeing Shamans, Dragonfire Potion those full boards into oblivion. The message stays the same: know your field and you can have plenty of success with Priest.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Outside of a small bump in play rates, which is likely due to a new season starting, very little has changed for Hunter, with very few players using it for top legend climbs. Because Hunter has so many mediocre matchups, they are not able to make up for the one solid Crystal Rogue matchup, which they stand to lose with the upcoming balance change.

Even though Hunter has a relatively solid early game package, possible advantages often get negated by Patches. With only Unleash the Hounds and weak removal cards, Hunters have a very difficult time pushing back against a deck like Token Shaman, which will snowball the game if left unanswered even for one turn. Against control, Hunters don’t pack quite enough oomph to make it past the amount of defensive tools which have flooded the game, and adding more value to Hunter decks always comes at a cost in its aggressive matchups.

Even with all of its shortcomings, Hunter is not even close to its Gadgetzan levels of unplayable status, but should mostly be used to climb up the ranks if you want to get better at the fundamentals of Hearthstone with a deck that is relatively forgiving.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

One more month until the barren wasteland that is the Warlock class is revitalized?

A few players attending SeatStory cup made a bet on racing to legend with the class when the July season starts. Mitsuhide, BoarControl, J4ckiechan, Tyler, TerrenceM and Impact were the participants. Basically, in order to agree to play this class as a professional player, you have to get drunk. As of the moment of writing this paragraph, three are known to be fighting through the bottleneck to legend. BoarControl and Mitsuhide are piloting Zoo decks inspired by Janos’ build, with which he’s had a good run of success. J4ckiechan has been experimenting with various lists, with a Handlock one featured here. Be advised to consume some alcohol before playing these decks. Your sanity is at stake. Just don’t drink and drive.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

Every week, it seems that the Meta Breaker changes to whatever beats the previous week’s Meta Breaker. Of course, this isn’t a coincidence, it’s the normal behavior of a cyclical meta where no deck is unstoppable and every strategy can be countered.

Freeze Mage has exploded in its power level and its current matchup spread is quite impressive. It is the only deck in the game that can beat aggressive strategies as well as Crystal Rogue in a consistent fashion, which rightfully puts it at the top of the Meta. In addition, the archetype has moved away from being a “one standard build” deck, into one that is quite flexible in its win conditions. Medivh improves your chances of beating decks that would normally counter you with healing. Mana Wyrm can help fight for early board control against aggressive decks and enables a faster win condition against Rogue. Fireland’s Portal synergizes with Medivh, but is also just strong enough by itself since it can act as both a board control tool as well as additional burn damage to the face.

In some ways, the hybrid Freeze Mage builds are an evolution of the PsyGuenther Burn Mage builds. They attach the win condition of Burn Mage on top of the Freeze Mage shell, taking advantage of the latter’s strength against the top meta decks while reducing its weakness to its counters. There is no “correct” build, and each variant’s success depends on the meta, but they have all seen tremendous success over the past couple of weeks. Learning how to master this complex archetype will likely reward you.

We’re entering the 4th month of Un’Goro, and dramatic changes to classes are still occurring. The upcoming change to The Caverns Below is sure to throw the meta into chaos, as Crystal Rogue is one of the meta defining decks of this expansion. The Data Reaper is looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Freeze Mage

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  1. When will Report 56 come out? I’m curious how the meta has changed since Caverns Below nerf.

    • I think last expansion they stopped publishing when the meta got stale, but I don’t see a note about it here and the meta (amazingly) doesn’t seem stale to me.

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