vS Data Reaper Report #58

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

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Welcome to the 58th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

This is the final report for Journey to Un’Goro. The Data Reaper report will now take a break until the launch of the next expansion. Expect the first report for the Knights of the Frozen Throne to arrive about two weeks after expansion release. Recognition analysis should be done in its first iteration about a week after release, so expect the Live Data Reaper to be updated with the new archetypes around that time. We might have some announcements to make on the website during this time, so stay tuned!

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has 2,200 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 55,000
Legend 13,000
Ranks 1-5 15,000
Ranks 6-10 10,000
Ranks 11-15 7,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency by Day

Class Frequency by Week

Class Frequency Discussion

For us, Journey to Un’Goro has been the most fun expansion to analyze since the Data Reaper launched. The reason is that not only did the meta exhibit great diversity and relatively balanced power levels between archetypes, it was constantly changing until its very last days. Decks continued to be refined and tinkered with, and most classes look completely different from where they were even a month into the expansion (Examples: Mage, Paladin and Shaman). Matchups significantly changed as a result of shifts in the usage of certain cards. We saw archetypes pop up out of nowhere, split, merge and go through numerous facelifts. We hope that these kinds of trends continue on in Knights of the Frozen Throne.

Druid will end Un’Goro as the most played class in the game across all levels. The class was nearing 25% representation at legend towards the end of the month. Both Jade Druid and Token Druid see significantly more play at the highest levels, as they are both really strong counter decks. Paired up together, they pretty much cover every matchup in the game, and many players alternate between them in order to stay unpredictable and respond to the daily meta shifts that Un’Goro is known for.

Mage, the second most popular class, has also seen a rise in play. Freeze Mage is continuing to rise in popularity and has been a very successful deck at the top legend ranks, heavily influencing the meta around it, while Burn Mage is in a process of stagnation due to being outclassed by the recent Hybrid Freeze builds. Secret Mage also exhibits a significant share of the class’ representation, and is the one Mage archetype which relishes the Druid matchups.

Pirate Warrior is continuing to trend upwards in popularity across all levels while Taunt Warrior has also seen a moderate increase in play. This is the only class out of the “Big 7” where current builds are similar to the ones played early on in the Un’Goro days.

Paladin, Shaman and Rogue have declined in play, which is likely a result of the continuing increase of Freeze Mages on ladder, driving players to pilot classes which are better suited to deal with the archetype.

Priest and Hunter are at a standstill. Control Priest as well as Dragon Priest variants have maintained relevance mainly due to their good matchup against Freeze Mage. Hunter, however, continues to see significantly less play at legend ranks. It is a class that has been stagnant for a long time, appearing to be incapable of making a significant breakthrough that could help it establish relevance at the highest levels of play.

Warlock is dead, and has been dead for a long time. Its non-existence in the Un’Goro meta is the one glaring hole in an otherwise golden period of Hearthstone. We’re looking forward to seeing it make a return in the next expansion. Hopefully.

 

 

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Power Rankings Discussion

Last week, our Meta Breaker section covered the cycles of the Un’Goro meta. We mentioned that in a neutral meta which doesn’t target anything specific, Pirate Warrior and Midrange Paladin see their win rates naturally float up to the top. With a relatively diverse meta that shifts very quickly, we can see it come to light in the data shown here. Both archetypes are the only ones displaying a win rate higher than 52% at legend, with Midrange Paladin greatly benefiting from the decline in Shamans this week. We do note, however, that the meta is still extremely balanced in terms of power levels. Un’Goro has enabled a diverse set of strategies to become competitive, and our final report demonstrates that further.

If there was a deck this week which was the primary target of the meta based on the trends in certain archetype’s play rates, it was Freeze Mage. However, the archetype has shrugged off the adversity and maintained a fantastic score against the field. Some of it has to do with the fact that the deck, even at this stage of the expansion, was continuing to go through build refinement. In contrast, Secret Mage has taken a significant dip in its performance at legend, partly due to the continuing rise of Pirate Warriors. Burn Mage has been out of fashion for a few weeks now.

Jade Druid continues to see high play rates even though its performance against the field overall is lackluster. In a way, it behaves very similarly to Crystal Rogue (decks with polarized matchups being played more than they should). The reasons why these decks behave the way they do is a fascinating subject, and requires more than one paragraph to properly explain. In short, there is a phenomenon in which decks with very glaring strengths and weaknesses are more popular than decks that are decent all-around, even when the latter options have higher average expected win rates. A major contributor to this is that the polarized decks are more often queued up in response to a specific strategy rather than a fabric of strategies (the “meta”). In this case, Jade Druid is a clear, direct and “easy” response to Freeze Mage.

Most of the popular decks in the meta haven’t seen a significant shift in their power levels so we won’t discuss them at length, as the interactions between archetypes have mostly stabilized. Token Druid has taken a dip while Control Paladin has climbed over the 50% win rate mark at legend. This is the only pure “control” deck in the game with a positive win rate due to its decent matchups against aggressive decks as well as Freeze Mage. The highly diverse Control Priest cluster is also benefitting from the Freeze Mage matchup, though much like Jade Druid, it is quite weak against the rest of the field. It’s interesting to note that Silence Priest continues to display a very good score despite being largely ignored by most players. Its win rate is heavily carried by the Jade Druid matchup, making up for a lot of its weaknesses against other opponents.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Data Reaper Report - Druid

Now is a good time to reflect on the major archetypes that helped Druid hold a top tier spot in both ladder and competitive play. With the help of cards from previous expansions such as Mark of the Lotus and Mark of Y’Shaarj, as well as new Un’Goro cards such as Living Mana and Bittertide Hydra, Token Druid took the meta by storm. Of course, we can’t forget about everyone’s favorite flappy bird, Vicious Fledgling, as well as the impact Hungry Crab and Golakka Crawler have had on its performance against the field.

While earlier variations of the deck experimented with cards such as Violet Teacher, its final form became much more aggressive. Token Druid had a firm grip on the meta, was a go-to deck for many players looking to climb ranks quickly, and was extremely efficient at cutting down the recently nerfed Crystal Rogue.

While Mean Streets of Gadgetzan gave birth to the control killer we know as Jade Druid, it changed its identity from a minion-centric deck, to a much more spell-centric deck, with the addition of Earthen Scales, two copies of Gadgetzan Auctioneers (to make up for the loss of Azure Drake), and Yogg-Saron. The deck had an incredible matchup against Taunt Warrior and Burn Mage, which were both very prevalent during the first couple of months of Un’Goro. However, Jade Druid was heavily suppressed by Crystal Rogue, and once that deck was nerfed, it significantly spiked in its popularity to the levels we see now.

EZ BIG EZ DRUID EZ graced us with its presence and had its potential realized relatively late into the expansion. It was a meme living the dream, and ended up being much more than a meme, with several strong matchups. Games feel extraordinarily satisfying when the deck is able to curve out with its ramp, not to mention several cards that can create a huge blowout with a bit of luck.

Knights of the Frozen Throne appears to be promoting a Taunt Druid archetype. Spreading Plague is a particularly interesting card which can really halt a deck that relies on flooding the board, a strategy against which Druid generally struggles with its toolkit. Could it help slower Druid decks stabilize in the mid game after spending a few turns ramping up?

Data Reaper Report - Mage

The Mage class has been in a strong position in the meta for a long time. Freeze Mage is extremely common at legend ranks, especially at the top ranks, and it is considered to be a deck with a significant skill cap. Both Secret and Burn Mage remain present across all ranks, with the latter continuing to decline and make way for Freeze. All three archetypes are likely to co-exist until the next expansion’s launch.

Mage is the one of the classes that had both of its new Frozen Throne legendaries revealed. Sindragosa and Frost Lich Jaina are quite costly and thus slow, promoting a grindy style of play. Whether such slow cards can be justified while the kill switch Alexstrasza is an option, remains to be seen. Along with the other revealed Mage cards, it appears that the class’ flavor remains spell-heavy while incorporating even more of the Freeze mechanic.

Continuous Freezing without much possible counter-play, coupled with tools such as Ice Block, can certainly be annoying.  Mage may become extremely aggravating to play against. We must wait to see the entire set before drawing any strong conclusions about the upcoming class’ power level but Mage is not expected to fall out of being one of the strongest classes in the game.

In terms of ladder results, Mage is unsurprisingly popular for the end of summer season HCT points grind. Multiple players hit top legend ranks with various Hybrid Freeze Mage builds. Mana Wyrm is present in many of these builds (but not all of them). Medivh and Antonidas have seen success as the top end win conditions, with some players even running both. Another flex spot appears to be the Blizzards, with some players preferring single copies of Flamestrike and Volcanic Potion instead. Apxvoid hit #1 legend while running that specific package of AOE, in addition to running Counterspell instead of Ice Barrier.

Secret Mage has also been doing well, with the Arcane Giants build from Surrender being considered the standard list.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Warrior can definitely look back at Un’Goro as a success. Pirate Warrior has been one of the top decks throughout its timeline and Taunt Warrior has consistently been able to compete as well.

Pirate Warrior continues to be dominant against decks without “token” in their name, whereas Taunt Warrior continues to dominate against specifically those decks and no others. It’s largely the same old story as it has been since Un’Goro’s release, which in hindsight, was to be expected. The decks are at opposite ends of the spectrum, and the more a deck tends towards being very fast or very slow, the more obvious its matchups tend to be.

Looking to the future, it’s difficult to imagine Warrior not being at least a somewhat competitive class. With such a solid and versatile classic set, it never takes much to make a good Warrior deck, and Fiery War Axe alone provides the class with an early game tool no other class can rival. Judging by its power level since its creation, it seems likely that Pirate Warrior will continue to be around, always having the potential to blow decks away with its sometimes unbeatable early game. There’s unlikely to be much support for the archetype, with Blizzard probably keen to tread lightly around a somewhat controversial deck. Phantom Freebooter, likely one of the few cards with the potential to synergize with it, could have potential but looks to be too hit-and-miss to be worthwhile over the far more consistent Naga Corsair.

As for other Warrior decks, Taunt Warrior could continue to stick around if the meta is weak enough or slow enough. Other decks, such as Control Warrior, could make a comeback, with Blood Razor and “Bring It On!” looking somewhat promising. Tempo Warrior also appears to be receiving support in this set. It remains to be seen, of course, what the Warrior Hero card looks like, but it may have the potential to spawn its own deck. The class should do fine.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

It’s difficult to remember that Paladin was one of the worst classes in the game before the standard rotation hit and Journey to Un’Goro launched. Initially, the class started slow but pretty soon, Murloc Paladin decks were discovered to be incredibly powerful. Indeed, if not for Hungry Crabs, these builds would have likely dominated the meta.

Paladin was a class that kept changing throughout the Un’Goro timeline, with Midrange Paladin finally settling into being the most popular archetype over the final few weeks. However, current Midrange Paladin builds are very different from the ones that saw play early on, as they are much more aggressive in nature.

Knights of the Frozen Throne brings about an interesting direction to the class, centering on Divine Shield synergy. We’re wondering whether a non-murloc Midrange Paladin could be strong enough to make its mark on the meta, or whether current murloc builds will simply incorporate the best the expansion has to offer while leaving out the more situational cards. Righteous Defender definitely looks like one of the strongest cards printed so far and Corpsetaker is a neutral card that Paladin might be able to get the most out of, so hopefully a new archetype can take form and bring about another boost in the class’ diversity.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Un’Goro has been a wild ride for Shaman. Thrall and his totems started slow; with many people writing off the class as one of the weakest in the game. However, in true Shaman fashion, the class has risen to the top of the meta and will enter the next chapter of Hearthstone firmly in the leading pack.

Token Shaman is the deck that propelled Shaman’s usage rate to the top. The deck was nearly non-existent during the early Un’Goro days, and only appeared midway through. Barring hard control decks, Token Shaman has good matchups across the spectrum, with Freeze Mage being its primary counter and the reason why its win rate was kept under control. This unique aggro deck can burst down opponents quickly, but is also capable, to some degree, of grinding it out as well.

Midrange Shaman was initially the popular archetype of this class before Token Shaman’s inception, with the Elemental build receiving a lot of hype early on. However, the deck was heavily suppressed due to Crystal Rogue’s existence. Once that deck got nerfed into oblivion, Midrange Shaman enjoyed a noticeable uptick in usage. With Jade Spirit’s reclassification as an Elemental, most builds utilize a hybrid package of Elementals and Jades. Fr0zen hit #3 legend with a Jade Shaman build that runs Kalimos at its top end as a response to Mages.

Moving forward, Shaman has some things to look forward to. New mechanics which revolve around Freezing are being given to the class. In addition, its hero card, Thrall Deathseer, appears to synergize quite well with its most powerful archetype currently since it’s centered around the Evolve mechanic. All in all, it’s hard to see a Frozen Throne meta which doesn’t include Shaman in some capacity. If we’ve learned anything from Un’Goro, it’s to not rule out this class.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

The revitalization of Miracle Rogue as a result of Crystal Rogue’s disappearance has truly died down now. The prevalence of the Mage class as well as Pirate Warrior is hurting Miracle Rogue’s chances of success.

However, diehard Rogue players have continued to pilot the archetype to good results. All the major variants of Miracle Rogue differ in only a few cards, and all are packing Arcane Giants. The latest development has been Viper reaching #5 legend utilizing a list that runs one Questing Adventurer and adds Journey Below. Similarly to Hallucination, Journey Below is a cheap spell that synergizes with your Auctioneers/Giants and can help you curve out.

Jade Rogue has significantly declined across all ladder ranks as the deck ultimately didn’t do well enough at anything in particular to be worth playing over other Jade or tempo decks.

Knights of the Frozen Throne will be a very important expansion for Rogue, as the nerf to the Caverns Below means it has once again gravitated to Miracle Rogue as the lone, impactful archetype. Some of the new cards are indicating a direction which puts some focus on weapons, a path that has been mostly neglected over the past year. Could it lead to the creation of a new archetype? Just how good is the Valeera hero card? Time will tell!

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Priest has mostly settled into one very specific role, and it is true both for Control Priest decks as well as Dragon variants: Countering Freeze Mage decks through Priest of the Feast combo’s. Other than this one single upside, the class has struggled to find a more prominent role in the meta.

Priest definitely needs some help in the upcoming expansion or it’ll remain a middling counter class going forward. We have finally seen some of the tools Priests are receiving in the upcoming Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, and we have some reason to be at least a little hopeful. Spirit Lash and Eternal Servitude are relatively strong spells that Priest can take heavy advantage of. Obsidian Statue is also an interesting card, but Priest needs more proactive minions, and less reactive spells in their hands. Eternal Servitude in particular could end up sitting dead in your hand if you cannot land a strong minion on the board, barring Barnes shenanigans.

Spirit Lash is the real star of the Priest arsenal so far, as low cost anti-aggro tools have been scarce for the class, as it always had to rely on Wild Pyro to fill this spot. Paired with spell damage, it has a chance to be one of Priest’s strongest swing turn cards going forward.

Embrace Darkness and Devour Mind’s high cost and lack of immediate impact make them too slow. The legendary revealed, Archbishop Benedictus, is super slow and under-statted. It has no immediate impact on the board, and adds cards into your deck that will most likely not help your immediate game plan as a Priest. In a full-on fatigue meta, this card is insane, but that day will probably never come. While one of the potentially most entertaining cards we’ve seen, it’s simply not going to help you win too many games of Hearthstone.

If we can get some strong minions, the potential is here, but as of now it is quite hard to say if we are going to see Priest make any noise in the upcoming meta.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Throughout Un’Goro, Hunter has been on a slow decline, with play rates becoming drastically lower at the higher levels of play. Hunter suffers from a predictable and linear playstyle which good players are able to exploit to either run over Hunter with tokens or simply run Hunter out of steam. Hunters need to either get some more versatile cards which allow them to play off curve (like a balanced Starving Buzzard) or a card so powerful on curve that it pushes Hunter into playability (like an unnerfed Call of the Wild). From what has been revealed so far, Professor Putricide fits in with the versatility, making secrets good even when Cloaked Huntress isn’t drawn, while still offering a solid on curve play.

The other Hunter cards leave us doubtful on whether Hunter can actually bounce back into the meta. Deathstalker Rexaar, Abomination Archer, and Stitched Tracker are all very slow for a class without strong AoE or healing. Bearshark falls off heavily in value if not played on turn 3, and even then, it will often get traded into by quicker decks with Patches. Venomstrike trap is probably too easy to play around, but could fill the spot of the flex traps in Secret Hunter. Corpse Widow seems good on paper, but might not be as impactful as it looks since it’s a 5 mana card. Hopefully, Hunter will get something both versatile and not slow in the upcoming card reveals. Otherwise, we can very easily see Hunter carrying similar play rate trends into Knights of the Frozen Throne.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock is still largely considered to be a dead class, and will continue to be one until the launch of the next expansion at least. One notable achievement, perhaps the best one the class has been able to reach in Un’Goro, is StanCifka hitting top 100 with a Doom Warlock deck.

There is hope for the class when it comes to the Knights of the Frozen Throne. While every card with the word “Discard” on it makes us wince, other Warlock archetypes could get enough support to become playable. Defile is one of the best cards revealed in the set, and Sanguine Reveler could be a boost for the Zoo Warlock archetype as well. However, we’re still waiting for that reliable healing card that could help Warlock survive into the late game. Otherwise, Control Warlock decks will continue to struggle in that area.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

The most influential deck in the current Un’Goro meta is not Midrange Paladin or Pirate Warrior, it is actually Freeze Mage. It’s very fitting that this archetype is a great representative of Un’Goro as well. It exploded into the meta in the early days of Un’Goro with its standard, old-fashioned playstyle, even though many pronounced it dead as Ice Lance retired to the Hall of Fame. It then proceeded to gradually decline in its popularity and performance as a result of the meta heavily countering it, turning it into a niche archetype.

Then, nearly three months into the “solved” meta of Un’Goro, it reinvented itself with a hybrid approach that simply dominated the field and turned Burn Mage into yesterday’s news. Even after the balance change to the Caverns Below, which fueled the rise of one of its biggest counters in Jade Druid, it has bounced back and maintained an excellent win rate against the field, albeit no longer a dominant one.

With Knights of the Frozen Throne, things are about to get even colder. Will Freeze Mage continue to flourish? Will tribal synergies and crabs remain a focal point of the meta? Will Gul’dan come back from his vacation? Will Ben Brode launch a rapping career with a new album dedicated to Warcraft lore?

Until next time, the Data Reaper signs off.

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has 2,200 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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Contributors

Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report:

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2 Comments

  1. This is one of the best articles so far, which is saying quite a lot. I loved reading about how the expansion impacted each class over the past 4 months.

    I’m not too optimistic about Frozen Throne, though. Many of the cards are control-oriented, and thus will likely never see play due to the overwhelming power of aggro and sheer existence of the Jade mechanic. Aggro and Jade cards are good no matter the matchup, while control-oriented cards (like Defile) require a certain matchup to not be dead in your hand. If more control cards were as universally useful as aggro cards (e.g. Sludge Belcher), then I wouldn’t be so skeptical.

    I hope I’m wrong though, and Frozen Throne builds on the strong foundation Un’goro laid. I think this expansion was more well-balanced than Old Gods – though I will admit Old Gods wasn’t as well-balanced as people remember. Warrior had about 5 different deck archetypes (Dragon, Tempo, Control, C’thun and Combo) and so was the go-to class for quite some time.

  2. I think a meta such as UG is about as balanced as a card game can be. Players are rightly eager to see a shake up of the meta with new cards; But we will be very lucky if Frozen Throne comes close to this.

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