vS Data Reaper Report #62

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from over 120,000 games.

 

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Welcome to the 62nd edition of the Data Reaper Report!

The balance changes are going live on the 18th. On that day, we will reset all matchup related data. This means that a full report will not be published next week, as sufficient new data needs to be gathered and work related to archetype analysis for the new post-patch meta needs to be done. We might have a preliminary report for the first few days of the patch, depending on our progress.

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has 4,900 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

120,000

Legend

2,000

Ranks 1-5

20,000

Ranks 6-10

35,000

Ranks 11-15

40,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency by Day

Class Frequency by Week

Class Frequency Discussion

The number of Druids continues to decline, but this is a result of players at lower ranks becoming fed up with the class. At legend, Druid is still near 40% representation and the number of Druids at rank 1-5 has actually increased from last week with players pressured to play the best decks in order to make it through the bottleneck to legend.

Priest has seen a massive spike in representation at all levels of play, as players are practicing their Razakus Priest in preparation for the balance changes. Razakus Priest is already a Tier 1 tournament deck, and enjoys a fair bit of success on ladder, with only Jade Druid significantly holding back its performance against the field.

Paladin continues its decline, with Murloc Paladin losing favor amongst the player base. While it was very promising early on, and it’s certainly still a strong deck, Murloc Paladin is not a reliable counter to Priest or Druid in its current ladder iteration.

In contrast to Paladin, Pirate Warrior maintains a slight edge against Priest and Jade Druid, keeping its representation on ladder fairly strong. We’re also seeing a small uptick in Control Warrior at higher levels of play, following Dog’s achievement last week with the fatigue Control Warrior build.

The Mage population has slightly increased overall, but is in decline at higher levels of play. The class is split quite evenly between three archetypes (Exodia, Control, Secret). Secret Mage has risen in its popularity a little, while Control Mage is in decline, which is a pretty understandable trend considering the rise of Priest.

The other four classes remain rather depressed, with one interesting exception. Hunter has increased in its popularity at all levels of play, thanks to the efforts of Asmodai hitting #1 legend with his Midrange Hunter. The Hunter class, over the past week, has received attention from the player base attempting to refine it. At last Rexxar had a few days of Hearthstone where he was not ignored or belittled.

Matchup Win Rates Header

Power Rankings Header

vS Power Rankings Discussion

The resistance has fallen. One by one, the top three aggressive decks that looked to challenge Jade Druid, have dipped in their win rate. Jade Druid now stands tall as the clear best deck in the game at the highest levels. Over the past few weeks, it has gained percentages in those aggressive matchups with smart tech and adjustments. Only Pirate Warrior seems to be able to maintain an edge against Jade Druid, but Pirate Warrior is beginning to lose its edge against the rest of the field and it stands to lose the Axe it uses to chop down the Jade menace. Jade Druid cannot be stopped. All hope has withered and rot. How long can this go on? How long can this go on?

And in the shadows, Anduin is lurking. He’s waiting for Malfurion to have one setback, one moment of weakness, one innervate nerf that could give him the percentages he needs in the direct matchup to become a new tyrant. Will Priest become the best class in the game for the first time in the history of Hearthstone? Will new counters rise on the back of a decline in aggressive decks in order to challenge the Shadowreaper? Tensions will rise when Malfurion and Anduin stare each other down once the balance changes go live for the first time. If either of them wins, we all lose. A third party has to intervene to restore balance and save Hearthstone, as well as our sanity.

On to other notable mentions. We can observe an increase in Hunter’s win rate against the field which correlates with the appearance of Asmodai’s build as well as other iterations inspired from it. However, Hunter’s potential is still ruthlessly capped by Jade Druid. Rexxar is definitely rooting for Anduin in order to increase its own relevance, as Hunter’s matchup against Priest is much better than its miserable matchup with Jade Druid.

Secret Mage is another deck licking its lips at the balance changes. If you’re wondering why, go to its matchup spread and find the red squares. Every one of those red squares is getting nerfed except for Token Shaman and Zoo. At least in theory, the stars are aligning for it to do very well going forward.

Control decks are continuing to suffer. Control Mage’s promise has ended with its terrible matchup against Priest. Control Warrior, with its fatigue win condition, has failed to gain traction either. While it seemed promising at first, it was very easily countered once players figured out what to do against it and how to tech to beat it (hint: run more threats and hit face harder). Its win rate against the field, even at the higher levels of play, is absolutely miserable, and its greatest contribution is probably helping out Hunter get some free wins. Meanwhile, Control Warlock and Control Paladin continue to exhibit atrocious win rates. There seems to be a correlation between “control” and “bad”. Maybe we should change their labeling to help them win more games?

Slightly over 0.6% of players are so sick of the current meta that they’d rather keep losing games with Mill Rogue. Free me!

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Data Reaper Report - Druid

While the balance changes to Innervate and Spreading Plague will undoubtedly hurt all Druid archetypes, the impact on Jade Druid of the nerfs to the remaining three cards cannot be understated. Jade Druid, in terms of quantity, has been hit the hardest from the nerfs. Both Innervate and Spreading Plague were an important part of the Jade deck, and both cards getting hit should make the archetype’s power level worse in a vacuum. However, the top three aggressive decks that pose a challenge to Jade Druid in the current meta have also been hit by nerfs: Aggro-Token Druid, Pirate Warrior and Murloc Paladin. Fiery War Axe being a three cost card means that the number of games in which Pirate Warrior curves out to a quick win is significantly cut. Murloc Warleader can no longer solidify the board, making Swipe and Primordial Drake more effective tools to deal with Murlocs. Aggro-Token Druid losing Innervate means that Flappy Bird cheese, for example, is no longer possible, a cause for many of this archetype’s wins against Jade Druid. Each of the three archetypes mentioned were the primary reasons why Jade Druid needed Spreading Plague, so the mana cost increase to the card may not be too big of a hindrance.

Aggro-Token Druid might suffer from the balance changes more than Jade Druid. With Innervate changed, the archetype is no longer capable of the explosive openings on which it relies heavily. The ability to flood the board faster than any deck in the game without the opponent being able to respond is crucial to its game plan, and is one of the reasons why it does so well in aggressive mirrors. Furthermore, one of the archetype’s better matchups in Pirate Warrior will likely decline in its popularity. With the changes to the numerous aggressive decks, control decks could see a rise in play. While greedy lists could potentially be punished by Token Druid, it generally does not perform well in a meta filled with AOE and defensive tools.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Anduin and Tyrande certainly are in uncharted territory. As a heavy favorite to become the strongest class in Hearthstone, Priest is possibly at its best since the inception of standard, with seemingly nowhere to go but up. With Druid’s consistency being reduced, and Pirate Warrior possibly completely disappearing, all iterations of Priest should benefit greatly. It is already observed in the tournament scene, where a Druid ban heavily forces the field towards Priest dominance.

Specifically, Razakus Priest has been tearing up the Druid-less tournament scene while also achieving success on ladder. TicTac took his variant to #6 legend in the week leading up to the balance changes, sporting Burgly Bully in his build. Bully is extremely strong in the Priest mirror and the list, in general, is geared to do well in a Priest heavy meta, with Prophet Velen as well as Greater Healing Potion also included.

The EZ Big EZ Priest’s biggest weakness on ladder is Pirate Warrior, so expect its win rate to spike going forward as well. It is a soft counter to Razakus Priest, so its potential in the new metagame is possibly being slept on. This archetype’s progress will be a huge note to monitor going forward.

Zetalot hit top 20 legend playing with a Control Priest build that seemingly did well against Jade Druid. It’ll be interesting to see whether another Priest archetype emerges in significant numbers as a result of the balance changes.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Disaster has struck the Warrior class. After years of being the best weapon in the game, Blizzard have finally had enough and decided to nerf Fiery War Axe. It will be interesting to see how the class adapts after losing its most iconic and powerful card.

The first impressions are that Pirate Warrior will no longer be a viable deck. Almost all of Pirate Warrior’s strongest early game power plays revolved around Fiery War Axe and it’s hard to see the deck still being relevant when such an important tool is lost. There are a lot of issues in its curve as well; the deck now has nothing but Bloodsail Raider to play on turn 2, with replacements being limited to Faerie Dragon and Fire Fly. The 3 mana slot was already extremely competitive, and now it’s just too crowded. Bloodsail Cultist and Frothing Berserker were excellent follow ups to Fiery War Axe, and now their synergy with the card is heavily gimped.

As for other Warrior archetypes, things look concerning. For Control Warrior, Fiery War Axe was by far the best way of getting through the turbulent early turns, but the class now has so much early game mass removal that it might be tolerable. The trouble is that, with War Axe, goes the Warrior class’ insurance. It is such a good card and papers over so many cracks that without it, the class is now prone to irrelevance if the cards from the recent set aren’t good enough. It’s definitely a difficult time for Warrior fans.

Dog’s Control Fatigue Warrior, featuring two copies of Dead Man’s Hand and no Fiery War Axe, was good enough for him to take it to #2 legend last week, the best result for any Warrior deck not named Pirate since the release of Knights of the Frozen Throne. Whether this build remains relevant after the balance changes, it’s difficult to tell.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Murloc Paladin continues to rule the roost for this class with Mistuhide hitting #8 legend with a drastically altered build. He has pushed the deck further towards all-out aggression, capping his curve at 6 while running Divine Favor. For now, this archetype is king of the Paladin class, but for how much longer? With the balance changes around the corner, this archetype stands to lose out significant power with Murloc Warleader no longer granting extra health. This makes value trading harder while also, and more importantly, making the Murloc tribe much more vulnerable to AoE damage effects.

It’s very hard to predict what will happen to Murloc Paladin after the balance changes. On one hand, its power level in a vacuum is reduced. However, Pirate Warrior and Aggro-Token Druid could also see a significant reduction in their representation, being some of Murloc Paladin’s more difficult challenges. It’s possible that aggressive Paladin decks will drop their murloc tribe core, or shift to faster builds such as Mitsuhide’s, since the slower builds might not be able to stick to the board consistently enough against control decks anymore.

Control Paladin continues to flounder, but that might change if the meta slows down. It all depends on how greedy the ladder meta becomes. In its current iteration, Control Paladin loses to Razakus Priest pretty terribly, as well as to Jade Druid, and both decks are not expected to go anywhere after the balance changes. This archetype could see a renaissance, but it needs to shed its anti-aggro techs in favor of a more proactive game plan, and it needs card draw in order to be able to execute an OTK/Beardo plan, one potential answer to Druids and Priests.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Mage has room for optimism when it comes to the balance changes, with both Exodia Mage and Secret Mage potentially benefitting from the meta shift. Both archetypes suffer at the hands of aggressive decks while maintaining good win rates against the Priest class. Pirate Warrior is one of the biggest obstacles to the class’ success on ladder, and its possible disappearance is a big sigh of relief. Fiery War Axe was the biggest counter to Secret Mage’s early game. With all of its minions falling prey to the weapon, the Mage just could not develop a board in response to a turn 2 War Axe, often being run over by the Warrior’s snowballing synergies. Needless to say, Exodia Mage’s matchup against Pirate Warrior is one of the most lop-sided affairs in the game.

The change to Innervate, which significantly limits Token Druid’s explosive starts, also affects these decks’ matchups against Jade Druid. Innervate was an excellent fodder to Counterspell, and without it, Jade Druids will have a much more difficult time playing around the Secret Mage’s most powerful and core secret. In addition, the Innervate change means that Druid will have a more difficult time consistently pressuring Exodia Mage before it is able to execute its combo. Note that we don’t expect Exodia Mage to suddenly become a top tier deck, but its win rate could be pushed into a range where it is a more consistent ladder deck.

We’re less optimistic when it comes to Control Mage, or pure Freeze Mage, because of these archetypes’ poor matchups against Priest. It’s not out of the question that attrition based Mage decks emerge, but it requires more pieces to fall into place.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

The good news is that current Shaman decks have mostly been spared from Blizzard’s wrath. The bad news is that the meta shift resulting from the balance changes might not be entirely favorable for Shaman’s only current viable archetype: Token Shaman. Token Shaman traditionally has an edge against other aggressive decks, so a reduction in their representation results in a decrease in its power level. In addition, a rise in the Priest class is also a predicted trend that does not bode well for the class. The one cause for optimism is that the increased mana cost to Spreading Plague and the nerf to Innervate mean Shaman’s matchup against Jade Druid should improve. However, Spreading Plague should still be a very effective tool against the archetype. In addition, slower Shaman archetypes have been kicked while they were already down with the nerf to Hex. It’s tough to say whether these dormant archetypes could see more play as a result of the balance changes, but there is definitely no guarantee they will, since Shaman’s kit generally does not perform well against Jade Druid or Razakus Priest, which are predicted to stay powerful.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

There have been some new, yet old, faces appearing in the Rogue world. Twink and Gyong have been playing Quest Rogue at high legend in this early portion of the season. Twink peaked at #4 Legend on EU, whereas Gyong peaked at #8 Legend on Asia. Both lists are fairly similar and familiar, with Twink opting for two Coldlight Oracles to assist in getting the pieces to complete the quest, whereas Gyong opted for a Doomsayer and a Backstab in order to help in aggressive matchups. The deck is still able to pray on control decks, but is extremely weak to decks such as Aggro Druid and Pirate Warrior. The balance changes may help it find its spot in the new meta, as it is still quite effective at beating Priest and Jade Druid.

The upcoming balance changes may affect Rogue in a positive light overall, as the top aggressive decks which prey on most Rogue archetypes will be weakened. In addition, Innervate is a very important card in the Jade Druid matchup, so it might help Miracle Rogue gain back percentages it has lost against Jade Druid since KFT’s release. Rogue is not expected to suddenly be a top dog in the meta, but could at least improve and adjust better to a new meta centered on Priest.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

Right on the eve of the balance changes, Hunter finally got some decent results on ladder (albeit early in the season where competition is less fierce). Roast took his teched out Hybrid Hunter to #5 legend while Asmodai managed to hit #1 with a Midrange Hunter build.

Roast’s Hybrid Hunter relies more on snowballing out a win than most, with the inclusion of Fledglings over Bearsharks and Stitched Trackers. The Fledglings work well with the Deadly Shots to ensure the snowball effect happens, while also having synergy with Spellbreaker. The Fledglings also help tremendously against Jade Druid, where making one big threat is much stronger than building a board. The Flare and Hungry Crab can be swapped for Stitched Trackers if Murloc Paladins and Mages aren’t as popular.

Asmodai’s Midrange Hunter list is tuned more towards a wide board playstyle, with the pirate package included alongside Bearsharks. One of the most notable things about the list is the lack of 5-drops, which end up being too clunky in a deck in which you would often rather play a 2-drop and a 3-drop on turn 5. Stitched Tracker in particular allows the deck to get rid of this slot, smoothing out the curve without needing to include subpar cards. This list is worse against Druid due to the threat of Spreading Plague, but performs better against aggressive decks thanks to the pirate package.

Hunter showing the capability of performing well certainly indicates that Hunter has potential in a meta where almost everything else other than Priest is getting nerfed, and considering that Priest is not a bad matchup for the class, we could see Hunter climbing to a more competitive win rate after the balance changes go live.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

While there seems to be no hope for Warlock in the current ladder meta, the upcoming balance changes provide us with a glimmer of hope. All flavors of Warlock struggled against Pirates, Murlocs, and Jade Golems. While it’s unlikely that the class will serve up a solution that beats all deck archetypes, it’s possible that the need for a wider spread of positive matchups will be lessened and more focused strategies can be used for success.

For Control Warlock, Pirate Warrior was one of its worst matchups and the loss of the premier 2 mana weapon in Fiery War Axe significantly lessens the early game pressure. Murloc Paladin wasn’t much better, but the removal of Warleader’s health buff should make Defile significantly more effective at clearing a wide board for minimal mana cost. This may give some opportunity for Control Warlock to shift to either a classic Handlock shell or even a highlander Kazakus/Krul build, such as Thijs’ experimental build listed here. Please take this with a huge grain of salt, as the Jade Druid problem will likely still exist for Control Warlock even with a more threat-dense build and Razakus Priest will likely increase in representation as well.

Midrange and/or Zoo Warlock do not have any lists for us to talk about now, but with the reduced presence of early game pressure from Pirates and Murlocs combined with the increased cost of Spreading Plague, there’s a possibility of the archetype returning to playability. Watch this space.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

HOW LONG CAN THIS GO ON?

HOW LONG CAN THIS GO ON?

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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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4 Comments

  1. I don’t think anyone foresaw Razakus priest being more than 50% of matches. My current classes faced % is literally 60% priests, almost all Razakus.

  2. I would rather play against Jade Druid than these lame Priest decks. Please nerf them soon after you realize what you have done. Literally every game people play will feature a druid or priest. I miss the Un’ goro meta where you always seem to play something different.

  3. Do you see any Kazakus mage on the ladder ? It seems to be holding very well against Jade right now, but I wonder if that’s because they don’t know really know what to expect.

  4. While I generally agree with your predictions, Jade Druid will still be a powerhouse without Spreading Plague (I don’t even use it) and while the lose Innervate will reduce the burst potential for JD, it’s still going to be the supreme control deck for some time to come.

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