Welcome to the 68th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 4,200 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 Discussion
First of all, we’d like to mention that constructed activity is down across the board. There are two reasons for this. The first is that we’re entering the 4th month of an expansion, which usually comes with a decline in play as well as a decline in interest in the game. The second reason is the dual-arena promotion, which has significantly spiked arena activity at the cost of constructed play.
Tempo Rogue’s numbers have remained steady and stable. Due to the archetype’s matchup spread, which has very few weaknesses overall, it has proven to be the most resilient to the meta shifts we’re experiencing. It’s a safe go-to choice for many players due to its incredible flexibility, raw power and difficulty to effectively counter.
Both Razakus Priest and Jade Druid continue to decline, especially at higher levels of play. Over the past couple of weeks, Razakus Priest’s numbers at legend have been slashed by a third, while Jade Druid’s numbers have dropped by a quarter. Both of these decks, especially Razakus Priest, have been the primary targets of the meta, and many decks rose in popularity to specifically counter them. These decks are obviously still very powerful, but unlike Tempo Rogue, to succeed with them one needs to more carefully read the meta and adapt to it.
The Priest and Druid classes are changing overall. We’re seeing them diversify as other successful strategies rise in popularity to compensate for the decline of the primary archetypes. Aggro-Token Druid and Big Druid have now established a significant presence in the meta at the top level, while Big Priest and Dragon Priest are quite prevalent too.
Other classes have mostly remained unchanged. While the meta is certainly shifting, most of the action involves the most popular classes and their own internal changes. The one exception to that is Murloc Paladin, which is in the midst of a spike in popularity, especially at higher levels of play.
vS Power Rankings Discussion
The KFT meta continues to surprise. Along with its rise in popularity, Big Druid has seen a massive spike in its win rate, jumping all the way to the #1 spot at legend. Multiple players have hit top legend ranks with the archetype, and considering that its popularity is still relatively low, its achievements are quite impressive. Big Druid is no longer a meme, but one of the most powerful decks in the game. Its success is tied to its matchups against the Big 3. It breaks even with Tempo Rogue, beats Jade Druid and dominates Razakus Priest. Poor matchups against Aggro-Token Druid and Murloc Paladin are nowhere near popular enough to push its win rate down, so it’s enjoying a very friendly meta.
As Big Druid rises, Jade Druid falls. It’s a funny story for the Druid class, in which the most popular archetype is the “weakest” performer in the context of the current meta, but it makes a lot of sense considering these archetypes’ matchup spreads. Aggro-Token Druid is also doing well, behind its decent matchup against Tempo Rogue and strong matchups against the slower Druid decks, making it a good ladder choice.
Murloc Paladin and Tempo Rogue continue to impress while Silence Priest has taken a bit of a hit this week which is a result of the decline in Jade Druid and Razakus Priest, its primary prey. Meanwhile, Big Priest has seen yet another increase in its performance and has established itself as one of the stronger performing decks in the meta. BIG decks have never been better.
Razakus Priest continues to linger in the sub 50% club, emphasizing that the archetype is not a great choice for everyone, since it requires overcoming the increased hostility of the current meta. It doesn’t appreciate the recent trading of a bad matchup (Jade Druid) for a really bad matchup (Big Druid) either. The fact that both Razakus and Jade are displaying their current win rates is a testament to the good health of the meta after the balance changes. Rather than having a metagame where the most dominant decks continue to dominate without any ability to answer them, we have a dynamic metagame where the dominant decks can be brought down to earth, decline in popularity and create a new metagame. Refreshing.
Another positive thing to note is that over the past week, every “Tier 3” performing deck and above has shown the capability of doing well at the highest levels of play (Yes, even Hunter). The KFT post patch meta does not have a “dumpster” class that’s unplayable. Hunter, Shaman and Warrior are generally considered to be weak by the player base, but they are probably the strongest “weak” classes that we’ve ever seen. Just remember how bad Karazhan Priest, Gadgetzan Hunter and Un’Goro Warlock were in comparison.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Tempo Rogue remains the dominant deck amongst the top ranks of Hearthstone, but for a dominant deck, it’s definitely among the fairest that the game has seen.
The archetype is split into 3 major branches. The most popular (standard) lists run Cobalt Scalebanes in their 5-slot and a neutral, mostly non-tribal package. Barnes has gained traction as a 4-drop for these variants with the inclusion of a more robust late game that synergizes with it. Following Cairne Bloodhoof, The Lich King is becoming a popular choice, inspired by Ike’s Dreamhack-winning build that looks to gain percentages against Druid and Priest. Another 4-drop that’s receiving attention is Lillian Voss appearing in BoarControl’s #2 legend build. Some players have deemed Chillwind Yeti to be a strong enough inclusion in Tempo Rogue’s curve, and Lillian Voss offers an upside on top of its vanilla stats: It can turn Backstabs or bad burgled cards from Swashburglar/Shaku into better value during slow matchups, and since the build carries few spells anyway, it’s often just a Yeti with no downside.
The Corpsetaker variants continue to see a fair bit of play, and they offer a more explosive take on the archetype. Teebs’ list minimizes the Corpsetaker synergy package to 5 other cards while keeping the build’s structure relatively close to the standard take.
The Elemental package is the least popular variant due to its strengths becoming less relevant in the changing meta: its higher focus on the board leads it to specialize in aggressive mirrors, while reducing the explosiveness in slower matchups. However, Takuchan’s #22 Legend build adds a fair bit of what the Elemental shell usually lacks by running Leeroy as well as Vicious Fledglings.
Non-Keleseth Tempo Rogue lists that run Eviscerates are also around and can be quite potent, but remain relatively on the fringes, alongside other Rogue archetypes such as Miracle Rogue.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Ike’s Barnes Tempo Rogue
- BoarControl’s Lillian Tempo Rogue
- Teebs’ Corpsetaker Tempo Rogue
- Takuchan’s Elemental Tempo Rogue
- Casie’s Miracle Rogue
The trinity of Druid archetypes from Un’Goro is back in full force, with Jade, Aggro-Token, and Big Druid all proving to be strong and competitive choices. Although Jade Druid is the most popular archetype, the gap is closing, with the other two increasing in play rates and diversifying the class.
Big Druid has had its big breakout performance, with Asmodai hitting #1 legend with the standard, ramp focused, Pinilikute list. As the archetype tends to do, the list runs a large number of threats, with Alexstrasza often acting as the X-factor that allows the build to stabilize its health total against aggressive decks, while serving as a deadly offensive tool in slower matchups. Big Druid has a great matchup against both Razakus Priest and Jade Druid, which are very common decks at higher levels of play. Both of the aforementioned decks struggle to deal with the never ending amount of threats that Big Druid can throw at them, while not having the aggressive capabilities to consistently rush it down.
Zalae took a Jade Druid build to top 10 legend while running one copy of Innervate, and bringing back The Lich King, replacing Medivh. Medivh carries more potential value and is stronger in slower matchups, but TLK has a more immediate impact on the board and is stronger in aggressive matchups with its hefty taunt.
Aggro-Token Druid is showing its prowess as one of the fastest decks in the game, matching Tempo Rogue’s ability to control the early game. It has good matchups against both Jade Druid and Big Druid due to its explosive starts. Snowflipper Penguin has proven to be a strong card in the deck, synergizing incredibly well with the archetype’s buff package and enabling some ridiculous opening gambits. PNC’s list is slightly slower, running Vicious Fledgling to increase the deck’s threat density.
- Druid Class Radar
- Standard Medivh Jade Druid
- Zalae’s Lich King Jade Druid
- Penguin Aggro-Token Druid
- PNC’s Aggro-Token Druid
- Pinilikute’s Big Druid
- Ombre’s Big Druid
Priest continues to show its incredible versatility. Razakus Priest’s stock has slightly fallen overall, but it remains a very powerful deck that can find a lot of success at higher levels of play with good adaptation and a strong pilot. Multiple players have reached top legend ranks with the archetype. Big, Dragon and Silence Priest are all competitive decks as well, capable of applying a lot of pressure on Razakus Priest while having several other good matchups on ladder.
The main development in Razakus Priest is cutting the Pint/Horror combo. Both of these cards have grown weaker in the meta, since they have fewer applications outside of the context of the combo. Shadow Word: Horror is strong against Aggro-Token Druid and Token Shaman, but these decks aren’t popular enough to justify its inclusion. Pint-Sized Potion is even more situational due to the absence of Cabal Shadow Priest, which has not been present in standard lists for a long time. Instead, 3-drops are included to shore up the Priest’s curve. Tar Creeper is a strong anti-aggro card that’s more consistent, while Kabal Talonpriest allows the Priest to fight for the board and put more pressure on opponents.
Another flex slot that’s often changed is the Doomsayer/Golakka slot. Players such as Orange, have opted to cut these cards entirely in favor of more cycle in the form of Gnomish Inventor. Other players are running Giant Wasp in order to provide a pre-emptive answer and pseudo-removal to popular big threats meant to pressure Priests; Good examples being Scalebane, Hydra and Bonemare. Golakka Crawler is still a strong card against Rogue, and most top level lists usually run one of these three cards, while Doomsayer has fallen off in its popularity. Hunterace prefers running Holy Fire over Binding Heal since it offers another way to remove some of the popular mid-sized minions that Priest can struggle to deal with at times. He also opts for Mass Dispel over Gnomish Inventor. The 30th card is either Auctioneer or Lyra. Auctioneer is strong in slower matchups which are more common at higher levels of play, while Lyra is better against aggressive decks and offers an additional win condition in the slower matchups.
While Dragon and Silence Priest haven’t seen many changes since last week, players are having success with a slightly alternative take on Big Priest, popularized by Zalae. This list includes the Embrace the Shadow/Circle of Healing combo for another board clear against aggressive decks, and cuts Potion of Madness.
- Priest Class Radar
- Orange’s Auctioneer Razakus Priest
- Hunterace’s Lyra Razakus Priest
- Standard Big Priest
- Zalae’s Big Priest
- Mitsuhide’s Dragon Priest
- SirVilgaudas’s Dragon Priest
- Florindo’s Silence Priest
Zoo Warlock remains in a strong spot in the meta, with multiple build paths available to the archetype. Control Warlock can show promise in the tournament scene, where bans are available, but continues to mostly struggle on ladder. When all else fails, it’s time to meme.
Warlock has now entered the EZ BIG EZ club. Heskey4lyfe has had some limited success with a BIG Warlock list at legend ranks, running Bright-Eyed Scout and a chock full of giant legendary minions just waiting to take a bite out of the opponent. If you’re looking for a deck to play around with at the beginning of the season before a more serious climb or one to try at a ranked floor, look no further.
Known Control Warlock expert Puksin hit top 50 with a very low-curve and removal-heavy list focused on fatigue as an endgame with a very limited threat profile, leaning heavily on Dirty Rat and Skulking Geist to defeat decks with strong late game win conditions. The purpose of this list is to target Rogue and decks that flood the board in the early game, such as Aggro-Token Druid.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Standard Zoo Warlock
- Wabeka’s Zoo Warlock
- Zanananan’s Demon & Pirate Zoo Warlock
- Kuronti’s Control Warlock
- Puksin’s Control Warlock
- Heskey4Life’s BIG Control Warlock
Mage is in a pretty stagnant phase in the meta, with most of its archetypes remaining the same and undergoing little changes. The most impressive ladder result for the Mage class this week is Gaara hitting #3 legend with his Control Mage build. This list cuts the Doomsayer/Freeze package and is far more proactive in its game plan. Most older builds for the archetype are very defensive, which gives them very little chance of beating a deck such as Razakus Priest.
However, cutting passive cards makes this list capable of putting enough pressure on the Priest that the matchup is much more manageable. The key cards in the deck are Medivh and Frost Lich Jaina. Medivh creates board pressure that forces Priests and Jade Druids to utilize their resources defensively, while Frost Lich Jaina can put the Priest in an uncomfortable spot where he has to clear the board from Water Elementals before popping the Ice Block from full health.
- Mage Class Radar
- Standard Secret Mage
- Eloise’s Secret Mage
- Araiance’s Secret Mage
- Gaara’s Control Mage
- Standard Exodia Mage
Murloc Paladin continues its impressive performances on ladder and there is little doubt that this archetype is one of the strongest in the game.
Zalae hit top 10 legend this week running Captain Greenskin, a card that works really well with the full weapon package that’s common in pirate lists. This deck can be changed to your local meta, with Golakka Crawler being the main ingredient swapped. Other options include The Curator, which synergizes perfectly with the deck, and Finja, which is a powerful comeback mechanism that can win games by itself in matchups against aggressive and midrange decks. If you want to play Paladin in this meta, you should be playing Murlocs, as they are very well positioned in the current meta. Other Paladin archetypes are either too weak or outclassed by better options available.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Jambre’s Patches Murloc Paladin
- Zalae’s Patches Murloc Paladin
- Cocof’s Murloc Paladin
- StanCifka Handbuff Paladin
- Kibler’s Handbuff Paladin
- Takuchan’s Control Paladin
- Gcttirth’s Aggro Paladin
Other than the odd appearance, most Shaman lists continue to remain close to the standard Token Shaman build we’ve known for a long time. The class’ enthusiasts are eager to see whether the new expansion will bring new dynamics and playstyles to the class. Shaman’s late game falls off in comparison to powerhouses such as Jade Druid and Razakus Priest, two decks that are the primary cause why we don’t see much else from the class. Is Freeze Shaman going to be a thing, or will Shaman experience the same problems Warlock suffered from when its design space was sunk into a failed idea?
Hunter seems to have stopped its massive decline in play rate, with very similar numbers as last week. In addition, it has finally seen significant success at top legend ranks, with NickChipper hitting #7 legend with his Barnes build that we featured last week. The list is strong for exploiting the meta as long as the top decks continue to be greedy, and as long as aggressive decks don’t make a big comeback, it is currently the best choice for laddering. If you’re facing more aggression, consider Feno’s more defensive list.
As usual, this week’s Warrior section comes with a disclaimer that the class kinda sucks and should be avoided unless one is really determined. Even Pirate Warrior, the only competitively viable Warrior deck, is outclassed by better aggressive options, though you can certainly do well with it. About the only interesting thing to come out of the class this week is Odemian’s Control Warrior, which he used to hit top 100. In Warrior terms, that can be considered an impressive result. It’s an interesting list too, playing Rotface and Yogg-Saron, but with a similar fatigue-oriented game plan that Control Warrior decks have tended to utilize. It’s far from a top deck, but if you really can’t wait until the next expansion to get your fix of Warrior this is at least some consolation.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Zlsjs’ Pirate Warrior
- Zeh’s Pirate Warrior
- Fibonacci’s N’Zoth Control Warrior
- Odemian’s Control Warrior
The rising star of this week is Big Druid. With few decks lurking around to punish it, it matches up very well with the three most popular decks in the game, so much so that it has now taken the #1 win rate spot at legend. Big Druid’s biggest advantage is the immense pressure it can mount on decks that give it time to ramp up its mana curve and start dropping threats, and its faster clock makes it stronger than Jade Druid in the context of the current meta. Perhaps not intuitively, it also does reasonably well against aggressive decks that don’t have explosive starts that snowball out of control (its kryptonite are buff synergy decks, such as Murloc Paladin and Aggro Druid) since it’s capable of ramping quickly and swinging the game through Plague/Primordial Drake/Earthen Scales turns. Ramp is your primary mulligan priority and crucial to your game plan in every matchup. The more mana you have, the bigger you can get, and you want to be very, very big.
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