Welcome to the 70th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
At this stage in the month, the legend meta is very different from the rank 1-5 meta. The bottleneck to legend tends to be more competitive and ruthless, with less experimental decks as players are trying their best to finish the grind. But there are also some differences that involve the flow of information and how success at top legend ranks slowly trickles down to the rest of the field.
The one noticeable trend this week is the rise in popularity of the big 3 classes. Druid stays the most popular class at all levels of play behind three competitive archetypes. Aggro-Token Druid is the most popular archetype, and there is a huge contrast between Jade Druid and Big Druid. Jade Druid is very popular at lower skill levels, and significantly drops in its numbers as you climb the ranks, while Big Druid behaves in the exact opposite manner, spiking at the highest levels. At legend, Jade Druid is the least popular archetype and takes a back seat to the other two Druid archetypes. This correlates with how successful each archetype has been in recent weeks.
Tempo Rogue is extremely popular at the bottleneck to legend (where the pressure to win is highest), but slightly drops off at legend, where we’re seeing a bit more Miracle Rogue. Razakus Priest sees 50% more play at legend than it does at ranks 1-5, and Big Priest also increases in play at legend. This makes Priest the 2nd most popular class at legend, surpassing Rogue’s numbers. Another interesting thing to note regarding Razakus Priest is its build diversity. At legend, players are more inclined to try out many different variations that move away from cookie cutter builds, while at ranks 1-5, they are more often sticking to the tried and true.
There is a pretty big spike in Mage’s popularity, especially at higher levels of play, which is the result of Control Mage’s rise. The archetype has enjoyed some success at top legend, encouraging the player base to experiment with it more. Exodia Mage’s numbers also spike at legend, which is not different than what we’ve seen from the deck in previous months. Players really enjoy playing it when the pressure is off, and it might also have to do with the Priest class’ popularity at legend.
Warlock has proven to be quite a strong class since the balance changes hit. Zoo Warlock is the 2nd most popular archetype at ranks 1-5, but its numbers crash quite hard once you reach legend. We do know that the deck tends to drop in its performance at higher skill levels, but there is also a general lack of interest in playing the deck. This will likely change once we get to the latter stages of the month.
Things are not looking bad for Paladin and Hunter. Murloc Paladin sees more play at legend which is likely caused by the rise in Big Druids and the drop in Tempo Rogue. We can also observe an increase in interest and attempts to refine the archetype at the highest levels. Hunter is actually enjoying a bit of a revival, with players more willing to try it out. At legend, we’re beginning to notice the rise of a new Hunter deck, which we will talk about in the Hunter section (Bragis’ Spell/Barnes Hunter).
The classes that are suffering the most at the moment are Warrior and Shaman. There is a significant lack of interest in piloting these classes, and who can blame the player base? Warrior with a nerfed Fiery War Axe feels pretty bad to play, and Shaman isn’t a very compelling class to try out either. KnC can’t come soon enough for them.
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Tempo Rogue and Murloc Paladin take the top two spots, with Big Druid slightly dropping off in its performance. Tempo Rogue is simply a really powerful archetype that’s difficult to counter, and it has always brushed off every meta shift we’ve seen since the balance changes because of its flexibility. Murloc Paladin is absolutely nuts right now, and is probably the best deck in the game if you ban Rogue. This one matchup prevents it from reaching “busted” status. It’s currently the highest win rate deck at legend because of the rise in Big Druids, as well as the drop in Tempo Rogues and Zoo Warlocks we’ve already discussed.
Big Druid is still very, very good. The bottleneck to legend has a faster meta, but the high amount of Razakus Priest at legend boosts its win rate significantly and keeps it at elite status. Aggro-Token Druid also remains quite strong, while it’s definitely getting harder for Jade Druid to do well. The green men are losing their edge in several matchups, which is caused by the meta’s hostility and its sharp decline in play rate (“abandonment syndrome”).
Razakus Priest stays sub 50%, but we can definitely observe that the deck performs better at higher levels of play. However, with its popularity at legend being so high at the moment, it’s definitely a rewarding deck to try to beat. It has a Rock/Paper/Scissors relationship with Big Druid and Aggro-Token Druid, which is a dynamic that becomes even more relevant at top legend ranks. The mulligan factor on ladder likely prevents it from performing as well as it could in these matchups.
Big Priest drops off in its performance at the bottleneck to legend, but its matchup spread remains really stable, with very few weaknesses overall. It loses to off-meta decks, such as Secret Mage and Exodia Mage, but has a good chance against most of the field. Zoo Warlock’s drop in power level at higher skill levels is definitely noticeable, but even with that drop, it’s perfectly competitive. The current meta, in general, has a lot of competitively viable archetypes (Higher than 47%, generally)
The most improved archetype this week is Control Mage, with its score spiking by over 2% at higher levels of play. There has been a large discrepancy in the success of Control Mage builds, and with its top legend success recently, the stronger builds are beginning to take over as it is being refined. It’s definitely a volatile archetype, though, for two reasons:
There is still a lot of experimentation being done with the archetype. The variance in its card usage is very high.
Its matchup spread is very tech dependent. It’s an archetype that can have big swings in its win rates against certain decks just by changing a few cards. Therefore, it is the most difficult one to optimize, but is also one that is highly rewarding if you are capable of fine tuning it to your local meta. It can be good against aggressive decks, and good against slower decks, but it can’t be good against both at the same time.
Another improving archetype is Handbuff Paladin, which looks to be in the strongest spot it has ever been. The cause is the spread of BloodEdge’s build, which is performing quite well in the current meta. It’s not a crazy strong deck by any means, and it’s definitely inferior to Murloc Paladin, but it is strong enough to be viable. If you like the Paladin class and find yourself bored by murlocs, there is an alternative.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Trends from the last few weeks continue, as Big Druid and Aggro-Token Druid slowly take over the class, while Jade Druid is taking a back seat.
Aggro-Token Druid is the most played Druid archetype at higher levels of play.
It has a great matchup against the top dogs in the meta, while only being unfavored against Razakus Priest. The standard Penguin list is likely the best approach for the archetype. Rafael hit #4 legend with a slightly altered list that runs King Mukla at the 3 mana slot. This is an obvious nod to slower matchups, especially the slower Druid decks, which usually have no minions on the board in the early game and don’t have the ability to deal with 5 health minions.
Big Druid continues its impressive performance on ladder. While it can get smashed by decks such as Murloc Paladin, Aggro-Token Druid, and Secret Mage, these matchups are not common enough to hinder its win rate significantly. Big Druid has very strong matchups against many of the most popular meta decks, such as Razakus Priest and Jade Druid, while holding its own against Tempo Rogue and Zoo Warlock. The standard list, which was originally built by Pinilikute, continues to perform well, with Asmodai parking at or near the #1 legend spot with the build. Some players are experimenting with modifications of the deck, and Medivh is a popular cut since his impact is slower than other late game cards in the deck. Zalae cut Medivh in addition to Innervates, in order to run more big dragons, Ysera and Malygos, as well as an Ancient of War. Innervate is a low impact card which you usually don’t want in your opening hand, so increasing your threat density while adding more synergy to Deathwing, Dragonlord (your strongest late game card in this list) has merit. Esteban hit #2 legend by cutting Medivh for a Bog Creeper, which serves a similar role to Ancient of War while being a better pull from Y’Shaarj. Some players, such as Kaizel, are experimenting with Madam Goya as a way to cheat out big minions.
Jade Druid is definitely being overshadowed by the two other Druid decks at the moment, but it is still a strong archetype capable of success. Meati hit #2 legend with a very standard list that cuts Medivh while running Spellbreaker and Mind Control Tech. These two flex spots can vary between builds, while the other 28 cards in the deck are considered to be core.
- Druid Class Radar
- Big Druid
- Jade Druid
- Aggro Token-Druid
Tempo Rogue continues to see developments in its builds. It’s becoming apparent that Saronite Chain Gang is likely the best 4-drop available for the standard variant, with many players having great success with Meati’s list specifically. There are two primary benefits that Chain Gang offers: It’s an incredibly powerful draw when Keleseth was already played. It’s very strong on curve with a Scalebane follow-up, making it much more likely that the dragon’s ability connects. In addition, it offers protection while not being a liability against slower decks, which is one of Tar Creeper’s biggest weaknesses.
BoarControl has been dominating top legend ranks with Meati’s build, hitting #1 multiple times, swapping Shaku for a Vicious Fledgling to add a faster threat against the slower meta decks. Shaku is a better card in faster matchups, so consider which choice is better in your local meta.
But Tempo Rogue has proven to be successful with many different build paths, and a new one has taken form this week with Jambre’s UK Rogue. Jambre is famous for his UK Paladin, incorporating a bigger weapon package along with Dread Corsairs in Murloc Paladin. He has now transferred this approach to Rogue. This variant goes even heavier on the pirate package than any Tempo Rogue before it, including Captain Greenskin, Naga Corsairs and Dread Corsairs. To facilitate the reliance on weapon synergy, the list includes Shadowblades and Runeforge Haunter, a card that allows you to get extra attacks and value out of your weapons. Deadly Poisons replace Cold Bloods to increase the synergy with cards such as Greenskin and Dread Corsair. This list has incredible racing potential, which makes it quite strong in the mirror, but is much more susceptible to Golakka Crawlers.
Miracle Rogue has made a re-appearance, with long time Rogue expert, Gyong, hitting #1 legend on Asia with his Miracle Rogue list. The archetype has been struggling for a while on ladder, but some players can still make it work in the right situation. Miracle Rogue can handle going up against the slower decks of the meta, but the matchup against Tempo Rogue specifically is just very difficult to overcome.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Tempo Rogue
- Miracle Rogue
Razakus Priest continues to be one of the most influential decks in the meta. Its success can be dependent on local trends, specifically on what kind of Druids you’re facing. Jade and Big Druid have an advantage over Priest and usually grow in popularity as a response to it. As these decks’ popularity grows, Aggro-Token Druid tends to rise to counter the slower Druid decks. This stage is ideal for Priest to shine as it boasts a favorable matchup against Aggro-Token Druid and handles the other aggressive decks fairly well.
The standard Razakus Priest lists remain the same this week. The rise of Aggro-Token Druids makes including both Lyra and Auctioneer a riskier endeavor, and some players cut both if they are facing a hyper aggressive local meta. The standout Priest player on ladder for the last couple of months has been Hunterace, who has hit #1 legend numerous times with the archetype (as well as Dragon Priest), and has been on a back-and-forth battle with BoarControl this week for the #1 spot on the EU server. His build is slightly different than most other builds, including Mass Dispel and Holy Fire. We’re fans of including Holy Fire over Binding Heal, since it helps deal with minions with which Priest generally struggles, most notably Cobalt Scalebane. Binding Heal works better in lists that run Auctioneer.
With the release of Marin the Fox, many players tried to fit the card into different archetypes. As it turns out, while the card doesn’t seem to be strong enough for a competitive build, its best home is likely found in Silence Priest, since the card synergizes with some of the pieces that fit the archetype naturally. Tars’ was having success with a Silence Priest build that runs Crazed Alchemist to both combo with Divine Spirit, and pop the chest. If you’re looking for a more consistent build of Silence Priest, an underrated archetype in the current meta, try out Esteban’s build, which helped him reach the top legend ranks on the EU server.
Big Priest, meanwhile, remains the best positioned Priest archetype in the current meta. Multiple players have been enjoying top legend success with the archetype. One of them is JustSayian, who took Zalae’s Embrace build to #1 legend.
- Priest Class Radar
- Razakus Priest
- Big Priest
- Dragon Priest
- Silence Priest
Warlock’s comfortable position as the class just behind the big 3 has held for weeks now and does not look to be changing any time soon.
Zoo Warlock continues to be one of the most powerful early game decks in the format and has been very successful on ladder. We’re featuring Rothman’s build, with which he hit #1 legend this past week. It’s very close to our standard list, but techs a bit more towards aggressive mirrors, with the addition of Tar Creepers over Vicious Fledglings. Tar Creeper is included to combat the significant increase in Aggro-Token Druid that we’ve seen since the end of last season. As mentioned last week, Cobalt Scalebane is a great tech choice if you happen to run into more Priests than most, though you will have to cut a couple of early game cards to fit it in.
Control Warlock remains a very niche archetype that has difficulty matching up to the dominant late game decks in the current meta. However, it has really strong defensive tools that can allow it to shine if the meta is hyper aggressive with Rogues and Aggro Druids. It’s the strongest choice to counter Aggro Druids, since it carries multiple powerful board clears, with Defile being the best of the bunch and nearly impossible to play around for the Druid.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Zoo Warlock
- Control Warlock
The Mage class is mostly waiting for the next expansion. Secret Mage is more popular at lower ranks while Control Mage becomes the most popular archetype at legend, and its rise is largely due to Gaara’s success, hitting #1 legend on Asia with his build. The list we currently feature is one of Gaara’s iterations, focused on beating Aggro-Token Druid by running Bloodmage Thalnos with two Volcanic Potions and only two secrets – two Ice Blocks. A third secret (Barrier, Counterspell or Spellbender) can be added in place of Thalnos to increase the consistency of Arcanologist, while a 2nd Fireland’s Portal can replace one Volcanic Potion if the meta you’re encountering is slower. Teebs hit #8 legend by cutting the Mana Wyrms and Medivh, and running Pyros and Blizzards instead, a more defensive approach that looks to improve matchups against decks that swarm the board (Zoo, Aggro Druid).
- Mage Class Radar
- Secret Mage
- Control Mage
- Exodia Mage
This week brings new developments for the Hunter class, with Bragis’ innovative Spell/Secret Hunter list. Bragis has hit top legend ranks with the deck, and ChaboDennis took it all the way to #2 legend on EU.
This deck is unlike any other Hunter deck we’ve seen in KFT, and utilizes the Barnes/Y’Shaarj combo while not running any other minions. This means that Barnes on 4 is a very powerful play that can win games by itself, even more so than it does in Big Priest.
However, this “high-roll” mechanic is only one win condition available to the deck. Its primary win conditions are dependent on controlling the board through reactive spells and removals, as well as protecting your life total through a defensive secret package. Deathstalker Rexxar is a key card in the deck (in addition to Barnes and Eaglehorn Bow), and is absolutely essential in order to out-value your opponent, which is how the deck wins slower matchups. The deck also carries a faster burn plan through Eaglehorn Bow. By equipping it and re-charging it numerous times through secret activation, it can deal a lot of face damage which can then set up a Kill Command to finish the game.
While this deck’s sample size is still too low to evaluate with confidence, it doesn’t appear to be a meta breaking deck. However, it seems strong enough to be competitive, and brings a refreshing approach to a class that has been stuck on a very linear game plan for a long time. Ever wanted to play a “Control Hunter”? This is as close as you can get.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Midrange Hunter
- Bragis’ Spell Hunter
Murloc Paladin is a high win rate deck with weaknesses to other fast decks such as Tempo Rogue and Zoo Warlock, whose ability the capture an early board position can disrupt the murloc synergy from snowballing. Murloc Paladin thrives in a slow meta, where it can completely stomp passive archetypes that don’t interfere with its board development. Overall, it remains very well positioned and is an underrated ladder choice.
There are two main approaches to Murloc Paladin. The standard variant maximizes murloc synergy by running Coldlight Seer, which are particularly powerful against slow Druids. The Coldlight Seers can be flexed out for Stonehill Defenders, which are also strong in slower matchups due to the additional value and longevity they provide. Zoobots are also being experimented with in lists that run Golakka Crawlers (Zalae, Sjow), as they serve a similar role to Coldlight Seer.
Another flex spot in the standard list is the 2nd Spikeridged Steed. With so many buffs in the deck, there is a huge reliance on sticking a minion on the board, and the deck can fall apart once it loses initiative. For that reason, it is often cut for other options. Casie has been having success with Cairne, a sticky minion that’s become popular in Rogue for similar reasons, being very good at filling the curve between Scalebane and Bonemare. Twink hit #2 legend running Nerubian Unraveler, a minion that can heavily disrupt your opponent’s ability to react to your board, especially against Druids and Priests.
The second variant is the Pirate one, initially pioneered by Jambre. This list attempts to improve the archetype’s poor matchup against Rogue and other early game decks, by running more weapons to answer their minions and creating tempo swings through Dread Corsairs and Patches.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Murloc Paladin
- Handbuff Paladin
- Control Paladin
Shaman languishes in staleness as another week goes by. Zero innovation is seen in the class. Token Shaman is the class’ only viable archetype that sees a decent amount of play, but it’s outclassed by stronger decks. While it used to dominate early board control back in the Un’Goro days, this is no longer the case and it often finds itself being outpaced by Tempo Rogue, relying on Doppel/Evolve to swing the game back in its favor. Druid’s Spreading Plague as well as the plethora of board clears available to Priest makes it really difficult for the archetype to shine in the current meta. The class will likely have to wait until the next expansion to re-invent itself.
Warrior remains unchanged from last week. Pirate Warrior is still an acceptable yet boring and outclassed deck, with Prince Keleseth being the most common route to take the deck. The abundance of Golakka Crawler on ladder does not help, and is yet another reason why the deck suffers under the dominant presence of Tempo Rogue. There are no high ladder results to speak of with Pirate Warrior because anyone talented enough to pilot the deck to high ranks would rather play Tempo Rogue.
Pirate Warrior appears to be the only chance to be competitive on ladder with Warrior. There are countless, fun and interesting Warrior decks, but none of them are good in a ladder environment, unless you’re Fibonacci, who hit legend with a new iteration of his N’Zoth Warrior. It’s time for Warrior fans to sit tight and pray Kobolds & Catacombs has something better to offer.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Pirate Warrior
- Fibonacci’s N’Zoth Control Warrior
- Odemian’s Control Warrior
The only thing that really stops Murloc Paladin from being an oppressive force in the metagame is Tempo Rogue, and whenever people take the foot off the gas pedal and play less Rogue, Murloc Paladin has a feast.
The interesting thing to note about Murloc Paladin, is that it’s no longer ignored by top level players. It’s being actively refined and developed, and these efforts are bearing fruit. The standard list is very reliable and best positioned against Razakus Priest and Big/Jade Druid, but is weakest to Rogue. The Jambre UK variant sacrifices some percentages in the slower matchups to get better at the faster matchups.
The Golakka Crawler/Zoobot list is the most recent and least proven. Golakka Crawlers allows you to target your worst matchup. The Zoobot serves a similar role to Coldlight Seer in slower matchups by snowballing your board lead, while also improving the performance of Golakka Crawlers when they’re drawn against non-Pirate decks.
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