Welcome to the 81st edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 3,500 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
Warlock sees two contrasting trends. Zoo Warlock has significantly declined at all levels of play over the past week, while Control Warlock has grown in numbers. This is particularly true at higher levels of play, where the latter exceeds 20%. Control Warlock continues to be very diverse in its approaches, with many builds ranging within the spectrum of ‘Control variants’ and ‘Cube variants’, which is why they cannot be reliably differentiated without inserting significant bias in the system. If that changes, we’ll let you know.
Do you remember that Priest lost its most powerful archetype to the balance changes? Judging by these numbers, it’s hard to tell. Priest has risen in play once again this week with the emergence of Control Priest, an archetype built to grind out opponents while, of course, utilizing the dragon package to abuse the power of Duskbreaker and Drakonid Operative. The other three Priest archetypes have taken a step back in prevalence. Combo Priest continues to be the Priest deck of choice at higher levels of play. Its prevalence is significantly higher at legend than outside of legend ranks, where Spiteful Priest is most popular.
Dude Paladin has certainly broken the meta, with an incredible spike in popularity that turned it into one of the most prevalent archetypes in the game within days. At the bottleneck to legend, Paladin’s numbers actually rival Warlock’s as a result. Murloc Paladin is still relatively more popular than Dude, but the tribal archetype has declined in play and the gap between the two archetypes is quickly closing. Control Paladin, as well as the vanilla Aggro Paladin builds, are much more niche in comparison to the big two.
As Paladin rises, Mage falls. Secret Mage struggles to deal with board flooding, which Dude Paladin does just as well as Murloc, so we’re not surprised to see the archetype fall in play in response to the current meta breaker.
The days of Hunter sitting on the fringes of the meta could be over. The class has enjoyed a continued rise in popularity since the balance changes, and it might have finally overcome its repeated struggles against a more refined meta. This is thanks to Spell Hunter, an archetype that has proven to be surprisingly resilient these days, telling a different story than the one told at the launch of K&C.
It’s a bit strange to see Rogue and Druid so unrepresented, but all of these classes’ archetypes have struggled to establish themselves in the current field. Tempo Rogue has faded away into obscurity, while Jade Druid is not nearly as scary as it used to be. It does “feel” like there are only 5 truly relevant classes in the current meta, and meeting Rogue or Druid has become a somewhat special occasion.
Not as special as meeting Shaman or Warrior, of course. These classes are truly in the bottom of play rates. To be fair to Shaman, it has actually seen some developments in recent days, and there is a growing interest in playing the class with various Jade Shaman builds being tested. Warrior looks more like a lost cause, and after yet another decline in play this week, its prevalence is at the level of Un’Goro Warlock. The balance changes have only made things worse for Garrosh.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Dude Paladin is no fake news. This deck is the real deal with an absolutely absurd matchup spread that makes you actually want to thank all the Warlocks out there for keeping it somewhat in check. It’s interesting to note that even Aggro Paladin, which has fallen completely out of favor, is still very strong. It is mostly redundant as a result of the existence of similar decks in Dude and Murloc. The current meta is heavily dependent on the equally busted Defile keeping a leash on Call to Arms, and it is somewhat of a worry going forward. Team 5 has to be really careful on which 2-drops they print for the next three expansions, as any strong early game minion could result in Call to Arms breaking the game.
The power level of all decks in the game have been greatly affected by the matchup with Dude Paladin, which is why it’s easy to understand why Control Warlock has risen both in prevalence and win rate this week, while Secret Mage has done the exact opposite. The one other deck that fares quite well against Dude Paladin is Jade Druid, and the green men have risen in power at higher levels of play as a result of the latest meta shift. They can thank Spreading Plague for that.
Three Priest archetypes boast a win rate of over 50% at legend ranks, with only Control Priest, the newest archetype at the least refined state, sitting on the other side of this mark. The class is obviously still very strong, and is quite a headache to deal with since all of its decks play out very differently. None of them are very good at dealing with dudes, however. Duskbreaker is usually not enough.
Spell Hunter is comfortably sitting at the top half of the table. Its secret/removal package is strong enough to handle most aggressive decks after the balance changes, and it’s only truly vulnerable to slow decks that carry excessive life gain. Many players have been asking for a Control Hunter deck over the years, and we think Spell Hunter’s playstyle fulfills that fantasy quite well. Unless it plays Barnes on 4.
There are many aggressive decks that either faded away or are in decline, and our metrics do point towards the reasons why. With Tempo Rogue effectively gone, Paladin has established itself as the dominant early game class. Its performance is on such a high level that other options look largely inferior. Aggro Druid looks pretty weak, as Spiteful Druid has taken up its role of the beatdown Druid archetype. Zoo’s decline in prevalence correlates with a drop in its win rate, and unless it figures out a way to bounce back, it will become a niche archetype going forward. Minion-based Hunter decks carry a similar fate. They are just not as fast at getting on the board and do not snowball as hard as Paladin.
Slower decks, on the other hand, look better than they did before the patch (where they were basically unplayable). Control Paladin has snuck into a viable win rate, and the deck can definitely see success at all levels of play. Control Priest would never see the light of day in a Raza Priest meta, and Miracle Rogue has also seen an encouraging improvement at legend ranks this week. Warlock obviously sets the tone for other late game strategies, and should be carefully watched when rotation hits, but it hasn’t pushed everything else out with the same kind of ruthlessness that Raza Priest or Jade Druid did. We’re wondering if Doomguard is a Hall of Fame candidate, since its interaction with Skull of the Man’ari enables an abuse of the always problematic charge mechanic, making it the least interactive element of Cube Warlock.
Token Shaman has seen more improvements in its win rate at higher levels of play, though it’s still not very strong against the field, while the experiments with Jade Shaman haven’t been working so far on any large scale. Warrior continues to be completely absent from the table, and is sitting at Tier 5, where really, really bad decks are buried.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Control Warlock variants maintain a strong hold on the meta and are one of the key defining strategies at all levels of ladder. As decks have become more streamlined and optimized, the meta has actually shifted to be more favorable to Warlock – in particular, the rise of Dude Paladin and the decline of Secret Mage is great news for the class. While Dude Paladin is extremely powerful against the field, its one stumbling block is a class that has such powerful and consistent forms of AOE, make it a struggle for the Paladin to have its dudes stick to the board.
Control Warlock builds on ladder can still be very unpredictable, with even cards such as Skull of the Man’ari or Gnomeferatu finding their way into variants you least expect them to be present. One trend that is true for the entire archetype is the increased prevalence of Doomsayer in both Cube and Control variants, which is an important card against Paladins and Mages. Meanwhile, Mortal Coil is being cut from lists due to its weakness in the mirror matchup and low impact overall. We’re featuring two straightforward builds that best represent the two current approaches. While Spiritsinger Umbra has fallen in play recently, her combo with Carnivorous Cube merits a spot in the build over the 2nd Faceless Manipulator. For Control lists, Gnomeferatu is often seen as a mirror tech over Plated Beetle, which is a stronger card in faster matchups.
Zoo Warlock has not displayed impressive results recently and is struggling to settle down on a consensus shell. We believe that while Vulgar/Demonfire builds are most popular on ladder, Keleseth variants might be slept on, and are still strong enough even in the absence of Patches. In addition to featuring a standard post-nerf Keleseth list, ForStee has found success at high legend ranks with an interesting list that runs Dragonslayers.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Control Warlock
- Zoo Warlock
Priest might be the most diverse class in the game. While Razakus Priest was eliminated from the picture, the class still boasts a plethora of archetypes that are performing well in the current meta. The latest Priest archetype entering the fold is Control Priest, which runs a similar dragon package to Combo Priest, but omits the Inner Fire win condition for a slower playstyle aimed at grinding out Warlocks in the late game while carrying strong defensive tools for aggressive matchups. It’s a blessing for a class to have two powerful, meta relevant decks at any given time, and Priest has the luxury of boasting four. You never know what you could be running into when Anduin greets you on turn 1.
When it comes to meta developments, not much has changed within the three already established archetypes. There are some Big Priest experiments involving Malygos and Velen, but those are less consistent than the normal builds, especially in aggressive matchups. Spiteful Priest has settled down to 29 core cards, while Combo Priest is also in a similar situation save for a few twists such as Orange running Lyra the Sunshard and Cabal Shadow Priest, a nod to slower matchups.
- Priest Class Radar
- Big Priest
- Spiteful Priest
- Combo Priest
- Control Priest
Paladin is home to two of the strongest decks in Hearthstone as well as the fastest growing archetype in the game, Dude Paladin.
While all the hype surrounds Dude Paladin, Murloc Paladin still does work. Both of these archetypes struggle against Warlock, but Murloc Paladin’s more explosive early game performs better since its minions are less vulnerable to Defile than Silver Hand Recruits. It also usually carries Spellbreakers. Murloc Paladin is the hardest snowballing deck in the game, with Murloc Tidecaller and Rockpool Hunter creating unstoppable board states that can end games on turn 5. The deck is just very difficult to stop if it draws its curve and there are very few strategies that can consistently stop it in its tracks. The result is a very good matchup spread carrying few weaknesses overall.
Dude Paladin’s meteoric rise sees no signs of stopping. With every day that goes by, it becomes apparent that this archetype is the real deal. Dude Paladin’s win rate is even more impressive considering its terrible matchup against the most popular archetype in the game, Control Warlock. Dude maintains its high win rate by simply obliterating the rest of the field. It’s hard to argue that this deck shouldn’t be a staple in a tournament line ups banning Warlock. The only other notable archetype that carries a positive win rate against Dude Paladin is Jade Druid due to the effectiveness of Spreading Plague and Swipe.
With regards to Dude Paladin builds, most players continue to pilot the Zhandaly/Muzzy list, but there are some efforts to refine the deck further. Level Up! Is one of the cards currently being scrutinized as a situational win-more card. The weapon package performs extremely well in the build and we think two Unidentified Mauls are worth including considering the power level of the card and how well it synergizes with the deck, even when there’s a risk of drawing too many weapons. Steward of Darkshire is another card that’s relatively on the weak side, and some players choose to run Blessing of Kings instead. BoK’s impact on the board is faster and it is also very strong against Warlocks in particular. While Spellbreaker has been experimented with, Dude Paladin’s struggles in its hardest matchup is the result of AOE rather than taunts getting in its way, and Equality serves a similar role while being a stronger card in other matchups.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Murloc Paladin
- Dude Paladin
- Aggro Paladin
- Control Paladin
Mage has declined in popularity over the past week due to the increase in Dude Paladins, another Paladin deck that gives Secret Mage a hard time. Mage has no way to fight off the dudes without being incredibly inefficient. However, it still stands strong in slower matchups and is in a better place than before the balance changes. Kabal Lackey, for example, is a much stronger card these days since it can be played on turn 1 without fear of getting instantly value traded by Patches. Secret Mage lists have mostly stayed consistent since the launch of the patch
Other, slower Mage decks find it much harder to live in the current meta due to matching up poorly with Warlocks. One success story is Navioot reaching top 100 legend with Exodia Mage.
- Mage Class Radar
- Secret Mage
- Big Spell Mage
- Exodia Mage
While Secret Hunter and Aggro Hunter are showing signs of decline, Spell Hunter has gained traction with a larger number of players following several pilots hitting top legend with the archetype. Since there are only so many decent Hunter spells in the game, variations in lists primarily come down to the secret package and Deadly Shot/Crushing Walls. Although Bragi’s initial build using double Explosive Trap and one Flare is still the standard list, Findan piloted a slight moderation to #5 legend using a Deadly Shot and a Freezing Trap over one of the Explosive Traps and the Flare. This modification gives the deck extra time to assemble a win condition against control decks, but decreases survivability against Paladins and Secret Mages.
Meanwhile, Rascal took a modified version of the Kathrena Secret Hunter build to #31 legend. His list cuts the Violet Wurm and Barnes in favor of double Flanking Strikes, giving a strong turn four play against aggressive decks. The change is specifically good against Secret Mage, since Flanking Strike is a perfect removal card for all of their early game minions, while Counterspell can be dealt with by the plethora of cheap secrets.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Spell Hunter
- Aggro Hunter
- Secret Hunter
As Tempo Rogue has yet to show any signs of recovery, Miracle Rogue and Kingsbane Rogue are the two major Rogue archetypes on ladder.
Many streamers and players continue to play Kingsbane Rogue, partly for entertainment, and partly because its gameplay varies greatly from most standard Hearthstone decks, which makes for a refreshing experience. Attempts to improve the build continue, and several individuals have managed to achieve good results with it. Gallon hit #9 legend this week with a list that deviates from the standard build by including Counterfeit Coins over Southsea Squidfaces, enabling stronger tempo plays in the mid-game. Mr. Yagut has been playing Kingsbane Rogue for quite some time now, and his updated list includes Doomsayers to help fend off aggression, the major weakness of the deck.
Miracle Rogue is a viable option whose performance improves at higher levels of play, though it requires a specific meta to see success since it is very vulnerable to popular aggressive decks. Not much has changed in terms of its build, with the standard list running two Saps for the Warlock matchup.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Miracle Rogue
- Kingsbane Rogue
- Tempo Rogue
- Quest Rogue
Druid continues to suffer in a Warlock dominant meta. Jade Druid has settled into the Oaken Summons build which does better in aggressive matchups. While Druid can start teching Spellbreakers and Naturalizes in order to fare better against Warlocks, you’re better off playing a different deck should you be running into them often. Whether you’re playing against an aggressive Cube list or a more laid back Control variant, it’s not a fun time.
Aggro Druid struggles just as hard in the presence of Warlocks and has faded away into a very niche position in the meta. The deck can perform well in aggressive mirrors, doing quite well against Murloc Paladin and Secret Mage, but the matchup with Warlock is so demoralizing that it’s difficult to justify taking it to ladder.
Spiteful Druid is currently the most successful Druid archetype, with Zarathustra’s C’Thun variant and TrickyHunter’s Elemental variant performing well.
Big Druid has lost its powerhouse status at the launch of K&C and has since been almost non-existent on ladder. J4ckiechan recently took the archetype to legend. His list includes Barnes and Bright-Eyed Scout along with Innervates, prioritizing blow out potential in the early game.
- Druid Class Radar
- Jade Druid
- Aggro Druid
- Spiteful Druid
- Big Druid
Token Shaman is barely competitive but no longer truly in the dumpster. The archetype does have game against other early game decks due to the various tools it possesses to take back the board. However, its struggles against Warlock remain the key reason why it’s still being pushed out of the meta.
While Shaman performs pretty poorly at the moment, the class has at least seen some interesting experiments with the appearance of Jade Shaman on the back of Purple and Tars’ successes with their builds. Tars’ build is an Elemental hybrid, while Purple’s list includes Rummaging Kobold in order to duplicate Jade Claws, one of the deck’s strongest cards, and also runs Murmuring Elemental due to its synergy with all of the Jade cards, as well as Coldlight Oracle. Since the deck largely abuses battlecries, Grumble is also an easy choice to include. This archetype can be a lot of fun but it’s likely not the meta breaker that’s going to launch Shaman into competitive relevance.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Token Shaman
- Jade Shaman
“Garrosh, can you stop clicking refresh every second? It’s pointless.”
Thrall sighed. His advice falling on deaf ears as Garrosh was sitting next to him in front of his laptop, pressing F5 with reckless abandon, waiting for the screen to change its appearance.
“The Data Reaper only comes out at 9am Pacific time, which is in two minutes” Thrall continued “There is no point in clicking refresh. They are always on time.”
Garrosh turned his head towards Thrall, raised his left brow, and proceeded to click the button before grinning.
“I just can’t wait for the report to appear!” he exclaimed “Finally, Emo boy Anduin’s toy has been taken from him, and my decks will reign supreme. You will see. My Togwaggle deck is going to be the meta breaker!”
Thrall rolled his eyes, and let out another sigh, relaxing back in his seat. The clock finally hit the top of the hour, signaling the release of the report.
“It’s here!” Garrosh cried out before immediately clicking on the new article. He started scrolling down the piece with bits of sweat forming on his face as his breath grew heavier in anticipation.
Thrall glanced at the screen with curiosity as Garrosh reached the Power Rankings table. His eyes scanned through the list until he found one of his decks, making him break out a smile.
“Hey, Garrosh, I’m at Tier 3! That’s respectable. No longer in the dumpster!”
Garrosh remained silent, his expression turning into one of confusion.
“None of my decks are listed in the table! What is the meaning of this? A conspiracy?” he growled in anger.
“Hmm” Thrall leaned forward, scratching his chin “Maybe there’s something in the write up about Warrior? Sometimes, low sample decks like your Togwaggle Warrior are mentioned as sleeper hits!”
“You’re right” Garrosh nodded, and continued to scroll down to the commentary. He reached the final paragraph, before his eyes widened in horror. There it was, black on white, the commentary about the Warrior class.
‘You may have noticed it by now, but Warrior is completely missing from the power rankings and the matchup table. The reason is simple: the class is dead. Not a single Warrior archetype even boasts reasonable data to analyze, and from the little data we have on Warrior, it’s looking atrocious. Record breaking bad. If we had a Tier 5, that’s where Warrior would be.’
Garrosh groaned, scrolling further down to the Warrior section. There was not much to find there either.
The only bright spot is that the new patch distracted us for a bit, and the next expansion is likely just 6-7 weeks away. Hold on tight, Warrior fans. At least there’s Wild format and Arena, where Warrior is not the worst class.
Oh wait, it is.
As the silence dominated the room, Thrall tried his best to hold his laughter, his palm forcefully holding his mouth to prevent his snickering from breaking through. He was shaking in his chair as Garrosh quickly got up.
“I’ve had it! I will not be made a fool any longer!” he cried out, clenching his fists “It’s time to take action. Anduin still has three good decks while I can’t even make Tier 4 anymore?! Disgusting!”
Garrosh turned away from the computer and stormed towards the door, as Thrall quickly got up and followed him.
“Where are you going?” He asked Garrosh, as his urge to laugh quickly subsided, replaced by a genuine concern at his distraught companion.
Garrosh stopped at the door, holding the knob, looking over his shoulder at Thrall. Intensity filled the air.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Garrosh replied in a determined tone “I’m going to find Ben Brode and make him answer to me.”
He opened the door, stepped out, and violently shut it behind him, leaving Thrall alone.
Thrall looked down and shook his head.
The balance changes have rocked the meta to its very core. Previously, Tempo Rogue and Razakus Priest defined the early and late game spectrum of the field and dictated the rules of the game. Tempo Rogue kept other early game decks in check, while Razakus Priest brought late game strategies to their knees.
Of course, there will always be decks that fulfill these roles, since this is how a meta is defined, and it’s the extent of their dominance that determines whether or not a meta will be diverse.
Warlock has predictably taken on Priest’s role, while Paladin has been unleashed following the fall of Rogue. The big surprise is that a different Paladin deck than Murloc Paladin is the one that seems to be dictating early game board control. Dude Paladin heavily punishes other aggressive decks since they are not capable of stopping its quick and wide development of the board. This results in other early game strategies breaking even at best against the archetype. However, Dude Paladin does not stop there. Its reload potential is so powerful, and so relentless, that even defensive decks carrying powerful AOE struggle to stop it in its tracks. It is only the truly absurd tools available to Warlock, both in AOE and cheating out massive taunt walls, which are capable of suppressing the Silver Hand threat consistently.
Be the Dude, or beat the Dude.
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