vS Data Reaper Report #84

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

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Welcome to the 84th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 3,400 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 | vS Meta Score | Class Analysis & Decklists | Meta Breaker of the Week | How to Contribute | Credits


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Number of Games

Overall 55,000
Legend 7,000
Ranks 1-4 19,000
Ranks 5-9 17,000
Ranks 10-14 7,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

Class Frequency

Class Frequency Discussion

We’re reaching the end point of K&C. During this period in the meta, innovation usually slows down. However, despite the common feeling of staleness, we’ve seen in the past that the Hearthstone meta can still surprise us and produce some significant changes caused by discoveries and adjustments. Overall, the meta has barely moved this week at lower skill levels: you can almost copy and paste last week’s numbers. However, at legend, we can observe an increase in strategic diversity. There are fewer Warlocks and Paladins, and more of nearly everything else. Whether this is a result of experimentation born out of boredom, or a reflection of genuine shifts in power, is a question we will answer in this article.

Out of the top 3 classes, Priest is the one that hasn’t moved an inch, with Combo Priest remaining the Priest deck of choice at higher levels of play. In contrast, Control Warlock’s numbers at legend have been slashed by 15%. Murloc Paladin’s numbers have been cut by 35%. A new order is being established at legend rank, and it is one that is dictated by Anduin rather than Gul’dan. If you’re climbing to legend, your number 1 worry is the Paladin class, with Dude and Murloc Paladin boasting similar play rates.

The Mage class is undergoing changes. Secret Mage has slightly declined this week, while Big-Spell Mage’s numbers at legend have tripled (!). This archetype has been oppressed by the Warlock domination, but has a much more comfortable time facing Combo and Control Priests, which the player base seems to have picked up on.

Who else is rising in response to Warlock’s decline? Spell Hunter. Its numbers at legend have nearly doubled within the span of a week and it’s boasting a usage pattern that is atypical of a Hunter deck – it being more popular at higher levels of play.

Rogue doesn’t seem to be affected by the shift of focus from Warlock to Priest, but the bottom three classes do. Jade Druid has risen in play, the Shaman class has risen in play and even Warrior has risen in play on the back of newfound interest in playing Dead Man’s Hand Control Warrior after its recent success in the tournament scene.

Matchup Win Rates Header


Power Rankings Header

vS Meta Score

vS Power Rankings Discussion

This week’s Power Rankings display some very interesting results and they are very much connected to the shifts in prevalence we discussed earlier. One conclusion becomes clear: Gul’dan is an enemy of ladder diversity, while Anduin has become the primary antidote. Warlock kills the competitiveness of many decks on ladder, while Priest gives them a chance to breath by keeping Warlock on a leash.

With the meta shifting from Warlock to Priest, the focus has shifted as well. Many players are now more worried about beating the rising stars of the post-patch meta, which are Combo and Control Priest. As a result, these decks’ win rates are now trending down after their continuous improvements during the previous weeks. On the other hand, late game Warlock strategies are enjoying a more favorable meta, which results in Control Warlock’s win rate going up.

As Priest and Warlock see impactful changes in their performance against the field, Paladin remains seated at the top of the win rate charts. Murloc and Dude Paladin continue their back and forth battle on which choice is better at any given meta but both are very powerful regardless. Aggro Paladin, the forgotten vanilla archetype that’s not reliant on a tribal synergy, has faded away from the scene and dropped out of the table, but it would still be very strong according to our metrics. Tier 1 is Tier Call to Arms.

There are many winners from the recent rise in Priests and the decline in Warlocks at higher levels of play. Spell Hunter is, perhaps, the biggest winner, making a big jump that keeps it just short of 52% win rate at legend. Big-Spell Mage’s great matchup against Control and Combo Priest has translated to a spike in its win rate, putting it firmly in the range of competitiveness on ladder. Jade Druid has broken the 50% win rate mark and benefits from a great matchup against Control Priest and good matchups against Dude Paladin, Secret Mage and Spell Hunter. Control Paladin also looks surprisingly competitive, and is another archetype that’s been oppressed by the Void Daddy. Secret Hunter has similarly surged in its win rate with more players running the strong Kathrena package. Token Shaman has jumped to Tier 3 at legend after looking dead in the water, and even Control Warrior looks stronger on ladder.

The interesting observation is that even though the meta has not changed much at lower skill levels, these archetypes still show improvements at these levels due to the attention they’re receiving and the little adjustments they’re making (abandoned archetypes get worse over time for this reason: they don’t adjust to changes in the meta because no new decklists are published and spread). The meta may feel stale since we’re very late in the expansion’s life, but you can perform much better with off-meta decks right now than you could a month ago.

Will this last? That’s the worrying question. Since decks that horribly lose to Warlock are being played more often, it’s very likely that the next phase in the current meta will see a rise in Warlocks, kicking those decks back down to the pits of despair. It all depends on whether Priest is able to maintain a strong enough win rate to keep Warlock numbers reasonable and allow other strategies to thrive.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Data Reaper Report - Priest

Priest is the most popular class once again, and the class’ composition continues to vary at different skill levels. Spiteful remains the clear Priest favorite at lower levels of play, but the closer to legend you get, the more likely you are to meet a Combo or Control variant, and at legend, Combo Priest’s numbers skyrocket and solidify it as one of the most dominant archetypes in the game. Needless to say, Priest’s strategic diversity makes the class a mulligan headache, though keeping note of what’s popular and where can be important for success.

Priest hasn’t seen much development this week as both Combo and Control seem to have settled down to their currently recognized shells. Spiteful and Big Priest remain strong decks for climbing, but have been neglected at higher levels of play and haven’t changed since the early days of the balance patch.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock is holding steady under the pressure of the rising Priest population. Innovation, much like in other classes, has largely stabilized.

Cube Warlock is the deck of choice at the moment if you’re looking to bring the Void Daddy to the table, as the pressure and active game plan to kill your opponent is much stronger in the current meta, especially with the addition of Control Priests that can easily abuse Control Warlock’s lack of threats. Despite carrying less defensive tools, Cube variants perform well enough against Paladins and Mages to justify the tradeoff.

Defensive builds of Control Warlock are still viable strategies but are more susceptible to being countered by decks that heavily punish passivity. Mage’s build is properly teched for the current meta, though some still prefer running Gnomeferatu over Dirty Rats.

Zoo Warlock has been overshadowed throughout this expansion, but it’s still a competitive archetype that has also seen tournament success in aggressive lineups. Dragonslayer has become nearly required now to combat the ubiquity of Priests’ dragon package, while Keleseth variants continue to perform better than demon-centric builds.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Paladin continues to display the highest win rates in the game heading into the rotation, with two aggressive decks that are defining the early game meta.

Murloc Paladin abuses tribal synergy to snowball an early board advantage into an explosive blowout. Two class 1-drops from the Year of the Kraken, Vilefin Inquisitor and Grimscale Chum, set this deck up for success due to their synergy with Rockpool Hunter, so we could see the archetype disappear after its year-long impact on the meta once these cards rotate to Wild.

Dude Paladin is a fascinating story to follow, as it continues its ridiculous dominance against nearly any non-Warlock deck. Its strength against the Priest class in particular makes it an attractive option due to recent meta trends.

The one card that won’t be going anywhere in the Year of the Raven is Call to Arms. Possibly the strongest 4-drop ever printed in Hearthstone, Call to Arms nearly guarantees Paladin’s strong position in future metas in whatever aggressive shell it can find.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Mage’s stock has slightly risen recently due to the rise of Combo and Control Priest. Big-Spell Mage has been a fairly niche archetype throughout this expansion, but its good matchups against the rising Priest decks makes it a more enticing option than it used to be, especially in the tournament scene where Priest is an absolute staple of the format and a Warlock ban is possible. Hunterace’s build is a good example of a list that performs well against Priest, with one Ice Block included as a tech to prevent an Inner Fire OTK.

Going into the next expansion, Secret Mage looks like it will be demolished with many of its cards rotating to Wild. However, Mage keeps Aluneth, which could enable a different aggressive archetype that looks to burn out opponents through another central synergy.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

The most major shift in Spell Hunter this week is a movement away from Rhok’delar and back to playing Flanking Strikes. Rhok’delar has been a heavily debated card, but up to this point, the majority of lists have included the card. Due to its inconsistent and win-more nature, only being good when you already drew Barnes, players have begun cutting the card.

Both Hunter decks that reached top 8 in EGLX opted to cut the card, as well as Zorkthar, who reached legend piloting Spell Hunter on both the America and Asia servers. Spell Hunter play rates have also nearly doubled at legend, a sign of players recognizing the power of the archetype.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Kingsbane Rogue made slight gains at all levels of play. As an offspring of Mill Rogue, Kingsbane Rogue is certain to see more play than it should, since its playstyle is a favorite for many players who enjoy bouncing Coldlight Oracles and burning their opponents’ cards. The trickery ends at the Year of the Raven however, with the lovable murloc retiring to Wild, ending Mill Rogue’s history in standard format.

The Rogue class has seen its period in the spotlight end after the balance changes. Tempo Rogue has become nearly non-existent, and less powerful. Miracle Rogue is the strongest option for ladder play but one that is on a significantly lower power level than the top meta decks. Quest Rogue is mostly a tournament deck.

We’ll have to wait and see if a journey to The Witchwood can conjure up any new Rogue archetypes or allow one of the existing ones to transform into a powerful meta deck once again.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Druid still sees a fair amount of play in tournaments, but continues to see relatively little play on ladder. Spiteful and Jade Druid are the class’ principle flag bearers but Druid archetypes in general are seeing very little innovation.

The most notable development this week is Makki91’s Malygos Druid, which centers on Twig of the World Tree in order to enable Malygos as a finisher with Swipe/Moonfires, or to set up a Medivh blowout turn with Ultimate Infestation.

The class has viable ladder choices, with Jade Druid sitting in its strongest spot since K&C’s release, but Jade Druid’s competitive viability is still dependent on its terrible Warlock matchup, which players try to avoid.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

The Witchwood, Hearthstone’s upcoming expansion, can’t come any sooner for Shaman’s sake. It’s been weeks and weeks of lethargic performance and poor usage rates on ladder. This week, Shaman has even been surpassed by Warrior in its representation at legend due to the recent success of Control Warrior in tournaments, sparking interest amongst the play base to pilot the DMH build. Perhaps, Hagatha could spark new life to the class, or twist it towards newfound power.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

“So, how was Irvine, Garrosh? Did you enjoy your trip or was it a waste of time?”

Thrall and Garrosh were, once again, sitting at the patio of their home. They were side by side, staring into the sunset, holding cups of fruity beverages with swirly, colorful straws.

“It was worth it at the end.” Garrosh replied “I only regret not seeing their faces when their precious servers went down! Heh.”

Thrall sighed “I guess a small victory is still a victory…”

“Not just a small victory,” Garrosh continued with an enthusiastic tone “but did you see Odemian winning EGLX with Control Warrior? The deck had a great showing in the tournament. My most trusted followers still believe in the power of Hellscream!” Garrosh fist pumped and took a sip from his drink, which prompted Thrall to chuckle.

“Just in time for Coldlight Oracle to rotate.” Thrall teased, which instantly wiped the grin off of Garrosh’s face, followed by an irritated huffing sound.

“Whatever!” Garrosh replied “I’m going to follow Odemian on Twitter” Garrosh picked up his laptop from a small table to his right and opened it. After some frantic typing, he stopped and stared into the screen, with an expression slowly turning into one of shock.

“Thrall! They announced the new expansion!” he enthused “We’re going to Witchwood!”

The green Orc next to him immediately pulled up his own device, and the two were fixated on their screens, proceeding to read all of the information that has come out for the following few minutes.

“Rush? What is this nonsensical keyword?” Garrosh groaned “so you can’t hit them in the face? What’s the point of playing the game then?”

“You can now replace me with a new hero card, Hagatha?” Thrall followed “Why can’t they just buff ME?”

“So Baku gives me the ability to Tank Up again, but I can’t play Execute!” Garrosh shook his head in disappointment “This is a travesty! I’m going to quit!”

As the two Orcs groaned in disapproval at the future prospects of their decks, Thrall suddenly stopped and turned his face to Garrosh, who was taking another sip from his drink.

“Hey, Garrosh, they’re giving 20 bonus packs for a pre-order, so you get 70 packs instead of 50 like last time.”

Garrosh choked at his straw and began coughing loudly “20 extra packs!?” he shouted in surprise between coughs, before taking a deep breath to calm down his reflexes.

The two Orcs looked at each other, blinking numerous times while sitting in silence, before turning their eyes back to their laptops.

“I’m pre-ordering.” Thrall said quietly.

“Already did.”


Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

Spell Hunter has successfully broken the stigma of the Hunter class. The archetype has been written off by many players, but has proven its resilience and its ability to adapt to a changing field and is currently one of the strongest ladder decks in the game. The irony is that its refinement has led to cutting what was supposed to be its pay-off, build around card, Rhok’delar. Unforunately, the real pay-off from not playing minions comes from the interaction between Barnes and Y’Shaarj. A tale of terrible tragedy.

So what makes Spell Hunter good? Its removal toolkit is very strong, and it is capable of fending off aggression quite effectively while being able to outlast decks through Deathstalker Rexxar and a steady source of damage. It handles Combo/Control Priests and Paladins quite well and dominates Mages of all kinds.

What are Spell Hunter’s weaknesses? Life gain and the constant pressure of big minions. Voidlords cripple Hunter’s ability to cross the finish line and Warlock has too many tools to heal through the Hunter’s hero power while exploiting its lack of minion pressure. For a similar reason, Big Priest and Jade Druid perform well against Spell Hunter, as well as Spiteful decks due to their stream of on-curve threats.

Rexxar is not on top of the meta, and he’s definitely not setting the rules, but he’s managed to carve out a place to call home in K&C.


Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 3,400 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:

EndofDayswwlosrenzcheesee-hunter pdeegz-warriorspacemonkey-paladinTzachilookitzjoeNaramoSentenza

4 Comments

  1. Is it possible in any way for you to send me the data used in the class frequency graph? I am doing a PhD research and it would be very useful to me.
    Thank you!

  2. I disagee completely with this week meta breaker. spell hunter gets destroyed by spiteful priest and dude paladin, which feels like 50% of the ladder around rank 5 (and I dont doubt they are omnipresent at legend) and you recommend the one deck that get fucked by those 2. otherwise, the warrior class analysis is pretty funny as usual.

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