Welcome to the 85th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 3,300 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
Last week, we observed an increase in the viability of off meta decks as a result of Warlock’s decline and Priest’s rise to the top of the frequency charts. While the meta is quite stable at this point, we still see changes at higher levels of play. At legend ranks, the top 4 classes are declining, while the bottom 5 classes are rising. This trend might be reversed towards the end of the month as players are more pressured to play the best decks. This pressure currently exists at ranks 1-4, where over 80% of ladder opponents play the 4 most popular classes.
Priest is now the most popular class at every level of play. Much like we’ve seen in previous weeks, Spiteful Priest is the most popular Priest deck at lower skill levels, while Combo Priest takes over at legend.
Other than the small decline in the top 4 classes, they are remarkably frozen in place in their usage patterns. Internally, we can see that some changes are still occurring, but these changes have not affected the meta in any significant way for now. It gets slightly more interesting for the other classes
Secret Hunter is beginning to see more play this week. The archetype is very diverse in its approaches, ranging from Kathrena builds (which we’ve highlighted in the past) to more recent, aggressive variants. It’s currently undergoing a very late refinement.
Rogue is seeing quite a bit more play at legend this week. All of its noticeable archetypes are control counters that fold to aggression to varying degrees. The class has always had a very dedicated player base, and it continues its attempts to overcome its current weaknesses.
Has the Warrior class finally woken up? Control Warrior now makes up over 2% of the meta at legend, with more players interested in exploring the Coldlight/DMH build. But that’s not all: Pirate Warrior has also begun to spike in popularity at legend, the result of several individuals hitting top legend ranks with the forgotten archetype. We will have to wait and see whether this is a temporary fad or something more.
Although Jade Druid has significantly increased in popularity at legend, and it’s definitely been at a better place in recent times, it’s unlikely that it will grow any further considering the little interest it garners from the player base. Significant individual success will have to occur, much like with Pirate Warrior, for more players to pick it up. Shaman is in a similar spot where it seems to be out of ideas, but unlike Druid, it’s hardly even competitive.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Last week’s Meta Breaker, Spell Hunter, continues to defy the odds. It’s quite remarkable how the archetype has continued to improve at this stage of the expansion, despite the prevalence of Warlocks. The deck just wins games. It has a slight edge against Paladins, it destroys Mages, it handles Combo Priest fairly well and finally, it destroys off-meta decks. The same decks that have been growing in popularity over the past couple of weeks. All of this has led to Spell Hunter sporting a Tier 1 win rate, surpassing Dude Paladin and only falling short to Murloc Paladin.
And Hunter may not be a one-trick class. Secret Hunter has skyrocketed in its win rate and now displays one of the strongest scores at legend ranks. Both of its primary builds, which are featured in this report, are equally promising at the moment. While it might be hard for Secret Hunter to gain traction due to Spell Hunter looking like a superior option overall, its matchups against Combo and Control Priest are better, which may help it establish a stronger niche in the current meta. Even the forgotten, secret-less Aggro Hunter is displaying an improvement in its win rate. With all of that to consider, the Hunter class is at its strongest spot since Call of the Wild got nerfed.
Control Warlock has gotten stronger at legend, and considering that the top performing decks are all countered by Voidlords, it’s easy to conclude that the archetype should grow in popularity over the next couple of weeks. However, it still has the Priest class to contend with, a stumbling block that could be further magnified in the case Combo Priest continues to be “the deck” top legend players flock to. We do think Warlock is a very strong answer to current meta trends, especially if Hunter’s stock rises further.
Control Priest has done a lot to improve the general health of the meta, but the meta’s shift in focus to beating Priest is taking its toll on it. The archetype is struggling to deal with the strategies it has enabled since its game plan is more reactive. Combo Priest, on the other hand, seems to be much more difficult to effectively suppress, and it’s once again showing an increase in its win rate at all levels of play after last week’s setback.
Let’s look at other legitimate choices in the current meta. Big Priest has seen some top legend success from several players which prompted renewed interest in the archetype and subsequently, an increase in its win rate. After Control Paladin’s win rate spike last week, it has also enjoyed great ladder success this week, proving that it’s firmly in the competitive range despite its very low play rate. Secret Mage benefits from the diversification of the legend meta since it heavily punishes many of the fringe strategies in the field.
Warrior is on our minds. Control Warrior is continuing to show steady improvements on a week-to-week basis. It’s definitely not an easy strategy to pick up and do well with, but even so, the gap in its power level from the rest of the field suggests it’s unlikely to replicate its tournament success on the ladder. It’s quite strong against the Paladin class, but has too many utterly hopeless matchups on ladder. The Pirate Warrior surge is too early to judge, considering it only started to appear just as we closed the weekly database, and at the moment, it’s mostly played by those who closely follow the competitive scene (so its low sample would carry a source bias). We will need to wait and see how well it does once it trickles down.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Priest is the most versatile class in the game, and is seeing great success at all levels of play with a multitude of different strategies.
Combo Priest is the most popular Priest archetype at higher levels of play, and it was taken to top legend ranks many times over the past week. The build is currently seeing its final tune-ups and 29 cards are largely agreed on in most builds. Book Wyrm has established itself as a staple while Twilight Drake is settling down as 1-of card which helps further improve the consistency of the deck’s dragon synergy. The flex slot comes down to the inclusion of a Crazed Alchemist over a Tar Creeper, which is a tech to combat decks that run Skulking Geist. Multiple players have seen success with the standard build we’re featuring, including Feno, who hit #1 legend. Changjo took the Alchemist build to #1 legend on two servers.
Control Priest is also a strong option, and it’s currently undergoing another phase of innovation. Zetalot has had success at high legend ranks with a promising build that runs Velen and Mind Blasts as a burst finisher rather than relying on a grindy game plan through Elise and Cabal Shadow Priest combo’s. The list also includes Gilded Gargoyle in order to enable the maximum 20 damage combo for 11 mana (Velen/MBx2). Zyrios took a more standard variant of the archetype to #2 legend by cutting Curious Glimmeroots for a Primordial Drake and Zola the Gorgon. Zola is an additional value card that can make a difference in control matchups with multiple strong copy targets.
Finally, Asmodai hit #1 legend with Big Priest, an archetype that has been relatively neglected over the past few weeks but is still quite potent. His build is fairly standard, with the only difference being Potion of Madness replacing Shadowreaper Anduin.
- Priest Class Radar
- Combo Priest
- Control Priest
- Big Priest
- Spiteful Priest
Warlock remains a cornerstone upon which the meta is built, though as we’ve seen over the past few weeks, there is a delicate balance between Warlock and its predators that is keeping the class’ representation in check. Priest is Warlock’s main suppressor and the relationship between these two classes dictates the success of all other participants in the field.
Cube Warlock remains the popular, and more successful, approach in the Control Warlock cluster due to its proactive game plan and lethality, making it more difficult to effectively counter. The build was refined relatively early on and hasn’t changed much since. Defensive Control Warlock builds are seeing more experimentation, with some players running Skull of the Man’ari and Carnivorous Cubes to increase the deck’s Voidlord abuse. However, these experiments haven’t generated a build that eclipses the standard list from Mage, which we maintain is the best option for the current meta. The one variation in the standard build comes from its 2-drops, with Gnomeferatu or Plated Beetles being the main alternatives to Dirty Rats.
Zoo Warlock is not under the spotlight but remains a competitive choice in the current meta. Matteo hit top 50 legend with a standard Keleseth build that runs Fungalmancers. Dragonslayer has become a staple inclusion in Zoo in order to combat Priests. As we’ve said in previous reports, Keleseth variants are a superior choice to the Demonfire/Vulgar variants, and the former have now taken over the archetype.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Control Warlock
- Zoo Warlock
Murloc and Dude Paladin continue their domination of ladder while Exodia Control Paladin has seen new developments and success stories.
Murloc Paladin explodes onto the board and curves out with tribal synergy to snowball games out of control before your opponent gets a chance to play Hearthstone. This archetype has been present in the meta for the last year and has been impressive in its consistency and power. With every expansion that came, the deck adapted and re-emerged as a powerhouse. Oddly enough, it has only really been in the last month or two that the deck has seen a play rate on par with its win rate during K&C. The standard list featured is extremely consistent and optimal against a wide spectrum of decks, while Heskey4Lyfe’s #1 legend build targets the Warlock matchup with two Spellbreakers and Leeroy Jenkins.
Dude Paladin, on the other hand, is a more recent addition to the top of the tier list, but it is an extremely powerful and persistent threat. Its ability to refill the board after multiple board clears is second to none, which makes it a headache for the Priest class to deal with in particular. The only class capable of consistently fending off Dude Paladin is Warlock.
The last throes of the current iteration of Exodia Paladin are rearing their head before the rotation with both Thijs and Caravaggio hitting #1 legend with the deck. This archetype has seen a recent bump in its win rate thanks to a decline in Warlocks and is the strongest it has ever been during K&C. Caravaggio’s list includes Tirion, which is absent from most Exodia builds but offers an additional threat in slower matchups. Caravaggio runs Blessing of Kings in his flex spot to improve slower matchups further, though he has been tinkering with Plated Beetle instead for the faster matchups.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Murloc Paladin
- Dude Paladin
- Control Paladin
Mage is one of the most stable classes in the game, with not too many new developments since the early days of the balance changes. Secret Mage makes up the majority of the class’ play rate, with most builds revolving around a fairly standard core and some tech options. The relatively popular Potion of Polymorph, for example, can replace either Pyroblast or Firelands Portal.
Big-Spell Mage continues to ebb and flow on the fringes of the meta, with Stancifka having great success with the archetype this week, hitting #1 legend. His build is very different from previous iterations, running Cabalist’s Tome as a value generator as well as Medivh’s Valet. Baron Geddon also makes an appearance while staple late game cards, Alexstrasza and Medivh, are omitted.
- Mage Class Radar
- Secret Mage
- Big Spell Mage
- Exodia Mage
Although Spell Hunter holds steady as the most popular and most powerful Hunter deck, the one major Hunter result on ladder this week comes from Secret Hunter. TheBest took Secret Hunter in an aggressive direction and reached #5 legend. The list is mindful of Warlocks, utilizing double Spellbreaker and double Bittertide Hydra to get through their taunt minions. However, as a result, the deck performs worse against Paladins than Spell Hunter. Secret Hunter might be a legitimate alternative to Spell Hunter, with recent trends suggesting that it’s strong enough to be a competitively sound choice on ladder.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Spell Hunter
- Secret Hunter
- Aggro Hunter
Not much has changed for the Rogue class. It continues to be a strong situational pick in both ladder play as well as tournaments.
Miracle Rogue is the strongest ladder option for the class with Gyong continuing to perform well with the archetype at high legend ladder. Miracle Rogue relies on Faldorei Striders and Slayers/Saps to punish Priests and Warlocks, while Backstab and SI Agent are your key cards against Paladins. Thalnos is a debated card and one of the flex options for the deck, and could replace Sap, Slayer or a Shiv.
Kingsbane Rogue is mainly utilized as a counter deck for some specific matchups at higher levels of play, while being a popular choice at lower skill levels due to its unconventional playstyle.
Quest Rogue is the strongest archetype for tournament play due to its fantastic standing against Control lineups. It is also a decent enough option for ladder play, with some players adding Hungry Crabs instead of Fire Flies/Bluegill Warriors in order to hedge for Paladins.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Miracle Rogue
- Kingsbane Rogue
- Quest Rogue
Malfurion is plagued with boredom more than anything else at this stage in the meta. While Jade Druid has suffered under the pressure of Warlocks and is not one of the strongest decks by any means, it is deceptively effective against the field at the moment. The class’ main issue is a lack of interest, which results in stagnation and lack of innovation. It might be time for Druid fans to break out the pillows and have a quiet nap inside the Emerald Dream until the new expansion arrives.
- Druid Class Radar
- Jade Druid
- Aggro Druid
- Spiteful Druid
- Big Druid
Garrosh was sitting at a desk in front of his computer, holding his mouse nervously. Thrall was sitting to his left, arms crossed, keenly observing the screen and scratching his chin. But the two Orcs weren’t alone. To Garrosh’s right, a beautiful woman with long blonde hair stood. Her hands were placed on her hips, and her back was slightly arched forward looking at the computer screen. She was wearing bright red cloth armor, spiky shoulder pads as well as bracelets and boots augmented with shining green gems. Her curvy thighs were bare, with a mesmerizing, pearly white skin. Long ears pierced through the hood covering her head, a sign of her elven descent.
“Now, Garrosh, you need to hold on to this Coldlight Oracle” she softly spoke, but with a confident, reassuring tone “Your win condition requires saving the Oracle so you use it to follow up on Dead Man’s Hands and draw them again.”
“But Valeera” Garrosh interrupted, turning his face towards her “Gul’dan has 9 cards in his hand. If I play it now I can burn two of his cards! He’ll be so mad”. Valeera shook her head and frowned in response.
“This is your last Coldlight Oracle. You have to copy it with DMH in this matchup. Burning two random cards is not worth giving up your win condition.” She replied, placing her hand on his shoulder armor.” You need to think about the end goal if you want to be a successful combo player rather than fall for the obvious but lower percentage line.”
“Listen to Valeera, Garrosh” Thrall chimed in “She’s an expert at executing these complicated strategies. It’s why I asked her to come so she can teach you how to play this deck.”
“Indeed” Valeera smiled, taking in the compliment “I’m a 4-time World Champion for a reason, Garrosh. The Rogue always finds a way!” she winked at the two Orcs, which prompted Garrosh to turn his glance back to the game and scratch his head in frustration.
“Argh, I can’t figure this out!” he growled “It’s been so long since I played Patron Warrior that I’ve lost my touch”.
“Magni was always better with that deck anyway” Thrall teased, which earned a stern look of disapproval from Garrosh.
After a few more minutes of Valeera’s lecturing, the game was over and the victory screen appeared. Valeera and Thrall clapped their hands and cheered, while Garrosh sank into his seat with a huge sigh of relief.
“Finally, I beat that fel junkie!” Garrosh cried out and raised his arms in the air, before they crashed back down to his sides “But I’m so tired that I can’t play anymore. This took 25 minutes! Isn’t there another deck that I can play?”
Garrosh’s words prompted Thrall and Valeera to look at each other. Valeera picked up on a subtle nod from Thrall and began to signal disapproval by shaking her head. A bead of sweat formed on Thrall’s forehead, and he appeared nervous, but he decided to ignore Valeera and turned his glance back to his companion.
“Well” Thrall finally spoke after a few moments of silence “I’ve heard Killingallday and Alexnoehr both hit #1 legend with Pirate Warrior. They probably took advantage of people mulliganing for Control and I’m not sure it’s still good but…”
“WHAT?” Garrosh shot back up in his seat. His fatigue seemed to have immediately evaporated, replaced by newfound energy “Show me!”
Thrall took the mouse, minimized the game and opened Twitter, going to both players’ accounts. Garrosh looked closely at the screen, nodded to himself in short intervals before breaking a huge smile.
“Pirate Warrior is back!” he declared “Time to play a real deck that hits face!” he snapped away the mouse from Thrall’s grip in a second, re-opened the Hearthstone client and started building a new deck in the collection manager.
“Ugh” Valeera groaned “Look at what you did, Thrall, he’s regressing again!” Thrall shrugged in response, and pointed at Garrosh.
“Just look how happy he is. Let him play what he wants…”
“Whatever” Valeera interrupted “clearly I’m not needed to teach him THAT deck.” she continued with a disgusted tone ”I’m off to play some Heroes of the Storm.”
The blonde elf walked away from the desk before vanishing in a cloud of smoke. Thrall sighed and leaned back in his seat, arms crossed, observing Garrosh who was acting like a little kid playing with his favorite toy, shouting cries of war every time he hit his opponent in the face with his weapon. Soon after, whatever doubts Thrall carried melted away, and he became fully engaged, cheering along with Garrosh.
The rest of the day was a rare and joyful time for the two Orcs, a reminder of better days and perhaps an omen for a better future that lies ahead.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Pirate Warrior
- Control Warrior
It’s been another good week for the Hunter class, with Spell Hunter continuing to exhibit consistency and resilience in the competitive field while Secret Hunter also piques our curiosity with its potential and two different approaches.
If you’re trying to climb to legend, Spell Hunter is a fantastic choice to deal with the high number of Paladins and Mages. Odemian’s build is perfect for this meta, since it carries plenty of cheap and efficient removal tools, including Grievous Bite, which is a specific Paladin tech that occupies a flexible slot. If you’re still running Rhok’delar, consider cutting it since it’s a very weak performer in the deck. The archetype has spiked in its win rate partly because of its omission. It’s painfully slow, useless until Barnes is drawn and its payoff doesn’t even do enough in the slow matchups it’s supposed to shine in. Your win conditions are Barnes, Emerald Spellstone and Deathstalker Rexxar.
If you’re interested in being one step ahead of the meta, it’s a good time to play Warlock and farm the top performing archetypes. We highly recommend running Cube Warlock, since defensive Control builds are much more vulnerable to abuse from counter strategies and the slight improvement against aggressive decks is usually not worth it.
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