Welcome to the 87th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 3,100 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
This is the last Data Reaper Report for K&C and we are now entering the break period for the new expansion. The first report for The Witchwood will come approximately two weeks after its release. During this period, we will still be posting content related to the meta, the new expansion as well as other things, so stay tuned!
The more data we have, the more thorough our analysis becomes, especially during the early days of an expansion. If you enjoy our work, consider contributing your game data to the report through your prefered deck tracker here. It only takes two minutes of your time to sign up, but that little effort goes a long way.
At this stage of an expansion, the meta is nearly frozen in place, with a few small changes. From experience, we know that developments in the meta slow down to a crawl during the spoiler season, where players are more focused on discussing and evaluating the new cards. In this report, we will be discussing the classes’ prospects coming into the Year of the Raven, based on the cards that are rotating out and what has been revealed so far.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
The main takeaway from this week’s win rate tables is the rise of Big Priest. The recent increase in Warlocks has had a positive effect on the performance of the notorious archetype. In addition, Big Priest performs quite well against Combo Priest and Hunters while struggling against Paladins and Secret Mage. While only little changes have occurred in the meta, most of them have been favorable to Big Priest, which has resulted in a significant increase in its win rate. From rank 4 to legend, it now displays a Tier 1 win rate. Spell Hunter has been there for a while, proving that Barnes on 4 goes a long way towards winning Hearthstone games. Standard format will not be hearing his tales of wonder and magic once rotation hits. Such a terrible tragedy.
Control Warlock’s rise from last week is followed by a drop in its win rate this week. While the class is very strong, the meta has proven to be capable of keeping it in check to some degree once it gets a bit too popular. Many players are concerned with the state of the class once rotation hits. Priest, Warlock’s main counter class, is set to lose a significant amount of power, while Secret Mage is also gutted. It’s hard to see how the Warlock set from K&C doesn’t become even more effective once rotation hits. Combo decks, or other decks with a significant amount of direct damage that bypasses taunts, are needed.
With Pirate Warrior maintaining a low, but consistent play-rate, it has now entered the table with a respectable win rate that’s certainly competitive enough to see success at all levels of play. While Warrior has been in the dumpster for most of this expansion, Pirate Warrior’s recent ladder antics as well as Control Warrior’s tournament prevalence suggest the class is in not as horrid of a state as it could be. It is only Shaman that has looked truly hopeless throughout most of K&C. We’re hoping to see these classes finding reprieve in The Witchwood.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Priest’s golden age could be over. The class loses many important cards to each of its main archetypes going into the Year of the Raven. The dragon package is gutted with the loss of Netherspite Historian and Drakonid Operative. The loss of Barnes and Y’Shaarj makes current Big Priest obsolete. The loss of cards such as Potion of Madness, Pint-Size Potion, Shadow Word: Horror and Dragonfire Potion also significantly hurts Priest’s ability to control the board in an efficient manner.
Priest’s place in the pecking order going forward is most definitely in question considering that new cards we have seen so far don’t appear to be game changers. Coffin Crasher and Vivid Nightmare might be able to promote new archetypes, but they are quite slow. Holy Water feels like a light Entomb, an interesting removal card that could be impactful. Lady in White and Glitter Moth may look appealing, but as we’ve seen time and time again with control classes, a bunch of stats being tossed on minions can be a little too cute and slow. Then we have Chameleos, which is a significantly stronger version of the very weak Shifter Zerus. Definitely an interesting card that could provide information and “eventually” produce a usable asset, but it doesn’t make or break a deck. As of this moment and barring incredible cards yet to be revealed, we expect Priest to see a pretty big drop in play once rotation hits, with a possible identity crisis on the horizon.
- Priest Class Radar
- Combo Priest
- Control Priest
- Big Priest
- Spiteful Priest
As Year of the Mammoth winds to a close, the story of Warlock’s dominance is not one that we see ending. N’Zoth is a significant loss in late game inevitability and Mistress of Mixtures added some important early game survivability, but the rest of the shell survives completely intact. N’Zoth may be a loss that cannot be overcome for Control Warlock, but Cube Warlock builds don’t necessarily need it to beat down opponents. Meanwhile, Mistress can be replaced by Plated Beetle, while Rotten Applebaum offers a different survival tool that synergizes particularly well in the Warlock class. Warlock loses the least in rotation and therefore might be the biggest winner in the Witchwood sweepstakes. Gul’dan will likely become public enemy #1 and the litmus test for whether or not a new archetype can survive in the Witchwood meta.
Lord Godrey could be the best card in the set from what was already revealed. This legendary makes it difficult for opponents to stick a board against Warlock, an already difficult enough task with Defile, Hellfire and Twisting Nether available.
Zoo has been quietly performing at a decent level as decks stabilized and targets became clearer. Losing Malchezaar’s Imp and Darkshire Councilman is relevant but not unbearable and the power of Life Tap usually finds a way. The shell remains strong and Prince Keleseth will continue to grace us with his presence for some time, unless a new and as of yet undiscovered power takes its place next to Flame Imp.
One thing that’s encouraging to see is an attempt to create a new, midrange archetype for Warlock centered on self-damaging with Duskbat, Blood Witch and Deathweb Spider, the latter looking like a reprinted and playable Blood-Queen Lana’thel.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Control Warlock
- Zoo Warlock
The Paladin class will surely change post-rotation, but with Call to Arms and Sunkeeper Tarim, we don’t expect it to go anywhere. Finding any reasonably synergistic shell is all that’s needed in order to produce a new and dominant beatdown deck for the class.
Murloc Paladin, the highest win rate deck throughout most of the period following the balance changes, will likely retire to Wild. It loses 2 of its 3 1-drop Murlocs in Grimscale Chum and, more importantly, Vilefin Inquisitor. This makes Rockpool Hunter not nearly as strong, taking away Paladin’s blistering starts upon which the strategy is built. The loss of murloc token generation also severely weakens both Gentle Megasaur and Murloc Warleader throughout the game.
Dude Paladin is losing Steward of Darkshire, Rallying Blade and Stand Against Darkness, none of which were the secret sauce for the deck. It might survive the rotation with a little more support.
Exodia Paladin is losing its Exodia combo in Auctionmaster Beardo and Burgly Bully. Blackwald Pixie can give you two horsemen in a turn, but that is hardly the OTK out of nowhere that the deck used to be able to pull off. Control Paladin will have to find another win condition, which is a tall task considering the looming Warlock threat.
Cathedral Garogyle might be one of the best cards in the set. A Shielded Minibot with taunt is quite a terrifying early game minion, but the card does require dragon synergy, which is not easy to make work with the upcoming card pool. Time will tell how quickly Gargoyle finds its way into the meta, but when it does, watch out. Rebuke is a 2-mana spell mimicking Loatheb’s effect. It’s an interesting tech card against combo decks and could see play in tournament line ups as a result. However, Loatheb is powerful because it’s a minion and an effect rolled into one card, while Rebuke relies more heavily on having a board or developing a board on the turn it’s played. Sound the Bells! appears to be a Quest support card. Perhaps, with the quest being completed more easily, we may not need to run a dedicated quest deck for it. Control Paladin could afford just running “good buffs” and Sound the Bells! while utilizing Galvadon and Lynessa as its late game bombs. Bellringer Sentry suggests another Paladin secret could be coming, while Silver Sword is a very slow weapon potentially carrying value in midrange board flooding decks.
Finally, Genn Greymane could find a home in Paladin. Many of Paladin’s most impactful cards are of even cost, and could make a strong enough shell to be worth the payoff of having cheap dudes filling up the mana curve.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Murloc Paladin
- Dude Paladin
- Control Paladin
- Ike’s Rally Vally Pally
The significant cards that are rotating out with the coming of the next expansion mainly destroy Secret Mage. It loses Kabal Crystal Runner, Kabal Lackey, Medivh’s Valet and Firelands Portal, all of which were integral to the archetype. While Arcanologist and Kirin Tor Mage can still be powerful post-rotation, Tempo Mage will have to find a new synergistic shell to run along them.
Vex Crow could fit very well in such a shell along with low cost spells. It’s a Violet Teacher with a weaker body but one that snowballs harder. Perhaps it’s a hint towards a Mage deck much like Tempo Mages of the past that utilized Flamewaker as the primary board pay-off card.
Meanwhile, Ice Block’s Hall of Fame induction disrupts most of the existing Control and Combo Mage archetypes. The class will no longer have the luxury of sitting behind an extra turn or two to pull off a combo. It will now have to fully rely on Frost Lich Jaina and Arcane Artificer to provide survivability. We can see Control Mage decks surviving this change, but combo decks will have a harder time. Voodoo Doll seems to be a perfect fit for Control Mage decks running Frost Lich Jaina.
- Mage Class Radar
- Secret Mage
- Big Spell Mage
- Exodia Mage
The final two months of the year of the Mammoth saw Hunter in its best state since Call of the Wild was nerfed. Spell Hunters were a unique take on the Hunter class and likely the closest thing to a Control Hunter we’ve ever seen. Heading into the rotation, Hunter loses a few key cards, but retains a core of solid cards. The four biggest losses for Hunter are: Barnes, Cloaked Huntress, Cat Trick, and Alley Cat. Without Cloaked Huntress or its strongest secret, Secret Hunter will no longer exist in its current iteration. Spell Hunter might be able to survive on the back of the newly revealed Wing Blast, but it will have to go through some growing pains. Losing the Barnes package will force the deck to play as Blizzard intended, finally including To My Side and Rhok’delar. The newly revealed Rat Trap might be a decent replacement for Cat Trick, but it seems far too easy for skilled players to play around. Finally, Aggro Hunters may be forced to switch back to a midrange style as they lose a good deal of their early game power without access to Alley Cat. With less snowball potential, and Houndmaster Shaw entering the game, expect minion based Hunter decks to take another look at Savannah Highmanes.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Spell Hunter
- Secret Hunter
- Aggro Hunter
With the coming Witchwood expansion, the Rogue cards revealed so far are not particularly encouraging. The revisiting of the Burgle mechanic with Pickpocket and Spectral Cutlass is not one most Rogue fans welcome. More importantly, with Coldlight Oracle moving to the Hall of Fame, two of the three current archetypes will suffer, with Kingsbane Rogue the biggest loser, saying goodbye to its main card draw tools and its ability to run a milling game plan. Echo could be a key mechanic for Quest Rogue if there are any Echo minions that are cheap enough. Face Collector offers value with the Echo, but at 3 mana, it’s too expensive for Quest Rogue, not to mention the battlecry not being helpful at all to the archetype (or any Rogue archetype for that matter).
Let’s hope we get some more strong tools for Rogue, or else the class could be in trouble at the start of the new Standard year, with only Miracle Rogue possibly surviving having the underwhelming WANTED! replace Counterfeit Coin. Cheap Shot is a flexible removal tool that Rogue should enjoy, but the rest of the set so far looks quite bleak.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Miracle Rogue
- Kingsbane Rogue
- Quest Rogue
With the conclusion of the March ladder season we saw more players reaching for Uther, Anduin, Jaina, and Gul’dan rather than Malfurion. Jade Druid continues to be the most popular archetype for a class that’s in dire need of new deck archetypes, since the strategies it has relied on for all of 2017 are going away.
Hand Druid looks to be the newest archetype being pushed for the Witchwood expansion. Utilizing Witchwood Apple and Forest Guide, players can fill up their hand to enable payoff cards such as Wispering Woods and even Mountain Giant, but it’s hard to be confident about this archetype taking off. Druid has a pretty strong defensive shell that can be a good home for a win condition, but that win condition needs to be found. Perhaps, Witching Hour can enable a deck centered on Grizzled Guardians, Astral Tigers and Hadronox, opening up a way for Druid to grind out opponents in fatigue.
- Druid Class Radar
- Jade Druid
- Spiteful Druid
- Big Druid
- Aggro Druid
- Thijs’ Mill Fatigue Druid
Warrior will hope to pull itself out of the mire at the start of the Year of the Raven. It’s been a rough few months, so surely anything will be an improvement. Right?
Having said that, Warrior’s new cards don’t exactly look like knockouts. Moving swiftly on from the head-scratcher that is Blackhowl Gunspire, Darius Crowley is actually a relatively difficult card to evaluate. There are obviously many situations where it will be underwhelming, but if utilized the right way, could provide some headaches. The one advantage Rush minions have is an immediate impact on the board, which is quite important, especially for expensive cards.
Rush, in general, seems to be the main theme for Warrior in this set. Woodcutter’s Axe seems very solid if there are enough Rush cards worth running to form a tribal core. Militia Commander looks quite powerful without even considering Rush support, and Redband Wasp gets a significant boost from being buffed. As for other cards, Warpath is a versatile AOE spell that should be worth playing in slower Warrior decks. Deadly Arsenal is a bit of a question mark. It has a weaker effect than Dragon’s Fury and a higher cost in both mana and deckbuilding requirements.
The biggest question mark is what sort of Warrior deck would actually be good. The only two remotely viable archetypes at the moment are Pirate Warrior and DMH Control Warrior, and both are dead after rotation due to the loss of many key Pirate cards and Coldlight Oracle, respectively.
Perhaps Taunt Warrior could grow in strength as a result of Phantom Militia and the possibility to run an Odd cost deck with Baku. Perhaps, Tempo Warrior gets a few more strong on curve plays and make the Rush mechanic work. Perhaps, Control Warrior takes advantage of a watered down late game from other classes. We’ll have to wait and see. Hopefully, Garrosh will have more to do in Witchwood than sit at home and play Overwatch.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Pirate Warrior
- Control Warrior
The Witchwood’s impending arrival is Shaman’s much needed reprieve from the Year of the Mammoth. Or is it? Rotation will make Shaman bid farewell to some of its strongest cards and considering the class’ sordid state at the moment, it’s hard to be optimistic about its prospects going forward.
We can definitely see Shaman taking a slower approach with Hagatha the Witch and perhaps, Bogshaper. The new hero card gives the class a scary card advantage engine that will bury opponents in the long game. The only question is will the class be strong enough from turn 1 through 7 to use it?
Even Shaman, utilizing Genn Greymane, could also appear since much like Paladin, Shaman’s board centric hero power can fill the curve quite nicely from turn 1. Murkspark Eel is also a very powerful early game minion that pushes this archetype in a good direction. The problem is that the class’ current card pool isn’t too deep to support it. As more sets come and replenish the card pool, archetypes with heavy deck-building restrictions are more likely to be explored.
“Garrosh, did you finish packing? It’s time to go!”
Thrall was standing at the doorstep, carrying a suitcase at his side. His left foot was tapping on the floor, signaling his impatience. Finally, he heard the sound of footsteps coming from the stairs, and saw Garrosh’s large figure descend, before approaching him at the door.
“I’m here, I’m here!” Garrosh called, carrying an oversized, green backpack and stopping near Thrall.
“Did you take everything with you? If you forget something, we can’t go back anytime soon.” Thrall warned.
“Yes, I have everything.” Garrosh replied in a monotonous tone, like a bored child assuring his mother that he’s got things under control.
“Well, the expansion is coming. We have to be prepared and do our best so that we don’t come back here in a month.” Thrall continued.
“Based on these cards that Blizzard is giving us,” Garrosh interrupted “I bet we’ll be back here soon enough. Rush? Can’t hit face? Ugh!” he growled and muttered to himself.
“We have to be optimistic, Garrosh. We haven’t seen the whole set yet. There could be surprises…”
“I guess,” Garrosh sighed “I just can’t bear looking at that little punk, Anduin. He’s gonna make fun of me again, I just know it!”
“Anduin is losing quite a few good cards, Garrosh…”
“And don’t forget about Gul’dan!” Garrosh ignored Thrall’s attempt to soothe him and ranted on “He’s so smug. A year ago he was a nobody and now he thinks he’s all that!”
As Garrosh continued on, the sound of a horn was heard, prompting Thrall to look out and spot a van parking next to the house.
“Enough ranting, Garrosh, let’s go!” Thrall gestured Garrosh to follow him and the two Orcs walked to the van. The back door opened, and soon enough, the Orcs were comfortably sitting inside the spacious vehicle suitable to carry them, looking out the windows as the sight of their home for the last 4 months was fading away.
A few minutes of silence passed. Thrall was just beginning to doze off, until he was woken up by the words of his companion.
“It was quite fun, to be honest, spending time here.” Garrosh spoke with a soft tone.
“Yeah,” Thrall smiled “It wasn’t all bad. You can be a good friend when you want to be.”
Garrosh was taken aback by Thrall’s words and looked down at the floor. His face turned away from Thrall’s piercing stare, attempting to hide his sudden discomfort and nervousness.
“Don’t misunderstand!” he spat back “It’s not like I like you or anything, stupid!”
“Sure.” Thrall’s smile grew wider “I hate you too.”
The adventures of Garrosh & Thrall WILL continue in The Witchwood! (even if their classes climb up the tier rankings) Stay tuned.
The new expansion is soon upon us and with it, a new meta. It’s hard to evaluate cards as the entire set has yet to be revealed. Judging from what we already know, the set is significantly weaker than the one introduced in K&C. This makes perfect sense from a design perspective.
The first expansion of a standard year should be weaker than the ones that follow it since the rotation that hits with the 1st expansion shakes up the meta by itself, significantly dropping the power level. The purpose of the 2nd and 3rd expansions is to then push out the older meta, which is why they need to be more powerful and why expansions such as K&C and MSG push the boundaries and produce more and more “unfair” cards.
The meta during Whispers of the Old Gods and Journey to Un’Goro are remembered fondly by the Hearthstone community. Rotation does good things for the game, so let’s hope the tradition continues and The Witchwood expansion is an enjoyable one.
For now, here are our Top 5 revealed cards of The Witchwood as of this moment.
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 3,100 active contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.
Preparing our weekly article requires a significant amount of time and effort from many individuals. We would like to wholeheartedly thank our current Patreons, whose generous donations help us fund computing and server costs.
vS Gold is a new membership plan aimed to support our efforts towards improving our content and data analysis while receiving some bonuses and extra features.
Tier 3+ Patrons
Special thanks to Leo G, Chungfr, Kognar, Aaron B, Jed M, Drew M, Alan J, lalasong, Eric L, Steve F, Batz, Jeffee83, Zolstar, Pink Mage Diaries, Connor L, Eric H, Lim E, Audun K, Sean H, asHram, Andrew N, NObdy, Mark S, Andrew, Alonso P, and msKang for supporting us for the month of April.
Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: