Welcome to the 91st edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 3,200 active contributors and we thank them wholeheartedly. Contributing to the Data Reaper project through either Track-o-Bot or Hearthstone Deck Tracker (recommended) allows us to perform our analyses and to issue the weekly reports. Without the community’s contribution, there would be no project. Contributing data is very easy and takes a few simple steps, after which no other action is required. If you enjoy our content, and would like to make sure it remains consistent and free- Sign Up!
- With the balance changes announced and coming next week (99%), the vS Data Reaper Report will be taking a break and return to action on May 31st. As always, balance changes such as these will rock the meta to its core. New archetypes could emerge and card usage will drastically change, so time is needed to tune up our recognition algorithm for the new meta and to gather new post-patch games.
- A Wild Data Report was scheduled to be published on May 20th regardless of the patch. However, ever since the ladder/quest rework, the number of games we’re recording has significantly dropped in both formats. In Wild, this problem is much more significant, and the drop in games has been drastic, perhaps as a result of the player base’s lack of interest in the format and/or the current state of the Wild meta. As such, current data for Wild is inadequate to produce a meaningful data-driven report. We will publish an opinion focused report based on data estimates this Sunday, and we will discontinue publishing Wild Data Reports in the future until we have an adequate sample size. This is the first time we’ve had to do this.
- Just to give you some perspective of the situation: only 1% of our regular audience contributes their games to this project. This audience has not shrunk whatsoever (it’s only growing), so the interest in these reports is clearly still there. If you care about this project and would like to see it continue, join the 1%. If 2% of our regular audience contributed their games to the project, all of these issues would be resolved. If 5% did, we would be able to produce additional insightful metrics that are waiting to be shown (such as a deck’s skill floor/ceiling). This content is free, unrivaled in its meticulousness, and its existence only relies on the community’s willingness to be a part of it. It’s very easy to say “Why should I bother? It’s always going to be there anyway.” This requires no effort. Signing up requires two minutes of effort. Think about whether those two minutes are worth it.
Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
The balance changes cannot come soon enough, as the meta spirals further down the rabbit hole. Even Paladin is out of control, and its prevalence at all levels of play is increasing at an alarming rate. Twenty three percent at legend and growing, and the higher you climb, the more of it you see.
Warlock takes the 2nd spot, with a massive gap opened to the rest of the field. Cube and Control Warlock approach equal representation at legend. This makes sense to some degree since Control Warlock is one of the only decks capable of beating Even Paladin consistently. Meanwhile, Zoo Warlock rests in peace.
The Caverns Below is the only card in the history of the game, since its official launch, which has been nerfed twice. Quest Rogue is another deck that is significantly more noticeable at higher levels of play, and is used as a ruthless counter to late game strategies. Odd Rogue’s numbers have collapsed and the deck’s decline is very stark at legend.
Tempo Mage is the primary counter to Quest Rogue and its prevalence pattern tends to chase it around. Big-Spell Mage is the exact opposite: it provides no resistance to Quest Rogue, which is why it is a rarer sight.
Control Priest is becoming a more common choice amongst players interested in fighting off the top 2 classes. The archetype is continuing to see changes in its builds, as players attempt to perfect its standing against the field. Quest Priest has also shown up on our radars, which is interesting to see, albeit in small numbers.
Spiteful Druid is the 3rd most popular deck at the rank 4-1 bracket, but its numbers significantly drop at legend where it is 7th. Taunt Druid is much more niche, and will likely find a better opportunity to grow in numbers after the balance changes.
The bottom three classes, Warrior, Hunter and Shaman, show a drastically lower play rate at legend. These classes do possess competitive decks that have also had recent success in the tournament scene, but the interest in playing them on ladder is very low.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Even Paladin now has a perfect 100 Meta Score at every rank bracket, and its oppression of the meta is worst at legend. Taking one quick glance at the legend meta score chart shows what happens when things are broken. No other deck comes close to the power level of Even Paladin, and Cube Warlock is a distant lieutenant.
The refinement of Even Paladin over the past couple of weeks has led to its win rate increasing at every level of play. Its hardest counters have become softer. Its prey has become less resistant. The entire meta is being stepped on by the big boot of Call to Arms and other archetypes find themselves pushed down the win rate tiers. If you like watching worlds burn, these metrics will suit your tastes.
The 50%+ club is a very small one at higher levels of play. Spiteful Druid has finally collapsed under this barrier, which is something we expected to see considering its terrible Paladin matchup. Tempo Mage is suffering a similar fate, incapable of handling the clear cut best ladder deck in the game.
Shadowreaper Anduin finds himself licking his lips at balance changes once again. Control Priest is the strongest deck in the game that has been untouched by balance changes. While it is correct to point out that much of its success in the current meta is a result of its good matchup against Even Paladin, the deck is flexible enough to gear itself to a different meta, and the reduced power level of the field should still result in a net gain. Look for Priest to potentially break out post-patch, with Mage looking very promising as well.
Murloc Paladin continues to hide in Even Paladin’s shadow but may become the go-to Paladin deck after the balance changes go live. Cube Warlock’s power is clear and it will be interesting to see whether and how it can adjust to the changes. Quest Rogue’s win rate has significantly climbed this week due to both meta shifts and internal improvements, ensuring that if it does go out, it goes out with a bang. Control Warlock is very close to join the elite club if not for some very poor common matchups. These are the only other decks in the game that do not put you in a significant disadvantage against the field at the highest levels.
And we end with some room for positivity. The balance changes will hit nearly every top meta deck in the game. This should, in theory, result in a healthier state in which neglected classes and strategies can shine. Of course, there is no guarantee that this will be the case, but considering the current state of the game, the changes are very much welcomed.
If you’re bored of the current meta, and happen to have the cards for it, Quest Priest looks like an actual good deck, and is sitting close to the 50% win rate mark at the moment. Taunt Warrior is another deck that’s not seeing much play yet displays a pretty good win rate.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Paladin is a really strong class right now and that’s not much of a secret. Even Paladin has completely taken over the game and is showing no signs of relenting. Its numbers at legend in particular begin to resemble those of some of the strongest decks in the history of Hearthstone.
Even Paladin is not completely done with refinements either, as players continue to test the final 2 or 3 slots for the deck. In the debate between Dire Wolf Alpha vs. Plated Beetle, the beetle seems to be winning out. Dire Wolf Alpha isn’t as strong when it’s not protected by a taunt, and the Beetle provides stronger standalone stats as well as the armor bonus which can be relevant in some matchups. Another debate pits The Lich King against the 2nd Argent Commander. Argent Commander provides damage from hand and works well with Val’anyr, while Lich King is a strong threat that can both pressure slower decks and provide the final blow in faster matchups. The featured standard build helped DamDam reach #7 legend.
Finally, experimentation is done with Bloodmage Thalnos. Loot Hoarders are very strong pulls off of Call to Arms since they heavily accelerate your cycle into both threats and answers, so players such as Stancifka are taking this synergy futher by including the legendary, which can also be comboed with Consecration.
Murloc Paladin is also very strong without needing to build your deck with any mana cost restrictions, and it might become the dominant Paladin deck when Call to Arms has its cost increased to 5. For now, it’s a more polarizing deck that wins harder and loses harder, and its worse performance against the Warlock class means it’s generally passed over.
Odd Paladin’s playrate is now starting to mirror its winrate, as both continue to tumble. Odd Paladin is an extremely aggressive and binary deck, but it is very easy to counter if your opponent is aware of your strategy and what cards you’re building towards. This makes the deck pretty fickle in the current environment.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Even Paladin
- Murloc Paladin
- Odd Paladin
Warlock is stable, consistent, and powerful – just like last week, and the week before that, and the week before that, and so on.
Cube Warlock is still the best Warlock deck by a significant margin, though it should be noted that Even Paladin’s ongoing shift to the break-out builds of last week poses a more difficult challenge for Cube. There are decks with slight edges over Cube, such as Tempo Mage and Quest Rogue. However, these are small advantages, and no deck can hard counter it. In a meta labeled to be Rock/Paper/Scissors, Cube Warlock plays a different game.
Control Warlock, on the other hand, is much more focused on dealing with Even Paladin, though at the cost of nearly all of its other popular matchups. Somehow, this is almost worth it with the massive increase in Even Paladins on ladder. Control still remains a perfectly defensible strategy and can often perform better at lower ranks where Quest Rogue is not as popular. Much like Cube Warlock, there aren’t any noticeable developments that make us change what we feel is the best build (last week’s discussion of the deck remains up to date), but if you’re struggling against Control Priest and Tempo Mages, Shroom Brewer has proven to be a pretty good tech against them.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Cube Warlock
- Control Warlock
- Zoo Warlock
Tempo Mage had another decent week, with several players reaching top legend ranks with the archetype. The deck is mostly used to counter Quest Rogues and should generally be avoided if you’re seeing a flood of Paladins. Xixo’s #1 legend list slightly deviates from standard builds by running Arcane Keysmiths over Pyroblast and one Glyph. Uberer hit #8 legend by cutting an Amani Berserker instead of a Glyph. Keysmith is a flexible minion that fills the curve and can be annoying to play around, but we wouldn’t consider it to be a staple. Non-Keysmith builds are also doing well, with Fled hitting #1 legend with a slight variation of the standard build, running Mirror Image/Thalnos over Intellect/Berserker.
Big-Spell Mage is the other noticeable Mage deck on ladder. It can be quite a decent pick at lower ranks where aggressive decks are prevalent, but as you climb further, you will find it harder to do well with the deck since it nearly autoloses the Quest Rogue matchup.
- Mage Class Radar
- Tempo Mage
- Big-Spell Mage
The Rogue class is regressing into one archetype, while other strategies are falling to the wayside.
Odd Rogue’s problems continue, and its representation is falling across all ranks. With Paladin’s increased presence, Odd Rogue has not been a deck to turn to for many players on ladder. Miracle Rogue also remains on the fringes of ladder, and is largely eclipsed by Quest Rogue. Tempo Rogue has long disappeared.
Quest Rogue is the most popular Rogue deck for both ladder and tournament settings. Lists continue to vary between the standard build Rage initially had success with and the Igneous Elemental builds. We generally recommended the standard build, since it performs better in the deck’s poor matchups. Cutting the Fire Fly/Igneous package allows you to run Wax Elemental, which is great both at stalling pre-quest, and stabilizing post-quest. The final two slots available are usually dedicated to removal. Backstab (Paladin/Mage), Fan of Knives (Paladin) and Sap (Druid/Warlock) provide answers to common meta opponents.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Quest Rogue
- Odd Rogue
- Miracle Rogue
- Tempo Rogue
Priest might be the only class that continues to see significant changes in the current meta.
Control Priest is the flagship archetype of the class, and its numbers continue to grow for another week on the back of its strong matchup against the meta tyrant, Even Paladin. Latest innovations have also altered the standard build, gearing it towards a more specific direction: controlling the opponent’s face. Holy Fire has been this week’s MVP, growing in popularity and proving to be surprisingly effective. The card’s versatility in providing burn damage, healing and removal makes it quite strong in the current meta and synergizes perfectly with the deck’s “Freeze Mage” plan. Casie’s build is an excellent example of the card’s utilization.
Quest Priest has appeared on the back of ClownJP hitting legend with the archetype. This deck performs quite well against the meta with a primary weakness of dealing with Quest Rogue. We’ve changed one card in the list: SW:D for the 2nd Scream, since the latter is very important for the deck’s success, despite the deck’s fatigue-esque win condition. We think there might be room to explore this archetype further, especially after the changes go live.
- Priest Class Radar
- Control Priest
- Spiteful Priest
- Combo Priest
- ClownJP’s Quest Priest
Druid is oscillating around the middle in class popularity.
The most successful druid archetype, Spiteful Druid, has largely been solved. Our observation is that Vicious Fledgling and Tar Creepers are slightly overrated. Tar Creeper provides no pressure on opponents, while Fledging is very rarely allowed to snowball. Lich King, on the other hand, is very strong and should be included, since many of its cards have great synergy with the deck.
Taunt Druid is also approaching solved status, and it appears that cutting Ultimate Infestation is the correct approach for it on ladder. The archetype is painfully slow and doesn’t have the ability to dump its cards quickly, making UI a clunky draw very often. Instead, we focus on Dragonhatcher which is a strong threat on its own and an incredible pull off of Oakheart. You should perform better against Warlocks with Sjow’s list, while adding Wraths helps in the Paladin/Mage matchups.
Ego took Muzzy’s Midrange Druid to #53 Legend earlier this week, adding another copy of Ironwood Golem over Leeroy for more pulls off of Oaken Summons.
- Druid Class Radar
- Taunt Druid
- Spiteful Druid
- Muzzy’s Midrange Druid
Big Warrior has returned. Fr0zen hit legend with a list that was also a component of Fibonacci’s 7-0 lineup at the AM HCT Playoffs. For the uninitiated, the deck’s strategy is to play nothing but impactful high-cost minions in order to recruit them at a discount with Gather Your Party and Woecleaver, with the rest of the deck made up of removal to get past the early game. A caveat: like all Warrior decks so far in this expansion, the deck is not particularly good for ladder play, however it is good enough to achieve some decent results if things go right.
Meanwhile, Taunt Warrior and Odd-Control Warrior are still acceptable choices, and have actually been quite popular and successful in tournament play since they fit some line-up strategies quite well. Small victories for a fairly neglected class, but victories nevertheless.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Odd-Control Warrior
- Taunt Warrior
- Odd-Taunt Warrior
- Rush Warrior
- Fr0zen’s Big Warrior
Although players have certainly been experimenting with the Hunter class, testing out various aggressive and midrange builds, the one Hunter archetype that has displayed true staying power on a weekly basis remains Spell Hunter. The deck isn’t strong enough to gain huge traction on ladder, but it’s definitely strong enough to have success with. Fibonacci included Spell Hunter in his top 8 line up at the AM HCT Playoffs, showcasing the power of the deck when Warlock can be banned out. Perhaps with the upcoming nerfs to Warlock, Spell Hunter will emerge as one of the top decks in the meta. Until then, it remains a decent, albeit not a fantastic choice for the current meta.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Spell Hunter
- Face Hunter
- Midrange Hunter
Shaman continues its “hot streak” of being the least played class in Hearthstone.
Sipiwi’s piloted a Shudderwock Shaman build to #13 Legend. The list, inspired by Dog, runs Hemet, which accelerates the deck’s win condition. It cuts Murmuring Elemental and Fire Plume Harbinger, which makes the combo less reliable for the benefit of removing pieces that are dead outside of it.
Even Shaman is the strongest archetype available for the class, and it has also performed quite well in tournament line ups that banned Warlock at the AM Playoffs. Guiyze, SwaggyP and TerrenceM brought Even Shaman builds inspired by Cocosasa, mostly cutting Ooze for Earthen Might since a Warlock ban makes weapon destruction far less important.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Even Shaman
- Midrange Shaman
- Shudderwock Shaman
One by one, meta challengers have fallen, establishing Even Paladin’s tyranny of Hearthstone. While we have seen worse oppressors in the past, such as Jade Druid at the beginning of KFT, Even Paladin certainly comes close to the best of them and might have reached their level if it was given more time to do so. Playing Even Paladin on ladder right now compared to any other deck feels like playing on the lowest difficulty. This deck is incredibly consistent and hard to beat, as it simply has it all: Powerful curve, punishing removal and burst damage.
This deck will likely disappear once Call to Arms is changed to cost 5 mana. The change to Call to Arms will completely shake up the early game meta, since other classes will now be allowed to fight for the board. In addition to this change, nerfing Quest Rogue as well as Warlock should shake up the late game meta, giving new opportunities to oppressed strategies.
We’re looking forward to the balance changes and will see you on the other side. For now, EZ mode is still enabled, and you should probably use it. After it is disabled, look for Mage and Priest to raise their heads.
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 3,200 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, Eric L, Jeffee83, Zolstar, Pink Mage Diaries, Eric H, Lim E, Sean H, Steve F, Andrew N, NObdy, Mark S, Andrew, Alonso P, msKang, Andrew R, and Andrew H for supporting us for the month of May.
Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: