vS Data Reaper Report #94

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from over 80,000 games.

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Welcome to the 94th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live has 5,400 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!

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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

Important Messages

We have now launched a query form in which contributors can contact us to check the number of games they have contributed to the project over the past month. This will be helpful to ensure an individual’s eligibility for our monthly vS Gold Raffle. If you missed the announcement of the monthly raffle, all the details are in last week’s report.

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Number of Games

Overall 80,000
Legend 5,000
Ranks 1-4 32,000
Ranks 5-9 35,000
Ranks 10-14 6,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

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Class Frequency

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Class Frequency Discussion

The diversity in the current meta is quite remarkable. Every class in the game has at least one competitive deck seeing play, and most of them have two. No archetype, at any bracket, exceeds 10% of the field. There is only one instance of a class exceeding 20% of the field, which is Druid at legend. If this continues, the post-patch Witchwood meta will be remembered fondly by most of the player base. The balance changes have certainly helped the game.

While Druid is the most popular class, matching up against it is not a repetitive experience. There are so many different Druid decks in the current meta that it’s quite hard to keep track of all of them. The latest Druid archetype to join the party is Big Druid, which has seen a spike in play following Thijs’ success with the deck. Taunt Druid is the most popular deck in the game at legend ranks and the primary archetype for the class.

Hunter has exploded in popularity at all levels of play. Kathrena Hunter is the primary culprit, nearly doubling its play rate at most rank brackets. Midrange Hunter is also seeing increased play, while Spell Hunter has taken a significant step back. The class has a very different composition of strategies from last week. Kathrena Hunter is particularly prevalent at ranks 4-1, so the deck has to be accounted for during your legend climb.

Valeera is chilling. Not much has occurred in the Rogue class, with its primary archetypes settled down in terms of builds. The one noticeable trend we can observe is a decrease in Odd Rogues and an increase in Miracle and Kingsbane Rogue. This doesn’t necessarily reflect a change in the decks’ performances, but rather the player base’s focus on holding late game strategies accountable.

Warlock continues its steady increase in play at all skill levels. Cube Warlock’s spike in popularity has slowed down, but Even Warlock’s numbers are now climbing further. Zoo Warlock maintains a very niche presence, while Control Warlock is dying out for a very good reason: it sucks.

Shaman is exhibiting nearly identical numbers from last week, but there’s a slightly more noticeable change at higher levels of play. Shudderwock Shaman is declining, while Even Shaman is seeing more play. This lines up with last week’s observation of the decks’ power levels, so we expect this trend to continue.

Odd Paladin’s numbers are increasing from rank 4 onwards. The archetype is receiving more attention from the player base, but its builds remain fairly stagnant. Not much else is stirring within the class. Murloc Paladin has faded away despite showing some decent results and there’s a tiny shift in the nerfed Even Paladin.

Mage has fallen off hard this week, with both of its primary archetypes declining. We have already established that Aluneth Mage was a fairly overrated deck with too many oppressive matchups on ladder. Big-Spell Mage has a more well-rounded matchup spread but has shown some signs of a decline in its win rate recently. One interesting development is the appearance of Murloc Mage in greater numbers, especially at higher levels of play.

Priest looks like a different class from last week, as it has undergone a massive internal shift that resembles a new expansion. Control and Quest Priest have both collapsed in play, while Combo Priest has spiked in its popularity. From being barely visible, it is now the most popular Priest archetype and the most notable at legend by quite a margin. It also displays a few different approaches.

Warrior has sunk back to the bottom. It is the least popular class at every rank bracket. All of its archetypes, with the exception of Taunt Warrior, have died out. After being an early frontrunner of the post-patch meta, could things look grim again for Garrosh?

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vS Meta Score

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vS Power Rankings Discussion

The win rate charts mirror the frequency charts in the sense that the meta is fairly balanced. There are many viable, competitive ladder decks being played, and their power levels do not greatly differ from each other. However, there is one exception to the rule: we think Warlock is just better than anything else out there right now.

Cube Warlock continues to look very powerful and the reasons for it have not changed from last week. History tells us that decks that have received nerfs and were still strong took some time to catch back up in prevalence. A good example is Aggro Shaman in MSG after the nerf to Spirit Claws and Small-Time Buccaneer, when it has never truly recovered in its play rate despite its return to Tier 1.

Another important note is that Cube Warlock is very skill testing according to our internal metrics (In the future, we plan to publish a refined metric for it). In the post-patch meta especially, it is difficult to pick up and immediately do well with Cubelock. However, it is a deck that is extremely rewarding to master. It is also rewarding to build correctly. According to the matchup spread, Taunt Druid is favored against Cube Warlock. Well. it’s favored against Stonehill Defender builds. Against Prince Taldaram, the matchup gets flipped. It’s that dramatic.

Even Warlock offers a different matchup spread from Cube and it’s also a “safer” deck to play. It is very dominant against any board-centric strategy, and its game plan is faster, aggressive and straightforward. The deck has a lot of raw power behind it and is probably the most reliable deck to climb ladder with for an intermediate player.

Taunt Druid’s climb in win rate continues, and its spike in performance is particularly steep at higher levels of play, where it joins the Warlock pair in Tier 1. In the span of two weeks, Taunt Druid has climbed two full tiers at legend, and all it had to do was drop Tar Creepers for more late-game dragons.

Kathrena Hunter’s rapid climb in win rate has taken a sizeable U-turn this week, and it has failed to follow Taunt Druid into the elite group at legend. This is a good sign considering the deck’s recent explosion in popularity. Both Warlock and Paladin have risen in play, and these two classes are quite effective at dealing with Kathrena Hunter and keeping it in check.

Taunt Warrior is still quite a powerful deck if you’re interested in farming lower ranks, where the meta is more aggressive. However, it’s beginning to collapse under the weight of the “Big” meta at legend. Kathrena Hunter and Cube Warlock are such oppressive matchups that it’s becoming really hard for Warrior to execute its game plan. Indeed, the class’ fall in play rate is indicative of an increasingly difficult challenge. A heavier late game meta is costly for a class that lacks a powerful late game.

Big-Spell Mage is also continuing to fall in its win rate, but we think the deck has a better chance of surviving at higher levels of play, primarily because of its excellent matchups against both Taunt Druid and Even Warlock. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a modest, but steady stream of success with the deck at top legend because of the nature of its matchup spread.

Tier 2 at legend contains the dominant, board-centric decks of the meta: Odd Paladin, Even Shaman and Token Druid. All of these decks fall prey to Warlock’s AOE, so in a Warlock dominant meta, these decks would face some issues. However, we’re not yet in a Warlock meta. Even Shaman performs spectacularly well against both Kathrena Hunter and Taunt Druid, so its stock is rapidly rising. Odd Paladin is strong against Kathrena Hunter, so it also benefits from the meta shifts. Token Druid is the deck that’s collapsing. Its matchup against the Warlock class is particularly miserable, so any rise in Warlocks stings Token Druid the most. More importantly though, unlike the aforementioned two, Token Druid does not fare particularly well against either Taunt Druid or Kathrena Hunter, so we may see its play rate begin to fall.

Rogue is a good class. It’s not amazing, it’s not game-breaking, but it’s definitely strong. Odd Rogue is the best pure aggressive deck in the meta, and with other decks becoming greedier over time, it has more room to punish the late game arms race that’s occurring right now. Miracle Rogue punishes greed in a different way, but also does it very effectively. It’s also the only archetype in the game that boasts favorable matchups against the top 3 decks at legend. That is a pretty big deal.

Combo Priest has now appeared in the table and doesn’t ‘look’ very good. However, this score comes with a pretty sizeable caveat and based on our observations, it’s far too early to judge the deck, much like it was too early to judge Taunt Druid when it was “Tier 3” a couple of weeks ago. Remember that data is important, but the analysis behind the data is more important.

Currently, the deck is seeing multiple approaches. The dragon variants are performing significantly better, though this isn’t as dramatic as in the Taunt Druid case.

The deck displays a drastic difference in its performance across skill levels and also across experience with the deck. Currently, it exhibits the highest skill cap in the game (by far) and a very steep learning curve even for advanced players. Considering the burst in popularity it has received, its current win rate is very understandable given the circumstances. It’s a very punishing deck to casually pick up much like it was during K&C.

Over time, we expect players to improve their performance with the deck. However, we don’t expect it to become a consistently dominant deck since it can be very matchup dependent and can also be targeted by tech. Skulking Geist is a card we expect to increase in popularity if Combo Priest rises and Taunt Druid stays dominant.

Finally, short bullet points about other prominent meta decks as well as low play rate decks

Shudderwock Shaman’s play rate is not currently justified. The meta has shifted against it but the player base hasn’t caught up. It has the ability to adjust with some smart tech in some matchups, but it’s definitely an inferior control counter to Miracle Rogue, which seems to do most things better in this niche.

Spell Hunter and Midrange Hunter’s win rate trends match up their play rate trends perfectly. The heavy late game decks require minion pressure to beat, and this has encouraged players to move the Spellstone package into minion hybrid shells instead.

We’re not too impressed with Big Druid at the moment, based on its preliminary data. Taunt Druid is a superior deck in most matchups and that may create difficulty for Big Druid to find its own niche long term.

Murloc Mage might be better than vanilla Aluneth Mage, but until the deck trickles down to all skill levels, its win rate could be inflated since it’s still a ‘secret’ amongst players who follow the meta more closely. It might make it to the win rate charts next week.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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

Data Reaper Report - Druid

Just when it looks like innovation may have ceased when it comes to the Druid class, yet another new archetype appears. Big Druid has made its return on the back of success from Viper and Thijs who have both hit top 100 legend with their respective builds.

The new incarnation of Big Druid is essentially an extremely greedy variant of Taunt Druid. The late game Dragonhatcher package is bloated with threats, Oaken Summons is cut for Greedy Sprite and Bright-Eyed Scout in order to ramp faster into these threats, and Drakkari Enchanter is added to make an Oakheart play even more obscene. While Big Druid is certainly fun, its ability to reach the late game isn’t as consistent as Taunt Druid’s, since its defensive tools are weaker.

Taunt Druid is one of the most dominant late-game decks in the current meta, with seemingly infinite value potential through the Hadronox/Witching Hour/Cube combo. The deck only has three truly bad common matchups in the current meta: Miracle Rogue, Big-Spell Mage and Even Shaman. Builds have settled down and Tar Creeper is, rightfully so, a rare sight these days. The biggest debate surrounds the size of the Dragonhatcher package.

Token Druid is one of the most dominant early game decks in the current meta. While it’s not a pure aggressive deck, it’s very effective at pushing fast decks off the board, so it’s a great choice against decks such as Odd Paladin and Odd Rogue. It’s also quite strong against slower decks that cannot deal with Soul of the Forrest effectively. Cube Warlock, Even Warlock, Taunt Warrior and Taunt Druid are the late game strategies that give you a very hard time.

The rest of the Druid archetypes see significantly less play but are still competitive options for ladder. They are niche since their weaknesses are more profound. Some players have found high legend success recently with Togwaggle Druid and Malygos Druid. These decks shine in the absence of weapon destruction due to their reliance on Twig of the World Tree, but can certainly find wins without it.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

Rogue has had a quiet week in terms of build developments. Both of its primary archetypes have settled down in their meta roles and haven’t seen many changes. Miracle Rogue is a polarizing deck that can boom or bust depending on its opponents. If you’re running into late game decks, it’s hard to find a more effective strategy in that environment. If you’re running into aggressive decks, you will likely have a miserable time.

Miracle Rogue has very few flex spots. Some players have been replacing Shiv with Hallucination, though we generally disagree with this approach. The deck lives and dies by its spider generation, which is why we’re not fans of cutting cycle from the build. Questing Adventurer can replace an SI:7 Agent, and this swap makes sense if you’re interested in improving your good matchups further.  Some players are beginning to cut Gadgetzan Auctioneer for Sprint, which is a more consistent form of cycle, at the cost of the 4/4 body and the tempo it can generate when played. Gyong hit #1 legend with a Sprint Miracle Rogue recently. The debate of Gadgetzan vs. Sprint is difficult to answer without much data, but if this particular list gains traction, we should know a lot more next week.

Odd Rogue has also settled down on a largely agreed-upon build, though we’re the ones who don’t agree with it! Our gripe relates to the Tar Creepers, which are low-pressure cards that make less and less sense in the current meta. Mukla has proven to be very strong over the past week and we maintain that it’s a fantastic card in the current meta.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock might not be the most popular class, but it’s probably the best class in the game. Home to two of the strongest strategies in the format, it’s hard to go wrong with Warlock.

Cube Warlock has made its return to the top of the win rate charts. Cube’s strength against slower strategies remains extremely potent and the removal tools still function reasonably against board-centric early game decks. The balance changes may have slightly slowed down the deck, but in return, it is seeing more of its good matchups than before.

Even Warlock isn’t suffering at all from Cube Warlock’s increase in play. In fact, both decks are only climbing in terms of ladder popularity. Their matchup spreads are different enough that both decks have very relevant spots in the meta.

As a general rule, Even Warlock is stronger against faster decks that are more vulnerable to removal, or decks that don’t have consistent answers to Mountain Giants. Cube Warlock is stronger when your opponent is vulnerable to slower synergies and inevitability. Even Warlock doesn’t have the nuance of Cube. It often loses late-game matchups once its initial onslaught is dealt with, so it requires to pressure quickly, otherwise it might fizzle out. Cube Warlock is significantly slower and is much weaker to decks that target its life total, but is harder to deal with once it assembles its key pieces.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

The biggest change for Hunter this week was not the decklists, but rather the play rates of the archetypes. Kathrena Hunter and Midrange (Hybrid) Hunter both got serious boosts in notoriety this week, while Spell Hunter has significantly declined in play.

This isn’t to say Spell Hunter is bad, however, as it continues to produce some solid performances on ladder at all levels of play. Thanks to its solid core of cards, don’t expect Spell Hunter to shift too much from being a solid deck on ladder.

The biggest rise in play came from last week’s meta breaker, Katharena Hunter. With the deck nearly doubling in play rate, players are realizing just how good it is in punishing decks such as Shudderwock Shaman. Although some players are experimenting with including secrets in the Oozeling builds, it’s a bit too early to tell how they are panning out. Considering the deck’s difficulty in dealing with Warlocks of both kinds, a 2nd Hunter’s Mark is a strong consideration.

Finally, Midrange Hunter is embracing a hybrid build that is very similar to Spell Hunter, but runs a few early game minions. The archetype needs the pressure provided by these early game minions to have a better chance against the late game decks of the meta, since without them, these opponents are often allowed to sit back and outlast you. Fenom hit top 100 legend with a Midrange Hunter build that removes the Spellstone package entirely, focusing solely on snowballing minion synergies in order to pressure slower decks.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

Much like other classes this week, Shaman has mostly stabilized in its builds. Both of its archetypes have seemingly ended a period of refinement.

Shudderwock Shaman is the flagbearer of the class. Hemet has become much more prevalent, helping the deck accelerate into its win condition. One tech that has seen increased play recently is replacing Lightning Bolts with Earth Shocks. This is a direct response to the rise of Taunt Druid, Cube Warlock and Kathrena Hunter. The latter two are particularly difficult matchups, and Earth Shock is a very good answer to a Possessed Lackey or a Seeping Oozeling. Consider this tweak if you’re running into them often.

Even Shaman is one of the most underrated decks in the game, and continues to perform well both on ladder and in the tournament scene. The standard build runs both a small Corpsetaker package and an Elemental package. Corpsetaker is a very explosive card that can take games if left unanswered in some of your hardest matchups, such as Warlock. Running Elementals enables both Earthen Might and Kalimos.

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

There isn’t much to say about the state of Paladin, except that it is quite Odd. The same list, with very few variations, is the current champion of the Paladin class. That isn’t to say that it isn’t a good deck (because it very much is), but rather that there has been very little experimentation that deviates from it. We still believe that both Stonehill Defender and Raid Leader are underwhelming cards in the deck and there is merit to exploring more explosive plays at the 3-mana slot.

The main story this week comes from the reappearance of Even Paladin. The Call to Arms nerf seemed to have deleted the archetype from the game, but it has poked its head out with jtamonda hitting #8 legend. The build is basically the same pre-nerf build, focused on burst damage from hand, topping out at Argent Commanders, Avenging Wraths and Val’anyr.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

A third Mage archetype has begun to appear in significant numbers at higher levels of play, and it is Murloc Mage. Murlocs… in Mage?

Turns out a snowballing tribal package can get pretty crazy with an absurd amount of card draw, which is what Book of Spectres, Archmage Arugal and Aluneth provide. The list featured was taken to legend early this month by Siki, who slightly tweaked a list originally created by Apxvoid. The strength of the archetype is its hyper-aggressive nature that can get out of control very fast. Murloc Mage is quite effective against the rising recruiting menaces: Cube Warlock, Kathrena Hunter, and Taunt Druid. All of these decks are punished for their relatively passive early game, which allows Murloc Mage to establish an uncontested board. Combined with Mage’s direct damage spells, the angry fish men may have found a new home in the current meta.

Data Reaper Report - Priest

Priest continues to exhibit lower prevalence in the current meta, but this week we observed a huge spike in Combo Priest after Bloodyface took Zalae’s build to #1 legend. The archetype is a nice counter to some of the greedier late game decks in this meta that have recently risen in play. Unidentified Elixir is a recent addition that provides another pressure tool once the deck gets a lead on the board. The list also incorporates Cabal Shadow Priest to combo with Twilight Acolyte, and one Bone Drake in order to preserve dragon synergy consistency. Affie hit #1 legend once again this week with the same non-dragon build that was featured last week.

Both Quest Priest and Control Priest have seen a huge drop in overall play as all the rage seems to be the emerging aforementioned archetype. While they are still competitive, both have been suffering at the hands of the same decks that are giving Combo Priest a more favorable field. With “Big” decks running around, the class cannot afford to sit back and wait for them to come.

Indeed, Priest has seen the most drastic change this week out of all the classes in the game. When you run into Anduin, it’s time to play around Inner Fire rather than Mind Blasts.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Warrior remains a somewhat linear class, and it’s beginning to show with the rise of intimidating late game strategies that do not give it a lot of room to breath.

Taunt Warrior remains the most played Warrior archetype and still has some very strong matchups, but the dawn of Cube Warlock coupled with the increase in Kathrena Hutner and Taunt Druid have made things more difficult recently. You’re very well situated against any aggressive deck, especially token-based strategies, but as the meta shifts into a heavier late game, your Ragnaros hero power is beginning to pale in comparison.

The class has other options, most notably Big Warrior, which we believe has been underplayed. However, much like Taunt Warrior, Big Warrior’s late game plan is less effective as a result of the recent meta shifts. Other mana cheating decks, highlighted in last week’s meta breaker section, outclass it both in pace and longevity.

Odd-Control Warrior has been completely pushed out of the meta, which isn’t a surprise considering its late game is the worst out of the three. Piles of armor just don’t go as far as they used to with the deck incapable of fending off what feels like infinite value and unrelenting recruiting power.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

You all know Warlock’s pretty good. We don’t need to repeat that every week, do we? Let’s say a few words about the most underrated deck of this meta.

Even Shaman is a great choice if you’re running into Taunt Druid and Kathrena Hunter, and you still want to have decent matchups against aggressive decks. It’s an archetype that’s been on the rise recently and merits more exploration. We think it’s really strong in tournament lineups banning Warlock too.

So our tip of the week:

  1. Play Warlock. It’s really good.

Are you sure you don’t want to play Warlock?

  1. If you don’t see Warlock, play Shaman.
  2. If all you see is Warlock, play Rogue.

Cube Warlock

Even Warlock

Even Shaman

Miracle Rogue

Odd Rogue

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