Welcome to the 95th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
While Druid remains the most popular class in the game, it’s not showing any signs of spinning out of control. In fact, its steady decline at all levels of play continues. We can see that both Taunt Druid and Token Druid, the two primary archetypes of the class, are seeing less play at legend and ranks 1-4. The class’ several niche strategies are also not gaining significant traction, except Big Druid. Big Druid is currently spiking in popularity and undergoing a refinement phase.
Hunter is also declining at all levels of play, and all of its archetypes are currently trending down. Hunter players shouldn’t be too concerned, however, as the class is still in a good spot with three different archetypes seeing success at all levels of play.
Warlock is undergoing changes. The class is trending up in popularity, with Even Warlock rising in prevalence very rapidly. It is now the most popular deck in the game at every rank bracket. Interestingly, Cube Warlock’s growth has stopped and it has even taken a step back compared to last week.
Rogue is on the rise, and its numbers at legend are closing the gap on Druid’s top spot. Miracle Rogue has become a very enticing option for players looking to counter the best late-game strategies in the meta, so its rise is understandable. Odd Rogue is unchanged from last week, both in prevalence and in builds.
Shaman is also on the rise, with both of its archetypes responsible for the climb. We do think that Shudderwock is slightly overplayed when we evaluate its most recent results, but the deck’s unique playstyle will likely keep it popular. Even Shaman has been seeing good results lately, so its rise in play was expected.
Odd Paladin has seen the biggest spike in popularity over the past week alongside Even Warlock. We’re seeing more of the deck at every level of play, and we suspect that the internal shift in the Warlock population is a direct response to this trend. Even Warlock is a pretty hard counter to Odd Paladin, while Cube has dropped many percentages in the matchup as a result of the balance changes.
Perhaps the most interesting trend this week is the rise of Big-Spell Mage, especially at higher levels of play. The deck performs well against both Even Warlock and Taunt Druid, so the recent dominance of these decks seems to have re-ignited interest in the archetype. Big-Spell Mage can blow very hot and cold. Its matchup against Shudderwock Shaman, for example, is a terrible experience. It’s a deck that has been declining in its win rate over the past few weeks, but still looked quite decent against the field, so we’re encouraged to see signs of its recovery.
Priest and Warrior are settling down at the bottom of the meta. Priest is fairly diverse in its strategies, but none of them are making a long-lasting impact on the meta. Warrior is a one-trick class that’s generating little interest in the player base.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Here’s something we’ve learned from experience of following the meta over the last two years. “Aggro decks” can never truly die at hands of “Control decks”. If aggressive decks become weak enough that late game strategies dominate, the meta will get greedier and greedier until the aggressive decks become strong again. The only strategies that can truly render ‘aggro’ as obsolete are ‘midrange’ strategies that stick to the board faster and take away their initiative. Midrange Shaman during Karazhan is a really good example of an oppressive deck that dominated initiative even against the seemingly fastest decks of its meta. It suppressed aggressive decks more than any other deck we’ve ever seen.
We say this because we’re witnessing the breaking point of a meta that has become so late-game focused, that early game decks are now getting stronger again. Odd Paladin punishes passivity, a lack of response to its development of the board, so it’s beginning to thrive in the late game arms race. With the rise of good matchups such as Shudderwock Shaman and Miracle Rogue (choices that are focused at countering slower decks), it is now the highest win rate archetype anywhere outside of legend. At legend, the only better performers are Warlocks.
The Warlock class is still performing well pretty much everywhere, though we do notice that Cube Warlock has been declining in its win rate, especially outside of legend ranks. As we’ve said last week, it is one of the most complicated decks in the game, and there’s a big discrepancy in its performance when you look at pilots of different levels of proficiency and experience. After the balance changes, it is far less forgiving, which might be why it’s seeing such a modest play rate. This low play rate discourages the meta to counter it, further rewarding experienced pilots. Even Warlock is far more forgiving, and also performs significantly better against the rising Odd Paladin.
Taunt Druid is paying the price for its recent success. The meta has become very focused on countering this archetype with the increase in Miracle Rogues and Skulking Geists. These developments show that Taunt Druid can bleed. Meanwhile, Token Druid is enjoying the lack of attention to it. With its decline in play, it is also gaining a mulligan advantage on ladder. Definitely a strong deck right now as long as it doesn’t run into its hard counters too often.
Big-Spell Mage’s rise in play was not a coincidence. It is enjoying a more favorable field and is one of the biggest culprits to Taunt Druid’s fall. We’re fans of what this deck can do in the current meta and anticipate it seeing more play at high legend than normal.
It’s business as usual for Hunter. It’s not in an amazing spot, but it’s definitely not weak. Kathrena Hunter has successfully established itself, though it is unlikely to break into a higher tier due to the rise of Odd Paladin. Spell Hunter and Midrange Hunter are weaker decks overall, but are well within the competitive range.
When is too much Miracle Rogue, too much? Right about now. Miracle Rogue has definitely knocked down Taunt Druid a peg or two, but now that it’s done its job, it’s beginning to feel the heat with the rise of some of its predators. Miracle Rogue is not a deck we recommend running solo, but as part of a pairing with another deck that’s stronger against aggression and wide boards. If you do run it alone, you may find yourself having some really good days, and some really, really bad days.
Not a great week for Shaman. Even Shaman is suffering from the rise of Even Warlock, one of its worst counters (notice how Even Warlock counters so many decks? Defile is a hell of a drug). Meanwhile, the meta is still relatively hostile to Shudderwock Shaman. There are many different strategies that reliably beat it, and are quite popular. The deck might be able to enrage opponents, but it loses more often than it wins, even at the highest levels.
Druid has some other tricks up its sleeve. Initially, Big Druid did not look very strong to us, but over the past week it has skyrocketed in its win rate, and now that it sees enough play to enter the table, it does so in an impressive fashion. It’s probably still early to conclude how good it can be considering its low prevalence and erratic behavior. Malygos Druid has also significantly climbed in its win rate, and a lot of it has to do with its terrific matchup against Odd Paladin. Malygos Druid’s cousin, Togwaggle Druid, is hovering under 50%. Both Twig decks are quite complicated to play and are comparable to Cube Warlock.
Uh oh, Anduin. Things do not look very good for you, as Tier 4 is looking more and more like Tier Priest. Combo Priest has improved in its performance internally, but the recent meta trends we’ve discussed do not bode well for the archetype at all. Control Priest is struggling to make any sort of impact, while Quest Priest is sinking into meme status.
Warrior’s problem is different. Taunt Warrior is a pretty good deck that is facing a specific brick wall of matchups it can’t break through. If Odd Paladin continues to rise alongside other early game decks, things might improve.
Class Analysis & Decklists
My Greetings. The Druid class has so many versatile tools that it finds many different and successful win conditions in the current meta. Perhaps the best symbol of this versatility is Branching Paths, one of the best cards Druid received in K&C, enabling both aggressive and defensive approaches to matchups.
Taunt Druid is one of the strongest decks in the game and it is receiving more attention than before with decks beginning to heavily tech against it. However, the deck’s sheer power makes it difficult to effectively counter, save for a few notable matchups. Master Oakheart might be the single strongest play in the game, especially when it is enabled behind the Druid’s ramp mechanic.
Token Druid is extremely strong at picking apart strategies that rely on seizing board control, but it is feeling the pressure of the increased Warlock population.
Out of the more niche meta decks, Big Druid is seeing the most development as it is relatively unrefined. BigBoy hit #13 legend with a list that looks to improve on several aspects of the deck. Ultimate Infestation is cut for the same reason it was cut from Taunt Druid; it is a clunky card in an expensive list. Twig of the World Tree helps tempo out two big threats in the late game, and Doomsayer is added for stalling purposes. Bright-Eyed Scout is also omitted for the ever-reliable Branching Paths.
- Druid Class Radar
- Taunt Druid
- Token Druid
- Malygos Druid
- Togwaggle Druid
- Big Druid
Odd Rogue halts its decline across most ranks this week. As decks become greedier, Odd Rogue’s matchups get better on ladder as it is able to exploit the omission of defensive mechanics. Odd Rogue has also performed well in tournaments recently, being featured in many of the top 16 lineups at Dreamhack Summer, as well as being part of Hunterace’s HCT Seoul winning lineup. Captain Greenskin is becoming more common in the deck as it provides some immediate damage on top of a decent body.
The first signs of significant deviation in Miracle Rogue lists could be observed this week, with an increase in the popularity of Sprint over Gadgetzan Auctioneer, though the majority is still sticking with the latter. Our current verdict is that the overall performance of both variants is very similar, so there is no clear right answer. Questing Adventurer has also seen some play as the number of silences in the meta is much lower than before the patch, so it’s a decent tech if you’re interested in improving slower matchups further.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Miracle Rogue
- Odd Rogue
- Kingsbane Rogue
As the meta stabilizes, Warlock continues to grow. Even Warlock has seen a significant jump in popularity and is the deck to beat on ladder these days. Many players have hit #1 legend over the last week with a near-identical build to the list we’ve been featuring in previous reports. The one variation comes at the 6 mana slot, with players swapping Dread Infernal with either Skulking Geist or The Black Knight. Both of these techs look to target the same matchup – Taunt Druid. It is one of the more difficult opponents you will encounter on ladder, and these tech cards perform very well against it.
Skulking Geist makes it increasingly difficult for the Druid to swing the board considering that Even Warlock also runs two Spellbreakers to counter a lone Hadronox play. The Witching Hour/Cube combo becomes that much slower, and that makes a huge difference in the matchup.
The Black Knight punishes Taunt Druid’s expensive taunts, and enables a more aggressive approach which is usually how Even Warlock finds the win. Hitting a Sleepy Dragon or a Lich King creates a massive tempo swing from which Taunt Druid often cannot recover. Out of the two techs, we’ve found The Black Knight to be stronger overall since it’s a better card in other matchups, including the mirror. JoshBillings has been parked at #1 legend for nearly two weeks running TBK over one Dread Infernal in the standard list.
Cube Warlock might have dropped a little bit since last week, but the deck is still very strong, well situated, and rewarding of high-level play. It’s a very punishing deck if you’re not well versed with the deck, especially after the balance changes. The deck has 29 cards we consider to be core, and one tech slot. Examples include Rotten Applebaum, Plated Beetle, The Lich King, Acidic Swamp Ooze and Spellbreaker.
Between these two decks, Warlock has nearly every class in the game covered. Valeera is the only one capable of suppressing the Darkness Incarnate.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Even Warlock
- Cube Warlock
- Control Warlock
- Zoo Warlock
As decks such as Even Warlock become more popular, all three Hunter archetypes need added midgame threats and burst damage to keep up.
Spell Hunter builds should be including double Arcane Shot to maximize burst damage against Miracle Rogue and Even Warlock. Although Grievous Bite is a tempting inclusion for Paladins, the card is so weak against Rogues and Warlocks that the tradeoff isn’t worth it.
Kathrena Hunter builds have become increasingly standardized, with Theo’s version becoming widely adopted. As mentioned last week, a second Hunter’s Mark is a very good tech inclusion to deal with the rising number of Even Warlocks.
Finally, Midrange Hunter builds that choose to drop the secret package for full minion pressure are becoming slightly more popular, looking to punish the greedier decks of the meta. Both approaches are viable and the rule of thumb is simple: Hybrid Secret performs better against fast decks, Classic Midrange does better against slow decks.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Kathrena Hunter
- Spell Hunter
- Midrange Hunter
Shaman is a steady presence in the format. Both of its major archetypes, Shudderwock and Even Shaman, are key pieces in the metagame, especially at legend rank.
Shudderwock Shaman is still one of the most popular decks in the game. Hemet, Jungle Hunter, has provided the deck a new level of consistency that Sandbinder could only hope to provide. Tech variation is very small, but can be exhibited in Zuka’s #4 legend build. Adding Earth Shocks instead of Lightning Bolt improves your matchups against Cube Warlock and Kathrena Hunter. Tar Creeper replacing Acolyte of Pain improves consistency against aggro.
Even Shaman sees a slight uptick in usage this week, but is still quite underrated in the current meta, perhaps due to its poor Warlock matchup. Its strong matchup against early game decks, combined with its ability to suppress the late game plans of Taunt Druid and Kathrena Hunter, makes it a very formidable choice in the format. In the tournament scene, some players argue it’s ‘the’ best deck due to its incredible matchup spread with a Warlock ban.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Shudderwock Shaman
- Even Shaman
The post-patch Witchwood meta is fairly diverse, unless we’re talking about Paladin. While the class is clearly very powerful, it only boasts one archetype that sees significant play. Odd Paladin is a very strong, board-centric archetype that wins the war by attrition through the value generated by its hero power. With greedy decks rising, Odd Paladin is enjoying a more favorable field. Even Warlock is the most popular hard counter to the deck, and it tends to rise as a response to Paladins.
Builds of Odd Paladin are very similar, and will usually differ by one or two cards off Chakki’s list. Stormwind Champion and Raid Leader are the worst cards in the deck. If you have Mukla and Tinkmaster Overspark, they are very good inclusions over the aforementioned and offer very powerful turn 3 plays that can win games by themselves.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Odd Paladin
- Murloc Paladin
- Jtamonda’s Even Paladin
Mage may look slightly underwhelming when compared to the powerhouse classes, but it should certainly not be underestimated. Big-Spell Mage is a very strong ladder deck with favorable matchups against both Even Warlock and Taunt Druid, two of the best decks in the game. In addition, it performs well against Miracle Rogue and aggressive decks. Shudderwock and Kathrena will give you a very hard time, but the math checks out that Big-Spell Mage is a decent meta call overall.
The current flagbearer of the archetype is Fr0zen, who has had top legend success last week with a pretty standard build. He cuts Alexstrazsa and Sindragosa, and includes The Lich King. TLK is a better card than Sindragosa in faster matchups and can sometimes high-roll Shaman out of the game, but it does suffer from inconsistency compared to the incredible value Sindra provides (Army of the Dead/Doom Pact are often unplayable). Novice Engineer is an interesting card since it’s a decent late game draw post Frost Lich Jaina, while Acolyte of Pain is also included.
- Mage Class Radar
- Big-Spell Mage
- Aluneth Mage
- Siki/Apxvoid Murloc Mage
Priest is turning into a flavor of the week type of class as players seem to be bouncing back and forth between their two best respective options. This week, Control Priest sees a bit of a rise, while Combo Priest takes a bit of a fall.
Priest might be the weakest class in the game relative to the field, but in a meta where every class is competitive, this shouldn’t dishearten players who want to have success with Priest. You can do well with the options available to you, though clearly, it will be more difficult.
Control Priest’s main struggle is dealing with Taunt Druid, which is why we think Geist is a very important tech in the current meta. In general, tech cards are performing very well in Control Priest right now. The archetype can afford to run them without hurting the deck’s consistency too much, and they make a big difference in some matchups.
Combo Priest shines where Control Priest is weak. The decks’ success is attributed to its fantastic matchup against Taunt Druid, and good matchups against other decks that take time to execute their game plan, such as Shudderwock Shaman and Cube Warlock. Combo Priest can very quickly pressure them out of the game. It flounders when dealing with faster decks that don’t allow it to develop its own board, or decks with strong single target removal like Miracle Rogue, Spell Hunter, and Big-Spell Mage.
- Priest Class Radar
- Combo Priest
- Control Priest
- Quest Priest
Warrior, or more specifically Taunt Warrior, is still putting up good numbers at all levels of play. It actually has relatively few bad matchups. However, the problem is that these matchups are some of the best decks in the game, which makes it difficult for the archetype to succeed at the very highest levels of play.
Overall, Taunt Warrior is trending down both in its play rate and win rate, but the deck still has a fairly good win rate and shouldn’t be written off. Builds have remained the same. Some players question the inclusion of Scourgelord Garrosh. Make no mistake, the card is not in the deck to “fill out” the list. It is actually one of the strongest cards in the deck. Equipping it before quest completion is very powerful, and in some matchups, you don’t actually want to equip the quest reward, and instead use Scourgelord to finish the game.
Other than that, it’s business as usual for Warrior. Other archetypes have fallen to the wayside because of Warrior’s weak late game. If a Ragnaros shot is your best late game, you’re somewhat in trouble as a class. Warrior needs strong finishers in the next expansion, or it might remain the one-dimensional class it is right now.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Taunt Warrior
- Big Warrior
- Odd-Control Warrior
Rising in both win rate and play rate, Odd Paladin has established itself as the most reliable deck to climb to legend with, taking advantage of a meta that has written off the early game. Clicking on that hero power works very well.
Even Warlock is the best answer to Odd Paladin while maintaining a decent matchup spread overall. If you’re interested in countering people who have read the first paragraph, it’s a fantastic choice.
If you’re interested in countering the people who are countering the people who have read the first paragraph, play Big-Spell Mage and proceed to curse your luck when you face two Shudderwock Shamans in a row.
Such is Hearthstone.
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