Welcome to the 96th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
My Greetings. The Druid class has stopped its steady decline in popularity over the past couple of weeks, and is now trending up again. Alongside Taunt and Token Druid, we’re seeing slight increases in the frequency of Malygos and Big Druid, especially at legend ranks.
Miracle Rogue’s growth has stopped, while Odd Rogue is rising in popularity at all levels of play. This lines up with last week’s findings, which suggested that the Miracle population was reaching saturation as the archetype finds itself in a more hostile meta than before. Meanwhile, Odd Rogue is taking advantage of greedier late game decks to carve out a strong spot in the field.
A reversal of recent trends in the Hunter class is beginning to show, especially at legend, with Spell Hunter rising and Midrange Hunter declining. The meta has begun to speed up, which means more focus is directed towards beating early game strategies.
Warlock has fallen quite hard this week, especially at higher levels of play, and it’s now only the 4th most popular class at legend. Both Even and Cube Warlock have taken a hit in their numbers. This is a very encouraging sign for the overall health of the meta, since Warlock’s strength against the field was a concern for us a couple of weeks ago. Was the meta able to curb its threat?
Shaman has experienced a noticeable decline at legend, with both Shudderwock and Even Shaman taking a step back. Much like Miracle Rogue, Shudderwock Shaman has reached the point of saturation, where it makes little sense for it to grow any further because many of the currently popular strategies beat it consistently.
The Odd Paladin population continues to grow for the 2nd consecutive week. The archetype must be enjoying the significant decline in Warlocks. In addition to a likely more favorable field, Odd Paladin is finally getting more attention when it comes to deck building. Players are experimenting with new cards and deviating from the cookie cutter list, something we’ve strongly felt was needed since Odd Paladin had room to improve.
Frost Lich Jaina is back with a vengeance. Big-Spell Mage continues to grow, especially at higher levels of play, where the archetype has a significant presence that needs to be respected. We can also observe an uptick in Murloc Mage at higher levels of play. The deck has been blinking in and out of the meta, and we’re waiting to see whether it can carve out a more consistent niche.
Priest is in a bit of a mess. Its low play rate is magnified by a fractured collection of strategies, with Resurrect OTK Priest becoming quite noticeable. We’re not sure why: the deck is so bad that we’re not even going to let you netdeck it from this article. We’re responsible content creators, after all.
Warrior sits at the bottom. Taunt Warrior’s prevalence is stable, but all other archetypes of the class have died out, for a good reason. Something out of left field needs to happen for a non-Taunt Warrior deck to prove itself in the current meta.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
It’s been slightly over a month after one of the most oppressive decks we’ve seen, Even Paladin, was nuked from orbit. Uther has simply brushed it off, switched Genn for Baku, and has taken over the game once again. Odd Paladin has completed the coup and taken the top spot at every level of play. Warlock’s fall in win rate lines up with its fall in popularity and the drop in Defile’s prevalence is making a huge impact when it comes to the power levels of board-centric strategies.
This leads us to Token Druid, another archetype that has benefitted tremendously from the current trends. Not only is it salivating over the decline in Warlocks, but it’s an incredibly good counter to Odd Paladin as well, so it isn’t surprising to see it firmly established at #2.
The Druid class might be in for a pretty big shift, since it is very much affected by the current trends. The key narrative is that with board-centric strategies becoming stronger, Spreading Plague is becoming stronger, while decks that cannot play Plague are losing traction.
Malygos Druid has made another big jump in its win rate at all levels of play, with the deck breaking Tier 1 at legend. The archetype has a fantastic matchup against Odd Paladin while beating both flavors of Rogue as well. We’re still not sure how well can the deck perform in a meta that takes it seriously, but Malygos Druid needs to be taken seriously.
Taunt Druid is Malygos Druid’s best counter, but it’s been suffering the effects of the meta targeting it, pushing down its win rate. The deck is clearly still very good, but success with it is more difficult than it was just a couple of weeks ago.
Big Druid, which looked largely inferior to Taunt Druid initially, now looks stronger against the field. Witching Hour is not as important with less Warlocks running around, while Spreading Plague and Malfurion the Pestilent make a big difference in the key matchup against Odd Paladin. It’s pretty incredible how Big Druid keeps showing up mid-way through an expansion and surprise us all. It happened in Un’Goro, KFT and now it is happening in the WW.
The meta has successfully suppressed Even Warlock, Cube Warlock and Taunt Druid to the point where they are no longer dangerous to the health of the game. Big-Spell Mage, Miracle Rogue and Odd Rogue have been the biggest factors leading to the fall of Gul’dan. Valeera might give Team 5 a balancing headache every expansion, but this time, she’s done a lot of good. We think Odd Rogue is still very strong even after the decline of Warlocks, but Miracle Rogue’s success is more situational now. It’s very reliant on hitting its good matchups.
Is Garrosh doomed to be ignored until the next expansion? We don’t think so. The rise of token decks is very good news for Taunt Warrior. Having a near 80% win rate against Odd Paladin counts for something, and while Taunt Warrior’s polarizing matchups can be frustrating, its good matchups can’t be ignored. It’s an incredibly strong deck in tournaments too. Don’t sleep on it.
Shaman is another winner from Warlock’s fall. With both of its archetypes struggling against Gul’dan, it’s not surprising to see them climb this week. The climb isn’t enough to move Shudderwock above 50%, but every little shift in the Warlock population moves Even Shaman’s needle pretty hard.
Hunter and Priest mostly stay where they were. Hunter continues to look just alright, with three different archetypes showing competitive win rates that are not outstanding. Priest is probably the weakest class in the game, with all of its archetypes looking fairly unimpressive, but both Control and Combo Priest are definitely not “garbage decks”.
A few tidbits about low prevalence decks, on some of which we can’t present data:
Murloc Mage’s win rate is quite similar to vanilla Aluneth Mage, though they do have some different traits (Murloc is better vs. Taunt Druid, worse vs. Miracle Rogue, for example). If you’re looking for a fun change of pace, while still remaining competitive, look no further than mrgl.
Face Hunter is still mostly terrible, and we don’t think its recent renaissance at high legend is indicative of something more significant.
Zoo Warlock is good. Hello? Anyone? Are we just that uninterested? *cricket sounds*
Class Analysis & Decklists
Druid’s biggest story this week comes from Monsanto’s #1 legend hit with Malygos Druid. The main difference from previous lists is that he chose to add Alexstrasza to the deck. Alexstrasza helps the deck in slow matchups by setting up an alternative win condition to Twig, which can be important in the presence of weapon tech, while also working well enough alongside Twig. The additional damage she provides is helpful when burn range from hand is limited or in fatigue scenarios.
The post-patch meta appears to be stabilizing and as one of the dominant classes in the meta, Druid sees no reason to make any big changes. One interesting development is the inclusion of Trogg Gloomeater in Taunt Druid, as an additional Oakheart target that acts as a soft removal and doesn’t interfere with Oaken Summons.
Overall, there isn’t a more well-rounded class in the current meta that has so many different and successful directions to build towards. As long as you draw Wild Growth on 2, you’re good to go!
- Druid Class Radar
- Taunt Druid
- Token Druid
- Malygos Druid
- Togwaggle Druid
- Big Druid
Rogue is putting the finishing touches to its refinement process, with both Odd Rogue and Miracle Rogue looking to finalize the last cards in their builds.
Miracle Rogue is quite evenly split between Auctioneer lists and Sprint lists. We feel that Sprint is more forgiving to use since its draw is unconditional and doesn’t require resources. Two cards that we’re not impressed with are Shadowstep and Bloodmage Thalnos. Shadowstep is too often a dead draw, and its best usage is to replay Strider battlecries (perhaps, the card is not performing too well because this isn’t done often enough). Thalnos is usually worse than Shiv, since the latter’s draw effect is immediate, which matters a lot in a Strider deck. Overall, Shiv is not a staple card in the deck, but it does help its win condition. Other options include Questing Adventurer, Blink Fox, and Hallucination.
Odd Rogue is more solidified. We strongly feel that the featured build is ‘perfect’. Mukla is a third Hench-Clan Thug in some matchups, while Greenskin provides a decent amount of damage for the cost.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Miracle Rogue
- Odd Rogue
- Kingsbane Rogue
It’s mostly quiet for Hunter this week, as its main archetypes remain average contenders in the meta. The one somewhat interesting development is the few players who brought back Face Hunter this week. Furyhunter managed to use the archetype to hit top 10 legend on two servers. While the element of surprise certainly helped the deck, it is situated as a decent counter to Miracle Rogue, Shudderwock Shamans, and Even Warlocks in the meta. The deck is atrocious against other aggressive decks, as it gets pushed out of the board too easily, so be wary of this weakness when considering the deck as an option.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Kathrena Hunter
- Spell Hunter
- Midrange Hunter
- Face Hunter
The Rogue infestation continues, and that means a little less Gul’dan in our world. Both of the key Warlock archetypes are strong, but with the high prevalence of Valeera, things are not quite as perfect as they once were for the class.
Even Warlock maintains its spot as the most popular Warlock archetype and almost nothing has changed in the deck’s construction. Six-mana tech cards are the main point of variance, and you can pick 2 of the 3 between Siphon Soul, The Black Knight, and the increasingly popular Skulking Geist. We currently continue to recommend The Black Knight as the most consistent choice. Calamity chose to shave a Plated Beetle and include Geist on his way to a top 10 legend placement. The other interesting variation runs Stubborn Gastropod instead of Doomsayers, an early game tweak geared to improve the mirror.
Cube Warlock has been dropping in play, though it’s still a very powerful deck at the highest levels of play. It’s just much more punishing than before due to the reduced healing and slower comeback mechanics through Possessed Lackey and Dark Pact. Many of the decks formerly weak to it have improved against it. Odd Paladin, for example, is almost a coinflip matchup now. The difficulty of getting the best out of Cube leads us to recommend Even Warlock for most players, but if you’re well versed in Cube, it’s still very good.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Even Warlock
- Cube Warlock
- Control Warlock
- Zoo Warlock
Shudderwock Shaman is one of the most popular decks in the game. The deck’s configuration remains untouched, though the popularity of Earth Shock over Lightning Bolt is increasing, as the former performs better in the current meta with plenty of juicy silence targets.
Even Shaman sees less play, but is an excellent deck nonetheless, and is only truly held back on ladder by a terrible Warlock matchup. Most Even Shaman lists revolve around an Elemental package as well as a Corpsetaker package.
Murloc Mage is a viable and competitive deck. It’s not a super powerful deck, but it’s definitely strong enough to produce good results on ladder. Last week, Guiyze hit #1 legend with his take on Murloc Mage, a build we think is the best one for the archetype. The main takeaway is that Archmage Arugal is a pretty bad card, and Aluneth is too strong to omit. The Spellbreaker is the flex spot in the deck. Other popular options include Fungalmancer and Leeroy Jenkins. We’re fans of Leeroy Jenkins since it hits face hard, which helps you kill your opponent. Killing your opponent makes him dead, a scenario in which you win.
- Mage Class Radar
- Big-Spell Mage
- Aluneth Mage
- Guiyze’s Murloc Mage
Paladin is still very clear about what it wants to do, and making dudes still seems to be a good thing to do in this meta. The class is largely stable and Odd Paladin finds itself very well situated, as the greed of the meta causes the slow decks to collapse in on themselves.
Innovation has also come for Odd Paladin, with players finally being proactive in challenging the old standards. Che0nsu created a list that’s performed well for him and other top legend players by cutting Stonehill Defender and replacing it with Void Ripper, punishing Doomsayers, Spreading Plagues, and Totems while synergizing with Raid Leader for a small board wide buff. With yet another way to disrupt stall tactics from slower decks, Odd Paladin has another tool with which to improve its bad matchups while maintaining its high win rate against other early game decks. It’s simply a great choice for the current ladder grind.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Odd Paladin
- Murloc Paladin
- Jtamonda’s Even Paladin
Priest battles Warrior for the title of most underwhelming class in the game. None of the class’ decks are particularly great, though some of them are competitive enough to hold their own and produce some results.
Combo Priest’s primary purpose on ladder is to counter Taunt Druid and Shudderwock Shaman, but it will heavily struggle against decks that push it off the board. Non-dragon builds are significantly inferior to dragon builds. What we’ve learned over the last 6 months is that if you can find an excuse to play Duskbreakers, you play Duskbreakers.
Control Priest does quite well against Warlocks and board flooding decks, but doesn’t particularly shine over other options. The key to success with the archetype is teching hard for the matchups you’re interested in.
Quest Priest can be a fun deck to play, but due to its attrition-focused win condition, it has a miserable time dealing with Miracle Rogue and Shudderwock Shaman. Zyrios has recently hit #85 legend with the standard build.
- Priest Class Radar
- Combo Priest
- Control Priest
- Quest Priest
Things are much the same for Warrior this week. The class has once again declined slightly in play rate, but Taunt Warrior remains a competitively viable deck. The standard build has not changed, though we feel that Ironbeak Owl is a better tech card at the moment than Harrison Jones due to the decline of Cubelock and the prevalence of strong silence targets.
For anything other than Taunt Warrior, the same problem remains: the class has no powerful late game inevitability such as Deathstalker Rexxar, Hadronox into Cube, or Shudderwock. It gets outclassed. Warrior’s early game cannot support a strong tempo deck either. Taunt Warrior performs well enough in both areas (mediocre late game, mediocre early game) to stand a chance, but other archetypes or experiments are not so lucky.
Want to finish your grind to legend easily? Just play Odd Paladin. It’s the best deck in the game. The most interesting aspect of Odd Paladin is that the deck is actually far from figured out, especially at the 3 drop slot. Chakki’s list is the most common standard build, but we’ve felt for a long time that it can be improved on. Che0nsu’s Void Ripper build is a very nice adjustment to Spreading Plague, but with the meta getting faster and mirror matchups becoming more common, Tinkmaster Overspark is losing value. There is still work to be done in order to establish the best list for the archetype, and that’s a little scary!
Malygos Druid has been spiking in its performance over the last two weeks, making us believe it merits more play than it sees. Be warned, however, that this deck is quite difficult to play and is comparable to Cube Warlock in how important it is to identify your win condition throughout the game. A misuse of a resource or a single point of damage can cost you a game. Weapon destruction is not very common at the moment, so the Twig usually connects, but the deck is not completely reliant on Twig in order to win games.
Until next week.
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