Welcome to the 99th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
You face MECHA JARAXXUS… quite often. An increase in the Warlock population brings the class to alarmingly high play rates. At ranks 1-4, Warlocks are closing in on 30% representation. However, at legend, the class is declining in play, as Zoo Warlock numbers have taken a significant hit. This is another example of the delayed response at lower skill levels to meta developments at higher levels of play. Longtime readers of the report will know that this has been a consistent phenomenon in Hearthstone. Rank 10 is getting hyped about Zoo when legend rank already attempts to solve it.
The transition in the Druid class continues as Taunt Druid’s numbers fall. At legend, Malygos Druid has risen to become the most popular Druid archetype, finally in line with its superior performance against the field. Big Druid has also risen in play at legend. Lower ranks, however, do not embrace the new age of Druid and mostly stick with Taunt and Token Druid.
Rogue, much like Druid, is in the midst of a transition. Odd Rogue has risen in prevalence at all levels of play, while Miracle Rogue continues its decline. Last week, we talked about how Odd Rogue might be the best answer to the rise of Warlocks, and many players are picking up the deck in order to punish the most popular class.
Can you tell we’re in the 4th month of an expansion? We certainly can’t, because not only are classes going through drastic transitions, we’re also witnessing the rise of newcomers every week. Following Zoo Warlock, Cube Hunter is the new hotness. The deck exhibited the highest win rate of all Hunter archetypes in last week’s report, and the hype is now in full throttle at legend ranks, where Cube Hunter is one of the most popular decks in the game at a play rate of 6%. This seemingly harmless 6% is causing quite a shake-up in the legend meta, as you will see later.
In the midst of all this chaos, Shaman and Mage are islands of stability. For Thrall and Jaina, the meta seems to be solved. No significant archetype changes and no significant card changes either. They’re waiting for the Boomsday Project.
Paladin has suffered another decline at lower levels of play, but at legend, Odd Paladin’s prevalence seems to have stabilized after last week’s collapse. This hints that while the deck may have been hit hard, it’s not down on the mat.
Warrior and Priest continue to sit at the bottom of the meta when it comes to popularity. The only significant change we can observe is the Warrior population at legend: it has been cut down by a quarter. Coincidence or a sign of something more?
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Once again, the meta has successfully knocked down the class in power. While Warlock’s popularity is concerning, we’re seeing signs that the meta is fully capable of dealing with the threat. Zoo Warlock sees its win rate significantly drop from rank 4 onwards as a result of heightened awareness to its presence. Opening mulligans are now hedging for Zoo, small tech choices are added to improve percentages against Zoo, and the deck finds itself no longer dominant. Valeera has also served a big role, with the rise in Odd Rogue proving to be an effective response to all three Warlock archetypes. They’ve all been dealt a dagger’s blow.
But Odd Rogue is no mere “counter deck”. It’s one of the best ladder decks in the game. Its feast on Warlocks has elevated its win rate further, putting it in a higher spot at Tier 1. It also boasts a favorable matchup against Cube Hunter.
Who benefits from the rise in Rogue? My Greetings, Malfurion. As long as you play Spreading Plague, Malfurion the Pestilent and Wild Growth, you’re going to have a good time. Malygos, Big and Token Druid are all very successful decks. Taunt Druid is an old newspaper that the ladder meta forgot to throw away.
This week’s star is undoubtedly Cube Hunter. The archetype is still in its refinement process, and it’s difficult to solidify an optimal build for it at the moment, but it’s making progress. Cube Hunter’s win rate has spiked at all levels of play. If the meta does not begin to target it, it will end up in Tier 1 sooner or later.
The rise of Cube Hunter has had a big impact on the performance of three other archetypes.
Cube Hunter destroys Taunt Warrior with a 75% win rate in the matchup. Taunt Warrior’s win rate has declined at all levels of play, but its collapse at legend is particularly painful, cementing Warrior’s position as the worst class in the game.
Big-Spell Mage is also suffering from the increased Cube Hunter population at legend, unable to deal with its sticky, AOE resistant boards.
The biggest winner from the rise in Cube Hunter is Odd Paladin, its biggest counter. After being repressed by Zoo, Odd Paladin has now returned to Tier 1 at legend. It is a great response to the new Hunter deck in town.
Seems like Anduin got the last laugh on Garrosh. After looking like the weakest class following the balance changes, Control Priest has been elevated to newfound relevance while Taunt Warrior is bleeding from the recent meta shifts. Psychic Scream is a hell of a card against Cube Hunter, Zoo Warlock and Odd Paladin. These matchups help Control Priest score a positive win rate at all levels of play.
Cube Hunter is not the only Hunter deck that is seeing its win rate rise. Recent meta trends have also helped Spell Hunter quite a bit, and the archetype looks quite decent at the moment. It thrives on the rise of Zoo Warlock and the response of Odd Rogue, since Spell Hunter excels in both of these key matchups.
Unchanging. That’s the story of Shaman this week. Shudderwock Shaman is an extremely popular deck that performs slightly better at higher levels of play, putting its win rate at a perfect average. The danger we see in Shudderwock does not come from its current state, but from its possible future. Blizzard will have to be very careful about printing strong Battlecry minions, at least until Grumble rotates. The deck’s infinite value/damage potential can easily be broken. Remember Jade Druid in KFT?
Less than three weeks before the release of Boomsday, we actually have a “unicorn” deck to talk about, one that is performing quite well without being played much at all. It’s called Even Paladin. The retired meta tyrant of WW, and the most broken deck we’ve seen since KFT Jade Druid, could actually still be strong enough to be meta. Based on our observations of its small sample size, Even Paladin’s win rate looks to exceed 50%. The cause? The list we’re featuring in the Paladin section, which happened to hit #1 legend too.
Class Analysis & Decklists
A lot has been said about the diversity of this meta, and while there are quite a few different archetypes out there, you’re likely to face a Warlock about once out of every four games. There isn’t a single Warlock deck completely dominating, but it can be troubling to see the same hero portrait over and over again and not knowing how to mulligan against it.
Zoo Warlock is the most popular deck in the game and there has been continued development after its meteoric rise a couple of weeks ago. As we’ve mentioned last week, when it comes to the decision between Leeroy and Doomguard, Leeroy wins out. While Doomguard seems like a powerful midgame minion, there are too many efficient single target removals in the current meta that can punish it. The reach provided by Leeroy is invaluable in some matchups, including Zoo’s biggest counter: Even Warlock.
Our interest in Injured Blademaster hasn’t gone unnoticed, and over the past week, the card has proven to be a serviceable 3-drop for the archetype. Lemon created a list that runs Injured Blademaster and Shroom Brewer, which RDee used to push for high legend ranks. Other players, like Uberer, have also had success with Blademaster. We do think it’s worth expanding the healing synergy to the max, by bringing back Lifedrinker alongside Shroom Brewer, instead of running Glacial Shard. The main reasoning is that Happy Ghoul abuse in the early game often leads to the deck’s easiest wins. Any card that enables cheating out the Ghoul in the first few turns makes the Ghoul more powerful and consistent in your opening hand. Lifedrinker also provides important reach against Even Warlock, and becomes more important in the absence of Spellbreaker.
Speaking of Even Warlock, the deck is still great. Outside of Mages and Rogues, the deck looks really strong against the field. Its ability to pressure with big stats in the mid-game, as well as its defensive tools lining up well against the board flooding decks, makes it a great choice for the ladder climb. There’s not much to say about new tech options. The main point of divergence comes from Doomsayers and Gastropods, with the 6 mana slot also being fairly flexible.
Finally, Cube Warlock may be facing a more challenging meta. The response to Zoo came with the rise of Even Warlock and Odd Rogue, and both of these decks happen to do well against Cube Warlock. The archetype is being caught in the crossfire, and consequently sees its win rate drop.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Zoo Warlock
- Even Warlock
- Cube Warlock
Druid is now firmly in second place behind Warlock at all ranks in terms of class popularity. As with most classes at this point in the meta cycle, we are looking more at minor tweaks for established decks rather than new emerging archetypes.
Orange, as well as multiple other players, took an updated Malygos Druid to top legend ranks this week. The change cuts Faceless Manipulator for a copy of Starfire. Faceless Manipulator enables higher damage combo potential, but it’s a very weak card outside of the context of the combo, and Malygos Druid rarely actually goes through with the OTK plan. Starfire provides a decent amount of damage with the combo, while being a far better card outside of it. It also allows the deck to more often run a Freeze Mage line of simply Alex+Damage, rather than depending on the Twig activating. Another popular tech for Malygos Druid is running Starfall over Wrath, which mostly improves the Paladin matchup.
Meati hit top 25 legend on two servers with Sipiwi94’s Togwaggle Druid. This deck is similar to Malygos Druid, both in its playstyle and matchup spread, and hasn’t received as much attention as a result. However, Togwaggle Druid is also a very strong deck that can be quite successful once you get the hang of it, which is not trivial!
- Druid Class Radar
- Malygos Druid
- Token Druid
- Taunt Druid
- Big Druid
- Togwaggle Druid
With aggressive decks on the rise, Miracle Rogue finds itself in a more difficult position, while Odd Rogue shines as a stronger performer against all Warlock archetypes.
Odd Rogue’s ability to fight off the early Zoo onslaught is the primary contributing factor for its stock rising. After a long period of evaluation, Void Ripper has turned out to be a very good card in the deck, so we like Zalae’s build, which we featured last week. However, Deathspeaker hasn’t been as impressive, so we do prefer bringing back Argent Squires in order to increase 1-drop consistency.
Void Ripper finds itself in a Tempo Rogue list as well. An archetype that has barely registered at all in the data, Tempo Rogue is overshadowed by Odd Rogue’s success, but can definitely find success in the current meta. Radless hit top 25 legend with a fairly standard build, replacing one Spellbreaker with Void Ripper and opting against any Tar Creepers. Good job, Radless.
Speaking of forgotten archetypes, Quest Rogue has made its mark on the back of Tarei’s victory at HCT Oakland. Killingallday followed that up by piloting Tarei’s build to #1 legend. Could Quest Rogue make yet another return to the meta?
With The Boomsday Project on our radars, we’re very intrigued about Myra’s Unstable Element. This is the type of card that can turn out to be completely unplayable, or absolutely busted. Can it provide fuel for Odd Rogue, or a different aggressive Rogue deck, in the late game? Can it enable some crazy combo’s with Dollmaster Dorian? Most importantly, will a Rogue class card from Boomsday Project actually see any significant play? It’s hard to say, but Valeera tends to fall on her feet no matter what.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Miracle Rogue
- Odd Rogue
- Kingsbane Rogue
- Radless’ Tempo Rogue
- Tarei’s Quest Rogue
Shaman is in a decent, middle-of-the-road spot in the current meta. Both Shudderwock and Even Shaman have their strengths and weaknesses against the field, hovering around the 50% win rate. Shudderwock Shaman continues to be a very popular deck both on ladder and in tournaments. With the influx of Zoo Warlocks and Cube Hunters, we’ve seen multiple players have success at top legend ranks with two Mind Control Techs, and we agree that this is a solid adjustment for the current meta.
Even Shaman has been figured out for a long time, and the deck has somewhat stagnated in terms of its usage, likely due to the attention given to Zoo. Even Shaman fights very effectively for the board in aggressive mirrors, but falls short against strategies that have more AOE’s than the Shaman’s reload potential.
The major story for Hunter this week is the transition of Kathrena Hunter players over to playing Cube Hunter lists. While most Cube Hunter builds run Kathrena, she is used as a late game bomb rather than a complete build-around card through Seeping Oozeling and Charged Devilsaurs. Cube Hunter is particularly popular at legend, where many players took the archetype to top ranks over the past week.
With the sudden increase in play of Cube Hunter, there are also several new lists being experimented with. One of the contested slots is at 3 mana, where Tar Creeper is being cut. Animal Companion and Stitched Tracker are both popular options, though we’re most intrigued with the potential of Void Ripper, which isn’t too popular but shows a lot of promise. The card can be used to pop eggs and becomes a late game finisher alongside Grizzlies.
Most Cube Hunter builds at the moment run Highmane, but Viper took a Corpse Widow build to top legend ranks. The idea behind Corpse Widow is that it requires immediate removal since it can enable some pretty disgusting Cube combinations, and can also allow Kathrena to be dropped on turn 6.
With all the experimentation surrounding Cube Hunter, other Hunter archetypes have changed very little this week. Kathrena and Midrange Hunter appear to be dying out, while Spell Hunter remains a serviceable option in the meta thanks to its good matchups against Zoo Warlock and Odd Rogue.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Cube Hunter
- Kathrena Hunter
- Spell Hunter
- Midrange Hunter
- Face Hunter
As Warlock continues to dominate the meta, it’s very tempting to queue up Big-Spell Mage. Big-Spell Mage sports a favorable matchup against two of the most popular archetypes in the game, Zoo and Even Warlock, thanks to its plethora of board clears and single target removal. However, the rise of Cube Hunter is a major obstacle to Mage’s success, since it’s nearly impossible to effectively fend off the Hunter’s board development with AOE. We do think the standard, conventional list works very well as long as Shudderwock Shamans aren’t out in force. Molossus’ Keleseth build is quite a different take, but one that has been surprisingly successful.
Aluneth Mage’s play rate has remained fairly consistent since last week. The more common aggressive decks, such as Zoo Warlock, Odd Paladin, and Odd Rogue, seem to outclass it while also sporting favorable matchups against it.
- Mage Class Radar
- Big-Spell Mage
- Aluneth Mage
- Murloc Mage
Odd Paladin continues to have a binary matchup spread which, unsurprisingly, has led to the deck falling in win rate last week. Zoo Warlock has been the biggest culrpit to Odd Paladin’s fall, but the rise of Cube Hunter may bring the archetype back to form. In the context of the current meta, we do not like Divine Favor. The card is terrible in any aggressive matchup, which are becoming increasingly common. We feel Stonehill Defender has become much stronger due to the recent meta shifts, since it provides fuel in the late game while being a reasonable draw in faster matchups.
Even Paladin has been seeing slightly more play this week as players continue to search for the post-Call to Arms unicorn Genn Greymane list, and there might be one. Playchen hit #1 legend this week with an Even Paladin build similar to the ones before the balance changes, but with the addition of Wild Pyromancer over Knife Juggler. The deck retains its 6 mana burst package through Avenging Wrath, Argent Commanders, and Val’anyr and runs Spellbreakers/The Black Knight to help clear the path for its aggression, making it quite effective against Warlocks.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Odd Paladin
- Murloc Paladin
- Playchen’s Even Paladin
Control Priest is the cream of the coarse crop that is the Priest pickings. With so many walls being built in this meta, Mind Blast has stepped up as a solid win condition. Paired with Psychic Scream and a still relevant Shadowreaper Anduin, Control Priest has the means to delay the game while chipping at your health quite effectively. It doesn’t have the sheer power in its skeleton to be a top deck in this meta, but it’s definitely a deck that you can find success with as long as you understand its path to victory in every matchup.
Other Priest decks have mostly been abandoned and it seems like the next expansion is needed to rejuvenate the class’ options.
- Priest Class Radar
- Control Priest
- Combo Priest
- Quest Priest
Things seem to be getting worse for Taunt Warrior. While the increase in Zoo Warlock, a favorable matchup, is good news, it’s being offset by a decrease in Odd Paladin, a significantly better matchup. The biggest problem Taunt Warrior faces is the rise of Cube Hunter, which presents one of the most oppressive matchups in the game.
This likely spells curtains for the Warrior class for the rest of the expansion, and one has to hope that The Boomsday Project has some useful new toys, because they are sorely needed. Warrior seems to be getting the hero card of this expansion, Dr. Boom, which is an exciting prospect. Judging from the past, hero cards tend to be strong late game cards, and Warrior desperately needs a stronger late game.
It’s time to pay serious attention to Cube Hunter, a deck that’s on its way to a Tier 1 win rate unless it’s stopped by rising counters. The cyclical behavior of the post-patch WW meta is definitely appreciated, as new decks appear even at a very late stage of an expansion. Cube Hunter is hardly figured out, so we expect to see the deck to go through several more changes, but the one thing we do know for sure is that it’s pretty strong right now.
Which other deck looks really strong to us? Odd Rogue has been thriving in the heavy Warlock meta, and its performance against the field has improved for another week as a result. Considering its favorable matchup against Cube Hunter, its prospects going forward also seem promising. Do not lament the death of aggressive decks, folks: hitting face hard still wins a lot of Hearthstone games.
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