[Wild] vS Data Reaper Report #21

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Welcome back to the Wild vS Data Reaper Report! We’re the experts from r/WildHearthstone, and we have partnered with Vicious Syndicate to create the Wild Data Reaper Report. We will be contributing the write-ups and analysis for the report, backed up by the statistics that Vicious Syndicate has become famous for. The data presented in this article is based on 35,000 games.

We apologize for the lengthy period between reports. With a new expansion and the subsequent set of nerfs that quickly followed, the data collection for this report was delayed.

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Class/Archetype Distribution | Matchup Winrates | vS Power Rankings | Meta ScoreClass Analysis & Decklists | How to Contribute | Credits


Class/Archetype Distribution


When SN1P-SN4P (the overlord of the format) got nerfed, there was a power struggle at the top of the meta for which deck would now reign supreme. This was a nice, albeit, short period in which players experimented with strategies in all classes and archetypes that had been previously suppressed by SN1P-SN4P. However, as the meta stabilized, only two classes were left standing.

The Wild format is currently Jaina’s & Gul’dan’s playground as they make up 40% of the meta at all ranks. This number rises to 50% at ranks 4-1, and 53% at legend. Two classes making up more than the other seven classes combined should be an indicator that they might, just might, have some dumb powerful cards and/or archetypes.

Aluneth Mage is the most popular Mage deck on ladder, but we can observe a decline in the archetype’s popularity at higher levels of play despite the class’ own rise in popularity. Reno Quest Mage and Regular Quest Mage see their popularity rise instead. Players at legend are enamored with Open the Waygate, as it offers one of the best and most consistent game-ending combos available. While Reno Quest Mage is the newer shell for the combo, we’ve seen players turn back to the vanilla Quest Mage as a means of countering Reno Quest Mage.

Warlock makes up the second head of the beast that dominates the Wild format. Gul’dan has always been able to boast about his archetype diversity in Wild, and this report is no different. Cube Warlock is the go-to Warlock deck for players at ranks 4 to legend. Mecha’thun Warlock is popular on the climb to legend but fades at legend. Reno Warlock’s presence is stable throughout ladder. The most interesting shift comes from Darkest Hour Warlock, a deck that’s barely noticeable at lower ranks, but sees a pretty drastic rise in popularity at legend and is in the process of trickling down to rank 4. Darkest Hour Warlock is perceived as a counter to the high number of Quest Mages at legend.

Paladin is the 3rd most popular class on ladder, with the same two archetypes we’ve known about for a while in Mech Paladin and Odd Paladin. Mech Paladin declines at legend, which might be a response to the increased presence of Warlock.

Big Priest continues to be an abnormally popular deck at lower ranks. This does strongly support Iksar’s claim that many casual players genuinely enjoy playing Big Priest. Even with the power level of the deck being lower than ever before, it’s still the most popular deck at ranks 14-10. The higher you climb ladder, the less Priests you see, and the number for the whole class goes down from 16% at 14-10 to 6% at legend.

Shaman maintains its middling representation, with Even Shaman solely representing the class with any significance. Even Shaman’s popularity also peaks at legend, where its most difficult matchup (Aluneth Mage) isn’t as common. Reno Shaman, after a brief period of interest, has faded back to obscurity

Rogue’s presence in Wild is plummeting, with several archetypes seeing little play. There’s a mix of Odd Rogue, Galakrond Rogue, Mill Rogue, and Pirate Rogue. The descent of Odd Rogue can seem confusing, as it was the second-best performing deck in the entire format in our previous report and it was never nerfed, though that was quite a while ago.

After spending a long time in effective exile, Garrosh is back on the Wild map with Pirate Warrior receiving significant support in DoD. The deck rises in popularity at higher ranks, and it is one of the most popular decks on ladder once you hit rank 4.

Hunter got some interesting Dragon synergies that, while powerful in Standard, haven’t really helped the class turn the tide in Wild. Most Hunters continue to run either Reno or Mech Hunter.

The Druid class is fractured with experimentation but nothing seems to take hold. Embiggen has slightly driven up interest in Aggro Druid, while Jade and Togwaggle Druid have fallen to the wayside after not receiving any game changers.

 

vS Meta Score



Reno Quest Mage is a new archetype that has burst into the scene in the last few months and spread like wildfire. We can confirm that the deck is good, but it’s not by far and away the best like many people in the community believe. The deck is Tier 1 at most ranks but falls to the top of Tier 2 at legend. Yes, this can be attributed to an increase in counters such as “normal” Quest Mage and Darkest Hour Warlock. However, the fact that these counters do exist, and that the deck’s performance has been curbed suggests that its power-level is not at the level of SN1P Warlock, which we know was unstoppable.

Aluneth Mage is the top performing deck at all ranks, including legend, with an extremely strong matchups spread that only shows some vulnerability to Reno Mage and Mech Paladins The introduction of Flame Ward and Flakmage has truly shored up the deck’s only glaring weakness, making it very difficult for aggressive decks to rush it down.

It should be no surprise to see decks such as Even Shaman, Odd Paladin and Cube Warlock high up on the Tier list. These decks have been around for a long time and are well known for being excellent performers in the format. It is important to note that both Even Shaman and Cube Warlock have transformed into different versions of themselves, with new cards adding some new combinations into their game plans (Totem builds/Cubing Albatross).

Darkest Hour Warlock used to be known as a coin flip deck. Its matchup spread looked even across all classes, which was good enough to find itself in Tier 2 or Tier 3 in our previous reports. However, with the introduction of Dark Skies, Darkest Hour can effectively function as a greedy control deck in faster matchups, where its AoE and demon package can stall long enough for Darkest Hour to blow opponents out of the game. With aggressive matchups improving, Darkest Hour now feasts on a favorable metagame, as it is the hardest counter available to Quest Mage decks that are ill-equipped to deal with the DH combo. We can safely say that Darkest Hour is no longer a coin flip deck, but a dominant pillar of the format and one that should be respected and feared.

The last deck that sits in Tier 1 is a bit of a surprise: Reno-Galaxy Mage. While this archetype is not too popular compared to the Quest version, Reno-Galaxy Mage has even or favorable matchups into every common meta deck except for the Quest Mage archetypes. Luna’s Pocket Galaxy, even at 7 mana, allows Reno Mage to play a solid control game yet pull off turns that are very similar in power level to Darkest Hour Warlock. It is definitely our call for the sleeper of the current meta.

Mech Paladin is the best Aluneth Mage counter in the format, so it’s certainly an enticing choice at lower ranks, but it struggles to deal with Warlock’s Plague of Flame and Shaman’s Devolve, which become more common themes at the top end of ladder. This keeps Mech Paladin at a solid Tier 2 spot from rank 4 onwards.

Despite the quick nerf to Ancharr, Pirate Warrior is still quite good. Parachute Brigand and Sky Raider have been big additions to its early game while Ancharr remains a core card in the deck, so for the first time in a while, Warrior has a real and justified presence in the format.

Reno Warlock and Non-Reno Quest Mage mostly reside at Tier 3. Reno Warlock’s biggest problem is the domination of Mage decks that all present difficult matchups. Quest Mage feasts on slower decks but is extremely susceptible to aggression, which is the reason why Reno-Quest Mage is generally stronger.

The bottom of the table represents the old-time favorites that players just can’t give up on. Reno Shaman and Reno Hunter could never get over the hump and perform well enough with any significant presence on ladder. Big Priest continues to be played by casuals. Mecha’thun Warlock struggles under the weight of atrocious matchups against Mages and the dominant Warlock archetypes.

 

Class Analysis & Decklists

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


Despite a small number of success stories popping up here and there, Druid is currently one of the weaker classes of the format. It has a limited representation (particularly outside legend) and has no archetype above Tier 4 in our low sample list estimates.

Aggro Druid is one of the fastest decks in the format. It has been given powerful new tools in Embiggen and Frenzied Felwing. It gets destroyed by a single board wipe. Wait, what was that last part?

The popularity of Warlock is absolute hell for Aggro Druid. Defile and Dark Skies make it incredibly difficult for any all-in board-centric deck, and a cheated-out Voidlord immediately ends games. Flakmage and Flame Ward have also made Mage matchups quite difficult for similar reasons. Even Shaman shuts it down with some of the best anti-aggro tools in the game. Aggro Druid can be destructive in the right matchups. However, with the meta shaped as it is it’s hard for it to perform at a high level.

Jade Druid has undergone some small changes throughout Descent of Dragons. It has upgraded its Oaken Summons package, now using Zul’Drak Ritualist, and many players have turned towards Ysera, Unleashed as a late-game bomb. That said, these changes do not seem to have helped enough. While Jade Druid still has the potential to slow down aggressive decks effectively, it is one of the weaker archetypes against combo decks. Memnarch’s #1 legend build attempts to mitigate this weakness using Mojomaster Zihi.

Finally, we have Togwaggle Druid. Hijodaikan notably hit #1 legend with his build, resulting in a recent spark of interest. However, this success doesn’t appear to be widespread or representative of the archetype overall, as Togwaggle Druid finds itself in Tier 4 alongside the other Druid decks. The list is effectively the same as it has been since Rise of Shadows, with the only change being which 4-cost minion you were attempting to cheat out with Oaken Summons.

For a long time, Hunter has been one of the weakest classes in Wild. Until now!

Just kidding.

Things are as miserable as ever for Rexxar. The class has the lowest representation at ranks 4-1 and is tied with Priest for the least represented at legend. This isn’t a situation where the players are missing hidden gems either, as far as we can see.

Reno Hunter is the most popular Hunter deck on ladder and finds itself in Tier 4 at all rank brackets. While the archetype does have some powerful individual cards, the matchup chart looks like it comes from a spin-off series called 50 Shades of Red.

Reno Hunter has looked competitive in the past, but other archetypes have made significant strides in recent times while it’s been left behind. Players may want to look into testing a Dragon-based approach akin to Standard lists, although it seems unlikely that it would dramatically change the archetype’s current situation. The featured list is a N’Zoth build from Hunter enthusiast Duwin.

Mech Hunter is the only other Hunter deck where we have at least a low sample tier estimate. It finds itself in Tier 3 but it’s particularly difficult for the deck to gain much traction when Mech Paladin exists. The two decks are built around the same Mech-shell, but one outperforms the other.

Beast Hunter and Odd Hunter each maintain very small representation on ladder but neither have demonstrated enough success to catch on more widely.

Aluneth Mage has seen a small dip in popularity since Saviors of Uldum. At the time of the last meta report, Aluneth Mage made up over 18% of the meta in the bottleneck to legend and over 10% at legend. These numbers have almost halved in the present day.

However, the deck is as dominant as ever, boasting the absolute best win rate at every rank bracket. Perhaps, the player base moving away from Aluneth Mage has allowed the archetype to perform even better. Players no longer have the deck at the forefront of their minds and anti-secret tech cards have dwindled in play rate. Aluneth Mage can burn down slower archetypes and dominate most aggressive opponents using Arcane Flakmage and Flame Ward. Mech Paladin alone continues to be the number one issue for the deck.

While Aluneth Mage has seen a slight dip in popularity, the class has been orchestrating a different uprising. Of course, we’re referring to Reno Quest Mage, the most popular deck at legend. Reno Quest Mage was a deck that saw significant development in Saviors of Uldum. The premise was that the deck could combine the lethality of Open the Waygate with the ability to fend off aggression using the Highlander cards. However, at that stage we were not particularly impressed.

Little did we know that the deck would be given a bounty of support in the next two updates. Violet Spellwing, Licensed Adventurer, and Cobalt Spellkin make quest completion a breeze for a highlander deck. Mana Giant increases the consistency of the OTK. Sky Gen’ral Kragg offers an excellent mix of removal and tempo. Players are currently engaging in a debate surrounding the best build. There are two variants: Dragons and non-Dragons. While the number of playable Dragons in the deck is very small, they do provide access to powerful support cards in Arcane Breath and Malygos, Aspect of Magic. The decks differ by just a handful of cards and it isn’t clear which is the stronger variant right now. For this reason, we have opted to feature both lists.

Reno Galaxy Mage is also performing very well. This may come as a slight surprise to many, as the deck sees a dip in popularity as players move up the ladder. However, the results are what they are. While the deck has no truly dominant matchups, it also has very few poor matchups. Only Quest Mage and Reno Quest Mage seem to provide significant concerns. The archetype is centered around Luna’s Pocket Galaxy, a minion-dense build with an abundance of threats. The featured list makes use of the numerous Dragon synergy support cards from the Descent of Dragons expansion.

Finally, let’s discuss Quest Mage. Before Descent of Dragons, Quest Mage was in a horrible state. However, the already mentioned abundance of support cards changed things significantly. Not the strongest deck of the format, Quest Mage places itself in Tier 3, while still showing significant representation at higher ranks. The deck handles slower decks well but is solidly kept in check by some of the fastest decks in the format. Pirate Warrior and Darkest Hour Warlock together are huge hurdles for the deck to overcome and hold Quest Mage back from reaching the higher levels of performance.

There isn’t anything groundbreaking to report about the Paladin class. Paladin is one of the least diverse classes in Wild, defined entirely by its two well-established aggressive archetypes.

The first of these is Mech Paladin. Mech Paladin entrenched itself in the Tier 1 bracket for the entirety of Saviors of Uldum. With the arrival of Descent of Dragons, the deck has shown a small dip in performance. Mech Paladin is particularly effective at countering some of the most aggressive opponents such as Aluneth Mage and Pirate Warrior. On the flip side, it struggles mightily against Even Shaman due to Devolve and the plethora of Warlock decks using Plague of Flames.

Mech Paladin is a deck that is quite popular on the climb to legend. However, this changes dramatically once you arrive at legend, where Mech Paladin has close to half the representation compared to ranks 4-1. Sky Claw is the only worthwhile new addition.

Then we have Odd Paladin. Odd Paladin appears to once again be highly underrated and underplayed relative to how well it performs. Its performance against Aluneth Mage has dipped, but it is surprisingly resilient against Warlock and most other classes.

Odd Paladin gained a pair of small upgrades from DoD. Righteous Cause is a more controllable and proactive Competitive Spirit which can snowball the board. While Faceless Corruptor is a natural fit that provides recovery tools which were previously lacking. The featured list is from MMMMMMMMMHMM, with one change to include Leeroy Jenkins.

Despite remaining one of the more popular archetypes at low ranks, Big Priest continues to plummet in its relative power to the rest of the Wild format, coming in dead last in every reported rank bracket. Higher ranked players seem to have caught on as the prevalence of Big Priest diminishes the higher up the Wild ladder you look. This is not unexpected as Big Priest has long been a deck whose popularity has far outpaced its strength but, for some players at least, there seems to be an ever-widening gap between its perceived and actual power level.

Certainly, the Barnes nerf did not help Big Priest’s status in Wild but the deck simply does not match up well against most of the current powerhouse decks in the format. In fact, the only two positive matchups the deck has are against Mech Paladin and Cube Warlock while Big Priest struggles against just about any other top deck in the format, including the top 3 decks at all ranks.

Further, Big Priest gained next to nothing from the latest expansion. Even if the deck were to receive new tools in the coming expansions, the frequency of decks that can easily beat it continues to rise, making it an unlikely comeback candidate.

Similarly, Reno Priest finds itself near the bottom of the low sample tier estimates. Despite some players finding success with the deck at high legend ranks, the deck does not seem well equipped to manage the Wild meta. Even the decks’ best draws can’t match the speed of other popular combo decks and combo-heavy builds frequently leave themselves open to aggressive decks running rampant on ladder.

Early in DoD, Togwaggle Priest showed promise as a new archetype for lowly Anduin, but this appears to be a passing trend as the deck never gained enough traction for us to confidently evaluate. Likewise, Inner Fire Combo Priest (especially Dragon varieties) gained some new toys in Galakrond’s Awakening, but not enough to move the needle to be considered a competitive deck.

In general, the Priest class simply cannot find a footing with any deck in the current Wild landscape. Barring a slowdown of the meta or a new archetype that can keep pace with other decks, Anduin may have difficulty pulling himself out of the bottom.

While the release of Necrium Apothecary was able to breathe some new life into Big Rogue, the subsequent nerf sent it back into obscurity. Indeed, Rogue has had diminishing popularity for some time. However, there is at least one potential bright spot.

Odd Rogue maintains its position as the class’s strongest archetype, showing up at Tier 2 in our low sample estimates. It’s worth noting that in our previous report, we placed Odd Rogue at the very top of the tier list at all ranks outside legend. However, the incredible speed of this aggro-combo centric meta has made things more difficult for the archetype. While Odd Rogue has still been very solid, it doesn’t have quite the same mana-cheating mechanics as other decks, excelling when it has the chance to take board control over time using its highly efficient dagger.

Odd Rogue was able to make two adjustments with the release of Descent of Dragons. The first is Bloodsail Flybooter, a new early-game Pirate that provides plenty of fuel. The second is Faceless Corruptor, which works very well with Flybooter itself and is excellent at fighting for board.

The other archetype in our low sample estimate is Pirate Rogue. However, this aggressive deck hasn’t shown nearly the same success, finding itself in Tier 4. Prior to the nerf to Necrium Apothecary, many players were finding success with Pirate Rogue lists that used a Deathrattle package to cheat out Mechanical Whelps. Since the nerf, players have been struggling to find a usable build and the archetype is relatively unrefined. The recent release of Frenzied Felwing in Galakrond’s Awakening could prove promising, given its natural potential fit into this type of build.

Even Shaman has seen a huge resurgence throughout Descent of Dragons. Even Shaman builds have gone through a complete upheaval over the past few months, as players have moved away from Overload-based lists and towards Totem synergies.

The package of Splitting Axe, Totemic Might, and Totemic Surge have been widely adopted by the player base. These 0-cost spells and board flooding potential have made Even Shaman faster than ever before, and the archetype has skyrocketed up the Power Rankings after showing signs of weakness in previous months.

While Even Shaman has become quite dominant and gone through plenty of refinements, the same cannot be said for Thrall’s other options. Reno Shaman has been in a fierce battle with Big Priest to earn the title of worst performing archetype.

Much like Big Priest, Reno Shaman is mostly played at lower ranks. It surprisingly finds itself as the most popular Shaman deck below rank 5! However, builds are all over the place, with little direction overall and very few success stories to tell. The featured list is an updated version of RenoJackson’s Quest Reno Shaman.

Warlock makes up the second half of the dynamic duo of meta-dominating classes. In our last report, Gul’dan was abusing the synergy and sheer power of SN1P-SN4P Warlock. With the nerf to the Echo mechanic and a new set of cards, we saw a very quick re-adjustment within the class.

Cube Warlock has re-emerged as the most popular archetype, and for good reason. While utilizing no new cards from Descent of Dragons or Galakrond’s Awakening, refinement of the egg-based list has allowed Cubelock to cement itself as a strong anti-aggressive deck, favorable or even into most of the popular aggressive archetypes, save Aluneth Mage. Combined with the classic ability of cheating out expensive demons, Carnivorous Cubes, and Plague of Flames, Cubelock is more adept than most at surviving the enormous Darkest-Hour swing turns and pressuring Control decks out of the game. As the meta developed and Reno Quest Mage emerged as one of the decks to beat, many players have turned away from the traditional Prince Taldaram and turned to an unexpected savior, Bad Luck Albatross. The birds shuffled into the opponent’s deck helps Cubelock stall long enough until the Warlock can pressure the Mage out with big demons. The cutting of Prince Taldaram has also allowed Warlock to flex in Dark Skies, yet another powerful AoE card, as they see fit in the meta.

It pains us to write this: Darkest Hour Warlock is now a force in the meta to be reckoned with. The main reason that Darkest Hour has risen so quickly is the strong favorability into both versions of Quest Mage. As both decks are playing solitaire to their swing turn win condition, Darkest Hour’s combo tends to come down sooner than Mage’s, and the Mage cannot effectively answer it very often. In addition to the Darkest Hour combo that blows most control decks out of the water; Darkest Hour also has the traditional anti-aggro package of demons and insanely strong Warlock AoE’s that allow it to hold off aggro better than it has in the past.

Mecha’thun Warlock saw a huge resurgence in popularity when SN1P-SN4P Warlock was initially nerfed. This popularity was maintained when Descent of Dragons was released, until Cubelock and Darkest Hour overshadowed Mecha’thun. The turbo cycle version has been the go-to list for most players now, as Dark Skies gives lists even more AoE to deal with aggro, allowing players to cut the demon package in favor of more cycle, including a new staple, Valdris Felgorge. There is still refinement to be had for this archetype that feels like it’s been around for forever, as RottedZombie and Gul’Daniel (appropriate name) have been experimenting with a Dollmaster Dorian version of the combo that utilizes Plot Twist. This allows for Mecha’thun Warlock to bypass the Emperor Thaurissan set-up turn, making it harder for control decks to predict when to Dirty Rat. Mecha’thun Warlock finds itself in Tier 3 or 4 in our report, because it has bad matchups into Aluneth Mage, Quest Mage archetypes and Cube/DH Warlocks, which are all mainstays in the format.

And of course, this wouldn’t be a Wild report if we weren’t talking about Reno Warlock. While Reno Warlock got a few toys to play with in the new expansion, none of them help the deck combat the top decks, and its struggles against the Mage class are difficult to overcome.

Warrior was given a huge boost in Descent of Dragons, bringing Pirate Warrior back from extinction! Prior to the expansion, Warrior was the least popular class in the game. Pirate Warrior had been playing the same list from 2017 and it has been in freefall down the power rankings.

Pirate Warrior has now settled in as a Tier 2 to high Tier 3 deck. It tends to be even or unfavoured against most popular decks, while destroying the small number of passive archetypes seeing play. Ancharr, Parachute Brigand, and Sky Raider are all incredibly powerful cards which simultaneously offer more explosive early turns and longevity. The last wing from Galakrond’s Awakening could provide even more, with Frenzied Felwing looking like a natural fit in the deck. The featured list cuts Frothing Berserker or Skybarge from the stock lists in favor of the Felwing.

But other possibilities are out there. Initially, there have been experiments with Galakrond Warrior builds that utilize different midrange packages such as dragons or bombs.  However, a more recent development saw Pirate Warrior incorporate a Galakrond package, as seen in Corbett’s build. Based on preliminary results, this is a promising avenue that’s worth exploring and keeping an out eye for in the future.

 


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Contributors

Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the [Wild] vS Data Reaper Report:

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