[Wild] vS Data Reaper Report #24

A Hearthstone Wild Meta Report based on data from 120,000 games.

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Welcome back to the Wild vS Data Reaper Report! The data presented in this article is based on 120,000 games since the launch of the most recent expansion, Madness at the Darkmoon Faire.

We appreciate everyone’s patience as it’s been a while since our last Wild Data Reaper Report due to Team 5’s shift in balance philosophy, which required us to revamp our data workflow to be able to produce reports on shorter notice.

To ensure that we can provide updated reports as quickly as possible, we encourage you to register to contribute your data to the Vicious Syndicate project. Signing up is quick and easy (either through our Hearthstone Deck Tracker Plug-in or through Firestone) and your contributions are extremely important, and much appreciated!

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Class/Archetype Distribution

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We see a large distinction between classes at the Darkmoon Faire. There are five classes (Priest, Mage, Warlock, Druid and Paladin) that make up over 75% of the field at Diamond 4 through Legend.

Priest has become the most popular class, peaking at a 24% play rate at Legend, with two primary archetypes: Reno Priest and Big Priest. Both exhibit similar play rates. Reno Priest has been one of the most consistently powerful decks for the past few months, and it’s added a few more tools to its arsenal with Insight and Palm Reading. Big Priest has been a popular choice at lower ranks even when its power level was in serious decline. With Palm Reading and Blood of G’huun, the archetype has made a big comeback to the format at all levels of play.

Mage is composed primarily of Secret Mage and Reno Secret Mage, with fewer Quest Mages persisting in play. Secret Mage becomes increasingly dominant as one gets closer to Legend. However, once at Legend, Secret Mage decreases in play and the number of Reno Secret Mage increases.

Warlock remains extremely popular and diverse at all ranks. However, the archetypes within Warlock have shifted with the release of Darkmoon Faire. Reno Warlock, Disco Warlock, and Darkglare Warlock have become the primary archetypes. Both Reno & Darkglare Warlock see increased play at Legend.

The rise in popularity and refinement of Aggro Druid in the past few months have brought Druid back into a strong position in the Wild format. Aggro Druid is the most popular deck for those climbing to Legend, but its numbers drastically drop there. At Legend, we see a rise in Jade Druid and Aviana (Malygos) Druid, likely as a response to the large number of Priests.

New cards from Darkmoon Faire have bolstered Odd Paladin, which dominates the class’ archetype spread and is a popular choice at all ranks. Paladin declines once you hit Legend, again, a possible reaction to the increased presence of Priest there.

Demon Hunter boasts one competitive deck in Wild: Odd Demon Hunter. This deck fell off the map during Scholomance Academy, but the introductions of Acrobatics and Stiltstepper have brought about a revamp of its build, going with an extremely low curve that looks promising.

Shaman has devolved into a messy mish-mash of archetypes. Big and Even Shaman occupy a niche of anti-aggressive decks, but poor matchups into Priest and Warlock have led to many players giving up on those two decks. We’ve seen experimentation with Reno Shaman throughout ladder, with very little success.

While Odd and Kingsbane Rogue got some new cards to play with, they were forced to watch their worst matchups get even better at the Darkmoon Faire. Aggro Druid, Odd Paladin and Secret Mage were all buffed this expansion and have been some of Rogue’s historically worst matchups. As a result, Rogue isn’t common throughout ladder.

Pirate Warrior’s flirtation with the top of the meta was short-lived, as the strength of Pirate Warrior was tied to the strength of the Odd Demon Hunter of old. Odd DH’s decline combined with the continued rise of Reno Priest and Reno Warlock have seen Garrosh looking elsewhere for hope. However, while other Warrior archetypes have seen some play and experimentation from devoted players, there was not enough success to catch on with the larger ladder population.

Hunter’s Wild presence is a tale as old as time, and it’s getting a little boring to tell. The class did get more tools for its Wild archetypes at the Darkmoon Faire than usual, with buffs to Secret and Deathrattle strategies. We’ve seen some experimentation (and some success), but perhaps we’ve reached the point where the stigma around Hunter supersedes any success story. Players are just not very interested in playing Hunter in this format, especially at the top end of ladder.


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vS Meta Score

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Secret Mage has been a strong deck for years now, running under the moniker “Aluneth Mage” in our reports. Therefore, new cards must meet a very high threshold to push out other cards in its builds. Secret Mage received three such new cards. Rigged Faire Game and Sayge have provided the aggressive deck with draw consistency, pushing players to exclude Aluneth. This seemed unfathomable before the expansion’s launch, but Secret Mage no longer needs to take a turn off to draw its deck. Occult Conjurer provides Secret Mage with substantial top end board pressure with 8/8 worth of stats for 4 mana, a previously weak slot for the deck. With Secret Mage’s consistent card draw that allows it to continuously pressure slower decks, and great recovery against aggressive decks, it looks very well positioned moving forward. It’ll be interesting to see how the meta adapts outside of shoving Eater of Secrets in every deck.

Reno Priest is one of the most well-rounded decks in the format, also serving as the strongest late game strategy in Wild. It suppresses many other late-game strategies by virtue of having a powerful end-game combo finisher. It is the most influential archetype at higher levels of play. It boasts the highest Meta Score and nearly the highest win rate, even when the entire field attacks it from multiple angles. You’ve got players running bombs, birds, candles and Grizzled Wizard/Finley shenanigans and yet Reno Priest remains top tier. It’s a testament to how powerful and warping it is. The only poor matchups for Reno Priest are quicker combo decks that have major issues dealing with the popular aggressive archetypes in the meta. Reno Priest doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Odd Paladin, true to its consistent gameplay, regularly places at Tier 1. Oh My Yogg, Carnival Barker, and Lothraxian have all been significant additions to the deck. Odd Paladin only struggles against decks that run near-infinite board clears (Priest) or get onto the board at a lightning pace (Aggro Druid).

Aggro Druid’s Darkmoon Faire additions come down to Wriggling Horror. What made this deck blow up are its Scholomance additions, with Voracious Reader allowing the deck to play at an even lower curve alongside Embiggen for a consistently explosive game plan that vomits huge amounts of stats on turns 3 or 4. Aggro Druid is powerful but doesn’t line up particularly well against the rest of Tier 1.

Big Priest had been a meme for a long time after Barnes got nerfed; it was a terrible deck that was still piloted by many players, especially at lower ranks, purely for fun. However, the introduction of Palm Reading solves one of the biggest issues for Big Priest in that it had become too slow when it came to cheating out its minions. Shadow Essence can now come down on turn 4 or 5 quite consistently, which is quick enough to recover against aggressive strategies while exerting more pressure on slower strategies. The introduction of Blood of G’huun was just as impactful, with a Y’Shaarj-esque effect that can help cheat out waves and waves of threats. The big bonus to this card over Y’Shaarj is the fact that it has taunt. Big Priest maintains its old weakness against combo strategies such as Reno Priest and Aviana Druid, decks that can deal massive burst damage that bypasses any wall the Big Priest develops on the board.

Darkglare Warlock is still a viable and competitive deck, to the chagrin of some. While its mana cheating isn’t as absurd as it used to be, it can still produce overwhelming boards very early in the game.

Acrobatics and Stiltstepper have dramatically lowered the curve of Odd Demon Hunter and turned it into a hyper-aggressive deck along the lines of Aggro Druid. As a result, Odd Demon Hunter runs into obvious difficulties against Reno decks, which pose the biggest roadblock that prevent it from rising above Tier 2.

Disco Warlock received Wicked Whispers to help snowball early boards, but the deck cannot seem to crack into Tier 1 because of the prevalence of other aggressive strategies that are very effective at keeping it off the board.

Pirate Warrior is a contender for the meta’s biggest sleeper. Despite seeing very little play, Pirate Warrior still looks very competitive, in large part thanks to the power of Ship’s Cannon, Brigand, and Patches that help it contest board control against other aggressive decks. The deck’s vulnerability to Priest might be the reason players are dissuaded from playing it.

Secret Hunter is a surprising find at Tier 2. Petting Zoo was a major addition to its curve, and Mystery Winner improved the deck’s overall consistency and its ability to upgrade Emerald Spellstone. Passive opponents that are happy to sit back against Hunter’s secrets and have large amounts of life gain naturally counter the archetype, which makes Priest a limiter for yet another deck’s ladder success. The secret package is far more effective in faster matchups and allows Secret Hunter to disrupt other aggressive decks’ curves while developing boards that are game-winning against opponents that lack AOE.

Tier 3 is where we either find archetypes with significant matchup flaws or unrefined archetypes that carry greater potential. Reno Mage is primarily of the secret variety and is the standout when it comes to potential: the archetype is likely stronger than it looks but is littered with new builds due to being a rediscovered archetype pushed with the new expansion. There’s quite a bit of noise there.


Class Analysis & Decklists

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

Demon Hunter has returned to Wild! After taking an expansion off, Odd Demon Hunter has resurfaced on ladder with a brand-new look. Acrobatics and Stiltstepper have both encouraged an incredibly low-curve approach to the deck, with the bulk of the list made up of 1-cost cards.

While not one of the absolute most popular archetypes on ladder, the deck has a modest representation and has been performing very well. Odd Demon Hunter finds itself in Tier 2, having decent matchups into most of the stronger decks in the format (except for Reno Priest). There may also still be room for refinement, as some players have recently opted to cut Acrobatics in favor of things such as Glaivebound Adept or Double Jump. There isn’t yet significant data on the performance of lists that take this approach, so only time will tell.

Other Demon Hunter builds come from players who must have taken a wrong left turn on their way to Standard.

As the most popular deck at the bottleneck to Legend, Aggro Druid largely defines the early game of Wild. Are you able to withstand the deck’s explosive openers? If not, go directly back to the ladder floor, do not pass Go, and do not collect $200.

There are few situations where an Aggro Druid isn’t crushingly favored after a turn-1 Embiggen. This highroll potential in the early game makes it quite difficult to consistently beat the deck; even its worst matchups don’t stray too far from 50%. Mage and Priest are the most well-equipped to deal with Aggro Druid, as two of the classes with the best early-game AOE in the game. Interestingly, Warlocks seemed to have slipped dramatically in their dominance over the archetype, despite the availability of Defile and Dark Skies.

Aviana Druid, typically Malygos builds, is one of the most polarized decks in the format. The deck is one of your best options when going up against Priest, but it completely collapses into anything moderately aggressive. This certainly isn’t a new story for the deck. Despite its importance as a counter to the format’s most popular class, the meta trending in an aggressive direction has left Malygos Druid in a weak position.

Lastly, Jade Druid looks helpless, as it has since the nerf to Guardian Animals. The expansion only continued to bring woe, with the rise of Big Priest being of particular concern. Aggressive lists have also continued to improve their matchups over the deck, leaving Jade Druid with no niche or distinct positives. Going infinite with Jade Idols doesn’t help much when you’re dead on turn 7.

Secret Hunter is doing about as well as any Hunter deck has in a long time. It finds itself at low Tier 2 at high Diamond and Legend ranks. It has also been given very little attention, making up just barely more than 1% of the field, which may indicate some further room for refinement. This is all excellent news! That said, there are some notable issues with the deck’s matchup spread and how things may project moving forward.

Secret Hunter doesn’t fare all that well against the most popular and strongest decks in the format. It has poor matchups against Big Priest, Reno Priest and Reno Warlock, and a firm unfavorable against Odd Paladin. It seems to have some ability to handle Aggro Druid and Secret Mage, but this doesn’t undo the weaknesses outlined. Nevertheless, Secret Hunter is certainly deserving of more respect than the player base has given it thus far. However, given the deck’s inherent weaknesses to slower archetypes, its ability to sustain this level of performance will likely depend on improving its already solid-but-not-amazing matchups into the aggressive decks of the format.

While Secret Hunter players worry about these things, Deathrattle Hunter players can calmly relax. They already know their deck is terrible. Deathrattle Hunter has some game against the slower decks of the format, but in faster matchups, it will die, and it will die quickly. Nonetheless, we certainly wouldn’t begrudge anyone who finds themselves just a bit too tempted to play Flark’s Boom-Zooka. Good luck, you’ll need it.

Secret Mage is an absolute monster. The deck fares well against the other standout archetypes and has a nearly flawless matchup spread across the field. Secret Mage has been a great choice into other aggressive decks for some time. However, it had some weaknesses to Reno decks and other heavy-healing archetypes. Darkmoon Faire has changed that.

Sayge, Seer of Darkmoon, and Rigged Faire Game have significantly helped the control matchups. Secret Mages are now able to churn through their decks, without the need for Aluneth, and can constantly pressure. While there is still some tinkering going on regarding its build, it’s mostly an issue of an abundance of card quality.

Reno Mage has largely abandoned its Luna’s Pocket Galaxy and Quest variants in favor of all this new secret support. Much like Secret Mage, the Reno-Secret builds have few bad matchups and tend to have a solid shot against just about everything. It does look almost strictly worse than Secret Mage, with one exception. It wins the direct matchup. While this is certainly noteworthy given Secret Mage’s lack of other weaknesses, the edge in this matchup looks quite small and it shouldn’t pry players away from the superior, non-highlander builds.

And finally, we have Quest Mage. If you play the deck, you’ll be winning about a quarter of the time against Aggro Druids and Secret Mages. In a format that continues to get faster and faster, Quest Mage has less time to assemble its pieces and stabilize. It also continues to lose ground against the slower decks in the format, having not received significant support from the previous two expansions and had its best card nerfed. It still does well enough into Reno Priest, but you’ll never see enough of those to justify taking Quest Mage to ladder.

Odd Paladin is one of the best decks in the format, sitting firmly at Tier 1 at all rank brackets. Oh My Yogg! Has been an excellent addition so far. While it has a wide range of outcomes, it’s quite detrimental to opponents and can often be a 1-mana Counterspell. Lothraxion the Redeemed and Carnival Barker have also proven to be quite strong as natural support pieces.

The deck has very few poor matchups, only struggling when it is completely denied board-control. This can happen against explosive Aggro Druid openers or more often against Pirate Warrior, which has historically been a bad matchup for the Paladin.

Other Paladin archetypes such as Murloc and Mech Paladins have faded away. The exception is Pure Paladin, a deck more popular at lower ranks that disappears as you climb further towards Legend. Pure Paladin can come in different forms, such as Secrets and Dude builds, but the list we’re featuring is Libram-based.

Let’s tell you what you already know: Reno Priest is highly dominant in Wild. Reno Priest possesses a nearly perfect meta score at Legend, as the most popular deck and a win rate barely eclipsed by Secret Mage. This is despite being the main target of the meta for some time.

Reno Priest has outstanding matchups against aggressive decks and other control decks. Its weakness is to very fast combo decks. However, these few counters to Reno Priest are far too weak against the rest of the field to be worth playing, leaving Reno Priest in a safe position. At this stage, Reno Priest players feel so comfortable that they are cutting Mindrender Illucia, previously the failsafe in these combo matchups.

Reno Priest was a deck that players knew would be strong after the expansion’s launch. On the other hand, Big Priest has been a HUGE surprise! With the additions of Palm Reading and Blood of G’huun, Big Priest has moved from complete irrelevance to one of the defining decks of the format. It’s the second most popular deck at the high Diamond ranks and the most popular deck overall across all Wild ladder. The player base was quick to adapt to new builds of the deck. Stalwarts of the archetype such as The Lich King and Obsidian Statue were quickly cut in favor of Scrapyard Colossus.

Big Priest sets the benchmark for greed in the mid-to-late game. Reno Priest sets an end-game clock that players must desperately try to beat before the buzzer goes off. Together, these archetypes make Priest the defining late-game class of Wild.

Rogue has some potentially competitive decks, but players don’t seem too eager to play them.

The first of these is of course Kingsbane Rogue. Kingsbane Rogue started off with a bang in Scholomance Academy, seen as one of the strongest and most popular decks during the first few weeks. However, as time went on, it fell off completely. This trend has continued into the Darkmoon Faire.

But we couldn’t tell you why. Kingsbane Rogue looks very promising, listed as Tier 2 in our low sample estimates. Foxy Fraud and Swindle are a strong pairing that also work with other cards within the archetype. Additionally, Prized Plunderer is very powerful, as Standard players have recently been discovering. In Wild, the card is arguably stronger, where its Pirate tag can be easily abused. Kingsbane Rogue lists have been somewhat messy in the early days of the expansion, but a refined build certainly has potential.

Odd Rogue has also completely disappeared, to the point where it didn’t make it into our low sample estimates. However, given its continued strength and resiliency in prior metas, it seems likely that the deck is still a strong option. How strong exactly, we couldn’t say.

Slower Rogue decks such as Thief, Pillager-Galakrond, and Mill continue to be favorites for some at lower ranks, but have never shown particular competitive promise.

As we mentioned earlier, Big Shaman and Even Shaman occupy a niche of anti-aggressive decks shared by many other decks on ladder. Another similarity these decks have is that they both get demolished by Priests and Warlocks on ladder. If one can manage to dodge these two, classes, which make up ~40% of the meta, Shaman decks should perform well. Even Shaman seems capable of doing well enough in the current meta despite these challenges.

We’ve seen experimentation with Reno Shaman throughout the ladder, to very little success as every matchup we see across the board is unfavorable for the deck.

Reno Warlock is the most popular Warlock archetype likely due to the combination of Reno Jackson, the suite of strong Warlock AoE, and the disruption effects available to the class, providing players with a feel of agency in a wide variety of matchups. There may also be a compounding factor of players experimenting with Tickatus, which doesn’t look like it’s performing well in those decks, especially in combination with Voidcaller and Archwitch Willow.

Nevertheless, Reno Warlock’s popularity doesn’t align with the strength of the deck, as it is continuously mired in Tier 3, failing to gain an edge against any of the top meta decks, and getting crushed by Big Priest in particular.

We were unable to touch on the low points of the pre-nerf Darkglare meta. Thankfully, one of the best decks we’ve seen in the history of the format was nerfed within a month. At its peak, the deck was getting out multiple 8/8 giants in combination with a lock-out effect through Loatheb or Cult Neophyte as early as turn 3 or 4. Post-nerf Darkglare Warlock is still able to pull off the Darkglare combo turns and churn out giants early in the game, but the deck is less consistent at doing so. As a result, the deck has become a lot more susceptible to aggressive strategies while allowing classes such as Priest time to find their removal for big boards. But, dumping multiple giants onto the board on turn 4 or 5 is still powerful enough to steal games, which is why Darkglare Warlock finds itself in Tier 2.

The pushed discard synergies that resulted in the emergence of Disco Warlock have received another tool with Wicked Whispers, a Mark of the Lotus-style effect with potential discard upside. The deck has 2 flex-spots remaining with players still undecided between Boneweb Egg and Fist of Jaraxxus. While Discard Warlock is weak to decks that can keep it off the board such as Aggro Druid, the draw power of the deck can keep it in most games.

Cube Warlock has fallen from its perch of a top tier deck, primarily because of the rise in Priest. It has also received no new cards over the past couple of expansions, which has left it down in Tier 3.

Pirate Warrior remains the top deck for Warrior at the Darkmoon Faire. Pirate Warrior picked up Sword Eater, another strong pirate to pull with Ancharrr that also provides a weapon for the variety of buffs in the deck. The inclusion of Sword Eater has prompted a bit of experimentation with the list. Pirate Warrior holds its own against other aggressive decks in the format thanks to Ship’s Cannon and its early game mana cheating.

Dead Man’s Hand Control Warrior was the darling deck during the dreadful Darkglare Warlock days, thanks to the power level of Risky Skipper, Bloodboil Brute and Lord Barov. The infatuation with the fatigue deck has continued for some, with many now opting for an infinite N’Zoth win condition. The Risky Skipper package is core to many Wild Warrior decks, including the ETC combo that’s taking Standard by storm. The interest has been carried over into Wild without much success. Risky Skipper makes the deck decent into aggressive strategies, but the ETC combo seems to be too slow against some of the other late-game win conditions in the format.

Galakrond Warrior is an interesting deck in Wild. Galakrond Warrior has always been super popular in the Chinese and Asian servers but has never really caught on in the West. New menagerie cards from Darkmoon Faire such as Ringmaster Whatley and Ringmaster’s Baton have been experimented with to varying degrees of success.


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