Welcome back to the Wild vS Data Reaper Report! We’re the experts from r/WildHearthstone, and we have partnered up 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 for which Vicious Syndicate has become famous. The data presented in this article is based on 40,000 games.
The release of Knights of the Frozen Throne has shaken up the wild metagame, with most classes getting new tools to put into their already pre-existing powerful decks. Additional decks have appeared from new card combinations and synergies. Please note that this report is based mostly on data collected before the change in the interaction between Naga Sea Witch and the giants. Therefore, we unfortunately do not have enough numerical data about the giant decks that we can present at the moment. However, in the class write-ups our Wild Experts have gone into detail about the decks, and we have also provided some of the more refined decklists that they have found/created. We will be able to provide empirical data on the giants decks in our next Data Reaper Report, along with the new balance changes that were just recently announced.
Class/Archetype Frequency Discussion
The meta significantly shifted when 135 new cards came into the metagame. First and foremost, Pirate Warrior has finally been dethroned as the most played deck in the meta, being surpassed by none other than Reno Priest. With so many archetypes in flux and in various stages of refinement, our initial observation is that there has been a significant uptick in Reno Priest and Druid as a whole. However, the Wild metagame remains diverse with a robust assortment of archetypes seeing consistent play.
Last expansion, Reno Priest was but a sliver on the class distribution, with only ~5% of the player base playing the deck. With the introduction of Shadowreaper Anduin, the deck’s playerbase more than doubled with a jump to 13% play rate, the highest played deck on ladder across all levels of play. Big Priest has also entered the meta as the second most popular Priest deck, pushing aside both Dragon Priest and Inner Fire Priest.
Druid is currently the most popular class from Rank 5 to Legend. Jade Druid has a lead on Token Druid in play percentage, but they are both fairly represented on ladder which is a change from last expansion, where the aggressive archetype was more popular. Other archetypes to note that have popped up are Ramp Druid (Giants Druid), and a more midrange variant of token druid.
Pirate Warrior has maintained a play rate comparable to last expansion, which brings to light two things to ponder. Pirate warrior was the “gatekeeper” of the last meta; due to its high play percentage, in order for a deck to be strong in the meta it had to be able to beat, or at least not lose horribly to the deck. Due to the vast increase in play of Druid and Priest, this is most likely not the case anymore, with you being more likely to run into a Reno Priest on ladder than Pirate Warrior. Secondly, the ability of this deck to remain popular, even after not receiving any new cards from the expansion, shows how powerful the deck was last expansion. The wild variant of the deck is significantly more popular than its standard counterpart, and the only major difference between the two versions is Ship’s Cannon.
Outside of these three power classes, we begin to see a lot more diversity in most of the other classes (besides Warlock and Hunter). Paladin is a good example of this, with 5 archetypes representing over 1% of the meta each. Midrange Recruit Paladin remains the most dominant, but compared to the previous expansion it has decreased in play a bit, mostly due to the fact that it is unfavorable against Jade druid, Aggro Druid and breaks even against Pirate Warrior. Murloc Paladin, on the other hand, has seen an uptick in play, most likely due to it being favored against Jade Druid. Running many new cards, Control Paladin has seen a doubling in play since last expansion resulting in it surpassing Secret Paladin as the third most played variant of Paladin.
Mage, like Paladin, has quite a diverse archetype split, headed by Reno Mage. Tempo Mage and Secret Mage follow behind, and Exodia Mage is played slightly more than Freeze Mage, with both of them slightly under 1% of the meta.
Shaman sees a remarkable collapse in Control Shamans from our last Report, with Token Shaman leading in popularity over Aggro Shaman and Murloc Shaman, which gained the most from the new expansion.
Warlock and Hunter are one trick ponies, with both of their classes primarily made up of Renolock and Midrange Hunter respectively. Renolock is being played a bit more than it had last expansion, but Midrange Hunter has stayed around the same. Rogue has taken over as the least played class in Wild, with its three archetypes of Mill Rogue, Miracle Rogue, and Jade Rogue only making up under 6% of play. Both Hunter and Rogue significantly fall off in popularity at higher levels of play.
vS Power Rankings Discussion
While no longer the most played deck in the format, Pirate Warrior is atop our power rankings due to its strength against most of the decks on ladder. In fact, there are no unfavorable matchups for Pirate Warrior, only even ones. With no direct counter, the deck is as strong as it has been in the past, especially with less decks teching in Golakka Crawlers.
Druid is also a strong class with a double threat on our tier list. Aggro Druid is slightly more favored than Jade Druid, but both are very strong against the field. The power level of Aggro Druid is amplified in Wild by the assortment of older cards such as Jeeves and Living Roots. Jade Druid has become much more powerful since KFT’s release, and it is not so reliant on older cards.
Recruit Paladin is a tier 1 deck at lower levels of play, but as soon as you turn the corner and start pushing for legend, it drops to tier 2. This is mostly because of its poor matchup against Jade Druid, largely due to Spreading Plague. In the lower ranks, when Jade Druid is less prevalent, the deck is a very good choice, but when Jade Druid comes out to play, Paladin goes away.
Reno Priest is the exact opposite of Recruit Paladin. It’s a moderately strong deck at lower levels, but shines at higher levels of play due to better optimization of builds. The archetype is well positioned against the popular meta decks and does better against Jade Druid than its Standard highlander iteration.
Class Analysis & Decklists
It’s probably no surprise to you that Druid’s dominance in Standard has come to call at Wild’s door, too. Much like in Standard, Jade and Aggro Druid make up a respectable half of the tier 1 decks in Wild. With nerfs locked onto Spreading Plague and Innervate, how well existing Wild decks will weather the nerfs is still a mystery.
Knights of the Frozen Throne has seriously challenged our existing ideas of what Druid decks look like, with Ultimate Infestation rewarding hard-ramp strategies (and replacing Auctioneer as a draw package in Jade), Aggro Druid with Innervates conclusively edging out Egg Druid (just before Innervate’s incipient nerfing), and Giants Druid rising from the tumult of the Naga/Giants change as an early favorite shell for the interaction.
Jade Druid continues to be the ultimate late-game deck, picking up Malfurious, The Lich King, and Ultimate Infestation to seriously up its late-game inevitability. Aggro Druid rebuilds itself around Crypt Lord, a seemingly invulnerable taunt that protects its wide boards before it buffs them into a win. Giants Druid has seen a little refinement since initial lists began popping up; going from 6 to 8 giants makes it more consistent at finding an early combo.
The traditional Midrange Hunter variants haven’t been doing particularly well. The new set hasn’t given it too much to work with; Deathstalker Rexxar and Corpse Widow alone aren’t enough to bring the deck out of Tier 4. The deck isn’t fast enough to beat the control decks early, and usually doesn’t have the staying power to beat them late unless you draw Rexxar, and even then it can be pretty tough. Aggro decks which run Patches generally outpace it as before, since it can’t take advantage of the Patches token particularly well.
Since the change to Naga Sea Witch, though, Giants Hunter seems, anecdotally, to be doing well. It hasn’t popped up in a large enough sample in this database, so we cannot draw real conclusions on its power level. This deck was popularized by Reynad and is arguably the most consistent version of the Giants deck. It is able to get Naga + Giants out almost every time on turn 5 due to tutoring effects from Tracking, Stitched Tracker, and King’s Elekk.
The Knights of the Frozen Throne proved to be of little help to aspiring Frost Liches everywhere. Reno Mage gains a Death Knight, Tempo Mage picks up Ghastly Conjurer, and Freeze pilots, as usual, are too busy arguing about cards from Un’Goro to update their decklists. Overall, the set provided few standout cards to the class, and Reno Mage, once the strongest Reno deck, is now the worst-performing, all the way down in tier 4.
GetMeowth’s Reno Mage doubles down on Elemental synergy with Frost Lich Jaina’s aura, running Baron Geddon and Ragnaros in addition to Pyros for sources of big healing in the late-game. With a 40% win-rate across the board against Druid decks, Reno Mage suffers in this meta. With Druid set to lose out on some power after the upcoming nerfs, Reno Mage may become a better option. Tempo Mage and Secret Mage occupy similar niches, with Tempo actually seeing slightly more play than Secret, while the latter is showing more potential to do well.
With Knights of the Frozen Throne, Paladin has been dethroned from tier 1 at the highest ranks, but maintains a respectable showing with two decks at the top of tier two. Murloc Paladin performs slightly worse than Midrange Recruit Paladin overall, but is much better against Jade Druid. With the incoming nerf to Murloc Warleader, however, we may see a resurgence of either midrange or control forms of Anyfin Paladin. The incoming Druid nerfs to Innervate and Spreading Plague may bring Recruit Paladin back into tier 1, weakening its worst matchup.
NA player Schmiddy hit Rank 1 Legend with a new Control N’Zoth Paladin, running six(!) cards from Knights of the Frozen Throne. Powerful tech legendaries, The Black Knight and Wickerflame Burnbristle, round out the list. It has the ability to apply pressure in the mid-game, but also contains an overwhelming late-game arsenal. The deck is quite difficult to play but can be very rewarding.
Reno Priest is the preeminent control deck of the Knights of the Frozen Throne Wild meta. Not only is it the most popular meta deck across all ranks, but it has risen to Tier 1 at the highest levels of play. Prior to Knights of the Frozen Throne, Reno Priest had been a Tier 4 deck that saw less and less play at better ranks. The biggest contributor to Reno Priest’s new success has been Shadowreaper Anduin and its synergy with Raza the Chained. Previously, Priest struggled to close out games, lacking any sort of burst to finish opponents. The combination of Shadowreaper Anduin and Raza the Chained creates a new zero-cost hero power, Voidform, which enables Priest to win previously-unwinnable games it. Most lists now include Spawn of Shadows or Prophet Velen to take advantage of their synergy with Voidform, thereby giving Priest the burst it needs to finish off strong opponents. Untouched by the upcoming nerfs, Reno Priest should continue to thrive in the meta.
Big Priest is a new archetype to emerge from Knights of the Frozen Throne. The introduction of Eternal Servitude, Shadow Essence, and Obsidian Statue allows for strong mid-game turns that can outright win you the game against any deck. The constant pressure from, and threat of, huge targets allows Big Priest to overwhelm other control decks like Renolock, Reno Mage, Reno Priest, and Control Warrior. While it is vulnerable to more aggressive decks such as Pirate Warrior, upcoming nerfs to the Warrior and Druid classes could potentially push the metagame to favor slower decks, a meta Big Priest would be ripe to exploit.
Winter has come to Hearthstone with the latest expansion, and even a new Valeera struggles to traverse the harsh new climate effectively. Rogue’s niche as the tempo and combo class has frequently put it in awkward positions in sets that are designed so pointedly at a single theme. Rogue’s design space necessitates that it has practically no access to effects such as taunts, heals, sticky minions, or even reasonably costed card draw. These weaknesses also inherently make expensive cards near unplayable in Rogue, because the class is simply not intended to grind out long games. In that light, Knights of the Frozen Throne was never going to offer scoundrels and thieves the tools or environments they thrive in. A set based around long, grindy games to promote the expensive and game-warping Death Knights is a death-knell to tempo focused strategies from the very conception.
At least Rogue got the flashy and flexible Death Knight, Valeera the Hollow. This card has been the flagship bomb in the resurgence of Mill Rogue, a deck that preys on control with degeneracy comparable to our dearly departed Quest Rogue (may it rest in peace). Valeera and a couple of other KFT cards have given the archetype a notable shot in the arm, working to the exact parameters and goals the deck already had in mind. Doubling up on defensive cards like Sludge Belcher and Antique Healbot are unprecedented defensive options for Rogue, and stacking up Coldlight Oracles for lethal is obviously very effective. This is even without mentioning how effective Vanish and Doomsayer are with Valeera, completely taking over the flow of the game if assembled. With this oppressive power comes sacrifice, though, and unfortunately for Mill Rogue the baseline price is a near unwinnable match up against the best deck in the metagame, on top of many of the other Tier 1 decks. Mill Rogue has but a few slots for tech cards, and not nearly enough to address its numerous bad match ups, with natural weaknesses to both aggro and burst OTK decks. That being said, Mill Rogue performs well against slower control decks such as Reno Priest.
Not all Rogue archetypes were able to effectively implement many KFT cards, however. Miracle Rogue has struggled to find almost any purchase in the frozen wastes of the KFT meta. Aggro decks are still abound, ramp decks are more absurd than ever, and even the previously ideal matchup of Reno Priest has now become a race against time before the combo player becomes the victim of Shadowreaper Anduin’s wrath. With essentially no new tools and frightful odds, Miracle has all but disappeared from the metagame. Of the little success that can be reported about the archetype, Questing Adventurer variants stand out as the most successful. Many popular and high tier decks do not have consistent access to removal for huge minions in early turns of the game, and QA can cheese wins out with about the same consistency as it ever has. As always, Rogue’s legacy of being unable to tech against aggro and control at the same time makes it a weak choice on ladder.
Despite the looming cloud over Rogue’s performance since KFT’s release, there are brighter skies ahead. Just about every upcoming nerf is a boon for Rogue, though some more than others; there is one in particular that Rogue players should be jumping for joy about. The death of Fiery Win Axe will change Wild dramatically, and no one is more excited about it than Rogue. Pirate Warrior has been less of a thorn in Rogue’s side and more of an oppressive tyrant preventing Rogue from ever being able to truly compete at the highest levels. While other aggro decks are already ready to fill the void left behind, Rogue should see a noticeable resurgence as the meta slows down. The other notable good balance change for Rogues is the Innervate change. While Druid and Rogue have always contested one another as tempo decks, Druid’s ability to completely overwhelm the Rogue in mana efficiency has been especially noticeable lately. While dedicated ramp decks will still pose a threat to the less defensive Rogue decks, the lack of explosive power of Innervate will significantly affect the texture of those match ups. Preparation is going into the next era of Hearthstone with a cheeky smile.
- ShatteR’s Mill Rogue
- Graveyardsmash’s Questing Adventurer Miracle Rogue
- DannyDonuts’ Jade N’Zoth Rogue
The Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion gave Thrall the cold shoulder, as Shaman’s new freeze mechanics haven’t proven to be competitive. Shaman’s best performing deck, Aggro Shaman, didn’t receive any new cards, opting for either the Doomhammer build or the Hammer of Twilight build. Other players have found success in burn-heavier variants with the new KFT card, Tainted Zealot. This card can empower Shaman’s flurry of spells and activate the long neglected Spirit Claws. With the upcoming nerfs, expect Aggro Shaman to make a strong recovery as the premier Aggro deck once again.
Token Shaman has remained relatively strong against a wide portion of the field, however its few poor matchups are against each of the Tier 1 decks. A shakeup in the meta could help out the archetype, but as Giant decks become a larger part of the meta, don’t expect Evolve decks to storm the Wild ladder.
While the rest of the expansion was fairly mute for most Shaman archetypes, Murloc Shaman gained the hidden gem of the expansion, Ice Fishing. Ice Fishing is an extremely powerful tutor for the deck, allowing it to more consistently activate Unite the Murlocs while running fewer murlocs. Whatever science was previously done to the archetype by bright-eyed experimenters will likely fall apart, though, as the deck is considerably hit by the upcoming nerf to Murloc Warleader.
Once a top deck, Control Shaman fell rapidly in popularity after the KFT expansion, although the deck had some success at high Legend. The continued shift in the meta toward Giant decks along with the nerf to Hex isn’t likely to help the deck thrive as the format marches forward.
- MekNugetZz’s Twililght Aggro Shaman
- Awedragon’s Zealot Aggro Shaman
- Poach’s Doomhammer Aggro Shaman
- Xixo’s Token Shaman
- Casanova’s Murloc Shaman
- Poach’s Control Shaman
Reno Warlock (Renolock) has been struggling since the Knights of the Frozen Throne release. Prior to the expansion, it had been hovering at the top of Tier 3, which, while not exceptional, meant the deck was still viable along with being active in the meta. Post-expansion, Renolock is still seeing a fair amount of play, but has fallen into the middle of Tier 4. Although Renolock received some good cards in the expansion, such as Defile and Bloodreaver Guldan, the new cards aren’t enough to combat the rest of the meta changes. The most substantial new threat to Renolock is Shadowreaper Anduin. Reno Priest has always been a popular Wild meta deck and, fortunately for Renolock players, the matchup used to be quite favorable. Traditionally, Reno Priest was unable to punish Jaraxxus. Renolock could play an Infernal every turn, eventually exhausting the Priest. Now that Priest is able to finish games with the Voidform hero power, the Jaraxxus win condition no longer exists and the matchup has become unfavorable. The other big hindrance to Renolock is the presence of Jade Druid in Wild. Jade Druid has never been a good matchup, but since Knights of the Frozen Throne, Jade Druid’s presence has doubled, becoming one of the more popular meta decks.
The upcoming patch from Blizzard should help Renolock. Fiery War Axe’s new cost (going from two to three) will hurt Pirate Warrior and give Renolock more chance to stabilize. In addition, Innervate’s change will limit how explosive Druid’s turns can be. Without the power of Innervate, Renolock will have more time to play out its demons and provide an opportunity for a winning turn with Kruul or Bloodreaver Guldan.
Knights of the Frozen throne has added to the list of new taunts, board-clears and threats that Un’goro introduced, and unsurprisingly these are unfavorable for board based decks like Zoolock. As expected, the play rate of Zoolock has gone down a lot and there is very little information on the various decklists players are trying.
There were interesting discard based cards with KFT such as Howlfiend and Blood Queen Lana’thel but they do not provide the huge board swing that Discard Warlock needs to crush control archetypes. Sanguine Reveler and Archus veteran (especially after the Abusive Sergeant nerf) are also notable cards for Zoolock decks running Nerubian Egg. To summarize, Zoolock, which had weathered various expansions, seems to be slowly withering this year. However, there might still be hope with the patch announced, depending on how the meta shifts,
While gaining no new cards, Pirate Warrior continues to maintain its dominance of the format. The new Giants package filtering into the meta is soft to Pirate Warrior, which finds lethal before a Giants player can effectively swing the board. There have been some innovations in the deck, with players trying Fel Reaver, similarly to how the the deck’s standard counterpart runs Bittertide Hydra.
Control Warrior gained a few new tools from the expansion, with the most notable being Dead Man’s Hand. The deck is weak in the current meta due to Jade Druid’s dominance, which is why Skulking Geist is often run as a tech card. With Giants becoming more prevalent, Control Warrior becomes an interesting counter, with Brawl being of one of the best answers to an on-curve flood of Giants.
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