Welcome to the 30th edition of the Wild Data Reaper Report!
The data presented in this article was collected after the 22.0.2 patch, following Fractured in Alterac Valley’s release.
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Number of Games
|Diamond 4 to 1||25,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||30,000|
Fractured in Alterac Valley has done little to diminish the presence of United in Stormwind pillars, Questline Warrior and Odd-Questline Hunter. These decks have proven their dominance in the format for months, and we’re excited to see whether the upcoming nerfs do anything to curb their popularity and open up space for other strategies to flourish.
Mage has risen to become the third most popular class in the format thanks to the introduction of Drek’Thar, acting as a huge enabler for Flamewaker Mage (a.k.a APM Mage). Ignite Mage is the 2nd most popular Mage deck at higher ranks, well established during United in Stormwind.
Shaman has gone through a major resurgence thanks to the introduction of its Alterac Valley set. Freeze variants of Shudderwock Shaman have become the third-most common opponent on ladder, only behind the dominant Warrior/Hunter duo, and even after the quick nerf of Snowfall Guardian to 6 mana. We also see Drek’Thar having its own impact on Shaman, with Overload Shamans utilizing Drek’Thar and Spirit of the Frog popping up.
The introduction of Wildheart Guff, paired with the nerf to Celestial Alignment, has resulted in a major makeover for slower Druid decks in the format. Many players originally flocked to C’Thun the Shattered as the class’ primary win condition, as it is resilient to the popular disruption tools available. However, as the meta settled down, we’ve begun to see experimentation with the same shell but utilizing different win conditions in the form of Linecracker and Mecha’Thun. We do still see remnants of Celestial Druid and experiments with Drek’Thar Aggro Druid builds, but not much else.
Warlock has significantly dropped in popularity over the last couple of months. Players seem to have abandoned the previously popular and powerful Even and Reno-Even Warlock archetypes and the class is now fractured into many different archetypes seeing little bits of play. Beyond the archaic Reno Warlock, we can find the hyper aggressive Cute Warlock, the self-damaging Handlock, as well as Mecha’thun Warlock utilizing a 5-mana Mithril Rod.
With Reno Priest and Big Priest dwindling away beyond some diehard players mostly concentrated at lower ranks, Shadow Priest seems to be the major player for the class at higher ranks. However, we’re also noticing a rise in Divine Spirit/Inner Fire Combo Priest decks at legend. Is there merit to this development?
Paladin finds itself with two main archetypes: Handbuff Paladin and Aggro Paladin. While these decks have their strengths, namely Lightforged Cariel, Paladin tends to struggle against the top decks in the format. Handbuff Paladin isn’t the biggest fan of Mages and Hunters. Aggro Paladin loves facing them, but then hates queueing into most other things.
Rogue in Wild tells a very different story from its dominance in Standard. It is a meme, mess of a class, with no archetypes gaining significant traction. Valeera will be hoping Nitroboost Poison will see its nerf reverted when it rotates out of Standard in April.
There is no 10th class in Wild. Demon Hunter continues to be a standard-only class. Barely.
vS Meta Score
Questline Warrior is the best deck in the format. We’re seeing a similar story of the days of UiS with it being incredibly strong against most decks in the format. Ignite Mage holds a relatively even matchup with Questline Warrior, Odd-Questline Hunter holds a slight favorable and Even Warlock is its most consistent, listed counter. Raid the Docks is being slightly nerfed in the upcoming patch, but this may not significantly hurt the deck’s power, especially when the patch also introduces nerfs to its top tier challengers of Odd-Questline Hunter and Ignite Mage. Warrior should be fine.
Odd-Questline Hunter finds itself in a unique position of being a deck capable of controlling the board extremely well, while possessing the potential for extreme amounts of damage from hand pointed at decks it doesn’t need to control the board against. The deck tends to struggle against fast combo decks that win off board, such as Ignite Mage, and decks that just gain an absurd amount of armor, such as slow Druid decks. This deck is getting significantly hit in the upcoming patch with the loss of Rapid Fire, its best card. It’ll be interesting to see whether the deck is resilient enough to withstand this loss.
Rounding out the top 3 decks is Ignite Mage. Ignite Mage loses to what you would expect a fast combo deck to lose to, hyper aggression and constant disruption. Against decks that are remotely slow, Ignite Mage is free to find its combo, with the assurance from Ice Block and consistent, “infinite” damage kills as early as turn 5 or 6. It’s also not to be left out from the change in the coming patch, with a very significant nerf to Sorcerer’s Apprentice. While the deck technically still exists with a 4-mana Apprentice, opening the window for more pressure and potential disruption might prove too difficult for the deck to overcome.
But Questline Warrior does have one significantly poor matchup that’s not shown, and that is against Divine Spirit Priest, one of the format’s sleeper Tier 1 decks! This archetype isn’t very refined, but we can identify huge potential for it to shake the format. But it isn’t the only one. Mecha’Thun Warlock has survived yet another nerf to Runed Mithril Rod and looks firmly in the Tier 1 territory. The introduction of Tamsin’s Phylactery has provided a ton to the deck: Dirty Rat protection for your Mecha’Thun, extra healing off Mistress of Mixtures, or additional draw with Bloodmage Thalnos or Runic Egg. With two of its weaker matchups getting nerfed, in Ignite Mage and Odd Questline Hunter, Mecha’Thun Warlock stock is expected to rise further in the post-patch meta.
As we move down the table, we can find the hyper-aggressive Shadow Priest, preying on defensively fragile decks. Even Warlock has grown weaker in Alterac Valley due to the rise of Freeze Shaman, but the nerf to Snowfall Guardian has made the matchup more winnable. Freeze Shaman debuts in Tier 2. Its matchup spread is quite impressive, only blemished by the popular Hunter and Warrior decks that are about to get nerfed.
C’Thun Druid looks solid, mostly struggling against Ignite Mage and Questline Warrior. The main thing it has going for it is its extremely dominant matchup into Odd-Questline Hunter, which we are expecting to diminish in popularity. But we will note that the Linecracker/Mechan’thun variant of the archetype looks significantly better and is displaying Tier 1 potential. Handbuff Paladin should be very happy to see Mages and Hunters diminish in their presence, but the deck still tends to struggle against the best decks in the format at higher levels of play.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Questline Warrior has had a stranglehold on the format since The Demon Seed was banned. It has once again found itself atop our power rankings while remaining the most popular archetype on ladder. The deck’s matchup spread looks even more impressive than in our last report. There is one surprise counter to Questline Warrior waiting to be discovered by players, but more on that in the Priest class section.As for other Warrior decks… we have nothing. Warrior is as one-dimensional of a class as any we’ve seen in Wild.
The nerf to Raid the Docks was absolutely deserved, especially given the accompanying changes to Ignite Mage and Odd-Questline Hunter. But one question remains: will it be enough? We expect Questline Warrior to remain one of the premier decks of the format.
The tremendous deckbuilding restraints on Odd-Questline Hunter haven’t stopped it from being a top-tier deck in Wild. Its outstanding board control and burn makes it a problem for everything except defensive Druid decks, lightning-fast combos, and Irondeep Troggs. However, the nerf to Rapid Fire may prove too difficult to overcome.
Rapid Fire is Odd-Questline Hunter’s best card. It’s a two-for-one advancement on the quest and provides incredible flexibility. We’re looking at four pieces of quest progression being stripped from the deck with no replacement. This raises serious questions about Odd-Questline Hunter’s viability moving forward. Players may be forced to explore Questline Hunter beyond the odd-only requirement.
Secret Hunter is an under-the-radar deck which abuses Drek’Thar quite well, however we aren’t overly optimistic about its prospects moving forward. The deck’s secret package makes it a strong disruptor, which gives it a clear edge over current Mage decks. This means the nerf to Sorcerer’s Apprentice is only bad news for Secret Hunter, and its struggles against Freeze Shaman and various aggressive decks should persist post-patch.
Even Hunter has a similar matchup spread, with a few minor differences. It’s even worse than Secret Hunter against board-based aggressive decks and is one of the weakest decks in the entire format against Questline Warrior. On the flip side, it’s better against Shaman, which may prove key moving forward.
It was only a matter of time. The nerf to Sorcerer’s Apprentice will reshape the Mage class in Wild.
Flamewaker Mage has been best reserved for higher ranks, displaying a high skill cap. The deck is now completely dead.
The other notable Sorcerer’s Apprentice deck is Ignite Mage, an elite archetype across all of ladder. Although it didn’t have the same level of popularity as Questline Warrior and Odd-Questline Hunter, this deck has been right next to them in terms of strength since its refinement towards the end of United in Stormwind.
It’s difficult to imagine a world where Ignite Mage remains highly competitive. Wild is a format of tight margins. A half turn delay is a problem. A two-turn delay means being wiped from existence.
Perhaps Mage’s best move forward is to look back into the past. The once dominant Secret Mage has been dormant since questlines were unleashed on Wild. Its prospects are by no means particularly appealing and we’re not suggesting this is a powerhouse waiting to be restored, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Reno Mage and Wildfire Mage certainly aren’t going to cut it.
Freeze Shaman looks poised to dominate the field post-balance changes. The deck is already very well rounded and has had its only two popular unfavorable matchups nerfed (Hunter and Warrior).
Overall, this deck is very difficult to tackle. Board-based strategies are routinely locked out by freeze effects and the Ice Fishing combo. Meanwhile, a bounty of tech and disruption make beating it off the board a tough task. Although currently presenting itself as a Tier 2 deck, the lack of clear-cut counters make Freeze Shaman a potential problem moving forward.
Freeze Shaman builds right now are quite varied when it comes to the final few slots within lists. This speaks to both the flexibility of the deck but also to an overall lack of refinement. The archetype is still quite young compared to many of the decks from Stormwind and prior, so we would anticipate lists cleaning up throughout the rest of this expansion.
Overload Shaman is also in its infancy but doesn’t look too impressive at all.
The nerf to Celestial Alignment could have easily brought Druid to its knees. Fortunately, it has a savior in Wildheart Guff!
Wildheart Guff has allowed several slower Druid decks to foster. C’Thun Druid is the most popular choice, with players using C’Thun, The Shattered in a defensive shell. C’Thun Druid’s armor gain has made it an excellent counter to burn-based decks, but its passivity leaves it quite vulnerable to OTK strategies and makes the deck quite polarized overall.
Despite C’Thun being the most popular win-condition, it isn’t necessarily the best. Mecha’Thun in Linecracker Druid is the most successful approach we’ve identified. We can say that this version would have found itself in Tier 1 in our power rankings! This raises questions about other worthwhile win-conditions within the Guff Druid shell and whether the player base has simply been too fixated on what they saw as working first.
Something that isn’t working too well is Celestial Druid, which is feeling the full effects of the Celestial Alignment nerf. Celestial Druid has fallen to Tier 4 at higher ranks and players are moving on and abandoning the archetype.
Aggro Druid isn’t looking any better. The nerfs do address some of its worst matchups, but still leave numerous weak points.
We can’t recall the last time Warlock found itself in the bottom half of class popularity in Wild. What remains familiar is that Warlock still has a Tier 1 archetype, albeit an underplayed one.
Mecha’Thun Warlock is one of the biggest sleepers in the format. Despite a population hovering around 1% of ladder, this is one of the best decks in the game! It’s also potentially a major benefactor from the upcoming balance changes. Mecha’Thun Warlock was never excited to queue into Odd-Questline Hunter, Questline Warrior, or Ignite Mage. Their weakening could leave Warlock as one of the biggest front-runners post-patch.
Even Warlock has fallen slightly since our last report but remains a solid option with few weaknesses. Players were never enamored with Even Warlock and were quick to move on when its stock fell just slightly. The Freeze Shaman matchup has gotten much closer after the nerf to Snowfall Guardian and the nerf to Odd-Questline Hunter is also good news. Even Warlock will continue to be a consistent, competitive choice for ladder even if it isn’t particularly exciting for many.
Cute Warlock received some quiet buzz over the past few weeks. However, the meme of Cute Warlock being “broken” remains just a joke. While the deck is decent, it’s no world beater and struggles against almost all the top performers in the format. The build is completely solidified, and it seems there’s very little room to gain any further edge.
Finally, Even-Reno Warlock has been relegated to the same tier as all the other Reno decks. In our last report, Even-Reno Warlock looked highly dominant, so what happened? The most important thing was a significant loss in the Questline Warrior matchup, which has completely flipped because of Defias Cannoneer and Mr. Smite. The nerfs look like huge positives for Even-Reno Warlock, but we’ll have to wait and see just how much the deck can recover.
Priest’s transformation is complete. For the longest time. this class was defined by its slower strategies of Reno Priest and Big Priest. Now it has two very strong decks focused on initiative. That’s right, two of them!
Let’s start with the expected. Shadow Priest continues to be a powerful archetype, just on the periphery of Tier 1 at legend. It struggles horrifically against some of the best control strategies but punishes fragile combo decks. Outside these two extremes, it’s mostly slight positives for the deck.
Now for the exciting news. Divine-Spirit Priest could be Tier 1! There’s certainly some noteworthy messiness surrounding the deck right now. The spell-based versions of the deck are much weaker, as are builds using Sethekk Veilweaver. However, Drek’Thar lists using minions such as Nerub’ar Weblord are incredibly powerful. This is the best counter to Questline Warrior in the entire format!
There are certainly lots of question marks regarding the build. We recommend players stay far away from Rally, but other deckbuilding choices are less clear. This is absolutely a deck that players should be looking to refine and could have a very significant impact on the meta if given appropriate attention.
Rogue is the antithesis of Warrior. While Warriors are playing just one very strong deck, Rogues are using about ten terrible ones.
The first of these is Pillager Rogue. Pillager Rogue has never successfully managed to gain traction and continues to look quite weak, despite the objections of its proponents. The nerf to Cloak of Shadows is a significant step back; another hurdle the deck will be unlikely to overcome.
If ever there was an opportunity for Kingsbane Rogue to reclaim some former glory, this expansion seemed to be the chance. Poison Rogue became a terror in Standard, yet Kingsbane was never able to capitalize and take advantage of the same support. It seems unlikely it will be making a competitive return any time soon.
Interestingly, Caverns Rogue has seen an uptick in interest for the first time since the Quest’s reversion. Ram Commander is a perfect card for the list, leading to efficient quest completion. This may be the best option Rogue has right now, which says everything you need to know.
Handbuff Paladin has dramatically improved in Alterac Valley. Lightforged Cariel is now the best card in the deck, a recurring pattern for any archetype that includes her. Despite this improvement though, Handbuff Paladin exhibits middling performance. It doesn’t line up well into the current top dogs of the format and relies on beating the jankier decks to produce good results. At least the brutal Ignite Mage matchup should not be a problem moving forward.
Players can try a package built around Stoneheart Vindicator, fitting in Noble Mount rather than Righteous Defense. However, it is worth noting that Righteous Defense is a huge reason why Handbuff Paladin’s Even Warlock matchup has changed so much. Players have also been experimenting with Reno builds of the archetype, but very little data has come from that direction.
Outside the nerfed decks themselves, Aggro Paladin may be one of the few losers from the patch. As the format looks to drift away from spell-based damage from hand and towards more board-oriented gameplay, Aggro Paladin loses its biggest advantage of disruption. Aggro Paladin can currently attribute most of its success to strong matchups against Hunter and Mage. Meanwhile, its weakest matchups of Freeze Shaman, C’Thun Druid, and Questline Warrior are still likely to be very prominent. Prior to the patch, secret-based builds of Aggro Paladin looked best, and we’ll have to see if that trend continues.
If you’re strictly playing Wild, you might have forgotten this class exists.
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