[Wild] vS Data Reaper Report #8

A monthly Hearthstone Wild Meta Report based on data from over 50,000 games.

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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 50,000 games.

In this last report before both the Hearthstone World’s Wild Open and the new expansion, we examine the settled meta Post-Nerfs. Paladins reign over the format and shape the Wild meta. Warlocks continue to play both Giants and Cubes. Big Priests always seem to have Barnes on 4. Aluneth Mages point burn at face over a taunt, while Pirate Warriors and Token Druids are trying to push through them.

Needless to say, Wild is looking forward to the new set just as much as everyone else.

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Class/Archetype Distribution

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As the meta has settled, the Wild format has become Paladinstone. Paladin is seeing ~20% play at all ranks, but jumps to a staggering near 30% play rate from rank 4 to Legend. 4 aggressive Paladin archetypes are seeing respectable play rates that make up most of the class’ numbers. In addition to Paladin, Warlock, Priest, and Mage form the main 4 classes on ladder, comprising almost 70% of the decks at all ranks and almost 78% at rank 4 to legend. (You’ll see one of the other five classes in about 1 in every 5 games.)

While Warlock is the most played class at all ranks, it drops to second behind Paladin at the higher ranks. Giantslock leads the charge with a fairly linear and simple game plan that is appealing to more players. Cubelock isn’t that far behind, with less polarizing matchups, that are decent across the board.

Priest is the third most played class both at all ranks and at higher ranks, with Big Priest leading the charge. Again, a fairly linear game plan with plenty of raw power behind it is a recipe for a successful Wild ladder deck. Dragon Spiteful Priest and Reno Priest are seeing play at all ranks; however, from rank 4 to legend, they significantly fade away from the scene.

Aluneth is the main Mage Archetype at all levels of play while Druid has Malygos and Jade as its primary archetypes, with Aggro Druid having a fairly niche presence.

Kingsbane Rogue is the most popular Rogue archetype and mainly sees play as a counter-queue to control decks. Hunter boasts a very diverse field of strategies, but none of them is gaining significant traction. Shaman has all but fallen out of the meta (with a few Aggro Shamans here and there) while Warrior only sees play with Pirate Warrior and the ever persistent Control Warrior diehard masochists.

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vS Meta Score

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We think it’s safe to say that Call to Arms is officially busted. Call to Arms has cemented Paladin as the best class in the game with no other class able to contest the extremely powerful early game it possesses. The 4 highest win rate decks in the game right now, comprising the entirety of Tier 1 at 4-L, are variants of Paladin that include the same core package. While Midrange Dude Paladin is the strongest and most flexible of the Paladin decks, any deck with both Call to Arms and Sunkeeper Tarim should see great success. The ability to generate extreme pressure prevents other classes from playing anything aggressive in fear of queuing into Paladin. The class has also been adjusting fairly well, significantly improving matchups against the Warlock class, and nullifying its previous standing as a reliable counter. As we approach The Witchwood, without getting new cards of similar strength for other classes or hard counters to Paladin’s strategy, we expect Paladin to stay at the top for many more reports to come.

Outside of Tier Paladin, we have the two power variants of Warlock – Giants and Cube. Cube Warlock is better equipped to fend off Paladin’s early game while still being able to lean on its massive power against the slower decks in the meta. Giantslock sees more play on the back of its ability to high-roll any matchup against slow decks while still being able to cheat out wins against aggressive decks through Defile and early Voidlords.

Big Priest is seeing increased success by picking on attempted Paladin counters while having reasonable matchups against both Warlocks and Paladins. As a result, its standing in the field has improved and it is now one of the strongest non-Paladin decks in the current meta.

Aluneth Mage has significantly fallen in its win rate as a result of Paladin’s rise. While boasting fairly decent matchups against most classes, Paladin archetypes give it a miserable time. Similarly, Pirate Warrior picks on slower decks but hopes to avoid facing Paladins of any kind.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the state of Druid. Unlike other aggressive decks, Aggro Druid has been able to put up a better fight against Paladin’s early game and hold its own. Coupled with a favorable matchup against Aluneth Mage, it holds a respectable Power Score. Meanwhile, slower Druid decks have fallen off hard. The increased popularity of fatigue Druid builds has resulted in Jade Druid’s incredible crash in performance, and while both Jade and Malygos can survive in a meta dominated by Warlocks and Paladins, they cannot consistently thrive at the moment.

Class Analysis & Decklists

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

Aggro Druid finds its way as the frontrunner of the class in Tier 2. While the deck is seldom seen on ladder, it performs as well as some of the most frequently played decks like Big Priest and Aluneth Mage. This highly proactive deck demands answers upon answers from opponents. In addition, Aggro Druid has been able to fight toe-to-toe against Paladin.

While some insist that Jade Druid is a meta-busting deck, the stats simply don’t support that claim. Across the board the deck is overwhelmingly lackluster at tackling the current meta. Moreover, defensive builds that reduce the Jade package for a fatigue-oriented game plan are heavily responsible for the archetype’s recent fall in win rate. Proactivity is key.

Malygos Druid replaces the Jade package, which allows Jade Druid to fight better for the board, with late game combo cards that only make a difference against Cube and Reno Warlocks. Lots of players enjoy the combo Druid archetype, and the deck is definitely competitive, but we‘re waiting for something more consistent to come out from The Witchwood.

Since our last report, Hunter as a class has become both less common, and less effective in the current metagame, as it is generally unable to deal with Paladin’s aggressive starts.

Aggro Hunter sees the most play of the Hunter archetypes. Strong on-curve minions and steady burn from Kill Commands and the Hero Power work together to finish off opponents. It performs best against decks that take time to assemble their win conditions, such as Aluneth Mage and Giantslock. Cubelock, however, can quickly stabilize behind a large taunt, while Paladin can bully the Hunter off the board quite easily. Aggro Hunter comes in at the top of Tier 4, and we don’t recommend it for laddering.

Secret Hunter uses Hunter’s strong secret synergy cards to create high-value turns.  Late-game longevity is provided by Deathstalker Rexxar, but often the raw power of Kathrena Winterwisp and her big beasts closes out games. While we still don’t have enough data to go into more detail on its matchups, the archetype is tentatively positioned at Tier 2. While the deck is powerful, it has more trouble lately as a result of  Paladin’s rise in play,

Spell Hunter is largely a Standard export, running the same Barnes and Y’Shaarj package. This powerplay can close games out on the spot, but “dies to doom blade” – any hard removal counters your plan, which you’ve paid a high deckbuilding cost to run. While the deck can be fun, Secret Hunter is generally better and more consistent, as it has a number of powerful interlocking synergies instead of only one big one.

Since the last report, Mage has seen a drop in both its win rate and play rate. Paladin’s ascendancy has pushed Aluneth Mage down to the bottom of Tier 2. Reno Mage and Exodia Mage still only see little play.

Aluneth Mage is still the go-to deck to counter the popular Big Priest and Giant Warlock archetypes. The deck’s secret package reduces the effectiveness of those archetypes’ mana-cheating game plans. The deck aims to turn early board presence into a flurry of spells to close out a game, powered by the incredible Mage weapon. But, if it loses board early, these spells are often not enough to finish the game – board flood decks are the archetype’s greatest weakness.

Exodia Mage looks a little better at higher levels of play. The deck aggressively cycles to its win condition, combined with freeze effects to stall the game. Once it applies a Thaurissan discount to at least four of the combo pieces, it can complete the ‘Exodia’ combo to play infinite Fireballs (Quest is not required in Wild). Exodia Mage shines against Big Priest and also does fairly well against Warlocks. These decks do not apply early pressure for the Exodia Mage to be worried about, and their big minions are vulnerable to AOE freeze effects. This gives the Exodia Mage plenty of time to cycle for the combo, ultimately finishing those opponents off with little room for counterplay.

Reno Mage is performing about the same since the last report. A grindy value deck is generally unable to deal with the strong mana cheat mechanics from Big Priest and Warlock archetypes, often falling over to their quick threats. Reno Mage, however, still has potential to combat aggressive decks and Druid archetypes due to its ability to run multiple AOEs and Skulking Geist.

The meta has a first name, and it’s Call to Arms. Paladin’s identity as a board-centric class with strong minions has reached the point where other classes don’t have the tools to compete at the same level. The early tempo of on-curve Call to Arms creates a huge amount of pressure, and the implicit danger of Sunkeeper Tarim means every minion a Paladin has needs to constantly be evaluated as a threat. The power and versatility of the shell shows on ladder – Paladin makes up every tier 1 deck at the R4-legend bracket. More widespread counterplay needs to be printed to challenge Paladin’s dominance over the Wild meta.

Dude Paladin is the winningest deck in Wild once again. It became a cross-format success in Standard, but access to Wild staples such as Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle show why the archetype first found – and continues to find – success in Wild. Dude Paladin’s strength lies in its ability to set up consistent swing turns and the incredible refill power available to it. Each Silver Hand Recruit is a game-winning threat waiting to blossom, and needs to be killed with extreme prejudice. This extremely powerful deck is a mainstay of the Wild ladder, and might be forever so.

Secret Paladin has benefited greatly from Call to Arms, which brought this old powerhouse of a deck back into relevance. Aiming to gain early control of the game and take advantage of the tempo gained by forcing opponents to play around (or through) secrets, the deck has basically the same matchups as Dude Paladin does.

Aggro Paladin, sometimes called Breakfast Paladin these days, uses sticky minions (Minibot, Creeper, Egg) along with buffs (Blessing of Might, Blessing of Kings, Fungalmancer and Keeper of Uldaman) in order to present a board that’s impossible to clear before it’s too late.

Murloc Paladin aims to establish an early lead and snowball it with tribal murloc synergies. The deck hasn’t changed much since it adapted to Call to Arms, so we’re presenting GetMeowth’s #1 Legend NA Aggro Murloc Paladin list from last month. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Priest is the third most played class on ladder, with a handful of archetypes at its disposal.

Much of this is due to an uptick in Big Priest, which cemented itself as the most competitive Priest archetype. Big Priest continues to do reasonably well against the swarm of Paladin archetypes on ladder while maintaining reasonable matchups against many other decks. At just over 8.5% of the field at the rank 4-legend bracket, Big Priest boasts the fourth highest playrate of any deck in Wild and finds its way into the top half of Tier 2 in terms of win rate.

Even with a few potent format-exclusive tools, Wild Combo Priest is far less popular than in Standard. In part, this is due to the difficulty the deck has in dealing with Paladin’s relentless board flood. Duskbreaker helps shore up this weakness a bit in the Dragon variants, but the matchup is still largely unfavored. Still, the deck has enough burst to score kills against Warlocks quickly, making it a decent option if you’re able to somehow dodge Uther, Liadrin, and Arthas.

Dragon Priest, now almost exclusively using the Spiteful Summoner package, is still seeing a fair bit of play, despite several bad matchups. In fact, it mostly has bad matchups, except for a marginal edge against Aluneth Mage and a favorable matchup against the declining Aggro Shaman. More recently, a handful of high-legend players have been experimenting with Control Dragon Priest decks reminiscent of those becoming common in Standard. Jonahrah reached #1 legend on NA with Xaos’ list below,

The Raza nerf is now long in Hearthstone’s rearview mirror, and players finally seem to be moving away from Reno Priest. The archetype retains a few loyalists and partisans dedicated to making it work. In the limited sample for Reno Priest, it does not appear that many have been successful. However, most of its ladder builds are not combo oriented. HIOCKY hit #7 legend on the Asia server with a combo dedicated list that also includes a dragon package.

As Paladin continues to become more popular, Valeera creeps farther and farther into the shadows. Kingsbane Rogue is atrociously poor against all Paladin archetypes as the class simply doesn’t have the tools to keep up with the board flooding enabled by Call to Arms. At rank 4 to legend, where Paladin is almost a third of the ladder, Rogue is the second least played class and it seems unlikely that anything will change this before the arrival of Witchwood. We do not recommend Rogue for ladder if you want to achieve high ranks.

Kingsbane Rogue continues to be the most prevalent archetype and the one that is finding the most success, relatively. Its best use is to counter-queue slow decks such as Big Priest and Cube Warlock. Most lists have turned away from miracle style Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Sprint lists to adopt the Mill package to mirror the standard lists currently seeing play. The mill package is quite useful in longer games, but the deck nearly auto-loses to paladin. In experienced hands with some lucky queues, the deck can find success.

For the first time, Big Rogue has seen enough of an increase in popularity to be noticeable in the data. Popularized by wild streamer Dane, this deck aims to use Kobold Illusionist, Barnes, and Silver Vanguard to cheat out a bunch of 8 drops in the mid-game. It shares a game plan with Big Priest, but lacks all of Priest’s defensive tools and is not really a competitive deck. If you have the dust, though, there isn’t a more fun way to enjoy being at a rank floor.

Miracle Rogue has somehow found a way to fall even farther off the map than it already was. Making up less than .5% of games in rank 4 to Legend, it’s one of the worst times to be finding the best deals anywhere. We would recommend devotees of the deck to play it in Standard, as Wild games are a little too fast for it to find success. Wild does give the deck access to Conceal, though, which can lead to successful ambushes of decks like Giantlock, Big Priest, and Malygos Druid with its explosive Questing Adventurer openings and judicious use of Sap.

Shaman has seen a significant drop off in playrate. At the time of our last report, we suspect that people were experimenting with many off-meta Shaman decks with their newfound freedom. However, as the post-nerf meta settled, Thrall went back to his old one-trick pony schtick with Tunnel Trogg, Totem Golem, and the iconic 4 mana 7/7.

Aggro Shaman was the only Shaman deck to see significant play (greater than 1% of the meta) at all ranks, and the presence of other archetypes all but disappeared when looking at ranks 4-Legend. Aggro Shaman’s single role in the meta right now is to pick on Big Priests and Warlock variants. The build that focuses on burn is very consistent and strong at going over the early big taunts. Teching in cards such as Devolve and Maelstrom Portal does not help the other aggressive matchups enough to make them worth running.

Not many people are experimenting with other archetypes of Shaman this late into an expansion. Murloc, Jade, Control, and Token all are seeing very marginal play and for good reason. Murloc, Jade and Token Shaman just can’t keep up with the board pressure of Paladins and their swing turns just aren’t powerful enough. Control Shaman should theoretically be able to deal with Paladin boards with their myriad of board clears, but generally struggles with decks like Cubes, Giantslock and Big Priest because they just can’t deal with the vast number of threats and their own game plan just takes too long to execute. Control Shaman has seen some success in tournament formats that have Naga Sea Witch and Barnes banned, for example, the featured decklist from Ecthelionlotf.

Warlock is the biggest rival to Paladin’s current dominance of the metagame. Giantslock is more popular than Cubelock at Ranks 4 and above. Though this is not necessarily indicative of their power level and success in the meta (Cube being slightly more likely to stop aggression from Paladins), seeing Gul’dan at high ranks usually indicates Giants.

Giantslock has not seen much experimentation since the last report, but this is hardly surprising considering the effectiveness of its game plan. That being said, due to the increased prevalence of Paladins on ladder, some players have chosen to take out cards such as Lesser Amethyst Spellstone for more proactive early game options such as Mistress of Mixtures, to ensure that their devastating swing turns can continue as planned.

Cubelock is in a similar position to where it has been in the last reports, due to the sheer power of its core cards. That being said, Skull of the Manari, Doomsayer and Mistress of Mixtures have begun to sneak in, replacing typical options such as Sylvanas, Emperor Thaurissan and the Lesser Amethyst Spellstones due to the ubiquity of Paladin on the ladder. The featured build was used by sipiwi94 to hit #1 legend, featuring some of the tech cards listed above, as well as Faceless Manipulator to provide a second copy effect.

Despite Renolock being relatively overshadowed by the aforementioned archetypes, a range of players have been able to pilot it to legend with respectable win rates, due to its large number of AoE spells, and value-generating mechanisms to take advantage of the number of Paladins on ladder.

Zoolock has almost completely dropped off the charts from rank 4 to legend, as it’s simply a slower deck than Paladin. The featured list was used by Kigo to climb up the legend ladder with a 70% win rate using a demon-centric build.

Warrior is in desperate need of some help with the new expansion. Warrior has the lowest play rates at all ranks and drops off even harder when looking at higher ranks. While Pirate Warrior still sees low play rates, it does boast a strong win rate sitting at the top of tier 2. We have two featured decks this report, both used by representatives to qualify for the World’s Wild Open, Jonahrah and RenoJackson.

Control Warrior is a messy archetype that’s inconsistent in its builds and strategies, being the least refined in the format. Awedragon hit #1 legend by playing a build with the aim of countering Aggro Paladins. We don’t recommend playing Control Warrior in general since it is incapable of dealing with the plethora of strategies in the format.

While Standard format reports normally have a Meta Breaker deck section that talks about an archetype that should perform well against the top meta decks, is underrepresented, or is on the rise, the team was having a difficult decision picking one for this Wild report. While Paladin is seeing play at a near 30% rate, it really doesn’t have many, if any, unfavorable matchups. Even Warlock is finding it harder to deal with Paladin once the latter started teching heavily against it with Equality and/or Spellbreakers.

One can pick up a defensively teched Cubelock or even a Control Priest that’s built towards dealing with multiple strong board floods from Paladin decks. These defensive builds are generally much weaker against other game plans, but should be strong ladder decks when all you’re playing against is Paladin.

If slower decks aren’t what you’re looking for, we recommend just playing Dude Paladin. Dude Paladin is not only favored against almost every deck in the meta, it’s also favored against the other Paladin archetypes. If you’re looking for a surefire way to beat the meta and climb to legend and at legend, there’s a reason that Dude Paladin is the best deck.

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