Welcome to another edition of the Standard Meta Report, this time covering the week between April 12th and 19th, 2020. As always, the Report is based on an analysis of statistics from HSReplay, along with personal game experience at high ranks.
After a brief respite in Tier 2, Tempo Demon Hunter has reclaimed its place as the sole occupant of Tier 1 with an aggregate winrate of nearly 55%. Control Galakrond Warlock sits at the top of Tier 2, but Gul’dan’s popularity is flagging. We suspect changes to Sacrificial Pact and Bad Luck Albatross will continue this trend, though simultaneous nerfs to Illidan’s most powerful archetype could go a long way in balancing the scales.
Spell Druid remains the meta’s third most popular strategy, but a difficult matchup against Tempo Demon Hunter has spurred a declining playrate. Big Druid has performed poorly over the past week, losing out in matchups against Demon Hunter, Priest, Rogue and Spell Druid.
Highlander Hunter is Rexxar’s strongest option in the current meta, but a revised build of Dragon Hunter, featuring Scavenger’s Ingenuity and Zixor, Apex Predator, has also earned a spot near the top of Tier 2. Despite a radical new Deathrattle build, Face Hunter’s playrate is already flagging at higher ranks, as players struggle against Tempo Demon Hunter and Spell Druid.
If not for a poor matchup against Tempo Demon Hunter, Highlander Mage would be in a very good spot. Jaina’s strong against Warlock and Druid, as she is against Priest and Rogue. Whether the upcoming round of nerfs can improve her standing is an open question. The playerbase has largely given up on Spell Mage.
Libram Paladin and Pure Paladin are getting worse, not better, as time passes. Perhaps a buff to Libram of Justice can change things, but we’re not hopeful. Uther’s best bet right now is to spam Murlocs.
Resurrect Priest is a strong build, capable against Warlock, Mage, Druid and Hunter, but like most heroes, Anduin is being held back by Demon Hunter. Highlander Priest isn't the best deck in the meta, but the singleton list has gathered a substantial following who appreciate hallucinatory gameplay. Soul Mirror is a hell of a card.
Most Rogue aficionados have transitioned to Highlander Galakrond Secret Rogue, an archetype worthy of placement near the top of Tier 2, but the deck is weak to all three of the meta’s most popular strategies: Tempo Demon Hunter, Control Galakrond Warlock and Spell Druid. In reality, the two-of Galakrond Secret Rogue appears to be the stronger build for the current format, flipping both Tempo Demon Hunter and Warlock into positive matchups.
After making a surprise splash at the end of last week, Totem Shaman’s winrate has cratered, as players across the meta wise up to Thrall’s board-dependent strategy. While the archetype remains a potent force against slower builds, any class with early tempo tools is sure to be a challenge. Tempo Demon Hunter and Rogue are particularly punishing matchups.
Last on our list, but certainly not least, Warrior has erupted in experimentation following the introduction of Nohandsgamer’s Egg Warrior. At Legend, Egg Warrior counters three of the most popular strategies: Tempo Demon Hunter, Control Galakrond Warlock and Spell Druid. While a severe skill cap may impede the archetype’s adoption at low ranks, we believe Egg Warrior has a very bright future, which should become even brighter following the nerfs.
One week after a first round of nerfs sought to balance the class, Tempo Demon Hunter remains astride the meta, the most-powerful and popular archetype in the format. Between Diamond and Legend, Tempo DH is the sole occupant of Tier 1, commanding over 26% of the format.
Outside of Control Galakrond Warlock and OTK Demon Hunter, Tempo Demon Hunter has no bad matchups, at least where archetypes listed by HSReplay are considered. And soon, Gul’dan will lose his most powerful tool in the matchup: Sacrificial Pact. Illidan must be salivating. Tempo Demon Hunter seems to have no equal, and many High Legend players believe the archetype is favored against Control Galakrond Warlock as well. Yet Illidan would do well not to sit on his laurels, for his reign of dominance has yet to be truly tested.
Tempo Demon Hunter is outstanding against every class in the game, but change may be coming soon. Beyond a second round of nerfs that should slow the class down somewhat, a new challenger is rising in the form of Egg Warrior. At Legend, where the archetype is most popular, Egg Warrior has already done much to curb Illidan’s fury, earning winrates in excess of 57% against Tempo Demon Hunter over a sample of some 13,000 games. Garrosh’s new contender is extremely difficult to play, which may slow the archetype’s adoption at lower ranks, but at Legend, Egg Warrior is already challenging Tempo DH for supremacy.
Egg Warrior is a massive problem for Demon Hunter. More accurately, Risky Skipper is a massive problem for DH. Not only does the card handle spectacular AOE, destroying Illidan’s board, but paired with an Armorsmith, the tiny Pirate ensures Garrosh is always out of reach. And combined with Bomb Wrangler, Skipper almost single-handedly invalidates Altruis the Outcast, turning each swing of Altruis’ warglaives into a death sentence. Should this deck catch on, as we think it will, Illidan is in for trouble, especially at higher ranks, where superior play has already tested Garrosh’s mettle.
If Egg Warrior finds widespread popularity, Illidan may have to change his approach. While Garrosh is excellent at wide-board removal, he struggles against large single targets (outside of a cheap Bloodboil Brute), which may advocate for a switch to the Questing Adventurer variant of Tempo Demon Hunter, already extremely popular in China.
For now, we’ve replaced Glaivebound Adept in our featured build with Blazing Battlemage to increase consistency in the early game, in the process moving Tempo Demon Hunter closer to a pure aggro deck. While Adept can be a strong play, both as removal and reach, it conflicts at the 5-mana spot with Warglaives of Azzinoth. Demon Hunter excels when it curves out cleanly.
After a brief rebound in playrate, OTK Demon Hunter is again losing steam at the highest ranks. Aficionados at High Legend continue to advocate for its strength, but the archetype’s difficulty has proved an insurmountable hurdle at lower ranks. Yet OTK has one strength Tempo Demon Hunter cannot claim: an outstanding matchup against Control Galakrond Warlock, which, without armor gain, has no way of outpacing Illidan’s reach. This matchup alone is likely to maintain OTK Demon Hunter’s relevance for a while.
We don’t expect the mana increase to Kael’thas Sunstrider to impact the archetype much, but we do believe the change could weaken OTK’s control of the board in the early game; Twin Slice’s importance as a Kael’thas activator is now doubled, leaving the card’s expenditure on early turns a dubious proposition.
Demon Hunter’s inferior archetypes have already disappeared from the meta. Token, Highlander and Big Demon Hunter see almost no play, all commanding playrates below 1% between Diamond and Legend. We believe Token DH is probably a lost cause without further support, but there’s a chance that the upcoming nerf to Sacrifical Pact could open a pathway for Big Demon Hunter, since playing large Demons against Warlock and Zephrys the Great won’t be quite as punishing. Like everyone else, we’ll wait to see how the meta shakes out.
Commanding nearly 7.5% of the field at Legend, Spell Druid is the third most popular archetype at higher ranks. Despite a substantial weakness to Tempo Demon Hunter, Malfurion has leveraged an exceptional matchup against Control Galakrond Warlock to earn a spot in the middle of Tier 2. Even so, the trying Demon Hunter matchup is certainly weighing on players at higher ranks, especially Legend, where Spell Druid’s playrate has slipped from a peak over 12% last week to a mark of 5.6%. An almost identical trend can be observed at Diamond.
In the aggregate, Spell Druid’s winrate isn’t exceptional (51.1% between Diamond and Legend), but from the standpoint of raw power, the archetype stands as one of the best in the game. With only a 1-mana increase to Kael’thas coming in the next round of nerfs, we don’t see that changing anytime soon, though variants that have so far overlooked Moonfire as a Kael’thas activator may come to find themselves loading up on 0-mana spells.
Our featured build has proven superior to other variants, earning a winrate of 55.8% over 16,000 games at Legend. We’ve watched with interest the development of a token-heavy build featuring The Forest’s Aid, Force of Nature and Aeroponics, but wouldn’t advocate for its mass adoption. Despite earning an excellent 56.3% winrate over 2,900 games at Legend, this variation on the theme trades points in the Demon Hunter matchup, as well as the mirror, for improved performance against Control Galakrond Warlock. We’d rather do our damnedest to survive Illidan than strengthen what is already strong.
On a side note, Spell Druid may well improve in the matchup against Illidan following the next round of nerfs. Altruis the Outcast, which serves as Tempo Demon Hunter’s best answer to an early Glowfly Swarm outside of a timely Warglaives of Azzinoth, is moving to 4-mana, which should slow the archetype’s reactivity.
Big Druid is slipping, unable to withstand Illidan’s onslaught despite a positive matchup against Control Galakrond Warlock. At Legend, the archetype’s winrate has been negative for the past five days, and its performance at lower ranks has been even worse. We’d say the writing’s on the wall for this archetype; pitiful against Demon Hunter, Big Druid also loses out to Resurrect Priest and Highlander Galakrond Rogue, the fourth and fifth most popular decks in the upper meta. And that’s not even mentioning a negative winrate against Spell Druid.
We’ve updated our featured build to account for the latest thinking. Without sufficient draw, the win condition of Ysera, Unleashed hasn’t panned out. Scrapyard Colossus, while the archetype’s worst card by drawn winrate, is brutal off Strength in Numbers. Innervate has proven an essential resource, allowing us to cheat out a big minion one turn sooner. Frizz Kindleroost slots in for much the same purpose.
Face Hunter has certainly evolved in Ashes of Outland, adopting a small Beast package led by Scavenger’s Ingenuity, Augmented Porcupine and Mok’nathal Lion. Serving as a potent Deathrattle activator, Teron Gorefiend secures extra damage from Kobold Sandtrooper and Leper Gnome.
Despite these innovations, Face Hunter is already losing steam at higher ranks. The archetype’s playrate has sunk to 2.5% between Diamond and Legend. Face Hunter has one undeniable strength: the ability to rush down Control Galakrond Warlock. Rexxar is terrific in this matchup, earning a winrate of 61% over 35,000 games, but losing contests against Tempo Demon Hunter and Spell Druid have stymied Hunter’s progress.
Highlander Hunter is likely Rexxar’s most consistent option in the current meta, but there isn’t much we can write about it anymore. Over the past week, the archetype’s highest-performing list has earned an exceptional 58.2% winrate over 5,100 games at Legend. Highlander Hunter beats up on everything other than Demon Hunter, including Control Galakrond Warlock, against which our featured build manages a winrate just south of 59%.
Dragon Hunter, too, is chugging along, securing an aggregate winrate of 51.28% between Diamond and Legend, good enough for a spot near the top of Tier 2. Like Face Hunter, the build has evolved to account for new additions. Ashes of Outland introduced a remarkably consistent tutor in Scavenger’s Ingenuity, and with only one Beast in our updated featured build, you’re sure to draw either Zixor, Apex Predator or Zixor Prime.
Our featured Dragon Hunter build enjoys a balanced matchup spread highlighted by a positive matchup against Tempo Demon Hunter, a distinction the standard variant can’t claim. Both lists are equally weak to Control Galakrond Warlock, and while you’ll trade a few points against Spell Druid, we think beating Illidan should be your highest priority at the moment.
Mage is kind of boring right now, isn’t it? The class’ greatest hopes rest on the shoulders of Highlander Mage, an archetype we’ve already seen a lot of. Nor is Highlander Mage exceptional, sitting at the bottom of a crowded Tier 2 between Diamond and Legend. Yet there is more here than meets the eye, because the only thing holding Jaina back, outside of her usual weakness to Hunter, is a poor matchup against Tempo Demon Hunter.
In truth, Jaina excels against Druid, as she does against Warlock, Priest and Rogue. Our featured build of Highlander Mage has earned top marks across the board, but for one sore spot, a challenger Jaina has proven incapable of besting: Illidan. And what a poor matchup it is; over a sample of 1,400 games at Legend, Mage has lost in more than 60%. So long as Demon Hunter remains the face of the meta, Highlander Mage will face hurdles, but the playerbase is taking note of Jaina’s admirable strengths. After taking a nosedive last week, the archetype’s playrate is again on the ascendant, rising to a mark of 5.12% between Diamond and Legend.
Spell Mage continues to disappoint, with the best lists topping out at winrates around 50% at Legend. In the aggregate, the archetype loses to just about everything, but our featured build appears to have game against Rogue, Highlander Mage and OTK Demon Hunter. Whether that’s enough to tickle your fancy, we don’t know, but it’s probably not sufficient to balance out piss-poor results against Tempo Demon Hunter and Resurrect Priest.
In any event, the playerbase is beginning to lose interest; Spell Mage’s playrate has fallen to a measly 3% between Diamond and Legend.
Librams are getting a buff!
While we respect Blizzard’s effort, we’re not sure a 1-mana decrease on Libram of Justice is going to right the ship. Libram Paladin looks even worse this week than it did last week, which we thought was impossible. This is the dumpster of the dumpster, folks, punctuated by abysmal matchups against Control Galakrond Warlock and Tempo Demon Hunter. The only thing Uther can reliably beat is Warrior, and we haven’t yet seen him tested by a well-piloted Egg Warrior. Worst of all, it looks as though experimentation within the archetype has come to a grinding halt. Hopefully the buff to Justice can shake some new thinking loose.
Pure Paladin is slightly better, but far from astounding, competing with Beast Hunter and our old friend Libram Paladin for the last spot in Tier 4. Pure Paladin shares the weaknesses (and minimal strengths) of its cousin Libram Paladin, but doesn’t suck quite so hard against Tempo Demon Hunter. That’s something, at least.
For now, Murlocs still seem to be the way to go if you want to farm those Paladin quests. Just be warned: Murloc Paladin is weak to both Demon Hunter and Control Galakrond Warlock.
Resurrect Priest remains a capable contender, but the archetype’s aggregate winrate is being suppressed by a variety of strange builds. Priest is a cauldron of experimentation, and not even the venerable Resurrect archetype is immune from Anduin’s flights of fancy.
Like most of its peers, Resurrect Priest has few answers to the onslaught of Demon Hunter, but excels in other matchups. The archetype is exceptional against Druid, Hunter and Warlock, and even against Highlander Mage. Rogue continues to present a hurdle, but that’s always been the case. In any event, Valeera’s stranglehold on the meta has loosened considerably; today, she accounts for only 6.74% of the format between Diamond and Legend.
In all likelihood, Resurrect Priest’s optimal Ashes of Outland build has been found, and in that fact, we can all rejoice. Soul Mirror and Renew are outstanding additions to the list. By no means superlative, Skeletal Dragon is, at least, a suitable Res target. Galakrond, the Unspeakable is fine as single-target removal.
Our featured Resurrect Priest build has earned a winrate of 55.1% over 57,000 games between Diamond and Legend.
Highlander Priest is a weird and woolly beast, capable of producing insane boardstates through Murozond the Infinite, Thoughtsteal and Soul Mirror.
Considering its niche status, we’d say the archetype has amassed a somewhat substantial following, topping out at a playrate of nearly 3% at Diamond 3, while holding steady at 2.45% at Legend. Every Highlander Priest game is a mind-bending journey, and, for what it’s worth, the formula seems to be working pretty well. Our featured build, the best of the lot, has earned a winrate of 53% over 13,000 games played between Diamond and Legend.
It’s far from a world-beater, but Highlander lays claim to a fact that leaves it unequalled among Priest archetypes: it’s even, actually very competitive, against Tempo Demon Hunter.
And now for something completely different. Today, we bring you the latest creation from European Grandmaster and former World Champion Hunterace: Ramp Priest. The idea, best we can surmise, is to copy an Escaped Manasaber with Grave Rune, amass a board of the beasts, then ramp to your heart’s content. We have no idea if it’s good; it didn’t perform very well at Grandmasters this weekend, but it’s a cute trick if you can pull it off.
We’re already a long way from Descent of Dragons. Demon Hunter upended the meta, but Illidan’s most lasting impact may be that Valeera is no longer in the driver’s seat.
Seemingly gone are the days of a pure Galakrond Rogue; the playerbase has almost universally swapped over to Highlander Galakrond Secret Rogue, the fourth most popular archetype in the upper meta. Long-winded though it may be, Highlander Galakrond Secret Rogue excels against the meta’s fringe players, dominating Shaman, Paladin, Priest and other Rogues.
At nearly 6% of the format between Diamond and Legend, Highlander Galakrond Secret Rogue is certainly popular, but it comes with several fatal laws, namely a weakness to the Big Three: Tempo Demon Hunter, Control Galakrond Warlock and Spell Druid. The archetype is negative in all three of these matchups, which makes it far from Valeera’s strongest option.
Never underestimate the power of a fully-Invoked Galakrond. While Highlander Rogue has captured most of the attention in the first weeks since the release of Ashes of Outland, a two-of list running the traditional Galakrond package along with Secret synergies appears to be better in almost every way. Most important of all, it’s positive in the matchups against Control Galakrond Warlock and Tempo Demon Hunter, the two most popular decks in the game. If you play Rogue and want to win, this is the way to do it.
Our featured build has earned a winrate of 57.3% over 17,000 games between Diamond and Legend. We’ve increased the number of Secrets, from two to four, to ensure we always have an activator for Shadowjeweler Hanar, a game-winning card if we’ve ever seen one.
Sadly, it’s not Thrall’s turn to be the meta-breaker.
Totem Shaman shot to immediate stardom almost as quickly as it appeared, earning winrates over the first few days worthy of contention at the top of Tier 2. We suspect many of those initial victories came because Thrall’s opponents had no idea what was going on. Now that the field is onto Shaman’s tricks, the archetype’s winrate has fallen back to earth.
Currently, Totem Shaman sits in the middle of a crowded Tier 2 with an aggregrate winrate of nearly 53%. That’s certainly an improvement on Thrall’s other archetypes, and in some circles, it may be cause for celebration, but this deck is almost primordially simple to counter: kill the totems. Without totems, the deck doesn’t function, and since most totems, at first present no threat to the opponent, they’re easily killed. Totem Shaman is particularly hopeless against Demon Hunter, a class with unparalleled early tempo. Overload is especially punishing in this matchup, when mana efficiency in key early turns is of prime importance.
But all is not lost for Thrall. While Totem Shaman falls flat against any class with a semblance of early tempo, including Demon Hunter and Rogue, it remains a threat against slower classes, ones who allow the deck to gather its synergy pieces for surprise combos. Excellent against Druid, Totem Shaman is also competitive against Galakrond Warlock; the most popular list has earned a 53.4% winrate against Gul’dan over a sample of 2,200 games between Diamond and Legend. That’s no small feat in a meta where Control Galakrond Warlock commands nearly 17% of the field. Even so, we believe the ceiling for this archetype seems to have already been set by a pitiful matchup against Demon Hunter, by far the most popular class in the game.
Totem Shaman currently encompasses two popular builds. The standard variant features a small Overload / Spell package of Serpentshrine Portal and Marshspawn, plus Lava Burst and Lightning Bolt for reach. Newer lists have jettisoned the Spell package in favor of a more-streamlined Magic Carpet package, providing the archetype some opportunity to retake the board once it’s been lost. While we admire the thought process, we’d stick with the standard build, for now, since it’s better in the matchup against Control Galakrond Warlock. Both lists are equally pitiful against Demon Hunter, but retain the archetype’s strength against Druid, Mage and Priest.
Feel free to play the Magic Carpet build, though; we’d love more data on this variant.
Following lackluster results, Spell Shaman has failed to invigorate the playerbase. Behind only Totem Shaman, Galakrond Evolve Shaman is Thrall’s highest-performing deck, but since it sucks against both Tempo Demon Hunter and Control Galakrond Warlock, we wouldn’t suggest it for the climb. As in the case of Totem Shaman, Galakrond Shaman’s main strength comes against Druid, but since Druid has entered something of a decline, we aren’t hopeful about the class’ future. Perhaps the upcoming nerfs will change things in Thrall’s favor.
Behind only Tempo Demon Hunter, Control Galakrond Warlock is the second-best archetype in the game, earning an aggregate winrate over 53% since the last balance patch. Commanding nearly 16.5% of the upper meta, Warlock’s playrate peaks at a mark of 23.28% at Diamond 1, before falling back to a reasonable 11.53% at Legend.
These are levels you would expect from the only archetype, outside of Egg Warrior, with a positive matchup against the format’s most powerful strategy. Even so, Galakrond Warlock is on the decline. While a challenging matchup against Spell Druid may, in part, explain Warlock’s flagging popularity, we believe player fatigue is also a factor.
The upcoming nerfs to Sacrificial Pact and Bad Luck Albatross are sure to lower the archetype’s playrate further. In the form of Sac Pact, Blizzard is taking away Warlock’s greatest tool in the fight against Demon Hunter. We’ll have to wait and see to evaluate the impact of the nerf, but if Demon Hunter remains prevalent in an aggressive form, one or two Unstable Felbolts may become necessary to control the board in the early game.
Control Galakrond Warlock has three or four flex spots, and after crunching some numbers, we’re ready to advocate for the Mo’arg Artificer build. Artificer has seen most play at Legend, where it’s become an essential tool in the fight against Demon Hunter, augmenting Nether Breath and Dark Skies. But unlike Acidic Swamp Ooze, Artificer maintains its utility in other matchups, most notably Spell Druid.
Zoo Warlock is in decline across all ranks, falling to a playrate under 1% between Diamond and Legend. Gallon, innovator of the Imprisoned Scrap Imp build, believes in the archetype enough to include it in his Grandmasters lineup, but we’re not so sure. Statistically, Zoo’s winrate is sufficient for a spot near the bottom of Tier 2, but awful matchups against both Control Galakrond Warlock and Tempo Demon Hunter are sure to frustrate.
Garrosh rejoice! After a week in the doldrums, Warrior is again a class fresh with experimentation, most of it driven by the new weapon tutor Corsair Cache. Yes, Warrior is a Weapon class again, leveraging the powerful synergy between Cache, Ancharrr and Wrenchcalibur across a slew of new archetypes.
We’ll start with the big news first. If any deck deserves to be considered a meta-breaker this week, it’s Egg Warrior, the wild creation of Nohandsgamer, the same high-level player who introduced Control Galakrond Warlock to the world last expansion. Featuring Bloodboil Brute, Serpent Egg and Imprisoned Vilefield, Egg Warrior gets off on damaged minions, leveraging Risky Skipper, the deck’s heart and soul, to fuel outrageous card draw (Battle Rage), armor gain (Armorsmith), damage (Rampage) and raw stats (Bloodsworn Mercenary).
Ancharrr serves as a critical tutor for Skipper, the most important card in the deck, along with Skipper’s best activator, Sky Raider. Buffed Livewire Lances provide Lackeys for days, generating value and further activators to proc Skipper. Kor’kron Elite serves as burst damage, best paired with Inner Rage, Rampage and Bloodsworn for a surprise 18-damage lethal on turn nine.
Best of all, Egg Warrior is good, very good, earning winrates close to 55% at Legend. And the archetype excels in the matchups that matter: Tempo Demon Hunter (57.3%), Spell Druid (55.2%) and Control Galakrond Warlock (51.1%). There is, of course, a catch: this is quite possibly the most difficult archetype in the meta. Not even the deck’s creator, Nohandsgamer, could boast a positive winrate over his first 50 games of play. Learn the deck and you’ll unlock tremendous power, but don’t expect the road to be easy.
Nohandsgamer often compares his Egg Warrior to Combo Priest, accentuating the deck’s difficulty and tight synergies. The comparison is apt; like Combo Priest, Egg Warrior draws much of its power from area effects. Risky Skipper takes the place of Circle of Healing, damaging all minions to exploit Battle Rage, Bloodboil Brute and Armorsmith. And like Combo Priest, the mirror happens to be famously complex; when the decision to damage a single opposing minion can mean the difference between victory or defeat, you’d better be pretty sure of your choices.
Somewhat more straightforward is Grandmaster Boarcontrol’s take on the fledgling archetype, which replaces Livewire Lance for Wrenchcalibur and finds space for Blastmaster Boom and Clockwork Goblin. Serpent Egg has been removed for Dread Corsair. Egg Warrior with Bombs (as Boarcontrol named the archetype) follows a similar game plan, but relies a bit more on smorc to get its point across. Boarcontrol says he added the Bomb package to beat “those pesky Warlocks and Priests.”
Want something even more straightforward? Try out Riku97’s Tempo Warrior.
A second round of nerfs are on the way, promising changes to key cards from Kael'thas Sunstrider and Sacrificial Pact to Battlefiend and Altruis the Outcast. How do you think the meta will change? Let us know in the comments.