Hello and welcome to the third Standard Meta Report, covering the week between August 26 and September 2, 2019, one week after the nerfs. First, a note on sample sizes. We can't tell yet which decks are prepped to dominate the meta, though several exciting trends have emerged (and we'd be willing to bet on Quest Druid). At this point, the data is too fresh to support many long-term conclusions, so we'll also be highlighting a few innovative new lists that are fun to play and may (or may not) prove competitive. Enjoy!
Quest Shaman is officially the most popular deck in the game, taking the number one spot in play-rate from rank five to Legend. Thrall is followed close behind by Highlander Hunter and Quest Druid, with Malfurion becoming particularly prominent at Legend. As expected, Rexxar’s Highlander list is performing well against the field, benefiting from the post-nerf matchup against Control Warrior, but also feasting on the new glut of Quest-centered tempo decks.
It turns out Combo Priest is still a boss, turning in outstanding performances at rank one and Legend before falling to the top of Tier 2 at lower ranks. Most people are still running Extra Arms at 3 mana, but the card’s played winrate, as could be predicted, has fallen precipitously; Circle of Healing is now the deck’s best “buff.” Control Warrior remains well-represented throughout the meta, falling inconsistently as the fifth most-played deck from rank five to one. The deck's tempo matchups don't seem to have suffered from the nerf to Dr. Boom, Mad Genius.
Quest Druid has finally broken through, in large part because neither Combo Priest nor Highlander Mage are there to stop it anymore. Not only is the deck trendy from ranks five to Legend, but it’s also winning. A lot. In the upper echelons of play, Quest Druid is a Tier 1 deck, buoyed by the stratospheric rise of Quest Shaman, the format’s most popular list; Malfurion maintains a winrate higher than 55% against Thrall. Quest Druid also stomps Highlander Hunter, a consistently popular deck across the ranks, and Control Warrior, making it a top pick for long-term stability in the meta.
The most popular builds of Quest Druid now feature King Phaoris, whose power we highlighted last week, not Chef Nomi. As a result, contemporary lists tend to load up on high-cost spells, running two copies of Hidden Oasis. We’d also note that Flobbidinous Floop is an extremely powerful choice in the current meta, providing a second copy of Phaoris to outlast control decks, or a duplicate of Oasis Surger to handle aggressive tempo plays.
Hunters are everywhere. The class is best represented by Highlander Hunter, which has outpaced Secret Hunter in both winrate and popularity. From ranks five to one, Highlander Hunter is the second most-played deck in the game. It drops to third at Legend but maintains a respectable winrate in the middle of Tier 2. Despite such middling success, we don’t think Highlander Hunter is the best choice for your climb. The deck’s best matchups, Combo Priest and Highlander Mage, have both fallen out of the meta to a certain extent, but the real problem lies in the fact that Highlander consistently loses to Quest Druid and Quest Shaman, the format’s most popular decks. That’s not a recipe for continued success.
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Though Highlander builds vary to a certain extent, most players have opted for a fairly-standardized list, with the only true decision that between Vulpera Scoundrel and Sandbinder. Neither card performs very well in its own list, but we’d say the edge goes to Sandbinder, which is far more consistent in drawing us a powerful play. It’s probable, on the other hand, that Ursatron doesn’t make the cut. Springpaw isn’t pulling much weight, either, though if you see a lot of tempo matchups at lower ranks, it may still be a good option.
When your two most powerful cards get nerfed, it tends to hurt. Highlander Mage isn’t doing well. Nor is Control Mage, a list reliant on Conjurer’s Calling. Unsurprisingly, both decks have taken a steep fall in popularity, with Highlander Mage barely scraping a 2% playrate from ranks five to Legend. But remember that Tempo Rogue managed to survive a similar brush with Blizzard’s hammer not too long ago. We’re confident about Jaina’s chances, too, because she has excellent matchups against both Quest Druid and Quest Shaman, which are the two decks to beat since the patch. If she can keep it up, avoiding Highlander Hunter as much as possible, Jaina may turn out to have a convincing formula for the meta.
Unlike Luna’s Pocket Galaxy, Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron doesn’t deserve to be in your deck. Across the archetype’s three most popular lists, Puzzle Box boasts the lowest played winrate of any card in the deck. This thing hurts more than it helps. Pocket Galaxy, on the other hand, is still a powerhouse, mainly because it shines in the late game and shores up the matchup against Control Warrior, which remains the fourth most popular deck in the game.
Murloc Paladin is not interactive and polarized, in part because it’s a combo deck. It lives and dies by the draw. While capable of squeezing out wins on tempo alone, Murloc Pally’s sole reason for existence in the current meta is the delightful interaction between Prismatic Lens and Tip the Scales. The deck’s good, though, really good, particularly at lower ranks, where it’s cleaning the clocks of slower decks with a winrate above 53%. As you might expect, Murloc Paladin’s winrate cools some at Legend, but it’s still at the higher end of Tier 2.
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The combo at the deck’s core allows you to cheese out quick wins with remarkable regularity, making this an excellent (albeit slightly mindless) deck for climbing from rank five. Though Murloc Paladin’s play patterns are limited, it’s actually pretty fun, especially when you draw your combo. Chef Nomi turns out to be a powerful finisher in control matchups, and drawing through your deck this quickly is exhilarating. Plus, Bloodlust and Savage Roar are always a Zephrys away, allowing for insane burst damage.
Though some predicted a breakout for Quest Paladin, the deck continues to scrape the ground of Tier 2 from ranks five to one, though adding in Consecration and Truesilver Champion should maximize your winrate. Unfortunately, the deck’s a sure loser at Legend. Control Warrior may be the most successful deck at the game’s highest ranks, but it’s not the most popular. Uther’s running into more Quest Druids and Quest Shamans these days, and that’s a mixed bag. While successful against Malfurion’s late-game tempo plays, Quest Paladin has no answer for the amount of burst that Thrall can generate after completing his quest. So long as Quest Shaman is at the top of the heap, Quest Paladin will have a hard time of working its way up the ranks.
Don’t worry, Anduin, Aggro Combo Priest is still outstanding. We predicted this deck’s death last week, but it’s still kicking, taking a top spot in Tier 1 between Legend and rank two. The success rate drops as you move further down the ladder, but since the deck excels against Quest Shaman and Quest Druid, it should be a safe pick for most climbs.
Despite the nerf, the majority of players continue to play Extra Arms, which remains a powerful buff in a deck that thrives on having options. The list is still capable of insane openers, but they tend to center around Lightwarden now. High Priest Amet, in particular, shines in the current meta, having vaulted into third place for the deck’s mulligan winrate. Winning with Aggro Combo Priest isn’t hard, given how tight the synergies are. We suggest amplifying the heal factor even more by running two Holy Ripples in the place of Silence.
A slow, shambling version of Quest Priest saw some experimentation immediately after the patch, but thanks to a deplorable matchup against Quest Shaman, it’s shown few gains. Despite considerable control tools, this deck can’t get it done against the format’s true tempo archetypes.
After a brief push immediately after the patch, Tempo Rogue has fallen back in both popularity and winrate. It’s a middling deck, showing strong results against Quest Shaman but losing consistently to Quest Druid. The deck’s potential is limited by the meta’s most powerful options, including the perennial thorn of Control Warrior. Valeera’s no better against a 9-mana Dr. Boom, Mad Genius than she was before. It turns out Garrosh’s board clears are more important in the matchup. All but the most adventurous of players have dropped Zephrys the Great from the list.
Quest Rogue still blows, losing to both Quest Druid and Quest Shaman, to say nothing of the deck’s chances against Highlander Hunter and Control Warrior. This deck loses to all four of the most popular decks on the climb between five and Legend. Right now, it's a no-go, but it need not be this way. As the meta has progressed, we've seen Quest Rogue builds veer further into excess; one we saw today played Prince Vargoth to fill the hand with even more random crap. This deck should err on the side of tempo; a good old SI:7 Agent never hurt anyone. At least no one who played it.
Quest Shaman isn’t the patch’s big winner. That honor goes to Quest Druid and Murloc Paladin. In contrast, Thrall is hanging out in the middle of a crowded Tier 2 between five and Legend. Even so, this deck's seeing a ton of play. As we said last week, Quest Shaman is a lot of fun, and it shows. It's the most popular deck in the game, no matter which rank you look at. So what’s holding it back? While the deck is pretty good against faster board-based strategies, holding a positive winrate (barely) against Murloc Paladin, it’s pretty bad against the format’s most popular archetypes, including Highlander Hunter, Quest Druid and Control Warrior. These are dramatically different decks, so the path for optimization is unclear. Ike’s recent innovation, including an Overload and Mutate package, is promising but unproven.
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Murloc Shaman’s extreme success since the patch is proof that fast, aggressive tempo strategies represent the surest path to dominance in the current meta. Murlocs overrun Quest Druid and Highlander Hunter, both of whom lack strong AOE options. This deck is better suited to play at lower ranks than at Legend because it still struggles to handle Control Warrior.
Though the deck doesn’t feel especially powerful against the nascent meta, Highlander Zoo Warlock is putting up some solid numbers. The deck’s winrate is respectable, but not outstanding, landing it at the top of Tier 2 at Legend, before dropping back into the pack at lower ranks. The standard Zoo list isn’t far behind. Beaming Sidekick is an excellent early gameplay, but Spirit Bomb, despite its synergy with Diseased Vulture, isn’t pulling its weight.
Warlock also has some excellent control tools, including Lord Godfrey, which I keep forgetting is still in Standard. That’s not to say that Plot Twist Warlock is any good. We hazard to guess that Plot Twist Warlock will never be good, but the deck’s making a reasonable push to shore up its perilous early game with a full Lackey package, which, dependent on draw, can dramatically improve its ability to hold pace with faster decks. A fatigue-related win condition also seems to be promising, with many players slotting in a Mecha’thun package.
After seeing a decline in its playrate immediately after the patch, Control Warrior has once again risen to the top of Tier 1 at Legend, where it’s currently the fourth most-played list. The deck’s matchup spread is mostly unchanged; it continues to crush board-based strategies, including Quest Druid and Quest Shaman, the two most popular decks at Legend, but struggles against Highlander Hunter, greedy Mage decks and Quest Paladin.
Even more impressive, however, is the profusion of board-based strategies in the Warrior class. Aggro Warrior is sitting comfortably at the top of Tier 2 at Legend. In the lower ranks, the tempo deck’s performing even better, falling below only Murloc Paladin and Murloc Shaman for a place in Tier 1. The deck’s playrate is still low (though it rises as you reach Legend), but it should be an excellent choice for anyone climbing their way through the ranks.
Wounded Warrior is an exciting new deck from Nohandsgamer. Nohands took it to #3 legend recently and wrote a deck guide, which you can find at r/CompetitiveHS. Enrage Warrior is still chugging along amid an efflorescence of tempo-based decks for the class.
We've seen the fall of several giants over the last week, along with the rise of some new contenders to the throne. So how's the meta shaping up where you are? Are you excited about the potential of any new decks? Sad to see an old favorite go the way of the dinosaurs? Let us know in the comments.