Welcome to the seventh Standard Meta Report, covering the week between September 23rd and 29th, 2019. As always, the report comes from an analysis of statistics from HSReplay, along with personal game experience at high ranks.
Hearthstone's Standard meta has entered the third week of stabilization around four meta pillars: Aggro Combo Priest, Highlander Hunter, Quest Shaman and Quest Druid. Of these four decks, Aggro Combo Priest and Highlander Hunter evidence the highest power level; Quest Shaman and Quest Druid remain inconsistent against the field, underperforming relative to their popularity. This may have caught on within the Shaman community because Quest Shaman's playrate is now falling.
Recent innovations in Quest Rogue are filtering through the player base, resulting in increased performance, but even more exciting is the new Aggro Token Shaman list from Jambre, which has shown promising preliminary results against the field. If this deck sees the explosive growth in popularity some have predicted, it could be bad news for Aggro Combo Priest.
Mage shows signs of progress, featuring a stronger-than-you-expect matchup spread that's translating into player interest. Control Warrior's playrate declines as Aggro Warrior's increases. Warlock is a mixed bag; while Zoo's popularity has stagnated, the winrate is increasing again.
The story of Quest Druid is much the same as it was last week. This is a powerful list in the right hands, with favorable matchups against a majority of the meta's leading decks, including Highlander Hunter, Quest Shaman and Control Warrior.
The problem, for Quest Druid as for so many other lists, is Aggro Combo Priest, the most popular deck at higher ranks of play. Quest Druid rose to prominence as an admirable counter to Quest Shaman, but Thrall has been replaced by Anduin at Legend and one, leading to a slight decline in Quest Druid's performance.
Much of Quest Druid's current fate is foundational to the archetype. The Quest requires a substantial sacrifice of tempo during early turns, allowing aggressive, board-based lists to take the lead en route to an easy victory. That's fatal against Aggro Combo Priest, but it's also a weakness mirrored at lower ranks, where the deck falls prey to Murloc Shaman and Murloc Paladin, two lists that have no problem snowballing an early board. Despite some experimentation at the beginning of the meta, most players have now abandoned the package of early game removal spells (Pounce, Claw) designed to shore up these obvious weaknesses. No alternative route for further optimization has yet emerged. The list feels "done" at this point.
Quest Druid is good enough against the field to remain relevant but suffers from a fatal flaw that depresses its winrate to an unspectacular 50% at Legend (over a sample of 83,300 games). We expect the deck to stagnate at this level; it'll remain mid- to low-Tier 2 for the foreseeable future unless something comes along to shake Aggro Combo Priest from its position of dominance.
None of these downsides seem to be affecting Quest Druid's playrate, though, understandable when you consider the deck's favorable matchups. Nor do the weaknesses alter the deck's perceived power level; it still feels insane when you drop an Oasis Surger on 5 after completing the Quest. So the deck is likely to remain extremely popular: it's currently the fourth best-represented list in the game between ranks five and Legend, with few signs of a decline in play.
Highlander Hunter remains one of the strongest choices in the game, suited for play at all ranks due to favorable matchups against both Aggro Combo Priest and Quest Shaman, the current leaders between five and Legend. Make no mistake, this is a Tier 1 deck, with plenty of game against Control Warrior and a competitive, albeit negative, matchup against Quest Druid.
Highlander Hunter isn't going anywhere. As before, the list only shows major signs of weakness against faster aggressive decks that develop wide boards quickly; Highlander Hunter loses out to Murloc Paladin, Zoo and Murloc Shaman. But only the matchup against Murloc Paladin is hopeless, and Uther is becoming a less popular pick for play at lower ranks.
Quest Hunter looks relatively strong in the middle of Tier 2 between ranks five and one, in large part due to an excellent matchup spread against Shaman, including a near-60% winrate (over 18,000 games) against Quest Shaman. The deck's performance falls at Legend due to the overwhelming popularity of Aggro Combo Priest, against which Quest Hunter is absolutely terrible. Maybe the pressure from Anduin is too much. Despite promising early results, Quest Hunter's playrate is already in decline, dropping for the second week between five and Legend. But Quest players at lower ranks should take heart; with increased interest in Shaman across the board, Quest Hunter's matchup spread is only slated to improve.
Secret Hunter is still over-performing thanks to great matchups against Control Warrior and Aggro Combo Priest, along with favorables against Quest Shaman and Highlander Hunter. This deck is solid near the top of Tier 2, losing out to only one meta pillar: Quest Druid. With a healthy matchup spread against the field, player interest has been increasing slowly but steadily over the past three weeks. Elsewhere, Mech Hunter remains hampered by Aggro Combo Priest and Control Warrior. Midrange Hunter looks D.O.A. but still sees some play because it beats Quest Shaman.
Highlander Mage is still better than you think, but you're not likely to play it. Accounting for 2% of the meta between 5 and Legend, more popular lists beat out a good selection of today's meta decks, winning consistently against Quest Druid, Quest Shaman and Control Warrior. That matchup spread has made Highlander Mage a formidable pick in Grandmasters, but an unfavorable against Aggro Combo Priest means ladder play is less appetizing. Thanks to visibility from the professional circuit, small increases in playrate can be observed, but interest in Mage remains at an all-time low.
Though the playrate has faltered recently, Highlander Paladin is still a good deck (mid-Tier 2) whose initial rise to prominence was spurred by strong matchups against Highlander Hunter and Quest Druid. There are signs the deck has reached its peak power level, ever-limited by the ceiling defined by the twin superpowers of Quest Shaman and Aggro Combo Priest. The list featuring Secrets is performing better at the moment between five and Legend:
Murloc Paladin still has the ability to blow slow decks out and remains an excellent choice for climbing from lower ranks. After three weeks of steady declines, the deck's playrate has stabilized a bit in the past week, but will never again rise to its former prominence.
Holy Wrath Paladin is best avoided if rising in the ranks is your aim. The same goes for Quest Paladin, which continues to feature shameful matchups against Quest Shaman and Aggro Combo Priest. Considering the recent decline in Control Warrior, the deck's very reason for relevance, Quest Paladin is probably unfit for play.
Aggro Combo Priest remains the meta's most dominant deck, but its popularity may be about to plateau (especially at Legend, where the playrate has settled around 14% over the past week). This is probably the level of Priest we can expect over the next week; you decide whether it's oppressive or not. The past month has seen a slight moderation in the deck's winrate, but it's not much to talk about. That could change in the near future if interest in Jambre's Token Shaman list continues to increase.
Quest Resurrect Priest is gaining in popularity, rising to 2.5% representation between five and Legend. It's hard to see why; the deck remains terrible against the field, losing to Aggro Combo Priest, Quest Druid, Quest Shaman and Control Warrior. To be sure, Quest Resurrect Priest has made a substantial improvement in its winrate over the past month, but it's not enough to change the state of the meta.
Quest Rogue's popularity has risen dramatically over the past week. The winrate's climbing, too, but has yet to break into positive territory between five and Legend (over a sample of 432,000 games). The J_Alexander list we featured last week is performing best against the field; thankfully, players have begun to adopt his improvements to the formula. We expect a high skill cap for this deck. Quest Rogue is difficult to pilot; it's like playing jazz, an improvisation with borrowed melodies and flexible meter.
Tempo Rogue hasn't budged over the past three weeks. It's a Tier 2 deck struggling for relevance in the face of flashier aggro lists. At least the favorable matchup against Aggro Combo Priest keeps things rolling.
That Mutate package is outrageous. Whether or not it's nerf-worthy remains to be seen.
Murloc Shaman is the key beneficiary of the Mogu madness this week, having risen to the top of Tier 2 on the back of excellent matchups into Quest Druid and Aggro Combo Priest (plus a fair chance against Highlander Hunter). If you haven't adopted the Mutate package yet, try it out; it improved my winrate by a full 2%.
But Murloc Shaman isn't all that Thrall has to offer, because there's a new entrant to the meta, a token-centric, lackey-slinging, Overload piece crafted by Jambre and piloted to Rank 1 Legend. While HSReplay hasn't yet identified Jambre's list for analytical purposes, the deck feels strong against several of the meta's dominant players, including Aggro Combo Priest and Quest Shaman.
With Likkim and Thunderhead, you can gain board and keep it, then capitalize on your cheap minions with either Vessina or The Stormbringer!. A robust Mutate package features two copies of Former Champ to fill out the mid-game.
Quest Shaman is slowly decreasing in popularity, but you probably won't notice the change. It still commands nearly 16% of the meta between ranks five and two, a middling deck with an uninspiring matchup spread. Legend players are still enamored, too, but should fear even more a run-in with Anduin.
Zoo's winrate is rising again, thanks in part to a decrease in Quest Shaman at lower ranks. The deck is still well-positioned for the climb, especially now that Control Warrior is also in decline. Excellent in the Quest Druid matchup, Zoo also effectively challenges Aggro Combo Priest and Highlander Hunter, making it a strong choice at any rank.
After a brief blush of growth, Plot Twist Warlock's playrate is falling between five and Legend, with a particularly steep decline at Legend.
Aggro Warrior didn't see the major bump in play we expected this week, but the deck is still exceptionally-positioned for the meta, with favorables against Aggro Combo Priest, Quest Druid, Highlander Hunter and Quest Shaman. Thanks to a near-53% winrate (over 391,000 games between five and Legend), Aggro Warrior sits firmly at the top of Tier 2. It's definitely underplayed at lower ranks, possessing a keen ability to burst down almost any opponent before turn 8.
Control Warrior's still really good, but the deck's playrate fell across all ranks for the third consecutive week.
So there you have it. What do you think of the meta? Getting bored? Think anything can challenge Aggro Combo Priest? Does Mogu Fleshshaper need a nerf? Let us know in the comments!