Hello and welcome to yet another edition of the Standard Meta Report, this time covering the week between November 17th and 24th. As always, the Meta Report is based on an analysis of statistics from HSReplay, as well as personal game experience at high ranks.
Galakrond can’t come soon enough.
From the outside, so close to the new expansion release, Standard appears identical from one week to the next, but under the surface, we can still trace intriguing movements. Even so, we’ve observed a notable decrease in play across all ranks; enamored of Battlegrounds, and likely fed up with Shamanstone, fewer people are taking decks out in Standard. Not much of a surprise, given the introduction of an exciting new mode and stagnation on the ladder.
While Evolve Shaman continues to run the show at Legend, comprising nearly 20% of the format, the archetype has taken a step back at lower ranks, thanks to a wave of new pressure from a resurgent Secret Highlander Hunter. Quest Shaman remains extremely popular on lower rungs, accounting for about 15% of the meta between four and one.
Tempo Rogue is holding strong as the format’s second most-popular archetype, but the deck’s winrate has fallen overall in recent days. While Valeera can still prey on Quest Shaman, she loses to Quest Druid and Resurrect Priest, and only breaks even against Highlander Hunter.
While Holy Wrath Paladin’s playrate has stabilized, Secret Highlander Paladin is experiencing something of a revival on the back of superior play against Quest Druid and Secret Highlander Hunter. After a week of growth, Resurrect Priest has decreased in playrate under the weight of Evolve Shaman, but positive matchups against other meta pillars continue to provide a reason to keep playing.
Thanks to an insanely-polarized matchup spread, Control Warrior is again in decline. At Legend, Aggro Warrior is making moves, but has yet to reach true prominence.
Like most of us, Mage and Warlock eagerly anticipate the release of Descent of Dragons.
Though last week it looked as if the archetype was in decline, Quest Druid has actually undergone another period of expansion, climbing to a representation above 7.5% between ranks five and Legend. At Legend, the deck currently accounts for 9.5% of the meta, a level of play maintained from last week. In short, Quest Druid’s recent growth can be attributed to increases in play at lower ranks, thanks no doubt to an excellent matchup against Quest Shaman. Even better results against Tempo Rogue keep the deck afloat at higher ranks.
Quest Druid remains a diverse archetype, but the Infinite variant has become the norm, overtaking the standard Chef Nomi list by a margin of 2-to-1. Recent experiments with Floop’s Glorious Gloop, a counter to the token boards generated by Shaman, have yet to catch on or demonstrate consistent results.
Meanwhile, Malygos Druid is in decline across all ranks; apparently, players are sick of getting stomped by Highlander lists.
Secret Highlander Hunter is resurgent between ranks five and Legend, thanks to an excellent winrate against Evolve Shaman and highly-competitive (50% over 3,200 games) matchup into Tempo Rogue. The archetype seems again ready to challenge for meta dominance, with sufficient tools to make even losing matchups competitive. Secret Highlander Hunter has the late-game prowess to counter Quest Druid and the early game to break through against Quest Shaman. Resurrect Priest poses the only true problem; over a sample of 1,800 games between ranks five and one, Rexxar loses out in the matchup nearly 63% of the time.
Quest Hunter is good against Evolve Shaman and nothing else. Unsurprisingly, the deck’s playrate has fallen over the past week.
A little more than two weeks from Descent of Dragons and nothing much has changed for Jaina. Tempo Mage is worse than a meme; it’s a good idea that doesn’t work, losing out in every matchup that matters. Highlander Mage is a better deck, but there’s no sign that players care about it; the archetype’s playrate between ranks five and Legend has held steady at about 2.25% for the past three weeks. A positive winrate against Evolve Shaman isn’t enough to generate interest when the Tempo Rogue matchup is lopsided in the wrong way.
Hopefully, Descent of Dragons can spark new ideas.
After a week of decline, Secret Highlander Paladin is back on the upswing, rising to a representation around 3.5% between ranks five and Legend. By bare winrate, this deck is likely the strongest in the current meta; players are starting, again, to take notice.
Secret Highlander Paladin benefits from a strong late-game, which is powerful enough to challenge the likes of Quest Druid and Secret Highlander Hunter, but can also play the fast-twitch game necessary to keep losing matchups against Evolve Shaman and Quest Shaman competitive. Resurrect Priest is a challenge, but Anduin is never over-the-moon to meet Uther. All in all, Secret Highlander Paladin has a good chance against any archetype it meets on the ladder. That’s a rare strength in today’s meta of polarized matchups.
Holy Wrath Paladin experienced explosive growth two weeks ago, then entered a brief stage of decline, dropping back to a representation near 3.5% between five and Legend. Now, signs suggest that the archetype’s playrate is set to plummet. In all likelihood, players have finally realized the deck isn’t particularly well-positioned in the current meta, with losing matchups against many of the meta’s top archetypes, including Tempo Rogue, Evolve Shaman, Secret Highlander Hunter and Quest Druid. A positive winrate against Quest Shaman just isn’t enough.
Aggro Combo Priest continues to decline at higher ranks, a trend most apparent at Legend, where the archetype now accounts for only about 3% of the format. The deck is still very good (Quest Druid is a free win), but faced by the twin terrors of Evolve Shaman and Tempo Rogue, most players seem to have lost their interest. We don’t blame them.
The miraculous rise of Resurrect Priest may be coming to an end. After three weeks of sustained growth, the archetype’s playrate has begun to stabilize around the 6% mark between ranks five and one. The deck’s popularity at Legend is more volatile, contracting and expanding in time to the fluctuations of Evolve Shaman.
Though Shaman is a continual problem for Anduin, there’s probably never been a better time to take Resurrect Priest out for a spin, especially at lower ranks. The archetype is overwhelmingly positive against Quest Druid and Secret Highlander Hunter, two of the format’s most popular decks. A positive matchup against Tempo Rogue is just icing on the cake.
Tempo Rogue remains the second most-popular deck in the upper meta, but the archetype’s representation has stabilized. Last week, we witnessed a brief moment during which Tempo Rogue accounted for nearly 22% of the Legend meta, overtaking Evolve Shaman as the most-popular list in the format. It was crazy, but things have come back down to Earth since then. Today, Tempo Rogue comprises about 14% of the Legend meta. Valeera’s popularity declines further down the ladder; at rank five, she controls only 8% of the format.
Tempo Rogue benefits from a balanced matchup spread, winning out against the majority of the field’s less-represented challengers, but losing to a handful of major players, including Quest Druid, Resurrect Priest and Evolve Shaman.
Further refinements to the list have yet to permeate the meta. The version featuring Waggle Pick has become the norm on ladder, but underperforms compared to the list featuring EVIL Cable Rat and Heistbaron Togwaggle. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of Questing Adventurer against Shaman. Since we need cheap fodder to power up our Adventurers and elude Thrall’s removal attempts, Lackeys and the Heistbaron are the way to go.
Thankfully, N’Zoth Rogue is still a curiosity at higher ranks, but the deck continues to command an outsized presence (relative to its power) at rank five. Granted, the archetype’s popularity has been on a steady decline for the past month, but the fact that it continues to control about 3% of the rank five meta is somewhat amazing. N’Zoth Rogue loses to all but the greediest control decks; I wouldn’t take it out on the ladder if I were you.
At Legend, Quest Shaman has risen in play by a slight margin, but Evolve Shaman remains the laddering deck of choice for the upper meta. We’ve said it before, but the deck is busted, boasting outstanding winrates against almost every meta pillar, including Tempo Rogue, Quest Druid, Quest Shaman and Resurrect Priest. No deck is better-situated for long-term success, outside the fact that Evolve will be leaving the meta with Descent of Dragons.
We expected these insights to filter down the ladder over time. Last week, it seemed likely that a shift from Quest to Evolve was imminent at lower ranks. In general, Evolve Shaman is a more powerful option for the current meta; we fully anticipated that it would take off on the lower rungs of the ladder. Oddly, no such shift has come to pass. In fact, Evolve Shaman is actually losing steam in the lower meta, having never really taken off in the first place.
To say the deck has fallen off a cliff would be hyperbole, but fallen it has. This is especially true between five and one, where Evolve has dropped from a playrate around 10.7% to 8.59% over the course of the past eight days. Maybe it’s because playing Evolve Shaman makes you the villain. Maybe it’s Maybelline.
To be serious for a moment, we can attribute the decline in Evolve Shaman to several factors. The deck’s relatively high skill cap may make it harder to rack up easy wins at lower ranks. Nor can the continued presence of sub-optimal builds be ignored; these lists, many of which still include Mana Tide Totem and Feral Spirit, continue to leech away at the deck’s overall winrate. But perhaps most important is a renewed surge of interest in Secret Highlander Hunter, now rising again in popularity between ranks five and one. Highlander Hunter isn’t the Shaman-breaker for which we’ve all hoped, but it wins the matchup on average.
Like Mage, Warlock is waiting for Descent of Dragons. The majority of the class remains devoted to Zoo, but the deck’s matchup spread is far too volatile for consistent ladder success. Losing against Evolve Shaman, Quest Shaman, Secret Highlander Hunter, Resurrect Priest and Tempo Rogue is rough. As it stands, there’s not much Zoo can win against outside of Quest Druid. Saviors of Uldum has not been kind to this archetype. Doom in the Tomb was just the nail in the coffin.
Highkeeper Ra Warlock and Plot Twist Warlock both suck. These seem like irredeemable decks, but there’s always hope. Descent of Dragons is right around the corner...
Aggro Warrior continues to rise in playrate, with particular growth observed at Legend, where Garrosh’s tempo strategy currently comprises around 3% of the meta. While far from a world-beater, the archetype has also found consistent success at lower ranks over the past week. Aggro Warrior easily beats up on Quest Druid and Quest Shaman, two stalwarts of the format between ranks five and one, but as always, there’s no free lunch; you’ll find the matchups against Secret Highlander Hunter and Resurrect Priest particularly difficult.
After a brief brush with relevance, Control Warrior’s playrate has fallen for a second straight week. At the moment, the deck is consistently inconsistent, dominating Tempo Rogue and Evolve Shaman, but falling flat against Secret Highlander Hunter and Quest Druid. CW’s fate proves that a pair of stellar matchups are not enough to sustain interest in an archetype, even when those two decks are the most-popular in the format.
N’Zoth Warrior is a more-polarized version of Control Warrior. Don’t play it.
And there you have it. Thrall remains the meta's dominant force, but thankfully, the level of Evolve Shaman appears to be subsiding at lower ranks. Sick of the meta yet? Still having fun abusing Evolve? Let us know in the comments!