Welcome to another edition of the Standard Meta Report, this time covering the week between February 2nd and 9th, 2020. As always, the Meta Report is based on an analysis of statistics from HSReplay, along with personal game experience at high ranks.
As usual, the meta has two faces, one presented at higher ranks and another, quite distinct, presented on lower rungs of the ladder. Tempo Galakrond Rogue leads the way at Legend, controlling upwards of 22% of the format, but declines to a representation around 10% near the rank five floor. Lower ranks are dominated instead by Embiggen Druid, an archetype in the midst of steep declines at Legend.
Led by new interest in Quest Hunter, Rexxar has surged across all ranks over the past week. Increased play for Dragon Highlander Hunter has made Hunter the most popular class at Legend, a trend we expect to proliferate throughout the meta over the coming week.
Featuring a strong matchup against Galakrond Rogue, Highlander Mage rose at Legend, but fell elsewhere. If Hunter’s upward trend continues, Jaina could be in trouble; she’s terrible against both Dragon Highlander Hunter and Dragon Hunter.
After a week of growth in and around Legend, Mech Paladin shrank this week under continued pressure from Galakrond Rogue. The archetype continued to gain ground at lower ranks, making good on its promise against Embiggen Druid.
Having disappeared at Legend weeks ago, Quest Resurrect Priest saw a modest decline in play at lower ranks, but should find much to savor in the emerging Quest Hunter matchup. Aggro Combo Priest is a non-entity, having fallen to a playrate of 1%.
Shaman is dead.
Outside of Handlock, which looks bad, Warlock’s various archetypes appear strong against the field. The bad news? Both Control Galakrond Warlock and Zoolock are terrible against Hunter, the class currently tearing up the ladder. If Rexxar takes over, things could get rocky.
With the spectacular implosion of Galakrond Warrior, Highlander Control Warrior now looks to be the class’ best archetype. That’s not saying much, but it’s something.
Embiggen Druid remains a firm contender for Tier 1, but it’s now on the backfoot, experiencing steep declines in playrate at higher ranks. This trend is most pronounced at Legend, where the archetype has fallen from a peak representation of nearly 30% to a modest 5.37% over the past two weeks. Lower ranks are a different story; while Galakrond Rogue controls the format in and around Legend, Embiggen Druid is the most popular archetype near the rank five floor, continuing to account for around 15% of the lower meta.
A modest presence at lower ranks, Quest Druid has made a new push for relevance at Legend, rising to a playrate of 8.28% over the past week. The deck is well-positioned for the upper meta, taking advantage of strong matchups against Galakrond Rogue and Quest Hunter, while remaining competitive against Embiggen Druid. Rising Winds seems to have unlocked the archetype’s potential, providing necessary tempo in the early game and accelerated card draw in the late game after Ysera, Unleashed has been played.
Embiggen Druid is falling away at the highest ranks of play, but outside of player interest, we’ve been hard pressed to find an explanation for this shift. The archetype’s matchup spread remains exceptional; Embiggen Druid dominates Mage, Warlock, Warrior and Shaman (though chances are you won’t see one on your climb). Most important among the archetype’s strengths: an outstanding winrate against Galakrond Rogue, the most popular archetype at Legend.
Nor have the various counters to Embiggen Druid been able to make an impression. Mech Paladin hovers around a playrate of 3.5% at Legend over the past week, and Quest Resurrect Priest is nearly absent at higher ranks. The recent surge in Hunter should be no problem, either; Embiggen Druid is competitive to positive against every archetype Rexxar can muster, including the newly ascendant Quest Hunter.
We suspect some players have tired of Embiggen Druid’s “paint by numbers” playstyle. While powerful, the archetype provides few opportunities for creative play; it’s Curvestone to a fault, which can be boring in the face of decks like Galakrond Rogue, which provide innumerable opportunities for innovative decision making. No doubt some Druid players have transitioned to Quest Druid, which (outside of Quest Hunter) seems to be the “deck of the moment” at Legend.
Token Druid is on the wane, having fallen to a modest playrate around 4% between ranks five and Legend. At the highest ranks of play, both Embiggen Druid and Galakrond Rogue have proven difficult to overcome, though both matchups improve considerably near the rank five floor. Mech Paladin is a struggle at lower ranks, but perhaps more important is the emerging matchup against Quest Hunter, a poor one for Malfurion; over a sample of 250 games between five and Legend, Token Druid has lost to Quest Hunter in 54% of cases.
Hunter is now the most popular class at Legend. Along with a surge in Quest Hunter’s playrate, the recent success of Rexxar’s Dragon-led archetypes has led to skyrocketing popularity at the highest ranks. At Legend, Hunter alone now accounts for nearly 28% of the meta, outnumbering Rogue. While Valeera owns the most popular single archetype, Rexxar leads the way in the aggregate, featuring a diverse arsenal of successful meta strategies.
Sky Gen’ral Kragg is working out fine.
We’ve been harping on this point for weeks, but now, the playerbase has finally taken notice: Quest Hunter is excellent in this meta. Over the past three days, Quest Hunter has stepped out of the shadows, taking on an outsized role at the highest ranks of play. At Legend, the archetype now accounts for nearly 8% of the field, peaking at rank 1 with a playrate of 11.5%. Quest Hunter’s popularity has tripled over the past week, rising to an aggregate playrate of 6% between ranks five and Legend.
In an upper meta dominated by Lackeys, the Leeroy Jenkins / Unleash the Hounds combo is a cheat code. Quest Hunter’s matchup spread is truly outstanding, and perfectly suited for play at all ranks. Strong against Galakrond Rogue and competitive against Embiggen Druid, the two most popular archetypes in the format, Quest Hunter also excels against Highlander Dragon Hunter, Mech Paladin and Control Galakrond Warlock. Outside of Face Hunter and Quest Resurrect Priest (which is winnable if you screw up their res pool with an early Leeroy), the archetype has no losing matchups at the moment. Maybe people will finally start to play around Leeroy / Unleash now.
The release of Rotnest Drake has injected new life into Hunter’s Dragon-based variants, though, much to our surprise, many builds still aren’t playing the new card. Maybe players have been scared away by the profusion of Lackeys found at higher ranks, which makes it harder to target Rotnest’s removal, but the statistics consistently show that Rotnest helps more than she whiffs. All signs suggest that the Drake is exceptional, routinely ranking among the archetype’s strongest plays; if you’re not playing it, you’re missing out. Our featured build swaps out Houndmaster Shaw to make room, but you could easily cut Dragonmaw Poacher depending on your local meta.
Both Highlander Dragon Hunter and Dragon Hunter saw significant increases in play this week, but thanks to an edge in the matchups against Embiggen Druid and Galakrond Rogue, Highlander Dragon Hunter appears to be the superior archetype at the moment. Dragon Hunter is far from optimized and small sample sizes continue to hamper our analysis.
Despite a modest decline at Legend, Face Hunter held steady this week due to a slight increase in play at lower ranks, holding steady at around 4.5% of the upper meta. However, with the recent explosion in Quest Hunter, along with the continued decline of Embiggen Druid, Face Hunter’s prospects may well have improved this week. At Legend, Quest Hunter is actually Face Hunter’s strongest matchup. In addition, Galakrond Rogue remains a welcome sight on the ladder, especially at higher ranks, where the relative absence of Mech Paladin (a poor matchup for Rexxar) is also a plus.
Since Mech Hunter sees absolutely no play in Standard, Chopshop Copter may seem a strange addition to Hunter’s card pool. Chopshop probably isn’t going to change that; though the Mech tag certainly helps for a Magnetic target, the card looks too slow.
Though the archetype’s playrate saw a modest increase at Legend, Highlander Mage may be poised for a rough stretch ahead at higher ranks. While Galakrond Rogue remains a strong matchup for refined variants of Highlander Mage, the true hurdle this week came with the rise of Hunter. Rexxar has always been a thorny matchup for Mage, but now he accounts for 28% of the upper meta. Moreover, the positive matchup against Embiggen Druid is on the decline.
Jaina is hopeless against Highlander Dragon Hunter, as she is against Face Hunter and Dragon Hunter. While better suited to deal with Quest Hunter, the rising star at Legend, the matchup is still negative in the aggregate. Mage’s winrate against Dragon Highlander Hunter, in particular, is pitiful; no amount of Freeze effects can stop a Dinotamer Brann lethal. So long as Rexxar dominates the upper meta, Mage could be looking at a drop in performance.
The many varied takes on an Elemental Mage have thus far failed to pan out. While several builds seem competitive against the meta leaders (Galakrond Rogue and Embiggen Druid), they all suck to Hunter and just about everything else.
Continuing on gains from last week, Mech Paladin saw another period of growth near the rank five floor, peaking at a playrate of 5.66% at rank four. Despite this push for relevance, we believe the archetype is still severely underplayed at lower ranks, where Uther has free rein to dominate the matchup against Embiggen Druid.
The meta’s best counter to Embiggen Druid, Mech Paladin is an ideal choice for play at low ranks, where the popularity of Galakrond Rogue has fallen in recent days. Although weak to early board clears like Dark Skies, Mech Paladin is fast enough to outpace both aggressive tempo strategies (Token Druid, Face Hunter) and slower archetypes (Highlander Mage, Quest Druid). Mech Paladin is the fastest deck in the game, and this strength shines at lower ranks. The influx of Hunter is another good sign for the future; Mech Paladin is strong against Highlander Dragon Hunter and competitive against Quest Hunter.
Mech Paladin’s matchup spread is less favorable near Legend, where Galakrond Rogue remains the format’s most dominant deck, which explains the archetype’s declining popularity at higher ranks. It’s safe to say Mech Paladin is once again a novelty at Legend, which isn’t particularly surprising given the recent decline in Embiggen Druid.
Murloc Paladin saw a modest increase in popularity between ranks five and Legend, but outside of a very strong matchup against Embiggen Druid, the archetype looks distinctly underpowered in today’s meta. Scalelord has shown up in several Murloc Paladin lists, including the variant featured below. As you’d expect, it seems to be a strong play, ranking among the archetype’s strongest cards by drawn and played winrate.
Pure Paladin is still terrible against the field.
Quest Resurrect Priest remains a non-entity at Legend, where Anduin has been driven from the format by a terrible matchup against Galakrond Rogue. Thanks to improved chances against Embiggen Druid, the archetype lives on at lower ranks, but saw a small decline in playrate near the rank five floor over the past week. Priest should remain viable at low ranks, but since the prevalence of Rogue increases as you climb, don’t expect to ladder up quickly (if at all).
Though it’s probably too close to call at this point, Hunter’s new rise to prominence could end up being a wash for Anduin. Though Quest Hunter is an excellent matchup, Priest loses consistently to Dragon Highlander Hunter. That’s particularly bad, because Anduin once found a steady stream of prey in the form of Secret Highlander Hunter. Now, he finds himself challenged by Rexxar’s rising singleton archetype. Whether Dragon Highlander Hunter has reached its peak playrate is unknown, but if it hasn’t, that’s bad news for Priest.
Aggro Combo Priest remains viable, but Anduin’s version of Old Faithful failed to generate any interest this week, falling to a meager playrate of 1% between ranks five and Legend. To be sure, the archetype has its strengths, including an outstanding matchup against Embiggen Druid, but that’s all for nothing in an upper meta dominated by Valeera, against whom Anduin is pretty bad. With the surge in Hunter at higher ranks, the archetype’s chances for success look a lot worse this week. Anduin is terrible against Dragon Highlander Hunter, and while the Quest Hunter matchup is competitive, Priest tends to lose it.
The Combo Priest variant pioneered by Arlington player TIZS, which features Potion Vendor and Magic Carpet, appears from preliminary statistics to be weaker than the standard variant.
Most people seem to think Aeon Reaver is a terrible card, at least in Priest. Who are we to argue? In any event, the card has seen little play, far too little for proper evaluation.
Valeera is once again atop the meta, boasting the most popular archetype across all ranks in Tempo Galakrond Rogue, which now stands at over 21% of the Legend meta. Rogue remains an exceptional choice for play at higher ranks, especially given the recent decline in Embiggen Druid, an archetype that continues to suppress Galakrond Rogue’s performance at lower ranks.
It seems Valeera was strong enough to weather the storm of Embiggen Druid, but another challenger has entered the ring. Quest Hunter is rapidly gaining steam at Legend, having risen to a playrate of nearly 10% at last count. This is a poor matchup for Rogue; over a sample of 6,600 games between five and Legend, Quest Hunter has carried the day in over 55% of cases.
Quest Hunter’s newfound relevance could be a big problem for Valeera. Worst of all, the archetype’s acceleration shows no signs of having reached its peak, which means things might get worse before they get better. Like Galakrond Rogue, Quest Hunter boasts an outstanding matchup spread against the field, which should support its rising playrate over the coming week. If Quest Hunter finds purchase at lower ranks, Valeera might be in trouble.
Outside of Hunter and Druid, Rogue’s matchup spread remains outstanding. Tempo Galakrond Rogue dominates against Warrior, Shaman, Priest, Paladin, Mage and other Rogues, all while maintaining competitive matchups against Warlock. Quest Druid is an emerging problem at Legend, but Valeera has so many lethal outs; she always seems to find a way.
Highlander Galakrond Rogue continued to decline this week, bottoming out at a representation of 3.76% between five and Legend. Tempo Galakrond Rogue is far more consistent.
Waxmancy has seen little experimentation. It’s a fine Discover pick in some situations, but likely too weak to slot in as a maindeck.
Shaman? Never heard of it.
Quest Hunter is on the rise. Quest Hunter dumpsters Warlock. Solve for the equilibrium.
After several weeks of decline, Control Galakrond Warlock rebounded this week at higher ranks, doubling in playrate to a representation of almost 5% at Legend. At lower ranks, however, the archetype’s stock continues to fall, though we suspect matchups have little to do with the change; Control Galakrond Warlock remains strong against the field. Competitive matchups against both Embiggen Druid and Galakrond Rogue suit the archetype to play across all ranks of the ladder. An impressive winrate against Mech Paladin is important near the rank five floor, but may be balanced out by a weakness to Face Hunter and Highlander Mage.
But Gul’dan isn’t gonna be happy about the future. Control Galakrond Warlock’s worst matchup, Quest Hunter, is currently tearing up the ladder, rising in popularity at Legend by leaps and bounds. This is a very bad matchup for Warlock; over a sample of 1,600 games between five and Legend, Control Galakrond Warlock has lost to Quest Hunter in over 60% of cases. That’s actually worse than Face Hunter, a deck that absolutely destroys Gul’dan. With Hunter on the rise, and Embiggen Druid in decline, things couldn’t be any worse for Warlock.
Leveraging a strong matchup against Embiggen Druid, along with a competitive one against Galakrond Rogue, Galakrond Zoo Warlock is in a pretty good place. But as in the case of Control Galakrond Warlock, Gul’dan should be fearful of the coming week.
Outside of Dragon Hunter, Rexxar presents a singular problem for Zoolock. Zoo is pretty bad against Dragon Highlander Hunter, awful against Face Hunter and absolutely terrible against Quest Hunter. Given the archetype’s declining playrate between ranks five and Legend, we’d say it may be time once again to hang up your Zoo shoes and try something else.
Nothing’s going right for Handlock. Just add a slew of terrible Hunter matchups to poor winrates against Galakrond Rogue, Embiggen Druid, Mech Paladin and Control Galakrond Warlock. No surprise, this archetype’s playrate has cratered over the past week, falling to a paltry 0.62% between ranks five and Legend.
Warrior has certainly seen better days. Terrible against Embiggen Druid, Galakrond Warrior has been utterly outclassed by Tempo Galakrond Rogue. And things are about to get worse. Quest Hunter, a poor matchup for Garrosh, is rapidly rising in playrate at higher ranks. Small wonder the archetype is losing players fast. Between ranks five and Legend, Galakrond Warrior has fallen from a representation of 15.55% to a measly 2% in the span of a month.
With a competitive matchup against Embiggen Druid, Highlander Control Warrior now appears to be the strongest archetype in Garrosh’s arsenal. The deck is also resilient against Quest Hunter, losing out to Rexxar in only 51% of cases. Galakrond Rogue remains a problem, but if you must play Warrior, we’d say you should bet on Highlander for the foreseeable future.
Thanks to poor winrates against both Galakrond Rogue and Embiggen Druid, Pirate Warrior has all but disappeared. Quest Hunter also looks to be a terrible matchup.
Risky Skipper has seen play in several variations on an Enrage Warrior list, including the variant of Whip Warrior (pioneered by outof.cards favorite Regis Killbin) we’ve featured below. The card should prove a hellish impediment to other aggressive strategies, but the sample size is too low to evaluate.
Despite the hype surrounding the card before its release, Boompistol Bully has only seen sporadic play (featuring in 1.8% of decks at the time of this writing) in archetypes as diverse as Dragon Highlander Hunter, Quest Druid, Highlander Mage and Galakrond Rogue. Statistically, the card seems to perform as intended, boasting a consistently high played winrate.
That’s it for this week’s Meta Report. What do you think of the new cards? Having fun trying out any new archetypes? Let us know in the comments!