Welcome to another edition of the Standard Meta Report, this time covering the week between February 9th and 16th, 2020. As always, the Report is based on an analysis of statistics from HSReplay, as well as personal game experience at high ranks. 


The Overview

Embiggen Druid continues to decline across all ranks, but remains a strong presence near the rank five floor. Quest Druid remains strong against Galakrond Rogue, but Malfurion won’t be happy about recent growth in Highlander Mage and Aggro Dragon Hunter. Token Druid, too, is feeling the pressure from Rexxar. 

Thanks to excellent matchups against Highlander Mage and Embiggen Druid, Aggro Dragon Hunter is surging, experiencing rapid growth at the highest ranks. Quest Hunter and Dragon Highlander Hunter have both fallen off considerably in the face of Rexxar’s new darling. 

Highlander Mage saw a substantial increase in popularity over the past week as players try out The Amazing Reno for themselves. Despite success against both Galakrond Rogue and Embiggen Druid, Jaina is sure to be held back by her pitiful matchups against Hunter. 

Uther lost players in the aggregate, but Mech Paladin is still very strong, especially with the new inclusion of Shotbot. A winning matchup against Aggro Dragon Hunter only makes the future brighter. 

Priest could be in for a rough spell. Alongside a decrease in playrate, Quest Resurrect Priest is facing down two unfavorable trends, the rise of Highlander Mage and the ascent of Hunter. 

It’s smooth sailing for Valeera this week. Galakrond Rogue remains the format’s most dominant deck, eking out wins against all odds as the best-represented archetype at Legend. Mage and Aggro Dragon Hunter should be no problem. 

Shaman saw no development this week. Sad, sad Thrall. 

Control Galakrond Warlock is still Gul’dan’s strongest option, but the archetype is in decline, losing players at a consistent pace. With the rise of Hunter at all ranks, Zoo is also feeling the heat. 

Can Garrosh stage a glorious return to the format? We don’t know, but Galakrond Warrior is again on the rise. Highlander Control Warrior is struggling to make an impact, but could find new life in the ascent of Aggro Dragon Hunter. 


Druid

Embiggen Druid continued to hemorrhage players this week at the highest ranks, falling to a representation of 4.15% at Legend. The archetype is also losing ground at lower ranks. Today, Embiggen Druid accounts for only 11% of the format at ranks four and five, rungs at which it once commanded over 15% of the meta. Even more disheartening (at least for Malfurion) is the archetype’s declining winrate, a trend no doubt exacerbated by the surging popularity of Hunter, along with the continued presence of Mech Paladin.

Sub-optimal builds are hurting Embiggen Druid’s aggregate performance. Neither Witching Hour nor Archmage Vargoth are worth it, only improving your performance in the mirror. Predatory Instincts is even worse, both slow and non-impactful in a meta still reliant on Sap and Veranus. These cards, which at one point made up the “Wall Druid” package, are especially weak in Hunter matchups, when early tempo is key (and you’re usually dead by turn 8). Our featured build remains the most-refined list on ladder; we urge you to play it. Mark our words: Witching Hour should be dropped; you’ll see marked improvements in the fight against Quest Hunter and Aggro Dragon Hunter. 

Rising Winds has proved a revelation, but we’d say the playerbase is tepid on the return of Quest Druid to the meta. The archetype saw a substantial decline in play this week, especially pronounced at Legend, before rebounding at the end of the week to a representation of nearly 6%, thanks to renewed interest in a variant that cuts down on Dragons to make room for Sky Gen'ral Kragg and Cenarius. At lower ranks, the deck is far less popular, accounting for a little less than 4% of the format between ranks five and one. 

While strong against Galakrond Rogue (which explains the archetype’s continued prominence at Legend), Quest Druid fares poorly against Embiggen Druid, the most popular deck at lower ranks. The recent surge in Aggro Dragon Hunter is another bad sign for this archetype’s longevity; over a sample of 2,700 games between five and Legend, Quest Druid has lost out to Rexxar in over 56% of cases. Add in a piss-poor matchup against Highlander Mage, which has grown by leaps and bounds over the past week, and you may well have a recipe for disaster. 

Token Druid fell again in playrate between ranks five and one, but held steady as a minimal presence at Legend. Galakrond Rogue remains a serious hurdle for the archetype at higher ranks, but the emerging Dragon Hunter matchup looks to be even worse. We’d say Token Druid’s best days seem to be over, especially given the recent popularity of Highlander Mage. 


Hunter

Stormhammer has found its rightful place in the meta. Aggro Dragon Hunter is the flavor of the moment, due in no small part to an excellent matchup against Embiggen Druid. Leveraging an even winrate against Galakrond Rogue, the archetype has surged to the forefront at the highest ranks of play, rising to an aggregate playrate of 9.44% between ranks five and Legend and earning a spot in Tier 1. Dragon Hunter is now most prevalent at rank 1, where the deck commands almost 15% of the format. The archetype has yet to proliferate in full force down the ladder, accounting for only 5.62% of the meta at rank five. We expect that to change very soon. The deck is cheap and fast, perfect for climbing.  

Our featured build was crafted through a collaboration between Grandmaster Muzzy and former Grandmaster Orange. While many players have opted for Big ‘Ol WhelpBADCARDNAME, we find Lifedrinker is more potent in furthering the archetype’s damage-oriented aims. When Aggro Dragon Hunter is strong, the game ends between turns 7 and 9, eliminating the need for what could be considered a slow form of draw. Lifedrinker is far easier to fit alongside a hero power, and mashing the button is key to Dragon Hunter’s success. Lifedrinker also excels in the increasingly-common mirror match, where every point of damage, and healing, matters. 

Frenzied Felwing is an ideal supplement for Aggro Dragon Hunter, an archetype that prides itself on chip damage. Felwing seems especially potent in classes, like Hunter, with a direct damage hero power, which makes us wonder about the card’s possibility in a Hero Power Mage list. The deck’s chances would certainly be hurt by the recent profusion of evasive minions, and may lack sufficient support, but it’s a nice thought. 

Quest Hunter remains a Tier 1 deck, but the archetype’s time in the spotlight was short-lived. Despite a surge of interest last week, the archetype has fallen swiftly in popularity, dropping to a playrate of 2.58% between ranks five and Legend in a trend driven largely by declines at Legend. In brief, Aggro Dragon Hunter has stolen the playerbase’s attention. Of course, Quest Hunter remains exceptional in this meta, boasting excellent winrates against Embiggen Druid, Galakrond Rogue, Highlander Mage and Dragon Hunter. It’s a great choice for the climb.

Like Quest Hunter, Dragon Highlander Hunter saw a decrease in play over the past week, though the archetype’s representation, at around 7% of the meta between ranks five and Legend, remains robust. As was true last week, Rexxar remains well-positioned across all ranks, boasting strong performance against both Embiggen Druid and Galakrond Rogue, but the new surge in Aggro Dragon Hunter may prove an impediment; over a sample of 6,600 games between five and Legend, Highlander has lost this important matchup in 56% of cases.   

Face Hunter experienced a modest decline in popularity, falling to a playrate of 3.81% between five and Legend. Despite continued success against Galakrond Rogue, Dragon Hunter has emerged as a significant challenge for the archetype. 


Mage

Thanks to The Amazing Reno, Highlander Mage experienced a substantial surge in popularity this week, rising from its customary 5% playrate to an average representation of 8.7% between ranks five and Legend. That’s close-to-incredible growth for a stable archetype with a dedicated base of core players. Reno is really doing work. 

Though she’s already taken a step back from her recent peak at Legend, Jaina’s especially popular at lower ranks, commanding nearly 11% of the format at ranks four and five. Competitive-to-strong matchups against Druid and Galakrond Rogue are promising, but don’t put all your eggs into this one basket. Mage’s matchups against Hunter are terrible, and no 10-mana power play (we’re looking at you, Reno) is going to change that. Jaina is especially vulnerable to Aggro Dragon Hunter, the rising star at higher ranks; over a sample of 6,700 games between five and Legend, Mage has lost in almost 69% of matches.

While it’s probably too early for us to weigh in on The Amazing Reno, early signs suggest the card is truly powerful (though perhaps not *amazing*). Despite fulfilling a defensive function (which usually saddles a card with low drawn winrate), Reno already stands among the archetype’s 15-best plays by that metric. And who are we to argue with the experts? Streamer and Mage aficionado Apxvoid is playing Reno, so we are, too. 

Escaped Manasaber is an interesting experiment, smoothing the curve into Dragoncaster and Reno the Relicologist. We’d say the card synergizes perfectly with Jaina’s gameplan. Just don’t remove Arcane Keysmith to make room; Keysmith is a great play, both in the early and late game. 


Paladin

Mech Paladin’s growth slowed this week, but the archetype remains exceptionally-positioned in the five-Legend format. Competitive against an ascendant Highlander Mage, Uther continues to be dominant against Embiggen Druid, the most popular deck at lower ranks. Despite a weakness to Rogue at Legend, the archetype is an excellent choice for the climb, boasting strong winrates against everything outside of a declining Control Galakrond Warlock and Quest Resurrect Priest. More people should be playing this deck; it’s firmly in Tier 1 and fast. 

And, in light of Hunter’s meteoric rise, Mech Paladin’s formidable matchup spread has only improved this week. Uther is excellent against every archetype Rexxar can muster, including the new meta darling in Aggro Dragon Hunter, another archetype that likes to demonstrate early board control. Over a sample of 5,400 games between five and Legend, Uther has bested Rexxar in almost 63% of cases. Mech Paladin shuts down some of Rexxar’s biggest power plays, including Rotnest Drake, which is terrible against wide boards of tokens. And with Zilliax and Annoy-o-Module, Uther has several significant defensive options to check Hunter’s pressure. 

Shotbot is a nice addition to Uther’s arsenal. Our featured build removes one Blessing of Kings and Blessing of Wisdom to make room. 

Both Pure Paladin and Holy Wrath Paladin are blips on the radar. Uther has one competitive metadeck, and he should probably be thankful for that. 


Priest

The long, slow decline of Quest Resurrect Priest continued this week, as the archetype fell to an aggregate playrate of 3% between ranks five and one. At Legend, Quest Resurrect Priest has seen little success over the last few weeks, explaining the deck’s meager 1% representation. 

Things aren’t going to get better for Anduin. 

He’s still terrible against Rogue, a significant setback at higher ranks, but an exceedingly poor matchup is growing in strength. Mage is on the ascendant, both at lower ranks and at Legend, while Embiggen Druid, a confident source of victories for Anduin, is drying up. Priest is truly terrible against Highlander Mage; over a sample of 3,800 games between five and Legend, Anduin has lost to Jaina in over 67% of cases. The Amazing Reno makes things even worse, invalidating all of Priest’s sticky deathrattles in one fell swoop. 

Rexxar presents another problem entirely. While you would expect Priest to have the wherewithal to outlast Rexxar’s aggression, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Anduin is competitive against Aggro Dragon Hunter, but he tends to lose; over a sample of 2,500 games, Rexxar’s gained the edge in 51% of matchups. Highlander Dragon Hunter poses an even tougher challenge; Rexxar is too fast, and his minions are too beefy, for Anduin to fight back. 

Despite the tough waters ahead, Anduin presses on. At Legend, Resurrect Priest is undergoing dramatic changes; a new variant is on the rise, one that removes the Quest entirely and adds in a minimal Galakrond package, supplementing the class' removal offerings with two copies of Time Rip. Over the past two weeks, the deck has soared in playrate, from a low of 0.34% to its current 3.7% at Legend. While weak to Rogue, a common complaint for Priest, this emerging deck stomps Hunter, Druid and Paladin, while coming in roughly even against Highlander Mage (thanks to Bad Luck Albatross, a card that not only invalidates Highlander strategies, but also shores up Priest's weak early game). We're optimistic about this archetype's future. 

Aggro Combo Priest has faded back into irrelevance, dropping to a playrate under 1%. We’d say this archetype’s best days are over; the matchup against Aggro Dragon Hunter is abysmal. 


Rogue

Galakrond Rogue remains top dog at higher ranks, but Valeera’s share of the meta is decreasing. From a recent peak of 21.24% between ranks five and Legend, Galakrond Rogue’s representation has fallen to a perfectly-sane 12%, with a Legend peak of 16.61%. As has been true for the past few weeks, Rogue’s prevalence increases gradually as you climb from the rank five floor, the past prominence of Embiggen Druid having driven Valeera from lower ranks. 

Not much has changed for Valeera in the past week. Still shaky against Embiggen Druid, Rogue continues to dominate almost every other class, posting exceptional winrates against Priest, Shaman, Warrior, Paladin, Warlock and other Rogues. 

Nor should Valeera be too troubled by any recent developments. 

Highlander Mage is on the rise, but Rogue handles the archetype fine; the matchup is competitive, but thoroughly winnable. And Aggro Dragon Hunter, which has seen explosive growth over the past week (and drawn devotees of Rexxar away from worse matchups like Dragon Highlander Hunter), appears to be a pretty good matchup (51.2% over 10,000 games between five and Legend). Whether that equation changes as the refined variant of Dragon Hunter filters down the ranks is still an open question, but Rogue is looking good. 

Thanks to poor matchups against both Druid and Hunter, Highlander Galakrond Rogue continues to decline, falling to a representation of 2.56% between ranks five and Legend. Malygos Rogue is a memory.


Shaman

No movement from Thrall’s camp this week. Things are pretty quiet over here. If you have to complete a Shaman quest, Aggro Overload Shaman is probably your best option. 


Warlock

Control Galakrond Warlock’s popularity has entered a steady period of decline. Over the past week, the archetype has fallen to a playrate under 3% between five and Legend, with slightly higher popularity at Legend. Perhaps that has something to do with the prevalence of Hunter, a class against which Gul’dan stumbles, and the increased interest in Highlander Mage. 

Despite these unfavorable developments, Control Galakrond Warlock remains Gul’dan’s most powerful archetype, exceeding Zoo in both winrate and playrate. And the deck continues to evolve. In the latest iteration, Fiendish Rites has been replaced by Bad Luck Albatross, which should come in exceedingly handy given renewed interest in Highlander Mage, historically an unfavorable matchup for the Warlock. 

Even in non-Highlander matchups, Albatross can be crucial, diluting your opponent’s late-game draws so you win the topdeck war. Fiendish Rites, on the other hand, isn’t strictly necessary because the deck draws so quickly (quick enough to play Zephrys the Great and Dragonqueen Alexstrasza!); converting on a fully-upgraded Galakrond, the Wretched is rarely a chore. 

While we’re not ready to sign off on this newest variant, the early results against Galakrond Rogue and Embiggen Druid have been promising. 

Due to continued pressure from Galakrond Rogue, Embiggen Druid and Highlander Mage, Zoolock has fallen to a playrate of 1.24% between ranks five and Legend. And did we mention that Hunter is surging? Yeah, that’s not good, although the Aggro Dragon Hunter matchup appears winnable from preliminary numbers. 


Warrior

Garrosh finds himself amidst something of a comeback. 

Galakrond Warrior saw a substantial increase in popularity this week, rising from a representation low of 1.92% to attain a playrate of 4.61% between ranks five and Legend. Best of all, the archetype’s winrate is once again positive after a week of underwhelming play. 

Though Embiggen Druid remains a major impediment to Warrior’s success, recent innovation in the form of Bomb Wrangler has cemented Garrosh’s position in the matchup against Galakrond Rogue, which is now positive for refined variants. Outside of Druid, Warrior’s matchup spread actually looks pretty good. Garrosh is dominant against Shaman, Paladin and Warlock, but most important, strong against both Highlander Mage and Aggro Dragon Hunter, the two fastest-rising archetypes in the game. Things are starting to look up. 

It’s one step forward, one step back for Highlander Control Warrior. Though Garrosh remains strong in the matchup against Embiggen Druid, he falls flat against Galakrond Rogue. And recent developments aren’t likely to change the picture. Highlander Control Warrior seems to perform very well against Aggro Dragon Hunter, the deck of the moment at higher ranks; over a preliminary sample of 1,100 games, Garrosh has beaten Rexxar in almost 60% of cases. But he tends to struggle against Highlander Mage, another rising star of the format, losing out to Jaina in 59% of matchups. 

No variant of Enrage Warrior has managed to break through, but for fun, we’ll feature an alternative variant of Galakrond Warrior featuring Risky Skipper. Albeit terrible against Embiggen Druid, this list has earned high marks against Aggro Dragon Hunter, Highlander Mage and Galakrond Rogue. It has potential.

Pirate Warrior has yet to resurface.


Highlander Mage is making a new push for relevance, but Rexxar was the true star this week, surging onto the scene with a new archetype in Aggro Dragon Hunter. What are you playing right now? How are you making use of cards from the fourth wing of Galakrond's Awakening? Let us know in the comments!