Welcome to another edition of the Standard Meta Report, this time covering the Leap-tastic week between February 23rd and March 1st, 2020. Join us, acolytes! Let us bask in the arcane energy of one extra day! How glorious! As always, the Report is based on an analysis of statistics from HSReplay, along with personal game experience at high ranks. 


The Overview

This week, we watched the continuation of several recent trends, as Galakrond Warrior solidified its position in the upper meta and Galakrond Resurrect Priest, on the back of strong matchups against Galakrond Warrior and Hunter, gained steam across all ranks. 

Galakrond Rogue retains its stranglehold on the upper meta, topping out at a representation above 25% at Legend. No archetype enjoys a more balanced matchup spread, especially now that Galakrond Resurrect Priest, a very favorable contest for Valeera, is on the rise. 

Despite continued pressure from Dragon Hunter and Mech Paladin, Embiggen Druid saw a modest increase in play at lower ranks. Legend play is notably suppressed, but Malfurion has found a strong matchup in the resurgence of Galakrond Warrior. Quest Druid has entered a notable period of decline, especially at higher ranks, but a new build pioneered by Grandmaster Viper may breathe new life into the archetype. 

In terms of popularity, Hunter has no equal, but the class is narrowing, as players continue to migrate from other decks to Dragon Hunter. Quest Hunter, Face Hunter and Dragon Highlander Hunter are all losing players. Alongside the recent interest in Galakrond Resurrect Priest, the resurgence of Galakrond Warrior could weaken Dragon Hunter’s performance at higher ranks. 

Highlander Mage continues to grow in playrate, especially at Legend, but the prominence of Hunter remains a vexing problem elsewhere on the ladder. Mage is a jack of all trades, master of none. Jaina enjoys many competitive matchups, but has yet to find a contest she can dominate. Maybe Quest Resurrect Priest, looming on the horizon, offers an opportunity. 

Dragon Hunter is still a snap, but Mech Paladin is another archetype set to suffer with the increasing popularity of Galakrond Warrior and Galakrond Resurrect Priest. Unsurprisingly, the archetype’s playrate fell across all ranks this week, with considerable losses at Legend. 

Shaman is still flat-lining. 

Warlock’s long, slow decline continued this week, even as Control players jettisoned Chaos Gazer for the battle-tested Bad Luck Albatross. Control Galakrond Warlock is looking weak in light of poor matchups against Galakrond Warrior and Dragon Hunter, while Zoo is swiftly disappearing from the meta.


Druid

Despite remaining among the upper meta’s three most popular classes, Druid’s grip on the format is loosening. Embiggen Druid maintains a prominent role at lower ranks, but is quickly disappearing at Legend; Highlander Mage and Dragon Hunter have done work against Malfurion, holding this once-dominant meta breaker in check at higher ranks. 

Although a slight uptick in play over the past two days hints at an improving matchup spread, Embiggen Druid’s fall from grace between ranks five and Legend is still remarkable; over the span of a month, Malfurion went from controlling over 25% of the meta to just 8.5% today (5.74% at Legend). 

That has everything to do with the meteoric rise of Dragon Hunter, which continues to be a pain in Malfurion’s butt, but recent meta developments may actually be improving the picture for Druid. For one thing, Galakrond Rogue remains dominant at higher ranks, ensuring that Embiggen Druid has a steady source of prey. Second, Galakrond Warrior is on the rise, and this is a very good matchup for Embiggen Druid; over a sample of 1,800 games between five and Legend, Druid has beaten Garrosh in almost 60% of cases. 

Quest Druid is falling in popularity across all ranks, but the drop is most pronounced at Legend, where the archetype’s recent descent (from a peak representation of 8.57% to 4.67%) is somewhat surprising, given excellent matchups into Galakrond Rogue and Galakrond Warrior. It's probably Jaina's fault; the matchup against Highlander Mage is pitiful. Quest Druid’s weakness to Hunter is becoming an outsized problem across all ranks, leading to an uneven matchup spread that has disincentivized play over the past week. 

Recent experimentation on the part of Grandmaster Viper has led to a new build of Quest Druid, one which features BEEEES!!! and Floop’s Glorious GoopBADCARDNAME. Alongside Starfall, the package empowers insane swing turns, allowing for massive development on the back of a board clear.  The swing potential of Gloop has fared especially well against Dragon Hunter, improving the already-weak matchup by a few percentage points. You may also see benefits against Galakrond Rogue. 


Hunter

Much to the dismay of Warlock and Mage, Hunter remains the most popular class in the upper format, outnumbering both Rogue and Druid. The class is entering a notable period of consolidation; players continue to migrate from Dragon Highlander Hunter and Quest Hunter, opting instead for the powerful aggressive strategy offered by Dragon Hunter.

Despite his recent dominance, Rexxar stands on shaky ground. Galakrond Warrior is back, and Anduin has made a triumphant return in the guise of Galakrond Resurrect Priest. Thus far, Hunter’s three primary archetypes have been little match for these strategies. Priest, in particular has become a serious impediment to Rexxar’s growth. We only expect the situation to grow more dire over the coming week; both Warrior and Priest are set for further expansion. 

With the undeniable power of Rotnest Drake and Stormhammer, Dragon Hunter has thoroughly captured the playerbase’s attention. Following on weeks of steady growth at higher ranks, the archetype’s playrate continues to expand, having reached a peak representation of 14.23% over the past three days between ranks five and Legend. 

How things shake out with the coming season reset is an open question, but we can expect Dragon Hunter, with the lure of quick games and exciting aggro play, to remain a popular strategy. There are, however, two trends at work that have weakened the archetype’s profile over the last week: the resurgence of Galakrond Warrior and the emergence of a popular (and powerful) new Priest archetype, Galakrond Resurrect Priest. Dragon Hunter, indeed Hunter in general, is weak to both archetypes; Rexxar can’t be happy about their recent growth. 

In the rise of Dragon Hunter, Face Hunter has been largely forgotten. The archetype’s playrate fell to a new low this week of 2.29% between ranks five and Legend. Resurrect Priest and Galakrond Warrior are, indeed, terrible matchups for Face Hunter. 

As with Face Hunter, so too with Dragon Highlander Hunter and Quest Hunter. Both archetypes continued to decline this week. Though competitive against Galakrond Warrior and Galakrond Rogue, Dragon Highlander Hunter has suffered severe losses to Galakrond Resurrect Priest, Dragon Hunter and Mech Paladin, an archetype whose representation remains robust on the cusp of Legend. Quest Hunter is prey to Galakrond Warrior and Galakrond Resurrect Priest. 


Mage

Jaina is a victim of her own mediocrity. 

Paired with Dragoncaster, Luna's Pocket Galaxy remains an immensely-powerful card; Jaina has a fighting chance against just about anyone, but a fighting chance, in this meta, isn't quite enough. Highlander Mage is competitive, but far from outstanding, against almost every prominent deck in the meta, including Galakrond Rogue, Mech Paladin and Galakrond Warrior. These are fair matchups, but in no one of them is Jaina dominant, a fact that depresses her winrate.

And the Hunter problem cannot simply be ignored. Jaina is pitiful against Rexxar, especially his most popular archetype, Dragon Hunter, a deck against which Mage only manages to prevail in about 30% of cases. So long as Rexxar maintains his grip on the meta, Jaina will always stand on unsteady ground. 

While the archetype is unlikely to return to its recent peak playrate of 13.35%, Highlander Mage saw a small bump in popularity this week, rising to a representation of 9.44% between ranks five and Legend. Jaina’s recent growth is even more pronounced at Legend, where Highlander Mage currently accounts for 11.55% of the format. 


Paladin

Despite continued success against Dragon Hunter, Highlander Mage and Embiggen Druid, Mech Paladin’s stock fell this week in light of two, related meta trends: the resurgence of Galakrond Warrior and the emergence of Galakrond Resurrect Priest. Neither of these developments is a boon for Uther; he loses both matchups about 60% of the time. 

Alongside the prominence of Galakrond Rogue, the rise of Warrior has contributed to Mech Paladin’s declining playrate at higher ranks. The archetype has returned to its fringe status at Legend, where it now accounts for only 2.24% of the meta (down from a recent high of 6.2%). 

Losses have also been sustained at lower ranks, especially around the rank five floor; from a peak of 7.06% two weeks ago, Mech Paladin has now fallen to a representation of 4.56% between ranks five and one. The archetype takes on a more pronounced role on the cusp of Legend; at rank 1, Mech Paladin now accounts for 7.33% of the format. 

Pure Paladin and Holy Wrath Paladin have effectively disappeared from the format. 


Priest

Anduin should be feeling pretty good about himself. Not only is he the beneficiary of a new archetype in Galakrond Resurrect Priest, but he’s also well-positioned in the current meta, leveraging exceptional matchups against Druid, Hunter and Mech Paladin. Against most of the format, this decks feels straight-up powerful. Galakrond Rogue remains a major problem, as does Highlander Mage, but Priest is exceptionally strong against Galakrond Warrior, an archetype staking a firm claim to play at higher ranks. 

Galakrond Resurrect Priest’s growth between five and Legend has been modest, not meteoric, but in an upper meta still dominated by Galakrond Rogue, any rise in Priest’s playrate is something of a miracle. This past week, Galakrond Resurrect Priest grew to a representation of 4.75% between ranks five and one. Still hampered by Valeera, the archetype currently controls 3.19% of the field at Legend, but we expect the deck’s representation to increase next week.  

Our featured build acknowledges the undeniable truth that Grave Rune is too strong to run as a one-of. Paired with an overpowered minion like Khartut Defender or Convincing Infiltrator (or, heavens be praised, Catrina Muerte), Grave Rune is a win condition all by itself; in fact, the card boasts the highest played winrate in the archetype, above even Zerek’s Cloning GalleryBADCARDNAME. We need to run two. Sandhoof Waterbearer, as the lowest-performing minion in the deck, is a relatively easy cut; with Mass Resurrection, we rarely run short of ways to build a board. 

Quest Resurrect Priest continued to decline this week, as Priest players transitioned to the more-powerful Galakrond Resurrect Priest strategy. Fringe at Legend, the archetype fell to a playrate below 3% between ranks five and one. 


Rogue

Valeera remains an outsized force in the meta, controlling over 25% of the format at Legend. As in weeks past, Rogue’s playrate decreases progressively as you near the rank five floor, falling to a healthy representation of 12.85% at rank five, where Embiggen Druid maintains a significant presence. With the season reset, we expect the lower ranks to fill again with Galakrond Rogues as players start their climb to Legend in March. 

The most popular archetype at higher ranks, Galakrond Rogue continues to feature an excellent matchup spread, which, if anything, improved this week. Valeera wins handily against Mech Paladin and Dragon Hunter, while remaining competitive in positive matchups against Highlander Mage and Galakrond Warrior. With Quest Hunter returning to fringe status, and Embiggen Druid falling off, Rogue’s future looks bright. Best of all is the recent increase in Galakrond Resurrect Priest, an archetype against which Galakrond Rogue excels. 

Highlander Galakrond Rogue continued to decline this week, falling to a representation of 1.5% between ranks five and Legend. Weak to both Hunter and Embiggen Druid, the archetype feels overmatched at lower ranks, while poor winrates against Galakrond Rogue, Galakrond Warrior and Highlander Mage discourage play at Legend. 


Shaman

Nothing new to report for Shaman this week. The class remains mired in futile experimentation with Galakrond and Quest packages. Nothing looks good, much less worth featuring. Shaman is a mess. At the risk of vanity, I’ll leave you with a decklist I played to some success (55.4% over 83 games) at mid-Legend this month. Without further ado, I bring you Autofill Shaman, which is what happens when you add Thunderhead and select “Complete My Deck.”


Warlock

Warlock is not looking very good in the current meta. 

Despite middling success against Galakrond Rogue, an abysmal matchup against Galakrond Warrior is hurting Control Galakrond Warlock’s chances at higher ranks. Poor results against Highlander Mage don’t help, either. Taken together, the situation at Legend, where the archetype has fallen to a playrate under 2%, is becoming increasingly dire. 

Hunter has become the main impediment closer to the rank five floor, but Gul’dan has actually proven resilient to the advances of Dragon Hunter; over a sample of 590 games between five and Legend, Control Galakrond Warlock has won nearly 49.5% against Rexxar, which is damn near a feat given how hopeless Warlock seemed at first sight. The rise of Galakrond Resurrect Priest is another potential brightspot, as Gul’dan seems to be winning this emerging matchup quite handily, but whether Anduin’s popularity will grow sufficient to support Warlock is unlikely. 

In terms of deckbuilding, the brief flirtation with Chaos Gazer seems to be over; most players have already transitioned back to the Bad Luck Albatross build, which for obvious reasons improves the Highlander Mage matchup considerably. 

Though competitive against Embiggen Druid, Galakrond Rogue, Dragon Hunter and Mech Paladin, Galakrond Zoo Warlock has no dominant matchup to recommend play; there’s nothing, at this moment, that makes Zoo stand out from the crowd. In fact, there’s more here to disincentivize play, namely poor matchups against Galakrond Warrior (just awful) and Highlander Mage. With Galakrond Warrior on the rise, Zoo is in a tough spot. 


Warrior

Galakrond Warrior continued to gain steam this week, rising to an aggregate playrate of 7.22% between ranks five and Legend. The archetype remains far more popular at Legend, where it currently controls over 11% of the format, than at lower ranks. Galakrond Warrior’s representation rises gradually as you climb, from a low of 5% at rank 5 to over 8% at rank 1. 

Any further rise in Anduin’s playrate would be a serious impediment for Garrosh; the matchup against Galakrond Resurrect Priest, in which Warrior wins only 30% of games, is abysmal. Outside of Priest (and Druid, to a lesser extent), Warrior’s matchup spread remains strong, a key factor in the class’ growing playrate. Garrosh is competitive against Highlander Mage, which has become a major player between five and Legend, exceptional against Mech Paladin and dominant against Hunter and Warlock. Rogue is an eminently-winnable matchup, which advocates for play at higher ranks. From a global perspective, Malfurion is the only real problem, but as we’ve seen, both Embiggen Druid and Quest Druid are in decline. 

Galakrond Warrior continues to undergo furious refinement, as players prominent and not struggle to discover the optimal build. In this vein, Grandmaster Monsanto’s variant can be considered the new hotness. Monsanto foregoes all charge damage (both Leeroy Jenkins and Kor’kron EliteBADCARDNAME) in order to fit Eternium Rover and SN1P-SN4P, inclusions that had, until recently, fallen out of favor. 

The list certainly feels more consistent with six 1-drops (and Sn1p is brutally good in this meta), but we fear the loss of all combo potential. We’re not sold on dropping Leeroy yet, but will await further data before drawing any conclusions on this most recent iteration. 

Highlander Control Warrior continues to lose players, dropping to an aggregate playrate of 1.68% between ranks five and Legend, but the archetype actually looks to be stronger than one would expect. While weak to Highlander Mage and Galakrond Rogue, Highlander Control Warrior features excellent matchups against the meta’s aggressive strategies, including Mech Paladin and (all-important in this day and age) Dragon Hunter. An admirable winrate against Galakrond Resurrect Priest is another credit for the archetype.

Our featured build takes its inspiration from recent innovations on the ladder. Over the past week, an increasing number of players have dropped the rather slow Dragon Roar / Warmaster VooneBADCARDNAME combo for a nimble Lackey package with Boom Squad and Grand Lackey Erkh. In preliminary play, the updated list appears to have improved matchups against both Highlander Mage and Galakrond Rogue. 


There you have it. The Standard meta saw only minimal changes this week, but that's okay. We're all waiting for the announcement of the announcement of the announcement, anyway. How was your climb this month? Did we miss out on a meta-breaking archetype? Let us know in the comments!