A meta-analysis and tier projection one week after the expansion release

Hearthstone /r/CompetitiveHS /u/Faerthos 178 comments

Hello my name is Faerthos, and I’m (used to be) a high legend ladder player. Right now, I am an editor for Team Phantasma. In the post below, I am going to make a quick analysis about the meta right now and place the dominant decks into the tiers I see them ending to when the meta stabilizes.

Credentials: my current rank and ladder games played this season

Before starting the analysis, I would like to state that as a basis for this work I used statistics provided from HSreplay.net as well as my personal experience from playing Ladder on high legend (on EU server mostly). Finally, most of my predictions are based on things that happened before and seem very likely to happen again (like highlander decks getting significantly stronger during the last expansion of the year) or after evaluating the power level and potential of certain cards, not useable in any viable deck right now.

A small explanation of the tiers I used to rank the decks analyzed below:

· Tier 1 : incredibly strong decks, that are all-around strong, and unless changes happen, are about to dominate the meta

· Tier 2 : really good decks, have good matchups overall as well as a big weakness that makes them differ from S Tier decks. Overall worthy to play.

· Tier 3 : good decks, with strengths and weaknesses. Weaker than Tier 1 decks, can perform but not as frequently as higher Tier decks. In general, those decks are around 50% win rate.

· Tier 4 : decks under construction or extremely situational decks, these decks exist to capitalize a strength they have, but aside that they are generally weak and not worth it to play.

I won’t rate or analyze decks that are nowhere near a competitive level, like Quest Warlock for example, nor decks that are made to run certain cards and combos that can’t be used (at least currently) on a usual basis like Mogu Rogue.

Warrior

Starting with the strongest class at the moment, warrior is definitely a major winner of the meta change as of now. Right now, there are 3 different archetypes of the class being played: 1) Control-Taunt Warrior, 2) Tempo Warrior and 3) Bomb warrior. Of those 3, control lineup seems to be the strongest, but the other 2 shouldn’t be excluded from the conversation since they average over 50% winrates.

With the new expansion, Control warrior added 5 different cards into its already strong arsenal.

1st) Frightened Flunky is an extremely strong card for warrior since most of the times the class had a lack of possible inclusions on 2 mana. It drops a 2/2 body with taunt that also creates another taunt card. It replaced the Weapons Project which was a neutral effect card that got played mostly in order to accumulate armor for shield slam to kill giants, or to combo it with Harrison Jones to draw 3 cards, both of those effects far inferior to the sheer value Frightened Flunky provides. Also, since most mages adopted the Highlander archetype, early giants became rare to the point no need for Weapons Project existed.

2nd) Restless Mummy replaced Militia Commander as the 4 mana cost rush minion. Although Militia commander stats are superior to restless mummy, the reason it got replaced is that warriors usage of those rush minions were to just clear the board and not to stick in it. Thus a minion that can clear 2 enemies and do 6 dmg before it dies, is superior to one that clears only one and does 5.

3rd) Plague of Wrath replacing Big Game Hunter (BGH). Plague of wrath is a hard clear card, that lines up perfectly with Dr. Boom’s Arsenal of hero powers as well as with Warpath, while BGH was a tech choice mostly for mages giants or rogues big van cleefs, both of those are quite rare now.

4th) Armagedillo a 4/7 taunt body for 6 mana that bolsters up your in-hand taunt minions by +2/+2 at the end of each turn. A pretty good card by itself, it lines up really well with Tomb Warden and Frightened Flunky. It’s more of a finishing move rather than a strong play that will change the pace of the game. The problem with this card is that it is a proactive card in a reactive deck resulting in a change of playstyle after it drops, however this changes if Dr.Boom, Mad Genius was played previously due to its passive: Rush. In general, a really strong card that could possibly create its own archetype, with the release of certain cards in the next expansions.

5th) Tomb Warden. Oh Welcome back Saronite Chain Gang. This card is by far the strongest addition to this deck in this expansion. It’s an 8 mana 3/6 taunt Mech minion, that summons a copy of itself, and as saronite chain gang was originally, the copy keeps the buffs of the original card. It lines up “heavenly” with Armagedillo and Dr.Boom, Mad Genius, and it is the final tombstone of every aggro deck that the warrior faces.

To conclude, Control warrior was one of the strongest and The meta defining deck of the previous expansion, which winning condition was to tank all of the opponent deck’s winning conditions, or to just fatigue them. In this expansion, it adds another one on being able to stick heavy boards which can fasten up the result of the game. I believe that the deck hasn’t seen its final form yet, but I’m pretty sure it is going to end up being extremely strong.

Projected rank: Tier 1

Tempo warrior is a new archetype, that plays mostly around the old enrage mechanic, damaging its own minions for damage burst. Deck consists mostly of rush/charge minions, damage inflicting cards like Cruel Taskmaster,Inner Rage, and cards that can capitalize from that as Froathing Berserker, Battle Rage, Rampage etc. The new aspect added on this deck are the reborn minions and the Bloodsworn Mercenary, a card that duplicates a damaged friendly minion. Its win condition is simple, deal massive amounts of damage to the opponent face, but that requires sticking a board and that’s hard versus the control nature of the best decks in the game right now.

Projected rank: Tier 4

Finally, Bomb warrior is the same old deck from the Rise of Shadows expansion, no change happened. It loses to its control brother and to Murloc Paladins but still the meta is early and we can’t be sure about the final outcome.

Projected rank: Tier 3

Priest

Quite Possibly the winner of the expansion. Priest resurged as one of the dominant classes in the current meta, with one of the strongest decks overall in Combo Priest. Also there is a Resurrect Priest archetype that also is good but not as much as Combo. Both decks are being based on the old good Divine Spirit – Inner Fire/Topsy Turvy combo, the thing that differs is the way they are producing their sticky boards.

Combo Priest is a deck based on the early power of strong minion that line up pretty well with Priest’s heal identity such as Northshire Cleric, Lightwarden, Injured Blademaster and Injured Tol’vir and it snowballs through card-drawing and stable early pressure which up to any point can be turned into lethal situations lined up with Divine-Spirit Inner Fire. Aside the early pressure though, High Priest Amet can create lethal situations by himself, being a hard removable card that creates other incredibly sturdy minions, potentially turning the whole game by itself. Finally, Psychopomp is a card that lines perfectly with the whole lineup, being able to create an Injured Blademaster with reborn on turn 4 or even combo-ing it up with Amet to create 3 7-health minions turn 8. As of now, deck seems extremely strong having only but few bad matchups but is expected to drop a bit on power as decks will start including more silence tech cards and counter plays to stop its crazy ride.

Projected rank: Tier 1-2

Resurrect Priest on the other hand, is a more late game deck, being based on dropping high-cost sticky minion and resurrect them again and again, drawing opponents removal cards, up to the point he succumbs to the constant pressure. Currently there are quite some iterations of this deck, all of them though, seems to utilize the Activate the Obelisk Priest Quest, as well as cards like Penance, which is used to hold the early game as well as help with quest activation, and Plague of Death, which is the ultimate late game clear. Although the archetype is interesting, it averages low win rates versus the most dominant decks in the ladder, resulting it to have little if any viability.

Projected rank: Tier 4

Mage

Going to the most played class after the release of the Saviors of Uldum expansion, mages poses multiple lineups and lots of them are really viable. Although its main core is the same with before, many additions came to be deck defining. Some of those are:

1st) Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron, a card that can potentially be a win condition by itself, is a 10 mana spell that casts 10 random spells on random targets. It lines up really well with Kalecgos as well as with Tortollan Pilgrim and while it’s random, most of the times it has a huge positive effect worthy of the mana spent on playing it.

2nd) Tortollan Pilgrim is an 8mana 5/5 minion that discovers a copy of a spell in your deck and casts it with random targets. This card is extremely strong on mage by itself, making him able to create a tempo swing by itself casting game-changing cards and more importantly without consuming the actual card. Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron, Power of Creation and Luna’s Pocket Galaxy being among the best cards you can discover, it can also help you stale the game through Blizzard and Frost Nova, or even clear it with Flamestrike. Really versatile card that adds a lot of raw power to an already strong class.

3rd) Naga Sand Witch. It shares its name with one of the most broken cards wild meta has ever seen, but gladly it shares half of its effect and through Battlecry. Making every spell in your hand cost 5, can be from really bad to game breaking, depending on the time played. Most of the times, it fastens up Mage’s gameplan by allowing him to answer more effectively on enemy threats with cards like Flamestrike and Blizzard, as well as creating tempo with Power of Creation. Concluding, a strong card but nowhere near its previous counterpart. However it can still turn to be problematic as well in the long run, depending the cards Mage class will get in future expansions.

4th) Khartut defender. A reborn minion with taunt and deathrattle that restores health to your hero. Overall good addition in a control lineup.

5th) Flame ward. An extremely good card against aggro lineups that allows, however, the opponent to make one hit before effects hit in, which is a problem versus decks like combo priest. Has a pretty cool synergy with Ancient Mysteries.

6th) Ancient Mysteries. Card seems strong at first sight but it’s really strong actually. 2 mana draw 1 specific card from your deck and play it for 0 mana is a big powerplay for turn 2 by itself. Has pretty cool synergy with Mana Cyclone as well although it hasn’t been pursued yet.

Now as for the decks, we have Control Mage, which is the list that runs 2x Doomsayer, Frost Nova and Blizzard. Its win condition lies on the Mountain Giants/Conjurer’s Calling combo, as well as strong big minions with game changing effects like Kalecgos, Alexstrasza, Archmage Antonidas and King Phaoris. All those cards surround the main core which is almost identical to any Mage deck at the moment and consists of Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron, Tortollan Pilgrim, Naga Sand Witch, Luna’s Pocket Galaxy, Arcane Intellect and Power of Creation. Deck seems extremely strong, with multiple winning conditions making it hard to counter. Also a lot of its power is based around Luna’s Pocket Galaxy like the previous Mage decks we were facing in Rise of Shadows, so we can expect it to stay strong and define the future meta unless changes happens.

Projected rank: Tier 1

Then we have the Highlander Mage archetype, the core is the same with Control mage, only it runs 1 copy of each card and includes strong cards as well like Zephrys the Great, Siamat and Reno the Relicologist. Although it’s less stable than its Control counterpart, the sheer power of those cards may carry it to good winning percentages.

Projected rank: Tier 2

Following, we have Dragon mage, which is the most minion based Mage deck we can see in ladder. Also strong, bases a lot of its power into the effect of Luna’s Pocket Galaxy mixed with the dragon minion type and combos. Although rarer than the other 2 Mage decks, Dragon mage averages good win rates as well, and is somewhat an underestimated archetype right now.

Projected rank: Tier 2

Finally there are some iterations that play the Raid the Sky Temple Mage Quest. Although the quest doesn’t seem strong by its own, there are not enough stats to safely judge these decks and from what we have until now, these Mage Decks have mostly losing matchups. My personal belief is that there are just not enough combos between the strong Mage cards that we have right now and the Mage Quest, thus those archetypes are failing.

Projected rank: Tier 4

Paladin

Paladin is another one of the winners of the expansion, at least until now. The class had the revival of good old Murloc paladin archetype, a new archetype arising in the form of Quest Paladin as well as keeping the previous Mech Paladin and Holy Wrath Paladin decks. A Formidable opponent, with many viable decks, Paladin seems to be set to dominate the meta in the foreseeable future.

Straight to the deck analysis, we have the resurgence of Murloc Paladin, a good old archetype that was abandoned after the Whispers of the Old Gods/A night in Karazhan/Mean streets of Gadgetzan rotation, is rising once more and the reason behind it is a new card called Tip The Scales. An 8mana spell that summons 7 Murlocs from your deck. This card is a hard win condition by itself, but still costs too much. Then Prismatic Lens comes into play and allows you to drop this powerful 8mana spell on turns 4-5. Drawing 7 cards and playing them at the same time in the board on turn 5 is ridiculously strong even if they get cleared right away. By drawing your whole deck, cards like Chef Nomi and Zephrys the Great are enabled, ensuring the decks victory. Right now this archetype is the strongest Paladin has to offer having winnable matchups with almost every class except warrior. The deck is also almost in its final form, hardly someone can change something from the current list, thus I expect it to continue being strong based on its good matchups, but it won’t be a pillar deck where the meta would be built around.

Projected rank: Tier 2

After Murloc Paladin comes Quest Paladin, a new deck that runs the Making Mummies Paladin Quest. In reality, the Quest Paladin deck currently being played is a combination of the newly introduced reborn cards and some of the older mech paladin cards. While it’s not a really good by itself, having bad matchups with mages, priests and shamans, the sole reason behind its existence is that it demolishes control warriors. Versus control warrior this deck averages a near 80% winrate which is insane, it almost mirrors in terms of winrates the old Quest Rogue-Odd Warrior matchup. Thus as long as Control warrior is the primary deck of the meta, Quest Paladin will have a use.

Projected rank: Tier 3

Then we have Mech Paladin. Nothing changed with the arrival of Uldum for Mech Paladin. Deck continues to work as it did before, serving as a good Rogue-Warrior-Druid counter. Also with the removal of hard single target techs from control warrior like BGH and Ironbeak Owl, we can expect Mech Paladin to be even stronger on this matchup. It’s one of those decks that currently doesn’t enjoy much popularity since most people prefer to play decks with cards from the newest expansion, however it’s quite as strong as it was if not stronger.

Projected rank: Tier 3

Finally, we close the Paladin class, with Holy Wrath Paladin which is the same it was before, with no additions happening with the new expansion. Although tries have been done to refine the archetype, adding more 1 health minions as well as Salhet’s Pride to draw them, in order to draw the entire deck faster, deck remains weak in comparison to the other playable decks at the moment. I can see it becoming a niche pic in order to catch players off guard, but unless balance changes are made, this deck is going nowhere.

Projected rank: Tier 4

Hunter

Another interesting class which was pretty strong before the expansion release. Hunter saw lots of play in this first week of Saviors of Uldum, which was as it seems right now, focused in the wrong direction, since the decks that got most of the crowd’s attention were Midrange Hunter and different Iterations of Quest Hunter. After a week, according to hsreplay.net, the best hunter deck is the Highlander one, followed by Mech and Secret Hunter respectively. The most important additions the class have seen with the new expansion was definitely Hyena Alpha. A really strong card that essentially summons a 7/7 statwise, distributed in 3 bodies for 4 mana with the condition you are wearing a Secret. Pressure Plate is also a nice addition, with a strong effect that if camouflaged well by your playstyle may lead to game changing results (most common one is killing Kalecgos the turn he is played). Finally there is Hunter’s pack, while not a tempo card and maybe a useless one in specific matchups i.e. vs aggro, its value can’t be ignored, while it also lines perfectly with Zul’Jin, giving the class more resources for the long run.

Starting with Highlander Hunter, this is the deck to play right now. The meta suits it perfectly and personally I really want to see how the situation will be handled in the future. Deck has winning matchups with Control Warriors, Priests, Mages and Shamans. Its only weak point is Murloc Paladins who outrun it but still, being favorable with 80% of the decks that fill the ladder is insane. Deck is based around all the strong cards Hunter class possesses, without a specific combo that will change the game, beating you through sheer value. Super important card to the deck’s success is Subject 9, which when played draws 6 (at max value) cards from your deck, making the rest of the game much easier. Dinotamer Brann is also included, but personally I haven’t yet seen him having a game-changing moment. Zephrys the Great and Zul’Jin are must have cards for this deck. I am really curious to see if the deck will continue to have good results in the future, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be an easy deck to beat.

Projected rank: Tier 3

Continuing, we have Mech Hunter, which is the same it was before the release of the expansion. Deck seems really fine, winning fellow Hunters, Mages, Rogues while succumbing to Paladins and Control Warrior. Personally, I expect it to remain as it was, a stable all-around deck, being generally good overall.

Projected rank: Tier 3

Secret Hunter, is another one viable Hunter Deck archetype which as its name suggests is built around secrets. Sites and sources suggest that it is a good deck and give good win rates and matchups. Personally I cannot find the way this archetype can win the stronger decks of the meta unless it highrolls out of proportion. It doesn’t have a strong finishing move, neither a card with game changing effect. Even its Zul’Jin usage in the end is a glorified Mysterious Challenger of the old, which is by no means a win condition on its own. I expect its win rate to drop once meta stabilizes.

Projected rank: Tier 4

Finally, we end up with Midrange Hunter, which was the most hyped up deck the starting days of the expansion, only to fail miserably and drop to a 45% win rate deck right now. The archetype was already viable before the release of the expansion, and was expected to be even better with the inclusion of Scarlet Webweaver, a 6 mana 5/5 that reduced on Battlecry the cost of a random beast in your hand by 5 mana. Unfortunately the deck didn’t manage to justify those expectations yet. I firmly believe however, that there is more room for improvement and refinement and that an iteration of this deck is going to resurface somewhere in the future, possibly after some balance changes or the next expansion. For the moment being however, it is not a strong contender.

Projected rank: Tier 4

Druid

One of the most hyped classes before the expansion release and during its first days, Druid saw a new archetype arising in Quest Druid while retaining the Token Druid archetype that was played before. Lots of good cards were added to the class, so much that right now we are speaking for a completely new identity.

  1. First of all, Untapped Potential, the Druid Quest, is one of the strongest in the game. It is really easy to get completed and by the moment of its completion playing against it feels like trying to climb a hill with a bicycle stacked on 6th gear.
  2. Oasis Surger is a really strong card by itself, summoning 2 3/3 with rush on 5 mana or a 5/5 with rush, but having those effect combined and summoning 2 5/5 with rush is a crazy power that nearly every class should be afraid of.
  3. Hidden Oasis, summoning a 6/6 with taunt as well as restoring 12 health to your hero, is the definition of good control card which as Oasis Surger before, becomes incredibly strong with the effects combined. A play of this card alone can end a game vs an aggro deck.
  4. Wardruid Loti, was a card introduced on Rastakhan’s Rumble and was the definition of a situational card. Depending on the problems you had to face, you got to choose one of her four different forms. Combining them all together created a super minion that drops on 3mana with 4/6 Rush, Stealth, Taunt and Poisonous. A really valuable asset for any kind of deck.
  5. Anubisath Defender is Arcane Tyrant on a stickier body and with Taunt. The fact that it drops on 0 mana if you cast a spell which costs 5 or more is an extremely strong after-effect following a strong card.
  6. Overflow is a heal 5 to all characters, draw 5 cards kind of card. It reminds of Ultimate Infestation, although in a way worse form, that still manages to be pretty strong in comparison to average cards. Lines up pretty well with Anubisath Defender.
  7. BEEEES!!! Is another really strong card implemented in Saviors of Uldum. On 3 mana you summon 4 1/1 Bees that attack a target of your choice. If the target dies before every Bee attacked, then the remaining Bees remain as 1/1 tokens on board.
  8. Crystal Merchant lines up also really well with the quest, allowing you to draw cards if you have unspent mana in the end of your turn.
  9. Elise the Enlightened is another really good card, intended for Highlander decks, that however is seeing usage in both Quest Druid and Malygos, when none of those 2 are of the Highlander kind. The reason behind her inclusion is that druid possess a really good card drawing ability. She lines up extremely well with previous Druid legendary Flobbidinous Floop, creating game changing situations, enabling the Malygos Druid Archetype.
  10. Worthy Expedition is an auto include card for Quest Druid.
  11. Garden Gnome, on 4 mana if you hold a spell of 5mana cost or more it summons 2 2/2 treants alongside its own 2/3 body resulting into a 4 mana 6/7 stats split on 3 bodies. If played correctly it is a good card, however the limitation and the fact that the effect doesn’t suit any other playstyle than Token Druid, have this card deemed the least usable one in Druid’s current expansion card set.

As we can see, Druid had a lot of really good card implemented in this expansion and as a result, its whole identity changed overnight. Let’s proceed to the deck analysis.

Firstly, we find Quest Druid, the new and most hyped deck of the expansion at its beginnings. Quest Druid used the strong “Choose One” cards added on this expansion in addition to the previous Druid “Choose One” cards trying to capitalize them as much as possible. While many iterations of Quest Druid have seen play, some playing Zephrys, others Cenarius, Chef Nomi, King Phaoris, Bloodmage Thalnos etc the deck hasn’t been refined or finalized yet, leaving room for grow. As of its matchups, current stats suggest that it falls short before the main forces of the current meta, however I really believe in a change with or without balance changes in the near future that will make this deck a really strong meta contender. That is because the cards it contains and the effects of them are pretty strong by its own, and while few of them can be described as winning conditions, the overall tempo gained by playing them and the addition of some suiting strong cards with the decks refinement will allow it to excel in ladder.

Note than in Quest Druid, I include every iteration of a Druid Deck running the Untapped Potential quest, so Malygos Druid or APM Druid are being considered iterations of the Quest Druid archetype.

Projected rank: Tier 2

Then there is Token Druid, an existing archetype that got reinforced with some strong cards to fix its weaknesses like Overflow, which provides much needed card draw, an aspect missing from the previous version of the deck as well as overall good additions on Garden Gnome and Anubisath Defender. While it doesn’t have the extremely powerful drops Quest Druid possess, Token Druid has proven that it’s the most stable druid archetype, having survived in the meta regardless how much it changed. I expect Token Druid to remain a viable choice in the future as it is now. The only problem Token Druid has, is that Combo Priest is the deck’s nemesis, and If Combo Priest is strong, it’s unavoidable that Token Druid will be seeing less play.

Projected rank: Tier 3

Warlock

Warlock is probably the least playable class in the game and definitely the one with the least working archetypes. But still, Warlock got some pretty strong cards to enhance its Zoo library, as well as create a viable Zoo deck once more. The most important cards added were:

  1. Sinister Deal, a 1mana cost spell that discovers a lackey. Even though the card is weak by itself, it has interesting interactions with Magic Carpet as well as EVIL Recruiter, thus making it a safe inclusion to zoo decks.
  2. EVIL Recruiter, a 3 mana 3/3 that can sacrifice a lackey to summon a 5/5 demon on battlecry. Insane card, summoning a total of 8/8 stats in 2 different bodies while sacrificing a 1/1 lackey. Depending of the turn it drops, this card can win a game by itself.
  3. Neferset Thrasher, a 3 mana 4/5 that deals 3 damage to your hero each time it attacks. By itself alone it doesn’t seem a good card. It drops on 3 mana and can be easily cleared by Warrior’s or Mage’s, and dealing 3 damage on yourself each time you attack with it is nasty, especially when you are facing tempo decks where trades are the optimal way of playing. What makes it a safe inclusion in zoo decks at the moment, is the good synergies it has with Diseased Vulture and Duskbat.
  4. Diseased Vulture, a 4 mana 3/5 that each time your hero takes damage on your turn, it summons a random 3 cost minion. A really good card by itself, if lined up correctly with cards like Neferset Thrasher and Crystallizer it can create really good value. The true power of this card however, is that it transforms Neferset Thrasher from a bad card into one that opponent has to remove no matter what, since if lined up together, this combo can be a win condition on its own.

The rest of the warlock cards didn’t stand out as those that I mentioned above, however some of them are pretty interesting and will probably work under a different archetype that doesn’t exist at the moment. Expired Merchant and Impbalming are strong cards that can be used in future expansions as well as Riftcleaver can see some use.

Now as of the decklist, the only Warlock class competitive deck at the moment is Zoolock. Zoolock’s win condition is making strong early plays, creating a sticky board that can connect a lot of damage to the opponent hero. From there on, Zoolock lists tend to differ, some going for a stronger board with the addition of giants and flooding cards like Duskbat, aiming for a strong finish with Grim Rally, while other decks go for the face direction running Leeroy Jenkins and Soulfires. As of now, there isn’t a standard Zoolock decklist that stands superior to the other and the archetype hasn’t been refined, but I can’t personally see many changes happening to the main core of cards as well as changing the decks power level. Matchup wise, Zoolocks are winning everything aside the two most dominant decks in the ladder, Control Warrior and Control Mage, while it has a 50-50 matchup with Shaman’s different archetypes.

Projected rank: Tier 3

Shaman

For Shaman, the expansion didn’t go as good as people had expected, at least for the time being. The class saw a new archetype rising in quest shaman, and existing archetypes getting molded like Murloc Shaman or Overload Shaman, but nothing exceptional. Out of the new cards introduced, the Totem archetype they planned to create saw no play and really strong cards like Plague of Murlocs and Earthquake didn’t fit into a viable deck.

Going straight to the decks, Quest Shaman was an expected archetype even before the expansion launched. The whole Battlecry playstyle fits the class really well as we have seen before with Shudderwock Shaman. Although a good deck in theory, in action it lacks a strong finishing move, as well as a way to connect damage to the opponent face. Deck feels not that much of a threat right now and it favors generally negative matchups with most of the decks out there. Still though, people are trying to refine the archetype into a viable form and keep playing it, amassing the most of the Shaman’s class playerbase. My personal opinion is that in order this deck to be playable, an inclusion of some strong battlecry cards is required, so, in other words, we must wait for the next expansions or even the expansions after that in order to see a strong Quest Shaman decklist.

Projected rank: Tier 4

Moving to Murloc Shaman, the deck is the same it was before, just enhanced with the strength of Murmy, a 1 drop 1/1 Reborn Murloc, and Fishflinger, a 2 mana 3/2 Murloc that gives a random Murloc to each player’s hand. Matchup wise Murloc Shaman remains the strongest Shaman archetype, being the fastest aggro-tempo deck out there, but people tend to not play it since it is almost identical to the previous expansion version and people want to test new things. As meta settles, I expect it to drop a bit of power since a lot of midrange decks are popping up, capable of controlling the board and dealing with it better, than Murloc Shaman can (for example Tempo Rogue)

Projected rank: Tier 2-3

Finally we have Overload Shaman. Deck was a thing before the Saviors of Uldum launch, and it continues to be a thing right now, only there has been a shift in its win condition, going from a stable tempo-midrange deck, aiming to finish you with damage spells and The Storm Bringer, to one that utilizes board presence to create lethal opportunities through Vaessina and Bloodlust. The strongest inclusion the deck has seen is surely the Mogu Fleshaper, a 7 mana 3/4 rush minion, that costs one less for each minion there is on the board. By itself alone is a strong card, but when paired with Mutate it can lead to a turn 3 free-trade followed by a random 8mana drop, a threat enough to pose a win condition by itself. For the time being, Overload Shaman seems a stable deck, with a 50% win rate, however its really bad matchups with Control Warrior and Hunter decks are preventing it from reaching the top competitive tiers.

Projected rank: Tier 3

Rogue

And last but not least, we have the Rogue class, which saw the introduction of some strong class cards with the expansions release, but not strong enough to create an archetype of their own. Rogue’s Quest, Bazaar Burglary, provides the class with a big tempo advantage, upgrading the 1/2 dagger into a 3/2 that makes hero immune whenever he attacks. Unfortunately though, due to the current meta that isn’t a tempo oriented one, the class can’t capitalize that power to its fullest potential. Pharaoh Cat is a insanely strong card, being a 1drop on 1/2 health that adds a random reborn minion to your hand. Rogue class didn’t have for a while a strong 1drop to run in its decks, making Pharaoh Cat an auto-include on almost every Rogue deck at the moment. Clever Disguise is a card made to support the Rogue Quest, adding 2 random spell from another class to your hand. Hooked Scimitar is another interesting card which seems to have made Tempo Rogue a thing again. It’s a 2/2 3mana cost weapon that has a combo: add +2 attack. Finally, Shadow of Death and Plague of Madness are some also interesting and strong cards which aren’t seeing much play at the moment due to either lack of viable archetype or lack of creative vision by deck innovators. As of now, Rogue has 2 competitive Ladder decks: Quest Rogue and Tempo Rogue.

Quest Rogue is the most played Rogue deck at the moment. Lots and different iterations of it exist right now, diversified by the package used to support the quest one, being a Highlander one, a Hooktusk one or a Thief one. However none of them has provided anything until now, all decks being sub 50% win rate. As you can understand, deck is no close to a perfect form or a refined one at least, and we can’t measure its power potential by its current form. My personal opinion is that meta doesn’t suit this kind of deck, being of little to no use versus Control Warrior or Control Mage. If changes happen and meta is shifted to a more tempo oriented one, you can expect this deck to dominate.

Projected rank: Tier 4

Tempo Rogue is the better Rogue list right now. It is essentially the successor to good old Odd rogue, summoning strong weapons alongside charge/damage inflicting minions, to zerg the opponent’s healthpool. It uses the weapon/pirate package as a base, and has Myra’s Unstable Element for draw power. Finally, it can run cards like Zephrys the Great or Chef Nomi, to capitalize its end game, adding another win condition to its arsenal. A good all-around deck, it favors a terrible matchup vs Control Warrior as well as a really good one vs Combo Priest. Much alike Quest Rogue, this decklist is being overshadowed by the current meta which is focused around Warrior/Mage classes. If a shift happens, the deck is expected to perform a lot better.

Projected rank: Tier 2

Final Thoughts

In this article, I tried to present my expectations, after taking into consideration the current meta stats, my personal experience in the game as well as some logical outcomes that have happened in the game before and will probably happen again. An example of that kind is that Highlander decks, usually are not that strong until last expansion of the year is released, increasing the pool of strong cards they can include, increasing their power by a lot. That happened before with Highlander Priest in Kobolds and Catacombs, and that will almost certainly happen again now. Have in mind though, that I’m no kind of medium to foresee crazy changes and the results of them.

Also, the meta in this expansion, will get solved much faster than the previous one. The reason behind this, is that a lot of decks created in the previous expansion, haven’t been changed, and remain extremely powerful, thus making cards introduced in this expansion “supporters”, rather than cards capable of creating their own meta. Of course there are going to be new archetypes, however they will have to find their place in an already existing meta that is created by previous expansion decklists, making it a lot harder for massive changes to happen.

Having made those things clear, I can now say, that it’s very likely we see some changes a few weeks from now, after the meta has settled. Those changes will most likely have to do with some crazy powerful enabler cards which don’t allow changes to happen. Two of those cards are Luna’s Pocket Galaxy, and Dr.Boom, Mad Genius. Luna’s Pocket Galaxy is the reason behind Mage’s dominance right now, and the fact that the class has almost 3 decks on Tier 1 or above. This card is a 5 mana spell with no immediate effect on the game that creates an entirely new game when played, allowing mage to perform miraculous feats, dropping insanely strong minions on 1 mana, combo-ing them with other strong spells and effects, which ultimately win the game for him. On the other hand, Dr.Boom, Mad Genius, is a card that provides insane amounts of value for a class that up until that point is just reacting to the plays the opponent makes. After Dr.Boom drops, Warrior becomes an almighty value machine, able to trade everything immediately, thus making it insanely hard for the opponent to stick board presence and threaten him.

On a completely different aspect, before crafting a deck of those to play/climb the ladder, remember that the power of a deck is being determined by its matchups and matchups are being determined by deck popularity. For example, Quest Shaman is a not that good kind of deck that it’s being played a lot more from what its winrate suggests. That creates an influx in the winrates of decks that beat it, since they are averaging wins they shouldn’t in first place. On the other hand, few people are playing combo priest, in contrast with deck’s high win rate, making tempo rogue who traditionally preys on priest decks for example, seem worse than it is actually. Finally, Quest paladin has an astonishing high win rate vs Control Warrior, but is mediocre vs pretty much all the rest decks. If Ladder is filled with Control Warrior, Quest Paladin is going to be a God-Tier deck, but that doesn’t make it a stable one. To conclude, before crafting or choosing a deck to play, try to understand a bit better the deck’s matchups as well as the meta that exists by that time, try to foresee possible changes (as much as possible always) and make the best choice in the long-run, not the best one in that exact moment.

Here is all previously mentioned decks in a list. Hope it helps.

Tier 1

  • Control Warrior
  • Control Mage
  • Combo Priest

Tier 2

  • Quest Druid
  • Murloc Paladin
  • Dragon Mage
  • Highlander Mage
  • Tempo Rogue

Tier 3

  • Bomb Warrior
  • Quest Paladin
  • Mech Hunter
  • Highlander Hunter
  • Overload Shaman
  • Murloc Shaman
  • Zoolock
  • Mech Paladin
  • Token Druid

Tier 4

  • Quest Rogue
  • Quest Shaman
  • Quest Mage
  • Tempo Warrior
  • Midrange Hunter
  • Secret Hunter
  • Holy Wrath Paladin
  • Resurrect Priest

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