hearthstone Sottle's Weekly Hearthstone Meta Analysis for Week of 08/11/14 - 15/11/14

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Sottle walks us through what's hot and what's not in the Hearthstone meta


Hearthstone Meta Analysis: Week of 08/11/14 - 15/11/14

Welcome to the first of a weekly series I hope to do where I discuss the state of the meta-game in Hearthstone. Which classes are strong? How should you be building your decks to counter them? Which is the best class to be playing right now to climb ladder? These are all questions that I hope to address in these articles. So let’s jump right in.


Common Decks and Cards.


The past week has seen the ladder continue to be dominated by aggressive decks such as Hunter and Zoo. The Hunter decks are varying enormously between standard Aggro decks that curve out all the way from Undertaker to Savannah Highmane, to new Facerush focused builds that run Arcane Shot, Wolfrider and Arcane Golem. Zoo has come back into popularity recently, since before it was easily countered by the extremely common Hunters running double Snake Trap. However, recently Hunters have started to move away from double Snake Trap to fit in a Freezing or Explosive Trap, which are much less destructive to Zoo.
Mixed in with these Aggro decks are Control decks teched out to deal with Aggro. Control Warrior and both Deathrattle and Control Priest are all very common choices right now. Although opinion varies on just how well these two classes do against Hunter and Zoo, it is almost universally agreed that they are the best two Control decks at dealing with the problems they present.
Another front runner at the moment is Miracle Rogue, which has a favourable winrate against Zoo as well as being perhaps the worst matchup in the game for Priest. However, they do run into issues against Warrior and aggressive Hunter builds depending on the exact build of Miracle Rogue you’re running. On the subject of different builds, there is currently a lot of diversity on ladder in terms of Miracle Rogue builds, because of this it is often difficult to know exactly what you’re playing against, lending an advantage to the Rogue player.
Handlock is a fairly rare occurrence on ladder, but can be an effective choice. It is heavily favoured against Zoo, and is believed by many (myself included) to have a reasonable matchup against Hunter if played correctly. It is also heavily favoured against all of the decks other people are playing to counter Hunter and Zoo, namely Rogue, Priest and Warrior. Unfortunately though, Handlock does get destroyed by the Facerush Hunter.
Harrison Jones and Acidic Swamp Ooze have featured prominently this week as a response to Hunter Weapon Aggro and the propensity of Shamans running double Doomhammer. Ironbeak Owl has also been making a comeback, particularly in Aggro due to the ever presence of Sludge Belcher and how annoying it is for these decks to remove, but also as a response from Control to early cards like Undertaker, Nerubian Egg, and Haunted Creeper.
Loatheb is also almost omnipresent on ladder, even Zoo has begun to adopt it as a must-include card. For perspective, 59 out of the 64 decklists submitted for the 16 players in the Blizzcon finals featured Loatheb. Although ladder and tournament meta is very different, this should give you a good indication of the perceived power level of this card.



Card Choices


So how should you build your decks to answer this meta? The simple answer is that you need to include a certain amount of early game or board clear focused cards in order to deal with the flood of Zoo and Hunter. Zombie Chow is an excellent tech card to help with this as it can help you get on the board early to fight through the early turns and since Control decks don’t really care about damage in the Hunter or Zoo matchups, the Deathrattle drawback is not a big issue.
Priests should be running additional early game cards such as Shadow Word Pain or Holy Smite. Warriors should be including additional removal cards such as Whirlwind, Slam, or Cleave and using Ironbeak Owl as their Silence card instead of Spellbreaker. Miracle Rogue should stray away from the greedier builds that involve things like Double Conceal and focus on including the maximum amount of removal cards and Double Earthen Ring Farseer. A second Blade Flurry is also not a bad idea.
The drawback of these cards is that they skew your matchups towards Aggro and make your deck weaker for when you run into other Control decks on the ladder. However, since the ladder is dominated by fast decks right now, increasing your winrate against these decks should be your number 1 priority.


Class Power Rankings


1. Warlock



In my opinion, Zoo is the strongest deck to ladder with currently. It has almost no terrible matchups against the currently played decks and is capable of beating anything when played well. Combine this with the fact that Handlock is also a great choice for those wanting to run a Control deck and there is little choice than to rank Warlock at #1 currently.

2. Hunter



Hunter, although not at its most dominant point in recent memory is still an extremely strong class. The sheer variety of viable builds make it hard to plan against, and the presence of Explosive, Freezing and Snake trap in the meta makes it extremely awkward to play around their traps in a BO1 situation. The more traditional Undertaker builds with a smooth curve are capable of beating anything on a good draw, whilst the all-out Facerush build has a strong matchup against Zoo, but can run into trouble when faced with Warriors or Priests.

3. Priest



Priest is included at #3 mainly for the strength of Deathrattle/Tempo Priest when it comes to dealing with Hunter and Zoo. A Deathrattle Priest that gets off to a reasonable start with Undertaker or Zombie Chow is immensely favoured in both of these matchups, however this build does suffer when up against Warrior. Any type of Priest you run will have trouble when faced with Miracle Rogue, this matchup will be borderline unwinnable, requiring you to draw perfectly and the Rogue to draw poorly for you to come out on top. In my opinion, there is little reason to run classic Control Priest over Deathrattle Priest currently. Doing so will weaken your matchup against the common aggro classes, whilst still leaving you unfavoured (although less so) against other Control Decks like Warrior and Handlock.

4. Rogue



Rogue is still in a good place due to being one of the strongest counters to Zoo and having a winnable matchup against Hunter. Also due to the sheer variety of possible Rogue builds that play relatively similarly in the early turns, you will usually have more information about your opponent's deck that they will about your's in a Best-Of-1 situation on ladder. Combine this with being a hard counter to Priest and Rogue has some solid matchups across the board. Unfortunately there is a non-zero amount of Handlock on ladder still, which is a terrible matchup for Rogue.

5. Warrior



Warrior comes in at a respectable 5th. It has a strong matchup against the Facerush Hunter, but can run in to trouble against more midrange focused lists with Double Houndmaster and Double Highmane. It has a tough, but winnable matchup against Zoo, which can be improved by using tech cards like Cleave/Whirlwind, and it is favoured against Priest, and most builds of Miracle Rogue.  However it is kept out of being a top 3 class because it has no hugely favoured matchups, it can still easily lose to any of the above matchups, and is unfavoured against Handlock.


6. Shaman



Shaman has taken a huge hit this week after a really strong showing in the week before. This is due in no small part to the inclusion of Acidic Swamp Ooze and/or Harrison Jones in many decks to answer the common Double Doomhammer build that was running rampant. With this build suffering against Aggro and their advantage in Control matchups lessened by Harrison, Shamans have had little choice to revert back to more traditional builds, which unfortunately don’t have too many exciting matchups. Still heavily favoured against Warrior, but for the most part sub-par against other common classes.

7. Mage




Mage is still struggling to find its identity, Aggro Mage is almost completely outclassed by Hunter, and offers no real reason to be played over the stronger option. Freeze Mage, while immensely powerful against the right matchups, is more a tournament deck due to how terrible its losing matchups are. This leaves Midrange Secrets Mage, which although powerful against classes like Warrior, suffers heavily to Hunter’s Flare and can be overrun by Zoo. Mage is also affected worse than most classes by the ever-present Loatheb.


8. Druid



Druid is in poor shape right now. Ramp Druid is too slow to fight through the flood of Hunter and Zoo, while Fast Druid, although capable of beating anything with the right draw can also suffer against these two important matchups. Although extremely strong against Warrior, this alone is not enough to carry it to being a powerful class. Druid players have experimented with revamping the old Watcher Druid archetype with extra silence effects such as Owl and Wailing Soul. This build has potential to fight against the common aggro decks, but it needs more work before it becomes a real force.

9. Paladin




Paladin is extremely weak right now. The time to play Paladin is in a Control heavy Meta, since Paladin is the go-to class for beating other Control Decks. In its current form Control Paladin is just overrun by Zoo and Hunter, and although playing Aggro or Midrange lists is possible, they are simply outclassed by other classes that do it better.

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Awesome post Sottle - having just come back to HS after a long break, your knowledge is invaluable! Cheers!

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Could you add a link to the types of decks/cards you are referring to during the breakdown?


I would make it more interactive and give folks a better idea of what you are referring to, especially new players.



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Thanks for the input, that's a great idea. I'll keep it in mind for this week's article.

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