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Iksar Shares Some Numbers on Reddit

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Iksar has responded to a Reddit question regarding Tier 0 decks with some stats from the past and present.

Although the original post has now been removed, it was a question regarding whether Tier 0 decks, which were defined as A deck that you have to play, or lose, had ever been seen in Hearthstone. Iksar noticed the thread and dropped in a reply.

Blizzard LogoIksar

Number sharing time! As a single archetype, Undertaker Hunter was about 25% of the meta at one point. For perspective, the most popular archetype of Shaman is currently less than half that. Class win rate wise the highest overall number I've ever seen was Druid around 57%. The highest single player in Legend win rate (min 50-70 games single deck) was around 75%, it's usually about 70. (source)

This means that Blizzard have each of Midrange Shaman and Aggro Shaman at under 12.5% of the meta, which ties in with Data Reaper stats placing all of Shaman at around 25% play rate in the higher ranks. 

I am always a bit wary of win percentage stats because the ladder system forces players to a rank where they will be at around 50% win rate, however this reply does seem to indicate that Blizzard currently have no issue with the state of the meta. I'm curious to see if that changes, as over the last 2-3 days more and more people have started to regard Shaman as overpowered, and if no decent counter deck is created soon, we could see its share of the meta rise rapidly.

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Regarding this specific definition of Tier 0, Shaman does not exactly fit the criteria, because it still can lose given the nature of Hearthstone. It's not a consistent even but it is definetly possible. 

Using another prisms to look at the problem, one can definetly state that Shaman is a problem. Tapping in powers of ancient Magic : The Gathering teachings on the subject, I'll directly Michael J. Flores "Finding the Tinker Deck" here, regarding this "Enigma problem" : 

"That being said, there are some decks that are just better than their contemporaries. These decks tend to be chock full of undercosted spells, generally those that generate incredible amounts of card advantage or time advantage, or are able to end the game in a single turn. These decks are The Enigma; they do not necessarily share a core strategy beyond being the best (though edt once wrote that when someone designs a deck focused entirely on finding the most powerful cards available, they only have enough slots left in the deck to play some sort of quick kill combination).

If there is unity among The Enigma, it may be that for them to lose, generally the opponent must be aiming directly at that deck, because it is so effective against the bulk of the field."

25% metagame shares are the red signs that format's health is threatened. This number is considered a breaking point for Magic's formats to warrant a ban. Last time it was a recent event, Eldrazi Winter of 2015, where Modern, a rich format including the last 10 years of Magic cards, was reduced to Eldrazi decks and 4-5 viable options that could combat them. That problem came from a pair of lands capable of producing a lot of mana, thus "cheating" in powerful creatures in a consistent fashion. A story not unknown to Magic, fast mana was and still is a problematic mechanic there. 

For what it's worth, we can consider contemporary Shaman an Enigma deck. Powerful pressure from their openers proved to be substantial but not unbeatable in the times before One Night in Karazhan. Add a cheap, high-octane interaction that has little to no counterplay and potent midgame threats, and you'll end up staring at The Ultimate Midrange Deck that we have now. Shaman is not about mana, like Eldrazi were. It's about having a big stack of powerful cards that can beat any opposition, a problem that cannot be fixed with surgical removal. You can't nerf a card like Lightning Storm or Hex because it's so iconic and you can't nerf Karazhan cards because they are just right out of the oven and people paid for them.

And there is no real natural counter to that consistency. A kryptonite that could consistently beat Shaman would be just as busted because it would operate on the same axis, reducing the game to Rock-Paper-Sciccors state (which no one but me believes to be healthy).

Good news are that Standard rotation can save us. It saved Magic's Standard numerous times even when the 25% was broken(every time but that Caw-Blade one); It has already saved us from Patron and Secret Paladin.

Bad news are that Standard rotation is very, very far away in time. And it's not like the 6th expansion of Year of the Kraken can do a miracle.

If Blizzard does not consider this an issue, this is not going to end well. All this "learn from your mistakes" stuff has millions of players on the line, and frankly speaking, there is no room for it.

Edited by Paracel
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No miracle? I am ready for a miracle! Perhaps in the form of a board clear that costs very little mana, like Damnation from MTG. For those who are unenlightened, it clears he board for 4 mana ... Although a card on that power level could have repercussions. 

Edited by YourGod
Typo

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The problem here about shaman is, it was probably one of the worst classes at the beginning of 2015, looking at the classic cards and what naxx and GvG could offer to shaman. Then, Blizzard decided it is not working like that, they put some 'spice' on shaman, especially starting from TGT. Some of the better early minions out there and also an amazing win-condition card which has an incredible synergy with what shaman is actually lives with, totems obviously, biggest aoe ever and also heal for all those who want to play slow. Shaman recipe became little 'hot' here actually. But Blizzard did not stop. They added the most influential 1-drop (IMO) as another early threat and then they added one of the most broken cards of all times, who terrorized the meta when not answered correctly, then a 5/5 taunt which can be played for nothing. Then, people started thinking it is getting too hot. 

Blizzard did not stop there either. As the early aoe of shaman is an overload card, shaman felt weak against zoo. Blizzard couldn't stand to it and brought a 1/3 weapon and a 2 mana aoe. 

While all these happen, rogue is still waiting for a 'miracle' from all the new expansions and priest is being a topic of fun as unicorn, whose main idea I am not still aware of. Paladin is not really competitive and I see people play warrior rarely.

BUT.....

As shaman started to rise this quickly to become arguably the best class in the meta right now, as all these expansions coming to an end as Paracel already stated. Shaman will lose its throne obviously, unless new expansions does not bring stuff like 3 mana 5/15 or something like that. 

So, shaman had a peak at 2016, I stil think as BrM, TGT and LoE rotates out of the standard, it will have its fall.

Edited by FanOfValeera

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Warrior is more relevant in the low ranks; I progressed to see more Druid and Shaman as I got around rank 8, slightly higher ranks 

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1 hour ago, YourGod said:

No miracle? I am ready for a miracle! Perhaps in the form of a board clear that costs very little mama, like Damnation from MTG. For those who are unenlightened, it clears he board for 4 mana ... Although a card on that power level could have repercussions. 

It is clear that such card would drastically alter the game, as Lightning Storm already causes much trouble, and more expensive clears as well.

I'm also not sure, are you mentioning Damnation before Wrath of God on purpose? Want some #ReprintDamnation memes with that?

1 hour ago, FanOfValeera said:

The problem here about shaman is, it was probably one of the worst classes at the beginning of 2015, looking at the classic cards and what naxx and GvG could offer to shaman. Then, Blizzard decided it is not working like that, they put some 'spice' on shaman, especially starting from TGT. Some of the better early minions out there and also an amazing win-condition card which has an incredible synergy with what shaman is actually lives with, totems obviously, biggest aoe ever and also heal for all those who want to play slow. Shaman recipe became little 'hot' here actually. But Blizzard did not stop. They added the most influential 1-drop (IMO) as another early threat and then they added one of the most broken cards of all times, who terrorized the meta when not answered correctly, then a 5/5 taunt which can be played for nothing. Then, people started thinking it is getting too hot. 

Blizzard did not stop there either. As the early aoe of shaman is an overload card, shaman felt weak against zoo. Blizzard couldn't stand to it and brought a 1/3 weapon and a 2 mana aoe. 

While all these happen, rogue is still waiting for a 'miracle' from all the new expansions and priest is being a topic of fun as unicorn, whose main idea I am not still aware of. Paladin is not really competitive and I see people play warrior rarely.

Yeah, you're totally right. Shaman was broken and they wanted to fix it. I liked their notions, how they approached that. Hero Power felt useless most of the time? Have a good totem and a good totem synergy card. Overload turned out to be an drawback investment mechanic - decent payoff card, have at thee!

They paved a good road with interesting, flavorful decisions that were fit for the class identity in a good way. The problem was they didn't stop the printing machine.

I do agree other classes are treated "unfairly" compared to Shaman, but not exactly as you are stating it. Yes, Priest is in many ways a meme class only and Rogue is ground zero for "how to not get any support in expansions yet still be kinda playable", but they did Burgle Rogue! That's a fun deck even!

I think Rogue's core problem in lack of printing support comes from the fact it is inherently a strong class. Its Hero Power, its core cards and mechanics - free spells, combo stuff that's pretty much non-interactive - all of it is really easy to mess up on a normal axis, like when you play for Tempo; and then there are ways Rogue can take Blizzard have stated they don't like, like all out Miracle comboes. They are conservative on this case because they are afraid to break it and breaking it is conceptually easy, and personally I believe it to be the right course of actions. It's totally not like I hate Rogue or something. 

Priest sucks because it's identity is about wacky stuff like healing. It just doesn't make a fair game. Design like that can make a good thematic and flavorful card, but it will probably have serious problems being actually good - because naturally resources like cards in hand and board state is better than life total. If they find a way to bring the pre-Standard, "kill all your stuff, never die myself" hardcore Control positioned Priest, that would be great. Obnoxious to play against, though.

Paladin I believe to be in a good shape. Yes, it only has two good decks, yes, those two decks are a bit stupid and yes, they share like 15 cards and behave like twin brothers, but what I genuinely like in them is that they occupy an important niche in metagame, serving as direct counters to some things and making the Control Dream come true. Also the amount of trolling by them haven't declined since The Secret Age, which is cool.

And Warrior, well, if you don't see it, you should probably climb ranks up, because all those Warriors players are probably Legend already. The class got some love in WotOG and was dominating the early Standard, but in a good way (compared to Shaman) - there were like 5 or 6 different Warrior decks, and there still are. It was delightful to see how many strategies just one class can support. Of course, then one would turn his eyes on others and cry in great pain. What made Warrior so popular and good is that at the beginning, it didn't lose a lot after rotation while we haven't yet invented goodstuffs to beat them. Right now, I think Warrior is a really important class as it can be a possible answer to the Shaman Menace.

Edited by Paracel
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Face shaman sure feels like Tier 0 whenever I play it. Checking my ranked stats it's at 78.6% winrate (33W, 9L). Sure it's only at rank 8 but this still feels pretty silly.

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8 hours ago, Paracel said:

It is clear that such card would drastically alter the game, as Lightning Storm already causes much trouble, and more expensive clears as well.

I'm also not sure, are you mentioning Damnation before Wrath of God on purpose? Want some #ReprintDamnation memes with that?

Yeah, you're totally right. Shaman was broken and they wanted to fix it. I liked their notions, how they approached that. Hero Power felt useless most of the time? Have a good totem and a good totem synergy card. Overload turned out to be an drawback investment mechanic - decent payoff card, have at thee!

They paved a good road with interesting, flavorful decisions that were fit for the class identity in a good way. The problem was they didn't stop the printing machine.

I do agree other classes are treated "unfairly" compared to Shaman, but not exactly as you are stating it. Yes, Priest is in many ways a meme class only and Rogue is ground zero for "how to not get any support in expansions yet still be kinda playable", but they did Burgle Rogue! That's a fun deck even!

I think Rogue's core problem in lack of printing support comes from the fact it is inherently a strong class. Its Hero Power, its core cards and mechanics - free spells, combo stuff that's pretty much non-interactive - all of it is really easy to mess up on a normal axis, like when you play for Tempo; and then there are ways Rogue can take Blizzard have stated they don't like, like all out Miracle comboes. They are conservative on this case because they are afraid to break it and breaking it is conceptually easy, and personally I believe it to be the right course of actions. It's totally not like I hate Rogue or something. 

Priest sucks because it's identity is about wacky stuff like healing. It just doesn't make a fair game. Design like that can make a good thematic and flavorful card, but it will probably have serious problems being actually good - because naturally resources like cards in hand and board state is better than life total. If they find a way to bring the pre-Standard, "kill all your stuff, never die myself" hardcore Control positioned Priest, that would be great. Obnoxious to play against, though.

Paladin I believe to be in a good shape. Yes, it only has two good decks, yes, those two decks are a bit stupid and yes, they share like 15 cards and behave like twin brothers, but what I genuinely like in them is that they occupy an important niche in metagame, serving as direct counters to some things and making the Control Dream come true. Also the amount of trolling by them haven't declined since The Secret Age, which is cool.

And Warrior, well, if you don't see it, you should probably climb ranks up, because all those Warriors players are probably Legend already. The class got some love in WotOG and was dominating the early Standard, but in a good way (compared to Shaman) - there were like 5 or 6 different Warrior decks, and there still are. It was delightful to see how many strategies just one class can support. Of course, then one would turn his eyes on others and cry in great pain. What made Warrior so popular and good is that at the beginning, it didn't lose a lot after rotation while we haven't yet invented goodstuffs to beat them. Right now, I think Warrior is a really important class as it can be a possible answer to the Shaman Menace.

You're probably right abour warrior, thats the first thing. It could be the only class (except shaman) that has it all.

Rogue has a strong core, with a good hero power and excellent cheap spells, but todays rogue decks mostly based on drawing 10 cards a turn while buffing its minions, clearing opposing board and even do some damage to opposing hero. As tempo rogue is outright weak and burgle rogue is 'fun' like you said, rogue has only one way to play (as in terms of viability), whether Blizzard likes it or not.

For Paladin, it could counter some decks, however AFAIK, it is not really a counter to any of the top tier decks (maybe except dragon warrior), and yeah, those decks could be useful to create rock-paper-scissor state. Btw, I don't play paladin anyways, I am just telling this because of the opponents I see, matchup is pretty for comfortable for me.

 

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