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Sottle's Weekly Hearthstone Meta Analysis for Week of 11/01/15 - 18/01/15

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Hearthstone Meta Analysis: 11/01/2015 - 18/01/2015

 

Hello again friends! Now that the GvG meta has had a little time to settle and normalise, I can return to these weekly articles where I discuss what's hot, what's not and how you should be building decks to fight back against the meta.

 

Common Decks and Cards.

 

First and foremost, let's cover the things that haven't changed in the past week. Dr. Boom is still ever present, featuring in everything from Control and Midrange decks all the way through to Aggro. Due to this, Big Game Hunter (BGH) is still also in most decks as a response.

 

As a reaction to this, many players have started to build their decks without BGH targets. Cards like Kel'Thuzad, Ysera, and Sneed's Old Shredder are being used in Control decks in place of the usual cards like Ragnaros in order to avoid BGH altogether, leaving the opponent stuck with a dead card in their hand for the entire game. This is an interesting look into a "self policing" meta, where a card like Dr. Boom has proven so good, it is included in almost every deck, leading to a natural counter being included to replace it, and in response, Dr. Boom, although still an incredibly powerful card, is then being removed. In other words, some decks are choosing not to play Boom because it is so good, that the meta is designed to beat it.  

 

The other big development this week has been the emergence of Fatigue decks. These decks, led mostly by Mage, play no real win conditions and feature very little board presence. Instead, they load up on removal, healing, and Taunt, and aim simply to remove every threat the opponent is able to play until they are left helplessly drawing fatigue cards. As mentioned, although Fatigue Mage is the most popular of these decks, Druid and Priest also have viable builds of the same concept. It will be interesting to see how Blizzard reacts to this trend if it continues, since this type of deck, cheap, non-interactive, and slow, is the exact type of thing that they have chosen to nerf in the past.

 

Druid has been one of the big winners this week, with both Ramp and Fast Druid builds proving highly effective. The Fast Druid decks are able to outpace the heavy Control decks, while Ramp Druid is able to compete in the late-game against other Control decks without including BGH targets.

 

Aggro has been on a downswing this week, with the faster decks like Zoo and Hunter finding themselves outmatched by the huge Taunts of Ramp Druid, or the efficient clearance and life gain of Control Warrior or Priest. Despite this, both are still common choices on ladder, due to how fast the games are. For people who are fixated on climbing, often sheer quantity of games is more important than winrate.

 

Class Power Rankings

 

Although this week we do return to the classic ranking system of the earlier meta reviews, it should be noted again that the classes are still very close together, and even the classes as low as 6 and 7 are still very powerful.

 

For an alternative way to view the Tier List, you can group the classes into groups as follows.

 

A: Druid, Warrior, Paladin

B: Mage, Warlock, Hunter

C: Rogue, Shaman, Priest

 

1. Druid

 

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Druid has made a huge splash this week. On Team Archon's talk show recently, World Champion Firebat stated that he was facing 40% Druid on Ladder, which is a huge proportion of the total field. The versatility of the class is part of what leads to this popularity, with the faster double combo Druids being heavily favoured against Warrior, while Ramp Druids are incredibly versatile against the field. While the class can suffer against extremely fast decks like Hunter and Zoo, the fact that those decks are at a low point currently further plays into the strength of Druid.

 

2. Warrior

 

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As always, there is not a great deal to say about Warrior. It remains one of the most stagnant classes in the game, with only one high level archetype proving viable. However, the strength of this build, alongside the flexibility to build the deck differently versus different types of decks, means that Warrior remains strong as always. By including extra late-game cards, Warrior becomes the ultimate late-game deck, capable of outlasting most other decks completely. Alternatively, by cutting a late-game card for additional early game options like Ironbeak Owl or Unstable Ghoul, you can effectively counter Aggro by answering their early threats and then simply surviving through armour gain.

 

3. Paladin

 

250px-Uther_Lightbringer-f.png?version=a

 

Paladin remains powerful this week and has maintained much of the momentum it gained from the release of GvG. While the traditional midrange Paladin lists that have been popular for several weeks are still very common, some players have started experimenting with Control Paladin decks again. Liquid Savjz recently reached #1 Legend with an extremely slow Paladin deck that featured double Lay on Hands. With many decks cutting BGH targets from their deck, some classes find themselves light on removal for high priority targets with less than 7 attack. Since Paladin has access to one of the most effective board clears in the game with Equality, they can bypass this problem entirely.

 

4. Mage

 

250px-Jaina_Proudmoore-f.png?version=8f6

 

Mage has seen a huge boost in power since the advent of GvG. The previous problem Mage had of not having a unique build that was strong enough against the field is now a complete thing of the past. Mage now offers three or more highly viable builds in Fatigue Mage, Freeze Mage, and Mech Mage, that are all highly effective on ladder. Further experimentation has been undertaken with various Echo of Medivh builds, but for now, the above 3 builds seem to be the mainstays of the class. Kolento recently achieved Rank 1 Legend on the EU server using Fatigue Mage, contributing heavily to its popularity.

 

5. Warlock

 

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Warlock is for once, at a low point this week. The ever presence of Big Game Hunter is damaging players that wish to play Handlock, however, Handlock is one of the better decks for dealing with this problem, since they play such a high number of BGH targets, they can often afford to lose one of their threats and still have enough power left in the deck to seal the game. Zoo on the other hand is struggling to find a foothold in the current meta, with so many decks being built right now with survival in mind, Zoo can struggle to seal the game before the opponent can gain control of the game. With this said, both builds are still extremely strong, and perfectly viable choices for climbing ladder, they are just not at their most powerful at this point.

 

6. Hunter

 

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Hunter, much like Zoo is struggling to find a foothold in a meta that is currently so heavily focused on survival. With even its previously strong matchups like Handlock now packing extra survivability, Hunter can struggle to close out the game before the opponent gains too much of an advantage to come back from. Although the unbeatable Undertaker starts can still happen, without them, Hunter struggles to output enough damage in some matchups. The nemesis of Hunter, Antique Healbot is still very common, which lets Control decks seal the game when they are already ahead on board. Due to all of this, outright Face Hunter is a weak choice, with more robust Aggro decks that feature Savannah Highmanes and even Dr. Boom are a better choice, since they are able to compete in the late-game once Control decks begin to stabilise.

 

7. Rogue

 

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Rogue is still lacking a little punch in the post GvG Meta. Early and recent experiments with Mech tempo decks have proven fairly unsuccessful, with the decks simply lacking power against what everyone else is doing. The only Rogue deck to show any real promise so far, is the Control Rogue build that has replaced the old Miracle Rogue archetype. Despite this promise, the deck is still found wanting against several of the powerful decks in the format.

 

8. Shaman

 

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Shaman is sitll floundering for a foothold in the GvG meta, and it will probably take a major breakthrough for Shaman to really become a force to be reckoned with. Without any major innovation, Shamans are stuck playing the standard Midrange formula that has proven somewhat successful for the class in the past, but failing to be able to react to what the rest of the meta is doing. Some experimentation has been put into an Ancestor's Call deck, that uses the card to rush a Malygos out onto the board and burn the opponent out with a volley of spells, however, this deck so far, proves inconsistent and situational.

 

9. Priest

 

250px-Anduin_Wrynn-f.png?version=dcf2a67

 

Unfortunately for the class, Priest has fallen back into its old niche of being an excellent Aggro counter, while suffering when faced with other Control decks. Since many of the other Control decks are now equally well placed to deal with Aggro, Priest struggles to offer a legitimate reason to favour it as a ladder deck over many other viable choices. 

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