Why Do You Care About A Meta Report?

Before we dig into the format and what you can expect in future meta reports, in keeping with the theory behind this report’s inception, we’re going to answer a simple question - why do you care about a meta report?

Meta reports are, at this point, not data-driven. No large-scale, organized, unbiased way to capture the information required to actually determine the frequency with which a given class, deck, or card is being run exists to date. They are an art, more than a science.

That said, they can still confer a number of benefits:
  • Relative frequency at a given rank range is fairly easy to identify. If any player plays 100 games, even though it’s not inherently statistically significant, it’s easy to discover what classes or archetypes are most popular. Moreover…
  • Where the meta is in its cycle is useful information to have. The relative prevalence of aggro, midrange, or control tells you a lot about what is - and will be - on the rise, versus on the decline.
  • Presuming that your goal is to improve your rank in constructed, meta reports help you make efficient use of your time - the only variable in Hearthstone that you have 100% control over. Knowing what decks have emerged or are popular, even if the meta can’t be 100% tracked or nailed down at a statistically significant level, can help you do more with whatever time you do have to play competitively.
To give you an idea of why your time is so important, here is a look at the number of games you will need based on your win rate to get from Rank 20 to Rank 5, or from Rank 5 to Legend. Spoiler: It's a lot.

Midweek Meta Review #3 - Dr. Boom's Last Stand

Thank you for joining us once more for the Hearthhead Midweek Meta Review! As much as we’d love to say there’s a lot of great, new stuff to talk about this week… well, you know.

As mentioned in last week’s review, we’re aiming - including once the new expansion and Standard format are released - to provide the following every other week:
  • Five top meta decks, including explanations and guides.
  • At least one anti-meta deck.
  • An approximate class ‘power ranking’ given the state of the meta.
We’re expecting news regarding the upcoming expansion in the lead-up to the Hearthstone Championship Tour Americas Winter Championship broadcast beginning on Friday, March 11 at 10:00 a.m. PST, which means the new content and Standard should be coming Soon™! Until then…

The current meta is a Midrange Meta.

Despite the presence of both extraordinarily fast aggro decks like Aggro Shaman or Face Hunter and control or fatigue style decks like Elise Control Warrior or Control Priest, the driving forces in the current meta game are very much decks that build up powerful boards after the first few turns.

As with prior weeks, our evaluation reflects the following major factors per deck:
  • Frequency of appearance.
  • Ease of play.
  • Prevalence of (meaningful) counters.
  • Consistency in winning a variety of matchups.
For a bit more insight into why the meta continues to remain a Midrange meta, here are some new considerations for you:
  • Aggro decks typically punish traditional Midrange decks, but that assumes that they can ignore the need to trade. Using Secret Paladin as an example, very few Aggro decks can safely push face damage when the Secret Paladin player is setting up powerful swing turns by playing Knife Jugglers. Almost all Midrange decks include tools that stop Aggro win conditions, like Loatheb or taunt minions.
  • The general prevalence of Freeze Mage has dictated the pace of the meta substantially in recent memory. Since the deck only consistently loses to Warrior, and to a lesser degree to Midrange Druid, it suppresses many of the other, more board-driven decks.
  • Contemporary Control decks often cannot achieve the level of board control required to stall the game into their own win condition territory against Midrange decks, since so many of the minions are ‘sticky’ (have Deathrattles, Divine Shields, etc.).
  • Very few decks outside of Freeze Mage are running multiple or true board clear spells, which allows board-driven decks like Patron Warrior or Zoo Warlock to flourish.
Unfortunately, in terms of actual decklists and rankings, not much has changed; we await the upcoming expansion and the advent of Standard format with bated breath.

Rankings

Make sure to check out the actual deck pages for information on overall strategy, mulligans, and tech choices!

1. Midrange Druid (MMR #2)

The throne once again belongs to Midrange Druid. As a reminder, Druid was the overwhelming MVP of the Americas Winter Preliminary, where it finished with a positive win ratio against all other classes tournament wide. Druid is one of the only classes in the game that frequently pulls out wins even against its natural counters (specifically, Tempo Mage and Zoo Warlock). If you’re seeing predominantly basically anything else, Midrange Druid is a safe bet.

2. Secret Paladin (MMR #2)

Despite his protests to the contrary, who he is may very well be some of your business. Mysterious Challenger and company continue to be nigh-unstoppable in the right circumstances, and merely really good if the mulligan, draw, and curve turn out sub-optimal. A lot of decks are particularly targeting Secret Paladin on ladder right now, but in practice, the deck is still extraordinarily effective as long as you aren’t seeing an overwhelming majority of Freeze Mage.

3. Zoo Warlock (MMR #2)

Zoo has found a solid footing as a reliable deck that contests the board against almost all other Midrange styles while simultaneously challenging Control decks to answer its trade-up and burst potential. Much akin to the Secret Paladin, Zoo is at its best when you are seeing little-to-no Freeze Mage, and preys especially well on Druids.

4. Patron Warrior (MMR #2)

Patron Warrior, or “How To Beat Classes That Can’t Wipe The Board”, stays steady in the meta as it suffers against heavy Control decks, but wins more than it loses against almost everything else. The unique and flexible toolkit that Patron brings can generally cycle through to the cards it needs to either play from behind efficiently or start applying pressure as early as turn 6, which gives it a lot of power in a meta that sees so little pure Control in play.

5. Freeze Mage (MMR #2)

Ah, old faithful. Freeze Mage is an infrequent pick for early season climbs, since games can be so slow, but its mere existence is the lynchpin that ties the current meta together. It’s not a tremendously easy deck to pilot, but its enormously favourable matchups against basically everything that isn’t a Warrior makes it an auto-include on this report until we see some much-needed card changes arrive with Standard.

Not hitting Warriors or a lot of consecutive Midrange Druids? Run Freeze Mage, win, profit.

Anti-Meta Decks

Aggro Druid (MMR #2)

We continue to recommend Aggro Druid as an off-meta pick. Aggro Druid gives up some of the dominance that Midrange Druid can assert over decks like Freeze Mage or Murloc Paladin, as well as opens itself up to some vulnerability to Priest, in exchange for much closer matchups against Midrange’s classical weaknesses in Tempo Mage and Zoo Warlock. Aggro Druid also beats Midrange Druid on average.

With positive win ratios against the top three meta decks and no immensely weak matchups (arguably Priest), Aggro Druid can make a slow climb in the current meta.

Control Priest (MMR #2)

While Priest can struggle against Midrange Druid, since they are often unable to do the necessary combination of clear the board, heal themselves, and put up Taunts to protect themselves all at the right time, Control Priest does have the tools to compete in the current meta. You will almost assuredly lose to all Murloc Paladins, since their ability to wait you out and build up an almost impossible to survive burst turn is better than your own, but Priest has good matchups against most other decks.

Reno Warlock can also pose problems, and Freeze Mage is not a favoured matchup (but is certainly winnable). In most other cases - particularly against popular Midrange decks like Secret Paladin, Tempo Mage, Zoo, or Patron - Priest has the answers to eke out victories in a majority of cases.

General Class Rankings

We recently added a general ‘class ranking’ to indicate which classes (looking at their overall toolkits, archetype variants, and the meta as a whole) are better or worse off at this point. You can use this information when considering building your own decks, or simply to understand what you should expect to face when playing on the ladder!

Favourable:
  • Druid
  • Paladin
  • Warrior
  • Mage
Neutral:
  • Warlock
  • Shaman
  • Priest
Unfavourable:
  • Rogue
  • Hunter
That’s it for Midweek Meta Review #3! Let us know what you’d like to see in future updates, especially as we prepare to dig into an all-new expansion and Standard in the coming months.

Written by Kevin Hovdestad