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.
Back to TopMidweek Meta Review #5 - Whispers of the New Standard
Thanks for joining us for Midweek Meta Review #5. We’re off cycle by a week as we, like you, await the release of Whispers of the Old Gods and the introduction of Standard format later this month. The meta hasn’t done a lot since the various regional Championships, but the mammoth shift that will occur when the new set is out should be very exciting.
As always, we’re focusing on providing information on the following for our readers:
Five top meta decks, including explanations and guides.
At least one anti-meta suggestion.
Class ‘power rankings’, showing which classes are leading or lagging in the meta
Despite a handful of control decks being popularized around the release of the last MMR, fatigue with the meta has definitely set in for most players. Ladder is populated largely with people experimenting with off-meta decks, since the end of season push for most competitive players will have to be made in Standard anyway.
Our evaluation looks at the following significant factors in determining top decks:
Frequency of appearance.
Ease of play.
Prevalence of (meaningful) counters.
Consistency in winning a variety of matchups.
The limited success of a couple of specific control styles (Elise Warrior, Freeze Mage, etc.) isn’t indicative of a control meta. The decks being selected are still being chosen by virtue of either winning on the board (Zoo, Secret Paladin, etc.), or as direct answers to that. A significant shift is basically impossible with the heavy reliance on swing turns that occur in the midgame right now to drive success at the highest levels of play.
As such, we continue to focus on midrange decks, since aggro isn’t consistent enough for top tier play, and the burst potential in many midrange decks overwhelms even the most optimized control decks.
Zoo retains its position as top pick with the continued absence of Freeze Mage in the meta due to the rampant frequency of Druid (the class Blizzard is expected to take the harshest action against in the upcoming Classic set tweaks). Zoo being at the top for too long often harkens a return to aggro decks, but Face Hunter is among the only viable aggro deck options that can counter it meaningfully right now.
Druid remains obscenely popular, in no small part thanks to Blizzard’s admission (although this was fairly easy to figure out when people looked at what each class was losing in Standard) that it will likely change the most in the upcoming card tweaks. Knowing that Druid is ‘too powerful’ definitely encourages a certain type of player to play the class, and the sheer number of people playing Druid is the primary reason Freeze Mage fell off and Zoo skyrocketed to the top of our list.
A day may come when the strength of Paladin fails, but it is not this day. Secret Paladin can - and often does - curve out in such a way that very few, if any, classes or archetypes can answer it efficiently. The few tech cards that really hurt Secret Paladin (Polymorph, etc.) are considered by most players to be too slow or use-case specific to be viable in the current meta.
We explained the rise of Elise Warrior in MMR #4, and it remains viable in the face of all of the midrange board-contesting decks simply because they can’t kill the Warrior fast enough or efficiently enough in many cases. Control Warrior is most punished by decks that can out-tempo them at some point in the game - Tempo Mage in the mid-game, Renolock in the late game - or decks that can build a board without cards (Lord Jaraxxus and Midrange Paladin, especially).
The circle of life looks something like this: Druid crowds out Freeze Mage, Zoo crowds out Druid, Renolock beats most non-Druid decks. Druid has stayed relevant enough to make Mr. Jackson in Warlock not a sure thing, but as Druid continues to be the deck to beat and suppressed by Zoo (or even, in some cases, Warrior/Paladin), that makes Renolock a progressively better choice. If you’re not seeing Druid, definitely consider Renolock.
Aggro Druid remains our staple anti-meta pick, although it will go away very quickly when Standard hits! This is a deck that punishes four of the top five decks we’ve listed, but does have a number of other, less frequent matchups that it struggles with (notably Mage, Priest, and even Face Hunter).
Last week we recommended Aggro Shaman, but it remains a deck that generally splits 50/50 with almost everything. Anti-meta decks are meant to be more targeted against what’s currently popular - often at the expense of ‘general’ strength - so we’re looking at something more tailored this week in Midrange Paladin. This is a deck that beats Control Warrior and Druid authoritatively, as well as having 50/50 or better matchups with Zoo and Secret Paladin. If you’re seeing a large majority of Druid and Warrior (not Patron!), this is among the best choices you can make in the current meta.
MMR #5 is likely to be the last one you’ll see before Standard, and we’ll know most - if not all - of the new cards next week! Thanks again for joining us this week, and here’s looking forward to what’s on the other side of a new expansion after the longest gap between new sets in Hearthstone.