Last week all we saw was Aggro, just when we thought it was safe to log on and hit play…BAM! Control decks have returned; we are seeing just as many Control as we are seeing Aggro decks. Maybe it was an answer to the swarming onslaught that dominated the scene for a while, maybe it’s due to some new tech that people found or maybe everyone simply got tired of playing the same archetype over and over, who knows? Team DKMR is here to guide you on what seems to be yet another meta shift.
Here’s Team DKMR’s weekly meta ranking. Keep in mind, it’s about which classes and archetypes are played the most, not about which are the strongest. Most of the times, the strongest decks will also be the most frequently played, but that’s part of how the meta works.
Warlock refuses to relinquish his crown, every week he is put to the test and prevails! He is still doing what he does best…drawing a bunch of cards. It’s Control (handlock) and Aggro (zoo/rush) archetypes are pretty even out in the ladder right now which makes it that much harder to mulligan against a Warlock. Even without any notable innovations, Gul’dan will remain as the King of the meta for a while, but some Druid and Shaman decks are doing quite a good job at countering him. While handlock is increasing in popularity and mirror matches are becoming more frequent, some have even decided to run Sacrificial Pact in their deck, which can one shot Jaraxxus or worst case scenario, serve as a removal for minions like Flame Imp and Voidwalker.
Warrior is ready to fight against pretty much anything at the moment, with lots of favorable matchups to account for. Warrior has some of the best removal spells in the game, Warrior Control can dominate against other Control decks through stronger finishers, value removals and an obscene amount of armor. In fact, they have so much armor that if the opponent is unable to maintain constant pressure, the Warrior will almost always win simply because they won’t have enough damage to bring him to 0. Aggro decks can be more of an issue, but most scenarios it’s still quite a favorable match for the Warrior. Its Aggro archetype, seems to have disappeared from the ladder, but it could be waiting for the right moment to make a comeback.
Hunter hasn’t shown any signs of stopping his personal “beastkrieg”. That said, some Hunters are starting to use Freezing Traps instead of Misdirection in their Aggro decks which are slower, but can make for some devastating tempo swings on their own. When coupled with Eaglehorn Bow, they also mean to bring the HURT with 3 more damage right to thier opponent’s face. Cards like Elven Archer and Stonetusk Boar are being played as well, since they’re okay as a turn 1 drop (which the deck can almost NEVER afford to miss) and have their own utility later in the game. This is especially apparent if you’re running Hunter’s Mark, which is also very strong against all the taunts you’ll face; Druids are one of Hunter’s worst matchups. Midrange Hunters are still nowhere to be found, but we think they have potential to become one of the strongest decks in the current meta.
Shaman is seeing a lot more play at the moment, probably as an answer to all those Aggro Warlocks we have been seeing. To help on their Hunter matchup, some have decided to use Ancient Watcher coupled with Sunfury Protector and Defender of Argus, a plan that other control decks rely on when it comes to fighting aggression. So far it seems to be working pretty well, but we’ve yet to see how this will affect Shaman’s matchup against other Control decks. Others chose a different path to deal with the Hunter Aggro and focused on cards like Wild Pyromancer, which has amazing synergy with all of the Shaman’s premium removals (1 mana Lightning Bolt + Pyro = Swipe). This variation is VERY strong against Zoolock, Murlock and Standard Rogue, but it’s quite difficult to use due to the fact that a misplayed Pyromancer can kill almost all of your totems. We still think there’s more room for innovation with this class.
Druid has been removed from his throne and now fallen out of the top 3, but he’s definitely planning a comeback. Despite not being played as often, it’s still one of the strongest classes around (if not the strongest). Watcher Druid is the most popular archetype and they’re going back into using Ancient of War and even new minions like Sunwalker. They’re also using a lot more cards like Mark of the Wild (partly due to its synergy with The Black Knight) and even Wild Growth, which is pretty strong later in the game if you play Gadgetzan Auctioneer. Token Druid has lost some flavor, but we’re also seeing some innovation here, through cards like Onyxia, that when coupled with Savage Roar, can win the game on its own. One of the best classes to play against Aggro decks, but has some flaws against other popular Control decks like Handlock and Warrior Control.
Rogue is seeing slightly less play than a few weeks ago, but we still think it’s in a good spot at the moment. Miracle Rogue might be its strongest archetype at the moment, especially after Rogues everywhere discovered the power of Deadly Poison + Assassin’s Blade combo. This combo helps a lot especially against Warrior Control, one of its tougher matchups. However, we believe that the recent rise of Harrison Jones might become a problem later on for Rogues everywhere, as they give everyone else another reason to play the crazy Archeologist. Standard Rogue is pretty decent against other Aggro decks, especially Zoolock, but the matchup against other popular Control decks, like Warrior Control and Handlock, can be a bit tougher if you can’t apply enough pressure at the beginning of the game.
Priest owns the spot at the top3 least seen classes on the ladder, due to the overall inconsistency of its build-up strategies. Sure, you can get to Top 5 legendary with Priests, it was done before, but in an aggro based meta, it’s going to be much harder. Some Priests are experimenting with very basic mid-range builds, using Chillwind Yeti and Sen’jin Shieldmasta along with Shattered Sun Cleric and Injured Blademaster to maintain tempo at the beginning of the game. They use Priest’s hero power to come even further ahead in trades. It’s an interesting idea, but we’re still not certain if this is a viable option. Shadowform is also being used in some heavy taunt builds, which can be interesting against some Aggro decks, like Hunter. For now we still believe Priest in it’s Control form is the strongest and should be only used in Tournaments.
Mage is nowhere to be found in the current ranked ladder, save for some Tempo Mid-range builds. Some are running secrets, while otheres are trying their best to counter aggro decks, we are even seeing cards like Arcane Explosion being used. Just when you thought it was safe to play against Mage, a few players are using Frost Giants or similar control-heavy builds. Nothing new from these builds, but they could have their own place in ranked right now, due to the Mage’s vast arsenal of potent removals. Remember, most board control Aggro decks do not run any silence, so Mages are free to use the turn 5 Frost Nova + Doomsayer combo. The fact that Pyroblast is now a 10 mana spell forces most Control Mages to run Archmage Antonidas as one of their finishers.
Paladin still hasn’t achieved impressive results on the ladder and should not be played. Most Paladins are either playing Giants Control or Aggro with Divine Favor. The first archetype can be very strong against other Control decks, especially against Handlock, but it just doesn’t have enough to defend itself against Aggro decks or even against Shaman or Warrior Control. Overall, there are way too many bad matchups to consider for it. Aggro Paladin however, can race most Control and even some aggressive decks, provided you can obtain the Divine Favor you’ll need as it runs out of gas.
Deck of the Week: Priest Control
This deck shines against other control decks, such as Druid or Handlock and can be effective against some Aggro decks, provided that you mulligan aggressively to either Wild Pyromancer or Circle of Healing + Auchenai Soulpriest. Crazed Alchemist allows for some very interesting plays along with Cabal Shadow Priest and both Shadow Words on the Priest’s arsenal. A very effective Priest deck, that proves that the class is still very capable of dealing with other top-notch decks. This should be played in Tournaments and not in the ladder.