Think about it. How long has this game been out, be it in open beta or released? Five months or so? And yet, except for a few nerfs and buffs here and there, we’re still playing the same cards! So how is it possible that from time to time, the meta changes so drastically? There’s no right answer. That’s why it changes daily and thankfully, that’s also why it can be measured; so join us as we break it down for you.
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 still dominates the ladder, the King is BACK! Few classes have come close to the Warlock’s efficiency, either in terms of tempo and board control with Zoo or with overall deck consistency with handlock. The secret to that is their hero power, Life Tap. By far the strongest hero power in the game, that has an insane synergy with all of Warlock’s archetypes. While Zoo continues to be the predominant archetype all around, Handlock is doing fine against most of Aggro decks as well. Make sure you mulligan aggressively for Molten Giant, Ancient Watcher + Sunfury Protector or Defender of Argus. Also worth noting is the new burst combo that Handlocks have recently adopted: Leeroy Jenkins + Power Overwhelming + Faceless Manipulator. 20 damage out of nowhere, plus 4 more if you have a Soulfire.
Hunter gained a lot of flavor and has seen its fair share of innovations: Most Aggro variants are running Freezing Trap, which makes them slower but stronger against certain cards like Armorsmith and any other taunts in general, since most of the time your opponent isn’t expecting it. Hunter’s Mark is another addition as well, since it synergizes so well with Unleash the Hounds and it adds another easy removal against big taunters to the deck. Midrange Hunters have recently seen an increase in popularity as well. Not as much as their Aggro counterpart, but their resilient threats make them very solid against other control decks, especially Warrior Control, which is one of the dominant decks in the lower ranks.
Druid is playing its way back to the top, as Token Druid rises in popularity. The “Aggro Druid” can be a bit inconsistent at times, but when it works, it can overwhelm the opponent really quickly. Especially if the Druid manages to Innervate a Violet Teacher early on. Cards like Onyxia are also being played, instantly killing the opponent with Savage Roar in the next turn if they can’t handle the many whelps. Ramp Druid has also established itself as a solid archetype, playing huge threats earlier than most other decks can’t handle, especially big taunters like Sunwalker and Ancient of War. Considering that Wild Growth gives you a new spell with 0 mana cost when you’re at 10 mana, you’ve got yourself a cheap draw engine in the lategame with a Gadgetzan Auctioneer on the board.
Warrior is still a beast, terrorizing most hunters and other control decks like Druid. However, with the recent rise of Midrange Hunters, this scenario could change rapidly. Either Warriors will have to adapt or risk losing their spot on the top of the meta. Its matchups against Aggro decks (except for Zoo) are pretty good though and while things might become a bit rough for Garrosh, especially now that Harrison Jones is becoming more popular every day. This is an archetype based on very cheap removals with considerable card draw, this is something that will never be useless in any meta. Warrior Aggro remains in limbo. While it isn’t fit for the current meta, we believe there is still room for improvement, maybe we’ll see more of it once new cards come out.
Rogue is seeing a lot more play, roughly tied up with Druids. Rogues have a slight advantage going for them though, due to their ability to easily deal with the Aggro decks around any point in the ladder while at same time able to deal their own pressure to Control decks. Tempo Rogue is by far the most played Rogue deck at the moment and can be found at any rank. Each has its own innovations, some decided to run King Mukla for added pressure early game and burst damage, while others have decided to run cards like Shadowstep to reutilize useful battlecries, like Big Game Hunter. Miracle Rogue is still around, though not as much as it used to be.
Shaman is in a good place right now, with their popularity increasing at a steady pace. Thrall has one of the most balanced decks on the meta at the moment, with a few builds that include Senjin Shield Masta and Defender of Argus to even out the odds on the terrible Hunter matchup. It is key to be able to last long enough for the Hunter to run out of cards and some builds choose to race them, relying on Flametongue Totems and windfury. A few Shamans are also trying out some unorthodox builds, like pure caster builds with Ancient Mage. In time, we’ll see if such builds have enough potential to become established archetypes.
Mage seems to be frozen in the same spot for a while now, still living on a dream. Their problems have yet to be solved by anything, namely their lack of board synergy. They have a lot of spells, but most of them have little to no immediate impact on the board and the only minions giving a positive synergy to those are Mana Wyrms, Kirin Tor Mage (very specific, only applies to secrets) and Sorcerer’s Apprentices, to a lesser extent. In the end, either you get the tempo advantage right from the start or your opponent just snowballs tempo in their favor.
Paladin remains as one of the least played classes, partly due to the amount of unfavorable matchups it has, with both of its archetypes at the moment: Paladin Control works great against a lot of Control decks, but has a lot of bad matchups as far as other midrange and Aggro decks go. They can be good if you know you’re going to face a lot of Control decks like Handlocks and Warrior Control. Meanwhile, Paladin Aggro just doesn’t have what it takes to compete with the efficiency of Zoo and most other Aggro decks and remains as one of the least played Aggro decks at the moment, only slightly ahead of Warrior Aggro. If you don’t see Divine Favor, you won’t see the victory screen very often. Because it relies so heavily on this card, we don’t recommend playing this deck.
Priest is still seeing almost no play at all. It remains as one of the most inconsistent classes in general, which makes them struggle a bit more, especially in an Aggro-based metagame. You can, however, get some good results with a Priest deck, as long as it’s focused around countering a single archetype while being very mediocre against the rest. Due to the huge amounts of Aggro in the ladder, especially Warlock, a Priest anti-Aggro would could get great results. Some players are also attempting to play the tempo Priest, which seems to make sense because you can get some “free” trades by healing back your creatures and then eventually overwhelm your opponent from there. It could be a good idea, let’s see if that can make it in this current meta.
Deck of the Week: Midrange Hunter
You thought Hunter was only about rushing to the face? Think again. This deck takes advantage of the easy and cheap removal that Hunter has in its arsenal, like Deadly Shot and Hunter’s Mark, to easily deal with big threats. Houndmaster has so much value, even if you can play it on a simple 1/1 Hound, but if you can get it on a Savannah Hyman, it might just be game over. Kodo works well against almost every other control deck out there, destroying Acolyte of Pain before it even had a chance to draw for you and removing the Defender of Argus after he applied his buff. Overall, a very solid deck, that any other Control deck should fear, especially Warrior Control.