Altenberg is back! He ran the numbers, so you don't have to.
Did you miss Lineup Trends the past few weeks? While I had plenty of IRL stuff going on that prevented me from running the Lineup Trends analysis for you all the past few weeks, I can say with confidence that the THL meta-game from weeks 5-7 was pretty much the same as it was during weeks 1-4, so you weren’t missing much. But Week 8 was our first set of games played with the new meta! Huzzah! That surely means the THL landscape will look completely different, right? RIGHT!?!?!?.....right…? Well, sorry to say, nope. The most popular four classes in week 8 were the same as before the nerfs: Druid, Hunter, Rogue and Warlock, and that also happens to be the most popular lineup from Week 8 too. Lineup diversity remained stagnant as Week 8 saw only 27 unique lineups, right on par with Weeks 1-7. So, welcome your new meta-game overloads, because they are the same as the previous overlords. Mmm, can you taste that? That is the taste of a stale meta-game that has been using the same decks and classes for about seven months straight.
Ok, perhaps that is overgeneralizing a little bit, because there was one sort of new development in Week 8 that is probably a direct result of the balance changes, and that is the rise of…Shaman! During the pre-nerf meta-game, Shaman represented only a small percentage of the classes used, ranked as the 7th most popular class. But in Week 8, it jumped up to 5th in the ranking, nearly doubling its appearance rates, and was a significant part of the 2nd most popular lineup: Druid-Hunter-Shaman-Warlock. There was also a slight decline in both Rogue and Mage, the two classes perhaps hardest hit by the nerfs. I wrote a super-secret article about my prediction for the post-nerf meta, exclusively for the #DadLegend team discord, which you can read right here. In it I said the following:
“…I do think that the post-nerf Boomsday meta will probably end up looking even more like the old Witchwood meta than it already does now. By removing the single most impactful card from the new expansion from the game, it stands to reason that the meta would shift back towards what it was before the expansion came out in the first place. I’m not sure that newer decks like Odd Warrior, Toggwaggle Druid, Secret Hunter and Mecha’thun decks will be enough to push the post-nerf meta in a new direction, even if they all survive the nerfs. In looking back at THL data, the four most popular classes during Witchwood were Druid, Warlock, Rogue and Hunter with Shaman and Mage close behind. In fact, the most popular lineup in Witchwood was Druid-Hunter-Rogue-Warlock. Not much changed during Boomsday, except that Druid-Hunter-Rogue-Warlock became even MORE popular. So, despite the fact that Giggling Inventor might disappear from the meta almost entirely, I expect more of the same as far as class popularity goes in THL.”
The early returns of the post-nerf meta are proving that sentiment to be correct, especially here in THL. So, if everyone was hoping the nerfs would cause a shake-up in the meta and break the 7-month stale-ness of the Hearthstone meta, I’m afraid these few nerfs were not enough to have an impact, at least in the early going. What follows are the 4 most popular lineups from Week 8.
Popular Week 8 Lineups
Lineup #1 – Druid, Hunter, Rogue, and Warlock
Week 8 Stats
23 lineups, 13-10 record (57%)
Druid Bans: 6-9 (40%)
Hunter Bans: 0-1 (0%)
Rogue Bans: 3-0 (100%)
Warlock Bans: 4-0 (100%)
This has been the “Level 1” lineup for over 7 months straight in the hearthstone meta-game, and it is showing no signs of slowing down. The two worst ways to ban this lineup in the pre-nerf meta were Rogue and Warlock, and that proved to be true with a small sample last week as well. If there were any fears that the nerf to Giggling Inventor would weaken Quest Rogue and make the class less viable in the THL format, well, those fears seem to have been a slight overreaction. Besides, Rogue has access to other control-killer decks in Kingsbane, Pogo and Miracle rogue decks, even if Quest Rogue disappears. And I hate to say it, but it doesn’t appear that it’s going to disappear completely. While Quest Rogue usage has been cut nearly in half on the ladder since the nerfs, according to HSReplay, it’s still making up 1% of the ladder meta (2% at legend). It. Just. Won’t. Die.
Lineup #2 – Druid, Hunter, Shaman, Warlock
Week 8 Stats
19 Lineups, 10-9 Record (53%)
Druid Bans: 2-1, (67%)
Hunter Bans: 2-4 (33%)
Shaman Bans: 5-0 (100%)
Warlock Bans: 1-4 (20%)
This is a new lineup that swaps out Rogue for Shaman and was very popular last week. I can understand why players might want to make the swap…I would know, I used the lineup last week! If players were worried about the viability of Rogue’s flexibility with a nerf to Quest Rogue, Shaman offers similar flexibility with access to a good aggro choice in Even Shaman and a decent anti-control option in Shudderwock Shaman. While this lineup technically had a winning week, it sits awfully close to breaking even. And if you look at Shaman as a whole last week, it performed pretty terribly as a class. It remains to be seen if this will remain a viable choice going forward, but for one week at least, Shaman saw some interest from THL.
Lineup #3 – Druid, Hunter, Paladin, Rogue
Week 8 Stats
6 lineups, 4-2 record (67%)
Druid Bans: 1-1 (50%)
Rogue Bans: 3-1 (75%)
This lineup is very interesting in that when you compare it to the Level 1 lineup above, it swaps out Warlock for Paladin. On the surface, this seems like a bad move, because Paladin had an ABYSMAL week last week, winning only 23% of it’s matches. However, most of what few wins Paladin was able to muster, came in this exact lineup. Paladin matches up very well against Hunter and Rogue, two of the most popular classes in THL, so in the right lineup and with the right bans, maybe this lineup has some potential. I’m surprised that not one opponent decided to ban Paladin last week. With Giggling Inventor no longer in the meta, Odd Paladin sits atop the ladder with the best win-rate over the past few days according to HSReplay, so it might be a decent ban choice.
Lineup #4 – Druid, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock
Week 4 Stats
6 Lineups, 4-2 record (67%)
Druid Bans: 3-1 (75%)
Rogue Bans: 0-1 (0%)
Shaman Bans: 1-0 (100%)
This lineup had been a mildly popular choice in the early part of the season, but was not terribly impressive. During weeks 1-4 it had a 41% win rate through 17 matches. But last week it performed quite well, which makes this the second lineup with Shaman that did well (despite the class as a whole performing poorly). When you compare it to the Level 1 lineup it swaps out Hunter for Shaman. This is an interesting choice as it gives this lineup access to many flexible archetypes and can go straight aggro, straight anti-control or a mixture of the two. It can even go off-meta a little bit, or mid-range, or whatever it needs to. This lineup could have some potential going forward.
Week 8 Class Breakdown
As I mentioned before, there was a little bit of a shake-up in class popularity last week, at least in the middle of the ranking. The top four classes are still locked in: Druid, Hunter, Warlock and Rogue (although the order has changed). But Rogue and Mage did see a pretty big drop in popularity, while Shaman saw a pretty big increase. Paladin saw a little bit of a boost as well. Here are the most popular classes from last week sorted by total lineup appearances:
1. Druid (95 Lineups)
2. Hunter (78 Lineups)
3. Warlock (76 Lineups)
4. Rogue (50 Lineups)
5. Shaman (39 Lineups)
6. Paladin (26 Lineups)
7. Mage (11 Lineups)
8. Priest (10 Lineups)
9. Warrior (7 Lineups)
The table below shows class win rates in matches and overall games from Week 8, sorted by Match Win-rate. As you can see while Mage dropped a bunch in popularity, it had an incredible showing as a class. Paladin had an equal, but opposite performance. Take it with a grain of salt though (small sample size alert!).
Week 8 Class Win Rates
While I was hoping that the balance changes might bring about some significant changes in the meta-game and shake things up, it would appear that the early returns are suggesting that it is regressing back to something resembling the Witchwood meta and that large-scale changes probably won’t happen. Still, it’s been less than a week since the nerfs, so there still could be some shifts and new decks that pop up. In the meantime, take some solace in the fact that the Shaman class at least made things interesting for Week 8. Until next time, good luck and have fun
The THL blog is curated and edited by Donde. All THL members are welcomed and encouraged to pitch ideas for articles they would like to see on the site. If you have an idea, please reach out to us on Discord at Donde#4239 or via the THL Help email address: firstname.lastname@example.org