We are almost a month into the expansion, the meta has formed and we can see some clear winners and losers of the new set. Meta statistics, from Tempo Storm, HS Replay and Metastats.net have a different userbase but they create a good pointer to an average results players are getting with different classes and deck archetypes.
Top 3, Winners:
Rogue is the most popular class with 19.2% in popularity even though it has only 1 deck that is competitively viable. Tempo Rogue is a deck that we covered in the last review, definitely the strongest deck that has only 2 bad match-ups making it a really solid pick when playing on ladder and it shows that in the 53.8% win-ratio in around 6.3 million games. Since this whole class depends on this deck and if we get a balance patch where Rogue gets any nerfs we could see a big change in the current meta situation.
In the second place, we have Warrior with 17.7% popularity on the ladder. Unlike Rogue, Warrior has many viable options with Bomb, Control and Mecha'thun being over 50% win-rate decks that make up more than around 6.2 million games, almost as Tempo Rogue alone. Warriors strength comes, at least for the huge part, from the Hero card Dr. Boom, Mad Genius and while it is in the Standard rotation we might see Warrior staying on the upper side of the ladder.
I'm a bit surprised that Hunter is in the third place but it seems that Hunter is gaining popularity (at 13.4% right now) rapidly because of aggressive Mech and Midrange decks being successful against Rogue and Warrior. Hunter also has a Hero card at its disposal and it shows its potential strength in Midrange and Secret decks. Since Hunter is getting much more popular since the HCT we could see him rise even further.
Bottom 3, Losers:
Although we've seen a lot of Zoo Warlock in the earlier days of the expansion, the archetype fell of to tier 3 because Warrior and Hunter are prevalent and they are so good at handling wide boards. Other Warlock decks just don't seem to cut it. Plot Twist archetype has some potential but not enough support to build a whole deck around it so it falls short. With 6.9% popularity Warlock is the third least played class in the Rise of Shadows.
Priest is the second least played class with 5.8%. The problem Priest has right now is the lack of identity. He has many powerful tools but scattered so much that it can't make decks work good enough. Resurrect Priest has a really strong late game once he stabilizes but the lack of good board clears (only Mass Hysteria) doesn't allow for this to happen as often as Priests would like. Nomi Priest is also a deck with potential but the deck is currently just packed with random cheap spells to cycle through the deck and eventually play Nomi and maybe win the game. A bit disappointing but Priest will easily become strong once again if he gains any good tools to complete some of the existing archetypes.
Paladin, damn. This is a bit surprising because when we saw the card reveals for Paladin it looked like he is getting some really strong cards for Secret archetype with good support and he already had some tools for that archetype from the past expansions that are still in the Standard rotation. Dragon decks just didn't find a spot in the meta because it is too slow for what it does and the value just isn't there. Dragon archetype is something that we can expect to become stronger throughout the year as this one is called the Year of the Dragon. If it gets some decent tempo options or early game, in general, it could be able to lift off from the bottom.
Best Legendaries to Craft:
This will be just a short list for the legendaries that are really worth crafting if you really want to play decks that are competitive and don't have too much dust to experiment with.
Edwin and Myra's are both the part of many versions of Tempo Rogue so you can't go wrong with either of these. New Rogue legendaries don't seem to fit the archetype too well nor do they make a strong one themselves so for this expansion no new legendaries are worth crafting.
Bomb Warrior is quite strong and Blastmaster Boom is the reason why, if you are planning on playing that kind of deck you can't go wrong with these. For Control Warrior you will need only Dr. Boom, Mad Genius though.
Boommaster Flark now really feels right in the spot for the Mech deck in the aggressive version, not so much in the slower Deathrattle one. Zul'jin, another Hero card, definitely a good craft for Midrange deck, giving it a huge play in the late game that immediately impacts the board and refills some resources in the hand.
If you are looking for new cards only craft then Mage is for you, because Khadgar Mage uses both of these and they work really well in that particular deck. Kalecgos also has a niche spot in the Burn deck so there are more uses for it. Khadgar and Kalecgos both are very synergistic cards and will most likely stay relevant for the class. A good craft for the Mage.
Arch-Villain Rafaam isn't really the greatest craft but it has found a spot in Zoo and Plot Twist decks. On the other hand, The Soularium is a bit niche of a craft but it is really strong if you want to play Zoo decks even without Rafaam. The Soularium will always be a viable choice for faster Warlock decks as a sudden burst of resources and should be crafted if you are going to play Warlock.
The only candidate in Druid is Keeper Stalladris. That is because the only viable deck for competitive play is Token deck and the only legendary besides the free Archmage Vargoth is Stalladris. A good craft for this deck but not for much else unfortunately but highly synergistic card like this will definitely become more impactful the more it stays in the rotation so it isn't that bad to craft it now, even if for one deck only.
The best choice for shaman definitely. Of course, because it is the third and last Hero card in the rotation this card will always be a good pick up while its in the rotation. It is a good card to put into almost any Shaman deck that is slower and needs more value and a board clear as an extra effect. Another card to consider maybe is a classic legendary Al'akir but Hagatha is more of a safe approach at this time.
Archivist Elysiana is a great craft for Control Warrior and Control decks in general as she gives you more cards to play with. Not that it only generates a huge amount of value but also delays the fatigue which is crushing in Control match-ups where the opponent doesn't also have it tech in their deck.
Alexstrasza is played in Mages mostly because in Khadgar decks it gives you an easy lethal setup because when you get to stick a big minion and proc the Conjurers on it you will more than likely have around 15 damage on the board. Also, Burn Mage runs Pyroblast and Alextrasza goes well with that kind of deck choices.
Leeroy Jenkins is always a good craft for aggressive decks, a good choice if you are going to play Tempo Rogue of Zoo Warlock this season.
Zilliax is the most played legendary in the game. This is the best craft recommendation I can give. It is so versatile, can fit in many different kinds of decks and just a nice minion to trade with and get a bit of sustain even in decks that usually don't have any. Not to mention if you are going to play Mech Hunter this is a must craft.
Captain Greenskin is finally a viable card. The meta is just in the right spot for him to get played. Both decks that use him, Tempo Rogue and Bomb Warrior, use a 4 mana weapon with enough attack power for the extra swing to really matter. The Pirate tag is also a really good synergy in Rogue because of Raiding Party.
Harrison Jones, well the Greenskin is viable so that means that a lot of weapons are played and yeah, that pretty much explains it. Also, the Warrior combo that is pretty popular is Weapon Project into Harrison that destroys the opponent's weapon and draws you 3 cards and can be used even if the opponent doesn't run any weapons.
Hope this info helps you in deciding what to play this season on the ladder and to save you some dust without experimenting with the expensive legendaries. I didn't recommend any crafts for Paladin and Priest because I think that it just isn't worth it to play them at the moment.
Thanks for reading!