The Vicious Syndicate Data Reaper Podcast

By Vicious Syndicate

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The Data Reaper podcast is a companion piece providing extra insight into the weekly report about the Hearthstone meta found at Join us for a deeper dive into the numbers to help you improve your Hearthstone game. Support this podcast:

Episode Date
Episode 97: The Nathria Narrative

Welcome to Murder at Castle Nathria! We don't have a full report yet, but we have early impressions and you're going to want to hear them in our longest episode ever.

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Aug 07, 2022
Episode 96: Premeditating on Murder at Castle Nathria

All the cards are out and we have over a week until we get to play with them... so what do we do? We theorychat! Zach has been deep in the lab making decklist drafts and Hat got to play on the theorycrafting stream--tune in to hear where our perspectives overlap.

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Jul 24, 2022
Episode 95: Double Zilliax, Hat!

We have new information that shows that Renathal is actually making some decks better instead of worse! On top of that, we have a bunch of new cards to review together.

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Jul 10, 2022
Episode 94: The Prince Renathal Episode

You knew it was coming. Do you want to hear about how Renathal decks are doing after a few days? Of course you do. 

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Jul 02, 2022
Episode 93: You Should Play Holy Paladin

It's yet another meta where the best deck is both underplayed and in the Paladin class. Just play it. But hey, we have stuff to talk about in every class! Well, almost every class...

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Jun 25, 2022
Episode 92: The Big Spell Mage Counter

You might need one if the meta keeps going the way it's been headed. After the last round of changes we have another completely new meta - tune in to get our first impressions!

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Jun 20, 2022
Episode 91: Shield Chatter

It's Warrior's format now and we're all just living in it. Well, Warrior and Rogue. Well, Warrior, Rogue, and DH...

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Jun 12, 2022
Episode 90: It Doesn't Beat Warrior Any More

Unless you're playing Boar Priest or Alignment Druid, at least. We have a lot to talk about with mini-set standard and there's also 10+ minutes of Elden Ring discussion after the outro!

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Jun 05, 2022
Episode 89: The Buffs Were Good

No, really, they were. We might not have a single dead class... there's one that we have questions about but it's not the one you think. 

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May 22, 2022
Episode 88: How Ya Doin Zach?

There has been some concern that Hat always ask Zach how he's doing and never gets an answer. Fear not, because this week we get the answer. Tune in to find out! We also talk about standard and some of the new high skill cap decks that have made the rounds on social media. 

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May 07, 2022
Episode 87: Call to Barnes

There are some pretty interesting post-nerf insights, though of course the diamond elephant in the room gets some special coverage again this week from Zach. All his homies hate Drek'Thar. But there's more to talk about too- especially with some classes that gained some breathing room after the Kazakusan rework. 

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Apr 30, 2022
Episode 86: Oracle is Core-acle

Seriously, play two Oracles of Elune! Well, at least until the deck gets nerfed on Tuesday. We recorded this episode 12 hours before the nerf announcements, but you might not believe that after hearing how close some of our predictions were. (Mostly Zach's.) 

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Apr 23, 2022
Episode 85: Bait and Switcheroo

Set sail! The Voyage to the Sunken City is underway and we're here with early impressions after two and a half days of the new standard year. 

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Apr 16, 2022
Episode 84: Four Set Goggles

After locking himself in the lab, Zach has emerged with a pile of decklists and thoughts about the new meta - and Hat supplements that with his own experience from the theorycrafting streams. It's time for the last episode of the Year of the Gryphon. Hail Hydra!

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Apr 11, 2022
Episode 83: Fires of Zach-Oshari

Zach has big dreams about some of the cards from the new set and Hat's here to stoke the flames. This set is a class-by-class review of all the new cards we've seen so far and there are a lot of them!

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Mar 26, 2022
Episode 82: Journey to the Sunken City

The new set has been announced and the new cards have big Un'Goro two vibes! Listen to Zach and Hat talk over the new mechanics along with some very preliminary card evaluations.

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Mar 19, 2022
Episode 81: Hearthstone History

Zach puts on his professor Hat once again to walk us through the history of hearthstone from a design perspective. 

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Mar 05, 2022
Episode 80: Board to Death

Our first full report on the Onyxia's Lair meta has dropped. What do the hosts think of the polarizing standard environment? Tune in to find out.

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Feb 26, 2022
Episode 79: 50 Ways to Leave Your Kazzy

Onyxia's Lair had a bigger impact than anticipated thanks to the dramatic improvement Kazakusan has brought to Druid. We have some early impressions of the meta as well as some predictions as to what will change. 

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Feb 20, 2022
Episode 78: Gallonyxia's Lair

What a two-parter. We're thrilled to have Gallon on for a 30 minute dev interview and then after that there are a whole lot of new cards to cover from the Onyxia's Lair mini-set!

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Feb 13, 2022
Episode 77: Flow Had To Go

The first report of the 22.2 meta has made it clear... that things aren't very clear at all. The meta is open with lots of options and tremendous class diversity. Thank goodness they nerfed Mozaki.

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Feb 05, 2022
Episode 76: The Third Alterac Launch

Is standard saved? We're back after 22.2 brings 8 balance changes and frees the format from the Gnoll strangehold. There are lots of surprises here!

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Jan 30, 2022
Episode 75: The Breaking Point

The standard meta is badly warped around Gnolls and Scabbs. The hosts have a sobering discussion around the state of standard and talk about how they're handling it. 

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Jan 15, 2022
Episode 74: Shadowcrafting The Meta

Well, after the last report, Thief Rogue has exploded on ladder... how much of a problem is it? Are there other decks that are a problem? Is Guff a good boy? (Yes, he is.)

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Jan 09, 2022
Episode 73: The Most Diverse Meta Ever?

After multiple days of deck refinement and 15 hours of writing, Zach has emerged from the lab with over 40 decklists for the latest report. Is this the most diverse meta ever? And is Thief Rogue broken?

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Jan 01, 2022
Episode 72: Draw Should Cost Mana

13 cards were changed the day after worlds and we have some early impressions of the new meta. Are the solitare five dead? 

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Dec 25, 2021
Episode 71: Celestial Misalignment

The first and last report of pre-nerf Alterac is here. The devs have heavily implied nerfs are coming this week after worlds, so it's time for some patented ZachO predictions - not to mention a full review of the new meta. 

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Dec 18, 2021
Episode 70: Hat is Wrong in Alterac

Everyone's wrong on occasion, of course, but it's funnier when it's Hat predicting that Hero Tamsin would not make it into Handlock. Find out what other predictions came true (or didn't) in the first episode in Alterac!

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Dec 12, 2021
Episode 69: It's One Mana, Hat

All the cards for Alterac Valley have been revealed and we're quite thankful for the extra time. Tune in for a class by class review!

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Nov 28, 2021
Episode 68: Hero Card Meta

We've got early impressions and we've got new cards! We've got time for both somehow - let's discuss the meta we have now along with what could be the meta we have in two weeks when Alterac comes out.

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Nov 21, 2021
Episode 67: The Final Stormwind Nerfs

The first full report for Deadmines is done just in time to anticipate nerfs next week. What's good now and what will be good after the changes?

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Nov 13, 2021
Episode 66: It's Good Against Anacondra

The Deadmines has shaken up standard and there are a ton of new decks to talk about along with some updates on older ones. Mr. Smite seems to be everywhere and has even found his way into strange Druid combo decks. Is it good? Tune in.

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Nov 07, 2021
Episode 65: Zach Outsmarts Hat (again)

Thank goodness we have new cards to talk about! There were sixteen Deadmines cards revealed on Thursday and the crew talks about every single one of them. 

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Oct 30, 2021
Episode 64: Meta Dynamics 102

School is back in session as ZachO puts on his high skill cap and expands on the paradigm between resource and initiative with real-world examples to help illustrate opportunities to grow as a player. If you haven't listened to episode 45, we strongly recommend doing so first! 

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Oct 23, 2021
Episode 63: Stormwind Stability

The meta has a few developments going on, so it's time for one more review of standard before the mini-set. The format is unusually balanced and diverse with a few surprises worth covering even three months in.

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Oct 16, 2021
Episode 62: The All-Time Highest Skill Cap

Is Garrote Contact Rogue really the most skill-testing deck of all time? Can a deck's skill ceiling really be measured in data? Yes and yes. Tune in to find out the details.

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Oct 09, 2021
Episode 61: 21.3 and Design

The first full report of 21.3 is out and we're here to break it down along with a lengthy discussion on the state of standard's balance and play patterns. This meta isn't for everyone, but does that mean there are fundamental flaws in the designs?

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Oct 02, 2021
Episode 60: The Big Warrior Matchup (w/Alec)

21.3 is live with some significant changes--we were curious about Team 5's perspective on the meta so we had Alec on again to tell us what they think! Join us for an interview and a very early look at the new meta.

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Sep 25, 2021
Episode 59: Il'Gynoth is Good... Again

The pace of Stormwind patches hasn't slowed down and we're due for 14 card changes next week. Alec himself challenged Zach to come up with a list of changes - and Hat has some (bad) guesses too.

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Sep 18, 2021
Episode 58: GIMME DA BRUTE

The post-Stealer meta has continued to develop and the first official report has a lot for us to expand on. Does Rod make Handlock OP? Is Garrote Rogue the highest skill cap deck ever? Can Zach do an accurate Feno impression? Tune in to find out.

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Sep 11, 2021
Episode 57: One Mana Matters

What would Stormwind look like without Stealer of Souls? Well, we finally get the chance to find out thanks to another couple of balance changes that went live earlier this week. And Flesh Giant moved one mana again... does it even matter? Yes. Yes it does.

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Sep 04, 2021
Episode 56: Flow Will Save Us

The first report of patch 21.0.3 is here and it turns out it'll be the final report as well - some Warlock changes have been announced for next week! What does that mean for the rest of the classes?

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Aug 28, 2021
Episode 55: Don't Overreact

8 nerfs! Team 5 went wide with changes as expected. We don't have a full report yet, but we have early insights into the new meta and it may not be what you're expecting. Don't worry, we talk about Stealer... but there's a lot more to discuss.

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Aug 21, 2021
Episode 54: Stealer of Winrates

We didn't get nerfs yet though we know they're coming - but we do have the first report of Stormwind and it's a doozy! And of course, at the end we update our balance predictions to see if we can figure out what the team will do on Tuesday.

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Aug 14, 2021
Episode 53: The Start of Stormwind

It's time for the first look at the United in Stormwind standard environment! There are more decks to cover than we've ever done before in a single episode. Join us for an early peek at what the numbers are saying. 

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Aug 07, 2021
Episode 52: Priest Deleted?

We have an early look at the 20.8.2 field as Barrens winds down. With the significant changes to Priest and the removal of Gibberling highrolls, the field looks rosy for Rush Warrior... but are there other developments to discover? Is Priest actually dead? 

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Jul 19, 2021
Episode 51: Watching for Nerfs

We don't have new cards, but we do have new information from Alec via tweet - balance changes are coming next week! There are also some interesting developments to Watch out for in standard that deserve discussion.

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Jul 10, 2021
Episode 50: SmackO in Stormwind

United in Stormwind is our next expansion! We have a ton of new cards to talk about as well as the new mechanics introduced in the reveal stream on Thursday. 

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Jul 04, 2021
Episode 49: The Light Shall Burn You

There's a lull at the end of the third month of the Barrens meta, but there's been plenty of activity on social media around the class everyone loves to hate. The boys spend some time talking about the data and player sentiment around Priest with some interesting data points that might surprise you.

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Jun 26, 2021
Episode 48: Cut C'Thun, Improve Deck

The second report of Wailing Caverns has given us some new developments. Can Hybrid Shaman work? Should Rush Warrior play N'Zoth? Are we going full yoink? Tune in and find out!

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Jun 19, 2021
Episode 47: Card Draw Good

Thanks to the release of some powerful new Shaman cards, we finally have something to talk about with Thrall! The first full week of data from the Wailing Caverns meta has given us a lot of insights to go over for every class... well, almost every class.

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Jun 12, 2021
Episode 46: Looking For Group

With only hours to spare between the patch notes and the mini-set's release, Zach and Hat find time for an EMERGENCY EPISODE covering all the new cards and the surprise nerfs!

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Jun 03, 2021
Episode 45: Meta Dynamics

We're waiting for the Wailing Caverns to open - but for this episode, we're trying something a little different and exploring the general concept of meta dynamics.

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May 29, 2021
Episode 44: The Spice Must Flow

Alec promised spice, but the initial impressions seemed to be that not much had changed. We don't think those initial impressions were accurate. Take a listen to get some context into the meta's developments after the first report of 20.2.2.

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May 22, 2021
Episode 43: Taking Out The Trash

We have an early look at what's good after the sudden 20.2.2 changes, but the meta is barely formed at this point. We have some idea of what to play and a much better idea of what not to play. 

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May 16, 2021
Episode 42: TEN BUFFS, HAT!

Two hours before the show recorded, Alec tweeted that 5 nerfs and 10 buffs are coming! Join us as we try to sleuth out what the possible changes could be.

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May 08, 2021
Episode 41: Go With The Flow

We have confirmation that balance changes are coming but not what they are yet - and this meta isn't done developing. Zach has some spicy takes to share on where things are now and where they could go!

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May 01, 2021
Episode 40: Flex Taping the Meta

Not sure what 3 drops to play? Need some extra value in your standard deck? Sounds like a job for FLEX TAPE NEUTRALS! What would win in a fight - the lifebinder or one angry orc?

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Apr 24, 2021
Episode 39: Zach Just Wants to Play Priest

Episode 39 is live! Despite some technical delays, we've still got a lot of early insights to share about the post-nerf meta. @ZachODR @RidiculousHat @PlayHearthstone

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Apr 19, 2021
Episode 38: Priest is OPee

Has Zach broken the code? No, but we're finding ways to have fun and potentially deal with this warped meta until nerfs come out next week. Big thanks to Craptasm for our intro this week- it's solid gold.

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Apr 10, 2021
Episode 37: Just Play Paladin

No, we mean it. Play Paladin. It's time for a very early look at the Forged in the Barrens meta! The environment has changed and the meta continues to develop- but there are some early outliers that are worth discussing.

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Apr 03, 2021
Episode 36: Alec's Back!

Alec returns for another interview covering Team 5's current design philosophy! After that, Zach and Hat take a look at some of the new cards and give their initial thoughts.

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Mar 20, 2021
Episode 35: Game Ogre, Man!

We're all waiting for the Barrens card reveals, but the meta isn't done developing! And not only that, but this episode features a special live discussion of the decklist posts from MT Ironforge as they happen and a discussion of the nerf reversions.

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Mar 13, 2021
Episode 34: The Big DH Dream

The meta is stable, but the core set sure isn't. Zach and Hat take the time to give both larger thoughts on the new core set and class by class specifics. 

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Mar 02, 2021
Episode 33: Zach versus Vanessa

Instead of reviewing the meta, it's time to review all of the things that we learned at BlizzCon. Zach and Hat dig deep into the core set and Forged in the Barrens with what we know right now.

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Feb 22, 2021
Episode 32: Zach Classic

Big news! The core set and Hearthstone Classic have both been announced. Zach and Hat give their initial thoughts before diving into the meta and taking a look at some of the latest developments, including the rise of spell damage mage.

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Feb 13, 2021
Episode 31: Ridiculous Skill Cap

The first report of the Darkmoon Races meta had FIFTEEN tier 1 decks! Are they all actually good? Is this a high skill meta? Will Zach lose his damn mind? All the answers are here!

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Feb 02, 2021
Episode 30: The Darkmoon Derby

With the mini-set being announced on Tuesday and released on Thursday, the team has to race to release an episode talking about all the new cards. Come hear some hot takes about the mid-set expansion!

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Jan 20, 2021
Episode 29: 4Headwin

It finally happened. Not only did they nerf Boggspine Knuckles, but they nerfed Edwin Van Cleef. Zach and Hat have a lot to discuss about the nerfs, the newly forming meta, and the possibility of what's to come for classic and basic.

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Jan 12, 2021
Episode 28: New Year, Same Shaman

Happy new year! The best decks may be the same, but there's some movement in other classes that's worth looking into. 

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Jan 02, 2021
Episode 27: Merry Stickmas

On our last episode of 2020, Zach and Hat discuss the latest evolution of the meta. Zach has his finger on the pulse of the latest developments in our decklists... and a lot of them run a certain 5 mana 4/4. Happy holidays!

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Dec 26, 2020
Episode 26: Explosive Evolution

19.2 has brought changes to the standard environment, and for better or worse, some predicted meta adjustments seem to be coming true. Join us for an early look at the new meta.

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Dec 19, 2020
Episode 25: ZachO Notes and Hat Feelings

It's almost certain that there will be balance changes on Tuesday, but there are still new developments to explore in standard before then. Tune in to hear about the rise of Whirlkick Master, the true nature of Highlander Druid, and some guesses from the hosts on what will be adjusted.

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Dec 12, 2020
Episode 24: Zephrys the Chicken

Aggro Demon Hunter is back with a... vengeance. Zach and Hat review report #180 and talk about the dominant decks, the shape of the six playable classes, and hopes for potential future changes and developments to come.

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Dec 05, 2020
Episode 23: The Full Darkmoon Faire Report

Two podcasts in one week! The first report on the Darkmoon Faire meta is out and we're here to break it down for you class by class. Can Illidan be stopped? Does Shaman exist? What crazy experiments will ZachO come up with next? The answers to all of these questions are inside.

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Nov 28, 2020
Episode 22: ZachO Unleashed

We're back, and we have a special early look at the meta mere days after release. ZachO doesn't have to be held back by the data here and wastes no time in serving up hot takes. 

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Nov 23, 2020
Episode 21: A Chat with Alec Dawson

For the first time, the VS team gets to sit down with Team 5 - we're joined this week by Alec Dawson, senior game designer for Hearthstone. This interview is packed with information, including Alec's perspective on randomness and value generation, the team's balance philosophy, thoughts on Yogg-Saron, and an idea of where the classic set is headed. Make sure you tune in for this one!

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Nov 07, 2020
Episode 20: The Return of the Old Gods

A new set announced already? That's Madness... at the Darkmoon Faire! There's already plenty to discuss in the early post-patch meta with the recent significant tweaks to mage, but on top of that, we have new cards to go over! 

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Oct 27, 2020
Episode 19: Emotion Flinger

Between the report and the podcast recording, more nerfs were announced and a new trailer was teased! We have lots of speculation about what's coming next Thursday and plenty of discussion about the mage nerfs as well as a full review of the meta as usual.

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Oct 17, 2020
Episode 18: Sparkly ZachOpinions

Now that we have a full report on the 18.4 patch, we have more information to help guide you through this new meta. But this episode is not just about data, and when it comes time to talk about Mage, the hosts work on their virtual twitlonger skills to give you some opinions about their perception of the alleged "created by" meta. 

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Oct 10, 2020
Episode 17: Initial 18.4 Impressions

The latest patch has nerfed both Tortollan Pilgrim and Guardian Animals and the format has seen a significant shakeup as a result. There isn't a full report yet, but there's enough data to get early impressions. Is Soul DH unstoppable? Will people ever play Paladin at high legend? Did Hat get something right?? Tune in and find out!

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Oct 03, 2020
Episode 16: Full Yoink Music

While the meta continues to develop, archetypes are starting to stabilize and this week has Druid on top, though it's far from unbeatable. But there are still new decks and new builds to be found - not just for Paladin either!

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Sep 26, 2020
Episode 15: Run The Good Cards

The first report is out! The post-18.2 meta looks to be smaller but it still has some interesting developments. Why is cyclone mage so popular? Did the Totem Goliath buff do anything? Can we still go full yoink? Find out the answers to these questions and more!

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Sep 19, 2020
Episode 14: An Early Look at the 18.2 Meta

The nerfs are live, and while it's too early for the first report, we can get some initial impressions. Join Zach and Hat for a review of what's going on with each class and where things look to be headed.

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Sep 12, 2020
Episode 13: Balance and Balancing in 18.2

A month in to Scholomance and the meta is shaping up to historic levels of class balance - but the designers aren't done yet and 5 new card changes have been announced as part of the 18.2 patch on Tuesday. In addition to their regular overview of how each class is doing, Zach and Hat take the time to talk about the impact of each nerf and where this meta could shift in time for this weekend's Masters Tour and beyond.

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Sep 05, 2020
Episode 12: ZachO the Griefer

The meta keeps developing and podcast episodes keep getting longer! There's so much more to explore in the Scholomance meta - join us for a class by class review where no stone is left unturned. 

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Aug 29, 2020
Episode 11: Return of the SMOrc

The Scholomance meta continues to defy stability, and the mid-week release of the 18.0.2 balance patch changed yet another variable. There's no report this week, but ZachO and Hat have some fresh data to share and discuss from the most recent class shifts. Going face is back on the menu!

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Aug 22, 2020
Episode 10: Scholomance is in Session

Scholomance Academy has hit standard and the impact cannot be overstated - this is a new world! It's a wide open meta with something for (almost) every class to do. Zach and Hat go class by class after the first Data Reaper report to try and make sense of it all. 

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Aug 15, 2020
Episode 9: Scholomance Eve Theorycrafts

Zach and Hat can't wait for the new set and there's only one day to go! There's only one thing to talk about - the upcoming meta and our hopes for what's good, what's fun, and what's both. 

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Aug 05, 2020
Episode 8: Winding Down the Ashes Meta

It's time for a last look at what feels like a new meta, as the final balance patch for Outlands has created significant change. But the new expansion is two weeks away and it's time to turn our perspective to what's coming after a review of the most recent Data Reaper report. We go card by card for all of the reveals so far - and there's lots to discuss.

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Jul 25, 2020
Episode 7: Early 17.6 Impressions and Scholomance Academy

There's a lot to talk about this week! Not only has the new 17.6 patch dramatically changed the meta at the end of the Ashes expansion cycle, but the next expansion has been announced and cards have been revealed. ZachO and Hat take a very early look at what each class looks like after the most recent balance update before diving directly into a card by card discussion of what we've seen so far from Scholomance Academy.

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Jul 18, 2020
Episode 6: Ashes of Outland Nerfs - Round 5

Another wave of balance changes has been announced just before the next Masters Tour! While the nerfs are meant to set up the next expansion to have a larger impact per Blizzard, we expect them to have a major impact on the meta that we're in now. Join us for a review of every nerf on a card by card basis as well as a per-class analysis of what we predict the standard environment will look like.

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Jul 11, 2020
Episode 5: The Amani Berserker Meta

Yes, Amani Berserker. The new "enrage" aggro Demon Hunter is taking the ladder by storm after the discovery and evolution of a promising early build from the China Gold Championship. In addition to some analysis of the more unusual card inclusions and play patterns of the latest DH list, ZachO and Hat also reflect on the "forgotten classes" of Paladin and Shaman to figure out what help they need before speculating on what the next expansion could do for archetypes that can't quite cut it right now.

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Jun 30, 2020
Episode 4: A Discussion of Meta Dynamics

This episode takes on a different form as ZachO and Hat discuss the dynamics of the post-Twin Slice rework meta. Demon Hunter is still on top and Warrior is not far behind - and there has been a growing conversation on social media about the state of the game, including a long post from Zach himself. We have a constructive discussion about how we got here, what we think the problems are, and what the future of the game could look like with players and devs working together.

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Jun 23, 2020
Episode 3: The Rise of Bomb Control

Bomb Control Warrior has taken the top spot in the standard meta as expected, and with that comes additional meta developments. There are still refinements to be found in many archetypes, Demon Hunter and Druid included - and Rogue looks like it could end up being the third best class in the meta if decklists adapt.

1:45 - Meta developments with Warrior and DH
25:10 - Continuing Druid refinement
34:48 - Rogue builds investigated
44:27 - Quick hits on other classes

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Jun 13, 2020
Episode 2: Demon Hunter, Warrior, and Druid
Zach and Hat are back and this week's meta calls for some deeper review of the top classes. Demon Hunter is still very strong even after the third round of nerfs and it seems like Warrior was left unscathed as well, not to mention the continuing refinement of Control Warrior. Druid is undergoing some fascinating developments and has transformed from one deck into three.  --- Support this podcast:
Jun 06, 2020
Episode 1: The Post-Patch Meta and Initial Class Developments

Welcome to the Data Reaper Podcast! In the pilot episode, ZachO and RidiculousHat cover the initial findings from the first data reaper report after the 12 card balance change. In addition to an initial review of the developing meta, there's lots to talk about with class developments- Warrior is showing a surprising amount of class diversity while Druid and Rogue are in the middle of significant adjustments. 

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May 30, 2020