So I recently started laddering with a zoo list that included Rafaam. In short, a number of things have led me to believe that the HSReplay stats on Rafaam, and the deck list in general, are incorrect. This could mean that Rafaam is a bad include in zoo, and that the individual zoo decklists are not as strong as the stats suggest. If this is common knowledge, my apologies.
My theory is that Rafaam (when played) confuses the tracker into thinking the decklist is different. Specifically, I think this only happens if you play Rafaam and go on to draw cards. If this is true, the games in which Rafaam is played (and the game does not immediately end) are not counted in the decklist statistics. Since Rafaam is most often played as a hail mary in a losing situation, this filtering of losing games artificially inflates the winrate of the decklist. This also explains why Rafaam has enormous mulligan and drawn winrates in bad matchups: you either open fast enough to win quickly or play Rafaam and the tracker doesn't count the game.
The strongest evidence is that I have personally played 49 games of the most popular decklist in the Legend-5 bracket with a winrate of 55%. The desktop "Hearthstone Deck Tracker" app accurately reflets this fact; however, my personal data with the deck on HSreplay.net shows 31 games played at a 71% winrate. My data on the site also claims that I've never played Rafaam, but my winrate when drawing him is 100%. I have absolutely played Rafaam, and lost most of the games in which he was played. The only reasonable explanation is that the site is not properly tracking Rafaam games as being from the same decklist.
In addition, the zoo archetype is currently sitting in Tier 2 with a 52.36% winrate from Legend through R5. Strangely, the most popular list boasts a winrate of 61.08%, which would make it god tier. Are that many people in the Legend-5 bracket playing sufficiently horrible zoo lists to balance out the most popular list? I don't think so. I think the site accurately tracks Rafaam games as belonging to the zoo archetype, but not the proper decklist. Other similar evidence is that the proportion of games played with the most popular deck is higher in lower ranks than in Legend-5. Are lower ranked zoos more likely to play a higher winrate decklist? I don't think so. I think they are less likely to end up playing Rafaam as a last-ditch effort in a losing situation, so more of their games are accurately tracked as coming from the most popular decklist.
Lastly, Rafaam's mulligan winrates in bad matchups (especially on coin) are huge. Going second against warrior Rafaam has a mulligan winrate of over 70%. In fact, Rafaam's mulligan (and drawn) winrate increases as the matchup gets worse. Anecdotally, this is bullshit, you don't win 70% of games in your worst matchup because you randomized your deck on turn 7. Through 49 games, Rafaam seems super weak.
To be thorough, I think the played winrate for Rafaam in the popular decklists comes from games in which he was played and the game ended before drawing another card. I could see this happening either as unsuccessful defense (he's a 7/8 with taunt) or as flashy BM at the end of winning games.
The stats on Rafaam are wrong. It remains to be answered whether he is any good in the deck. I'll be subbing him out after realizing this, because he really feels like trash when drawn or played. This seemed like an important post to write because everyone is playing Rafaam in their zoo decks and he even made an appearance in Viper's secondary list in European Grandmasters last weekend. The archetypal winrate for zoo is probably a better reflection of its strength than the individual decklist winrates.
Sorry for the length.
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© Post "Theory: The Statistics on Arch-Villain Rafaam (and Zoo) are wrong" for game HearthStone.
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