Deck Spotlight: Baku Rogue
This week we’re going to examine more closely a deck that many of us have come to appreciate. Baku Rogue. It’s not a face deck. It’s not a control deck. It’s aggro, but it’s the kind of free-range organic aggro that you feel comfortable losing to. If it’s helpful to apply the traditional deck classifiers for Odd/Even decks, I’d probably classify Baku Rogue as midrange, a happy medium between slow and SMOrc. Stay tuned for some of the worst-kept secrets of how to play and win with this deck.
Forget what I just said about happy mediums. You’re going for the face, hard and often. Your opponents are likely to have slower decks than you – generally Cubelock and Paladin – so you need to maximize tempo. This does not necessarily mean you should be going face all the time. Maximizing tempo means piling on the pressure and keeping the minions you need on the board. As with all aggro decks (except Face Hunter), the key lies in balancing pressure with risk. For Baku Rogue, pressure is a low health enemy. The risk is losing your board of minions.
You don’t have the endless ability to refill your board like Baku Paladin. You need to build the board fast and never lose it, so mulligan hard for your 1-drops. These should be something like: Dire Mole, Southsea Pirate, Fire Fly. Your aim for the first part of the game is to take firm control of the board, thereby scaring the living daylights out of the Cubelock you’ll definitely be against. Don’t hold back with your mulligans, even if you get other low-cost cards – you need minions, not Deadly Poison or Hallucinate.
The crux of your deck is the synergy between your improved hero power and your weapon-based minions. Hench-Clan Thug is your main man. Keep attacking every turn, and make sure you have a dagger up at all times. The sheer value of the 2/2 weapon makes it better than most cards in your deck, so make sure you milk it for all it’s worth. Weapon buffs, such as Deadly Poison and Cutthroat Buccaneer, are a little superfluous here – you’re not playing Oil Rogue. In most scenarios, you shouldn’t be saving up your buffs for a big face hit or ‘value’ trades. Keep the 2-damage hits flowing.
Let’s begin with Warlock. It is because of this class and the insanity of Carnivorous Cube that you should be running two Ironbeak Owls. The Witchwood, like the previous expansion, has Silence at a premium. It’s too good to pass up, and today there is an overabundance of powerful Taunts that will rain definitively on your parade.
The only way to win against Cubelock is to overpower them before they can pull off their combo. Luckily, Baku Rogue is better placed than Paladin or Hunter in doing this, but you will find recovery harder than they will. You need to have a growing Hench-Clan Thug on the board. If you don’t, you need a big field of smaller minions – and you can only hope they don’t have Defile.
I would hold on to Cold Blood and Leeroy. Since Warlock can heal themselves in such huge bursts with Dark Pact, you should lull them into a false sense of security and surprise them with a Silence on their Voidlord and 12+ damage to face. Don’t waste your burst on chunking them down, until you’re sure that you can secure the win. Build up incremental damage, be prepared for board clears, and hold your burst as long as possible. Be like Muhammad Ali: float like a butterfly, sting like a Lifedrinker.
Against Paladin, Odd and Even both, you may have a better chance. By that I mean you’re statistically less likely to win, but you’re more likely to achieve Hearthstone’s goal of actually having fun. You can be much more aggressive here. Fan of Knives is an excellent tech choice against Baku Paladin, and you might want to run two copies depending on how many of them you’re facing on the ladder. Focus on dominating the early game. You can’t win the long game, as their board will constantly be replenished with their improved hero power. Tempo is all-important, and you should be pushing as much damage as is humanly possible. Don’t hold your burst back like you would against a Warlock.
You aren’t playing a face deck, nor are you playing Oil Rogue. Make sure you prioritize board control and not burst potential – Blizzard has done a good job of neutering the old obscene burst of Miracle Rogue. You need a lot more turns to burn your opponent down. Board clears are inevitable, but preparation for them is not. Ensure you can recover from every Defile and Consecrate that comes your way. This is fairly general advice; we all know not to overextend. But since you’ve got so little card draw, losing your board has a really big impact.
Keep in mind that your hero power is your greatest asset – don’t take that two damage for granted. It’s a 100% increase in effectiveness over the non-Baku dagger. Moreover, I would make sure that you utilize the flexibility that Hallucinate and Blink Fox give you. They are opportunity makers. It’s easy to get sucked into tunnel vision, to fall for the trap of over-emphasizing face damage. These card stealers add some valuable randomness, and while they are a little extraneous to the aggressive core of the deck, I would hesitate to remove them.
Overall, Baku Rogue is uniquely versatile among Odd decks. It has powerful burst, strong sustained damage, and extreme tempo potential with Van Cleef and 1-mana cards. It can quickly overpower most control decks, including our grand nemesis Quest Rogue. If you want to play aggro but you’re feeling wholesome, give Baku Rogue a spin for a guilt-free game!