Starting Stone #7:
Above Average Cards
Below Average Cards
The pleasure is mine to be the one to introduce you to the most graceful and deadly class in the game. Do you Fancy wielding daggers? Then you have come to the right place. Every opponent will have to tread lightly or find themselves surprised by a Sinister Strike, or perhaps a more subtle Backstab. This article is a primer on all things Rogue! We will start by ranking all of the class specific Rogue cards, and then give you all the tools and information necessary to slay your opponents on the field of battle with powerful decklists! I’ll see you on the other side my friend.
Disclaimer: These card rankings were made primarily for ranked constructed play, therefore cards such as Defias Ringleader might appear lower in the constructed card rankings while are still being a very strong arena pick. And other cards such as Shadowstep, while mostly useless in arena, can be very powerful in constructed play!
A Rogues primary strength stems from their ability to aggressively control the battlefield in the early turns of the game through use of unique class specific cards in conjunction with their trusty Dagger. This strategy coupled with cost efficient threats will often whittle away your opponent’s life total before they have a chance to save their skin with large expensive minions. A good Rogue understands that it is not the size of your weapon, but how you use it….and if all else fails you always have Sap to buy you another turn to figure something out.
Rogues have a unique class specific keyword in “Combo” which allows you to deploy cards that threaten or deal with the board much more abruptly than other classes; cards such as an SI:7 Agent can remove an early minion while being a major threat on its own, and a Combo’d Eviscerate can take apart the largest of minions for just two mana. However powerful these Combo cards are, on their own they would not be strong enough to totally disable opponents. That is where Rogue class specific cards garner an even more fearsome reputation. Though cards such as Deadly Poison and Blade Flurry might not bare the Combo moniker, when used together they can create a force more devastating than traditional board clearing cards like Consecrate while having no RNG unlike Lightning Storm. A Rogue must know how to properly use and combine all the tools in their arsenal to win!
1. SI:7 AgentEdwin might be the head of the Defias Brotherhood, but these agents are its hands and feet. SI:7 Agent is the most powerful minion in the Rogue class specific arsenal. This card is often a two for one in that typically it will kill a minion as soon as it enters the battlefield and then trade itself for another, which is a value that Rogue players do not take lightly. SI:7 Agents can also target minions such as Faerie Dragon which can often be a problem when playing against extremely aggressive decks. In addition the card can play around Taunt minions by assassinating the Flame Imps that Warlocks try to protect with Voidwalkers, or save you life against a hunter by killing their Wolfrider instead of you having to do it yourself with your Dagger. This card fills in an instrumental gap in the Rogue class as it allows a better ability to handle high toughness monsters such as a Chillwind Yeti by itself or a Druid of the Claw with the help of a Combo’d Eviscerate.
Deadly Poison is just as strong and brutally efficient as SI:7 Agent and was a serious contender for the number one spot. This card allows you to turn all your weapons into a devastating tool to clear the battlefield of minions early on and pressure your opponent’s life total when needed. At the low cost of one mana it makes for another excellent Combo addition to the Rogues repertoire of cheap effective spells. Coupled with an SI:7 Agent on turn four you have an unexpected five damage burst to take out anything in your way.
3. BackstabThis is the premier and most efficient removal spell for Rogues, being a zero casting cost card allows for excellent tempo oriented turns which allow you to Combo for maximum damage! Backstab is the best early game removal spell as it carries with it only a very minor drawback, unlike a card like Soulfire which requires random discard. In addition this card is flexible enough to be used on a Spiteful Smith to give your weapon an additional two damage. It is the bread and butter Rogue tempo card.
4. EviscerateEviscerate is a very scary card, it gives Rogue the reach they need to take down extremely powerful minions without spending their whole turn to do so with a card such as Assassinate. Well ok sometimes you need a little help to finish the job, but that is what Defias Bandits are for anyway right? This card should almost exclusively be Combo’d into and delivers a powerful amount of damage out of nowhere that makes cards like Druid of the Claw seem easy to deal with.
Above Average Cards
5. Blade FlurryThis card should really be called Blade Fury because it is the meanest thing since Grommash Hellscream came to ruin your day. On its own this card does not have very much use. It is a worse variation of Fan of Knives as it does not allow you to draw a card and costs the weapon you currently have equipped, but the potential upside when used in combination with other cards can make Blade Flurry have more devastating effects than any early game board clear sans Flamestrike. Blade Flurry mixed with Deadly Poison can clear a board better than most board clear while still allowing you the mana to play additional threats, and if Spell Power minions are in play your opponent can forget about their life total as well, dealing upwards of four to five damage itself can be crucial in closing out a game. The synergies do not stop there however, as cards like Spiteful Smith also assist in bolstering your weapon damage to make this card utterly devastating in just about any Rogue deck.
Perdition’s Blade is an excellent tool in a Rogues arsenal. With the ability to deal up to four damage with a minimum of three damage in a turn, the card is typically guaranteed to remove a troublesome minion and still have a charge left over for subsequent turns as well. Perdition’s Blade is the go to card of a tempo Rogue player, as they generate instant value and will often do no worse than trade themselves for a difficult threat, such as a Harvest Golem or relieve pressure against the fastest of starts your opponent might have. Coupled with a Deadly Poison you should be equipped to properly remove any minion your opponent might be able to play in the first five turns of the game.
Naturalize and Assassinate that ignore a minion’s toughness, so be careful about spending too many resources on Edwin. A good threshold to keep him at is usually a 6/6 which can be fairly easy if on the draw with The Coin.
8. SapSap is exactly what an aggressive Rogue player looks for when they are trying to set an opponent so far behind that they will not be able to keep up in terms of pressure. This card when played right actually reads “your opponent draws a card and skips their turn” as Sap is best used to return large difficult to deal with minions and allow you extra time to deal damage. The virtue of Sap can be best understood when you have played four or five points of early game pressure and bounce an opponent’s Chillwind Yeti on turn five only to kill it when they have replayed it on turn six with an Eviscerate and your Hero Power. This nets you a total of eight to ten damage and puts your opponent completely out of the game. This card can also be used to remove Taunt effects from minions like Ancient Watcher or defensively on a minion that has been Cold Blooded or given Mark of the Wild and in addition can be especially strong against a Druid that has just Innervated out a potent early threat.
9. Cold BloodThis card is much more powerful than on first glance, but does require a bit of build around to be truly utilized well. Cheap Divine Shield cards such as Argent Squire will give you the most equity per Cold Blood as it often costs your opponent two cards to remove, and gives them only six turns to live if deployed on turn two. In addition, using Cold Blood with the Stealth mechanic can also lead to a bonus 8 damage from a single minion, that is almost a Pyroblast for the low cost of one mana. Sounds like I need to put a Master of Disguise in my deck after all!
10. Fan of KnivesFan of Knives has an innately powerful effect in that you are able to deal damage to all opposing enemy minions through Taunt or Stealth, much like other powerful Rogue class specific cards it does need some setup. This setup includes getting multiple minion to one health in order to clear the board with a Fan of Knives, or playing minions such as Bloodmage Thalnos or Kobold Geomancer to create a pseudo-Consecrate effect that also lets you draw a card!
11. Assassin’s BladeA great tempo generating card, weapons are the bread and butter of Rogue like most classes and can put you far ahead when not answered. Assassin’s Blade gives you double the durability of a Fiery War Axe, which can mean double the trouble. Not only does this card put your opponent on a real clock as it does twelve damage, it can also remove or finish minions you otherwise might have trouble against and give you the upper hand in close games. Just be sure to use your life total sparingly or you might find yourself on the wrong end of an Assassin’s Blade.
Defias Ringleader is an extremely powerful card when successfully Combo’d in the early game through use of a Rogues favorite card, The Coin, to create four power on the board and a fair bit of pressure on turn one. Other excellent plays include using Backstab into Defias Ringleader or playing a cheap card like Argent Squire into Defias Ringleader to generate large amounts of pressure very quickly. There are two key drawbacks to this card however: the additional 2/1 you receive can be easily answered by the Hero Powers of Rogues, Druids and Mages, and when drawing the card in the late game without the ability to Combo it can be quite bad, this is why Defias Ringleader is no longer a mandatory inclusion in current Rogue decks.
13. AssassinateThis is your run of the mill removal spell on strong problem minions. While slightly costly at five mana, as other classes have more efficient answers in Polymorph, Hex and Tinkmaster Overspark, its effect cannot be replicated by any other Rogue card as this is Rogues only hard removal spell (hard removal can remove a minion without needing to reduce their toughness to zero). This card can easily deal with Ancient Watcher, Ironbark Protector, Ancient of War or perhaps a Mountain Giant with Taunt. However in the current metagame most of the large minions being played have Deathrattle such as Cairne Bloodhoof or Sylvanas Windrunner and Battle Cry effects such as The Black Knight or Ancient of Lore, so a card like Assassinate becomes less effective. Be wary of the decks in the metagame and you will be able to figure out when Assassinate is most useful!
14. ShadowstepShadowstep is a great example of Rogue mechanics. This card is made to better synergize with key power cards in a Rogue deck such as SI:7 Agent, Defias Ringleader and Edwin Vancleef. This card has cemented itself a spot in the middle of our list for the potential it has to win games in conjunction with other Combo and Battle Cry cards. Shadow Step can also be used with Legendary cards like Leeroy Jenkins to deal twelve damage in one turn, get two Battle Cry triggers out of a Defender of Argus or to simply refresh a minion with high toughness after it has done a bit of board clearing.
15. Preparation“People only see what they are prepared to see”- Emerson
Preparation much like Shadow Step has recently found itself a home in a popular One Turn Kill Rogue deck. This card however carries with it a very large amount of potential in that it does a good job of imitating the Druid card Innervate. Not for the faint of heart, Preparation is much more of an “all in” card, being that you will run out of resources much more quickly as this does cost you a card from your hand for a minor effect; but, you will be able to apply much more early pressure to your opponent by being able to use Preparation on cards like Assassinate then use your mana on additional minions for the turn. A very powerful card if utilized properly.
16. SprintWhy walk when you can jog? Why jog when you can run? Why run when you can Sprint? Sprint is an excellent card advantage engine for those looking to play with a hyper aggressive Rogue deck. Often times low curve Rogue decks are looking for a way to refill their hands after they have exhausted their resources around turn six. This card will allow you to do just that and enable you to keep pressuring your enemy where other aggressive decks will have fallen by the wayside. In all Sprint is a very reasonable card to try in a deck if you feel as though you are running out of cards too often, just be weary and limit yourself to one as it does cost seven mana to cast.
17.BetrayalYou can’t trust a minion as far as you can throw em’ and in Hearthstone that is not even an inch. Betrayal is a very reasonable card at its mana cost. While your opponent believes they are safe behind their 2/3 Voidwalker buffed by Shattered Sun Cleric or perhaps thinking their Ancient Watcher with Taunt will protect their army we can teach them a lesson or two. Often times before removing a large threat from the board we can have them do some heavy lifting for us and take out a couple of enemy minions. Betrayal is a great cards for those pesky Taunt decks that try to overrun you from behind with the likes of Young Priestess’s and Flame Imp’s.
Below Average Cards
18. ShivI have never seen such a menacing name on such a docile card, one damage and a draw at the cost of two mana does not seem better than a Rogues Hero Power, which at the same cost nets two damage and has the advantage of being used over the course of several turns. I would skip over Shiv when building a deck unless I need cheap Combo enablers or have a way to better abuse the draw mechanic such as Gadgetzan Auctioneer in my deck.
19. ConcealI couldn’t conceal the shame I would have for playing this card in constructed. Rogues do not have reasonable card advantage engines like Ancient of Lore or Mana Tide Totem to allow for such a minimal effect at the cost of a card. Outside of the niche Combo decks like One Turn Kill Rogue that play one copy Conceal just is not strong enough for constructed play.
Master of Disguise does not seem to live up to her name as she only gives a friendly minion Stealth. You could however do a lot worse; she is a reasonably sized body that does protect a highly prized minion you have in play. In all I do believe there are better options at four mana in Rogue decks at the moment, but I wouldn't feel too ashamed playing this card. I do suspect however, as new cards are released Master of Disguise is poised to climb the ranks as the potential of her Stealth ability will increase with the addition of stronger Rogue specific minions.
21. HeadcrackPlayers such as LHOpen #1 winner Nick Spags and various others have played this card to variable degrees of success. In order for a card like Headcrack to shine you must either have a deck that can abuse its recursion mechanic with a cards such as Gadgetzan Auctioneer for card draw, or a hyper aggressive build that looks to utilize Headcrack fairly early and can deal twelve to sixteen points of damage over the course of a game with Headcrack alone. In all this card is a difficult build around and inflexible as it can only deal two damage to an opponent which is why you will not see me cracking heads anytime soon.
22. Patient AssassinWow this card can kill any minion for just two mana! Don’t be lulled into the trap of thinking this card is just what you need to deal with those larger minions. Patient Assassin is just too easy to deal with if played before a large threat is played (think Consecrate, Blizzard, Fan of Knives, Whirlwind) and is too slow if played after the threat has hit the table because the damage has already been done before you can kill it (think Ragnaros, Al’Akir the Windlord, Ironbark Protector).
23. VanishMuch like your chances of winning, playing this card will make them Vanish. Vanish is a very niche card much better suited for a deck without the abundance of minions and removal Rogue usually has. There have been attempt to play this card in a pseudo-mill deck along with cards like Coldlight Oracle, Lorewalker Cho and Sap. Their strategy is to fill their opponents hand with cards and then unleash a large Vanish to have them discard all minions in play because of maximum hand size limit. But outside of a mill deck there is just no advantage to playing this card in a typically Rogue strategy.
24. Sinister StrikeThis is not exactly the most sinister of cards, while dealing damage is how to win a game of Hearthstone you will be much better off doing it by playing anything else. The inflexibility of this card makes it unplayable. Perhaps with a bit of a buff a hyper aggressive Rogue deck might like this as an easy Combo enabler.
25. KidnapperI am all for a 5/3 minion with a Sap ability, but the main issue with Kidnapper is its restrictive mana cost. In order to play this card efficiently you would need to have eight mana available and an un-played two mana spell or minion in your hand. This often makes the card too clunky to reliably play with its Combo cost, and with just three toughness the card is too easy to deal with without the added bonus of its Sap effect. In addition, this card is just outmatched by Argent Commander and similar six mana cards, and should be avoided at all costs.
This Free Rogue deck focuses on exclusively playing a mixture of both very cheap to make and free cards. The goal of this deck is early board control followed by a powerful mid-range game where you can overwhelm your opponents before they begin to play minions you will have trouble beating. Aggression is particularly suited to the Rogue class because of its synergy with the Rogues Hero Power; the dagger you create can be quite effective at removing early minions while additionally pressuring your opponent’s life total which is exactly the goal of this deck. Keep in mind that though this deck plays into all of Rogue's strengths it can be exploited by a strong late game deck such as Druid or Warlock.
Our Budget Rogue deck begins to add late game reach to the deck in the form of Argent Commander and exchanges the rush mentality for a more paced mid-game in which your opponent is overwhelmed by the synergy of cards like SI:7 Agent with Backstab or Defias Ringleader with Defender of Argus. These particular cards synergize extremely effectively in that they create obvious tempo discrepancies between your opponent and yourself, in other words cards such as SI:7 Agent, Defender of Argus and Argent Commander have an immediate impact when they enter play that can push the match heavily in your favor. While not wholly abandoning our aggressive game plan, this type of deck rewards forethought and can reward players that sequence plays well and try to eke out every point of damage from their cards.
Ultimate Rogue v1
This Ultimate Rogue deck is the final version of our Free Rogue deck. We have added more surefire ways to contain and win the game in the form of Cairne and Ragnaros, as well as additional ways to deal with threats at the sacrifice of the “all in” potential found in cards like Defias Ringleader and Cold Blood, which are susceptible to board clear. Moving away from an aggressive style of play, this deck rewards extremely tight tempo oriented lines of play. Saving a poison charge in case you draw Blade Flurry to clear the board and alleviate all pressure your opponent might have or Sapping a Druid of the Claw because you have 7 Damage in play just to be able to set them back a turn are well in range of this decks particular play parameters. Hopefully this illustrates well how you should be adjusting your decks and game mentality as you progress in Hearthstone.
Ultimate Rogue v2
This is the popular One Turn Kill Rogue deck made by Kolento. This deck focuses on taking the game as late as possible in order to set up Combo pieces in the form of Leeroy Jenkins and Shadowstep to take your opponent from twenty to twenty-five life to zero. This deck uses various forms of early removal in cards like Fan of Knives, Backstab and Eviscerate primarily as early removal and value cards such as SI:7 Agent to keep their opponent from mounting a viable offense until they can cycle through their spells quickly with a Gadgetzan Auctioneer in play. Though difficult to play at first the deck will come easier once you understand how to maximize card draw and time your removal. Learning to spot plays such as these will help your chances:
- Using Shiv on your own Acolyte of Pain to draw two cards and dig deeper into your deck much faster than you ordinarily would.
- Understanding when to simply use cards like Fan of Knives on an empty board or Shiv on an opponents Hero in order to find threats or key combo pieces that are still in your deck.
- Do not be afraid to cycle cards like Preparation with a Gadgetzan Auctioneer in play without having another spell to cast in order to find combo pieces like Leeroy or Shadowstep.
Lastly try to hold your Shadowsteps for as long as possible, losing one can mean losing six damage on the turn you hope to kill them with Leeroy Jenkins.
While Rogue as a class does not have a particularly clear place in the meta-game at the current moment they are extremely flexible and well equipped to deal with powerhouses as they emerge at the top of the ladders. The way of the Rogue is one of adaptation and with the information in this guide you will be able to properly assess and adjust your decks accordingly.
I look forward to seeing you on the battlefield, and, as they say, “this is our town scrub”.