Hey guys, BustaJ here bringing you a tempo/aggro rogue guide. I have been playing a ton of rogue during the new expansion & finished top 50 NA (#38) with it last season.
I haven't seen too many in-depth rogue guides & thought it would be a good idea to do a walkthrough of the deck for those who might be new or wanting to try their hand at rogue and discuss some of the matchups. This guide will mostly be aimed towards more beginner players, but it includes advanced tips as well.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop by the stream or check the VODS here. I stream daily, usually starting at 11 pm - 12 am EST.
May 19/2019 (screenshot above is from today)
May 20/2019 - Nerf bat announcement. Raiding party, Miscreant and Prep being nerfed.
-1 Captain Greenskin + 1 Southsea Deckhand, -1 Deadly Poison + 1 Walk the Plank
I have been running into a lot of mages lately and instead of running a second sap, a plank has felt amazing, and it's still great in the rogue matchup for Edwin and vs mech hunters & secret hunters (rats). The Chef Nomi I've been swapping out for Zilliax if I'm seeing less warriors and facing more rogues.
Also took out Greenskin to play around with and it hasn't felt like I've lost much value from it or the second deadly. I am currently playing around with the list still, but this has been working for me.
Here are some stats from today:
In this section, I'm going to talk about the core list (shouldn't replace) and flex spots that I can suggest replacements for if you don't have them. If you can't afford to craft the core legendaries at the very least, it might be worth it to play a different class/list.
Core cards : Myra's Unstable Element, Leeroy Jenkins, Edwin VanCleef, 2x Waggle Pick, 2x Preparation, 2x Raiding Party, 2x SI:7 Agent, 1x Lifedrinker, 2x Dread Corsair, 2x EVIL Miscreant, 1or 2x Shadowstep, Southsea Deckhand, 2x Eviscerate, 2x Backstab
The cards above are cards that I would not remove from the current list while playing on ladder (will go into more detail in the mulligan guide later). Below, I will discuss the other cards in the list as they are fairly flexible & can be played around with depending on what you are facing.
- Chef Nomi: this card is not necessary by any means & in some matchups, particularly aggro, it's not going to feel good having it in hand. But in a meta filled with control warrior, it serves as an extra win condition if you run out of gas early and need a plan B. The plan here is Myra's Unstable Element > play Nomi & shadowstep Nomi. On turn 9 with Preparation you can do it all in 1 turn. Also, depending on what your hand is looking like, if you have Nomi, Myra's, and at least 1 step in hand on turn 6 (or t5 if you have the coin), you can set up for the early t7 Nomi.
This card is insanely good vs ctrl warrior and ctrl shaman (2x shadow step on Nomi = 3 full boards of Nomi) and also shuts out big mage if you get it off, as they have no way to remove it. If you don't have Nomi, replace with perhaps Zilliax or maybe add a Spirit of the Shark for generating some extra value. Once again, you do not need to run it if you're not seeing a ton of control warriors or slower matchups.
- Captain Greenskin & 2x Deadly Poison : these are cards that should technically be in the core list, but I have seen some versions floating around replacing Captain Greenskin & 2x Deadly Poison for Spirit of the Shark and 2 x Wisp so it can definitely still function without it (not sure if it's correct). That being said, I have tried the version with the wisps. They are great early game for comboing things like EVIL Miscreant, Raiding Party and Edwin VanCleef especially if you aren't on coin. However, drawing wisps off the top when you are looking for damage feels terrible, and the deadly/greenskin package has felt a lot more solid. Especially vs control warrior it's nice to buff up a weapon post Weapons Project for extra damage.
- Lifedrinker, Bloodsail Corsair, Sap: I grouped these cards together as they don't require me to go into too much detail about. In the core, I mentioned only 1x lifedrinker - the second lifedrinker can be replaced with something like Hench-Clan Thug, although drinker has much better synergy with Waggle Pick (you usually find it awkward bouncing thug) and just overall reach through taunts etc. Can also be replaced with a Fan of Knives if you're running into more aggro like Token, Zoo, or Murloc shaman. The Bloodsail Corsair inclusion is mostly for the mirror matchups (waggle pick removal), but you can feel free to run a second copy of Southsea Deckhand in its place as it better in most other matchups. I've seen some people run Acidic Swamp Ooze instead, but I prefer the consistency of being able to draw corsair from Raiding Party.
Sap, a one of in the list is definitely warranted - great against the mirror to stop an early Edwin VanCleef and great against mage taunts/minions and also against mech decks (magnetize is a pain). With the increase of mages, it might even be worth running 2x Sap or maybe add a Walk the Plank, but for now, one copy has felt good.
- Other cards + possible inclusions : Heistbaron Togwaggle + EVIL Cable Rat, Zilliax, Hench-Clan Thug, Cold Blood, Spirit of the Shark, Faerie Dragon. These are most of the other common cards I have seen played around with in this list & can be included based on what you're seeing.
In my opinion, Heistbaron and Rat are okay, but against warrior and other control matchups, they usually don't generate enough value to get you there (Nomi is usually better in most cases), and against aggro can feel a bit slow unless you have Heistbaron on curve + prep. Hench-Clan Thug feels great on the play and is good against mages/mirror match(if you're going first), but overall not that great late game with Waggle Pick when you'd much rather be bouncing a Lifedrinker for potential lethal. Same goes for Zilliax, it's a great defensive tool, but often times feels like it doesn't fit the aggressive gameplan. However, it can help quite a bit in the mirror matchup, and also stalling against warriors when you are going for the Chef Nomi gameplan. Spirit of the Shark is another card I've played around with & don't mind at all for the most part. When you get value from it later on from miscreants or lifedrinker, it feels great, but often times it ends up feeling a bit clunky. I might end up including it again later, but at the moment I've been doing fine without it.
Recently, J_Alexander has included 2x Faerie Dragon in his rogue list. This is the only inclusion I haven't tried yet, but it seems like it is solid early game against rogues, mages, priests, and warriors (can't be targetted by removal).
Lastly, Cold Blood is a card that I've also tried and enjoyed running in this list, but it already feels as though I have more than enough damage as it is, and I can usually find extra utility/dmg from the spell lackey from EVIL Miscreant if need be.
In this mulligan guide, I will go over the common matchups/decks you will currently see on ladder. I will try to go into as much detail as possible but it will be difficult to cover all the intricacies of each matchup.
EASY M/U's : Conjurer's mage (slow/fast versions), Heal druid (non-existant), Mech/OTK Paladin, Vendetta/Miracle rogue, Mech/Beast/Secret Hunter, Ctrl Lock(non-existant).
MEDIUM M/U's (usually still favored): Mirror match, Token druid, Zoo Lock, Ctrl/Murloc Sham
HARD M/U's: Ctrl/MechCthun/Bomb Warrior, Nomi Priest.
**BASIC MULLIGAN TIPS/FAQ**
You will most likely notice a lot of redundancy within a lot of the mulligans, with only very minor changes based on certain matchups. Most of the time, Raiding Party is an awkward keep if you're going first unless you have a Preparation or Backstab to couple it with. Same goes for EVIL Miscreant and Edwin VanCleef. That being said, in most cases I still like keeping atleast 1 miscreant or raiding party, depending on the matchup. Short story short: being on coin normally makes your life easier in most cases.
Also, Myra's Unstable Element will be a keep against all midrange, combo, or control matchups.
Let's start right off the bat with our most exciting matchup - the beloved warrior class.
The current archetypes of warrior, in general, are some of the toughest matchups for rogue.
This is the main reason for the Chef Nomi inclusion in the deck. A large percentage of my matchups on ladder are warriors (normally 25-30%, although this might change) and without having a backup plan you tend to run out of steam against them.
That being said, you can still win vs warriors without Chef Nomi, however, it makes it a little bit more difficult. You are essentially banking on the hope of beating them with early pressure through a big Edwin VanCleef & other minions, followed up by Myra's Unstable Element and close it out with your Leeroy Jenkins + shadowstep + eviscerate etc.
Myra's Unstable Element ALWAYS keep. This card is the 1 card you 100% need in this matchup. Whether or not you are going for the Chef Nomi late game plan or aggressive way, you need it. Edwin VanCleef is something I look for as well against warrior, usually on coin (coin + prep with an eviscerate or raiding party) as it can outright win you the game if they don't have removal for it early. If you are not on coin, it is usually hard to get an Edwin bigger than a 6/6, so it's usually not worth it, as they can easily weapons project+ shield slam clear. You also want to be keeping at least one Raiding Party (look for Preparation if you have it, especially on the play, and I even keep 2x raiding party if I have a prep) and an EVIL Miscreant or even SI:7 Agent. I don't mind keeping an early Deadly Poison or Backstab as well to help clear up the Eternium Rover and Town Crier.
General gameplan: In this matchup, you're going to have to keep a lot of their removals in mind. Expect them to have Weapons Project + Harrison Jones and try to have a minion on board if possible so you at least get the bounce on it from Waggle Pick. You normally want to save your weapon buffs such as Deadly Poison & Captain Greenskin post weapons project. In the early to mid game you want to try and force a Brawl if possible (then they won't be able to deal with Nomi later) and keep the health of your minions in mind against cards like Dyn-o-matic & Warpath. If you don't put on enough pressure early and can't close the game out, then you want to fall back on the Nomi plan and try to get your Myra's. Depending on how early they get their Dr.Boom, it might become increasingly difficult to stay alive depending on how much value/tempo they can generate from their hero power etc. Ideally, once you have Myra's, you want to draw into your Chef Nomi and have 2x Shadowstep. If you have these cards, it's nearly impossible for the warrior to deal with 3 full board states of Nomi.
Sidenote - Against bomb warrior specifically, I've found the most success by going for the early pressure plan instead - as the Myra/Nomi gameplan becomes a lot harder to go for due to the bombs. However, you can get lucky sometimes and dodge bomb draws from the Myra's and still end up going for the late game route.
Going first: Look for Backstab, keep SI:7 Agent with BS (SI + backstab deals with opponent coin miscreant), EVIL Miscreant, Raiding Party (look for Preparation), Sap (deals with opponent on coin early edwin). You can also keep a Southsea Deckhand. I only keep Edwin VanCleef if I have the prep + Raiding Party or a prep + evis.
On coin: EVIL Miscreant, Edwin VanCleef, Raiding Party(+Preparation ideally), SI:7 Agent, Backstab. Shadowstep is also an okay keep on coin especially if you have miscreant. Coin > miscreant, following turn SS and replay (most of the time it lives unless they have backstab + SI for it). In terms of lackeys from the miscreant, in this matchup they're all fairly valuable depending on the situation, but I normally like having 1 witchey lackey at the start to get a 4 drop transform.
General gameplan: the rogue mirror (you'll mostly be facing tempo rogue on ladder, other versions are slower and quite favored) is fairly straight forward, but can also be complicated at times. For the most part, you want to get your EVIL Miscreant out or Edwin VanCleef early then start pressuring your opponent with Waggle Pick followed up with Captain Greenskin. Most of the time you want to get your Dread Corsair's down for tempo, but you can also save them as 0 costs for combo activators etc., but you'll have to use your judgment based on the situation. The magic turn is turn 8 of course when you are able to Leeroy Jenkins + Shadowstep or bounce with Waggle Pick. That's the ideal scenario but not every game will play out that way of course. Other common targets for waggle pick bounces are the EVIL Miscreant + lackeys, Bloodsail Corsair for the extra weapon removal or Lifedrinker for life gain/lethal outs.
The most common version of mage seen on ladder is the Dragon Conjurer's Mage, but recently there has been a more aggressive version that runs the Mana Cyclone package with either Questing Adventurer or Vex Crow and Sea Giant.
I find both matchups to be fairly favored for rogue, and the only blowouts occur if the mage gets to land a Conjurer's Calling early on a mountain giant and rolls double taunts etc.
going first: Myra's Unstable Element, Raiding Party(+Preparation) - can keep EVIL Miscreant with those two, SI:7 Agent, Sap, Backstab & even one Eviscerate can be a keep as well as it helps deal with their Mountain Giant or Questing Adventurer early.
I also keep Edwin VanCleef if I have prep + raiding or just a prep in general. Edwin is hard for mage to deal with early & most of the time forces them to use a Conjurer's Calling on it or have to lock it down with Ray of Frost.
on coin: everything is the same, except you can keep EVIL Miscreant without needing prep + raiding etc. and you normally just coin it out.
Side note: not sure if keeping Myra's is good against the more aggressive version of mage - I tend to look for more early answers instead to deal with Sorcerer's Apprentice that they protect behind mirror images etc.
Most of the time you can pressure mage fairly hard, especially if they don't have mountain giants on curve. If you can also dodge early weapon removal the matchup is a breeze, however, that's usually not the case and the mid-game can be a pain sometimes if they have Harrison Jones or Acidic Swamp Ooze for your Waggle Pick. You should usually expect them to have an answer, but hopefully you'll have a decent minion on board to at least get the bounce on.
Basic game plan against mage is to make sure you clear the Mountain Giants if you can ALWAYS. If they land a conjurer's on it, it's normally lights out. If you don't have the early sap, try to get a spell lackey from Miscreant and find a Walk the Plank or some form of damage to help remove it asap. If I get desperate I normally try to shadowstep the spell lackey for more answers. Keep in mind the number of minions you have on board due to Rabble Bouncer and Sea Giant in the more aggressive list.
Most hunters you will run into on ladder are of the mech variety, but as of late, I've been seeing a few more secret/beast hunters pop up. Whatever the case may be, hunter is a favored matchup for rogue across the board. For this mulligan guide against hunter, I'm going to mostly focus on mech as it is the most popular archetype. (will update if I see a lot more of the other archetypes).
Going first: Southsea Deckhand, SI:7 Agent, Raiding Party(only with Preparation or backstab), Backstab,Sap.
On coin: SI:7 Agent, EVIL Miscreant, Raiding Party, Backstab, Sap. Consider keeping Shadowstep as well if you have SI.
Keep. the. board. clear. The early game against mech hunter is all about making sure you keep mechs off of the board. It becomes a lot harder if they get Galvanizer at the start, but try your best to make sure they don't get those magnetizes rolling. Keep in mind the costs of the mechs that they might have (reduced costs as well) & plan your turns accordingly. The biggest swing turns from hunters are from their Venomizer + Missile Launcher and a Zilliax combined with a big mech. Sap is your friend in this matchup, but make sure to use it wisely on a crucial turn to prevent a Zilliax or a big mech from pushing damage in general. If you decide to play Edwin VanCleef make sure they don't have a mech on board already, and keep in mind their Spider Bomb + Fireworks Tech play.
I'm sure it's no surprise by now that Nomi priest is, in fact, not a meme.
It has been an underlier deck that definitely deserves a lot of respect, and in my opinion, is one the hardest matchups for this deck besides warrior.
going first: look for Myra's Unstable Element, Raiding Party(+Preparation), SI:7 Agent(normally just dropping as a 3/3 body), can keep Southsea Deckhand.
on coin: Myra's Unstable Element, EVIL Miscreant, Raiding Party(+Preparation), Edwin VanCleef(normally just coining out & making a 4/4 - it usually isnt worth making a big Edwin due to silence). Deadly Poison can also be an okay keep to help deal with an Acolyte of Pain if they drop it early.
Against priest, you are normally at the mercy of how well they can cycle. Priest will shut you out if they can cycle fast enough and get to their Grave Horror + Seance. You want to try and pressure early before they can get to their Gadgetzan Auctioneer. Ideally, you want to get Waggle Pick going and 1 or 2 Dread Corsair out followed by Captain Greenskin and start pushing. Going too wide can be dangerous though, as you give them more minions to cycle off of from Wild pyro + cleric & circle combo. Be mindful of that + a potential Mass Hysteria. Unfortunately, this matchup can be non-interactive depending on how well they draw, but the biggest part is trying to set up to be prepared for the Grave Horror's that come down. Similar to the mage matchup mentioned earlier, you need to dig for answers via spell lackey (shadowstep it or bounce with pick if need be) from EVIL Miscreant and try to find removal - Assassinate, Walk the Plank, Betrayal, Unidentified Contract are all great grabs to help deal with them. Another way to get wins off of priest is hoping to have the Myra's + Nomi combo early. Most lists only run one mass hysteria, so if you can have even 1 shadowstep to go with it around turn 7-8 then it can be an easy win (although rare).
The two shaman archetypes that are seen the most on ladder currently are control shaman & murloc shaman. Big/recruit shaman was popular for a short period, but it has significantly decreased in popularity. For the mulligan below, it will be focused on ctrl sham, and for murloc shaman, refer to the Druid/Zoo section. (All 3 essentially follow the same gameplan).
Myra's Unstable Element, Raiding Party(+Preparation), EVIL Miscreant, SI:7 Agent, Backstab(nice if you are not on coin or don't have prep).
Against control shaman, it is basically a less stressful version of the control warrior/warrior matchups. Bait out the early the removals such as Hagatha's Scheme & try to pressure early. Walking Fountain is an annoying card & most of the time you won't be able to close it out before it comes down. The best plan is to go for the Myra's Unstable ElementCard Name + Chef Nomi plan with the 2x Shadowstep. Shaman will have a hard time dealing with it unless they have 2x Hagatha's Scheme saved for it and also 2x Lightning Storm with spell power or Electra Stormsurge.
DRUID & WARLOCK
I decided to combine both of these classes together because, in the current meta, only token druid and zoo lock exists on ladder - and even then very seldom. The mulligans for these matchups are also essentially the same, so I decided to save some time. If other archetypes of these two classes pop up, I will update the guide accordingly. (refer to this section for murloc sham as well).
Mulligan: in these matchups you generally want to be looking for your early board answers Backstab, & SI:7 Agent, EVIL Miscreant etc. If you find yourself facing A LOT of these token/aggro lists, feel free to add in a Fan of Knives over a Sap or maybe even remove the Chef Nomi. Against Zoo and Token, a big Edwin VanCleef with a prep+raiding party puts you far ahead in the matchup. Same goes against murloc shaman, but make sure they don't have any murlocs on board beforehand in case of Toxfin. For the most part, these should be fairly easy games especially if you tech in Fan of Knives.
Against these decks, keep the board clear as much as possible. Be mindful of the early Wispering Woods + buffs & Savage Roar thresholds from druid, and Bloodlust from murloc shaman. Against zoo lock, kill their Magic Carpet's asap & just be wary of minions on board due to Sea Giant coming down.
The only two paladin archetypes that are seen on ladder currently are OTK paladin & Mech (rarely). Both are straight forward - I will discuss the OTK matchup below.
(refer to Mech hunter section for mech pala m/u if you happen to run into it)
Myra's Unstable Element, Raiding Party(+Preparation) with Edwin VanCleef, EVIL Miscreant - the regular stuff.
Against OTK paladin, the plan is fairly easy. SMOrc. The deck is extremely passive & does not run any taunts. Most lists have been teching in Bloodsail Corsair so that's about the only frustrating card to deal with early. In the late game, the only thing you have to worry about is their Shirvallah, the Tiger, but an easy work around is setting up lethal in prior turns by stepping your Leeroy Jenkins or Lifedrinker with Waggle Pick or Shadowstep (don't leave minions on board if possible). Things to keep in mind obviously are not extending too much into Wild Pyromancer + Equality (6 mana) or Shrink Ray + pyro. Apart from those things, there's not too much to worry about & this should be a very easy m/u.
Hopefully this guide was useful to some of you and will help you with your ladder climb. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing rogue this expansion & exploring the different matchups.
It's tough to cover every detail about the deck in a guide, but for anything I might've potentially left out, feel free to mention in the comments. If you have any other questions, you can also stop by the stream & ask me there.