Hello, HearthstonePlayers! It’s been a while. The release of Goblins Vs Gnomes threw the world of hearthstone into chaos, but the ladder meta is finally starting to stabilize and I’m back to help you find holes in it once again.
I’m going to go over the major players and how to combat them with the new Gadgetzan-less control Rogue!
Rogue has hit some hard times recently. My most-played class is now the least-played class and ladder, and for good reason: it lost its linchpin card for its best archetype. It may be the worst, but there’s still some life left in Valeera Sanguinar.
This list uses the standard Rogue suite of early-game removal to control the board and stall until the midgame. Our beloved Gadgetzan Auctioneer has gone the way of the Buzzard, so instead of drawing our whole deck and overwhelming the opponent with a flurry of spells and Cold Bloods, we need to make do with some fatties and Violet Teacher tokens.
Dr. Boom is nearly ubiquitous in midrange and control decks (and even some aggro decks), and he’s even better here than normal. Since there is no consensus rogue list, your opponent’s won’t know your deck and are likely to blow their Big Game Hunter on the Good Doctor, freeing up our Ragnaros the Firelord and Alexstrasza to do some serious work. He’s also even better if you’re ahead when you play him since he’s so difficult to answer, and Rogue’s removal makes it easy to get ahead in the midgame right before you lower the boom.
Alexstrasza is a bit of an oddity in this deck, so allow me to explain. Most decks in this vein have two copies of Sprint, but I found myself dying with one in hand against Hunter and dying to fatigue after running out of damage against Warrior. Alexstrasza solves both of these problems simultaneously by gaining 5-14 life against Hunter and dealing 15 damage plus presenting an 8/8 threat against Warrior. These two extremes are still the deck’s worst matchups, but they are a lot more winnable now.
Ragnaros needs little explanation; he’s simply the best at his cost for applying pressure.
As far as a mulligan guide goes, I’ve made a list of cards that are good in each matchup that I would keep in my opening hand. If you have a hand of all spells that are listed as “good cards,” I would still mulligan one or two of them to try and find a minion. In addition, I would always keep one SI:7 Agent OR Edwin VanCleef in every matchup with the coin, as the turn 2 4/4 or 3/3 plus 2 damage is too good to pass up. Which is better if you have the choice depends on the opponent; SI:7 is better against decks that will have an X/2 to kill with it.
Good Cards: Backstab, Fan of Knives, Earthen Ring Farseer, Blade Flurry, Violet Teacher if your hand is good leading up to it
I would expect most Hunter’s to be running Jab’s list going forward, as it is a thing of beauty. What this means is that you need to save removal for some larger threats like Loatheb and Dr. Boom in addition to the standard Savannah Highmanes. Hitting Highmane with Sap is a game-winning tempo play, and the Sap should be saved for that purpose.
If the opponent is running Face Hunter (identified by the presence of Wolfrider, Arcane Golem, or double Explosive Trap, you probably need to find Alexstrasza to gain some life and play as aggressively as possible to avoid getting burned out.
Against either version, try not to hit anything with more than 2 power with your dagger, and even then sparingly, as you really need all the life you can get. You need to be aggressive to race the Hunter hero power, so take chances if you’re behind (eg not playing around Unleash the Hounds or Kill Command) as attacking for a lot of damage in the midgame is your only way to win. A huge Van Cleef can only be answered by Freezing Trap since Hunter can’t afford to run Hunter's Mark anymore (not enough card advantage), so if you can make an 8/8 with a small minion to eat the trap you should win easily.
Good Cards: Violet Teacher, Azure Drake,
Yes, you want to keep 4 and 5 drops in your opening hand. It’s weird, but Warrior has no early minions you want to remove (though you should kill Acolyte of Pain with Deadly Poison if you can) and you need to start applying pressure as soon as you are able so the Warrior doesn’t outheal your maximum damage. 6/6 is the sweet spot for Van Cleef so he doesn’t die to a weapon or Big Game Hunter. Keeping Earthen Ring or SI:7 is tempting, but they just die to Fiery War Axe, so there’s no point in keeping them in your opening hand.
This is the other bad matchup for Rogue, and the main impetus for cutting a Sprint for Alexstrasza. The damage that the big dragon provides can help you finish the Warrior before you run out of cards.
Good Cards: Literally every card that costs 3 or less besides BGH, Sap, and Preparation.
If Zoo has got you down, look no farther. Your entire deck is removal, so you can easily sweep up everything the Warlock throws at you and hit back with a big legendary minion. Save Bloodmage Thalnos for a spell power Fan of Knives or Blade Flurry if possible.
Good Cards: 4 cost or lower minions, Big Game Hunter, Sap
This is a close matchup. You have enough removal to handle the early threats, but Molten Giants will mess you up if you aren’t careful. Leave the Warlock outside of Molten range until you have a sizable board, then Sap the taunted Giant(s) and push through for lethal. DO NOT use Sap on a minion without taunt. Alternatively, if there isn’t an early Mountain Giant you can save both Eviscerates and whip ‘em out with spell power to finish the game.
Good Cards: Sap, Edwin Van Cleef, Violet Teacher
Druid doesn’t have much removal, so a big Van Cleef only loses to Keeper of the Grove and often wins the game. Even if the big combo gambit doesn’t pay off, you have enough tempo to push through lethal most games. They are trying to play a very fair minion-based game (with the exception of early Innervate plays), so all of our cheap removal dismantles them.
Be especially wary of the Force of Nature – Savage Roar combo since you don’t have much healing. You can afford to play around it more the further you are ahead. For example, if you have a Violet Teacher and 4 tokens on turn 7, clear all of his minions so you don’t lose to Innervate into combo.
Good Cards: Backstab, Deadly Poison, Eviscerate, SI:7 Agent
Mech Mage is like Zoo with less gas but more reach. As such, stop hitting with your dagger earlier. Against Zoo you’re fine going down to 10 life, but against Mage you want to stabilize at 14. If you can keep the early Mechwarpers and Snowchuggers under control your 3/3’s and removal can clean up the board.
If you don’t get an early minion Annoy-o-Tron and Mechanical Yeti will wreak havoc on your life total, so try really hard to get a minion out that your opponent can’t favorably remove. In all of the aggro matches it’s totally okay to blow a Preparation early to squeak out an extra removal spell on a key turn.
Good Cards: SI:7 Agent, Deadly Poison, Fan of Knives, Blade Flurry, Violet Teacher
Backstab is okay, but not really what you want against Zombie Chow and Shielded Minibot, so I wouldn’t keep it unless my hand had 3 other strong cards.
The key against Paladin is to make him play form behind but not to overextend. It’s easy to clean out Muster for Battle and Paladin’s cheap minions, but don’t overextend your own board into Equality + Consecration or you’ll lose on card advantage. The Paladin also has a scary late game with Tirion Fordring and Muster + Quartermaster on turn 8, so you want to apply steady pressure with 1 “real” minion at a time. Real minions in this case are Violet Teacher, Azure Drake, or a (non-Thalnos) legendary. If you get 2- or 3-for-1’d by Consecration it will be very difficult to win. Overall this is a favorable matchup because of Fan of Knives early game and the ability for you to save specific combinations to deal with Paladin’s threats late game.
Deadly Poison + Blade Flurry for Muster for Battle + Quartermster
Sap for Tirion or another big legendary
Sprint to match Lay on Hands in card advantage without overextending the board (since paladin generally can’t affect the board the turn they spend 8 mana to heal and draw)
Control Rogue has a lot of play against midrange decks at the cost of mediocre Hunter and Warrior matchups. If you aren’t seeing the extreme ends of the spectrum on your ladder climb, this might be the deck to break you through to the next level.
Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions in the comments, and all comments are appreciated. Thanks for reading!
Until next time,