Our Aggro Tempo Prince Rogue deck list guide for the Kobolds and Catacombs expansion will teach you how to play this aggressive Rogue list. This Tempo Rogue guide includes Mulligans, Gameplay Strategy, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!
Introduction to Aggro Prince Rogue
After the wave of bans in September, a new deck has emerged as the top dog in the metagame. To everybody’s surprise, Prince Keleseth is more than a viable card – it can carry an entirely new deck, now that the top aggro decks have been toned down and are not as oppressive to zoo-style strategies. The insane explosive early turns that were previously available are no longer so common, making early efficient plays and grabbing tempo the primary focus in Standard gameplay for aggro and midrange decks… and who better to exploit that than the king of tempo and swing turns – Rogue. As one of the classes that barely loses anything by including Prince Keleseth in their deck, a new aggro deck has emerged for rogues that takes advantage of the class’ strengths and exploits powerful early game minions to seize control of the board and curve it’s way to a victory.
The deck includes a mix of tempo and value minions, playing both an aggressive strategy and keeping up with the opponent in terms of card advantage by running cheap generators instead of draw. Playing Prince Keleseth ensures that these smaller minions are beefier than usual and trade more favorably. A key characteristic of this deck that separates it from other Prince decks is the ability to Shadowstep and immediately replay him, multiplicatively increasing the value of each buffed minion. Prince into double Shadowstep is a mini Crystal Core effect and is absolutely backbreaking, almost impossible for any opponent to deal with. The general playstyle feels a lot like the classic Zoo that has historically been associated with the Warlock class and features similar decisions and matchups.
Update: Kobolds and Catacombs – Aggro Prince Rogue (December 2017)
People have largely kind of avoided Tempo Rogue early on opting for the Kingsbane Miracle Rogue, but look for that trend to start changing quite quickly. The Kingsbane deck has started to fall out of favor, so Tempo Rogue is starting to pick up steam again. The deck has gotten some interesting pieces like Sonya Shadowdancer, Elven Minstrel, and Corridor Creeper. I would say that Sonya isn’t necessary at the moment, but we will keep an eye out on whether or not she’s required to the deck. Corridor Creeper is starting to be slotted in just about every aggro/midrange deck so that might be a pretty safe craft at the moment.
I’ve updated the deck list above to the most popular version, but there will be inconsistencies in the deck guide while we are updating them across the site!
Aggro Prince Rogue Mulligan Strategy & Guide
This deck also features a very streamlined mulligan with unique and simple yet very effective decision-making process, as presented in this flowchart:
The point is that you are almost always looking for Prince Keleseth and always keep him no matter what, because statistically whenever he is kept in the opening hand, the deck’s win rate approaches 100%. The two other highest win rate cards when kept are Fire Fly and Swashburglar – both are cheap minions that can get down on the board immediately and provide a lot of value and card advantage in the initial turns. Fire Fly gives you a body that doesn’t die to 1/1s and pinging hero powers and Swashburglar gives you a card and pulls out Patches the Pirate for trading.
It doesn’t really matter what type of deck you are facing or what class exactly, because in the first 3-4 turns of the game you are looking to develop your own board and value trade with whatever the opponent has, accumulating incremental advantages until one of your swingier cards allows you to capitalize on them and lock the game.
Some other noteworthy keeps are Backstab for early interaction and Southsea Captain to synergize with Southsea Deckhand, Swashburglar and to pull out a buffed Patches the Pirate. Especially when going second with a Swashburglar already in hand, this is a very safe keep.
Shaku, the Collector is one exception – he is alright to keep when you know you are going to be facing a slower deck, but you must already have a 1-drop in hand to justify that keep.
Only ever keep Shadowstep if you already have Prince Keleseth, otherwise toss it back. There is some value into bouncing Swashburglars around, but remember that it’s just a 1/1 and you have to put the highest priority on keeping up a strong board early on.
This should probably go without saying, but absolutely never keep Patches the Pirate.
Aggro Prince Rogue Win Rates
Aggro Prince Rogue General Game Plan and Play Strategy
The deck’s general game plan is to be aggressive, play onto the board and muscle out other minion-based decks with buffed minions while gaining incremental advantages through value trading and cheap interactive cards. Later on it tries to play a couple of big cards to capitalize on those tiny advantages and transitions from trading on the board to hitting face with hard to kill minions. In most respects, it feels and plays out a lot like a Zoo Warlock deck might and in fact has very similar strengths and weaknesses, though the Rogue class does have even less comeback mechanisms available to it. It compensates that and the lack of draw with cards that generate value through other means and more powerful single-target buffs to increase its damage output and trading potential while utilizing Rogue’s top tier single-target removal to deal with big threats where other such decks would simply not be able to do so without trading their entire board in.
In the early game, you are looking to develop some minions on the board and start accumulating resources. Fire Fly is the optimal Turn 1 play – it has more than 1 health which makes it durable, it gives you another minion and it can even value trade into 1/1s against the other aggressive decks such as Hunter or Pirate Warrior. On Turn 2 you want to always play Prince Keleseth and start bouncing him back with Shadowstep once or twice, depending on (and equal to) the number of Shadowsteps currently in hand. The problem is that you won’t always have Keleseth. In that case, you have some decisions to make. In the ideal case, you have two 1-drops that you can play, which will hopefully keep you on par with the opponent’s board state. Alternatively, you can always use your hero power and trade – it’s a great mana investment since Rogue’s hero power is the most cost efficient of the pings and equips a weapon for you, which can matter for Southsea Deckhand.
Then you transition to your first powerspike turn – the 3-drops. Southsea Captain can pull a Patches straight as a 2/2, so if you have Captain in hand avoid playing other pirates before that unless you have no other options. SI:7 Agent is excellent against other aggressive decks and will pull you massively ahead, while Tar Creeper serves a very similar purpose of stopping the opponent’s trades into your minions. All of those are cards that will cement your board presence and set you up for the later turns.
From those early stages you transition into your payoff cards. Cobalt Scalebane turns even the smallest minions into relevant attackers, threatening to deal increasingly more damage with each turn they are not deal with. What’s especially nice about it is that it’s a dragon, so Priest’s Dragonfire Potion does not kill it. Another powerful cards from your top end is Bonemare, which takes any minion at all and turns it into a very significant threat. It’s very easily set up with a stealthed Shaku, the Collector a turn or two before it, so there is some small inherent value into keeping him in your hand longer, especially when you have the option to play a better-statted minion on Turn 3.
Throughout the game you will fill out your curve and play utility minions as well. What separates this rogue deck from the traditional zoo is that it has access to great value-oriented minions such as Shaku, the Collector, Xaril, Poisoned Mind, Vilespine Slayer, Spellbreaker, etc. It is very important to have access to tools that allow you to play a more interactive game, providing utility and reach in the form of answers to big minions to push damage through or denying powerful buffs and/or synergies. In fact, it is largely this very property that is responsible for the success of this deck over other similar strategies.
Speaking of pushing through, a no small part of the deck is dedicated to burst damage. Featuring double Cold Bloods, Leeroy Jenkins and Southsea Deckhands, you won’t be short on burst when you finally transition from trading to going face. That being said, don’t be afraid to utilize these cards aggressively – sometimes you just have to trade into bigger things and that’s OK. These powerful finishers allow you to capitalize on the aggressive gameplay that the deck provides and can catch many opponents off their feet when snuck under key defensive cards (such as Spreading Plague on Turn 6) which would usually stop you dead in your tracks. Leeroy in particular is also a just a nice aggressive play even if he is not ending the game, if you have a dagger and a minion on board to clear the whelps and he combos with Shadowstep for a 12 damage burst play.
Bonemare also falls in this category, as it is the card that will most often close out games, producing two very big threats with a single card and giving pseudo-charge to one half of the stats. If you topdeck a late Shadowstep with a Mare on the field, it is an ideal target to help you snowball the board.
Sometimes you will have to make decisions of how aggressively to play and whether or not to go for tempo or value. The answer is that this is matchup dependent and you should prioritize one or the other based on the opponent’s class and deck, then fir the other one whenever possible. For example, it’s almost never right to go for a lower tempo higher value play against a Hunter, because you are under threat to lose the board, but you can almost always play for value and squeeze the maximum potential from your cards against a Priest because they will give you a lot of free time while they set up and cycle through their deck.
Their Aggro variant has taken a steep decline after the patch, so if you are facing a Druid at all you can fairly safely assume that it will be Jade Druid and it will be very clear once they play a ramp spell or hero power on turn 2. It is advised to try to rush them with a wide board because they have a hard time dealing with that, because once they get going they will always outvalue you.
Though there is some variation within “the hunter deck”, it is almost always more aggressive than not and will be trying to curve out. Prioritize building a good board and try to keep theirs as clear of bests as possible, because the punish from Crackling Razormaw or Houndmaster can be very hard to overcome. Watch out with your trades to avoid playing into Deathstalker Rexxar’s battlecry ability.
Most mages are relatively slow, so you generally have more time to set up a big turn and their AoE is not something you can realistically play around. Be as aggressive as possible and pressure them into having the answer. Against Secret Mage you are in no shortage of small minions and you are not all that bothered by Counterspell, so just go right through their secrets and their minions should be relatively easy to deal with.
The dominant deck for the class is Murloc Paladin, which tries to do a lot of the same things you are, so it will come down to smart trading and resource management. Keep their board clear so that they can’t stick a buff and allocate your removal for priority threats. Having a wider board means that they can’t play Sunkeeper Tarim, so going into their Turn 6 try to play out as many things as possible, even if you have the option to land a single higher value threat like Scalebane.
They have only one real deck in Razakus Priest, but it’s very powerful. Still, it’s a Priest deck so it’s relatively slow. Your priority is to stick a Cobalt Scalebane on the board and once their Spirit Lash is down, try to get the buff onto different 1-attack minions. You can save up some cheap cards to combo and make a big Edwin VanCleef to bait their Shadow Word: Death, which is their only removal for Scalebane.
If you are playing the mirror match, then you know what your opponent will be trying to do (the same thing as you). Play on the board and make efficient trades, then capitalize on any slow turn they take by going all out from your hand because you know they have very limited ways to punish you or deal with a wide board.
The class has strong AoE, but their only single target removal recently nerfed and is scarce enough that you should not be playing around it. Trade aggressively with their board until you can land one big threat, then snowball it to victory.
Zoo is starting to rise in popularity, so mulligan as if that was the case. Value trading is the name of this game and you both follow very similar game plans, so try to exploit Rogue’s unique advantages and prioritize getting the wider board. They will have the stronger big threat but you can deal with it and win the game. If it’s a Handlock, try to rush them as fast as possible without overextending into their wide range of AoE. They have lots of healing and an overabundance of cheap board clears, but their single target removal is fairly limited. Try to stick one or two big minions at a time and constantly buff those to get ahead.
Pirate Warrior follows a very similar playstyle to your own deck, with the added benefit of having access to buffed weapons. You have to protect your board with Tar Creeper and take smart trades until you curve out into superior big threats. In the case of Control or Dead Man’s Warrior, simply try to rush them down as quickly as possible, because when it comes to the late game they will lock you out with armor and taunts.
Aggro Prince Rogue Deck Breakdown
In this section we will go over the decklist by separating it into two parts – Core and Optional. The core cards of the deck are irreplaceable, in the sense that they are the best cards you could be playing for that specific strategy and there is no one of them that can be replaced by something that would increase the win rate of the deck. Optional cards are there to support the core and slightly pull it in one direction over another with various tradeoffs. Increasing strength in one area usually means giving up in another, and choosing which way to go will depend on your most common matchups and exactly what the metagame around you is at the moment. Despite experiencing changes, as long as the core of the deck remains intact, it is for all intents and purposes the same deck. Mastering how to play with the deck means more than anything learning how to navigate the game with the core cards and then leveraging your specific build for an advantage. Let’s take a look.
2x Fire Fly
1x Patches the Pirate
2x Southsea Deckhand
1x Prince Keleseth
1x Edwin VanCleef
2x SI:7 Agent
2x Southsea Captain
1x Tar Creeper
2x Vilespine Slayer
1x Leeroy Jenkins is not strictly core, although it’s highly recommended that you play him, as he provides a powerful burst finisher for the deck and can be used with Shadowstep for upwards of 12 points of charge damage, which is almost half of a hero’s starting health!
As we can see here, the core of the deck features all the most powerful and prevalent aggressive options, combined with Rogue’s best tempo tools to create a deadly snowballing board advantage. It’s very early-game focused and only a couple of Bonemares cap off the top end of the deck. The Tar Creeper allows you to combat other aggressive decks very efficiently and depending on what you are going for, a second copy can be added.
These are the optional cards in the decklist we recommend, however as you will see in the next section, a plethora of other options are available. These “packages” are put into the deck to pull it in different directions and unlike the aggro/tempo core, they tend to be value-oriented and are all different ways of adding that extra “oomph” to your punch during the transitions from early to mid and from mid to late game. Most of the various optional card packages are made to work off of the core and provide longevity going later into the game, in case the opponent wasn’t run over by buffed charging minions already. As a precursory addendum to what “optional” implies, let it be stated that the Cobalt Scalebane can and often should be considered core, however that is more widely true for the 5-drop slot in general, rather than specifically for Scalebane, because other options are available.
Aggro Prince Rogue Deck Variations
Much like with any deck, there are multiple versions of Prince Rogue floating around and understanding the similarities and differences between them can be of great benefit for those that want to take advantage of the meta by allowing them to adapt on the fly. We already covered what the core cards for the deck are, so this is more of an exploration of optional card packages that can be used to fine-tune the deck to the specific metagame you are facing right now. That being said, we are going to see a modification to the core in one place, but do not be alarmed – the deck still functions mostly the same.
With that out of the way, before diving into the decklists let’s take a moment to consider why we even need variations in the first place. Obviously we know it’s to combat different regions of the metagame, and that’s generally true, but the question really boils down to “How do we accomplish this?” Since deck variations don’t alter the playstyle too much, what do they offer? The answer will vary from list to list, but can generally be described as “speed”. For this reason, the variations we provide here aim to answer different styles of decks, depending on what the appropriate amount of pressure to beat them is, ranging from lists that take a lot more aggressive approach but fall to decks with too many answers to ones that curve out better and longer but can’t apply the same pressure that the core list can. For all intents and purposes, if you are ever unsure which route to take, stick with the recommended version – it is the most well rounded list for optimal ladder results in the overall megame, both seasonally and rankwise.
Higher top end
This is a simple variation on the base decklist that cuts Shaku, the Collector and one Cold Blood in order to continue curving out after Bonemare with the powerful The Lich King, who is not only at his strongest when backed up by previous pressure, but is also a great target for Barnes. The deck gives up some of it’s burst power and due to the higher top end plays an additional Tar Creeper. This deck performs better against Druid, due to their natural weakness of struggling to remove big minions.
Building off of having a better top end, in comes the elemental variation. The deck already plays the best enabler in Fire Fly, allowing for superb defensive options against other aggro decks such as Tol'vir Stoneshaper, as well as the ultimate tempo in the form of an active Blazecaller. It gives up a lot of early game aggression in one copy of Southsea Deckhand and both Southsea Captains, as well as all of it’s late game burst potential because it wants to continue curving out with tempo well into the late game. This version of the deck overperforms in the mirror against other Keleseth Rogues, however due to it’s lower early game presence it can struggle to close off games quickly against Highlander Priest and Jade Druid.
Like the name suggests, this deck is a lot more focused on winning in the midgame transition after coming out of a strong aggressive start. Higher quality 4-drops also inflate the power of Cobalt Scalebane and building further off of that, it’s late-game finishers are harder to remove than those of other versions. An unchecked Stormwatcher will end the game on the spot with double Cold Blood and Argent Commander functions similarly to Leeroy, however he is more often used to further dominate the board. The deck gives up the Shadowsteps for this, however it gains all of that power back by being able to target Highlander Priest and boasting an excellent matchup against Zoo Warlock, which has been steadily on the rise since the beginning of the month.
If you really want to kill those pesky control decks, look no further than this version that’s geared toward ending the game as fast as possible. Cobalt Scalebane gives way to the monstrous Bittertide Hydra that works extremely well with the wide board states Keleseth Rogue naturally creates because it is very unusual for opponents to be able to answer both at once. This deck also features a copy of Vicious Fledgling, which it’s very good at protecting on-board with double Tar Creeper and deadly tokens, allowing it to take control of the game against similar board-centric decks.
Tips and Tricks
- Always try to go for Prince Keleseth into Shadowstep whenever possible and hard mulligan for the former.
- If you have Prince Keleseth and Swashburglar in hand at the start of the game, it’s recommended to save the 1-drop and play it after Prince to get out a buffed Patches. Evaluate what your opponent can be playing and don’t do it against Hunter.
- If you happen to draw Patches the Pirate in your opening hand, save it as a target for one of your buffs, such as Cold Blood or Bonemare.
- If you didn’t have the time to play a Fire Fly early, save at least one of them as a convenient and cheap Combo activator.
- Try to hide your Cobalt Scalebane behind a Tar Creeper. Another convenient time to play it is after a big Edwin VanCleef turn, because most opponents can’t deal with two high priority targets easily.
- It’s OK to use Spellbreaker for minimal or in some cases no value if it’s your only Turn 4 play and the strongest body in your hand. You have to curve out and saving it requires very specific circumstance.
Aggro Prince Rogue Card Substitutions
As an aggressive deck, it is fairly easy to replace cards with one another because most threats serve a similar purpose, though their efficiency and combo potential can vary from case to case.
Cards that cannot be replaced:
- Prince Keleseth – The namesake of the deck enables the archetype to play value-centric cards by negating their downside of lower stats and boosts the overall power of the deck by a very significant margin.
- Shadowstep – Bouncing and replaying the Prince is way too good to pass up, especially given that the card has plenty of other good targets to capitalize on.
- Vilespine Slayer – This is a much needed tool for the deck and one of the highest priority crafts for any Rogue player. The combination of the decent body (especially when buffed) and the effect is simply one of a kind.
Cards that can be replaced (with varying degrees of efficiency):
- Xaril, Poisoned Mind – As a primarily value-oriented minion, Xaril is not strictly necessary, although he provides a lot of versatility. A good replacement at Common is an aggressive option of Naga Corsair, meanwhile another value minion can be Shadowcaster at Epic.
- Shaku, the Collector – The 3-drop slot in the deck is already crowded and admittedly, Shaku is not the most spectacular minions when it comes down to board presence. Aggressive options can be the infamous Vicious Fledgling, or if you want a bit more reach Plague Scientist is a good follow up to any previous play.