Our Elemental Rogue deck list guide will teach you the ins-and-outs of this recently popular deck! Our guide features mulligan, play, and card replacement strategies!
Introduction to Elemental Rogue
Elemental Rogue is a Tempo deck utilizing various Battlecry and Combo cards to gain early board advantage and sustain it throughout the game. Unlike typical Rogue decks, this archetype runs very few spells to take advantage of Prince Keleseth.
Update – Elemental Rogue October 2017
Rogue has gone all-in on Prince Keleseth and even Elemental Rogue is now including Shadowstep to not only benefit from the strong Elemental battlecries, but to sometimes high-roll into a second or third Keleseth buff. The deck has also added more Pirate synergy with the addition of Southsea Captain.
Elemental Rogue Mulligan Strategy & Guide
Patches the Pirate and Prince Keleseth are interesting cards to have in the same deck, as the former makes you want to keep cards and the latter makes you want to mulligan them. Since each card you mulligan is equally likely to replace itself with either, in most cases it’s best to hunt for Prince Keleseth. Drawing Patches the Pirate before you play another Pirate can be devastating, but this list is built to get value from Prince Keleseth, which you can’t if you draw him in the late game.
VS Fast Decks
Keep cards that keep you alive with enough health to keep going after you start playing minions with Taunt.
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Prince Keleseth – In just about every matchup you want to mulligan pretty aggressively for this card, as the value you get from it goes up significantly the sooner it’s played. Against aggro decks you can’t afford to skip playing cards in the early turns, so if you have a 1-cost minion (apart from Patches the Pirate) you should keep one, but mull everything else.
- Swashburglar – Probably the second best card to have in your opening hand, mostly because you don’t want to draw Patches the Pirate. The nice thing about Warrior and Druid being the current premier aggro decks is the classes have a bunch of very defensive cards in them, so Swashburglar can generate some cards that help keep you in the game until you can stick a Taunt minion on the board.
- Fire Fly – This card trades really well with early pirates and replaces itself in your hand, which helps to enable your other elements. In particular, keep Tol'vir Stoneshaper in mind when deciding when to play your Flame Elemental, as an active Tol'vir Stoneshaper is very strong against aggressive decks.
- Backstab – Not only is this an excellent early removal spell, but Backstab is the best Combo enabler in your deck, as it costs 0 mana. Removing early aggressive minions helps keep you in the game longer, so a card that both does that and enables other cards to do so is valuable to have early.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Tar Creeper – This card might actually be a Higher Priority keep, especially with The Coin. A 3/5 taunt significantly slows down aggressive decks. The only reason to mull this card is to hunt for Prince Keleseth.
- SI:7 Agent – With a decent 3-mana body and an excellent early game removal effect, this card is great to keep if you have The Coin, or Backstab. Don’t keep it without one of those, as you’d rather have Prince Keleseth if you can’t activate the Combo effect.
- Edwin VanCleef – Keep this card exclusively if you have Backstab or The Coin. This card can be strong to keep early minions off the board if you can play him as a 4/4 or 6/6 on turn 2, but if you don’t already have at least one activator he’s pretty bad. Even with Backstab, he probably shouldn’t be kept going first against aggressive decks.
- Southsea Deckhand – While it’s traditionally an aggressive card, Southsea Deckhand is also a decent early removal tool, especially with Patches the Pirate. Two Charge bodies with 3 total attack is pretty significant removal, and then you have the 1 damage from your Hero power. Keep only going second or if you already have Prince Keleseth.
VS Slow Decks
Keep cards that give you a good mana curve and make you the aggressor.
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Prince Keleseth – You probably don’t want to keep any other card if you don’t already have this one (with the possible exception of Swashburglar) as playing it early accelerates your game plan so significantly.
- Swashburglar – Against slower decks you want to be the aggressor, and Pirate + Patches the Pirate is a great way to do that. Swashburglar enables that combo and also gives you card advantage, which helps keep your tempo going. You’d rather play Southsea Deckhand after you’ve already used your Hero power, which leaves Swashburglar to make sure you get value from Patches the Pirate.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Edwin VanCleef – Since the beginning of Hearthstone, creating an enourmous Edwin VanCleef has been a great way to cheese easy wins, and against a slow deck that’s built to outlast you this is especially relevant. He shouldn’t be kept if you dont have an enabler, especially because this Rogue deck doesn’t run a multitude of cheap spells, but if you have 1-cost minions and/or Backstab, Edwin VanCleef can steal games for you.
Elemental Rogue Win Rates
Elemental Rogue Play Strategy
The overall plan is to constantly stay ahead of your opponent throughout the game. One of the deck’s greatest strengths is it’s Elemental synergies, so pause to consider your Elemental curve even before you make a play that seems like a no-brainer. If you have Prince Keleseth and a Pirate in your opening hand, consider waiting to play your Pirate until after you play Prince Keleseth if you can afford to, as Patches the Pirate will come out of your deck as a 2/2.
Against aggressive decks you win the game when you play the Taunt minion your opponent can’t overcome. This probably won’t end up being Tar Creeper, but that will definitely slow them down. Once you can land a Bonemare into a board you control, fast decks have probably run out of enough steam to get around them. This is especially true because the most relevant aggro decks don’t run damaging spells. Your minions with removal effects such as SI:7 Agent and Fire Plume Phoenix are especially relevant in the early-mid game. Keep your opponents minions off the board so that each Taunt you play is more likely to stick.
In Control matchups you are the aggresive deck, and it’s in these games that an early Prince Keleseth matters the most. Your minions with the +1/+1 buff deal more damage and are harder to remove. Against slow decks you need to consider whether or not trading into enemy minions is worth it. Think about how your opponent is going to respond to your minions, and don’t make the trades that they’re going to make on their next turn. In most cases making those trades yourself will only result in less damage to your opponents Hero, but running Patches the Pirate into your opponents Novice Engineer before your Mage opponent’s turn 7 saves your 5-health minions minions from Flamestrike. Push as much damage as you can without losing your board to end the game as soon as possible.
Elemental Rogue Card Substitutions
- Shadowstep – There’s the obvious synergies with cards like SI:7 Agent and Swashburglar, but it also enable your Charge minions to attack twice. It also allows you to reuse an Elemental on the board if you don’t have one in your hand to enable your synergies for the turn following. If you’re missing something from the main list I recommend you start with this card in most cases. As the deck gets refined over time I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two copies of this card becomes staple in the list.
- Eviscerate – This has always been an efficient spell to remove minions or deal damage to Heroes around Taunts. The reason this card isn’t part of the core of this deck is because of Prince Keleseth. Not only does every spell in your deck weaken Prince Keleseth, but if you haven’t drawn Eviscerate before you play him, his Battlecry won’t even work. While Eviscerate is a strong card for Rogue decks of all types, you can only run it in this deck if you don’t have Prince Keleseth.
- Igneous Elemental – While probably sub-optimal in most situations, this card can at least be a good substitution. It trades well against early minions, and when it dies it gives you two cheap minions that easily enable your Combo cards and Elemental synergies later on.
- Servant of Kalimos – The stats are decent, and the card advantage is good. It’s especially playable in this deck because you’re running Fire Plume Phoenix, which curves well into it.
- Bladed Cultist or Argent Squire – The Pirate package becomes significantly weaker if you don’t own Patches the Pirate, so these are some options to consider adding in it’s place, or if you just feel like you’re not running enough 1-cost minions. If you have the dust, or are willing to save up I’d definitely recommend crafting Patches the Pirate, as in this deck he’s very powerful and will continue to be relevant in other Standard decks until he gets rotated to Wild next year.
About the Author
Martian has almost two decades of competitive TCG/CCG experience, and has been playing Hearthstone regularly since early 2014. He consistently achieves the Legend rank in both Standard and Wild.