It has been almost a year since the first dream. The dream of bouncing giant mechanical rabbits taking over the Hearthstone meta. With Rise of Shadows, the dream is closer to reality than ever before, and the echoing chants of “Iä! Iä! Pogo Rogue fhtang!” are lurking right at the edge of the conscious mind of future prey. Soon, the rabbits shall rise from their underground realm and rule with an iron paw.
This is the Pogo-Hopper Rogue theorycraft for Rise of Shadows!
I have to admit, there is something really fascinating about Pogo-Hopper. Finding new ways to bounce and copy the little fellow is art in its purest form, and the immense hulk it can grow to is a sight to behold. Unfortunately, Pogo Rogue has been a disastrously bad deck so far. In Rastakhan’s Rumble, the archetype struggled to breach 40% winrate at rank 20.
The only actual use for the card came late in Rastakhan meta, when Blizzard introduced the Specialist format for tournament play, and some Rogue players opted to include Pogo-Hoppers and Lab Recruiters in their sideboard to defeat opponents who brought control decks.
Rise of Shadows promises to change this, or at least it promises many hours of sweat and tears for players who will try to make Pogo-Hopper great for the first time.
The new set comes with an unprecedented number of cards to bounce and copy the little rabbit:
- Daring Escape can be used to bounce Pogo-Hopper and other related minions back to hand for almost no cost at all.
- Togwaggle's Scheme can shuffle huge quantities of copies of Pogo-Hopper to the deck.
- Tak Nozwhisker can provide immediately usable copies of shuffled cards to your hand, providing an excellent combo with Togwaggle's Scheme: how about having both your deck and your hand full of Pogo-Hoppers?
- Barista Lynchen can add copies of Pogo-Hopper and other relevant minions back to your hand.
With all these new tools, I have opted to cut Lab Recruiter from this theorycraft build. By doing so, Witchwood Piper becomes a 100% reliable tutor for Pogo-Hopper. This means more reliable access to the central card of the deck in the early game, and also in the late game when multiple copies of it have already been shuffled into the deck.
The new cards make Pogo-Hopper a faster threat, as you can often generate copies of it to your hand instead of merely shuffling copies into your deck, and therefore more Pogo-Hoppers can be played on the board faster than before. This mitigates any draw issues, leaving survival as the main problem.
How do you survive long enough for your Pogo-Hoppers to grow up? The toolkit is limited, and I have chosen a combination of Backstab, Fan of Knives, Eviscerate, and Walk the Plank for removal, as well as Sap and Vanish for tempo disruption.
When Pogo-Hoppers have grown enough, Bronze Gatekeeper and Zilliax can use their Magnetic ability to fuse with them to provide Taunt and Lifesteal in a move that should end the game against many aggressive decks.
This type of deck can only truly be built for a specific meta. You need to have just enough answers to survive until Pogo-Hoppers can take over the game, and the exact quantity and type of removal needed cannot be known until there is a stable meta. Do you need to fight against tokens? Or against individual big minions? The meta greatly affects the card choices here.
Furthermore, it is not obvious which path of creating additional Pogo-Hoppers is the best, until he deck can be tested. Would Lab Recruiter be useful in the end? Is Tak Nozwhisker fast enough, or will it just be a useless card in your hand most of the time? How useful is Daring Escape, as it only bounces your side of the board? Previously, the options were limited and you used everything you had, but now there are so many options to choose from that some may end up being cut.
While there are many questions, and the deck will need to go through multiple iterations before it is optimal, the overall toolkit of Pogo Rogue is now wider than ever before, and in a post-rotation meta that is a great position to be in – becoming stronger when most of your competition becomes weaker. Alas, the starting point of Pogo Rogue is about as low as it can get, so it really needs some help to rise up.