Tempo Rogue Deck List Guide – Witchwood – May 2018

Our  Tempo Rogue deck list guide for The Witchwood expansion will teach you how to play this aggressive Rogue list. This Tempo Rogue guide includes Mulligans, Gameplay Strategy, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!

Note on the deck list (April 2018): I expect many of you to want to play with Tess Greymane, but most of the high win rate Tempo Rogue decks in the early The Witchwood meta run The Lich King instead or do not run any eight-mana cards. Alas, you can easily modify the deck to include Tess, if you’d rather explore some new cards. Simply replace The Lich King with Tess Greymane and find a way to include two copies of Hallucination into the deck, for example by cutting one Spellbreaker and one Cobalt Scalebane.

Introduction to Tempo Rogue

Tempo Rogue is an aggressive Rogue deck. It is not a pure face deck, but rather seeks to establish board control, push damage with minions, and optionally end the game with a burst finish of up to 20 points of damage, but more often closer to 10 points of damage.

Tempo Rogue became a top tier deck during Knights of the Frozen Throne in mid-2017 thanks to the combined power of Prince Keleseth, Patches the Pirate, and Shadowstep – turns out, making all of your minions bigger by +1/+1 or even +2/+2 actually gives you a huge advantage in fighting for board control, and pulling a charging, buffed-up Patches from your deck in the early game really underlines the point.

When Patches was nerfed – it lost Charge – Tempo Rogue fell in popularity. However, with the Standard rotation and The Witchwood expansion in April 2018, Tempo Rogue is looking to get back into action once again. The Witchwood provides a number of new cards that have potential in the archetype, such as Blink FoxHench-Clan ThugMarsh Drake, and Tess Greymane, and Tempo Rogue is looking for a resurgence with these new tools.

Deck List

Deck Import

Tempo Rogue Card Choices

There are couple of key questions to answer when building a Tempo Rogue deck:

First, the Prince Keleseth option. Rogue is the class that can support Keleseth the best, thanks to Shadowstep being able to return him back to your hand for another round of buffs. Alas, good players sometimes delay replaying Keleseth for a turn to have a zero-cost Prince Keleseth in hand ready to activate a combo, such as SI:7 Agent or Elven Minstrel, or opt to not go for double buffs altogether if they have other cards they will rather bounce: it is possible to run out of steam after playing Keleseth, unless you also have an Elven Minstrel available for a refill, so that Shadowstep may be more valuable on some other card.

Keleseth is especially strong if games go long, as it provides you with incremental value every turn. Keleseth is the standard option for Tempo Rogue decks, as the entire archetype climbed to the top thanks to the card. However, there is also another way. Using Keleseth means that you cannot use any other two-mana cards in the deck, and sometimes that is too hefty of a price to pay. The alternative line of thinking focuses on faster games and uses Eviscerate and Sap to be able to push damage faster and more reliably.

Second, there is the question of how burgle do you want to go? The new cards in The Witchwood promote Burgle Rogue as an archetype, and Tempo Rogue can be home to a medium-sized burgle package, not looking to go for a really long game, but trying to gain some surprises from cards from the opponent’s class. The burgle cards that fit in the archetype are HallucinationBlink FoxFace Collector, and Tess Greymane.

The main attraction of the burgle package in Tempo Rogue is Tess Greymane: Tess is a mixture of Yogg-Saron and N’Zoth, able to cast some spells and resummon a board of minions in the late game for one more big push towards victory. But what is the price of including Tess?

  • Hallucination is the best burgle card, as it is a Discover effect. You are almost guaranteed to get something useful from Hallucination, because you get to choose from three options. However, a one-mana spell that does nothing immediately is low tempo. It may be saved by the fact that it only costs one mana, enabling it to easily activate Combo effects when played.
  • Blink Fox is not quite as reliable as a burgle card, as it gives you a random card, which may or may not be useful in the situation you play the card in. However, Blink Fox is much easier to fit in a Tempo Rogue deck, because a three-mana 3/3 that gives you additional resources is both decent tempo and good value.
  • Face Collector goes deeper into the value end of the spectrum. A mere 2/2 minion for three mana, it is unable to trade up and can easily be traded into by cheaper minions. You need to be looking for a fairly long game to make good use of Face Collector.

Therefore, there are multiple potential packages here. Just grab everything, and you’re set for some long games at the expense of a fair bit of tempo. Grab HallucinationBlink Fox, and Tess Greymane, and you have a compromise package that can give you a Tess swing without compromising too much tempo. Finally, you can simply not take the burgle road at all, in which case you may still want to use Blink Fox as a stand-alone card, or even cut that one too for more tempo.

A couple of notes on Tess’s ability:

  • If you switch your Hero – for example, by acquiring and playing a Hero Card from another class – your class becomes that class, and Tess will replay your Rogue cards instead of your opponent’s class cards.
  • Cards from The Lich King are considered Death Knight class cards, and Tess will replay them. Cards from Ysera are neutral, and Tess will not replay them.

This brings us to another choice at the top of the Tempo Rogue curve: The Lich King. Some Tempo Rogue builds do not go above five mana at all, but the ones that do generally make the choice between Tess Greymane and The Lich King, both very potent late-game cards. The Lich King is more defense-oriented, whereas Tess can provide more value for an attack, so there are some meta considerations involved in making the choice. Some people even go for both, although that makes the deck a bit top-heavy.

The above are the main choices when building a Tempo Rogue. The rest of the deck comes together much more easily, even though some minor choices still remain.

Tempo Rogue core cards:

  • Backstab provides the deck with an early answer to a minion and a zero-cost Combo effect activator at any point during the game.
  • Shadowstep provides access to multiple uses of a Battlecry effect, most famously Prince Keleseth, but also SI:7 AgentElven MinstrelBlink Fox, or Vilespine Slayer. It can also provide burst damage with Southsea Deckhand or Leeroy Jenkins. Some lists even combine it with Lifedrinker for some damage and healing.
  • Fire Fly is simply one of the best one-drops in the game. It can help you activate combos and also serves as a pseudo two-drop if you cannot find your Keleseth.
  • Edwin VanCleef is more famous from Miracle Rogue, where he can grow to a huge size, but he can still be a threat in Tempo Rogue as well.
  • Hench-Clan Thug is a new card from The Witchwood. While it is a Neutral minion, it is a perfect fit to practically all Rogue decks, as Rogue usually wants to dagger up on turn two and can follow that up with Hench-Clan Thug and an attack on turn three to get a 4/4 with potential to grow on the board.
  • Elven Minstrel is a key card draw tool, allowing you to look for more minions to play.
  • Saronite Chain Gang is a strong defensive Taunt minion with a big upside when combined with the effect from Prince Keleseth.
  • Vilespine Slayer is an effective hard removal minion that destroys a minion while giving you a decent body on the board at the same time.
  • Leeroy Jenkins is a big finisher to end the game. When combined with Shadowstep and two copies Cold Blood, it can deliver up to 20 points of damage for ten mana. Tempo Rogue does not usually hold onto its cards for such a big combo though, but rather uses some of them earlier in the game and goes for a smaller burst finish in the end.

Tempo Rogue optional cards:

  • Argent Squire: While some Tempo Rogue builds use only one one-drop (Fire Fly), some builds want to get on the board early a little more reliably, and Argent Squire is a good option for that.
  • Southsea Deckhand: Another potential one-drop with a late-game burst finish option.
  • Glacial Shard: Able to prevent the opponent or their minion from attacking, thus allowing you to choose trades or push face damage.
  • Cold Blood: Additional damage that can be used for trades, for a lethal finisher, or for additional face damage in the early game. A flexible tool that has many uses throughout the game.
  • Sonya Shadowdancer: Powerful card that can give you additional resources, especially some additional 1/1 copies of those great Battlecry minions that are plentiful in the deck.
  • Tar Creeper: A strong defensive minion. Especially good if you also run Cold Blood, as then you have the option to turn it into an offensive threat as well or use it to protect a weaker minion that has been buffed.
  • Marsh Drake: A strong tempo play on turn three that has good synergy with the Rogue Hero Power, as you can dagger down the Poisonous minion it summons for the opponent. However, if you cannot kill the minion, for example if there is a Taunt minion in the way, Marsh Drake is much less impressive. Hench-Clan Thug is simply stronger in every scenario, but Drake is an option if you need more three-drops.
  • Vicious Fledgling: A growing minion that can win games if unanswered. Alas, it is usually fairly easily answered, as Tempo Rogue does not gain full board control that easily early on.
  • Lifedrinker: Not only a Shaman combo card, Lifedrinker can also turn aggressive matchups around by dealing damage and healing at the same time.
  • Cobalt Scalebane: A strong-statted dragon that buffs your other minions. Especially sweet with Tar Creeper.

Tempo Rogue tech cards:

  • Spellbreaker: Should this be part of the core? Be that as it may, Spellbreaker is used a lot in the current meta, and it is the Silence effect of choice for Tempo Rogue.
  • Fan of Knives: More of a Miracle Rogue card, but can be teched into Tempo Rogue to deal with decks such as Baku Odd Paladin that swarm the board with one-health minions.

Tempo Rogue Mulligan Strategy & Guide

VS Fast Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

VS Slow Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

Tempo Rogue Win Rates

Winrate stats are currently unavailable for this deck at the moment!

Tempo Rogue Play Strategy

Tempo Rogue is aggressive, but it is not a face deck. You’re looking to gain board control and then use your minions to push face damage.

However, thanks to the burst combos from Shadowstep, Cold Blood, Southsea Deckhand, and Leeroy Jenkins, you may have considerable reach available in the mid-to-late game, and you should always be looking for opportunities to push face damage instead of trading if that allows you to set up lethal from hand.

VS Aggro Decks

Most of the time, you are the control deck against aggro decks. However, there are two peculiarities to playing Tempo Rogue against aggro:

  • You mostly cannot heal (unless you have Lifedrinker in the deck or can get healing from the opponent’s class)
  • You have significant reach with some hands

What these mean is that you also need to set up a clock on the opponent, if they have a reliable source of damage. Hunter and Mage, for example, will eventually simply kill you if you stall indefinitely. Their Hero Power and spells make that inevitable. Against Paladin things can be different, because they generally have only a little damage from hand, and if you control the board, you are relatively safe.

The question is, how do you set the aggro deck on a clock? Early Edwin VanCleef or Hench-Clan Thug can provide that damage, but they are of no use if you lose the entire board before you can play them. Therefore, you need both some early game and a threat to start pushing back. In the right situation, you can then even race the aggro deck – no or only little trading – and finish first.

The key is to recognize how much damage you can deal and how much damage the opponent can deal. Taunt minions are usually very important in aggro matchups, as they allow you to set up trades better and push more face damage while making smart trades. In general, if the aggro deck has a lot of reach from hand, you need to look for opportunities to race. If the aggro deck is very board-reliant, a defensive board control strategy is more viable.

VS Control Decks

Against control decks, you are the beatdown. They will try to stop you, and you will try to kill them.

Look for your early power plays: Prince Keleseth, Hench-Clan Thug, and Edwin VanCleef. They allow you to pressure the control deck and force removal.

Do not go all-in on the board: Keep in mind the type of board clears the opponent has, such as three points of area-of-effect damage from Priest’s Duskbreaker or Warlock’s Hellfire, and the Warlock’s 1-2-3 math puzzle that is Defile. Try to set up boards that are awkward to clear and have a plan on how to refill if your board ends up getting wiped. You have a lot of value in the deck, you do not have to win with your first board. Keep up the pressure, make the control player uncomfortable, and force out that removal.

Do not be afraid to use Cold Blood early if the minion may survive to hit with it twice – it can end up dealing more damage than if saved for a burst finish and also force the opponent to use removal while your board is not that big yet and is easily replaceable.

Tempo Rogue Card Substitutions

You can expect a meta Tempo Rogue deck to cost around 7,000 to 10,000 dust. However, Tempo Rogue has very few mandatory expensive cards, so it is possible to play it on a budget as well.

  • Vilespine Slayer – The most important expensive card in the deck. Hard removal combined with a body on the board is such a huge tempo swing, I would not advise to play the deck without Vilespines. You can go for Assassinate or Plague Scientist, but your win rate will suffer and Vilespine Slayer should be your first craft for the archetype.
  • Prince Keleseth – A huge power play, but can nonetheless make room for a faster build that runs Eviscerate and Sap. Keleseth is still one of the defining cards of the archetype, and one of the first cards to craft for it.
  • Edwin VanCleef and Sonya Shadowdancer – Can replace each other, for a budget option you can go for Vicious Fledgling.
  • Leeroy Jenkins – Use Southsea Deckhand, or if you already have them in the list, strengthen another area of the deck instead of looking for a direct replacement.
  • The Lich King and Tess Greymane – Can replace each other. You also want Hallucinations with Tess, but not with Lich King. If you have neither, end your curve at five mana and strengthen your early game, do not look for a direct replacement.

Old Guardian

Ville "Old Guardian" Kilkku is a writer and video creator focused on analytic, educational Hearthstone, and building innovative Standard format decks. Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/OldGuardian Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/old_guardian

Check out Old Guardian on Twitter or on their Website!

Leave a Reply


Discuss This Deck
  1. Brb
    May 11, 2018 at 8:04 am

    I be playing a pick pokect version, is more concisten that kels, the only problen is the aggro, but have good vs cube and spifull

  2. Epyon
    April 18, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    Drop Lich king/ Tess Put in Sonya to replace them. Play kaleseth 5 times, win games. gg no re.

  3. DestinyXXX
    April 16, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    Dragonfire potion immunity rotated out and it was one of the main point of strenght of the 5-mana dragon (especially in raza era). Is Cobalt Scalebane still the best 5-mana drop?

    • Old Guardian - Author
      April 17, 2018 at 2:41 am

      Looking at the statistics of Tempo Rogue decks, yes, Cobalt Scalebane is the five-drop of choice of almost all of the top lists.

      In the 30 best-performing lists right now, Cobalt Scalebane is in 15 of them, Fungalmancer is in 3, and 12 run no 5-drops other than Vilespine Slayer and Leeroy Jenkins, which are not real 5-drops at all but serve a different purpose. Furthermore, the use of Scalebane is most common near the top.

      The buff effect to make your weaker minions major threats is still strong. If anything, the alternative is to skip 5-drops altogether and use faster cards.

  4. ATinyHorse
    April 16, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    This is the first deck that can run so many interchangable cards and still have a similar winrate. Ez I knew Tess would pull through.

    • Old Guardian - Author
      April 17, 2018 at 2:45 am

      We are still early in the meta and it will take time for builds to stabilize. Tess is losing popularity in Tempo Rogue, being replaced by The Lich King or simply a faster build altogether. I still think Tess has a chance to pull through, and I’d expect people to want to play with new cards and accept a small performance hit for that, but Tess’s long-term prospects are uncertain.

    • Old Guardian - Author
      April 17, 2018 at 2:47 am

      Forgot to add that while I chose to feature a Lich King list in the guide – as according to all statistics it is somewhat better – I mostly played with a Tess list myself, and did just fine.

      • MrTea
        April 17, 2018 at 6:22 am

        What did you end up cutting to make room for Hallucination? I think I got rid of a cold blood and Spellbreaker? Or would you got rid of Scalabane first? I’ll have to play around with it.

        • Old Guardian - Author
          April 17, 2018 at 6:41 am

          Cold Blood – Spellbreaker – Cobalt Scalebane are the cards I’ve been switching around. I’m still not sure. I changed the recommendation for the guide multiple times during writing, too. Depends on the meta too whether you need two Spellbreakers. I’m starting to lean towards just cutting Scalebanes for Hallucinations for Tess.

          • MrTea
            April 17, 2018 at 7:37 am

            Old Guardian, thanks for the response! Scalebanes seem to be the odd dragon out. The potential of Tess (and Face Collector!?!?) is just too fun to pass up. Face Collector is a little greedy, but I really think a little Tess package can’t hurt too much.

  5. Jarren
    April 13, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    while i love playing rogues and really enjoyed builds in previous expansions this just seems way too slow .. setting up tess takes way too much time its a bit too random by the time i get any tempo up i already have the whole board swarming with voidlords or 5/7 silver recruits.. then again i aint no pro

  6. Stompy
    April 13, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Face collector and tess make tempo rouge worse because your losing tempo playing face collector and losing tempo by setting up tess.

  7. SneakySamX
    April 13, 2018 at 1:59 am

    The version with Keleseth is 10000 times more consistent. You can’t rely on RNG on ladder.

    • Tovarnik
      April 13, 2018 at 6:24 am

      You mean without Keleseth?

      • GameDice
        April 13, 2018 at 7:06 am

        I’m confidant the it was said correctly. The version with Keleseth doesn’t use the random card generation.

        • Tovarnik
          April 13, 2018 at 7:38 am

          How about random number generator

  8. Cruxkid
    April 2, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    This deck needs a massive overhaul since the latest patch

  9. HappyDucky
    February 6, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    “Featuring double Cold Bloods”…. I see no Cold Blood anywhere.
    The guide also mentions Shaku and Xaril, and they are both not on the list.

  10. NasattoJulio
    February 1, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    Is this deck viable without Swashburglar and Cairne? Besides those I only need too craft Vilespine and Elven Minstrel… Is it worth taking into account that some things are going to rotate/get nerfed?


  11. MonkFunk
    January 21, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    What would you do turn two if you have kelseth but no shadowsteps? Do you just play kelseth or wait for a shadowstep?

    • Luiz Henrique Maruta Kim
      January 22, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      Normally you don’t get the perfect start of prince and shadowstep, so playing only prince is already a very big early advantage (but of course, if you have shadowstep use it with him)

    • PaRtY
      February 16, 2018 at 3:36 pm

      You can do what you want, although you WOULD get bigger minions if you waited for the Shadowstep. But, as I said earlier, you can do what you want.

  12. Cptmeatballz
    January 21, 2018 at 10:26 am

    I don’t wanna craft soon-to-be-out-of-rotation legends, i.e. Patches. Is this deck still viable without it? If so, what replacement?

    • Kruunch
      January 26, 2018 at 3:22 pm

      You can put in a second South Sea Deckhand instead of Patches. Patches is nice but not essential to the deck’s success. If you happen to have it, Sonya Shadowdancer fits really nice into this deck as well.

  13. Mrlols1
    January 17, 2018 at 9:56 am

    i dont have prince and leeroy so i have to chose 1 to craft which 1 u suggest me to craft first ?

    • Zinogre
      January 18, 2018 at 12:27 am

      Prince first. Leeroy can be replaced by Reckless Rocketeer

      • Vaggelis Papadakis
        January 22, 2018 at 5:11 am

        leroy of the poor people,still does the job i guess 🙂

    • Mr.Joiz
      January 29, 2018 at 5:26 am

      Prince first bro

      • Mr.Joiz
        January 29, 2018 at 5:27 am

        you can replace rockless it’s cost 6 mana 5/2

    • PaRtY
      February 16, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      Prince. Most definitely Prince. Leeroy can be replaced by a 6 mana 5/2 called Reckless Rocketeer.

  14. SneakySam
    January 8, 2018 at 9:10 am

    If you are having problems with warlocks, try StrifeCro’s version of the deck (2x Faldorei Strider, 2x Spellbreaker). I hit legend for the first time with it last season. Double Spellbreaker is fundamental in almost every match up at the moment.

    • Kruunch
      January 26, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      Agreed, although I find Ironbeak Owl a little more forgiving mana-wise (easier to get out and easier to shadow step if needed).

  15. DrSimps
    January 7, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    What about replacing Cairne with Lich King? I’ve seen that a couple times.

    This deck I feel does well against aggro druid, pally, and hunter but man it is tough against Priest and Warlock. I feel like I can beat Priest if I curve well but you really have to win by almost Turn 6 against warlock cause they have so much stupid healing and taunts.

  16. thirsty
    January 6, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    This deck is being destroyed in the current meta, warlocks and priest run the ladder and just shut down this deck. Any ideas for changes?

    • Blacklink3r
      January 7, 2018 at 11:46 am

      I’m at rank 3 with another version of this deck. I’ll send you the code.

      • H3ndrx
        January 7, 2018 at 1:41 pm

        Yeah, I have the same problem… 🙁

  17. Vovi
    December 31, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    I got to legendary first time ever with this deck, really nice guide and deck Thank you.

  18. DigDug
    December 28, 2017 at 10:03 am

    This deck sucks against the current meta. It has no answer to void lord, paladins board fills, or hunter’s wolf summon. It cannot maintain board control. Run it and enjoy sucking.

    • Ross Kelly
      December 28, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Get some Spellbreakers in there then

    • Gamebrain1
      December 28, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Is that why Machamp got Rank 1 Legend with it 2 days ago? wow, the rank 1 Legend player must suck.

  19. Shacksta
    December 27, 2017 at 4:19 am

    This is one of the decks I love to play, but I don’t have swashburglers. What should I replace them with ?

    • Shacksta
      December 27, 2017 at 4:24 am

      Oh, forgot one thing, there was a little deck named Higher top end, a variaton of this deck, could I include Lich King somewhere in this ” aggro ” deck ?

      • hain
        December 27, 2017 at 4:53 am

        Yes u can, instead of cairne

    • Chalupa
      December 28, 2017 at 1:33 am

      you can replace them with a “delete deck” button 🙂

  20. ATinyHorse
    December 26, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Aaaannnnddd Sonya has already been cut. Feels bad.

  21. Spyder9899
    December 16, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    Is it established that Sonya is better in this deck than Cairne? Or still feeling it out? Trying to figure out if I should craft her or not.

  22. lol
    December 15, 2017 at 5:15 am

    finally in tier 2 or below like where it belongs. been trash since the gimmicky start

    • Spyder9899
      December 16, 2017 at 12:57 am

      It’s not tier 2. And no matter, you’re still going to be rage quitting to it.

    • ATinyHorse
      December 18, 2017 at 7:11 am

      “finally in tier 2”
      In tier 1.

  23. k4w4noob
    December 13, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Any Alternatives for Sonya?

    • Spyder9899
      December 13, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      That spots changed quite a bit. I still use Cairne. But it’s also had Shaku or Xaril. Those are all legendaries themselfs. A cheaper card could be a second tar creeper and sometimes I’ve even seen plague scientist.