Our Budget Tempo Rogue deck list guide for the Saviors of Uldum expansion will teach you how to play this budget list. This guide includes Mulligans, Gameplay Strategy, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!
Introduction to Budget Tempo Rogue
Tempo Rogue is one of the most popular decks in Year of the Dragon. During Rise of Shadows, the class was so strong that it has seen not one, not two, but three nerfs. Even after a big chunk of the deck getting hit, new builds popped up and they were still strong. The situation didn’t change much in Saviors of Uldum – Tempo Rogue is still a solid build, but players have decided to take an even more aggressive stance when building it. They cut some of the long game cards like Spirit of the Shark or Heistbaron Togwaggle and went for more face damage with Hooked Scimitar and another 1-drop – Pharaoh Cat. Those two additions have proven to be working quite well so far.
Budget version of Rogue is not very far off from the real deal gameplay-wise. However, you’re missing some quite important Epics & Legendaries. What used to be a quite cheap deck in the past now costs up to 10k Arcane Dust, which is way, way out of budget for lots of players. This version should, however, work okay until you can build the actual deck.
Budget Tempo Rogue Mulligan Guide
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Backstab – Backstab was always bread and butter of faster Rogue builds. It’s the ultimate tempo card – for no mana at all, you can deal with a threat on board. The “undamaged” limitation doesn’t matter most of the time, making it just an amazing removal.
- Pharaoh Cat – Solid 1-drop that cycles itself into a random Reborn card on Battlecry. It can be dropped on T1, it can be used as a combo activator later, it will probably push some damage or get a small trade, but you don’t care that much if it dies, because you got something out of it the moment you’ve played it. It’s like a new, sometimes even better Swashburglar.
- EVIL Miscreant – One of the better cards in your deck, even after it was nerfed from 5 to 4 Health. In a Tempo deck like that, getting two Lackeys is pretty much just as good as drawing two cards, and who wouldn’t play 3 mana 1/4 that draws two cards?
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- SI:7 Agent – Keep on Coin, against aggressive decks. Killing something and dropping a 3/3 body on board works amazingly well when your opponent is trying to develop early.
Budget Tempo Rogue Play Strategy
Tempo Rogue is a pretty aggressive deck. Like the deck’s name suggests, your goal is to win the tempo game. Against other fast decks, it means that you want to develop the board while clearing their minions at the same time. Cards like Backstab or SI:7 Agent are very helpful, because they deal with a small threat while letting you develop something (SI just drops a 3/3 body and Backstab leaves you with mana to play something else). Your Thief package also works very well against those decks. Underbelly Fence and Vendetta are also amazing if you activate them. 2 mana 3/4 with Rush and 0 mana 4 damage removal will help you greatly vs faster decks. Against slower ones, however, you often won’t have much to clear. That’s why your main focus will be dealing face damage. The deck does not have a lot of staying power, so you really want to kill your opponent as quickly as you can. Ideally you will end up with a solid curve, deal some minion damage, and then finish the game off with one of your many damage options. That’s a great thing about this deck – even if your board gets cleared, you can still easily dish out 10+ damage from hand like it was nothing. Drop Southsea Deckhand and SI:7 Agent here, Lifedrinker there, then finish the game with Eviscerate.
If you’re going first, 90% of time your Turn 2 play will be Hero Power. I know that it might feel weird, but Rogue’s Hero Power is actually a pretty solid tool. You pay some mana upfront to have a nice tempo tool later. You can use it to straight up clear a 1 health minion, or clear a bigger one with the help of your minions or other removals. And in the worst case scenario, you will deal If you’re going second, however, don’t be afraid to use Coin. You have multiple good T3 plays and three of them are Combo cards. The best play is most likely Coin + EVIL Miscreant. The card not only drops something on the board, but gives you some nice extra options for upcoming turns (depending on which Lackeys you’ve got).
Sap is a very valuable tool, but you have to use it correctly. I know that a lot of new players don’t like this card. After all – your opponent can just play the minion again next turn, right? That’s true, but it means that you’ve got a whole extra turn of minion damage, and your opponent has lost valuable mana when he’s already behind on tempo. Sapping a big minion without Taunt, Rush or something like that is often as good as killing it. Most of the time, your opponent will be under pressure and won’t be able to replay it until the game is over (or until he stabilizes completely, but then the game is also technically over). Try to avoid sapping minions with Rush, ESPECIALLY Zilliax. Your opponent will often not feel you sapping it that much, because he just drops it and kills another of your minions while healing himself. Sap Zilliax only when you can get through for lethal – otherwise try to just kill it. You can also use Sap to get rid of a Taunt in your way, but I would generally do it only if you can’t deal with it otherwise. If you can quite easily kill it with let’s say Vendetta + SI or something like that, then prioritize it. So, long story short, use Sap to make things awkward for the opponent and “remove” slow minions completely, or to get through a Taunt – the latter is especially preferable if you also happen to have lethal.
Spirit of the Shark might seem pretty slow for a deck like that, but it’s an amazing card. It has synergy with half of your deck. Whether it’s getting extra resources, tempo or face damage, the card is very scary for your opponent, so try to squeeze as much as you can out of it. EVIL Miscreant takes the highest priority in the mid game, because getting two extra Lackeys, for example, is better than getting 2 extra damage or a single extra card from another class. Later in the game, you can use Shark as a way to deal more damage. Shark + Lifedrinker turns it into a Fireball with Lifesteal (and a 3/3 body, of course). 2 damage Lackeys or SI:7 can also dish out more damage with Shark on board. The card seems slow, because it is when you drop it, but the next turn – as long as it’s not removed – you will most likely make up for it. Spirit of the Shark is also a great target for Witchy Lackey (if you happen to get one from Miscreant). After it’s out of Stealth, if you know that your opponent will most likely have a way to remove it, tranforming it into a random 5-drop might be a good way to utilize its high mana cost. Of course, do it last after you’ve already used all your other Battlecry & Combo cards!
Future Card Replacements for Tempo Rogue
There are actually two directions in which you can take the deck in. You can either develop the current one by adding a few new cards to the existing Shark + Thief package. This kind of build will be slower and go for a bit longer games. It used to be the best way to build Tempo Rogue last expansion. However, in the current meta, a faster and more aggressive build is way more popular and works better. Its main advantage is punishing decks with weak early game, such as Mages, which just happen to be the most popular class right now. That’s why I would recommend the second option. The build requires more card swapping, but ultimately both builds are similar in terms of total cost.
One important thing, though, is that you can’t remove parts of your Thief Package one by one, because it will make your build way less consistent. When you get rid of either Blink Fox or Hench-Clan Burglar, both Underbelly Fence and Vendetta have to go away at the same time. Actually, I would just move those 4 cards (8 in total if you count duplicates) together and if you get rid of one of them, just get rid of all. Once you remove those, Spirit of the Shark will also become much less useful. That’s why instead of giving you single card replacements, I will just show you the final build you want to aim for: