Our Mill Rogue deck list guide will teach you how to pilot this popular deck! Our guide features mulligan, play, and card replacement strategies!
Introduction to Mill Rogue
The Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion has reinvigorated this archetype that was extinct from Standard ever since the Year of the Kraken introduced the format, becoming nothing more than a way to meme people on the Wild ladder. However, what the rotation took away from the deck in Standard in terms of healing and defensive power, KFT brought back good stalling tools for the Rogue class with a shiny new Death Knight card and additional defense in the form of the new weapon and surprisingly, one of the Princes of the Council of Three! Perhaps most importantly, the newest expansion offers a way to mill Jade Druids, which is a bad combination of both Mill Rogue’s natural counter (by shuffling Jade Idols back and not dying to fatigue) and the most powerful and prominent deck on ladder.
Mill Rogue Mulligan Strategy & Guide
The mulligan section will be divided into two parts – against fast decks and against slow decks. Fast decks are generally the Aggro decks (e.g. Pirate Warrior) or high tempo Midrange decks (e.g. Murloc Paladin, Midrange Hunter). Slow decks are slower Midrange (e.g. Token Shaman) and Control decks (e.g. Highlander Priest, Handlock).
VS Fast Decks
Against aggressive decks you are looking for taunts and removal, trying mainly to stay alive through the midgame.
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Backstab – It’s needless to say how efficient and impactful Backstab is in the early game. It can deal with any early play in the game when combine with the dagger from your hero power and as a single copy in the deck, you don’t want to risk not drawing it by tossing it back.
- Tar Creeper – A cheap, cost-efficient taunt is all you could ask for in the early game and it doesn’t get much better than this.
- Prince Valanar – There is a lot of power concentrated in this card and it will take a couple of hits for a fast deck to go through it.
Special case against Pirate Warrior – always keep Gluttonous Ooze. This should kind of go without saying, but this is your tech card specifically for that matchup and most often, the outcome of the game will be more dependant on a successful Ooze hit rather than anything else. In fact, you can hard mulligan for it.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Shadowblade – This is an excellent tool for trading, especially against Pirate Warrior where it lines up nicely against a big Bloodsail Raider. Keep if you don’t have other plays at three mana or against Pirates specifically.
- Doomsayer – Although it’s a good stalling card, many of the fast decks can deal with it early, sometimes even on turn 2. Keep and play as early as possible, in the worst case it’s a heal for 7, but try to find your other defensive tools first. Keep if you already have a taunt.
- Preparation – Only keep if you already have something to go along with it, preferably Vanish to answer a flooded board. Usually avoid keeping this card but prioritize it over cards you won’t have time to play, such as Vilespine Slayer.
VS Slow Decks
Most controlling decks will take their sweet time to kill you, so you can prepare for the endgame straight from the mulligan phase. Look for the cards that will allow you to stay alive through the midrange push and for the one-ofs of your win condition. While it’s not advised to straight up hard mulligan for Valeera, you are very likely to lose if she is the last card in your deck, so you can be more aggressive with tossing cards in order to look for her.
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Valeera the Hollow – This card is your bread and butter. It’s too slow to keep against aggro, but there is no reason to mulligan it away versus control, even though it’s a nine-cost card.
- Vilespine Slayer – You have to get to the lategame and this is the card that relieves pressure. Right now slower decks don’t go very wide on the board so prioritize this over Vanish.
- Coldlight Oracle – In order to find answers and activate all of Oracle’s support cards (such as the bounce effects). Giving the opponent cards is not so bad because in this matchup they are going to be drawing clunky and expensive things, still only playing one card per turn. Finding your own tools is much more valuable.
Special case against Jade Druid – always keep Skulking Geist. While you are running a lot of draw and will always find it eventually, you want to minimize the damage they can do by shuffling Idols into their deck over and over again – not only do they increase the Jade count when played, they are also fodder to burn when you make them overdraw. It’s a lot better to have them out of the way as soon as possible, so that if the Druid overextends into Vanish you can punish with making them overdraw real and important cards from their deck.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Shadow Strike – Extra removal is never a bad thing and you know you’re going to be needing it. If there are no better cards in your starting hand, this is an alright keep most of the time, especially if you know you can line it up against an important threat. Very useful against Priest, most of their minions have 5 health.
- Doomsayer – Preemptive stalling is a good way to get to your Valeera turn with a decent life total. Don’t keep if there are better options.
- The Curator – If you didn’t find the Coldlight Oracle in the starting three and you think you can use a midrange taunt body then this is a fine keep that guarantees the Oracle.
Mill Rogue General Game Plan and Play Strategy
Before we get into anything else, you have to be aware of your win condition! The deck uses forced card draw in order to kill the opponent, usually in one turn, by making them draw while in fatigue. If you navigate the game properly, you should end up in a situation where you can deploy Shadowblade and three Coldlight Oracles for an OTK:
Once you and the opponent enter fatigue, the simplest play you can do is make yourself immune with the Shadowblade and then make both players draw 6 cards, which works out to 1+2+3+4+5+6=21 damage. Then, by ending your turn, the opponent draws and extra card at the beginning of theirs for 7 damage, totaling at 28 damage. This scales very fast for each turn in fatigue beyond the first that you start the combo in.
Up to that point, you are playing what’s best described as Control Rogue. Set up your taunts on curve and use your removals aggressively to answer as many threats as possible and keep your life total steady in the pre-Valeera turns. In the meantime, refill your hand with Coldlight Oracle and bounce cards. Prioritize lining up your removal appropriately – damage-based hard removal goes on battlecry minions while slow value cards get to be Sapped and Vanished. Try to leverage your life total so that you are outside of burst range when you go into your Valeera turn. From then on, a Vanish resets the board and you can overwhelm them with Shadow Reflection value.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- Don’t be afraid to give your opponent cards by playing an early Coldlight Oracle and start bouncing it as early as possible. You usually benefit from the draw more than they do.
- If possible, try to play like a normal Miracle Rogue in the early through midgame – very often the opponent will use their card draw, which helps mill and get them in fatigue faster.
- Try to save at least one Vanish for your post-Valeera turn, when you can reset the board and start snowballing your card advantage with Valeera’s Shadow Reflections.
- Youthful Brewmaster and Gadgetzan Ferryman are usually comboed with Coldlight Oracle, but he can be pretty versatile depending on your needs. Premium targets include Vilespine Slayer and Gluttonous Ooze against Pirate Warrior.
- Even if you have already reached fatigue, try to wait a turn or two for the overkill damage. In the current meta, the base 28 damage might not be enough to kill some of the control decks.
- It’s essential to save a Shadowstepped Oracle into your hand for the final damage push. That will enable the triple Coldlight combo.
- Save your second Shadowblade for when you go off with a triple Coldlight Oracle for the kill, you wouldn’t want to accidentally kill yourself too.
Mill Rogue Card Substitutions
Cards that cannot be replaced:
- Valeera the Hollow – Makes or breaks the deck, absolutely the most important card.
- Vanish – Essential as both a defensive tool post-Valeera and as a way to actually mill the opponent. As and added bonus, it’s a Basic card.
- Coldlight Oracle – This is the actual win condition, so that’s out of the question too.
- Shadowblade – Enables the Oracle turn, at least one of the two copies cannot be replaced.
Cards that can be replaced (with varying degrees of efficiency):
- Prince Valanar – As a defensive option, the Prince is not essential to the deck but he certainly helps a lot. A good substitution would be a second Tar Creeper.
- The Curator – His uses are more diversified than the Price but he still fills a similar role in the deck. If you are not looking for another Taunt body, you can go with a tech card such as The Black Knight or more generic removal with another Shadow Strike.
- Gluttonous Ooze – The anti-weapon tech is essential for the Pirate Warrior matchup, but a cheap (actually free) alternative is available in Acidic Swamp Ooze. Obviously foregoing the heal can end up being a big deal, but often times the removal of the equipped weapon is good enough.
- Vilespine Slayer – Probably one of the best Rogue cards ever made, Vilespine can actually be clunky a lot of the time because of it’s inability to be used successfully with Valeera’s Shadow Reflection due to its mana cost. Cheaper alternatives are Shadow Strike, Assassinate if you are on a budget and Golakka Crawler if you want to further improve your Pirate Warrior matchup.