Does Quest Rogue Require Another Nerf?

I had so much fun with The Boomsday Project: it has brought along great single-player content, a varied Constructed meta and one of the best Arena experiences we’ve had in a long time. Of course, Quest Rogue had to come along and ruin everyone’s fun, one of the most polarizing combo decks that has now survived two years, featuring only a single card from the new expansion – Giggling Inventor, the #1 nerf candidate in the set.

A Path Dimly Lit

It took a few weeks for the playerbase to catch up to the fact that Quest Rogue is viable once again – the early successes of Zoo spawned a set of slower counter-decks in the form of Even Warlock and Control Warrior, which were then preyed upon by the resurgent combo archetype. It was also helped by the fact that the popular Hunter decks are uncharacteristically slow and Druid’s many different variations on the same theme also take a lot of time to complete their gameplan. For a short while, it was perfectly positioned to take advantage of the popular strategies, and while it’s being taken into account now, Quest Rogue still remains a more than viable choice, bringing back all the problems its previous iterations have had – not in terms of winrate, but how polarizing the matchups are.

This issue should be familiar to anyone who has played against its earlier iterations, and one that highlights the problems with the nerfs Team 5 opted to go with: it merely delays the victory condition against slower decks and hardly reduces the impact of the cheap and overcosted minions. Worse still, the deck’s capability to go infinite against any archetype that doesn’t exert maximum pressure on it forces you into a one-track SMOrc gameplan if you want to counteract it – a problem that hasn’t been accounted for by the changes made to The Caverns Below.

Vicious Scalehide has already given a deck a lifeline against aggressive opponents and its consistency has been increased by Sonya Shadowdancer and Zola the Gorgon, but it has now gained an additional tool: Giggling Inventor, a card which seemingly every archetype in the game can make use of. It’s specifically effective in Quest Rogue: beyond its incredible stalling proportions, it summons three separate bodies once the quest is completed (two of which, remember, have Divine Shield and Taunt to make things even more frustrating), and as an additional concern, it requires aggressive decks to deal with each part of the card pre-quest activation or else risking a Shadowstep or a Sonya on the actual inventor itself, which can pretty much end the game on the spot.

On the other end of the spectrum, the deck is capable of going infinite against control decks with the Death Knight and Zola the Gorgon, making it impossible to grind out even with a deck dedicated to that approach, your main condition being them running dry by some stroke of luck. It’s a problem that is further exacerbated by the complete lack of neutral hand disruption options in the current Standard environment: there is no way to mess with Quest Rogue’s gameplan (apart from the limited option provided by Demonic Project, something which doesn’t help you win the game most of the time anyway), once again forcing you to throw everything to the face either by going on the offensive with a deck clearly incapable of exerting enough pressure to do so or by queuing a Tempo Mage instead of whatever you felt like playing before.

Combo decks are strong against control archetypes and often fold against aggro: this has always been a normal dynamic in card games. However, Hearthstone’s lack of sideboarding options and the aforementioned hole in the Classic set where a disruption card should be, plus the random ladder queuing system means that it will always be frustrating to run into a Quest Rogue while trying to climb with anything that isn’t a dedicated face deck. This has nothing to do with winrates: such extreme matchup polarization means that a significant part of the “skill” now devolves into running into the right opponent, and while there is something to be said about grinding out a few extra percentages against aggro and making the correct meta call by picking the deck in the first place, the limited and one-track options to fight Quest Rogue makes it a really problematic presence in any metagame.

Potential Futures

So what can you do with this deck beyond killing it with fire? In some ways, this is a philosophical choice: are the developers OK with having such a polarizing presence on the ladder? The closest comparison that comes to mind is the classic Freeze Mage versus Control Warrior matchup, which was nothing more than an aberration if you consider that the former deck was otherwise excellent against slower decks, not posting anywhere near the kind of numbers Quest Rogue can offer against control archetypes, of course.

Unfortunately, mitigating the deck’s polarizing nature will definitely have to involve new cards, which would mean that it would remain untouched for months, likely without comment from Team 5’s part. Also, remember how Skulking Geist was meant to be a Jade killer (and how Peter Whalen had hyped it up as part of Un’goro’s infamous reveal stream with the massacre of the Murloc Tinyfins, though it wasn’t even in the set)? Even if they have lined up a supposed counter-card for the next expansion, there is no guarantee that it actually gets the job done – most of Hearthstone’s hate cards have been pathetically ineffective, after all. This is a risky way to go, one that doesn’t guarantee success but would definitely entail a lot of anxious waiting.

A third, crushing nerf is more likely: the previous two have clearly proven that the developers are not happy with the kind of space Quest Rogue regularly occupies in the meta. It’s probably the correct call – it’s not fun for anyone when such a high portion of games are decided the moment you find your worthy opponent.

Yellorambo

Luci Kelemen is an avid strategy gamer and writer who has been following Hearthstone ever since its inception. His content has previously appeared on HearthstonePlayers and Tempo/Storm's site.

Check out Yellorambo on Twitter!

32 Comments

  1. Brb
    September 13, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    I play wild, 100% more balance that standar

    Reply
    • GlosuuLang
      September 14, 2018 at 2:51 am

      Yes, because Aviana+Kun or Barnes are perfectly balanced.

      Reply
      • CD001
        September 14, 2018 at 4:44 am

        To paraphrase The Incredibles – when everything’s broken, nothing is. Wild can be such a fun/loopy clusterf**K that even the most broken things have equally broken counters 😀

        I generally prefer Wild tbh.

        Reply
        • GlosuuLang
          September 14, 2018 at 6:16 am

          I’m not saying Wild is not more fun. I believe it actually IS more fun. But it’s not more balanced. Right now if you don’t kill your opponent by the time he gets 10 mana, you get StarAligned. Before you needed to have an answer to a Turn 5 board flood of 8/8s. Sure, there’s counters, but the meta IS warped around the most broken interactions.

          Reply
          • Brb
            September 15, 2018 at 3:12 pm

            If you play a combo deck ej aviana +kun, your oponet can counter whith dirty rat and deathstalker, and warlock have gnosferatu and demonic proyect
            And big Priest is week again all aggro and combo decks
            The only braindeath decks is SA Druid
            Sooo yes, wild is 100% better that standar, you can play a t3 t4 deck and hit legend

  2. Pajaama
    September 13, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    The issue isn’t that quest rogue always wins; It doesn’t. The issue is that when it does, it’s almost instant concede. The fact that a deck requires no interaction with the opponent, and is merely a race with itself is what makes the deck so polarizing. There is no other deck in hearthstone like it. I think instead of +3/+3 or making it limited time, crystal core should read “Transform all minions in your deck into 4/4’s.” This way, all the problems listed above are fixed, as well as keeping cards like Leeroy from being too OP. Saronite still summons 2 4/4s, but this way, giggling inventor isn’t a 5 mana 12/12 with taunt and divine shield.

    Reply
    • Pajaama
      September 13, 2018 at 6:02 pm

      and hand and board. I forgot to include that

      Reply
    • GlosuuLang
      September 14, 2018 at 2:54 am

      Leeroy wouldn’t be OP after a +3/+3 buff. We’ve seen Leeroy being Cold Blooded and Shadowstepped in Miracle Rogue, and nobody complained that it was broken (well after Leeroy costed 5, when it costed 4 and it could be Shadowstepped twice then yes, it WAS broken). Also, Leeroy would be a dead card before Quest completion.

      Reply
      • Foes
        September 21, 2018 at 2:31 pm

        How is it not broken? I have never beaten this deck or ever seen it not hit the quest by turn 6 (usually turn 5) – Even my aggro decks cant handle it. Its true and utter BS deck, has made me quite this season.
        With your example, you need to have all that COMBO in your hand. Unless the QR has terrible luck they will easily hit their quest and crush you.

        Reply
  3. GlosuuLang
    September 13, 2018 at 7:54 am

    The BIG problem with Quest Rogue is – and has always been – design space. Since the opponent has very few disruptive tools at his disposal, and the Quest reward is sooo powerful (only Quest Mage gives a similar advantage/swing that normally wins you the game after completing it), printing a perfectly balanced card with synergy with the Quest totally breaks the deck. This has been the case with Zola and Sonya, for example, two cool and perfectly balanced cards in any other deck, but that are too strong in Quest Rogue. If you add Giggling Inventor, which we all know is busted, the deck just becomes waaay too consistent. We can nerf Giggling to 6 mana, and it might restrain Quest Rogue once again, but as it is right now, it will still have the potential to be broken when new cards are added in new expansions.

    I think there is an elegant way to nerf Quest Rogue one last time which would free a lot of design space. Basically, the inner problem is that bounce cards that help you complete the Quest (Youthful Brewmaster, Vanish, Sonya…) get EVEN BETTER after Quest is completed. We don’t see that in other Quests: Taunt minions don’t have more value after equipping a Ragnaros HP, randomly generated spells are not better after taking an extra turn, discarding extra cards after putting down a portal doesn’t bring any new reward… So my proposed nerf is that Crystal Core should read: Give minions in your hand and deck +3/+3. We accomplish A LOT with this: (1) Rogue’s current board doesn’t get auto-buffed, which is big; (2) Giggling Inventor doesn’t summon huge Annoy-o-tron’s; (3) extra bouncing value from Sonya, Vanish or DK Valeera is negated. With that change, I’m pretty sure Control decks can grind the Quest Rogue down. As compensation, we can go back to the 4-minion requirement instead of 5. But right now it’s kind of pointless that a Big Spell Mage can Flamestrike the Rogue board, and the Rogue puts 3x Zola the Gorgon on board again without using up resources. That’s just BS.

    Reply
    • MattH
      September 13, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      I really like that suggestion a lot in terms of the hand and deck. Except buffing minions by +3/+3 would be a significant increase to what it is currently from 4/4s because the minions are not 1/1s to start with. e.g. the lifesteal minion would become a 4/6, brewmaster would be a 6/5 etc.

      Reply
      • GlosuuLang
        September 13, 2018 at 3:04 pm

        Most minions in the deck have a statline that with the +3/+3 buff they would be close to the 4/4 they are today (Stonetusk Boar, Novice Engineer, Wax Elemental…). Notable exceptions are Elven Minstrel and Brewmaster. But a few extra stats on those minions up-front won’t be that problematic in my opinion. I’d rather face a 4/6 Scalehide + a copied 1/3 from the DK, than a 4/4 and a copied 4/4 from the DK (or several 4/4s from Sonya, which with my proposed nerf they would only be 1/1). It would require a bit more testing, of course, but my intuition says that +3/+3 is the reasonable buff, especially since you are NOT buffing your current board when casting Crystal Core.

        Reply
        • MattH
          September 13, 2018 at 3:29 pm

          I agree with what you say above, but your talking about the current deck. If they made the suggested change then im sure the deck would change, for example, the rogue could add different minions into the deck that can take more advantage of the buff. Bigger charges for example. Leeroy alone would be 9 damage.

          I’m sure someone much smarter than me could figure out a way to exploit it. For example giggling inventor may simply be cut for something else that uses a big buff better. Saronite Chain gang would summon two 5/6 taunts.

          Anyway, as I originally said, I like the line of thinking that you suggested. Just need to be careful about creating a whole new problem.

          Reply
          • GlosuuLang
            September 14, 2018 at 2:49 am

            You are right, and I would not mind at all that Quest Rogue would change as a deck. If people include higher cost minions with better stats, then the Quest will not be completed as fast as it is completed right now. Leeroy is normally a dead card until you can lethal your opponent, and you’re not going to complete the quest with it. But why not having a new Quest Rogue that completes the Quest with Phantom Militia, for example? It would lead to new, interesting builds. Also, Saronite Chain Gang is much worse even after my proposed change than current Giggling: its stall before Quest is much worse, its bouncing potential is much worse, and after Quest completion it’s still worse (10/12 stats for 4 mana vs 12/12 stats AND two divine shields for 5 mana). I think it would be super interesting to see higher-cost Quest Rogue decks that complete the Quest by Turn 12 or so instead of Turn 6 or 7. The current build with cheap minions that complete the Quest faster would also be viable, just not as outrageously strong as it is right now. But yes, this is all speculation, I trust Team 5 could test my proposed nerf and assess if it’s indeed too strong or not. As I said I believe +3/+3 is correct, but it’s just my gut feeling.

  4. Tweeg
    September 13, 2018 at 4:40 am

    I don’t know why people are complaining about quest rogue so much when the real problem is druid and its core cards. Quest Rogue is meant to destroy control-heavy decks so they don’t run rampant. Even then, it isn’t a guaranteed win against druid. Quest rogue is just a product of the system.

    Druid is an absolute catastrophe. There’s no such thing as life management anymore, with the exception of odd rogue and zoo. The amount of flexibility, card draw, armour gain, removal, ramp, and everyone’s favourite card that definitely needs another nerf – spreading plague. They don’t have a single card in their deck that is “bad”. The problem is every archetype relies on it and there’s no real room for innovation. Spreading plague was/is the worst designed card blizzard has ever printed. Period.

    Reply
    • Tweeg
      September 13, 2018 at 6:12 am

      I agree with the post below where druids can somehow win without actually playing a minion. That exception is they can play 2-3 arcane tyrants when they nourish or play that abomination of a card plague. The ability to stall until your opponent has exhausted all its minions or have an oppressive amount of armour gain and also no punish whatsoever for ramping is a travesty. Druid in the past had a real weakness, zoo and other classes that went wide. It still should be the case. But forcing decks to run a tech card like mossy horror that kills its own minions is not really forward thinking. The whole concept of tempo-oriented decks is board control and interaction. Druid has always been a relevant class in the meta never hovering below tier 2 and for the most part tier 1 about a year now. The ability to ramp, play plague and even throw in a 1 mana removal in naturalize that doesn’t really have a downside or an insane spellstone, you have a recipe for a near perfect deck.

      Reply
    • GlosuuLang
      September 13, 2018 at 8:01 am

      Druid has the big problem that it cannot outvalue other Control decks. Druid has no Build-a-beast, no army of Water Elementals… The closest thing to it is the refill board from Taunt Druid, which is actually more of a Combo of Hadronox + Cube. Druid is powerful because it has some end-game combo which keeps him competitive. But if Dirty Rat were still in Standard, non-Token Druid would be Tier 2, and Combo decks would beat its Combo decks consistently. Wild is different because Druid has Aviana + Kun there, which is something else. But seriously, with Dirty Rat in Standard, Control decks wouldn’t care that Druids gain so much armor, cycle and stall so well. They would just outvalue them every game.

      Reply
  5. Tarquinius
    September 13, 2018 at 4:24 am

    Ok.. idea. What if the nerf to quest rogue was something like a nerf to Crystal Core, where the new card text says ‘For the next 5 turns, all your minions are 4/4’.

    I’m no expert card designer/balancer, so those figures might need to change. A different number of turns or a different stat-line etc… but I think that would be an interesting change. It would keep much of play-style of quest rogue in tact, while also making it kind of feel like a fresh new concept. The goal now is to set up a series of devastating turns. This way, if it survives against aggro decks it gains more or less the same advantage, because the games don’t last forever anyway, but against control, if the control player is able to utilise their defensive tools well enough to survive that 4/5 turn onslaught, then they are put back into a winning position.

    Could make for some really exciting games. With this sort of change, I think the archetype can still be an empowering one to play, but the whole crushing, infinite nonsense thing it has going on at the moment that makes anything but the most aggressive decks want to auto concede against it would come to an end. Maybe lol.

    Reply
    • Skoopy
      September 13, 2018 at 4:36 am

      I agree with you. I think the Crystal Core or the quest itself needs to be changed a bit.
      “For the next X turns” sounds a bit like a new gamemechanic, doesnt it? There are actually no cards working only a special number of turns. But i like the idea. But than i think they need to implement a new feature to see how many turns your effect is holding on maybe?!

      I like it to “theorycraft” a incoming balance. Like i said one comment below, i dont think it needs to be changed. If they do, they dont do it this month.

      Reply
  6. Skoopy
    September 13, 2018 at 1:40 am

    I just started playing this deck. Ended up with 0-5. Facing EvenShaman, OddRogue and OddPally. I dont think this deck needs a nerf. It does have some really bad matchups. I also think that Sonya doesnt need a nerf. You dont have many ways to get your minions copied/played again. Zola, Brewmaster, Shadowstep and MimicPod are the only ways to get any copies. I think with a Sonya nerf this deck becomes unplayable. I think a good way would be to change the quests condition. Maybe into 6 Minions or smth. Maybe making it a Tier 2 Deck only. But that would be fine. All in all, the decks winrate will fall. Meta will change into some counter decks for it. Like OddWarrior become so popular vs this many aggro decks.

    Reply
  7. Anggadaz
    September 12, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    sure, but they not must nerf The Cavern Below. They must nerf Sonya Shadowdancer. Quest rogue can complete the quest in 1 turn with sonya. n he always keep sonya live in hand (return it or with zola the gorgon)

    he can shadowstep sonya, so he has infinite minion after the quest complete.

    i think sonya too OP in this deck.

    The worst is no good counter stop sonya.

    Reply
  8. 1
    September 12, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    > another Quest Rogue nerf
    Of course. For example, reward should be “lose your hand, then concede”

    Reply
  9. MattH
    September 12, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Seems like the people complaining about this article in the comments section didn’t even bother to read the article. The problem with quest rogue is not that it is unbearably strong, it’s that the match ups are so polarizing that most games are decided before they even begin simply based on deck choice.

    It has an effect of warping the meta just to account for this deck even if it is not the highest win rate deck because control decks simply cannot compete with it.

    No one is saying that quest rogue is unbeatable. That’s not the point at all.

    Reply
  10. DukeStarswisher
    September 12, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    Quest Rogue doesn’t need a nerf. Giggling is going to be priority in the upcoming nerfs for sure. After that Quest rogue will fade into the shadows once again…

    Reply
    • CD001
      September 14, 2018 at 5:02 am

      ^ That’s pretty much what I suspect… without the Annoy-o-Trons (which can actually be used to complete the Quest if you hide Sonya behind them), Quest Rogue doesn’t have much in the way of defence. Once you’ve completed the quest it’s possible to drop 12 points worth of stats for 5 mana – or even 1 mana if you’ve got an Inventor killed when Sonya was on the board – making Giggling Inventor incredibly oppressive.

      Reply
  11. DaMaddGenius
    September 12, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Boo hoo, when you queue into a rouge you maaaaybe might have have a tough time. I’ve been playing aggro for two years. When I see a warrior, I know I’m in for a long day. I’ve watched druids somehow develop the ability to win a game with out playing a minion, because they turn the match into a boring stall fest. Soon as I see some nerds that demand actual board interaction and smart use of minions like the classic set intended, then I’ll be ok with a quest rogue nerf. Until then it sounds like the medicine most of the player base deserves. Whining like children at bedtime because the boogeyman won’t let you have a 25 turn game. Get over it.

    Reply
    • JoyDivision
      September 12, 2018 at 11:38 pm

      Good point, sir. +1 from my side.

      Reply
    • LarryLazard
      September 16, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      You sound about as whiny as anyone else complaining about quest rogue

      Reply
  12. Xduderx
    September 12, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Ive lost three in a row with quest rogue. Against odd rogue, odd Paladin, and evolve shaman. I’d say just quit bitching about the deck because it doesn’t seem too broken to me.

    Reply
    • Byk
      September 13, 2018 at 9:51 am

      The problem is there is no counter. Why not place a minion out that while it exists, all cards get the bonus? Then that minion could be silenced or killed to end the bonus/quest?

      Reply
      • Remieh
        September 13, 2018 at 2:28 pm

        What do you mean there is no counter? Quest rogue almost autoloses to aggro. Thats what makes it balanced.. It basically kills super greedy control decks with no other win condition that exhaustion.. Those greedy control decks shit on aggro just like this deck shits on control.
        So why is this deck not OK but control warrior is?

        Reply
        • Byk
          September 13, 2018 at 3:05 pm

          Once the quest has been completed, there is no counter. So this feels unfair. Some decks aren’t fun to play against and this is one of them. I personally hate mill decks more, it is unfortunate that more mid-range play is not encouraged.

          Reply

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