Rastakhan’s Rumble Pirate Rogue: The Past and Future of the Archetype

Pirates. One of the Classic Hearthstone tribes, always closely related to weapons (and thus weapon classes). So far, the only truly viable Pirate deck in Standard was Pirate Warrior, although Pirate packages were commonly seen in other classes, most notably Rogue. Despite multiple synergies in the past, a full-fledged Pirate Rogue never really worked.

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However, Rastakhan’s Rumble seems to push this archetype again. We’ve got new Pirates, new synergies and new incentives to play this deck. Maybe it’s finally Rogue’s time to shine!

You’ll be able to find all of our pro and streamer lists on our Pirate Rogue Archetype Page!

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Pirate Rogue in the Past

Even though Pirate Rogue was never a competitive deck, it doesn’t mean that players haven’t tried it out. Pretty much ever since Patches the Pirate was printed, people have experimented with so-called “Pirate package”. They’ve packed Patches + some Pirates into a bunch of different decks, just because of the early game tempo gain Patches provided. However, the package worked best in Rogue. The class naturally wanted to run Swashburglar (simply because it was a good card), and Southsea Deckhand was also a solid option thanks to the class’ Hero Power. Since the deck already player a bunch of Pirates, Southsea Captain became a solid option. So, Rogue players have figured out – why not just go all in add a few more Pirates?

Here’s an example deck from 1.5 years ago, it follows the philosophy I’ve described above. On top of the Pirates I’ve mentioned above, this build also runs Naga Corsair and Dread Corsair. First one combos nicely with Rogue’s Hero Power – you can turn it into a 2/2 weapon, either pushing some more damage to the dome or getting better trades on the board (and a 4 mana 5/4 body with a Pirate tag isn’t too shabby), while Dread Corsair could be dropped as a tempo play – reducing him to 0-1 mana meant that you could not only get some nice board presence for cheap, but also have a good way of activating combo cards.

And it’s just one of the builds. There were a bunch of Pirate Rogue decks all the way from the Gadgetzan’s release up until Patches nerf. However, they had one thing in common – they were all Aggro, and all quite similar to each other. There weren’t a lot of ways to build them, which is not necessarily the case right now.

Pirate Rogue Card Choices in Rastakhan’s Rumble

In all fairness, Pirate Rogue will definitely make more sense in the Wild format than in Standard, given that the density of Pirate synergies is much higher in the other format. Up until Rastakhan’s Rumble, Pirate was a very neglected tribe in Year of the Raven. But this expansion has delivered A LOT of new, interesting cards you can try out.

Captain Hooktusk – Let’s start with the new Rogue’s Legendary. Thanks to the Captain Hooktusk, you can summon your private Pirate army – all at once. While the 6/3 stats for 8 mana are very weak (they’re worth roughly 4 mana, but you wouldn’t play it for even that much), pulling 3 Pirates from your deck is already a nice bonus. It’s like Call to Arms (we all know how powerful this effect can be), but better, since it can pull higher costed Pirates too. The thing about Captain Hooktusk is that the card is powerful in theory, but might be too slow for an aggressive Rogue builds – you’d prefer to play her in something like Tempo version (which I’d also build).

Cannon Barrage – Cannon Barrage is an interesting finisher for Pirate Rogue. While it costs a lot and is pretty situational, it can serve as a massive board swing or even burn finisher. Just two Pirates on the board puts it on a similar level to Avenging Wrath, which is not a bad card. Any extra Pirate can make it absolutely broken. For example, 4 Pirates on the board mean 15 damage in total – if all of that goes face, your opponent is probably dead.

Raiding Party – Drawing 3 cards for 3 mana is certainly a powerful effect. It’s true that the weapon draw requires combo, not to mention that it might be hard to actually fit the weapons into a Pirate deck (as a Rogue, your Hero Power is often enough), but even at the base level, drawing 2 Pirates for 3 mana is not bad at all. Again, might not fit into a more aggressive variant, but is certainly something to consider.

Bloodsail Howler – Bloosdail Howler is a way to take advantage of those boards with multiple Pirates. Just like Cannon Barrage, it benefits from wide boards, but is also much easier to squeeze into your turn. Even though it costs 2 mana, it’s not really a 2-drop most of the time. You want to play it around T3-T4 when you stack a few Pirates. To be perfectly honest, just a single Pirate on the board makes it playable – 2 mana 2/2 Pirate with Rush might not be the best, but is okay. One extra Pirate and it’s already very powerful – 3/3 with Rush for 2 mana, and it has a Pirate tag on top of that.

Serrated Tooth – Weapons and Pirates were always working very well together. On the one hand, 1 mana 1/3 weapon might not seem very useful for Rogue. After all, it’s not that much better than Hero Power. But there might be some reasons to run it. It’s 1 mana cheaper, which means higher tempo. It also has a nice Deathrattle that might not be very useful vs Control, but will come handy in Aggro/Tempo mirrors. And maybe most importantly, if you’re playing Raiding Party, you might often get it for free.

Ticket Scalper – Ticket Scalper seems like a weak overkill card at first. It has bad stats, only 3 health, most of the time it will die before it does anything. But thanks to the new Rogue cards, the class has now two ways of giving it Rush – Serrated Tooth and Captain Hooktusk. And if you give it Rush, that’s a whole another story. Even if it won’t survive trades, as long as you Overkill, you can treat it as a 4 mana “deal 4 damage, draw 2 cards” (4 not 5, because you want to trigger Overkill) and that’s nuts. Of course, if you had some nice early game pressure, just dropping it on T4 can mess up with your opponent’s turn.

Sharkfin Fan – And finally, a card that might not look like much at first, but can be absolutely insane in Rogue. It’s a bit like a second Hench-Clan Thug – a card that snowballs every time you attack with a weapon, something that Rogue does best. While the 2 mana cost is a bit awkward, it’s actually a great incentive to run it in another Pirate Rogue variant – Even Pirate Rogue. Hero Powering on Turn 1 and dropping this on T2 can be a really solid play.

Pirate Rogue in Rastakhan’s Rumble

Once again, I’ve prepared three different deck lists. Each of them shares a Pirate theme, but the approach to the whole topic is a bit different. One deck is a full Aggro build – you want to play fast and kill your opponent as soon as possible. Second build is Tempo deck – while it’s still fast, it mostly relies on high tempo turns and tempo swings. You don’t have to rush your opponent down, but you still want to kill him quickly. And the final build is Even Pirate Rogue – a sort of experiment. While not every of the new cards fit in there, I think that we’ve got enough new cards to at least give it a try.

First of the theorycrafts is an Aggro deck. It’s a low curve build that wants to play fast and kill the opponent as quickly as possible, utilizing some Pirate synergies. In this specific build, there are two main incentives to run Pirates. First one is Southsea Captain – just like Murloc Warleader was a key card in Murloc builds, Captain is one of the main reasons to build a Pirate deck. Giving +1/+1 buff to all of your Pirates is massive. In faster matchups (like Aggro mirrors), it lets you trade your small minions up, while trade efficiently with minions that should have died (e.g. you both have 3/3’s on the board, you play Captain and trade yours, leaving it at 4/1). Another reason is a new card from Rastakhan’s Rumble – Bloodsail Howler. While I don’t like it in Captain Hooktusk decks (because you pull it out as a 1/1), since this build does not run it, you can really abuse this effect. It’s a great snowball tool – making it a 3/3 is not that difficult, and if you can make it a 4/4, that kind of tempo swing is potentially game-winning in faster matchups.

The deck is all about early/mid game tempo. You want to drop minion on the board, trade efficiently, buff them, snowball them and start pushing face damage. Once you bring your opponent down low, you have a bunch of ways to finish the game. Leeroy Jenkins is the most obvious one, but you have other ways to deal damage straight ot your opponent – Southsea DeckhandSerrated Tooth (or Hero Power) + Deadly PoisonCold BloodEviscerate.

Since the deck runs out of steam really quickly, I’ve decided to run Myra's Unstable Element. It should help you find enough cards to have 2-3 more high tempo turns, or maybe even find the ways to win the game.

I’ve tried to fit Cannon Barrage into the deck, but it was a bit difficult. Here’s the thing – I think that Cannon Barrage might be a great fit in a slower meta. The card is just too slow in Aggro mirrors that rely mostly on the tempo. But it would turn every extra Pirate into a deadly threat in slower matchups. Just having Sharkfin Fan on the board, dropping Southsea Deckhand, attacking with your weapon and playing Cannon Barrage would be a 15 damage finisher, and it’s not that hard to get. Also, depending on the meta, Sap might be a great tech. The card is really useful against slow decks that drop big Taunts – but since the meta is hard to predict at this point, I’ve decided to leave it out for now (just settling down on a single Spellbreaker in the base deck).

The second theorycraft is a tempo deck with Prince Keleseth, and this time around it’s based heavily around Captain Hooktusk (keep in mind that those two combo together quite nicely too – if you play Keleseth, all the minions you pull with Hooktusk will be buffed!). As you can probably notice, the deck runs no small Pirates. If you play an aggressive build, you do want to run cards like Southsea Deckhand or Bloodsail Howler, but they just don’t work too well with Hooktusk. Instead, the smallest Pirate this build runs is Dread Corsair. So absolutely the worst case scenario when playing Hooktusk would probably be pulling out 2x Corsair and Captain Greenskin – and that’s still 2x 3/3 Taunt and a 5/4 minion, all with Rush. However, besides those two, the deck also runs Ticket Scalper and Cursed Castaway, which makes things much more interesting. Ticket Scalpers in particular will be absolutely terrifying – it should be pretty easy to trigger their Overkill effects, resulting in a lots of cards drawn, on top of the board clear. Cursed Castaway also adds some value, and it doesn’t even have to Overkill anything – it draws one of the many Combo cards this deck has. On top of those, pulling Southsea Captain can increase the overall level of cards you’ve pulled significantly. For example, a single Captain allows Scalper to trade into a 5 health minion and still trigger its Overkill. It also makes the entire board harder to clear, as it won’t die to a 3 damage AoE now.

While we’re on the topic of Pirates, I actually think about removing Dread Corsairs and adding Nightmare Amalgams instead. You see, Corsairs are really good if you also have Shadowblade – then you only have to pay 1 mana for them (0 if you buff it further with Captain Greenskin). But then again, they’re pretty bad by themselves. You never want to pay 4 mana, and just Hero Powering puts them down at 3. 3 mana 3/3 Taunt is not the worst thing ever, but it’s not very exciting. 3 mana 3/4 is not THAT much better, but the extra health can make a difference in the early game. It’s also better if you draw Keleseth instead of Hero Powering on T2 – you COULD drop Amalgam on T3, but you now can’t drop Corsair, since you didn’t Hero Power. But that’s something to think about when playtesting the deck.

The deck has a pretty slow early game, but it really takes off in the mid game. The thing I like most about it is that you can make plays for days without running out of steam. Raiding Party draws 2 or 3, depending on whether you combo it or not (if you still have Shadowblade in your deck, you should Combo it). Ticket Scalper can draw 2 – normally it might be difficult, but if you pull it from Hooktusk, it’s now much easier thanks to Rush. Elven Minstrel draws two more, and Cursed Castaway draws a Combo card again (so there’s a high chance that it will draw either Minstrel or Raiding Party to cycle further). That’s also the reason why I wanted to include Fal'dorei Strider. Not only it adds a solid 4-drop to the deck (because you don’t always want to drop Ticket Scalper on curve, and Minstrel needs combo to work), but with the amount of cards you draw / pull from your deck, you should get to the Spider cards quite quickly, giving you more tempo swings in the mid/late game.

Overall, I think that this kind of build has most potential out of the three. Hooktusk’s effect is absolutely insane if you find a way to abuse it, and you should be able to draw her quite consistently thanks to the Raiding Party. The deck also runs enough Pirates that it’s very unlikely for her to pull less than 3 (it runs 9 other Pirates, it’s very unlikely that you will draw 7 of them before Hooktusk). There are still some card choices I’m not sure about, but I’m pretty happy with how the deck has shaped out in general.

And finally, onto the Even build, maybe the most unique out of the bunch. Even Rogue was something tested as soon as The Witchwood got relesed. For a brief period of time, it looked like a promising deck, but it quickly went out of favor. There were just not enough ways to take advantage of the cheaper Hero Power, and some mana slots were pretty awkward.

Why would you run Genn in Rogue in the first place? After all, Rogue’s Hero Power is not necessarily something you want to press every turn, so making it cheaper might be a bit counter-intuitive. But it makes sense if you think about it. You can play it on T1, punch immediately, then play something on T2 and punch again, then play another 2-drop and refill the Hero Power on T3. You can basically punch with it every turn without worrying that you will run out of charges, because spending a single point of mana every two turns is not much.

However, for me, the main reason to run Even Rogue are Turn 2 incentives. You see, there are some cards that really benefit from your having a weapon up on Turn 1, and Genn is the only way to make it consistent. In this case, there are three. Let’s start with the oldest one – Bloodsail Raider. This card is nearly guaranteed to be a 2 mana 3/3 Pirate on the curve, and that’s not bad at all. 1/3 and 2/3 minions are pretty common in the early game, and it trades favorably into them. You can also trade evenly into 3/3’s (most likely 3-drops), usually buying you some tempo. Another incentive is Toxicologist, a card that was pretty underused, but fits this kind of deck quite well. On Turn 2, you can buff your weapon to 2/2 while developing a 2/2 minion. While 2 attack weapon might not be the best thing in the current meta, it does clear some stuff that 1 attack one couldn’t. And finally, when I’ve first seen this card, I’ve immediately thought of Even Rogue – Sharkfin Fan. Hero Powering up on T1 and dropping it on T2 means that you can already start snowballing the board. You already have a 2/2 and 1/1, and you will get an extra 1/1 every time you hit with your weapon. It’s something like a Hench-Clan Thug made specifically for Even deck.

The even build is closer to the Tempo than Aggro. Because it skips some turns (e.g. can’t play a 1-drop or a 3-drop), it takes things a bit slower until the mid game. That’s also why I’ve decided to run Captain Hooktusk. While it’s not as powerful as in the previous build, even the worst case scenario of pulling out three 2-drops is not that bad. And of course, it won’t happen that often – you have a solid chance to get either Ticket Scalper or Cursed Castaway. Getting at least one of those on top of 2-drops (which will usually happen) makes Hooktusk worth it already.

Another card choice I want to talk about is Walk the Plank. Normally, a deck like that would just play Vilespine Slayer, but it can’t, because it’s Odd-costed. That’s why I was really happy to see Walk the Plank. It’s not the best removal ever printed, since it has a condition, but it should still serve its purpose. Most of the time, when your opponent drops a big minion, it’s not immediately damaged, meaning that it should be able to clear most of the stuff that you might want to clear. It’s not the best card ever, but when the alternative is to not run any hard removal, I will take what I can.

And finally, Cannon Barrage. I’ve managed to fit one copy in here, and it can serve as a nice finisher. The card combos best with Sharkfin Fan, and thanks to the Preparation it can be much more than just a finisher. You see, if you manage to snowball Sharkfin Fan in the early game, let’s say spawning 2-3 extra Pirates in total, Prepping the Barrage can be an amazing play. Of course, while it’s RNG, with a few cannonballs, you should hit the minions your opponent might have, cementing your board position, as well as dealing some face damage for a good measure. Notably, if you play Hooktusk and your Pirates survive, Barrage can be used to finish the job too. Bloodmage Thalnos also has some nice synergy with it – if you will be able to drop him on the same turn, you increase the damage of single cannonball from 3 to 4. So, for example, throwing 4 of them will now deal 16 instead of 12 – that’s some nice extra damage!

Overall, I have to say that I don’t think that Even Rogue is quite there yet. But it might be after the rotation. While regular Rogue decks are losing A LOT of cards, Even builds might be in a better position, especially if they get a few more solid even-costed cards.

Closing

That’s all folks, thanks for reading. What do you think about those theorycraftings? Did you also think about this archetype? Will you What would you add or remove from those deck lists?

Be sure to check out our other theorycraftings, and hopefully we’ll see you in game when Rastakhan’s Rumble launches on Tuesday. Good luck on the ladder and until next time!

Stonekeep

A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over four years of playing and three years of writing about the game, he has achieved infinite Arena and multiple top 100 Legend climbs.

Check out Stonekeep on Twitter!

6 Comments

  1. Arkadiy
    December 5, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    I remeber peirate rogue was played back in classic/naxx/gvg. It was limited pool but it was kind of succesfull aggro deck using classic pirates and rogue tempo class cards

  2. Tuscarora87
    December 1, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    I hoped for even slower Pirate rouge, but we didn’t get any big pirates and Cpt. Hooktusk isn’t Kathrena. Oh, well…

    I like all 3 Pirate rouge proposals. The aggro one would probably need some more removal.

    For the current meta I also think that tempo Pirate rouge has the best chance to succeed. And mainly because of Keleseth and Faldorei, old staples.

    Dread Corsair – Amalgam dilemma is tough one; I want them both. Healock has 2 taunt cards to protect the board gains, some Odd rouges usually run at least one Tar Creeper which directly wins some games… I will not even talk about slower decks. I have a feeling we need something – and I am quite sure Zilliax will find his spot even in this deck. :)))

    The biggest anticipation is what will happen with – Ticket Scalper. Will that card succeed? Will there be some kind of deck to shuffle it back to the deck with Lab Recruiter?

    And do you think some kind of tempo Pirate Kingsbane can be a thing?

  3. Leizar
    December 1, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    why shadowblade for the tempo one?

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      December 1, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      Raiding Party draws you a weapon (with Combo). I figured that it’s better to draw something than nothing. Shadowblade is not the best card ever, but it’s playable, especially if you’ll often essentially get it for free.

  4. Wikator
    December 1, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Can’t wait to try this middle out. I think that there is quite a big chance that it will become meta.

    • Grant
      December 1, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      I feel like lab recruiter will work in the tempo deck .especially with ticket scalper I feel deck will cycle so lab recruiting hookdesk gives 3 hook tusks on board

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