2018 has been a rocky year for Rogue players. May it be Patch 10.2 that rightfully nerfed Bonemare together with Corridor Creeper to bury the Tempo Rogue archetype as a whole, or the second change to The Caverns Below that tried to deal with the omni-present Quest Rogue problem in the mid-year Hearthstone meta: Rogue had a tough time to find its spot in the tier lists. On the other side there have been creative and powerful deck lists like Deathrattle Rogue and Kingsbane Rogue that shaked up the first weeks of Boomsday and Rastakhan.
The Rogue class in itself has been having an identity crisis for months, not last because of its most powerful archetype, the infamous Odd Rogue. With the upcoming rotation, will Rogue lose its last decent archetype, or will other lists survive the severe decrease in power level and rise up again?
Rogue’s Lost Cards
Journey to Un’Goro
Un’Goro has been an insane expansion for Rogue. It introduced The Caverns Below and Mimic Pod which formed the base for Quest Rogue, one of the most influental archetypes that Hearthstone has ever witnessed. Vilespine Slayer on the other hand complemented Tempo and Miracle Rogue variations by offering reliable board removal besides burn spells like Fan of Knives and Eviscerate.
It is safe to say that most players will not miss Quest Rogue at all. However, it has greatly served one and one purpose only: For a long time it has been the deck that put hyper-control lists in check. The way Quest Rogue interacted with the board and the enemy player may have been highly disruptive, but maybe some day some players will miss 4/4 Stonetusk Boars killing insanely greedy control opponents on turn 6.
Knights of the Frozen Throne
What started as a great Standard Year took a nose dive for Rogue with KotFT. We can clearly see that Frozen Throne cards had been introduced to prepare the class to develop into a weapon-based archetype, but that only happened later. Out of the ten released class cards only one has seen regular play: Valeera the Hollow.
Rogue’s Deathknight Hero card may have been one of the most creative cards ever printed in terms of design space. The ability to double-play one card per turn was bound to make Valeera a staple in Kingsbane Rogue and has seen regular play in Miracle Rogue lists as well. It it definitely not the strongest Hero card per se, but it definitely will be missed when trying to wrap your head around new crazy ways to make the Rogue class work.
Kobolds and Catacombs
Kobolds of Catacombs, or as Rogue players would call it, the “Dawn of Kingsbane Rogue”, may have been one of the most influential expansions for the class.
As already said, KotFT introduced tons of weapon synergy already, and KnC just finished the job by introducing the most powerful Rogue weapon so far, Kingsbane. Kingsbane Rogue never became an undisputed Tier 1 deck; however, it turned into a very common power pick in the competitive scene and a great “meta breaker” on ladder. And while the archetype gained even more support with the last expansion through cards like Raiding Party, Kingsbane Rogue will get buried with the upcoming expansion, together with all its synergy cards like Cavern Shinyfinder and Elven Minstrel.
Talking about Elven Minstrel: This fellow carried minion-based archetypes like Tempo Rogue on its back for the longest time. Another big hit will be the rotation of Fal'dorei Strider; the wet dream of every Miracle Rogue list, especially those including Academic Espionage, will miss their free 4/4 Spiders.
And last but not least, Sonya Shadowdancer will leave the stage. The most powerful 3-mana minion in the game helped to revive Quest Rogue as an archetype back when KnC released and brought back what the community has called a design space nightmare.
In the end, the rotation of KnC may hit the Rogue class the most, just because every single competitive archetype, may it be Kingsbane, Quest, Miracle or Tempo Rogue, loses incredibly important cards.
Rogue’s Upcoming Archetypes
One of the most iconic couples in Hearthstone could make a serious comeback with the new Standard year: The relationship between Rogue and its pirates has always been complicated; but it was Rastakhan’s Rumble that added massive pirate synergy to the class. Combine effective weapon synergy like Cutthroat Buccaneer or Raiding Party and a board-centric approach through several Rush minions like Bloodsail Howler, and you are going to have a very interesting new Rogue archetype that could very well stay afloat in the first weeks of a new meta.
Thanks to Rogue’s incredible Classic and Basic sets and the nature of Gadgetzan Auctioneer, Miracle has always been a top contender for the Tier 1 section after a Standard rotation. The recent Cold Blood nerf may have very well been an indicator towards more creative and less burst-heavy Miracle Rogue spell support through upcoming expansions, and – as it always is with very refined archetypes – multiple cards have been sitting on the bench to be put into Miracle Rogue deck lists.
To be honest, Deathrattle Rogue has to be my personal favorite in terms of dark horse archetypes for the upcoming rotation. This list has been offering a very unique playstyle including insane board swings and heavy board control through cards like Blightnozzle Crawler. The synergy gained from Boomsday cards alone will make Deathrattle-centric Rogue lists a very interesting choice for the first days of the new Standard year. In addition to that, cards like Myra Rotspring or Violet Haze have been waiting in the wings to give the list more access to raw value instead of early and mid game board swings.
Yes, we do know that Deathrattle staple minions like Devilsaur Egg will leave the scene, but we can almost certainly be sure that cards involving Deathrattle synergy will get printed with the upcoming April expansion to supplement Deathrattle Rogue and its future iterations.
The Witchwood expansion introduced odd and even-cost card decks through Genn Greymane and Baku the Mooneater, and we all very well know that we will see those deck archetypes flood the tier lists with the new Standard rotation.
Odd Rogue will be one of the best odd-cost decks without a doubt , not last because of its insane burst potential. The Cold Blood nerf causes the card to become even-cost and thus not be useful for Odd Rogue at all, but the archetype will still stay immensely powerful. And apart from that, we can safely assume that the upcoming expansions will contain odd-cost cards, of course, and that is always good news for Odd Rogue fans – but also bad news for everyone else.