HearthStone

Refining Hand Rogue

hearthstone 6 - Refining Hand Rogue
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Hey all, J_Alexander_HS back again today to talk about a new Rogue deck I've been working on refining: Hand Rogue. It began as what looked like a good meme deck I had seen Twitter that won a qualifier tournament. As I began messing around with it to see what might have been lurking behind the surface appearance, I found myself having a lot of fun piloting it, and slowly began to work on refining it. You might have also seen the general guide that neon31 put together from a discussion we had, but as the deck has been changed since then, I wanted to update that list and go a bit more in-depth regarding what makes the deck tick.

Last month I piloted a variant of the deck to a top 50 finish, and this month I played the deck almost exclusively to legend. I am currently sitting around top 100 with it. I've been slicing off the cards that consistently failed to produce benefits for the overall plan and I think I'm getting close to a finalized list.

Rank, Stats, and List here

Hand


Class: Rogue


Format: Standard


Year of the Dragon


2x (0) Backstab


2x (0) Preparation


1x (0) Shadowstep


2x (1) Togwaggle's Scheme


1x (2) Acidic Swamp Ooze


2x (2) EVIL Cable Rat


2x (2) Eviscerate


1x (2) Sap


2x (3) Blink Fox


2x (3) Earthen Ring Farseer


1x (3) Edwin VanCleef


2x (3) EVIL Miscreant


2x (4) Hench-Clan Burglar


1x (4) Spirit of the Shark


2x (4) Vendetta


1x (5) Barista Lynchen


1x (5) Harrison Jones


1x (5) Zilliax


1x (6) Gadgetzan Auctioneer


1x (6) Heistbaron Togwaggle

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Full Disclosure

I don't think this is the best build of Rogue. I think it's plenty competitive, but if you are looking to maximize your win rate, this probably isn't going to the deck for you. I'd still call it a solid tier 2 choice, but don't expect this to catapult you to the top of the game.

What to like about the deck

This deck fills a very particular niche: it completely slaughters Warriors and can out value and tempo any deck if given enough time (I know the stats don't look like a slaughter, but that was due to two days of consistently bad variance and do not reflect the true win rate of the deck). Despite that ability to outvalue just about anything, the deck can also function well as a tempo deck in its own right. You're not just dead versus Myracle, even if you're not favored.

The primary value engine of the deck is Togwaggle's Scheme and Togwaggle himself. After you play Togwaggle, you pick the draw-3 treasure, shuffle several copies of him into the deck, then draw them with the treasure, reducing their cost to 0, allowing you to chain off several Togs in the same turn, turn after turn. Eventually you shift your focus to picking up Crown treasures off the Togs when you start to run low on deck size. It provides the deck with more thick minions than anything in the meta is able to deal with.

To execute that plan, you do need time to both find your Tog, Scheme, and let it tick up. To achieve that, the deck offers secondary value engines, removal, healing, and weapon removal (which is basically healing) in abundance.

With that in mind, let's look over the cards in the deck, discussion their role, and then talk about other cards that aren't included and what their role might be:

INCLUDED CARDS

  • 2 Backstab: The core of any tempo-based Rogue deck. They're removal, combo activators, and tempo. You can also cycle them with Auctioneer. I would consider them core. Keep in the mulligan against Rogue, Hunter, and other tempo matches.

  • 2 Preparation: See Backstab for most of their function, but they also have two additional uses. Primarily, you can use them to reduce the cost of a Togwaggle Treasure to 0, allowing you to go off quickly and effectively. Additionally, you can use them for whatever you pull off Etheral Lackeys, Blink Fox, and Burgler. Keep in the mulligan against Rogue and other matches where you need to go fast, or if you can pull off a large Edwin.

  • 1 Shadowstep: A strange card in any Rogue list. The conditional and flexible nature of this card makes it role in the deck hard to define and – frankly – it doesn't need to be the deck. It might not even be optimal, but it's hard to tell. Primary uses include extra Lackeys from Miscreant, Healing from Earthen Ring, or Weapon Destruction with Ooze/Harrison. Can be used with basically any combo/battlecry for a number of reasons, and double-dipping on Spirit of the Shark turns can be back breaking for some turns. It can also sit in your hand doing nothing. Can be kept in the mulligan if you have an active Miscreant in a tempo match.

  • 2 Togwaggle's Scheme: Part of the primary engine of the deck in value matches. This card is basically only good against Warrior and, in most cases, you realistically only need one copy. However I hit a portion of bad variance where I was bottom-decking the single scheme too often in a row, and so I eventually upped the count to two. I have found it helps the consistency of the deck in that match greatly, allowing you to go off much quicker and use them more liberally. It does provide some cover against the occasional Unseen Saboteur as well, rare as that happens. Keep against Warrior or decks you need to grind out.

  • 1 Acidic Swamp Ooze: Simple Anti-Rogue tech for killing Picks and slowing burst down. You can use it against Warriors, though it does much less for that match. It's a flex spot, but since there's a ton of Rogue right now, it feels good enough. Keep against Rogue

  • 2 EVIL Cable Rat: A required Lackey engine for your Tog combos. Not a card you're ideally looking to include but, since you need Lackeys, it's core. Almost never keep.

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  • 2 Eviscerate: Removal and Cycle for Auctioneers. Not vital to the deck's plan and seldom used for face damage, but solid enough. Can be kept in tempo matches when you already have good cards.

  • 1 Sap: Similar principle to Eviscerate, but better at dealing with large minions. That includes Edwin, Mountain Giants, Magnetized mechs, or anything similar. However, it's also fairly weak against most other Rogue and Warrior minions, so I would consider it a tech slot. Keep against Mage and Hunter.

  • 2 Blink Fox: General purpose value generators. Puts something on the board and something back in your hand while activating Vendetta against non-Rogue classes. Hard to call it core to the deck, but it accomplishes its goal well enough to feel solid. Keep against any tempo match that isn't Rogue. Can be kept against Rogue if you hand is otherwise good.

  • 2 Earthen Ring Farseer: You need all the life you can get your hands on with this deck. While the heal is most relevant against other Rogues, even against Warrior you'll need time to get your combo online and these help you not die while you're waiting to outright win. They're not must includes, but they have enough synergy with other cards in the deck without being vulnerable to removal like large taunts to make them appealing. Keep against Rogue.

  • 1 Edwin VanCleef: Generic-Brand good Rogue card Edwin is here because, well, he's usually solid. Nothing about him is vital to the deck's game plan however. Can be kept against Rogue, Mage, or when you have a suitably good plan for it. Don't keep against Warrior.

  • 2 EVIL Miscreant: Activator for Tog and great in any tempo match. Keep against just about anything, though it's not needed in the mulligan against Warrior.

  • 2 Hench-Clan Burglar: Mostly a Vendetta activator, but it works against Rogue, unlike Blink Fox. Unreliable, but usually fine. Keep against Rogue.

  • 1 Spirit of the Shark: This card makes almost every minion in your deck insane, but doesn't do anything on its own. It's an interesting keep in tempo matches for swinging a resource/tempo war way in your favor, as well as helping you stabilize with double-dipping on healing. The role of the card in the deck is hard to define and it's not really core, but I have been enjoying it. Not sure when you keep it, but definitely not against Warrior.

  • 2 Vendetta: More removal, part of the Blink Fox/Burgler package. It can help the deck generate plenty of tempo and keep an opponent off your face. Not core, but pretty good. Keep it when you have a live activator you're keeping already.

  • 1 Barista Lynchen: Much like Spirit of Shark or Shadowstep, Barista's role in this deck is hard to define. She can buy-back lots of resources and keep you going, or maybe do nothing. I have my suspicions that this slot would be better served as something else, be it a second Spirit of the Shark or Shadowstep. I just like the card, so I keep playing it. Interesting interaction – though rarely relevant – is that she can make a good scheme target, as once one sticks to a board, you can get copies that get copies and you turn into a Quest-Rogue style of deck, at least in terms of value. Never keep in the mulligan.

  • 1 Harrison Jones: Fills the same role as Ooze against Rogue, with the benefit of also helping you cycle in the Warrior match following a Weapon's Project. Keep against Rogue

  • 1 Zilliax: Healing and removal in one. Just a solid card I wish I could play more of. Keep against Rogue.

  • 1 Gadgetzan Auctioneer: A means of cycling the deck to help find key combo pieces in slow matches. I'd not consider it core, but finding additional desirable cycle options has so far been unsuccessful. Keep against Warrior.

  • 1 Heistbaron Togwaggle: The key card in the deck you're looking to abuse. Keep against Warrior (this and scheme are the only cards you really look for against them), and you can keep it against Rogue if it looks like you have the potential to high-roll them with an early treasure. The first treasure should almost always be draw unless the legendary minions provide an opportunity to out-tempo the opponent you can't pass up.

CARDS I'M NOT PLAYING

  • Mountain Giant/Twilight Drake: These gave the deck it's initial name of Hand Rogue. With the unusually large hands the deck tends to have, the payoff cards might look appealing. They just aren't good is the problem. They are too slow against fast matches and not your win condition against slow ones. As there aren't lots of midrange decks floating around the meta, the Giants and Drakes are too awkwardly positioned to be viable. The deck is better without them. Without the Giants and with the additions of the Cable Rats, the Gral in the original list began to look worse.

  • Fan of Knives: An option for cycle, works with Auctioneer, and good against Token Druid/Zoo Warlock. Unfortunately, it's not really good against anything else and those archetypes aren't very popular in the meta right now.

  • Novice Engineer/Shiv/Thalnos/Cycle: Like Fan, I have considered other cycle options as well, but haven't settled on anything I like. They just don't help the aggressive matches while not providing enough draw in the slow ones. Novice is the most appealing of the bunch, given its synergy with the rest of the deck, but Warrior usually gives you enough time to see almost all of your deck before you're in range of being killed.

  • Leeroy: This card was in the deck originally, but as the modifications began it became clear that this deck almost never killed with burst damage. While it could do it, it just never fit the deck's macro plans against either aggressive or control decks. The deck is better without it.

  • Walk the Plank: In the event a large-minion-meta ever arises (such as if Mage rises to prominence after a hypothetical nerf Rogue), Walk the Plank becomes an appealing removal option as a means of removing Giants without allowing them to come back later. While it might be better to include this over Sap in the main list for that reason, it's also not necessarily as quick against aggressive lists.

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