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The Troubling State of Rogue

Michael Bitton Posted:
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I’ve been playing Hearthstone since late last year and through it all I’ve stuck with Rogue as my preferred class. Something about it just clicks with me. Oddly enough, I’ve never been into ‘Miracle’ Rogue, the ubiquitous and most successful deck type out there for the class. Playing ‘Miracle’ is almost a single player affair in the low level of interaction between players that the deck demands. You basically spend your entire game trying to stay alive long enough to fish a massive lethal combo out of your ass in a single turn. In short, I feel it’s a lame way to play the game.

Unfortunately, despite targeted nerfs, Miracle Rogue has enjoyed continued success on the ladder and in tournaments, so much so that it has managed to cover up the overall weakness of the Rogue class when not relying on Miracle.  My favorite way to play Rogue is called tempo. In a nutshell, tempo is about efficiency. You want to make efficient plays with your cards while simultaneously forcing your opponent to do the opposite with their own. It’s a fun way to play the game, when it works. It’s been hit-or-miss for Rogues over my time with Hearthstone, but it’s worked out OK enough for me.

Since the release of Naxxramas, however, the other classes have gotten stronger, while Rogue (aside from Miracle) hasn’t really benefitted much. Most class cards released for the Rogue haven’t really done a whole lot to improve the class, which means that unless you’re playing Miracle, you’re relying on a lot more neutral cards than are ideal. Just about anything you could do with Rogue since Naxxramas, you’d be better served doing with the game’s other classes. And now with Goblins vs. Gnomes, things appear to have gotten worse.

Aside from Trade Prince Gallywix and Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil, Rogues didn’t really get much to help them out. Blizzard has also chosen to push tribals with this expansion, seemingly making Rogues home to pirate cards, but despite my initial hopes, it doesn’t look like pirates will be the answer Rogue now needs. Pirates just aren’t individually strong enough and they require a perfect hand to take advantage of, even in best-case scenarios. They’re simply too inconsistent, and cards like One-Eyed Cheat and Ship’s Cannon aren’t enough to make up for that.  Each pirate played without a Cannon or Cheat on the board feels like a waste. It was a nice try, but pirates are going to need a lot more work if Blizzard wants Rogue to be competitive using these cards. 

New cards such as the Goblin Autobarber are awesome in theory, but clunky in practice.  As a two drop, the autobarber can’t be played on turn two unless you coin into dagger on turn one, for example. Iron Sensei, a seemingly great addition for mech-focused rogues, is more of a gimmick than anything else. As a 2/2, the body is just too weak to removal and you’re not likely to get much value from him. He’s also a bit slow, with his unreliable effect taking place at the end of your turn. The aforementioned mech rogue has seen some success on the ladder, but you can do it better with just about any other class. Rogue’s in-class toolset has simply fallen behind over time and Blizzard’s attempts to spruce it up in both Naxxramas and GvG feel like a swing and a miss. With Miracle finally starting to fall off, Rogue players have now woken up to the shoddy overall state the class is in.

I’m trying to find a silver lining for myself in all the experimentation I’ve done and seen others do recently, but I’m not sure it’s going to pan out in the end. I’ve tried out everything I can think of, including the odd notion of a Control Rogue, with mixed success, but I don’t have a whole lot of hope for Rogue once the dust settles post-GvG. There are just too many long standing issues with the class that haven’t been addressed due to the popularity of Miracle. The most troubling bit of all of this is that if Rogue does end up sliding down to the bottom of the barrel, we may have to wait until the game’s next expansion of cards just for another shot at viability.

Have I gotten it all wrong? Have you figured out a successful way to play Rogue on the ladder in GvG? Share your thoughts (and decklists) with us in the comments below!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB



Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB