With it or against it, hate it or love it, Tempo Rogue has been a fixation in the Rise of Shadows meta. The deck can be difficult to pilot in certain situations, since every deck on the ladder should be teching to beat Rogue. We are going to try to help your game play and focus on the keys to playing Rogue in Rise of Shadows.
Core Gameplay Mechanics
The first step to winning with Tempo Rogue is the mulligan phase. Knowing what cards to keep and when can be crucial in this deck that goes for swing turns from the four to six mana phase. Going for Preparation plus Raiding Party before turn three can be tempting, but it should be avoided. You gain no advantage from this play, and the opponent then gets a massive read on your hand. It should also wait until at least turn three in case you draw Edwin VanCleef.
The first big card to look at in the mulligan is Edwin VanCleef. A big VanCleef played on turn three can win games on his own. VanCleef should typically always be kept on the coin, but thrown away when not on the coin and without a Preparation. If you have Preparation, Raiding Party and VanCleef on the coin, going for a big Cleef on turn two is typically a correct play.
Whether you have Preparation or not, keeping Raiding Party is a must. If you draw one of your Waggle Picks naturally, you can think of Raiding Party as Arcane Intellect. Drawing two cards for three mana is still above average value. Backstab can also activate Raiding Party, and is a decent keep against Token Druids and Hunters.
EVIL Miscreant is another card that should be kept in the mulligan phase. Miscreant provides amazing tempo value for the Rogues to setup for their swing turns. You should just be careful keeping Miscreant going first without any Combo activators. If you have Preparation or Backstab, don’t worry, but having Miscreant be a dead three drop can feel bad if you didn’t mulligan hard for Raiding Party.
Tech Cards In and Against Rogue
Acidic Swamp Oozes and Harrison Jones are popular tech choices for Rogue that are all over the ladder. It can throw a curveball in the game plans of Rogues trying to use the Waggle Pick Deathrattle to get multiple Leeroy Jenkins or more value out of cards like EVIL Miscreant. Knowing when to remove the weapon is also important. Pay attention to what is on board, as you will want to kill any Miscreants before triggering Waggle Pick’s Deathrattle.
A lot of Rogues have also popularized running Lifedrinker in their decks. It replaces the spot of flex cards like Hench-Clan Thug and provides burst that can go around Taunt minions. Lifedrinker is also great in Rogue mirror matches because it can raise your health while reducing the opponent’s. Staying alive for your burst can be the biggest struggle in the mirror.
Zilliax has also gained some popularity because it provides a small heal and removal options in the mirror. The problem is that it can’t go face and can be a dead card often. When Warrior is a very prominent class in the Meta, Chef Nomi has risen to the top as a tech choice. Because Warriors can only Brawl twice, Chef Nomi plus double Shadowstep can often get the job done.
A lot of Rogues run one or no Sap but it is a very powerful card against a variety of decks. Sap can ruin a Mech Hunter’s day, removing any Magnetic buffs from minions. Sap is also good against Summoner Mage decks that drop a Mountain Giant on turn three or four. Stalling their Conjurer’s Calling swing turn can allow you to squeeze in more damage to set up lethal.
Playing Against Rogue
Besides the obvious Ooze tech, there are ways to play around the game plan of Rogue decks. If you aren’t playing a deck that wants to play a minion on every single turn, like most tempo decks, avoid playing two health minions or non-aggressive minions on turn two. Rogues only have two ways of activating a turn three Raiding Party, and one of those is Backstab. If you can delay the Raiding Party turn or force them to not draw the weapon, it’s a significant advantage.
Another good tip against Rogue, is use Waggle Pick’s Deathrattle to your advantage. When you go to Ooze or Harrison their weapon, take a look at what is on board. If they have a large Edwin VanCleef, go ahead and put that guy back into their hand. If they have a high value minion like EVIL Miscreant, try to kill it before so they can’t generate some kind of comeback with the additional cards.
Know when face is the place and when to trade with Rogues. If you are playing a deck that doesn’t have any healing or a fair amount of Taunt minions, you are unlikely to beat a Rogue by trading with it. Rogues themselves only have two Taunts with Dread Corsair, and aren’t always running Lifedrinkers for healing. In the mirror, besides playing around a swing Dread Corsair turn, it can be best to face race the opponent.
Hopefully, you are now a little better informed about playing this Meta dominating deck and can maximize your wins on the ladder. Good luck and happy grinding!
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via their official website.