Ever since the nerf to Gadgetzan Auctioneer, the Rogue class has been struggling to find a viable deck utilizing the new GvG cards. Popular pro players and streamers tested and tinkered with ideas that had worked in the past but the Miracle Rogue seemed to have been finally crushed under the weight of nerfs, Loathebs and tiny trains that say "chugga chugga". Luckily, the player base of Hearthstone does not give up easily and a viable Rogue deck sprung up in several forms and from several different prominent players. In this article I will discuss the Rogue deck that I have landed on after playing it a bunch during the end of last season
and now into the February season.

The Rogue class had always been a powerhouse in Hearthstone. When the game was in Alpha and Beta, Rogues actually had some of the most overpowered cards in the game as well as the most OP hero ability. Back in those days Dagger Mastery would actually equip a 1/2 dagger or buff the weapon that was currently equipped if you already had one. This meant that you could actually deal 2 damage to creatures if needed or even double buff a dagger that had a Deadly Poison on it to 4 attack. Not to mention 1 mana Shiv, Backstab that could hit damaged minions and Defias Ringleader being a 2/3. You can see why Rogue was insanely better than all of the other classes and many changes were made and for good reason.

I originally started my journey with Rogue by copying a deck that Darkwonyx was playing and actually reached rank 2 Legend with. I was intrigued because Rogue was my last class that wasn't level 60 and also I wanted a cool deck to play in the HearthStats Grinder League. What I discovered was that even though the deck was extremely fun and effective it was also tricky to play due to the complex sequencing required for a lot of turns. There were many missed lethals and facepalms that followed but we finally settled in at around a 65% win rate and a more streamlined version of the deck.

Let's take a look at the deck and break down each card. Then we'll discuss some important combos and possible replacements as well as general game strategy.

The Deck

Backstab x2 - this card is crucial to gaining early tempo advantages since you can play minions and kill most early drops while mana is limited you always want to keep this in your opening hand. It also has a lot of utility since it can be used to start combos and also create 1/1s with your Violet Teacher. One of the strongest turn 3 plays is to Backstab and SI:7 Agent a minion or sometimes even two minions and start the tempo train rolling.

Preparation x2 - I don't understand how this card is balanced. Sure, you spend a card to play a cheaper spell, meaning that you could argue that you are using two cards to kill one but to be able to cram extra cards into your turn whenever you need to is amazing. Again, it also starts combos and when played with Sprint allows you to refill and gain a big card advantage in the late game. This card is also key when using the Tinker's Sharpsword Oil since it triggers the combo and lowers its cost to 1 allowing for big tempo swinging turns or burst damage.

Deadly Poison x2 - another card that is always a keeper in the opening hand. This is such an important way to gain and maintain board control in the early game. Against the new popular Mech Mage decks you can often stop them in their tracks by getting a Deadly Poison/ Blade Flurry off on turn 3 or 4. That match-up may seem like the toughest but I actually maintain a really good win rate against Mech Mage and this card is a key to that.

Blade Flurry x2 - this is one of the best AoE spells in the game when it's in a deck that has so many ways to buff its dagger. The fact that Blade Flurry hits the opponents face also means that you can use the card for game ending burst damage as well. With Deadly Poison and Oils I have been able to do nearly 30 damage in a single turn if the perfect storm hits. A card that gives so much reach in the late game shouldn't also be such a powerful board control spell but it is. This card will always be a 2-of in a deck like this.

Eviscerate x2 - this card is another card that has the ability to be used as an effective finisher as well as kill off some really dangerous targets to keep the board. In combination with Azure Drakes or Bloodmage Thalnos this spell kills off the always tough to deal with 5 health minions for 2 mana. That's value, friends.

Sap - I was running 2 of these but since the taunt heavy Druid decks have become less popular I have cut this to one to help deal with the more aggressive Mech Mage. There are still a lot of situations that come up that require a single Sap to gain lethal or gain a tempo edge. Don't be afraid to use this on creatures that are 5 cost or more at any time as that is the real function of this card. You spend 2 mana to force the opponent to spend 5 or more mana twice on a single card. That can swing the game in your favor in a huge way. Just try not to use this on creatures with valuable battlecries if possible.

Shiv - this is a 1-of as well and that is because it may be the weakest card in the deck. I still feel that one is important to essentially "thin the deck" since it cycles itself and can also hit face if need be. If you feel this card isn't doing enough you can feel free to cut it in favor of some of the cards we will discuss later.

Fan of Knives - this was also a 2-of at one point but with the downturn in Deathrattle Hunter and the return of Face Hunter it just wasn't doing enough. If Paladin is the most common deck then you will want to consider another copy since it deals so well with Muster for Battle. For now we like the utility it brings but when you have two in your hand at the same time it can be painful.

SI:7 Agent x2 - this is another key to winning in the early game and clearing the way for your Violet Teacher in the midgame. The tricky thing with this guy is setting up for the ability to use his combo mechanic. Often I will save a Deadly Poison and accept some extra damage so that I can play Deadly Poison into SI:7 Agent on turn 4 and deal 5 damage to the board. You may also have situation when it is correct to play the SI:7 Agent "naked" or without using the battlecry. This is okay if it means you can trade effectively with him and is better than taking an entire turn off.

Tinker's Sharpsword Oil x2 - this card is the MVP of the deck and why the deck is called Oil Rogue. For 4 mana you are effectively getting 9 damage if used with the combo and on a fresh dagger. This is insane value for a single card and if you can use Preparation then you are doing this for 1 mana. That is the kind of gross overpowerdness (totally not a word but we're using it) that you can build a deck around. Make sure to be careful with your sequencing as that is where the difficulty of using this card effectively comes in. You need to consider the minion you're going to buff as well as setting up a fresh dagger to get the most out of the card and knowing how to do this will only come with experience.

Trade Prince Gallywix - this card has gone in and out of the deck for a while but I have settled for the moment on running it since it is a very effective minion that has a fantastic body and also provides the deck with a reliable 6 drop that smooths out the curve. I have tried running Sylvanas Windrunner, Cairne Bloodhoof and Piloted Sky Golem as well and I think any of these can be a fine replacement. The goal of this slot is to bridge the gap between the tempo turns with Violet Teacher and the pressure turns when you drop Dr. Boom and Ragnaros. Any of those options will provide that for you.

Sprint - in the days of Miracle Rogues being the only real viable archetype a card like Sprint seemed insanely overpriced and unnecessary. These days, without the option to reliably run 2 Gadgetzan Auctioneers, Sprint is the perfect way to cycle through the remainder of the deck and get to the important cards. Since most of the deck already cantrips, Sprint is really there to finish the job and push through the late game. Try to pair it with Preparation if possible but if you can play this card and keep board advantage at any time then I suggest you go for it even at the full 7 mana cost. Often you will have so many great options the next turn that taking a turn off just to draw will not slow you down and you will power through the end game. I even see some people run two of this card but I have settled on just the one.

Bloodmage Thalnos - this is a very important card in the deck and does so many great things in Rogue that I can't imagine running the deck without it. Cheap spell damage enables all of the combo spells and since it cycles upon death you can throw it out at anytime without fear of being wasteful. Often times you can play it with an Azure Drake already on board and get huge Blade Flurries and Fans which become game winning turns. I hear that you can replace this all the time with a Kobold Geomancer but I think you're better off ponying up the 1600 dust if you don't have this card and really want to play the deck.

Earthen Ring Farseer x2 - at one point I was running only 1 of these but with the prevalence of Mech Mage you cannot risk missing a 3 drop. Also, since you will be using your dagger to clear so much having the extra healing is a huge factor in surviving long enough to turn the game in your favor. Don't be afraid to heal minions with this guy as well or just drop it as a 3-drop at full health.

Violet Teacher x2 - the only real 4-drop in the deck is also one of the most important cards. If you can get even 1 token from your Violet Teacher than you will get massive value for 4 mana. Often times this card can absolutely take over the midgame and provide the tempo to push to the late game finishers. A 3/5 body is also fine to just drop on turn 4 even if you have no spells to follow up with but if you are playing this list that is actually extremely rare. This card will also bate removal before dropping Azure Drakes which can allow them to stick to the board and open up huge turns on 6 and 7.

Antique Healbot - some more healing to keep you out of combo range or allow you to stabilize against Mech Mage burn spells. This card is amazing but can clog your hand up a little if you run two so I'd stick with the one for now as the body is incredibly weak for 5 mana.

Azure Drake x2 - this card is crazy good and has been a staple in a lot of decks since the beginning of early beta. A 4/4 body that provides spell damage and card draw and is reasonably priced. A lot of my losses with the deck happened in games in which I simply never drew this card which is a great indicator of how powerful it really is.

Loatheb - (literally copy/paste from all of my articles because how many times can I talk about how good the card is) if you read my deck guides then you are probably seeing a trend. Loatheb is in every deck. What Loatheb does is protect your damage dealing minions allowing you to keep swinging as well as being a 5/5 body. I'm running out of ways to say that Loatheb is really good so I'll just stop there.

Dr. Boom - Dr. Boom is just too good of a card and is an auto-include in almost any deck these days. Stats alone you're getting 9/9 for 7 but once you factor in the trade potential with the bombs you get a ton of value. This guy and Ragnaros are the big finishers for this deck and will allow you to start pouring on the damage in the late game.

Ragnaros the Firelord - the Firelord himself. Señor Del Fuego. Swagnaros. This guy has many names but one thing is for sure. This card is, and has always been, real good. I am starting to see a downtick in double Big Game Hunter so unless the opponent already has one in their hand then this guy should live for a turn or two. Also, it's a fantastic finisher when you can clean the board with a Blade Flurry and hit face 100% of the time. I tried the deck without him briefly and realized how much I missed my buddy so he's here to stay.

Playing the Deck

This deck is not easy to play optimally. There is no way to describe the correct move to make in every board state or with every possible hand as there are so many subtleties with a deck like this. Obviously, dropping Dr. Boom on turn 7 is good. Those types of plays are easy but in a lot of situations you will be facing down a board that must be dealt with through a string of plays that must be done in the proper order and in anticipation of the next few turns as well. Optimal play can only be achieved by spending time playing the deck and trying different moves in similar situations and noting the end result. I can't say this enough but play this deck for a while before you give up or you will miss out on the true power of it. I made the mistake of playing it in a tournament before I had enough experience to make proper decisions so I am speaking from experience.

That said, in all cases you want to keep Backstab, SI:7 Agent and Deadly Poison. Against Paladin you will keep Fan of Knives for Muster but in all cases you want those other three cards. Having the coin is preferred as it activates combos and also is a spell which creates a token with Violet Teacher. You want to plan ahead in your early turns to weave in dagger hits and not waste them. Spending two mana to re-dagger is costlier in the early game so you want to hold back dagger swings during early turns while later on you should poke face if you have only one charge remaining in anticipation of re-daggering the next turn before using a buff card like Deadly Poison or Oil so plan accordingly. These small decisions end up losing or gaining overall damage and in a deck like this the loss of a couple of points early may be the difference.

In the midgame you want to focus on building and maintaining control of the board. This will done using Violet Teachers and Prepping out important spells like Eviscerate or Blade Flurry to keep the opponents board clear. If you can get on top of the opponent by turn 5 or so then you will have an easy time keeping it since you have so many tools at your disposal. The Violet Teacher tokens are a great tool for making optimal trades and keeping pressure on while you put together a few points of damage. If you have the opponent to 20 or so health by turn 6 then you should be able to start checking for lethal from then on. There will be games when you spend the midgame just dropping minions on curve as well but that is ok as long as you do not let yourself fall behind. It can be tempting to just pass if you cannot get full value out of your cards but doing so is extremely dangerous in the tempo based metagame right now. Unless you are setting up a big Flurry continue to drop minions or remove them on each turn.

Finishing the game is done with either Dr. Boom or Ragnaros. Once you get either of those minions onto the board you should have enough firepower to find lethal. It can be complex since you may need to dagger up, Prep into Tinker's Oil to activate the combo and then perhaps swing into Flurry into Eviscerate into SI:7 Agent. These kinds of plays are commonplace with the deck so make sure you are counting the mana available and the amount you need to get the damage required. There will be some heavy math turns but when you find lethal in a game that wasn't obvious it is one of the most satisfying experiences you will ever have in Hearthstone.

Some optional cards that you may want to try out include Sylvanas, Edwin VanCleef, a single Gadgetzan Auctioneer and depending on the prevalence of Harrison Jones you could try running an Assassin's Blade. Other cards that are meta calls are Big Game Hunter, The Black Knight and possibly your own Harrison Jones. One other card that I have been intrigued by but haven't had a chance to run is Sabotage. In combination with Prep this seems like a card that could carry through the mid-game if Control Warrior or Paladin become more popular than Mech Mage.

I know that this deck is not the cheapest one out there but 5 legendaries and 2 epics isn't too bad in the grand scheme of things. I have had a blast playing this deck and I hope you do as well. Please feel free to leave comments and questions in the section below. If you have a version that's similar I'd love to hear why you made the choices you did. The recent nerf to Undertaker has had a huge affect on the metagame in Hearthstone and I will continue to do my best to keep finding the coolest new and fun decks around for you guys. Good luck on the ladder and remember to always kill those Mechwarpers.

Until next time, job's done!