Oil Rogue is a deck that was discovered a few months after Goblins vs Gnomes came out. Right after Goblins vs Gnomes people were busy building all different kinds of Control, Mech and Midrange Rogue decks. But they were simply not good enough, so they disappeared. Shortly after Oil Rogue was discovered and before the Blackrock Mountain it was a powerhouse in the metagame and was played a lot at high Legend Ranks. At the lower Ranks not so much, because it is one of Hearthstone’s more complex decks. We’m here to tell you that Oil Rogue is still one of the best decks in Hearthstone’s metagame and if you like a good, but complex deck that is also a lot of fun to play, you should definitely give it a try.
So what is this Oil Rogue and how does it win? In general Oil Rogue is a hybrid between an aggressive deck and a control deck that uses extremely efficient removal to gain very early control of the game and then finish off the opponent with their huge burst. Unlike other control decks your late game does not consist of big legendaries like Dr. Boom, your late game is huge burst that can end the game out of nowhere. Depending on the matchup, the cards in your hand and the game state you are either playing a control game or a game where you want to dictate the pace of the game at the start of the game (aka be the aggressor).
- Super efficient minion removal (Deadly Poison, Backstab, Eviscerate etc.)
- Strong against swarm decks, if your opponent recklessly spams the board you can punish him with a big Blade Flurry, which not only will remove all his minions, but also deals a lot of damage
- Has a lot of card draw, which means that you don’t run out of steam as easily as other decks
- Very flexible deck, which means that you can win via board presence and your minions, but also unexpected with huge burst from your hand (for example: we won a decent amount of games against Priest, where all our minions were killed, but we managed to draw our entire deck. The Priest player had 30 life but was dead in two turns.)
- Sometimes clunky hands with for example Sprint and Double Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil, but no minions in your hand or on the board (but you get way more extremely powerful hands than bad ones)
- Struggles with Face decks, because of the lack of taunts
- Limited amount of damage, therefore it struggles against Control Warrior that can have absurd amounts of life due to their hero power and huge life gain (Shield Block, Shield Maiden, Alexstrasza)
- Combo Druid
- Midrange Zoo, Midrange Hunter, Handlock, Midrange Patron Warrior
- Secret Paladin, Midrange Paladin and Priest
- Control Warrior and Aggro Hunter
- Tempo Mage and Freeze Mage
- Aggro Druid
- The most efficient removal in the game, very good at triggering the combo cards.
- Rogue’s Innervate. This card can give you a great mana discount and is very flexible throughout the game. You can make use of it early in the game or in the late game to enable huge burst combos. Usually reserved to combo with Sprint.
2 Deadly Poison
- Very cheap weapon buff. One Deadly poison turns your hero power into a Fiery War Axe, two turns it into an Arcanite Reaper. Very good at removing early game minions or clearing a board of small minions when combined with Blade Flurry.
1 Southsea Deckhand
- This card feels to us like a legendary minion. In the early game you can remove some small minions like Flame Imp, trigger some annoying traps like Mirror Entitiy or Freezing Trap and then in the late game you can kill your opponent with it out of nowhere.
2 Blade Flurry
- Unlike other decks like Control Warrior or Druid, Rogue does not struggle when it gets swarmed by a lot of small minions. Blade Flurry gives you access to a very good board clear. In the late game it is very good at bursting down your opponent, while clearing his entire board.
- Very good minion removal for bigger minions, but is also very good at removing the opponent. Plenty of 5 health minions fall to Bloodmage Thalnos or Azure Drake + Eviscerate.
- Pseudo removal for bigger minions. Despite Oil Rogues control nature, you don’t want to outvalue your opponent in the late game with fancy legendaries. You prefer winning the game on the spot. So you don’t need to permanently get rid of big minions. Sap is very good at removing big taunts or annoying minions with Death Rattle (like Savannah Highmane). It is incredibly potent and outright devastating if you sap an expensive minion, while you have a board that deals a lot of damage. (You invested 2 mana, while your opponent invested a lot more mana, which will result in huge tempo loss for your opponent).
1 Bloodmage Thalnos
- Bloodmage Thalnos is incredible in this deck, due to the high amount of spells. He can give you 3 damage Backstabs, a pseudo 2 mana Consecration (with Blade Flurry) or a 2 damage AOE clear that also draws you a card with Fan of Knives.
1 Fan of Knives
- For getting rid of some small 1/1’s or even bigger minions, when combined with Spell Power.
1 Big Game Hunter
- I removed the 2nd Fan of Knives for of this card. Dr. Boom is played in a lot of decks. The loss of the second Fan of Knives is not as big as the gain of Big Game Hunter.
2 Earthen Ring Farseer
- Solid 3 drop that provides some heal against aggressive decks. It can also heal your other minions, which can be very important sometimes. You can choose to cut one Earthen Ring Farseer for Antique Healbot, but I would recommend not doing it. Antique Healbot is a very tempo negative play and currently Face decks are not very popular.
- The strongest 3 drop in the game. When combined with the Coin or Backstab on Turn 3 his effect can be flip the tempo right around.
1 Edwin VanCleef
- 4/4’s for 3 mana (with the Coin on Turn 2 or Backstab on Turn 3), 6/6’s (Turn 3 use the Coin for Deadly Poison then Van Cleef) and even giant 12/12’s and bigger. This card can win you games on its own sometimes, while always being at least decent. Be wary of making it bigger than 6/6 and making it a target for Big Game Hunter.
- The bread and butter of this deck. Oil is very flexible, you can simply use it on Turn 4 to kill a 4 toughness minion or you can combo it to buff one of your minions. In combination with other weapon buffs you can get very fancy and deadly (an 11/2 weapon that deals 11 damage to the opponents face and then with Blade Flurry 11 damage to the opponents board is not uncommon)
2 Violet Teacher
- She is back! After the nerf of Warsong Commander Rogue can now play Violet Teacher without getting punished by Grim Patrons with Charge. Violet Teacher is even better than Piloted Shredder in Rogue, which is quite a weird thing. A four drop that is better than Shredder. That has to be a very powerful four mana minion. In fact Violet Teacher is extremely powerful in Oil Rogue. Because of the high amount of spells in Oil Rogue you can build up a dominant board presence just with one minion, that only costs four mana.
2 Azure Drake
- A 5 mana 4/4 that replaces itself, while providing a boost to your spells. This card was a key card in every good Rogue deck and will still be in the far future.
- Loatheb’s is extremely potent in Oil Rogue, because of his battle cry that can lead to big tempo swings. He’s very good at setting up lethal, because your opponent can’t play spells to catch up on the board.
No one would play this card if Gadgetzan Auctioneer was still a 5 mana minion. But gladly this overpowered card got nerfed. Spring can be a 4 mana Lay on Hands (without the lifegain) when combined with Preparation and is still good when used for 7 mana.
How to Play / Strategy
Oil Rogue is a very complex deck to play, especially for beginners. Therefore we will now describe what the majority of time you are doing on a given turn. We won’t list every possible play on any given turn, because of the scope of the article. The longer the game goes, the more possibilities Oil Rogue has on a given turn, because of the high amount of cheap spells.
Early game (Turn 1-3)
Turn 1: You won’t play anything besides Backstab on a threatening minion (such as Flame Imp)
Turn 2: You will use your hero power to get a fresh dagger for future buffs and some occasional Backstabs on smaller minions. A turn 2 Edwin VanCleef with the Coin or a Turn 2 SI:7-Agent with the Coin are also some very common plays. Simply dropping Bloodmage Thalnos can also be a decent play if you are in desperate need of the card draw or want to contest a 1 toughness minion.
Turn 3: If your opponent’s board is empty or lack removal, simply dropping a 3 mana minion is a good play. You are not a value based deck, your late game is a quick death for your opponent. So the majority of time you don’t need to save your SI:7- Agent to later make use of the combo. Using Dagger Mastery and playing Deadly Poison is also a very common Turn 3 play, even if your opponent does not have any minions on the board, because maybe later you won’t have time to play it because you want to play a 4 mana minion and then maybe a 5 mana minion etc. Deadly Poison combined with Blade Flurry is also a play, that you will make quite often if the opponent’s board is very threatening.
Summary: The early game consists of removing your opponent’s minions, while preferably playing your own minion. So you are like a control deck, that makes sure that the board is clean and empty.
Mid game (Turn 4-7)
Turn 4: Play your Piloted Shredder if you have one. Or you play a freshly drawn 3 drop. You can also play Sprint in combination with Preparation. Never play Preparation and Sprint over a Piloted Shredder or 3 mana minion on an empty board.
Turn 5: Azure Drake turn! Get that 4/4 out on the battlefield and get a fresh draw.
Turn 6: Piloted Shredder and Eviscerate on a minion is a very common play.
Turn 7: If you don’t have a minion in your hand, this is a Sprint turn. If playing a minion does not do anything meaningful (because your opponent gets a free kill), you play Sprint over the minion. Otherwise you want to play minions if you already have a board lead and don’t need to play around removal.
Summary: The midgame mainly consists of further developing your board, while removing your opponent’s minions with your extremely efficient removal. In general you want to get a decent amount of damage in, so that you can then burst your opponent down in the late game. Sometimes killing him in the midgame is also possible, if you have a quick start and/ or some Preparations. You still want to be a Control deck, and have control of the board.
Late game (Turn 7-10+)
The late game is the time, when you stop being a Control deck and become a Face/Combo/ Burst deck. You can pull out some ridiculous amount of damage. With this deck you always need to count your damage, a simple play like using an Eviscerate on Turn 7 on a minion, can later lose you the game if you then lack for damage.
The core combo finish is:
Hero Power + Southsea Deckhand + Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil + Blade Flurry
For 9 mana on an empty board, you get to deal 13 damage to your opponent and Flamestrike his entire board. This is similar to Druid’s Force of Nature + Savage Roar combination. It trades the flexibility (by requiring a 3rd card) for the board sweeping capability. However, this is just the core combo. When you complement the core combo with additional spells, the damage output increases exponentially.
Simply adding a Deadly Poison to the combo increases the damage to 17 and guarantees board clear.
Now for fun (but not out of the question), if you can use a Preparation on the second Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil, you’ve now racked up 22 damage, enough to finish just about any opponent.
How to use Dagger Mastery
Rogue has the most complex hero power in the game, due to the high amount of synergy with its class cards (weapon buffs, Blade Flurry). In general you should avoiding using your fresh dagger on your opponents face on Turn 2, because if you don’t have time to re dagger and need to play a weapon buff you get heavily punished. Even if you have one charge left don’t attack willy-nilly something, if you don’t see yourself having time to use Dagger Mastery in a future turn. Using a weapon buff with one dagger charge left in conjunction with a Blade Flurry can be a very good tempo play sometimes.
This deck is not very expensive to craft, when compared to other Tier 1 decks, but if you lack some dusts, there are definetely some substitutions you can make that won’t hurt your win rate very much.
Replace Bloodmage Thalnos with Kobold Geomancer
Of course Bloodmage Thalnos is strictly better in this deck, but the Kobold is still decent enough.
Replace Edwin VanCleef with Earthen Ring Farseer
If you have the choice between crafting Edwin or Bloodmage, you should definitely craft Edwin first. Edwin will win you games on its own, while Bloodmage Thalnos is just a nice value card.
Oil Rogue is in a fantastic spot in the current metagame. It is also a blast to play and if you never played it before you will be amazed from the fresh and new playstyle of this deck. If you have any questions regarding this deck, feel free to ask us in the comment section.