Mastering the Oil Rogue: Matchups & Mulligans

One of the hardest part if Oil Rogue is knowing how to mulligan. You will look at these Fan of Knives, SI-7 Agents, Backstabs, Eviscerates, Azure Drakes, Tinker’s Sharpsword Oils and be kind of overwhelmed. In general you want to look for the cards below against every deck (there are some exceptions, such as mainly […]

One of the hardest part if Oil Rogue is knowing how to mulligan. You will look at these Fan of Knives, SI-7 Agents, Backstabs, Eviscerates, Azure Drakes, Tinker’s Sharpsword Oils and be kind of overwhelmed.

In general you want to look for the cards below against every deck (there are some exceptions, such as mainly Control Warrior which we will cover them in the matchup analysis).

Basic Mulligan

1. Backstab

Backstab is the best card to trigger your combo cards like (Eviscerate, Agent,..) It is an extremely efficient removal (and a tempo booster), because it costs zero mana and can deal more than two damage with the help of Bloodmage Thalnos and Azure Drake.

2. Deadly Poison

Like Backstab this card is a very good early game removal. You can take out smaller minions and can easily trigger your combo cards.

3. si7-agent, Earthen Ring Farseer and sometimes Edwin VanCleef

Farseer and Agent are solid minions to play very early, even if you play them as plain 3/3s without making use of the battle cry or combo.

Edwin on the other hand is a very tricky card. He is very powerful and can be outright game winning sometimes. In general we would only keep him if we have the Coin or already good removal (Deadly Poison, Backstab, or Deadly Poison and Blade Flurry) against aggressive decks. Otherwise we would mulligan him in search of better cards. A Turn 2 4/4 with the Coin is good in every matchup. Never keep multiple 3 drops if you don’t have some early game removal (Keeping double Agent without the Coin is not good. Just keep one.)

4. Preparation

Old school Miracle Rogue with Gadgetzan Auctioneer almost never kept Preparation in their starting hand (only together with Auctioneer against slower decks). But Oil Rogue is different. Due to the high amount of spell cards, always keep at least one in your opening hand. This card is similar to Innervate, because it lets us cheat on the mana curve. Playing Violet Teacher on Turn 4 in conjunction with either a Sap or an Eviscerate is a huge tempo gain. Against aggressive decks like Face Hunter, don’t be afraid to use Preparation only to trigger SI7- Agent if you need to remove a Knife Juggler.


5. Eviscerate

If your hand lacks any kind of early game removal, but you have Eviscerate I would recommend keeping Eviscerate so that you have at least one way to kill a small minion like Knife Juggler, if you still don’t draw into one cheap removal spell.


Which Combos to Keep

Against swarm decks (Paladin, Zoo, Shaman) you should keep Blade Flurry if you already have Deadly Poison, otherwise do not keep Blade Flurry, you are far better off looking for better cards. Never keep Blade Flurry with Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil, it is far too slow against swarm decks.

Matchup Analysis


There are four different archetypes of Hunter on the ladder (Face Hunter, Midrange Hunter, Hybrid Hunter and Trap Hunter). That sounds like a lot, but they are very similar to each other.

Trap Hunter (plays Explosive Trap and Misdirection) and Face Hunter (mainly plays only Explosive Trap) are hyper aggressive aggro decks that want to finish you off as quickly as possible. While Hybrid Hunter (only Freezing Trap) is a Midrange Hunter (mainly plays only Freezing Trap and sometimes Snake Trap, Explosive Trap is very uncommon) with more aggressive one mana cost minions like Leper Gnome.

Against each of them you want to gain early board control and then start racing them. In general the slower versions like Hybrid Hunter and Midrange Hunter play Freezing Trap over Explosive Trap. Southsea Deckhand is very good at triggering all kinds of traps with a minor investment of one mana crystal. If you realize that you are playing against Hunter with high mana cost minions like Savannah Highmane, use your Sap wisely.

Against the faster versions sapping something like Mad Scientist is a good play if you already have a couple of minions on the board and want to save your Eviscerate for burst or some charge minions. Your life total has a high priority, so sometimes coining the Dagger Mastery to remove their one drop or even using Backstab on a minion you could remove with your dagger can be a good play, depending on the game state or your hand.

Mulligan for

  • The Basics
  • Fan of Knives (good against all the 1 drop minions like Leper Gnome, Haunted Creeper tokens, Wolfrider etc.)
  • Bloodmage Thalnos (He contests the 1 toughness minions and needs to be removed from the Hunter because something like a Turn 3 Fan of Knives that deals 2 damage can be devastating for him),
  • Keep Violet Teacher with the Coin if you already have a very good hand with a lot of early game action (like Agent, Backstab, Fan of Knives).


Slower versions (Hybrid Hunter, Midrange Hunter) are a good matchup, while the faster versions (Trap Hunter, Face Hunter) are bad matchups.


Against Handlock you want to have board control, while getting some damage in and then finish him off with some big burst that can sometimes ignore taunted minions (huge Blade Flurry, Eviscerates). To achieve this goal you need to handle their early big minions (Twilight Drake, Mountain Giant) while having board control.

So when you look at your hand at the early stages of the game, you want to find out the best way to remove something like a Turn 4 Mountain Giant. A combination of Backstab, Deadly Poison, SI:7- Agent, Eviscerate and Bloodmage Thalnos is a good way to do so.

Don’t be afraid to trade multiple cards for one minion, Oil Rogue has a lot of card draw to latter catch up on the early card disadvantage. Therefore dropping a Earthen Ring Farseer or SI:7- Agent on Turn 3 to have three more damage for an incoming big threat is a good idea.

Also don’t be afraid to attack their big giants with your dagger in order to kill them. Ideally you want to avoid using a Sap on their first big minion. Sap is much better when you already have a couple of minions on the board. Also don’t give them cheap Molten Giants, when you don’t have enough burst in your hand. Letting them play Molten Giants for zero, while your hand is full with minions and/ or draw effects is a good way to lose the game.

So be patient in this matchup and only get aggressive, when you have enough damage to finish them off.

Mulligan for

The Basics

  • Eviscerate,
  • Azure Drake
  • Bloodmage Thalnos
  • Big Game Hunter (because normally you can’t really know if you are playing against Midrange Warlock or Handlock try to get a hand that respects both matchups. For example keeping only Big Game Hunter is a bad idea, but it is okay to keep if you already have Backstab and SI:7- Agent)


Good matchup

Midrange Warlock

Midrange Warlock is a deck that plays a lot of cheap minions, but also packs a bunch of late game minions, that make sure that they don’t get easily overwhelmed in the late game. Ideally you want to remove all their minions, even the small 1/1’s to deny them any value from Power Overwhelming, Abusive Seargent and Defender of Argus.

At the same time you want to get a good amount of damage in, so that you can later finish them off with your burst. So try to find a middle way between having control of the board and dealing some damage. Attacking a lonely 1/1 with a Piloted Shredder is not a good play.

Also don’t be afraid to aggressively use your life total to maintain board control. Midrange Warlock has a limited amount of burst (mainly Doomguard and Power Overwhelming, when they have nothing on the board using Power Overwhelming on Doomguard is very inconsistent, especially when they don’t have a lot of cards).

Mulligan for

  • The Basics
  • Fan of Knives (to effectively deal with the Imp-losion and the 1/1’s spawned from the Haunted Creeper)
  • Blade Flurry only with Deadly Poison
  • Violet Teacher if you already have a decent amount of early game removal


Very good matchup

Control Warrior

This is a your worst matchup. But  there are very few good Warrior Control players on the ladder, therefore you will win a lot more with Oil Rogue against Control Warrior than you should. If they are good and don’t draw horribly you will very likely lose. The reason why Control Warrior is very good against Rogue is their very good single target removal (weapons, Shield Slam, Execute), their huge lifegain that allows them to gain more than 30 health and the ability to pressure you (unlike Priest, they can’t pressure you because they don’t have big burst) in the late game with their weapons (they are also good at attacking your face), Alexstrasza, Dr. Boom and Grommash Hellscream.

To win this matchup, you need to apply a steady amount of pressure to them, while denying them any great value from their Acolyte of Pain and their weapons. In the late game you either kill them with your overwhelming board presence or your huge burst. In order to do so, you need to kill the Acolyte in one swing and avoid playing your 3/3’s alone on the battlefield. Only play them, when you already have something on board, they have to deal with. Piloted Shredder, Azure Drake and Edwin Van Cleef (preferably a 6/6 to dodge a potential Big Game Hunter and to not be vulnerable to weapons) are good cards to play on an empty battlefield.

Mulligan for

  • The Basics (except Backstab and Farseer and Agent)
  • Azure Drake
  • Piloted ShredderSprint if you already have Preparation


Bad matchup

Patron Warrior

Patron Warrior almost has the same removal suite as Control Warrior, but they lack life gain and don’t have as many big Legendaries.

Patron Warrior’s late game are mainly card combo’s and not big minions. In this matchup you also want to avoid dropping lonely 3/3’s on an empty board, so Azure Drakes and Piloted Shredders are much better keeps once again.

You usually lose this matchup, if you don’t get enough draw (Azure Drake, Sprint), while they kill every minion. Otherwise you should be doing fine, because of the huge amount of burst you have and their very limited life gain (compared to Control Warrior).

Always kill their Acolyte of Pain in one swing and try to deny them any great value of Battle Rage. If you have assembled enough burst in your hand, you should the majority of time ignore their board and push for lethal.

With the Warsong Commander– nerf Patron Warrior lost a lot of its power against Oil Rogue, so your 1/1’s are no longer a liability against Grim Patrons, because they don’t have Charge anymore. The only real burst of Patron Warrior is Grommash Hellscream, which is quite cute when compared to the burst Oil Rogue can have.

Mulligan for

  • The Basics (except Backstab and Farseer and Agent)
  • Azure Drake
  • Piloted Shredder
  • Sprint if you already have Preparation


Good matchup

Oil Rogue

In the mirror both players have an abundance of minion removal at their disposal, which means that very rarely a minion sticks for more than one turn. Normally if both players have a lot of minion removal, their game would be a very long one (like the Control Warrior mirror), but Oil Rogue has a very high amount of damage dealing cards and only a limited amount of healing, so the mirror does not take very long. Ideally you want to remove your opponent minions to deny them any further damage or value from their Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil, while building up your own board and making some of your minions stick. In the mirror you should always count your damage and the potential damage you can draw into, so that you can decide if trading is better than going face. Also respect any potential big blade flurries from your opponent (so don’t overcommit) and the big burst Oil Rogue can pull off. The skill in the mirror comes down to realizing when to get aggressive and when to be defensive (for example using Eviscerate for minions, trade or not to trade). In general you should avoid using your Preparations for Sprint, because that will lead to a big tempo loss if you are behind on the board or the board state is even.  You’re much better off using Preparation to further develop your board or to push for lethal.

Mulligan for

  • The Basics
  • Loatheb (Loatheb is the best card in the mirror, due to the 5/5 body and the high amount of spells in Oil Rogue)


Even matchup

Secret Paladin

Secret Paladin is a deck that plays a lot of cheap cards, but also has the most powerful card in the game: Mysterious Challenger. Dr. Boom and Tirion Fordring are also very common in Secret Paladin. All these factors result in a Paladin archetype that not only has a very powerful early game with an absurdly powerful midgame minion that can put a huge amount of pressure on the Oil Rogue, it also has a decent punch in the very late game, where Oil Rogue usually tries to assemble the ultimate combo finish.

Midrange Paladin is usually prey for Oil Rogue, because it is too slow and can’t keep up with the tempo initiative of Oil Rogue. Secret Paladin on the other hand can have a very aggressive opener with Secretkeeper and unlike Midrange Paladin it does not give Oil Rogue enough time to draw into answers. In addition to that it also plays Blessing of Kings, which can create a huge tempo swing. So stifling their early board development and being ahead on board before Mysterious Challenger enters the battlefield is of utter importance. Once Oil Rogue has superior board presence it can snowball it to victory, because it has way more burst than Secret Paladin. Because of the nature of the matchup, Violet Teacher is one of your best cards and I would always keep her, because she can create a board presence that helps you dealing with Mysterious Challenger. Sometimes even ignoring the Mysterious Challenger and racing the Paladin is the best play, if you have a lot of burst in your hand. Sap is also extremely powerful card against Mysterious Challenger once you are slightly ahead on board.

Mulligan for

  • The Basics
  • Fan of Knives (to effectively deal with Silver Hand Recruits and other small 1/1’s)
  • Blade Flurry only with Deadly Poison
  • Violet Teacher


Good matchup


Our Oil Rogue guides should give you a better insight and some tips on how to pilot the deck efficiently. If you wish for us to record some of games of it in action, drop a line below. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments about Oil Rogue also drop it in the section below.