While it is not often that a brand new archetype comes to Hearthstone, something usually pops up with each new expansion. There have been many decks to come around due to new cards, and the newest is Deathrattle Rogue. While new, it is a very popular decklist that is very strong against most of the common decks on ladder. This guide will take a look at Deathrattle Rogue and examine how it fares against another extremely popular ladder deck in Tempo Mage.
You have a lot of options when building Deathrattle Rogue. There are currently two popular builds, one that is much more aggressive with Leper Gnomes and Cold Bloods, and another running a much more midrange package. Each of these are very strong, and you should try to gravitate towards the one that better fits your style. Within the actual style you choose to play, there are a ton of different minions you can run. Deathrattle is rampant in Hearthstone, and you want to play the cards that give you the best triggers for your curve. To help you choose what style is best for you a deck building guide and a the core Deathrattle Rogue decklist have been linked below.
Deathrattle Rogue is strong because it has some of the best openings in the game. Unearthed Raptor is really strong when it has any target, and your first cards are good at getting either pressure or board control. For this reason you want to hard mulligan for your low cost cards no matter what style of the deck you are playing. Tempo Mage makes a living off of their opponent not having early answers, and you need to find those answers to get a stake in the board.
Cards to KeepBackstab Leper Gnome Abusive Sergeant Haunted Creeper Loot Hoarder Unearthed Raptor
Eviscerate should only be kept if you have a low cost card to combo with it.
SI:7 Agent should always be kept with the coin or Backstab
Piloted Shredder is a good keep if you have the coin and a strong opening curve.
Defender of Argus can be kept only if you have sticky deathrattle minions (Nerubian Egg, Haunted Creeper) to play before it.
How to Win
Deathrattle Rogue and Tempo Mage are two decks trying to do the same thing: control the board. While they like to end the game in different ways, there methods are very similar. As such, you have to very careful with your minions. Tempo Mage controls the board through damage, which usually doesn’t matter when all of your things die and come back stronger. However, if your minions are already in their second form that can spell trouble. Because of that, always be careful when you trade in your minions. Try to bait out removal before breaking things like Haunted Creepers or Unearthed Raptors.
You have burst, but you generally want to use your damage as removal here. For instance, while Eviscerate does a great job at supplying that final push, it also kills Flamewaker and Azure Drake, which are two of Tempo’s best minions. You should always be focused on the board first, and then think about damage second. Even if you are ahead on life, or even if you are close to lethal, you should at least check out the state to make sure they can’t mess with your plans. If you are winning the race don’t be afraid to go face, just always remember to think about all of the options first.
One last important thing about this matchup is you need to always be aware of Tempo Mage’s damage potential. Defender of Argus (and sometimes Sludge Belcher) are the only ways you are going to be able to stop an aggressive push. The way you stop that is by forcing them to use their Frostbolts and Fireballs on your minions instead of your face. The way you do that is by controlling the board and putting on damage. If Mage is reactive it means they aren’t thinking about lethal, but rather how to clear your board. Which is quite hard to do.
Early Game Strategy
As stated, the early game is very important. It is not the be-all, end-all like it is in some matchups (as you have a lot of ways to catch up) but losing the first turns to a Tempo Mage can really set you back. Aggro or not, you want to make sure you kill all of their early minions. Leaving up anything, from a Sorcerer’s Apprentice to a Mana Wyrm can give them enough push to take control of the game.
A big part of this game is understanding when to clear and when to add to the board. Backstab and SI:7 Agent both make that really easy, but when you don’t have access to those cards you often need to make tough decisions.
For instance, should you clear with an Abusive Sergeant or play a turn three Unearthed Raptor on your Nerubian Egg? In this matchup you ofren want to clear when you can, but it may be right to just copy the egg since you can trigger it the following turn.
As always, watch out for Flamewaker. There is no actual way to stop the three drop from triggering since they will play it only when they have spells. However, you can counter it by filling the board with deathrattle minions. The waker is the number one reason you want to try and keep things in their first form, since it will prevent the salamander from clearing your board.
The middle game is where most of the action happens. Not only is this where Tempo Mage’s large minions start coming to town, but it is also where they can really start pulling off combos with Flamewaker and Sorcerer’s Apprentice. You need to fight that with your own big minions as attempt to scale up as much as you can.
Their two best midrange minions are Water Elemental and Azure Drake. You want to be thinking about each of these. While Water Elemental does not hit you as hard as traditional Rogue (due to a lack of weapon synergy) the sixth health is very tough to deal with. Try and remove it in the best way you can. However, if it will cost a lot of your board, then ignore and hope for the best.
Azure Drake may not be scary on its own, but like Flamewaker it can wreak havoc due to its spellpower. For that reason, you need to kill it on sight.
If you are not the midrange version, these are the turns of the game where you really want to start pushing damage through as much as possible. Rogue does not have a lot of late game, and you need to win either by controlling the board or by threatening lethal. If you are playing aggressive, start hitting Tempo Mage hard and fast as soon as they take over the board.
Late Game Strategy
The end of the game is very odd. You are not a deck that is built off of finishers, which means you want to use this time to set up the finishing blow. You are a deck that will most often push damage through the board, and if you fall behind in the middle game you will rarely have a way to catch up. As such, always do your best to lock down the board on turn six or seven, even if that means burning an extra spell of two.
If you are not ahead, or if the game is even, then you need to be aware of Tempo Mage’s two big finishers: Dr. Boom and Archmage Antonidas. The boombots are usually a non-factor due to your sticky board, but you cannot afford to take seven damage against Tempo. Do what you can to get rid of the doctor immediately.
In terms of the archmage, just know that he exists. He is a lot of damage, that cannot be interacted with. That means the longer the game goes the closer Tempo Mage gets to finishing you off. Be cognizant of that clock, and try to keep your health out of double Fireball range when making your final push.
As stated earlier, you play these turns based on the amount of damage they have left. If they are low on burn, you can be a little more careless with your health, but if they have a lot of cards or if they haven’t used their damage spells, be very careful and protect yourself as much as you can.
Always watch out for Flamestrike. Tempo Mage runs only one copy but they are going to be constantly looking for an opportunity to use it. You either want to make sure they don’t get good value by always keeping something with deathrattle on the board, or you want to bait them with a weak board. Either way, never blindly trade into minions past turn seven without thinking first.