Hey everyone, Razoir here today to discuss the latest Rogue meta-game deck. After the initial release of Goblins vs. Gnomes (GvG), Rogue was thrown out into the very abyss as Gadgetzan Auctioneer‘s nerf served as a hard blow to Miracle Rogue. However, GvG still tossed Rogue enthusiasts like me (second favorite class after Mage) a bone in the form of Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil. This card alone has revitalized the Rogue class and has made Oil Rogue one of the top decks in today’s meta-game.
During the early stages of the game, you’ll have to control your opponent’s board with your cheap removal spells (Backstab, Blade Flurry, etc.) while drawing as much as possible to enter a smooth mid-game. There, you’ll slowly chip away at your opponent’s life total until he is within lethal [damage] range. It should be a trivial exercise to burst him down from there. This play-style is very similar to old-school Miracle Rogue from a strategical standpoint. Thus, former Miracle Rogue players should have no difficulty figuring out how to play the deck.
List below is the breakdown of each individual card in the deck list. As stated above, former Miracle Rogue players should have no problem quickly picking up the deck. However, I believe players newer to the deck will benefit greatly from the quick read.
Dagger Mastery– The Rogue hero power is typically more difficult to use than its class counterparts. Therefore on the surface, the Rogue ability seems comparatively weaker than that of Mage and Druid. This is partially due to the fact that Rogue has to incur damage as well when attacking a minion. However, this drawback is mitigated by the various number of heal cards in the deck. Wasting durability on the opponent’s face is often ill-advised since you won’t get full value should you draw Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil or Deadly Poison at a later time. Furthermore, this makes playing Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil or Deadly Poison as a Combo mechanic enabler much easier.
Backstab – Despite the simple design, Backstab is one of the most important Rogue cards in the deck due to its versatility. It is able to deal with early pressure from Flame Imp, Knife Juggler, and other two-health minions. You may also combine it with your hero power to kill a Mechwarper or similar three-health minions. Most importantly, it serves as a cheap 0-mana enabler for SI7-agent and other cards with the Combo mechanic. Due to its malleability, it is easily an auto-include in any Rogue deck.
Preparation – Preparation allows you to play a spell for three less mana, a rate even better than Innervate! However, don’t hesitate to play this card early to clear the board. Clinging onto cards for additional late-game burst is the easiest way to lose a game. Prepping a Sprint also possibly allows you to play one or more drawn cards immediately.
Deadly Poison – Outside of the combination with Blade flurry, Deadly Poison can still be viewed as an efficient 1-mana, 4 damage spell. It is very useful for controlling the early game by serving as a removal spell or devastating board sweeper when used in conjunction with Blade Flurry.
Blade Flurry – In my opinion, Blade Flurry is the only “real” Rogue Area of Effect (AoE) spell. Seemingly innocuous and weak at first, its strength comes from the fact that it deals damage to your opponent’s character too. This helps create gigantic bursts as though your weapon had Windfury. Remember to “dagger up” prior to the combo turn so you’ll be able to attack AND play Blade Flurry. Bloodmage Thalnos and/or an Azure Drake on board really increases the potency of this combination.
Eviscerate – Most Rogue cards are very malleable. Eviscerate is no exception. Regardless of whether Eviscerate is used as removal or final burst damage, the card is amazing. Killing an opposing Azure Drake, Sludge Belcher (when combined with the hero power), and bursting down the enemy are some of the various uses of the card. Eviscerate is essentially Rogue’s frostbolt and therefore another auto-include in every Rogue deck. The excellent mana-to-damage efficiency is simply too good to pass up.
Sap – The massive tempo gained with Sap is never to be underestimated. Paying two mana to send back a 6-mana Savannah Highmane or Sylvanas Windrunner can be game-winning. With that said, avoid sapping back cards with Charge or Battlecry as that lowers the effectiveness of Sap. Remember that your ideal targets are high-cost deathrattle minions.
Edwin Vancleef – You don’t need to aim to make Edwin Vancleef as large as possible, just large enough to pressure/threaten your opponent. On turn 2, playing Backstab, The Coin, into Edwin Vancleef for a 6/6 effectively wins you the game on the spot against aggro. Against mid-range and control decks, remember to play around Big Game Hunter by making it no more than a 6/6 as it’s the only potential target in your deck.
Do not hesitate to substitute this card out for a Shade of Naxxramas if you are encountering more control than aggro decks.
Fan of knives – A small AoE spell that cycles itself is far from bad, especially if you can use it in conjunction with Bloodmage Thalnos or Azure Drake for a free Consecration.
SI:7 Agent – This card screams value! A 3-mana 3/3 is already decent but its Battlecry ability can also clean up a Knife Juggler. For comparison, it costs two mana less than Stormpike Commando but has the same total number of stat points and effect. Coining SI:7 Agent out early on turn 2 against aggro is backbreaking. With that said, do not be afraid to play it naked on turn 3 in match-ups where board control is important.
Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil – Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil is Oil Rogue’s namesake card (duh!). Most of the time, we’ll want it to be a 4-mana, 9 damage burst (hero attack, minion attack, and Blade Flurry) that happens to devastate the opposing board akin to a Flamestrike play. Need we say more? Remember that the minion buff is random so keep this in mind when Violet Teacher is in play.
Sprint – A 7-mana draw 4 spell might not seem that exciting due to the massive loss of tempo, but it’s necessary since Gadgetzan Auctioneer is no longer the powerhouse it once was. Some would even argue a second Sprint is not half bad. The goal is to play Sprint off of a Preparation as that results in a 4-mana Lay on Hands without the life gain.
Southsea Deckhand – A 1-mana deal 2 damage minion is not very exciting. However, it’s a cheap charge minion that allows you to play out your combo without requiring a minion already on board.
As such, 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 “prep” the second Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil, you’ve now racked up 22 damage, enough to finish just about any opponent.
Bloodmage Thalnos – Bloodmage Thalnos serves as a 2-mana enabler for your combos while increasing the power of most of your cheap spells. More importantly, it provides card draw via its deathrattle, making it once again an easy include in any Rogue deck. For this reason, many people often joke that Bloodmage Thalnos is actually the Rogue Legendary.
Earthen Ring Farseer – Earthen Ring Farseer acts as a nice damage buffer (healing 3 life) with a decent 3/3 body. The flexibility of being able to heal damaged minions is also not to be underestimated and is often game-winning.
Violet Teacher – Backstab, Preparation, Deadly Poison, Sap, Eviscerate…. With so many cheap, efficient spells in the deck, Violet teacher provides insane value. Even netting one additional minion already makes her more valuable than a Sen’jin Shieldmasta as she is a soft Taunt target anyway. Don’t hesitate to play her early for board presence. However, you should not play/waste spells (i.e. Preparation) that otherwise do nothing in the situation just to spawn a token.
Antique Healbot – Antique Healbot is solely in the deck to combat very aggressive rush decks. Try not to waste it too early so you’re able to gain the maximum 8 health.
Azure Drake – Azure Drake is a very high-value card that has incredible synergy with Rogue and its efficient spells. The card draw is relevant for sculpting the perfect hand while the increased spell damage is great for increasing the value of cards such as Backstab.
Loatheb – Whether it is protecting a Violet Teacher board or delaying a Druid’s combo, Loatheb has become a staple in most decks. It’s also game-winning against Freeze Mage (though you’ll break her heart in the process) and in the mirror-match. This card is your worst enemy so why not make it a great ally?
Teching and Replacing
Harrison Jones and The Black Knight are decent tech choices in the event you’re facing more control decks. Shade of Naxxramas is an option as well, depending on preference. Assassin’s Blade should also work fine if you aren’t encountering Harrison Jones much. Some also enjoy a second Sprint.
With regards to replacements, the Epic cards absolutely cannot be replaced. However, the Legendary cards are another story. Edwin Vancleef is easily substituted out for Shade of Naxxramas while Bloodmage Thalnos can be either replaced by a Kobold Geomancer or a Loot Hoarder. This again depends on personal preference.
Match-ups and Mulligans
What makes Oil Rogue such a strong deck is the fact that it has so few bad match-ups (only Control Warrior really). With that said however, remember that most match-ups require a lot of thought and experience in order to play optimally.
Mulligans (In Priority Order)
Against Aggro: Backstab, deadly poison, blade flurry and SI:7 agent.
Fan of Knives is also keep-worthy alongside Preparation.
When starting second, SI:7 agent gains a lot of value due to The Coin. Similarly, Edwin Vancleef is also a good keep with The Coin and Backstab.
Against Control: You will want to mulligan for mid-range minions such as Violet Teacher and Azure Drake. Specific match-ups will also require looking for a particular card as well. For example, Druid calls for Sap while Paladin calls for Fan of Knives. Generally speaking however, SI:7 agent, Backstab, and Eviscerate are never bad keeps.
Mech Mage is currently on everyone’s mind during deck construction as it has invaded the meta-game and become a staple in every tournament due to the Undertaker balance (nerf). However, Oil Rogue is pretty favored against it. Due to Mech Mage’s lack of card draw and tendency to overextend, you can easily clean their whole board and leave them with little chance to come back. However, Reynad’s new Blingtron Mage will not be that easy to beat sadly as the freeze effects will prevent you from using your combo.
Mid-range Hunter is more difficult to beat than Face Hunter. However with the nerf to Undertaker, the match-up has become quite favorable. Being able to preserve your removal spells (without taking too much early damage) prevents them from overwhelming you in the mid-late game. A nice trick to pull is using their Freezing trap against them by recovering your SI-7 Agent or more importantly Earthen Far Seer.
Face Hunter is an extremely favorable match-up since they don’t have Taunts nor heals while you have plenty. Also, they’ll quickly run out of steam due to fan of knives while you have huge burst potential in the late-game. Just make sure to play around Unleash the hounds when Violet Teacher is on board and it will be an easy ride.
Combo Druid is not an unfavorable match-up, just more difficult to understand. Familiarity and recognition of certain board states will go a long way in improving this match-up. Try to keep their board empty to prevent any back-breaking combos.
Ramp Druid is pretty easy to beat due to their lackluster early game. Moreover, Sap allows you to get past Ancient of War with ease. The only way to lose this game is allowing your opponent to flood their entire board with Taunt minions. Also, remember to mulligan for Sap in case of a wombo-combo innervate play.
Paladin is generally an easy match-up due to Blade Flurry and Fan of Knives cleaning up their Muster for Battle plays. Save your Sap for Tirion Fordring as that provides a huge tempo swing. Due to their access to a variety of heals, make sure you have lethal before committing to the combo.
Shaman is an even match-up the majority of the time. Maintaining control by keeping their board empty should result in an easy win. Just make sure to play around their huge burst damage potential when possible.
Control Warrior is a very unfavorable match-up (the worst of all). Similar to Freeze Mage, you won’t win if your hand is slow and he draws decently. Try to keep his armor in check by pushing aggressively for lethal while controlling the board with Violet Teacher.
Priests are rare and that’s disappointing since Oil Rogue has a very favorable match-up against them. The high quantity of removal spells Priest has access to is largely uneffective against the minions of Oil Rogue. Moreover, their slow-paced game grants you all the time you need to set up a gigantic wombo combo!
Rogues have two potent decks in meta-game currently: Oil and Control. Oil Rogue is an even match-up (obviously) while Control Rogue is pretty favorable. As a result, these games will often be heavily influenced by the strength of each player’s draws. Being able to sculpt a better hand/board faster is often going to put enough pressure on your opponent to force him to play defensively. This allows your minions to rack up damage early and makes the combo kill much more feasible.
Hand-lock has become a less favorable match-up than in the past due to the new inclusion of Antique Healbot. If they can heal themselves back out of lethal range after putting out a few taunts on the board, you’ll have a difficult time fighting through. Obviously, sap is useful for getting past their big Taunt minions. As with any deck playing against Hand-lock, try to prevent them from playing cheap Molten Giants. Overall, I believe this match-up is pretty even and therefore draw-dependent.
Zoo is a very favorable match-up and is therefore actually partially responsible for the previous success of Miracle Rogue. Your bevy of cheap removal forces them to Life Tap early and often, bringing the opponent closer into lethal range.
Kolento’s new Demon-lock build that has been going around lately is actually pretty easy to beat. It complements Zoo’s early game with the late-game reach of Hand-lock. Due to the reduced number of heal cards, you should be able finish them with burst damage relatively easily. However, the presence of Loatheb and Mal’Ganis can easily tilt the scales in their favor so it’s important to keep those cards in mind while playing.
Generally speaking, the cards you least want to see in any given match-up are Loatheb and Antique Healbot. Therefore, try to play around those cards and bait them out early if possible. For instance, this includes having a back-up plan if you suspect Loatheb coming down on board next turn.
The only advice I can give you before letting you jump on ladder is to never play too quickly. Always consider your options while trying to predict what your opponent’s next play will be. As with playing any optimized combo deck, you can often lose to yourself.
Overall, I had a great time and lots of fun with Oil Rogue. I won a tournament with it and went up a few hundred Legend ranks as well. During this current season, I haven’t played much but should be near 80% win-rate with it.
In my opinion, Oil Rogue is one of the strongest and most fun decks in the new meta-game. As such, I hope you’ll have as much success and fun as I did. I’ll be glad to read your comments and hear about your results in the comments below.
If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to ask me or look at the streams of popular Rogue players. Such as Geargia, Hyped, Dog, APDrop, and SuperJJ. My own stream will be up soon but I will primarily be playing Mage.
See you soon for another extensive guide on my usual deck of choice: Mage! (no worries, it won’t be Mech)
Youtube Razoir HS