Note: Hearthstone meta shifts rapidly, some examples may be out of date but the principle remains the same.
Hi all! I’m abgtr, and this is my analysis of a few Rogue decks. I have climbed each of the last two seasons playing almost exclusively Rogue, and I simply love the class. We will be looking at what I consider to be the three main Rogue decks on the ladder: Rush Rogue, Miracle Rogue, and Tempo Rogue.
I’ll offer up my personal stats from my climb with all three of these decks to help us dive into how each deck matches up against the top decks in the game. I’ll also discuss how the use of statistics and some basic applications of Game Theory may improve your results!
Let’s take a quick look at each Rogue deck before we go further.
This deck took me to Rank 3 last season singlehandedly. I call it “rush” rogue because it relies on taking board control early through minion advantage and removal spells, and then hammering home that advantage with buff cards like Shattered Sun Cleric, Dark Iron Dwarf, and Defender of Argus.
In my experience this deck destroys other rush decks because of the efficiency of rogue cards. Backstab, SI:7 Agent, and Deadly Poison offer great early game control. This season, the rise of Druid and Handlock make this deck significantly harder to climb with as those matchups are nearly unwinnable.
(http://imgur.com/pesdt7O, Credit to Aira)
The classic Kolento-inspired deck and arguably one of the most fun decks to play. Absurd burst damage, crazy draw mechanics, and tons of removal. Anyone who has played this deck knows that the Gadgetzan Auctioneer is the cornerstone of Miracle.
I have found Miracle to be in an awkward spot in the current meta. Decks like Aggro-lock and Face-Hunter can overrun Miracle Rogue before it even gets to see the Auctioneer. Beating Druid and Handlock decks requires applying pressure early, not always Miracle’s strongest suit. Miracle can still win, but I doubt it has the highest win percentage of Rogue decks at the moment.
(Link. Credit to Kolento)
Variations of Tempo Rogue decks have been around for months. The name of the deck refers to the ability to trade efficiently early giving you tempo control. The deck overlaps with the Rush Deck in the early game, but provides methods to deal with the decks dominating the current meta.
Assassins Blade can chip away at control decks (Warrior, Druid, Handlock) but also provide multi-turn removal against aggro decks. Chillwind Yeti and Azure Drake are minions that often require 2-for-1s from our opponent, thus aiding our tempo control. Featuring the fantastic early game of the Rogue class, with viable end game offerings, Tempo Rogue is doing well on the ladder at the moment.
(https://hearthstoneplayers.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/rogue-tempoipiwi941.jpg, Credit to sipiwi94)
We are going to utilize my stats from this ranked season for analysis. Disclaimer: I am not a top player, nor have I been playing Hearthstone for more than a few months. But I have 250+ rogue wins this season, hit Rank 3 last season playing 90% Rogue, and have Legend aspirations for this season.
Let’s take a look at Rogue matchups against the “top” decks on the ladder right now. I am largely speaking about rank 15 and higher, as at lower rankings you see almost every class being played and in more variations than I can cover. The decks I will cover are:
1. Aggrolock-Defining this as all encompassing, Murlocks, Zoo, and other aggro variations. They play just about identically.
2. Handlock-If a Warlock hasn’t played a card after two turns, this is your most likely opponent.
3. Hunter-I would say about 95% of the hunters I opposed were “Face” hunters, but there is a growing minority of control/tempo/midrange hunters.
4. Druid-Watcher, token, and ramp. Taunts, huge minions, and probably more taunts.
5. Warrior-Mostly control, occasionally aggro.
A few notes about this data
1. These 5 decks comprised over 70.2% of my opponents.
2. My win % against other decks was 43.5%, likely because players were practiced with their less common decks and my lack of familiarity with them. My overall percentage was 53.4%.
3. Any statisticians out there should be screaming “sample size!!” Simply put, I agree. This is a small sample size and variance is certainly present.
4. It’s safe to say I am not very good at Miracle Rogue. It’s a difficult deck to learn, and in my opinion harder to practice than some due to the volatility of the deck.
So what do we make of this data? Despite it being a small size, is any of this relevant to what deck you should be playing? What role does this form of data have in HS? Let’s first tackle what conclusions we can make about the state of these Rogue decks at the moment.
Below are the points that I can gather from this data:
1. Aggressive Rogue decks seem to have an advantage against other aggro decks (Hunter and Aggrolock). The high efficiency of the rogue class cards (SI:7 and Backstab mainly) decimate opening combos for aggro decks. Combining that with the strong opening combos for our hand, the matchups tend to play themselves. Seeing a lot of aggro decks? Consider trying out Rogue.
2. Druid decks are the worst decks in the game for Rogue. They tend to only play large minions, not smaller ones that we are better suited to clear. They play heavy taunt cards and rogues only have two one-card answers for these: Sap and Assassinate.
Typical Rogue decks run at most a single Sap and rarely Assassinate. Against Druid it’s important to start out fast and try to always keep Swipe in mind. I typically choose to gamble early against Druid knowing you lose this matchup if it goes late. Best hope is that he drew poorly and can’t handle our early game.
3. The Rogue-Warrior matchup is a pretty even one. Similar to the Druid/Handlock matchup, Rogue decks should lose this in the late game. But if you are able to play around warriors somewhat weak removal, you can threaten his HP early and try to end in the midgame. Perhaps the above stats imply that the rush deck does a better job of this than the control deck does!
We seem to have an edge, but the sample size bias is particularly present in this matchup.
The Role of Statistics in Hearthstone
To start this section off, I want to briefly look at some topics of Game Theory. Simply put, Game Theory is about strategic decision making. But how does this apply to stomping people on the ladder? Stick with me for just a bit longer.
What can we definitively say about our opponent before a game starts?
1. We know we will face 1 of 9 possible classes and each deck will have 30 cards.
2. We know certain neutral cards are more likely to appear in any deck (Chillwind Yeti, Harvest Golem, Leeroy Jenkins).
3. We know certain decks are more popular right now than other decks (see above list).
4. We know within each class certain cards are more likely to appear (Mage-Fireball, Warlock-Mortal Coil, Hunter-Unleash the Hounds, etc.).
That’s about it though. Hearthstone is a limited-information and imperfect-information game.
We can never know all 30 cards in our opponents deck (limited-information) nor how they will choose to play them (imperfect-information).
As we have so little information on our opponent, the value of information is increased. The more information you have, the better your ability to make decisions, the better you can play the game, and the more you win.
While grinding the ladder, I use these stats to dictate which deck I am playing and how I play it. If I start to see a bunch of aggro decks, I typically switch over to my aggro deck to compensate. This happens more than you would think! Certain parts of the ladder are inundated with the same decks. You have to adjust to the meta of your current ranking at the precise moment you are playing.
When a game starts and I see what class I’m up against, I take a look at how the deck I’m playing matches up against that class/deck. This gives me information in a couple of ways. It tells me a little bit about how aggressive I should be in the early game. If I don’t win this specific matchup often, I am fine with overextending hoping to get a win by doing so. It can also affect my mulligan strategy.
I hope this was interesting and informative to anyone who reads it! I’d be happy to discuss particular matchups for each deck, or any Rogue based topic!
Written by Andrew/abgtr
Hi all! My name is Andrew and abgtr. I started playing Hearthstone in February and have been inside level 5 in Beta Season 3 and the new season. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com!