Early Impressions: Rogue’s Rough Sledding

Starting a new series about playing Arena since the major Hearthstone banlist of 45 cards.

I’ve always been proud of being a Rogue player in Hearthstone, and I make no secret that it is my favorite class. While the class repeatedly is put down in Ranked Play, Rogue always had dominance in the Arena, vying with the top spot with Mage. The Great Arena Rebalance hit Mage and Rogue, and anyone in the know knew that Rogue was hit considerably harder with the banlist. Mages would be affected a good deal, if it weren’t for the 200% offering rate of Firelands Portals. Yes, we are currently being smothered by Firelands Portals.

I’ve completed 11 Arena runs since the Arena rebalance on September 15th. Here are what the numbers look like.

Class Wins
Shaman 10
Rogue 6
Druid 4
Rogue 4
Shaman 9
Druid 12
Warrior 5
Rogue 4
Rogue 4
Warrior 9
Rogue 1

Huh. Let’s separate that by Rogue and non-Rogue runs.

Rogue 3.8
Non-Rogue 8.166666667

In this small sample size, Rogue is weighing me down, while the other classes (Shaman, Druid, Warrior) are well into infinite wins. What is going on here? Was the effect of the banlist too strong? Is Rogue just crap now?

This picture is also indicative of the class in Ranked since the Blade Flurry nerf.


The first deck in this list got 6, so the other 4 decks yielded the low wins. When looking at these, I have to consider what Common cards would’ve been replaced by Goblin Auto-Barber and Undercity Valiant. Maiden of the Lake, a subpar minion, got drafted a whole lot. Karazhan bonus guy Swashburglar is a near autopick in Rogue runs now. Twisted Worgen was picked twice as a 2-drop.


  • 2-drop mediocrity
    • Defias Ringleader is a fine card, but relies on The Coin to be good, or is played on Turn 3. While premium neutral 2’s will still be around, the loss of GAB and Undercity Valiant forces the need to fill 2-drop consistency with mediocre cards. Because the two removed cards were 3/2’s, the Rogue is forced to have more 2/3 minions, which have less initiative as aggressors on the board.
  • Dealing with early game
    • I really liked Undercity Valiant becuase it dealt with 1-drops very well. Coin + Undercity Valiant was just amazing in Turn 1 board presence. I find myself having to dagger up with my Coin or do something else to deal with a 1-drop. Goblin Auto-Barber was better for sharpening a dagger and dealing with some 2-drop.
  • Karazhan vs Old Gods bonus
    • The shift to the new expansion forces a loss of the Old Gods bonus, and creates a 200% offering rate for Karazhan cards. While Swashburglar is a fine card, it is subject to heavy RNG, and can occasionally whiff. Shadow Strike is just a top-tier efficient removal, that is offered less.

How to Make Rogue Great Again

  1. Draft faster
    1. While 6-wins is not a paragon, my 6-win deck had no minions greater than 5, with a heavy 1-3 presence. Given that the Rogue loses a bit of removal from the banlist, it is more important than ever to get a faster start on the board.
  2. Play faster
    1. Mages are still top dog, and expect to see Firelands Portal from Turn 7 onwards. It is important to push the damage while you can. Against other resurgent classes, they will have slightly faster starts, due to better early game consistency. Play fast and push damage. Cold Blood and Tinker’s Oil could be useful threats in helping the Rogue play fast. Violet Illusionist is a near autopick for Rogue, given it is an aggressive minion, with incentive to trade using your weapons.
  3. Get cheap taunts
    1. I grudgingly drafted the 0/2 Target Dummy in my 6-win Rogue. It did a ton of work. Just by existing, it helped protect my early game board, and allow me to work trades better. Arcanosmith’s 0/5 Animated Shield (I am glorious!) also had a similar function on Turn 4. While cheap taunts aren’t great value picks, they do quite a bit for the Rogue.
  4. Look for synergy in mediocrity
    1. While looking for synergy in the draft hasn’t changed, Swashburglar is everywhere. Swashburglar is a Pirate! Ship’s Cannon, Shady Dealer, Southsea Captain, maybe even One-Eyed Cheat are all a bit better with the synergy of having infinite pirates around.
Hearthstone Screenshot 09-24-16 14.00.37.png
Constructed Burgle Rogue crushes 0-2 Priest’s dreams.


It’s only been a little more than a week since the Arena rebalance. More Arenas have to be completed to confirm that I now suck at Rogue. I need to definitely rethink my drafts, and more importantly, how to play the game. I might consider not autopicking Rogues in the draft until I figure it all out, while riding some hot-hand classes (Shaman).

I want some soup now as well.

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