Top-Decking: Test your Hearthstone know-how as we profile the Rogue
Welcome to Top-Decking, a column in which you’ll be faced with round after round of competitive Hearthstone play and asked to decide how you would progress through each round given the cards at your disposal. I’ll be at the reigns, showcasing a variety of honed Constructed decks as well as ragtag Arena decks, while you get to sit back and weigh the odds freely. Call me on my mistakes, compare your play style to those of others, critique your deck-building talent, and take a look at Hearthstone’s meta—all in one place.
Before we get to the first match, though, let’s take a brief look at the deck we’ll be using. Titled “Undercut,” this Rogue deck focuses on gaining early board control through efficient minions like Harvest Golem and SI:7 Agent in conjunction with the Hero Power Dagger Mastery, keeping the board clear through easy removal such as Backstab and Eviscerate, and maintaining a solid hand through the likes of Loot Hoarder and Azure Drake. As we push into the mid-game, the deck aims to apply pressure with Dark Iron Dwarf and Argent Commander, and finally finish opponents off with late-game finishers like Ragnaros the Firelord and lethal combos such as Leeroy Jenkins meets Cold Blood.
Novice Engineer is a placeholder of sorts for Nat Pagle, Kobold Geomancer for Bloodmage Thalnos, and Assassinate for The Black Knight. I’m currently without these legendaries, but I have found these three to be adequate substitutions.
I’m going first against a Hunter, a class known for their tendency to recklessly rush the opponent down through Charge minions and their Hero Power, so I immediately want to hold onto the Argent Squire to start building a board. However, Eviscerate is best in the mid-game and Sylvanas won’t do much good against the low-cost minions I expect from Hunter, so I choose to toss both of them, hoping for some more early-game minions.
With an uncharacteristically weighty starting hand, dropping the Argent Squire is a no-brainer.
Fortunately for me, my opponent was without a first-turn play, allowing me a slight tempo advantage. However, without a two-cost minion, I’ve little more to do than dagger up with my Hero Power and swing for the fences.
It was certainly possible for me to preserve my dagger to allow for a stronger Deadly Poison next turn, in addition to a possible Eviscerate combo in order to burn my opponent down. However, because I am currently without a turn 3 play, I expect to re-dagger and play Deadly Poison anyway, so attacking this turn is a safe move that applies a bit more pressure.
My opponent puts out a Leper Gnome on his second turn, which completely alters the leisurely strategy mentioned in the previous turn. Reluctant to take 4 damage from my opponent’s 1-mana minion, I choose to send my Squire at the Leper Gnome, my dagger at the Hunter’s face, and then play Deadly Poison on a fresh dagger, leaving me with 4 damage potential on the board.
The obvious risk of playing Deadly Poison in this fashion is a follow-up Acidic Swamp Ooze. However, because Hunter decks consist largely of Charge minions, I feel it’s doubtful to see Ooze this game. Poison-ing this turn spends all of my 3 mana crystals and frees me up to play Dark Iron Dwarf on turn 4, so I’m willing to take the risk. Were you?
My opponent spends his third turn on an Eaglehorn Bow, which he immediately attacks me with. Looking to maintain maximum damage output and board presence, I play my Dark Iron Dwarf, thereby buffing my Squire for the turn, and hit my opponent for 6.
Putting a 4/4 minion in play at this point could be crucial to the game’s outcome, so I feel spending Dark Iron’s buff ability on mere damage output, although it would ideally be used to take out a stronger minion, is worth the 4 mana.
After his bow’s final attack, the Hunter drops a Wolfrider and attacks me directly, focusing on getting me into kill range and ignoring my minions. With nothing more than a tracking behind his 3/1 minion, my opponent passes the turn.
Hoping to avoid as much damage as possible, I toss my Squire at the Wolfrider, put my Azure Drake in play, netting me a new card and strengthening my two Eviscerates, and hit my opponent for 7.
While I could have spent my dagger on the Wolfrider and preserved my board presence, with two kill conditions—double Eviscerate and Leeroy Jenkins—in my hand, I would rather put my opponent as low as possible. Facing Aggro Hunter is a race of damage output, so I see no need to fret over a 1/1 minion.
Applying pressure has finally paid off; my opponent sends an Arcane Shot and a Bluegill Warrior—both of which would normally be thrown at my face—into my minons and ends his turn with a Secret.
Knowing that I’m about to hit an Explosive Trap, thereby wiping my board, I begrudgingly toss my two minions at the Trap and put Argent Commander in play, dropping my opponent to 10. With a 4-damage minion on the board and Leeroy Jenkins in hand, I have the kill next turn if my opponent can’t answer my Commander. However, even then, Leeroy and an Eviscerate would provide a distinctly Rogue-flavored victory.
Another Bluegill Warrior paired with a shot from the Hunter’s Hero Power puts me in the danger zone, but fortunately, I have well over 10 damage in hand and end the game by out-Charging this Hunter.
This Rogue build’s means of board control can also be allocated to direct damage, which is a useful fallback against aggressive players. However, with no taunt minions in the deck, pure Aggro decks can be a difficult matchup, especially if the starting hand is as mid-game-centric as this match’s.
Are there any changes you would make to the deck? What about playstyle—how would you handle a Hunter in this situation? What would you play to counter Aggro players with this or any deck? How badly did I screw up? Speak your mind in the comments below.