What do we have here?
What oh what do we have here…
Jandice has been hit. Watch Posts, crippled. Pens, flung. Swords, smaller.
Nature is healing and a great new adventure awaits– there was a quite literal and lunatic spike-studded wall that kept us from the depths of the Barrens. Squished and stretched out the membrane of our new place has now seemingly been allowed to flow; at the end of our river, however, it turns out we have stopped where two waters meet.
# Class: Rogue
# Format: Standard
# Year of the Gryphon
# 2x (0) Shadowstep
# 2x (1) Blackjack Stunner
# 2x (1) Guardian Augmerchant
# 2x (1) Prize Plunderer
# 2x (1) Secret Passage
# 2x (1) Yoink!
# 2x (2) Ambush
# 2x (2) Dirty Tricks
# 2x (2) Efficient Octo-bot
# 1x (2) Shadowjeweler Hanar
# 2x (2) Swindle
# 1x (2) Tenwu of the Red Smoke
# 2x (2) Wicked Stab (Rank 1)
# 2x (3) Field Contact
# 1x (3) Mankrik
# 1x (4) Kazakus, Golem Shaper
# 1x (6) Jandice Barov
# 1x (9) Alexstrasza the Life-Binder
Named after a famous Magic: the Gathering deck that infamously combined two different combos into one nightmarish powerhouse, I bring you, from before the nerfs have even gone live, our newest chimera. Held aloft on the power of our lord and savior Yoink! we’ve got ourselves a sick one.
Combining the best of both worlds of Casie Miracle and Lamby Secret Rogue and of course, featuring many of our own trials, I’m going to take this super mashed brother out into the New World. I’m going to talk about every single card here and every single card that is missing or neglected in this iteration, so we’ve got a lot to talk about.
As a “quick” overview in words: Whisper Depths seeks to carry the turn 1 and 2 plans of Yoink!, Dagger Up, Coin Octo-bot, and the Four Good Secrets. The deck is necessarily a control deck in the first two turns: preparing a Draw 2, a removal spell, or a sudden Emperor Thaurissan effect to cheat ahead on mana. Turn 3 is almost exclusively ideally Mankrik, but of course there are a number of reasonable lines: a post Octo-bob turn, a second Secret and removal spells, and things like Yoink! > Swindle. The early turns are ultimately and simply a bridge to our Legends: Mankrik, Kazakus, his 5 Mana Golem, and now our sore and beloved Jandice on 6. The thing is: now many times we can Pause, instead of playing a Legend, and have our various absurd Field Contact turns– he is featured alongside six Battlecry 1-drops, Swindle, Tenwu, and Shadowsteps, along with Secret Passages to find more. This 10-12 card package is hopefully enough to make the Field Contact actually be able to be an explosive and swingy value sequence, especially when reduced by your Octo-bot’s. There are Hanar prison setups and an Alexstrasza / Tenwu Wombo Combo Fireball to be your final lock pieces, and each have applications outside of their Ideal State. (Look forward to another article I’ll be writing about a system I’ve been developing to understand Hearthstone called the “AIS” System– the “Average Intended State”.)
The weird good thing about this deck is that it actually becomes relatively clear to see how things have to change as we line our turns up against the metagame. If most of the format is not slamming x/2 into x/3 + Value on turns 1 and 2 then this super dynamic combo Rogue might have a really good time and be a lot of fun. And even if it is that aggressive, I believe there are cards to shave and move around to support Backstab + Brain Freeze. There are a couple cards that can be flexed and especially if we abandon the Alexstrasza plan, should we find our Legends + Wicked Stabs are actually enough to close out games. Without further ado, let’s talk about our cards:
2 Shadowstep: As far as I’m concerned this card is uncuttable from Rogue for a very long time unless you go down the Weapon or Aggro route. With Prize Plunderer, Blackjack Stunner, Field Contact, Mankrik, Kazakus, Jandice, and even Alex, this card acts as a split-card: “0-Mana: Copy Target Removal Spell” /and/ “0-Mana: Create a copy of your best card and put it into your hand.” This deck is not like the EVIL Miscreant strategies of ol’– you don’t actually have infinite value given infinite time, and we must reach a copy of most of our good cards to win games that you don’t simply lock down right away. Especially with the lack of Pen Flinger, the closest thing to EVIL Miscreant in that way, Shadowstep is sorely needed to provide us with the density of particular effects that we demand in a number of unique scenarios. The Second Jandice, the Second Prize Plunderer– these are the things that win games, and Rogue is certainly a Sum-Of-Its-Parts archetype.
No Backstab, No Preparation: I went back and forth for a long time on Preparation as I was having really good success and self-reported experiences with it in the Secret deck. Even still it’s hard to say that we don’t want to be able to Prep Secret Prize Plunderer or Blackjack Stunner– and Swindle is still as weirdly awkward as ever. But I opted for zero Preps despite excluding Sparkjoy Cheat, one of the previous major reasons and alternate avenues for cheating in Secrets– I think we need all of our cards and simply don’t have room for more. If this deck could be 31 cards I think I would play the first Preparation over any other card. Backstab simply had no place in a world of Mage, and for now I have kept it off the sheet until we see a world where we struggle against swathes of x/2s.
2 Blackjack Stunner: The nuts, and almost exclusively the reason to bother with the Secret package at all. Paladin doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and this deck is sorely in need of Time– but when Time starts to mean Time Walk, it's hard to look back. Deathrattle got super pushed all over this set and has plenty of room to grow and die, but even in a random field of creatures it becomes very difficult to find places where Blackjack Stunner, when it’s active***, isn’t one of your best cards. Don’t forget: you can bounce your own creatures! jandice for 7 mana doesn’t taste so good but it’s better than no Jandice at all.
2 Guardian Augmerchant: This card spoils the rest of the deck or instantly makes you go “Whaaat?” in a big goofy animated cartoon double-take after reading it immediately after Blackjack Stunner. Where there are Guardian Augmerchants there are Octo-boberts, and I think, I’m excited to say, that this card might be a secret sleeper here. No one has yet given an Ambush 2/3 Guy Divine Shield, and we really don’t know how nutty or not that will be. But when it is the best way to turn on Octo-bot and even combine with Prize Plunderer versus Aggro while protecting and triggering Field contact, I’m curious to see.
2 Prize Plunderer: People wondered if this card was good enough and then everyone went, “Oh, wait, okay yeah this is sick.” When even Stealth Rogue of our previous format was playing it you know this card has legs, and has been a mainstay whenever a Shadowstep is spotted. Your opponents tend to play creatures.
2 Secret Passage: It dodged the nerfs but part of me wishes it was hit instead of Jam-dis. Secret Passage is really truly just a 1-mana Draw 4 and is quite literally almost always the single best card in your deck in all kinds of positions. When we hope to string together our advantages and make sure, after reaching the spot where we Begin To Squeeze, to try and never let go, Secret Passage is often that last push or saving grace. When you start to play Wandmakers you can begin to run into having an issue of Too Many! Secret Passages, but since we abstained, we still need our Memory Jar.
2 Yoink!: See my last article here:
Yoink! still aims to be one of the best cards you can attempt to keep in combination with Octo-bob and a High Roll depending on your matchup. Life Tap, Gain 4, Deal 4, Make 1/1s all supplement your range. It triggers Swindle’s combo on turn 3, you can actually stack them(!) to layer a +1 attack Hero Power on top of another into your own Daggers and attack for 3, and it’s even a spell to brute force Counterspells and Oh My Yogg’s on the cheap. Not only is it pretty fun to play, but I do think it has legitimate viability if even as a 33% 1 mana Draw 2.
No Brain Freeze, No Wand Thief!: Brainfreeze is absolutely a card that will be deemed worthy or not in the face of a settled metagame– we literally don’t really know what it’s gunna look like, but Brain Freeze remains a very legitimate option in conjunction with Field Contact and Yoink! combos. This, like Backstab, is not being slept on so much as held in our pocket. Wand Thief, however, might surprise you. I heard an early argument for cutting Wand Thief as it suffered from the opposite problem that Deck of Lunacy had– Wand Thief’s random spells were all bad! Only about 16 of the 32 options are any good, and even those are pushing it. The effects they provide at best are Burn and Removal spells, but looking and Whiffing feels miserable at the moment. Yes it triggers Field Contact and gets triggered by Yoink! and nets cards off of Secret Passage but we were already playing Passage a little bit differently than we did pre-Barrens. I needed cards to cut for the Secret + Miracle combination and I feel relatively safe in saying Wand Thief can sit on the benches for a moment. A lack of Preparations and Backstabs also does reduce Miss. Thief’s equity.
2 Ambush, 2 Dirty Tricks: These in my opinion are the cleanest and best Secrets at Rogue’s disposal at the moment. With fewer explosive mana-cheating effects we find our hand often too-full for Plagiarize, and with the cutting of Sparkjoy Cheat we see Bamboozle lose a lot of space, especially with even fewer creatures on 1 or 2. I do believe that Sparkjoy Cheat + Bamboozle could be a reasonable enough return if we find our turn 3s to be necessary and chunky, but that will come with time. For now the 1 Hanar 4 Secret 2 Stunner package is certainly the bare minimum, and the 5th Secret is often still very good. But this deck wants to treat its four secrets not as a gameplan really but, again, just a bridge– they are solid removal spells or find us solid cards in the early turns of development. The list is so absolutely packed to the brim, however, that for now the Minimum of the packages are getting put down and we will get a feel for the strength and density of them soon.
2 Efficient Octo-bot: This is the important early part of the spectrum of our Double-Combo-Strategy. Octo-bot converts our Field Contacts into the dominant swing turns they need to be; -Bob brings our Kazakus and Jandice down an entire turn, especially important now with Jandice up to 6 mana; it pushes Alexstrasza and Tenwu together like Donkey and Dragon and creates a disgusting Force-Roar-style OTK; and most importantly, has four activators to make it tick in the likes of Guardian Augmerchant and Yoink! I think 4 is the appropriate number when you begin to mix in the additional triggers of just simply Attacking, which is safe to do in a lot of matchups as long as Octo-bot retains its 4-Health line, and in remembering Prized Plunderer. There are definitely positions where you want to go Octo-bot > Prize Plunderer > Secret > Blackjack Stunner > Shadowstep > Prize Plunderer on as early as turn 3. So when you add up the 2 Augmerchants + half of each Randomly Discovered Yoink! to count as 3 triggers the scenarios of Attack or Prize Plunderer can easily round that up to 4 and we feel satisfied.
Shadowjeweler Hanar: Honestly this card has lost a lot of strength since moving to the Barrens– he left his Dark Rituals behind with no Preparation and finds himself facing a format that does very chunky and violent things that threaten to quickly shatter his castle of glass. Mana feels at a premium at the moment and Hanar really can’t do his thing anymore without at least 4 mana beside him: your best scenarios are often Hanar + Secret + 1 Mana Secret + Stunner, though this is still very good. Hanar is less of a true Labyrinth Warlord now and more of that Tempo Hanar we love to hate on turn 2. He should be used to explicitly find openings in a strategy or buy yourself some time– don’t be overly invested in him, and you must must Must use him wisely. Throwing away Hanar too early against a control mirror like Priest can end up punishing you five turns later in a way that will always outweigh your Cantrip Hanar openers where he just dies to Hysteria. Ultimately however the Secret Pool is rather good at the moment and we hope to use Field Contact as a way to position ourselves for More Hanar turns, where Contact can operate in turns 4-6 while Hanar goes off anywhere between 6 and 10.
2 Swindle: I have a lot of weird feelings about Swindle. Without Foxy Fraud and Prep (see how many cards we keep wanting Prep for? hmm…) Swindle does feel like a very balanced draw spell. And this I think is the best way to stay hopeful about it: would this deck play Arcane Intellect? Like, literally probably yes. All of our important cards begin in chains on turns 4 and above– I think we would actually play a 3 mana Draw 2, and Swindle often is. It trades off not being as castable on turn 3 for being a cheaper version later, and I think this is okay. Octo-bot will also often shrink this card down to 1 which becomes a huge deal, but I really did seriously think about cutting it entirely. I wouldn’t be surprised– what if we cut the 2 Swindles and played our Sparkjoy Cheats for an earlier, more consistent curve that stuck to the board? We just try to go Octo-bot or Secret into Sparkjoy (awkward following a Secret) into Legend into Legend and never really find ourselves Swindling– we don’t need to play cards that find us more cards if we simply have our one card to play each turn. And Rogue really has become more of a One-Thing-Per-Turn deck until it does A Million. Old Tempo Edwin Questing Six-0s Johnson used to be empty handed constantly and in need of more and more fuel– I’m really curious to see if Swindle could afford to be cut. But when we need a density of Combo cards for cheap Field Contacts and we shaved Wand Thief I’m not sure we will have the card-draw necessary to compete and find our Part A side of our deck or our Part B, whichever we need, without Swindle. One of the strongest cases for the First Preparation, I would be willing to be looked in the eye and told Other Cards Are Better Than Swindle.
Tenwu of the Red Smoke (& Alexstrasza): This package might be deemed completely cuttable or it might be borderline necessary, and the fact that it exists within this limbospace is really exciting for me. The combo is, ultimately, hard to do– the good thing, however, is that each card is actually pretty okay on its own. Tenwu picked up the really necessary Kazakus + Golems to give him real High Mana Battlecries that you wanted to reset, something that was occupied by the space of Edwin and Questing Adventurer. On top of resetting Prize Plunderers and Blackjack Stunners and even Mankrik in conjunction with Field Contact, Tenwu actually kind of picked up enough bits of equity to be okay. You never keep him, you don’t want to have to warp your plan around OTKing with Alex, but I think the combo will happen more often than we might expect. Two cost reductions across either Tenwu or Alex or together and you can 16 someone in single blast, needing the total mana to equal 10, but even just one Blast + Pick up and say Go is reasonable, forcing your opponent to have massive lifegain or kill you. I’m skeptical of getting greedy for this combo to work but with the loss of Pen Flinger and a relatively Infinite-Light decklist, this finisher feels like a great ‘third combo’ to synergize with the rest of the deck.
2 Wicked Stab: A bad removal spell with a penchant for shooting your opponent for 12. A dearth of win conditions means we likely do have to keep our Oops, You’re Dead in the list.
2 Field Contact: Rounding out our Combo-Circus-Package is essentially the most important card that was added to the Secret List. Field Contact is the Miracle part of the old Casie list once touched by Octo-robert. Without this card we likely don’t play the Octo-bot / Augmerchant / Tenwu / Alex side of the deck. The three combos really can be summed up into this list, really:
4 Secrets, Hanar, and 2 Stunners (6)
2 Augmerchants, 2 Octo-bot, 2 Field Contact (6)
Tenwu and Alex (2)
These 14 cards are the pillars of our combos and as far as I’m concerned everything in each line must be played at minimum if you want to play that combo. Pen Flinger could still find a place, Sparkjoy Cheat and Bamboozle could come back in, Prep could trickle through, but we begin here with the cores and proceed from there. It should become pretty clear to us if 4 Secrets is enough, if Augmerchant does anything, and if we can even afford to cast our Alex or pretend to get two Octo-bobber triggers in an average game for the OTK.
We are already pushing the Large size of this write-up so I will round this off with a brief mention about our Legend Top End:
Mankrik is honestly insane, and Swindle really synergizes well enough with Mankrik alone to remain hustling. He is our best turn 3 almost always and we might even want to Pretend we have Mankrik’s by jamming back in the Sparkjoy Cheats.
Kazakus’s Battlecry reads: Draw Jandice. Well, old Jandice that is. You can tell that a good amount of thought into nerfing Jandice was in the understanding that the curve of Kazakus > Golem > Jandice really is super clean and allows you to give your hallmark card a spot to breathe as well as not needing to suddenly make us re-evaluate if the 4 or 6 Cost Creatures are too much of a headache. But Kazakus is very, very good, and as long as we have Shadowsteps and Tenwu and a controlling mindset Kazakus should remain in every Rogue deck that can afford it. Jandice we will continue to play and judge accordingly, but I think even at 6 mana she might be too unique of an effect to pass up.
Thank you guys so much for reading another billion pages but I hope you learned something or got excited about something you want to try, and I’ll see you later in the comments and live @ www.twitch.tv/mullahoo
I’ll be playing this very deck today and likely over this upcoming week, so come see what we can do!
Good day and good luck, gamers.
- Only Hanar Rogue
- All-in meme: Only Hanar Rogue (Readable version repost!)
- Miracle Rogue in the Current Pre-nerf Meta
More about HearthStonePost: "From the Creator of Yoink!ies, Scoob: Whisper Depths (or Secret Miracle Rogue)" specifically for the game HearthStone. Other useful information about this game:
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