HearthStone

No More Yoink!? An Exploration And Exposition On Rogue That Ends in Heresy

*I’d like to thank Yoink! for their service.

It's been about a month and so we race to meet the end of the First Season of Forged in the Barrens; we've got our final article for within this membraned space before we move on. Thanks for all the support and feedback on all of my previous articles– here's to another and many more as long as Hearthstone stays exciting!

The Jungle

Your decklist, fellow Yoink!ists and aspiring and veteran Rogues alike, with explanations and tales below. Stay tuned if you wanna read about the journey, copy away if you want some spice.

### Heresy Rogue

# Class: Rogue

# Format: Standard

# Year of the Gryphon

#

# 1x (0) Preparation

# 2x (0) Shadowstep

# 2x (1) Blackjack Stunner

# 1x (1) Brain Freeze

# 2x (1) Prize Plunderer

# 2x (1) Wand Thief

# 2x (2) Ambush

# 2x (2) Bamboozle

# 2x (2) Dirty Tricks

# 2x (2) Efficient Octo-bot

# 1x (2) Shadowjeweler Hanar

# 1x (2) Tenwu of the Red Smoke

# 2x (2) Wicked Stab (Rank 1)

# 2x (3) Field Contact

# 1x (3) Mankrik

# 2x (3) Sparkjoy Cheat

# 1x (4) Kazakus, Golem Shaper

# 1x (6) Jandice Barov

# 1x (9) Alexstrasza the Life-Binder

#

AAECAd75Awj7xAPHzgPZ0QPD4QP86APn8AOwigT3nwQLzLkDzrkD0LkDub4DpNED890DguQDqOsDqusDq+sD9p8EAA==

https://twitter.com/HSTopDecks/status/1387810303979794434?s=20

https://twitter.com/MullahooTTV/status/1387165120317607942?s=20

My name is Mullahoo on Twitch and we’ve gone from Tempo Rogue to Secret Rogue to Miracle Rogue to Secret Miracle to Secret Poisonous Also Miracle to Double OTK Miracle Combo Secret to… okay, everything. Most of it, at least. But yet here we are with another stake in the mountain and more questions, more answers, and more spice.

What worked? What’s working? We are still here, Top 300 in NA, but we’ve slipped and slid around on the backs of Sinister Strikes and Manafeeder Pantharen. A lot of fun efforts were spent on discovering some unique fundamentals that lie hidden beneath Valeera– some felt clean, some felt clunky, and we uncovered a series of rules and laws as we went. Most importantly it turns out that there are a series of very distinct packages that sit here before us on the floor:

  1. The Miracle Package (Field Contact, Brain Freeze, Swindle, Wand Thief+)
  2. The Secret Package (Ambush, Dirty Tricks, Bamboozle, Blackjack Stunner, Hanar, Sparkjoy Cheat)
  3. The Alex Tenwu Package (Alexstrasza, Tenwu, Octo-bot)
  4. The Sinister Strike Augmerchant Package (Sinister Strike, Ethereal Augmerchant, Yoink!+)

The first two are discretely known quantities and common archetypes to see played and accepted up to the Grandmasters. Most of the time they are wholly themselves: Miracle Rogue, or Secret Rogue. We have explored, in great detail, the combination “Secret Miracle” deck, and we will meet that today in the heart of this article; but everyone should know about Secret by itself and Miracle by itself if you’re playing on Ladder, at least in Diamond+ Elo. We’re gunna start with number three.

3) The Alex-Tenwu Combo became realized relatively early into the history of Barrens Rogue and began to be widely adopted. It turns out that Alexstrasza on her own is very good, and when Rogue has the option of actually casting her multiple times you start to see the appeal, much like Shadowstepping a Zephrys– you can do something others can’t do, can do something two or three times when others are limited to Once. But what this package really began to stand for would become part of the quest we took through all of the different builds and ruins:

“How should you win the game?”

Alex and Tenwu, in concert with Octo-bot at the wheel, suddenly provided an enormous fireballing multi-barrage cannon Win Condition– given infinite time and ideal draws hooo boy, you sure could blast! But that was the thing: not only was this cannon loaded with a finite number of fireballs, but it was slow. It felt undeniably powerful and it did set the bar as to how best to close things out– it was very quickly adopted into most if not all versions of the Rogue lists we see above and below: Secret with Alex Tenwu, Miracle with Alex Tenwu, Sinister Strike OTK with Alex Tenwu, Secret Miracle with Alex Tenwu. The general consensus as of the mid and end of April was that Alexstrasza was good enough, Tenwu was good enough (if not only because of Alex, but had nevertheless found his place), and that these defined a ceiling of sorts when it came to “How should we win?” One of the hardest questions within that question would then become “Can you actually go Longer than the Control Decks with this Way of Winning while still going longer than the Aggro decks?”

I’ve talked about this before, but EVIL Miscreant was an insane card. What we lack in this metagame is a card for Rogue that, like our Kobold Pharaoh-King, could create an entire engine of card advantage by itself that can be seamlessly fed into every part of your curve and gameplan from turn 2 to 20. It alone could go longer than the Control Decks and instantly contest Aggro. The resources that we have here now near Orgrimmar are, to put it one way, narrow and blunt (two ways?) Our options are clearly defined, and they are simple but effective tools:

  • We are playing Chunky Legends on Curve on turns 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7– one card per turn, maybe two 5/5s for return
  • Our Burn Spells can rarely be cheapened or draw cards, they get good only in the end
  • Our Removal Spells often deal Finite Numbers of damage and are inflexible, like Brainfreeze and Prize Plunderer
  • Our Cannon deals 16, sometimes 24 if you’re lucky and patient– but what if they’re at 30?

So many details about our avenue options in Rogue are heavily cemented in this new and sluggish world– long gone are the days of turn two 8/8s after we combo off. Long gone are the days of a 1/4 that could technically go infinite over enough turns and find you removal spells, big threats, cheap threats, keyword modifiers, health resets, and Long gone are the days of playing 6 (!) 0-mana cards and loving it. In a very flavorful way we are forced to squeeze every ounce of equity out of each of our mana crystals in this desert; reaching that oasis, of how to actually close out the game with a Victory, becomes a really interesting thing. Alex and Tenwu said, “If you’re looking for ways to win before it’s too late, we’re probably the best you’ve got.” But they required a lot of work, needing multiple activations off of Octo-bot if you actually wanted the OTK and couldn’t afford another turn, and even still could be forcibly interacted with by Mindrender Illucia and Tickatus. Priest and Warlock, the only real Control Decks, could kill literally every minion in your deck and still be at a high life total– Alex and Tenwu were in some cases your only hope to outlast the strength of Hysteria. Even Warrior threatened to beat you on board for the entire game and demanded the services of A&T. The decks in this meta have been shaping up and arrived with them saying “We can beat everything Rogue can do if they try to stop playing win-conditions bigger than Jandice… if that’s the best they can do, we can beat that.”

Read more:  Exodia Paladin D5->Legend

When you looked at it: sure you can draw your deck with Field Contact, but then what? Sure you can set up a Christmas Tree with Hanar, but then what? We can’t look to EVIL Miscreant to bail us out, our Legends are just our regular ol’ Neutral Legends like everyone else… We basically needed Alex and Tenwu to save us. “Shoot you for 8 or 16 or 24” was the only way to squeeze things out after Doing Our Thing, the most with Valeera’s Tools, against the Control Decks.

This will almost certainly change if a mini-set or the next Expansion gives us a value engine of sorts that can do something more than draw cards. Alexstrasza is strong but Rogue has always loved being able to be leaner and meaner than 9 mana. The Alex Tenwu combo honestly just isn’t well suited for Rogue’s class philosophy to go that long, especially while we have so many insane 0 and 1 mana spells still legal. Foxy Fraud is missing a new friend with Combo and that decklist with this mystery future card, almost certainly jammed within the Field Contact version, will likely be the next big thing.

But until then, we have to figure out which way to go. How should we support our Alex Tenwu Cannon? This is the first heart of the article: what were our options and which one do you play, because it would appear that we can’t have everything– each Package has a lot of cards unique to it and not wanted in the other shells… then you fill out with the Core Rogue Cards, and you often don’t have enough space in a 30-card deck to do another Package. You have to choose; we return to Packages 1, 2, and 4:

1) Miracle Rogue: Field Contact is basically a 3 mana Auctioneer. It is not difficult to make Field Contact into a Draw 5 and clear your opponent’s board in the mid-game, though 3 mana is a reasonable price based on forcing these turns to come on something like turn 6 or 7. In a way Field Contact is just yet another expensive Legend for this deck– it does literally nothing on turn 3, you will never cast it unless you Shadowstep it right then and there (which is basically only viable as a play in the Mirror and when your hand is a very specific pile). This might as well be a 5.5 mana card that’s a 3/2 with “Battlecry: Draw 2 cards and cast Crackle on two enemy minions.” It’s good! Like, really good! But it explicitly can’t win you the game– it is an engine, and it turns out that the state of Rogue right now is one of “which Engine, lacking a win condition, do you play?” Miracle is traditionally favored against the aggressive decks because of the multiple cheap interactive cards: 2 Brainfreeze, 2 Prize Plunderer, 2 Wand Thief, and often now 2 Foxy Fraud + 2 Swindle, even with some Cult Neophytes. It gets out early, plays multiple aggressive two-drops, and has turn 4s with Coin that end up including Field Contact + 4-5 cards. This deck mimics some of the explosive mana-cost-cheating of yesteryear, but still feels very limited to needing opposing boards to target with their spells– it’s not impossible for a Priest or a Warlock or a Mage to literally not have things in play to Brainfreeze and Plunder, Field Contact struggling to go off. Can you afford to play a Legend that casts Crackle twice but has no targets? Early Miracle packages appeared to have middling matchups and Secret threatened to usurp the GM favorite.

2) Secret Rogue: This pile has been my personal favorite since literally Ashes of Outland, and most of the core is still the same– you essentially trade your Field Contacts in for Sparkjoy Cheats (a this-year inclusion) as your 3 drop of choice, and instead of a number of cantripping 1 mana cards you get slightly thicker, more durable and clean-cut 2 mana spells in The Secrets. Ambush and Dirty Tricks have been super staples since Hanar has been playable, and Bamboozle comes in with Sparkjoys to give you a “Build a Questing Adventurer” openings against some Warrior, Hunter, and Paladin draws. Hanar can still construct some powerful labyrinths– definitely remember that Hanar is a Prison card, aiming to lock out your opponent– and Blackjack Stunner is an absolute juggernaut, ever since the card got printed. Being able to have a Better Sap has been such an amazing upside for this deck and completely hoses some of the slower and durdlier openings and midgames we see now in The Barrens, and is ultimately the real reason you go to Secret Rogue at all– you want and value the wider range and scope of your spells, playing more like a Prison Control Deck than an aggressively slanted Miracle deck. When Sap is good the slower Secrets tend to be amazing, and the recent inclusion of Bamboozle has honestly gone a long way in treating some spooky matchups. But this package is also a big investment: 2 Stunner, 2 Ambush, 2 Bamboozle, 2 Dirty Tricks, 1 Hanar, 2 Sparkjoy Cheat… compare this to Miracle’s 2 Brainfreeze and 2 Field Contact that are already alongside a suite of staples– if you wanna play Secrets, you need to go pretty all-in.

4) Yoink! Sinister Strike Augmerchant: This fourth and final package was one that we found ourselves walking toward as we explored Yoink! as a synergy-heavy cheap spell that can end up representing a number of points of extra damage. The plan behind this deck was built on some ideas in Orange’s Burn Rogue strategy that used Ethereal Augmerchant to ping and trigger your Octo-bot, giving it Spell Damage and ending the game with a flurry of Sinister Strike, Sinister Strike, Wicked Stab, Wicked Stab for 22 damage (poggers!). The theory behind cards like Yoink! in this deck was to turbo your plan of Pinging Octo-bot, drawing cards, enabling super spicy ideas like we had with Manafeeder Panthara + Yoink! and hoping to use this extra-oomph to close out games. This package essentially answered our question of “how should we win games?” with “more burn on top of your Burn from Alex Tenwu.” The list was really cool and fundamentally synergized with the fact that we were looking to end the game from-hand and in just straight-up shooting our opponents in the face, no creatures required. It had some aggressive Panthara draws that actually stacked up early damage, and for a moment was seeking to be a Rogue deck that could play more 2-drops to start attacking Pre-Nerf Lunacy Mage, but that era is over. This package most importantly taught us that, unfortunately, it appears that we have Too Many Good Rogue Cards to play, and that it gets a little tough to convince yourself to start playing “Bad Cards'' and chaff like Sinister Strike and River Crocolisk in what is still a very powerful metagame. You had a lot of awkward openers where you could draw parts of your engine but with no great payoff, or stupid looking Panthara Sinister Strike Alexstrasza hands that literally left you not being able to play the game. This package was also combined within the Miracle package for a bit and we wrote about that in the other articles, but the theory was intriguing despite being ultimately less convincing. But this was another option nonetheless! Ethereal Augmerchant, Sinister Strike, Yoink!, sometimes Wandmaker and then juiced up with Field Contact + Alex Tenwu.

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The Core Cards:

But there was still Glue being played in all of these decks and piles above– almost every deck auto-included what I used to refer to in some of my Magic articles as “The Locked Slots”–

  • 2 Shadowstep
  • 2 Prize Plunderer
  • 2 Secret Passage
  • 2 Octo-bot
  • 2 Swindle
  • 2 Wicked Stab
  • 1 Mankrik
  • 1 Kazakus
  • 1 Jandice

No matter what, you could start building your Rogue deck with this ProtoPackage because these had been realized as cards that could and would overlap favorably with any of the other Packages; these were the staples that did not need other synergies and were simply our Good Draw Spells, Good Removal Spells, and Good Legends. Now we know both halves of our Rogue Equation: when taking the Locked Slots and jamming in the Key of a Package, what would our deck be? Which one was best? You had this foundation of powerful curvy neutral-ish Legends and reasonable reloads with Secret Passages and Swindles, now what do you do with your mid-game? What do you want half of your games to be? Half of them will be playing Mankrik > Kazakus > Golem with Fireballs > Jandice Shadowstep Jandice– this is Game Plan A, in many many cases. What was the rest? Miracle on Turn 2 doesn’t do much other than play Foxy Fraud if it gets lucky to have one of their two Swindles, and then waits until a big Field Contact turn on 5+ to re-control the board. Secret Rogue tries to just play the Right Secret on 2 and hope you have a second Secret on 3 for its consistent Sparkjoy Cheat openers, relying on Blackjack Stunner to steal heaps of game-winning time. The Augmerchant Burn Deck has the least consistent opener, hoping to just string together draw spells and chip in damage before Secret Passage finds them lethal, with a lot of dead cards on the way if drawn out-of-order. We dabbled in some combinations here and there, putting some Field Contacts in with the Watch Posts when those were around…Field Contact with Secret Stuff but short on Combo cards…Secret and Augmerchants to try and be a control deck with two OTKs… but most of these lists were always feeling 3-4 cards off, wanting to be able to just play this One More Little Package, that extra push of symbiosis, that squeeze that really pulled things together. But the Locked Slots gobbled up so much, and each Package had a suite of near-10 cards that filled up the rest. Most of our combinations that were seeking to do something other than simply “Play The Grandmaster Miracle List and Be Happy About It” were going 50%, and even the other Rogue players just doing what the Grandmasters seemed to be falling by the wayside. Tempo Warrior dominated us, Priest was not an easy and fun matchup anymore, and even Mage and Paladin can nut-draw you out with little to do. Rogue was suffering… until we turned to heresy.

Heresy Rogue:

I’ll link the list here again for reference but– We found our latest ruby after doing something honestly so far out of the minds of even the most Seasoned Rogue Veterans: we cut Secret Passage and Swindle.

### Heresy Rogue

# Class: Rogue

# Format: Standard

# Year of the Gryphon

#

# 1x (0) Preparation

# 2x (0) Shadowstep

# 2x (1) Blackjack Stunner

# 1x (1) Brain Freeze

# 2x (1) Prize Plunderer

# 2x (1) Wand Thief

# 2x (2) Ambush

# 2x (2) Bamboozle

# 2x (2) Dirty Tricks

# 2x (2) Efficient Octo-bot

# 1x (2) Shadowjeweler Hanar

# 1x (2) Tenwu of the Red Smoke

# 2x (2) Wicked Stab (Rank 1)

# 2x (3) Field Contact

# 1x (3) Mankrik

# 2x (3) Sparkjoy Cheat

# 1x (4) Kazakus, Golem Shaper

# 1x (6) Jandice Barov

# 1x (9) Alexstrasza the Life-Binder

#

AAECAd75Awj7xAPHzgPZ0QPD4QP86APn8AOwigT3nwQLzLkDzrkD0LkDub4DpNED890DguQDqOsDqusDq+sD9p8EAA==

I had an insane run of 21-11 to climb towards Top 100 and the deck felt Strong. We had ultimately set out to see if a combination of Secret and Miracle was good enough– it seemed like the packages took up too much space, and some versions didn’t have enough for Field Contact, others didn’t have enough for All Your Secrets after we were forced to add Bamboozle to ever, Ever have a chance at beating Rush Warrior. We tried and tried to add this and take out that and maybe shave this and somehow get these Two Distinct Decks slammed into one– we wrote about the earliest explorations of that idea here:

(https://www.reddit.com/r/CompetitiveHS/comments/mq6gjx/from_the_creator_of_yoinkies_scoob_whisper_depths/)

We’d tried so many things but then we had a thought– what if we cut the Uncuttables? Secret Passage and Swindle have been literal perma-auto-includes since their inception… did we actually need them? Who else would try this if not us? This meta and the playstyle of the heavier, controlling Secret Rogue actually didn’t seem to warrant these staples’ inclusion. We had no Foxy Frauds to turn on Swindle let alone even any 1 mana cards that didn’t themselves have Combo– Swindle was relegated to a turn 4+ play, but we were actively interested in trying to play our Legends or Stop Dying on those turns. Swindle felt like a bad Cram Session all of a sudden, and Secret Passage started going the same way. We weren’t spewing our hand on Turn 2 anymore and looking for a reload– to be honest, even if we did, our Secret Passages now saw all sorts of four card piles like Alex + Secret + Jandice + Brainfreeze. You can’t do much with that! We had so many clunky 2 and 3 and 4 mana cards that we were actually more interested in just making sure we played one to two good cards a turn and curved out.

Read more:  RenoWock - A Legend Climb Guide (Tempo RenoWock)

So we did the unthinkable and opened up those slots. Now with 4(!) extra places in our deck we could afford to still squeeze in Octo-bot, still play a Prep that I was desperate for as our 31st card that could never make it in, all our Secrets still featuring Hanar and both Field Contacts alongside our Usual Suspect Legends. But most importantly we added Sparkjoy Cheat and Bamboozle– Rush Warrior and Paladin continued to tick up and up– and one of the only ways you could beat Rush Warrior was to get an early 6 drop off of a Bamboozle and ride that to controlling the board and pushing face. We cut the Augmerchants in favor of a Brainfreeze to trigger Octo-bob and be a removal spell, and we left aside our beloved Yoink!s. All in all the changes from Whisper Depths to Heresy Rogue were this:

-2 Guardian Augmerchant +2 Wand Thief

-2 Yoink! +1 Brainfreeze +1 Prep

-2 Secret Passage +2 Bamboozle

-2 Swindle +2 Sparkjoy Cheat

This list wanted to try and spend every turn from 2 to 7 essentially playing one good card and not needing to Secret Passage or Swindle. The game plan became pretty straightforward on paper: your mulligans aim to go Secret into Sparkjoy Cheat, drawing upwards of 3-4 cards by turn 4 when including Dirty Tricks in the mix and turboing towards your Legends to go Kazakus + Golems + Jandice Shadowstep Jandice. Blackjack Stunner was doing insane work versus Handbuff Paladin and gave you some hope into Conditioned Warrior minions, with a Field Contact mid-game, now featuring more Cheap Combo Removal Spells that enabled you to bridge from turn 5+ towards your Alex OTK. Octo-bot could serve as your mulligan target against Paladin and Hunter, and you still had the full suites of removal minus the 2nd Brainfreeze which ended up getting cut for the first Prep. There were a lot of matchups, namely Priest, Mage, and Warlock, where Brainfreeze was easily your worst card and we already had 2 Plunderers and 2 Blackjack Stunners, so it felt reasonable to shave what felt like the 30th card for the 31st.

(by the way I still bet that Future Hearthstoners will look back on some of these decklists while Prep and Backstab are legal and say, “What in God’s name were these people thinking not playing Dark Ritual, not playing Lightning Bloom in every deck that they let them? Kids these days take for granted that those won’t just always be around!!!” Time will tell.)

Conclusion:

This felt like the best version of the Combined Secret Miracle Deck. We had a string of bad variance, we had a string of good variance, and the latter was caught on stream (well, it all was) to push us toward that Top 100. For better or for worse, the deck is insanely hard to play– I’ve literally jammed hundreds of games within this last month and I’m constantly making mistakes, meeting incredibly difficult situations, and, to be honest, fighting an uphill battle a lot of the time. Something about Secret Rogue, or treating Rogue as a control deck, feels hampered. When you look at Priest and even Mage their win conditions are buffered by such an insane core of spells like Hysteria and Refreshing Spring Water– Rogue doesn’t have that. Rogue is playing cards from a year ago that do, at the end of the day, feel like they’re trying way too hard to try to be something that other classes can easily be. But it still had some very powerful draws, some goofy strong plays, and is ultimately a lot of fun.

The best way to exemplify this point and bring it all together is something really wild: if you’re a Rogue player, you need to learn how to Animation Cancel. That’s right– there’s an actual mechanically intensive input you need to learn in order to get the most out of these goofy Wand Thief and Secret Passage and Shadowstep plays that waste your rope. I can’t explain it all here and hope to do another article or video on it, but I urge you to come by the stream to see it live and in-person. Priest can just cast Samuro Apotheosis– we Rogues need to take advantage of literally playing Hearthstone in a brand new way just to compete.

Does that mean Rogue is in a bad spot? I’m not so sure. There are powerful things going on here, and it’s our job to find them. We might need a Miracle, but I dive deeper and deeper everyday– I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labor, and I’d love it if you came down and jumped into the jungle with me.

Thanks again for reading all of this; I hope you learned even one thing or found something interesting. I’ll be streaming at 12 everyday doing this and More– I hope I’ll see you in chat if you liked it.

Mullahoo

https://www.twitch.tv/mullahoo

www.twitter.com/MullahooTTV

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