First off, a little about why you should read my guide. I have been playing MTG and MTGO for about 12 years. I play competitively, and I play 80% limited, and 20% constructed (almost all of which is playing melira pod online in modern) . I got my HS beta key a few months back, dabbled a bit in arena, and found the game to be pretty trivial, with a fairly low skill cap. I was very frequently getting to 9 wins. After the changes, I tried out the arena a few more times, got 12 wins twice in my first 3 arenas… to get 250 gold and a golden common. Pretty unsatisfying for needing almost 90% win rate.Mmy interests were then sparked in constructed, since you can now actually (more or less) compete. For gold stars no less, of course this perked my interest even more. I have beaten Kripp, and a few rank 1 players that stream.
I started brewing constructed. Did a little research, and quickly found out that everyone was complaining about mage. I figured they would probably get nerfed so I wanted to stay away from that. I played a lot of warrior, and would have probably preferred that, but it seemed weak in constructed. The weapons are insane in arena, because generic creatures are so much more valuable in that format. In constructed with more streamlined decks, the synergy is more powerful then raw individual power, so being able to 2-1 creatures with weapons is not as good. Long story short, I had a rogue quest and started making a rogue deck.
Evolution of the deck:
First tried random combos with shadow step, preperation, the legendary that makes 2/1s, defender of argus, and even at one point had the 0 mana 1/1 whisps in my deck. I won some games, and did some really funny stuff, but once I got to rank ~15 play time was over.
Here is my current list:
The first things you will notice about this deck:
No defender of argus
No shattered sun cleric
No harvest golem
There are two things that I quickly noticed about constructed. You don’t want to commit to much to the board, and you want your cards to do something immediately if possible (otherwise they had better be really good/efficient). So, argus and sun cleric do indeed do something immediately, but I felt their bodies are so bad. The change to shattered sun cleric was actually really significant, since it now dies to all board wipe and 90% of creatures effectively. Argus really wants you to commit to the board… I can be convinced he is better, but since I cut him my win rate has spiked up immensely. Harvest golem just felt so low impact. A 2/3 for 3 that makes a 2/1 just is not exciting to me. He doesn’t do anything when he comes down, and is almost always dealt with really easily, or even just ignored.
Another realization I had that almost every game you go through half to 2/3rds of your deck, along with mulligens… you see a lot of cards. That is why there are so many situational 1-ofs in the deck. You actually see lots of them a lot of the time.
I will explain all of my card choices here:
These are the bread and butter rogue cards, I will just state them and they should be in pretty much every rogue deck:
Backstab x2: Best card in warlock match up, enables combo, just all around good
Deadly Poison x2: Good combo enabler, on the play can t2 blade, t3 DP and Defiase, kill their 2 drop they coined and take board control.
Ringleader x2: Efficient creature, although it feels bad, it does a lot of work for tempo. If you coin it out on turn 1 on the draw, you usually eat your opponents turn 2, and you get to take board control. Something I have been experimenting with is waiting to combo ringleader till t2 or t3 on the draw, you have lots of 2 drops and it ties up your opponents mana more on their turn 4 to deal with your 2/1. Worth considering, but probably almost always better just to t1 ringleader.
Eviscerate x2: Great finisher, great removal, always run 2
Novice Engineer x2: 2 of in every deck, combo enabler, doesn’t die to hero power, can pump it, ect ect.
SI:7 Agent x2: Great creature in a lot of match ups, 3/3 body dodges a lot of board wipe as well so its really nice
Sylvanus x1: If you don’t have this make it when you can. It is the only legendary in the deck, and it is in 90% of decks that can support it. 5/5 for 5 dodges so much removal, and the things it does for board control are bar none.
Argent Commander x2: In pretty much every deck, just solid creature that has charge.
===Now onto the not so obvious===
Cold Blood x2: I wanna start by saying I have mulligined this card out of my starting hand 100% of the time. This is your finisher vs mages and paladins, and your removal vs druids. The deck can easily pump out 11-15 points of damage on turn 8 even with a completely frozen board. You use this to break iceblocks, and kill your opponent out of no where with a locked down board. It has great synergy with the 5 charge creatures in our deck to kill someone out of no where.
Acidic Swamp Ooze x1: This is possibly going to get cut. Warrior is BY FAR the worst match up for us. I think I am 0-5 against warrior. Luckily for us, they don’t show up often. Also good combo enabler, and good vs paladins. This card is on the chopping block for 1/1 +1 spellpower guy though.
Loot Hoarder x2: These guys are good combo enablers, and are good vs warlocks. They aren’t fantastic, but decks need early drops and as a rogue we really need cheap creatures to enable combo, and these guys just kind of fit the role.
Sap x1: At first I didn’t love this card, but it is actually really awesome. I would almost always mulligin this card as well, because you use it as a late game remove a defender, or stall a giant for one turn type of thing. I wouldn’t play 2, since it is extremely situational, but when it is good it is really good.
Fan of Knives x1: Meh, it is fine some of the time. This card is pretty unexciting to me, but will be better when I get the 1/1 spellpower legendary. Kind of a necessity though, since it is our only way to deal with blood imp. (Blade furry is a consideration, but they are basically the same thing and upside and downside to both)
Wolf Rider x2: These guys are pretty awesome. They are a 3 mana removal spell, and also a late game finisher. I really like these guys, and they do wonders in rogue with cold blood and cheap enough to enable some combos. I don’t think any rogue deck should play without these guys.
Dark Iron Dwarf x2: I originally wasn’t playing these. They are a really good body and have a relevant ability, just a solid creature that I have grown to like more. 4 mana is nice as well, since on turn 10 you can argent commander dwarve for 6 damage to anything.
SpellBreaker x1: Breaks ice, tons of pump/legendaries running around, just a really nice 1 of. I would play this as a 1 of in any deck that can give up a spot. Great card for getting around taunt and lots of other nasty stuff.
Assassinate x1: I am really not sure why no one runs this. The rogue decks are built more like aggro-control, and this fits really well into that strategy. Our removal is awesome… vs mid range creatures. Anything that is huge we have to devote tons of resources to kill it. Having this as a one-of to deal with a 5/10 or a rag or tyrion… well, its nice. This card has won me a lot of games, but it is expensive, and situational so it only gets 1 slot.
Azure Drake x1: Its fine, I had 2 for the longest time but wanted to make room for something else and big durpy non-synergistic creature seemed like a reasonable cut. 99% of the time turn 7 this into eviscerate, its fine.
Raging rocketeer x1: Was just kind of a trial, but I decided to keep him in since it is actually a great finisher, or even just a 6 cost removal spell. Acts as a third argent commander, and I have really been liking it. I will soon replace it with Leeroy when I get enough dust, but trust me when I say this guy steals a lot of games away.
Things to always think about (General):
Can I re-dagger next turn?
Always be looking at your hand and counting mana crystals, if you can re-dagger next turn based on what you think you will play, always swing. If you play 10 games, one of them will probably come down to 1 or 2 life, and that is a 10% increase in win rate if you aren’t missing this damage.
Should I run my guy out or wait to combo?
Our creatures are awful without combo. Try your absolute hardest to combo your creatures and spells whenever possible. We can always rebuild our dagger, and we have plenty of 2 drops to play instead. The rogue builds on small advantages, and our combo cards are an essential part of that.
Should I overload the board or try to dodge AOE removal?
How many cards does your opponent have? What turn is it? Have they had a prior turn where it would have been good for them to AOE? These are questions you need to answer before you decide how many minions you run into a possible AOE. Vs mage, hold off playing guys before their turn 5 and turn 7, vs paladin their turn 4. Always remember, if they spend their turn casting an AOE, they don’t progress their board. Also, 3 health creatures are almost always more valuable then 2 health creatures so don’t be afraid to trade a 3/2 instead of a 2/3 and give up a point of damage.
When do I board clear and when do I hit face?
You have to judge what your opponent is going to do. If you have ever watched Trump, he advocates board clear almost 100% of the time. This is very incorrect. If I have a 3/2, and my opponent has a 2/2, I am going to hit their face. If they kill my guy, I just did 3 points of damage for free. If you are at a healthy life, and get your opponent below 10, I would say go for the face. This forces them to make the trades, and you can just sit back and win the game well they try to clean up your minions. If you sense they could be holding AOE clear, then trade, if they start using single target removal on your guys, they probably don’t have it and you can go for face and let them make the trades. Basically, if it looks like your opponent is in a situation where they need to trade, don’t do it for them. Hit the face.
Vs Mage (hard):
You really have to go to the face hard, never miss any swings with your dagger (provided you can re-dagger the next turn) . Don’t be afraid to use your deadly poison to hit the face. They have few creatures, and our removal is essentially dead anyways. Vs giants you don’t want to be daggering into a giant anyways. You have to play really smart with how many minions you commit. Don’t hoard 1 toughness creatures in your hand unless its the charge guy, they can deal with them anyways so might as well make them waste the mana and tempo. Cold blood and charge are your best friends in this match up for finishing them through the waves of freeze and iceblocks (though id still recommend mulligining them at the start, you will draw them don’t worry).
Vs Paladin (Medium):
They have very few relevant creatures, and their board control is meh. Save your removal for minions that matter, and trade off your creatures. You will eventually gain advantage on them, and be able to do lots of damage to fight through all the life gain. Your hero power is a direct counter to theirs, make sure to always have a dagger up.
vs Warlock (Medium):
You are the control deck. Aggressively trade and use removal against them. Your creatures will be bigger then theirs, and once you get to the latter stages in the game you can usually one shot punch them since they do so much damage to themselves. You just need to stay alive.
vs Druid (Medium): Sap and assassinate are insane, I would keep them in my opener vs Druid. They have lots of big creatures, but also have a lot of dead cards dedicated to mana ramp, so it is okay to 2-1 yourself vs their creature, since they spent cards getting them out faster. These games are usually pretty grindy, and you gota play well to get the win (as in all match ups) . Your life total isn’t really important, so its fine to dagger aggressively. They only have 2 charge creatures typically, and not a lot of direct damage.
vs Warrior (Hardest): Pretty much just die. Their guys are huge and they do so much damage. We don’t have any AOE or stall, and their weapons own us. They basically do what we do, but bigger. Luckily there are hardly any warriors, and they seem to die horribly to paladin and warlock which are two of the most popular classes right now.
vs Priest (Medium): Pretty much in between druid and paladin. They play pretty straight forward most of the time, save removal for big guys, don’t die to holy nova, and hope they Soulpreist kill themselves haha. Silence is one of your best friends.
vs Rogue (Medium): Play and draw better then them. Try to play around betrayl by placing your minions appropriately. If they don’t have it in their deck it is still free to do, and good practice.
vs Shaman (Medium): Haven’t played against them much, think I am 3-0 vs shaman. The all-in turns seem to really mess them up (they don’t have any heal so it usually flat kills them). They have a good amount of taunt, but still our deck can play around that pretty well, and besides that they just keel over to the chargers.
vs Hunter (easy?): Hunters don’t exist.
Hope this helps, I will see you all in the golden rank soon.