We explored Secret Rogue vs. Control Priest last time here:
Our list is the same and today we’re going to do Episode 2: Face Hunter, near the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of archetype as well as Visibility. This only really goes for the meta in Top 500, as such for all of these articles, but ultimately this is A Deck that you will see– I just happen to see it in small proportions (near 10%). Rexxar is essentially the Premiere Aggro Deck in my mind right now, filling out the far left side of our X-axis of “Aggro To Control” where Priest is all the way right.
This list has almost no variation in it whatsoever, unlike Priest, though there are some (I think HattriK?) King Krush Big Goofy Hunters out there. The one you’ll normally see is the full-face version, depicted here:
(Let me know if the link vs the text is better, you can’t copy deck codes with card names unless you have the whole deck (rip) but I can work around it if y’all will explode when you click the link.)
Without further ado:
Secret Rogue vs. Face/Rhino Hunter
We (Rogue players) are the Control Deck. Hunter, like Priest, will kill you if given infinite time– however, now our shaving of time off the clock is through Stemming The Bleeding, not Squeezing Them Out. Defeating Hunter is all about minimizing how much early damage is taken, since their flurries of Burn Spells can quickly end the game no matter how spooky our board is.
Our major game plan lies in not taking too much damage before Rhinos and Piercing Shots start chunking us, hopefully stabilizing behind a Kazakus Golem or Two and Jandice.
The key cards to play around are: Trampling Rhino. Honestly that’s it– unlike Priest we don’t have to preemptively play around much out of Hunter’s hands– you can more or less react entirely to what they play, only spending a concentrated turn on Okay Is Rhino a 5/5 or a 7/6 and What Happens When They Slam It Next Turn? Kolkar Pack Runner is a consideration but only in remembering that you might want to save 3 damage to clear him– it must die, but until they show it to you there isn’t much to do about it.
Our key cards are: Early Ambushes, Prize Plunderer + Shadowstep, and Kazakus Lifesteal Golem and Jandice Loops. All of our removal is good, obviously, but most of the time Blackjack Stunner is only Okay– you’ll certainly be happy to have one if you do, but it’s best bounce targets are Intrepid Initiate and Imprisoned Felmaw; most of Hunter’s other minions don’t mind being back in hand for a second, and you literally Can Not Ever bounce a Rhino to take 4 again unless the math is exactly perfect to go to 1 and kill them in the backswing.
Ambush, (Bamboozle is eh okay), Prize Plunderer, Sparkjoy Cheat + Mankrik, Kazakus, Jandice on the Coin.
Traditionally you do Not keep Shadowstep on the Play, but with the Coin it gets much better for actually putting Prize Plunderers into Deal 3 Deal 5 as well as turbo-ing out a Jandice and picking her up to replay on 6. I’d argue that Wicked Stab isn’t really a keep, but when you aren’t playing Brain Freeze you sometimes really do want a way to cleanly kill an Intrepid Initiate. Don’t tunnel too-hard on the fact that we need Removal Spells– ultimately what we REALLY need is Kazakus Golem and a way to stabilize so we can start attacking and or Taunting or Lifestealing. We still seek to Sparkjoy Cheat and get sticky and draw some cards, because time is of the essence.
Ideal Turn 1 Plays:
Hunter: Intrepid Initiate, Wolpertinger, especially with Coin Adorable Infestation
Rogue: Coin/Prep Ambush, Coin Dagger Up, random Wand Thief + Plunderer, Nothing
Now we would love nothing more than to not have to cast a spell. We essentially become the Priest in this matchup– we spend the whole game saying “please don’t punch me” and trying to find turns to Take Off and stick our own monkeys. The problem is Hunter very much so wants to play Intrepid Initiate and Wolpertinger, both of which threaten to bother us for some time. We aren’t playing Backstabs anymore and this could be something that changes in a nearby Mini-Set or Patch, but for now this is standard and we lack super clean cheap removal in Secret Rogue. Coin Dagger is actually a really good option to deal with Wolpertinger in particular, not Intrepid Initiate, because a lot of your follow-up turns can be something like Secret on 2 into Sparkjoy into Kazakus and you never actually wanted the Coin. Most of the time our Turn 1 is Nothing, but we certainly have plays that we Can make given specific combinations of hands.
Ideal Turn 2 Plays:
Hunter: Imprisoned Felmaw, Kolkar Pack Runner + Coin + Spell, 1 drop + Adorable Infestation
Rogue: Secret, Coin Sparkjoy Cheat / Mankrik, Shadowstep Removal Spells, Wicked Stab
As early as turn 2 Rogue must start clearing minions. Imprisoned Felmaw feels like a weird reprieve from Rogue’s perspective because we can actually attempt to set up Scorpid turns on 3 to threaten the Felmaw randomly attacking it, or just using turn 2 to safely develop a Secret. The name of the game in this matchup with regards to the Coin really becomes (like in a lot of matchups): Do I have two different plays for 2 mana? For 3 mana? Can I 2 drop into 2 drop, Can I 3 drop into 3 drop? We need to get out on the field ASAP, we need to start spending our mana Right Away. We don’t need these silly Alexstrasza Tenwu 13 mana turns later– we need to Not Die Right Now. This is why Coin Dagger on 1 is pretty common into Wolpertinger– we often have plays on 2 3 4 5 lined up, and if we never Dagger the Wolpertinger on 1 and 2 we just end up taking 5+ damage from little demon rabbits for nothing. Every interaction in the Rogue players mind should be “how can I take as Little Damage As Possible from every single one of their cards?” Wicked Stab on 2 on a living Intrepid Initiate is nice and clean, and many times you will even coin Wicked Stab like we Coin Dagger Wolpertingers when there are follow-up plays. Be very afraid of Intrepid Initiate getting Adorable Infestationed up to 3 Health and never dying until you do.
Ideal Turn 3 Plays:
Hunter: Kolkar Pack Runner + Spell, any combination of 1 and 2 mana threats
Rogue: Sparkjoy Cheat, Secret + Blackjack Stunner, Venomous Scorpid into Awakening Felmaw
Hunter weirdly has like, one 3 drop in Mankrik. This turn for them just becomes “uhhh whatever I can play” except for powerful Kolkar Pack Runner turns, especially featuring the Coin. Rogue has always struggled with weird little wide boards of multiple 1/1s or 2/2s (Glowfly Swarm, Gibberling,) and Kolkar Pack Runner + Wound Prey Wound Prey is very spooky. We really only have some hopeful Dagger Ups and maybe a Wand Thief or Blackjack Stunner left hanging around to clean up the 1/1s, otherwise you quickly fall behind as each hyena ends up dealing 2 or even 3 damage. This is a turn that we hope to use as a Turn Off and squeeze in our Sparkjoy Cheats or Draw Spells in order to desperately dig for Kazakus and Jandice. If Hunter plays a Felmaw on 2 and we play a Scorpid on 3 then the Felmaw often wakes up and has a 50/50 to instantly die and Deal 0 or Deal 5, a flip we are very happy to take.
Ideal Turn 4 Plays:
Hunter: Warsong Wrangler discovering Rhino
Rogue: Kazakus, 3 drop + Removal Spell
Hunter has some named 4 drops but most of them they’d rather not play in favor of a Warsong Wrangler– Hunter’s MO in this matchup (every matchup?) is to jam 7/6 Rhino into 7/6 Rhino into tiny opposing minions, and boy do we have a lot of stupid tiny minions in Prized Plunderers, Blackjack Stunners, and even Jandice. We need to play minions to develop our plan and Rhino (affectionately referred to on stream as Dindoserous) just absolutely murders them. The way Rogue loses the game is just getting double-Rhinod, and Warsong Wrangler is a sticky and safe way to make sure that happens. The good thing is that, technically, Rogue now knows what’s coming– we can often Wicked Stab or Blackjack Stunner the Wrangler, develop a minion, and say Alright, Bring It. If we actually feel confident in dealing with the First Rhino then the game is normally in a very good spot for Rogue. Kazakus is what we really want to be casting if we could Choose what we cast, but sometimes Wrangler means killing Kazakus and also Rhino-ing you and Golems can be too late– this is why being on the play for Rogue is often really nice in this MU. Lifesteal + Fireball Golem will almost always kill a 5/5 Rhino that just attacked you as well as threatening to trade 1 for 1 and Gain 5 against the second, if there were no Wranglers.
Ideal Turn 5 Plays:
Rogue: Kazakus Golem, Coin Jandice Shadowstep
Rogue then has the reality of their one planned-turn in front of them– can we set up a Bamboozle before this Rhino, do we have to decide to go for Golems, did we even get the Good Ones to be able to deal with Rhino, and can Jandice Protect Us? The similarities between our ideal turn 5 plays are that we play Two Big Things while Hunter plays One. This is our opportunity to turn the corner– we never really introduce multiple threats that we can begin to ride to victory before turn 5. Jandice and Kazakus both bring a 2 for 1 (sometimes a 3 or 4 for 1) that Hunter now must answer or Burn over the top of. This is the critical turn in the matchup and gauging Rogue’s life total against Hunter’s hand and board size will often tell you who is in the driver’s seat. Unfortunately Rogue does have to clear the first Rhino– it can never be allowed to attack twice– which is why Kazakus Golems that have Rush or Shoot Fireballs are safe and clean answers that both present a Threat and Kill Rhino. Jandice can whiff on a Rush or Taunt minion and this is definitely where things like Prep Wicked Stab + Legend are very very good, a small checkmark in Prep’s column.
Turns 6+ just become more of an extended dance of the previous turns– Rogue continues to ward off Rhinos and hide behind Legends including a Hanar Christmas Tree that can gain armor or Counterspell & Oh My Yogg key burn spells. The shorter the game from here, the better for Rogue. In many cases this can happen to our health:
Turn 1, take 0– we’re at 30.
Turn 2 take 3 from Initiate, we’re at 27.
Turn 3 take 3 from Initiate + Hero Power, we’re at 22.
Turn 4 take 5 from Felmaw or Random Idiots, we’re at 17.
Turn 5 take 5 average from Rhino, we’re at 12.
Going into turn 6 we’re already within essentially a 2-Turn-Clock– two turns of Hero Power means we are guaranteed t o be at 8, and now one Piercing Shot + Quick Shot, double Quick Shot + Arcane Shot, etc. means that we can just die from hand. This is one of the hardest parts for Rogue to actually end the game within this 2-3 turn window. If Jandice whiffs and gives us two 2 attack minions, sure we might not be dead, but now we attack for 8, attack for 12, dang we only have one Wicked Stab and we can’t kill them, they get one more whole draw step, and bonk, they drew it. Rogue playing as the Control Deck is almost always about reducing the number of draws our opponents get that Just Kill Us, which is why Rogue sort of transitions into a cool Prison deck with the likes of Hanar and Alex to heal up or OTK.
This matchup is actually super fun and not that toxic, which is pretty nice. This feels like a powerful place for Hunter to be and I’m curious to see how their matchup spread changes with some inevitable Patch Notes coming next week, according to Celestalon. However many guides I get out by then, that’s how many we get out! Things are a-changin’, but dang, I dunno, Hearthstone feels pretty sick to me. Play Rogue and have fun and learn if you’re at where you want to be Ranked-wise and hey– you might even climb.
Until next time, I’ll be streaming @ www.twitch.tv/mullahoo. Quillboar Hype??