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Kobolds & Catacombs Set Review: Rogue

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Rogue was already one of the strongest classes in KFT, but that didn't stop it from pickomg up two of the most powerful cards in the entire set.

Click here to read my other written set reviews!

My Rating System

Each card is rated on a scale of 1 to 5 on two criteria: Power and Versatility.

The Power rating reflects how much I expect a card to impact the game when played. Cards which immediately represent multiple cards worth of value (Ultimate Infestation) or have a powerful effect on the board for their mana cost (Sunkeeper Tarim) will receive high Power ratings, while cards which have a low impact on the game (Ice Breaker) or cost too much for their effect (Furnacefire Colossus) will receive Power low ratings.

The Versatility rating is intended to communicate how dependent a card is on other cards for its success. Cards can be very powerful without being versatile at all (Clutchmother Zavas), which means that many exciting and powerful cards will end up seeing very little play once the metagame is established. A high Versatility rating means a card relies very little on other cards to be good, and the more comfortable I would feel crafting that card on day one. A lower Versatility rating doesn't necessarily reflect that I expect the card to be bad, but that I wouldn't feel comfortable crafting it until it has proven itself to be a part of a competitive deck.

Kobold Illusionist

r1.png

Fits into: Deathrattle decks

Power Versatility
2 1

Kobold Illusionist is capable of generating some serious value in dedicated Deathrattle decks, but it doesn't do nearly enough outside of these deck to earn widespread play. Though this card could be a great tool for Jade Rogue in combination with Aya Blackpaw and Jade Swarmer, my instincts say that it has too high of a setup cost.

Cheat Death

r2.png

Fits into: Combo Decks

Power Versatility
2 1

I don't really see the sense in paying two mana upfront for Shadowstep in anything but combo decks. Playing this into a Gadgetzan Auctioneer guarantees you access to a 4 mana Auctioneer on the following turn, but at that point, couldn't you have just played Auctioneer into Shadowstep to set that up anyways?

Sudden Betrayal

r3.png

Fits into: Combo and Midrange decks

Power Versatility
2 2

Everything about this card says that it wants to be in a defensive Rogue deck. This begs the question, how many defensive Rogue decks will there actually be in the K&C meta?

This card is certainly better than Betrayal in a handful of circumstances, but it doesn't seem very  difficult for an intelligent opponent to play around Sudden Betrayal if it ever becomes popular. Perhaps a combo deck like Miracle Rogue or a midrange deck like Jade Rogue can make use of this card, but I don't see it finding its way into aggressive or tempo-oriented decks anytime soon.

Cavern Shinyfinder

r4.png

Fits into: Weapon Rogue, Midrange Rogue

Power Versatility
4 3

Any Rogue deck with three or more weapons in it will be very happy to run Cavern Shinyfinder. The problem is, how many current Rogue decks are running three or more weapons? The answer right now is zero, but I'm optimistic that Cavern Shinyfinder can change that. Drawing a card from your deck and getting a 3/1 body for just two mana is such an excellent deal that this card might force its way into a variety of Midrange Rogue decks as part of a package with Shadowblade and Kingsbane, the new Rogue Legendary Weapon.

Elven Minstrel

r5.png

Fits into: Non-aggro decks

Power Versatility
5 4

Am I the only one who thinks this card is absolutely insane? Two minions and and 3/2 body for 4 mana is off the charts! If Ultimate Infestation was a soda, Elven Minstrel would be the diet version of that soda. Though this card is certainly not the most devastating of tempo plays in an aggresive deck, I have an extremely hard time believing that it won't have a serious impact on the upcoming meta. I'm looking forward to many months of Elven Minstrel memes on reddit.

Onyx Spellstone

r6.png

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Fits into: Deathrattle Rogue

Power Versatility
2 1

The lesser verion of this card is absolutely dreadful on turn 5, but the normal version quite passable. I only start to become really interested in this card when it reaches its Greater version, but by then I would have needed to play 6 Deathrattle minions as this card rots away in my hand. It actually seems like a decent top deck in the late game when board states become easier to manipulate, but I seriously doubt that this card will be the reason that an underpowered archetype (Deathrattle Rogue) becomes a force to be reckoned with in the K&C.

Fal'dorei Strider

r7.png

Fits into: Midrange Rogue

Power Versatility
3 3

Getting just one 4/4 spider from this card makes it an extremely worthwhile investment, while getting two or three spiders will feel absolutely backbreaking. Decks that are looking to end the game right away probably won't have the time to draw into Ambush, but I see a nice home for this card Midrange-y Rogue decks that pack a modest amount of card draw. I don't think that Fal'dorei Strider immediately slots in to any of the existing Rogue decks, but have faith that the card is powerful enough to crop up in a variety of new-look Rogue decks throughout the K&C meta.

Evasion

r8.png

Fits into: Combo Decks

Power Versatility
3 1

Don't worry combo haters, this card isn't nearly as broken as Ice Block.  I'm very excited to test this out in Miracle Rogue decks as a way to buy time for Valeera the Hollow, but I hardly expect it to revive that archetype all on its own. It plays pretty with Sudden Betrayal, as these two Rogue secrets demand virtually opposite attacks from the opponent, but I don't think Combo decks can afford to waste precious deck slots on both of these secrets in order to facilitate that synergy.

Kingsbane

r9.png

Fits into: Weapon Rogue

Power Versatility
4 1

Is the age of Doomerang and Runeforge Haunter finally upon us? The best of friends with Cavern Shinyfinder, Kingsbane is certainly powerful enough to give the Weapon Rogue archetype some hope in K&C.

Kingsbane probably isn't powerful enough to be run in a deck without Cavern Shinyfinder, Envenom Weapon, and Leeching Poison, and my primary concern with a dedicated weapon deck is that it is forced to run a significant number of cards that underwhelming on their own (such as the aforementioned Leeching Poison). I tend to gravitate towards decks which find ways to make good cards better, not bad cards good. Despite the obvious power level of Kingsbane, I'm not very optimistic that a Weapon Rogue deck will make a splash on the competitive ladder.

Sonya Shadowdancer

r10.png

Fits into: Everything

Power Versatility
5 5

My personal pick for "most obviously powerful card of the set", I struggle to envision a single Rogue deck which isn't interested in running Sonya Shadowdancer. It's downside is virtually the same as Edwin VanCleef's, while it's upside is completely through the roof. Getting just one trigger off this card will make it worth your while, anything beyond that is gravy. BonemareVilespine Slayer, and Elven Minstrel are obvious combos with Sonya, but so is virtually every Jade card ever printed and pretty much anything with a decent Battlecry or Deathrattle ability. I fully expect Sonya to be an auto-include in every Rogue deck under the sun.

Thoughts on the Class

Tempo Rogue currently holds the title of "top deck in the format", but the majority other Rogue decks in KFT are quite underwhelming. What I love about the new Rogue cards in K&C is that outside of Sonya Shadowdancer, none of them feel like obvious additions to Tempo Rogue. I expect the addition of Rogue secrets to make a much smaller impact on the meta than Blizzard probably would have hoped for, but am optimistic that cards like Elven Minstrel, Fal'dorei Strider, and Cavern Shinyfinder will be able to birth a variety of new-look Midrange Rogue lists.

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35 minutes ago, Aleco said:

I don't really see the sense in paying two mana upfront for Shadowstep in anything but combo decks. Playing this into a Gadgetzan Auctioneer guarantees you access to a 4 mana Auctioneer on the following turn, but at that point, couldn't you have just played Auctioneer into Shadowstep to set that up anyways?

Cheat Death lets you trigger a deathrattle twice (and play a deathrattle minion twice), and it does seem like this set is pushing deathrattles for rogues some more with this set.

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2 hours ago, Aleco said:

Playing this into a Gadgetzan Auctioneer guarantees you access to a 4 mana Auctioneer on the following turn, but at that point, couldn't you have just played Auctioneer into Shadowstep to set that up anyways?

This card slows the opponent down. If they killed the "target" of the secret once, they are likely to do it again the next turn. This is great for taunts against aggro decks, or for high-statted minions that are hard to remove, like Edwin VanCleef. The reason why I believe it is not going to see much is that the decks that would take advantage of the aforementioned advantage of the secret do not usually run Shadowstep, and the ones that do run it would definitely prefer it over the secret. 

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2 hours ago, Aleco said:

 

Elven Minstrel

r5.png

Fits into: Non-aggro decks

Power Versatility
5 4

Am I the only one who thinks this card is absolutely insane? Two minions and and 3/2 body for 4 mana is off the charts! If Ultimate Infestation was a soda, Elven Minstrel would be the diet version of that soda. Though this card is certainly not the most devastating of tempo plays in an aggresive deck, I have an extremely hard time believing that it won't have a serious impact on the upcoming meta. I'm looking forward to many months of Elven Minstrel memes on reddit.

 

You are in the minority here, most people are only tentatively optimistic about this card. Good in a vacuum, but not in the current meta. With K&C pushing even more toward "Big" decks, the prevalent thought is "If it ain't broken, don't fix it!" and ignore K&C as a whole as a Rogue.

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11 hours ago, Aleco said:

 

Sonya Shadowdancer

r10.png

Fits into: Everything

Power Versatility
5 5

My personal pick for "most obviously powerful card of the set", I struggle to envision a single Rogue deck which isn't interested in running Sonya Shadowdancer. It's downside is virtually the same as Edwin VanCleef's, while it's upside is completely through the roof. Getting just one trigger off this card will make it worth your while, anything beyond that is gravy. BonemareVilespine Slayer, and Elven Minstrel are obvious combos with Sonya, but so is virtually every Jade card ever printed and pretty much anything with a decent Battlecry or Deathrattle ability. I fully expect Sonya to be an auto-include in every Rogue deck under the sun.

 

I've been agreeing with most of your ratings so far, but did a double take when i read this review. This card is like the love child of Cult Master and Shadow Caster, and it has the downsides of those cards: You have to have a board of minions you want to kill off/duplicate. Anytime you are behind this will be a dead card. I do think this card will see some play, i highly doubt it will be "auto-include" in any decks.

Does a tempo rogue deck want to play a 3 mana 2/2 in order to extract more value? Seems like that deck will want to play bigger minions in order to kill the opponent faster, or play something reactive to help clean up the opposing board. Maybe this has a place in Jade decks, but not sure what else...

Edited by Longshot099

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12 hours ago, Aleco said:

Elven Minstrel

r5.png

Fits into: Non-aggro decks

Power Versatility
5 4

Am I the only one who thinks this card is absolutely insane? Two minions and and 3/2 body for 4 mana is off the charts! If Ultimate Infestation was a soda, Elven Minstrel would be the diet version of that soda. Though this card is certainly not the most devastating of tempo plays in an aggresive deck, I have an extremely hard time believing that it won't have a serious impact on the upcoming meta. I'm looking forward to many months of Elven Minstrel memes on reddit.

As I mentioned in another spot, this isn't 4 mana.   This is "4 mana and a previously played card on this turn".    In other words it's not going to be a turn 4 play most of the time, having the coin or prep or such will be the exception and not the rule.     It's absolutely brutal for tempo in one of the most tempo dependant classes.   

Compare this to Xaril (no combo requirement, gives 2 decent spells), or Jade Spirit (no combo requirement, puts 2 creatures in play with a "levelup" to your Jade mechanic).   It's good, sure, but it's not brokenly good or an autoinclude by any stretch.

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34 minutes ago, Migol said:

As I mentioned in another spot, this isn't 4 mana.   This is "4 mana and a previously played card on this turn".    In other words it's not going to be a turn 4 play most of the time, having the coin or prep or such will be the exception and not the rule.     It's absolutely brutal for tempo in one of the most tempo dependant classes.   

Compare this to Xaril (no combo requirement, gives 2 decent spells), or Jade Spirit (no combo requirement, puts 2 creatures in play with a "levelup" to your Jade mechanic).   It's good, sure, but it's not brokenly good or an autoinclude by any stretch.

This card is not meant for tempo rogue, it will most likely shine in miracle rogue with Faldorei Strider.

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4 hours ago, Migol said:

As I mentioned in another spot, this isn't 4 mana.   This is "4 mana and a previously played card on this turn".    In other words it's not going to be a turn 4 play most of the time, having the coin or prep or such will be the exception and not the rule.

The card is 4 mana. What I assume you are thinking of is usually referred to as a "4-drop", ie. a card played on turn 4 or with 4 mana, which this card is indeed not, in most cases, anyway, just as you say.

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2 hours ago, positiv2 said:

The card is 4 mana. What I assume you are thinking of is usually referred to as a "4-drop", ie. a card played on turn 4 or with 4 mana, which this card is indeed not, in most cases, anyway, just as you say.

The card is 4 mana yes.   If played as a 3/2 for 4 mana.    The combo mechanic adds an additional cost if you want any more from it, even if it's not a cost in mana.   

/glares at semanticpenguin

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12 hours ago, Migol said:

The card is 4 mana yes.   If played as a 3/2 for 4 mana.    The combo mechanic adds an additional cost if you want any more from it, even if it's not a cost in mana.   

/glares at semanticpenguin

The cards that would be used to combo it have a value of their own, so unless you are forced to use them suboptimally or to add subpar cards to make the combo more reliable to trigger (such as Counterfeit Coin), I wouldn't call it consider it as extra or indirect costs. But yeah, that's just semantics. Anyway, I agree with you - it's a good card, but the combo requirement and the potential tempo loss if played on curve are huge drawbacks of the card, which makes it unusable in many decks.

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      Not touching Warlock in the upcoming patch is consistent with Blizzard's recent strategy of balancing Hearthstone. When Jade Druid decks were too powerful in the early days of the Knights of the Frozen Throne meta, Blizzard successfully lowered the power level of the deck without completely killing it by nerfing both Innervate and Spreading Plague. However, they didn't touch the clear-cut second best deck in the meta, Highlander Priest, and the pro Hearthstone community was quite vocal about their concerns with Highlander Priest becoming the next overly-dominant deck. It's fair to say that things went exactly as the pros predicted, and here we are five months later nerfing Raza the Chained. What gives?
      Despite the predicted era of Highlander Priest dominance which followed the Jade Druid nerfs, Blizzard's policy to only fix the problems of the present is a fair one. Metagames on the whole are fickle and largely unpredictable, and attempting to fix all of the future problems which may or may not occur after a balance patch is a slippery slope. If Blizzard were to have pushed the nerf to Raza to the KFT balance patch, they would have merely created another "next best deck" in the process. Should they have also nerfed that deck? And the next one?
      Though Highlander Priest was a particularly obvious deck to be concerned about in a post-Jade Druid world, setting the precedent of preemptively nerfing healthy decks is a dangerous one. If Blizzard had nerfed Raza in the previous patch, they would have put themselves in a position where they would be forced to address the most powerful deck in the meta each time they want to make changes to problematic cards. Just because a deck is the "best deck in the meta" doesn't necessarily mean that the deck is unhealthy, and signaling to your player base that you don't want a clear best deck to exist coming out of every balance patch opens the door to constant scrutiny.
      Blizzard Is Inconsistent With Its Timing


      You'll be hard pressed to find a single Hearthstone pro who isn't happy to see Patches the Pirate and Corridor Creeper get hit by the nerf hammer. Both of these cards were seeing far too much play in the current meta and were responsible for determining the outcome of an outrageous number of games. Aggro mirrors far too often came down to who did or didn't draw these cards in the early game, and something needed to be done about that.
      When it comes to Corridor Creeper, Blizzard was incredibly swift in addressing the card's endemic playrates. This balance patch was announced mere days after the World Championships had concluded, which for all intents and purposes is the earliest possible time they could have announced it. In other words, they identified that Corridor Creeper was problematic and nerfed it as soon as possible, which is why I'm confused about how long it took for them to nerf Patches.
      Patches has always been a toxic card. For more than a year and half he's been in charge of the Hearthstone metagame, and Blizzard's justification for nerfing the card now (to keep him from ruining the Wild metagame for years to come) feels too little too late. Despite the fact that Corridor Creeper is currently seeing higher play rates than Patches, it's difficult for me imagine why Creeper demanded an immediate nerf while Patches was allowed to reign supreme for as long as he did. Now that Blizzard has set the precedent of nerfing widely-played cards like Corridor Creeper immediately, I'd like to at least see them be consistent with this trend in the future.
      Blizzard Undervalues The Human Element

      I imagine the reason why Corridor Creeper was nerfed immediately yet Patches the Pirate was allowed to stay in his current form for as long as he was has something to do with Blizzard's internal stat tracking. I have little doubt that Corridor Creeper will raise more statistical red flags than Patches due to the fact that it's rarely (if ever) a bad card to draw in aggro decks, whereas Patches is arguably the worst card to draw in the entire game. When you average out the games that Patches both single-handedly wins and loses, he likely tests as a "worse" card than Corridor Creeper does statisically, which could be used as justification for why he was left untouched for as long as he was.
      Though the actual stats surrounding a cards win rates should be a major factor when it comes to balance updates, I believe that Blizzard should put a little more weight on the "human element" of cards. Whereas Creeper may be the stronger card, it doesn't feel nearly as bad as Patches does. Regardless of whether or not the stats said that the card needed a nerf, Hearthstone would have almost certainly been a better game if Patches was nerfed at the same time as Small-Time Buccaneer. The same can probably be said for Ultimate Infestation when it comes to the previous balance patch. Though Blizzard's internal stats told them that Spreading Plague was more responsible for Jade Druid's dominance in the early KFT meta, it doesn't feel nearly as bad to lose to as Ultimate Infestation does. And that's important.
      At the end of the day, I believe that stats shouldn't be the only thing which dictates whether or not a card deserves to be nerfed. Cards like Patches and Ultimate Infestation have caused far more headaches and groans than smiles and cheers, regardless of what the statistics say. Hearthstone is a video game, video games are supposed to fun, and cards that have drawn hate for as long as Patches and Ultimate Infestation have seriously get in the way of that.
      On the whole, I'm quite happy with the nerfs that will be coming in the next balance patch and am excited for the future of Hearthstone. Despite the concerns surrounding Warlock, I'm happy to see that Blizzard isn't the business of preemptively handling problems which may or may ever exist. I'd much rather endure a few months of Warlock dominance (especially after how bad the class was in Journey to Un'Goro) than live in a world where every "best deck in the meta" has a constant target on its back for Blizzard's nerf gun.