One of the most defining Rogue cards of all-time, and crucial for the class’ ability to gain the initiative in the early game in light of the class’ lack of AOE and healing tools. Also serves an imperative role in activating the combo mechanic. Only uniquely specific decks in the class’ history did not run Backstab,
Rogue retaining its cornerstone 0-mana spells was the most important piece of news coming out of the core set for the class. Rogue lives off its battlecry and combo minions, and Shadowstep has always been a huge enabler for them. Unlike Backstab, it’s a card that needs the deck to have some skew towards resources, as it usually isn’t strong enough in aggressive decks. But it helps extend Rogue’s resource longevity even when its curve is relatively low.
A 1-drop that isn’t really a 1-drop, Bladed Cultist’s issue is that it’s a bit too one-dimensional for the class. Aggressive Rogue decks want more damage and immediate impact from its minions rather than pure stats, while slower Rogue decks want more value coming out of their early game minions. This card falls through the cracks.
A very reliable source of damage that becomes an immediately good choice whenever Rogue gets a strong weapon with a decent durability value. Its synergy with Rogue’s hero power makes it worth 4 damage at worst, which is a good enough deal. A proven performer in weapon-centric decks.
A slight change to the famous 1-drop now makes it a reliable Thief Rogue activator, even in mirror matchups. This card should be a strong foundation for Thief Rogue decks and may be a solid filler for other Rogue decks looking for a value 1-drop.
We’re a bit confused why this card is still around in its nerfed form, as it could have just been unnerfed and rotated to Wild. Cold Blood’s damage inefficiency is so poor that even the most aggressive Rogue decks pass on it. Whenever we looked at Cold Blood over the last year, it’s always been a bad card. We don’t see things changing.
Rogue wants removal that isn’t tied to the board, which is why Plague Scientist has failed to make the cut in the past. It’s too clunky and situational to be a consistently strong removal option. Flavorful addition to the core set, but Rogue should always have something better to do.
With the loss of Sap as well as the adjustments to many single target removal options in other classes, it makes sense to buff the horrendous Assassinate. Now, it’s still a card that you wouldn’t put in a constructed deck on purpose, but it’s less embarrassing.
One of the most memorable cards in Rogue’s history, Pillager helped a 6-mana Gadgetzan Auctioneer find relevance in Standard format a few years ago. But times have changed and we’re very skeptical that we will see this pairing once again in constructed. In addition, Secret Passage’s presence in the format means that Tomb Pillager is unlikely to make the cut in the low curve builds that SP enables. Where Tomb Pillager will likely be strong is Rogue decks that are incentivized to run a higher curve, and therefore cannot utilize Passage. In a deck like Galakrond Rogue of the last year, Pillager would have been incredible. We expect to see Team 5 print Rogue cards that clash with Passage over the next year, so we’re giving Tomb Pillager a good chance of seeing play.
A situationally useful card depending on how degenerate Rogue becomes. As seen in the current iteration of Aggro Rogue, a critical mass of damage and draw can make Sinister Strike’s damage efficiency good enough to see play. But the card is extremely one-dimensional and serves only one purpose. These kinds of strategies should suffer a big blow following the loss of Eviscerate.
SI:7 Agent has been a solid card throughout the years in different kinds of Rogue decks, but one that usually got pushed out by stronger expansion cards, which makes it a perfect mainstay in the core set. Iconic entrance.
The new version of Assassin’s Blade is quite intriguing, as it scales extremely well with weapon buffs due to the added durability. We can see a world in which this card gets played, though it might have an issue competing with expansion weapons such as Self-Sharpening Sword. Might be a solid “3rd copy” for added consistency of weapon buffs.
The buff to Sprint simply puts it in line with the nerf to Preparation to make this combo fringe playable, but Rogue’s plethora of card draw options should always be better than Sprint. There has only been one time in Hearthstone’s history when Sprint was constructed worthy, and that was when Rogue was painfully missing other draw options. Not likely to happen again.
The last of the 0-mana Rogue cornerstones, a nerfed Preparation is still a fantastic card, much like a nerfed Innervate. This card immediately becomes a consideration whenever Rogue has decent 2-mana spells (such as Swindle or secrets), as the mana cheating potential alongside its combo enabling is often too good to pass up.
Remember what we said about Plague Scientist? We don’t want slow removal options that are tied to board, and Patient Assassin’s one extra health doesn’t change that. If you need to kill a big minion, pre-emptively developing a poisonous minion is just about the least reliable way to do it. It’s pretty much never been a successful strategy.
This card looks better than it is due to its flashy effect, but its usefulness should be highly situational since it forces you to play off-curve and makes it unlikely that you can match your opponent’s best play on the same turn. Its thief utility may help find a place for it in decks that require the synergy, and it might have some very fringe tech usage, but not a legendary you’d run in decks without scrutiny.
Core Set Rank: 1st
Rogue’s classic set was the strongest of every class, and it wasn’t even close. We think the introduction of the Core set has certainly closed the gap and gave other classes stronger foundations that are more comparable with Rogue’s, but we still give the slight edge to Valeera.
Rogue did lose a couple of important cards. No Eviscerate or Sap means that Rogue is more reliant on damage and removal available in expansions. No 3-mana Edwin VanCleef means it can’t just cheat to win.
But what Rogue didn’t lose are the foundational 0-mana spells that provide the basis to its core gameplay: Backstab, Preparation, and Shadowstep. It has a few other serviceable cards that have stuck around in its Core set, and other playable cards that were added to promote different archetypes. When you add great cards to a variety of solid cards, the product is a very well-rounded set.