Welcome again to the Messiah's series of weekly articles that looks at some of the popular, powerful, or just plain interesting deck builds that are out there for the Hearthstone Constructed Deck format.
This week I look at a deck that most players have some really strong feelings about. Those feelings can either be love and adoration as it has helped them storm their way up the ladder. Those feelings can also be hate and loathing if you have come up against this deck and been destroyed while on a multi-game win streak. The deck I am talking about it the Miracle Rogue Deck.
Rogue - Miracle Deck
This deck has been around for a while and is both frustrating to play and to play against. The whole idea behind the deck is to be able to stall and delay your opponent until roughly turn 7 or 8 without really doing all that much damage to them until that point, and then hitting them for 20-30 damage and finishing them off before they can do anything about it.
This play style is really hard to pull off as it requires a lot of card knowledge and a lot of patience. The card knowledge required is more than just knowing about the cards in your deck, although that is important, it is about knowing which cards in all of your possible opponents decks can cause you issues and need to be dealt with. It also requires a lot of patience due to the fact that you have so few minions in the deck and that you will take some damage and are forced to wait and take that damage while you draw cards to create your win condition.
While very rewarding when you get it right, as mentioned above, it is frustrating to get beaten by it, and frustrating to play if you don't draw your required cards.
The deck works by ensuring you have a large number of spell type cards to make maximum use of your most important key card...
Gadgetzan Auctioneer - This is your most important card in the whole deck and is what makes the deck function and capable of winning. The theory is that he allows you to get several cards back during a turn so that you can cycle through your deck very quickly. Make sure you keep him in your hand until you can get at least 2 cards back from him the turn you summon him.
Fan of Knives - This is a card neutral card, meaning it gives you a card back when used, that allows you to deal with aggro decks that will be trying to kill you before you have enough time to setup your finishing attack.
Shiv - This is another card neutral card, that does some minor damage and helps out in the early game, and lets you cycle through to more important cards in your deck.
Blade Flurry - This card is extremely helpful when setting up your finishing move, as it lets you clear off a large number of enemies so that you can get your attack through from your big minions.
Eviscerate - This is a great removal card as it lets you kill most minions of up to 4 mana cost for a measly 2 mana. Sure, if they are a 3-4 mana minion you will likely need to play another spell first so that you get the combo ability, but that's not that hard with this deck.
Sap - A wonderful card that essentially says to your opponent, "Nope, redo your last turn". By putting a powerful and expensive minion back to your opponents hand right after it was summoned, makes them essentially skip a turn as they have not been able to attack with it yet and will have to re-pay the mana cost again to bring it out a second time. This is a great stall tactic if you don't have some way to finish the game or to deal with the minion in a more permanent way just yet.
SI:7 Agent - One of the very few minions in the deck, he is here so that you can clear off some early minions that your opponent may summon. At 3 mana for a 3/3 minion, he is a strong early game threat, and with the combo ability can clear off any minion up to 2 health when he is summoned.
Leeroy Jenkins - This minion is your main game winning card. While the Auctioneer above is the most important card in the deck, it doesn't win the game, it just allows Leeroy to win it for you. You cant to save up cards and get Cold Blood and Shadowstep and slam into your opponent for huge amounts of damage before they can stop it. With just theses 3 cards alone on a turn 4 you can deal out 16 damage, never mind adding more cards to the combo.
Arcane Golem - This card is only used on a turn where you can finish off your opponent and is a cheap substitute for Leeroy Jenkins. However, I find that sometimes you will have everything else you need, but Leeroy just doesn't get drawn. This provides a second option.
Edwin VanCleef - This minion is one of your other game winning minions. While not the primary game winning minion, due to not having charge, he can create a real threat, and if your opponent does not have a silence then he can win the game for you. It is very easy for this minion to become a 8/8 when summoned on turn 5. Once summoned your opponent will need to deal with him quickly or be beaten down. Sometimes he is a great card as early as turn 5 with the right cards. A quick Backstab, Deadly Poison, then Edwin, then a conceal to keep him around just provided a 6/6 minion that is hidden so it should live to attack, all for 5 mana. If you are lucky enough to have those cards and a coin from going second, you can have an 8/8 by turn 4. That's pretty solid. Expect a silence though which means you will only get one attack.
Ideal Opening Hand Cards
This deck can function with a number of different cards in it's opening hand, although one you will want for sure is the Gadgetzan Auctioneer since the deck is so heavily based on it, you want to have it in your hand so that you can use it as soon as possible.
The other best cards that you should look at getting or keeping in your opening hand are any card neutral cards such as Shiv and Fan of Knives. Other solid cards to keep are good early removal cards such as Backstab.
In general other than looking for an auctioneer in your hand, you are looking to get cards that will allow you to live through the early game to setup for your late game miracle win.
This deck is really about staying alive and getting your massive miracle combo off to kill your opponent. This is done with your Leeroy Jenkins along with Cold Blood and Shadowstep to provide a huge 16 points on one turn. Add in Eviscerate and you have 20, and there is even more that you can add to the combo. The rest of the deck is there to enable this combo and to support it with card drawing ability.
A game with this deck is usually split into two separate parts, the early survival part and the late game win part. If you can survive through the early game you will generally win once your get your cards rolling. Therefore the early game is the most critical, because if you can't survive past it you have no chance to win.
The early game you are looking to stall, while still trying to keep from spending key combo cards. This means using your cards like Fan of Knives, Shiv, SI:7 Agent, Deadly Poison, Blade Fury, and other early. You want to also make as much use of your weapon as you can so that you have as many cards as possible to fire up your combos in the end game.
Once you get to about turn 5 and can summon your Gadetzan Auctioneer, you may get excited and want to bring him out. However, you should generally wait on him until one of two things happens. Firstly is wait until you can summon him and then still have mana to conceal him. Secondly you can wait until you have enough mana to summon him and then still be able to use at least 3 different spells so that you get solid value out of him even if your opponent manages to kill him off before your next turn.
Once you have enough spells in your hand and also have Leeroy Jenkins (or the Arcane Golem as a backup plan) and can cause enough damage to kill your opponent in that turn, you explode into action and deal the death blow.
Optional Cards / Alternate Deck
There are other cards out there that can be put into this deck as substitutions for the cards listed above that you may not have or that may suit your play style a little better. There are several versions of the Rogue Miracle deck out there and all of them work in a similar overall way with just minor differences. Some cards add more power against aggro decks, some against control decks, and some just aim to add some more early game pressure to disguise the fact that this is a Miracle deck until too late.
Arcane Golem - You can add a second of these if you don't yet have Leeroy Jenkins, or if you would like a little more straight charge damage options. Be careful with it though as the downside is pretty big, especially early in the game. While I like the card, make sure you only use it when you will win the game or are sure you can deal with the repercussions.
Mad Bomber - This minion is a solid choice to help deal with aggro decks early on. It also provides another minion option for early game trading. While the damage he does is random, and may hit you, since you don't have many other minions, the odds are it will hit your opponents minions. At 3/2 for 2 mana, he also provides a solid punch in the face to your enemy if he lives for a turn or 2.
Coldlight Oracle - This minion shows up in several Miracle decks since it nets 2 cards and a 2/2 minion for 3 mana. While the card draw is awesome, I don't really like giving my opponent anything and therefore it is not in my core deck. It is a strong consideration though if you like having a few more minions and still want to generate a lot of card draw. Just be careful as you are giving you opponent more options.
Loot Horder and Acolyte of Pain - These cards can be used in place of the Bloodmage Thalnos if you do not have him, or in place of the Coldlight Oracle if you don't like the idea of providing the enemy any cards but still want a few more minions. Both are a little slower than the original cards though, but do offer a cheaper alternative.
Perditions Blade - This weapon is a good choice against aggro decks as it provides a way to deal out some stronger weapon damage as well as a poke with its battlecry ability. It will usually be able to clear off three minions for the price of one card, which is amazing in the early game. It does slow down the deck a little though since it takes up a slot and does not draw cards, but it can justify itself against aggro decks.
Vanish - While this card is expensive at 6 mana, it can save the day against many different decks out there. If your opponent builds up a huge defensive position, you can return everything to their hand one turn, and then attack the next before they can rebuild their entire defense.
King Mulka - A solid speed minion due to his 5/5 size for 3 mana. He can give you options to remove some large enemy minions and prevent taking their damage early in the game. Not having charge and providing your opponent with two +1/+1 buff cards though is a downside, so while I see him quite often in Miracle decks for some early hitting power, be cautious.
Knife Juggler - If you do add in some other minions to the deck, this can be a solid choice in almost any aggro rush deck as they are 3/2 for 2 with a solid ability. I have even seen players add them just as a threat card, as an opponent seeing this early on will go after it and waste a turn doing so just because it is such a good card, only later to realize that it was a ploy, and not really part of the core deck strategy.
How To Play Against It
Playing against this deck can be extremely frustrating as there is not much you can do about the finishing miracle blow. What you really have to do is proceed with your own game plan and just try to either finish off the rogue before they can setup their finishing move or setup a solid defense to help prevent that finishing move.
A strong option when playing against the deck if you have a aggro deck or a big hitting deck is to just ignore the rogues plays entirely and just try to hit them and hurt them. There are times when the Rogue deck will not draw the cards it needs until very late in the game, and when that happens if you have hurt them enough that they may react and burn off key cards too early and then not be able to put together a big finisher.
If you are playing a slow deck and will not be able be able to provide enough early game damage to scare the Rogue into premature action then one of your best bets is to setup several defensive minions with taunt. The Rogue can remove a few of them but not all of them if they are large. Once they are in place, you can use them to hurt the Rogue and to stop a big charge by Leeroy.
It may not sound like a lot of things you can do against this deck, but really, it takes a really skilled and patient player to make the deck work with the best win ratio. If you force a player that is new to the deck and hasn't learned the patience required to get a high win rate with this deck, you will win quite often against them by making them panic. If you can't make them panic, the best thing to do is play your own game and just go with it.
Give the deck a try, play around with some options, and let me know what you think. How does it work for you, how would you change it to match your play style. As mentioned the deck is difficult to learn to play correctly, so you need to give it some time. Let me know your experiences with it in the comment section below.