March 11, 2015

The Evolution of the Rogue Class in WOW TCG: Preparing for Ulduar

Rogues. Some people love them, most people hate them. It is an interesting class to play in the WOW TCG. It has gone through many changes since the first booster set, and we're here to explore what it was like, and then develop a deck from humble origins.

You were either playing [Kayleitha] or [Timmo Shadestep] from set 1.

Neither is 'spectacular' in any sense, but the bar had to be set somewhere. [Cold Blood] looks like a fun card, and for cost 1 card draw it is amazing. However- it forces you to specialize into Assassination. Back then, only Timmo could play this card, but ret-conned rules allow any rogue to pick a talent and omit other talents.

Rogues work by a system of dealing damage with weapons and then applying abilities that either affect board advantage or deal DOTs (damage over time) to a target. [Crippling Poison] is one of those staple rogue cards that should be played in raid sets from Onyxia up to Icecrown Citadel- but it is a useless card in the Ulduar raid because the boss does not rely on a resource based system.

[Deadly Poison] is still a good card. For 1, you can attach it to a damaged character and begin dealing 2 consistent nature damage over time. With the pool we have so far- I would throw this into a deck. Gouge, especially in Ulduar could be a critical damage mitigation card for the cost of 1. However, exhausting bosses and minions like that works on a system of diminishing returns. There is a chance that your card will fail and be discarded, effectively the same as an interrupt. I'd throw it in.

The concept of 'stealth' was introduced in this set. It bypasses protectors. This can be handy in certain situations, but you should know which situations require this card. [Stealth] may be a good sideboard card. It would allow you, for 1, to hit the boss with damage and get through protectors. [Eye of Rend] is another card I would throw in the deck, simply because of its cost and what it does. So what if it has a defense value of 0?

In Ulduar, [Coup de Grace] is a very situational card. Some minions have starshield, which is effectively Will of the Forsaken. It's a situational card that I would pass on for now, but some may want to put it in their sideboard; and that is ok. Unless you've buffed up your weapons or you're swinging a big honker, [Sinister Strike] isn't worth it in my opinion; unless you are running a combo deck. [Barman Shanker] is an excellent basic weapon, and although expensive it will give you a [4/s2] against exhausted heroes.

[Scarlet Kris] is a good basic weapon and I would include it. [Devilsaur Leggings], although not helpful now could be a huge board advantage in Ulduar against trash mobs or allies without starshield. We'll consider that card in the future. [Krol Blade] is another staple and I love the card. Absent of putting in heroes or quests, that is what I would run in a HOA deck that isn't a combo deck. Obviously it needs a lot of work to be raid ready. Remember- PVP can be an entirely different ball game, and that isn't our end goal.

Through the Dark Portal booster set came out next, and this is where I was personally introduced to the card game in 2006 or 2007.  Cards like [Purloin] are great for PVP or for raid sets Onyxia to Icecrown Citadel, however they won't be of help in Ulduar. [Vanish] is a very good card like Blink, except that you don't get to draw a card. I think it's worth side boarding.

[Master of Deception] will run you permanent stealth until the card is destroyed. If you are going to go the subtlety route, you want that card. [Slice and Dice] is worth playing in combo decks, but only later in the game in my opinion. Scimitar of the Nexus Stalkers is a nice [2/s1] weapon that I would use to replace [Scarlet Kris]. [Ambush] can be a very, very nasty card- but only if your hero is in stealth. [Distract] can be a huge damage mitigation card for 3, but only thru diminishing returns. It's worth adding to the deck in my opinion.

[Kick] introduces Rogue's first interrupt. For 3, you can deal 2 melee damage AND interrupt an ability card played by an opposing hero. That hurts, and it is a staple.[Ring of the Unliving] is cool, but Rogues are not Paladins or Priests. You will die eventually. Now you COULD play [Mugger's Belt], and in Ulduar that discard would deal melee damage. However, that card costs 6. And don't get me wrong, [Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker] is an epic weapon, but the cost is prohibitive in Ulduar, or in many raids for that matter.

Up to this point you could pick your hero and your allies and quests and you are on your way to having a legacy deck for Magtheridon's Lair. For that raid, you can build up to March of the Legion and be good for legacy Magtheridon. Good luck with that.....

Because of a hiatus I took with the game, Outlands is the set that I have the least amount of experience with in the WOW TCG. But let's see if we can improve upon our equipment/ability pool any further. For Ulduar we will go up to Icecrown Citadel to remain legacy legal.

[Anesthetic Poison] is a great card to include from raid sets OL to ICC because it takes things away from the boss. In Ulduar this card will translate to a pay 1, deal 1 when exhausted effect, so it isn't the most special thing out there. If you go the [Combat] route, then [Surprise Attacks] is your card. Be careful though. Most classes have to balance out high card costs. Classes like Rogues and Mages have to be careful with low card costs- because you will end up with an empty hand if you do not have adequate draw power. I think we will roll Combat spec with this Rogue.

[Deadly Brew] will come in handy with cards released much later, but right now it is really only applicable to decks that rely on poison cards. It is till something to ponder though. For the combo deck afficionado, appropriately, [Filthy Tricks] and its corresponding card art are a must. [Latro's Shifting Sword] was an idea.... but I think at this point I am happy with the changes; and that is adding one card. If I want to build a slightly ally heavy deck, which will be good for Ulduar- you should stop around 9-10 cards for a 3x to 4x playset for abilities and equipment. Just my experience testing....

[Rogue Training] would be an excellent card for earlier raids, but not for Ulduar. [On the Brink] is similar- it is really only meant to add combo cards. [Whispering Blade of Slaying] though is definitely something to consider, since... well... rogues use daggers. [Sprint] would give you a bit more survivability, and it should at least be side boarded. If you want to run a real nasty deck full of nothing but characters with stealth- look no further than [Thick as Thieves]. I think I'll run that.

So [Blade Twisting] is a thing. When you hit an ally once it is destroyed (diminishing returns) and then the boss discards a card (1 dmg). This would be even more powerful in earlier raids, but the card can serve as a board wipe. I like [Distract], but [Blade Twisting] fits more into the theme of this deck. [Cloak of Shadows] is definitely a side board card. I took a look again at [Hourglass of the Unraveller] as I was going to throw it in- but I'm not running anything huge. [Unbalance] would have been the perfect replacement for [Distract]. I think I'll axe [Eye of Rend] because I want both [Unbalance] and [Blade Twisting] in there. I hate to get rid of [Gouge], but we are short on daggers here.

There was nothing of particular use in Hunt for Illidan, so onto the Drums of War set we go.I remember playing [Black Amnesty] in the past, and for a small cost you can remove yourself from combat, which is awesome. I like that a bit more than [Gouge]. Still, [Gouge] is a great card. [Pernicious Poison], which may be replaced in the future, is definitely a lot better than [Deadly Poison]. [Slay the Feeble] and [Thud] are good, but I don't have the room for them and I am not giving up [Kick].

So far, [Barman Shanker] and [Kick] are the oldest surviving cards in the deck. They are both great, so I do not want to get rid of them. For Ulduar, [Cloak of the Shrouded Mists] is a must. Some bosses throw around huge amounts of damage. If able, you can put all of the damage on your hero and chain the exhaust power to reduce it to nill. Sometimes you have to make hard choices in what stays and what goes. This one isn't easy, but I will axe [Pernicious Poison] for this power. [Shuriken of Negation] and [Victimize] are honorable mentions, but they don't fit the premise of this deck and the interrupt is too costly. Still though- you do get it back. In the next set, [Blackout Truncheon] is an annoying card, and a good one for PVP- but we don't need it in this deck.

[Boots of the Whirling Mist] are awesome. The problem is that it doesn't stop a generic interrupt from happening, making [Kick] slightly more powerful. HOWEVER, once [Kick] is done and over with it gets discarded. For 2 you can interrupt something targeting your hero and get a armor point out of it. For kitties- that will take your druid out of combat. I hate to replace [Kick], but I will in this instance. [Aggressive Infiltration] is the tits, and I am going to axe [Surprise Attacks] to do it.

That [Barman Shanker] is still hanging around; it is pretty impressive. But for now, this deck is looking pretty good. [Angry Dread] is a common staple we always used to build decks with- but it doesn't fit into the deck theme. I am not particularly fond of anything out of Wrathgate, so we will move onto Icecrown, the final set for our legacy legal Rogue.

[Fan of Knives] peaks my interest, but this is something I would side board and wait to see if it was worth it in an actual raid. I would throw it in instead of [Thicker than Thieves], but I have plans for the latter. In fact, I think I will replace [Unbalance] with [Fan of Knives]. [Unbalance] is good, but there are other ways I am exhausting opposing cards. [Hailstorm] is another card to consider, but for now I would side board it or forget about it.

And that is how I would get it started folks. In the future I might just expand upon it up to Reign of Fire, but these are the equipment/abilities I would use for this deck:

Download the image and scroll to see the entire card pool.

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