Note: This guide is rehosted with permission from Mana Crystals / Hearthstone Players. Full link and credits to the original writer - Sheng.
Greetings, I’m Sheng, a Legend rank constructed and 7.5 win-average arena player. I run HearthstoneCoaching.com where our coaches have helped many students achieve the same.
I played quite a bit of Tempo Rogue on the ladder last season and thought it’d be fun to share a much cheaper version of my deck with beginners. Because it’s constructed with only Basic cards, it’s not meant to carry you past Rank 10. Instead, it’s something that a new player can start with and improve with Expert cards over time.
The basic premise of the deck is to maintain board control with your weapon and removal spells. Deadly Poison and Backstab are key cards that will let you efficiently remove enemy minions early while keeping yours on the board.
32Fan of Knives
22Acidic Swamp Ooze
32Shattered Sun Cleric
2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
- 2 mana for a 3/2 body is great. When played on turn two, the Ooze has the capability of trading with most 3 mana minions.
- A battlecry that destroys enemy weapons is outrageous. Playing this at the right time against a class with weapons can single-handedly swing games in your favor.
2x Bloodfen Raptor
- An Ooze without the battlecry. We include him for the potential to trade with 3 mana minions.
- I spent time testing cards like Haunted Creeper and River Crocolisk at this slot, but I found the 3 attack is especially useful later in the game, when it has the potential for killing 3 health minions.
1x Kobold Geomancer
- A tech card used to gain more value from Backstab and Fan of Knives. I’ve won many games against aggro from behind where I’ve played a Kobold Geomancer and Fan of Knives on turn five to clear their board.
2x Ironfur Grizzly
- Not too many good three drops in the Basic set. I think this is better than the Razorfen Hunter, which leaves behind a 1/1 that dies pretty quickly. The taunt is useful as well late game to prevent chargers from hitting your more expensive minions (or your face).
2x Shattered Sun Cleric
- 3 mana for 3/2 isn’t mana efficient, but the battlecry more than makes up for it. The downside is that if you don’t have a minion on the board, this card suffers.
- The ideal scenario is to play this on the same turn a minion you control can trade with something equal in value and survive, or can trade up to kill something more expensive.
2x Chillwind Yeti
- A plain 4 mana for a 4/5. Even without a battlecry, the Yeti is considered to be the best neutral Basic at 4 mana. With 5 health, this minion will often force your opponent to trade two of his cards to get rid of him.
2x Gnomish Inventor
- 4 mana for 2/4 isn’t great statswise, but a 2/4 isn’t awful.
- Primarily we want to play her for her battlecry that draws a card later in the game when we’re low on cards. By playing her late, she gives you the potential to play her and whatever she draws on the same turn.
1x Ogre Magi
- Another tech card. Kobold Geomancer is too weak to play two copies of, and this is a hedge against top-decking a second geomancer late game. 4 mana for a 4/4 is fair, and the spell power is good.
2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta
- 4 mana for 3/5 is fair value, but it’s the taunt along with the 5 health that makes this minion key against aggro decks.
2x Boulderfist Ogre
- The ogre is a plain 6 mana for 6/7, but that’s why we love him. He’s not suspect to silence and cards like The Black Knight or Big Game Hunter, and will kill other 6/6 minions without dying.
- Avoid buffing him to 7 attack unless you absolutely need to. You want to keep him out of Big Game Hunter range.
1x Stormwind Champion
- I only play one copy because I feel Stormwind Champion only has value if you have two or more minions on the board already. It can help your smaller guys trade up, but on an empty board, this is worse than an ogre and costs more.
- Amazing tempo card. Can often kill a 2 mana minion by itself.
2x Deadly Poison
- Either use this on your Assassin's Blade to deal 5 damage (which can finish games), or on your hero power to deal 3 damage to enemy minions.
- Because this card is fairly situational, I only run one copy. Its cheap casting cost means you can play Sap and a few other minions on the same turn. I keep this card in my starting hand against Druid to bounce back big taunts.
2x Fan of Knives
- Not much cheap removal in the basic rogue set. This card by itself isn’t too valuable, but chained with an Ogre Magi or Kobold Geomancer can be amazing. I usually try to save this card until I have one of those two cards to increase its spell power with.
- Unconditional removal. Great against minions with divine shields and beefy late game finishers. Downside is that it doesn’t play around deathrattles, and 5 mana is really expensive. (Can often prevent you from playing another card on the same turn.) Nevertheless, Basic Rogue doesn’t have too many good removal options against big minions, so two of these are crucial.
- Because Backstabs and Deadly Poisons are cheap to play, you’ll find yourself running out of cards by mid/late game. This refills your hand. Because of its high casting cost, I only play one.
1x Assassin's Blade
- A great card that will win you games by itself. Only play one copy because of its high durability. Having two in your hand at once isn’t an ideal situation.
Because Basic Rogue doesn’t have combos, the cards you want to keep when you go first and second are pretty much the same.
- You should mulligan for an aggressive start. The way this deck wins is by pushing the tempo early, and not keeping the foot off the gas.
- This means you always want to mulligan for a two drop (Acidic Swamp Ooze or Bloodfen Raptor) or three drop (Ironfur Grizzly or Shattered Sun Cleric), and a Deadly Poison or Backstab.
- The reason is because you want to be able to play a minion on turn two or turn three, and remove their two or three drop from the board in a cheap way without trading away your guy.
- Everything mentioned in going first applies, but you can keep a 4 mana minion (Chillwind Yeti or Sen'jin Shieldmasta mainly) if you already have a two drop, three drop, and removal (Backstab or Deadly Poison).
General Mulligan Tips:
- Always mulligan away Kobold Geomancer and Ogre Magi unless you draw a Backstab (or Fan of Knives if you’re playing against aggro). Both Kobold and Magi are in the deck to counter aggro with Fan of Knives. You want to topdeck these later in the game to combo with.
How To Play
You want to push the tempo early. Utilize your Backstab and Deadly Poison to clean up your opponent’s board in the early game, while establishing pressure with your efficient 2 mana and 3 mana creatures. If you’ve done this well, you should be able to go into turn 4 with an uncontested Chillwind Yeti or another 4 mana minion.
In late game, you’ll deal with big threats with Assassinate and Sap, and refill your hand with Sprint when you’ve run out of cards. You’ll finish the game with your Boulderfist Ogres and Assassin's Blade (which is incredible when paired with Deadly Poison due to its 4 durability).
Fan of Knives with spell power is key to this deck, and really should be held until it can get value from that spell power. I would rather dagger up on turn 3 than play Fan of Knives by itself to cycle a card.
Imagine a situation where you’re behind on turn 5. Your opponent has a 4/5 Yeti or a 3/5 Sen'jin Shieldmasta on the board, along with a 3/2.
If you play Fan of Knives with Kobold Geomancer you can do a few things to clear his board here:
- Play Kobold Geomancer and then play the Fan of Knives. This kills his 3/2, and brings his Yeti down to a 4/3. At this point, if you have a 3/x on the board, you can kill the Yeti with your minion. If you have a weapon with Deadly Poison, you can hit his Yeti with your face (which is preferable over trading your minion, as you’ll leave your own minion on the board).
- Play Kobold Geomancer, play Backstab, bring his Yeti down to a 4/2, and then play Fan of Knives to completely clear his board.
In both these situations you’ve cleared your opponents board completely while leaving behind at least a 2/2 body.
I generally only play Kobold Geomancer when I can utilize his spell power passive on the same turn. I don’t do this with Ogre Magi because as a 4 drop I think he’s much harder to remove. If you can play Ogre Magi on turn 4, and then Fan of Knives on turn 5, you’ll be able to perform the same combo.
It’s also good to note that doing 3 damage with a single Backstab can be a huge tempo boost. Playing Ogre Magi on turn 4 and Backstabbing your opponent’s 3/3 he played on the previous turn is extremely valuable.
- Kobold Geomancer or Ogre Magi + Backstab: This lets you deal 3 damage to an undamaged minion for free!
- Kobold Geomancer or Ogre Magi + Fan of Knives: Generally you’ll either play Kobold Geomancer and Fan of Knives together on turn 5 to deal 2 damage to all minions and draw a card, or Ogre Magi on turn 4, and then Fan of Knives on turn 5. The reason why Fan of Knives benefits so much from spell power is that just having +1 spell power doubles the amount of damage it does.
To solidify these strategies, I’m including gameplay videos to demonstrate how this deck should be played. In the interest of time, I didn’t commentate them (as I wanted to be able to cover all 9 class matchups), but feel free to ask me questions in the comments sections about specifics and I will be happy to answer them.
How to Upgrade Your Deck
Over time, you’ll collect more and more cards from opening Hearthstone packs. Please follow the guide below before reading the upgrade card list to understand how to incorporate new cards successfully into your deck.
Which Cards Should I Upgrade?
- Before you start, go through your deck and look at each card and understand its role and function.
- The easiest cards to upgrade are minions that have counterparts that are complete upgrades. I define a complete upgrade as a card with the same or better stat distribution and a better ability for the same mana cost. A Knife Juggler would be a complete upgrade over a Bloodfen Raptor. A Spider Tank would not be.
- Replace situational minions or spells that will often stay glued in your hand until the right moment arises with more verstile minions or spells. You can easily replace Kobold Geomancer and Gnomish Inventor in your deck with Azure Drake instead. While Azure Drake isn’t a complete upgrade over either card, the fact that it has a better stat distribution, draws a card, and gives you spell-power makes it a card that isn’t situational.
- After making a list of cards that are potentially upgradeable from the list above, you can move on to the next section!
How Do I Actually Upgrade My Deck?
- Don’t rush the process! Deckbuilding takes time. Each and every card in this Basic deck was chosen for a purpose, and fills an important function in this deck. You would be surprised how much time it took me to think of each of these decks, and how long the process of tuning them took.
- Generally, you don’t want to make more than one or two changes to your deck at a time. Swap out cards one or two at a time, and play your deck with the changes. Each time you draw into your “upgraded” card, ask yourself whether or not you wish it was the card you had previously in your deck. If you consistently say yes to this question over several games, then the “upgraded” card belongs.
- Repeat the testing process with more upgrades until you’re fully satisfied you have the best deck you can make with the cards you have.
Respect Your Mana Curve!
- While it’s tempting to throw a bunch of late game minions into your deck, it’s a bad idea because you’ll find that without an early game, you’ll never get to late game before your opponent kills you. You want to be able to play on curve, and not have to skip a turn without having something to play.
- While this isn’t a golden rule for all decks, this is what a general mana curve should look like for a midrange deck. Please keep this in mind as you swap in your shiny new cards:
- 0-2 One Mana Minions
- 4-6 Two Mana Minions
- 4-5 Three Mana Minions
- 4-6 Four Mana Minions
- 2-4 Five Mana Minions
- 2-4 Six+ Mana Minions
Potential Upgrades List
Here are a few simple substitutions that will make this budget deck even stronger.
2x Acidic Swamp Ooze → 2x Knife Juggler
1x Kobold Geomancer → 1x Bloodmage Thalnos
2x Ironfur Grizzly → 2x SI:7 Agent
2x Gnomish Inventor → 2x Azure Drake
* You can cut Ogre Magi from the deck if you do this and replace it with a similar cost minion, or a removal spell. 2x Boulderfist Ogre → 2x Argent Commander
2x Assassinate → 2x Eviscerate
If you enjoy playing this deck and want to move on to something more effective on ladder, I’d recommend checking out the decks listed in the previous section. Overall, Tempo Rogue is an extremely fun type of deck to play because there’s so much flexibility in your decisions on each turn. I hope you’ll have as much fun playing it as I’ve had building it.
If you’re interested in reaching Legend rank, or earning unlimited gold from arena, my team at HearthstoneCoaching.com would love to help! We’ve provided over a thousand hours of excellent coaching to students around the world.
I also run RankOneCoaching.com, where our top coaches will develop a personal plan for you to achieve your dreams in other games. Personal lessons are an in-depth experience and most students improve significantly after just one full session!
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