Gossiping From the Shadows
- Secret Rogue
I recently read the article discussing cards about to rotate out of Standard format once Voyage to the Sunken City arrives and my eye was drawn to Shadowjeweler Hanar and the deck created to give him one more moment in the sun before entering the wilds forever. It was at that point I remembered: I pulled Hanar a long time ago and never really gave him much playtime due to my lack of interest in Rogue. With that in mind, I set out to give him a shot and use some other cards I had been sitting on for quite a while such as Sparkjoy Cheat. Thanks to recent experience with Secret Paladin in both Standard and Wild, I had a vague idea of a tempo-y secret-y kind of deck built around trying to snowball Crossroads Gossiper out of control. While more difficult to do in Rogue than in Paladin due to the nature of the secrets in each class, I found it possible (after a shift in thinking and play style) to achieve a similar goal in this setting while also making use of another snowball-y minion in Secretkeeper. If you’re like me and you love the feeling of watching a Mysterious Challenger turn unravel before your eyes then this should be a fun, if not super-competitive deck you can mess around with for a good time.
NEVER RELY ON YOGG (PRAISE TO HIM) AS A WIN CONDITION, FOR HE IS A FICKLE DEITY. HE IS A SACRED BACKUP PLAN THAT WILL OCCASIONALLY LEAD YOU TO THE PROMISED LAND.
This deck primarily seeks to snowball one of the two minions above to the point where the opponent cannot manage them and they fold to the pressure. The problem when comparing this deck to something like Secret/Tax Paladin is that Paladin secrets do a much better job of protecting your minions when compared to their Rogue counterparts. Without access to secrets like Never Surrender! or Redemption, you run a much higher risk of losing these minions to removal through combat or spell means. What you DO have is the ridiculous value generator and mindgame enabler that is Shadowjeweler Hanar. Not only does he enable you to pick up these protective secrets to better keep the snowballs alive, Hanar can create Christmas trees of secrets that would make even Mysterious Challenger blush. If neither of these options work, you have Yogg to fall back on as a last-ditch play. Along the way, you have the newly released Blademaster Okani to frustrate and slow down your opponents long enough to get Hanar rolling.
The Secrets We Tell in the Dark…
These cards are the meat of your deck and your primary means of generating resources/board control while confounding the opponent’s plans. Perhaps most importantly, they are your Shadowjeweler Hanar activators, allowing your secret gameplan to get up and rolling. Out of the secrets in the deck, Cheat Death is the most important as your primary method of protecting your minions and doubling down on their effects when possible. It cannot be overstated how much of an impact Hanar can have on a game if he is allowed to do his thing. A good deal of opponents simply give up in frustration after a turn or two of trying to unravel his nonsense, all the while buffing up your Gossipers or Secretkeepers to hit face while he buys them time. Between Evasion and Ice Block, Hanar can also give you a tremendous amount of unexpected survivability as well. Just be super careful to ensure that you always have an escape option for Hanar when you play him. Losing him early to little or no benefit is obviously very detrimental, and holding on to him until you can play a secret or two while guaranteeing his safety can make the difference between winning and losing.
Blackjack Stunner provides some degree of board control to keep you alive or removal for taunts to help you push for lethal. I do love the fact that she does not possess the text “(up to 10)” that something like Far Watch Post does, meaning that depending on the class you can straight up lock out a card from being played for the rest of the game…as long as you aren’t facing Wildheart Guff. Don’t forget that you can also use her on your own minions as well! It’s obviously not ideal to pay an extra mana to replay a minion but if it means extra turns with Shadowjeweler Hanar or Blademaster Okani it can totally be worth it provided the board state isn’t dire. I personally hope this card catches a revert on rotation to get the cost back up to 2 extra mana but that’s just me.
One little bit of anti-synergy that has come up every now and then is between Ambush and Cheat Death. You never really want to hit the Ambusher with the bounce to hand effect, but smart opponents will tend to take out the token first before killing a higher-value target like Okani or Hanar, resulting in a waste of the secret. I don’t really have anything smart to offer in regards to this interaction, other than try to mitigate these occurrences as much as possible. I have found Ambush too useful to cut but maybe your version shifts away from this secret in favor of something else!
There’s not really much to say about these cards in particular. Extortion gives you some cheap removal to combat early boards combined with Tradeable to give you flexibility on those turns you really just need to find a secret or a Stunner to control the situation a little bit more. I found myself needing a tiny bit of reach to close out games, so I swapped out the two Mad Scientist that were originally in the deck to make room for the Wicked Stabs. 4 mana deal 12 damage from 10 mana onwards is just too efficient to overlook.
Tricks of the Trade
These are the standard “cheat out mana and repeat effects as much as possible” Rogue cards most people know and love. Scabbs is such a powerful tool for reclaiming a board you are behind on, especially if said board is full of high cost minions your opponent wont be able to replay all at once. Sleight of Hand is also incredibly helpful in playing out even more secrets alongside Hanar and giving you multiple turns of trickery for your opponent to deal with. He can also cheat out Yogg a turn early if the draws line up, if you find yourself in a desperate situation with no clear way to safety.
Blademaster Okani has been a revelation for this deck and become a quasi-win condition against certain decks when played in combination with bounce effects and secrets. Quest Mage in particular seems to hate it when you are able to play 5 or 6 counterspells in a single game, grinding their entire plan to a halt and making every decision incredibly important. While he was initially thrown in the deck in order to help with survivability into big secret turns, Okani has proven his worth and feels like a very solid control tool that can keep specific matchups like Quest Mage, Questline Hunter (if he catches Tavish) and Kazakusan decks that don’t play other minions in check if you are able to protect, bounce, and guess correctly with him.
It’s Yogg. Juice him up and play him when all else seems lost or when you just want to laugh. You can use the Master of Fate or [Hearthstone Card (Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End) Not Found] variants as you desire, I chose the newer card simply for the wider variety of effects possible. Besides, you will win your Rod of Roasting showdowns 103% of the time. Trust me on this.
Mulligans & Possible Substitutions
Against aggro, I just assume I’m going to lose.
Against most other things that are slower, I aim for a secret (preferably Cheat Death) and Shadowjeweler Hanar to get the train rolling as early as possible. Shadowstep is also a good early game card as you can play and bounce Hanar immediately to set up a future pop off turn, replay a Sparkjoy Cheat to work your way through your deck quicker, or Blademaster Okani To frustrate your opponent’s early game.
Unlike Tax/Secret Pally, I find I have much more success with Crossroads Gossiper when I play her later on in the game, especially if Hanar has done his thing and gotten set up. She can survive and snowball on just the rogue secrets alone, but it’s so much easier with secrets from other classes which will all trigger in rapid succession. In a similar vein, Secretkeeper can work as early game tempo if you are facing a class without good early removal but also works well during Hanar turns where cheaper Paladin secrets and Preparation can result in more secrets being played at once. Just remember that secrets played through Sparkjoy Cheat are cast, NOT played, so they do not trigger Secretkeeper’s scaling effect.
If you think you are playing against Big Priest, aim for some combination of Blackjack Stunner, Shadowstep and any secret. This one minion can seriously throw major wrenches in a Big Priest’s gameplan and take care of their cheated out minions for quite a while, denying them rez effects as well.
Quest Mage as well as other spell heavy decks can struggle with Blademaster Okani if you can replay the effect constantly and guess correctly.
I always throw back Wicked Stabs because I’m relying on them for 6 damage bursts in the late game if it comes to that.
The original version of the deck had Mad Scientist, Shadow Clone and Sudden Betrayal in it as further secret support. While the body on Scientist was appreciated against more aggressive decks, it never made THAT much of a difference and occasionally resulted in a crucial secret like Cheat Death being cheated out and triggered on an unwanted minion. Shadow Clone and Sudden Betrayal were supposed to help with tempo and board control, but they were never triggered consistently enough in any impactful way and I cut them.
As far as other directions to take the archetype, I’ve seen versions that run a stealth package to help with tempo and burst damage to close out the game using cards such as Spymistress, Greyheart Sage and even Akama for well-timed face attacks and extra draw. A burgle package could also fit in here since you are already generating class cards. Minions like Underbelly Fence and Double Agent could help you fight for board in the mid game, but may make your Cheat Deaths less consistent as a result. I’m curious about Edwin, Defias Kingpin and if he could help with draw and yet more snowballing threats, but I don’t have the card so I can’t try him out. Overall there’s plenty of other directions to take this idea beyond the purely secret-focused version I’m playing with, and I’d love suggestions on cards to try out!
I’ve really loved spending time with the lesser-played secret archetypes lately, and secret Rogue is certainly it’s own beast that can be a lot of fun. It definitely has a sort-of-miracle-feel in the way that you go from 0-60 very quickly and create minefields of secrets turn after turn if you can protect your minions adequately, resulting in some very sadistic fun as you watch the little bubbles burst. While this archetype isn’t receiving anything in Sunken City that will help it out in Wild, I still look forward to playing the deck more and refining it to be even sneakier and secret-er.
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Card changes 1 year, 1 month ago (Voyage to the Sunken City)
- 0 Preparation x 2
- 0 Shadowstep x 2
- 1 Blackjack Stunner x 2
- 1 Blackwater Cutlass x 2
- 1 Secret Passage x 2
- 1 Togwaggle's Scheme x 1
- 2 Ambush x 2
- 2 Cheat Death x 2
- 2 Dirty Tricks x 2
- 2 Shadowjeweler Hanar x 1
- 2 Sudden Betrayal x 1
- 2 Swindle x 2
- 2 Wicked Stab (Rank 1) x 2
- 3 Sparkjoy Cheat x 2
- 8 Shadowcrafter Scabbs x 1
- 1 Secretkeeper x 2
- 4 Blademaster Okani x 1
- 10 Yogg-Saron, Master of Fate x 1
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