Going Rogue with Rogues in Modern
Welcome back, everyone, to that seemingly unnamed series where I play rogue decks in modern. Rogue/bad/jank decks hold a special place in my heart, which is why this week I decided to play a rogue deck. No no, not a rogue deck. A rogue deck. Like, the tribe. But I guess it’s rogue too...ah, nevermind. I’m just confusing myself. This week, I played a rogue rogue deck, courtesy of the rogues over at this MTGSalvation thread. For those of you like me who are too lazy to “click links” and “read threads,” here’s the list:
Okay, so I just want to get this off my chest right away: The deck is rogue for a reason (I mean look at it, it plays Slither Blade). In its current state, it does not have the tools to consistently win, from what I could tell. Your best bet is usually to land a turn 2 Bitterblossom, but even then, some games were rough. Now, these games weren’t usually blowouts, but I was often playing from behind nonetheless. And of course, there’s the final aspect to consider: I misplayed. Considerably more than I ever should have. The deck has games where it can feel very powerful, the issue is just running hot long enough to consistently win.
Well, now that I’ve talked bad about the deck, let’s see what good we can pull from it. And thankfully, there’s actually quite a bit. So the first is this: The deck has some incredibly powerful cards. Bitterblossom was banned in Modern for quite some time, and Fatal Push has been a staple removal spell since its printing. Not only that, but we’re also running Spellstutter Sprite, which, while not gelling perfectly with our deck, fills a role that it needs desperately. It just so happens that some of the best rogues also happen to be faeries, which allows us to play the sprite. We also have Vapor Snag to give us a little extra disruption.
Slither Blade and Faerie Miscreant kick off our creature package in the one-drop slot, giving us evasive beaters and, in the case of the miscreants, the potential for card draw. The first miscreant always feels a little depressing, but the second or even third tends to make up for it, since getting a 1/1 flier for one and drawing a card is a great deal. We also have Oona’s Prowler, which is great as a 3/1 flier for two that can make our opponent discard cards, but gets considerably worse once you consider the fact that it’s just a punisher mechanic. Then you have quickling, which can feel absolutely silly at times, while being one of the worst cards in the deck at others. Bouncing an Earwig Squad, Miscreant, or Sprite can be fantastic value, and even just blanking a removal spell can help you along nicely.
As far as lords go, it turns out rogues actually have some surprisingly powerful ones. What I would generally consider the worse of the two, Oona’s Blackguard, helps our Spellstutter Sprites catch bigger spells and can force our opponent to discard cards. Stinkdrinker Bandit can be absolutely insane, often coming down for just two mana. +2/+1 to your rogues is a great buff for two mana. The fact that both of these need our creatures to go unblocked for their big effects isn’t asking too much, since most of our creatures have some form of evasion.
Rounding out spells here, Smuggler’s Copter gives us some filtering for our draws, and lets us turn our meek little miscreants and Bitterblossom tokens into 3/3s. Speaking of Bitterblossom, this card can be devastating. You can just drop it turn 2, and let your lords and Spellstutter Sprites do the rest. If your opponent doesn’t answer it, blossom can snowball into an easy victory. Mutavault, of course, gets us some added pressure out of our lands, although it doesn’t work very well with Oona’s Blackguard.
Finally, we have the sideboard. Many of the cards here are hand disruption, with a couple bits of creature removal and some graveyard hate. Notably we’re lacking in artifact hate, something that I would expect to see given the prevalence of affinity right now, but looking further down the thread I see they’re running some Ceremonious Rejection now, which seems to be a great addition to the deck.
- Mutavault is a faerie. If you have the mana, you can activate mutavault to give your Spellstutter Sprites a little more reach.
- Quickling can help you counter extra spells by allowing you to bounce your Sprites, then recast them.
- Noggin Whack is one of your most versatile sideboard cards, and can come in against a lot of decks. Allowing the opponent to pick the pool of cards you’ll be discarding from is unfortunate, but getting a 2-for-1 for two mana is well worth it.
- Earwig Squad is great for taking out important pieces for a given deck. Taking removal spells is sometimes key here, but make sure you check their entire deck before just skipping to your “targets.”
- Another thing to note with Earwig Squad is that sometimes it’s okay to leave them with one of a specific card. Especially early in the game, this decreases their chances enough that they are incredibly unlikely to draw that card.
- For those of you who haven’t played much with vehicles, it’s important to note that creatures who are summoning sick can still crew vehicles. That means that your Bitterblossom tokens can crew Copter the turn they come down.
The deck seems incredibly unfocused, almost like it’s trying to find a middle of the road between aggro and tempo. The deck has interaction, but not enough to really make it worthwhile. In fact, I think the attempts to interact are really just slowing the deck down. Honestly, I don’t think the deck can function as an aggro deck either. Tempo seems like the way to go here, so interaction and card filtering are key. Newer versions of the deck seem to be running Thieves’ Fortune and maindeck Noggin Whack, both of which I think greatly improve the strength of the deck. Thieves’ Fortune is a one-mana impulse with Prowl, and as I mentioned before, Noggin Whack can definitely pull its weight.
Some other changes I like are the addition of Morsel Theft and Vampire Cutthroat, which both have a nice little bit of lifegain to help with the life loss caused by Bitterblossom. Then again, Cutthroat is a bit of a pet card of mine, so use with caution. Despite this, I would really like to see some more disruption in the main deck, like Thoughtseize, Mana Leak, and Inquisition of Kozilek. These should give the deck the tools to stay alive long enough to move in for the kill.
At the end of the day, the deck has its flaws, but I honestly think that’s just a matter of deck building. This is what a used car salesman might try to sell you as a “fix-’er-upper,” so if you like deckbuilding, this certainly would make a good project. The deck just seemed to have a bit of a split personality, and if that can be fixed, I think the deck has a lot of potential. And besides the issues with it, it was a lot of fun to play. The reactions from my opponents were just as amusing; multiple times I had opponents look at Earwig Squad, and then go “Okay...I guess, yeah.” The rogues certainly caught people off guard, and were an absolute blast to play. And while this was a great rogue deck, I can’t wait to see what rogue rogue decks we may see in the future. And maybe one day, we’ll see a mainstream rogue deck.
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