Tribal Laboratory: Rogues
Recently I began a new 5E Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Due to my large amount of time spent playing magic I haven’t actually been able to play a ton of DnD. My Dungeon Master told me the hook of the campaign was going to be generic fantasy, very typical dungeons and dragons storyline. So I decided to make something simple and cliche that would fit such a typical campaign. I ended up making a Wood Elf Rogue. My rogue is a scummy, self glorified Robin Hood. He takes from the rich and gives to the poor, except the poor is usually her! I had a lot of fun being scummy so I decided to set out to make a Rogue deck for modern. Thankfully there are a lot of cards in Lorwyn block that will help me make this deck. I decided to make the deck with the same idea in mind as my Wood Elf, very strong and simple. Nothing insane, just a strong rogue deck. The first thing I do when i make these decks usually, is I go to gatherer, and I do an advanced search for all the cards of a certain creature type. I looked through all the rogue cards in modern and found the best way to make a rogue deck was to make a deck that takes advantage of evasion. The rogue tribal ability on lorwyn is called Prowl. It allows you to pay an alternate cost if you have dealt combat damage with a rogue this turn. Let’s take a look at the list!
One of my favorite cards in modern is Bitter Blossom. It really encapsulates what black loves, using your life as a resource. The card was banned during modern’s conception, showing how powerful it can be. Getting a 1/1 flyer every turn is powerful, especially in combination with some of the other rogue cards like Oona’s Blackguard, it causes all of your rogues to enter with +1/+1, and turns them into specters that make your opponent discard when they’re dealt damage. On top of Oona’s Blackguard, we have Stinkdrinker Bandit, which pumps all of our rogues when they’re not blocked. If you have both in play your fliers become 4/3’s if left unblocked!
The block Kaladesh introduced rogues again with the Aetherborn. Gonti’s crew of reckless abandon gave the deck two important cards. Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is an important card advantage card. Not only is it a rogue, but if we’re attacking and doing damage every turn we get to draw some extra cards. Gonti mechanically speaking, is exactly what i think rogues should be doing. He has deathtouch, and when he enters the battlefield he pilfers your opponent’s deck and steals a card for you to play for the rest of the game, regardless of if he’s on the field or not!
Prowl is one of my favorite tribal mechanics. The flavor is definitely there, by dealing damage to your opponent and stealing their resources, your spells cost less. It’s perfect. Earwig Squad makes use of this ability to the maximum. From 5 mana down to 3, he comes down and Extripates your opponent’s library for 3 cards. With this card, you should take win conditions and board wipes. Against most control decks like Blue-White, you should take their Supreme Verdicts, their Detention Spheres, and maybe Snapcaster Mage. Against burn, you should probably take their Eidolons, considering most of the cards in the deck are 2 or less mana, and you’re already hemorrhaging life from the Bitterblossom. Against Tron, you can cut their odds by trying to pick out their Towers, or in the case of Eldrazi Tron their temples. I love Earwig Squad, because it requires you to recognize what your opponent wants, and to snatch it away from them, like the rogue that you are.
In addition to all of these flavorful rogue cards, we also have some cards for support. Since we’re in black we get to play Inquisition and Thoughtseize. Any card that takes from your opponent, I’m in! When rogues get in a fight, they love to play dirty. Dismember, Fatal Push and Go for the Throat are powerful removal spells in modern that encapsulate how rogues assassinate those who get in their way.
The sideboard for Modern is really important, and is a crutch for less powerful decks like tribal decks. Our deck has a lot of powerful cards in it’s arsenal. The first thing to think about is what decks we’re weak to. The first deck would be Burn. The hard part about Burn, is that it’s moderately cheap and easy to get into modern with, so if you’re playing at your LGS you’re sure to find some burn decks. I would suggest playing some number of Collective Brutality. Collective Brutality is so powerful in black decks, being able to kill a Goblin Guide, drain them for 2, and pick a Bolt out of their hand is very strong. Some graveyard hate is good, if you wanted to be super flavorful you could play Faerie Macabre. However, Faerie Macabre fails to really hose graveyard decks like I want to. I think some number of either Leyline of the Void, Nihil Spellbomb or Relic of Progenitus are probably the way to go. You could also try Ravenous Trap, it’s a pretty rogue-esq card. Something I feel that basically every black deck needs is Surgical Extraction. It’s so powerful in so many matchups, being able to Surgical something super important to them is just so powerful. Play that in conjunction with Rain of Tears, and you’ll make any Tron player weep. The thing about sideboards, is it’s important to sculpt it to your local meta, because where I play at Flipside Gaming, there’s a ton of burn decks running around, but maybe your meta isn’t like that and instead is full of control decks. Assessing your meta, and sculpting your sideboard to handle it, is another skill that modern tests.
Thank you once again for joining me in my laboratory, this was a bit more solid of a list, playing some really powerful modern cards like Thoughtseize and Bitterblossom, but at the same time being able to play fun rogue cards like Oona’s Blackguard. I think you guys will have a lot of fun with this list! If I missed any sweet rogues or rogue cards, be sure to leave a comment!
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