How to play Raptor Rogue

GuideGuide

League of Explorers (LoE) has brought with it several deck types enabled by newly added cards.

Unearthed Raptor

Sometimes a new card can create a new deck type for a class. One of the League of Explorers cards, Unearthed Raptor, has done just that. Unearthed Raptor is a 3 mana 3/4 minion with a very powerful battlecry effect: it can copy the deathrattle of any friendly minion, thus having its own deathrattle. This has enabled Rogue, which was traditionally a spell-based class, to focus on a more minion-heavy play style. Some people have even gone so far as to call it "Zoo". The new, minion-based deck is commonly known as "Raptor Rogue" or "Deathrattle Rogue".

The general idea is simple: since Unearthed Raptor is a midgame minion which can copy powerful deathrattles, just create a deck which includes the most powerful deathrattles. Deathrattles from Leper Gnome to Sneed's Old Shredder have been tested in Raptor Rogue decks, with varying degrees of success at all levels of play. Here I'll present my own variation of Raptor Rogue, with a card-by-card explanation for things I've included and thing's I've excluded that might be alternatives to my choices, as well as a mulligan guide and a general game play guide. I've managed to reach legend with this variation and I think that the deck is competitive for most levels of play and it's definitely a lot of fun to play!

Raptor Rogue deck

Deck list

Cards included:

  • 2x Backstab - very cheap and efficient removal, hard to take out of any Rogue deck; used to clear smaller minion or to add some chip damage when killing a bigger minion.
  • 2x Cold Blood - Nerubian Egg activator, allows trading up minions, racing aggro decks and giving extra reach for lethal.
  • 2x Abusive Sergeant - Nerubian Egg activator, allows trading up minions, racing aggro decks and giving extra reach for lethal (the minion form of Cold Blood :smile:).
  • 2x Eviscerate - Backstab’s bigger brother that can also hit face; used to clear very threatening small minions or bigger minions or as burst damage when going for lethal.
  • 2x Haunted Creeper - deathrattle, sticky minion that can fight off aggro minions and also provides several bodies which can be used (& abused) by Cold blood, Abusive Sergeant or Defender of Argus.
  • 2x Loot Hoarder - deathrattle, cheap and efficient minion that also draws a card; used early game to fend off aggro and late game to draw more cards together with Raptor
  • 2x Nerubian Egg - deathrattle of great value, especially when comboed with Raptor; used to build up a board which is very resilient to board clears.
  • 2x Fan of Knives - good AOE against aggro also provides more card draw
  • 1x Big Game Hunter - cleanest solution to Dr. Boom, also used against Mysterious Challenger (when buffed) or against Giants; overall, most efficient solution to big minions.
  • 2x Unearthed Raptor - the card that started it all; solid 3 mana 3/4 minion that is extremely versatile and can provide a sticky board, more card draw or even special deathrattle effects (Sylvanas, Boom Bot) when needed.
  • 2x Defender of Argus - egg activator, anti-aggro card, allows trading up minions, racing aggro decks and giving extra reach for lethal; all round, great card in this deck.
  • 2x Piloted Shredder - deathrattle and all-round best 4 mana minion in the game.
  • 2x Azure Drake - card draw, +1 spell damage for more efficient minion removal or better reach for lethal and on top of that a decent minion body.
  • 1x Dark Iron Skulker - another, slightly more powerful AOE that also leaves a 4/3 minion behind.
  • 2x Sludge Belcher - deathrattle, double taunt to block aggro.
  • 1x Sylvanas Windrunner - another deathrattle and a decent 5/5 body; great in control match ups especially against classes where you want to block a big drop; copying the deathrattle with the Raptor can be strong as it can potentially block 2 powerful turns from your opponent.
  • 1x Dr. Boom - more deathrattles on top of probably the best 7 mana minion in the game.

Tech cards and alternatives

  • Piloted Sky Golem - great body, great deathrattle, it’s probably the best card that was no included in the deck; I favored Sylvanas as Sylvanas is stronger against control decks.
  • Sir Finley Mrrgglton - the Rogue hero power is not that useful in this zooish deck after early game so swapping it for a better one is strong.
  • Brann Bronzebeard - there are a lot of battlecries in this deck so Brann is a strong contender; it can either beef up your Argus taunt or give you more reach for lethal.
  • Cairne Bloodhoof - useful against more grindy, control oriented decks.
  • Bloodmage Thalnos - fills almost the same role as Loot Hoarder but provides extra spell power for your nukes; situationally better than Loot Hoarder.
  • Acidic Swamp Ooze - the dreaded weapon killer, this time used by a Rogue that doesn’t rely on weapons :smile:; useful for metas where weapons are extremely abundant.
  • Antique Healbot - great in a meta with a lot of aggression through spells or hero powers (Hunter, mostly); generally great for leveling as most of the sub-level 10 decks are very aggressive.
  • Sap - Sap can be a great choice for a more-tempo oriented play-style.
  • Sneed’s Old Shredder - big deathrattle, great in a grindy meta; can be used instead of a Sludge Belcher.

Cards which have been intentionally excluded

  • All Rogue weapon buffs and Blade Flurry - you live and die by your minions, not spells; weapon buffs will slow down this game plan while Blade Flurry without them is useless since using it on a naked dagger is too weak.
  • Leper Gnome - doesn’t trade well with anything and this is not a pure aggro deck; think of this deck more like Midrange Zoo than Aggro Zoo.
  • Harvest Golem - the main body doesn’t trade up while the deathrattle doesn’t make up for this weakness.
  • <a href=http://www.hearthpwn.com/cards/7740-baron-rivendare”>Baron Rivendare</a> - Baron Rivendare isn’t threatening enough when played on its own and the extra proccing of deathrattles doesn’t help much as this deck can already fill the board reliably.

Game plan

The general game plan is similar to that of Zoo: get control of the board early and don’t let it go. If you do lose it, unlike Zoo, there are some comeback mechanisms in Fan of Knives and Dark Iron Skulker, but they’re not powerful enough to turn a game around on their own if the board has been lost completely.

Against aggro decks and almost every kind of deck except for super late game control, you’re the control deck. There’s no healing in the deck so once you get too low you’re probably dead. However, with your very cheap and efficient removal, small and sticky minions and your hero power, winning the board around round 4 should be achievable in most games.

The perfect game start would be:

  • Turn 1: Coin / Nerubian Egg
  • Turn 2: Haunted Creeper or Backstab + hero power to kill the opposing minion
  • Turn 3: Raptor on the Nerubian Egg
  • Turn 4: Piloted Shredder
  • Turns 5 & later: solidify the board, preferably by keeping deathrattles so that enemy AOE cannot wipe your board

Mid game things become a bit fuzzy since you need to balance out doing face damage to controlling the board. The reason for this is that the deck is fundamentally a midgame oriented deck, not a super late game control deck that wants to drag out the game to fatigue.

As a simple rule, favor doing face damage to Control Warriors, Priests, Paladins and Handlocks after turn 7 or so, since it’s unlikely you’ll be able to control the board forever with a board that is actually threatening (this deck can flood the board with many bodies but sometimes they’re just 0/2s, 1/2s, 1/3s which are not really threatening to a control class.

Favorable Match Ups

Favorable match ups

Secret Paladin

Mulligan for: Backstab, Egg, Creeper, Raptor, Fan of Knives (only if you already have a 2-drop in your hand; Fan is used to counter Muster for Battle).

Stick things on the board, clear everything the opponent plays until turn 6 (Mysterious Challenger turn), then depending on the turn of the game, either grind down the Paladin with an endless supply of deathrattles or rush face if you have a lot of burst in your hand (Secret Paladins don’t really have defense).

Aggro Druid

Mulligan for: Backstab, Egg, Creeper, Raptor, Eviscerate or BGH (only if you already have a 2-drop in your hand; Eviscerate is used to counter an early Druid of the Claw or Fel Reaver).

Same general plan as for Secret Paladin until turn 5 (Fel Reaver turn) with an emphasis for taunting up after turn 9. The main ways you lose are to an uncontested Fel Reaver (face tanking it isn’t a good choice) or a lucky Force of Nature / Savage Roar combo early on.

Midrange Hunter

Mulligan for: Backstab, Egg, Creeper, Raptor.

Same general plan as for Secret Paladin until turn 7 (Dr. Boom turn) with an emphasis on racing after this turn as the Hunter hero power will whittle you down.

Hybrid Hunter

Mulligan for: Backstab, Egg, Creeper, Raptor.

This game is a race after turn 3. Clear all the beasts after turn 5 if it’s not too costly, to avoid huge spikes of damage from Kill command.

Control Warrior

Mulligan for: Egg, Creeper, Raptor, Eviscerate (to cleanly clear Armorsmith or Acolyte of Pain).

Stick things on the board and grind down every threat with efficient removal. Don’t overtextend into Brawl. If the Warrior is running two copies of Brawl, the match up becomes way harder.

Handlock

Mulligan for: Egg, Creeper, Raptor, BGH.

Same rule of making a sticky board. Ignore most minions played if not giants but don’t bring the Warlock too low before you’re ready for the burst.

Unavorable Match Ups

Unfavorable match ups

Priest

Most minions are bigger than yours, Priest hero power makes them sticky. This deck doesn’t have enough 1-turn burst to kill them from higher life totals (you’re not Miracle Rogue). Also Cabal Shadow Priest can steal most of of your minions causing a huge game swing.

Renolock

Several strong AOEs, many strong Warlock minions, better late game than yours, no way to grind them down efficiently and insufficient burst. Maybe Sneed’s could help, but I don’t have him :smile:

Face Hunter

Pure Face Hunter is a dice roll. On your part it relies on having sticky minions and Defender of Argus in the mulligan.

But overall, you’re disadvantaged since Face Hunter has a ton of damage and this deck is neither fast enough to race nor defensive enough to stall out the game long enough for the Hunter to run out of steam.

Aggro Shaman

Similar situation to the Face Hunter match up. On top of it, Aggro Shaman has higher burst. If you’re facing a lot of Aggro Shaman teching in Acidic Swamp Ooze is a decent choice.

Variations of the deck.

There are many variations of this deck around, here are several versions I found:

And you’ve reached the end of the guide. Thank you for reading so far, have fun playing this deck and come back for more guides!

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