If you have been reading this column for a while, you already know my love for rogue decks. There is a lot of potential gain to be made from bringing a rogue deck to a large tournament. With players utilizing online resources so much these days, they rely heavily on data about existing matchups in their preparation. The same goes for testing. Players are going to prepare and test games against the biggest decks in the format. While Standard is a brewers' paradise most of the time, it is becoming harder and harder for rogue decks to be successful due to the high power level of the new cards that continue to see print.
I don’t just love any rogue deck though. They have to be solid choices for competitive play. When you are working on a rogue deck, don’t forget to take the format's major players into consideration. The point of rogue decks in competitive play is not only to win games due to your opponents’ lack of understanding of your cards but also to position yourself to beat the existing tier one decks.
Today, I want to take a look at some successful decks that you may not have heard of. All of these decks have done well at relatively large events, proving to be successful. Take a look at the Top 8 Standard Hidden Gems.
8. R/G Aggro
7. R/G Aggro
Number seven and eight are two different takes on R/G Aggro. Both of these aggressive decks aim to be able to beat their opponent even after they cast a Thragtusk. Each of these decks has their own way to fight through whatever their opponent is doing.
With less Pillar of Flames in the format, it might be time to update this deck. Cards like Pyreheart Wolf and Wolfir Silverheart seem well positioned in the metagame. I would like to see more Hellriders and Thundermaw Hellkites in this style of deck to further abuse the mana accelerants.
One definite perk of playing a red and green deck right now is the addition of Kessig Wolf Run. We have not heard much about this card since the format rotated, but it still makes all of your creatures into threats. This land is exactly what a midrange deck is looking for in order to punch through the last bit of damage.
What’s that? That’s right, seven main deck curses! Talk about a win condition. You only need cast Curse of Misfortunes and then play your normal game of killing everything while your curse finds more curses. Because you are only playing red and black, there is room for a lot of amazing removal spells.
Normally this type of deck has a terrible time beating opposing planeswalkers, but with Dreadbore that is no longer the case. Barter in Blood along with Mizzium Mortars do a decent Day of Judgment impersonation and the other removal spells mop up the rest. You even have the vastly overcosted Stensia Bloodhall for when you face another control deck.
This deck is not for everyone, but don’t underestimate the power of the curses just because you have never heard them mentioned as viable Constructed cards. They are a realistic win condition that's hard to deal with in the current metagame. You also have Olivia Voldaren to steal all the Thragtusks and Angel of Serenitys. You gain some virtual card advantage as well because removal spells from your opponents are blanks most of the time.
5. U/R Delver
This deck looks pretty similar to the UWR Midrange deck many players are picking up but there are some major differences. This list still plays Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration as an early drop. It's certainly not as good as it was before, but if it flips on turn two or three your opponent is in for a quick game.
There was an alternate version floating around somewhere that played Goblin Electromancer to cast powerful spells like Talrand's Invocation a turn early. That type of strategy could be viable in this style deck as well. The Dungeon Geists also seems great to me right now because it is a removal spell that actually deals with almost any creature in Standard. Many decks have no way to remove it either.
4. U/W Midrange
This is one of the decks you may have seen already. Star City grinder Adam Prosak used this list to Top 8 the latest Star City Open in St. Louis. Removing the red mana from the UWR Midrange deck allowed Adam to play more counters and card draw, in addition to making the mana base more stable. Considering how quickly he fills his graveyard, Runechanter's Pike becomes a viable win condition and not just a couple extra damage. In many games, Pike dealt the final blow to unsuspecting opponents.
I’m not sure I agree with cutting Geist of Saint Traft, but this deck is more like a control deck that also happens to play a powerful equipment. Since he is less focused on beating his opponent quickly, that makes no Geists more appealing. He did include them in the sideboard to kill opposing Geists and also against other control decks.
The ability to do anything repeatedly is powerful, and Séance fits the bill. Remember, not only do you get to bring something back on your turn, you also get to use that effect on your opponent's turn. Grisly Salvage and Mulch combined with Lotleth Troll as a discard outlet allow you to fill your graveyard quickly and take advantage of the reanimation each turn. Once you have Trostani, Selesnya's Voice in play, you can make a copy of your token which stays in play. That interaction is one of the best reasons to be playing this deck. Free Thragtusk in addition to the 3/3 and the five life you gained from the Seance token! Sign me up!
2. RUG Deadeye
Now we are getting into some really fun decks. What do all these creatures have in common? They all have sweet enters the battlefield abilities! What better to do with that than blink them and reuse the abilities over and over again. Have you ever had your opponent blow up a land with Acidic Slime, then blink it or simply play another one? It’s devastating. This midrange deck goes very light in the early game with ways to interact with your opponent, instead focusing on destroying players with virtual card advantage. Both Restoration Angel and Deadeye Navigator allow you to reuse the abilities of all the rest of your creatures.
1. RUG Combo
Though this deck is similar to the last one, you can see about half the deck is different. There are two important combos in this deck that make it so good.
The first is the reimagining of Basilisk Collar plus Cunning Sparkmage with newcomers Izzet Staticaster and Nightshade Peddler. Neither of these cards are good on their own, but together you can build your own Visara, the Dreadful. Izzet Staticaster not being able to hit players is a definite drawback but having flash makes up for it a little bit. It does have a Maelstrom Pulse type effect also which is nice if your opponent plays multiple mana accelerants or casts Lingering Souls, so don’t forget it hits all creatures with the same name.
- Use the mana from Gilded Lotus to activate Deadeye’s ability and blink Zealous Conscripts.
- Use Zealous Conscripts's trigger to untap Gilded Lotus, netting you a mana.
- By alternating the mana you choose to produce with Gilded Lotus, you can produce infinte mana of any color.
You can then use that mana to blink Zealous Conscripts some more and steal all your opponents permenants. If you happen to have a Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells, you can also blink it over and over to gain infinite life and infinite 2/2 wolf tokens. In case you don’t have Huntmaster, you can always blink your Snapcaster Mage to reuse a bunch of cards in your graveyard.
Overall, this deck seems like a ton of fun. There are some powerful cards coupled with some combos that you can assemble. The numbers on some of the cards seems a bit off but maybe that’s only because I have never played the deck.
All of these decks seem comptitive and enjoyable to play. If you think one of them suits your play style, give it a shot.
Until Next Time,
Unleash the Rogue Force!
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