Blizzard released the full core set and we're in for a very different new year of Hearthstone! Today we're going to be taking a look at the Rogue class in the Year of the Gryphon by looking at their new set of core cards and giving the new ones a full review.

Let's get to it!


New Card: Vanessa VanCleef

Vanessa VanCleef Card Image

Discuss this Card

The whole fresh addition of one that we knew about ahead of time, nonetheless carries a very important legacy. To fill the oversized boots of daddy Edwin VanCleef is no small feat to ask of anyone (that is Edwin as he was and will be in his prime at 3 mana, once the rotation hits). The comparisons are inevitable, and poor Vanessa might be living in his nefarious shadow for a while. 

Vanessa VanCleef herself has been one of the long-awaited fan favorites (you can find many custom card creations dating back years), but somehow took this long to arrive - we suspect the blame lies squarely with Edwin VanCleef always managing to bribe his way out of Hall of Fame jail just so he could win one more World Championship. His daughter has her own storied Warcraft background, as one with great proficiency in various poisons and toxins. You can even see that reflected in the card art (the daggers), which has its own tale to tell. That is why some people were disappointed she wouldn't bring this kind of flavor to Hearthstone, as a more powerful version of Xaril, Poisoned Mind. Instead, we will be heading down the Burgle archetype path.

Burgle and its offsprings have never done particularly well in Rogue, be it due to the awkward designs and costs or inherent randomness. Or because Priest was simply always better at this whole stealing thing (now we at least know why), as healing helps greatly when going for card advantage. Can Vanessa VanCleef finally turn the tide? 

For one, the card does come with a unique twist: no particular RNG. Everything is under your control; you can always choose what you would like to get based on the state of a match and the actions of your opponent (insert your favorite "high skill cap" meme here). It does force players to at least consider in which order they might wish to play their cards, to avoid their most impactful being copied if possible. The combo effect is cheap enough for easy activation (Foxy Fraud is often a staple anyway), the flexibility seemingly endless. 

I don't believe we know for sure whether we might be getting the exact copy of a card or just the base one, which matters greatly when it comes to the likes of Corrupt mechanic. Hopefully, you can enable some stylish backward Tickatus revenge. Sadly this can't work nearly as well against Mindrender Illucia. You could peek at enemy Secret cards so they are not so secret anymore (although if it's one activated through minion play or if you would have to use a spell to enable the combo, you might find out anyway). And there is the potential to bank a taunt, heal, board clear or a big minion (dream big, go C'Thun, the Shattered if you somehow survive) or direct spell for a special finish. 

Of course, your opponent will always know what you got, making for some interesting tension. In the end, Vanessa VanCleef couldn't be nearly as powerful as the pre-nerf Edwin VanCleef it's indirectly replacing, it's also far more versatile than just "dump a big pile of stats on the board as early as possible and hope opponent has no answer or stall". Personally, I am very much a fan of this type of design, here is hoping it finds its rightful place. 


Buffed and Changed Cards

There isn't a whole lot here to be excited about, but then the Basic/Classic sets for Rogue were never terribly underpowered. We have 4 cards that received a bit of love and 1 with a particular change: 

Assassinate Card Image Sprint Card Image Assassin's Blade Card Image

Patient Assassin Card Image Swashburglar Card Image

Swashburglar returns to us from Karazhan, except now it can give cards from any class (previously it was just your opponent's class). It used to be a very popular 1-mana drop back in the day, and will most likely be again. Cheap combo activator, a bit of tempo, and whatever you get might be either absolutely useless or ultimately game-winning. Not something your opponents can ever dream to play around. On average it should work out in your favor. 

Patient Assassin is a weird inclusion, with 1 extra health now. Stubborn Gastropod was big in Arena in its time and so was Giant Wasp, but Constructed formats won't care much for it. Too many board clears, too few huge minions. Assassinate goes down 1 mana, as seemingly usable hard removal for any new players on a budget. But currently even Coerce doesn't see much use. 

Sprint at 6 mana will still be mercilessly laughed at by Secret Passage and Swindle. The way things have been lately you can't ever just spend so much mana on drawing cards and expect to win. Feels clunky even with Preparation. Buffed Assassin's Blade (one less mana, 2/5 instead of 3/4) could actually hope to see some play if Self-Sharpening Sword and weapon tech didn't exist, given the power of Nitroboost Poison and Deadly Poison still in here. Maybe somebody attempts to run both, but there is a danger of a hand clogged with weapons. 


The Core Zero Triplets

What's far more entertaining is to see the wonderful (or terrible, depending on your perspective) trio of 0-mana cost cards still remain in the core set:

Backstab Card ImagePreparation Card ImageShadowstep Card Image

It's a bit of a surprise, as many were betting on Shadowstep to go away, with Preparation to follow (at least as long as the class retains its heavy draw engines). You know them, and you hate or love them. Unless upcoming expansions provide better alternatives, all of these will continue seeing regular play. 


Returning... 

Besides the Swashburglar mentioned above, we have got two more old acquaintances making a return as they always were: 

Bladed Cultist Card ImageTomb Pillager Card Image

Tomb Pillager from The League of Explorers saw its fair share of popularity, so understandably some are excited to see its return. Rogue can always find a combo-y use for Coin, even if it's not the Gadgetzan Auctioneer shenanigans of the past (but this one surprisingly remains as well, so you never know!). Currently, many decks would punish you for dropping a mere 5/4 that does nothing when it hits the board, but maybe the future metas won't be as volatile. 

Bladed Cultist is most unexpected. The card never made much impact during the time when Whispers of the Old Gods stayed with us, but we have also never had Foxy Fraud before. Now it wouldn't be wasteful to coin this on turn 1. Admittedly a 2/3 that does nothing else and is a terrible 1/2 without its combo effect is not something you would ever want on later turns. 


...and Rotating

Moving onto Wild, we will be saying our goodbyes to the following:

A fair amount, but also a lot of junk that saw very little to no play. We knew about Edwin VanCleef for a while, and we also knew he would be returning back to 3 mana come to the set rotation. Since then we've also found out that more cards might return to their former glory. Could there be Blade Flurry going face again? That's a scary thought. 

Besides Edwin, notables here include Eviscerate and Sap. The latter wasn't seen much this year, but it's still hard not to think about whenever you think Rogue thoughts. If correct positioning was never your strong suit, at least you won't have to worry about Betrayal anymore. Not that it was being included in the decks, but with spell generation being as prevalent as it was always a small consideration. Shiv and Fan of Knives fell out of favor over time and won't be particularly missed. You might shed a veteran's tear for the good memories.


A Neutral Made for Rogue

So yes, technically Vanessa VanCleef might the only brand new core card that the class is getting, but there is something to be said for this guy as well:

Fogsail Freebooter Card Image

Several classes will be able to use it, but in the end, there is only one that can guarantee to have a weapon equipped on almost any turn of their choosing. 2 damage that you can direct anywhere, 2 mana, 2/2 body, a tribal tag; not too shabby. Maybe it will sneak into some decks. Pirate Rogue a thing again in Standard? Now you can sport a matching Cap’n Valeera skin to boot! 


That's a Wrap 

It looks like Rogue will be more than fine. The class tends to find a way to become a top contender in most metas, often with more than just one archetype. What's already been previewed here seems fairly promising, and the recent expansions added a few staples. To be honest it won't be very surprising if Foxy Fraud, Nitroboost Poison and Secret Passage (yes, again) get hit with a nerf hammer in the foreseeable future.

SI:7 Agent Card Image Plague Scientist Card Image Sinister Strike Card Image Cold Blood Card Image

The 4 other Classic cards that weren't specifically mentioned but are also going to be a part of the Core set include: SI:7 Agent, Plague Scientist, Sinister Strike, and Cold Blood. Face damage has been beloved by Weapon/Stealth Rogue, which may still hold. The rest is mostly there to take up space, but we should never count out a grand return for SI:7 Agent. Cold Blood perhaps if Nitro ever goes down in power level. 

I'd be very happy to see some form of a card advantage archetype emerge (burgling and pillaging, arrr), but as long as the class remains so delicate without any survival tools, it probably can't hope to last against anything that isn't Priest or Control. And even then using your weapon to remove anything does hurt your precious face. 


How do you feel about the upcoming changes? Sad to see anything go, happy with what's staying? Share your thoughts with us below! 


View More Out of Cards Core Set Reviews

We're putting together reviews for all the classes and their core set cards. Here's everything up so far!