As my readers are undoubtedly aware, last week Ben Brode and Mike Donais hosted Hearthstone’s second-ever live developer Q&A. We at Blizzpro summarized the Q&A here, and the original VoD can be found here.
There were a lot of good tidbits, but one thing that particularly caught my attention was the discussion of rogue’s class identity. When asked what the identity is, the developers talked about cleverness, trickiness, deathrattle, and the pickpocket theme. Basically, “more of what we’re already doing.”
The problem with that, and the reason why the question was asked in the first place, is that what rogue is doing right now doesn’t seem to make much sense. Especially since the theme that got the most mentions–the cleverness/trickiness–feels like a reference to the very Miracle Rogue deck that they are killing by rotating Conceal to Wild. And, with that, I have joined the masses calling for a rogue re-write, or at the very least, re-emphasis going forward. I propose that the following make up rogue’s identity.
Indeed, it would be antagonistic to the goal of establishing a class identity if we were to completely rewrite the class. I think combo is a particularly cool mechanic that has been central to rogue since the beginning of this game.
II. Weapons and Weapon-Buffs
Again, weapons and weapon-buffs have been part of rogue from the beginning. And, while we’ve seen a few new weapons since then, it seems that Blizzard has been gun-shy about weapon buffs since Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil. This latter point is particularly upsetting because last April Mike Donais strongly hinted that Blade Flurry was specifically nerfed to make room for strong weapon buffs. (Remember this? Rogue players sure do.) I think that the game’s master assassins should have more, and more interesting, weapons. I’d love to see a whole series of oils/potions, instead of just two, ever.
III. (Actual) Thievery
And here’s the biggest change and really the entire reason why I wrote this post: I think it would have been really cool if “pickpocket” rogue actually stole from the opponent’s deck. This would have been cool because 1) it would provide more gameplay distinction between priest’s “mind reading” and rogue’s “thievery”; 2) that same distinction makes for better flavor; and 3) it might help make mill rogue a legitimate archetype. In this meta, it would have had an interesting Dirty Rat-like effect on Reno decks. I have to believe they decided against this move as part of their general game design direction against resource deprivation, but I have to believe that Dirty Rat is really contesting the Team 5’s ideas on this point. On top of that, stealing from the deck is much less disruptive from stealing from the hand (though, coming from MTG, I would be okay with hand disruption, too, if it were balanced correctly).
IV. NOT Stealth
Blizzard seems to be trying to push stealth as a defining rogue characteristic while at the same time nerfing stealth because it is not interactive. While either direction makes sense to me, as decisions favoring either flavor or gameplay, I don’t see how they can do both–at least, not if we want rogue to be half decent. Otherwise, rogue’s identity will become bad cards, and I can’t imagine we want that. I think stealth rogue should go the way of charge warrior, and slowly slink back into the shadows.
V. NOT Jade or Deathrattle, either
Jade and deathrattle have been tied to rogue in recent sets, but I can’t really tell why (except for the dubious “jade is Asian-y and ninjas are Asian” link). We know that jade isn’t planned to be in future expansions, so it can’t really be considered part of the class’s identity in any event. Deathrattle, however, is another story: we know that more deathrattle interactions are incoming (cite), so I’m concerned that we might make see deathrattle become rogue’s main emphasis for the foreseeable future. I actually love deathrattle as a mechanic and am excited to see what new deathrattle synergies we get, but it just feels jammed into rogue for no reason other than a lack of ideas. I would much rather see the things I outlined above take over.