Hello everyone! Today I’m going to go over a deck that many thought was dead when rotation hit: Dimir Rogues. For what it’s worth, that sentiment is far from unfounded. With rotation, the deck lost two of it’s best cards in Thieves’ Guild Enforcer for early pressure, Into the Story for an insane draw engine, Drown in the Loch for a cheap and versatile piece of interaction, and Lurrus of the Dream-Den. It almost begs the question how a deck could survive when it lost 4 of it’s key pieces. Well the short answer is, it didn’t.
That Rogues deck was absurdly powerful and there’s no way that it could be replicated with the current card pool. It was brutally efficient and could win off of entirely cheap creatures, permission, and Into the Story. However, just because that iteration of the deck is gone, doesn’t mean the archetype as a whole is dead. Although it never saw much play, there’s another Rogue win condition readily available in Standard and is quite powerful, just overshadowed by it’s predecessors: Zareth San, the Trickster.
Although it takes more work, Zareth San can be an extremely powerful win condition and an absurd tempo swing assuming you can connect with it. With that in mind, I knew that Rogues wasn’t truly dead and there had to be some shell for it to survive, as how bad can solid creatures and permission be in any metagame? With a lot of testing, here’s the list I arrived at.
This version is a lot weaker than the previous version, but that was a much different format with every deck being obscenely high power. Although there are still high power decks, we still have enough strength to contend with them.
To start off the curve, we still have trusty Merfolk Windrobber. Ironically, I would argue that Windrobber is much better in this deck than it was in the old version as the body is way more relevant. It provides consistent damage, consistent mill, and helps enable Zareth San. Although technically a 1 drop, we’re rarely going to play Bloodchief’s Thirst on 1, but having a dirt cheap removal spell is always welcome, especially when it can scale up to kill anything for a bigger investment.
Next is the crux of the curve, the 2 drops. We still have Soaring Thought-Thief which feels as good as it used to. This deck generally isn’t the fastest, but any start with a turn 2 Thought-Thief can quickly kill the opponent left unchecked whether it’s through damage or enabling Zareth San. Although not a Rogue, I decided just to go all in and main deck 4 Malevolent Hermit. At least in the current metagame, there’s just no matchup where Hermit is completely dead. It’s great against Izzet as it can soft counter their expensive spells, it can stop Monogreen from resolving an Esika’s Chariot or Wrenn and Seven, and just be a decent blocker against Monowhite.
Negate is the first piece of interaction that’s been absolutely stellar in this format. There’s a large swath of great non creature threats so having a catch all for them is invaluable. Then, we have our creature removal suite with 2 Flunk and 2 Infernal Grasp. I really like having 4 2 mana removal spells, but the exact ratio of which ones you want comes down to personal preference.
Moving up to the 3s, we have one of my pet cards, Nighthawk Scavenger. Although it doesn’t necessarily synergize amazingly well with the rest of the deck, it’s still a threat that can easily be quite large and gain a lot of life which can be crucial in the creature matchups. Then we have our catch all counterspell, Saw It Coming. Nothing really special to report here, it’s just a counterspell that will generally be solid and replaceable in the post board games if it isn’t.
For the 4s, I have 4 draw spells, but a 3/1 split between Behold the Multiverse and Memory Deluge. Like Infernal Grasp and Flunk, I think the ratio here is going to come down to personal preference. I like this split as Behold is on average better than Deluge considering most games don’t go late, the mana reduction from Foretell is relevant, and having multiple Foretell spells makes it harder for the opponent to anticipate what you have. Deluge on the other hand, is obviously better if the game gets to a point where you can flash it back. You can adjust as you see fit.
Finally, the main win condition of the deck, Zareth San, the Trickster. Zareth has been an absolute house and even in matchups where it isn’t supposed to be good, it still performs quite well. Against the creature decks, Zareth is a constant threat that can easily end the game in one hit if the opponent has a solid target in the graveyard. Against the control decks, this represents a Flash threat that is non negligible for racing and can steal lands if you had some Rogues already hitting them. Playing 4 can be cumbersome at times, but it’s the way you’re going to win the majority of your games.
The sideboard is nothing extraordinary, but extremely tuned to combat the metagame. For the control decks, we have access to more counters like Negate and Disdainful Stroke, but for Turns specifically, we have 3
For the aggro decks, we have one more copy of each removal spell we already play, but then have access to a full set of Crippling Fear in the sideboard. Crippling Fear is extremely brutal as there’s no way for aggro decks to know it’s coming as it’s a wrath you can keep playing creatures into. Having a solid curve of creatures into a Fear will almost always be an win against any creature deck.
NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS / POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS
As much as I like Ruin Crab, this deck doesn’t need the mill nearly as badly as the old version did.
A solid hedge between ok interaction and an ok land, I never mind playing a few copies of this, but didn’t think we needed to in this list.
A reasonably powerful Rogue, my initial take had a few copies of this, but was eventually replaced by Malevolent Hermit. Although I really like this card, it’s just not good enough in the creature matchups to justify main deck play.
A reasonable replacement for Saw it Coming if you prefer the exile clause to the ability to Foretell.
Since we don’t have a heavy emphasis on mill, getting to 8 cards in the opponent’s graveyard isn’t always easy. Just play more removal I say.
Duress and related effects are certainly solid, but somewhat unnecessary considering the amount of counterspells this list plays. If you really like them, I would shave the extra copies of Negate and Disdainful Stroke for them.
A nice hedge against the Turns deck, I think the counterspells are better, but f you prefer this, I would do the same as I would for Duress.
Although this isn’t a Rogue nor synergizes with them, it’s another Flash threat you could consider playing. For what it’s worth, this deck is much more Dimir Tempo than Rogues, so it’s not that ridiculous of an idea.
My original list has 2 copies of Insight and it was fine, but cut it for cards that seemed more important.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING
IZZET TURNS / HARD CONTROL
|+3 Skyclave Shade||-2 Nighthawk Scavenger|
|+1 Disdainful Stroke||-2 Flunk|
|+1 Negate||-2 Infernal Grasp|
|+3 Test of Talents||-2 Bloodchief’s Thirst|
The game plan here is really simple, establish an early threat and try to ride that to victory backed up by a fist full of counter spells. Skyclave Shade is going to be our best threat as they have very few ways to permanently remove it so prioritizing this in mulligans is crucial. They don’t do anything terribly impactful most games before turn 5+, so you can just keep developing during that time. Try to save your Test of Talents for Alrund’s Epiphany, but nabbing a Memory Deluge can be great as well.
|+3 Skyclave Shade||-2 Nighthawk Scavenger|
|+1 Disdainful Stroke||-2 Flunk|
|+1 Negate||-2 Bloodchief’s Thirst|
|+1 Infernal Grasp|
Since they do play some creatures, you still want a few pieces of removal in case they get under the counterspells. Smoldering Egg is the biggest worry in the matchup as it gets under the counters and is an absolute beast when flipped so killing that on sight is recommended.
You can even consider cutting more Nighthawk Scavenger and keeping in some Bloodchief’s Thirst just to have more answers to it. Playing patient is fine, but you don’t have the inevitability either since they play more creature lands and more lands in general so you’ll have to be the aggressor in this matchup.
MONO GREEN / MONO WHITE
|+1 Flunk||-2 Negate|
|+1 Infernal Grasp||-4 Saw It Coming|
|+1 Bloodchief’s Thirst||-1 Memory Deluge|
|+4 Crippling Fear|
For these matchups, your main focus is surviving the early turns and winning with Zareth San. To that end, slower or more narrow spells like Negate and Saw it Coming come out in lieu of removal. There is an awkward contention more so in the Monogreen matchup where they may keep in more expensive spells like Esika’s Chariot and Wrenn and Seven, but Malevolent Hermit should do the trick there. Prioritize removal highly and Crippling Fear even higher as that’s really good at one shotting creature decks.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- Establishing some mill early is critical, so even if it makes the curve slightly awkward, I tend to prioritize casting Merfolk Windrobber on 1 over playing a tap land or something similar.
- If you have a Merfolk Windrobber in play, don’t be afraid to cast the Soaring Thought-Thief on your main phase to get the extra mill. I would only not do this if you’re trying to bait removal out of the opponent for the Windrobber or you’re looking to flash it in to block.
- Don’t be afraid to trade with Malevolent Hermit against other creature decks.
- It may look like you don’t have priority for whatever reason, but if no blockers are declared you can definitely use
Zareth San, the Trickster’s activatedability on an unblocked Rogue. On a similar note, this is your highest priority in creature matchups, but pretty low priority in control matchups.
- Despite having a lot of 2 mana plays, it’s ok to Foretell something rather than representing a piece of interaction you don’t have. I even tend to Foretell when I do have interaction if I feel like I won’t be able to use it to it’s full potential or at all.
- Dealing with opposing threats generally takes precedence over establish our own board. You don’t need much to kill the opponent, but we can definitely lose if we let too many meaningful threats go.
Thank you for reading!