Hearthstone's Quest Rogue Deck Is Annoying, But It Isn't OP

Every once in a while, a Hearthstone deck rolls around that's so strong, so finely-tuned and so effective, it's hard not to play against it without getting at least a little bit salty. In the wake of the game's latest Journey to Un'Goro expansion, that deck is called the Quest Rogue.

Hearthstone's main competitive mode, the one used by pretty much every major tournament, is called "constructed" mode, where players build their own decks and pit them against one another to climb the ranks. Your average Hearthstone player isn't that great of a deck builder, so they "netdeck" — copy the best decks from the internet.

Most established Hearthstone decks are named after their central mechanical themes. Quest Rogue, also known as Caverns Rogue, is a Rogue deck that hinges around a central card called "The Caverns Below". The Caverns Below is a new Quest card that rewards you with a "Crystal Core" card once you fulfil its requirement of summoning four minions with the same name.

Once you play the Crystal Core, each of your minions — whether on the board or in your hand — gets a 5 health / 5 attack stat line. In Hearthstone, this is considered extremely strong.

Completing the quest of summoning four minions with the same name isn't as easy as it sounds, mostly because you can only have a maximum of two of the same card in your deck. So the Quest Rogue relies on "bounceback" effects that bring minions back into the hand to be replayed.

Before the expansion's release, high-level players like Jeffrey "Trump" Shih thought it would be way too slow and inefficient to complete the quest without getting destroyed in the meantime. But once Un'Goro dropped, players discovered that it's much easier to meet the quest requirement than most ever thought it would be, and the deck often snowballs to insurmountable levels at an early stage in the game.

It does not feel good to lose to a Quest Rogue. Since they're constantly pulling low-cost minions back into their hand until they complete their quest, facing off against a Quest Rogue player can feel like playing a game of solitaire until the fifth turn when they immediately fill the board with 1-mana 5/5s and destroy you.

Since an estimated 99 per cent of Hearthstone subreddit commenters post in the immediate aftermath of a salty defeat (I made that stat up but I think it's true), /r/Hearthstone naturally exploded with complaints after the Un'Goro release, with players calling out the Quest Rogue's non-interactive playstyle and obnoxiously strong quest reward. In TempoStorm.com's most recent "Meta Snapshot" column, where they organise all the most popular Hearthstone decks according to how strong they are, Quest Rogue came in as a tier 1 deck, with the site calling the archetype "toxic" for the metagame.

Shortly after the initial outburst, Dean Ayala from the Hearthstone design team defended the deck in an interview with Shacknews by saying it can be beaten by "aggro" deck archetypes, which are built to kill the other player as quickly as possible while they're messing around with their homonymous minions. Or the "taunt" archetype, which puts up a wall of strong minions that are hard to push through efficiently, even for a Quest Rogue.

As someone who loves to play Midrange Hunter, a deck that looks to snowball an early board lead into a quick midgame win, I tend to cut down Quest Rogues like they're nothing. But whenever I stop playing Midrange Hunter (which I do often to avoid getting destroyed by Taunt Warriors), I find that the Quest Rogue tends to steamroll me pretty hard.

This isn't the first time we've seen a deck like this. Like the efficient, board-filling, burst-oriented Patron Warrior and one-turn-killing Freeze Mage decks before it, Quest Rogue actually takes a good amount of skill to play, since you need to know when to go for your combos and when to deal with threats that are already on the board.

On top of that, the deck has around a 50 per cent win rate, which typically means that it's well-balanced. These are qualities that people typically consider positive for Hearthstone, but seem to be outweighed by the deck's lack of interactivity — when you're up against a Quest Rogue, there's nothing you can do to stymie their efforts.

It's already been a couple of weeks since Un'Goro first launched, and the Quest Rogue has evolved quite a bit since its early iterations. Instead of building up to quest completion and then simply flooding the board with 1-mana minions, the newest versions are more combo-oriented and seek to pull off massive swing turns so that the enemy player has even less time to respond to what's happening.

As people continue to find new ways to both play and counter the deck, expect Quest Rogue to continue to evolve. As it stands now, this is the kind of deck I love to see in Hearthstone: It requires some amount of skill to play, it isn't too expensive to build, it's has distinct counters, and it doesn't hold tyranny as the clear strongest deck in the game.

If only it wasn't so annoying to lose to.


    Yeah, I don't agree. Part of the problem is there are too many cards that feed it. There are a ton of direct activators for this (Shadowstep, Gadgetzan Ferryman, Sap, Youthful Brewmaster, Vanish), plus replication cards like Fire Fly. The creature itself being replicated can be anything, so there's a wealth of one-cost cards to choose from.

    Here's a big part of the problem. Several decks can activate their quest effect (that is, complete the quest AND cast the resulting effect) by turn 5, but none have such a high chance of completing the conditions by turn 5 as rogue does except hunter. Here are the chances in decks purely optimised to complete the quest, not including any additional card draw effects:

    Hunter: 100% (only if the entire deck is made up of one-cost minions)
    Rogue: 88%
    Paladin: 74%
    Shaman: 34%
    Priest: 7%
    Mage: 3% (hard to calculate, assumes perfect draws from 'add spell to hand' cards)
    Warlock: 0.7%
    Warrior: 0.005%
    Druid: 0% (earliest chance is turn 6, 1%)

    So hunter can beat it on percentage, but only if it dedicates 100% of its deck to one-cost minions, which is a pretty suicidal play. Meanwhile rogue only has to dedicate 14 cards out of its 30 to advancing quest completion to hit its 88%. Paladin comes close but its only reward is a single card with five adaptations, which assuming they take 'immune to spells and effects' is still vulnerable to poison, taunts, non-targeted spells and general health attrition.

    This is the problem with quest rogue. It's the fastest completable quest without sacrificing deck composition and one of the most powerful effects since it affects all friendly minions from any source. Opponents are forced to either clear board constantly in the early game (thus not hitting face) or prepare for half a board of 5/5 creatures on turn 5 with a full board almost guaranteed every subsequent turn.

    So yes, it is overpowered in my opinion. It's not an "I win" button for any rogue no matter how bad a player, but it's much stronger than the cards it's competing against.

    Quest Rogue is OP in the same vein that Pirate Warrior was OP in pre-nerf Gadgetzan: There is no interaction.
    Pirate Warrior just went face. Didn't matter what you had on the board. They just went face.
    Quest Rogue just ignores you until the quest is complete. They may even not end turns with anything on the board and just take face damage until Crystal Core is played.
    That's what I hate. Non-interaction. At least with Pirate Warrior I could play a deck with a bunch of taunts (Dragon Priest was my choice). With Quest Rogue as soon as they play the quest card I basically give up.

    Zombie has a much better argued post than mine above, but I'd also note that other problems include that the deck pushes rock/paper/scissors as hard as it possibly can. Basically, unless you have a deck specifically designed to counter this then you're stuffed.

    Additionally, the quest card itself is also problematic as it more or less forces you to build one particular deck with very little variation.

    Finally, many decks used to be built around a legendary but none of those decks could pull the same combo consistently as a guaranteed pull on turn one, and all therefore had the risk of being screwed by a poor draw. The fact that quest cards give you a powerful legendary that can be pulled and played consistently on turn one is as OP as it comes, boring as hell and completely ruins the meta.

      Yeah, it's a very boring deck to play against. And because it always plays the same way every time, you know right from the mulligan and turn one draw if you're going to have the tools to counter it.

      It sucks to say this, but if I don't get the tools I need by the turn one draw I'll forfeit. I already know what the result will be otherwise (given the 88% chance of the rogue having the tools he needs) and I'll get a better climb rate on the ladder to eat the loss and match up against another class 15 seconds later than to play out the 10 minutes it takes to watch the inevitable (because holy shit do rogues like to take an eternity to play their turns).

    Sometimes they can easily have the quest done by turn 4, so unless you are playing an aggro deck means you might as well just concede at that point. I don't mind losing in Hearthstone most of the time, but losing against this deck by turn 5 just feels horrible!

    In optimal circumstances it's entirely possible for a rogue to complete the quest on their first turn.

    If you mulliganed perfectly, you could have The Coin, Mimic Pod, Preparation, Shadowstep, Shadowstep

    1. Play Preparation (a 0 cost spell which reduces the next spell cost by 3)
    2. Play Mimic Pod for free (a 3 cost spell which now costs 0 and lets you draw a a card + an extra copy of that card)
    3. Let assume you got two copies of Swashburgular in #2, a 1 cost card. Play it. (Quest Completion is now 1/4)
    4. Play Shadowstep. Bring that Swashburgular back. He now costs zero.
    5. Play that Swashburgular for free. (Quest Completion 2/4)
    6. Shadowstep again!
    7. Play that Swashburgular for free again. (Quest completion 3/4)
    8. Play the Coin. Play the second Swashburgular you got from Mimic Pod.
    9. Quest complete!
    10. Laugh as opponent concedes, but also feel exceedingly guilty for playing this quest.

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