Of all the deck-types, Rogue is by far my favorite. Most Rogue decks can fall under the category of one of the other four deck types -- Beatdown, Aggro-Control, Control, or Combo -- but there is something about Rogue decks that just make them stand out from the rest of the field.
There is something in Magic tournament play called the metagame, which refers to the popularity of any given deck at a tournament. Usually the metagame will include lots of Beatdown in some form (Goblins, these days), with some Control and other decks. Sometimes there's a non-Beatdown archetype or color that dominates the field. For example, at the end of the last Block qualifier season nearly everyone was playing Control decks that included white as one of their (and sometimes only) colors.
The thing about Rogue decks is that no one can prepare for them or predict them. They are something new; fresh from the mind of someone who had an interesting idea and wants to defeat the world with it. Some Rogue deck ideas tend to be a little silly, but many are very powerful.
The power of Rogue decks comes from something playtesters call "inbreeding." The top decks in a format constantly morph their builds until they're playing cards specialized to beat one another. While these specialized builds are powerful in that particular metagame, they may be completely unable to handle something they didn't expect. At first, a card like Visara the Dreadful was used in Rogue decks to trump the Control decks of the format; later it became more of a mainstream card.
Sometimes Rogue decks jump into the limelight and become a part of the metagame or even a staple. The Rock, which I praised highly last week as a staple Aggro-Control deck, was originally a Rogue deck designed by Sol Malka. With the continued success of the deck, everyone started playing it. More often than not this happens to Rogue Combo decks. Popular combos like Aluren, Necro-Donate, and even the Vintage-Format Recycle engine all started out as Rogue decks designed by Pat Chapin.
Rogue can be an inexpensive deck type to build. While many Rogue decks are centered on rares, they are often underused rares, therefore they're undervalued by the community. I posted a Solitary Confinement deck as a budget deck a while back that had at least 14 rares in it, and the deck still cost under 30 tickets. This is true for many Rogue decks, including the one in this article. I've built Rogue decks that used rares such as Zur's Weirding, Collapsing Borders, Cephalid Vandal, Mawcor, and Ghastly Remains. None of these rares are what you can call pricey.
As long as you can find a synergistic pool of cards, the strangest of the strange can win game after game. I've won sanctioned Constructed matches with Aladdin's Ring, Disciple of the Vault, Manakin, Chimeric Staff, Anarchist, and many more.
Today, I have a new creation that a few friends and I put together. May I present...
Oh yeah -- Rogue decks should always have cool names.
Building on a Budget - OBLITEREGG! (Budget Rogue)
This deck has a simple yet effective plan: cast Obliterate while you have a Rukh Egg on the table. This will blow up the world, leaving you only with a 4/4 Rukh Token and perhaps a Lightning Rift. This combo reminds me a little of Upheaval-Tog, but it's much cheaper to build. The deck's basically a Control build -- similar to a Lightning Rift based deck. Simply stall the ground by playing out Vine Trellis and Rukh Egg while casting Pyroclasms and cycling Slice and Dice. If you get a Lightning Rift out, keeping your opponent's beatdown controlled should become a much easier task.
This deck does have a few Aggro-Control elements to it, as it sometimes can win by stalling the ground with removal and then attacking with a Clearcutter for the win against Beatdown. The Clearcutter is also important because it gives you a large speed boost for performing your combo against Control. You'll find Control will have trouble recovering from an Obliterate. Sometimes you can even go Beatdown with a Krosan Tusker, although its main purpose is to be a cycling card for Rift that helps you get up to Obliterate mana (and sometimes fetching the necessary forest for your Clearcutter).
Many Rogue decks can be made more consistent with the addition of more powerful rares in addition to the wacky ones. This particular Rogue could be made much better with additions such as Wooded Foothills and Starstorm.
Anyone can make a decent Rogue deck -- the key is keeping your eye open. Just sit in front of a list of cards and go through them until you discover a cool combo. Trust me, it's exciting. I've spent many hours pouring over a long box of cards that had not seen use in a long time just trying to uncover the good stuff beneath the surface. Great card combinations are still out there, undiscovered. Even the Gobvantage deck of Pro Tour--New Orleans and its newer sibling that uses Food Chain was legal for play long before anyone ever discovered the deck and brought it to a tournament. Who knows, maybe you'll discover the next big thing. Try finding your music and dancing to your own beat.
Until next time, grow a head counter.
NateHeiss on Magic Online