Deckbuilding in Hearthstone is not a strong suite of mine. First of all, I play a lot of arena, which limits the amount of thought I put into constructed thinking. There is a different mindset that goes into that, and I seem to lack the motor for the constructed mindset. Second, I play mainly Rogue in Hearthstone, which limits my ability to build decks that are not Rogue decks. Third, I don’t like losing a whole ton, so just freewheeling it into ranked with some made-up deck is likely going to be soul-crushing.
That is why it is such a surprise that I am already Rank 10 in the first week of October 2016, with some deck I just made up. I had a backlog of Warlock quests, and the arena wasn’t giving me Gul’dan. I just made up a deck, a Reno deck since I don’t enjoy ZooLock at all, and started winning games. And the deception of the deck itself is probably the strongest attribute.
About the Deck
RenoLock decks came out of the demise of HandLock decks, following the nerf of Molten Giant. They are typically slow control decks that run a lot of removal, heals, and taunts. Given that RenoLock decks are typically highlander decks (30 1-ofs), there is a lot of room for creativity and innovation.
Given I had no experience building RenoLock, I honestly did not think of intermediate heals at all. Didn’t think of Earthen Ring Farseer, Refreshment Vendor, or Cult Apothecary. Also given my lack of experience playing really slow decks, I didn’t want a really slow deck that was resigned to Life Tapping every game. I did believe that RenoLock should have a lot of high value cards, in good legendary minions. I also believed that highlander decks are the easiest to add tech cards to, to better adapt to the meta flavor at the moment. With these thoughts in mind, I built the deck.
Cards in Deck
- Reno Jackson – For all I was concerned, Reno Jackson is the only core card in a RenoLock deck. He is the win condition, and the card to build around.
- Power Overwhelming – While this card provides burst, it also has plenty utility for providing a cheap trade on a bigger threat. With PO, I immediately thought of Shadowflame.
- Shadowflame – The first AoE card that came to mind, which works really well for a full clear with Power Overwhelming.
- Demonwrath – Shaman seems pretty strong, and the appeal of a 2-dmg early AoE seemed good on totems.
- Hellfire – My last choice for AoE. While I’m not completely a fan of the slowness of the card, the face damage provides extra utility.
- Mortal Coil – This card is close to a core card, but I felt it was a Warlock core card. I don’t recall seeing a Warlock deck without it.
- Shadow Bolt – This card was not a regular inclusion for old HandLock, but seems to be a decent card in RenoLock. The early-mid removal option for minions.
- Siphon Soul – I think Siphon Soul is an easy pick for RenoLock decks. As an arena player, I put lots of value in having a hard removal, and this is that.
- Twisting Nether – Given this deck is meant to drag things on for a while, having a full board clear to exhaust my opponent seemed appealing.
- Dark Peddler – A great pick for any Warlock deck, and the 1-cost card just has tons of utility, forcing one to pick the best given the board state.
- Imp Gang Boss – Just coming from arena, the most valuable Warlock card. I also think it has a place in virtually any Warlock deck for ranked.
- Dread Infernal – Not a conventional pick, but I think the extra 1-dmg AoE would be good against aggressive boards.
- Sylvanas Windrunner – The value in Sylvanas does not necessarily come in what you’re stealing, but mostly forcing bad trades on the opponent. Sometimes, she’s a full board clear, because your opponent doesn’t want things stolen.
- The Curator – Not a conventional choice for Warlock, but the idea of having a taunt and drawing 2 cards seemed too good to not take advantage of in a highlander deck.
- Ragnaros the Firelord – Dealing 8 damage every turn? Value Town Inc.
- Lord Jaraxxus – I saw Jaraxxus as my second heal in this deck. Plus, the hero power is great in a long game. The weapon provided removal and reach in the late game.
- Mind Control Tech – Not the most conventional ranked tech, but I play arena, so this is my idea of a tech! Also given the Shaman’s ability to flood the board, and overall tempo meta, I thought he is a fine inclusion. Plus, 3/3 for 3 isn’t horrible.
- Eater of Secrets – There is a prediction that Hunters would contend with Shamans for the top spot of the meta. While that still has yet to happen, the Eater of Secrets is meant to shut down Hunter decks with secrets, which seem to be most. I also believed Freeze Mage would be back given the Yogg nerf, so this could negate Ice Blocks. Also useful for rare pesky Paladins running around.
- Harrison Jones – Going on with the last thought of a Hunter meta, destroying an Eaglehorn Bow is usually better than getting rid of secrets. Warriors and Shamans often have weapons as well. Paladins and Rogues also affected.
- Stampeding Kodo – This was a consequence of having The Curator in the deck, and being the best Beast available. Also, this is a great arena card, which I thought could have an impact in ranked.
- Mountain Giant – Drawing to Reno is an objective for this deck, and this only helps make Mountain Giant a great tempo play in the midgame.
- Twilight Drake – Another card that benefits greatly with drawing cards. This is a card I felt was core to the slow Warlock, and helped bring in The Curator.
- Sunfury Protector – While most RenoLocks run Defender of Argus, I think Sunfury Protector is better for the the deck. I believe having a 2-drop to play is more valuable than the +1/+1 boosts. Also, the deck is expensive and doesn’t run cost reduction, making a 4-drop clunkier with other big stuff.
Smoothing the Deck
- Bane of Doom – Being a moderate-risk high-reward card, Bane of Doom was never a strong ladder card because of the inconsistency. But the highlander build allows Bane of Doom to exist as this hybrid removal-summon. It is a real wildcard though, and the consequences will win or lose games.
- Soulfire – This is not a normal card to run in RenoLock. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I didn’t know any better when making this deck, and felt the extra removal was needed for my survival. Having Soulfire made me realize this deck has burst potential.
- Leeroy Jenkins – Originally a Doomguard, I felt a charge to the face could provide a pocket burst option. With Power Overwhelming already in tow, with Soulfire and Hellfire, we could make for some good plays that don’t allow the opponent to interact with the board.
- Azure Drake – I already had The Curator and Twilight Drake down pat. Being a Rogue player, Azure Drake was always in my deck and never really disappointed me. I felt this deck could use a card like Azure Drake.
- Voidwalker – I lacked early game and felt that Voidwalker doesn’t disappoint in trading with small stuff. This helped build the Zoo look of the deck.
- Flame Imp – I lacked early game and felt that Flame Imp doesn’t disappoint in early game aggro, or forcing removal. This helped build the Zoo look of the deck.
- Huge Toad – Pick 30. I still felt I was lacking early game and combed through all available 2-drops. I felt Huge Toad was tied with Flame Juggler, but had value being a Beast, and searchable with The Curator. Also good for confusing experienced players who read meta reports.
How to Play
- Through the happenstance of deck building ineptitude, I built a RenoLock deck that combines elements of ZooLock and DragonLock. The real strength of this deck is tricking your opponent into playing around some other archetype.
- From my limited experience so far, this deck has a very low skill floor. It is not very skillful, and it can forgive many mistakes in the gameplay.
- The real skill of this deck is knowing your opponent’s deck and win condition. Know when it is time to get Reno and play Reno. Know when it is time to play Jaraxxus. Play faster than your opponent if they are a straight up Control deck. Play reactive when you are a slower deck, but know you have pocket reach cards as well.
General Mulligan and Gameplay
- Coin Games – Twilight Drake, Mountain Giant
- Shaman (Midrange/Aggro) – Demonwrath, Early Game Minions, Reno – Shaman will always be the aggressor against this deck. Some early 1-2 drops will help disguise this deck as ZooLock. Fish for your AoE, and doesn’t hurt to have Reno right away either. MCT isn’t bad against Shaman. You can tap more than before, given the Shaman nerfs.
- Hunter (Midrange Beast/Secret) – Hellfire/Shadowflame, Early Game Minions, Eater of Secrets, Harrison Jones, Reno – All Hunters will have a Bow, so Harrison Jones is a good pick. Eater of Secrets will have a big impact when the secrets come down. AoE is not as essential than the Shaman matchup, but could work on their early game. Reno Jackson not bad to have, but not essential. Keep hard removals for seemingly Turn 8 Ragnaros, and expect Turn 9 Call of the Wild.
- Warrior – Early Game Minions – Warrior is the hardest to predict. Against Control Warrior, just keep taping and play your minions as you get them. While you will get removed, there are enough valuable minions in this deck to get by. Jarraxus is the win condition there. Dragon Warrior is a tougher match, but just count on your removals. Overall, playing your early game minions to disguise a Zoolock is the best strategy vs Warriors.
- Druid – Twilight Drake, AoE, Early Game Minions – Druids still play Yogg now, meaning they use a ton of spells. This will allow you to tap a good amount, and lay down some hefty minions. Violet Teacher and Saplings could force you to pick some AoE in the beginning.
- Mage – Early Game Minions, Shadowflame, Demonwrath, Reno – Tempo Mages seem more aggressive than ever after cutting Yogg. Have your early game to contest the board, and your AoE removals. Not a bad idea to have Yogg in games as well. Against “Fast Mage,” you’ll need Reno right away, and be ready to use him right away. You’ll need to protect your life from getting bursted down. Against Freeze Mage, tap often and get your Eater of Secrets.
- Warlock – Early Game Minions, AoE, Reno, Kodo, MCT – Demonwrath is less reliable here, as your opponent could very well be running demons. But AoE would shut them down. Having Reno is not bad, as they are trying to race you. Having your early game doesn’t hurt in contesting the board. Your tech stuff doesn’t hurt either, given swarmy Zoo decks.
- Rogue – Shadowflame, Early Game Minions, Twilight Drake, Mountain Giant – Shadowflame is your only defense against a bunch of cloaked targets. Twisting Nether not bad to have against them as well, but not worth the mulligan. Mountain Giant is really good against Rogue, given Sap just makes it cheaper the next turn. Use your early game to bait out removal, and progress to your value minions to win.
- Paladin – Early Game Minions, Harrison Jones – Anyfin Paladin seems to be the rage, and it is a fairly slow, final burst deck. In this matchup, you can be the aggressor with your early game and big midgame. The Leeroy/Soulfire/Power Overwhelming burst is pretty good here.
- Priest – Do whatever you want. They’ll exhaust their Excavated Evils on your early game and Entombs on your minions. You’ll have enough valuable minions to outlast them. Dragon Priest is a little more tricky, and you’ll need to fish for your removals.
I’m going to ride this deck out on Ranked for the rest of the season, until I hit a wall. I’m surprised a gimmicky deck like this has done well so far. I’ll see what adjustments I will have to make to it as the meta gets tougher on this deck.