Third week of the season, third deck into top 100 Legend on EU. This week was a week of experiments - I've been down below rank 1k like two or three times, testing all kinds of stuff. Freeze Mage, Midrange Warrior, Control Paladin, Zoo Warlock... Even Combo Priest deck. Some of them worked better, some worse, but then I've decided to start a serious grind again. This time with C'Thun RenoLock.
RenoLock is my favorite deck. I love the play style, I love how versatile it is, I love that you can build so many different RenoLock's styles and even one list can be played in a lot of ways. It's kind of my comfort pick at this point, if I had to pick one deck I'm most experienced with (and I'm talking about "fresh" experience, not playing it a year ago or something) - I'd pick RenoLock without any thinking. Since LoE, I've played way over 1000 games with different versions of the decks. And so far it worked for me in every meta, every month in every climb.
Since WoG release, I've been experimenting with a few different Reno lists. C'Thun one is actually the first one I've built - I've played it on the last days of previous season. It was slightly different than the current one, more greedy, but greedy is not a good way to go right now with the meta being back to the usual high tempo style. It's also my most played deck since WoG release, I've already played about 150 games on it (most of the games played in Legend), so the sample size is quite meaningful.
Currently I'm sitting in near top 100 Legend on EU, playing mostly this deck for the last few days. My peak rank was 41. Sadly the matchmaking didn't work too well for me and after hitting the peak I've played 3 bad matchups in the row (and every guy was rank 2k+, so losing really hurts the MMR) and then I couldn't hit a bigger win streak again.
RenoLock. The deck is pretty unique, because it's the most popular Reno Jackson deck and the only one you commonly meet on the ladder. While people have experimented (sometimes very successfully) with Reno Mage, Reno Warrior or Reno Priest - Warlock is the class that works best with our beloved, whiskered explorer.
The main reason is that Warlock class can utilize the extra health in a best way. In some other classes, Reno might be nearly useless in certain matchups. In Warlock, it's never a dead card - even in the slowest matchups you exchange your health for card advantage, meaning Reno will never be really useless.
Right now, there are two popular RenoLock builds. The first, more popular one is Combo RenoLock. It runs the Leeroy Jenkins + Power Overwhelming + Faceless Manipulator 20 burst damage combo. The second one is C'Thun RenoLock, which I'll be talking about. If you want to read more about comparison of those two decks, check out the next section.
C'Thun RenoLock is kinda a mix between a Midrange and Control deck. On the one hand, it runs some proactive mid game threats. Some hands play perfectly into Midrange deck's strategy, taking the board control since first turns and putting pressure on the enemy. But then again, the deck runs quite a lot of reactive and situational cards + it can win the value war against nearly every deck out there, meaning the Control part is also strong. Not to mention that C'Thun himself might be seen as a combo finisher, which is great against certain decks.
But, why C'Thun in Reno Warlock? After all, the Warlock doesn't get a lot of bonuses for running it. Warlock's C'Thun-related card is Usher of Souls, which let's be honest, isn't the best card ever. It's pretty weak compared to Druid's Klaxxi Amber-weaver, Priest's Twilight Darkmender or Warrior's Ancient Shieldbearer. It's an okay card, but definitely not a reason to play C'Thun in RenoLock. The main reason is, like always, Hero Power. Warlock is great when it comes to running any combos, because he can get into the combo cards consistently without sacrificing deck slots for card draw. Another reason is Reno Jackson himself. C'Thun decks might be problematic to play in faster matchups. C'Thun minions are generally of lower quality already AND if you face a matchup that requires you to tempo out in the early game, playing vanilla minions isn't really the best way to do that. You rarely see turn 10 against Aggro decks, so C'thun doesn't play that big of a role. Meaning C'Thun deck will fare much worse against Aggro than the non-C'Thun deck. That disadvantage is somehow negated by the insane healing of Reno Jackson - Reno is usually a free win in Aggro matchups even if you run a few non-optimal cards.
Another big reason is the RenoLock's flexibility. You have a ~20 cards core that you pretty much have to run, but then you can fill it with whatever you want. It means that C'Thun and his crew is a FILLER, not the deck's main source of power. And that's what is sweet about the deck. You aren't going all-in into the C'Thun strategy. The deck runs only 6 cards that buff C'thun. You can win most of the games without even playing your Old God. But then again, if he hits the board, it's a big deal. You can get C'Thun to 15/15 pretty consistently and that's already big enough. Besides the 6 Cultists, the deck runs Twin Emperor Vek'lor, which is another big reason to play C'Thun. Loss of Sludge Belcher was a pretty big hit to RenoLock. While it comes two turns later, Vek'lor is one of the best cards in the game (assuming it's activated). Putting two big Taunts on the board is good in nearly every matchup - in slow ones it's a lot of value and two midrange bodies are pretty hard to remove. And in fast ones, it's a big Taunt wall with 12 health in total (that hits back quite hard - 4 attack kills most of the stuff fast decks play). It might be the strongest proactive turn 7 play after Dr. Boom rotating out of Standard.
Then again, the big daddy himself is also awesome. There are two main uses of the card - board clear (it's quite a lot of AoE damage) or more commonly a finisher move. If enemy has an empty board (or nearly empty), that's usually 10+ face damage from your hand. While it's not as much as the Leeroy combo, it usually can get the job done.
And in case your big minions and C'thun didn't manage to win the game, you still run Lord Jaraxxus. I just LOVE this card, because for just 1 slot in the deck you guarantee a huge advantage in any slow matchup. After you drop Jaraxxus, as long as enemy won't outtempo you heavily or combo you down, you WILL win the game. No deck can play the value war against Jaraxxus, even the most greedy Control Paladin or Warrior lists will crumble after a few turns. Plus from time to time, Jaraxxus comes handy in faster matchups as a way to heal up. While reducing your max HP to 15, which might be dangerous, if you drop to e.g. 5 health, Jaraxxus suddenly heals you for 10, which saved my skin many, many times.
So, that's it when it comes to general info. In the next section I want to compare two most popular RenoLock builds and explain my reasons why I prefer C'Thun one over the Leeroy version.
Leeroy Combo vs C'Thun
Leeroy Combo RenoLock seems to be a go-to list right now. When I meet RenoLock on ladder, I assume it's that version. In the recent tournaments, most of people have brought that version. And while I agree that it's good, I think people are shunning C'Thun version too easily. Here are few reasons why you'd want to play one over the other.
Why Leeroy Combo version is good:
- Possible 24 burst damage finisher, great in matchups like Control Paladin, Priest or RenoLock mirror. Unlike C'Thun, you can target all of that damage into opponent's face, meaning unless he Taunts up, the burst is guaranteed.
- There are only 4 combo pieces (if you count Abusive Sergeant too), meaning there are more flexible spots for the tech cards. It also means that overall quality of the cards is slightly higher, because C'Thun-buffing cards usually have vanilla stats.
- Combo pieces are also pretty flexible - you can use Abusive to get a better trade, Power Overwhelming to have a bigger Shadowflame and Faceless Manipulator to copy a big threat.
Why C'Thun version is good:
- C'Thun is more flexible finisher, because besides the possibility to deal a lot of face damage in certain scenarios, it might help you with clearing the board, which against decks like Zoo or Shaman is often as good as closing the game on the spot.
- Your C'thun win condition is never "gone". With Leeroy, if you use your combo pieces more liberally - you lose the combo win condition. If you play PO and Faceless on something else, you can no longer burst the enemy down. C'Thun is never gone - you just buff him with the Cultists and he waits until you drop him.
- Running C'thun cards also allows you to put Twin Emperor Vek'lor into your deck - it's probably the strongest 7-drop in Standard. It's even better if you combo it with Brann Bronzebeard on turn 10 for 3x 4/6 Taunt.
So, is there a huge incentive to play one version and not the other? Combo version is better in the matchups when it's better to burst the enemy down - like against Control Paladin or RenoLock mirror. Those decks can heal all the consistent damage you deal to them, so it's hard to get them down into normal lethal range. With the combo, however, all you need to do is to deal a few points of damage before or make a minion or two stick to the board for one turn and then you can combo them from nearly full health. Then again, combo does nothing in terms of board control, and that's where C'Thun is much better. It's good in matchups where board control is very important - Zoo Warlock or Midrange Shaman. In those matchups turn 10 C'Thun (even if it's just 10 attack) is often important tool to deal with opponent's board and seal the game. C'Thun is also great in matchups where enemy has limited ways to kill such a big body, e.g. against Druids. If they decide to Mulch something else, once C'Thun hits the board they will likely have no way to kill it and it will either get tons of value (like 3-4 trades on big minions) or just straight up kill the enemy.
Alright, since we already know the differences between those two, let's proceed with the guide. I've decided to not write about every single card (I tend to not do that in the Reno lists, because it's just too long), so I'll jump straight into the Alternate/Tech cards section.
Reno lists pretty much always have some flex slots, this one is no different. I want to list a few more common cards you should be able to put into the list. I think the current list is really good against the meta we have right now, but depending on what you face you can make some switches.
- Power Overwhelming - Even though it's not a combo version, PO is still a good card. There are two main uses for it - first is a tempo removal if you have some board presence (4 damage for 1 mana is really great). Second is an improved AoE with Shadowflame. That's often a problem, a Shadowflame in the hand but no big enough minion to play it on. Then something like Dark Peddler + PO + Shadowflame is a big, 6 damage AoE.
- Gadgetzan Jouster - I've seen it in a few RenoLock decks post-WoG (with Zombie Chow gone). With ten 5+ drops in the deck, winning joust isn't very uncommon. 2/3 on t1 is amazing, especially against fast decks. But then again, it's not guaranteed - with four 2-drops, four 3-drops and five 4-drops you can often lose/tie the joust and at 1/2 it becomes very weak. So it really depends on what kind of decks you face - I think it's very good against kinds of Zoo Warlock or Aggro Shaman.
- Sunfury Protector - One of the bigger problems in this deck is lack of Taunts. As for the guaranteed Taunts, there is only Crazed Worshipper. Twin Emperor Vek'lor aren't always active and then Defender of Argus is hard to play when you have the empty board, because you first need to play another minion, and combined with 4 mana cost of Argus it might be hard. Sunfury Protector is very similar to the Argus, but more flexible (while obviously having less value because of no buffs). For example, on turn 8 you can drop Sylvanas + Sunfury Protector, or even a 3-drop and Taunt it up on 5 if you really need to.
- Earthen Ring Farseer - I think it's a great card in RenoLock, but C'Thun pretty much "requires" you to play two 3-drops (Twilight Elder and Disciple of C'Thun), so I had to cut something. I think that Imp Gang Boss has higher overall strength and then Brann Bronzebeard has too many synergies (including the one with C'Thun). But if you think that you can maybe cut one C'Thun card (probably Twilight Elder) or maybe play it instead of Imp Gang boss, I think it would make sense.
- Mind Control Tech - Same as above, those were the two 3-drops I've cut to find space for C'Thun 3-drops. I miss MCT less than I miss Farseer, but the card is still pretty useful, especially if you face a lot of Zoo and Shamans.
- Sen'jin Shieldmasta - For me it was a choice between Refreshment Vendor and Sen'jin and I've decided to go with Vendor. While on turn 4 the Taunt might be better in certain scenarios (e.g. when you're not damaged yet), I think that the healing value is higher overall, especially since it can be combo'd with Brann for 8 healing. I like to use health as a resource a lot, so having another way (besides Reno) to regain it is pretty important in my opinion. 4 health = you can afford to tap more, so you get more cards and most likely more answers/threats and more ways to develop the board. Taunt might be better against decks like Zoo and Shaman, where getting the board control is more important, while Refreshment Vendor is better against Tempo Mage or Midrange Hunter, where opponent can burn you even through the Taunts. Both are valid options.
- Big Game Hunter - Yes, even after the nerfs, Big Game Hunter might be pretty useful. I've almost put him back into the deck after facing like 3 or 4 opponents running Ragnaros the Firelord in a row and me having no good answer. BGH is still a valid option if you face quite a lot of 7+ attack targets. A big problem with this deck is that the only clean way to remove big minions is Siphon Soul (and Sylvanas Windrunner to some extent). So if you play Siphon Soul and enemy drops another big bomb, you might have a hard time. But there are only a few tech card slots and it fights with ones like Acidic Swamp Ooze or Stampeding Kodo, which I find more useful in general.
- Cult Apothecary - I've played him in the Stampeding Kodo slot at first, but then Tempo Warrior has became more popular and people have started playing Doomsayers in literally EVERY DECK, so I've put Kodo instead. But I still think Apothecary is a great card in RenoLock. It gets insane value against decks that flood the board with small minions - I got 14 points of healing pretty often against Zoo or Shaman. If you combo it with Brann, it's basically a second Reno - healing to full is very easy. Then, Apothecary + Shadowflame is another great combo, you heal AND you deal 4 AoE damage. It was often like playing Flamestrike and I don't know, Healing Touch for 8 mana - good tempo and good value. If I didn't face Tempo Warrior every second game in high Legend (Kodo is just too good against that deck), I'd probably still play Apothecary.
- Nerubian Prophet - Stay with me, yes, I'm talking about Nerubian Prophet as a potential card to be played in a serious deck. And I'd most likely play him if I wasn't going for the C'Thun theme (it requires too many card slots to be devoted to the C'Thun + his squad). The thing is, RenoLock is a deck known for having a big hand size and a lot of options every turn. So it's very common that a certain card just sits in your hand for a few turns. And this card wants to sit in your hand for a few turns before you can play it for free. Tempo is very important in this meta, I had a lot of games where I could clear the board, but then enemy just refilled and I was behind again, with no minions on the board. Nerubian Prophet is a great way to get onto the board after Twisting Nether or Hellfire clear. It's also good thing to combo Shadowflame with. Old Handlock was known for the Ancient Watcher + Shadowflame combo, this one is even better. 0 mana Prophet + Shadowflame is 4 mana 4 damage AoE, a very good tempo move. Then, getting Prophet in your opening hand gives you a nice turn 3 play - vanilla 4/4 might not be amazing, but it's usually strong enough to contest whatever enemy dropped. If you get it early in the game, you can also get a tempo turn 5-6 with 4 or 5-drop + Nerubian Prophet. Pretty cool card and I think I'll play it in the non-C'Thun RenoLock.
- The Black Knight - Playing The Black Knight is a meta call. You never just put him into your deck, you should analyze the meta on your server, around your rank and then decide whether it's worth to play it. Black Knight is an amazing tech cards against Druids (hitting Ancient of War is often a game over), it's also nice against Midrange Shamans (a way to deal with their high tempo Thing From Below + it's rarely a dead card, as you might use it on the 2/3 Feral Spirit) and okay against Warriors (pretty much every build runs Bloodhoof Brave now). It's also great in RenoLock mirror, no matter what list they play - they definitely have some Taunts there. Then again, it's incredibly weak against decks that run no Taunts at all. E.g. it's a dead card against Miracle Rogue, N'Zoth Priest or Tempo Mage. So, analyze the meta and if you play against a lot of Taunts - be sure to put The Black Knight in.
- Doomcaller - I've got this question a few times already - Why not Doomcaller in a C'Thun deck? The answer is simple - because you just don't need it. I mean, of course - Doomcaller is good in those Control matchups. Having the ability to play C'Thun second time is big. But it's rarely necessary to win because you have Lord Jaraxxus. So it would probably come to Jaraxxus vs Doomcaller, using both would be too greedy, and I'm the fan of Jaraxxus. Second C'Thun might not kill the enemy, e.g. when you face a slow Warrior list. While Jaraxxus is guaranteed to outvalue enemy as long as you don't lose the tempo war. In faster matchup, Jaraxxus also gets the advantage of healing you to 15 (if you're lower) and honestly, you will never play C'Thun TWO TIMES in a fast matchup (first C'Thun will most likely seal the game if you don't die). So overall, I would see running Doomcaller along Jaraxxus in a REALLY greedy meta, but I don't know if people play only slow, Control decks at any rank. If they do - by all means, add Doomcaller. If they don't - well, you probably have to choose between him and Jaraxxus.
- Mountain Giant - It's pretty good in RenoLock for the same reasons why it was good in good, old Handlock. You want to Hero Power as much as you can anyway, your hand size is often 8+, so Mountain Giant can be really cheap. It's usually played as a 3-5 mana 8/8, which is great. It's a very strong opening (along Twilight Drake) in slow matchups. The only problem I have with Mountain Giant is that if you want to play it on t4, you have to tap on t2/t3 (you can life tap on t2 or t3 and play one card on the other if going second). Meaning Giant is usually a dead card in any faster matchup, where you can't really afford t2/t3 tap most of the time. It's a great play in slow matchups + a nice card to get in the mid/late game when you have a lot of cards in your hand and play it alongside something else (like Argus to make a huge Taunt). I've even seen some greedy RenoLocks running TWO Mountain Giants/Twilight Drakes but it's definitely not something that C'Thun version can do. But one? Sure.
Mulligan phase is very important for RenoLock. Since there are 30 cards in total, you really want to fish for the ones that are useful early in the game. And since different cards are good in different matchup, it might get tricky sometimes. You really want to have t2 & t3 plays in any matchup. It's incredibly important in fast matchups, so they won't overwhelm you on the board. And even in the slow ones you mulligan to get a t2 and t3. If you don't feel like dropping them, for example into opponent's removal - that's fine, but having an option to curve out with minions is always nice.
The cards I always keep in my opening hand or mulligan heavily for are:
- Mortal Coil - It's especially useful in faster matchup at dealing efficiently with 1 health minions, but I think it's a very strong and flexible card overall. In nearly every matchup you can into situations where you're 1 damage off a good trade or some minion survives at 1 health. Since it's pretty easy to find a target AND it cycles itself, I always keep it.
- Dark Peddler - Good turn 2 play no matter who you face. In faster matchups the body can be used to get some early game trades. Even stopping a few points of damage from going your face and "softening up" enemy minions is okay. You get a 1 mana card of your choosing back, so even if it dies "for free" it's not a big deal. Then in the slow matchups, the body is pretty meaningless (unless you go for Zoo-like high tempo early/mid game style), but you're pretty happy if enemy wastes an early removal on it.
- Beckoner of Evil - There is only a single class that I sometimes mulligan it away (if the rest of my hand is weak) and that's Warrior. It just lines very badly against Fiery War Axe and they always have it + it doesn't really accomplish much even if it gets taken down. But in any other matchup (and against Warrior too if the rest of my hand is A-okay and I don't need to mulligan stuff away) it's a keep, because that's simply a 2/3 minion you can drop on the board to contest it in the early game. While it has no effect, it will most likely get a 1 for 1 trade against some other early minion or eats an early removal. Which is fine. The +2/+2 on your C'Thun is also important - in perfect case scenario you want to get 10 Attack on your C'Thun before Twin Emperor Vek'lor turn and Beckoner of Evil means you're already halfway through.
- Doomsayer - Another minion I keep against every class, because it can always get some value. In fast matchups it's an insane turn 2 play, if it goes off and you can follow it up with a 3-drop, you're usually in a great shape. And in slow ones, well, you just play Doomsayer into opponent's small drop and don't really care. It's good against Warrior's and Paladin's Acolyte of Pain for example. Enemy is forced to waste a removal or he won't get any draws from their Acolyte. Even baiting a Stampeding Kodo isn't the worst thing ever, because then your Brann/Imp Gang Boss will be safer.
- Shadow Bolt - It's the only single target early/mid game removal in the deck, so I tend to keep it whenever I can. It gets value in every matchup, even if not on turn 3. Great against the early Totem Golem, Frothing Berserker, Brann Bronzebeard etc. that you wouldn't have a way to answer otherwise.
- Imp Gang Boss OR Twilight Elder - Just a strong, proactive turn 3 play. I rarely keep both of them, unless I open up with Coin in a fast matchup. Then Coin + 3-drop into 3-drop is a valid play. If I have to choose between one of those, I usually keep Imp Gang Boss, because he's more annoying and usually gets more overall value. I keep Twilight Elder in the matchups where having 3 attack is more important - like against Shaman (Flametongue/Mana Tide totems, Feral Spirit, Tunnel Trogg).
- Twilight Drake - I might be in a greedy camp here, but I tend to ALWAYS keep the Twilight Drake. It gives you a strong, proactive turn 4 play that's good in nearly every matchup. In slow matchup that's the best t4 possible - you can get him out as 4/8 or 4/9 quite easily. Silence is much less common, so you don't really have to worry about that. Then in the faster matchups, while you sometimes need to play t4 Hellfire, Twilight Drake is again probably the strongest t4 minion. 4 attack means it can kill most of their early game drops and high health means that it can usually get 2 or 3 for 1.
- Reno Jackson - That's another card I ALWAYS keep, no matter who I face. First of all - turn 6 Reno Jackson is sometimes really vital. And you never know what kind of deck opponent plays. While yes, Priest won't likely rush you down, even Priest has the high tempo Dragon archetype that can put a lot of pressure on you. Warrior? It might be Pirate Warrior, and then t6 Reno is great. And even if it won't be useful at the start, I really like to KNOW that I have the access to Reno all the time. This way I don't have to do the safe plays all the time, stop tapping when I'm too low etc. I can do much stronger plays knowing that I can heal back to full any time I want. And after all, that's the card you build a whole deck around, so having it is pretty nice.
There are also a few cards that are keeps only in specific matchups. Here, knowing what are the most popular lists is very important. For example - if 80% of the Warriors you face are Tempo Warrior, you want to mulligan for that specific matchup. If it's 50/50 (e.g. between ZooLock and RenoLock), you generally mulligan for the faster matchup, because having a bad hand in slow matchup is much less punishing. So, here are those cards:
- Acidic Swamp Ooze - Keep against weapon classes, ESPECIALLY Warrior. Midrange/Tempo Warrior often equips a Fiery War Axe on turn 2 without swinging, meaning your Ooze is very likely to get a lot of value. If you think it's a slower Warrior version, you can also keep him for the moment Gorehowl is equipped. Gorehowl is one of the most common ways how Warrior can outvalue/outtempo you, so getting rid of it is important. Ooze is also good against Rogue (even dropping it on a 1/2 Dagger means 2 mana of tempo loss for the enemy), Aggro Shaman (you generally keep it to deal with Doomhammer), Hunter (a lot of the lists are running only a single Eaglehorn Bow, but having a way to destroy it is still nice) and to some extent the Paladin (but against Control Paladin you don't really want to hit Truesilver unless you're doing the tempo push, you keep it for Tirion Fordring, so you rarely need to keep it in your opening hand). Overall, I'd say it's a nice keep against any weapon class.
- Demonwrath - Keep against decks that tend to flood the board in the early game. It's good against Zoo Warlock (even though it doesn't work on some of their minions, it's good way to get rid of Dire Wolf Alpha, Knife Juggler, Abusive Sergeant, Possessed Villager and very importantly Forbidden Ritual) and Tempo Mage (both of their 2-drops are 3/2 + some lists play Mirror Image too). Disciple of C'Thun - You want him in matchups where enemy might drop an early 2 health minion. So you definitely DON'T want to keep him against Shaman (mostly 3 health minions), Tempo Warrior (3/4 health minions), Ramp Druid (almost no early game minions, no 2 health minions at all), or I don't know, Control Paladin. But then again, you want him against Midrange Hunter (answer to their 2 mana Beasts), Tempo Mage (the 3/2 2-drops), Zoo Warlock (a lot of low health minions), Aggro Paladin (just like Zoo).
- Hellfire - I tend to keep Hellfire against Warlock (in case it's Zoo - sometimes turn 4 Hellfire is necessary to win if they tempo out perfectly) and Mage (once again - Tempo Mage can flood the board early and deal with your minions with spells, so trading against them is very hard). It's also a keep against any Shaman list - something like Tunnel Trogg with Feral Spirit and Flametongue Totem on the board means you pretty much lost the game already and Hellfire can prevent some of those scenarios. There are a lot of 3 health minions in Shaman, so it lines perfectly against them. I also keep Hellfire against Warrior - even though it sucks against Control version, it's good against Tempo (they have some 4+ health minions, but they often Whirlwind, getting them in Hellfire range) and necessary against Patron (the most clean way to deal with Grim Patron flood).
- C'Thun's Chosen - I keep him in slower matchups if I don't have Twilight Drake. While you can tap on t2 & t3, skipping t4 can hurt you even if you face slower decks. That's why I keep this to have some proactive t4 play. Divine Shield is great against the decks that have no easy way to ping - like Midrange Hunter or Priest. It's also okay against Zoo (unless they've played Ritual already), as it usually gets 2 for 1 thanks to the Shield. E.g. it's a good counter-play to their Imp Gang Boss - you can take the first body out for free, leaving only a 1/1. Just a note, if you know you play in a faster matchup, you should consider keeping the Refreshment Vendor instead if you have a smooth curve or you just want to have a guaranteed turn 4 play.
- Stampeding Kodo - Okay keep against Warrior. It can hit Armorsmith, Acolyte of Pain, Frothing Berserker and Bloodhoof Brave - even when played on curve it usually finds a good target. I also keep it against Paladin, since most of the Paladins are control, to counter the Doomsayer and Acolyte of Pain (and you can afford the early taps in this matchup anyway). It might be okay keep against Zoo, but only if the rest of your hand is really good (e.g. you have a 3-drop and a Hellfire) to assure that you don't fall too behind on the board. Kodo is good when enemy does let's say drop Flame Imp + Imp Gang Boss on turn 4, but then it's terrible if he has multiple 1 attack minions, so having a way to deal with those is your main concern.
Win Rate & Matchups
Stats: 112-56 (67%)
This time around, since my sample size is higher, I'll post a win rate against specific classes. But it's still only ~170 games, so don't take it for granted.
- Vs Druid: 4-7 (36%)
- Vs Hunter: 11-9 (55%)
- Vs Mage: 8-4 (66%)
- Vs Paladin: 12-3 (80%)
- Vs Priest: 6-2 (75%)
- Vs Rogue: 9-7 (56%)
- Vs Shaman: 20-9 (69%)
- Vs Warlock: 17-10 (63%)
- Vs Warrior: 25-7 (78%)
And some analysis of the above stats:
First of all - Druid. I don't know, maybe I'm doing something wrong, but Ramp Druid is a terrible matchup. I found the more aggressive ones like Beast much easier. You can win if you hit your early curve, some AoEs and then healing. You stabilize and you win. But the deck feels very weak against Ramp. If they hit their Ramp and start pumping out big threats, you have no way to clear them. Siphon Soul and that's it. Then they start getting 2 or 3 for 1 with their big bombs and you lose. Only the early Rag followed by Jaraxxus could really save me, because they also didn't have answers for big guys.
Midrange Hunter is about 50/50. It's the matchup where board control is most imporant, because if you leave even 2-3 minions they can snowball so hard with cards like Houndmaster, Call of the Wild etc. You usually win by dealing with everything they play and running them out of cards. If you manage to do that and you're still at resonable health (or you have Reno), you win. They will never outvalue you in the long run, because your Hero Power can gain you card advantage. But then again, they can outtempo you AND put you on the clock with their Hero Power. So it's all about keeping the board control - if they have minions on the board, even Reno won't save you. Never use Jaraxxus proactively or they will burst you from 15, use it to heal up when they get you below 10.
Most of the Mages I faced were Tempo Mages. And Tempo Mage is a pretty good matchup. They want to win through the early aggression - if you can stop that, you should win the game. Reno is like auto-win, because they don't put a lot of minion pressure besides early game and rely on the burn to finish games off. Can't burn you from 30. Save Siphon Soul for Archmage Antonidas. I honestly haven't played against a lot of Freeze, but it's a matchup where you can't really do much anyway and it mostly depends on how good the Freeze Mage's hand is. Against perfect hand you will never win, but you have a nice chance to win against mediocre hand. Just NEVER throw away your heals and NEVER play Jaraxxus unless you're healing yourself that way.
Control Paladin is one of the HARDEST matchups, but not "hard" as in bad, but as in "hard to play". You really have to know what you're doing, but if you do - you should win most of the time. The general game plan is to control the board (they won't put a lot of board pressure anyway), play as early Jaraxxus as you can, save Sylvanas Windrunner + Shadowflame or Twisting Nether (TN is better, because you can play TN and drop Ooze for a full board clear most of the time and Sylvanas won't always steal Tirion) for the N'Zoth, the Corruptor turn. Silence is for the first Tirion Fordring (although you can sometimes leave it and let enemy have the weapon, you don't mind him clearing a few minions with it, value is not a problem once you're Jaraxxus), Acidic Swamp Ooze is for the second. Matchup was harder when Paladins were running Harvest Golems & Twilight Summoners, but most of the lists right now only run Cairne (when it comes to the minion that spawn something on death), and the 4/5 won't likely kill you after the board clear.
Priest is pretty easy matchup. N'Zoth version is most popular - all you need to do is to wait until you can Jaraxxus and then play around Auchenai + Flash Heal burst. N'Zoth can be answered with Twisting Nether or Sylvanas + Shadowflame as above. Even with 5 Shifting Shades they won't likely outvalue Jaraxxus. The only time I've lost against N'Zoth Priest was when enemy actually got Jaraxxus from Shifting Shade and played it on turn 9 when I completely didn't expect it. The second loss was against Combo Priest, very uncommon, but great against RenoLock.
Miracle Rogue is a terrible matchup. The stats might not show it, because I have played a few games against Deathrattle Rogue and I think I've won all of them, but Miracle is much harder. If you have no way to answer Auctioneer in stealth (like the 50/50 Rag shot or Shadowflame), you most likely lost the match. I've found out that the best tactic against Miracle is to play SUPER defensive and remove literally ANYTHING they play while trying to stay above 18 HP (Leeroy Jenkins + 2x Cold Blood + Eviscerate). You can never win a tempo war against them, so completely running them out of threats is the way I won most of my games against Miracle. Keep Twisting Nether (or Sylvanas + Shadowflame) for a big Edwin VanCleef + stealth turn.
Midrange Shaman is a good matchup. They shouldn't put enough early pressure to kill your right away, you have time to stabilize, enough AoEs to consistently clear the board and they don't have enough burst. They usually use at least one Rockbiter Weapon for the board control and a lot of versions don't run Lightning Bolts, so very often their max burst from hand is 10 with Doomhammer + Rockbiter. Just play around Bloodlust - count the possible damage they can deal with Bloodlust every turn to know where you need to heal or put Taunt or REALLY need to AoE the board. They should run out of resources sooner than you do, so just try to keep the board clear and you should be good. Aggro Shaman is harder matchup, because it all comes down to Reno vs no Reno. If you get Reno Jackson, you win the game - I can't remember losing against Aggro Shaman when I got the Reno. But then again, without Reno your win chance is like 30-40% at best. You really need to stop the early pressure or you'll die to burn later. Best way to win this matchup is to regain the board control around turn 4-5, then put a Taunt wall and heal up however you can. Important note: FIRST Taunt and THEN heal, this way you might stop the Doomhamer + Rockbiter burst and you will only need to play around Lava Bursts and such.
Warlock... Zoo is a good matchup. It's not great, but I'd say it's 60/40 in your favor. You just can't let them snowball the early game - mulligan heavily for the early drops and AoE (Demonwrath & Hellfire) and you should be alright. While they have much higher early game tempo and can snowball that into the mid game, you have way stronger late game. The first rule is - try to survive. Your early/mid game is all about that. In the late game you should start turning the tables. You can play a minion + Shadowflame is usually for a full board clear, you can Twisting Nether their whole board. Zoo is very vulnerable against board clears without Eggs and Creepers and such. C'Thun is amazing in this matchup, dropping him is usually game over for the Zoo unless they have some biggies like Sea Giants on the board. Don't tap if you're too low - Leeroy + PO + Soulfire is a huge burst finisher. If you're not in range, you WANT them to have those cards in their hand, because they're dead until they can kill you. So don't make it easy for them and stay above the burst range or protect your Taunt minions. RenoLock - you're favorite against the Classic RenoLock (with no combo or weird stuff), it's 50/50 against the C'Thun version (usually depends on the tech card choices) and Leeroy Combo version beats you most of the time.
And last, but not least - Warrior. Control Warrior and C'Thun Warrior are great matchups. I've lost maybe 2 games in total against those. But it's also hard, because Jaraxxus is your main win condition. And it's always risky against either Grommash Hellscream or C'Thun. You need to know which cards to save for post-Jaraxxus, you need to know what to play around etc. But matchup against slow Warrior haven't really changed since LoE and it is always favorite if you know what you're doing. Warriors just can't outvalue Jaraxxus and they can't burst you down from 15 if you play it perfectly. I'd say that the matchup against CW is even EASIER now, with Death's Bite gone from Standard. But then, the new Midrange/Tempo Warrior is a harder matchup. I still have positive win rate against it, but it puts much more pressure, it runs some hard to remove threats and your health total is really a precious resource that can go away in a matter of seconds (one Frothing Berserker sticking into the board, enemy playing Ragnaros the Firelord on the empty board, Grom + activator, a lot of weapons). You usually win the matchup when you run enemy out of cards, so a very important thing - if you can, DON'T let enemy draw multiple cards from the Acolyte. DON'T go face - keep their minion count on the board low so they can't get a big Battle Rage. Also, it's even better if you can let them gain some Armor when they're at full health - then you just don't get rid of it, don't attack their face until you have a complete board control. Their main strength is heavy cycling, if they have no way to cycle they will run out of cards very fast and you just win.
Also, a quick stats on No Coin vs Coin win rate:
- Win rate when going first: 73%
- Win rate when going second: 61%
Strategy & Tips
I find writing about strategy very difficult when it comes to this deck. The reason is that it doesn't have a consistent play style. Depending on each matchup and even each opening hand, you can play two completely different games with the same deck. And that's what I'll start the strategy section on.
C'Thun RenoLock, just like most of the other RenoLock lists, can play two different styles - proactive and reactive. It combines the aspects of Midrange and Control deck and honestly - it's neither of them. Or both at the same time, maybe? Experienced RenoLock players should know what I'm talking about, but new players should know two things - first one is that what mostly determines the play style is your matchup and that you don't have to stick to the one - jumping between those two play styles is important.
Okay, so let's start with the fast matchups. Here, your go-to play style is Control. "Fast" is obviously a very subjective term, but here I mean FASTER than you. So deck like Midrange Shaman or Midrange Hunter are usually in this category, even those aren't very fast decks. So, if the deck is faster than yours, it also means that it should hold less total value. It means that overall quality of your cards is higher than opponent's OR that you can run enemy out of cards thanks to your built-in card draw mechanic. In those matchups, your goal is to run enemy out of resources - cards and minions on the board - and only then start developing your own and pushing him. Usual game looks like that: you control the board and clear everything for the first 6-10 turns (depending on the matchup) and then shift the gears and start going face once you have the board advantage and card advantage. In those matchups, you generally prefer the reactive cards like AoE and single target removals + Taunts. Reno Jackson is also very important, because being behind on the board usually means that you enemy gets to hit you more than you'd want him to. Proactive threats are also okay, but try to drop the ones that can trade in a best way - e.g. Twilight Drake is okay, because he it can usually take 2-3 hits before dying. I actually think that those matchups are much easier to play. Even though the games are faster and it might seem that you lose harder - it's usually about having vs not having answers. Yes, it's easy choice to Hellfire opponent's board on turn 4 if he has 5 minions that you kill with it. It's also very easy choice to play Reno when you're on 5 HP. But then again, you need to HAVE those cards. The only hard choices here are survival ones - "do I have to play the Reno already or can I afford to play Emperor this turn?" or "can I tap one more time or will that put me in the burn range?". And those usually come with experience - there is rarely a clear answer, you just need to know how much damage is enemy capable of doing. More about that later.
Then, the slow matchups. Those are more tricky ones. First of all - your go-to strategy here is playing the role of Midrange, proactive deck. You want to curve out. You want to drop minions every turn. Play around AoEs, get the good trades, but go face very often. That's how you play against very slow decks - Control Warrior, Miracle Rogue, Freeze Mage. Control Priest to some extent too. Why is that? Because this kind of strategy gives you a CHANCE to win the game by putting enough pressure, while it doesn't cost you anything. You don't sacrifice your late game win conditions, your minions are pretty disposable and you can replenish your resources quite easily. So taking that chance to win through Midrange pressure is important - I found out that I win like 15-20% of the slow matchups like that. Here, early C'Thun is a great finisher. If you drew some C'Thun cards by turn 10, he should be 10/10 or bigger - you want to drop him as a proactive threat onto the board. Even though 10/10 C'Thun won't likely straight up kill the enemy (well, sometimes it does), they still have to deal with a big body. They can't kill it - they usually lose the game. With those kind of strategy, you want to play the strongest proactive threat every turn. You probably also want to drop some C'Thun cards, even though they might be weaker, just to activate the turn 7 Twin Emperor. This card is very strong with this kind of strategy - it often requires two precious removals or enemy just has no way to deal with it and you continue your push. Ragnaros the Firelord is also very strong - don't be afraid of dropping him when enemy has no minions. Instant 8 face damage is already nice value if you're pushing for damage. It's also another way to bait removals before C'Thun.
But, you can't always win the proactive game. There might be few reasons - you didn't draw your proactive threats and you had really slow start, enemy also had a pretty fast start and you had to answer some of their cards, maybe you made the push, but enemy recovered. What then? Have no fear, that's why you have Lord Jaraxxus. It's a huge win condition in every slow matchup where enemy can't burst you down. That's right - it's an important thing, you rarely want to play Jaraxxus against Miracle Rogue or Freeze Mage, as those matchups have a huge burst (but then again, you don't need Jaraxxus against those - you need to rush them down OR survive by outhealing their damage and clearing the board). But in other slow matchups, those that can't burst you down from 15, Jaraxxus is a huge threat. It's a single card that can win you matches against Control Warrior, Control Priest, Control Paladin etc. Putting a 6/6 every turn means that enemy is on a very short clock to do something. That something is usually a big tempo push OR trying to kill you through other means than OTK burst. Knowing when and how to play Jaraxxus is one of the most important things in those slow matchups. First of all - you need to know EXACTLY how much damage enemy can deal and play around it. For example - Control Warrior with Fiery War Axe equipped and Grommash Hellscream + Revenge in his hand can deal 13 damage. It means that you're constantly at 2 points of health. But then, what if he equips Gorehowl? You're in range. It means that you have to either wait through or destroy Gorehowl (with Acidic Swamp Ooze) before even playing Jaraxxus. Otherwise enemy will just kill you. Priest? That's even better, Auchenai Soulpriest + 2x Flash Heal is 10 damage. +Normal Hero Power = 12 damage. But +Upgraded Hero Power = 14 damage. If Priest has upgraded Hero Power, you have to assume that you're at 1 health. So you can't take ANY additional damage. You can only take damage once enemy has used both Auchenais or Flash Heals for some other reasons. And you can NEVER leave Auchenai on the board, even if you have Taunts, because then Priest can burst you from 15 with 2x Flash Heal + Darkshire Alchemist. Those are only some basics, there is a lot more to using Jaraxxus. For example - if you drop him in Control Warrior matchup, you'll get your weapon destroyed with Harrison Jones like 60-70% of time. Meaning enemy now operates on full hand and you draw only one per turn.
It means that you have to prepare before dropping Jaraxxus. First of all - don't drop Emperor Thaurissan UNTIL you have Jaraxxus in your hand. It's the most important card to reduce in slow matchup. It means that you will be able to play Jaraxxus and instantly spawn a 6/6, which is a big difference (I mean, it's having 6/6 on the board vs not having it). Second thing - it's best if you already have some board presence when you drop him. It doesn't have to be huge. But never drop it when enemy has the board advantage if you don't want to die. Third thing - have board clears. You should keep Shadowflame and Twisting Nether for post-Jaraxxus if possible. First answer to Jaraxxus is usually a tempo push. Having a way to clear the board is necessary, otherwise enemy will just capitalize on your low health and huge tempo loss and rush you down. Fourth thing - have ways to regain health or Taunts. For example, Priest might drop Holy Nova to set up the Auchenai kill. If you have no heal - you just die. Or Warrior can smack you once with Fiery War Axe and suddenly you're in the range. Then you really need a Taunt to stall or some way to heal you back to full.
Control Paladin is a different matchup, because here their only answer for Jaraxxus is tempo push and weapon damage. They have pretty much zero burst from their hands. It means that you want to play Jaraxxus AS SOON AS YOU CAN. The first reason is that their N'Zoth will likely be pretty weak then and you will have more time to develop. If they already have all their Deathrattles dead, you play Jaraxxus, they drop N'Zoth and you're in a terrible spot. Also it's one of the decks that can keep up with Jaraxxus for the longest time - Humility, Aldor Peacekeeper, Equality, Keeper of Uldaman - all those things means that they can sometimes play against Jaraxxus even for 10 turns. So prepare for the long game which will be on the edge all the time - and don't use your resources if you don't need to, because it means you will play into Equality clear. It's a hard matchup in general.
Okay, but you should get how it works right now. I can't really teach you more about Jaraxxus - it's all about experience. You need to play every matchup X times to know exactly how much damage they can deal, what tools are at their disposal and what cards you need to have in your hand before you can play a safe Jaraxxus. I've seen way too many people timing it in a wrong way and then losing the game because of that.
So, as you can see, Jaraxxus is the most important and probably hardest to use card in slow matchups. A lot of the games come down to how can you utilize this card. That's why I prefer it over Doomcaller, which is much easier to play, but will never get as great results as Jaraxxus. But I've already talked about him too much, I think it's time to move to the other cards. Since the general strategy is listed above, I'll make points about more detailed scenarios and individual cards:
- Doomsayer is an insane card in fast matchups, but try to be a little greedy with it (not TOO greedy). Dropping it on the empty board on turn 2 is only good if you can follow it up with a strong t3 play. If you will tap on t3 anyway, you kinda wasted it. You want to drop it into a single minion usually, this way you get rid of that minion AND you force them to skip the turn. While it might be slightly more risky, wait until enemy drops something on the board - it's hard to kill Doomsayer with only 1 minion on the board (without the tech cards that specifically counter it). Let's say Hunter - he can only Kill Command + run his minion into it, but you don't mind that. Against Zoo, it's important how much damage they have. If they have dropped Voidwalker + Argent Squire, Doomsayer is very good play. Now the only way to really kill it is something like Power Overwhelming + Abusive Sergeant, which rarely happens. But then, if they have 5 damage on the board already, Doomsayer won't proc - now they have tons of ways to deal with it through a single card. Or let's say Shaman - it's also better to drop it against a single minion, because otherwise Flametongue Totem might give them a way to deal with it.
- Try to not throw away your Brann Bronzebeard if you can. I mean, if it's your only 3-drop and you need to play it - that's fine. But there are a lot of cool combos you can do with Brann. Brann with any card that buffs C'Thun on Battlecry - 2x the buff. It's probably the weakest one, although it might be helpful when you want to activate the Twin Emperor fast. Brann + Dark Peddler = 2x 1 mana card, it's strong if you need to pull off some burst, as there is a high chance of getting PO or Soulfire this way. Brann + Disciple of C'Thun = 2x 2 damage, great at killing 4 health minions like Tomb Pillager or Azure Drake. Brann + Defender of Argus = +4/+4 buff in total. It's even better if you have 2 other minions on the board and you don't have to Taunt Brann (meaning your Taunts will protect it). Brann + Refreshment Vendor = 8 points of healing (to both you and the enemy, but you use the combo when YOU really need that healing). Brann + Twilight Drake = a lot of health on your drake, usually 10+. Brann + Stampeding Kodo = destroying TWO targets. It won't hit the same target twice, so it's insane combo in certain scenarios. Brann + Twin Emperor Vek'lor = three 4/6 Taunts in total. One of the highest value moves. Turn 10 you put 2/4 (that needs to be taken down) and three 4/6 Taunts to protect it with only 2 cards. It's even better if you already have C'Thun in your hand... going into the final Brann move, ultimate in this deck. Brann + C'Thun, you should cash-in on that whenever you can. Even if your C'Thun is only at 10 Attack, it means 20 pings in total with Brann on the board. It's a great way to sneak up lethal or completely clear the board. My record was 36 pings, which funnily enough didn't even kill the Warrior (because he had like 20 Armor).
- Reno Jackson timing is very important. It really comes with experience and I can't tell you exactly when to drop him in every scenario, but here is the deal. You don't really want to drop him when you don't have to. If enemy can't kill you or the chances are extremely low, keep him in your hand. The reason is that once you're pretty low, enemy starts playing in a certain way that really beneficial for you. He ignores the value trades, he becomes very aggressive, he wants to finish you off. And there is nothing wrong with that - it's a solid play against a Reno deck, killing enemy before he draws Reno. But enemy doesn't know that you already have Reno in your hand. So you want to capitalize on that and not drop him until you really have to. Let him hit your face, that's fine. Let him waste resources! Tempo Mages were often throwing Frostbolt or Fireball at my face to set up lethal, which means the card was completely wasted once I drop Reno. But, to be greedy with Reno you need to know EXACTLY how much damage enemy can pull off. That's why knowing the meta and every decklist is very important. For example - once I've realized I'm facing a pretty standard Tempo Warrior, I know that he can burst me for 10 damage with Grommash. So as long as I stay above that value (obviously counting the board damage + weapon too in case they have it), they can't kill me. I'm safe. I don't need to drop Reno. I can go for other play, like dropping Sylvanas (to get a better value in case they drop Cairne or Ragnaros) or Emperor (to boost tempo of future turns). There are some decks when you don't really know how much damage they can pull off. For example - Zoo Warlock. With 5 cards in the hand, Zoo might have 4 total damage in the hand (e.g. Abusive and Dire Wolf), but then can also have 20 damage (Leeroy + 2x PO + Abusive + Soulfire). In those kind of matchups, you need to make some assumptions. First of all - you never play against a perfect burst hand, because it's extremely rare and if you did, you'd lose more games than you'd win. Then, it depends on how far into the game you are. If you're 10 turns in to the game and they have been keeping 3 cards in their hand for quite a while, one of which is Peddler card - you can be pretty sure that it's something like Leeroy + PO + Soulfire for 14 burst damage. So that's what you play around. In the early/mid game you usually play around 8-10 damage from their hand (PO + Soulfire or Leeroy + one of the two).
- Another important thing that concerns Reno is that FIRST you clear the board and THEN you heal. That's the order, not the other way around. Even though you might risk some deaths from burst in opponent's hand - that's okay. If enemy has 15 damage on the board and you just drop Reno, sure, you buy one turn, but then you're in the exactly same spot. Meaning all the healing you got was completely wasted. It's better to first make some Twisting Nether or Shadowflame play and only then drop Reno. You sometimes need to take risks when playing RenoLock, and counting on enemy not having a way to kill you from the empty board when you're low is one of those risks. Another similar rule is, when you face a lot of damage on the board, Taunts > Heals. Taunts, besides protecting your health, also force enemy to do the trades = they kill opponent's minions, reducing the total damage they have on the board. Then it's safer to drop the healing. Protect your health as much as you can, ESPECIALLY if you don't have access to the Reno. Health is a very important resource, because it directly translates to the card advantage. Faster deck will never win if you can protect your health total, because it means you outvalue them very fast with Life Taps. I know it's one of the older moves (it was even popular in the old, old Handlock back in the Beta), but Sylvanas Windrunner + Shadowflame is one of the best board clear combos in the game. Not only you deal 5 AoE damage, which should be enough to kill most of the threats, but if something survives - you steal it. Since Deathrattles proc in the order of play, you can also steal the cards spawned on Deathrattles. E.g. if enemy has Cairne Bloodhoof on the board, you can steal the second 4/5 (Baine).
- You want to be greedy with your removal. Siphon Soul is the ONLY single target removal that can kill the big stuff your opponent drops. So if you have a way to kill something on the board, or you can ignore a threat - you should generally do that. Siphon Soul should be kept for the situations where you have no way to clear something on the board or enemy drops a threat that you absolutely have to kill (like Ragnaros the Firelord or C'Thun). Only if you're doing tempo push and you think that you won't need it in the future (e.g. you will kill enemy in 2-3 turns) you can use it on something smaller. Oh, and if you really need the healing - there are situations where you might even use it on YOUR OWN minion. It happens against Aggro when you really need that healing to put yourself out of range.
- One thing that some people are missing is that cards that buff C'thun buff it even when he's ON THE BOARD. It sometimes gets opponent into lethal range (e.g. Disciple of C'thun on opponent's face is 4 damage not 2, because it also gives +2 Attack to C'Thun). And it's also cool when opponent's Paladin answers your C'Thun with Humility effect. Buffing it then is pretty strong, because 1/12 (for example) minion is pretty useless, but then 5/16 is still very strong.
That's all folks! Another guide turned out to be really long. Sorry! I just have too many things to share and I never know what info I need to cut :P I hope that you don't mind it that much.
RenoLock is my favorite deck and I'm really glad it still works. If there will be demand, I'll also start writing MUAs (Matchup Analyses) vs most common decks I'm facing on the ladder.
So, just like always - if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to ask in the comments and I'll try to respond (sorry for not responding too well last time, but I was pretty busy :s). Good luck on the ladder!