Hey guys! It’s me again, 7Boom seeBanane :) We’re now in a phase where the meta game will slowly but surely settle down. People recognise what decks are strong enough to be contenders for tier 1, and most relevant cards have been tested out. Also, Dreamhack Austin has taken place, so, as it is always the case in trading card games, the professionals and outstanding players who win these tournaments were able to showcase what they think is strongest.
If you are missing cards, ask in the comments for possible replacements. Most cards can be substituted with budget options. Obviously, that’ll make it slightly less competitive, but I assume everyone realises that. My first two guides for Dragon Priest and C’Thun Druid were a sort of test run, I wanted to see if I’m any good at writing guides and if people enjoy the content I produce. Since at the very least the latter seems to be the case, I have a real treat for you (and myself) today: a guide on Reno Warlock!
Renolock has been my favourite deck ever since getting back into Hearthstone, it has put me into legend ranks multiple times, and it might very well be my favourite deck at all. But why is that?
What is Renolock, what are its strong points, what are its weaknesses?
Renolock is a deck that revolves around utilising Reno Jackson to have an insane turn against all decks that want to kill you by directing damage at your face. Reno often allows you to heal for around 20 life, but he can also just be played as a solid 4/6 body if you’re out of options. This card single-handedly wins games against aggressive decks. It feels completely unfair to clear the board with a Hellfire just to heal up back to 30 life in the next turn against an opponent who has jammed all of his resources onto the board. The ability to activate Reno Jackson whenever you draw him by not running multiples in your deck, is the main reason to play this deck.
Other than that, Warlock cards are very efficient at what they do. Twisting Nether, Hellfire, and Demonwrath can ruin someone’s day if their game plan is to commit a lot of cards to generate board presence. Especially Twisting Nether and Shadowflame are often a reset button.
Having only one-ofs in our deck also gives us a lot of versatility. When another deck might have two Hellfires in hand, we get to decide between Hellfire and a different card. This adds to the power level of this deck. Singletons also allow us to implement tech choices far easier, since the list of cards we absolutely need to play is much shorter than in other competitive decks.
Also, the great number of different cards allows us to answer the game plan our opponent has more flexibly. If we play against an aggro deck, we just put minions onto the board and back them up with mass removal and healing, because our card quality is easily higher than our opponent’s.
If we play against a midrange deck, we get to life tap a bit more aggressively and finish the game with our combo or late game bombs. If we play against a controlling, grindy deck, we have our combo to fall back on if they are not armor-stacking warriors, or Lord Jaraxxus to get a free 6/6 Infernal every turn. We have options!
However, this versatility comes at a price. Although we are able to fit a larger number of unique cards into our deck, we sometimes lack consistency. Most strong decks have a lot of redundancy in what they do because they take the best cards and just add two of them to their decks. We, however, will have more games in which we just fail to draw that single card we’re looking for, be it Hellfire, Earthen Ring Farseer, or Dark Peddler. Thankfully, Life Tap, our hero power, helps a lot with the card draw, and in many matchups we can just draw a card every other turn.
Card Choices and Game Plan
Before I begin, I must say that there are a LOT of cards to consider for this deck. There are three (a week ago I would have said two, but times change) major variations of Renolock decks.
Firstly, the major archetype that is pure and unsullied by OTK combos. Whereas there is some degree of synergy within these decks, they choose to play more tech cards than the two other versions can reasonably play. This is, because with a lesser amount of synergy cards, there are more flexible card slots.
Secondly, an archetype that has emerged rather recently with WotOG and which was popularised by ThijsNL, to the best of my knowledge: C’Thun Renolock. This variation plays four to five cards that buff C'Thun (Beckoner of Evil, Disciple of C'Thun, C'Thun's Chosen, Usher of Souls, Crazed Worshipper) to have a one-card combo in C'Thun and a strong card in Twin Emperor Vek'lor, which can be paired up quite well with Brann Bronzebeard.
- Thirdly, a variation that TerrenceM played at Dreamhack Austin: Combo Renolock. This version of the deck utilises Leeroy Jenkins, Faceless Manipulator, and Power Overwhelming for a twenty damage combo from hand. It relies on having at least one of the cards reduced by Emperor Thaurissan, but has a high degree of flexibility, because apart from Leeroy Jenkins, all of the combo cards also have a use in games in which you do not want to combo your opponent out.
This guide will focus on the combo version. I consider both this and the C’Thunlock perfectly viable, but I like having a few additional card slots to tech in cards like The Black Knight. I prefer Combolock to traditional Renolock, because the cost of running it in your deck is basically one card, Leeroy Jenkins.
Our cards can be categorised into a few different packages. You’ll note that some cards fit in multiple categories – which is a good thing, because it means that our various cards want to achieve similar things.
The removal package: Doomsayer, Demonwrath, Hellfire, Shadowflame, Twisting Nether, Shadow Bolt, Siphon Soul, The Black Knight, Stampeding Kodo, Big Game Hunter, to a lesser degree also Sylvanas Windrunner. As you can see, this deck is stacked with removal for all situations. There is absolutely nothing you cannot handle with a good draw from your deck, because you just HAVE all the answers available. Doomsayer is mainly here to stem the bleeding a bit. We either play it behind a taunt or just jam it on turn two against aggro, causing them to lose their very important tempo. If they cannot kill you, it will often enough serve to restore 7 health for 2 mana, which is not the worst deal. Best case scenario: We answer our opponent’s coined Totem Golem with it, and all he can do is deal three to our face and watch his minion die on our turn. Demonwrath, Hellfire, Shadowflame, Twisting Nether: These four cards are able to clear the board at various points in the game against various decks. Again, versatility is key: Demonwrath does not do a whole lot against Shaman, for example, but it wrecks Aggro Paladin and some Zoolock starts. Shadowflame works particularly well with Sylvanas Windrunner on turn ten or with a small creature with Power Overwhelming on it. Shadow Bolt and Siphon Soul are just very decent catch-it-alls, and especially Shadow Bolt is really good against a lot of decks right now (Flamewaker, Frothing Berserker, Totem Golem). The Black Knight, Stampeding Kodo, and Big Game Hunter are absolutely overpowered in the right context and very mediocre in the wrong one. Right now, though, a lot of decks run taunts (Miracle Rogue and Freeze Mage being the most notable exceptions), many decks run 7+ attack creatures (the number of times I was able to clear a Flamewreathed Faceless with this.. glorious!), and Stampeding Kodo, too, finds a lot of targets. These cards may be very situational, but our deck usually has a lot of cards in hand, anyway. Therefore we can afford to have some situational cards in there. Sylvanas Windrunner is a very strong single target removal when paired with Power Overwhelming.
The Combo: Leeroy Jenkins, Power Overwhelming, Faceless Manipulator: This is quite a simple combo that is easy to set up, although you will very rarely be able to just use it on turn ten or before. That’s fine, though, our deck is meant to be good at surviving the early turns and then grinding our opponents out, so it should be really hard for our opponents to kill us before we get to use this combo. Note that Dark Peddler is able to make the burst even stronger! Alexstrasza helps set it up, making the opponent terrified of dying at any given moment. It’s also a solid body for the board.
Our counter to slow decks: Lord Jaraxxus: I cannot overstate how insane this card is when it’s good! There is no deck that can handle a 6/6 every turn and still play a drawn-out game – and we can also play other cards with it! Emperor Thaurissan is a real MVP here, allowing us to cast our humongous Eredar Overlord and still use his hero power afterwards! Be wary of burst, however: It’s easy to step into a large C’Thun or enraged Grommash Hellscream + Fiery War Axe and just lose the game by being bursted down.
The healing package: Refreshment Vendor, Earthen Ring Farseer, Siphon Soul, Alexstrasza, Lord Jaraxxus, and our personal favourite Reno Jackson: Most of these heals are rather soft. They can merely take care of the life we lose from one to two life taps. Our nine drops are both not greatly useful when we want to heal ourselves, because it merely puts us at 15 life but doesn’t stop our opponent’s board from putting us very low in the next turn again. Especially Lord Jaraxxus has poor synergy with Reno Jackson, since it does not allow us to heal back up to 30 afterwards. However, all of that is fine. Our game plan is to prolong the game until our bombs and board clears combined with our card advantage can overwhelm our opponent.
The rest of our deck mostly consists of utility cards like Emperor Thaurissan and Defender of Argus, support cards that improve the strength of our other cards like Brann Bronzebeard and Dark Peddler (the latter, specifically, is able to do some crazy things if we can get another Power Overwhelming off of it for our combo turn), and curve fillers like Imp Gang Boss and Twilight Drake, which are just super solid plays that we need to contest our opponents board.
Our game plan then is threefold:
To have a greater power level of our individual cards and to catch back up thanks to heal against aggro.
To go slightly above a midrange deck’s curve and grind them out with Lord Jaraxxus if they run out of cards or burst them down with combo.
To use our hero power as much as possible and overwhelm our opponent by just putting a lot of threats onto the board against control decks that cannot pressure our life total. Against control, too, Lord Jaraxxus is absolutely insane if they don’t run burst (care for an equipped Gorehowl because of Grommash Hellscream).
This bit is important: We will NEVER win in fatigue, do not be afraid of drawing cards!
Our mulligans are not as clear-cut as with other decks. The only card we always want to keep is Reno Jackson, because it gives us a sweet reset button against aggressive decks and lets us life tap more freely against slower decks. Generally, try to anticipate your opponent’s game plan during the mulligan phase, and keep the tech cards that can be really good against them.
For example, Shadow Bolt against Warrior is a fine keep because it deals with Frothing Berserker, however, it is less strong against Mage, because most Mages on high ladder are Freeze Mages. Likewise, Demonwrath is good against Warlock (if we anticipate Zoolock), but not really strong against Shaman, since their most troublesome minions have three or more health.
In general, mulligan aggressively for the strong cards in your specific matchup and throw away everything you don’t see an immediate use for. Also, even more than with other decks you need to mulligan for the more aggressive versions of the decks you play against, unless they are incredibly niche. Our card draw more than makes up for a retrospectively poor mulligan, and hardly any card is truly always dead.
Consider keeping cards like Big Game Hunter against Shaman to deal with their highly problematic Flamewreathed Faceless or The Black Knight to deal with a Warrior’s Bloodhoof Brave.
A tiny bit on general mulligan strategy to begin this chapter: Be smart! What I mean by this is that it is very advantageous for you not just to take into account what cards you have available for your mulligan decision, but to also track what your opponents are doing. If you have not done so, install Hearthstone Deck Tracker to know when your opponent has drawn which card in their hand, and it also shows mulliganed cards. If you’re playing against a deck like Zoolock and on turn eight you notice that one of their cards in hand has been there since turn zero, think about what card might not have had a use yet. Is it Crazed Alchemist to deal with your Doomsayer? Sea Giant that they have not been able to play yet because the board was relatively empty so far? Power Overwhelming that they would like to use for a lethal set-up later?
And the same goes for mulligans! Don’t mulligan before your opponent does unless you’re playing very casually and just want to get a few games in. And even if you are not paying attention, your opponent might and you might actually help him. Generally speaking, control and combo decks tend to mulligan more cards than their more aggressive counterparts because they have less redundancy, especially in the early turns. Don’t take it as a universal truth, but consider keeping a card that is great against slow decks if your opponent has mulliganed everything away. Also, consider the probability of your opponent having an insanely quick start much more likely if they have kept all of their cards. If a Shaman keeps two cards, it is very likely that they will have either Tunnel Trogg or Totem Golem, since both of these cards are excellent for them.
This can be used against our deck, too. If there is a card we have kept and we haven’t played it until turn 7 or so, it is highly likely that it is Reno Jackson! That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep him, but a strong opponent will pick up on things like that and maybe put us to an uncomfortable life at which we do not want to use our heal, but at the same time have to because we have to be afraid of bust damage.
Versus Shaman (General)
There is no popular control deck for the Shaman class right now (although RenoShaman worked out well in my testing, apparently noone else can be convinced), so always mulligan hard to handle cards like Totem Golem, Feral Spirit, Tunnel Trogg, and Flamewreathed Faceless. Specifically, keep Acidic Swamp Ooze because it is great against their Doomhammer turn, and If you have it try to bait them into playing their weapon on turn five so that they don’t get the bonus damage off of Rockbiter Weapon. Consider keeping Big Game Hunter if you are very afraid of Flamewreathed Faceless.
This is an unfavourable matchup because we cannot afford to tap a lot, at the same time we sometimes have to because we need to deal with what they throw at us. Do not try to get maximum value out of your cards, because you will outlast them if you have enough time, your cards are bigger and stronger.
If you notice that they’re on a midrange version, Shadowflame as well as Twisting Nether become more important as a reset button. We usually cannot come back onto the board without one of these, since all of their minions are insanely strong for their respective mana cost.
Versus Warrior (General)
Control Warrior seemed to be dead for the first week of WotOG Standard, but it has certainly re-emerged, partly because of its success at Dreamhack Austin. We are very favoured against Control Warrior because Lord Jaraxxus can beat them single-handedly. Life tap as much as possible to establish board presence and card advantage. Good opponents will not play Grommash while we have not used Jaraxxus yet, so our goal is to force them to do it, regardless. Afterwards, we are very safe from burst damage. Keep Acidic Swamp Ooze for Gorehowl, do not give them any draws with Acolyte of Pain unless you can't help it, and just tax their removal as early as possible.
Tempo Warrior is an even matchup, you have all the answers to the threats they pose, but things can get awkward if a Frothing Berserker cannot be answered early enough. Executes give them huge tempo swings, and Varian Wrynn and Ragnaros the Firelord are cards we should keep in mind, try to find answers to them before they come down, and don’t waste your important removal spells foolishly.
Patron Warrior is favourable; we have enough board clears to never allow them to get a good Patron turn. For both Tempo and Patron Warrior, make sure not to damage their hero unless it already is damaged, giving them access to an additional card because of Battle Rage can hurt a lot, and their life total is largely irrelevant because at some point we can just turn the game and beat them down in two or three swings. Also, they do not run mass removals like Brawl, so we can afford to play into it. Prioritise removing damaged minions.
Versus Hunter (General)
I have not played against the Yogg-Saron, Hope's End + Lock and Load Hunter yet, and have a hard time believing that it is competitive. Truth be told, we don’t really have a great way of interacting with what they do, so just try to pressure their life total as much as possible since they lack healing. Keep Siphon Soul to absolutely deal with Emperor Thaurissan the turn it comes down.
Against Midrange Hunter, our matchup should be decent. We don’t have clean answers to Savannah Highmane and Call of the Wild, but the rest of their deck is fairly unimpressive. Try to play around these two cards where possible and apply enough pressure so that they are not able to freely develop a board. Our combo kill is the best way to finish them off, since they do not have a lot of life gain. If you have an Alexstraza in hand that you do not plan on using at your own face, prioritise clearing minions even more, since they cannot heal up after Alex. Watch out for Beast synergy and strong Houndmaster turns! Even though our combo is important in this matchup, using Power Overwhelming on your Sylvanas Windrunner to steal a Savannah Highmane is perfectly fine.
Versus Mage (General)
Tempo Mage is quite a good matchup. They occasionally manage to run away with games in which they curve out perfectly, but most of the time we have enough time to negate all the damage they dealt to our face with heal by the time they would like to kill us. Our minions have big butts, so they don’t tend to get killed by Flamewaker shenanigans too easily. Watch out for Archmage Antonidas, because not answering this card is just a default loss. We cannot handle two Fireballs a turn.
Freeze Mage, on the other hand, is unfavourable. It used to be great because my old builds were running Kezan Mystic, but in our current Standard meta game there are far too few secrets to justify playing Eater of Secrets. This will not change until the next adventure is released. Our only hope is to tempo them out and play threats that demand more answers than they have available. Stampeding Kodo is great to clear Doomsayer or the occasional Acolyte of Pain, and we need access to Siphon Soul to deal with Archmage Antonidas or Malygos if they choose to run it.
You might say that Reno Jackson crushes them, but sadly, that is not the case against an experienced Mage player. Their game plan is to accumulate a high amount of burst, make it cheaper with Emperor Thaurissan and then just kill us from 20-30 life. If we have reasonable resources in hand, we should, therefore, not pay life to draw more cards unless we intend to use Reno Jackson straight away.
Versus Paladin (General)
Yes, please! I love this matchup! N’Zoth Paladin just does not have a good enough answer to deal with our Leeroy Jenkins combo, and we can grind them out of resources fairly easily. Their hero power is negligible if they haven’t played Justicar Trueheart, and even then we are advantaged. For the most part, try to kill everything they play and force them into situations where Equality + Wild Pyromancer is not quite good enough to be a play they want to be making, but where they also cannot afford not to use their combo.
If they have Doomsayer out and a Silver Hand Recruit, and it doesn’t mean you’re missing more than 3 or 4 damage, consider killing the 1/1. Making Solemn Vigil worse is worth a few points of life. Keep The Black Knight for Tirion Fordring and watch out for the Ragnaros brothers and you should be very fine. If combo for some reason doesn’t work out, you can still grind them out with Lord Jaraxxus!
Aggressive versions of Paladin are harder to beat, but they are rather unpopular at the moment. Our cheap area of effect spells can help a lot, but in general our game plan is the same as against other aggressive decks: Get minions on the board, kill their minions, rinse and repeat. The reason that Aggro Paladin is a thing is Divine Favor, so play around this card by not tapping too much if you can afford to!
Versus Rogue (General)
Our Miracle Rogue matchup is pretty poor, we don’t have a lot of ways to stop a Concealed Gadgetzan Auctioneer, but we have some. Basically, we want to do what we do against Freeze Mage: Apply too much pressure for them to safely combo off. Most of the time we won’t find the room to get our combo pieces together. Reno Jackson is a huge help in this matchup, because they cannot always kill us in one fell swoop. If we draw well, we can manage, but their nut draw is hard to challenge. Mulligan for this matchup if you get matched up against a Rogue, because it is far less forgiving than Deathrattle Rogue.
Deathrattle Rogue, on the other hand, is really easy to beat. If we get on the board early enough, they don’t have great ways of coming back, and they cannot deal with our combo turn at all. The only way we lose against Deathrattle Rogue is when timely Saps and strong tempo plays like Edwin VanCleef do not get answered by us, which is seldom, because we run a lot of answers.
Versus Druid (General)
Ramp Druid can be hard to beat because their nut draws just put late-game bombs on the board on turn 5 or 6. However, their lack of combo elements in Standard mean that we can set ourselves up for a grindy game. Twisting Nether and Shadowflame are king here.
C’Thun Druid isn’t much different, but their nut draws consist of early 4/10 Klaxxi Amber-Weavers and a Twin Emperor Vek'lor. A silly mistake I lost a game to, that you should not, is to make sure that you have enough health on the board to survive them answering Lord Jaraxxus with a buffed up C’Thun.
Against both, try to establish a board as early as possible. Their lack of silence (some versions do run a single Spellbreaker, but most don’t) makes cards like our Twilight Drake extremely potent.
Versus Priest (General)
I am dumbfounded as to why Control Priest was successful at Dreamhack Austin, the deck has performed very poorly in my testing, even though I am an experienced Priest player. Likewise, our matchup against it is really good. No matter whether it’s C’Thun Priest or Control Priest, they seem to have a hard time answering all of our threats and then die to our combo. Against Control Priest, stay above 14 life, since that is the burst damage off of Flash Heal x2 plus Justicar Trueheart’s hero power. Other than that, it seems really hard to lose a game against them.
Dragon Priest can be quite tricky to deal with because only Shadowflame and Twisting Nether are good board clears against them, and only the latter is reliable. The deck has some pretty strong draws on curve and can dismantle us. Good news: They will fight for the board and can seldom ignore our minions! This gives us more time to find what we need. Don’t give any Priest extra card draw with Northshire Cleric.
Twilight Drake in particular is really good against Priest, because they cannot deal with it outside of Entomb, we always keep it in our opening hand.
Versus Warlock (General)
In the mirror match we are favoured, because not everyone is running the Leeroy Jenkins combo and it completely disables their Lord Jaraxxus; they can never dare to play it unless they are truly desperate. The Zoolock matchup is slightly unfavourable. Theoretically, we do have all the tools to beat them, but they don’t always come together when we need them. Big Game Hunter nicely disposes of Sea Giant, but it’s not that impressive if they still have the board that allowed them to play Sea Giant cheaply in the first place. Reno Jackson can ruin their day, but since they are very board-centric they can sometimes just swing for roughly twenty a turn later. Our saving grace is that their minions are far less sticky now that the strongest deathrattle cards have left Standard. That means that if we use Shadowflame or Hellfire, what is dead stays dead. There are a number of very strong swing turns like these that can put us in the driver’s seat, and once we’re ahead they can hardly catch back up.
Mulligan for a very early curve when playing against Warlock. Turn two Doomsayer can put a real dent in their plans. Watch out for their combos, too: Forbidden Ritual with Darkshire Councilman or Knife Juggler is quite potent.
Card combinations to keep in mind
Some things that work well together are: * Life Tap + Reno Jackson * Sylvanas Windrunner + Shadowflame/Power Overwhelming * Leeroy Jenkins + Power Overwhelming + Faceless Manipulator * Brann Bronzebeard + Earthen Ring Farseer(or other healing cards)/Dark Peddler/ Stampeding Kodo/Defender of Argus * Emperor Thaurissan + combo pieces or Lord Jaraxxus * Demonwrath + Hellfire * Faceless Manipulator on an opponent's bomb like Ysera or Ragnaros the Firelord, THEn Big Game Hunter or Siphon Soul
Card Replacements and Tech Choices
This section will be for card replacements in case someone in the comments or on reddit is missing cards :)
- Lord Jaraxxus: Replacing Lord Jaraxxus is really hard, because it is the one card that lets us beat up on control decks like Warrior or Priest. You can try putting an Ysera in your deck instead, or another late game bomb. Ragnaros the Firelord or Arch-Thief Rafaam would be okay, too.
- Alexstrasza: This card is a bit easier to replace. It makes combo a fair bit better, but we don't necessarily need it. Consider Ysera, Mountain Giant, or Soggoth the Slitherer
- The Black Knight: Batman is not necessary for this deck, although it's strong. You can replace this with any other midrange minion. Cairne Bloodhoof or Dread Infernal come to mind.
- Big Game Hunter: This card is unique, so it's also hard to replace. I like playing Bane of Doom instead, but another midrange minion is fine, too.
There are a number of tech choices you can make to better combat what you expect on ladder or in tournaments: * Eater of Secrets is a card I do not recommend at the moment. However, if your lineup is weak to Freeze Mage it can really shine * Mind Control Tech is better than Demonwrath if you're facing a lot of decks that do not have minions with two or less health * Mountain Giant is a very strong card if you face a lot of control decks, since it is another huge threat that they must answer.
Social, Other Guides, Coaching
Thank you for reading this guide! Feel free to criticise as it helps me improve! I'd like to write more guides :) Follow me on www.twitter.com/seeBanane , I'll post information about new guides on there and will notify you when I stream on www.twitch.tv/seeBanane.
I offer coaching on various decks for both tournament and ladder play for 12€/h. Hit me up if you're interested: seeBanane#2595 I speak English fluently, and my native language is German. I am proficient at all decks currently played on ladder and specialise in the classes I wrote guides on. Check out my other guides:
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