Join forces with a goofy explorer – and destroy your foes with potent dark magic!
With the new expansion fresh off the (digital) presses, there’s a ton to discover in the Hearthstone meta! Dragon Priest, Pirate Warrior, and Jade Druid are found in large numbers on the ladder already, but Reno Warlock is showing itself to be a strong contender for the coming months. The printing of the Kabal minion Kazakus gave this unique deck an additional tool, one which nearly eclipses the deck’s namesake in power! Reno Warlock can be build in a near-infinite number of ways, and it has lots of tech options to beat the meta. Since this powerhouse is unlikely to be dethroned anytime soon, let’s take a look at how you can assemble a custom Reno list and crush the competition!
Reno is different than almost every other deck, as Reno Jackson’s effect requires that you follow the “singleton rule” in deck construction and include at most one copy of any given card. Accordingly, the true deck core only consists of two to three cards, these being Reno Jackson, Kazakus, and (optionally) Emperor Thaurissan. Although the last of these isn’t required, it does work very well with the gameplan of the deck: exhausting your opponents via card advantage.
The implications of a Reno-style decklist are worth discussing at least briefly: the most obvious effect of a singleton decklist is to reduce consistency and increase variance. For this reason, it’s extremely important to achieve sufficient redundancy among your tech choices! If you don’t have quite enough defensive minions, you will forever be beaten down by the aggressive lists that remain prominent in the metagame.
Deck Tech Decisions
Since Reno’s core includes just two to three cards, there are too many options for individual discussion! Overall, it’s better to show which “packages” you can include to combat whatever you encounter on the ladder. Let’s get started!
Leeroy Jenkins Combo
One of the most powerful options available to Renolock is the ability to play a massive damage combo, consisting of Leeroy Jenkins, Faceless Manipulator, and Power Overwhelming. This results in a pair of 10-attack minions with Charge bashing your opponent’s face, while they receive a measly two 1/1 Whelps as compensation!
For this combo we need to have at least one activation of Emperor Thaurissan’s ability, as normally these three cards cost a total of eleven mana. Despite sounding risky, this combo is usually very easy to achieve, as the matchups where it’s desirable tend to go long anyway.
Aggro is less dominant than previously, but it’s still far from extinct! If you face lots of aggressive decks on ladder, it’s certainly worth including cards like Doomsayer and Mortal Coil or even that classic Warlock speedbump, Voidwalker. Dirty Rat and Mind Control Tech are two other stellar options against aggressive midrange strategies, and both are fantastic in conjunction with Brann Bronzebeard.
Since we can’t always be holding Reno Jackson when he’s most needed, we need to include a few more healing cards! My favorites for this role are Earthen Ring Farseer, Refreshment Vendor, and the newly-printed Mistress of Mixtures. The first two help us survive a mid-game onslaught and halt our opponent’s bigger minions, while the latter is a fantastic early drop that trades efficiently and lets us use our hero power more often.
Since our aim is to reach and win in the late game, Taunt minions are amazing to stall further. For our purposes, cards like Sunfury Protector and Defender of Argus are great to combine with high-health minions like Mountain Giant, Twilight Drake, and Faceless Shambler. Even a Second-Rate Bruiser can be great to stop omnipresent Pirates from taking over!
To briefly return to one of the previously mentioned cards: I think Dirty Rat may be the most interesting card of the new set, as its effect is completely unique in Hearthstone. After playing with it for a while, this grimy rodent creates very interesting situations! For example, if you use it when your opponent plays a Doomsayer, you can basically trade your 2-drop for a random minion from their hand. Although on paper this trade doesn’t look very good, the disruptive effect can outright win you the game – lots of high-powered minions want to be played at just the right moment, and are far less impactful when forced out. Imagine nabbing a Freeze Mage’s Alexstrasza or an enemy Reno Jackson in the mirror match!
Every deck in Hearthstone wants to play at least some removal, as you’re certain to fall behind on board eventually. Since we can only play a single copy of each card, we’ll have to decide how many removal spells you need, and which you want to play! Every card has advantages and disadvantages, and will find unique moments to shine! The correct choice depends on the meta: for example, Demonwrath is incredible on turn 3 against the current Pirate decks, whereas Felfire Potion is much better as a board wipe in the late game.
Other options to consider include the aforementioned Mortal Coil to handle extremely aggressive foes, the standard issue Warlock spell Shadow Bolt, the ultra-reliable Siphon Soul, and a niche AoE board wipe in Shadowflame. It may take some tweaks to get the right proportion of these effects, but you’ll manage with time!
At the moment I don’t like playing much late game, as it’s just not what we need in the metagame. All the same, if aggro becomes less prominent then cards like Alexstrasza and Lord Jaraxxus become options again. The new Abyssal Enforcer strikes a fine balance between a sizable, game-ending body and a board wipe that can be counted on to neuter aggressive strategies! Another option that matches well against aggressive and controlling decks alike is Sylvanas Windrunner, who features in both the professional decks we’re about to examine…
Let’s take a quick look at a couple sample lists from pros finding success with Reno Warlock in the new season. The first is Swidz’ version of the deck, which he’s currently using to hold at Rank 3 Legend on both US and EU. He’s more focused on beating midrange and control opponents at the top of the ladder, and leaves out some of the anti-aggro tech we discussed.
This list is courtesy of ThijsNL, a long time Reno and Control Warlock player. He made this list on the first day of the expansion, but it’s still holding up strong! Thijs’ list includes more defensive cards to fight the prevalence of Pirates on ladder, and should perform well at lower levels where aggro runs rampant!
I’ll very likely be using Reno to climb the ladder throughout this crazy month! If you want to reach the upper ranks, these Reno Warlock builds can definitely help you achieve your goals! I’d like to thank everyone who got this far for reading, and I wish you all the best of luck as you explore the possibilities of the new meta!