The Kazakus Renolock deck is one of the strong builds to come out of the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion. Our Kazakus Renolock deck list guide will help you learn Mulligans and Play Strategy, while helping you with Card Substitutions and Card Combos!
Before Gadgetzan, RenoLock was by far the most popular Reno deck. Reno Jackson is a very strong addition to Warlock’s toolkit, because of all the self-damaging effects (including Hero Power). Being the spiritual successor of the old Handlock, the deck definitely had its highs and lows, but overall was pretty much always a part of the meta.
In Gadgetzan, Warlock is a Kabal class that got the least when it comes to Highlander decks, mostly because the new class Legendary is mediocre in the Standard format. However, it doesn’t mean that the deck is bad – it’s a solid deck with a lot of good matchups. It’s really challenging to play, but at the same time very rewarding, both in terms of fun and performance.
UPDATE – KAZAKUS RENOLOCK IN MARCH 2017, SEASON 36
No changes to the deck. While some people have argued that Combo version will be the way to go after the latest balance patch, because Jade Druid got more popular, I don’t feel like combo version has a significant advantage over the non-combo one. But if you do want to run the combo, I’d suggest those replacements:
Renolock Mulligan Strategy
I’ll divide the mulligan section into two – against fast decks and against slow decks. Fast decks are generally the Aggro decks (e.g. Aggro Shaman) or high tempo Midrange decks (e.g. Dragon Warrior). Slow decks are slower Midrange and Control decks.
Vs Fast Decks
Higher Priority (keep every time):
- Mortal Coil – While the card is amazing, it’s not like that in every matchup. You keep it in matchups where 1 health minions are quite common in the early game. But I list it under high priority, because right now every Aggro deck runs some 1 health minions (mostly Pirates).
- Mistress of Mixtures – The only 1-drop in the deck, so it’s generally better to have it than not have it. While the 2/2 body won’t likely get you a lot of trades, you can say that it has Taunt in the early game – your opponent has no reason to go face, because you get healed for 4 anyway.
- Voidwalker – Probably the best thing to drop on turn 1 against Aggro. It saves at least 3 health + might kill a small Pirate (like Patches) or bait a weapon charge. It’s also good thing to squeeze into a later turn – can prevent an Arcanite Reaper hit or Leeroy finisher from Warrior for example.
- Doomsayer – Absolutely BEST card to keep in fast matchups. When dropped on turn 2 it should remove whatever’s already on the board and stall the game for 1 turn. And in the worst case scenario it takes 7 damage (or a removal, but fast decks rarely run removals).
- Imp Gang Boss – Most likely the best 3-drop against Aggro. Imp Gang Boss is terrific when you play him against a bunch of small minions. You should be able to spawn 2-3 extra 1/1’s quite easily.
- Mind Control Tech – Right now every Aggro deck runs Patches the Pirate, so MCT got way stronger. It’s not uncommon that you can play it on curve and already hit something. Even if it’s just a 1/1, that’s still a nice swing for a 3 mana card.
- Shadow Bolt – It’s not the most efficient removal, but beggars can’t be choosers. Killing early drops prevents a lot of damage, especially if you hit something like Totem Golem or Frothing Berserker.
- Kazakus – It seems like a slow minion, but the truth is that it can get you a lot of tempo. Turn 4 Kazakus into turn 5 potion is often a board clear with some extra value (e.g. 7 Armor, a 5/5 minion). You can also pick the 1 mana one if you don’t need a big board clear on turn 5 – that’s quite a lot of extra tempo you will be getting for 1 mana.
- Hellfire – I know that some people don’t keep it, but I think it’s a mistake. In fast matchups you don’t get to live long if you don’t clear the board. Turn 4 Hellfire is often a full clear. Even though you take 3 damage, you’ve prevented way more.
- Second-Rate Bruiser – This is an anti-Aggro tech, so you keep it against Aggro. 3 minions by turn 3 is a very common sight and a 4/5 Taunt for 3 mana is incredibly strong. Not only does it prevent the damage that would target face, but it also kills the minions in progress. Great against Pirate Warrior, because it will pretty much always be at 3 mana.
- Reno Jackson – Turn 6 Reno Jackson is usually an auto-win in fast matchups. You always keep it in your opening hand, and if you do, your only concern is actually getting to turn 6. Fast decks are usually going all-in, because they’re afraid that you have the Reno. And if you actually do, they probably won’t be able to get you down from 30 again.
Lower Priority (keep only if certain conditions are met):
- Acidic Swamp Ooze – You always keep it versus weapon classes. Always a keep against Pirate decks – even if you don’t hit their biggest weapon, but instead you destroy something like 1/2 weapon on the curve, it’s still solid. Pirate decks often rely on the early weapons to snowball the game – weapons give Pirates extra stats or Charge.
- Earthen Ring Farseer – In case you don’t get another 3-drop. Curving out is important, but Farseer is the worst out of 3 – Imp Gang Boss usually trades better and Mind Control Tech has the ability to affect the board quite early, while Farseer just heals. Healing is more important after you stabilize, not before.
- Demonwrath – While Hellfire is an AoE that will work pretty much in every fast matchup, Demonwrath isn’t necessarily that. The AoE is way worse against decks that run a lot of 3-4 health minions in the early game. So if the deck plays more 1-2 health minions, Demonwrath is amazing. If not, it can be quite useless. E.g. you keep it against Pirate Warrior, but not against Aggro Shaman.
Vs Slow Decks
Higher Priority (keep every time):
- Doomsayer – Even though it’s best against Aggro, it’s also solid against Control. Since you don’t really have a lot of proactive early game plays, t2 or t3 Doomsayer might get some value – e.g. it’s good against Acolyte of Pain, because it prevents draws OR forces a removal so early in the game.
- Imp Gang Boss – Solid minion to play on curve on turn 3, pretty hard to remove, can keep your opponent busy for a turn or so.
- Kazakus – Kazakus is much more flexible in RenoLock than in other classes, because you don’t need it as a late game win condition (you have Jaraxxus). Picking a 5 mana potion to get some mid game tempo isn’t uncommon.
- Twilight Drake – One of the best 4-drops in the entire game, if you’re playing a Handlock-like deck that is. It’s usually 4/8 or 4/9 for 4 mana and since nearly no one runs Silence, it might be really hard to remove.
- Mountain Giant – I’ve said “one of the best” above, because here is probably the best one. As long as you can get it out on turn 4, of course. Turn 4 8/8 is great, even Control decks might have hard time dealing with it. It can get you a lot of value or even push for some early wins from time to time.
- Reno Jackson – Even though you’re playing a slow matchup, you never know what will happen. Sometimes you get a very slow start and get some damage early. If you tap a lot, play your AoEs etc. it costs you life + you still take some damage from a minion here and there. So all in all, having a emergency Reno is always good.
Lower Priority (keep only if certain conditions are met):
- Brann Bronzebeard – I like to keep Brann if I have Twilight Drake or Kazakus too. T3 Brann into T4 Drake/Kazakus is a really strong move. Not to mention that people really go all-in on killing Brann, I’ve seen Fireballs etc. “wasted” on him. Which is fine with you. You don’t need Brann to outvalue them later.
- Shadow Bolt – Against the decks that I know there will be something to hit early and you don’t really want to get outtempo’d. I like it against other Reno decks – if they e.g. drop t3 Brann, it’s your only answer.
- Emperor Thaurissan – If I’m 100% confident that I’m facing a slow deck, I like to keep Emperor, because the card gets so much value in those matchups. Later in the game they almost always have a way to kill it, but when dropped on turn 6 on empty board, it’s often hard to deal with.
Renolock Matchup Win Percentages
Here’s a look at how Renolock stacks up against other decks in the meta. Thanks to Metastats for allowing us to provide these statistics!
Renolock Play Strategy
RenoLock is one of the harder decks to play, so I will try to focus on the basics first and then proceed to more advanced strategies. The deck’s difficulty mainly revolves around the number of decisions every game + your life management. Since the deck draws a lot, more than most of the other Control decks, you often operate on high amount of cards in the hand. On the other hand, you need to know how much can you tap and still be safe (from dying and from fatigue).
I’ll start with the fast matchups, because they seem to be much more common right now. Your main issue in those matchup is, obviously, surviving. You never worry about value, because there is no way that an Aggro deck will outvalue you – you want to tempo out as quickly as possible, while keeping the board relatively clear. There are a few tools that help you with that. First, early game – the deck has pretty slow early game, so the absolutely best counter to Aggro is Doomsayer. Don’t be too greedy with the card, playing it right away on turn 2 even against a single 1-drop is the way to do it. If you have a t3 follow up, you can even drop it on turn 2 vs an empty board. Sure, you’re losing a card, but you don’t care – you stall the game and that’s what you want. Without a Doomsayer start, the game gets a little harder. Mistress of Mixtures can also stall the game for a bit, but Doomsayer is obviously much more desired – I like Mistress a little bit later, when I get board control already, so I can pick the trade and get the full value out of 4 healing it provides.
There is no complicated strategy when it comes to play against Aggro in the early game. You try to play minions on the curve, play AoE if that’s necessary and simply not die. The hardest decision, though, is how much you can Life Tap. On the one hand, Life Tapping brings you closer to Taunts, Reno and other heals. On the other hand, it costs you 2 life (and 2 mana, so tempo) each time you do that. You definitely tap on the first turns if you have nothing else to do. You don’t pass turn 2 without using your Hero Power, because that wouldn’t be a good move. But later, I’d say that tapping is still important. Try to estimate how much damage your opponent can deal versus your health and Taunts/health gain in your hand. If you’re still relatively safe, go for the taps. The deck is really equipped to fight against Aggro – you just need to draw those multiple ways to stay alive. I don’t tap only when I know that the game will be really close and every life point matters, BUT I can win it with the cards I already have in the hand. What if I’m in a bad spot, you might ask? I definitely do tap then. If I’m already in bad spot, playing safe won’t likely get me back into the game. If I’m at low health vs Aggro deck with only a single Taunt in my hand vs a strong board, I just have to tap and hope to draw Reno or maybe some AoE.
Another decision against Aggro decks is which Kazakus potion do you pick. Best options are AoE (2/4 for 1/5 mana) and Armor gain (4/7). I’d say that depending on the exact situation, single target damage (3/5) and drawing cards (1/2) are the second best choices. Then there is either spawning a Demon (2/2 or 5/5) or resurrecting minions (1/2). You can pick Freeze if you’re desperate because you didn’t get AoE but you still need to buy more time. Now, the mana choice is pretty much always between 1 and 5. Pick the 5 mana ones if you need a bigger effect (for example, if 2 damage AoE isn’t enough and you need 4 damage) or if you know that you don’t have anything else to do on next turn anyway. 1 mana potion is the most mana efficient, so pick it if you can play it alongside something else. For example, if you play T4 Kazakus, you might pick a 1 mana potion if you have another 4 mana play to follow it with.
Aggro games are won if you just survive. After you stabilize with heals/Taunts, just play whatever minions you draw and kill your opponent. However, Control games are much more complicated. RenoLock is amazing in Control games, you can beat most of the slow decks – I’d say that the Jade Druid is the only exception right now, because it can go for the infinite Jade Idol combos. But besides those, Lord Jaraxxus still remains one of the strongest late game win conditions in the game.
Early game against Control is nonexistent. You want to Tap. Sometimes even if you have a turn 2/3 play, you still want to Tap (because you want to draw your Mountain Giant or Twilight Drake). Turn 4 is where the game really starts. Now you have a full hand of plays and you have to decide what you want to do.
So, maybe let’s start by going through your win conditions. I’d say that there are 3 viable win conditions in slow matchups. The earliest one is a tempo push with big minions. If you start with a Mountain Giant or Twilight Drake and follow with the other one, you can put a lot of pressure on the board. Turn 4 Giant into turn 5 Drake into turn 6 Sylvanas/Emperor can seal the game right away, it’s really hard to deal with that. If you get such an opening, just hit face and don’t worry about trades (unless there is something you really need to kill). You want to finish the game before your opponent can potentially answer your stuff. Of course, it’s not necessarily those 3. If you get a strong mid game minion curve and your opponent has no answers, you sometimes win just like that.
The deck doesn’t run combo and a lot of you might find it curious. After all, the Leeroy Jenkins + Power Overwhelming + Faceless Manipulator is 20 damage in just 3 cards. That’s really great. But the thing is, that in the current meta combo isn’t necessary. It only really improves your win rate in the mirror matchup, maybe slightly vs the Priest and Druid – but the Priest matchup is still easy without the combo and against Druid, dropping Ragnaros the Firelord might be even better than the combo. I’ve found out that only my win rate in the mirror has dropped, but it’s not like you can’t win the mirror without combo. On the other hand, non-combo makes your win rate in every matchup where the combo was useless better, because you run more solid individual cards. In most of the Aggro/Midrange matchups you get slightly better results by dropping the combo.
Another win condition is Lord Jaraxxus. It’s best in the long, grindy games against opponents that can’t burst you down from 15. Lord Jaraxxus is like an auto win against Priest or Reno Mage (if you force out some burn earlier). It was also the best win condition in Control Warrior, but the deck is pretty much nonexistent right now.
I’d say that the hardest win condition is Jaraxxus and that’s the one I want to focus on. It’s one of the most powerful cards in the game, but it requires a lot of set up. First of all – playing Jaraxxus is most likely a huge tempo loss. One way to offset that a bit is to hit it with Emperor Thaurissan‘s proc. Then you have enough mana to Hero Power, so it comes prepackaged with a 6/6. Then, you want to play Jaraxxus when you have board control. Preferably board lead. Play it when you have minions on the board and your opponent doesn’t. You can also play it on the empty board, but that’s more risky, because now you lose the initiative. I like to play Jaraxxus on the empty board with Shadowflame or Twisting Nether in my hand. Usually the first reaction to Jaraxxus is board flood, trying to rush Warlock down – it’s the correct move, so I like to have something to counter it with.
Another thing is that you want to bait out the potential burn before playing Jaraxxus. Good players will try to save it, but it’s not always possible. Reno Mage might need to play that Fireball to kill something if you put enough pressure. You also can’t play Jaraxxus too late – try to play it with at least 5 cards left in your deck. The reason is that fatigue hits you really hard when you’re at 15 health. At 30, you can easily get to 4-5 fatigue ticks without dying. With Jaraxxus, 5 health is 1/3 of your health total. Every turn your opponent needs less burn to kill you.
Now, Kazakus. While in other decks it’s one of the main win conditions, here you can be much more flexible with it. Of course, a Brann Bronzebeard + Kazakus combo is still very strong, but it’s not something necessary to win games. I like to go for the 10 mana potions before I get Jaraxxus. After I’ve already played Jaraxxus or at least I plan to play him soon, I prefer to go for the 5 mana potions, because 10 mana one means I miss the Hero Power. Go for the 10 mana one if you need another big board clear, especially Mystic Wool (Mass Poly), or maybe if you think that 3 extra Armor might matter (7 vs 10), but otherwise you can go for a higher tempo one.
Another card that I would like to focus on is Dirty Rat. I wasn’t playing with it at first, but after I’ve tested Savjz’s list I was really impressed with how it is performing. I especially like it in slow matchups. The strategy here is to read your opponent’s hand and try to make an educated guess on what he’s holding. The mirror matchup is a great example – RenoLock plays most of the minions in the mirror right away. Late game hands are often full of spells, situational minions and combo pieces. If you play Brann + Dirty Rat, you have a very high chance to hit something like Leeroy Jenkins, basically running your opponent’s combo (if he does play one). Same goes for other decks – against Reno decks you can pull out the Reno Jackson or Kazakus without letting the Battlecry proc, against Druid you can pull out the Fandral Staghelm, immediately killing it and not letting it get any value etc. Right now we don’t have many combo decks in the meta, but in case we do, this card can make those matchups so much better.
A cool thing to do with Dirty Rat is playing it right before board clear. If your opponent plays Doomsayer, you might play your Dirty Rat and pull one of his minions out to die. When you’re planning to play a big AoE yourself, e.g. Twisting Nether, you can first play your Dirty Rat to pull out an extra minion from your opponent’s hand. In the end its 1 for 1 when it comes to the cards, but Dirty Rat is just a small minion, while you have a chance to pull out something important.
RenoLock Matchup Advice
In this section, I’ll give a few quick tips on how to play in the most popular matchups.
- The matchup against Aggro Shaman is pretty even. It mostly depends on the draws from each player – as a RenoLock, you should be able to handle the minion pressure to a certain extent, but what you struggle against is burn damage. Aggro Shaman is really high on the burst, they can often deal up to ~15 damage from their hand, which is more than you can take unless you get the Reno Jackson. So to not die to the burn, you want to take as little damage as possible. But at the same time, life tapping is important, because you want to get to your heals and Taunts. This is one of the hardest decisions in general.
- The first way for the Shaman to win this matchup is to rush you down with their early game pressure. It doesn’t happen often, because it can be stopped by the early Doomsayer, then by the mid game AoEs, maybe even MCT, but generally you don’t want to take too much damage. Drop the minions even if they will get traded for free, because it saves you the damage and puts Shaman’s minions down to the AoE range. Then try to stabilize with the bigger minions, generally after turn 4 each of your minions should get some solid trades.
- The only card you really need to worry about is Flamewreathed Faceless. As a RenoLock, you have simply no way to deal with the 4 mana 7/7. You just hope that Shaman will overload and won’t be able to play it on the curve (or even coin it out on turn 3). You want to set up your board to deal with the 7/7 in a best way. For example, coining out a Twilight Drake while having some extra damage in a form of Shadow Bolt or Hellfire is a good set up. This means that you will be able to kill it. You don’t deal with it efficiently, that’s just how it works, the minion is so strong on the curve against the deck that has no early big removal. If you feel lucky, you can try to MCT it if he has 4 minions on the board, but a 1 in 4 chance to deal with it doesn’t sound to good (but it’s still fine if he has some other minions you want to steal too).
- After you stabilize on the board, try to not take ANY more minion damage. Your health is way too important. Play Taunts, play Sunfury Protector or Defender of Argus etc. or just trade with your minions. But you prefer to Taunt up and go face. Aggro Shaman is the matchup that you want to finish fast if you don’t draw Reno. With Reno, you can play safe and take it longer by trading literally everything on the board. But without Reno, if you’ve stabilized at ~15 health or lower, Shaman will eventually draw enough burn to kill you so you can’t stall it too long. From my experience, around turn 6 you start doing the counter-push. Shaman should be out of minions and in top deck mode already, some new decks run Azure Drake to refill, but he still won’t get ahead in the card advantage. The point is to start punching the face. I love doing a turn 7 Abyssal Enforcer if it doesn’t clear my board – it deals with all the small stuff and Totems, so I don’t have to worry about them and I can set up 2 turns lethal. Yes, setting up lethal is important, even if you will take some minion damage this way. I mean, if you take 2 more turns to finish the game, that’s at least 2 more draws for the Shaman to find the burn.
- Reno Jackson after stabilizing on the board is obviously just a game over, Aggro Shaman can’t find enough burn to kill you from 30, it’s just impossible. Surviving until turn 9 also lets you heal with Lord Jaraxxus up to 15, but it’s definitely not as safe as Reno.
- Another matchup that is quite even, maybe even in Pirate Warrior’s favor, and it depends mostly on the draws. Pirate Warrior is known to put A LOT of pressure in the first 3-4 turns, so you need to find a way to stop this pressure. If you do, you have a solid chance to win. If you don’t, you just die around turn 5.
- In this matchup, even if you draw Reno, it’s not game over already. You first need to SURVIVE until you can play Reno, which might be a hard task by itself. But on the other hand, I won some games without ever dropping Reno – other healings and Taunts saved the day. As long as Warrior can’t deal a lot of damage in the first few turns, you should have enough defensive cards to stop him later.
- Few key cards in this matchup are Mistress of Mixtures, Mortal Coil, Acidic Swamp Ooze, Doomsayer, Demonwrath. Each of them helps you with fighting for the early game board control, making them really precious. Don’t be greedy with them – killing that 2/1 with Mortal Coil on turn 2 is better than tapping, even if you could Tap again + kill it on turn 3. You waste one card, but you save yourself some damage + possibly draw a turn 3 play. Same with Doomsayer – coining it out is often the best play you can make, Pirate Warriors these days are so fast that they can even deal with a coined out Doomsayer. If you go first, absolutely play it on turn 2, even if Pirate Warrior has only two 1/1’s (N’Zoth’s First Mate + Patches). It’s not only the destroying the board factor, but also stalling the game for one turn that makes Doomsayer so good.
- If you can clear the early Pirates, it’s amazing, because Bloodsail Cultist will be a pretty dead card (or just a vanilla 3/4).
- Kazakus is amazing in this matchup. Because Warrior can drop some 3-4 health minions in the mid game, I like to go for the 5 mana potion with 4 AoE clear + Armor (it’s the best) or spawning minions (so I have some tempo on the board). Either way, AoE is the best, because it can make you come back on the board. Warriors rarely have a lot of minions to refill with.
- Try to not tap in the mid game if possible – unless you’re desperately looking for a Taunt or heal. Try to protect your life total the best way you can, but also set up lethal as soon as possible. However, don’t put the Warrior under 13 if you can’t kill him – play around Mortal Strike.
- Pretty easy matchup. The only way for the Dragon Priest to win it is the mid game pressure. Which don’t get me wrong, he can put a lot, but without burst it’s usually not enough to completely close out the game.
- Even though Dragon Priest might have some fast openings, you generally treat this matchup as a slow one. You usually tap on t2/t3 to look for your strong t4 plays and then start the game for real. Priest’s early game minions don’t deal that much damage, so you can ignore them for a bit.
- Twilight Drake is a safer turn 4 play than Mountain Giant. Dragon Priest can Shadow Word: Death the Giant, but he has no way to deal with the Drake. It gets worse trades (especially against the Twilight Guardian) but it’s still better than having your turn 4 play immediately killed.
- The game is mostly about the mid game board swing. Dragon Priest should pump out a minion after minion, and you want to fight against that the best way you can. If you just play a minion each turn, they will have to trade, because otherwise Shadowflame would be too punishing. You can also utilize minions like Mind Control Tech or Second-Rate Bruiser quite well, because Dragon Priests will often have multiple minions on the board.
- I’d say that two best ways to comeback in this matchup is a big AoE or Sylvanas Windrunner. I’ll start with Sylvanas – the card is so good against Dragon Priest, because they have no way to deal with it without proccing the Deathrattle, and their mid game minions are really juicy things to steal. If he ignores it, you can punish him with Shadowflame. Twisting Nether is also amazing – Dragon Priest will want to play multiple minions to put pressure on you, and if you just Twisting Nether everything, it will give you enough time to catch up on the board.
- Reno Jackson is not always necessary, but pretty useful to have. Since the only way for Priest to win this is to kill you with the minion pressure, healing to 30 can buy you a few turns to find a way to deal with his board.
- Try to play around Dragonfire Potion a bit. Putting multiple small minions on the board, when Priest has only Dragons, can result in a huge tempo loss in case he has the clear.
- Even though Dragon Priest is a Midrange deck, with 2x Netherspite Historian and 2x Drakonid Operative it can get A LOT of value. It means that Lord Jaraxxus is often your win condition. Since common Dragon Priest decks can’t burst you for more than 6 from their hand, Jaraxxus is a really safe play. They can’t outvalue a 6/6 every turn and you should completely dominate the game after just a few turns. However, try to play Jaraxxus only on the empty board or when you have at least a small lead. You also prefer to have some AoE clear for the turn after, because Jaraxxus for the Priest is like a red cape for a bull – their only chance is to make a strong push, so if you stop that, you just seal the game for good.
- If your opponent is holding 2-3 cards even though he has enough mana to play them, it might mean that he runs a combo version. Some Dragon Priests play Prophet Velen + Mind Blast + Holy Smite for 14 damage burst. If you suspect that, try to not fall down below 15 and if Priest Corruptors you in the face or plays Holy Nova just to get you down to 13, it’s a clear sign that he’s setting up for a lethal and you want to heal back up.
- RenoLock had a pretty good matchup against Midrange Shaman historically and this hasn’t really changed this expansion. Midrange Shaman heavily relies on the board to do anything and RenoLock is a board clears master, it has multiple ways to deal with the Shaman’s boards and they’ve only increased in Gadgetzan.
- Against Midrange Shaman, board control is really #1 concern. If possible, you want to clear every little totem he plays. You will win this matchup on value in the long run, you will run Midrange Shaman out of cards, so just reduce the possibility of his comeback by as much as you can. Spell Damage Totem (Wrath of Air) is by far the most important to clear.
- Even though you have quite a lot of AoEs, try to use them wisely. Shamans might have even more ways to refill the board than you have AoEs if you use them inefficiently.
- You can fall a little bit on the board in order to set up for a better AoE, especially if you have Reno in your hand already. It’s often good to not AoE a decent AoE board – it makes them think that you have no AoE and they can play more straight into let’s say Twisting Nether.
- One of the most important things you need to worry about is Bloodlust. The easiest way for Shaman to win this matchup is burst – and with Bloodlust they can pull out extra 15 damage from a non-threatening board. Try to count the Bloodlust damage each turn (add a few points of damage in case they’re holding Lightning Bolt or Spirit Claws) and play around it – if you would die to Bloodlust, you can use your removals inefficiently. After all, you won’t find them useful when you’re dead.
- Current Shaman lists focus on the surviving more than they do on big minions. So while some still run Ragnaros the Firelord or Fire Elementals, those are more rare now. A lot of lists have been cutting one Thunder Bluff Valiant too, so the number of mid/late game threats you have to deal with really goes down.
- RenoLock mirror is a hard matchup, because a lot of builds still run combo. It means that Lord Jaraxxus is a very risky card and you don’t want to get below 20 health after they play Emperor Thaurissan.
- However, a non-combo variant has more pressure potential instead. I’ve found out that the easiest way to win this matchup now is to curve out well and pressure your counterpart. Focus on dealing face damage instead of minion trades. If you pressure him hard, you might force some inefficient trades or removals. New addition – Ragnaros the Firelord – is what makes this strategy even better right now. RenoLock will often be forced to Siphon Soul your mid game plays, like Drake, Giant or Emperor and then if you drop Ragnaros, he might not have any answers.
- Reno Jackson is rarely a keep in this matchup, so you have quite a solid chance that they didn’t get it early. It will make things easier, because you don’t have to make the whole push twice.
- If the push strategy fails, you can’t help but to play the control game. Now, there are a few days to win the matchup without combo. While combo is amazing against you, remember that those are 3 dead cards he has to hold. Your cards are usable and strong, so you can outvalue your opponent as long as you don’t fall into the combo range.
- Also, once you get to the late game and you’re nearly sure that he’s holding the combo pieces, you might want to play Brann Bronzebeard + Dirty Rat. Pulling any combo piece reduces the damage potential greatly, pulling Leeroy just completely stops the combo.
- Take the game slow. Don’t play Jaraxxus until you’re sure that he doesn’t run the combo. Try to not overcommit to the board after the initial push (if you’re even making it).
- One of the worst matchups for RenoLock in the current meta. Rogue has enough time to set up for everything, and with the early game Pirate pack he runs you often start the game with 10 health less than you should.
- There are a lot of ways that Miracle Rogue can win against you. Early Cold Blood on one of the Pirates you can’t kill. Questing Adventurer you can’t answer. Big early Edwin VanCleef. Rogue outtempo’ing you with Saps. In general, a lot of bad things can happen and you can’t play around all of them.
- You want to play your game and just curve out. Having multiple minions on the board is important. Especially if you’re behind, just playing one big drop is like a death sentence against Sap.
- On top of everything, you have to play around 10+ damage burst from Leeroy Jenkins. It means that in the end you can’t play around everything and you have to take some risks in order to win this matchup.
- I’d say that curving out is most important. Try to not tap too much, you won’t likely lose this game on card advantage. Half of your deck is worth as much as their whole deck.
- AoEs are absolutely necessary to win this matchup. Rogue’s game plan is usually to put a few minions on the board and start the push with Cold Bloods and sometimes even Conceal. Your way to combat that is AoE – Shadowflame or Twisting Nether are best, because they’re big enough to clear the 4 health minions, which are most common in the Rogue’s mid game (Pillager, Drake, Auctioneer).
- Reno Jackson is often necessary to come back against Rogue. Reno is also solid, because Rogue can’t Sap it and has to kill it with minions or burn.
- Try to prioritize minions that do something immediately over those that don’t. Sap won’t hurt that much and Rogue will often be forced to kill them, because he doesn’t want you to replay them. Those minions include Kazakus, Emperor Thaurissan and Ragnaros the Firelord.
- In the end, you won’t likely win this game on the tempo – it’s just too hard. What you want to do is running the Rogue out of resources and hoping that you won’t have enough answers for everything or he won’t kill you before that.
- Like I’ve said, it’s a bad matchups, so risky play is often a good play – thinking in a way “I can win this if Rogue doesn’t have X” where X can be Sap, Leeroy + burst etc. is a good way. You could just curl in a corner and cry that Miracle is so strong, but that won’t win you the game, so it’s better to lose after at least trying.
Renolock Combos and Synergies
One of the best combos in the deck is Sylvanas Windrunner + either Power Overwhelming or Shadowflame. The first one is a way to immediately steal one big minion from your opponent. It’s a great way to deal with cards that are hard to kill otherwise – e.g. Ragnaros the Firelord or Ysera. The second one is a great board clear, because you first deal 5 damage to everything and then you steal whatever has survived. It’s best if your opponent has multiple 5 or less health minions and one bigger guy – then it’s a full board clear and you get the strongest minion for yourself.
New combos brought by Gadgetzan revolve around Dirty Rat. Like I’ve already mentioned, you use it to pull out important minions from your opponent’s hand and kill them on your terms. But you can do much more than that. For example, Brann + Dirty Rat against 3 minions that are already on the board means that you pull extra 2, 5 in total. Now you can play Mind Control Tech to steal two of them or Shadowflame one of your minions. Pulling out more minions on the board might also let you tempo out into a cheaper Second-Rate Bruiser.
If you’re desperate for healing in the slow matchup, you can play Mistress of Mixtures and Siphon Soul it immediately. That’s 2 cards and 7 mana for just 7 healing, but that 7 healing is often a matter of life and death. This little play has won me a few Aggro games, where I didn’t have a way to immediately kill off my Mistress of Mixtures or any good Siphon Soul target.
Interesting little thing that a lot of people miss, is that if you run Ragnaros the Firelord and Silence in your deck (I’ve cut Spellbreaker from the list, but if you still run it, the combo is viable), if Rag has been on the board for one turn already and you really need to target something specific but you don’t want to rely on RNG (e.g. your opponent is at 8, but he has 5 minions on the board), you can Silence your own Rag and it will just act like a normal 8/8 then. It’s something that’s worth keeping in mind.
Renolock Card Substitutions
The deck runs a lot of Legendaries and I want to go through them and tell you which ones you can drop and which ones you can’t. Sadly, even if you remove all the non-crucial Legendaries, the deck is still very expensive. But you can’t help that.
Kazakus – Kazakus is an amazing card and if you have it, you definitely should play it. But if you don’t, unlike in other Reno decks, it’s not as crucial in RenoLock. You can sub it with some other 4 mana card, e.g. Sen'jin Shieldmasta or Kabal Chemist. But it should still be high on your crafting priority list.
Emperor Thaurissan – While the card is not crucial, it’s one of the strongest ones in the RenoLock, because of your average hand size. It’s easy to get 7+ discounts with just one tick. I think the card is pretty important, and it comes from the 1st wing of BRM, so you should save that 700g if you don’t have it already.
Reno Jackson – I think this one doesn’t need explanation.
Sylvanas Windrunner – Another strong Legendary that synergizes well with the deck. Since the deck is very low on big minion removal, Sylvanas is very important card. But if you don’t have her, you still should be able to play the deck. You can try the new Blastcrystal Potion in her place.
Ragnaros the Firelord – If you don’t have Ragnaros, you can play the combo version instead with Leeroy Jenkins in Ragnaros’ place. If you want a more budget option, playing a Faceless Manipulator might be good even without the combo – it has some synergies in the deck and is sometimes useful against others. Otherwise, just like in Sylvanas’ case, Blastcrystal Potion would probably be it.
Lord Jaraxxus – It was always an important card in slow Warlock builds, because it alone can win you some Control matchups. However, with the meta being more towards Aggro than Control, you can play Alexstrasza for the healing + big body. Alex is also useful in the mirror matchup (vs someone who runs the combo) where Jaraxxus is a dead card.
Following the Savjz’s success with the deck early after the expansion, it’s now a lot more common on the ladder. I think that it’s a good thing to learn how to play it, because at the same time it lets you know how to play against it much better. It seems to be one of the strongest list right now, but if you want, you can also try the other ones like Th3RaT’s or Asmodai’s (combo version).
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!