Hey all, just wanted to share my C’Thun Reno Lock deck that I’ve been having a lot of success on ladder with.
Why Reno Lock?
I personally find Reno Lock to be one of the most challenging yet rewarding decks to pilot on ladder due to the sheer amount of tools in its kit. As someone who has played most control decks quite extensively, I always come back to Renolock because every game is so different and every turn has so many different lines of play.
Oh, and card draw hero power is pretty overpowered.
A common misconception is that Renolock is a horrible deck to ladder with. I believe that Renolock has a place in the meta, especially from rank 5 and beyond. I’ll explain why in greater detail in the matchups section.
C’Thun vs Leeroy Faceless
I have experimented with both versions of the deck and I find the C’Thun version to be more reliable against both control and Aggro. C’Thun Renolock has a more proactive playstyle over standard Reno, similar to the C’Thun Warrior vs Standard Control difference. It has a more consistent win condition in multiple C’Thun’s against Warriors, the most dominant class on ladder. Cards like twin emperor and C’Thun are strong against both control and Aggro decks, unlike leeroy jenkins and Faceless manipulator.
Let’s compare differences outside of the core Renolock set
Late game drops don’t make a huge difference against Aggro, but I believe Twin Emps is still a stronger card against Aggro.
- +: Power Overwhelming, Soulfire, Sunfury Protector, Cult Apothecary, Faceless Manipulator, Leeroy Jenkins
- -: Beckoner of Evil, C'Thun's Chosen, Twilight Elder, Disciple of C'Thun, Doomcaller, Crazed Worshipper
I find the C’Thun list to be far more proactive in nature. The C’Thun minions are all decent early game minions that contest the board better than combo pieces.
Card Choices – Essential Core Cards
IMO, these cards cannot be replaced- they are too important to the deck.
- Beckoner of Evil – Early game filler, weak 2 drop but an important C’Thun activator.
- Dark Peddler – One of warlock’s strongest cards, the versatility it provides is unmatched.
- Doomsayer – With all the Aggro on ladder, this is a necessity. Also can be used after a board clear to prevent opponent from developing board (turn 10 twisting nether -> Doomsayer).
- Demonwrath – 2 damage AOE is much weaker than before thanks to all of the 3 health minions from Shaman, but still an incredibly valuable AOE.
- Shadow Bolt – RIP Darkbomb, but there are so many key 4 health minions (Frothing Berserker, Tomb Pillager, Azure Drake, Flamewaker, etc.)
- Brann Bronzebeard – Lots of battlecry synergy, triple C’Thun.
- Disciple of C'Thun – C’Thun activator and decent early game minion.
- Imp Gang Boss – MVP 3 drop against Aggro.
- Twilight Elder – C’Thun activators are hard to come by when you have to run 1 ofs.
- Hellfire – The perfect turn 4 topdeck against Zoo/Shaman.
- Shadowflame – Incredibly strong AOE, can be comboed with Sylvanas.
- C'Thun's Chosen – Yet another C’Thun activator.
- Defender of Argus – Double taunt? Yes please.
- Twilight Drake – Insane value with life tap, usually forces out an execute or entomb, can be taunted up to stop Aggro in its tracks.
- Crazed Worshipper – 3/6 Taunt isn’t bad and there are so many times when you’ll get stuck with a 9/9 C’Thun because Twilight Elder only buffs once.
- Siphon Soul – Hard removal.
- Emperor Thaurissan – Lots of value since you usually have so many cards in hand, allows for some really nice combos (Sylvanas Windrunner, Siphon Soul, Lord Jaraxxus + Hero power).
- Reno Jackson
- Sylvanas Windrunner – Incredibly strong effect, can be comboed with Shadowflame/Power Overwhelming/Siphon Soul.
- Twin Emperor Vek'lor – 7 mana double Druid of the claw is insane.
- Twisting Nether – Board clear.
- C'Thun – Usually game ending in all but the slowest control matchups.
Non-Essential Cards and Alternate Tech Choices
- Acidic Swamp Ooze – In this Warrior/Shaman heavy meta, basically a necessity. Acidic Swamp Ooze > Harrison Jones because we have draw on demand and the lower mana cost allows us to do more in the same turn.
- Lord Jaraxxus – Second win condition outside of C’Thun, probably the most powerful end game card in the game, infinite value and is at worst an emergency heal (but dont forget you can’t Reno to 30 after Jaraxxus). Sets your health to 15 which can be risky, especially against Grommash Hellscream/C'Thun/Ragnaros the Firelord. Main win condition against priests, but not necessary. Replacements: Alexstraza, Ragnaros.
- Doomcaller – One of the main differences between my deck and others is the inclusion of Doomcaller. The reason why I added Doomcaller was because of the amount of C’Thun Warriors on ladder. Jaraxxus is a safe win condition against standard control warrior but not against C’Thun Warrior, especially ones that run Doomcaller as well. Since adding Doomcaller, I’ve had a 100% win rate against Control/C’Thun Warrior. Getting an emperor tick off on Doomcaller or Brann allows for triple C’Thun, which warriors simply cannot handle and you will draw into your C’Thuns before the Warrior thanks to Life Tap. Also a C’Thun activator. Replacements: Ragnaros, Alexstraza, Mountain Giant, Anti-Aggro tech.
- Mortal Coil – 1 mana ping and cycle. Replacements: Soulfire, Power Overwhelming.
- Mind Control Tech – Really strong against Zoo, Sham, and Hunters. Can single handedly win games and can be comboed with Brann (they must have 5+ minions). Replacements: Anti-Aggro tech.
- Refreshment Vendor – Poor man’s Antique Healbot, the statline is decent and you’ll usually get more value from it in control matchups thanks to lifetap. Replacements: Anti-Aggro tech.
- Spellbreaker – 4/3 body is pretty bad for 4 but silence is really strong in this meta, even against Aggro. Usually save for Sylvanas Windrunner/Cairne Bloodhoof/Tirion Fordring, can be dropped for tempo against Aggro with Darkshire Councilman and totems or troggs as decent targets. Replacements: Big Game Hunter, Anti-Aggro tech.
- Stampeding Kodo – 3/5 body for 5 isn’t great but there are so many good targets (Flamewaker, Mana Tide Totem, Flametongue Totem, Bloodhoof Brave, Doomsayer, Imp Gang Boss) that it’s hard to pass up. Replacements: Anti-Aggro tech.
Tech Choices That Didn’t Make the Cut and Why
- Earthen Ring Farseer – I used to run this over Mind Control Tech, but I ultimately felt like MCT’s swing on the board state helped me live more than a 3 health heal did. Definitely a strong replacement for any of the anti-Aggro cards.
More indepth comparison of ERF vs MCT
I think MCT is one of the most underrated tech cards in this flood the board meta. Let’s look at a typical Zoo opening T1: Possessed Villager T2: Abusive Sergeant + Voidwalker T3: Imp Gang Boss. Let’s compare a Earthen Ring Farseer to MCT. Both give you 3/3 bodies, so we’ll ignore that. We’re also going to assume that abusive buffed villager trades into your peddler turn 2. If we play Earthen Ring, we get a 3/3 body on board to contest a 1/1, a 2/1, a 1/3, and a 2/4. We get healed from 27-30. If we play MCT: worst case scenario we take the 1/1, preventing 1 damage to face If we take the 2/1, the opponent will probably trade the 1/1 into the 2/1. This stops 3 damage to face AND removes 3 power in 2 bodies off of the board so it’s stronger than a flat 3 hp heal. It also weakens Gormok the Impaler/Dire Wolf Alpha/Zoo buffing shenanigans since Zoo wants weak minions to buff and trade. Taking the Voidwalker gives us a 1/3 taunt which cannot be bypassed by a single minion without a buff. Even if they were to play a Dire Wolf or Dark Iron Dwarf, they lose 2 power on the board and lose 2 minions which can be buffed/count for Gormok and Sea Giant. Stealing Imp Gang Boss probably wins you that game due to the tempo swing. As we can see, stealing a minion almost always outvalues a 3hp heal because they have to use their minions to deal with their own minion, and because Zoo takes advantage of buffing these weak tokens. I won’t write out a turn by turn for Aggro Shaman or Aggro Paladin, but stealing a Feral Spirit is pretty common and stealing a thing from below is game winning. Ultimately, the minion you remove from their board will deal more than 3 damage to you over the game and you force them to deal with it.
- Sunfury Protector – I am still experimenting to fit this card in, but I just haven’t found a tech card I like less.
- Sen'jin Shieldmasta – Another great card that I used to run but replaced. I feel like Crazed Worshipper fulfills the same role but also acts as a C’Thun activator. Ultimately, I replaced him with Refreshment vendor.
- Cult Apothecary – 5 mana 4/4 is pretty bad, and while the heal is great against Zoo and Shaman, I found it to be a dead card in most matchups.
- Ragnaros the Firelord – Renolock is already favored in all of the matchups where Rag is a great card. As bad as Doomcaller is against Aggro and board flooding, at least it can choose which minion to attack.
- Alexstrasza – Viable replacement for Jaraxxus especially if you’re only facing Aggro (but you should probably switch decks if that’s the case) since the heal doesn’t cap you and it leaves an 8/8 body on board. Offensive Alexstraza isn’t really a win condition against warriors with Justicar Trueheart, and we don’t run the Leeroy combo to take advantage of the health reduction against Priest and Paladin (both of which Jaraxxus and triple C’Thun eat alive).
- Mountain Giant – Another card that is strong in already favored matchups. Usually a dead card against Aggro.
Probably your best matchup. They don’t have enough removal for all of your midrange minions and Jaraxxus or C’Thun/Doomcaller seal the game. Don’t let the warrior get too much brawl value by keeping at most 3 minions on board. Try to save ooze for Gorehowl but removing a FWA isn’t too bad.
Another incredibly favored matchup, borderline impossible to lose with Doomcaller. You can Jaraxxus early to pressure him but this exposes you to C’Thun. I recommend just playing the safe game and winning with triple C’Thun. If the opponent understands the matchup well, he will save his Sylvanas for your C’Thun so you need to have Sylvanas/discounted Siphon Soul/PO/Shadowflame in hand when you drop your C’Thun. However, from my experience most C’Thun Warriors will be forced to play Sylvanas early in order to deal with your board. Again, try to Ooze Gorehowl and don’t let him get too much brawl value.
Dragon is slightly unfavored, Tempo is favored. Dragon Warriors tend to win in 1 of 2 ways- either they play perfectly on curve and snowball the early game or they get lifetap from Sir Finley Mrrgglton. Try to stay above 15 health for Drakonid Crusher, deal with Frothing Berserker‘s asap. Tempo is an easy matchup, try not to let them get really big Battle Rages, and save Twisting Nether for Varian Wrynn. Tempo warrior’s tend to lack the early game pressure to really threaten you.
I would say you are unfavored vs Aggro but favored vs midrange. Against Aggro Shaman, you need to get your early drops to contest the board. Doomsayers are huge against Aggro Shaman. If you don’t have a turn 2 or turn 3 play, you’ve probably lost. Of course, drawing Reno Jackson usually wins you the game as long as you aren’t too behind on board. The midrange variant is much easier since they lack the early game pressure of Aggro outside of Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem. Drawing your board clears is very important, as a well timed Hellfire or Shadowflame can win the game. Midrange Shamans lack damage from hand, so controlling the board is top priority. Drawing Reno usually guarantees you the win.
Zoo is a slightly unfavored. Like Aggro Shaman, contesting the early game board should be your top priority, even more so since Zoo lacks burst from hand (outside of Leeroy/Doomguard PO). However, unlike Aggro Shaman, if you are heavily losing the board even Reno will not win you the game due to the pressure Zoo will continue to push out with lifetap. I played against 1 renolock my entire climb from 5 to legend. You are favored in the C’Thun Renolock mirror with Doomcaller and slightly unfavored against the Leeroy Combo version as they can burst you down from 20. Don’t play around combo until they emperor, but many times they will be forced to blow a combo piece (PO/Faceless) to deal with your superior board of C’Thun minions.
I find the hunter matchup to be pretty favored for the Renolock unless they draw double Savannah Highmane or double Call of the Wild. As long as you are controlling the board before turn 6 and turn 8, you should be in a position to win. It is very easy to predict a hunter’s turn – deny Houndmaster turn 4, play around Stampeding Kodo turn 5, etc.
C’Thun Druid is slightly unfavored matchup, but as long as they don’t ramp super hard and Innervate out minions the game is very winnable. Try to drop C’Thun as early as possible, even if it’s only a 10/10 or 8/8 as Druid’s lack removal. Sylvanas is incredibly strong against Druid. Didn’t play against enough Yogg Druid’s to really develop a strategy but as long as you try to keep the board under control to prevent insane Power of the Wild or Soul of the Forest turns you should be fine.
Miracle rogue is a horrible matchup, pray that Conceal is at the bottom of their deck. Doomsayer before their turn 4 (3 with coin) is very strong as Rogues usually won’t play 2 or 3 drops and it stops their tomb pillager. The N’Zoth variant is very easy because they don’t run a Leeroy finisher, just save twisting nether or Shadowflame for the N’Zoth.
Slightly favored matchup, Demonfire cleans up their 3/2s and 0/2s. Stampeding Kodo is super strong against Flamewaker, as is Shadow Bolt. The key to this matchup is keeping track of what spells have been used by the Mage, as well as their maximum possible burn from hand. Drawing a Reno usually wins the game on the spot.
N’Zoth Paladin is incredibly easy matchup since they have no early game pressure. Jaraxxus or Multiple C’Thuns wreck control paladin. Most paladins on ladder tend to be of the Aggro/Secret Midrange variant. This is a favored matchup as long as you mulligan for Aggro – AOE, early game minions.
Always mulligan for early drops like Beckoner of Evil, Dark Peddler, Imp Gang Boss, and Doomsayer. If playing against a class with multiple variants (Warrior, Paladin), always mulligan for the aggressive version.
I definitely believe C’Thun Renolock is a viable deck for climbing the ladder. However, I would not recommend this deck before rank 5. From my experience, the meta at pre rank 5 tend to be far more Aggro heavy, which are the weaker matchups for Renolock. However, the meta from rank 5 to legend seems to be predominantly Warrior and Shaman, two of the best matchups for Renolock. If you are only playing against aggressive decks, I would not recommend Renolock for laddering. If you are like me, where half of your games are against C’Thun Warrior and the other half are Shamans than I would highly recommend giving Renolock a try. Your first few games might be frustrating, especially if you’ve never played a Control Warlock deck before but I am confident that you will learn to love the deck.
TLDR: Life tap is overpowered