The Hearthstone ladder is very polarizing right now, with aggressive decks with Pirates on one side that want to win as fast as possible and highlander decks on the other hand with burst healing and control tools. Today we will break down a decklist from the Asia-Pacific Winter Playoffs by NaviOOT. More than half of the participants brought some variant of Reno Mage and some of them had really interesting tech cards.
There is a lot of focus on early game spells and removal to ensure you have more than enough time to draw into Reno Jackson and have more health to spare before you draw him. An interesting inclusion in the deck is Manic Soulcaster, which can offer you tremendous value by adding cards like Reno Jackson and Kazakus into your deck to trigger a second Battlecry for game-winning value.
Forbidden Flame: Flexibility is Mage’s forte, and there are a ton of cards that provide variable amounts of value depending on how you want to use them. Forbidden Flame is a great card for removing both low cost and high cost minions depending on how much mana you want to put in.
Arcane Blast: A very cheap and valuable card that can take out 2 HP minions quite handily. You also have access to multiple spell damage minions in the deck in case you want to squeeze out more value out of the card to take on larger minions very efficiently.
Frostbolt: Bread and butter removal for Mage with an added freeze effect to stop minions from attacking. You also have spell damage minions in the deck to squeeze out additional value from the card.
Arcane Intellect: Arcane Intellect is one of the very few sources of card draw in the deck. While a lot of other Reno Mage builds try to draw cards very aggressively, you are limited to very few options in this deck and you have other high value cards instead.
Forgotten Torch: It’s like a Frostbolt and a Fireball molded into one card slot, which makes Forgotten Torch a very valuable card to include in the deck.
Frost Nova: While the primary reason for the inclusion of the card is to combo with Doomsayer, sometimes stalling a whole turn and freezing the enemy board to follow up with AoE spells can provide immense value by blocking face damage and preventing trades.
Ice Barrier: Ice Barrier works very similarly to Healing Touch in the deck because you can gain 8 HP/Armor when an enemy character attacks you face. You also have the added advantage of being able to go beyond 30HP, making it a great inclusion in the deck since there aren’t good neutral or class healing options to include in Reno Mage.
Ice Block: Ice Block serves as insurance for your health pool and it allows you to prevent dying to lethal damage for one turn. It is a great setup for Reno Jackson because you can play Reno the turn after Ice Block is triggered by your opponent.
Manic Soulcaster: Manic Soulcaster is one of the most interesting inclusions in the deck and its primary purpose is to put back high value Battlecry minions like Reno Jackson and Kazakus back into the deck so you can get their value a second time. Even with its powerful effect you lose no stats, making it a good minion to play in the early game without getting value with the battlecry against fast decks as well.
Volcanic Potion: It is a very powerful AoE spell in the current meta since most aggressive decks run minions with 1-2 HP in the early game and you are bound to get very good value against such fast decks very handily. While it does damage your own minions too, you do not have too many cheap drops that stick on board to worry about.
Fireball: A Basic Mage removal that is very powerful when it comes to removing mid to large sized minions and it also serves as burn damage if you are close to finishing off your opponent. With spell damage and Fireblast hero power at your disposal, taking out high HP minions can be done very efficiently.
Polymorph: A very powerful Basic Mage spell that can easily handle deathrattle minions and other big threats that your burn spells cannot take care of efficiently without offering your opponent value. Polymorph gets its most value against slower decks and you need to be careful when it comes to choosing which minion you want to Polymorph since Control decks run an abundance of high-value minions.
Water Elemental: Water Elemental has a very annoying statline and it’s not very easy to deal with at all. Its freeze effect is particularly powerful against decks that run weapons by completely blocking heroes from attacking. It is a very good card to use against Pirate Warrior and Aggro Shaman in the current meta, or any deck that has weapons at all.
Blizzard: A great AoE spell that also has a Freeze effect attached to shut down enemy minions from attacking. It is a very good crowd control mechanism that can freeze entire boards on your opponent’s side and prevent them from playing any minion at all in the following turn.
Archmage Antonidas: Your primary win condition in the deck in the lategame is to get value out of Archmage Antonidas and generate enough Fireballs to close out the game. Archmage Antonidas is a very powerful legendary that allows you to find the extra bit of reach that you generally do not pack in your deck to kill your opponents. With Emperor Thaurissan available in the deck, you can easily generate a couple of Fireballs in the same turn you play him on. Frost Nova is also a very good card to play with Antonidas as your opponent will need to deal with Antonidas from hand on the very next turn itself; else it leads to a straight up victory for you.
Firelands Portal: A very powerful removal spell that also allows you to generate board presence in the lategame. There are very powerful 5 drops that you can draw using Firelands Portal and it can swing the game around in your favor by potentially pulling out minions like Doomguard and Earth Elemental.
Flamestrike: Flamestrike is a Basic Mage spell that is very good at wiping out boards against aggro and mid range decks. With not many cheap Deathrattle minions being available in the current meta in Standard Flamestrike proves to be very valuable in pretty much every game if you draw it in time.
Inkmaster Solia: One of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan’s finest additions, Inkmaster Solia is a great minion that allows you to create massive swing turns. You can play expensive spells for free and turn games around quite easily and one of the most common uses you can have is by player Solia with spells like Flamestrike or 10 mana Kazakus spells. While it is not a must-include card in the deck and it can be replaced by pretty much any impactful lategame card, it is definitely worth considering.
Acidic Swamp Ooze: With so many decks running weapons in the current meta, weapon removal is very premium right now and there is no card that does it better than Acidic Swamp Ooze. Even if you don’t get the effect off, it is a 3/2 minion for just 2 mana at least and can help you contest early game board presence very well.
Bloodmage Thalnos: It works like a mini Azure Drake that pretty much does the same thing but for 2 mana. Bloodmage Thalnos is very powerful with cheap spells and it cycles itself as well through its Deathrattle. It may not be the flashiest legendary in the game but its consistent value makes it one of the strongest legendaries to ever be printed.
Dirty Rat: I was not a patron of this card until I actually tried it extensively. While the card does provide a lot of mixed results, sometimes pulling out your opponent’s biggest minion from their hand at the wrong time can lead to very awkward games that can cost you the game. However on the other side of things, it is a great tool if your opponent’s deck consists of combo pieces or very cheap minions and you can disrupt their plans quite easily. Nullifying Battlecries is what Dirty Rat does best and shutting down value in your opponent’s deck can be very beneficial. Its primary purpose is of course to combat aggressive decks which it does flawlessly.
Doomsayer: A card that saw very little play when the game first came out and over time its prevalence increased a lot. As of now, Doomsayer is a popular pick in a ton of decks and the ability to completely shut down your opponent and then gaining initiative is what makes Doomsayer so great. You also have the ability to save some HP if nothing else since they will run their minions into Doomsayer if they do not have lethal damage to prevent the effect from going off every single time.
Brann Bronzebeard: With so many valuable Battlecry minions in this Reno Mage list, you want to get the maximum value out of them and Brann allows you to do just that for 3 additional mana. He is a great tool in the deck and you can squeeze out a lot of value from your minions. He is also a cheap threat on curve and even if your opponent is running an aggressive deck, he will deal with it to avoid any value for sure. He is particularly good with Kazakus since you can get two very powerful spells out of him.
Acolyte of Pain: Acolyte of Pain is very good with Mage since you can ping it with your hero power. Also, the current meta is plagued with lots of 1 HP minions which Acolyte of Pain can trade favorably with very easily if you drop it on curve.
Kazakus: It’s one of the most unique and powerful legendaries from Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, it offers a ton of value to anyone who wants to play a highlander deck and there is a lot of flexibility on offer as well when it comes to making custom spells. Being able to create custom spells is a very unique effect and more often than not you will be able to make very high tempo spells or clutch removal spells that can turn the game in your favor. Depending on your matchup you can choose from 3 different mana costs for your custom spells, allowing you to have different amounts of impact in the game.
Azure Drake: With only limited days left until Azure Drake moves out into the Hall of Fame set, its stature as the most versatile 5 drop in the game hasn’t changed since the release of Hearthstoen. The card draw and spell damage put into one 5 mana card is just incredible.
Reno Jackson: With approximately 2 months left to go, it’s not going to be easy without Reno Jackson in Standard once he moves out. The one card that started the trend of highlander decks in Hearthstone. He is the superstar of the deck and dropping him to heal back up from low health crushes the dreams of aggro decks quite handily. He is definitely one of the best comeback cards in the whole game and the value he has to offer is just immense.
Emperor Thaurissan: With so many high value cards, it is not possible to make big plays with limited mana. Emperor Thaurissan allows you to get a ton of value on individual cards through discounts. Archmage Antonidas should be one of your primary targets to keep in hand when you play Emperor Thaurissan. You can also make big impact turns by playing Brann, Kazakus and Manic Soulcaster in the same turn and many other intricate combinations of cards.
Burgly Bully: This is one of the most interesting inclusions in the deck and very few people have actually tried playing the card in decks. Being able to pull out even a single Coin means that you have one additional Fireball to generate with Archmage Antonidas.
Alexstrasza: A great comeback card that can be used both offensively and defensively in the deck. Alexstrasza was very commonly seen in Freeze Mage over the past years but it made its way into Reno Mage as well due to the kind of value it offers. It can be a great follow up to Archmage Antonidas to setup multi-turn lethal against your opponent or simply can be used to heal yourself back up to 15.
- Dirty Rat
- Acidic Swamp Ooze (against weapon classes)
- Forgotten Torch
- Volcanic Potion
- Arcane Intellect
- Reno Jackson (against aggro only)
How to Play
Like all highlander decks you sacrifice your consistency for burst healing and high value cards. You have a ton of removals in the deck and there are plenty of micro decisions that you need to take to ensure you are doing your best every turn. With enough early removals and AoEs you should be able to shut down enemy minions quite easily, leading to high value plays in the lategame through cards like Kazakus and Archmage Antonidas. Since you are not going to play very aggressively you need to know what your win condition is each game.
Against aggressive decks you can simply win on the back of Reno Jackson, while against slower decks you have to rely on your Kazakus and Reno Jackson to deliver. Having a fair sense of the meta goes a long when it comes to grinding higher ranks because you will need to be fully aware of what your opponent is running to counter them.
Protecting yourself and keeping your Ice Block intact as long as possible is absolutely essential and playing your Reno Jackson and Alexstrasza from low HP to keep your Ice Block in play is better than letting it get triggered and playing your healing minions in the following turn. Using your removals efficiently is a must as players often try to bait our removals through medium priority threats leaving their opponents helpless against other high value minions that they might have in their decks.
Reno Mage has always been a fun deck and it was on the verge of viability in the pre-Gadgetzan meta but never quite broke through into high Legend ranks or in competitive play like it has now. Reno Mage is one of the top decks in the competitive scene right now due to how versatile it is and how well it performs against other highlander decks. If you want to try something different on ladder then Reno Mage is the way to go. Let us know how the deck performs for on ladder and if you have any queries do let us know in the comments below. With the announcement for the next expansion imminent, we are hyped just as much as you are and we’ll bring you all the details from Hearthstone’s big announcement that’s set to happen tomorrow.