Hey guys, if you’re just tuning in for the first time, you should check out the first two installments of this month’s Brewmaster series to get caught up to speed.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another week in the jungle. My plans for Control Hunter have not changed since we last spoke, and I would even dare to say they have only improved. It is a truth of all card games that the more you tinker with a deck the better it gets. The plans get clearer, the cards get better and you become more familiar with how the list operates from game to game, match to match. That familiarity is extremely important, and is the sole reason this deck has climbed in the way that it has. I cannot stress how important it is to play cards or styles that you best understand, and that theme comes up again and again throughout my series. However, it is also important to know when you need to get a second opinion.
I do not understand the universe. It is a crazy, tumultuous place that has its own twists and turns for us all. The reason for the philosophy is that I wanted to play Reno Hunter because I had never seen someone really play with the build, let alone to take it to legend. However, out of nowhere a played named Kharanlol built a Reno Hunter and took it all the way up the ladder. I could not believe that someone had the same idea, nor did I believe they had so much success with it so quickly. However, it was true. As such, I studied his list to see what cards he was playing that I was not to build upon my own list. Though there are some really odd choices in his list that I do not agree with, there are some cards that really add some power. This shows that, when brewing, you should never be afraid to look to others for their ideas.
Where We Are Now
For the first time on The Brewmaster, a deck has not greatly changed from this week to the last. There are still some very important shifts in the list, but the deck as a whole has stayed the same. We are still Control Hunter, and we are still playing that through the lens of Reno Jackson. After playing another week I am positive that the six drop is one of the only cards that make this list possible. The healing from Reno has won me countless games against everything from aggro to midrange to control. People love to push in this meta, and if you can get them to make a bad play before you heal back up to thirty, you are almost always going to take the game. While I am still on the fence if I want taunt (which I have cut for the time being) in this list, I know that healing is essential for any Hunter that wants to play the control role.
As I stated last week, Reno decks are some of the most interesting to build because each and every card has to have a purpose. You cannot just run card for fun or because you think they will be cool. Reno decks are a well-oiled machine that fit together in their own unique way. I have only made a few tweaks to list, but each tweak to a Reno deck has large implications. A lot of the cards in this list are meta-calls, such as running Mind Control Tech or deciding to add in Dr. Boom, but some of them are just solid cards that really should have been here from the start.
This section will help to explain why certain cards are in the list, what I think about them, and how they’ve performed so far.
While your first reaction may be “what?” when looking at the inclusion of Explorer’s Hat, it is a very good card in this list. The two mana spell is perhaps the biggest addition I have made based on Kharan’s list, which used the hat to great effect. The card may seem weak, but you should view it as another hero power that just gives a minion a small bonus. Plus 1/1 that never goes away may seem really bad, but it is a long-term form of card advantage. Minion combat in today’s Hearthstone is often decided by one point of damage (for instance letting Reno Jackson kill off a Sludge Belcher or a Webspinner trade into a Knife Juggler) and getting an extra buff to trade up can be hugely important.
So far, the biggest reason I have found to include the hat is for the turns where you have a bunch of small minions on the board. Yes, it can be good at helping you secure the early turns, but it really shines when you have a strong board. The reason is that the deathrattle on Explorer’s Hat allows you to play it, trade into something, and then play it again. That repetition allows you to make plays like buff one Boom Bot, trade it in, and then buff the other. You can also go down the line with Ball of Spiders and use your Webspinners to kill of a 6/6. There is a lot of versatility with this card and, barring a silence, once you have it, it is never going to go away.
A card I have been thinking about since my original list, the inclusion of Bloodmage Thalnos into Kharan’s deck made me instantly realize that I needed to fit him in. As I have talked about a few times, one of Control Hunter’s biggest weaknesses is that all of its AOE only does a few points of damage. Powershot, Explosive Trap, Explosive Shot and Dreadscale all do one or two damage. That works fine against a lot of swarm decks, but it can be a big limitation against midrange or control. Bloodmage just gives you that extra push that enables you to finish off bigger minions. Just like with Explorer’s Hat, this card shows just how important one extra damage can be.
The skeleton in a dress does two things that this deck wants to do: power your spells and draw cards. You need to understand how both operate into the larger build, and you need to know how the legendary’s role is going to change from matchup to matchup. For example, against Patron you only want to drop Thalnos down with a spell to clear out Grim Patron, because that is the only way to stop the drunk dwarves. However, in slower matches where you don’t have much action in your hand (or in games where you just need to get some extra cards) don’t be afraid to run him out. Only hold him back if he is serving a specific purpose or you have a strong hand that doesn’t need more cards.
Another card I have been thinking about for a while, Wild Pyromancer seems like an obvious inclusion to this build due to its natural combo with Hunter’s Mark and cards like Powershot. However, I did not originally put it in because I was already running so much early AOE like Explosive Trap and Dreadscale. That being said, the more games I played the more I wanted two (or three or four) copies of Dreadscale. While that is not possible, Pyromancer does a very solid impression of the legendary worm. You cannot have too much AOE in a control deck, and adding one more option is a great choice that can really bring the hammer down on aggro.
As with any Reno deck, there are a lot of spells in this list. That means it is going to be quite easy to trigger Wild Pyromancer and get an extra damage just about whenever you want. It does a great job with all of your removal spells (especially Hunter’s Mark) but one of the best combos the two drop has is with Explorer’s Hat. This works very similarly to Wild Pyromancer/Power Word: Shield in that you get to buff the Pyromancer, giving you access to more AOE damage, while also hurting the board. Never just run this card out if you can help it. This deck thrives off of slowly clearing the board and, unless you are under a great amount of pressure, you will find a use for the fiery two drop.
As good as Kharan’s list is, there are a few things I think he got wrong. One of them is not including Mad Scientist into his deck. While Reno’s ability is more than worth playing only one of each card, that limitation can lead to problems from time to time. As a result, you want to do your best to offset that whenever you can. One of the only ways to do that is to have tutor (cards that let you search for other cards) or draw cards in your deck. Mad Scientist is one of the only few tutor options in Hearthstone, enabling you to go through your deck and pull out any secret of your choice. That gets even better here because you are only running Explosive Trap. This gets rid of any RNG. When you play the two drop you know exactly what you are going to get.
Aggro is one of the only archetypes I find myself having a consistent problem with. Explosive Trap does a very good job at helping with that problem, but you also need to have some early drops. While Kharan chose to play King’s Elekk in this spot (as I once did) the elephant really does not help with the aggro problem. In fact, it straight up dies to Shielded Minibot. On the other hand, scientist trades with an early drop and then does two more damage to your opponent’s board. Being able to pull Explosive Trap from your deck is extremely important for many popular matches in the game, and I would not run this list without the two drop.
While I don’t like it, I did concede that this list could greatly benefit from Eaglehorn Bow. Just like a certain waraxe, the ability to clear out two minions for the price of one card is very good. It also can be a very good way to kill a lot of problematic minions like an early Darnassus Aspirant or the first half of a Piloted Shredder. While it is not as good as Gladiator’s Longbow (a card that is not going anywhere) the bow serves a very important purpose in buying you time while also giving you an extra source of removal. It can even be damage in a pinch, which is never a bad thing either.
The reason I don’t like using weapons in a deck like this is, much like with Control Rogue, taking excess damage is the easiest way to lose. Almost every deck in the game has a huge amount of burst and can kill you out of nowhere. There is plenty of removal in this deck, and none of it requires you to sacrifice your life to make it work. However, Reno Jackson and Antique Healbot both generate a lot of life, and they can give you that extra boost whenever you need. Because of this I decided to add in the bow. It smooths out your curve, gives you ever more removal than you already have, and its setback can be offset in a couple of different ways.
Though I am not yet ready to do a full matchup breakdown, I did want to go over the mulligans for this list. The reason is that knowing what cards to keep is a very important part to being able to pilot a Reno deck well. When going into mulligans you should always remember that you are only going to see each card once. Unlike most decks where you can say “eh, I’ll draw that card later”, you really have to think how important a card is going to be because the chances of you drawing it later are slim. If it is a card you absolutely want in any given matchup, you should keep it. However, if you don’t mind one way or the other, then you can afford to let it go. Always pay extra attention to this against aggro decks, because those are the games where you are going to see less cards.
Overall, you want to stick to your curve just like any other deck. However, you should always keep Reno Jackson if you can. Beyond that, do your best to find AOE against aggro decks (Paladin, Hunter, Zoo) and try to get some spot removal if you are playing against Warrior or Priest. Early removal should always be kept no matter what and Hunter’s Mark is a great keep when playing Druid to stop an early Innervate. There are a ton of different keep combinations and scenarios here, and while I am not going to go over all of them, those are the overarching rules.
Though I normally don’t seek the help of others, this time around I am very glad that I did. Deckbuilding for a popular CCG is very interesting because there are always going to be thousands of other people building decks, trying new things and experimenting. Use this resource to your best advantage. The hive mind is always going to be stronger than a single brain, and this week’s version of Control Hunter is a testament to that. Until next time, may you always get rich.