Despite the nerfs to Warsong Commander, Patron Warrior is still one of the best midrange decks in Hearthstone. Not only does it have a wide range of strong minions as well as powerful combo potential, but it also can get very aggressive and runs a large amount of burst. That versatility makes it a good choice on the current Hearthstone ladder. However, it does have its bad matchups as well. One of those, Renolock, will be analyzed in the following paragraphs to help you understand the best way to pilot past the control Warlock.
When sleeving up Patron always be aware of what style you want to play. Though it has one of the most stable cores in the game, the deck can be run in three different ways. You can play the tempo build that seeks to use more removal and cheaper minions, the aggressive version with more charge and burst, or the board control variant that runs more sticky threats. Each of those styles has its merits, and all can win games. You just want to pick the best that suits your own play. To help you with this, three different lists and a guide have been linked below.
When mulliganing against Warlock you need to plan for Zoo. While you can (sort of) recover from mulliganing wrong against Renolock, there is no coming back from a slow start against Zoo. While that is unfortunate, the good news is that both of the mulligans look very similar to each other. You just want to start early, so keep all of your cheap minions, weapons and removal.
Cards to KeepExecute Fiery War Axe Armorsmith Slam Cruel Taskmaster Frothing Berserker Acolyte of Pain Death’s Bite
Inner Rage can be good to combo with activators like Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain.
Battle Rage is good if you have an opening where you can set it up.
Frothing Berserker is a good keep if you strong cards to go along with it.
Piloted Shredder is strong keep with the coin and a powerful early curve.
Grim Patron is a strong keep if you have a solid opening or the proper activators.
How to Win
Pressure is by far the most important aspect of this match. While it can be scary to put Warlock to low life levels, Renolock is not Handlock. They only run one Molten Giant, and they will often not have it. While Reno Jackson can be annoying, you want to push through as much as you can, forcing them to have answers or calling their bluff. Sitting back and letting them play out their gameplan is not a viable option.
Another important rule is to never let Renolock build up a strong board. Though they begin slow, they run an impressive amount of large minions. Almost every minions from Twilight Drake onward can take over the board on its own, and you need to be ready with board presence of your own to challenge their plays over the course of the match. If you cannot get minions to stick, always make use out of your weapons and removal to clear the way for your minions and keep the pressure up.
Early Game Strategy
During the first turns of this game you want to try and identify what your opponent is playing. Warlock is either going to be Zoo or Renolock, and each games plays in vastly different ways. The bad news is that it makes this tricky to mulligan for, but the good news is that it is easy to identify which deck you are playing. If your opponent opens with a one drop or coins into a two drop aggro minion (Knife Juggler, Nerubian Egg ect.) they are Zoo. If they do nothing or tap on turn two, they are most likely Reno.
Always run Frothing Berkerseker out onto an empty board. The three drop may be very unassuming, but it represents a lot of damage that life-tapping Warlocks cannot afford to take. This means it is either going to eat an Ironbeak Owl, or cost them resources to clear. Both of these scenarios work in your favor because they take away potential If they can
Never try to hold back Acolyte of Pain or Armorsmith if your opponent has no minions. While Renolock does have the tools to take them down in one hit, you often don’t care. Even if they die these cards are going to get you some value while also draining your opponent of resources. And, if they don’t have an answer, you are going to be able to stack up a lot of armor or draw a good number of cards.
Finally, swing with Death’s Bite on turn four, even if there are no good targets. Clearing any minion is always some sort of value, and you want the axe to be on five damage for things like Sludge Belcher or Loatheb.
The middle of the game can become very scary because, while you have your bigger threats, Renolock can go way over your head. They are going to ramp up during these turns and you need to match them pound for pound. Even having one turn off can be problem if you are suddenly facing down a Sludge Belcher and a Dr. Boom. Always push for some type of board presence and do not shy away from your removal.
Loatheb is extremely important during both the middle and late game. Renolock has a lot of AOE that ranges from small spells like Demonwrath to bigger removal like Twisting Nether. They also pack spot removal and have a good amount of burst in the form of spells like Power Overhwelming and Hellfire. All of these are problems because they can reset your board or finish you off in a tight game. Loatheb shuts down all of it. The five drop not only protects an early established board, but he can be a great way to up lethal as well.
While in most matchups you want to run out big Grim Patron combos as fast as you can, here you have to be a lot more careful. This is because almost all of Warlock’s AOE can clear a board of 3/3’s quite easily. Instead of going all-in here, you want to make a few dwarves to force your opponent into burning their large board wipes. This will help set up later plays.
Note: If you are pressing for lethal, keep Reno Jackson in mind. The six drop is usually a real non-factor because of your burst, but you do not want to overextend putting your opponent to two life only to have them bounce back and then clear. When making a mid-game push you only want to really go for it if you can blast through the six drop of create such a big board that Warlock’s heal won’t matter.
Late Game Strategy
The later stages of the game are very tricky to navigate. You want to do enough damage to bring your opponent into burst range, but not so much that they are going to heal. The name of the end game is dropping them down into the mid-teens where they don’t feel a need to use Reno Jackson. If you can successfully manage this while keeping their taunts off the board you should be able to finish them off.
Though Renolock is a control deck, you want to be careful when you fall into the teens. They can amount a surprising assault with their burst, and you always want to account for it. It is easy to forget about your opponent’s damage potential when trying to play to your own combo.
The way you are going to win almost all of your games against Renolock is through charge, meaning either Grommash Hellscream or Kor’kron Elite (if you run it). You want to leverage these tools as much as possible and use whatever resources you have at your disposal to clear a path. Without burst you almost have no way to win, and you only want to play Gromm if you either have lethal or need to stop yourself from dying.
Know how to use your Executes. As stated, Renolock is a list with a lot of big threats. These come in various sizes and will be sprinkled in throughout the game. As a result, you only want to Execute something as a last resort or a tempo play. If you have no other answers, it is always right to pull the trigger. However, if you can remove a threat with minion, weapon or other removal, you should.