Hi! I’m Asmodeus, multiple times Legend and infinite arena player. I’m also the author of The Complete Guide for Hearthstone Player. Today I’m going to share with you everything there is to know about reno-jackson. From the way it works to decklists and counters.
The influence of reno-jackson is already significant on ladder and after few weeks, once we see all League of Explorers cards in play and people refine their decks better, we’ll be able to tell if he’s the real savior of control or just a false prophet.
With the development of reno-jackson decks, we will also see many people trying to counter it. They can do it by playing hyper-aggressive decks, that can punish the inconsistency of a deck with mostly one copy of each card. They can also go the opposite way and try to bring even more greedy deck, that takes advantage of slower metagame. Lastly, they can use specific cards and mechanics which are supposed to counter the use of reno-jackson and I’m going to talk about them near the end of this article.
Let’s first take a look at the card itself and explain how does it work.
How Reno Jackson works
First of all if we look at the card without it’s effect, the stat distribution is extremely good. 4/6 is normally a five mana cost card with additional, small benefit like Taunt in druid-of-the-claw or being untargetable like the spectral-knight. Which means that we pay one additional mana for the game changing ability. There is of course the downside of a special condition you have to fulfill, which balances it out.
The effect is a battlecry which means that it will go off before enemy secrets are triggered, allowing you to heal even if the minion is destroyed by sacred-trial. It puts it in one category with other battlecry minions which currently might be a downside due to expected metagame shift after release of brann-bronzebeard. Some people might attempt to counter decks filled with battlecries by playing the nerubar-weblord as a tech card.
The condition of reno-jackson battlecry uses a key phrase: “If your deck contains”. In this case it refers to the current state of your deck in game. Which means that it only counts the cards you have left in it, rather than looking at your entire decklist. This allows you to run duplicates of certain cards and still be able to benefit from the healing effect.
If you want to run multiple copies of some cards in your reno-jackson deck, I recommend you either bring a lot of card draw, to dig for them early on, or only use copies of the cards you will always want in your opening hand, so that you can increase your chances of drawing them through mulligan.
To my big surprise, not a single reno-jackson decklist that I’ve seen shared up to this point, included what I consider to be the single, most important card in a reno-jackson deck. The youthful-brewmaster.
Because you’re forced to run a single copy of most cards in your deck, having the ability to play something twice, gives you incredible flexibility in how you can utilize your deck. Are you facing against a Handlock? Return the big-game-hunter after killing a giant for another use. What about a Priest that keeps buffing his minions? Use your ironbeak-owl twice. Having trouble against a hunter? Play reno-jackson twice! You can also replay antique-healbot to buy more time, while waiting to draw reno-jackson.
Because of all those applications, the late game legendary of choice should be ysera. Just the chance to draw dream is enough to justify using it. That’s why you should prioritize it over other late game legendary cards.
Another card that works extremely well with reno-jackson is ice-block. Not only it can bait your enemy to waste his damage in an attempt to break your block, but it also ensures that you can use alexstrasza offensively because you don’t have to save her for healing anymore. Restoring your hero from a single point to full health after your enemy expended much of his resources to proc your ice-block is extremely satisfying.
Remember that pretty much every reno-jackson deck will need more draw than the usual deck. Either to draw the cards of which you have duplicates in your deck, or to make your deck more consistent and increase the chances of actually drawing reno-jackson. It would be a shame to build a deck around a card that you’re not even going to draw.
SuperJJ Reno Freeze Mage
The first deck also happens to be the first list which utilized reno-jackson in competitive play. It’s a Freeze Mage deck, used by SuperJJ to win the Seat Story Cup IV. The deck has many duplicates of the same card and you can get away with it because you will increase your chances of getting them in a couple of ways.
Firstly, the deck has a lot of card draw and the Freeze Mage normally wants to just control the board and draw as many cards as they can early on. Secondly, you will want to mulligan for some of these cards anyway (mad-scientist, arcane-intellect) and that increases your chances of drawing them.
- forgotten-torch is the only card that hasn’t been played in a Freeze Mage deck before other than the reno-jackson himself. The torch gives you an option of another cheap removal for the early game while increasing the total damage of your deck which compensates for running only one copy of fireball
Reno Control Warlock Example
This deck is a first of two examples of a reno-jackson control list. I wanted to show different ways of building a slower deck. The first one will disregard the big-game-hunter threat, while the next one will play around it completely. This Control Warlock is close to what I’ve been playing on ladder to test reno-jackson while also getting my golden portrait, which I can now proudly display.
Warlock is a perfect fit for this kind of deck because of his incredible hero power – life-tap. In a deck where you don’t run duplicates of your cards, consistency is always going to be an issue. The simplest remedy to it, is drawing more cards and warlock can always do it. Unless playing around fatigue damage, always use life-tap before playing reno-jackson because the damage is going to be healed anyway.
- twilight-drake and mountain-giant – In this kind of deck, you will often end up with a lot of cards in your hand. There are a lot of expensive cards which you can’t play early and you want to tap as much as you can. This makes the standard Handlock threats also playable in this deck.
- dark-peddler – In a deck that can have some trouble with consistency, being able to choose what you draw can be very important. By sheer chance or deliberate design of Hearthstone developers, the one mana cards which you can get through this discover card happen to frequently be very useful. There is additional damage from mortal-coil and soulfire. There are many taunts such as voidwalker and goldshire-footman. You can also get power-overwhelming to buff a minion for shadowflame or to kill off your sylvanas-windrunner.
- master-jouster – I’ve found this card to be very consistent. Your curve is very high, which gives you good odds of winning the Joust, but even if you don’t happen to win, the body is big enough to taunt it up using either sunfury-protector or defender-of-argus. It’s a good card to include when you can’t play a second sludge-belcher
- emperor-thaurissan – This card is incredibly powerful in a control warlock. As I mentioned before, you will often have a very big hand with this kind of deck and the new combinations of cards it enables can be ridiculously strong. The comeback ability provided by cards like shadowflame and reno-jackson means that you can stabilize your situation and continue the game with incredible tempo advantage through discounted late game power cards.
Reno Control Paladin Example
This is a second example of reno-jackson control deck. This list is here to give you ideas about how to counter a big-game-hunter metagame. Currently people are starting to think if they shouldn’t play two copies of it because of how many targets for it are played in other decks. If people play a lot of big-game-hunter, it means people are also playing a lot of high attack creatures. That is an environment in which eadric-the-pure can shine.
This list doesn’t have a single target for the big-game-hunter yet it brings an incredible amount of value to the table. In the late game, paladin hero power – reinforce – is possibly the strongest one. Certainly against other classes aiming to excel at the late game such as warrior and priest.
- equality – this deck is all about stabilizing and before you can play reno-jackson it helps if you’re not hopelessly behind on board, because then your enemy could just bring you down to low health again. That’s why it’s important to run two copies of this card here.
- youthful-brewmaster – the real MVP of this deck. It will let you get double value out of anything you want. Imagine playing eadric-the-pure twice against a Handlock! You can use it in so many different ways. Replaying the defender-of-argus against a Face Hunter can be all it takes to win the game. You can also use it to return silenced minions to your hand and play them safely afterwards.
- solemn-vigil – I’ve found lay-on-hands to be too slow to matter in this kind of deck. By the time you can play it, you usually don’t want to draw more cards because of possible fatigue damage. It’s much better to get a cheap draw from solemn-vigil after clearing the board or trading few minions so that you get to your important cards in time.
- tuskarr-jouster – depending on your exact decklist you might want to include this card as well. In control matchups it gives you a valuable body of a 5/5 minion and against aggro decks you will be able to benefit from healing effect most of the time. The slower your deck, the better this card is compared to antique-healbot
In a couple of weeks we will see more refined reno-jackson decks and then many of you will want to counter this card as well as decks built around it. Let’s talk about the counters then.
Using beneath-the-grounds will force duplicate cards into your opponent’s deck. The issue with this card is that it’s usually very bad by itself but now the drawback of not getting any nerubians out of it is also a benefit because your enemy can’t use his reno-jackson. This card could be potentially played in a Mill Rogue deck and as it happens Mill decks seem very good against slow control lists which incorporate reno-jackson. Everyreno-jackson deck will have more card draw than a usual deck and their curve tends to be very high, which makes it hard to get rid of the cards from your hand. This makes it easier for Mill Rogue to burn their cards and potentially deny the healing.
Another way to deny your enemy an ability to play reno-jackson is to play deathlord. Minions summoned on the board from his Deathrattle, don’t use their Battlecry. But you have to be careful, since many reno-jackson decks will play other expensive minions, which can put you in a very bad spot if they’re summoned for free. The opponent can also use youthful-brewmaster to return the card to his hand and benefit from it’s effect after all.
The more common counter to reno-jackson is alexstrasza. When you identify the deck you’re playing against, you can just save it as long as you need and play it after your opponent heals himself to full. This means that decks which normally rely on the alexstrasza coupled with additional burst damage from other cards to finish the game in a two turn combo, will have an easier matchup against reno-jackson lists.
As the next wings of League of Explorers get released we will see the metagame develop and shift a lot. By the end of the year we will have some refined reno-jackson decks and we’ll know for sure how good he really is. Interestingly the wording on reno-jackson leaves open doors for new mechanics which could increase the maximum health of a hero. Does the use of “fully heal your hero”, instead of a numerical value mean that we will see an ability to increase your hero’s hp in the future? Only time will tell.
Let me know what you think. Share your opinions and post your questions in the comments, I’m always happy to answer them.
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I’m available for Hearthstone coaching – you’ll find all the info you need here: Coaching with Asmodeus