Look at that list. Now look back to me. Now back to the list. Notice anything strange? How about TWENTY EIGHT individual cards! Reno Jackson is an incredibly powerful card that has greatly altered the way people build control (or in this case midrange) decks. His ability is more than enough to build around. While not every class has the tools to stretch out a “one of” deck, Midrange Paladin has more than enough cards. I was looking forward to writing about the first legend Reno deck that I came across, and this one fits the bill perfectly.
Playing a deck like this is a very interesting experience. Unlike many normal decks, you have to value each card very, very highly. Always know when you play a card that is the only time you are going to be able to play it. While you may want to use a Big Game Hunter or Aldor Peacekeeper at a certain time, you always need to think about each play before you do. For instance, Peacekeeping a Sludge Belcher might give you tempo and board control, but you need to think about if you’re gonna need that keeper for something in the game. If the answer is yes you want to try and look for other ways to get rid of their five drop. The exact same situation comes up a lot with Equality, which you almost always need to save for Ysera or some threat that your other removal cannot touch. I have blown a game or two by using cards on the wrong targets.
It was very hard to pick five cards out of the entire list to focus on. As such, the following cards are the ones that I thought brought a certain uniqueness to the deck and allowed it to play in the way that it does.
Seal of Light
Seal of Light is not a card that you think of when discussing Paladin. However, it does some serious work in this list. As everyone knows, turn two is the most important turn in the game right now. You either need to get something down or play some sort of removal spell to avoid being crushed under the tempo and board control decks that are roaming the ladder. In a deck that runs a bunch of single cards, Seal of Light is your turn two removal spell. This allows you to kill many minions that Paladin cannot answer like a coined Knife Juggler or Mad Scientist. Not only that, but most decks also understand that Paladin is not a class that can kill off two drops. That means they will play into this card more often than not.
Another important note is, one of the underlying themes of this list is healing. You want to be able to keep your life total up while also pushing forward on the board. Your sticky minions and board presence will allow you to fight with most slow decks in the game, and the extra healing will break open the aggro of midrange matchups. Never be afraid to just use this card for four healing when you are in danger of dying. The attack is almost secondary during the middle and later stages of the game.
While this card may seem a little strange to run in a midrange style list like this one, I do believe it is necessary. As stated above, when running a bunch of single cards you want to be able to hedge your bets. The case here, for instance, is dealing with swarms of minions. Paladin is rampant all across the ladder, and Hunter is a close second. Both of those decks love filling up the board and applying tons of pressure. Knife Juggler, Consecration and Muster for Battle are the way you typically deal with that as Paladin. However, you only get one of each of those cards, which means you need another option. Wild Pyromancer works great in that slot. I would almost view this as an Acidic Swamp Ooze. It is a tech cards of sorts that you can also run out in the early game to keep board presence.
This card is also a good show of the versatility I was talking about. Wild Pyromancer is a card that is commonly used to take out the small minions running around the game. However, it can also be comboed with Equality for a complete board wipe. That comes up much less in this deck than in traditional Paladin Control because of your board presence, but it is a good fail safe to have. When playing against Control you typically want to save this card for that situation, unless you need to apply pressure or want to just put something down.
Justicar Trueheart is one of your three finishers in this list (the others being Reno Jackson and Tirion Fordring). However, I wanted to discuss her specifically because sometimes it can be difficult to see why she is so strong in that role. Due to the large amount of healing in this list, many games you will simply clear the board and plan to go into the long game. While Paladin does not mind going long, most Midrange lists only run one or two big threats. If those threats get answered then, due to the lack of burst, it becomes difficult to win. Justicar fixes that by allowing you keep up the pressure. For those of you who don’t know, Justicar’s ability makes it so you can power out two Silver Hand Recruits a turn instead of one. That gives you a lot of board presence for two mana that is great at forcing AOE from Control or for clogging up the board against aggro.
While strong on its own, Justicar’s ability is also strong because of the way Paladin is built. You should always remember that your opponent will not know you are playing a “one-of” deck until you play Reno Jackson. As such, you can threaten them to make a lot of suboptimal plays by filling the board with 1/1’s. I have had more than one game where a Control Warrior opponent used a Brawl to clear out a bunch of Silver Hand Recruits because Quartermaster would have been lethal. That then allowed me to dump out my cards the following turn. Sure I didn’t have another Quartermaster in my deck, but my opponent didn’t know that. Those type of mind games are super important when piloting this list. It is easy to just only play like you have one of each card (because you do) but always be aware that your opponent will not know your deck, which gives you a huge advantage.
It wouldn’t be a Reno Jackson deck if I didn’t talk about the man himself. This ability is so strong that the card literally altered the entire build of the deck. The biggest part of playing with Reno Jackson is understanding his role. At his base, you use him as an amazing catch up card that allows you not to die. However, he is also going to have a very specific role when going against aggro and when going against control. Against aggro you want to play him whenever you drop down to around ten life or when you are facing lethal next turn (your opponent needing to have Kill Command or Fireball also counts as facing lethal). Use him then, and try not to get greedy. There is no reason to die to a surprise double Quick Shot because you wanted to heal for 28 health instead of 18.
Though it may seem surprising, but Reno may actually be even better against control than he is against aggro. You have a lot of tools in this list, ranging from heal to taunts, that help you stop most of aggro’s early pushes. However, Control does have the ability to grind you all the way to fatigue. That is where Reno Jackson truly shines. In fatigue healing all the way up to thirty is an amazing thing. In my experience that play will usually lead to a concession very quickly. You don’t always have to save Reno that long when playing against control, but if you are running low on threats and you feel the game is headed in that direction you should keep him as long as possible.
Once again, surprise comes into the picture. I always discuss how powerful surprise is in card games, and that is never going to change. Running something that people don’t see coming is a great way to win games you would normally lose. Molten Giants are the only two-ofs in the list, and they play a very interesting and pivotal role here. The giant is not a card that anyone (and I mean anyone) expects Paladin to have. That means you are going to get them for free in many matchups, and no one is going to accurately play around them. This is especially true against aggro, where they are the strongest due to Sunfury Protector and Defender of Argus. Free 8/8’s in a midrange list is a great deal, and being able to play both of them and then instantly heal back up is the way you are going to win a lot of games. Always be aware of sequencing (play them before healing) and if you have both, only play one when going up against control in case of mass AOE.
How is this matchup? None of your business! Seriously though, it’s annoying. I would place this at about 50/50 with a lot of that depending on the way the game starts. While you have a lot of catch-up cards, Secret Paladin is racing towards turn six. Because of this, you are going to be trying to disrupt them as much as you can while they try to play Mysterious Challenger onto a large board. This is a game where a curve is the only thing that matters. Due to the way their deck is structured, Paladin’s will always have something to play on turns one through four. That may be different secrets, Muster for Battle, Piloted Shredder or Blessing of Kings, but be aware they are going to be constantly adding to the board. Missing a turn is not an option. Even if you have to just put down a Sunfury Protector to get something going, you should. This will let you fight with them through the early turns, which can get you to the later game, where you are heavily favored.
Equality is very, very strong here. So are Big Game Hunter and Aldor Peacekeeper. You always want a way to deal with Secret’s big minions. They only run three in Mysterious Challenger, Dr. Boom and Tirion Fordring. If you get rid of those cards Secret begins to run out of steam very, very quickly. Tirion is the most problematic card, and you should always save your Ironbeak Owl for him if you can. Blessing of Kings is less of a worry because it is usually used to trade, especially in board control battle like this one. Though, if you are falling behind keep it in your mind because it can lead to lethal if you aren’t prepared/
Fast decks will always be apart of Hearthstone, and Aggro Druid is a testament to that. While I thought the deck was going to die down, it seems to just be getting more and more popular. I am not entirely sure why that is, but this is a matchup where you can pretty much coast. The Molten Giants/taunts present huge problems for Druid, as do your numerous heals. Their only way to fight through taunts are Keeper of the Grove or sometimes a large Swipe. Beyond that, they are have to get through with minion combat. Once you recognize that your opponent is Aggro Druid, you want to try and bait out those keepers during the middle of the game. This will then open up the door for Tirion Fordring. The biggest problem card here is Fel Reaver. On turn five or so you always want to be able to deal with an 8/8. That can be from trading on the board or from a removal option (Aldor Peacekeeper works best). Beyond that, just always be aware of their combo potential and kill all of their minions to prevent huge bursts of damage
This is most often going to be a fatigue game. Control Warrior is a deck that is running less and less threats, only caring about staying alive and their combo. However, as stated above, Reno Jackson completely ruins all of their plans. Though, you almost always want to heal with some other card after Alexstrasza comes down. That will keep you out of range of Grommash Hellscream, and also let you save the legendary explorer for fatigue, which is where he is the most important. You want to try and control the board as best as you can, slowly working them out of removal and baiting out Brawl with a bunch of small junk minions.
Your biggest advantage in this matchup is your sticky minions and hero power. Unless you get a very, very fast start you are not going to rush them down. That means you don’t need to care about armor. They are going to have a bunch of life, but it will not matter if you head into fatigue ahead in cards and with Reno Jackson in hand. That is how you are most often going to win this game. Warrior often can gain so much armor that they cannot lose fatigue. The difference here is Justicar Trueheart. While Warrior runs a good amount of spot removal, they have no real way of striking back against a board growing at two minions a turn. Just keep making small minions, heal when you start getting low, and you should be able to outpace them at their own game.
All Hunters these days are choosing different weapons to wage war with, but they all have one thing in common: they all love to be aggressive. That is both good and very scary for this list. You never want to get comfortable against Hunter, which means you always need to healing out of burn range or putting down as many taunts as you can. Molten Giants are really powerful here, but even huge taunts cannot stop their hero power, Quick Shot and Kill Command. Savannah Highmane is the hardest card to deal with. You should use Ironbeak Owl on it as soon as it comes down, but Aldor Peacekeeper also does a nice job of keeping it in check.
A big part of playing Hunter is getting aggressive. While you do need to be careful with your life total, you also need to attack them. Even if you heal up, Hunter can just wear you down with their hero power. That can lead to losses. You want to strike them every opportunity that you can and start pushing for lethal of your own once you get board presence. You may be inclined to clear their 2/1 or the like, but sometimes pushing through five, six or seven damage is just better. This is the only matchup where Reno Jackson will end the game on the spot. Never hesitate to play him if you think your life total is getting too low.
I said this last week and I will say it again, I love that Warlock has made a comeback on ladder (like Rogue is about to). When fighting Zoo you want to play the control game. Zoo runs one of two big minions (usually Doomguard and Dr. Boom) and then rest of their cards are small and focused on board control. That means the longer the game goes the better chance you have of winning. As such, just clear, clear and clear some more. You have no problem waiting Zoo out, and you have the tools to do so. Even beyond your healing, Zoo is a deck that depends on minions to clear out taunts, which means Defender of Argus and Sunfury Protector are always going to be live.
You want to be proactive when playing against Zoo. While there lone Haunted Creeper may not seem threatening, it is better to just clear it (and the spiders that come after) if you can. This will prevent your opponent from buffing it and then trading up into some big minion. Control is the name of the game here, but you also want to understand what Zoo is attempting to do. They are a deck that lives off of board and does very poorly against swarms or sticky minions. You have both of those, and you should always try and leverage that when you can. Once you clear Zoo’s board it is very hard to come back, especially when your haymakers start coming down.
As covered in the video, you want to mulligan to your curve more than individual cards. While I usually cover “must keeps”, this time around I am going to only really look at the “never keeps”. Those are any card that costs higher than five, Big Game Hunter, Equality, Defender of Argus and Murloc Knight. All of those cards are later game cards, and keeping them early on puts you at risk for sacrificing the curve you so desperately need. You want to basically be looking for all of your other cards the rest of the time, with a huge priority on your two drops.
The only real exception to the “higher than five” rule is Reno Jackson, who can be kept against aggressive decks along with an outstanding curve and the coin. Aldor Peacekeeper should only be kept against Druid (since it can answer huge threats) and you should only keep Consecration against aggressive swarm decks like Hunter and Paladin.
Reno Jackson is one of the coolest cards ever released for Hearthstone, and this deck is a testament to that. I just love when original lists come around. This is a cool look at some of the true innovation Hearthstone has, and a testament to the power we will see as LOE is released. Until then, I hope you all have a good Thanksgiving, and may you always heal back to full health.