Weekly Legends: Reno Rogue

Note: There will be no video this week. Sorry for the inconvenience guys. Recordings will return with next week’s episode. Sometimes on Weekly Legends we have fun. A lot of fun. While this series is solely dedicated to legend decks, sometimes competitive decks can be silly as well. That is not to say that today’s […]

Note: There will be no video this week. Sorry for the inconvenience guys. Recordings will return with next week’s episode.

Introduction

Sometimes on Weekly Legends we have fun. A lot of fun. While this series is solely dedicated to legend decks, sometimes competitive decks can be silly as well. That is not to say that today’s deck is necessarily silly, but rather that it has created some of the most fun I have ever had playing a deck in Hearthstone. You can quote me on that. This week’s list is Reno Rogue, an archetype that has been explored with some success in the past. While not overwhelmingly popular, the deck has had its moments and has proven to be successful for more than a few times. As a result, when I saw there was a new version that goYugiohPro had taken to legend, I knew I had to give it a try. And boy, is it fun.

Reno Rogue is a very interesting deck because it takes a lot of cool and under-used cards and blends them in a new way. Rogue has never typically been a control class but, like Hunter, it has a lot of control cards. However, unlike Hunter, Rogue has a lot of versatile and strong interactions that can help control the board and stall until you get you can assemble your win condition. As with most post-Whispers Reno Rogues, this version runs N’zoth, the Corruptor as its back-up win condition and way to end control matchups. While Reno Jackson is going to carry you against most aggro decks, N’zoth is very important at putting you out of reach of control. What makes this deck so fun is seeing the thousands of different interactions it has and then finding out how each one pieces together.

Key Cards

Preparation

Preparation is a very strong card that is extremely hard to use. The reason for that is two-fold. One, you don’t run that many spells in a curve-oriented deck like this one and two, decks like this don’t typically run Prep. The free spell can do a lot of work, but you want to use it much more like a tempo play more than anything else. In fact, you are only going to use this card as a psuedo Innervate, where you need to both add to the board and remove something in the same turn. It can be also used with two spells, but that is much less likely in a deck like this. Normally, you always want to think about your cheap spells while this card is in your hand and see how they pair with certain minions. For example, while you usually wouldn’t try and play something with your Azure Drake, getting to also remove an enemy minion with Eviscerate or Shadow Strike in the vein of Miracle Rogue can be a good way to advance your board.

This deck is technically a control deck, but it thrives off of tempo. Any deck that wants to use Reno Jackson or stall until N’zoth, the Corruptor is going to be a slow deck. Though, you should not let that fool you. You have a very powerful curve and can easily push for early lethal or pressure if you get the chance. Preparation helps with this by giving you free ways to remove your opponent’s minions and play your own threats. Even one strong minion combined with a free Sap can give you enough of a swing to take over the priority and never give it back. Pushing for lethal is not going to be your first option, but if you are closing in you shouldn’t hesitate to go for a big free spell play and dare your opponent to have an answer.

Shadowstep

While this deck runs a lot of interesting and powerful threats, this card is your actual win condition. The reason that Reno Rogue is so strong and has so many advantages over other Reno builds is its ability to play one minion multiple times. While there are some strong battlecry minions that can help you out in a pinch, being able to play Reno Jackson or N’zoth, the Corruptor twice in one game really takes this deck over the top. Unless you need to use this card early to get game-ending (or saving) value, you absolutely want to keep it for one of the two mentioned cards. Very few decks depend on battlecries to win their games, but this deck has two different avenues to victory that both get stronger when they can be played twice. The tricky thing is knowing when and how to use each one.

The way you want to use Shadowstep largely depends on the matchup. Against aggro, where health is the only thing that matters, you need to play Reno Jackson twice. Being able to heal up more than once against things like Zoo, Hunter and Shaman is almost always going to end the game. In fact, this is so important that you typically want to use Shadowstep on Reno right away to prevent your opponents from killing him. Most aggro decks have enough resiliency and burst to push past one heal. As such, losing Reno on board without bringing him back leads to losses. On the other hand, you want to try and bring back N’zoth twice when facing down control. One Reno is going to be more than enough when fighting things like Warrior or Paladin, but one N’zoth won’t be. They are almost always going to be ready for the Old God, but they will not have the resources to deal with him a second time. As with Reno, bring him back to your hand right after using him to save him from any AOE that could be in their hand.

Xaril, Poisoned Mind

Xaril, Poisoned Mind is perhaps the most interesting deathrattle minion in this deck. While most of the other cards you run are going to do one linear thing such as bringing back a minion or netting you a card, this gives you many more options. Xaril can give you a second Shadowstep, three damage, a stealthed minion, card draw or two damage. Each of those options can be very useful depending on the matchup and game state. Stealth is usually going to be the worst of the options, but it can come in handy in some games by locking down a giant minion to threaten lethal or save it for a next turn attack/Shadowstep. Buffing attack and two damage is a very good way to find lethal or trade up into a minion. However, what really makes Xaril good is the ability to give you a third Shadowstep. Playing Reno and N’zoth is always going to be strong, but having them a third time is always going to be the game against everything you ever face. An important note about Xaril is to always be familiar with the toxins he can give you. There are some games where you are going to need either damage or some other out. While it is easy to ignore the four drop you should always remember sometimes rolling the dice on him can be the best option, especially if you can kill him the same turn he comes down.

 

Gadgetzan Auctioneer

While this may seem like an odd inclusion, everyone’s (least) favorite goblin actually plays a very key role in this deck. It may be hard to see at first glance, but this deck runs very low on cards very quickly. On one hand you are a Reno Jackson-based deck, meaning that you are going to have turns where you pass or do nothing significant. However, as mentioned above, you are also a deck that loves to play a tight curve and many minions. That means you are typically going to be playing at least one card a turn, which then is going to run you low on hand count. Gadgetzan Auctioneer gives you a way to offset any card loss and can be instrumental in drawing you towards clutch damage, healing or either of your two finishers in a pinch. While this card seems superfluous, it’s not.

Though it may not have the ability to go all-in as it does in Miracle Rogue, Gadgetzan Auctioneer it still is a must-kill threat that you can use to draw a full hand. You still have Preparation and more than a few cheap spells to go off when needed. Another important point of the playing the goblin is that there is no reason to simply run it out on turn six. You have a good number of strong midrange plays that are all going to contribute more to the board than the 4/4. Typically this card is used like a late game Acolyte of Pain, where you refill your hand if it gets too low. Having ten mana to play with Auctioneer out means you are going to draw quite a bit of cards, or at least find the card you need. The best time to use this is when you need a specific answer before a specific turn, such as getting Reno the turn before Shaman sets up lethal or netting N’zoth so you can play it before your opponents do. The goblin searches for silver bullets and should be used accordingly.

N’zoth, the Corruptor

Reno Jackson may be the namesake, but N’zoth, the Corruptor is what makes this deck so strong. It gives you a big game-ending card that can just lock down a board, threaten lethal or annihilate control in the right situation. The most important aspect of N’zoth, the Corruptor is to not get caught up in his ability. A 5/7 is very good on its own, and a 5/7 that also comes with one, two or three deathrattle minions is a very strong, very real threat. Many times people will get stuck on a card’s ability, looking at what it can do in the right situation. However, that is not how you need to look at the Old God. He is a 5/7 and sometimes that is fine to play on its own if the board is empty and you are ahead.

When playing control you are absolutely going to wait to go all in as long as you can (or until you have Shadowstep), you do not always have to try and get every deathrattle minion to die before dropping the 5/7. Typically, you just want to play the Old God on an empty board. While that is not always going to fill up your spots, getting back just one or two deathrattle minions on top of a 5/7 will lock down the board completely, essentially winning you the game. Today’s game is board-oriented, meaning that anytime you can make such an overwhelming one-sided play you should. There are almost no decks short of heavy control that are going to have the tools to come back from that. Holding back on this card may seem like a good play, but there are many matchups where it will actually lose you the game.

Matchups

The five decks that I see the most on the ladder.

Aggro Shaman

It is hard to know what is the most popular deck these days, but Aggro Shaman is close to the top. This deck still continues its reign across the meta, and that is both good and bad for you. On one hand, it is very hard to lose this matchup if you have the right hand, but you can get crushed if you start out too slow. This version of Reno Rogue runs a lot more early game than other builds, meaning you have a good chance at challenging Shaman even when you don’t draw the proper removal. Here you just want to be the control deck through and through. This whole game is going to be about clearing everything your opponent plays and preventing them from stacking up damage.

This game is going to come down to two cards from either side of the board: Reno Jackson and Doomhammer. In the first vein, Reno is a card that will win this game almost all of the time. You usually are going to need him as soon as turn six, but sometimes you may be at a higher health. If that is the case you may want to risk waiting on Reno a turn to bait out another burn spell or charge minion. Doohammer is a problem because it changes how the game is played. You are not going to be able to race the weapon and if you don’t have a way to deal with it you need to be aggressive and push for damage fast.

Note: While hard removal is very strong, Sap is one of your best tools here. A lot of Shaman’s minions, such as Flamewreathed Faceless, need a turn to get value. Bouncing them back can really stall your opponent and buy you some key turns to add to your board.

Zoo

While the resurgence of Warrior has really diminished Zoo’s overall power level, it is still one of the most popular decks around. This is by far your hardest matchup for two reasons. One, Zoo has a lot of very strong threats, reliable card draw and some of the best burst around. Two, they do not care about Reno Jackson like other aggro decks. When playing Reno here, unless you have no choice, you want to save him for after you have stabilized. Zoo can always flood the board, even if it seems like they can’t. In addition, they also run a lot of burst. That can be problematic because even if you play Reno you can still be dead in two turns. A 4/6 is not going to slow Zoo down at all and a competent player is just going to push hard to your face. In this way, you want the explorer to be a trump card rather than your savior.

You are always better off using removal than playing a minion in this match. This is because you need to shut down Zoo’s minions to severely limit just how much damage they can do. Soulfire, Power Overwhelming, Doomguard and Leeroy Jenkins are all very popular these days. Those cards will kill you out of nowhere if you aren’t careful. Always keep them in mind when deciding if you need to push or trade. Also note that you lack any real AOE, meaning the only way to get ahead in this matchup is by getting a minion down on an empty board. This helps you keep priority and control the trades as the game goes long. It is very easy to fall behind against Zoo and once that happens you are never going to be able to come back.

Control Warrior

In a strange turn, Control Warrior has come out of nowhere to take the meta by storm. It is a very strong deck that matches up very well against most of the current meta. However, it matches up very, very poorly against you. This is a game that, due to your strong, resilient minions and efficient curve, you will almost never lose. The way you play this is how you play any other control vs. control matchup, wear them down and run them low on cards before setting up a huge turn. Warrior has some very strong removal options, which they depend on to pace the game and keep up with their opponents. Your large mass of deathrattle minions really stretch that thin and will wear your opponent down on cards as the game progresses. This is a game you typically want to take the driver’s seat, run out cards and see if your opponent has the right answers.

By far the most important card in this matchup is N’zoth, the Corruptor, which you never want to play without Shadowstep. Any good Warrior is going to key in very early on that you’re a deathrattle deck. This means they are going to save one Brawl for N’zoth. However, it is very rare they are going to save their second. There are two parts to playing the Old God as your win condition and each is essential for winning the game. First, you always want to bait out one (or two) Brawl during the middle game, which will really help out your finisher and run your opponent out of save cards. Two, you never want to play N’zoth unless you can bring it back to your hand in the exact same turn. One N’zoth can and will be beat by most Warriors, but getting two is almost always going to lead to a win. Whether it comes from Xaril, Poisoned Mind or Shadowstep, you have to be able to get N’zoth on the board more than once. While you have other tools, they aren’t going to be enough to stack up against Control Warrior.

Miracle Rogue

A very strong combo deck, Miracle Rogue still has its chops even after all these years. The Rogue deck does what it always does, which is kill you in one turn of huge burst, and it does it very well. In order to combat that you have to be the aggressor. While Reno Jackson can usually buy you some extra time, it is going to fall flat a lot as you succumb to a huge push the following turn. Rather than trying to play control and letting Miracle slowly settle into their combo, you need to bring the heat as much as you can. While you are not a deck that has a lot of early damage, you do have a strong curve and low-cost minions which can cause your opponent to panic and make inopportune plays. Even one three or four attack minion can really put Miracle Rogue on the back foot. It is also important to clear all of Rogue’s minions when you can. Stacking damage is never going to be the wrong move, but Rogue thrives off of its minions and depends on getting something to stick to win the game. They no longer run charge minions, relying on Conceal instead, so you should always be fine on life if you make sure they don’t get any minions down.

Midrange Hunter

Out of every deck on this list, Midrange Hunter is one of the hardest to play around. The problem with facing Hunter is that, while you may think they are a midrange deck, they are actually much more aggressive than they first seem. This is important to note because while you are busy trying to clear their beasts and keep track of their various minions, you are going to fall into Kill Command range very, very quickly. There are a ton of cards in Hunter’s deck that do a lot of damage, and you need to always be aware of what those are, especially as the game progresses on. Their hero power is strong, Quick Shot is great and all of their resilient minions just add pressure. You win this game by anticipating that burst, which will tell you when to clear and when to use Reno. Being one turn late in this matchup is a disaster, so you always want to keep track of your opponent’s damage potential.

As with Zoo, this is a game where you need to get the board as fast as you can. Beyond damage, one of the biggest things about facing Hunter is knowing just how many ways they can clear. Deadly Shot and Hunter’s Mark are two of the most well know, but they also can use Kill Command, Eaglehorn Bow, Unleash the Hounds and Quick Shot to play to the tempo game. All of those can ruin your curve in the right situations. Even so, you want to force your opponent to use those spells on your board, which will greatly take the pressure off of your face as the game goes on.

Mulligan Guide

Mulliganing with a Reno deck is always going to be strange. The reason for that is any card you get rid of you are going to have a small chance of getting back. Unlike normal decks where you run two-ofs, this deck is going to have a very small chance of getting that one tech card or key spell. For this reason if there is a card you absolutely think you will need then you should keep it. As Reno decks are so volatile, you need to just look for any curve you can get and throw anything else back. Buy low, sell high rules this deck. You need a good curve to be able to win games, and sticking to it, with or without the coin, is very important. The only exception to that rule is Reno Jackson. Though you don’t always want to take the explorer, you do want him against every single aggro deck you face.

Conclusion

Wow, what a cool deck. Despite the lack of video (sorry about that guys) I think this is one fun deck to play. Reno decks are always a good time, especially ones that are in fringe classes. Rogue is a class that is usually stuck to one archetype so breaking that out of its shell was an interesting experience. I hope you enjoy the strange decks as much as I do, and I hope things are well for all of you. Until next week, may you always Shadowstep your finishers.