Ah, Reno Warlock. A deck that has been on the verge of viability ever since the addition of its signature card, Reno Jackson. It’s never truly had its chance to take off, however, due to many metagame picks that have kept the deck largely out of the top tier of decks. Even as a tier 2 deck, as card games go, it’s simply not enough. With the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan however, Reno Warlock has definitely made another debut as a contender for one of the most powerful, consistent, and fun decks out of the current meta that is taking form in the new expansion. My name is Startale, and I’ll be guiding you through this short series on how to play Reno Warlock by going over card picks! I believe with this method you as a player will be able to fully understand the ins and outs of each card and in learning so, become a better player.
Just your typical matchup.
Reno Warlock definitely has a lot of ins and outs. One of the big questions that people seem to be confused on is why the deck seems to be so good. “Mass AoE!” they’ll say, “It has answers to everything!” others will say. “Reno and Kazakus!” others may cite. The truth is in fact much more simple. Life Tap. So let’s talk about it.
The true power of Life Tap is that it goes hand in hand with the idea of a Reno warlock. The inherent weakness of playing cards such as Kazakus and Reno make your deck very inconsistent, the ability to leverage Life Tap in search of answers more than makes up for having only one of each card. While more intrepid players may make it their mission to include one or two copies of key cards such as Hellfire or Siphon Soul, it only serves to lower your win rate in a meta where not having Reno be active can spell certain doom.
Another aspect of Reno Warlock that is debated time and time again is the decision of whether to run the 20 damage combo of Leeroy, Power Overwhelming, and Faceless Manipulator. This comes down to more of a flavor and preference debate, but chances are you’re looking to ladder with this kind of deck and gain ranks – there’s no better way to take advantage of more risk-averse, ignorant, or simply silly opponents than to slam their face for 20 damage on turn 8. Emperor Thaurissan is a must for this combo, however he only needs to use his effect on one of the three key cards in this combo. The downside to running this combo is that these are essentially dead cards in your hand until they become live and end the game promptly. While there is definitely utility in all 3 of these cards individually, using any one of them will defeat your entire combo before you even have a chance to use it. As a cautionary word of advice, only use combo pieces when you’re going to win the game with them or if you’re in dire straits and absolutely need an answer that one of these three cards provides.
Sometimes the combo just isn’t necessary.
I’d also like to take the time to make a quick point on one of the new cards that have been released in Mean Streets: Kazakus. Kazakus is one of the most powerful cards ever created in Hearthstone, allowing you to create an answer out of thin air to whatever your opponent is throwing at you. There is some added risk with not getting some of the effects that you want (armor doesn’t come up sometimes!), but it is still an amazing card. Need to clear board? Kazakus can do that. Need some tempo minions? No sweat. Need to assemble a huge board from nothing? There’s an app for that. Kazakus is simply an incredible card due to his power and versatility, two ideals which fit perfectly in the arsenal of Reno Warlock. In shorter games you can go ahead and play this card on curve and pick the 1 or 5 mana spell depending on what you need and how the game is going, and in longer games, you’ll definitely want to keep this card in your hand until you can combo it with Brann Bronzebeard to get two incredibly powerful 10 mana cards. Kazakus alone has the power to swing games on a dime and is absolutely a card that must be respected.
The final point is to not be afraid to “waste” resources, and this is especially true against aggro decks. You don’t need to play a perfect value game every time, and attempting to do so is futile at best and disastrous at worst. Sometimes it’s better to waste a combo piece and power overwhelm your Sylvanas to steal the enemy shaman’s 7/7. Sometimes it’s better to use a Felfire Potion when your opponent only has one creature on the board in order to leverage your future turns. Reno Warlock is all about strategy, and like any good commander, effective use of your resources can at times look counter-productive when in reality you are sealing off any win conditions your opponent may have.
Hail to the king, baby.
And that’s all for today. Next time I’ll go over another set of cards in the Reno arsenal and how you can best utilize them to victory. Enjoy your ladder!