So recently I’ve felt the urge to roleplay as Brian “Brian Kibler” Kibler and play Reno Dragon Mage to legend. Luckily for me, it turns out that the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion has actually made the deck not only viable, but also extremely strong!
Arcane Blast : All around cheap removal which can get extra value with spellpower. Vastly preferable to other cheap removal such as RNG Arcane Missles or Forbidden Torch which can be clunky to play.
Babbling Book : Surprisingly enough, Babbling book has almost 0 dead draws with this decklist. Even Shatter is great because I run both Frost Nova and Blizzard. The 1/1 body is significant against Pirates as well.
Acidic Swamp Ooze : With Pirates dominating the meta weapon hate is almost mandatory on ladder. This used to be a Manic Soulcaster, but if I wanted a greedier list i’d probably run something like Ragnaros.
Bloodmage Thalnos : Spellpower synergy + card draw. Don’t get greedy for Spellpower with this.
Doomsayer : Aggro hate: no longer as reliable as before, but healing for 7 isn’t the worst. Unlike Renolock, this card still has value in control matchups because it can be comboed with Frost Nova or Blizzard.
Frostbolt : Flexible removal.
Netherspite Historian : Interestingly enough, I wouldn’t recommend keeping this in your opening hand against aggro. You generally want to mulligan for AoE removal, Kazakus/Reno Jackson. Historian is only really worth a keep if you already have Twilight Guardian in hand and have a 3 drop like Volcanic Potion.
Arcane Intellect : Bread and butter card draw for Mage
Brann Bronzebeard : A value generator which can be tempoed out against aggro. Best comboed with pseudo card draw like Kazakus or Netherspite Historian, but can be reasonably played with traditional card draw such as Azure Drake or Wrathion.
Forgotten Torch : A flexible removal spell which gives you a cheap fireball.
Frost Nova : Reno Jackson can sometimes be clunky to play because it eats up your whole turn. Frost Nova has plenty of chances to be used, be it delaying the game versus aggro or buying you a swing turn on 9 with Reno Jackson.
Ice Block : Renolock often has to be afraid of dropping too low for getting bursted to death at around 14 health. Ice Block is extremely strong right now because it eats up non-recyclable spell damage like Lava Burst and Lightning Bolt and lets you maximize Reno Jackson Value.
Volcanic Potion : Like Demon Wrath except better. A keep against aggro decks.
Fireball : Flexible removal spell or burst.
Kazakus : In this deck it’s often correct to take a 10 mana spell, if only because Inkmaster Solia lets you play it on 7. It’s often correct to take the 5 mana one if you’re against an aggro deck and you need on curve AoE. If taking a 10 to play with Solia, it’s better to avoid taking board clears since you’ll kill off/polymorph your own Solia. However, if the matchup necessitates it don’t hesitate to kill of your own Solia with Polymorph/Aoe.
Polymorph : Helps to deal with big stuff, like Giants, Twilight Drakes, Ragnaros, Flamewreathed Faceless and Yseras. One of the few answers to Giant Vancleef.
Twilight Drake : Don’t get too greedy with this card. It’s often correct to play this down on turn 4 even if it’s just a 4/5.
Twilight Guardian : Helps to beat aggro and an all around decent body. One of the best cards to pull from Netherspite Historian.
Azure Drake : Card draw, spellpower and a dragon combined in one. Yum.
Blackwing Corruptor : Pretty much an auto include tempo swinger. Has some synergy with Brann but often materializes too late in the game to combo. Usually better to play Brann for Value that late in the game and Corruptor is much better as a midgame tempo card.
Blizzard : A more expensive Frost Nova which helps to bring some annoying 5/6 health minions down to size for flamestrike.
Bookwyrm : A dragon which which has some really good targets in this particular meta. Things like opposing Twilight Guardians, Brann Bronzebeard. I wouldn’t get greedy for hitting a Twilight Guardian unless playing against Dragon Priest.
Reno Jackson : What’s a Reno deck without Reno Jackson? Keep this in your opening hand against aggro.
Wrathion : A surprisingly good card. 4/5 Taunt + draw a card is borderline playable for 6 mana. Drawing a single card would put this card’s value at roughly 5.5 mana (4/5 body is worth 4 Mana, card draw valued at 1 mana and Taunt valued at 0.5). It isn’t uncommon to draw 2 cards with this which makes it pretty good. Taunt is also extremely important in this meta because of all the aggro decks running around.
Chillmaw : A big dragon. Has taunt, helps you stabilize and keep the board clear if you played Reno Jackson on 6 but haven’t managed to find a way to take back the board.
Firelands Portal : Extremely strong tempo play with Inkmaster Solia, summoning two 5-drop bodies while removing a minion for 7 mana can win you games.
Flamestrike : Another extremely strong play with Inkmaster Solia, allows you to take back the board and turns Flamestrike from a slow card into a fast card.
Inkmaster Solia : An all around very flexible card when you take into account the power of Kazakus potions. You can pull off crazy combos like Inkmaster Solia-> Ressurection Potion+ Summon 8/8 -> Frost nova, which actually gives you win conditions against Jade Druid decks and their infinite value.
Alexstraza: Surprisingly good in this meta. A secondary heal against aggro (sometimes Reno Jackson isn’t enough). Also a big dragon. If you manage to keep a board against your opponent at any point in the game, Alexstraza sometimes presents immediate lethal. Able to nullify the Reno Jackson of opposing decks. Extremely potent if you have yet to play Roaring Torch and Fireball.
Deathwing: Deathwing is a death sentence against Rogue. Because this deck runs a couple of big minions, it’s possible to bait out hard removal like Hex from midrange shaman before slamming this down. It’s a secondary win condition against Jade decks, though you’d likely have to win within 1-2 turns of playing this against them.
General Strategy and Mulligan
Generally speaking, you’re looking for early drops, card cycle, cheap removal such as Volcanic Potion and Arcane Blast, as well as Reno Jackson and Kazakus. You’re greedier than almost any deck in the meta right now EXCEPT for Jade Decks, against which you need to play a tempo oriented game and try to swing/freeze the board while keeping minions up.
Jade Druid : A difficult matchup because of their infinite value. There are a couple of ways to win this
- You can smOrc them down by drawing a good curve
- Playing tempo freeze cards while keeping minions on board.
- Yolo Deathwing.
A small sample size, but overall feels like a bad matchup.
Reno Mage : Often comes down to who has the greedier list, or knows the matchup better.
Dragon Priest : Despite what my teammates say, I do believe it’s VERY possible to outgreed Dragon Priest. It comes down to them NOT having the Netherspite Historian – > Drakonid Operative infinite loop or getting too many good things from Netherspite Historian or Operative. Try not to draw TOO many cards as this will often go to fatigue.
Rogue : A good matchup. Ice Blocks ruins burst damage combos, and Rogue often runs on a limited damage source. Frost Nova + Doomsayer and Flamestrike are one of the best answers to concealed threats. Sap ruins Frostdoom combo. They usually draw themselves into fatigue pretty quickly if you can stem the bleeding. Deathwing is autoplay on 10 and usually autowin as well.
Aggro Shaman : A pretty good matchup. Much easier than Pirate Warrior because they rely a lot more on spell damage to close out games, which Ice Block ruins. Doomsayer is great, but only sticks about 50% of the time. Play Ooze liberally.
Mid Shaman : This matchup is way easier than Jade Druid because they have a FINITE number of Jade Golems. Count the number of Jades they have left in their deck and play Deathwing at the right time to win.
Renolock : An easy matchup. Ice Block ruins the Leeroy combo, while they often fatigue way faster than you. Some lists have begun to cut Jaraxxus and even if they do run it, they are often not prepared for Deathwing. They only have a maximum of 4 hard removal spells – Siphon Soul, Blastcrystal Potion, Twisting Nether and Sylvanas + PO/Shadowflame. Count their removal wisely and slap down Deathwing to win.
Pirate Warrior : A pretty similar matchup to aggro Shaman, but arguably more difficult because their minions are harder to deal with. Feels like a 40% matchup to me, but luckily they’re not that popular on ladder right now. Taunts are key in this matchup to block weapon damage. TRY to get greedy with Ooze to hit an Arcanite Reaper IF you can, but it’s never wrong to just play it on 2 to break Fiery Waraxe. Doomsayer is great, but don’t expect it to stick.
Dragon Warrior: Due to the slower nature of this deck it is a MUCH easier matchup. Try to avoid dropping below 15 because Polymorph is your only answer to Drakonid Crusher. Frothing Berserkers are a HUGE problem – Forgotten Torch is fantastic in this matchup because it hits both Frothings (with ping) and Korkron. Doomsayer is much better here than against Pirate Warrior.
Control Warrior: This matchup is pretty easy as most Control Warrior decks are teched heavily against aggro. You’re simply greedier than them and Ice Block ruins any chances of getting surprise killed by Grommmash Hellscream. Take it slow, but watch out for Varian Wrynn as he can create board states which you simply aren’t able to handle without Freeze Cards. If they play one threat at a time you can often match them card for card (or better) and Kazakus will end up winning you the value game.
I do believe that the Reno Mage archetype has a lot of potential for exploration, and if you’re looking for an interesting control deck to play on ladder this might just be the deck for you!