This season sees rise to a new beast: N’Zoth Renolock. This deck was piloted by Fr0zen, who came second at Dreamhack Sweden. He credits Hoej, another professional player, with the creation of the list. However, it was Fr0zen who piloted it, and managed to reach rank one legend this season.
The model for this deck is the popular Renolock decks from before Whispers launched. Since Standard hit, Renolock has fallen out of favour. This is largely due to losing Antique Healbot and Sludge Belcher, while Molten Giant was nerfed as well. However, Hoej and Fr0zen have made the new list work quite effectively. They filled the gaps with newer cards like Infested Tauren and old favourites like Harvest Golem. What these cards lack in value is made up when N’Zoth hits the field and they are reborn.
Everyone is likely aware that Renolock is an old deck at this point. However, the N’Zoth adaption is entirely new. The old Renolock deck had quite a few gaps between Standard and nerfs. This made N’Zoth a perfect filler, as he brings with him quite a few deathrattle minions.
Renolock is quite good at dealing with aggressive decks. This variant in particular has a lot of board clears as well as healing. Using Demonwrath, Hellfire, and Doomsayer, it is easy to stave off aggressive decks. In fact, this deck has twelve cards that cost three or less, making it very strong early. However, it doesn’t lose any of Renolock’s normal end game strength. Between Jaraxxus and N’Zoth, this is one of the strongest decks if the game goes long. Not to mention Reno Jackson to fully heal you when you need it.
Stampeding Kodo is probably the most unusual tech choice in this deck. However, in the current meta it makes quite a bit of sense. Some of the strongest cards are running 2/4 statlines, like Flamewaker or Imp Gang Boss. It also deals with Acolyte of Pain extremely well. Even against decks like Aggro Shaman it can kill Feral Spirits or Tunnel Trogg, while making a large body. There aren’t too many matchups where it will end up as a dead card. It also works quite well with the plentiful low drops this deck runs.
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Beating the Meta
So why does this deck do well at the moment? Well, according to the top tier lists, the strongest decks at the moment are Shaman and Control Warrior. This deck is highly teched against aggro, making it fairly strong against Shaman. You also win nearly every time you draw Reno, unless the game has been completely one sided. It’s actually harder to beat Midrange Shaman, due to your lack of direct removal. However, Aggro Shaman is far more common, and Midrange Shaman still isn’t an auto-loss, it’s just harder.
Where this deck truly shines, however, is against Warrior. Renolock against Control Warrior is 80-20 in favour of Renolock, due entirely to Jaraxxus. Control Warrior often plans to go into fatigue, making use of their strong hero power. However, if you are able to get Jaraxxus out, he provides more value than any other card. You will have to be wary of a sneaky Grommash killing you just after Jaraxxus. However, if you can avoid that, you simply create a stream of 6/6s. Warriors have strong removal, but they don’t have anything they can do against a steady stream of massive minions. With how common Control Warrior is at the moment, this deck is perfect for countering the meta.
This deck is fairly strong against both aggro and control decks. It has a lot of early game cards and healing to deal with fast aggressive decks. Reno Jackson himself is an incredible card against most aggressive decks. It also has a couple of incredibly strong late game cards to beat down the Control Warriors roaming around.
Where this deck struggles is Midrange decks. This deck is good at cheap removal and combating the board. It’s also good at late game extended battles. However, it doesn’t have particularly good ways of clearing midrange minions every turn. Midrange Hunter in particular is strong against this deck, making use of Savanah Highmane and Call of the Wild. In these matchups you’ll want to try and get board control and simply overpower your opponent. If you are able to trade minions for an extended period, N’Zoth becomes a great way to finish the game.
Level of Difficulty
This is one of the hardest decks to pilot perfectly. This is largely due to the health management you will have to deal with every turn. Knowing when you can safely Life Tap and when you need to heal is game changing. You also need to always know your opponent’s deck to know if he can burst you down before you play Reno. This deck also struggles with cards in hand. Because of the low deck cost, you will often want to flood the board. However, you are also running Twilight Drake and Mountain Giant, which favour full hands. Knowing when you need to play your minions versus holding them is very important.
The potential behind this deck is incredible. The Life Tap hero power simply enables so many amazing things. Reno only compounds on what you can do when you can manipulate your health total so easily. Fr0zen showed the clear power of this deck by reaching rank one legend with it. Hopefully this signals the return of Renolock, as it was one of my favourite decks of the past. And who doesn’t love a good N’Zoth?