If it ain't broke...
This is the most recent version of an Anti-Aggro N'Zoth RenoLock that I piloted to Legend three seasons ago (S34) and have been using to hit Rank 5 in wild consistently ever since. This write up covers my experience climbing to Rank 5, so don't rely on this for insight into continuing the climb to Legend, though in my opinion you could feasibly run this deck all the way there.
I don't use a tracker, so don't have any official stats or winrates to share. It's at least a 50/50 against Pirate Warrior and Egg Druid and it does very well against control decks (though I barely see any these days). It's basically an auto-loss to Quest Rogue, but luckily haven't seen too much of that in Wild this season. If you're seeing a lot of Quest Rogue, would recommend switching to something like Egg Druid or Tempo Mage that can burn the Rogue down fast enough so that the quest doesn't matter.
So far in Season 37, these are differences I've seen climbing to Rank 5 that make this deck ideal:
- The control meta has shifted significantly. Last season, in any given 1-2 hour session, I was hitting the mirror, Reno Mage, Freeze Mage, Dragon Priest, N'Zoth Priest, Jade Druid and Mill Rogue. This season, most of those decks just aren't there anymore, which means your mulligans are more confident because you know what you're up against.
- More Priest. Quest Priest, Silence Priest and Lyra Priests are some of the only control decks I saw on my way to 5. This is great for this deck, because we can outvalue them or outdraw them into Jaraxxus and make it impossible to deal with our board.
- Pirate Warrior Bots. I saw a fair amount of these in previous seasons, but the new rank floors have solidified their presence on ladder, with more bots than I've ever seen before in Wild. This is good for us, because you can trick the bots into making bad plays. For example, sometimes playing a Brann Bronzebeard or other high-value minion will absorb face damage even when their best play is to go face. Add this to the fact that this deck is already tech'd very well against Aggro and you should sail through these matchups (though there will be a few frustrating losses here and there).
The simple strategy is stay alive. Control your opponent's board, don't get greedy, play taunts and heal when possible.
Rather than me writing a complex guide on how to play this, I recommend starting with Control's guide, as I based my initial run off his build, and he really deserves the credit for inspiring this incarnation. He breaks things down into Aggro / Control mulligans, and I don't think I could explain them better.
There isn't anything too novel here - since the Un'Goro launch I've simply swapped in Tar Creeper for Second-Rate Bruiser. It's a guaranteed taunt on 3 and the difference in power is insignificant as it's just meant to stop incoming damage.
For my initial trek to legend S34, I used Control's list that I linked above, but swapped out Loatheb and Piloted Shredder for Blastcrystal Potion and Refreshment Vendor, respectively. Following the Small-Time Buccaneer nerf, I replaced Vendor with Shredder as the meta had slowed just enough for Vendor's "9" heal to no longer be necessary. I'd still recommend swapping Vendor back in if you find yourself losing by just a few HP - sometimes 3 health is all that separates you from making it to Reno Jackson. But in general, I've found Shredder to be more flexible, especially with the the greater prevalence of Priest.
Keep in mind this deck is built to stall out Aggro decks. Some cards that seem very good, especially late-game cards, are just too slow or not ideal to play on curve when you're trying to survive.
- Dr. Boom: On 7, you want to be doing thinks like Brann + Kazakus, or playing Abyssal Enforcer to clear the board. Losing initiative with a 7/7 that the player will just ignore isn't worth it, and the 1/1 boomboots just come back with N'Zoth when you'd rather see your deathrattle taunts.
- Combo - Leeroy Jenkins, Power Overwhelming, and Faceless Manipulator: this isn't a Combo deck. For that reason, there's also no Soulfire or Dark Peddler in this build.
- Faceless Shambler: I love this card, but in an aggressive meta I rarely got a chance to get value from it.
- Sunfury Protector: I like Acidic Swamp Ooze as a 2-drop since it contests popular 1 drops like Northshire Cleric, Mana Wyrm and Tunnel Trogg. Also, Paladin, Warrior and Shaman all run weapons, so it buys you some life. Similar to Shambler, I found that I'd never have a big minion to pair with Protector until I was already winning, and if I'm dropping it on curve just to have board, Ooze was just better as it generally took a weapon with it.
- Ragnaros, Firelord: Pretty much the same as Boom. The random 8 damage isn't as useful when the opposing board is full of small minions.
Matchups / Mulligans
Aggro: The only thing you should keep in your hand that's above 4 mana is Reno Jackson. With coin, you keep Kazakus if you have no better options. You're looking for Mistress of Mixtures, Darkbomb, Doomsayer, Demonwrath, Mortal Coil, Tar Creeper, Deathlord, Dirty Rat, Earthen Ring Farseer, Imp Gang Boss.
Against Shaman or Pirate Warrior you can keep Shadow Bolt. You can keep Hellfire on coin or if you have some heals, but wouldn't recommend keeping it otherwise. Egg Druid is the hardest matchup here- try to clear their board as much as possible, they win when they can pull off a big Soul of the Forest or Evolving Spores.
With Kazakus, you generally won't have time to play 10-mana potions. Go for 1/5 AOE and armor. Rez is okay if you've only played a few taunts and/or Mistress.
Tempo (99%) Mage: Basically the same as Aggro. Save Mistress of Mixtures or Doomsayer if you think they're running Mirror Entity. If it's a Hemet Mage, build a wall and time your big heals so that they can't burn you down. Never play Jaraxxus unless it's the only heal you have and you would die otherwise.
Priest: You have more time in this matchup. Mountain Giant and Twilight Drake are both great here, it's rare that they can remove both back to back. Keep Darkbomb and Shadow Bolt to remove early-to-mid-game minions, like Azure Drake or Shifting Shade. Brann Bronzebeard and/or Kazakus are generally fine to keep here too. If you play on curve against most Priest builds, they eventually run out of ways to deal with your board and your threats. Look for value with Kazakus - rez and big demons or demons to your hand. Jaraxxus basically wins the game for you if you play it behind a taunt, on an open board, or after getting it discounted once with Emperor Thaurissan so you could slam a 6/6 at the same time.
Mirror: This match is also about value, but really comes down to who plays Twilight Drake or Mountain Giant first and/or who can't deal with those cards. If you keep Doomsayer, try to time it before their turn 4 to prevent them from playing one of these. Be prepared for Dirty Rat in response though. Generally the first person to play Jaraxxus wins, but be wary of combo. With Kazakus go for damage, big demons, and armor.
That's basically it. Hopefully this guide is useful to Rank 5'ers like myself, I'll try to answer your questions in the comments below.