Guys this is Dittolander, an arena main who always try to hit Legend within a few days of each month using completely original decks.
Past few days been having fun with my totally original Reno Shaman list and today I successfully hit Legend with a 61% winrate (43-28) from rank 5. Here're the stats:
Why play Reno Shaman?
1. Wish for 9 perfect cards in a game? Sign me up!
Zephrys the Great is arguably the most impactful card ever printed in the history of Hearthstone. This deck is built in a way to maximize Zephrys' power, by using tools to trigger its effect multiple times. Take a look at a game where Zephrys' effect was triggered 7 times and opponent conceded when I still had two more Zephrys in hand.
2. Counter the meta!
This month two decks have skyrocketed in popularity - Mech Handbuff Paladin and Egg Cubelock. Both of those decks are very strong by themselves and have a favorable matchup against the red-hot Secret Mage, dethroning the mighty Mage into only the fourth class in popularity.
Even Shaman has since risen in popularity to counter Handbuff Paladin and Cubelock, thanks to Shaman's access to the premium mass transform effect in Devolve. It can also maintain a 50-50 matchup against Secret Mage. But Even Shaman is boring. You don't feel any joy playing it, even though it is a good meta deck.
If there's ever a meta where Reno Shaman, a not-so-powerful-by-itself archetype could shine, this is it! It has favorable matchups against Secret Mage and Handbuff Paladin (thanks to the amount of healing and silence/transform effect Shaman has access to), as well as decent matchups against all popular warlock archetypes and Even Shaman. Against other Reno/control decks, we have the infinite Shudderwock package as an ultimate win condition.
3. Surprise your opponent!
All ladder players will mulligan for Even Shaman against you, which can sometimes make a difference.
When they see your hero power isn't discounted, they will think you are a Quest Shaman with boring Jades.
When they see you don't play a quest on turn one, they will think you are a Murloc Shaman with a bad opening hand.
Nowadays due to netdecking people always know opponent's full deck in the first two turns. Let's counter that!
4. Make the infinite Shudderwock happen!
Let's be honest: infinite Shudderwock is not needed for most of the games. You usually would have won/lost before a powerful Shudderwock is set up. But against other Reno/control decks, you can be mindful that you might need Shudderwock to go infinite. There are many ways in this deck to guarantee it will work, and you need to be smart to figure out how. When that actually happens, it is very satisfactory.
As far as I love this deck, writing a good guide takes time. It would be sad if my effort goes unnoticed. So if you want some guidance on piloting this deck, leave a +1 to let more people know!
Let's set up some milestones:
+5: Mulligan guide +10: Individual card explanation (i.e., why I include these cards but not others), as well as card replacements for players on a budget +20: Gameplay insights, interesting decisions
Here're some mulligan suggestions based on my laddering experience:
Card Explanation & Replacement
1. Why these cards?
Zephrys the Great: Even though this is called Reno Shaman, Zephrys totally steals the show. This deck is best equipped to witness his power!
Reno Jackson: In most matchups, Reno is the best sidekick of Zephrys. This safety measure will enable you to be greedy in bouncing back Zephrys instead of playing the perfect card immediately to solve the board. That's why he should be kept in mulligan even in control mirrors.
Shudderwock: One of the worst (or best) card ever printed, depending on which side you are on. One reason to play Reno Shaman. In this deck, though, no need to hold it dear for infinite combo in most matchups thanks to Zephrys' power. Usually just the ability to heal a lot is good enough to play it.
Brann Bronzebeard and Murmuring Elemental: usually used to double up Zephrys' Battlecry or combo with Zola to get multiple Zephrys/Reno. You will find the lower cost of Murmuring Elemental to be very handy. Sometimes useful to combo with Dirty Rat and Mind Control Tech.
Zola the Gorgon and Barista Lynchen: Used to copy any good battlecry minions - Reno, Zephrys, or even Glacial Shard for stall. Zola is more flexible but Lynchen is so much value. Not to mention Zola into Lynchen into everything. Those two will ensure we don't run out of steam. They can be part of infinite Shudderwock combo, too.
Devolve, Earth Shock, Plague of Murlocs, Hex: One reason Reno Shaman / Shaman in general is viable now. Counter the Handbuff Palys and Cubelocks and SNIP-SNAPs and Mech Hunters. Too bad Big Priest has fallen from grace.
Healing Rain: the most efficient healing card in the game.
Maelstrom Portal and Sandstorm Elemental: Small swing cards you'd like to see against aggro decks. Shaman's potential spell-damage totem and the deck's battlecry synergies raise the ceiling of both cards.
Doppelgangster: Infinite Shudderwock enabler. Saving your bounce effect on it will drastically improve the combo success rate.
Loatheb: Good mid-game oppression card that also makes Shudderwock stronger.
Jepetto Joybuzz: This deck is the perfect place for Joybuzz. He saved me multiple times by fishing out my bottom-decked Reno and Shudder. Those 1-cost battlecry minions works wonder with Grumble. 1-cost Grumble is also sweet.
2. Why not these cards?
Corrupt the Waters: You would think that with so many battlecry minions the quest would be worth it. But no. Starting the game with 1 less card is too much of a cost compared to the slight increase in our already-powerful late game. Plus, adding Lackey generators to help with quest would harm the power level of Shudderwock. If you do like the quest, I would suggest playing it in standard or in wild with Jades.
Hagatha the Witch: Unfortunately Hagatha is bad in this deck (and in wild in general), because most random Shaman spells have overload and/or cost too much for their effect. And you need to get them off your hand for Shudderwock / Lynchen. Our mana crystals are so precious in every stage of the game that you would rather not have those free spells. Sometimes less is more.
Swampqueen Hagatha: As with Hagatha hero, a bad card in wild due to a bad Shaman spell pool. Too rarely will she teach any good spells that can pay back her high cost.
Evolve: This is an interesting one. Fantastic combo with Doppelgangster and Mogu Fleshshaper. I tried it for many games but it rarely saves me - often times it is a burden. Eventually I swap it out for Glacial Shard.
Baleful Banker: In a slower meta the banker will shine. Bank + Jepetto is yet another way to get infinite 1-mana Shudderwocks. I tried banker for a long time but found it to be more of a win-more card.
Coldlight Oracle: Good in a slower meta. Good replacement card.
Doomsayer: Another interesting card that doesn't quite fit the theme, because we don't have a good threat to play after Doomsayer goes off. But I can see it being a decent replacement if you are missing some legendaries.
Skulking Geist: I haven't seen any Druid. Even if Druid is popular in your meta I believe infinite Shudderwock with freezing effect can put up quite a fight against the jades.
Weapon-eating cards: Mostly for Cubelock and Secret Mage. Zephrys can do the job as well so I did not include any ooz. Good replacement cards if missing legendaries.
Secret-eating cards: Obviously to tech against secret Mage. They hurt the deck in other matchups and Secret Mage is very much winnable thanks to the amount of healing cards we have.
Youthful Brewmaster: it's too reliant on comboing with Zephrys and Reno because otherwise you lose quite a bit of tempo playing it. Nevertheless a good low-cost alternative for many legendaries.
3. Legendary replacement
Man this deck is not wallet-friendly. Below I will group the legendaries in the deck into three tiers:
Tier 1: Impossible to Replace
If you don't have them, Reno Shaman is not for you. They are the cornerstones of this deck.
Tier 2: Replacement Will Surely Hurt
Brann and Zola are staples in all Reno decks so I would say they are worth crafting. But if you have to replace one, I would recommend Youthful Brewmaster.
Tier 3: Replaceable
As said before, weapon-eating cards, Youthful Brewmaster and Doomsayer are good replacement in general. Also consider Zilliax and Siamat if you have them - they are good in almost any deck. Sandbinder and Coldlight Oracle are good card draws that can replace Jepetto Joybuzz. You can also try two packages that are proven to be viable in Reno Shaman:
1. First, this is a control deck. There's no win formula like - always do this, then win. A common challenge in playing any control deck is to correctly identify what your opponent's win condition is (rush you down / a specific card / a game-winning combo / fatigue), and then figure out how you could stop their win condition, or delay them so that you get to assemble your own. The cards that you need to stop each opponent is usually different. For example, against secret mage you need early removals and lots of healing to follow up. Against Handbuff Paly you need many silence/transform effect cards. Against Even Shaman you need big board clears. Against SNIP-SNAP warlock you need early minions to stick on the board to combat their could-be-30-attack-next-turn Mecharoo. Therefore, I highly recommend studying the meta before starting a serious climb with this deck. I personally like Tempostorm's meta snapshot. I would take a close look at its most recent meta report before start laddering each month.
2. Second, this is a Zephrys deck! Knowing when and how to use Zephrys is absolutely critical in trying to get any success on ladder. In 99% of the cases you will NOT play Zephrys on turn 2 (the 1% exception is when your opponent is playing a tempo-based deck but has an empty board before your Zephrys turn, you have Zola/Bog Slosher on turn 3 and is pretty sure opponent can't kill your Zephrys). In 80% of the games you want to use Zephrys more than 1 time, and it would be game-losing if only use him once and you can't communicate your wish to him. You must know what Zephrys would give you in any situation. You must know every card in Zephrys' possible card pool. (No pressure, you can learn through trial and error :)
The difficulty is, Zephrys isn't smart enough to know exactly what you need. Too often it will consider this: with the amount of mana left, playing what SINGLE card can best help with the board WITHOUT knowing you have other useful cards in hand as well.
Therefore, mana control is very, very important. If you want a Silence or a Sacrificial Pact, leaving no mana left can help quite a bit. (for Sacrificial Pact, I also found that having a low health will significantly increase my chance of finding it even if I have 3+ mana left.) If you want a weapon removal, leave 2 or 5 mana so that Zephrys can get you an Acidic Swamp Ooze or a Harrison Jones. If you want a Secret removal, leave 2 or 4 mana left (though you have to be mindful about Explosive Runes). If you want a Brawl, leave exactly 5 mana left because at 6 you will likely get Blizzard.
Because we often want to play Zephrys more than one time, you must be able to afford not playing the perfect card Zephrys give you this turn, and use the mana to get him back in hand instead. Finding such a situation is challenging but in a fun way. That's why I said Reno is a best sidekick of playing Zephrys - he is the ultimate safety measure if you want to be greedy on Zephrys. That's also why Hagatha the Witch is bad in this deck. You want hand space and mana crystals, both of which Hagatha limits you.
3. Use your bounce effect on... whom?
Sometimes when Zephrys and Reno are out of town, you aren't really sure whether to save your bounce effect on them or use it on your lesser minions. Unfortunately this is a case-by-case decision. But! Whenever you are faced with such question, think not about how you could survive but about how you could win. Against Secret mage usually one Reno is enough, so most of the times you can use your bounce cards on a Glacial Shard or an Antique Healbot as long as they can help you survive until you draw Reno. Against decks with lots of value (e.g., Big Priest), you may have to need Zephrys to help you multiple times to win, so saving the bounce cards for him is dangerous but necessary. Of course against some combo decks saving them on Dirty Rat can be critical even if you are able to use them on Zephrys. It all depends on how you react to opponent's gameplan.
4. Shudderwock is mostly used as...?
A bench warmer. Because you always want to play just another Battlecry minion before playing him.
But he does win games that aren't otherwise winnable. In games that you think only an infinite Shudderwock combo would win, though, he should be your priority and not playing Zephrys even one time will serve you best. Imagine that you have played Zephrys 5 times in a game (which isn't uncommon at all), then Shudderwock will give you 5 "perfect" cards that clogs your hand and prevent himself from being bounced back. All those things are better thought ahead at the beginning of a game.
Let me know in the comment if you have any other questions! Thank you guys for the upvotes and I hope you all can feel joy playing HS.