Welcome, fellow player! Do you like paladins, and general paladineering ? I certainly do. It’s my favorite class (my debut on hearthstone Players was with an article on paladin history and lore ) and it was actually the boost that the class got from the Goblins VS Gnomes expansion that brought me back to Hearthstone.
Not surprisingly, my past as a Magic The Gathering player was also defined by a love of White and White Weenie in particular. So that’s the kind of deck I like to play: a deck that uses cost-efficient minions to control the board and overwhelm the opponent.
Reno Jackson was something that I couldn’t ignore, and so I’ve been brewing and testing how to re-craft my favorite kind of deck since the card’s introduction. The result was a deck that combines the reliability of the midrange paladin with a very viable late-game plan, capable of facing nearly anything the current meta can throw at it.
The curve is your lifeline. You can rarely afford to use the hero power on turns 2-4. Your single most important job is to establish early board presence. Reno Jackson won’t save you if your side of the board is otherwise empty and the opponent has 2-3 minions.
This deck is designed to pull ahead the longer the game drags on, but you need to own the board. Liberal use of weapons is encouraged – healing is a strong theme in the deck, as are taunts, so you can almost always afford the face damage.
As this is a highlander-type deck, you can’t rely on combos, and should not wait for them unless you are nearing the end of your deck and know the odds or drawing the missing piece is great. A good amount of the cards in the deck are value plays by themselves, and you should generally prioritize getting them on the board over squeezing maximum value out of them.
Once you do reach the mid-late game, you have plenty of options.
If you did a good job owning the board, you will start using the swarm to go face. Justicar Trueheart will give you the fodder to overwhelm Warrior and Rogue, as both rely on their efficient removal to eliminate your high-quality minions, and set up some decent trades with Priest – as long as you minimize his/her ability to own the board early on.
Once you transition from mid-game to late-game, you will de-emphasize swarm tactics and start waging a war of attrition, using value plays and smart trades to deplete your opponent’s resources as you prepare to play finisher after finisher.
At that point in time, Blessing of Kings on a Silver Hand Recruit can be enough of a finisher as your opponent’s removal was probably all baited by your high-quality minions. Likewise, Tirion Fordring, the Ashbringer he gives you, and Sylvanas Windrunner can all wreck your spent opponent.
If luck shines upon you, you will be able to either drop a Zombie Chow on Turn One, or coin in one of your 2-mana minions.
Whatever you do, don’t think of holding on to value. You will live or die on your ability to field a decent body on every turn.
Yes, you will cringe at dropping a Sunfury Protector on an empty board. But it’s the right play, if you can do nothing else. The same goes for Youthful Brewmaster or Aldor Peacekeeper.
The only ones I hesitate to drop even when I have nothing else to play are Big Game Hunter ( because of Dr. Boom and, to a lesser extent, Alexstrasza), and Ironbeak Owl, due to its sheer versatility in answering so many powerful minions. Plus, with a bit of luck and good planning, each of them can also ruin a Secret Paladin’s day.
Equality should be treated as early-to-midgame removal along with a Silver Hand Recruit or the Light's Justice you get from Muster for Battle.
Don’t hold on to Muster hoping to combo it with Equality or even Knife Juggler for a surprise kill – play Muster and if later you still have the weapon or a recruit when Equality pops up, so much the better.
Seal of Light is there to remove your opponent’s 2-drop. Treat the healing as what it is – a nice bonus and possible late-game utility. If you get the chance to eliminate a 2-drop and nothing else, it’s good enough.
Sunfury Protector is a decent body that can earn you an extra turn with one or two Silver Hand Recruit on board. It was a late addition to the deck (third iteration) and so far testing has revealed it to be solid.
Feedback wanted! Would you put something else on Sunfury Protector’s two-mana slot? Previously I had Wild Pyromancer, but I couldn’t get it to synergize well enough. What do you think? Hit me up in the comments!
Youthful Brewmaster is an awesome card in this deck, because it allows you to “fake” having two of key cards like Defender of Argus, Antique Healbot, Aldor Peacekeeper… The list goes on.
Feel your opponent’s morale crumbling when you play it on top of Reno Jackson on turn seven or eight. They will hate you forever. You will lose friends from doing this.
It will be indeed sad if you have nothing else to play on turn two – but if you need to waste his battlecry, so be it.
Keeper of Uldaman is such an awesome new card. I wouldn’t find a place for it in regular midrange, but here it shines as a more versatile alternative to the second Aldor Peacekeeper. Two things to keep in mind:
- On a light board, it can function as delayed removal, I.E. removing a high-health minion that it “nerfed” on the previous turn. The fact that this deck is high on healing and taunts usually lets you get away with the wait.
- Don’t assume that you always have to field a recruit or nerf an enemy minion to make good use of the Keeper.
Sometimes even the smallest buff can turn the game in your favor. One humble extra point of health can save your Knife Juggler from that annoying Explosive Trap.
Ah, sweet Justicar Trueheart. If hearthstone was themed after Starcraft instead of Warcraft, she would have been the Queen of Blades. The Swarm is strong in this one – it’s your win condition against control decks, and you should play her as soon as you draw her unless your life is at stake. Her survival is a non-issue. In fact, your opponent wasting removal on her will pave the way for…
Sylvanas Windrunner, which is one of the hardest cards to play in this game. This deck makes it a bit easier because you have so many high-quality minions and taunts that your opponent will be tempted to burn his/her removal early and often.
Even if you don’t get a minion back, this is usually a two-for-one and on a late-game that you will likely own, that can be enough to further entrench your position. But it really shines against classes that rely on fielding minions to help remove threats. If nothing else, it will further deplete their resources against…
Tirion Fordring, which is your ultimate finisher. You should do everything in your power to bait your opponent’s silences before he hits the board, as more often than not your opponent’s death will come via Ashbringer strike. Remember: this deck wages a war of attrition and making the most of your three weapon charges can give you the edge you need.
Lay on Hands was a tough inclusion and is the card I’m still less sure about. It’s a terrible tempo play as you are usually “wasting” one turn on it, but on the other hand it’s your one best shot at getting back in the game if your opponent manages to out-value you, and it can let you pull ahead of the tougher control decks.
Feedback wanted! What healing / card mechanic draw would you include to replace Lay on Hands? From current testing, the card draw is usually the more valuable component. Please let me know in the comments.
Reno Jackson was obviously the inspiration for the deck. But here is the thing: I barely ever drew it, and playing this deck was still my best win-rate ever up to rank 3. The overall quality of the cards makes it truly stand up tall, even without the key play.
Than said, Reno Jackson is your trump card and one of the main reasons you can confidently use your weapons to clear your opponent’s side of the board. Your other heals and taunts will usually let you prolong the game for long enough that drawing him becomes likely, so give those minions hell!
Make sure you hold onto it for as long as possible, so you get the best value out of it (and maybe be just a bit more cautions versus hunters because their hero power adds up quickly and they always draw Kill Command when they need it the most).
Notable Absentees and Possible Swaps
Earthen Ring Farseer fits the overall theme of the deck like a charm and I would have gladly traded a 2-drop for it, but turn two is so crucial in the current meta that I didn’t dare. And yet more awesome synergy with Youthful Brewmaster as well.
Alas, the 3-drops are crucial. If I ever put it in, it will be replacing Consecration or Sen'jin Shieldmasta.
Quartermaster seems a no-brainer, right? But it ended up being very awkward in the deck’s first encarnation. While it is indeed incredible value after Justicar Trueheart hits the board or if you have the good luck to combo it with a Muster for Battle, in practice the stars never seemed to align for me, so I kicked him out. Sorry, Quartermaster!
I thought I would miss Loatheb a lot but this ended up not being true. By the time board-clearing spells become a threat, I usually find myself able to hold onto my valuable cards and adopt swarm tactics using Silver Hand Recruits to support a couple of high-value minions. If I start feeling a shift in the meta that calls for that one-turn buffer, I will probably swap Sylvanas Windrunner out for this one.
Dr. Boom and Alexstrasza are the finishers that didn’t make the cut, mostly due to inflating ever-so-slightly the deck’s mana curve and due to the prevalence of Big Game Hunter. I’m still pondering the idea of swapping out Lay on Hands for one of them.
I will repeat it because it bears repeating: curve is king! (or queen)
You should mulligan to have a drop for every turn except the first (unless you have the coin, then you have no excuse).
AFTER and only after a smooth mana curve is sorted out, consider keeping / searching for:
VS Hunter: Anything with healing or taunt, including Tirion Fordring and Lay on Hands
VS Warrior: Justicar Trueheart, Acidic Swamp Ooze. Big Game Hunter is decent too, as you will certainly need it before the end of the match.
VS Priest: Truesilver Champion, Equality, Justicar Trueheart and Ironbeak Owl. Avoid deathrattle minions as they will get stolen from you.
VS Paladin: Equality, taunts, Sylvanas Windrunner, Consecration, Ironbeak Owl.
VS Druid: Aldor Peacekeeper, Keeper of Uldaman, Equality
VS Rogue: taunts and deathrattles. Justicar Trueheart and Equality. Scoring a Tirion Fordring from a Deathlord more than makes us for the times that Reno Jackson shows up instead.
VS Mage, Warlock and Shaman: not enough testing (yes, I’ve lucked away from freeze / roulette mages for the past week, I am lucky that way)
Feedback wanted! If you manage to test this deck against the three classes above, please use the comments to let me know how it goes and what insights you had.
I think that you will find this deck a blast to play. It’s a lot of fun and very versatile. It has a couple of bad matchups ( Dragon Priest and Secret Paladin – dealing with Mysterious Challenger on turn six can be brutal, but then, what else is new? ) but none of them is a sure loss.
It is also flexible enough that you can swap cards in and out depending on what you are facing more often, without losing the flavor.
Lastly, if you enjoy playing it, I would recommend checking the following decks brewed by other hearthstone Players writers, all of which inspired this deck in some way: Asmodeus’ Control Reno Paladin, Joseph’s unique One-of Paladin, and Wito’s Midrange Paladin, the deck I used for most of this season, with some very minor modifications.
I intend to keep tweaking and testing this deck over the next season, so please make sure to leave a comment with any questions or suggestions! Paladin on!