October 21, 2016
Table of Contents
Legends of Reddit: D0nkeyHS Reno Dragon Mage
What up what up what up! I am Fireflyer and I’m back again for another installment of LEGENDS OF REDDIT! This series focuses on people who have put up interesting decklists on Reddit and achieved Legend status with them, proving that they’re semi-viable for competitive play. If you’re bored of the typical meta decks and want a change, check this deck out, I’m sure you’ll have tons of fun.
Today’s legend goes by D0nkeyHS on Reddit, that’s Donkey with a Zero instead of an O. He was able to get to Top 25 in the Legend ranks with this deck! The deck is a combination of Reno Jackson style singleton with a splash of interesting dragons to make it a real unique and fun deck to play. So let’s check it out!
What to Expect: It’s Reno!
I’ll admit that this is my first time running a Reno Jackson deck. As much as I love the card itself, the decks it creates are inconsistent because of the singleton format it causes you to follow. My favorite types of Reno Jackson decks are the ones that have one or two doubles like a Reno Warrior deck running two Fiery War Axes. Because Reno Jackson is highlighted in gold/yellow/orange when he is active, it’s easy to tell when you’ve drawn your doubles and can use him to heal yourself. Keep this in mind when piloting this deck. If you find yourself needing more removal such as Frostbolts or Fireballs you could run two of them, but I wouldn’t go above two, maybe three doubles in the entire deck.
The advantages of a Reno Jackson deck are quite simple: You get to heal back to full when you’re really low. As long as you can control the game long enough to draw into Reno Jackson and let yourself get low, he’s a huge life swing that puts you back into the game. There are lots of pro games where people have gone down to single digit life and come back with a well timed Reno Jackson. Ice Block is another card that really helps you utilize his healing potential.
Another advantage is that you’re an unpredictable deck. Because of your 30 different cards and your random draws, anything could happen. Your opponent can guess that you’re a Reno style deck but they don’t know what 30 cards you could be running. Some decks even run things like Acidic Swamp Ooze which aren’t common in standard decks but are very effective in certain situations.
The disadvantage of a Reno Jackson deck is the singleton format. Singleton is a term that I believe was coined in Magic the Gathering which means it’s a deck that uses only one of each card. This limits your potential because you can’t use powerful cards twice, once you’ve got the one you’re done. This means having to save stuff like Fireball for important situations since you don’t have another to rely on. Same for Blizzard and Flamestrike. Once you’ve used up your mass board removals they’re gone for good. You’ll have to learn when to save things and when to use them and that is what will make or break you when playing this deck.
The other disadvantage of a singleton deck is drawing cards. When you’re playing a normal deck you have a 1/15 chance of drawing what you need when running two of a card. But because of only having one copy, this drops down to 1/30. Say you’re up against a big board and you need a Flamestrike to save yourself. In a normal deck you’d have a much better chance of getting it and surviving than in a Reno deck.
One more small disadvantage about this deck is that it really lacks card draw. The only draw effects we have in the deck are Arcane Intellect, Bloodmage Thalnos, Azure Drake and Acolyte of Pain. Other Reno Jackson decks put in singles of Novice Engineer and Loot Hoarder to help filter through their deck and get the cards they need, especially Reno Jackson. Because of the limited draws, I had a lot of games where I spent 3-4 turns trying to draw Reno Jackson to save myself, but dying in the process. If you’re having the same trouble I was having, try taking out a few of the spells and putting in Loot Hoarder or some other draw effect.
Original Decklist: Card Choices
This is the original decklist that was posted by D0nkeyHS on Reddit but I have a bit of criticism for some of these choices. Keep in mind though, D0nkeyHS was able to reach Legend with this decklist and I did not get past Rank 10 (even though I was having a lot of fun) so I would take my advice with caution. I will go over each card in the deck and add some comments about usefulness or combos that work with it, and give each card a rating out of 10.
Forbidden Flame: This card is a versatile removal spell. You can use it early to get rid of something small or later on in the game when something crazy comes out like a Ragnaros the Firelord which needs to be removed immediately. The only thing it combos well with is spell damage, like Azure Drake or Bloodmage Thalnos because it allows you to cast it as a weird Moonfire if you’re desperate. My favorite thing is to combine this with Flamewaker but since it’s not in the deck, I would actually say that this card could be replaced with another removal spell such as Flame Lance for a more specific effect. I’m 50/50 on this card, it works well but it doesn’t synergize well with the rest of the deck. 5/10
Arcane Blast: Great removal spell for the early game. Works as an Arcane Shot for small targets and if you’re lucky to get Bloodmage Thalnos out, this becomes an effective removal spell that can take out nasty stuff like Flamewaker or Azure Drake. The problem is that this deck doesn’t run much spell damage. This card is usually used in the Tempo Mage deck with Cult Sorcerer and I would say that if you like this card in the deck, we may have to find a spot for more spell damage. The spell damage from Cult Sorcerer would also work well with Forbidden Flame so I would keep it in mind. 8/10
Babbling Book: I put this card with the spells because let’s be honest, it’s a spell. The 1/1 body is great for early game just as a distraction that sometimes takes out a small minion, but it’s best quality is the fact that it gives you a random spell. The thing I like about random spells is that your opponent won’t see it coming. I’ve gotten crazy stuff like an extra Flamestrike or secrets like Counterspell which really throw your opponent off. Sure sometimes you get something like Shatter but I very rarely get something I can’t use. Love this card, it’s random but for 1 mana it does its job. 9/10
Frostbolt: This is a staple removal spell in every mage deck. Two mana, gets rid of anything early in the game and also provides you the ability to stall if you can’t kill the creature. I also love this card for the ability to freeze your opponent if they have weapons. Not much else to say about this card other than that it needs to be in the deck since it’s one of the best spells that Mage has. 10/10
Arcane Intellect: Card draw is very important for this deck since it is a singleton deck. When you’re up against a swarm of minions and you’re searching for your one Flamestrike or Blizzard, you really rely on the draw cards to get there. Since the deck only has a few draw effects, this card is very important. It doesn’t combo with much besides Emperor Thaurissan so just cast it when you have an opening and fill that hand up! 9/10
Forgotten Torch: Another great removal spell that belongs in every mage deck. Where Frostbolt and Fireball sometimes feel like you should save them in case you need to burn your opponent to death, you can always use Forgotten Torch as removal since you’ll be putting a Roaring Torch into your deck. This should be the first spell that you cast to remove a creature if it’s in your hand. Get that Roaring Torch into your deck as soon as possible so you can draw into it. 10/10
Frost Nova: This is one of the cards that I’m iffy about. It’s a good control card and works GREAT in Freeze Mage, but without the theme of Freeze Mage where you stall until you can use Flamestrike or Blizzard to wipe their field, I just don’t think it works that well. You can buy yourself a turn but that turn rarely does anything important. The only reason I would keep this in the deck is if you decide to put Deathwing into the deck as well and replace Alexstrasza. I think the Freeze Mage aspects of the deck need to be taken out and replaced with stronger end-game cards instead of relying on the Freeze combo. Deathwing would allow you to freeze the field with Frost Nova and set up for a big Deathwing drop. 2/10 unless you have Deathwing and even then it would only be a 6/10.
Ice Block: This card works great in this deck because of its synergy with Reno Jackson. Usually you have to calculate and worry about how low you are while you’re waiting to cast Reno Jackson and try to time when you can get the biggest heal. With Ice Block in play you can just wait until it triggers and then cast Reno Jackson the turn after for a huge heal. Something to remember, your opponent will more than likely know that this is an Ice Block very quickly and some of them are smart enough to try and play around it. I worry about casting this card early in the game sometimes but I haven’t seen any secret removal such as Flare or Eater of Secrets so I wouldn’t worry too much. Play it if you have the extra mana. This card gets a huge rating just because of its crazy synergy with Reno Jackson. 10/10
Fireball: What else is there to say about this card? I usually save it to go directly at my opponent’s face but there are always situations where you need to sometimes use it on a big minion that is getting annoying. I’m not going to lecture you about this card though, we all know how to use it. 10/10
Polymorph: One of the reasons I like this mage deck is because of this card. Both Tempo Mage and Freeze Mage don’t use Polymorph and there are always scary moments where I really want one. Houndmaster on Savannah Highmane. C'Thun. Make sure you’re saving this for the most important thing to remove. Other great targets are Deathrattle minions if you feel like you’re playing an N'Zoth, the Corruptor deck. Casting it on things like Tirion Fordring, Sylvanas Windrunner and Cairne Bloodhoof make sure that these cards don’t let their Deathrattles go off and also make sure that they don’t come back when N'Zoth, the Corruptor hits the field. 10/10
Cabalist's Tome: One of the best control cards for mage. The hardest part about this card is casting it. The mana cost is so annoying and there are so many aggro/midrange decks that you’re usually spending your mana fighting them off and don’t have any left over to cast Cabalist's Tome. This is definitely an end-game card. When you finally have the 5 mana to cast it, the three spells you get are usually pretty good and helpful in their own way. Cast it whenever you find an opening and bonus points if you can cast it while you have Emperor Thaurissan out in play. 8/10 only because it’s hard to cast sometimes.
Blizzard: One of your two board removal spells. Blizzard is particularly good because when your opponent is running something like midrange shaman or hunter and they have a couple of big creatures mixed in with their small ones, the Blizzard will at least freeze the big ones and give you another turn to control them. This and Flamestrike cannot be replaced. 10/10
Firelands Portal: Great removal spell and great spell to go to your opponent’s face when you need to finish them off. Try to cast it early so you can get the tempo of killing one of their guys while also dropping a big guy for yourself. The longer you wait to cast it, the easier your opponent can react to the minion it summons. Pretty basic burn spell. 9/10
Flamestrike: Your second board removal spell. Hold on to it and make sure you use it wisely since it’s your only one. Once again, Cult Sorcerer is a great addition to this deck because bringing Flamestrike up to 5 damage allows you to kill some important stuff like Emperor Thaurissan and even more importantly, Stranglethorn Tiger. 10/10
Bloodmage Thalnos: I think this card belongs in any control deck that uses spells. The spell damage is great for some of the spells, mentioned above, and he’s super cheap so he’s easy to drop out into play and either force your opponent to deal with him or you can use his spell damage on the same turn you play him. Even better, when he dies he draws you a card. Irreplaceable in this deck! 10/10
Doomsayer: This is the only reason to keep Frost Nova in the deck to combo with, but like I’ve said tons of times before, because it’s a singleton Reno Jackson deck, you can’t rely on a combo like this. Rarely will you draw both of them and also have a situation where you need to use this combo. I still like Doomsayer as an early way of mass removal, usually played on Turn 2/Turn 3. Even if your opponent has 3-4 damage from minions, forcing them to cast a spell to deal the extra damage like a Lightning Bolt or Wrath forces them to waste the card and a turn of attacking. I would keep it in the deck but I could also easily be convinced to take it out if there are better options. 5/10
Acolyte of Pain: Oh man, I used this card so much in my games. Playing him early usually means he can attack into something, draw you a card, and survive to draw you another card later. Playing him late in the game allows you to hero power him and draw free cards until your opponent decides to waste a spell or a minion to attack him. He’s a great card draw engine which is something you really need in this deck. 10/10
Brann Bronzebeard: At first look I thought Brann was going to be a waste but after just a few games I could tell that he was a lot more fun than I thought! Babbling Book, Netherspite Historian, Blackwing Corruptor and Twilight Drake are just my favorites. I could even debate that taking out a few cards could make room for more Battlecry like Novice Engineer. He fits great in this deck but he’s still hard to cast and keep in play so you usually end up casting him Turn 7-8 if you want to use him with one of your dragons. 9/10
Refreshment Vendor: Great card for control and especially good in this deck because it lacks early-game control. You are almost never dealing damage Turn 1-4 so he’s great to heal yourself just a little and get a nice minion to soak up some damage with. Also works great with Brann Bronzebeard extra late in the game for bonus healing. 8/10
Harrison Jones: Weapons are so nasty right now. Spirit Claws are the scariest, next to any of the Warrior weapons like Gorehowl, Fiery War Axe and even Arcanite Reaper since weapon warrior is making a comeback. With the addition of Medivh, the Guardian you also have to worry about weapons in Mage and Druid decks now. I worry about weapons so much that in my optional choices section below, I even advise putting in Acidic Swamp Ooze. If you don’t have a Harrison Jones crafted, I would say go craft one, he’s very important in this meta. 10/10
Emperor Thaurissan: It’s hard to say anything negative about this guy. He isn’t super important since your deck doesn’t have to combo like Freeze Mage does, where you would fill up your hand and then use Emperor Thaurissan so you’ll have enough spells to kill your opponent after Alexstrasza. But since he isn’t super important that almost makes him better in this deck because it means you can play him whenever you want, not care when he dies, and get the free cheapened spells. My favorite is when you can keep him alive for a turn and use Arcane Intellect or even better Cabalist's Tome to fill your hand up and get tons of cheap spells. He’s just a great card by himself so I wouldn’t take him out. 9/10
Reno Jackson: The King. The Legend. He alone will change the course of the entire game. If you don’t have him in your hand, there’s a good chance you’ll lose. If you get him and play him, even healing for just 20 health means that you’ve had 50 health this game, something like a Control Warrior would have with armor. There isn’t much to say about him, just make sure you’re not waiting too long to cast him and try to use him with Ice Block. 10/10
Netherspite Historian: I love this little girl so much, she always lets you discover some fun dragons like Chromaggus or Nozdormu. The reason why I mention Deathwing in my optional choices section is because I’ve gotten him a few times from her and he seems to work really well with this deck. She’s great to get out early, survives against 1-2 damage minions and gives you fun dragons to play with. I will admit, there are a couple of games where I had her turn 2 in my hand with no dragons so be warned, this deck is a little low on dragons. 8/10
Twilight Drake: This deck doesn’t play much the first few turns so you’ll usually get to play a big Twilight Drake if you have it early in your hand. Late game it’s fun to play this card with Brann Bronzebeard for bonus damage. Just a strong dragon that can be played early and should be kept in the deck mostly because it’s a playable dragon. 8/10
Twilight Guardian: One of the best dragon themed cards because it has huge health and also taunts. Play it early and watch it soak up the damage while you set up for bigger stuff. Playing this with Brann Bronzebeard isn’t as important because it’s only 1 extra attack so don’t bother, just play him as early as you can and use him to stall for a few turns. 10/10
Azure Drake: Spell damage and card draw AND a dragon. This shouldn’t be your first time seeing Azure Drake, the card is so versatile that it’s in a ton of decks. There isn’t much to say about this card, it’s perfect. 11/10
Blackwing Corruptor: Not really a dragon but it’s a dragon-themed card and has a great effect. You’ll usually use him to remove a small minion and then attack to kill a big minion. Combo him with Brann Bronzebeard and you’ve got Fireball damage. Good Battlecry and is a big minion to go with it. 9/10
Book Wyrm: Another great dragon card. While you can’t combo this Battlecry with Brann Bronzebeard it’s definitely a great effect. I’ve killed things like Water Elemental and Imp Gang Boss and even small stuff like Acolyte of Pain just to prevent the card draw. The mana cost is a bit high for the attack/health of this minion but the Battlecry alone is worth it and because he’s a dragon it’s hard to take him out. 8/10
Chillmaw: Big dragon, decent cost and has taunt. You also don’t need to be too afraid of his Deathrattle because most of your minions are above the 3 damage. Also since the deck is kind of short on dragons there will even be times where you drop it down and your opponent tries to play around the 3 damage only to find out it doesn’t happen, leaving all your minions untouched. He’s a dragon, he has taunt, it’s hard to replace him. 10/10
Alexstrasza: I hated this dragon. I think D0nkeyHS was going for more of a Freeze Mage type setup with this deck and I just wasn’t feeling it. It’s still a great dragon that usually comes out and drops your opponent 5-10 health BUT there were also a lot of times where I was already winning and this was a dead card in my hand because it meant I would either heal my opponent or put myself lower on HP. In my opinion, replace this immediately with another one of the great dragons like Ysera or Deathwing. 5/10
Fireflyer’s Changes: Optional Choices
I had a few ideas on things I wanted to change but I didn’t actually make any changes. I wanted to run the deck how it was because of how well D0nkeyHS was able to run it but I just wasn’t having any luck in my progress up the ranks. Here are a few ideas I had with some explanation on why I think they’d fit better than some of the other cards.
Flame Lance: A strong removal spell that I wouldn’t normally put into a mage deck since you have plenty of Fireball and Roaring Torch cards but in this type of deck I think it would fit much better than some of the other removal.
Acidic Swamp Ooze: I mentioned it above and I’ll say it again, be scared of weapons. I wrote an article about the weapons coming out in Karazhan and I knew they would be a problem. Every deck is able to have a weapon now thanks to Medivh, the Guardian and it’s important to have answers against them. The great thing about Acidic Swamp Ooze is that it’s also a decently sized minion that will do some great early game damage if you want to play it on Turn 2. This deck really lacks early game stuff so I think something like this would help out a lot against early minions.
Loot Hoarder/Novice Engineer: Both of these are great early game minions to help with early aggro. Loot Hoarder is bigger and can take on the more aggro type decks, while Novice Engineer is still a decent stall tactic that also combos well with Brann Bronzebeard late in the game for multiple card draws.
Mirror Entity/Counterspell: Secrets are good because they keep your opponent on their toes and guessing what’s coming next. Because this isn’t Tempo Mage or Freeze Mage it’s hard for opponents to know exactly what you’re playing. Because Freeze Mage plays Ice Barrier and Ice Block most opponents will think you’re casting those secrets. That’s why I think these two are really effective, your opponent won’t see it coming and won’t really play around them. I’ve had a Counterspell come out of either a Babbling Book or a Cabalist's Tome before and it ended up countering my opponent’s Call of the Wild. Keep these two in mind, I think they could be fun.
Deathwing: I think Deathwing is a great finisher in this deck. You can hold him in your hand to activate all your dragon cards and once you’ve cast Reno Jackson and it’s starting to get to the end of the game, he can wipe the board and give you one last push to victory. I’ve gotten him a few times out of Netherspite Historian and he worked great. He’s not for everyone, just like Alexstrasza isn’t for me, so test him out and see if you like him.
Ysera: This is my backup choice for what I like to call a “great dragon”. This deck needs to have at least one, and since their mana cost is so high I try to keep it to just one, but if you really like the huge “great” dragons and want to play more by all means, do it! Big dragons are the reason we play dragon decks, no? Ysera is a good choice but you could always run stuff like Chromaggus, Onyxia, Nefarian or even Malygos.
Matchup Analysis: Yikes
I’ll be honest, I don’t want to even get into a matchup analysis of the matches I had. My win rate was under 50% mainly because I had a lot of trouble trying to get consistent draws. I blame this on the fact that I’m not really used to a Reno Jackson style deck. I’m sure if I had more practice with a singleton deck I would have done better but the wild draws and very random hands really threw me off. I would say about 20%-25% of my losses were due to me not being able to Reno Jackson properly. I would start to get low on health and begin stalling for Reno Jackson but I just couldn’t draw him in time. If I was able to heal for 20-25+ health during those games they would have been very different.
My advice: Don’t run this deck to climb ladder. I’m sure for some people who are really good at Mage decks and really good at Reno Jackson decks they might be able to climb the ranks really well with it, but I think it’s more of a “fun”/”casual” deck than a competitive one. It definitely has a competitive side but I had more fun doing wacky things with the deck and playing big dragons than I did trying to win. Use this deck to climb Ranks 25-10 but once you get in the upper tiers I would change to something more consistent and reliable or else you’ll get a few loss streaks here and there just due to your draws.
While this deck wasn’t great for climbing ranks it was a ton of fun! My favorite thing about singleton decks is that every game is different. Some games you control with spells and get to the lategame. Some games you drop your Netherspite Historian into Twilight Drake into Twilight Guardian and beat your opponent down with dragons. It’s definitely an interesting deck to play with and because of its Legend viability, it can be taken seriously and used in the higher ranks. Mix and match your own version and try it out, I promise you’ll have some interesting games.
Thanks for reading, as always you can follow me on Twitter @HS_Fireflyer or catch me streaming on my NEW Twitch channel, twitch.tv/itsFireflyer. I’m still trying to work out my schedule so if you guys have any suggestions on times that you would come watch me stream, let me know!
Leave me some comments below, tell me what you think of this deck, what changes you’d make to it, and I’m always open minded to hear about some fun new deck ideas that you want me to check out. Leave me some love and I’ll catch you next time.