[Reno Jackson] has been a big point of debate over the last few months. Even before Mean Streets of Gadgetzan was released, players often expressed their discontent with the card, especially those well-versed in aggressive strategies. The card basically requires you to deal well over 50 damage to your opponent, and you’d be hard pressed to find that firepower in a short time-span while also being able to defend against the multitude of sweepers, big bodies, and taunt minions that most Reno decks are known to have. There are a layer of factors contributing to [Reno Jackson]’s success, most of which are more underlying than may seem. Additionally, a lot of factors are positive and not just negative.

Let’s go through them:

One of the negatives about Reno is how it promotes bad habits in gameplay for both players. For the Reno player, there will be games where the only thing you’re really trying to do is get to Reno, and then you proceed to play the game from there. This is unhealthy because what you’re doing before that is keeping yourself alive for as long as possible, which greatly devalues the quality the cards would normally have. The [Ragnaros the Firelord] you’re playing will often not be the 50/50 removal spell it needs to be, but rather a decent speed bump that really wouldn’t have served a purpose. That [Lord Jaraxxus] probably won’t ever be a factor until you do get to the point where Reno is a factor.

When playing against Reno you have to thread the needle with your damage output if you’re playing aggro, which is the strategy that taunt minions and sweepers will punish. It’s hard to hold that [Power Overwhelming] for the potentially lethal turn after the current one, but if you do go in, Reno punishes you pretty hard, which immediately sets you so far back. This forces a prison-style of gameplay throughout the whole match, and you’re in the worst kind of catch-22 imaginable: Play your game, or don’t.

Another major negative issue with Reno is with deck-building itself and this is reinforced by the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan and the introduction of more cards with the “Reno effect” (where a card does something powerful if there are no duplicates in your deck). A whole lot of your deck is filled with individually powerful cards, but you have no real means of achieving synergy unless you happen to come upon them, or if they’re directly synergistic with Reno cards themselves (such as [Youthful Brewmaster]). You sacrifice almost any sort of reasonable flow and consistency in your deck for cards that have to stand out on their own, and this often results in a massive lack of cohesiveness. [Kazakus] is an even bigger offender to this problem, as you have little control over what potion you wind up making, and the effects are just “do good things.” Of course, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter too much from a competitive point of view, but design wise, this is treading dangerous territory, as it can threaten homogenization 0f the metagame which becomes a serious problem with multiple decks featuring Reno as well as the new tri-class cards.

It’s not all bad news though. One of the most interesting things about Reno decks is their ability to make hard control a viable strategy in the face of hyper-aggressive, hyper-resilient aggro decks. The majority of control decks really don’t care too much about Reno, as health isn’t nearly as important as total resources. Control cards can play the exact same game as Reno decks, but will have way more access to a single resource than you, whether that be cards, threats, resilience, or, in Warrior’s case, health. This is important for the health of the game, as something needs to keep the other in check. If Reno keeps aggro in check, the control can keep Reno in check. Of course, this isn’t always the case, as anomalies like Freeze Mage in early Old Gods Standard can exist, but generally, this allows for some good format play when something’s countering something else, especially if a smattering of tier two decks can have game as well. This is currently what’s happening in Gadgetzan Standard, and it’s a delight to be able to pretty much play what you want and be able to have a plan against the other.

While Reno isn’t my favorite card design in the world, the ability to have game and decks against it is very important, and this Standard format is full of just that. Sometimes Reno is just the best thing you can be doing, and sometimes it’s the biggest pile of mish-mashed cards ever. If you’re playing against it, leverage that to your advantage! Just because they have it, doesn’t mean what you were doing is wrong, after all.

Anthony has been competing in games for the better part of his adult life and is dedicated to improving his game, improving his community, improving himself as a person, and most importantly having fun and enjoying himself while doing so. You can check out his stream to find out which video game is the latest to catch his attention.

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