[Diamond 5 to Top 500] The Ultimate Reno Druid Guide
Howdy, my name is Old Uncle Skeeter, the proud owner of the DMH Warrior Discord Server (1200+ members), and self-proclaimed off-meta enthusiast. This season, I piloted my own Reno Druid list from Diamond 5 to Top 500 Legend over 100 games, holding an overall 65% win rate. I’m not only here to share with you a guide to my deck, but a guide to navigating the Reno Druid archetype as a whole. Before starting, I have to give special thanks to cgbtw and everyone in the DMH Discord for giving advice and feedback along the way, it couldn’t have been possible without all of you. Let’s crack on with it then!
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Why Reno Druid?
Before Saviors of Uldum introduced Elise the Enlightened, Druid never had direct highlander support nor was an effective highlander class. Since Druid has historically fallen into 3 major archetypes, Combo, Aggro/Token, and Midrange, it seems impossible to try to fit Druid alongside the pillars of highlander decks such as Reno Warlock and Reno Priest. Druid lacks strong removal, board clears, and early defense outside of the very restricting Oaken Summons, so why bother?
Flexibility and value are why.
Elise the Enlightened ushered in a whole new world of potential into Druid. You can mix and match synergies and cards to find creative, rewarding ways of winning all different types of matchups. With Flobbidinous Floop, you’re able to create insane hand states to where you can play 4 of the same minion in one game! 4 Reno’s, 4 Zephrys’, you name it. And because highlander decks are modular, you can tune the deck to any meta with ease. Fatigue meta? Play Jade Idol. This makes Reno Druid not only a flexible archetype, with tons of different packages and synergies to explore, but one that’s able to put an incredible beating with an amazing value heavy game plan.
However, while Reno Druid is a jack of all trades, it is a master of none. As previously stated, Druid clearly lacks in many different areas, one of which being its early game. Oaken Summons is THE card that carries Druid versus aggressive decks currently, but because of the anti-synergy with Zephrys and Floop, the deck should avoid it. Therefore, Reno Druid has to find other ways of supplementing that early defense, which is difficult in the current state of Druid. Druid doesn’t have access to Warlock’s, Priest’s, or Warrior’s arsenal of removals and clears. You can’t sit back, answering all of your opponent’s threats from hand, and be able to pass turns without playing a single minion. That isn’t Druid’s strength. Although, what Druid does have is strong minions, ramp, value, card draw, and flexibility.
Therefore, Reno Druid should not be a slow, reactive deck. It shouldn’t be built like Reno Warlock or Priest. It should be built like Reno Hunter, Rogue, or Paladin, operating within its strengths and weaknesses.
Reno Druid should focus on board presence as much as possible, aiming to build its way to a value finisher using strong curve minions, with Reno as a line of defense, Elise as value for key matchups, and Zephrys as the flexible cornerstone.
» Why N’Zoth?
I had the most success this season with a N’Zoth build. While this is the sub-archetype with the least early pressure, its strong curve of defensive deathrattle taunt minions keeps aggression at bay. Running early removals such as Wrath and Swipe stops snowballing boards from getting out of hand. Since it can’t push early damage effectively, it relies on interruption for combo matchups. For the value matchup, Hadronox and N’Zoth offer incredibly sticky board refills stacked on one another, that can refill your health/armor to full, and pressure your opponent to find answers to all of them. Overall, the deck seeks to slowly curve out taunt after taunt, ramping, stalling, and interrupting its way into massive sticky board bombs.
The Core and Card Discussion
» The Core Package
The undebatable core of any Reno Druid deck is Zephrys the Great, Reno Jackson, Elise the Enlightened, and Flobbidinous Floop.
Zephrys the Great: This card single-handedly fills any of the major weaknesses Druid has when it comes to removal. Being able to generate massive board clears or efficient removal is huge for the deck. It also can offer lethal with your sticky wide boards, or Lord Jaraxxus for steady pressure in the slow matchups.
Reno Jackson: Another massively important card, as it helps fix Druid’s aggressive matchup problem. If you manage to duplicate it with Elise or Floop, you are set to win against any fast deck.
Elise the Enlightened and Flobbidinous Floop: These two cards go hand in hand together as ridiculous value generators. Later in the guide, I will explain how to effectively use them, but it’s important to state just how much these two cards give to Reno Druid.
» The N'Zoth Package
The N’Zoth package is N’Zoth, the Corrupter, Hadronox, Khartut Defender, Taelan Fordring, Thickhide Kodo, Death’s Head Cultist, and Deathlord.
Hadronox: A very controversial card, Hadronox offers the deck an extra edge of value against the slowest of matchups. By playing Hadronox and killing it yourself you will not only fill the board with more taunts to add to your N’Zoth pool, but you will add Hadronox itself to it. This makes your N’Zoth boards incredibly difficult to remove, adding waves upon waves of value. A common concern is an anti synergy between the 1/5 Scarab Beetle token generators (Malfurion the Pestilent and Spreading Plague) and Hadronox. However, in the matches where Spreading Plague or choosing taunt with Malfurion matter, Hadronox will not, and vice versa. Besides, in the case you have Beetles in your Hadronox pool, Khartut Defenders eventually overtake the pool entirely, and spawning a few 1/5 beetles is still powerful when considering how many stats that are in total.
Khartut Defender: A single Khartut Defender adds two defenders to the N’Zoth pool, and so on. When playing multiple N’Zoths a game, it’s easy to spawn entire boards of defenders. Add on top of this its sticky body and healing it offers, it’s clear to see why Khartut Defender is a premium deathrattle taunt.
Taelan Fording: Being able to tutor one of your most important cards is incredibly valuable for this deck. It also comes on a solid taunt body, and once revived by N’Zoth, can continue to draw your minions in descending order, which might save you by tutoring a late Reno Jackson.
Thickhide Kodo and Death’s Head Cultist: Having access to cheap taunts that offer health gain is amazing for the aggressive matchups, as it can stall the game to a Reno Jackson or a Zephrys clear. Being able to curve these out and survive to a turn 10 N’Zoth will end aggressive decks on the spot.
Deathlord: An interesting inclusion, it offers yet another cheap early game taunt versus aggressive decks, and the potential to interrupt the many key cards of combo/control decks. Being able to revive multiple in a game can also accelerate your opponent’s fatigue timer, making this card a pretty obnoxious inclusion.
» The Good
These are cards that are not quite permanently core, but very strong and highly recommended for my list or any other Reno Druid list.
Lunar Eclipse and Lesser Jasper Spellstone: Strong early game removal that scales well into the late game. Lunar Eclipse is especially powerful as it allows you to have tempo on low-tempo plays such as ramping or drawing. Cannot go wrong with both of them.
Dirty Rat and Loatheb: The win condition versus many combo decks, playing multiple Dirty Rats and Loathebs in a single game can be back-breaking. Loatheb specifically forces your opponent to effectively pass their turn, so it buys you time to either reach your Dirty Rat or put more pressure on the board to end with a Zephrys Bloodlust/Savage Roar. Loatheb can also be combined with a Floop’d 4 mana N’Zoth with an open spot on the board to protect the N’Zoth board from a potential clear.
Nature Studies, Jade Blossom, and Overgrowth: Ramp is a very powerful identity exclusive to Druid and there’s a reason people love to play Zephrys on turn 2 to generate Wild Growth. Being able to ramp in the slow matchups allows you to make bigger plays sooner, such as setting up Elise turns or getting to 6 mana for Dirty Rat and Floop combo turns. Nature Studies is a pseudo ramp card and offers a handy discover in case of emergencies.
Guess the Weight, Ferocious Howl, and Branching Paths: These are all powerful card draw options, as they give a mix of draw and survivability to the deck. Branching Paths is a swiss army knife of a card, and can give surprise lethal out of nowhere.
Malfurion the Pestilent: This card has it all. It can offer scary removal and a steady 3 damage a turn against slow decks while having the option for taunts and armor against aggressive decks. This hero card can adjust itself to any matchup with ease and offer immense utility.
Poison Seeds and Spreading Plague: The classics. Poison Seeds alone offers itself as a counter for resurrecting decks like Big Priest, as a way to wipe buffs off a wide board for 4 mana, or an answer to board floods like N’Zoth or Bloodreaver Guldan. Spreading Plague is the ultimate counter to aggressive decks, although coming at a staggering 6 mana cost, as it can stall the game long enough for you to reach your key cards. And when the two are combined, it’s beautiful.
» The Flexible
These cards are flexible inclusions that are most likely to be cut in favor of other, more suitable options depending on your local meta. Example cards to replace these could be Jade Idol, Baleful Banker, Greybough, Winged Guardian, Living Seed, etc.
Armor Vendor: Having this on turn 1 is amazing against aggressive decks. Not only can it upgrade your spellstone with ease, but having a premium statted minion give you armor for free is ridiculous. An amazing counter to aggression.
Wrath and Swipe: Although a bit aged, Wrath and Swipe offer a way to knock down snowballing minions or boards early. Other cards that perform a similar job are BEEEES!!!, Starfall, and Crystal Power.
Naturalize and Mulch: Naturalize has synergy with Hadronox and offers a unique mill win condition with multiple Elise’s. However, as a piece of removal versus fast decks, it can be pretty poor to give your opponent a free hand refill. Mulch is much better into aggressive decks than Naturalize because the minion generated will rarely be a threat. It also serves as a counter to Big Priest, Glarelock, and when combined with Naturalize can be a pesky mill tool. Only in extremely rare cases can your opponent high roll with Mulch, which never feels great. However, it is somewhat consistent at giving trash.
Overflow/Ultimate Infestation: I originally played Ultimate Infestation, but because of how fast the current meta is and how difficult it is to keep a small hand in this deck, I opted for the cheaper version found in Overflow. Yet, Overflow is still terrible against aggressive decks, as if you manage to fit on in, you were most likely winning anyways. Perhaps Rising Winds or Nourish is more efficient in this spot as draw versus fast decks.
» The Bad
I highly recommend avoiding these cards. They are either complete bait or incredibly inefficient.
Juicy Pyschmelon: This card seems good at first glance but in reality, you spend turn 4 doing nothing but bricking your hand. Unless you’re playing a combo variant of Reno Druid or in an immensely slow pocket meta, this card does nearly nothing when you play it, as you will naturally draw into your important cards in the first place, and it makes it harder to pull off a good Elise efficiently. A card like Taelan is much more effective at tutoring than Melon.
Solar Eclipse: Unless you’re playing a lot of spells, Solar Eclipse ends up being hard to use consistently as a combo tool. In my list specifically, there’s only a handful of good spells to combine it with, leaving Solar Eclipse sub-optimal in it.
» Elise and Floop 101
Elise and Floop have very powerful implications when used separately or in conjunction properly, but they can be a little confusing to combine at first. Here is a quick guide to understanding their effects.
Elise the Enlighted:
When played, Elise will copy your hand from left to right, in order. The ideal situation is to line up on the left side of your hand the cards you wish to duplicate. You can achieve this by trimming your hand down. At 10 cards, including Elise, you will only duplicate your 1st card in hand. At 9 cards, you will duplicate your first 2 cards, and so on. At 6 cards, including Elise, you will duplicate each of your 5 other cards into a full hand. Simple as that.
Elise and Floop combined:
There are 3 ways to combine Elise and Floop, but before covering them it is important to note their interaction with one another. When you play Elise with Floop in hand, the 1st Floop will become a copy of Elise, while the copied Floop will remain as the original minion, whichever it was. This is a Floop Split and it has applications in options 2 and 3.
- To play 4 copies of a minion: You have a minion of your choice and Floop in hand. You play Elise, and it duplicates your hand. You now have the original copy, the duplicated copy, and two Floop’s to copy that minion with. The simplest, most common combination.
- To play 3 copies of a minion, but without having to play Elise first: Before playing Elise, you play the minion (N’Zoth for example) with Floop in hand, which will transform into the minion. You play Elise after, and it duplicates your hand. You now have a Floop’d Elise and a Floop’d N’Zoth. This is how you can get a minion back even though you played it before Elise. This will allow you to play 3 copies of that minion in a single game, without having to play Elise first (The original, two Floop’d copies after Elise). This is useful when you want multiple N’Zoths in one game, but you can’t wait for an extra turn to play Elise beforehand.
- To play 5+ copies of a minion: You have a minion of your choice and Floop in hand. You play Elise, and it duplicates your hand. You now have the original copy, the duplicated copy, a Floop’d Elise, and a Floop. You trim down your hand by playing spells and then play your Floop’d Elise, copying your hand again. This allows for infinite Elise’s as long as you don’t play a minion, so you can create hands like these:
Getting used to the interactions of Elise the Enlightened and Flobbidinous Floop can take some time, but as long as you count your cards properly and plan ahead, you can get a hold of the ropes very quickly.
» General Advice
Knowing your outs: The deck isn’t linear enough to where all your games will be decided by 4+ N’Zoths. You need to be fluent in not only knowing the matchups you’re facing and what cards to look for but what to do when you don’t have those cards. How do you win against Big Priest without Poison seeds? How do you win against Combo Druid without Dirty Rat? Being fluid with your game plans is how you’ll win a lot of games you might’ve not.
Zephrys can be anything: Zephrys is more than a board clear or removal generator. Zephrys can generate lethal with buffs or Mass Dispel, give value cards like Lord Jaraxxus, give secret removal to clear Ice Block, offer healing or freeze to stall, the possibilities are endless. You shouldn’t look at Zephrys one-dimensionally, as the card has more than one application.
Greed is a sin for a reason: There’s a delicate balance when it comes to greed. Too little and you’ll fall behind, but too much and you’ll drown. Being able to find a happy medium and make calls like “how many Reno’s do I actually need this game” will save you from choking wins.
- Vs. Control decks
Mulligan: Interruption, Elise/Floop, Ramp, Value
In the control matchup, you’ll be looking to interrupt key pieces of your opponent’s game plan to take pressure off of you, while developing a strong curve of ramp and minions to lead into your multiple N’Zoth finishers. Zephrys here is only used for board clear or removal in emergencies, as getting Lord Jaraxxus or threatening lethal with Bloodlust is a stronger closer.
Renolock: This matchup is a coinflip between who gets to Tickatus or to Dirty Rat first. If your opponent isn’t reducing your deck to ashes, focus on that value curve and avoid playing into Defile or Lord Godfrey. With enough N’Zoths, they’ll eventually be exhausted of answers, to where you clean up with Zephrys. Inversely, if they’re the ones being proactive, you have Poison Seeds and Zephrys to hold them back.
Big Priest: Unless you get high rolled, this is a favored matchup. Poison Seeds, Zephrys, and N’Zoth taunt walls are your main ways of dealing with their boards. Although N’Zoth walls are countered if they play or discover Mass Dispel, this matchup is all about stalling and exhausting all of their big minions. With Elise, you have the leg up in the resource game, so this one is taken to fatigue unless you close early with a Zephrys lethal. It’s important to note that Loatheb can be a pain for them, as you can not only stall their Shadow Essence turn early but also save it to deny Mass Ressurection turns later on.
- Vs. Combo decks
Mulligan: Interruption, Elise/Floop, Draw, Tempo
In the combo matchup, the focus is on interrupting them at the exact right moment to swing the game into your favor. Whether it be milling them, Dirty Ratting their key card, or Loatheb waves to stall hard enough that they die, being the proactive player is the way to go. Zephrys is used to secure lethal or get around cards like Ice Block, and Elise is there to duplicate your key cards like Loatheb, Naturalize, and Dirty Rat.
Combo Mage: Loatheb, Dirty Rat, and even Deathlord are your strongest counters. Establishing an early board to snowball with and protecting it with Loatheb is how a majority of Combo Mage games are won when Dirty Rat isn’t in hand in time. Once again, being proactive and overwhelming your opponent is the strongest counter.
Reno Priest: A favored to even matchup, it’s similar to the Big Priest matchup where you exhaust their resources, except your interruption like Deathlord and Dirty Rat is playable. If interruption doesn’t arrive soon enough, going for pressure with Zephrys offering Lord Jaraxxus, early N’Zoths, and constant face damage will keep you the aggressor to the point where they can’t combo you without dying in the process.
- Vs. Aggressive decks
Mulligan: Zephrys/Reno, Taunt Curve, Removal, Board Clears
The most common and the typically hardest matchup for Reno Druid, it’s a game of having the answers in time and not getting snowballed. Strong, consistent token decks like Token Druid or Odd Paladin, and snowball decks like Kingsbane and Murloc Shaman can be a nightmare if you get high rolled without an answer at hand. Trying to find an out can be difficult at times, but with a proper taunt curve, enough answers, and a Reno or two, you can find yourself swinging aggressive matchups in your favor.
Handbuff Paladin: The clear tier 0 deck of wild right now, this matchup is unfavored. The Crabrider nerfs made it way more bearable, but if you struggle to get on board with taunts, you will find yourself getting burst from hand very quickly. Once again, N’Zoth on 10 is the closer, but getting there is a whole other question. Look for your typical strong answers, strong taunts, and do a few prayers so they don’t draw Conviction.
Glarelock: Depending on your opponent’s skill and whoever draws better, the Darkglare matchup can mostly feel out of your control at times. Yet, not all hope is lost. Poison Seeds is an amazing counter, and with enough stall, N’Zoth on 10 can restrict their options and keep it in your favor. However, this is not a favored matchup and if you run into too many, consider playing tech cards.
Other Sub-Archetype Discussion
Because Reno Druid has such a flexible shell, there are so many different ways of building it. In my limited experiments and adventures, I have come across many different archetypes to explore. Here are some of the ones I’ve found. Feel free to experiment with your own!
Go big or go home! This deck is much more proactive compared to N’Zoth, with stronger curve plays and a flashy offensive finisher. The dragon package is an interesting idea, as it gives you strong minions and bonus ramp/card draw on top of it. A beast package is also enticing, as Guardian Animals is one hell of a card, and the beasts offer strong tempo plays. The biggest problem the deck has however is the clunky top end. It needs some refinement, but I think Corrupt truly has potential.
Playing to Druid’s biggest strength as a token class, this deck fights for board early against aggressive decks and tries to snowball the slow decks for early wins. With the core Reno Druid card, it adds bonus flexibility and value, on top of some anti-aggression with Reno Jackson. The big question is how this deck differentiates itself from the typical Token Druid list. Time will tell.
Having the Combo Druid shell mix with the Reno Druid shell sounds like a match made in heaven, however, there has been so little explored with it that it leaves more to be desired.
Here are some less optimal but definitely clever ideas to try. They aren’t as competitive as the others, but every option should be experimented with at one point.
The Future of Reno Druid
What Reno Druid and Druid needs is a way to define themselves in the early game outside of Oaken Summons. Druid shouldn’t have good board clears or removal, as it’s not in its class identity, but something other than Wrath/Swipe/Starfall for the first time in 7 years would be a massive boost for the class. Something as simple as Lunar Eclipse ended up proving to be very powerful. The class also needs stronger early minions, as a perk of not playing Oaken Summons is playing 1 to 4 drops that aren’t meant to high roll. Any combination of this would really give Reno Druid and Druid in general a huge spike in power.
But what does Druid have already? There are so many ideas and cards not mentioned in this guide, so many in fact it’d take another guide this long to talk about them. Reno Druid is an unexplored territory for wild, as it is lacking the optimization and experimentation other decks have. But I see it like another DMH Warrior. For a long time, DMH Warrior was a niche deck that very few people played, so it was left on the shelf. However, when I started to pool together the stray DMH players I found and created a micro-community surrounding it, the deck slowly optimized itself into what it is today. To me, that’s the best part of a card game, and that’s why I sought to prove Reno Druid had potential. So maybe Druid doesn’t need new cards, maybe it just needs people talking about it.
Reno Druid is a deck brimming with potential and is an incredibly fun shell to experiment and toy with. It is clearly legend viable after a large sample size from Diamond 5 to Top 500 Legend, and if you enjoy complex decks, this is the one for you. If you’d like to contact me, ask questions about Reno Druid, or talk about anything else really, you can find me on the DMH Warrior Discord Server, linked below. Thank you for reading, take care.
This Guide was written by Old Uncle Skeeter – You can check him out on his Discord Channel!