Sunday saw Jan ‘SuperJJ’ Janssen triumph at Seat Story Cup IV, sweeping Stanislav ‘StanCifka’ Cifka 5-0 in the final to claim the $10,000 top prize. It was a name-making performance from SuperJJ and, as happened with last year’s winner Jon ‘Orange’ Westerberg, he can now expect to enjoy considerably more attention in the competitive Hearthstone scene. But the real star of the show was a feckless adventurer called Reno Jackson.
Introduced in the first wing of the new League of Explorers adventure last week, Reno Jackson is a new legendary card which reads: “Battlecry: If your deck contains no more than 1 of any card, fully heal your hero.” Being able to restore yourself to full health is clearly a powerful effect, particularly given that the Hearthstone meta has been brutally fast for some time, but the question over the card’s viability concerned the need to run mostly singleton cards in order to ensure Reno’s Battlecry procs when needed.
Players have been experimenting with Control Warrior and Paladin decks, both of which can afford to run a lot of one-ofs, but the list in which Reno shined for SuperJJ was Freeze Mage. As it turned out, Reno proved to be effective without having to build the deck in full ‘Highlander’ mode (as in, “there can be only one” of each card). SuperJJ’s Freeze Mage ran eight pairs, and he was still able to trigger Reno consistently, mainly due to the sheer amount of card draw in the deck and the fact that Freeze Mage’s strategy is to stall the game anyway.
Check out the video at the top of the page to see it happen the first time in the semi-final, and focus on poor Gaara’s face as he realizes he just lost. As Gaara noted afterwards, he would have won that game had he played Loatheb earlier. But in the final series Reno proved even more devastating as Super JJ’s Freeze Mage went undefeated with Reno triggering giant heals a couple more times along the way.
So how powerful is the card? There’s a danger in trying to extrapolate likely ladder performance from tournament results. Seat Story Cup uses the Last Hero Standing format (opens in new tab) which allows players to ban particular heroes, and can result in a deck being almost unbeatable due to mismatched lineups. In the final, SuperJJ made the obvious decision to ban StanCifka’s signature Control Warrior deck, because it’s an almost auto-win against Freeze Mage. Bizarrely, Stancifka chose to ban SuperJJ’s Midrange Paladin, which is a strong deck but certainly not one to create matchups as lopsided as Freeze Mage can. It’s a decision StanCifka, who had played superbly to that point, must surely regret, as the rest of his lineup was poorly equipped to handle SuperJJ’s Reno-powered Mage.
For better early insight into how Reno decks may fare on ladder, check out this thread on the Competitive Hearthstone subreddit. The short answer seems to be that for slower decks which can afford to run a lot of single copies of cards, Reno is going to be a strong tech tool. Bear in mind that the Druid spell Tree of Life costs 9-Mana, and it fullyheals you, your opponent and all the creatures on the board. In contrast, Reno only costs 6 and doesn’t benefit your opponent. He’s way better value and, like Emperor Thaurissan, I think Reno is going to see substantial use in many decks.
That said, beyond an initial wave of players trying to copy SuperJJ, we probably don’t need to worry about the ladder being overrun by Freeze Mages. For starters, it’s a hard deck to play correctly—and secondly, if that were to happen it would soon be countered by an upswing in predatory Control Warriors. What we can say for sure, though, is that The League Of Explorers has got off to a great start in terms of introducing cards which may actually alter the meta.
SuperJJ’s deck also included a copy of the Forgotten Torch burn spell which did some good work, and elsewhere on ladder Summoning Stone and Dark Peddler have already found homes in decks. This week’s wing will see the release of another powerful legendary, Brann Bronzebeard, whose Battlecry-doubling effect looks potentially even more interesting than Reno’s heal. In fact, played alongside a Healbot you’re guaranteed to restore 16 health without having to build your deck oddly. There are tons of other potentially cool Brann combos, but I’m not sure any of them will be quite as funny as seeing Reno do his thing for the first time.
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