Surviving in the Reno Priest Metagame
With Reno Priest emerging as the deck to beat after the nerfs to Fiery War Axe and Innervate, players unprepared to face the deck are likely to struggle on ladder. That said, beating Reno Priest is easier said than done. With the printing of Shadowreaper Anduin from Knights of the Frozen Throne alongside Raza the Chained, the deck gained access to an OTK alongside powerful Area of Effect Clears, Healing, and Removal.
If you want to up your win percentage against the wave of priests on ladder, you have three options:
- Deck Choice – Although Reno Priest is an incredibly versatile deck, it still has plenty of bad matchups. Beating Reno Priest often starts in the deck selection phase.
- Strategy – As the most popular Wild Deck by far, you’re going to be facing a lot of Priests. It pays to learn how to play against them.
- Tech Options – Tech cards are not enough to turn an unfavorable matchup, but it may swing the close games in your favor or give you a better fighting chance.
Take advantage of their Singleton Deck
First off, I reccomend familiarizing yourself with the common Reno Priest lists floating around ladder so that you know what you’re up against. I’ve listed Capilano’s popular Reno Priest list to the right to show you some of the cards you can expect to face.
The nature of Reno Priest’s highlander deck means that they are less likely to have a specific individual answer at any moment. This also means that once you’ve seen a card played from Reno Priest, you won’t see that card again and have to play around it unless they Shadow Visions before they drew that card.
That said, take care to play around cards that could potentially blow you out. If it’s clear that you won’t be able to beat a certain card, than it’s often times the best chance to not play around it and hope that they didn’t draw their one-of.
Here are some answers that Reno Priest have access to that you should be aware of:
General Game Plan
- Aggro Decks will need to kill them quickly before Reno or AoE clears can stabilize. Be aware of AoE turns like Excavated Evil on turn 5 and Lightbomb/Dragonfire Potion on turn 6. Also be careful of getting blown out by cards like Potion of Madness and Spirit Lash.
- Midrange Decks will need to be proactive, generate resilient boards, close the game quickly, or have heavy tech. Try to close the game quickly or overwhelm Priest with a powerful board. Be careful of cards like Lightbomb, Dragonfire Potion, and Shadowreaper Anduin as ways the Priest can stabilize.
- Control Decks will need to either have ability to gain a ton of armor, or have an OTK Finish, or cheese by milling or Dirty Rat. They will also need a plan to outvalue the Raza + Shadowreaper Anduin combo.
- Combo Decks will need to race the Priest’s OTK. Do your best to deny card draw through their cards like Acolyte of Pain and Northshire Cleric. Be wary of Dirty Rat pulling a key combo piece and play around it if you have the luxury.
- At its core, Reno Priest is really a combo deck disguised as a control deck. More recent variants are filled with tons of card draw and cycle to try and find Raza the Chained and Shadowreaper Anduin. Thus, you have to have a plan to beat the combo. Simply winning through value is not an option.
- Throwing in a couple of Tech Cards will not solve the matchup. Not only this, you will still face other decks on ladder so diluting your deck with too much tech can be a trap. If you put in too many tech cards, the overall game plan of your deck may suffer as well.
- Identify if you are even playing Reno Priest!
When it comes to deck choice, you’ll still have to weigh your deck against the rest of the Metagame. According to most reports, Reno Priest makes up to anywhere from 15 – 25% of the Metagame. While this is certainly a large portion, you’ll still need to have a reasonable win percentage against other decks to succeed on ladder. I’ve listed here some of the most popular decks in Wild and their how they fare against Reno Priest. Use this list to inform your deck choice on ladder, and adjust based on what decks you are seeing.
Very Favored: Combo Druid, Exodia Mage, Mill Rogue
Favored: Inner Fire Priest, Anyfin Paladin, Jade Druid, Freeze Mage, Control Warrior, Resurrect Priest
Even: Recruit Paladin, Tempo Rogue, Demon Zoolock, Reno Mage
Slightly Unfavored: Aggro Shaman, Tempo Mage, Giants Hunter, Reno Demonlock
Unfavored: Aggro Druid, Midrange Shaman Decks, Pirate Warrior
Reno Priest is a very versatile deck with plenty of answers. Tech Options like those listed below can help improve a matchup, but aren’t sufficient to beat Priest on their own.
Loatheb – A great card overall that can help preserve your board another turn against powerful Priest spells.
Azure Drake – A difficult card for Priest to remove due to the Dragon subtype and 4 power.
Dirty Rat – Control decks like Warrior can use dirty rat to pull out pieces of the combo. The deck also has a lot of value battlecry effects that Dirty Rat can help with marginally.
Bonemare – One of the better midrange threats against Priest as it offers two sizeable bodies and immediate pressure.
Divine Favor – A great option for Paladin to refill at a low cost.
Mindbreaker – Can sometimes buy time by deactivating the Raza + Shadowreaper Anduin combo long enough to win the game.
I hope this guide was able to provide some ideas and strategy for those looking to defeat the boogeyman of the format, Reno Priest. Just like any other deck, Reno Priest has its share of good and bad matchups, and is certainly beatable with good play and deck choice. While Priest is certainly the most popular deck at the moment, they still only make up less than 20% of the Metagame. Players can still be successful with decks with unfavored matchups against Priest if they are doing well enough against the rest of the field.
Good luck out there on ladder and beat some Priests!