Hexploration – Renner, the Phoenix

May 9, 2017

Did you miss me?! Well, I sure as heck missed all you lovely people. Welcome back to Hexploration! From the Ashes rises the Phoenix Renner! From The Ashes is a great and powerful card that’s well positioned in the meta right now. Empress of Ice has been dominating the ladder for some time with a high win percentage. Other decks have come and gone, but the Mono Sapphire Uzzu deck has been very consistent. Mono Blood, if built correctly has a favorable matchup against Mono Sapphire Uzzu while still holding its own against the other decks out there. Today I’d like to talk about the deck I’ve been playing on ladder and the success I’ve had with it. Blood/Diamond Control has seen some play here and there, but it’s been rare to see a pure one. Usually they splash a little Sapphire with Uzzu for Silver Talon Adjudicator. I personally don’t think that splash is needed and I’d rather go with a champion that allows me to have a champ power instead of just fixing my resources. We’ve seen plenty of Bloodspinner Zorath decks, so today I’ll be talking about Renner.

Renner is a unique champion and one that people don’t really like playing against, mostly due to his charge power. His charge power allows you to draw a card from the opponent’s deck and turns all its thresholds into Blood. People tend to not like losing to their own cards. If you’re able to use his charge power enough in games it’s basically like your opponent is playing against an evil twin. Sometimes it’s nice to be that evil that twin. Let’s look at the decklist, shall we?

Champion: Renner

Deck Synopsis

If you couldn’t tell by all the four offs, the deck is consistent at what it is trying to do. Basic strategy is to keep the board clear for as long as possible until you can take over the game with a Bride of the Damned, Fallen Singularity, or From The Ashes. You have a plethora of ways to keep the board clean in Cheap Shot, Herofall, Strangle, and Rot Cast.

The deck doesn’t want to miss shard drops and it isn’t playing things like Arcane Focus or Cottontail Explorer to ensure we never miss shard drops. Instead, we are running the full playset of Vampire Prince along with a total of twenty-seven shards. Now don’t get me wrong, twenty-seven shards are a lot. We can offset flooding out with shards by playing the full playset of Wakuna Coins and Necropolis Coins. See, these shards that can draw and replace themselves if need be are very good for any midrange or control deck. It allows you to make your shard drops early while being able to get rid of extra shards late in the game. In this deck, Wakuna Coins are better than Necropolis Coins because the health gain can be huge for us. It could easily mean the difference of winning or losing the game.

Card Choices

Even though Empress is one of the stronger decks out there, I still really like Strangle. Strangle doesn’t hit Commander PROMPT but neither does Rot Cast. Rot Cast does get Tribunal Magistrate where Strangle would not. However, I have been okay with that because Strangle does hit most other threats, like Vampire Queen, Heart of Embers, Exalted Knight, Moonrise Elder, Pulverazor, Paw of Yazukan, Animus of Nulzann, Dark Heart of Nulzann, Gemborn Prowler, Riftwarp Badger, Buzztech Innovator, and Sunsoul Phoenix. Strangle can also team up with Cheap Shot to kill Commander PROMPT or Tribunal Magistrate if necessary. If you only expect to run into Mono Blue Sapphire Uzzu decks, then, by all means, play more Rot Casts, but I think that’s where people fall into a trap. Sure they might be more favored against Empress, but they become worse everywhere else.

Eternal Malice

I’ve had some people ask me why I use Fallen Singularity over Eternal Bastion or Xentoth’s Malice. Here are a few reasons Fallen Singularity is best in slot.

Really quick, let’s go ahead and just rule out any card that puts Banes (Banes are basically just Spiderling Eggs) into our opponent’s deck. The reason being because they are atrocious with Renner’s charge power. Stealing a Bane means that your opponent won’t draw it and you’ll give your opponent the spider. This is why you also don’t see Phenteo the Brood Priest here.

Eternal Bastion isn’t great either, because we don’t have many troops in the deck to draw out our opponent’s removal and it has a huge target on its head. I’d much rather play Fallen Singularity since artifacts are a lot harder to deal with and you shouldn’t have any problems activating your charge power if it sticks around. On top of that, Singularity also grows all your Blood troops every turn and works very well with your charge power since your charge power will turn the card you steal into a Blood card. All the cards in your main deck will trigger Fallen Singularity as well.

Withering Gaze

I am also asked by I don’t include Withering Gaze in the main deck. This is another very common question and it’s because I don’t think the card has enough targets against all the best decks in the format. For example:

Mono Sapphire Uzzu
Consult the Talon is the only card that you’d want to take. But taking Consult isn’t good for our deck because we can’t Mobilize it very well, so if we draw it Consult becomes a dead card.

Ruby/Diamond Marshal Josephina
They have Lazgar’s Vengeance and Decree of Banishing. Lazgar’s Vengeance suffers the same problem as Consult the Talon—we can’t trigger Assault easily. Decree of Banishing will also be rotting in their hand against us most of the time.

Ruby/Blood Ivan Slagpot
They only have Cremate and Lazgar’s Vengeance usually. Both cards you are okay to get, but we are not too excited to have them.

Blood/Wild Kagulichu
Taking a Rotten Rancor doesn’t do much. You really want to hit Herofall here or Strangle, but, even then, I’d rather have a removal for myself and have their removal rot in their hands.

If the meta shifts then I can see running Withering Gaze in the main, but currently Withering Gaze rarely hits against the top decks, and, when it does, it’s just “okay.” Few decks are playing Psychic Ascension, and I’d rather have Steal Intel for Psychic Ascension anyway. So, I have the four Withering Gaze in the Reserves for when we do play against another control deck so we have something to bring in.

If you do want to shave cards main deck then the go to cards are Vampire Prince and Cheap Shot. I’ve just currently been really liking both against the current meta.

Finally, a word about Blood’s Favor. While almost everything else is pretty conventional in the main, Blood’s Favor is not. Blood’s Favor is very good here because the “draw two lose two” mode is important to have in a Control deck. What’s even better is that against aggressive decks you can use it to void their entire crypt and gain a decent amount of health to put you out of reach. I originally started with just a singleton Blood’s Favor, but over time it’s gone up to the full playset and I haven’t looked back.

The Reserves

Withering Gaze, Rot Cast, Steal Intel, and Vampire Princess are pretty common things to find in the Reserves of a Blood deck. Withering Gaze, Steal Intel, and Vampire Princess are all great cards against control decks, while Rot Cast is good against the midrange troop decks and it gives you another great removal option against Mono Sapphire Uzzu. The not so common Reserves cards are these three:

  • Loregoyle Curator: I originally had Gravebane Vial here, but Loregoyle ended up being the better crypt hate card. You can pick what you want to hit with the Loregoyle. Leaving one or all the troops in an enemy’s crypt until you want to remove them is an important choice. Keeping them in the crypt gives you health to gain from Blood’s Favor and allows you to bring a huge troop back with From The Ashes. On top of all that, Loregoyle Curator is a great win condition late game and it comes with a body, unlike Gravebane Vial.
  • Diamond’s Favor: This is a better way than Dark Heart of Nulzann to deal with annoying constants. I like it better than Scouring Light as well because you also have the option of killing a troop with a big butt! It’s one of the few ways to deal with a Gargalith too. Outside of From The Ashes, Gargalith can be a tough one to deal with and Diamond’s Favor can help there.
  • Blackheart Paladin: Dreadlings are a problem for this deck. Anything that makes a bunch of Dreadlings makes your removal bad. Herofall doesn’t pair very well against Wild’s Favor or Dread Deployment. Blackheart Paladin shines in those matchups, nullifying all your opponent’s Dreadlings and forcing them to have something like Tech-tician to push damage through, which in turn makes our removal good again. Another option to play instead of Blackheart Paladin is something like Misery. I just like the body on Blackheart Paladin since it doesn’t die to Strangle or Rot Cast, and if you have multiple out, you’ll reduce more and more damage.

Well, there you have it! This is the deck I’ve been battling with, thoroughly enjoying, and succeeding with as well. If you like controlling the battle, then this deck is for you. It’s not too hard to pilot and has a solid success rate. Thank you for reading and I’ll catch you all later!

Much love,
Ali Aintrazi
@Alieldrazi on Twitter
My Twitch Channel

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