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Highlander Mage (also known as Reno Mage) is a Mage deck type that utilizes highlander cards like Saviors of UldumReno the Relicologist and Saviors of UldumZephrys the Great to outlast opponents. Reno Mage has access to a variety of cards to outlast the opponent and generate value. A Standard Reno Mage would be able to utilize Rise of ShadowsConjurer's Calling and LegacyMountain Giant, Saviors of UldumKing Phaoris, and Rastakhan's RumbleHex Lord Malacrass to generate value in the late game. Saviors of UldumReno the Relicologist, Saviors of UldumFlame Ward, and LegacyDoomsayer also keep Reno Mage safe in the early game.

In Wild, Reno Mage not only has access to The League of ExplorersReno Jackson, Mean Streets of GadgetzanKazakus, and Mean Streets of GadgetzanInkmaster Solia, but also a Deathrattle package with N'zoth, the Corruptor, causing Reno Mage to be even stronger in Wild, especially against aggressive decks.

Deck type[]

Reno Mage is a highly versatile deck, being particular "modular". A typical Reno Mage deck would utilize packages of cards synergizing to some mechanics. This is also seen in other control decks, especially in other Highlander decks, but nowhere near the degree of Reno Mage. Some common packages of cards Reno Mage has access to includes Secrets, Deathrattles, and summoning.

Many typical Reno Mage decks don't feature a particular win-condition, and victories are mostly accomplished through consistently controlling the board and outvaluing the opponent. Due to Reno Mage's ability to adapt to the meta, Reno Mage will almost certainly be viable under any meta, and this is what often put Reno Mage at an advantage compared to other Highlander decks.

Against aggro decks, Reno Mage can consistently stall with cards like LegacyFrost Nova, LegacyDoomsayer, and Saviors of UldumFlame Ward, then establish a board and slowly recover in the late game with The League of ExplorersReno Jackson and LegacyFlamestrike. Due to the nature of Highlander decks, more value-oriented Reno Mage variants often depend heavily on luck in the early game to survive. Cards such as Journey to Un'GoroTar Creeper, and LegacyIce Barrier are often played in Reno Mage when aggro decks are prevalent in the current meta.

Against control decks, Reno Mage can likely outvalue the opponent, with access to a variety to Hearthstone's most efficient removal tools such as LegacyPolymorph and LegacyFlamestrike. Reno Mage often struggles with Highlander mirrors due to its focus on tempo, and being inconsistent at removing large boards such as those created by Whispers of the Old GodsN'Zoth, the Corruptor or Knights of the Frozen ThroneBloodreaver Gul'dan.

Against combo decks, Reno Mage has a few combo-disruption cards such as Mean Streets of GadgetzanPotion of Polymorph, and NaxxramasDeathlord. LegacyIce Block can also disrupt many combos, such as Rastakhan's RumbleShirvallah, the Tiger and LegacyHoly Wrath combo in Holy Wrath Paladin. If combo decks become very popular, Reno Mage can also react by using Mean Streets of GadgetzanDirty Rat, Rise of ShadowsHecklebot, or Rise of ShadowsUnseen Saboteur.

LegacyIce Block also makes The League of ExplorersReno Jackson much more useful. Other Highlander decks are often forced to play Reno suboptimally to be safe. With Ice Block, however, Reno Mage can save Reno because Ice Block almost guarantees a turn of survival. Due to Ice Block, Reno Mage decks can often play Reno at around 1 health, making the most out of an already valuable card.

Although Reno Mage can easily adapt to the meta, it is difficult for Reno Mage to change playstyles in a particular game. Reno Mage lacks tools for applying pressure early in the game, whereas Renolock has Goblins vs GnomesMal'Ganis and NaxxramasVoidcaller, and Highlander Priest has LegacyNorthshire Cleric and Mean Streets of GadgetzanDrakonid Operative. Alongside not having tools to apply pressure, Reno Mage also struggles with hand manipulation and card generation, making it even more difficult to change playstyles during a game. Against Mech Hunter, Highlander Priest decks could use Journey to Un'GoroShadow Visions for Kobolds & CatacombsPsychic Scream, but when facing Aggro Druid, use Shadow Visions for Whispers of the Old GodsShadow Word: Horror. A Renolock for instance, can also use Saviors of UldumExpired Merchant to manipulate the hand. A Control Warrior would also be able to use Rise of ShadowsOmega Devastator in the early game as a decently-sized threat against an aggro deck, but save it for removal when facing a control deck. Reno Mage has no similar card or combination of cards like that of the above-mentioned decks to change playstyles during a game.

History[]

When Reno was first released in League of Explorers, Mage was not the best class to play him in. At the time, Freeze Mage was a much better option for Mage, and Warrior was generally a better fit for Reno. One year later, following the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, Mage, alongside the other Kabal classes, received Mean Streets of GadgetzanKazakus. Reno Mage was then made into a competitive deck with Highlander Priest and Renolock. Reno Mage was able to perform better against aggro decks compared to other control decks at the time, with LegacyFrost Nova, LegacyBlizzard, LegacyFlamestrike, and LegacyPolymorph.

Reno Mage quickly fell out of favor again one expansion later after the Year of the Mammoth rotation made The League of ExplorersReno Jackson a Wild-exclusive card. Highlander Priest consistently outperformed Reno Mage for the entirety of the Year of the Mammoth. After the Year of the Raven rotation, Mean Streets of GadgetzanKazakus, Mean Streets of GadgetzanInkmaster Solia, Mean Streets of GadgetzanRaza the Chained, and Mean Streets of GadgetzanKrul the Unshackled all rotated into Wild, making all Highlander decks in the Year of the Raven Wild-exclusive. In Wild, Renolock was often favored much more compared to other Highlander decks due to its demon package with NaxxramasVoidcaller, Kobolds & CatacombsVoidlord, Malganis, and LegacySense Demons.

Highlander-supporting cards were added again in Saviors of Uldum with Saviors of UldumZephrys the Great and Saviors of UldumReno the Relicologist, bringing the archetype back to Standard. Mage was one of the four classes to receive class-specific Highlander-supporting cards, resulting in Reno Mage being popular among the new Highlander decks. Reno Mage was especially powerful in the first weeks of Savior of Uldum with The Boomsday ProjectLuna's Pocket Galaxy and Rise of ShadowsConjurer's Calling, and their supporting cards Rise of ShadowsKalecgos, LegacyMountain Giant, and Saviors of UldumTortollan Pilgrim. After the nerfs to Luna's Pocket Galaxy and Conjurer's Calling in Patch 15.0.4.33402, Reno Mage fell out of favor again, but still remained as a valid competitive deck.

After receiving more support in Descent of Dragons with Descent of DragonsDragonqueen Alexstrasza and a powerful Dragon package, Highlander Mage made a resurgence in the meta, as one of the most played decks in this period, Highlander Mage was even more powerful in tournaments due to players having the ability to control their matchups. As a strongly matchup-dependent deck, this made Highlander Mage much more popular in competitive settings than it was in Ranked Mode. In Wild, the new spell-generating Dragon cards like Descent of DragonsArcane Breath, Descent of DragonsMalygos, Aspect of Magic, and Descent of DragonsCobalt Spellkin greatly synergized with Journey to Un'GoroOpen the Waygate. Paired with other staples in Reno Mage like Saviors of UldumZephrys the Great, Mean Streets of GadgetzanKazakus, Rise of ShadowsRay of Frost, and Journey to Un'GoroPrimordial Glyph, the quest was completed effortlessly. As a result, combo-oriented Highlander Mage decks started to dominate the Wild meta. Additionally, Rise of ShadowsArchmage Vargoth granting three turns in a row allowed easy victories even when the Giants for the combo were not drawn.

In Ashes of Outland, Highlander Mage still remained a competitively viable deck in both formats, but still suffered a decreases in popularity due to the heavy disadvantage against Demon Hunter. However, the subsequent nerf to both Demon Hunter and Descent of DragonsBad Luck Albatross once again proved the competitive viability of Highlander Mage in Standard. The nerf to Journey to Un'GoroOpen the Waygate was a severe blow on Wild Highlander Mage causing it to no longer hold a dominating position in the meta. It's also a pretty affordable deck archetype for new and returning players, as long as they're eligible for a free deck; the Mage free deck, "Reno's Riches", contains most of the core Highlander Mage package, including the three key legendaries — Reno the Relicologist, Zephrys the Great and Dragonqueen Alexstrasza.

Common cards[]

Core Standard cards[]

The following cards are played in most or all Standard versions of the deck:

Astromancer Solarian
Doomsayer
Zephrys the Great
Arcane Intellect
Frost Nova
Fireball
Polymorph
Blizzard
Khartut Defender
Reno the Relicologist
Flamestrike
Power of Creation
Dragonqueen Alexstrasza
Reno Jackson
The Amazing Reno

Optional Standard cards[]

The following Standard cards are played more than occasionally, but not always:

Violet Spellwing
Learn Draconic
Ray of Frost
Bloodmage Thalnos
Frostbolt

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Arcane Amplifier
Flame Ward
Ice Barrier
Vulpera Scoundrel
Bone Wraith
Conjurer's Calling
Rolling Fireball
Archmage Antonidas
Siamat
Deep Freeze
Alexstrasza
King Phaoris
Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron

Dragon Package[]

Arcane Breath
Azure Explorer
Big Ol' Whelp
Cobalt Spellkin
Malygos, Aspect of Magic
Dragoncaster
Kalecgos

Core Wild cards[]

The following cards are played in most or all Standard versions of the deck:

Mad Scientist
Primordial Glyph
Brann Bronzebeard
Ice Block
Flame Ward
Zola the Gorgon
Kazakus
Zilliax
Meteor
Reno Jackson
Frost Lich Jaina

Deathrattle package[]

Deathlord
Rotten Applebaum
Sludge Belcher
Sylvanas Windrunner
N'Zoth, the Corruptor

Secret package[]

Arcane Flakmage
Arcanologist
Medivh's Valet
Counterspell
Duplicate
Potion of Polymorph
Cloud Prince

Quest package[]

Open the Waygate
Banana Buffoon
Archmage Vargoth
Mana Giant
Arcane Giant

Optional Wild cards[]

The following Wild cards are played more than occasionally, but not always:

Babbling Book
Magic Trick
Mistress of Mixtures
Zombie Chow
Arcane Blast
Dirty Rat
Golakka Crawler
Pyros
Gluttonous Ooze
Voodoo Doll
Stargazer Luna
Forgotten Torch
Volcanic Potion
Antique Healbot
Azure Drake
Elise the Trailblazer
Skulking Geist
Emperor Thaurissan
Inkmaster Solia
Luna's Pocket Galaxy
Ragnaros the Firelord
Yogg-Saron, Hope's End


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