Welcome again to the Messiah's series of weekly articles that takes a look at some of the most popular, powerful, or just plain interesting deck builds that are out there for the Hearthstone Constructed Deck format.
MAGE – NAXX TEMPO MAGE DECK
This week I look at a deck that has become popular in just the last few days online in the ladders. Apparently it has been being used for a few weeks now, but after Icegirl went on Decktalk to discuss it, it has become hugely popular.
There are already a few minor variations of it floating around the ladders, but here I will focus on the original. It is meant to be able to take on Zoo and Miracle decks and to make use of the Undertaker and Mad Scientist cards for solid effect in a competitive environment.
While it was made to have a strong early game tempo, it also has a solid late game as well. This makes it a very versatile deck that is a lot of fun to play.
- 2x Mana Wyrm
- 2x Frostbolt
- 1x Counterspell
- 1x Duplicate
- 1x Mirror Entity
- 2x Fireball
- 2x Polymorph
- 2x Water Elemental
- 1x Flamestrike
- 2x Undertaker
- 1x Bloodmage Thalnos
- 2x Loot Hoarder
- 2x Mad Scientist
- 2x Harvest Golem
- 2x Azure Drake
- 2x Sludge Belcher
- 1x Cairne Bloodhoof
- 1x Sylvanas Windrunner
- 1x Kel’Thuzad
Most of the cards in this deck are pretty good just by themselves as the deck is meant to be a tempo deck and therefore each card needs to provide threat.
Mad Scientist – This minion is fast becoming a favourite for all classes that have secrets. In this Mage deck he is specifically here to trade off against other early game minions. In this way you get a 2/2 minion for 2 mana which is good, but then you also get rid of a 2 health enemy minion, and then get a free secret.
Counterspell, Duplicate, and Mirror Entity – These cards are in the deck to provide added power to your Mad Scientist and provide some options to counter enemy cards.
Undertaker – An awesome minion when used in a deck like this one that is loaded full of minions with Deathrattle. There are 11 minions in this deck that have deathrattle and 7 of them are 3 mana or less meaning you can power him up quickly.
Sludge Belcher – A great defensive minion for any deck, made even better in this deck with Kel’Thuzad that can bring them back when they die.
Cairne Bloodhoof and Sylvanas Windrunner – Two late game cards to provide some end game power and help you win while still having deathrattle abilities to power up your other cards.
Kel’Thuzad – A real star in a deck like this full of deathrattle abilities. In the late game you can summon him, trade several of your minions against enemy minions, and then get them all back, plus make use of their deathrattle abilities.
IDEAL OPENING HAND CARDS
This deck can put out a lot of pressure early and can keep it going almost forever thanks to some very nice synergy between cards.
The best cards to start with are any cards that allow you to start putting out that pressure early. Meaning cards like Mana Wyrm, Undertaker, Mad Scientist, and potentially even Frostbolt when teamed with a Mana Wyrm.
There are several cards that you will obviously never want to keep in an opening hand, like all the cards that cost 4 or more, no matter how good they are. However, even secrets should never be kept in the opening hand if you can help it. In fact, you never want to draw them, you only want them to come into play through the Mad Scientist.
As mentioned earlier, you really want to control the early game though high value minions. Playing a Mana Wyrm first turn and then Frostbolting the enemies first minion on turn 2 is a great start.
Another strong start is an Undertaker into any of your 7 minions that cost 2 mana and have deathrattle. However it is sometimes better to delay this a turn, as that way you can get both out at the same time and make it harder for your opponent to remove your Undertaker. This will depend on your opponent and if you are going first or second.
Throughout the mid-game you want to keep putting out high value minions with a preference towards your Mad Scientists as soon as you get them. This is done so that they draw out your secrets before you actually draw them. Follow this up with Azure Drakes and Sludge Belchers, especially right after you get your Duplicate into play. Water Elementals are in the deck to help control the opponents large minions, slowing them down for a turn or two.
Once you get to the late game, you have several big minions with which to win the game as well as a pair of Fireballs that can help finish of your opponent. Some of the best minions team up extremely well with your biggest minion, Kel’thuzad. He adds so much to this deck, even if your opponent kills him on their turn. That’s because you can get your other strong end game minions into play and then bring him in on a subsequent turn. Attack with them into your enemy minions to clear the board, and hopefully kill some of your own minions and trigger their deathrattle (such as on Cairne Bloodhoof, Sylvanas Windrunner, and even Sludge Belcher) and then get them back again right away due to his ability.
This deck is extremely strong against zoo decks as it has early game matches for these decks and then has bigger and better minions later. However pure Rush decks can cause issues since the deck has very few taunts and only one AOE for removal.
This deck is not over the top powerful, and there are some holes in it, such as lack of taunts and AOE. But, it has so many interesting little combos and so much cross card synergy that it makes it a lot of fun to play.
There are already a few different versions of this deck floating around to play with. One such deck that this one is compared to is by one of my favourite internet personalities the Cynical Brit (Totalbiscuit) which takes a similar look at key cards for value, however since it is based on a Warlock deck, I may deal with that deck list separately and at a different point in time.
The other Mage decks that have sprung from this deck, actually change very few cards, but they can have a dramatic effect. These are just a few of the cards that can be looked at to change up the deck:
Loatheb – This minion is quickly becoming a staple in almost any deck out there. He is a solid minion at 5/5 for 5 mana, but his ability to delay your opponents spells by a turn can be a game changer and makes him well worth including.
Pyroblast – Many players feel that this card really needs to be in ANY Mage deck as in one turn it does 1/3 of your opponents health, and 2 of them in the late game can kill anyone.
Baron Rivendare – In a deck full of minions with Deathrattle, along with Kel’Thuzad to bring them back to life, the Baron is a great choice. He has the potential to add a lot of power to your deck, if he lives.
Feugen + Stalagg – These are pretty good minions on their own, but with Kel’Thuzad and potentially Baron Rivendare they can potentially give you multiple Thaddius minions! Dealing with one Thaddius is hard enough, never mind several. Better yet, once one gets into play your opponent is going to be so busy dealing with him, that the other minions that allow him to come into play are likely going to be ignored, allowing you to get a second later!
HOW TO PLAY AGAINST IT
Playing against this deck is either really hard or really easy. There seems to be little middle ground.
If you are playing Zoo, Handlock, almost any Tempo deck, or Miracle Rogue, expect to have serious issues against it.
On the flip side, if you are playing a Shaman Deck, Certain Warrior Decks, or any Rush straight to the face deck, this deck suffers badly.
No matter what type of deck you are playing there are some things that you can do to help your chances. Firstly, you can prioritize the threats in the deck. Silencing Mad Scientists early for example grant you a subtle card advantage. The Scientists are only there to trade and get secrets into play, if you remove that free secret ability, then it means that the deck has to draw them and then pay to play them, losing both card and mana advantage. Late game silences or non-direct removal (hex, polymorph, etc) need to go towards the high threat cards like Cairne Bloodhoof, and Kel’thuzad.
Throughout a match against this deck it is also a good idea to ignore the minions as much as possible and go after your opponent directly. Since there are so few taunt minions, and since it has no heals, any amount of damage adds up over time and is hard to prevent.
If you are like the rest of us, you will likely have had to face this deck many times over the last week, so you should probably make one for yourself and get used to how it works so that you can better deal with it when you face it.
Thanks to Icegirl for an awesome and different take on the Mage deck. Everyone should give it a shot and share your thoughts on it here.