The Mage class in Hearthstone is a class that is one of the more direct ones in the game. By direct I mean in your face. While mages do have some tricky and sneaky cards that can turn your own cards and minions against you, more than anything else they are about direct damage. They can hit and remove just about any other card in the game with a single ability.
While they are capable of being direct they also maintain a whole lot of control as well. Mages make extensive use of the Freeze mechanic through their spells and minions. Once frozen you or your minion can not attack until the following turn when you thaw out.
As a Mage in Hearthstone you will be represented by Jaina Proudmoore of the Alliance and leader of the Kirin Tor and Dalaran.
As a Mage your hero power matches my description of the class pretty well, it is a direct damage ability called Fireblast. This ability costs 2 mana to do a single point of damage to your target.
While 2 mana may seem a bit steep for 1 damage, early in the game it can really help keep your card advantage by clearing off those pesky 1 health minions. Even in the late game it can come through in spades by either plinking off your opponents health here and there, or by finishing off those wounded enemy minions.
When you first start a Mage deck you will be granted many of the basic cards. In addition as you level up your Mage deck you will gain the remainder of the basic class cards by the time you reach level 10.
|Basic Mage Spells|
|Arcane Explosion||2||Deal 1 damage to all enemy minions.|
|Arcane Intellect||3||Draw 2 cards.|
|Arcane Missiles||1||Deal 3 damage split randomly among enemy characters.|
|Fireball||4||Deal 6 damage.|
|Polymorph||4||Transform a minion into a 1/1 sheep.|
|Frostbolt||3||Deal 3 damage to a character and freeze it. [This card is gained at level 2]|
|Mirror Image||1||Summon two 0/1 minions with Taunt. [This card is gained at level 4]|
|Frost Nova||3||Freeze all enemy minions. [This card is gained at level 6]|
|Flamestrike||7||Deal 4 damage to all enemy minions. [This card is gained at level 10]|
|Basic Mage Minions|
|Water Elemental||4||3||6||Freeze any character that water elemental damages. [This card is gained at level 8]|
There are many additional Mage cards than those listed above in the basic card section. These are the Expert cards and can be gained through the purchase or winning of expert card packs. Many of these cards are key to how the class plays and will be required to do well as a Mage.
|Expert Mage Spells|
|Blizzard||Rare||6||Deal 2 damage to all enemy minions and freeze them.|
|Cone of Cold||Common||4||Freeze a minion and all the minions next to it, and deal 1 damage to them.|
|Counterspell||Rare||3||Secret: When your opponent casts a spell, counter it.|
|Ice Barrier||Common||3||Secret: As soon as your hero is attacked, gain 8 armor.|
|Ice Lance||Common||1||Freeze a character. If it was already frozen, deal 4 damage instead.|
|Mirror Entity||Common||3||Secret:When you opponent plays a minion, summon a copy of it.|
|Pyroblast||Epic||10||Deal 10 damage.|
|Spellbender||Epic||3||Secret: When an enemy casts a spell on a minion, summon a 1/3 as the new target.|
|Vaporize||Rare||3||Secret: When a minion attacks your hero, destroy it.|
|Expert Mage Minions|
|Archmage Antonidas||Legendary||7||5||7||Whenever you cast a spell, put a 'Fireball' spell into your hand.|
|Ethereal Arcanist||Rare||4||3||3||If you control a secret at the end of your turn, gain +2/+2.|
Kirin Tor Mage
Battlecry: The next secret you play this turn costs (0).
|Mana Wyrm||Common||1||1||3||Whenever you cast a spell, gain +1 attack.|
|Sorcerer's Apprentice||Common||2||2||2||Your spells cost (1) less.|
Combos are what can win most card games, and for the mage class there is one really big but really simple combo. More than any combo though, try to keep the game under control using these simple tips.
- If you are playing direct damage cards make sure that you also keep at least a few +spell damage minions in your deck. Even your simple 1 damage spells can become a huge threat once you have some spell damage boost abilities in play.
- You don't always have to kill off an enemy, just control them. Keep the game to your pace and things will go far better for you. You may have a huge nuke spell in your hand, along with several cheaper freeze cards and minions. Why use all your mana on that nuke spell, when you can slow the opponent down, freeze the minion and still play another card or two. Save the nuke for later, just control the pace until you really need it.
- Icelance is an amazing card for 1 mana it can freeze or deal big damage to a frozen target. Keep it in your hand until you have a mass freeze like Blizzard or Cone of Cold and then nuke that big enemy minion.
Once you get into more advanced play and combos, you can look at some general cards rather than just sticking with Mage only cards. Here are just a few examples of some really good cards to pair up with a mage deck:
- Any minion with spell power becomes extremely useful, just a few examples are Kobold Geomancer, Dalaran Mage, and Ogre Magi. All are decent enough attack and health for the mana, but all come with spell power as well.
- Azure Drake is an amazing minion at 5 mana. It provides a solid 4/4 minion as well as +1 Spell Power and a card. What more could you want.
- Another really solid minion for a mage deck is the Ancient Mage. At 4 mana for a 2/5 minion he is not a bad deal to start with, however his added bonus is giving adjacent minions +1 spell power. This means that for 4 mana, as long as you have 2 other minions out to place him between, you get a 2/5 minion and +2 spell power. That's a pretty good deal.
- The grand daddy of spell power cards though has got to be Malygos. Malygos is a late game minion at 9 mana, however provides a mind blowing +5 spell power. The big downside is that Malygos is legendary and therefore hard to get.
As a Mage you should attempt to make use of your strengths, which are direct damage and controlling the pace of the game. Here is an example of a deck that does just that.
Kripparrian's Turn Eight Mage Deck
This deck took Kropparrian all the way to the finals at the Hearthstone Innkeeper's Invitational at BlizzCon 2013. It features significant control while still balancing a strong attack. Best of all, it has no legendary cards and only 2 epics, and is therefore fairly easy to build for yourself.
- Minions (16)
- 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
- 2x Argent Commander
- 1x Azure Drake
- 1x Dark Iron Dwarf
- 2x Mana Wyrm
- 2x Shattered Sun Cleric
- 2x Sorcerer's Apprentice
- 2x Spellbreaker
- 2x Water Elemental
- Spells (14)
- 2x Arcane Missiles
- 2x Blizzard
- 2x Cone of Cold
- 2x Fireball
- 2x Frostbolt
- 2x Mirror Image
- 2x Pyroblast
Currently the Arena system is a great place to be if you are a Mage. The spells available to you that can deal massive damage, clear the board, and slow the game, make Mages one of the best classes to play in the Arena.
In the Arena system drafting multiple spells can be a bad thing since they are used once and gone, unlike minions who stick around. However, that is for most classes, and while the use once part is still true of Mage spells, they are far to useful and cheap to be without. Mages have access to many powerful spells that are better than the normal mana curve, and therefore it is OK to grab more spells than other classes could get away with.
One class of spell that is especially useful for Mages and should be learned to be used to maximum effect are the Freeze spells. Timing on these are really important, it is a good idea to save them until you will be taking a lot of damage at once. By this I mean, sure you could cast a Cone of Cold to stop a few 1/1 or 2/2 minions on turn 3, but unless you have another backup spell for the next turn, why not save it for one round and include the next bigger minion that gets summoned. This is really a learned as well as situational call, but one that needs to be mastered to do well with a Mage. Remember the point above, each spell is usable only once, make the best use of it.
It's all about control with a Mage. You will have some big hitters in your deck, but most are late game hitters. Make sure you control the pace of the game throughout. A Mage deck that does well, is generally one that can keep the board clean of all minions until the late game, and even then keep a board advantage.
While the actual game play remains the same between constructed format play and arena play, the actual value and strength of specific cards can change drastically. This is due to the limited pool of cards that each player will have available to them. It is therefore important to understand which cards are of the most value in the Arena when drafting.
When playing in the Arena and drafting your deck, some of the best cards to draft for the Mage class are as outlined below along with some reasoning. They are listed in alphabetical order.
- Blizzard - Provides two big benefits in one card. It can clear weak minions with its 2 damage per minion, as well as delaying big minions due to its freeze ability.
- Cone of Cold - A weaker version of Blizzard but extremely useful in the early game to clear weak minions and even in the late game to stall big minions.
- Fireball - 6 damage for 4 mana, need I say more?
- Flamestrike- 4 damage to all enemy minions for 7 mana, arguably the best clearing spell in the game.
- Pyroblast - A must have game winner. It essentially means you only need to do 20 damage and last until turn 10 to win the game.
- Polymorph - A great cheap spell to get rid of huge enemy minions.
- Mana Wyrm - Since a mage uses so many spells, this minion can get big quickly, making your opponent deal with it.
- Water Elemental - A solid defensive minion for a cheap mana cost. Extremely useful against classes that use weapons, since you will stop them in their tracks with this minion.
You can also find a listing of the general non-class specific cards that are the best to draft in the arena format in these two guides:
Comments on Mages in Hearthstone
As with any of the classes in Hearthstone there are many different winning strategies. The ideas and decks above are just the start. If you have alternate ideas on decks or methods to use the basic or expert cards for the Druid class in Hearthstone, please feel free to share them in our comment section below.