How To Beat Tempo Mage

This week's Ladder is swarmed with Tempo Mage! Learn how to Deal with it in Nuba's lastest CFWS!


I don’t believe this was the most requested CFWS article ever wrote. That is right, I didn’t even want to write about Tempo Mage, but you guys… Now, that was a spam!

Well well, now in case you are wondering what is this CFWS fuss all about, CFWS (Short for Countering the Flavor of the Week Series) is a series of articles (duuuhh Nuba, duhh!!) that focus completely on countering specific Meta decks, in this week’s case: Tempo Mage.

On these series we try to dissect everything about a deck, showing how it works, its strengths and weaknesses, so it becomes the easiest to defeat that said deck.

Let’s get right into the action!

The Deck

Tempo Mage was always a fringe deck in the metagame, usually popping up to counter specific decks in the ladder, it was never a big guy.

The fact mage posses a number of strong and relevant spells, combined with mad-scientist’s super overpowerness when played in conjunction with Mage’s secrets, the strongest and most expensive ones in the game, makes it so Mage becomes a class that has ease in generating Tempo through the game.

Tempo Mage also got a significant buff in Blackrock Mountain with the addition of the all-star Mage card, flamewaker, which allowed the deck to keep up with other decks that got buffed as well.

This specific metagame is very favorable to Tempo Mage: Being able to counter 2 of the 3 most powerful decks in the meta: Patron Warrior and Midrange Hunter, the deck is very well positioned in the ladder, which makes it so some guys were able to reach top #1 Legend with the deck, and therefore the deck becomes copied all over the ladder, from ranks 20 to Legend, meaning it is a nice time to write something about countering the deck.

As a personal note, I didn’t want to write about this deck very much, because of how inconsistent it is and how it has the potential to losing even the most favorable of the matchups just because of that (which is the reason why this will never be a tier-1 deck). This deck is also very luck-dependant, so if you are like me and hate RNG you can simply skip playing this deck altogether. Regardless of all that, the number of requests for a Tempo Mage CFWS was so high that I just had to write something about this deck.

The featured list is today’s most consistent Tempo Mage list, made by Huyunher, which has archmage-antonidas added to its core with the idea of having a better late game. The list itself is better than the other ones, so we’ll stick with it, there is also a huge guide about it, written by our friend Anthony in the Premium section of our website in case you want to take a look at it, just click here and check it out!

There are a lot of different versions of Tempo Mage, but overall there are a lot of similarities in the game-plan against Tempo Mage in general, and that is what we’ll try to focus here.

The Deck’s Strengths

The name of the Deck itself helps a lot to understand the deck’s strengths, but it is still nice to point them all, seeing as how needed it is to know the Deck’s strengths in order to learn how to beat it.

  • Tempo – As the Deck’s name state, this deck is very powerful in generating tempo. But what is Tempo? According to Wiki, Tempo is: the advantage gained when a player is able to play more or stronger cards in a shorter period of time due to efficient resource allocation. A companion concept to card advantage, it is sometimes defined as the means by which a player gains additional options or decreases the options possessed by the opponent by means not directly pertaining to respective numbers of playable cards(*). In this deck’s case, cards like Mad Scientist, sorcerers-apprentice, unstable-portal, mana-wyrm and Cheap Removal are very strong at generating tempo, thus the Deck’s name.
  • Value – The Deck’s cards are not only capable of generating Tempo, they are also capable of generating value early. Cards like flamewaker and mana-wyrm are capable of generating a lot of value out of cheap spells like Spare Parts, mirror-image and the arsenal of cheap removal.
  • Aggro – The deck Aggro oriented, which means it has the potential to rush down an opponent before he even has time to respond accordingly.

(*) – Tempo is an MTG (Magic: The Gathering) concept and is much better applied there, but there is still ways to apply such a concept in Hearthstone. Despite all this, this deck isn’t solely a Tempo deck, because it has cards that go the other way around, such as arcane-intellect, which are there with the sole idea of generating Card Advantage and nothing more, and overall Tempo decks to best function can only obtain Card Advantage through ways of keeping board position(such as azure-drake), because otherwise they’re literally losing tempo. Because of how Hearthstone works (minions are also removal), every deck has the potential of being a Control deck. What is more important is that this deck is capable of playing either the Control, the Aggro or the Tempo role if drawn into the correct cards.

The Deck’s Weaknesses

I gave you guys a little already about my opinion regarding this deck a few sections back, and that is also part of its weaknesses. After knowing how the deck works and its strong points, getting to learn the Deck’s weaknesses is most important because you’ll then get to know how to best exploit them:

Weak Cards – The deck posses a Bunch of weak cards that are only good in conjunction with other cards, such as clockwork-gnome, mirror-image and to a lesser extent flamecannon. Overall its recommended to get rid of cards that are able to take advantage of these cheap, but weak, spells to generate value from. Cards such as mana-wyrm, flamewaker and archmage-antonidas should be killed on sight, and if you do so, the deck’s strength is diminished greatly.

Inconsistency – As talked before, this deck is very inconsistent, and sometimes getting the cards in the wrong order can screw you up. As the opposing player, try to snowball the game as quick as possible when you see the Tempo mage struggling with his/her own deck. Keep threats in your hand if you want to, but overall overextending isn’t really punished in any way: Only a very small minority of the Tempo Mage players use flamestrike.

Too Focused on Secrets in the Midrange Match – Let me try to explain this. The deck is very favored in Midrange Matchups, but it relies in winning with 1 of these 2 methods: Either it snowballs and have removal such as fireball to deal with Midrange Threats, or it wins by copying minions with well-timed mirror-entitys and getting more value out of it than the opponent. Now, even though the Deck is nearly unbeatable for the Midrange in case the first thing happens, there are ways of countering the second option, and since we just learned the Deck is very inconsistent, the first option won’t happen very often.

How to Fight it!

There is a plethora of tips I can give you regarding this matchup, for every kind of different situation I mean. To be honest I haven’t thought about them in a correct order, so i’ll just keep typing them as they come to mind:

  • Run kezan-mystic on your Midrange deck. I would recommend not playing Midrange altogether, and instead skipping to a Face Hunter deck, or a Control one (like Handlock, or even Priest), but in case you really want to play Midrange, Kezan Mystic is a must. It’s also very strong against Hunter, which is also one of the top-tier decks in this metagame, so running Kezan is a must regardless of Tempo Mage. Also take note that even in the high-end of the ladder, decks with Kezan have an edge overall, so that is a plus for using it.
  • I would advise playing either Face Hunter or Heavy Control decks, like Handlock or Priest. Both these Control Decks have an immense edge against Tempo Mage, not only being able to disrupt their board, but also able to completely ignore the secret and making it so the opponent doesn’t generate value from it, even without running Kezan Mystic. Fine examples of this is getting the secret to copy either deathlord, zombie-chow, ancient-watcher, wild-pyromancer, a Taunt give like sunfury-protector and defender-of-argus, and so on. The number of ways to get through a Mirror Entity without getting harm are just too big, and the deck itself excels at clearing board while interacting either very little with it early on (handlock), or heavily enough that it can not be contested (Priest).
  • Did I just forgot to mention how devastating cabal-shadow-priest is in this metagame? Run 2 of them, please.
  • On the game itself, try to focus the minions I talked about on the Strengths section, those are the key cards that keep on generating value and/or tempo through the game. Just to make sure, remember those minions are: sorcerers-apprentice, mana-wyrm, flamewaker and archmage-antonidas.
  • Keep in mind its better to use removal than to cast a minion, unless that minion is a giant bomb (Hello, Handlock) because of how the deck interacts and how easy it is to remove a Midrange/Small minion while the Tempo Mage’s minions keep on punching your face.

Well, I guess I just said everything that came to mind at this point, if you recall anything regarding the matchup I somehow forgot to mention this or the previous section, feel free to post it in the comments!

This Week’s Meta Suggestions

Well, I already gave you guys some hints on some of the decks I am going to suggest you playing this week, so i’ll just go ahead and post them first: “Chinese Priest” and “Handlock” are the most favorable decks to be played this week, that is uncontested. Unless, of course, you want to keep playing the Flavor of the Week decks, which are Midrange Hunter and Patron Warrior, but since we all know those lists I decided not to be posting those here.

Lets start with my Personal Builds:


Both are slightly adaptations of currently existing builds.

The Handlock has the addition of Zombie Chows to fight the early game pressure of decks such as Tempo Mage, Face Hunter and Zoo. While the Priest one has Dr. Boom added to its core instead of stronger late game threats such as ysera or nefarian. The Priest deck also has a pair of dragonskin-sorcerers, because I think they’re more sinergic with Priest’s spells as well as possibly capable of generating more value than the Shredder themselves.

As some small mulligan guide for the Priest deck (since we all know Handlock mulligan guide is almost a huge book), try to keep the early game minions such as Northshire, Zombie Chow and Gilblin Stalker, in case you do have one of these minions, you can also keep Power Word: Shield, Deathlord and Velen’s Chosen. Do not forget to keep Jones against both Paladins, Warriors and Rogues.


We then move on to the non-Nuba decklists.

The first one is Snipedagain’s Oil Rogue, which is basically the standard Oil Rogue list we all know and love, but with the swap of the dual violet-teacher for a pair of piloted-shredder, mostly because of the Hunter resurgence that happened between the Oil Rogue’s downfall and the Hunter’s rise.

The second deck is Joseph’s personal Aggro Paladin deck. The guy made a pretty absurd guide about it on his Weekly Legend Series, don’t forget to check it out! There you’ll literally find everything you want to know about the deck!


Aaaand this was today’s Countering the Flavor of the Week Article. I hope you guys have been enjoying what we are bringing you with the CFWS series. There are just so much you can learn about a deck playing with it, and it is nice playing all these different decks just to give you guys a heads up on how to Counter it. Playing with a deck for a certain amount of time is the best way of learning how to play against it, and that is what I do here so you guys don’t have to take the same route I do!

Have any questions? Suggestions? Do not forget to post them in the comments section, and I’ll be trying to respond them as quick as possible! Feedback is always welcome, no matter if positive or negative!

Love you guys, see you next time!