Exploring Tempo Mage (WotOG Edition)

Hey, guys! I’m Chriseroi, a “pretty okay” Hearthstone player who started in June of 2015 and has been playing and enjoying it ever since! While I love reading a lot of these guides on Hearthstone Players from various parts of the community, I noticed that a lot of people seemed to be writing off Tempo […]

Introduction

Hey, guys! I’m Chriseroi, a “pretty okay” Hearthstone player who started in June of 2015 and has been playing and enjoying it ever since! While I love reading a lot of these guides on Hearthstone Players from various parts of the community, I noticed that a lot of people seemed to be writing off Tempo Mage as a meh deck recently, which I absolutely reject because it’s actually amazing for lots of reasons (Tempo Mage being my most favorite deck to play not having anything to do with it at all). I made this deck a couple weeks ago around the beginning of the Wrath of the Old Gods meta in the middle of May, but it’s still doing me justice now and it can deal with any class in the meta, given you’ve got the skill. And if you don’t, well, a handy guide can be found on the article you’re about to read right now! Lucky you!

Deck Insight

Now, I’m not going to explain every card in the deck – not only would that drag on, but it’d basically be reciting information that’s been around in the Hearthstone meta for a long time, and most are self-explanatory.

But, there are a couple of really important cards, both new and old, that are essential to making this deck work, especially in today’s meta, so let me point them out here so you guys know how they work and why they work.

Cult Sorcerer – What a card. This guy is probably the stand-out card that Blizzard could have ever added for Mage in the WotOG expansion, and I’m sure you guys knew this immediately when you first saw the card. I mean, look a 3/2 body for a 2-drop is already fantastic, passing the vanilla test, but the spell damage is phenomenal, and the buff effect is especially powerful in a cthun deck as well, but we don’t even need C’Thun to make fantastic use out of this guy. A 5-mana combo with Cult Sorcerer and Frostbolt can already take out tons of 4-health minions and it can undoubtedly make a sizeable dent in the late game on any large minion. This card is, simply put, amazing.

sorcerers-apprentice – It’s still a really staple card if only because it discounts so many cards in our arsenal, and the prospect of playing Arcane Missiles or Mirror Image for free is WAY too much value to pass up, even if it doesn’t come around very often. But playing Mirror Image right after Flamewaker and sorcerers-apprentice on turn five is a move that you’ll love doing whenever you do get the chance, trust me.

Flamewaker – Okay, fine, without Flamewaker, Tempo Mage would probably be a whole lot weaker and maybe even unviable in the meta, but that just demonstrates how strong this guy is. If you can combo with Flamewaker even twice, he can potentially swing the game in your favor very fast, allowing you to take down aggro decks while continuously pressuring midrange decks, allowing you to make decisions that draw yourself tempo and simultaneously increase your chances of controlling the board and, well, winning the game.

Polymorphcthun is still played pretty heavily these days, and when he gets out on the board, depending on how late it is in the game, you might not come out alive. But on the chance that you do, Polymorph lets you get rid of cthun without allowing Doomcaller to reshuffle the legendary, which is fantastic hard removal.

cabalists-tome – This card is fantastic in Tempo Mage and in every other Mage deck, really, mainly thanks to the wide variety of cool and useful spells that Mage has. In fact, because this is a Tempo Mage deck, you will never get a bad spell, because you can always use it to activate Cult Sorcerer, Flamewaker, or Archmage Antonidas. cabalists-tome is not only a great way to replenish your hand but it’s also a great card for setting up combos with minions on the board.

Servant of Yogg-Saron – This card’s kind of a “meh” card, if only because it’s pretty variable on what kind of spell is being cast, resulting in unreliable effects on the board (more of them bad than good). Honestly, I’d replace this guy with another Cult Sorcerer if you have him, which was a suggestion made to me by vamp9190.

Faceless Summoner – Oh man, this guy is phenomenal. Faceless Summoner gives you a 5/5 body and a 3-drop, which is pretty difficult for opponents to remove efficiently, it gifts you a great amount of tempo, and it simply grants board presence. If this card isn’t used more often in Mage decks, I’m quitting Hearthstone (okay not really but still). It’s even better than Sylvannas Windrunner in certain situations!

Flamestrike – With such a board-centric meta these days, Flamestrike will more often than not provide some good value in the late-game, provided you already have a board, of course. Because it’s not going to be useful all the time, however, we only run one, but more often than not that one copy will be more than enough.

General Instructions

Mulligan

  • Except for Frostbolt in certain situations, you should always be throwing away your spells and high-cost minions in search of your early game minions: Mana Wyrm, Cult Sorcerer, sorcerers-apprentice, and Flamewaker.
  • This is important: even if you think you have a good hand of spells, you’ll always rather play low-cost minions in the early game and save spells to activate Flamewaker.

Tips

  • If you don’t have board presence, play a minion over a spell. The goal of Tempo Mage is to put pressure on your opponent while pushing the game in your favor, and a lack of board presence will not help do that.
  • Try to hold your cards to maximize their synergetic value (i.e. cards like sorcerers-apprentice, Flamewaker, Archmage Antonidas) but if you’re behind on the board and you don’t have any other choices, feel free to play the card to get ahead, because you can’t play a good combo if you’re not alive to play it.
  • I’d play Ethereal Conjurer over Azure Drake if I know that whatever is left in my deck will not be as helpful as a spell that I could get from Ethereal Conjurer.
  • Remember to always have board control, but make sure to not play right into an area-of-effect (AOE) spell by the opponent. Generally, the rule is three minions at a time, and even when you think you’re about to win the game, don’t overextend – you’ll never know when the opponent can make a comeback.
  • Play your cards in the right order! Play sorcerers-apprentice before you play any spells so that they’re all discounted, take down Huge Toad before you play Loot Hoarder on the board – these are all simple moves that could cost you the game if played incorrectly.

Class Matchups

Warrior

  • There’s a crazy amount of Warrior archetypes in the meta right now, but generally, definitely follow the standard Tempo Mage mulligan I listed earlier as it’s generally effective against all Warrior decks.
  • Don’t use Arcane Missiles against Control Warrior, because cards like Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain love getting pinged multiple times.
  • Again, don’t overextend your board, because Brawl really destroys the board and could swing it in the opponent’s favor if you weren’t careful.
  • Before you’re thinking of dropping high-value targets like Archmage Antonidas, bait out their removal like Execute and Shield Slam, but most of the time you’d only play Archmage Antonidas if you can make use of his ability on the same turn.
  • If it’s Patron Warrior, definitely try to save Flamestrike to leave a huge dent in their board of Grim Patron and Frothing Berserker.
  • I haven’t seen too much Pirate Warrior recently, but they traditionally tend to be aggro-centric, so try to tempo out with Flamewaker and clear their board, since their burst potential is ridiculous. Mirror Image is a great card against this deck and aggro decks in general in order to protect your early game minions.

Shaman

  • Most Shaman decks use the same core cards, so stick to the default mulligan and try to control the board. Curving out with Flamewaker and spells is the most ideal play here.
  • If it’s a Midrange Shaman, definitely consider using Polymorph on a Thing From Below or a Flamewreathed Faceless to control the board and pressure the opponent.
  • Always save Flamestrike for when you absolutely need it, because Shaman boards can get ridiculous very fast due to overload.
  • If it’s an Aggro Shaman, keep their board clear using your spells and drop as many minions as you can, but most Aggro Shaman players ignore your minions anyway, so don’t focus too much on creating a strong board if you need to protect yourself first.

Rogue

  • Focus on clearing their board using Flamewaker and spell synergies, using Polymorph on insanely buffed minions such as Edwin Van Cleef or double Cold Blood, and save Flamestrike for a board full of stealthed minions.
  • As always, make sure to control the board and remove their minions through efficient trades and spells as soon as possible.

Paladin

  • I’ve mostly seen a lot of Divine Aggro Paladin and some Control Paladin on the ladder, but go about it the same way you’d go about Aggro Shaman and Control Warrior and stick with the default mulligan.
  • Keep a small and strong board to avoid Equality board clears.
  • Consider using Polymorph for Tirion Fordring or Sylvanas Windrunner, or even cthun.

Hunter

  • Face Hunter isn’t really a thing, but I have seen a lot of Midrange Hunter lately, but the strategy for that matchup is pretty similar to Shaman and Warrior. Keep the board clear and ruin their day by taking away their beast synergies, watching out for that turn eight Call of the Wild.
  • Consider using Polymorph on one of their Savannah Highmane, making sure to develop a strong enough board to take care of the second one. These tend to generally be the biggest threats.

Druid

  • The only troublesome archetype that Druid has against Tempo Mage is Ramp Druid, courtesy of their ability to drop huge threats before you can efficiently deal with them.
  • Their primary weakness is that Swipe is their only effective board clear, so if you can maintain an okay board before they drop too many threats down, you should be able to eventually out-tempo them with the standard Tempo Mage combos and synergies.

Warlock

  • In recent memory, I’ve seen more Zoolocks than Renolocks in the ladder, so I’d stick with the default mulligan as outlined earlier.
  • If you can come up with a solid early game, you’ll most likely be able to curve out long enough to drop out the big guys; just make sure to use your Flamewaker combos and synergies to tempo out the opponent and control the board, because once you do that, you basically won the game.
  • If all else fails, a Flamestrike should clear most of their board, if not all of it.
  • A Renolock deck is a decidedly different battle, as you’ll have to wear out the opponent as he burns through his deck and eventually drops Reno Jackson. If you can’t kill your opponent within a single turn, don’t waste your burn spells and minions because you do not want to give them the opportunity to heal back to full health with Reno Jackson.

Priest

  • There’s a lot of Control Priest and cthun Priest on the ladder as of late, so stick with your default mulligan and a Frostbolt to take out the traditional turn one Northshire Cleric.
  • Cards that you should definitely bait out before playing a Water Elemental or Archmage Antonidas: Shadow Word: Pain, Entomb, and Shadow Word: Death. However, if you can kill your opponent on the next turn, drop these guys on purpose so they’ll be forced to waste mana on removal and neglect to heal themselves.
  • Tempo Mage against Priest without Lightbomb is much more tolerable, so create a strong board and your opponent will eventually focus on removing your minions and allow you to push through and finish the game.

Closing

Thanks for reading! I hope you find this guide useful, and like you all probably know already, always think about the worst outcome that could happen every single turn and plan ahead! Let me know if you’ve enjoyed what I’ve written here, and feel free to criticize anything I said if you disagree. I’ll see you guys in Hearthstone!