GvG Class Innovations: Mirror Mage

We are going to be looking at a new type of Mage that has been seeing an increase in play in both tournaments and on the ladder. Fueled by Echoes of Medivh, let's dive in and see how it works!

Introduction

Hello everyone my name is Zenaton and welcome to a new Hearthstone article written by yours truly. Today we are going to be looking at a new type of Mage that has been seeing an increase in play in both tournaments and on the ladder. This new Mage deck that has been appearing aims to take advantage of Echo of Medivh to gain an advantage over your opponent.

Overview

In the history of Hearthstone the Mage class itself has seen a large amount of variance going from being one of the best classes to one of the worst. Early on in the beta everybody used to hate Mages, and there was a good reason for this hate. The old Mage class didn’t care about the board or even the matchup since they had such a solid performance against anything(kind of like zoo is now). However Mages got hit by the nerf bat hard and for the longest time it seemed like the class was dead only to be played by Mage aficionados like Trumpsc. Then players learned that freeze Mage was still a strong archetype, it was just now more situational. Also more types of decks started to emerge such as Mage giants, midrange, aggro and even some players experimented with heavy secret-based builds before and after Naxxramas. Even with all this experimentation the Mage class never seemed to recover after its nerfs, with some professional players going so far as to say that it was the worst class in the game along with Paladins.

Enter Goblins vs. Gnomes. The GvG expansion brought over 120 new cards into the game with some classes being blessed with amazing new cards and other classes seemed to be on the short end. Inevitably the plethora of cards that GvG introduced strengthened certain decks that some people only saw as gimmicks such as control Hunter and Demonlock, as well as creating completely new deck types like Murloc Shaman. At the beginning of GvG many people thought that Mage got shafted by the expansion with what many say is a terrible legendary in the form of Flame Leviathan. What people did not look at was the other Mage cards such as Snowchugger, Goblin Blastmage and Unstable Portal. After a few weeks we saw many professional players, such as StrifeCro, busting out aggressive mech Mages at tournaments with great success. Of course with all this success the ladder players quickly copied this new Mage as it was cheap to make and easy to play.

Many players seemed to just ignore Echo of Medivh for the longest time saying it was situational at best and garbage at worst. Recently however a new Mage archetype has appeared that takes advantage of the GvG card and has been seeing a reasonable amount of success. The first type of Echo of Medivh deck that is being run is a control style that is similar to giants Mage and will try to play an Echo of Medivh to get even more “free” moltens. Looking at Echo of Medivh you would think that it favors a more control oriented deck. The deck that I will be analyzing is a relatively aggressive, zoo-like deck that uses Echo of Medivh to mitigate the card disadvantage that will accumulate as the game goes on.

Individual Card Analysis

Mirror Image:

Mirror Image is one of those cards that alone is not so impressive but can become a menace when combined with other cards. Throw it out for a cheap +1 attack on your Mana Wyrm. Use it with Knife Juggler for two knife throws. Protect a Water Elemental with the taunts and you can really hurt a control Warrior. Now let’s combine this card with Echo of Medivh. We get another two 0/2 taunts that cost 0 mana that can let your Juggler throw more knives and protect your substantial board. In essence Mirror Image is perfectly costed for what it does, it slows your opponent down, and has some synergy with other cards. Even in the late game this card is not even a terrible draw like other early game cards because the two taunts can help you push for lethal.

Mana Wyrm:

Mana Wyrm is a great minion for its cost with the potential to really solidify your board presence. The high health allows it to potentially remove two maybe even three enemy minions. Mana Wyrm followed by the coin into a Mirror Image, establishes a strong first turn board presence (two 0/2 taunts and a 2/3). The cost, relatively high health of the wyrm, alongside the attack buff being permanent makes Mana Wyrm one of the best one drops currently in the game.

Mad Scientist:

Looking at Mad Scientist as just a 2/2 he falls short on the vanilla test as you usually expect to get a total of 5 stats for two mana, but Mad Scientist only brings 4 total stats. The thing is we can’t just look at cards for the stats alone, we have to look at their text too. Text can make or break how viable a card can be. “Put a secret from your deck into the battlefield” is an amazing deathrattle not only does the scientist find a secret in your deck the secret also gets played. When Naxxramas released, Mad Scientist was(and still is) considered one of the strongest cards in the game. Playing this guy and having his deathrattle occur is like having a card be drawn and having it played for “free”. The obvious weakness of this card is that if you have no more secrets in your deck then nothing will get played.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice:

Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a card that is commonly seen in many minion based Mage decks. Coming in as a 3/2 Sorcerer’s Apprentice is just what we are looking for in a 2 drop. That she makes our spells one mana cheaper is what puts her into this deck. The saved mana allows us to accelerate our play and gain board control that much quicker.

Unstable Portal:

Getting a random card for 2 mana seems weird because we are usually trying to limit the randomness of our decks. That the minion that is pulled costs 3 mana less means that Unstable Portal has the potential to win games. For instance imagine we play unstable portal on turn 2 and we get a strong 6 drop like Piloted Sky Golem. Since the golem was summoned through the portal it now only costs 3 mana. Almost any deck is going to have a hard time dealing with a big minion that comes out early(that’s one of the reasons Innervate is so good). Of course because of the RNG we can always get a Wisp. So say your prayers to RNGesus that you get a good card.

Knife Juggler:

Being a 3/2 Knife Juggler already has good stats for his cost and his text makes him even better. Doing 1 random damage every time you summon a minion makes him one of the best 2 drops for aggressive classes. Try not to play this guy alone on turn 2 as you will want to get some value out of the thrown knives. Also since this card is so strong your opponents will usually use some of their early game removal(like Darkbomb and Holy Smite) to get rid of him. Comboing him with Mirror Image on turn 2 by using the coin will protect him from weapons, throws out two knives, and gives you a strong early board.

Frostbolt:

Three damage is about what you should expect when you are playing a two mana spell. Since the card freezes whatever it hits we can use the spell in the late game to stall an opponent by freezing a big minion of theirs or their hero if they have a weapon. Turn one Mana Wyrm into a turn two Frostbolt has been a staple opening for Mages for a long time and really helps us win the battle for board control against other minion based decks like zoo. Using a Frostbolt to get rid of an early Undertaker or Mechwarper is always going to be a strong play.

Kirin Tor Mage:

The reason for only including one Kirin Tor Mage is because we will usually have no more secrets left to play by the time we draw the second Kirin Tor Mage because of our Mad Scientists. The potential to get out a 4/3 and a secret for three mana makes Kirin Tor Mage a strong candidate for any Mage deck that runs a considerable number of secrets.

Mirror Entity:

While Mirror Entity can be played around, against heavy control decks like Warrior and Handlock it has the potential to copy something big like a Mountain Giant or a Sylvanas Windrunner. If Mirror Entity is in your hand then try to play the card before an important turn for your opponent. For example playing Mirror Entity before a Hunter’s turn 6 usually forces them to do a weaker play then the Savannah Highmane they might have(or they just give you a Highmane and you Polymorph their Highmane).

Counterspell:

Besides being another secret that the Mad Scientist can pull out, Counterspell can ruin your opponent’s chances to stabilize against the threat of your board. Even with all the spare parts running around Counterspell can still give massive value, you just need to keep track if your opponent has a spare part. If your opponent does not play around Counterspell and uses an important spell like an AOE spell you will be massively ahead of your opponent.

Water Elemental:

Chillwind Yeti is arguably the best neutral 4 drop in the game. Being a 4/5 makes it hard to kill and its relatively high attack means it can kill almost anything played early. Water Elemental is one of the few cards that can be argued is better than a Yeti. It has the same total amount of stats but is allocated differently as a 3/6. The stats allocation of the Elemental means that it has a hard time to kill a few cards since it can’t kill 4 health minions but we always have our hero ability to help us. Also be careful using against this card against Priests since some of them run a copy of Shadow Word: Pain. The best feeling is using this card against a control Warrior and keeping them on ice preventing them from using their weapons.

Echo of Medivh:

Here we are with the new card on the block. This is probably the most important card of the deck. Since we will be flooding the board with minions we will on average get three or more minions back with this. Using Echo on Mirror Images is surprisingly good as the 0/2 taunts cost no mana so we can play them for free in an effort to help protect our lovely minions and for more knives with the Knife Juggler. If we are forced into a late game match the Echo of Medivh can help us win if we manage to make copies of our late game cards such as Dr. Boom or Cairne Bloodhoof. Take note though that the mana reduction from Unstable Portal minions will not be copied.

Fireball:

Fireball is not a complex card but it will win you games. Generally you would like to use these to finish off your opponents but sometimes you must use a Fireball to remove a big minion.

Jeeves:

While Echo of Medivh is great for giving more minions to play, you are probably going to want more cards from your deck. Decks with low mana curves like this are usually going to run out of cards fast so we need a way to draw new cards from our deck. The pre GvG way was to play card draw minions like Loot Hoarder and Azure Drake. Now that Jeeves has come into town many players are split on whether Jeeves is a better alternative. Comparing Jeeves to normal card draw cards like Azure Drake and Gnomish Inventor he has the weakness of drawing the cards at the end of your turn so you can not play those new cards until your next turn. However Jeeves has the potential to draw more than one card a turn and possibly stick around for another round of card draws.

Polymorph:

We need this card to get rid of pesky threats like Cairne Bloodhoof, Ragnaros the Firelord, or large taunts in general. Running two copies of Polymorph would be too slow for us as this deck is fairly aggressive. So make sure before you Polymorph an enemy minion that it is absolutely necessary for you to get rid of.

Loatheb:

Even with the decline of miracle decks Loatheb is still a strong addition to all kinds of decks. By increasing your opponents spells by five mana you effectively stall them from removing threats for a single turn. By using Loatheb a turn before we have lethal we can lock in a victory by forcing our opponent to play only minions. Playing Loatheb will usually keep our side of the board alive and allows to further manipulate the board in our favor. Knowing when to play Loatheb will be a deciding factor for many of your matches.

Cairne Bloodhoof:

For the longest time Cairne was considered one of the best legendary cards because he can be looked at as two Chillwind Yetis. However in a faster meta he starts to show his weakness of being a slow card. Cairne is a great game breaker card if you and your opponent are struggling for control because if you can copy your Cairne then you will have the potential to capitalize on double Cairne value. I have personally been experimenting with Piloted Sky Golem in place of Cairne in most of my decks because he trades more favorably against midgame cards with his six attack, hits harder which makes him more of a threat than Cairne and is better against new Priests, because they can’t steal it with the infuriating Shrinkmeister plus Cabal Shadow Priest combo.

Dr. Boom:

Many players have been saying this new legendary is the strongest card to come out of the GvG expansion, and I find it hard to disagree with them. Almost every type of deck can make use of this popular guy. He gives aggro decks extra insurance in the late game and for control decks he is another big late game minion. He is a prime target to use our Echo of Medivh on and using it solely on him is still very strong. Not to mention being a Mage we can even fireblast a Boom Bot if we deem it necessary. Even though the good doctor himself can be removed fairly easily his Boom Bot friends will probably stick around. Seriously this guy is really powerful and should be a top priority to craft if you don’t have him yet.

Playstyle

This variant of an Echo of Medivh deck plays very aggressively similar to the well-known zoo deck. You will want to get a strong early start with possibly an early Mana Wyrm into a powerful follow-up play such as a Water Elemental or a Kirin Tor Mage plus a “free” secret. As for mulligans it is mostly match dependent but in general you will want a strong early game with a smooth curve. Cards you will want to look for in your opening hands are Mana Wyrms, Frostbolts, Mad Scientists, Mirror Images, and Knife Jugglers. One thing must be noted and that is to not get too greedy with your Echo of Medivh. Remember in this deck Echo of Medivh is being used as a type of pseudo card draw so we do not need to copy a full board of minions, just two or three strong minions will be good enough. Once you have wrestled board control from your opponent this plays almost in the same manner as zoo. You will need to know when to clear your opponents threats and when to push for lethal. Knowing when to hit your opponent’s face will be a key to success with this deck.

Matchups

Zoo:

One of the decks hardest matchups. This deck needs to swarm the board to win but zoo can do that just as well as you can all while having the possibility to draw two cards each turn. Since this deck does not run any type of AOE we are going to have to mulligan hard for our early game. The matchup is still very winnable if you get your frostbolts and mana wyrms early and use your cards and mana to their maximum efficiency.

Handlock:

On the opposite side of the Warlock matchup, this is an easy matchup. Early Handlock turns are very similar. They will rarely play anything early unless they have teched in a Zombie Chow, they are responding to a severe threat with Dark Bomb, or they have the Ancient Watcher into Ironbeak Owl play. Mirror Entity can give great returns as you might be able to copy one the Handlock’s giants. Beware that more experienced Handlocks will probably play around Mirror Entity by dropping a relatively weak card like Ironbeak Owl or Sunfury Protector. Counterspell can really mess up a Handlock’s attempt to stabilize by either making them delay playing their AOE removal or even better just negating it completely. On a quick note make sure to keep track of the coin and any spare parts your opponent may have. In the late game we have fireball which actually brings our winrate up because even if a Handlock gets a double Molten Giant play plus a taunt giver we can still win the game with a double Fireball. Since Handlocks have such slow starts we will usually be able to build up a large board. This means that even though Handlocks have large hands you have the chance to even out-resource them if you get a good Echo of Medivh off.

Warrior:

Another relatively easy matchup. Mulligan for an early start with a strong curve. Look for your Water Elementals and your Mirror Images. Without Fiery War Axe Warriors will almost always lose, even with it you can actually out-resource them if you get a valuable Echo of Medivh off. The biggest problem in the Control Warrior arsenal is Baron Geddon, but many Warriors have been cutting him out of their decks for greedier late game cards like Ysera. It should go without saying that you must play around Brawl.

Mage:

Most of the Mage decks currently running around have been mech Mages with the occasional Control Mage and other experimental Echo of Medivh decks popping up. Against mech Mages the Goblin Blastmage is the biggest concern of ours so you will want to delay him from coming down early. Many mech Mages don’t run Flamestrike at all and have a hard time dealing with the taunts from Mirror Image.

Shaman:

Shaman has become a type of endangered species in this post GvG era. This is one of the more difficult matchups as we would love to get board control and Shamans great ways of slowing us down with cards like Feral Spirit and Lightning Bolt, wiping our board with Lightning Storm, and stabilizing in the late game with Fire Elemental. While an unfavored matchup, in the current meta Shamans are rare.

Rogue:

Another rare class currently in the meta and currently considered the weakest class by many. Since the nerf of Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Leeroy Jenkins Rogues have taken a plummet in both popularity and success everywhere. The Water Elemental is key in this matchup as we can use it to almost completely negate their hero ability. Try to get one in your starting hand, but don’t go so far as to get rid of strong early game cards like Mad Scientist or Mana Wyrm. Keeping the Rogue frozen will prevent them from using their weapon which means they will be unable gain a strong tempo against us. The one way a Rogue can come back, even if frozen, is to get a huge Blade Flurry so do your best to play around it.

Paladin:

GvG really helped out Paladins, no longer are they considered on of the worst classes. Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle helped their early game, while Quartermaster made it so we can no longer just ignore the Silver Hand Recruits. Even with all these buffs the matchup is fairly even coming down to card draws, skill, and tech cards. Some Paladins have only been running one copy of Consecration and if the enemy Paladin you are facing has done so then you are pretty favored, but if you can’t keep the Silver Hand Recruit numbers under control then the Quartermaster will create a big problem.

Hunter:

If you can manage to get the board control early you can race the Hunter down. Water Elemental is really great to slow them down if they get out the Eaglehorn Bow and can keep their minion count low with it’s high health. Be careful of Freezing Trap as we do not want our Water Elemental returning to our hand. While Unleash the Hounds is a scary card we can not afford to play around it too much because we have only one real answer to the possible Savannah Highmane. Since Polymorph is our only real answer to the Highmane we need a strong board that can threaten lethal along with Fireball. The matchup is in your favor, but double Undertaker is an opening that can win a Hunter the game so try to mulligan for Frostbolt.

Priest:

Priest decks generally don’t do much in the early game letting us build up a large board. Since we can build up our board relatively unhindered this matchup is slightly in our favor. Try to use echo when our board is still large before they wipe a good amount of it with a Holy Nova or a Wild Pyromancer. Also Mirror Image is great against Shadow Madness because whatever they steal can’t kill our own minions without help.

Druid:

Mirror entity is a good card in this matchup, use it along with counterspell to mess with your opponent’s key turns. Druids have a hard time punching through mirror images without a spell powered Swipe, so using Echo of Medivh on your images is a good option. Once Druids lose control of the board they have a hard time regaining control barring a good Swipe. This should be a fairly easy matchup unless they get out a strong Innervate like a turn 2 Innervate plus coin into Druid of the Claw or Chillwind Yeti.

Alternate Cards

Many cards can be swapped out in this deck because it is fairly experimental. Depending on what you switch out you can make the deck even more aggressive or slow it down in favor of more control. If you decide to take out Jeeves you will probably want to add more card draw in the form of Azure Drake or Gnomish Inventor. Adding a copy or two of Shade of Naxxramas can help our matchup against control decks and if left alone can win us games, especially if we can copy it. Taking out the Knife Jugglers can create a more control oriented deck by adding such cards as Flamestrike or Ragnaros the Firelord. Piloted Sky Golem to replace Cairne is not only viable, but some would say a better choice. It all depends on whether you value the reliable 4/5 from Cairne or the higher attack and random four drop from the Golem. Remember Echo of Medivh is a new card and one that is being highly experimented with so do not be afraid to experiment yourself with your card selection.

Conclusion

While not as popular or as strong as it once was Mage seems to be making a return and if left unchecked in your calculations when deckbuilding can become a serious threat. Mech Mage has made the once laughed at Mage a serious contender in high level play while Echo of Medivh will always be a card to looked at both now and in later expansions with new cards. Mage has been on a roll recently so be on the lookout for many types of this deck because many players, both professional and amateur, are experimenting with innovative new decks with the class. That’s all I have to say on this innovative new Mage deck today, I hope you all have fun playing it like I did. If you liked my analysis on this article then please rate the article and if you disagree with any of my thoughts feel free to say so in the comments. All credit for this deck goes to Lidjis. If you would like to get in contact with him his Hearthstone ID is Lidjis#1928.

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