Mastering the Tempo Mage: Beginner Guide

Tempo Mage - spell heavy deck based around board control and combos. Summary, general strategy, card choices.

Introduction

This is part 1 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections:

Tempo Mage has significantly risen in popularity after Blackrock Mountain expansion. Players were trying to make similar decks before, but they were lacking something. BRM introduced a new Mage minion – flamewaker – which became the base of the new Tempo Mage Deck. The deck we’re writing about is a slight variation of Hyunher’s list he used to hit rank 2 on NA in the last season. It’s a really strong deck, but prepare to see some changes depending on how the meta shifts. Another strong Tempo Mage player is Daisyx, who peaked around top 15 Legend in the May season. He runs a different version of the deck, so be sure to check it out!

Summary

The deck is currently classified as Tier 2. Even though it’s really strong, it suffers from lack of consistency on your first turns. The deck runs a lot of spells (13), it means that you might end up with a starting hand full of spells. However, you really need the board presence to hit the enemy while you clear the board with the spells. Drawing your big drops early might also slow you down enough to let the enemy catch back in tempo and start controlling the game. If you get the good curve and proper mix of minions and spells to start with, the deck is nearly unstoppable and can beat any other deck on the ladder.

Strengths:

  • Strong through the whole game
  • Lots of removals
  • Many different win conditions
  • Good amount of spell burn
  • 1 damage pings work great against many small minions

Weaknesses:

  • It’s pretty inconsistent
  • You might end up drawing only spells, not minions
  • It’s heavily dependant on RNG

Favored against:

  • Control Warrior
  • Midrange Druid
  • Mech Shaman
  • Face Hunter
  • Zoo Warlock

Equal against:

  • Ramp Druid
  • Freeze Mage
  • Oil Rogue
  • Midrange Paladin
  • Aggro Paladin

Unfavored against:

  • Midrange Hunter
  • Handlock
  • Patron Warrior

Card Choices

We’re going to go through the list and describe every card – why it’s good in this deck, what are the synergies and how it should be used. Tempo Mage has many flexible cards, which can be switched around depending on the current meta or the enemies you face on ladder. To learn more about that, see the Advanced part of the guide.

Mirror Image

The card is mostly used in early game to protect your more valuable minions against trades. It’s really cheap, with sorcerers-apprentice on the board you can cast it for free. The 0/2 Taunts aren’t really threatening, but they can stop enemy’s advance and give you a nice tempo swing. They let you pick the trades or kill opponent minions with the spells. They’re also good at protecting your life total against aggressive decks. They usually stop around 4-6 damage for 1 mana, which isn’t a bad deal. Because it’s a cheap spells, it combos well with your flamewaker and archmage-antonidas.

Clockwork Gnome

You don’t really care too much about this card, so just drop it on the board whenever you can. It’s something to drop on turn 1 to gain tempo. Enemy has three options. He can play something, which you usually can trade with, since it’s turn 1 or 2. He might use his turn on pinging it with his Hero Power, if he plays a Druid/Mage/Rogue. In this scenario, you’ve lost a card advantage, but you’ve gained a tempo and a Spare Part, which is usually more valuable than the 2/1 body. Some enemies might also waste a removal or weapon swing on your 1-drop. Any od those scenarios give you some sort of advantage, either tempo or value. Spare Parts you get on Gnome’s death are really important, since they have a great combo potential with your other cards.

Mana Wyrm

Very important minion. It has a potential to snowball out of control. If it doesn’t get removed fast, it can easily become let’s say 5/3 for 1 mana. Absolutely the best if you start with the Coin. Turn 1 Mana Wyrm + Coin + mirror-image is a great combo, especially if followed by a bunch of other spells. Making a 3/3 and two 0/2 Taunts on turn 1 is not something every deck can answer. High priority target for your enemy, because of how big it can grow when left unchecked. Since almost half of your deck are spells, it is unlikely that you won’t have anything to combo with Mana Wyrm. For a 1-drop, it’s also a decent mid and late game topdeck. While most of 1-drops fall off by turn 3-4, Mana Wyrm is always a big threat if you combine him with couple of spells.

Flamecannon

One of the two early game removals in your arsenal. Among the commonly used 2 mana removals, it’s noticeable for its damage – 4 instead of 3. To offset its above average damage, it hits a random enemy minion. Dealing 4 damage usually doesn’t matter in the first turns (as most of the minions don’t have more than 3 health anyway), but it can have a big impact in the later turns. Combined with Hero Power it deals 5 damage, which kills many mid game minions like sludge-belcher or mechanical-yeti. Try to use it when enemy has only 1 minion on the board, or when all the targets are decent. Hitting random minions also has an upside – it can hit enemies that are in Stealth (shade-of-naxxramas) or that ‘can’t be targeted by spells’ (spectral-knight).

Frostbolt

Your second early game removal, and one of the strongest in the game. It deals standard 3 damage, but it also Freezes a minion it hits. It means that a minion can’t attack during its next turn. While it’s usually used in the early game to keep the board control, it might be used later in the game to stop enemy big minion for one turn if you have no way to kill him. It is targeted, so use it over Flamecannon if enemy has multiple minions on the board and you want a certain hit. On top of that, you can target enemy Hero, so Frostbolt might be used as a 3 damage burn. If you’re in a desperate need of the Secret, you might also use it on your own mad-scientist to force it. Since it’s a cheap spell, it allows many combos. Overall, a really versatile card that has synergy with the whole deck.

Unstable Portal

One of your biggest sources of the tempo. Even though you might end up getting a 0 mana or 1 mana minion, you have almost 90% to get minion worth at least 2 mana (which returns the mana cost of the card, but gives no additional value), and almost 70% that it’s gonna be 3 mana or higher (to get the full advantage of discount). If you cast in on turn 2, you usually don’t get much tempo that turn (or you might even lose it). The card’s biggest strength is getting a big drop 3 turns earlier. For example, turn 4 dr-boom might completely swing the game in your favor, even though you’ve sacrificed some tempo on previous turns. This card is one of the reasons why Tempo Mage is so RNG-dependant. What you get from Unstable Portal is often gonna decide on whether you win or lose the game. It’s also a spell, so you might combo it with your other cards.

Mad Scientist

Mad Scientist is THE 2-drop Tempo Mage wants. When it dies, not only you draw a secret from your deck, but you also instantly play it. Considering that Mage secrets are worth 3 mana, and card draw is worth about 1 mana, you gain 4 “free” mana from your 2 mana minion being killed. It means that usually you want it to die fast. You’re often gonna trade it into something without even killing it, just to get your Secret out. The only secret we run is mirror-entity, but some lists may run duplicate or counterspell (see the Advanced guide for more information). Mad Scientist thins your deck, which is beneficial to you – you’re gonna draw into your win conditions sooner. The only problem with Mad Scientist is that if you draw both of your Secrets before him (not likely, but happens) or he gets Silenced, he’s just plain 2/2 minion.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Another source of tempo in your deck. It’s a 3/2 for 2 mana, so it passes the vanilla test. It also has a huge benefit – all your spells cost 1 less mana. For a deck that runs 13 spells (and potentially more thanks to Spare Parts and archmage-antonidas), it’s a great bonus. If you cast two spells the turn you play Sorcerer’s Apprentice, you’ve basically played it for 0 mana. Don’t fall into the trap of casting all the spells in your hand just because they’re cheaper. If you do that and play them non-optimally, you’re often gonna run out of steam. And don’t keep it in your hand just because it might get more value later – the 3/2 body on the board is usually more important than the effect. It’s something to hit enemy every turn while you clear the board with your spells.

Arcane Intellect

Your main card draw. It trades the tempo for card advantage. You prefer to get it later in the game, but it’s a pretty decent turn 3 play if it’s the only thing fitting your mana curve. If you aren’t close to running out of cards, you might want to get discounts from sorcerers-apprentice and emperor-thaurissan before casting it. In some cases, you’re gonna cast it for free, so you could gain card advantage without losing any tempo. If you’ve already decided on using Arcane Intellect this turn, you should use it before making another plays. You might draw something that will make you change your play. The only exception is attacking with mad-scientist – you trade him first before drawing, so you have no chance to waste your draw on the Secret before getting it from Scientist.

Mirror Entity

Another tempo play. If enemy knows that you’re Tempo Mage, he expects this Secret. But it’s not the fact that it’s a Secret that makes it strong. In your first turns you want to get it from your Mad Scientist – which gives you some tempo even if enemy gives you a 1-drop. You want to cast the Secret from your hand in the later turns, especially before turns enemy might drop a big threat (e.g. before turn 7 – dr-boom turn). Opponent’s plays are severely limited then. He might give you a big minion, he might ruin his important turn by playing some small drop instead, or he might just pass the turn or use spells only. No matter what enemy does, it’s usually good for you. Especially great against Control decks, which don’t have many good minions to proc it. When it’s late game, they’re often left with only big minions they don’t really want to give you for 3 mana. You however don’t want to get it in your starting hand, so mulligan it away no matter what, even against decks like Ramp Druid.

Flamewaker

The bread and butter of Tempo Mage deck. It’s like a knife-juggler, but for spells instead of minions. It has great synergy with all of your low cost spells and Spare Parts. Even though it’s a 3-drop, you often don’t want to play him on turn 3 (unless you can do something like Flamewaker + Coin + mirror-image). If you get him rolling, it gains so much value. Even though the damage is random, if you cast couple of spells it’s almost impossible to not clear the board. If enemy has no minions, he might end up dealing 10+ damage to the Hero thanks to his ability. He has great synergy with sorcerers-apprentice and emperor-thaurissan – they allow you to cast some spells on the turn you play your Flamewaker. 4 health also may be tricky to deal with without help of the minions. If enemy has no answer and it stays on the board, he can win you a game in a couple of turns.

Fireball

Your main spell burn. However, treat it as a removal in the first place. Don’t hesitate with using it on minions unless you’re close to lethal. Keeping your board alive is much more important in the long run. 6 damage is really much – it kills all the early and mid game threats, and can either kill or severely damage the late game minions when you combine it with Hero Power. Great card to finish enemy off after he stabilized with Taunts etc. Since it’s your most expensive spell, it doesn’t combo so well with all your other cards, but it still might work after some discounts.

Mechanical Yeti

Your mid game threat. When you drop it on turn 4, it contests every popular 3-drops and most of 4-drops. It’s great against 2/4 3-drops like imp-gang-boss. Your second source of Spare Parts besides clockwork-gnome. Even though the effect is mirrored (he gives them to both players), you’re the one who benefits more from Spare Parts than most of your enemies. Pretty solid card to get in the late game, because 4/5 stats are always decent. When it comes to the Spare Parts themselves, emergency-coolant and finicky-cloakfield are usually the best ones. First one gives you a good tempo swing. You can freeze their big threat for one turn when you’re pushing for lethal. The second one combos greatly with archmage-antonidas. time-rewinder is probably the worst one, because you don’t have much targets you want to get back into your hand. Rest of them are pretty neutral and will be mostly used to combo with other cards.

Azure Drake

Another source of card draw. It also gives you Spell Power, which is precious when playing deck like that. The 4/4 body for 5 mana is not that great, but big enough to be threatening. It’s slow tempo-wise, but usually gets 2 for 1. Azure Drake is one of your best late game top decks, because besides putting a decent creature on your board, you also cycle and draw closer to your big threats. Not a good turn 5 play if you don’t have the board control or if you’re being rushed down, because it’s pretty slow for its mana cost. Otherwise, a great card.

Loatheb

Loatheb is the first of your five big, legendary threats. It has pretty good stats for a 5-drop, but what you mostly want is his effect. Loatheb serves as a best way to seal the game. If you have a decent board with couple of threats and then you play Loatheb, enemy has really limited ways to remove it without spells. It makes his turn more awkward and he often loses a lot of tempo if he still decides to cast a spell. He’s almost always a good turn 5 play, but sometimes you want to save him for a big push. One of the best cards in your deck against spell-heavy decks like Freeze Mage, Oil Rogue or in mirror matchup. Gets a good trade against most of 4-drops and some 5-drops. Try to not drop him on empty board, but if it’s your only turn 5 play, you might do it.

Emperor Thaurissan

One of the most important cards in your deck. You sacrifice a little tempo on turn 6 (you’re playing a minion with about 4.5 mana worth of stats for 6 mana), but in the exchange, you get much tempo on your next turns. Obviously, the more cards you have in your hand before using him, the better value he gets. But in case of Tempo Mage, it’s not really about the amount of cards, but which cards you discount. The most important cards to discount are your cheap spells, flamewakers and archmage-antonidas. You want to cast your spells on the same turn as either Flamewaker or Antonidas – and Thaurissan helps you with that. He allows you to easily get 2-3 fireballs on the turn you use Antonidas, which is one of your strongest win conditions. He allows you to follow with ragnaros-the-firelord on next turn, which might catch enemy off-guard if he already used a removal on Emperor. Even one discount is great, and if you get two or more, it wins you a game most of time.

Archmage Antonidas

Your main win condition against some decks. If you couldn’t beat slower deck with a rush, you have to rely heavily on getting couple of Fireballs from Antonidas. The card has great synergy with most of your deck. You run a lot of cheap spells that can easily be utilized by Antonidas. If you combine him with discounts from sorcerers-apprentice and emperor-thaurissan, you might get a lot of Fireballs before he gets removed. Usually, if enemy has no answer to your Antonidas, you just win the game, because you get 2 Fireballs per turn. It means that you might either remove every threat he plays or make a big push for his face and put him on 2-3 turns clock. Combos greatly with finicky-cloakfield. There are limited ways to remove him when he’s in Stealth, so you’re often guaranteed that he survives until your next turn. And when he does, you have whole 10 mana to play the spells. Unless you’re really desperate, you shouldn’t just drop him on turn 7 and hope that enemy can’t remove him. He might get a great value, but definitely not with his 5/7 body for 7 mana.

Dr. Boom

Another one of your big threats. Really staple cards, used in a lot of the popular decks. This one you usually want to drop as soon as you can. On turn 7, he has pretty much no real counters besides big-game-hunter. Even if the main body gets removed, boom-bots still get a lot of value. He usually gets you 2 or 3 for 1. In the deck with so much burn like Tempo Mage, sneaking 7 damage into enemy Hero is often really important. One of the best late game top decks, he helps you to keep up in the value game against slower decks. Boom Bots are another reason why this deck is RNG-based. They might outright win you the game, or do almost nothing, depending on how lucky you are. Don’t worry about him getting killed by Big Game Hunter, because it might mean that your Ragnaros is gonna get much higher value.

Ragnaros the Firelord

Your biggest threat, both in the terms of mana cost and possible impact on the game. The thing about Ragnaros is that depending on whether enemy has an instant answer or not and on how good is your RNG, it can be almost useless or win you the game alone. It’s a tricky card, but it has really high potential. You either drop it as a board control tool (to kill some enemy minions) or as a way to finish the game (you usually want a face hit then). 8 damage is really much when it comes to your deck, so Ragnaros hitting face is almost never a bad deal. It becomes problematic if he hits a 1/1 or even something like a nerubian-egg. Good thing about your deck is that you keep the board control against smaller targets with your Hero Power, flamewaker and cheap spells, so the chances that he hits a small targets are much lesser. You might want to bait Big Game Hunter with Dr. Boom before dropping him. Dealing with 8 health creature can be problematic for some decks, so if they can’t deal with him for a couple of turns, they usually lose the game.

General Strategy

Tempo Mage is a pretty hard deck to play properly. The general strategy is pretty easy. You aim to build some board presence, keep enemy board cleared with the spells and push for damage with what you have on the board. However, if this strategy doesn’t work out for some reason, you need to adapt and aim for another win condition like your combos or late game minions. This part is much more tricky, because knowing which strategy might win you a game in a given game is an important thiIf you want to read more about in-depth strategy against each popular deck, check out the Matchups and Mulligans part of the guide.

Early Game

Your early game aim is to play couple of threats and establish a board dominance with your spells and Hero Power. mana-wyrm is great against pretty much any opponent, especially if you start with the Coin. If you don’t have the Wyrm, clockwork-gnome is also not bad. It’s much easier to remove and 2 damage isn’t really threatening, but it’s something enemy has to deal with anyway. Playing a 1-drop gains you tempo no matter what, and that’s what you want. You probably don’t want to cast mirror-image on the first turn, unless your hand is terribly slow. Mirror Image is much better if you either have something on the board (so you can push for damage while the Taunts protect your minions) or when you can combo it with something (flamewaker, archmage-antonidas).

Turn 2 usually gives you most choices, and it’s really important to pick the best one. If enemy drops a minion which you absolutely have to remove (e.g. mechwarper or whirling-zap-o-matic) – use a frostbolt or flamecannon. There are some minions that you can’t let live. If enemy doesn’t drop anything or you want a minion presence, mad-scientist is the best one. Almost every deck runs some sort of early removals. Your other 2-drop can be removed without getting any value, while Mad Scientist always gives you a Secret for free. If you don’t have Scientist, you might drop sorcerers-apprentice. If it gets removed, it’s just a 1 for 1 trade. Don’t worry too much about losing it. Even though he helps with your late game combos, early game is much more important for you. unstable-portal generally shouldn’t be casted on turn 2 if you have a better play. There is a big chance that you either get some small minion or you get something that you can’t play right away. In both cases, you’re losing much tempo on this turn. Portal on turn 2 is a decent play only if enemy skipped their turn and you don’t have to fight aggressively for the board control.

Your turn 3 is really awkward. You run flamewaker, which you want to drop on 3 only against certain decks, when you value board presence more than the card’s effect. If you drop it on 3 and it stays on the board, that’s great. It’s also good if you can combo it with the Coin and either mirror-image or one of your 2 mana spells if you have Sorcerer’s Apprentice on the board. But generally, you want to keep Flamewaker in your hand for the combos. mirror-entity is another tricky card. You want to get it from Mad Scientist, so you always mulligan it away. If you have it in your hand, spending your whole turn 3 on casting it is pretty slow. Most of the enemies know it’s Mirror Entity and play around it. You usually get something like a 2-drop for 3 mana, not a good deal. If you don’t have any other play, though, just go for it. arcane-intellect is the most safe turn 3 option, but on the other hand, it’s pretty slow. You’re losing tempo to get the card advantage, sometimes you can’t afford that. On turn 3, you’re often gonna combine the plays from the previous turns. For example, it’s a perfect time to drop Mana Wyrm and Frostbolt / Flamecannon. For 3 mana you remove enemy minion and you develop a 2/3 which is gonna get buffed further in the next turns. It’s also easy to get a good turn with Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Apprentice + 2 mana removal or Apprentice + Unstable Portal are common turn 3 plays.

Mid Game

You have two 4 mana plays. mechanical-yeti is your best turn 4 play most of time. It has a solid 4/5 body, can kill most of early game minions without dying. When you combine its attack with your Hero Power, it might even trade with 5 health creatures (sludge-belcher, another Yeti, Loatheb). On top of that, you get a Spare Part from Deathrattle. You don’t want to use those right away, usually you want to keep them as a “cheap spell” to combo with other things. Another turn 4 play is Fireball. You don’t want to waste your damage, though. Generally don’t throw Fireballs at 3 or 4 health minions, unless you really have no other play. Those can get potentially much higher value. Fireball might be great against Druids, because with wild-growth and innervate they can easily get out something like druid-of-the-claw before your turn 4.

On turn 5, the safest play is azure-drake. It’s a decent minion that cycles itself when you play it. It also gives you +1 Spell Power, so it’s a high priority target for your enemy. If he doesn’t remove it, your spells are considerably stronger. Another 5 mana minion is loatheb. This one is more tricky. If you don’t have any other good play, you might just drop it right away. It’s great if you have some board presence, especially some high value cards like flamewaker. It makes your board much more resilient, playing him on a big board usually seals the game. Loatheb on empty board is average. It’s not bad, but not what you want from the card like that.

Your last mid-game minion is emperor-thaurissan. This one you want to drop when you have the board control or at least when the board is empty on the both sides. You also want to have some of your combo pieces in hand before you play him. He usually doesn’t get more than 1 discount, but if he stays on the board, his effect can get really crazy. Try to not drop him into enemy minions, because 5 health 6-drop is really easy to get rid off.

If you’re playing against Aggro deck, the game is probably decided by now. Your games vs Aggro don’t last too long. If you managed to stabilize, you’re in great spot and you probably will win the game. If they dealt too much damage and you couldn’t wrestle back the board control, you’re in a really bad spot without any Heals and almost no Taunts.

Against Mid Range and Control decks, your mid game strategy is similar to early game. You want to clear the board and push for damage. The hard part is to decide whether you can kill your opponent or not. It’s really important. If you know that you can kill the enemy soon, you might continue the push. But if you know that you won’t finish him off before he stabilizes, play the value game. Start trading, use your burn to remove enemy minions. Usually around turn 5 or 6 you need to decide which way you want to go.

Mid Game is where your flamewaker combos start making an impact. Generally you want to drop Flamewaker if you have at least 2 or 3 spells to cast on the same turn. Having Sorcerer’s Apprentice or Emperor’s discounts help with that. If you get 2 Flamewakers on the board at the same time, it’s even better. You’re often gonna push for easy lethal thanks to them. For example, with 2 Flamewakers on the board, using 2x Frostbolt on enemy face deals up to 14 damage. Clearing the board also becomes really easy. If you have Antonidas in your hand, you might want to save some of the spells for him, especially the cheapest ones.

Late Game

Tempo Mage is not a slow, late game deck. While you have some big threats, you should look at them as ways to squeeze the last points of damage you need to finish your enemy. You can’t play the value game against Control decks for too long. When it comes to your big drops, the most straightforward one is dr-boom. You usually want to drop him on turn 7. If enemy removes it – Boom Bots still get some value. If opponent has no answer for the main body – pushing the 7 damage each turn is not something many decks can endure for too long. If you’re in a dire situation, the main body can also make 2-3 trades with smaller minions.

ragnaros-the-firelord is great if you know that enemy doesn’t run big-game-hunter or if he already used it. If you play him on turn 8 and enemy uses the BGH, you’re losing too much tempo. It’s often something like your last resort, the card you want to play when it’s your only chance to win. Since the shots are random, you usually want to drop him when all of the outcomes are good. For example, if enemy has a 5/5 on the board and he’s at 12 health when you have fireball in your hand. If Ragnaros hits his face – it’s good, because you’ve put him at 4 health and you can finish him off with Fireball next turn. If it hits a 5/5, it’s also fine, because killing a big minion for free is always good. You don’t want to drop Ragnaros when there are a lot of bad targets. For example, if you play against Zoo, they might have nerubian-egg and two 1/1 Imps on the board. Dropping Ragnaros is risky, because any of those targets is bad, and you lose too much tempo if you hit a bad target. Ragnaros is often used as a finisher – if enemy is at 8 health or less, you drop Ragnaros on an empty board and it hits face. It’s also great in Freeze Mage matchup, because even if it’s frozen, it still deals damage. Enemy must waste their burn to remove it, and it’s hard to both remove it and clear / freeze the rest of the board at the same time.

Last of you big late game threats is archmage-antonidas. This one is the most interesting one. You don’t want to drop him as a 7 mana 5/7, because it’s pretty bad. You want to combo him with a lot of spells, because for every spell you play, he gives you a free Fireball. Moreover, every Fireball you get from him is a normal spell, so casting it gives you yet another one. Until he’s removed, he’s an infinite Fireball source. If he stays on the board, you put enemy on the clock, usually 2-3 turns. But you can’t assume that enemy won’t have a way to deal with him. Even Silence is somewhat a counter to your Antonidas. That’s why you have two ways of comboing him. First one is a certain Spare Part – finicky-cloakfield. You get one Fireball from the Spare Part, and you’re almost guaranteed that the next turn you will get more. Only things like brawl, equality + consecration or lucky Ragnaros snipe can get rid of your 7 health creature in Stealth. The Spare Parts you get are random, so you won’t always get it – don’t base your whole game plan around Stealthed Antonidas. The second way is casting as many cheap spells as you can on the same turn as you play Antonidas. emperor-thaurissan is usually the reason why it’s possible. If you discount the proper cards, you might easily combo Antonidas with 2 or 3 spells, even up to 5 in some extreme situations. The Fireballs from Antonidas are your main way of winning against some decks, because your standard burn is not enough. Be careful and don’t waste him. On the other hand, don’t keep all your spells just because you have Antonidas in your hand. If you get a good opportunity to cast one of your Spare Parts or let’s say frostbolt, go for it.

Generally, if you get to the late game point and you don’t have enough damage to finish your enemy, you need to stall the game until you draw your big threats – especially Antonidas. You might try to play the value game against other Mid Range decks, but you won’t win it against Control decks. Don’t rush enemy face if you know that you don’t have enough damage – it’s a losing play. When enemy is the one who controls how the trades go, he’s gonna quickly get the board control back and even your big threats won’t save you.

Win Conditions

Tempo Mage has a lot of win conditions. The most important thing when playing the deck is to know which win condition you want to pursue. Often you want to adapt, and when one win condition fails or is no longer possible, you want to change your play style and try to win in another way.

  • Early aggression. This is a common win condition against slower decks. If left unchecked, your early game minions can deal a lot of damage. For example, if you manage to get mana-wyrm, sorcerers-apprentice and flamewaker on the board before enemy starts playing his minions – you get immense value. Every spell you cast is cheaper, it buffs your Mana Wyrm and you get 2 additional pings from Flamewaker. If you set it up during the first three turns, you might often win the game by turn 5-6. loatheb is a good way to seal the game after you get a good early push.
  • Spell burn. Tempo mage runs a good amount of Spell Burn. You have two frostbolts and two fireballs for a potential 18 damage. You want to use your burn as a board control tool in the first place, but if you’re close to lethal, you might surprise enemy with a lot of burst.
  • Big threats. You can use your big legendary minions like Dr. Boom or Ragnaros to seal the game. If you put enough pressure early, but not enough to kill enemy, it’s a really good way to finish him off. Most of the decks need to throw their removals at your small minions, making your late game minion much more threatening.
  • Flamewaker combos. If you get a Flamewaker on the board, possibly along another Flamewaker or Sorcerer’s Apprentice, you might easily finish enemy off thanks to all the pings you get from his effect. A lot of cheap spells means a lot of triggers, even drawing cards with arcane-intellect or using unstable-portal will throw 2 damage into enemy’s side. Those combos are best in the mid game, both to clear enemy board and to push for lethal.
  • Archmage Antonidas combos. Sometimes, you need a little extra burn to kill your opponent. Archmage Antonidas is the card that helps you with that. In most of matchups, 3-4 additional Fireballs means you win the game. This is mostly a win condition against slower decks, because you won’t have enough time to pull this off against fast deck.
  • Unstable Portal. This win condition is really RNG-dependant. You don’t know what you’re gonna get from the Portal. But if you get some big threat and put him into the board much earlier, the tempo gain is gonna be so huge that enemy often won’t have a way to come back. Sometimes the Unstable Portal is gonna screw you, but other times you’re gonna get korkron-elite when you’re 4 damage off lethal or malygos with 2 Frostbolts in your hand. The random nature of the card is what works wonders in some of the games – enemy can’t play around cards you got from Unstable Portal, because it might be any minion in the game.

Closing

Tempo Mage is really interesting and fun deck. It may not be Tier 1 because of how RNG-based it is, but if it works, you’re gonna have a good time playing it. Even though it’s inconsistent, it’s still possible to get Legendary with it. We recommend the deck to more experienced players that know the concept of the tempo and can adapt their play style depending on the situation.

The deck is flexible, so you might change a lot of cards, make it much more defensive, aggressive or just switch out your big threats for some others. Besides the relatively small core, you might change most of the cards and adapt the deck based on the current meta. For more tips, visit the Advanced part of the guide!

If you liked the guide, we encourage you to leave a comment in the section below. If you have any questions about the deck, we’ll be glad to answer them. Thanks for reading and check out more of our content!

This is part 1 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections: