Control Warrior is one of the most popular decks in the meta. It is very consistent, has some of the best removal Hearthstone has to offer, and a ton of big, powerful minions. That gives it a lot of versatility, which makes it one of the best choices to ladder with. However, while powerful, Control Warrior is not immortal. A lot of decks can bring it down, and Tempo Mage is one of its toughest matchups. This guide will break down that matchup and show you the best ways to take down Jaina with Control Warrior.
Every deck in the game, no matter how popular or rare, is going to have a lot of different card choices. Control Warrior, due to the new weapons it got from GVG, has many builds and styles. An important thing to remember is that there are going to be a lot of “stock” cards that you want to play when building Control Warrior. However, outside of that core, you can experiment as much as you want. Due to how strong the shell is at staying alive, you can choose many different legends, early minions and removal options. To give you an idea of what to build around, three decklists have been linked below.
When going up against Mage you are always going to assume they are tempo. That’s because, even if you are playing Freeze, you can recover through armor. Weapons (as usual) are what you are going to hard mulligan for. This will allow you a clean way to clear out early minions while also saving your premium removal for their larger threats. Outside of that you just want to play to your curve, doing your best to find your two and three drops so you can match them punch for punch.
Cards to KeepFiery War Axe Armorsmith Bash Acolyte of Pain Shield Block Death’s Bite
Shield Slam can be kept if you have another armor card to go with it.
Execute should be kept only if you have no other removal options.
Cruel Taskmaster can be kept if you have a Fiery War Axe of Execute to go along with it.
Brawl can be kept if you have a really strong curve coming before it.
How to Win
This game is going to be a very interesting back-and-forth. The reason is that Tempo Mage actively tries to steal the game from their opponent by controlling the board and removing their minions. However, you don’t have very many early minions and will often spend your turns armoring up. This means a lot of the game will be them dropping down threats and you removing them in the best way that you can. This is the flow of the game. They play, you kill. Understanding this going in is instrumental to winning.
Though Tempo Mage is a tempo deck in name, it is an aggro deck in practice. All of their cards, from Piloted Shredder to Sorcerer’s Apprentice to Mana Wyrm are built to put on early damage. They then try to finish the game with burn. While many decks will have to go on their back foot to fight against that pressure, you can simply rise above it through armor. Always try and get in some healing when you can. This will usually happen during the early middle turns where you don’t have a lot of good answers to their threats.
In a similar vein, you want to kill everything they play, but do it in a way that makes sense. For example, Execute and Shield Slam are your two best removal cards and you do not want to spend them on a Mad Scientist or Mana Wyrm. Always understand their biggest threats and know what you have to kill. Archmage Antonidas and Dr. Boom are the two things you must have an answer for. If you can try to kill everything else through small removal or trades.
The final rule to this match is, always count your opponent’s damage potential. Tempo Mage runs artificial burst through some of their minions (such as Flamewaker and Mana Wyrm) and real burst through Fireball and Frostbolt. When you start getting low always try and imagine how much damage your opponent has. If it can kill you, play it as safe as possible.
Early Game Strategy
As you can imagine, the first turns of this game are vitally important. Even with armor, you will die if you can’t answer Tempo Mage’s first couple of minions. Mana Wyrm and Sorcerer’s Apprentice both do a ton of damage, and even Mad Scientist negates your armor when left alive over a few turns.
Early on, Flamewaker is the most important card to have an answer to. While Mage will usually play it combined with a spell of two just to get some hits in, it won’t really do a lot of damage until the turn after it is played. You need to make sure it doesn’t live, and always have some way to deal with it. Death’s Bite is the best way to do this, but if you don’t have the bite, always have some way to kill it off in your hand.
Every early minion should be killed on sight. While you want to hold onto your premium removal, it isn’t worth taking an extra six, eight or ten damage to not use a Shield Slam. You need to find ways to keep the pressure off as much as possible. Weapons are the number one way to do this, and if you have them you can coast. When you don’t have them, just try to distract your opponent from doing damage as much as you can. Even if they can kill Acolyte of Pain right away, getting something down to buy you an extra turn or soak up some damage can be vitally important.
The middle of the game is most often where this matchup will be won or lost. This is because this is where Tempo Mage really starts ramping up their threats. Piloted Shredder is a nightmare to deal with, and Azure Drake can become lethal really, really quickly. While not having an answer early on can lead to trouble, not having a response here will lead to death. However, here you can fight back with minions as well as spells. Use removal as always, but start trying to meet them punch for punch on board as well.
Water Elemental is a card you need to kill on sight. While it is an early game minion, you should use premium removal on it immediately. Six health is very hard to deal with, and Water Elemental‘s ability to lock down your weapons will put you very far behind.
Justicar Trueheart is also very important, but you need to know how to play her. A 6/3 for six is not anything to sneeze at, and Tempo Mage can easily remove it and move on. While her ability is essential to winning the long game, you want to play her at a time where she is going to do something. This can either be when your are ahead on board, or when you have enough life where losing a turn for extra armor won’t matter.
Never forget about Brawl. This card is your catch up in many matches, but Tempo Mage is not a deck that really likes to flood the board. As such, you either want to set them up for a Brawl by saving your removal for an extra turn, or you can use it as soon as they get three minions down on the board. You are going to have very few opportunities to get value here, you don’t want to let them pass.
Late Game Strategy
Most of the time, if you get to the end of the game you are going to be in full control. Those games will be a breeze, and allow you to coast into your larger minions. However, it is the games where you are struggling a little that you want to prepare for.
Knowing your opponent’s deck is always important. The two biggest threats Tempo Mage has are Archmage Antonidas and Dr. Boom. Both of those cards need to be dealt with immediately, since unanswered they will win the game. Always have two removal options (preferably Big Game Hunter) at the ready going into turn seven and beyond.
If you are not coasting, chances are these are the turns where you are struggling to stay alive. In those cases you want to play to Alexstrasza (if you have her) and keep armoring up. Justicar Trueheart really helps you out if you played her early on, but getting two armor is the most important thing when fighting for your life.
Make the game go as long as you can. Playing it safe is the best way to win this match, and Tempo Mage only has a few real threats. If you can eat their removal and run them low on cards you will win almost all of the time.