Freeze Mage is one of the most powerful, and most popular, decks in Hearthstone. It has very reliable card draw, strong midgame and some of the best finishers the game has to offer. As such, if you are taking the frosty build to the ladder you should expect to run into it from time to time. Mirror matches are a very important part of understanding your deck. They show your decks strengths and weaknesses from a completely different point of view. Knowing how to pilot them is a key part of fully mastering a certain list or style. In this guide we will break down the mirror match for Freeze Mage and look at the best way to get the upper hand.
Despite how stock so many of Freeze Mage’s cards are, there is a lot of room for variation from list to list. While there are a ton of fringe cards you can run, varying from things like Novice Engineer instead of Loot Hoarder, there are three main styles. One of those styles runs a lot of extra burn, one relies on more freeze and one has a lot of healing and card draw. Each of those builds can also vary in finishers. All three versions have their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is best to choose the one that best suits you. To help you with this, a couple of different lists have been placed below.
When facing a Mage you always want to assume that you are playing against a Tempo. While Freeze is very common, Tempo is a deck that you will have a much harder time rebounding against if your prepare wrong. As a result, you are shackled into mulliganing for your early removal or low-cost minions. Once you identify your opponent as Freeze you can switch up your strategy, but planning for Freeze is not worth falling behind against Tempo. Even so, always value your card draw when facing Jaina. It is good against all forms of Mage and essential to winning the long game.
Cards to KeepMad Scientist Loot Hoarder Doomsayer Frostbolt Arcane Intellect Acolyte of Pain
Frost Nova can be kept alongside Doomsayer.
Cone of Cold, if you run it, follows the same rules asFrost Nova. It can also be kept with Bloodmage Thalnos.
Fireball can be kept if you have early minions but no other removal.
How to Win
One of the most important parts of playing against Freeze Mage is identifying it. While this can be easy to do, you want to be alert, because the earlier you know what you’re facing, the better you can properly adapt. Both Freeze and Tempo give themselves away during the early part of the game. If you don’t see any of the telltale Tempo cards like Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mana Wyrm or Flamewaker, you should start to suspect you are playing Freeze. In addition, if your opponent plays any early card draw minion, you are going up against Freeze. Using their hero power on your face on turn two is usually a give away as well since Tempo almost has something to do that early on.
Almost all of your cards are going to be dead for most of the game. This is a hard thing to remember, but it is very important to understand. This is because you never just want to play something just to play it. While you may want to burn a Blizzard because it has no purpose for your current turns, there may come a time where it is useful. However, there are also going to be many cards you need to burn to clear up hand size throughout the game. Always get rid of AOE and freeze first.
Another big part of this game is being patient. Similar to Priest vs. Priest or Warrior vs. Warrior you need to expect this to go very, very long. Ice Block is very difficult to fight through, and you have to set up the game in a way where you can get your damage in first. However, there is no reason to get greedy or try to push as fast as possible. This game is more of a chess match than anything, and you have to make the right move at the right time. A lot of these matches are going to end in fatigue. Start thinking about it early.
Early Game Strategy
As stated, the first three or four turns should be spent watching your opponent’s plays and trying to figure out if they are indeed Freeze. Beyond that, you also want to make sure to clear any early minions as best as you can. Chip damage may seem inconsequential in the long run (especially because of things like Alexstrasza), but you want to take as much pressure off you as you can. You may want to hold onto a Frostbolt, that burn potential is not worth taking six or eight from a Mad Scientist.
Beyond drawing cards and setting up Mad Scientist, Acolyte of Pain is very important early on. This is because it is one of the cards that can really break this matchup open if it goes unchecked. Sometimes drawing can hurt you in games that are going to go long, but in combo vs. combo the person who has more options usually comes out on top. If your opponent drops Acolyte you want to kill it in one go, giving them the least amount of cards possible. On the flip side, try and get two or three cards out of yours by playing it anytime your opponent has a small minion out.
The middle part of the game is going to be spent drawing cards back and forth. While in some games you want to focus on getting use out of your freeze and healing, here you are mainly setting up the later turns (which is where all the action happens). You need to start thinking of turns nine-plus early on. Every card you draw during the mid-game will slot into your finisher in some way, understand how it all fits together and begin to think about how to set up lethal around turn five or six. This will give you a plan for each turn.
Fireball is incredibly important here as a form of removal. While you can save the burn spell in most of your matchups, against Freeze it kills both Emperor Thaurissan and Archmage Antonidas. Those two cards are “must kills” that cannot be allowed to stick around for more than a turn. However, because their abilities are static you cannot simply Freeze them or hope to kill them with Doomsayer. Fireball is the cleanest way to deal with both.
Always watch your card draw here. This is a very important but very underrated part of this match. In order to win this matchup you need to have access to your burn and your finishers. In fact, most of the time the person who has those first is going to come out on top. However, if you burn a key finisher or combo card, you are most often going to lose. Never go up to ten cards in hand unless you can play something, and never put a card draw minion onto the board if you are at nine cards. Though, if you have the chance to make your opponent burn a card or two, you should.
Late Game Strategy
Unlike most matchups, almost all of this game is going to happen during the later stages. By this point you are your opponent are going to have a lot of cards in hand, and a lot of different options at your disposal. The way this is navigated is by trying to apply pressure and get to their Ice Block first while also making sure you can rebound should things to wrong.
The game doesn’t really start until someone plays Alexstrasza. She is by far the most important card in this game for both of her modes. Putting your opponent to fifteen is a good way to get ahead in life, and healing back up after a block can save you from the end. Always know which mode is the best. If you are not in immediate danger of dying you want to get her down as soon as possible and pressure your opponent. However, if you are light on burn or finishers, try to save her for after your opponent pops your secret.
Always plan for fatigue. The skull cards can (and will) kill through Ice Block. That means whoever hits fatigue first is in a much worse position than the other player. As a result, while you want to draw early, know to watch your card draw as the game winds down. In addition, you can also set up a nice fatigue kill with your burn if you calculate it correctly.
The final rule is to always use Archmage Antonidas as a tempo play. The seven drop is fantastic to put down if you can get a Fireball or two because your opponent is going to have to spend their next turn answering it. That is the way you want to use most of your big minions, as instant pressure that must be killed. This will tie up your opponent’s mana and give you priority through the game.
Be careful about attacking into Ice Barrier. You always want to limit how much life your opponent can gain, and while it can be good to attack in with your minions, you don’t want to give them an extra eight health if you can avoid it. If they get a barrier up, unless you can easily do eight damage, just focus on your burn. This will almost make their other copy a dead card.