Freeze Mage is one of the strongest decks in the current Hearthstone meta, which makes it an excellent choice for laddering. However, as strong as it is against control and midrange decks, Freeze Mage has always had a weakness when it comes to fighting against aggro. While not unwinnable, those are the matches you really need to know how to pilot if you want to have success with the combo Mage. This guide will help with that by breaking down how Freeze Mage takes on the ever-aggressive Tempo Mage.
Freeze Mage is a deck that can go in three distinctly different directions. You can either play a burn-heavy style, a heal-heavy style, or one that packs on more freeze and card draw. In addition, you can also play a slew of different finishers, such as Malygos, Archmage Antonidas, Pyroblast, or a combination of all three. Yes, you are going to have to play the usual burn package in addition to Alexstrasza, but there is a lot of room to tweak here. Never just stuck in one style, always play a version of the deck that best suits you. To help you with this, a couple of sample decklists have been placed below.
When playing against another Mage you always want to mulligan as if they are playing Tempo. This is because, if they are Freeze you will have plenty of time to recover. However, if you aren’t ready for Tempo they can overwhelm you very quickly. The way you prevent that from happening is by looking for your early burn and small minions. While you want your card draw (as always) you want to put extra emphasis on having some early answers. Even letting Mage keep one unanswered on board can lead to problems down the line.
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
Despite their name, Tempo Mage is largely an aggro deck in the same vein as Mech Mage. While they do have some late game, most of that only exists to back up their early pressure. In addition, they pack a lot of damage that they can pour on very, very quickly. As a result, you need to be very careful in this match, always keeping track of your life total and their possible damage. You never want to give them an easy opportunity to pop your Ice Block.
A big part of playing against Tempo Mage is reading when you need to clear there minions and when you can focus on your own gameplan. As a combo deck you always want to stay keyed into your own strategy. However, you also don’t want to let Tempo just run wild with the board. If you have some freeze or some secrets, then you have a little bit of wiggle room. On the other hand, if you are pressed for health or if it is early on, you need to do your best to clear.
Early Game Strategy
Tempo Mage is a deck that loves to start early and rapidly build from there. All of their early minions are built for damage, and they have a lot of burn as the game goes on. To stop that from happening you need to get out your early minions and clear their early plays as best as you can. A lone Sorcerer’s Apprentice or Mana Wyrm may not seem like the end of the world, but it is much harder to operate in your own sphere when you have to constantly worry about three or more damage a turn.
Kill Flamewaker. While you can ignore some of Tempo Mage’s minions to develop your board or draw more burn, you absolutely need to get rid of the three-drop. Chip damage, such as letting a 2/2 live for four or five turns, is something that can really ruin your long-term plan. Normally this is easily mitigated, but Flamewaker does constant chip damage and can be combined with Sorcerer’s Apprentice for some crazy turns. That is not a chance you want to take.
Don’t be afraid to play an early Doomsayer onto the board. Though it is typically saved in combination with freeze later in the game, the two drop does a great job of clearing out early minions. That is especially true when you are facing deck that depends on a strong opening as much as Tempo Mage does. While removal is your first option, if you can’t answer a key minion don’t be afraid to drop this down and hope they don’t have an answer.
The middle of the game is where two shifts happen. On one hand, you are going to start making the most out of your freeze and healing abilities. On the other, Tempo is going to build into bigger and bigger minions. You have to meet them when that starts happening or you are going to succumb for damage.
An important rule is, do not be afraid to use Fireball to clear. A lot of people try to hold onto their burn as much as possible. While that can be important (especially if you are playing towards your finisher) but it can also hold you back. Tempo Mage runs a lot of beefy minions, and if you do not have access to AOE, you need to take them out as fast as you can. Fireball is the most efficient way to make that happen.
One of your biggest advantages against Tempo Mage is their propensity to run Mirror Entity. Their secret split is almost always two Entity and one Counterspell. While entity normally doesn’t affect you, you can use it greatly to your advantage by dropping Doomsayer into it. That will make it so their board is always wiped. Just remember to only use this trick when they have a good amount of minions or you are under pressure.
When playing the middle of the game it is also important to always count their burn. While some decks run one or two copies of Arcane Missiles, every tempo deck is going to have two Frostbolts and two Fireballs. That can be a lot of damage, but they primarily use them as removal spells. Just know that every time they burn a card on a minion you no longer have to worry about that damage going to your face.
This final card worth discussing here is Loatheb. While rare, the fungus-lover does show up in tempo from time to time. This is something you want to remember, because the legendary 5/5 can absolutely destroy you if you aren’t careful. When making plays or planning for future turns always have a backup plan just in case they make your spells cost five more.
Late Game Strategy
The end of the game is almost always going to be a tightrope walk of you attempting to get to your finisher before they can find that last chunk of damage. The way you win the end game is either by finding your combo or simply outlasting them. Both of these strategies can work, since all of your big minions can take over the game in their own right. Just know which mode you are in and then play to it.
Tempo Mage runs two finishers in Archmage Antonidas and Dr. Boom. Each of those cards can create a lot of problems if you are low on life, and you should always be aware of their existence. Antonidas is very problematic because he takes up a whole turn to kill. However, Boom is much more of a problem because the Boom Bots will kill you through an Ice Block if they die on your turn. While you don’t have to play around them, try to save a Fireball just in case they come down.
Know how to Alexstrasza. The legendary is usually rather straightforward, but she can be very tricky to use when there are two modes to think about. Yes, most of the time you are going to knock your opponent down to 15 to set up the two turn kill, but there are also a lot of games where getting that health back is extremely important. To make this call you want to map a few turns ahead and see how you think they are going to play out. If you are going to kill them before they kill you, then knock them to 15. If not, save yourself.
While your AOE is very strong, try to get rid of any of Tempo Mage’s minions that have a static ability. Leaving something like a Flamewaker, Azure Drake or Sorcerer’s Apprentice on board, even if they are frozen, can lead to trouble.