MUA: Midrange Druid Vs Mage

This is the matchup analysis of Midrange Druid versus Mage. We’re using this decklist as a basis. Keep in mind there are decklists with slight variations, each one tweaked to the player’s own taste and the meta they’re facing. Cards To Keep Situational Keep or – with Ramp/Innervate – if you know your enemy is a Freeze […]

Introduction

This is the matchup analysis of Midrange Druid versus Mage.

Sample Decklist

We’re using this decklist as a basis. Keep in mind there are decklists with slight variations, each one tweaked to the player’s own taste and the meta they’re facing.

Mulligan

Cards To Keep

Innervate Living Roots Darnassus Aspirant Wild Growth Wrath Shade of Naxxramas Keeper of the Grove Piloted Shredder

Situational Keep

Druid of the Claw or Azure Drake – with Ramp/Innervate

Emperor Thaurissan – if you know your enemy is a Freeze Mage

Mage Meta Decks

Mage decks that currently dominates the meta is a Tempo Mage. It’s a very strong deck that has been getting new tools in every last expansion. Right now it’s one of the most common decks on the ladder. It’s very strong, but also very inconsistent due to a lot of RNG effects. Other decks present in the meta, but more rare are the Mech Mage and Freeze Mage. They are definitely strong, so you shouldn’t count them out.

Vs Tempo Mage

General Strategy

There is no one real, standard Tempo Mage build. Even though all of them share the core, it’s hard to meet two exactly same decks on the ladder. The first difference is that they might use other Secrets. While Mirror Entity and Effigy are the most common ones, you can sometimes see the Counterspell or even Duplicate (like in StrifeCro’s list). The minions they run are also different. There is a faster, more random version, often satirically called “Casino Mage” (because of the amount of RNG cards it uses) which runs Spellslinger and Piloted Shredder. There are also slower version that opt to run the Water Elemental in the 4-drop slot and more late game minions like Rhonin, Archmage Antonidas, Ragnaros the Firelord or sometimes even Malygos. Generally the matchup is in favor of the Tempo Mage. Not only they should have easy time removing your early/mid game threats, once they develop a huge board advantage they won’t likely give it back. You can’t make the fast push, because of the removals they run. You can’t grind them out of cards, because of the Arcane Intellect and Azure Drake. If they get a big minion from the Unstable Portal and drop it around turn 3-4, you might be unable to find an answer (Druid has hard time dealing with big minions, especially early in the game). Depending on the build, they might also have stronger late game than you do.

Early Game

  • Wild Growth is much more important than Darnassus Aspirant in this matchup. Between Frostbolt, Flamecannon and early minions, Tempo Mage should have a lot of ways to kill your Aspirant. Wild Growth guarantees you curve out better and you’re ahead on the mana.
  • Wrath is good pickup in the early game, because you want to clear opponent’s small minions. Mana Wyrm, Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Flamewaker have insane synergy. If he gets to drop those 3 and starts spamming the spells, you probably lost the game. Not only the spells are incredibly cheap because of Apprentice, the Mana Wyrm can easily grow out of control and Flamewaker is spamming the 1 damage pings that can clear your early minions easily (e.g. Shade of Naxxramas isn’t really safe, even though it’s in Stealth) and deal a lot of face damage.
  • Mirror Entity is a really annoying Secret, that’s why you want to Silence the Mad Scientist. But if you can’t – the best minion you can give to the enemy is actually the Darnassus Aspirant. They don’t take advantage of the Battlecry, yet they lose the Mana Crystal when it dies. Effigy is annoying too – it allows Mage to get a lot of the tempo and keep board presence, but you usually prefer that over Mirror Entity in the early game.
  • Innervate is a great tool to get the early tempo back. Getting out Druid of the Claw in the early game means that it should get some good trades before it goes down. The only way they can kill it is the Fireball on turn 4.

Mid Game

  • Both of your 4-drops are great in this matchup – Piloted Shredder can contest their early drops and is rather hard to remove, it lines up perfectly with the Flamewaker too. Keeper of the Grove can take out the Sorcerer’s Apprentice with 2 damage or Silence the Mad Scientist.
  • Water Elemental is very hard to take down. You probably should just ignore it when it’s dropped on turn 4, because you have no clear way to deal 6 damage. If you Taunt up the Druid of the Claw, enemy might be forced to run into it, leaving Water Elemental as a 3/2, which is much easier to kill.
  • Getting the board control is your number one priority. Turns 4-6 is where you can try to drop as many minions as you can. If you get the board control try to be aggressive – their spell combos work much better when they’re ahead than behind. You also want to get them into the combo range. While some Tempo Mages run the Sludge Belcher, it’s not that common, so their only way to defend against your combo should be Mirror Image. So if you manage to get enough damage in the mid game, you can finish them off with the combo on turn 9.
  • If you don’t have the board control, you can use the Force of Nature as a board clear. It often gets 2 for 1 or even 3 for 1 in some extreme cases. Board control is your number one priority. Keep the FoN in your hand only if you have the both parts of the combo already and enemy is in range.
  • Emperor Thaurissan is a great card to let you get back in terms of tempo. Discounting 4-5 cards means that you’re going to have a nice advantage going into the late game.

Late Game

  • Late Game really depends on the build opponent runs, but pretty much every Tempo Mage I’ve met uses the Dr. Boom. Big Game Hunter is the clear way to kill it, but if you don’t have one, Swipe + Wrath or minion’s attack should be enough. Sadly, the Boom Bots should get a lot of value anyway. Big Game Hunter can generally get a lot of value in the matchup – since slower Mage builds also run stuff like Rhonin or Ragnaros the Firelord, try to keep Big Game Hunter for those 7+ mana bombs and don’t drop it on the board without getting any value.
  • Play around the Flamestrike – almost every Tempo Mage build runs one. Try to keep your minions over 4 health and don’t spam the board with smaller stuff. Piloted Shredder is a good, because even if it gets taken down by the Flamestrike, you still have the 2-drop from Deathrattle, which puts you ahead in tempo.
  • Ancient of War is an awesome card, so play it as soon as possible. Mage has no way to deal with it without sacrificing a lot of resources. It survives Flamestrike, it survives Fireball, it survives Flamewaker shenanigans etc. And since they run no Silence or Polymorph (most of time), Mage should have no way to counter it.
  • On the other hand, Archmage Antonidas on their side may be really scary. If you have the board control, it’s more of a desperate move on the Mage’s side. But without board control, you often have no way to kill it, especially if Mage hides it behind the Mirror Image. If Archmage Antonidas sticks to the board, you probably lost the game. Getting 4-5 Fireballs for free is something you can’t outvalue.
  • Your combo is the main win condition in this matchup. If you don’t lose against their early game tempo, you will clear their board through the mid game and you finally don’t fall behind when they start dropping big stuff, you should be able to finish them with the combo.

Tips

  • If enemy has a Secret in play, try to kill the lowest mana cost minion first to play around the Effigy.
  • Before your combo turn, if they put the Secret into play, test for Counterspell first. If Mage is in combo range and he runs that Secret, he’s often going to play right before your combo turn to bait you into Counterspelling the Force of Nature.

Vs Mech Mage

Strategy

Mech Mage matchup is also a very tempo-oriented, but here the tempo doesn’t come from spells, but from minions. The biggest tempo gives in this matchup is the Mechwarper, which means that you absolutely have to kill it. Thanks to the Mechwarper, Mech Mage can flood the whole board with 2-3 health minions in a matter of turns. They are all out of range of 1 damage AoE from Swipe and killing them 1 by 1 is almost impossible. Mech Mage has much stronger early game board presence than Tempo Mage, but lacks the consistent late game they have. All you need to do is to stabilize, once they run out steam, you should be fine. The big thing about new Mech Mage builds is that instead of Mad Scientist + Mirror Entity combo, they often run the Mana Wyrm + Unstable Portal one, which is actually better for you. The thing that got worse is that they run Fel Reavers. If you get the Big Game Hunter, DO NOT play it for tempo – sniping a Fel Reaver is often a key to victory. If you can, try to remove every Mech from the board. For example, if you can choose between clearing the 3/4 Spider Tank and the 4/4 Tinkertown Technician on turn 3, you should really consider getting rid of the Mech. For example, it might deny the potential +4 damage from Goblin Blastmage on the next turn. It also denies other possible synergies like Cogmaster and 2nd Tinkertown Technician one. Your late game is way superior, so once you get there you should be alright. The problem is that with the amount of pressure they have, you will rarely get to the late game. Besides the initial pressure, Mech Mage has quite a lot of burn – 2x Frostbolt and 2x Fireball, not to mention that if he ever gets into late game he might possibly produce couple more Fireballs with Archmage Antonidas. That’s probably the only thing you have to worry about in the late game – try to keep some way to deal with him. If the Mage got Stealth spare part, you probably can’t do anything and the only way for you to win the game is trying to rush Mage down. Depending on your health total, you’re probably put on 2 turns clock then, meaning you still have one more turn to draw into your combo or get Mage low enough. Ancient of War is once again awesome – if you manage to Innervate it out on turn 5, you should be able to stop Mage a lot of times. The 10 health Taunt where enemy has no Silence to go through it means that not only you don’t take 10 face damage, but enemy is usually forced to trade off some of his minions (possibly even all of them!). Once you stabilized, if you have enough health (15+), you should use the Ancient of Lore to draw cards. The earlier you draw into combo and finish them, the smaller chance that they’re going to draw into all of their burn or Antonidas is. Heal up only if you’re in direct range of the burn, e.g. around 10 health.

Vs Freeze mage

Strategy

Freeze Mage didn’t really get any new tools in TGT, so it’s still the same, old decklist. And it’s still a good matchup for Midrange Druid. The matchup is mostly going to be long and slow, but you don’t mind that. From the Druid’s perspective, game is really easy. All you need to do is to put the biggest threat onto the board every turn and try to get some hits whenever you can. Enemy is going to Freeze your board a lot, but from time to time you’re going to get a hit or two. Keep your Keeper of the Grove for enemy Doomsayers. Them, combined with Frost Nova, is the easiest way for Mage to clear your board. Piloted Shredder is also awesome, because even if it gets removed, it still spawns a 2-drop you can instantly attack with on your turn. You can play Druid of the Claw in charge mode to put more pressure on the Mage. The 4 instant damage is rather important. The only threat you need to worry about in the mid game is Emperor Thaurissan – kill it on the turn it’s played, do not let it stay on the board. It might be the easiest way to lose the matchup. You can’t really play around the turn 6 Blizzard, but you can around the Flamestrike. Putting stuff like Ancient of Lore or Ancient of War makes enemy Flamestrike weird, because it still leaves some power on the board. Also, your own Emperor Thaurissan is great. Mage can’t just freeze it and leave, he HAS to use some combination of burn to kill it, there is no way he can leave it on the board going on for too long. Freeze Mage struggles against big burst from opponent’s hand and Druid has exactly that with the combo. Between some occasional minion hits and Hero Powers, you should get enemy down into combo range by turn 9 most of the time. Your first combo is usually going to be used in order to pop the Ice Block. Order your hits the way to get enemy as low as you can before proccing it. The best possible outcome is getting him down to 1 health, but that’s unlikely. Generally up to 5 health should be fine, because it puts enemy in range of a lot of stuff – Druid of the Claw in charge, Swipe, another Force of Nature. The thing is that you want to proc Ice Block as soon as you can. Mage can win the matchup if you will be too slow. If he has enough burn and uses Alexstrasza on your before you proc the block, not only you now have to worry about your health total, deal with the Alexstrasza, but also proc the block and probably heal up. The important thing is whether to use Ancient of Lore for draw or keep it for the healing. If you already have the combo and enough cards to put pressure on the mage, you can save the Lore for healing. But if your card quality is weak and there is no way you’re going to pressure Mage hard enough to proc the block, try to draw into your combo, because it’s very, very important in this matchup. Also, try to Hero Power every turn if you can. Obviously, don’t sacrifice tempo for the sake of it. For example, if you can choose between dropping the Druid of the Claw or using Hero Power + nothing, you don’t do that. But if you choose between Druid of the Claw or Piloted Shredder + Hero Power, do consider the second option. Every point of Armor is important after enemy uses Alex on you. It might give you one more turn to work with.

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