MUA: Oil Rogue vs. Tempo Mage

Oil Rogue is one of the strongest Rogue decks in the game. It has a lot of burst, reliable card draw and enough removal to control the board against both aggro and control. If you plan to ladder with the deck you want to know how to beat the other popular decks in Hearthstone. One […]


Oil Rogue is one of the strongest Rogue decks in the game. It has a lot of burst, reliable card draw and enough removal to control the board against both aggro and control. If you plan to ladder with the deck you want to know how to beat the other popular decks in Hearthstone. One of those is Tempo Mage, an aggressive Mage list that wins games through strong minions backed up by efficient removal. This guide will analyze the deck in further detail order to understand the ways that Oil Rogue can use its own damage to beat it.

Sample Decklists

Oil Rogue is a deck that has to run the combo cards that make it work. However, beyond the core of the deck there is a lot of variation. You can run more removal as a way to deal with aggro, more minions to challenge control, or simply more combo cards to hedge your bets. Whatever version you play largely depends on what decks you are seeing at your rank, as well as the type of deck you like to pilot. Choose the version that will play to your strengths and best help you climb. To help you make this decision, three lists have been linked below.

One, Two, Three

Mulligan Guide

When mulliganing against Mage you are always going to prepare for Tempo. While Freeze can give you problems, you will always have time to rebound to Freeze. However, you will get run over by Tempo if you don’t start out fast. They are a deck that loves to start fast, and you need to answer that with early removal. Only keep things that help you stall during the first turns, and let everything else come later.

Cards to Keep

Backstab Deadly Poison Eviscerate SI:7 Agent Fan of Knives

Situational Keeps

Bloodmage Thalnos can be kept with early spells like Backstab but it is too weak to keep on its own.

Blade Flurry is a strong keep with weapon buffs.

Piloted Shredder can be kept with a strong early curve and the coin.

Violet Teacher follows the same rules as Piloted Shredder.

How to Win

The way to win with this match is by wearing your opponent down. Tempo Mage is an aggro deck that typically likes to use early pressure to build into finishing damage like Aggro Shaman does. While they have a lot of minions, most of their game is going to be won through spells that hit your face or steadily control the board. This is because of how well all of their cards work together. However, if you can force them to use their combos early on, you should be able to run them out of cards. Early pressure does this quite well, as does using forcing their hand through efficient removal. Card advantage is the most important aspect of this match, and you always want to find ways to get it.


The other part of this game is clearing. Tempo Mage, like Secret Paladin or Midrange Druid, is a deck that controls the game by building off of its minions into bigger and bigger threats. This helps them dictate the pace of the game and force you to adapt to their style. You want to combat that strategy by doing what you can to get your minions onto a clear board. This will force Mage to use removal on your minions rather than your face, which then gives your priority. Never let anything live if you can help it.

Early Game Strategy

The first turns are always going to be key when battling Tempo Mage because of how much they depend on their opening turns to set up the game. Any early card they play, from Flamewaker to Mana Wyrm, can just give them immense amounts of value and damage. You need to play the control deck early on, using your spells in a way that will keep your opponent’s minions off the board.

Mirror Entity is extremely common these days, and you want to always play around it. You have many minions (Violet Teacher, Azure Drake) that are very good in Tempo Mage (especially when they get them for free). As a result, only play minions into secrets that you can kill immediately. Also remember that if you use SI:7 Agent to kill off a Mad Scientist and it triggers an entity they will get a 3/3 on their side.

Flamewaker is a very strong card you always need to keep in the back of your mind. While it rarely comes out early, the 2/4 can (and will) decimate your board. Most Tempo Mage’s will hold back the 2/4 to play with some cheap spells, which gives them ways to take down all of your minions in one turn. You always need to be aware of that potential when setting up your plays.

Remember to always cycle through your deck if you do not have a good starting hand. Yes, Bloodmage Thalnos is a good card for the mid game, but playing him on turn two to see more action can be a very good play if you have nothing going on or a bunch of lategame cards.

Midgame Strategy

The middle of this game is going to be dominated by minions. You have a lot of strong midgame threats (made even more scary because of your burst potential), but so does your opponent. Each of you are going to do your best to force your opponent to trade while adding things like Azure Drake or Sludge Belcher to the board. The rule here is to never let your opponent’s minion stick if you can help it. That will make them use their turns defensively and allow you to play your game.

As you can imagine, Loatheb is very strong in this matchup. However, you do not always need to save the fungus-lover for the “dream turn” where you shut down your opponent and get an easy two turn lethal. He is very good for that purpose (just as he is for suddenly putting you ahead in a race), but he is also very strong as a lone five drop. Remember that a lot of this game is going to be fought on the board, and being able to play a 5/5 that dodges next-turn removal can suddenly give you control.

Note that Mage runs the five drop as well, so try and go for your big spell or removal turns before he can come down.

Sap is a solid play when forcing damage during these turns or when you are about to move into the later stages of the game. Tempo Mage is largely a “on curve” deck, meaning they are depending on getting down a solid threat each turn of the game. As such, most of the time you send something back to your opponent’s hand they aren’t going to play it again until much later in the game, effectively making Sap removal.

You want to look for opportunities to get a good Blade Flurry. Mage is not a deck that runs a lot of threats, but there will be many times where they fill up the board with a bunch of small junk. Flurry is your answer to those boards, allowing you a way to take back priority once you have lost it. While you would rather use your spot removal, pull the trigger if the board gets too full.

Note: Water Elemental is a card that some Tempo Mage’s run over other early threats. If your opponent plays one, you need to get rid of it at all costs. Not only does it trade extremely well against your minions, but once it gets in to freeze you it is very hard to make any use out of your weapons.

Late Game Strategy

You and your opponent are both going to play the end of the game in similar ways, with each of you going for burst. Tempo Mage is going to look for any burn they have left, and you are going to try and push for your finishing combo. While you do want to clear if you are at a low life total or Mage has not used a lot of burn, you mainly want to pressure your opponent and make them think defensively. This can often slow them down a turn, which is long enough for you to set up lethal.

Since the late game is mostly going to be a race, you want to always play to your outs. You have a lot of damage topdecks, which means you have a lot of ways to draw lethal. You may want to play conservatively based on what’s in your hand, but if the game is tight (which usually means it comes down to one or two turns) you want to make the plays that will give you the win if you draw x card from your deck.

Tempo Mage is largely an aggressive midrange deck, but they do run two finishers in Dr. Boom and Archmage Antonidas ( and some even have Ragnaros the Firelord). These finishers can all swing the board in your opponent’s favor. You need to always keep them in mind, and try to figure out how to play should them suddenly come down.

Final Tip

Watch out for Frostbolt when the game gets close. This is very important because the two mana spell can be used to freeze your face or a minion, which will then allow your opponent to win a race. If you are trying to do damage and you have the chance to hit with a large weapon, you should.

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