Patron Warrior is one of the best midrange decks in Hearthstone. It has strong minions, ample removal and very powerful end-game burst. This makes it a very strong choice for ladder, especially in a meta full of small swarm decks like Secret Paladin and Zoo. If you want to team up with the dwarves, you need to know how to take down some of the other popular decks on ladder. One of those is the ever-aggressive Tempo Mage. This guide will break down that matchup and show how Patron can out-value and out-pressure Tempo over the course of the game.
While Patron Warrior is a deck full of “must have” cards, there are a lot of flex spots that you can freely change based on your own playstyle. An important rule of deck building is to always make tweaks based on your current rank. While you need to run things like Grim Patron, Dr. Boom and Acolyte of Pain you have a lot of leeway for your midgame threats. Some lists prefer midrange plays like Piloted Shredder, while others go with tempo like Dread Corsair, or aggressive cards like Kor’kon Elite. To help with this decision, three sample lists and a guide have been linked below.
When facing Mage you need to mulligan for Tempo over Freeze Mage. You can always catch up to Freeze, but you are going to have some real problems if you aren’t able to match Tempo’s early aggression. Despite their name, Tempo Mage is an aggro deck. As a result, you want to mulligan accordingly. Look for all of your early removal and keep any opening minions you can find.
Cards to Keep[card]Execute Fiery War Axe Armorsmith Slam Cruel Taskmaster Frothing Berserker Acolyte of Pain Death’s Bite
Inner Rage is can be good to combo with activators like Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain.
Battle Rage is good if you have an opening where you think you can set it up.
Frothing Berserker is a good keep if you strong cards to go along with it.
Piloted Shredder is strong keep with the coin and a powerful early curve.
Grim Patron is a strong keep if you have a solid opening or activators.
How to Win
There are two ways to fight Tempo Mage, and each mode is important depending on the way the game looks. First and foremost, you need to control the board to shut down any early start. From there you either want to push through with your own minions, or fall back and try to get the most out of your removal. This depends on what Mage is doing. If they are just drawing cards or not adding much to the board, you should try and push. If they start out fast, don’t be afraid to take your time clearing. They will eventually run low on threats.
The number one rule of this match is to clear as much as possible. Not only will this help you set up your own board control and push through for damage, but it will also enable you to keep control over the board and limit Mage’s damage. Fireball and Frostbolt are the way they win most games, but if you can force them to use it on the board then it is less you have to worry about as the game progresses.
A big point of this game is making use of your armor when you can. Most people often ignore armor up when playing with Patron, but it can do some serious work against burn-dependent decks like Tempo Mage. If you have recovered from a slow start or are dipping to the low teens, you should always look for opportunities to sneak in a hero power. In addition, if you have the chance to get a big Armorsmith turn, you should take it.
Early Game Strategy
You want to spend the start of the game slowing down Tempo Mage as much as you can. They are going to play all of their minions, and you are going to do your best to remove them. Use all of your resources, from Slam to Fiery War Axe, to get rid of anything they put down. Even one Mana Wyrm or Sorcerer’s Apprentice can snowball if left alive for one turn.
Frothing Berserker is a very good turn three play, especially if you can put it onto an empty board. The three drop represents a ton of damage, and putting it down will often force them to remove it immediately. That is quite hard for a Mage outside of Flame Cannon, and it is going to cost them resources. Furthermore, if they spend their turn using removal you will then be able to take priority back.
No matter what four drop you play, Death’s Bite is always the right call. This card not only deals with Flamewaker and threats like Piloted Shredder, but it also scales up really well into Azure Drake and Sludge Belcher. Being able to clear without using mana on turn five onward while also being able to add minions to the board is absolutely essential to your overall gameplan.
The middle game is where Mage uses most of their removal to bridge the gap between their fast openers and big finishers. They are going to contest the board with a series of threats that range from Azure Drake to Sludge Belcher to Piloted Shredder. As with the opening, you want to do your best to clear. However, here you can start to trade your own board in addition to your removal.
These turns are also where you set up your own combo and large threats. Very few Mage decks run Flamestrike these days, which means you have no fear about getting your Grim Patrons cleared with one card. That is very important because it means you can combo as soon as possible. Anytime you can go for a board of Patrons (three or four) you should. Not only will they take over the game if unanswered, but Mage is going to have to use a lot of resources to clear them all out.
While Flamewaker can be dangerous early on, these are the turns where it becomes disastrous. Though there is no way to play around the three drop, but you can try to plan for it as much as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to always keep some type of minion that profits off of pings (Acolyte of Pain, Grim Patron, Armorsmith) on the board. This will challenge the waker and take away its pinging potential.
Watch out for Water Elemental. Though it is not as common as some of Tempo Mage’s other tools, it does exist. Do not hesitate to use removal on this card, even an Execute. You need your weapons to win, and letting an Elemental hit you even once can be game over.
Finally, you want to watch out for their secrets. Counterspell is not usually a huge concern, but it can set back a Patron turn if you’re not careful. On the other hand, you do want to watch out for Mirror Entity. You have a lot of small minions, and you also have a lot of high-impact ones. Always try to drop some low-cost card (or one that you can clear immediately) to test for your opponent’s secret.
Late Game Strategy
This is the part of the game where you need to constantly be aware of your health in comparison to your opponent’s damage potential. As mentioned, Mage is a deck that has a lot of burst, and if you aren’t careful you will die. You need to always be aware of how much burn your opponent has left, and then use that to decide whether or not you can go face or trade.
The two big end-game cards for Tempo Mage are Archmage Antonidas and Dr. Boom. Each of these cards are only scary if you are low on life, but you want to be aware of them. Save your Executes for each of the large minions as best as you can, especially if you don’t have a solid board.
In that same vein, always try to make use out of your own Dr. Boom. The seven drop not only acts as removal due to the Boom Bots, but it also almost always eats a Fireball, which can be really important when you are struggling to stay alive. If you aren’t in immediate danger of dying you want to get the doctor onto the board because, outside of Patrons, it is the best tempo play you have.
While strong in the midgame, Loatheb is also one of your best end-game tools as well. This card can help cement a board, and it is also a good way to stay alive during a race. Shutting down Mage’s turn can always be powerful (since their deck is mostly spells), and adding a 5/5 to the board at the same time can represent a huge amount of damage. Always try to set up the five drop where it will give you the most value.