MUA: Tempo Mage vs. Control Warrior

Control Warrior is a very tough deck to beat, and it has only gotten tougher to combat with the new additions from TGT. For these reasons, you always want to have a gameplan for Garrosh when going into the ladder. Each deck in the current meta fights Warrior in a different way. Some slowly wear […]


Control Warrior is a very tough deck to beat, and it has only gotten tougher to combat with the new additions from TGT. For these reasons, you always want to have a gameplan for Garrosh when going into the ladder. Each deck in the current meta fights Warrior in a different way. Some slowly wear it down, while others run it low on cards or press for early damage. In this guide we will explore how Tempo Mage fights Control Warrior by doing a combination of all three.

Sample Decklists 

Every popular deck in Hearthstone has a lot of different styles and card choices. That is even more true of Tempo Mage. When building tempo you have a lot of cards options that you can tweak based off of the decks you are facing. Always shape and analyze your card choices to best suit whatever your are playing against at your rank. With Tempo Mage this can be a more midrange style, a build with more late game or a very fast aggro deck. To help you understand those choices, some sample decks have been linked below.

One, Two, Three

Mulligan Guide

As a tempo deck you want to try and stick to your curve. However, against Control Warrior you need to stick to it. Do everything in your power to get a fast start and get rid of anything that costs too much. Never keep three or four drops without the coin or without a curve coming before them. While it may seem like a minor thing, missing a turn in the early game can lead to a loss later down the road.

Cards to Keep

Mana Wyrm Mirror Image Mad Scientist Frostbolt Unstable Portal

Situational Keeps

Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a good opener with a hand of powerful or cheap spells to back it up.

Flamecannon is a very good keep with other early minions.

Flamewaker is a good keep with a curve before it or with the coin and cheap spells.

Arcane Intellect is one of your best catch up cards. Keep it with a strong opening that is going to run you low on cards (such as Mana Wyrm/Coin/Mirror Image).

Water Elemental can be kept with the coin and a solid curve coming before it.

Piloted Shredder follows the same rules as Water Elemental.

How to Win

The best way to beat Control Warrior is by applying early pressure and then locking them out of the game through cheap spells and burn. There is not a deck in the game that can take on Warrior in the later turns. Even your finishers, normally so strong, cannot stand up to things like Execute or Shield Slam. You need to get your minions down early and often.

Applying an early board will do two key things. One, it will enable you to start forcing Warrior to play a lot more conservatively than they want to. You want to put them on the back foot as soon as possible, and threatening their life total is the most efficient way to do this. However, the most important aspect of early pressure is that it will force them to burn removal.

When playing against Control Warrior you need to understand their game plan. They want to steadily control the first turns of the game with their weapons, which allows them to save their cheap removal to pair with their huge threats. You need to shut this down in any way that you can. The best way to do this is by creating an early board that threatens a good amount of damage. This means they will have to use Execute or a Shield Slam on a weak target, which sets up your bigger threats very nicely.

When playing Warrior you constantly need to be thinking about their possible plays. Their cheap removal is strong, but so are their big minions (Baron Geddon, Grommash Hellscream) and their other ways to stay alive (Brawl, Shieldmaiden).

The way to win this game is to control the board. Once you fall behind, unless you have a lot of damage in hand, you are never going to be able to come back. Start out fast and keep pushing until someone loses. Due to that plan, you also want to clear everything you can. It may feel bad to burn a Fireball or other spell, but you need to keep the board clear as a way to force them into a corner. Always know when you can set up lethal or when to hold off your spells. Warrior has a lot of ways to gain armor and you should count them throughout the match. This will enable you to know whether or not you can send a Fireball at their face to set up next turn lethal.

Early Game Strategy

Mad Scientist, Mana Wyrm and Mirror Image are the three cards you want to open this matchup with. A lot of playing against Control Warrior comes down to grabbing the board early. However, another big aspect is being able to protect your minions. Their weapons do a lot of work, and you need to be able to combat them as much as you can. Mirror Image completely shuts them down and forces them to use their other removal, which is exactly what you want.

You just want to open the game and play your game plan. Putting things on board and removing anything that comes down. Frostbolt should be saved for Acolyte of Pain and Flamecannon should be held for Armorsmith. If Warrior does have a weapon out you want to try and make them use it on low priority targets such as Mad Scientist or Piloted Shredder since they give you value even if they die.

If you have Sorcerer’s Apprentice be careful how you use her. She is going to die ninety nine percent of the time the turn after she comes down, which means you need to get immediate value out of her. Don’t just play her to play her. Try and combine her with spells like Unstable Portal or Arcane Intellect to further your hand and the board at the same time.

While normally so good, Flamewaker is not great early on since the pings only serve to trigger Warrior’s cards. You typically want to use it during the middle of the game or only when you are really pushing for lethal.

Midgame Strategy

The middle turns of the game are largely you trying to keep your board together. Control Warrior only really runs three midgame options in Justicar Trueheart, Shieldmaiden and Sludge Belcher. Beyond that, they mostly spend these turns trying to clear the board with weapons or cheap removal.

Water Elemental and Piloted Shredder are both fantastic turn four plays that give Control Warrior absolute fits. If you can start strong putting either of them down on turn four is very powerful. These turns are all about card advantage and trying to get an edge. That edge can be in life total or it can be on the board, but you need to get ahead somehow.

Clear out their minions these turns, and try to bait out all of the removal you can to set up for your finishers in Dr. Boom or Archmage Antonidas. Azure Drake is also a fantastic play because it is hard to remove and keeps your hand full. Those small advantages are the way that you get ahead and wear them out of options.

The most important piece of these turns is to watch out for Brawl. Getting your board cleared is almost always going to be a disaster, but if you can force them to burn a couple of cards doing it you can sometimes climb back. When they wipe your board with one card it can just be game over on the spot. You need to only commit a few things to the board at a time to test if the have clears. A good turn to do this is six, since Dr. Boom can refill the board on seven.

Late Game Strategy

You are going to go into the late game in one of two ways. Either you started out really quickly and are just looking to end the game, or you need to set up a finisher. The first is preferable, but you can win from either position. The biggest part of this is to know what path you are on and stick with it. Half measures do not work in this matchup, if you need to push for lethal try and get aggressive, if you need to control the board, do that at all costs.

While the late game is not too complex, you need to understand that you will not be able to keep up with Warrior’s haymakers. This means you want to play with a sense of urgency, knowing that the longer the game goes the lower your chances of winning are. If you are ahead just keep clearing unless you have a final play that will set up an almost guaranteed lethal the following turn. If you are behind on board the only way you can win is through damage. That means you want to do your best to set up Archmage Antonidas as your primary win condition.

The last note is to always be wary of the ways Warrior can heal. A lot of the time setting up for two damage lethal is the correct play, but they do have access to both Justicar Trueheart and Alexstrasza. You need to be wary of those cards, since both of them can bring a warrior back from one life and basically end the game if you have already exhausted all of your burn.

Final Tip

Never be afraid to Frostbolt a Warrior’s face to take away a weapon charge or put on pressure. This is a play many people are hesitant to make, but if you can shut off a Death’s Bite or Fiery War Axe for one key turn it can be the difference between winning and losing. This is not always the correct play, but recognize when you need to push for damage.