Tempo Warrior is one of the best midrange decks in the current meta. It has strong minions, very reliable removal and strong curve. That makes it a great deck to take to ladder. If you want to battle with it, you also need to know how to take down the other most popular tempo deck around, Tempo Mage. This guide will break down that matchup and show how Warrior can use its cheap, efficient cards to win the match.
When it comes to building Tempo Warrior, there are several directions you can go in. You can pack in more removal options, add a couple of tech cards or raise your curve. While the core of the deck is always going to revolve around a set few minions and doing damage, you have a lot of options when it comes to the fringe cards around it. Always play to the counter the decks you see the most. To help you with this, two guides have been linked below.
When facing against Mage you want to assume they are tempo. As a result, you just need to keep all of your low-end proactive cards and do everything you can to get something going early. Mage has a lot of powerful tools, but they need each other to operate properly. Your goal is to cut them off as early as possible, and you need to mulligan low to do that.
Cards to KeepArmorsmith Slam Fiery War Axe Ravaging Ghoul Acolyte of Pain
Fierce Monkey and Frothing Berserker should always be kept with the coin or on curve.
Kor’kron Elite is a good keep with a fast opening.
Bloodhoof Brave should be kept if it slots in your curve.
How to Win
This is a match that largely falls in your favor because you have superior minions. Mage is a deck that wants to use their removal very efficiently, and you can quickly run them out since everything you play is a threat. They cannot simply let Frothing Berserker or a Bloodhoof Brave live. As a result, you can often just play out your curve and naturally eat a lot of removal. In this way, something will eventually stick and be able to take over the board.
The other way you win this game is keeping your health up. Your hero power and Armorsmith are both extremely good at keeping you a high amounts of health. You should always look to get the two drop down onto a large board or alongside some big threats. This can be a path to victory because Mage will clear your minions, which will steadily build up your armor. If you are running low on life, do not be afraid to spend a turn where you simply just use Whirlwind effects to stack up health. Your opponent will eventually run out of damage.
Early Game Strategy
The start of this game is important, but it’s not as important as it once was. The most popular version of Tempo Mage is Hotform’s deck that runs more card draw and burst instead of a ton of minions. As a result, you can actually outpace your opponent in the early game by running out minions and forcing them to use removal rather than adding to the board. This will allow you to keep priority and help you pace the game in the way that you want.
The biggest rule of these turns are just to clear everything Mage plays. The newer versions don’t run that many minions but they depend on them for a lot of early damage to set up burst. If you can use your removal efficiently you should be able to stall that out, making their later turns much worse. Tempo Mage loves to build upon its minions, and you need to limit that potential as much as possible.
Though it is low-impact, you always want to be on the look out for Mirror Image. This card can be really annoying, holding back your weapons and stopping your minions from getting good trades. You need to always think about the two taunts and what your removal options are going to be if they shield a strong minion from harm.
You never want to give your opponent good choices, and your turn three is really important for that. Almost all of your turn three plays are going to be high-impact cards that will demand removal. Even something like an Acolyte of Pain is going to force removal. This is important because it eats damage you would normally take later on, and sets you up for a strong turn four.
Here is where you should start to take over the game. While Mage has some extremely powerful spells, they lack a real punch when it comes to minions. You have some of the best midgame cards around and Mage only runs two real threats. This is the part of the game where you need to crank up the pressure and use your damage to force your opponent to use their finishing damage on the board. Once that happens the game is largely over.
The two big midrange cards you want to look out for are Azure Drake and Water Elemental. While drake can be easily cleared with your removal and weapons, you need to absolutely take out Water Elemental as soon as you can. Getting frozen can really slow you down and actually end the game if it happens at the right time. The four drop is your most important Execute target.
Another important aspect of these turns is setting up clears efficiently. A lot of the time you may not be able to immediately kill something, but you can get rid of it the following turn. An example is using Fiery War Axe on a Flamwaker to set it up for a Ravaging Ghoul kill. This doesn’t come up often, but you always need to be aware of how you are going to kill things as efficiently as possible.
Keep Flamewaker in mind. The three drop almost never comes down before it has to, but when it does it can destroy your board and stack up massive amounts of damage. That is not something you can really play around, but you can try to keep some high-health minions (or Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain) out on the board to deter those type of turns.
While you have a lot of strong minions the two you want to focus on are Bloodhoof Brave and Cairne Bloodhoof. Bloodhoof is an amazing way to bait out a Fireball since most of Mage’s removal is too weak to blast through it. If they don’t have a Fireball, they are going to have to spend a couple of resources clearing, taking pressure off.
When it comes to Cairne, you need to try to set him up while you’re ahead or on an empty board. He is absolutely fantastic against Mage’s removal and can trade with almost all of their minions. He is too slow to play from behind, but if you have him in hand try to think about turn six.
Late Game Strategy
The later stages of the game are going to all come down to health. Mage has tons of burn and removal, all of which you must be able to counter if you are going to win this game. While damage is your normal route to win, a lot of these games are going to end with you simply running your opponent out of ways to kill you.
There are two ways to stay alive, Armorsmith and your hero power. While you are usually going to play one smith out early on, the second is very good at putting the final nail in Mage’s coffin. If you are in the low-teens or single digits do not be afraid to play a couple of minions with an Armorsmith and just Whirlwind as much as possible.
When racing you need to play to your damage. It is very easy to get caught up in the “tempo” part of your name and forget just how aggressive your deck is. You have many ways to do damage, ranging from your weapons to your charge minions to Ragnaros the Firelord and Malkorok. In a tight game sometimes you need to knock the top of your deck and hope to draw a threat. Know what those threats are.
The most important part of this game is going to be counting your opponent’s cards. Mage is going to spend most of their resources on your board, but they are going to have some in the tank at the end of the game. You always need to be aware of your opponent’s damage potential and know when you need health and when you can push. Count the burn they used throughout the game, as well the number of Forgotten Torches.
Be aware of Frostbolt. The two mana card is mostly going to be used during the early turns of the game, but it can lock down a key weapon hit or minion in a race. It also can prevent you from killing an early game. Always think about what can happen if you are frozen so you will have a plan should it happen.