I have been playing mage obsessively since Beta and have gotten its sweet golden skin award. Which was no easy task, since mages have not received much love since many pre-release nerfs, but with that achievement under my belt, I wanted to share the deck I was able to reach rank 12 with before season 2 ended. This deck has been updated for Season 4 and is ready to play today.
Freeze mage came back in a big way to kick off this summer, hoping to be just what the ladder needed to knock miracle rogue from its “throne of total domination,” once and for all. While we still need to “watch our backs”, freeze mage has proven to offer a chilling solution for the melee class. Freeze mage has an answer for many of the decks that have been dominating season after season. blizzard at turn 5 with a coin is bad news for zoo. It is strong against shaman, control warriors, and handlock.
You may be asking, why now? Where has it been? It was dominant during beta and got nerfed, so people stopped playing it. Then with hunter nerf, miracle rogue became popular. As an answer to miracle, freeze mage became popular again.
Season three’s freeze mage prototype was typically built around, frost-nova and doomsayer – the idea being, at the right time you freeze the enemy minions and clear the board for the low cost of 5 mana; followed relentlessly with multiple Area of Effect (AoE) spells keeping the board clear; until alexstrasza could be played followed by 2 fireball casts and a frostbolt or whatever 15 damage the mage could come up with to strike down their foe. Of course if that didn’t work, the player can try to play out fatigue. While these decks work, they tend to be slow, and unless you like massive AoE every turn, (on a potentially half empty board, players start to unload their minions conservatively, anticipating flamestrike) they can get kind of boring to play, while not to mention being a massive overkill of a huge AoE spell designed for a full board clear, on just a couple of minions.
So for those of you wanting to play freeze mage, but not sold on what you have seen so far – here is a fun, more aggressive freeze mage deck that will still put the chill into mill-abuser, stop melee from whacking you in the face, and leave a big impression on your opponents.
What is so great about this deck?Some Highlights:
- Water Elementals
- More Aggressive Midgame
- Antonidas is cool
- Faster pace than most control decks
- Cheaper than current freeze mage decks
- Giant table slam entrance!
Given the nature of frost is to freeze in place, Big Chill is a control deck, but while its primary tactic is keep the board empty – it is not a freeze and wait mage deck where you might be bored, sitting back waiting for end game to happen. You are drawing cards, defending your health, maintaining board control, and finally burning your opponent down. Sound hard? Its not, your hero power and freezes will do the heavy lifting for you!
In Hearthstone and particularly with this deck, it is important to realize all of your resources within the game. Minions, cards, and mana are the obvious resources, but so is your health. You will be using some of your health as a resource to play out larger threats in this deck. Do not be afraid to lose some health, but it is important to know how to play this deck effectively to get the most out of it.
Think of the beginning of the game as resource gathering. While you are drawing cards, you may take some damage. Cheap defense will be used in most cases allowing your health to drop slightly until approximately turn 4. By cheap defense I mean, Hero Power to destroy minions on the board with 1 health and assist with larger spells with removal and mirror image, as well as low-cost minions to act as nuisance threats.
Mid Game after some health has been taken you can start using your secrets. ice-block can be applied in early game on Turn 3, if you have no other moves or you are facing a rush deck. It is important to allow some damage to get through but keep in mind how much damage is on the board and what potential spells might be incoming. You can apply counterspell during midgame to avoid spells from midrange players like paladin’s wrath and druid’s force-of-nature.
With cards now in hand, start applying larger threats to the board such as mountain-giant, water-elemental, or gadgetzan-auctioneer.
Do not be afraid to use fireball to clear taunts in the way. And what would a mage be without at least one sheep polymorph?
End game is completely flexible and makes the deck work against a range of classes. Giants will be your minions to represent board threat, while Archmage Antonidas will be ready to deliver a fiery arsenal for your disposal and pleasure. If the enemy catches you off guard or RNG masters have shunned thee, than there are a couple of safety cards, ice-block for a fatal blow and flamestrike if your opponent’s board becomes overwhelming.
Summary of Play Style
- Gather Resources
- Maintain Board Control while playing big threats
- Try to think a turn or two ahead as far as damage goes, particularly end game. Do you need to lay out all of your giants and finish with Pyroblast? How many points are needed and do you have a way to get past a taunt?
- How to kill? Will you be spells to face or giants to face and how will you be making this happen? See step 3.
Mulligan Made Simple
Hang on to your draw cards – Loot Hoarders, Arcane Intellect get priority.
Keep 1, 2 and 3 mana cost cards otherwise.
Keep Ice Block for Warrior and Rogue matchups.
If you have the Coin, keep Cone of Cold for warlock and shaman.
ice lance This card might not seem like much, but for the purposes of this deck it becomes a major support spell. It has the flexibility of adding bonus damage to already frozen targets, assists in removing large minions from the board, halts incoming damage by freezing it for one turn. When saved to couple with Archmage Antonidas for Turn 8 will grant you automatic return with 1 Fireball. (With Coin will be: Turn 7 Archmage Antonidas + Coin + Ice Lance = 2 Fireballs for Turn 8)
frostbolt This spell should be used wisely depending on the matchup. Powerful and flexible with the same abilities as ice lance, but for only 2 mana does 3 damage and causes a freeze to the target. Against an equipped melee class, this can halt their action for a turn giving you time to put a bigger threat on the board, more enticing than your face. If you are in a position to use an ice lance on top you are looking at 7 damage for the cost of 3 mana putting lethal numbers in closer range quickly.
loot hoarder Draw cards. I tried using acolyte-of-pain instead and I found that my cards were being burned far too easily. Loot hoarder is easy to play right at the beginning, does damage enough to remove early minions or act as nuisance, and has the bonus of drawing cards.
mirror image The cost of this card is why it has been selected, as well as, another opportunity to defend your face and your minions. With a cost of 1 Mana it can act as a speed bump for rush decks or combo well for end game Antonidas arsenal.
Substitution: Can Sub out for arcane-missiles
sorcerers-apprentice This card was one where I will say it is optional. However, I only switched it out after meeting back to back rush warriors and I wanted to try and add Vaporize to the secret pile to see what would happen. Sometimes they test for it and sometimes they don’t but I found that simply being able to get your spells out cheaper, more efficiently, faster, was how to “outrush” them, by maintaining consistent control off the board using cheaper spells, i.e. 3 mana Fireball. Late game she only assists further in getting heavier spells out, while we can maintain threat on the board with large minions. This card also tends to be targeted early on, instead of your face. In a rush scenario this is good. For our purposes we want to last with as much health as we can until end game.
Substitution: mana-wyrm, mana-addict
arcane-intellect Draw Cards. Using this to collect cards in the beginning of the game and trying to get Molten Giants out for early threat.
counterspell I prefer this secret over vaporize. It is a game changer. A well-timed counterspell can save your game and completely ruin your opponents. Need an example? A druid is about to cast Force of Nature + Savage Roar combo to do 21+ damage to your face? Not anymore.
Substitution: Any Secret
ice-barrier A spell that offers defense and adds 8 armor when attacked. Two of these are in the deck, giving you a potential of 16 armor. Think of it as a heal. The enemy will now have to work harder than they thought to do 16 more damage, hopefully they have already used up a good portion of their tempo, which will come through for you when their health starts going down and they are running out of cards.
ice-block gets a spot because sometimes things just don’t go right. Here is your safety net. Against certain rush decks it is not a bad idea to apply this very early on… think turn 3. After previewing this season’s rush menu, it will help you outlast those rush decks that fizzle out after turn 7.
cone-of-cold A low cost area of effect that combos really well with Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It is a strong mid-game move to be able to do a smaller AoE by turn 4. This spell freezes three adjacent minions and does 1 damage to the remainder. Use your Hero Power to help finish them off or other minions on the board. Remember to “center” this spell on the main target and it will cast on 1 minion on each side. Ice lance can be used to deal an additional 4 damage for only 1 mana or 0 mana if you were able to get that Sorcerer’s Apprentice out.
fireball Fireball is the old standard, explosive, reason to be a mage. Do not be afraid to use Fireball as removal. Depending on your matchup it can be used as a finisher if you have not had to use it as removal.
water elemental To see other freeze mage decks without water elemental is criminal. This is a great card to be used and abused. Not only does it have a large health body, it can freeze a melee equipped or soon to be equipped opponent, forcing them to use removal or take it down manually, which causes damage or removes removal that strengthens our game later. Maybe they will waste their execute taking out this card and be in trouble when they have the parade of giants come in turn after turn. Having two water elementals out against any non AoE class is extremely advantageous.
polymorph Sheep! Why only 1? Polymorph is very handy, but it is expensive for a removal. You have to clear the sheep with your Hero Power if you don’t want your sheep to bite back. That makes polymorph actually cost 4 mana plus 2. Use it wisely. If you know the deck or opponent, save it for the 32/32 Lightspawn they have just spent all of their spells buffing up, but you survived because you Ice Blocked turn 3! Maybe they have a Ragnaros you want to deal with using a sheep. With this deck you can take care of Ragnaros fairly easily with a combination of spells and your hero power. Is that their only Legendary? Do they have a parade incoming? Can your giants deal with the threat?
Substitution: Ironbeak Owl, spellbreaker, big-game-hunter
gadgetzan-auctioneer This card is a great mid game draw card with a 4/4 body. He usually is targeted immediately o play him with at least one spell or protect him with a counterspell at turn 8 if you need him to draw more cards.
Substitution: loot-hoarder, bloodmage-thalnos, gnomish-inventor, nat-pagle
blizzard This is a great multi-purpose AoE, it holds off the incoming damage by freezing the play for a turn, gives the opportunity to clear minions with your hero power and add board presence for the next turn. There are two in here, with a cost of only 6 mana (5 with coin), this spell wrecks zoolock, shaman rush, and gives you a chance to change the tempo by not only hopefully destroying or nearly killing all of their minions, but freezing them for one turn. Use this time to regain board control on your next turns.
Beware of shamans; shamans can fill a board frequently and quickly with their totems. Use your hero power and small spells for board control early on before pulling out the big spells such as Blizzard and Flamestrike.
Substitution: cone-of-cold, flamestrike
flamestrike Getting overwhelmed? Playing a board controlling class like shaman or zoolock? Using multiple area of effects will be very helpful in gaining back control of the board. Remember to use your Hero Power as removal as well as other spells. Try to maximize the damage of this powerful area of effect. Remember to keep in mind any “deathrattle” effects or bubbled minions, count their damage for the next turn before deciding when to use your Flamestrike.
archmage-antonidas I like to think Blizzard rewarded us with the best class-legendary in game, Archmage Antonidas; as a reward for being so “squishy” in World of Warcraft. That’s right… the best. Sorry warriors – not Grommash Hellscream, who can’t charge through a taunt. Antonidas is a 5/7 mage, correction – ARCHmage who produces unending fireballs??? Yes please!
Some people have trouble making use of this guy, it is important to play him when you can and with cheap spells. Don’t be greedy. It is really fun when you get to abuse him into making you 6 Fireball spells, but your opponent will be long dead, so use him or lose him. Ideally play him turn 8 with a 1 mana spell or turn 7 with a 1 mana spell and a coin and so on. If you do the math and your opponent is at 18 health points remaining, you only need him to provide 3 Fireballs. Then play him out with 3 spells to get those going for the next two turns. Protecting him with a mirror image is a good idea.
Substitution: Being a legendary, there is no even substitution. Here are my suggestions if you are limited by dust or cards or only have certain legendaries:
Budget Version: gadgetzan-auctioneer, ethereal-arcanist, sunwalker (play with Molten Giants), faceless-manipulator, argent-commander (Finisher or breakthrough taunt for giants to finish) or violet- teacher (last resort)
Fancy Version: malygos, ragnaros, ysera, and alexstrasza (I do not recommend Leeroy Jenkins as a sub for this deck because of his whelps)
pyroblast The grandmaster of fire and flame, for 10 mana or 9 with a sorcerers-apprentice, this spell can help finish the job or it can be used as a removal for that giant roadblock taunt a druid has put up ancient-of-war for 5/10. Do not be afraid to use your spells for removal.
mountain-giant A large 8 attack and 8 health minion applies immediate threat, which will help turn the tempo in your favor. Hopefully you have enough cards by turn 5 to play a giant, initiating your first big threat for the enemy to take down, which will waste their removal spells or remove their HP. With the coin you can manage to get this big boy out at turn 4.
molten-giant Molten Giant Add to board for continued threat when your health is low enough. Ice Barrier x 2 after will help relieve the pain.
Vs. Control Shaman
Early Game combo bait: ancestral-healing combined with injured-blademaster creates a pretty large taunt to deal with at Turn 3. They are attempting to bait out your removal cards, such as silence or sheep, but do not fall for it. It is a small taste of the incoming walls of taunt soon to be. If you were lucky and got the coin and your mountain giant you are in great shape. You can also use Frostbolt + Ice lance, or play a Water Elemental and Ice lance on the next turn.
Beware of Turn 8 and later: A brutal wall of power will be constructed. If you see this card earth-elemental you will likely be tasked with major demolition duty. If they have their way, they pair the giant taunt wall Earth Elemental with ancestral-spirit and then duplicate the taunt using Faceless-Manipulator creating 16 tons of damage to burst through.
With this deck and as a mage we have a couple of solutions to this potential nightmare. Our first solution is that we are mages, who cares about taunts? Spells go to the face right? Sometimes we are not that close to dealing lethal, which brings us to our second part of the strategy. Use your giants to trade with two out of the possible four incoming taunts. It would be most optimal to save Antonidas for when you have 3 spells to play for this match. You also want to bait out hexes using your Water Elementals first, then Mountain Giants, then you should be left with 2 Molten Giants, Antonidas protected with Mirror Images, at least 2 Fireballs produced from Antonidas, and a mountain giant. and to finish him off a Pyroblast. Use Ice barrier and Ice Block to fend off any damage that manages to get through end game. It is a heavy combo to deal with, but with our cooling control, its not a problem.
The best solution is to use Counterspell at turn 5. This will prevent him from casting Ancestral Spirit on the Earth Elemental. Then you can save Polymorph for the upcoming Ragnaros, which will leave an additional Fireball to use towards his face.
2 Mana Injured Blademaster, and Ragnaros Turn 3: The play is: Ancestral Healing is 0 Mana on a 4/7 Injured Blademaster which you need to kill on your own – Twice. Try not to use your removal spell on it if you can. After turn 5: They play Ancestral Spirit 2 plus Faceless 5 Mana on Earth Elemental. The 2nd play is a faceless manipulator on an Earth Elemental with Ancestral Spirit on it… Twice. That is four Earth Elementals to ravage through. And then it’s followed by a Ragnaros — scary! Fear not! Save sheep for the first Ancestral Spirit Earth Elemental. Mow down the Injured Blademaster with minions and spells. Save a Fireball and Frostbolt and Ice Lance spell combination for removal of large minions. Once the wall is down, maximize giants to the face. Counterspell at turn 6 will be a good idea to prevent this copy from resurrecting.
Vs. Shaman Aggro
Maintain board control and beware of moderate health minions such as Fire Elementals. A common tactic is windfury and rockbiter. An early Ice Block and Ice Barriers will help change tempo and out pace this rush deck.
Vs. Control Warrior
Warriors can have a parade of legendaries: grommash-hellscream, Ysera, Ragnaros, Cairne Bloodhoof, sylvanas-windrunner combined with brawl. Faceless Manipulator with Ragnaros is a common combo and look out for big-game-hunter, usually only use one per deck. Use Water Elementals to hit his face repeatedly. Save your sheep for Grommash. Kill acolyte-of-pain on sight or assist him with card collection by pinging (Hero Power) his Acolyte of Pain if he is about to burn a card. Use Ice Lances to halt minions from your face, use your cold spells as defense to hold him off and his minions for as long as possible until you can maximize your armor spells and Antonidas. Use Counterspell to keep a Giant from being executed with execute.
Vs. Aggro Warrior
This is freeze mage’s worst nightmare, but if you get the right cards in time, you will be saved. Mulligan for Ice Block and use it ASAP – Ice Barrier ASAP. Play aggressively and to the face with Water Elementals. Use Ice Lances as freeze spells on minions and the enemy. Try to keep defense as long as possible until you can get large threats on the board.
Vs. Aggro Mage
Fireball any Water Elementals, Kill on sight Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Early Ice Block and Counterspell will interrupt their tempo and avoid their one turn combo which can deal 26 damage, using 2 Fireballs, 2 Frostbolts, 2 Ice Lances at 8 Mana. Add a spell damage card like Bloodmage Thalanos it is a One Turn Kill (OTK) of 32 damage at turn 10.
Vs. Alexstrasza Freeze Mage
Beware of the Doomsayer and Frost Nova combo. Since this deck is more about playing large minions and collecting cards, you won’t be losing massive amounts of minions to AoE. Save Polymorph for late game and beware of Alexstrasza turning your health to 15 damage or theirs to 15 damage. Between your Ice Block and theirs, it will be a game of tempo and control. Try to stay 1 turn ahead of them. If they play acolyte of pain and are close to full on cards, help them along and burn their cards. If you are lucky you will burn out their Legendary or Ice Block.
Blizzard when the board is full or you are getting close to being half dead. Pop bubbles when you see them in case of blood knight with your Hero Power. Beware of two x soulfire, use Counterspell to avoid being hit by one of these. They also use a charge by either leeroy-jenkins or doomguard so have your Ice Block and Ice Barrier ready and able ASAP.
Secrets Start with Counterspell for your secret, they will play a flare. With that in mind, try to hold off playing any secrets until he wastes his other Flare drawing cards or until you absolutely need it, test 2nd Flare with Ice Barrier, not Ice Block if you are in a jam. Beware of hunters running legendaries such as Leeroy Jenkins and ragnaros. The worst secret a Hunter has for giants is misdirection. Secrets need to be tested for freezing-trap and Misdirection by any minion that is not your giants.
Vs. Midrange Hunter
Counterspell as first secret in case of flare or if you are lucky you can block their unleash-the-hounds spell. The idea for this deck is to overwhelm the board with minions. Control this with freeze spells and your Hero Power as often as possible. Remember there is a possibility of 10 damage from kill-command for a total of 6 Mana. Use Cone of Cold, Blizzard, and Flamestrike liberally, while not giving the hunter too many minions on your side of the board to feed his Unleash the Hounds spell.
tundra- rhino is kill on sight or sheep (Polymorph) on sight, but remember you have to Hero Power your sheep especially with hunters or your sheep will bite back. Look out for mega charges from king-krush and Leeroy Jenkins.
Vs. Midrange Druid
The Killer combo they want: Turn 6 +: force-of-nature + savage-roar + Savage Roar + innervate + Coin = 21 + damage
Save a Blizzard or Flamestrike for late game cenarius play, you don’t want to get caught behind multiple taunts or about to be rushed by a board full of minions after all of that hard work.
Vs. Control Druid
This match is pretty easy as far as druid matches go. Save the sheep for the ancient-of-war, and a fireball and frostbolt combination for Ragnaros, or trade a giant. It also runs cairne-bloodhoof and black-knight so be prepared to take out some larger minions with your giants, then burn down the druid with your spells. They sometimes run a healing-touch as well, and can heal with ancient-of-lore, but that is nothing a Pyroblast can’t erase.
Vs. Miracle Rogue
Use and abuse Water Elementals for these matches. Attacking minions or the face with a large weapon really slows them down. Getting double Water Elementals out is very helpful for this fight. Beware of sap, but if he Saps your mountain giants you just play it again for less Mana. Use cold spells to keep minions off of your face. Destroy the earthen-ring-farseer and si7-agent to avoid healing and damage recycling from shadowstep. Blizzard and Flamestrike work through conceal and will kill Gadgetzan Auctioneers. Ice Block ASAP for melee rush is always a good idea.
Vs. Shockadin Paladins
Usually you can tell if you are playing these aggro paladin decks right away if you see a worgen-infiltrator or bluegill-warrior. They are also continuously trying to get their Hero Power up and often will use hand-of- protection or argent-protector to try and keep you from attacking it. Deny them. They are attempting to buff any minion using blessing-of-kings. Kill off any 1 Health minions with your Hero Power and keep board control. Use Counterspell on turn 5 to avoid 2 incoming wrath spells.
Vs. Control and Aggro Paladins
Use your Hero Power to control board. Beware of equality + consecration combo available at turn 6. To avoid having all of your giants wrecked by this, don’t unload them all at once before seeing both Equality spells. Beware of aldor-peacekeeper who can change your attack to 1. They usually use it on the first giant or Water Elemental they see. You will need to use Ice Barrier and Ice Block to out last his damage attempts like Avenging Wrath, but he once he starts playing his healers, it is a good indication he has nothing else to play. Just keep board control throughout until you can do full face damage as they will usually heal using guardian-of-kings twice. Save polymorph for tirion-fordring. Some decks will use Faceless Manipulator to duplicate him.
As you can see Big Chill Freeze Mage will offer you flexibility and provide a challenge for your opponents to take down. If you enjoy control decks, playing giants and making a booming entrance, this will give you fun and success on the ladder. The next time a rogue says, “I will be your death!” Tell her, “No – the pleasure is MINE,” and show her how it feels to get maged!
If you enjoyed this guide or absolutely hated it, feel free to leave comments, hype, ask questions, following this post and I will get back to you. To get in touch with me or be the first to know when I post future guides, follow me on twitter @zapzapHS.
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