Guide: Legend Aggro Mage
I'm sipiwi94. I have reached Legend Rank 4 seasons in a row now. All the way back to vanilla WoW I have loved the mage class, but sadly it hasnt been very strong after the double nerf (AOE Freeze cost +1 and Pyroblastcost + 2). However, in this meta it seems to be quite strong because of the more slow decks. The horror of facing a mage is that not even a taunt wall can stop a double fireball, and in a meta with slow decks that let's you damage them before they get started they will always have to make inefficient plays if they don't want to risk being bursted. This guide is a good example of a mage deck that can make it to legend, but the mage class in general is fine in this meta so feel free to try to brew something together yourself.
The Construction Process
There are great articles about deck construction right here on hearthstoneplayers.com so I will not go into those kinds of details. First I figured out what kind of deck I wanted to make. I figured out that I wanted a consistent deck because my main deck was Miracle Rogue. The most consistent decks are aggro decks and with that in mind I started checking how every card in the game could fit in an aggro mage deck to make sure I didn't miss a great card. Important cards in aggro are cheap minions, damage that can go through taunts, card draw, and removal. In aggro mage decks spell damage is great too and these 5 things was my reason behind choosing the 30 cards on the list.
Playing the Deck
The deck is built to rush down your opponent. You need a good reason if you want to trade a minion instead of damaging your opponent and when you want to use a damage spell on something that isn't your opponent's face! However, there are many good reasons: he might be able to rush you down first, it's possible to make a very efficient minion trade, next turn your opponent can trade very efficiently, you have to get through a taunt, you are afraid of your opponent's AOE spells, etc. All these things are what many people fail to see and why they claim that aggro decks don't require a lot of skill. That's simply not true. There is a reason why aggro decks are seen from rank 25 to top legend and that's because there are many important decisions.
When and how do you clear a minion? This deck has two very different ways - minion trading and damage spell removal. In order to understand what the best thing is in a certain situation you must understand the pros and cons. The main upside to trading your minion is that you keep the damage that can go through taunts (and you keep a freeze effect if you are saving a Frostbolt). Another plus is that you can get more value out of your spell if you wait for spell damage. Trading minions doesn't require mana, but that doesn't have to be an upside. The good things about using your spell is that your minions can deal damage more than one time if they aren't removed and the opponent has to spend ressources to remove it. These ups and downs leads to some general guidelines to use in the situation: • If your opponent is low it can be good to save your spells so taunts will not save them. • If you are far away from having enough damage to kill him you have to rely on your minions to kill him. Use spells. • If you need a freeze for your Ice Lancekeep Frostbolt. • If your only way to use your mana is to use your spells that is usually the right decision. • If you don't have enough mana to use all your damage spells in one turn use your spells. • If you think he has AOE using minions will reduce the value of his AOE.
Use Your Mana!
Time is everything with this deck and for that reason you need to use your mana as efficient as possible. This is a general thing in hearthstone, but very important with this deck. Sometimes there are several ways to use your mana and if that is the case it is important to keep in mind that you also need to use all of your mana next turn. If you have a 1-drop, a 2-drop and a 3-drop turn 3 it is usually better to play the 3-drop because it gives you a high chance to draw a card that lets you use 4 mana next turn. That's just one example of how to take your mana into consideration. Use all your mana and think a turn ahead.
The thing about constructed is that the decks don't only need high value cards like in arena. The most important thing is the card synergy. In this deck the general synergy is that all the cards go for en early kill either by damage, early board control, or by trying to draw into the two former kinds of cards. Another kind of synergy is card combos like Knife Juggler+ Mirror Image. • Arcane Missilesis a card that is primarily to deal with aggro. Because of the RNG in the card it can be hard to use. I almost never use it if I don't have mana for hero power or other kinds of damage, because it can end up throwing away a card. • Ice Lanceis almost always a finisher, but it can also delay your opponent if needed. This card gain a lot of value with Water Elementalin the deck • Mirror Imageis a very good card in my opinion. It's a better version of Shieldbearerthat has good synergy with Knife Juggler. It is very good at protecting your minions, buffing your Mana Wyrmearly game etc. And it is good when you need taunts to defend you until you have mana for lethal. • Leper GnomeVery efficient card. It's 2 damage to the face for 1 mana and a neutral card? That's pretty good, but it also creates a 2/1 minion. It's a crazy card in aggro decks. • Mana WyrmSick 1-drop in a deck with a lot of spells. And also good synergy with • Frostbolta good removal card/delaying card/damage card/freezing card. I value this card very highly and only use it when absolutely neccessary. It's important to keep it for your Ice Lance. • Bloodmage ThalnosThis card is a lot of damage because of the cheap damage spells the deck contains. It can be used to finish with Frostboltand Ice Lance, but I also often drop it early when I need to draw cards. • Faerie DragonA solid 2 drop that is very hard to remove early game. Most decks in this meta relies on removal spells to clear early game minions so this card is good right now. If the meta changes I might wanna swap it for Loot Hoarderor something else. • Knife JugglerWith the amount of cheap minions this card gains a lot of value. As mentioned before Mirror Imagealmost gives a free Arcane Missileswith this card. • Sorcerer's Apprenticeis very good. It has two roles. 1) Play it with a spell/spells making it a 1- or 0-mana 3/2 2) Let's you set up lethal with Frostboltand Ice Lance(2 mana 14 damage) • Arcane IntellectThis deck can afford a card like this without losing board control and the deck needs draw mechanisms because it doesn't have the Lifetap hero power. Do only play it when you don't have a good play, or when you need to draw into lethal fast. • Coldlight OracleThis card is not good in every meta because of the obvious drawback it has. Right now I like it because of the amount of control. Try to make your opponent burn cards, but don't be afraid of playing it. • Wolfrideris like a Frostboltthat doesn't go through taunts. A pretty good neutral card in this deck. If you think your opponent can kill it without using resources don't just go face (if your opponent is not low). It can be hard to find value in this card against druids and mages. • FireballAmazing removal and a good finisher. Not much to say. I almost only use this card to clear taunts and to burst my opponent. • Water ElementalA good 4-drop. It's hard to kill. It triggers Ice Lance. When your opponent kills it with minions they can't attack for a turn if he doesn't silence them. • Azure DrakeI rarely get to use the spell damage from this card, but 4/4 draw a card for 5 mana is good. And in late game the 1 spell damage comes in handy too. A good card to make sure you don't run out of cards in the late game.
Cards That Didn't Make It (but could be strong in the deck)
• Loot HoarderI used it in the beginning, but people just killed it too easily so I swapped it with Faerie Dragon. When the meta changes I might use this card again. • Archmage AntonidasMost games don't end before turn 7 and this deck has a lot of cheap spells. The problem is that this card has to be played turn 9 or 10 so you can play 2 spells the same turn. And sometimes you don't even want to use the spells that turn. • PyroblastSame problem. Turn 10 is just too late. And it's a dead card in your hand too often. • Acolyte of PainThis card is more efficient than Arcane Intellect, right? Well somtimes, yes. But this deck really needs the draws. The deck can't afford this card getting silenced. Another problem is that you don't get the cards immediately. • Defender of ArgusThis card is great because you almost always have 2+ minions on the board. But I don't want more 4-drops in the deck and I like Water Elementalmore. • Acidic Swamp Oozeis a card I tried too. I liked it every time I faced Miracle Rogue, but that's the only matchup. It might be a good card to use if you face Miracle Rogue all the time (max 1 though)
Matchups and Mulligan
In most matchups you want early game minions. That's pretty much it. If you already have early game minions you want a nice curve (a good play some turns in a row). This means that if you have two 2-drops it's not always correct to keep both. In this meta all classes are played even on the top of the ladder and most classes even have more than one kind of deck up there. That is very positive in my opinion because it means the game is balanced (sucks that they probably will need another ~8 months to rebalance after Naxx :-P). But when we talk about matchups and mulligan it is hard to give a lot of advice. You often don't really know what you are playing against in the mulligan face so you need a general strategy + some cards you know are great against the class you are facing. During the first turns you want to figure out what kind of deck you are playing against, but only practice can help with that. One thing I want to say before talking about every specific class is that you need to think about if your opponent can heal. I have seen many people go all in by setting up a lethal and then the opponent heals winning the game. It i often correct, but think about what heals would lose you the game.
Against all kinds of Druid (Ramp, Token, Watcher etc) you want to deal as much damage as possible with your minions before their big taunts come out. You will probably need to remove a taunt or two with the help of spells and the key in this matchup is to do it as efficiently as possible. This matchup is hard because our deck doesn't run Polymorphbut I still don't think the card is worth it overall.
Hunters have really not been around lately because of the Unleash the Houndsnerf. When I see them it is always face hunter. Arcane Missilesand Mirror Imageare good cards in this matchup. This is a good matchup because of the man ways to remove 1-health minions and the many ways to freeze your opponent. Care for explosive trap and don't be afraid of trading your minions.
Except for the mirror matchup this matchup is tough. The hero power is very good against this deck and mage in general has many removal spells. However, I have won many games against mage too. You can't afford to play around their removal. Just push for damage, but don't play a minion if it will just die to ping. The way you play against ping is to give it multiple targets at once. Play your 1-health minions when you have a 1-health minion already. Another way is to play them when it is awkward for them to hero power. This is when you already have board control or when they can't use all their mana. Making them use hero power turn 3 is a common example.
This matchup depends on your opponent's draws. Consecrationalmost always clears the board and their heals can be a pain. But paladin has always been a slow class and I think the matchup is slighty favoured. Play around Consecrationif you feel you can afford to and don't go all in losing to a heal if you have other options. Mana Wyrmis very good because it has 3 health.
Priest obviously can heal, but they lack answers to your pressure. There are some Priest deck that run Holy Smite, Wild Pyromancerand taunts that does okay, but in in general Priest has a hard time. Holy Novais an expensive for them, but you can normally afford to play around it. Azure Drakeis very good.
This matchup is tricky. Their hero power destroys your 1-health minions, but they often take Mirror Imageis a very good card in the matchup, but care for Blade Flurryand Backstab. Sometimes rogues just have the answers, but it's pretty even in general.
Shaman is slightly favoured. It has a lot of answers to our early game, they always roll taunt totem, but even when they draw some of the answers they can lose.and when the don't draw them you just roll them over. Try to play around Lightning Stormbecause if they don't have it you will win anyway.
I like this matchup very much. Every time they use hero power we get closer to lethal. Handlocks can win if they get big taunts out fast enough. Try not to get them below 11hp if you don't have lethal in your hand. Aggro warlock is usually faster at rushing than you, but the matchup still favours the mage if you trade and finish off with spells. Don't be afraid of using spells on minions. Arcane Missilesand Frostboltare good cards in this matchup.
Aggro Warrior can be stopped by Mirror Image, but until you get that card you might want to trade efficiently. Use spells if needed. Control Warrior is all about them drawing the answers. They have a lot of them, but they also have many dead cards. If you get a lead early try to play around Brawl. Your spells don't do a lot to the face if they have 50+ hp so sometimes you want to make sure your minions survive by using your spells to clear. Don't burst them down to 2hp just to let them play a huge and remember that you can freeze to stop weapons.
I hope this deck will carry you to victory. It is not easy to play, but learning by doing is a good thing in hearthstone. It is cheap to craft so go ahead and try it out. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, on my Facebook and follow me on Twitch.