21 July 2014 - 11:00

Mage Secrets Unveiled - Understanding Mages' Secrets

ZapZap shares this neat guide on Mage Secrets, as well as a few tips on the new Mage Secret - Duplicate! Bonus deck list included.
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Hello fellow Hearthstone Players! This week I wanted to continue sharing my mage obsession and talk secrets. My gold and bling mage is working hard to get to legendary with my Big Chill deck, but with Naxxramas around the corner, I am already thinking about how I can stomp warriors, once and for all. It has been argued that mage class cards lack synergy. It seems the game designers offer us secrets as a secondary tactic when playing mages. In order to maximize secret potential, they can be played with secret support cards. At 3 cost mana and a dependence on other 3 and 4 cost mana cards for synergy, it locks mage decks into midrange or control decks. Mage decks simply put, don’t have enough gas to make the trip, playing only secrets. They are draw dependant and absolutely get annihilated by certain classes, particurly control decks. Nonetheless, players always try to make full secret decks. Unless Blizzard reworks the mage class entirely, not happening – riots would start, we have to figure out how to make those secrets work. So here is a guide to help you sort through the mysterious cards and figure out which secret will help your deck the most.

Mage Secrets

Ice Barrier

Gain 8 armor when attacked. It needs to be physically triggered by attack from an equipped weapon or a minion. How to avoid in a mirror match: Don’t physically attack with a minion or weapon.

Ice Block

The fatality safety net, with a few holes in it. Beware: It is not immune to Explosive Trapor [eye- for-an-eye[/card], damage from any other secret, or fatigue damage from running out of cards. I like to use this card for another purpose throughout the game - decoy; which can and often played on turn 3. It is useful when played with other secrets and often forgotten by the end of the game. Initially when it is played the opponent starts trying to play around it. They test for Ice Barrier first, which is an opportunity for an early Vaporize, and they also play a cheap minion thinking it is Mirror Entity.

Mirror Entity

Mages often play this too early, such as turn 3. It should played against most classes, turn 7, 8, or 9 when the class is playing their big minions and working on their kill, they have no choice but to play their intended minion and if you have already played your Ice Block, you are in good shape. If you are super-pro and know your meta-game you can use that information and predict when they will likely play their best Legendary and play accordingly.

Spellbender

Summons a 1/3 minion who says, “I’ll take that,” when a spell is cast at another minion. This spell is fantastic against paladins, played early (think turn 3) when they buff their single-target minion with Blessing of Kings. It is also great in a mirror match, protecting a valued card against polymorph or any spell effect. It will not help against druids’, Keeper of the Groveor silence minions such as Ironbeak Owland Spellbreaker.) Use it when you play cards that need to grow or you want to hang onto something nice like with Ethereal Arcanistor Archmage Antonidas, or Violet Teacher. Remember this spell is not Counterspell it will not protect your face, but it will save another minion. So in order for it to work, it needs another target on the board.

Vaporize

Is your opponent a handlock pounding you in the face giant after giant? Not anymore – they will think twice once they say one of their big boys turn to dust. Players often test for this with a cheap minion, you should take care to play it mid to end game and not waste it early game. Play it when they have no choice, but to hit you in the face with that one minion or it’s their game. Then you have turned this would be mediocre secret into a game-changer.

Counterspell

The best secret next to Ice Block and Spellbender, my favorite, requires some meta-game knowledge. You should anticipate and notice the signs of what your opponent is about to play. You can bet that if you are playing a paladin with many 1 health minions like Bluegill Warriorand Leper Gnome; that approximately turn 6, he will play Avenging Wrath. Play Counterspell at turn 5, if you have no high health minions on the board, it is likely the paladin will be casting it turn 6 or soon after. Are you facing a druid at turn 6 with 2 possible Innervateand a Savage Roarincoming? Then it is time to pop on the Counterspell. Is a priest about to wreck all of your 2 health minions you worked tirelessly to put up with Holy Nova; then it is time to put up Counterspell. This secret is a game-changer. It has the possibility of ruining their entire turn, denying them a huge mana spell, and denying them a killer combo. The best way to become a counterspell master is to recognize what deck you are playing early on and anticipate what spell – damaging or heal, you can interrupt, which will give you the most advantage in health or mana afterwards.

Duplicate

Naxxramas Duplicate Secret

Duplicate

When a friendly minion dies put 2 copies of it into your hand. I am really excited for this secret; I think that mages might get to turn the tables on warriors late game. Plays like these make me happy. Let us analyze this. Imagine Cee Cee Spellcraft and O.P Mega-Control-Warrior have been battling it out for 32 rounds. C.C. played her  “decoy” secret up at turn 3 – Ice Block, thanks to my advice. (You are welcome C.C.! ) It is turn 10 and C.C has just been #rekt by Alexstraszadown to 15 health by O.P. Warrior O.P. can't wait to play Grommash Hellscream+ Cruel Taskmasteron C.C.'s face and dance on her grave. Instead she comes up with this magical combo: C.C. Plays: Kirin Tor Mage+ (Which is now free) Secret Duplicate+ Sunwalker"My magic will tear you apart." Then O.P.  Control Warrior says … “Oh yeah I have got this , no problem. I will crush you! He crushes C.C.’s poor Sunwalker with his Black Knight, unbeknownst to him; he just gave C.C. two more taunts with a bubble to save her from getting charged with Grommash Hellscream. "Well Played," C.C . says. "I  choose death!," O.P declares and smashes his iPad. O.P. fails and C.C. Wins! It is time to start thinking about how Duplicate can be worked into your own mage decks. Think of duplicating Archmage Antonidas or the mindgames there will be when a secret is up with him in play. I can feel the cards burn already.

Secret Synergy Cards

Kirin Tor MageGives you a 4 attack minion, which is perfect against priest, and bonus synergy with free secret. Make the free secret count, the secret you make free needs to come at a time when you need the extra mana, but can’t afford to lose it for the secret. Think of it as an extremely limited innervate and imagine the mana crystals filling up that turn. Ethereal ArcanistThis card is actually really powerful, it's an instakill, so we have to do our best to protect it with Counterspell, Spellbender, and taunt minions. The stats are similar to Edwin VanCleeffor rogue, so in some cases it is almost legendary. But considering how many cards we have to use to protect and make it actually grow, it makes sense why it is epic level. When your enemy goes to attack Ethereal Arcanist, if it has Spellbender, so many players forget about the Spellbender secret, but you can’t bank on that. So it is wise to have a back up secret, think Counterspell or a second Spellbender, to further protect and keep it growing. Remember, even with Spellbender it is susceptible to silence minions. It is expensive to run two of these, so treat it as a legendary, play it once you think all removals are gone, such as hex, Big Game Hunter, Owls. SecretkeeperThis card is a fantastic mini version of Ethereal Arcanist and is much cheaper. Sometimes I use it as bait for early removal spells. Other times you can protect it and watch it grow. It only works when secrets are actually played. Yes played, that means hunters, paladins, and a mirror match will help you grow it if they play a secret. People often don’t protect her, but a cheap taunt can help make her a real threat. Try and get at least one hit out with her and then she has gotten a bit of value.

Flare - the Anti-Secret

FlareWhen faced against a hunter always play Counterspell first in case of Flare. Counterspell does work against Flare, despite it saying it destroys all Secrets. They will not draw a card from it and your remaining secrets will stay intact. The last thing you want is the hunter to use a flare when you really need it, like an Ice Block. Worst case scenario is they use the flare and they draw a card, the best case scenario is you Counterspell a spell such as Animal Companion.

Secret Decks - Gimmick?

Can you over-do-it? I think so. Secrets are defense cards, a deck could be filled with secrets 12 slots, leaving nothing but control options. If you played the 3 secret support cards that becomes 18 slots taken. (20 if you include Duplicate from Naxxramas.) This creates some serious limitations on which cards it can utilize for damage. All secrets cost 3 mana, so in keeping with a smooth mana curve, that only leaves a couple of minions for early draw. No room for Arcane Intellect, 4 mana cost cards would further hinder your deck, as you would be unable to play until mid-game and unable to play more than one card at a time, which is completely inefficient. Spells can be out-armored; spell minions like Archmage Antonidas can be silenced with cards like Keeper of the Grove despite Spellbender. By using too many secrets, the theme starts to take over and all you end up with is a gimmick, fun to play once in a while, but it won’t really get you any wins. We have all come across them… So what works? Like everything else in life, balance is the key. In an aggressive deck, you want to pick one or two of the secret support cards like Secretkeeper and Ethereal Arcanist and see how far you can take them. Use Secretkeeper for early damage and bait to help rush down your opponent. Use Ethereal Arcanist to finish the job. In a control deck, you will use more secrets, in a variety of ways, which was talked about in detail in card selection. Ideally you want to use them as defense in protecting your best minions and your health, prolonging their life and your own. The longer your minions last, the more mana efficient they become, the less mana-efficient your foe is. The more cards, health, and mana he wastes on a minion or casting a spell that is denied by Counterspell, gets you closer to a win.

I'll Take That Deck Mini-Guide

This is a rush deck. I have had people concede at turn 3 because of an overgrown Mana Wyrmand a well-timed Counterspell. Follow the guidlines of the secrets in this article and have fun with this deck! Mulligan for 1 mana cards and Loot Hoarders or Novice Engineers. As discussed with the secrets above, protect your cards with Spellbender and Counterspell. The idea is to make your growth cards as large as possible and go for the face. Have fun with it.

Closing

In short, make secrets work for you by:

  1. Knowing the meta-game.
  2. Using decoy secrets to activate real secrets optimally.
  3. Choose secrets carefully, based on matchups and minions in your deck. Do the minions need support? Do the minions need to stay up longer to get more health like Ethereal Arcanist? Do you constantly get matched up a Paladin when you are play Aggressive mage and need Counterspell to protect against Consecration, Humility? Can you use Spellbender and get your own Blessing of Kings?
  4. Analyze the meta-game and understand what it means for each secret.
  5. Your secrets are answers, to their answers. So choose the best one to cancel theirs out.

I hope this guide has enlightened you to the mysteries of mage secrets. Feel free to leave comments, hype, hate, love, and questions. Follow me on twitter @ZapZapHS for article updates.

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