This is part 3 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections:
- Part 1: Beginner Guide
- Part 2: Advanced Strategies, Alternate Cards, and Tech Choices
- Part 3: Match-ups and Mulligans
Matchups and Mulligans
In this section, we’re gonna show you how to play against other popular decks – whether you’re a favorite, what to mulligan for and the general strategy of playing against it.
Cards you look for: Mad Scientist, Duplicate, Arcane Intellect, Sylvanas Windrunner or Emperor Thaurissan (if you have both keep Thaurissan), Acolyte of Pain
Cards you might keep: Doomsayer (if your hand is already good)
Midrange Druid is a very tough matchup for Echo Mage. Whenever you face a bad matchup, you want to make high risk, but high reward plays. You play to win! And you don’t play around a lot of things. For example when you play Control Warrior against Midrange Druid, you play as if they don’t have the combo in their hand, unless you can afford it, because you are already winning. The reason for that is that, playing around cards will result into tempo negative plays, that may even decrease your chances to win the game even more. If Druid has a fast start, you will lose no matter what the majority of time. Even if you kept a defensive hand like mad-scientist, doomsayer and frost-nova. And even if the Druid has a slow start you are still no favorite to win the game. So in order to give yourself the best chances of winning against Druid, you “bet” that the Druid has a slow start and therefore keep a greedy hand that has Emperor Thaurissan and Duplicate. Because if the Druid then has a slow start, you are then a favorite to win the game. That is what Hearthstone is all about, to give yourself the best chances of winning any given matchup, even if they are very bad ones.
- As already mentioned you win this matchup the majority of time, if the Druid does not have a fast start and you get good Duplicate value. Getting multiple copies of Sylvanas Windrunner or Emperor Thaurissan can put you very far ahead, because of Sylvanas Deathrattle, which makes fighting for board control more easy or the huge mana discounts from Emperor Thaurissan.
- Doomsayer is very hard to get off against Druid, because they almost always have something on the board, and even if you have Frost Nova and Doomsayer, they still have Keeper of the Grove as a potential answer. So the best use of Doomsayer is to play him quite early to contest a Shade of Naxxramas, or before turns where they can play something very powerful: Turn 7 (Ancient of Lore, Dr. Boom) and Turn 9 (Combo Turn).
- Try to get rid of the Shade of Naxrammas as soon as possible! A Shade on the board will mean that the Druid has always some kind of board control, but in addition to that he can grow quite quickly and even contests your giants. Therefore using Coin and Explosive Sheep on Turn 3 is very recommended, unless you need the coin to get a Turn 5 Emperor with Duplicate.
Face Hunter/ Midrange Hunter
Cards you look for: Mad Scientist, Explosive Sheep, Doomsayer, Acolyte of Pain, Molten Giant, Antique Healbot
Cards you might keep: Arcane Intellect (if your hand is already good, like Mad Scientist, Explosive Sheep, Molten Giant etc.), Ice Block (if your hand is already good, Ice Block is a key card against every Hunter, but it is not worth keeping if you lack other good cards), Sunfury Protector (something like Molten Giant, Mad Scientist and Sunfury Protector is a 100 % keep).
Every Hunter iteration is a good matchup. You need to stop/ slow down their initial pressure and then kill them with Molten Giants or outgrind them with multiple Antique Healbots. Midrange Hunter is a little bit harder than Face Hunter, because it has more resilient threats like Savannah Highmane, Piloted Shredder and also plays the annoying Loatheb.
- Face Hunter does not have a lot of steam, a lot of minions die to you hero power, so against Face Hunter you will be using your hero power quite frequently in the early game. Note that this deck is not a tempo based deck, so using your hero power over playing Mad Scientist on Turn 2 to kill a Leper Gnome is a better play. Midrange Hunter on the other hand, as already mentioned plays a lot more high value, hard to kill minions. Your hero power is not as good against Midrange Hunter as it is against Face Hunter. But they are also a lot slower, which means you can sacrifice more life to make tempo inefficient plays like playing Arcane Intellect on Turn 3 over for example Mad Scientist.
- Face Hunter mainly plays Explosive Trap, which you should almost never trigger before Molten Giants enter the battlefield and start racing him. Taking two less damage, may result in one extra draw before they pop your Ice Block, which can be a huge deal sometimes. Midrange Hunter on the other hand mainly plays Freezing Trap and very rarely Snake Trap or Explosive Trap. You can use that to your advantage by bouncing back Antique Healbot and using his battle cry again.
- Doomsayer is a rather tricky card to use against both Face and Midrange Hunter. If your opponent has a quick start with for example one drop into two drop, it is recommended to simply throw him out there on Turn 2, to slow him down and get you some tempo. Against Face Hunter it is a little bit trickier to get the trigger off, because they play two Ironbeak Owls, whereas Midrange Hunter only plays one Ironbeak Owl. Also note that Doomsayer can gain you seven life, if your opponent can kill him, so throwing him onto a board, where he is very likely to die is a good play if you need some more time/ life points. Hiding a Doomsayer behind a Sludge Belcher is also a good play sometimes, if you need to gain back some tempo or if your opponent is slightly ahead on board.
- If your opponent has a fast start it is recommended to also simply play an Explosive Sheep on Turn 2/3 and not to wait for Turn 4 to ping it. Even if your opponent has an Ironbeak Owl, it is still a good play, because Ironbeak Owl is a tempo inefficient play (weaker than Animal Companion or Knife Juggler etc.). In addition to that, he maybe then does not have an answer for a huge Doomsayer turn, which is also good.
- Savannah Highmane is Midrange Hunter’s most powerful threat, therefore Doomsayer + Frost Nova is at its best right before the turn they can play a Savannah Highmane. Even if they have an answer for Doomsayer, the majority of time they can’t play a potential Savannah Highmane.
- You don’t mind taking some damage, even one hit of Savannah Highmane is fine sometimes, if you have the proper cards in your hand. Drawing as many cards/ getting as many draws as possible is key in this matchup. If you have the correct cards in your hand (getting more draws will increase the odds), you can beat every Hunter draw.
- Echo of Medivh is a rather complex card to optimally use in this matchup. Ideally you want to copy multiple Molten Giants and/ or Antique Healbots. But if you are under a lot of pressure and simply can’t play Molten Giant already, it is recommend to simply use Echo to copy minions like Doomsayer, Explosive Sheep or a lone Antique Healbot. Especially Doomsayer will be left untouched the majority of time if your opponent has a Silence effect, which gives you another free card.
Cards you look for: Mad Scientist, Explosive Sheep, Doomsayer, Acolyte of Pain, Molten Giant, Acolyte of Pain
Cards you might keep: Arcane Intellect (if your hand is already good, like Mad Scientist, Explosive Sheep, Molten Giant etc.)
This matchup is quite similar to Face Hunter, your face is the place and they will try to kill you as quickly as possible. In addition to that, they play more resilent threats and have an efficient answer for your Giants with Equality. Therefore it is a harder matchup than Face Hunter, but you are still a favorite to win if you play correctly.
- This matchup is very similar to Face Hunter. You will try to get as many draws as possible to increase the odds of drawing into your key cards (setting some huge Molten Giants and/or Antique Healbots turns). Respect Equality, so don’t go all in on Molten Giants, if Equality may completely destroy your board and then leave you without any resources to win.
- Don’t be too greedy with your cards, because of Divine Favor. Because of the nature of Echo Mage Divine Favor will always draw a lot of cards, but you should try to minimize the draw. But don’t just play Frost Nova willy-nilly, as mentioned in the General Guide, the card is really valuable.
- Another way to win this matchup is to get multiple Doomsayer and Explosive Sheeps with Duplicate and Echo of Medivh. Especially Explosive Sheep is great at dealing with their board, which consists the majority of time of smaller minions.
- Doomsayer should be played rather early, unless you can Duplicate it later. Aggro Paladin has a lot of answers for the Doomsayer (Ironbeak Owl (usually 2) and Equality (usually 1) ), so try to minimize the chances of running into an answer.
Cards you look for: Polymorph, ship everything else that is not Polymorph or Arcane Intellect and/ or Acolyte of Pain . If you don’t know it is Freeze Mage you look for anti- aggression tools: Mad Scientist, Explosive Sheep, Doomsayer, Acolyte of Pain, Molten Giant
Cards you might keep: Arcane Intellect (if your hand is already good, like Mad Scientist, Explosive Sheep, Molten Giant etc. or Polymorph)
Freeze Mage is another mage archetype, that is in a fantastic spot in the current metagame. It is good against aggressive decks, while being very good against Handlock. In addition to that the Patron Warrior matchup is not that bad. Freeze Mage is also a quite common class in the Conquest format. Echo Mage is even better against Freeze Mage than Control Warrior.
- If you have Antique Healbot on the board with Duplicate up, they can’t kill (or should) it, because you then get more heal effects.
- Even if they have Archmage Antonidas on the board for several turns, Freeze Mage is still an underdog to win. Your abundance of heal effects (Antique Healbot & Alexstrasza with Duplicate effects) and Ice Block make you really hard to kill.
Cards you look for: Mad Scientist, Acolyte of Pain, Molten Giant, Explosive Sheep, Arcane Intellect
Cards you might keep: Flamestrike (if your hand is already good, like Mad Scientist, Molten Giant etc.)
Rogue is a deck that starts rather slow at the beginning and then suddenly makes some huge tempo plays coupled with burst. You win this matchup, by denying them any great burst with Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil by killing all their minions as soon as possible. You really don’t need Molten Giants to win, because fatiguing the Rogue by killing all his minions is also a very frequent outcome, but they are still very nice minions to have on the board, because Rogue struggles to deal with multiple Giants outside of gigantic Blade Flurry turns.
- Doomsayer should be played rather early, to contest a single minion. Rogue plays a lot of spells, therefore wiping a board with Doomsayer and Frost Nova is quite an unrealistic scenario.
- Killing a 3 toughness minion with three hero powers is quite a reasonable play, if you lack any other good options, especially at the beginning of the game. Taking 9 damage over 3 turns is not that bad.
- Your weakness in this matchup is the midgame, because you don’t have very good removal in this matchup (Doomsayer is very unreliable) to deal with midgame minions. Therefore duplicating an Explosive Sheep has top priority to have decent removal options for their midgame minions like Piloted Shredder, Violet Teacher, Azure Drake and Loatheb. Once you get to Turn 7, everything will be easier because you now have access to Flamestrike.
- Frost Nova should be used to prevent as much damage as possible and to set up a good Flamestrike. Be aware of Loatheb that may counter your Flamestrike, so value your Frost Novas very highly, because it can help you stall a Loatheb that does not come down prior to Turn 8!
Cards you look for: Mad Scientist, Acolyte of Pain, Arcane Intellect, Big Game Hunter, Sylvanas Windrunner
This is your hardest matchup, and if your opponent plays very well you have almost no chance to win.
- Your best duplicate target in this matchup is Sylvanas Windrunner, which helps you dealing with Giants once they are low on Silence effects.
- Big Game Hunter is your second best duplicate target. You need to get some crazy Echo of Medivh and/or Duplicate value out of Sylvanas and Big Game Hunter to win this matchup.
- If your opponent is not familiar with this matchup, he will rush your face, because he thinks you are Freeze Mage. That will increase your odds of winning the game, because you now can get more Echo value.
- On the other hand if your opponent is familiar with this matchup, he will not attack you below 20 and simply wait for Lord Jaraxxus to seal the deal.
- Don’t play around Shadowflame too much (it is a 1 of after all), if you can set up a lethal board you should do so. It is a bad matchup, and as already mentioned bad matchups are won by taking risks!
- Frost Nova should be used rather late, to set up a potential lethal or to buy you a critical turn. So don’t use Frost Nova to simply prevent something like 12 damage on Turn 5. You are not Freeze Mage, you beat them with board presence, so stalling does usually do very little.
- Doomsayer is rather tricky to get off, because the majority of Handlocks play double Silence. If you have Sylvanas (maybe even some duplicated ones) and Doomsayer you can overload them with Silence targets, which then can enable some very nice Doomsayer turns.
Cards you look for: Mad Scientist, Acolyte of Pain, Arcane Intellect, Doomsayer, Explosive Sheep, Molten Giant
Cards you might keep: Frost Nova (if you already have Doomsayer and other good cards)
Zoolock is quite different to all the other aggro matchups. They have an inbuilt card advantage mechanism because of Life Tap and play more value based minions than any other aggressive strategy (Nerubian Egg, Voidcaller, Mal’Ganis, Sea Giant etc.). Therefore simply outgrinding them with board clears and heals won’t get the job done. You also need to get a decent amount of value out of Echo and Duplicate to win this matchup.
- Doomsayer together with Frost Nova is at its best in this matchup. Zoolock only plays one Ironbeak Owl (some even play none) and Doomguard out of the hand with buffs is not a very consistent play to remove a Doomsayer. Ideally you want to play Doomsayer and Frost Nova on a full board, so that they can’t play any more minions. So if they have Haunted Creeper out and already have limited space, try to ping it over two turns to give them a full board.
- Zoolock has the lowest burst out of all aggressive decks (mainly Doomguard and Power Overwhelming), so be really greedy with your Frost Nova and only use it on key turns (setting up lethal, denying huge damage, preparing Flamestrike).
- Unlike against other aggressive strategies, you never go for a “tempo” Doomsayer or Explosive Sheep. Nerubian Egg can make that very awkward, at the beginning of the game.
- Keep in mind that Zoolock always taps quite low, once they realize you are not Freeze Mage, so double Molten Giant with Frost Nova combined will win you the game quite often.
- Because of Zoolocks rather slow nature for an aggressive deck, you should try to get as many draws as possible, so simply playing an Acolyte of Pain on Turn 3 and giving your opponent a free kill is not a good play the majority of time. So wait for Turn 5 to ping him to get at least two draws out of the Acolyte. If you draw into all your key pieces and then have a board full of Molten Giants with Ice Block up, Zoo has no chance to win.
Cards you look for: Mad Scientist, Acolyte of Pain, Arcane Intellect
Cards you might keep: Big Game Hunter (if your hand is good)
This is an even matchup if both players play very well, but it gets very swingy to even an autoloss if one player does not know how to play the matchup and the other does. For example if the Warrior player plays perfectly, he will never get you below 20 life, wait for fatigue and kill you with Grommash Hellscream through an Ice Block (because of Fatigue). If the Echo Mage player is not aware of this strategy and willy-nilly uses his hero power on the Warrior’s face, he will have almost no chance to win this matchup. Control mirror matches are won by two different strategies: 1. be faster and kill your opponent with burst and tempo 2. make the best use of your cards and win the value battle. The first path (the tempo one) to victory is impossible for Echo Mage in this matchup, you lack any kind of burst damage so the Warrior dictates the pace of the game. So you have to play the value game and your Molten Giants are a huge factor to outgrind them.
- As already mentioned it is important to realize if your Warrior opponent is familiar with this matchup. If he is, and does not get you below 20 life, you should start pinging yourself or use Alexstrasza to enable Molten Giants. Only do that if your hand can deal with Grommash Hellscream, that can potentially pop your Ice Block.
- Be greedy with your Echos, do not copy a board of Sludge Belcher and Antique Healbot. You are in no hurry, wait for your Molten Giants to set up some crazy Echo value.
- Watch your hand size! Burning a Molten Giant is quite a disaster. So before you set up some nice Duplicates, you should minimize your hand with unneeded cards like Explosive Sheep, Doomsayer, Frost Nova etc. Simply try to get rid of them! Warrior plays a lot of removal spells, therefore getting good Doomsayer value is quite unrealistic.
- Try to bait out Execute on a Doomsayer, you don’t need to trigger. For example play a Doomsayer on a board that has an Acolyte of Pain and Armorsmith. When your opponent decides to kill it, that is one less removal for your bigger threats.
- Force them to duplicate only Alexstrasza, Molten Giant, Sylvanas Windrunner, Big Game Hunter and Emperor Thaurissan. Duplicating Sludge Belcher is not great. He is decent, but not really good value.
- Try to Echo of Medivh a Big Game Hunter and other high value cards. Warrior Control plays a lot of Big Game Hunter targets.
- Save Polymorph for Ysera. An uncontested Ysera for several turns will make you lose the game, due to the high power level of the dream cards which can even help the Warrior deal with a board full of Molten Giants (double Ysera Awakens)
- Always respect Brawl. A lot of Warriors play even two Brawls, so having not more than two huge threats on the board is highly recommended. This is an attrition based matchup, so card advantage is highly important. So don’t give your opponent too much value from a Brawl.
Secret Paladin and Midrange Paladin
Cards you look for: Mad Scientist, Explosive Sheep, Doomsayer, Arcane Intellect
Cards you might keep: Frost Nova (together with Doomsayer)
Secret Paladin and Midrange Paladin are very similar to play against with Echo Giant Mage. They have an almost identical early game (Shielded Minibot, Knife Juggler, Muster for Battle), but Secret Paladin is a lot faster than its Midrange counterpart because of Secretkeeper and the cheap 1 mana secrets that make it akward to clear minions. So unlike Midrange Paladin it does not give you as much time to draw into your removal and combo pieces. One big advantage Echo Giant Mage has against Secret Paladin and which makes the matchup easier than the one against Midrange Paladin is that Secret Paladin very rarely plays Equality for Molten Giants, which means that a board full of Molten Giants will be impossible for them to deal with.
- Against both decks you can be rather greedy with your early board clears (Explosive Sheep, Doomsayer ), especially Doomsayer is really powerful when combo’d with Frost Nova on Turn 5 to deny the Secret Paladin a Mysterious Challenger on Turn 6.
- Don’t count on Doomsayer being the savior of the day. Secret Paladin has Repentance and Midrange Paladin Equality, and both decks could even play Ironbeak Owl.
- Therefore an early Doomsayer on Turn 2 or 3 can sometimes be the correct play if your opponent has a very aggressive opener with a 1 drop into 2 drop.
- Once you reach Turn 7 and have access to Flamestrike the matchup gets a lot easier, so prolonging the game has top priority therefore even simply playing a Doomsayer to gain 7 life can be a correct play.
- Against Secret Paladin your biggest concern should be staying alive and making it into the late game. Against Midrange Paladin your biggest concern, besides not dying early is getting enough value out of your Duplicates and Echo of Medivhs. Midrange Paladin has a lot more power in the late game than Secret Paladin, which means they can actually outvalue you if you give them too much value with their Equality or don’t be too greedy with your Echo of Medivh.
- Killing Silver Hand Recruits with your hero power has top priority if you lack any tools to handle a Quartermaster. Even some Secret Paladins play Quartermaster.
- Save Polymorph for Tirion Fordring, unless you are in danger of dying to minion you can’t handle otherwise.
This is part 3 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections: