A big part of playing a deck in Hearthstone is understanding mirror matchups. Playing against your own deck is going to happen when piloting any popular deck on ladder. As such, you want to know how to play against it as much as you know how to play it. These matchups are also important because they can teach you about your deck’s weaknesses and force you to see it from a new angle. This guide will focus on the mirror match for Tempo Mage.
[toc]Sample Decklists [/toc]
Not every deck is going to look exactly alike. People have different preferences, tendencies and card choices when it comes to deck construction. Currently there are a dozen different cards and styles for Tempo Mage. You should always try to play the one that best fits your playstyle and the decks that you are facing. Midrange and aggro can be used to better fight against . To help with this decision, some decks are linked below.
Tempo Mage vs. Tempo Mage is an absolute blood bath where both players are doing whatever they can to get control of the early board. You need to start out as fast and as strong as you possibly can. All of your one and two drops should be kept on sight. Removal is just as important as minions in this game, but you want to have a balance of both. Some cards, such as [card]Flamewaker[/card], are very strong but should only be kept if you have one or two drops to play before them.
Cards to Keep
[card]Flamecannon[/card] is a very good keep with other early minions.
[card]Flamewaker[/card] is a must keep with the coin or with cheap spells and a good curve.
[card]Arcane Intellect[/card] is a great “get ahead” card if you start out really quickly.
[card]Water Elemental[/card] can be kept with the coin and a solid curve coming before it.
[card]Piloted Shredder[/card] follows the same rules as [card]Water Elemental[/card].
[toc]How to Win[/toc]
RNG is going to play a big part in this matchup. There’s no way around that. There are just too many [card]Unstable Portal[/card] and [card]Arcane Missiles[/card] type cards running around. The key here is to control that RNG as best as you can. You do this by setting up the board in your favor, which will allow you to react to different situations or give you the best chances of succeeding with your random removal.
To explore this, let’s use [card]Unstable Portal[/card] as an example. While you cannot play around the exact card that your opponent gets from portal, you can build a gameplan for whatever comes down. You do this by thinking how to react to a small minion, a medium sized minion or a large one. That line of thinking is very important when facing your opponent’s cards, and it is also very important when predicting your own. Though you may be counting on [card]Flamecannon[/card] to take out the [card]Azure Drake[/card] instead of the [card]Mana Wyrm[/card], always have a gameplan if things go wrong.
Another very important aspect of this game is going to be damage. Pressure is a great tool in Hearthstone, and while Tempo Mage’s first goal is to control the board, doing damage is a close second. Just like in the Midrange Hunter matchup, whoever gets ahead in life total will almost always be able to win the game. This is because once you are ahead in life you can threaten with your burn and force your opponent to react to the board. Someone focused on the board will not be focused on face, which will take the pressure off.
A final note, do not take chances. This matchup is all about clearing the board as much as possible until you can get something to stick. Your opponent is doing the exact same thing. Almost all of the spells will be used to clear out minions. This is so important that you want to drop something down every chance you get unless you are clearing or saving up for a huge [card]Flamewaker[/card] or [card]Sorcerer’s Apprentice[/card] turn. The board is what decided this matchup.
[toc]Early Game Strategy[/toc]
The first turns of the game are so important they can decide the whole match. That is not an exxageration. Turns one through three are a race of sorts, where you and your opponent are doing everything you can to get something onto an empty board. You always need to play a minion if you can unless you have a plan for it. While it may not feel good to just run out a turn two [card]Sorcerer’s Apprentice[/card] or turn three [card]Flamewaker[/card], they force your opponent to react, which means they are not adding to the board.
Clear, clear, clear. Those are the rules of the early game. Apprentice is very good here, because she allows you to get something down while also playing a one mana [card]Frostbolt[/card] or a free [card]Arcane Missiles[/card]. Those small plays may not seem like much initially, but they will start to eventually build on each other and lead to a win. For this reason, Frostbolt any early minion on sight.
The coin is super important in this matchup, and whoever has it will be at a distinct advantage. If you are going second you usually want to use the coin in the early game, since it allows you do really set up the board with an extra minion or removal spell. That advantage will then take you into the middle game.
The most common midgame minions in Tempo Mage these days are [card]Piloted Shredder[/card], [card]Azure Drake[/card] and [card]Water Elemental[/card]. [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] and [card]Loatheb[/card] also see play from time to time. You need to be ready to clear all of these threats quickly and efficiently since they just trump all of your early game threats. Fireball is the best tool for this, but your own [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] and Water Elemental are fantastic tools as well. Also, if you still have a [card]Mana Wyrm[/card] you should use it to trade up when you can.
Though [card]Fireball[/card] is very strong, it can also lead to problems. This is because using the four mana spell will almost always take up a whole turn. This is fine for someone who is ahead on board, but if you or your opponent are forced to use it while behind it just makes things worse. Know this, and try to use it to your advantage when dropping a big minion down during four or five.
[card]Flamewaker[/card] is also very important during these turns. While the three drop does have some great use on turn three or four, it gets the most value on five when you can really let the spells fly. Know this, and understand how important board clears are (which Flamewaker usually is). This will help you decide if you want to save the salamander or not.
The last cards you want to watch out for are [card]Mirror Entity[/card] and [card]Effigy[/card]. Those are the main two secrets in tempo these days. To play around Effigy simply kill small minions first or ignore the board and push for damage if they only have a large minion in play. However, you always want to test for Mirror Entity first. The best way to do this is to drop some small minion onto the board that you can deal with immediately. The only real exception to this is dropping down a [card]Piloted Shredder[/card], which basically trades with itself.
[toc]Late Game Strategy[/toc]
The late game is going to be a game dominated by a few key cards. [card]Dr. Boom[/card] is one of the most important, as it puts down a huge minion that also takes control of the board. The other two are [card]Archmage Antonidas[/card] and [card]Flamestrike[/card]. Antonidas is usually a finisher, but here he is a great tempo play because he threatens lethal if he isn’t removed immediately. Dropping him down and getting one Fireball is more than enough.
[card]Flamestrike[/card] is a card you always have to be aware of. It is the only catch up card in this mirror, and if you don’t respect it, it will blow you out.
The other part of the lategame is damage. Always be aware of you and your opponent’s life total, and understand how much damage each of you can do. Count both [card]Frostbolt[/card]s and [card]Fireball[/card]s to know how careful you need to be, or what draws can help you win the game on the spot.
If you fall behind late, try to engage your opponent in a race. [card]Frostbolt[/card] and [card]Fireball[/card] are both very scary, especially if you can combine a spell or two with [card]Archmage Antonidas[/card]. That play will get you at least six extra damage as well as slow your opponent down since they need to kill the legend.
While the board is the way to get ahead, never underestimate the power of card advantage. [card]Arcane Intellect[/card] can be a huge swing if used at the right time. If you ever have a window to play it, you should since the extra threats and removal options are key.