Camzeee here with a look into one of GvG’s new deck archetypes – the Mech Mage!
If you’ve been following the articles I’ve been writing, I actually wrote up a PRE GvG deck tech on how I would run the Mech Mage before the expansion was released.
The decklist I came up with is actually pretty close to what is being run nowadays with a few unexpected twists.
The strategy for the deck is also a little bit different in its current iteration. Let’s dive in!
[cardinsert card=”goblin-blastmage” float=”left”]
Mech Mage at its core is all about synergy and curving out well.
To win, you want a really great start and to push the initiative right from the get-go.
Luckily, you have a number of great options that enable you to shoot out of the blocks.
[card]cogmaster[/card] is a fantastic turn 1 play if followed up by a turn 2 Mech. You have 3 turn 2 Mechs that you can drop for the boost.
The next few turns are all about [card]mechwarper[/card]. This card enables a lot of amazing value plays and can flood a board with Mechs before your opponent can regain control.
Once the Mechs take over the board, your Mech matters cards – [card]goblin-blastmage[/card] and [card]tinkertown-technician[/card] can net you some insane value that can start putting you over the top.
Blastmage in particular deserves recognition for being an amazing card for clearing out a board of tokens while providing a big body.
Late game is all about pushing for damage and burning out your opponent. You have x2 Frostbolt and x2 Fireball. Save them if you’ve got tempo for lethal.
The deck also has a number of ways to win at the longer game. [card]dr-boom[/card] is fantastic to either push the initiative or help you come back from a deficit on the board.
[card]archmage-antonidas[/card] is the real star of the long game though.
I used to run [card]clockwork-gnome[/card]s to give additional spare parts but Tinkertown and [card]mechanical-yeti[/card] do a more than adequate job from experience, and his effect can also be triggered from Frostbolt.
Archmage allows the Mech Mage to win control games more reliably and the additional burn I’ve found is great for taking down Handlocks and Warriors.
Let’s take a look at the decklist now card for card.
[toc]Card by Card[/toc]
- 2x [card]cogmaster[/card] – I’ve really come around to this card. It’s like the Mech version of Undertaker. Since there are so many Mechs in this deck, triggering its effect is almost a given, and it can lead to some nice snowball plays starting from turn 1.
- 2x [card]annoy-o-tron[/card] – This card absolutely lives up to its name. It’s It puts your opponent in mana debt because it’s so difficult to remove in the early game and can act as a fantastic defense. It’s also one of the few taunts in the deck.
- 2x [card]mechwarper[/card] – This card is the symbol for this deck. A Mech that offers to give you more Mechs for cheaper. The fact that it decreases the cost of all Mechs is an incredible ability and it’s stapled to a standard 2/3 body for 2 mana. If this isn’t removed, you can really start to snowball an advantage.
- 2x [card]snowchugger[/card] – Snowchugger is a really solid card by itself passing the vanilla test as a 2 drop. Its 3 health is tough to remove and it can really ruin weapon classes on its own. I’ve shut down many a Warrior and Paladin with this card. It’s also adorable. Chugga Chugga.
- 2x [card]frostbolt[/card] – I can’t imagine any Mage deck without this card. It is fantastic for removal, freeze utility and additional burn. Bonus points for being able to remove enemy Undertakers and Mechwarpers.
- 2x [card]harvest-golem[/card] – Now a Mech, Harvest Golem remains as one of the best value cards in the game. It finds an easy spot in this deck as a dependable three drop (2 if you have a Mechwarper!)
- 2x [card]spider-tank[/card] – This card is no-nonsense straight value. A 3/4 for 3 mana has already proven to be excellent in Dark Cultist, and this card synergizes great with the deck, provides above average stats and is generally great on curve.
- 2x [card]tinkertown-technician[/card] – Mech matters. Tinkertown is a 3/3 but in this deck it should almost always be a 4/4 draw a spare part for 3 mana which is incredible value. Also synergizes with Archmage Antonidas for those Fireball finishes.
- 2x [card]fireball[/card] – The is Mage’s best spell and one of the best in the game. It’s really great in this deck to finish off opponents and to remove large taunts/threats, if necessary, giving you momentum. A must-include in this deck.
- 2x [card]goblin-blastmage[/card] – Now this card is the star of the deck in my opinion. If you can get his Battlecry off, and it’s not too hard with the stickiness of Annoy-o-tron, it can seriously swing the game. A fantastic card in a Mech based deck and Mage only too.
- 2x [card]piloted-shredder[/card] – I love this card. It’s a sticky Mech which fulfills all the criteria I’m looking for. The best case scenario is getting this out early with a Mechwarper and then having it pull Millhouse Manastorm on death. A fantastic value card and extra synergistic with this deck. Must-have.
- 2x [card]mechanical-yeti[/card] – Value body, gives a spare part on death for synergy, what’s there not to like? Vanilla Yeti with Mech synergy. An amazing card for this deck.
- 1x [card]loatheb[/card] – Still a winner post GvG. This card is amazing for setting up lethals and straight up hamstringing your opponent. It can really instill a sense of dread in your opponent who was hoping to clear your board that turn.
- 1x [card]flamestrike[/card] – I like having one Flamestrike to clear the board of creeps. I find it’s often useful and can secure a win on an even-ish board. It’s the most feared arena card for a reason.
- 1x [card]dr-boom[/card] – This card is a really big surprise in GvG and it is stellar in this deck too. Not only does it provide 9/9 worth of stats immediately, it’s also a formidable board presence that isn’t easily removed. It’s a bonus too that the little [card]boom-bot[/card]s are considered Mechs for Tinktertown and Blastmage synergy.
- 1x [card]archmage-antonidas[/card] – Your late game ace. This card is great at setting up for a lethal finish. Combo it with spare parts and Frostbolt to draw a bunch of Fireballs. The [card]finicky-cloakfield[/card] is an incredible spare part to draw with Antonidas in hand. It’s almost a sure-fire win if you can cloak him and rain hellfire on your opponent in subsequent turns.
[toc]Play by Play Tips[/toc]
So now that you’ve checked out the deck and understand the strategy, there are some nuances you have to prepare for as with any deck.
Thankfully, as far as decks go, Mech Mage isn’t one of the more difficult ones to play. A lot of it is playing minions on curve and getting maximum value as you would in arena.
Here are some quick bullets on how to play this deck well.
- Mulligan aggressively – This deck benefits from a really explosive start. Mulligan for Cogmaster and the 2 drops along with Frostbolt. The faster you start, the tougher it is for your opponent to recover. You can be tempted to keep 3 drops, but I’m telling you now not to unless you already have 2 or more 1/2 drops.
- Curve out but plan ahead – It’s easy to just plop minions down, but like Deathrattle hunter, sometimes putting them down in combination is better value. Mechwarper is the big value saver here. Sometimes, it’s better to ping or Frostbolt instead of playing a minion on 2 if you have 2 Mechs including Mechwarper which you can drop on the following turn.
- Mech matters – Blastmage and Tinkertown are crucial cards in the deck. Try to combo them together and wait to use them to get optimal value out of their Battlecries. You don’t want to play either on an empty board if at all possible.
- Setup for lethal – This deck often times can push an opponent’s life total down very fast and as a result, you can set yourself up for lethal over two turns. Save your burn spells until the final salvo, and ping your opponents’ face if need be to push that last little bit of damage.
- Always consider face – This is the big tip here for playing Mech Mage well and the most difficult one to master. Like any aggressive/tempo deck, you want to push for damage as often as possible. Trading all the time is often a mistake and this deck is not meant to go beyond 10 turns. You have more leeway than some aggressive decks with Antonidas and Boom, but this deck is at its best winning by turn 8 so push for damage!
[cardinsert card=”unstable-portal” float=”left”]
Mech Mage is a great deck because it can be run in a number of different styles and flavors.
You can either run it more aggressively by putting in [card]mana-wyrm[/card]s and [card]clockwork-gnome[/card]s ditching the 7 drops.
Or you could play it more control based by removing some of the early game minions and replacing them with the likes of [card]sylvanas-windrunner[/card], additional Flamestrikes or even [card]ragnaros-the-firelord[/card].
These changes likely alter the Mech Mage into a mid-range Mage, but the Mech core is still pretty strong to carry it.
Unstable Portal is also a consideration especially when playing Mana Wyrms for more fun and RNG but ultimately, after testing them out, I found them too unreliable for competitive play.
Card draw is also weak in the deck, so the inclusion of slower cards like [card]arcane-intellect[/card] can sure it up against more mid-range or late-game decks.
Overall though, the Mech Mage runs a pretty tight list. All the Mechs in there especially the 2 drop Mechs are pretty much irreplaceable at this time.
I would consider maybe dropping one or two of the 3 drop Mechs but no more and perhaps all one drops if you want to curve higher.
[toc]Countering the Deck[/toc]
Some people read deck guides to beat them. I’m going to do you guys a solid and dedicate a whole section to beating the deck.
But first, a little origins story.
Mech Mage overall is an extremely strong deck. It has performed very well on the ladder, getting numerous players to legend, as well as in the tournament scene.
Strifecro and Brian Kibler are the two personalities most credited with formulating the basis for the deck as well as refining it.
In its first few iterations, Mech Mage ran slower with Unstable Portals and more mid-range classics like Mad Scientist and Secrets.
However, it has since evolved and become a much more streamlined curve machine. As a result, card draw was sacrificed and even Taunts (other than Annoy-o-tron).
This forms the core of the deck’s weakness – it’s an aggro deck, and as a result, it suffers from aggro deck failings.
Here are the weaknesses:
- Weak card draw – This is the biggest weakness of the deck. The only draw in the deck consists of x2 Azure Drake and those are mere cycles rather than actual draw. As a result, a Mech Mage is often left top-decking once the later rounds of the game come along. Deal with threats as they come, gain card advantage and maintain a high life total and you will start pulling away from your Mage opponent even if you haven’t done a single point of damage to him come turn 6.
- Limited removal – Mech Mage has no good answer to sticky and difficult cards. They also don’t want to use their limited arsenal of damage spells like their Frostbolts and Fireballs on your minions. Put things in their way like Sludge Belcher and Sylvanas to stall them out and force them to make unfavorable trades.
- Poor late game – My variant on Mech Mage is actually more heavy on late-game to try and mitigate this weakness, but it’s still fairly poor compared to the vast majority of decks out there. Exploit it by emptying their hand and forcing them to make all-in pushes.
To exploit them:
- Early removal – Having early game removal spells or weapons is unbelievably good against Mech Mage. Fiery War Axe does wonders at getting an early two for one and even just Dark Bombing their Mechwarper can set them back quite a bit.
- AOE removal – Like other aggro decks, having solid AOE removal helps to get card advantage and can sweep the board away from the Mech Mage. Often times crucial in order to have any chance of winning.
- Get ahead on board – This one is one of the best ways to beat Mech Mage. It’s an aggro deck, but it doesn’t come down quite as fast as some of the others. Having a turn 1 Zombie Chow can really put the brakes on a Mage trying to flood the board.
Try out the Mech Mage if you haven’t already! It’s a lot of fun, very well-rounded and can win against any deck.
It’s also nice because it doesn’t require a ton of legendaries.
If you’re looking for a budget version, you can replace:
[card]loatheb[/card] > [card]mana-wyrm[/card]
[card]dr-boom[/card] > Mana Wyrm (2)
[card]archmage-antonidas[/card] > [card]argent-commander[/card]
These changes make it much more aggressive but still a very effective deck.
I hope you found this article interesting and informative!
As always, feel free to leave comments in the section below. Feedback, criticism, insight all encouraged!
See you on ladder!