The Burn Shall Burn You! A Guide to Aggro Mage
Last week we discussed the mighty Handlock which is a deck full of huge minions and AoE spells that can control the board and win in the late game. It's a very popular deck on the ladder again and in tournaments and we witnessed the power of Handlock this last weekend in the Road to Blizzcon EU tournament in particular. Kolento was able to 3-0 TheFishou after being down 2-0 to an incredibly fast Aggro Mage. In this article we'll talk about that fast Mage deck and why it could be a good deck for tournaments and, depending on the meta, the ladder as well. Mage has been mostly absent from the meta game for a while now mostly due to the prevalence of Hunter and Control Warrior but as the meta shifts, decks like this become viable again.
This deck relies on getting minions out quickly that can be buffed on subsequent turns to get a bunch of damage to the face in the early game, then burn the opponent out with the large amount of Mage spells that can get past popular taunts like . There are some very favorable match ups that are popular right now, especially Handlock, but a deck this fast can really beat anything if the draws come in correctly. The early damage potential combined with mid-game burst means that this deck can just run people over. This style of Mage deck is not new by any means but with some of the Naxx cards that have been added recently it has improved quite a bit.
Let's get into the cards and discuss why each one is included.
The Deck -
x2 - this card is used for damage. You should always look at it as 4 damage for 1 mana since it will be used after either a Frostbolt or a swing with the Water Elemental. If you do have your spell damage on the board the final burn combo with 2 of these and a Frostbolt is 14 for 4 mana which is insane burst.
x2 - these guys serve several purposes in this deck that makes them a perfect fit. If you can play Mana Wyrm + Coin + Mirror Image you get a 3/3 that grows and two taunts to protect it. You will often win from that position. Also you can proc your Knife Juggler as well and also protect your damage dealing minions since they are so flimsy.
x2 - the damage potential for 1 mana is ridiculous with these guys. Often times you will get 6 damage or more since you can pump their attack with the Mirror Images and the Frostbolts. Mulligan hard for these early and protect them as best you can.
x2 - this is in the deck mostly to set up the burst combo with Ice Lance but do not hesitate to use it as removal early to clear the way for your minions to get multiple attacks. You can activate the freeze with Water Elemental as well so all is not lost if you blow your Frostbolts on creatures. Make sure to calculate the damage you can gain and if it is more than 3, go for the removal.
x2 - this card is one that some people may look at and wonder if there is something better but this guy can help you squeeze out extra damage in a single turn by lowering the mana cost of your burn spells. Ice Lances and Mirror Images suddenly cost 0. She scales to mid-game very well but the real power is in the early turns when mana is at a premium. Also, a 3/2 for 2 can do work without the upside.
x2 - this deck will often times get a bit card starved and that is just the trade-off when playing ultra aggressive decks. This is card draw plus the ability to pump Mana Wyrms and the potential to get a discount with Sorcerer's Apprentice.
x2 - some people will run only 1 of these in favor of a 2nd Mirror Entity but I believe that 2 of these is more valuable. Most aggro decks are extremely vulnerable to board clearing spells and this can protect your board. Also, you can play them for free with Mad Scientist so a card that is usually fairly weak suddenly becomes extremely valuable and has led the way to several wins for me recently.
- I'm only running 1 of these but the beauty of this card is that the minion that you copy gets to attack before the one the opponent played. For this reason this card can turn into extra damage and also can sometimes just be a blow-out if you copy a big minion. It's perhaps the most questionable card in the deck but I think that if you are going to run one type of secret you should always run a second kind just to keep your opponent guessing.
x2 - I don't think much has to be said about this card. It's 6 damage for 4 mana that can hit anything. You will likely use it to burn the opponents last health out but if you really need it you can use it as removal. Just be aware that if you do you will need to find that damage somewhere else so make sure to calculate that.
x2 - this card may seem a little slow for a deck like that but the stats and the freeze ability makes it a perfect fit. It can match up against any other 4-drop in the game and also can be used either to set up Ice Lances or to protect yourself from damage by freezing either weapon wielding heroes or minions that might trade with your smaller guys.
x2 - no aggro deck would be complete without Leper Gnomes. It's guaranteed damage as well as a way to pump up your Undertaker. Keep these in your opening hand for sure. You can also trade up with the Mage hero power if needed and still inflict that all important face damage.
x2 - the other insanely powerful 1-drop with growth potential in the deck besides the Mana Wyrms. This little guy doesn't stay little and is a huge snowbally pile of damage for 1 mana. If it doesn't do a bunch of face damage at it's worst it will draw out early removal and make way for your other minions. Mulligan hard for these guys as well.
- the only Legendary in the deck means this is a relatively cheap deck to play which is nice for newer players. You may look at this card and think it looks weak but it's fast, draws a card and pumps up your burn spells. It fills out the perfect missing elements from the deck and compliments the theme incredibly well. If you don't have this guy I would go with the .
x2 - the Knife Juggalo as I call it (because he stabs people), this is an incredibly fast card that can really pour on the damage if you can protect him. Get him out with Mirror Images and he can take over a game. Also, sometimes the knives will allow you to finish off dangerous creatures with fireblast and that can allow your damage to get through.
x2 - there is very little card draw in this deck so this guy is pretty necessary. Also, he has the benefit of being a deathrattle minion to pump up your Undertaker. Don't worry about throwing him out there to die. That's what he does.
x2 - most secrets are pretty bad. But what if you could draw them for free and then play them for free? Well, then they're pretty good. This guy changes the deck in such a positive way and is one of the most annoying cards for your opponent in the deck.
Playing the Deck
This deck is all about face damage and that is no secret. A lot of people think that ultra aggressive decks are really easy to play because you just always go for the face. This is completely false. Aggressive decks can actually be some of the toughest decks to play because judging when it is correct to push for damage and when to trade is incredibly tough. A lot of times the game hinges on making one correct trade and most players will not know when that is. If you overextend or don't properly protect your threats you can easily get blown out by removal. When playing a control deck there are times when it can be tough to figure out how to clear the board but at least you know that you should. In an aggro deck these choices are not nearly as obvious.
The best advice I can give as to when to trade and when to continue face is to analyze the situation based on potential damage. For example, if you have a Leper Gnome and a Mana Wyrm on board and Fireball in hand and the opponent has a Chillwind Yeti, then you should use a Fireball to kill the Yeti. It will lead to an extra power on your Wyrm and can also allow your two minions to continue to attack in future turns which means that you will potentially get that extra power from the Wyrm again, etc. Even if they only get a total of 6 that equals the damage if you had just Fireballed face and could lead to even more than that. Otherwise, you allow the Yeti to clear both of your minions and cap your damage potential. These types of situations and board states will come up very frequently so always look at the board and your hand and determine the course of action that will lead to more damage in the long run. Of course, there are lots of other factors such as the class you are playing against, the life totals and the cards that have already been used but that is just a small example to illustrate the point.
Mulligan for your 1-drops very aggressively. Since the entire deck costs less than 4 mana you will always draw fairly well into playable cards so the key is to get off to a fast start and keep the pressure on. This is actually the easiest phase when playing the deck. If it costs 1, keep it. If it costs more than 2, dump it. You cannot beat any mid-range deck in the mid-game or control deck in the late game. You win by dominating the early game and finding enough burn to finish the opponent off.
Here is a video of The Fishou playing Kolento in the EU Regionals. He actually loses to one of his best match ups because, well,
, but you can see a good example of how to play the deck in the first two games.
Hearthstone EU Regionals - Day #2 - Grp D - THEFISHOU vs KOLENTO
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this version of the Aggro Mage as well as some cards that you might take out or include in the comments section below. This deck matches up well against Handlock in particular but as I said has the potential to beat anything if you can draw enough burn. Next week we'll probably get back to some control decks since I the meta game is heavily control oriented at the moment but who knows. Things change quickly in Hearthstone.
If there is a particular deck you would like to see please let me know and I will do my best to cover it. I've gotten a lot of great feedback from you guys about these guides so I also want to say thank you. It is much appreciated!
Until next time, job's done!
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