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Hearthstone Preview: Mage Minions and Strategy

by Zenstyle on         follow RobertAWing

I feel like Mage should have one minion, and that’s a Water Elemental. Blizzard never asked me sadly, and went ahead and made a few others. Today, we’ll take a look at what’s available and how to combine them, along with the multitude of spells available in order to bring a fiery end to your unworthy foes.

Minions

ManaWyrm

Mana Wyrm

I’m on the fence about Mana Wyrm. For one energy, the minion enters the field at 0/3 and gains an attack point per spell played. Assuming it survives, the Mage has the means to buff it up to something more reasonable, say 2/3 or 3/3. The problem is, it’s a pretty slow process. Another thing. Yes, it’s a beefy one drop, but without taunt, and with no offensive pressure initially, it can be easily ignored. If you do choose to go with it, just understand the risks.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice

This card is incredibly misleading. Nicholas Cage is nowhere to be found. Despite that, Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a nice card. The price matches the strength, with twos across the board, and the minion makes spells cost one less energy. If it stays on the board, expect to be able to ramp up to more damaging spells quickly.

WaterElemental

Water Elemental

There we go, a true Mage minion. Water Elemental is a solid pickup at the four energy slot, boasting a 3/6 rating and a freeze whenever it attacks an enemy minion. The six toughness is very nice considering what a glass cannon this deck can be at times. I’d definitely endorse this card, for both toughness and stalling through the freeze mechanic, but mostly for thematic reasons.

Ethereal Arcanist

I’m not sold on Ethereal Arcanist. It can be good if you’re running a lot of secrets, but as we discussed last week, there aren’t a whole bunch of worthwhile secrets to run. Without secrets, this card is a paltry 3/3 for four energy. I’d opt for something better, unless secrets really are the goal of your deck. If that’s the case, this is an okay card.

Kirin Tor Mage

This is another card that I believe is simply too circumstantial. It’s not that it’s a bad card so much as there are just better options at the three energy slot. Kirin Tor Mage reduces the cost of your next secret played  to zero on the turn you play the minion. If it was less restrictive and just made the next secret played cost zero energy, I’d be more willing to run it, but eh. At present, it’s just not a great card.

ArchmageAntonidas

Archmage Antonidas

There were some commercials back in the day about how Mentos was the Fresh Maker. Those commercials were mistaken. Archmage Antonidas is the Fresh Maker. His attack might not be anything to write home about, but with seven toughness and the ability to give the Mage a Fireball every single time Jaina Proudmoore casts a spell, the Archmage is an awesome addition to Jaina Proudmoore’s vast arsenal. Enemies will need to deal with him quickly in order to avoid being burnt alive. Seven energy’s also pretty good for what all he offers.

Strategy

Shieldbearer

There’s an obvious temptation to make a Mage deck that features a lot of gunslinging damage spells and some board control. That sort of thinking generally produces strong decks in other TCGs. I believe the idea has potential, but I’d also include a few good meatshields, most of which are not featured in the Mage deck. Ideally, I’d go for cards that could hold the line early on. Shieldbearer would be a great card to assist in surviving the initial barrage of small creatures. Water Elemental is also strong despite lacking taunt because of its high toughness and the aforementioned ability to slow down an enemy offensive. Three attack is also nothing to scoff at.

Conversely, it might also be possible to run an all out aggressive deck. The main issue with that though is the lack of good early game damage cards. Arcane Missiles is there, along with the Mage hero power Fireblast, but that’s kind of it until turn three, where Frostbolt becomes available. Even then, Fireball is not available until turn five. It’s because of all of this that I recommend going more for board control rather than trying to win the game quickly, unless you’re looking to supplement your effort with a lot of generic early game minions.

Mage has the potential to do a lot, but it also, moreso than other decks, suffers from energy capping out at ten. Mages will never be able to chain high damage game spells like they could in MTG. That’s something to keep in mind. Archmage Antonidas might hand you four Fireballs, but you’re only ever casting two per turn, without the help of some serious energy cost reduction mechanics. The deck is also fragile unless it gets a couple of defensive spell cards early on. Both are things to consider.

That said, the deck has a good amount of utility and can be deceptively annoying with all the Arcane spells. I definitely recommend investing in them. Secrets are also a great tool, but it’s important to not run too many of them. They’ll help you clear out enemy minions, as well as survive, but I don’t recommend running more than three of them (each twice) if you want to run a lot of damage and minion cards. Remember. The best secret cards are the ones that not only force your game to change up their play style, but also deliver a solid punch.

Join us next week as we preview the Paladin deck and figure out whether or not Uther can hang with the rest of the Hearthstone decks.

Miss some of BlizzPro’s earlier previews? Take a look at those and other Hearthstone articles here. Have a question about Hearthstone or just want to talk deck ideas? Drop me a line at @RobertAWing on Twitter, or at ZenStyle@BlizzPro.com.