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Weekly Legends: Big Spell Mage!

More new decks! Kobolds and Catacombs is just entering full swing and, as I’ve said a dozen times now, I am really enjoying this set. Though there are many different builds to play, nothing has been more fun for me than Big Spell Mage. This is a truly new list that seeks to do something […]

Paul Walker Dec 25, 2017 10:29 am

Introduction

More new decks! Kobolds and Catacombs is just entering full swing and, as I’ve said a dozen times now, I am really enjoying this set. Though there are many different builds to play, nothing has been more fun for me than Big Spell Mage. This is a truly new list that seeks to do something Mage has not done in a long time: control the game. We’ve seen (and are seeing) hyper aggressive tempo builds, we’ve seen Freeze, and we’ve seen combo, but this is the first pure Control Mage we’ve seen since Grinder was popular. There are a lot of Big Spell Mage builds running around right now, and while I’ve played them all, this version (which Cytoarchitectonics took to legend) is by far the best. Not only do you have the right tools to handle faster decks, but you also get some of the best finishers on the current ladder. There is just no nonsense in this one. You have removal, you have big spells, and you have strong finishers. What else could you ever want?

Key Cards

Arcane Artificer

This is a control deck, and all great control decks need healing. Arcane Artificer steps into that role beautifully, allowing you to gain huge chunks of armor for the low, low cost of one mana. Not only that, but most decks are going to have to kill the 1/2 immediately, which often forces them to use removal or late-game mana in a way they would rather not. I have seen so many different builds use valuable damage or weapons to take this card down because if they don’t they are never going to be able to catch up with your health. When you have the one drop in hand, you want to try your best to plan for when you’re going to use it. The extra mana matters quite a bit, especially when you’re casting big spells. Always think about your future turns when looking for armor gain and plan accordingly. For instance, it is better to use Blizzard over Meteor on six because Meteor with Artificer on seven will handle a huge seven drop, while Blizzard will not.

As with so many high-ceiling cards, it can be very easy to try to get the most value out of Arcane Artificer as you possibly can. However, the 1/2 does not need to gain you seven armor every single game. In fact, most of the time, you just want to squeeze the one drop in wherever possible. Even combining it with a Polymorph against control can give you the breathing room you need to stay ahead of your opponent’s burst potential. If the game goes past turn seven than by all means milk the value, but don’t make this your goal. Also note that if you’re up against aggro putting this down with AOE against an empty board can be right just to get some life gain. The only thing I try to avoid playing this down with is Dragon’s Fury. As I mentioned, this card works best when you use it as a psuedo-tempo play where it gets value and then immediately demands removal. Five armor is solid, but instantly losing the elemental in the blast is not as great.

Lone Champion/Tar Creeper

By far the best two inclusions to this list are Lone Champion and Tar Creeper. I have put these cards together because they are basically the same thing. Lone Champion is a bit stronger because of how well it fight against removal, but each of these is just an early wall. Big Spell Mage is a deck that is going to crush any minion-based list as long as it reaches the middle game. However, that is not always easy to do. When messing around with various builds, I often found there were games where my aggro opponent would come blazing out of the gates, I wouldn’t draw Doomsayer, and then I would die with a hand full of spells. Champion and Creeper give you two fantastic defensive options that completely stop that from happening. Yes, most fast decks can find ways through these, but they aren’t here to win you the fast matchups, they are simply here to stall. Even one extra turn can give you the power you need to hit a Dragon’s Fury into Blizzard into Flamestrike, and there is not a single aggro deck in the world that’s coming back from that. Realize that anytime you’re playing an aggro deck your goal is to make it to your AOE. These cards help with that more than any other.

Polymorph

The only thing I changed from the original list was switching out two Corridor Creepers for two Polymorphs. Yes, creeper is an insanely powerful card that has a ton of synergy with AOE spells. However, I do not think it is possible to climb with this deck in today’s environment with morph. The reason for that is Control Warlock, which is everywhere right now. You need to hit things like Voidlord, Carnivorous Cube, and Rin, the First Disciple or you simply won’t have enough gas to close out Gul’dan. Just having morph for Rin is more than worth the inclusion of this card. Yes, there are quite a few big bodies you can take down (the card also crushes Big Priest) but mainly it is here for Control Warlock. If you aren’t seeing a ton of that deck, you can sub it out. Though, I wouldn’t recommend it.

When you’re not going up against Warlock, you can be a lot more liberal with this card. In the past, Polymorph has been a spell that you have needed to save at all costs. You would prioritize your other removal, and be careful to only use the sheep when your opponent got to a big finisher. However, finishers are much weaker than they once were, and nearly all of them die to your AOE. For that reason, you just want to use this when it can buy you some extra time. There have been many games where I’ve hit a small threat to reduce damage and take away the chance of my opponent putting together lethal. It may not feel great to turn a Corridor Creeper into a 1/1, but you will take that trade-off every time. There is no race with this deck. Taking it slow is fine, and reducing damage helps you do just that.

Dragon’s Fury

Dragon’s Fury is a card I thought was going to be insanely powerful going into Kobolds, and it has more than lived up to my hype. The five drop AOE is the best spell in this deck. At its worst it is going to be a Flamestrike that hits both boards. At its best it is going to serve as a seven damage clear, which decimates everything in the game. Due to the nature of your finishers (more on that below) you are a deck that rarely ever cares about the board. Yes, you have a lot of low-cost minions, but almost all of them just serve as aggro roadblocks more than anything else. Fury is great for that plan because it doesn’t matter if your remove your own threats as long as you keep playing to your end-game.

Be careful about pulling the trigger on this card as you move into longer games. There have been more than a few times when I’ve found myself out of spells in my deck and then had this sit uselessly in my hand turn after turn after turn. If you find yourself going up against control, you should try to prioritize this card over other big AOE whenever possible. This limits that problems and makes sure you are constantly going to get value. Flamestrike and Blizzard are always going to be there for you, but this will not.

Dragoncaller Alanna

Frost Lich Jaina and Medivh, the Guardian are incredible because they give you a lot of late-game power and enable to front-load the list against aggro without losing any power against control. Dragoncaller Alanna helps you do that as well. However, I wanted to specifically discuss her because she is much harder to use. Most of the time, you want to run out Jaina or Medivh as soon as you can. Setting them is important, but there are many situations where they just come down right away because their power’s are so good. Alanna does not fit into that category. The dragoncaller is one of the main reasons to run a big spell deck, but she is only truly powerful when your opponent has no way to deal with her. You need to recognize when that is.

When playing to Dragoncaller Alanna you need to think about the different ways your opponent might be able to take her down. The nine drop is almost always going to be lethal, and most of the time after you play her your opponent immediately concedes. It is rare to have a card that says “answer this or die,” but that is exactly what she is. Go through the AOE checklist in your mind and be patient. Against fast or midrange decks you need to slam her as soon as you get the chance to do so. However, against control decks you can take your time and slowly run them down on cards. Flooding the board with other threats is a great way to bait out things like Twisting Nether or Psychic Scream. Look for those opportunities as much as possible and once your opponent bites, hit them where it hurts.

Deck Code

AAECAf0EBKG3AtPFAp vTAqPrAg1NigHJA+wH+wyjtgLKwwKWxwL R0wLb0wLV4QLX4QKW5AA

Matchups

The four decks I see the most while playing the ladder.

Control Warlock

There are currently two premier Control Warlock decks: Classic Control and Cube Combo. Both games are going to play out the same way, and they are both going to come down to one word: Polymorph. The four mana spell is in the deck for this matchup, and you need to know how to use it to take the game. Against classic Control Warlock you have to use it on Rin, the First Disciple. There is absolutely no exception to this rule. The six drop is incredibly powerful against slow decks and if she dies during the middle of the game you might as well concede. Honestly, I will often use Blizzard to freeze her to give me extra time to dig out a Polymorph if I don’t have one. Voidlord is going to be your other target when facing classic control, but you also want to hit it when facing down Cube Combo. Against Cube Combo you also should try to transform Doomguard or Carnivorous Cube (if they eat a demon) as soon as you see one come down. Hitting the demon is better because it cripples Bloodreaver Gul’dan, but either one works to ruin your opponent’s combo.

Don’t get nervous. This can be hard to do when facing down a class with as much power as Warlock, but you can steadily chip away at their minions. Besides Rin, you have answers for everything they can run out. People worry about Bloodreaver Gul’dan bringing back a demonic army, but if you save a Blizzard for that moment, and then hit them with Dragon’s Fury or Flamestrike next turn, that threat instantly goes away. Yes, Bloodreaver can chip you for three at a time, but the healing and threat density of Frost Lich Jaina is going to win that matchup. Also note that most Warlocks only run one Twisting Nether. Playing into it to set up Dragoncaller Alanna is a great way to take this one down.

Razakus Priest

Though there are several styles of Priest on ladder, Razakus has once again risen up to become the most popular. The one-of deck has an insane amount of tools, an incredible finisher, and more consistency than you can shake a stick at. There are going to be two key parts to winning this game, and it is imperative that you understand each of them. The first is your healing. Your goal in this game is to get high above Shadowreaper Anduin and Prophet Velen‘s burst range. To do that, you need to be above thirty two health (which they can get too with Velen and Radiant Elemental). That is not going to be an easy task, but you need to maximize your armor as much as you possibly can. Always use your Arcane Artificer with a seven cost spell (even casting Flamestrike on an empty board can be right) and try to get to Frost Lich Jaina as fast as possible. Then, once your health is in good shape, you need to push. Priest can chip you down from any range. Do not get lazy or think you’re safe. Armor quickly and then get your opponent to use cards on your board.

On that note, pressure is a key part of this game. You do not have many ways to pour on damage, but you do have a batch of incredible finishers that are going to squeeze Priest into a tight corner. Frost Lich Jaina should always be your priority because the never-ending stream of elementals are going to attract a lot of attention. Medivh, the Guardian is also fantastic at giving you priority and eating AOE. Always try to set the 7/7 when you have an empty board or when you’re ahead (Dragon’s Fury/Doomsayer on seven is the best way to make that happen). The most important finisher here is Dragoncaller Alanna. The 3/3 just ruins Priest if they do not have an answer, however they can counter her through both Psychic Scream and Shadowreaper Anduin. Flood the board before you plan on dropping her to bait out a scream, and never put her down before the Death Knight. However, once those two cards are used, you need to slam her as fast as you can. The game usually ends the next turn.

Aggro Paladin

Ah, Aggro Paladin, my love for you still burns bright. The main reason to play Big Spell Mage is that it crushes minion-based decks (which makes up a lot of Hearthstone). Not only does that inherently put this match in your favor, but this deck is even further tuned to combat aggro. Doomsayer, Lone Champion and Tar Creeper are all amazing at holding down the early turns, and then, once your opponent manages to battle through, you should be able to clear their board over and over and over again until one of your finishers comes down to close things up. Paladin is a strong deck, but they need to press the board to have a chance to win. A few choice clears should take them down for good. In fact, this game is so vastly in your favor that you don’t need to worry about playing into Divine Favor. You should always try to keep your hand small, but don’t cripple yourself trying to deny your opponent cards. If they make more minions, you cast more spells.

The only thing you need to track in this one is when and how you want to use AOE. Burning it early, as usual, is going to lead to problems. Almost always wait for your opponent to drop Call to Arms or commit a good potion of your hand before going in with a big spell. Of course, if you have a couple AOE’s in hand you can use something like a Meteor on a pair of Knife Jugglers to set up Blizzard or Flamestrike, but those opportunities are rare. Simply let your opponent play into you and always lean on your minions first. Just be aware that Paladin does have a wide range of burst through both weapons and charge. As soon as you can get a big spell cast with Arcane Artificer, you should take it.

Secret Mage

Every deck in the history of Hearthstone (besides Undertaker Hunter) has had a counter. Unfortunately, Secret Mage is this deck’s kryptonite. This game has all the makings of a match that you should win. Not only do you have a lot of anti-aggro tools, but you also come equipped with a lot of healing. However, Mage has Counterspell. That secret may not seem like a big deal on paper, but when every single spell in your deck costs four or more, it is an absolute disaster. You are going to lose a lot of games by trying to stabilize early, getting your key AOE spell countered on turn five or six, and then taking a hundred damage. Always (alllwwwaayyssss) save the coin if you’re going second to play into a secret, and do be careful about Explosive Runes. Doomsayer eats the blast, but Lone Champion straight up counters it. I always try to save the 2/4 for it if possible. Mage is going to come at you hard, and you need to work to control their threats. Yes, their burn is going to be a problem, but Arcane Artificer can often save you from that if you keep them off of your face. The only other rule is to draw as much as possible to find Gluttonous Ooze. Even if you do manage to stabilize, it is going to be near impossible to heal out of Aluneth‘s range. Getting a hold of the board is step one. Taking out the weapon is step two.

Mulligan Guide

This is a very complex deck with a very simply mulligan. Half of your deck is about controlling or surviving the early turns, and the other half is about taking over the late game. As such, you want to look for the early stuff. Raven Familiar and Doomsayer are your two must keeps. Acolyte of Pain, Tar Creeper and Lone Champion are great on curve or with the coin, but you should also always keep champion and creeper against aggro. Gluttonous Ooze should be kept against Paladin, Hunter, Warlock, and Mage, while Dragon’s Fury is great on curve against fast or midrange decks.

Conclusion

Spells are fun, so fun! This is a deck I was extremely excited for during the preview season, and that hype has only grown now that I’ve gotten to play it. Big Spell Mage seems to have a good chance against just about everything on the ladder right now, but it is especially strong against any deck that needs minions to win. That means it will only get stronger when people inevitably switch back to things like Tempo Rogue. If you’re looking for something fresh that you’ve never played before, if you want to cast big spells, or if you just like control, then this is the list for you. Until next time, Happy Holidays!


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