Aleco

Kobolds & Catacombs Set Review: Mage

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Versability-Hearthstone-Mage-Deck-Build-

Mage fans have plenty of reasons to be excited for Kobolds & Catacombs.

Click here to read my other written set reviews!

My Rating System

Each card is rated on a scale of 1 to 5 on two criteria: Power and Versatility.

The Power rating reflects how much I expect a card to impact the game when played. Cards which immediately represent multiple cards worth of value (Ultimate Infestation) or have a powerful effect on the board for their mana cost (Sunkeeper Tarim) will receive high Power ratings, while cards which have a low impact on the game (Ice Breaker) or cost too much for their effect (Furnacefire Colossus) will receive Power low ratings.

The Versatility rating is intended to communicate how dependent a card is on other cards for its success. Cards can be very powerful without being versatile at all (Clutchmother Zavas), which means that many exciting and powerful cards will end up seeing very little play once the metagame is established. A high Versatility rating means a card relies very little on other cards to be good, and the more comfortable I would feel crafting that card on day one. A lower Versatility rating doesn't necessarily reflect that I expect the card to be bad, but that I wouldn't feel comfortable crafting it until it has proven itself to be a part of a competitive deck.

Raven Familiar

m1.png

Fits into: Anything interested in playing both Firelands Portal and Blizzard

Power Versatility
3 4

If the Battlecry on Raven Familiar card said "Draw a random spell from your deck", it'd get a 5 star rating for both Power and Versatility. That card would be nuts. This begs the question, just how often does this card need to draw a spell to warrant a spot in your deck? And how much worse does it become when you can't consistently draw a card off of its Battlecry trigger? This card was a tricky one to evaluate, but at the end of the day I expect Raven Familiar to fall somewhere between "playable" and "phenomenal",

I think this card needs to hit about 75% of the time for it earn its keep in a slower deck, and roughly 50% of the time to find its way into more tempo-oriented lists like Secret Mage. This is where my evaluation for this card falls apart, because I'm really not sure how often this card will actually hit against the new meta. Against the current metagame, Raven Familiar would quite often draw a spell against the likes of Tempo Rogue or Highlander Priest, but who's to say what the meta will look like a month from now? If Control Warlock becomes super popular, Raven Familiar's stock would take a serious nosedive in Tempo Mage decks.

My gut instinct says that this card will be good enough to include in any deck that plays both Firelands Portal and Blizzard. Even if your deck is full of Secrets, Frostbolts, and Primordial Glyphs, I expect Raven Familiar to hit either Blizzard or Firelands Portal often enough to make up for its fail case of being a 2 mana 2/2. Raven Familiar is also an obvious inclusion in the "Big Spells" deck which is hinted at by several of the other new Mage cards.

Arcane Artificer

m2.png

Fits into: Elemental Mage, Big Spells Mage

Power Versatility
1 2

Most of the new Mage cards in K&C strongly hint at two archetypes: Elemental Mage and Big Spells Mage. I don't think this card will be good enough to see play in either. Between Frost Lich Jaina and freeze effects, Elemental Mage has plenty of ways to gain life and stall the game out, so I doubt that deck will be interested in such a low-impact card. There's probably more hope for this card in the Big Spells deck, but I also have my doubts as to whether or not that deck will be want for the ability to gain Armor.

Shifting Scroll

m3.png

Fits into: Quest Mage, decks with Leyline Manipulator

Power Versatility
2 2

The first card to ever be printed without a Mana cost, I love the design of Shifting Scroll. I don't expect it to define the new meta, but I could see it being a solid role player in decks that need more "didn't start in your deck" effects. The only two cards in the game which mention "didn't start in your deck" are Open the Waygate and Leyline Manipulator, so it stands to reason that decks with those cards in them will be interested Shifting Scroll.

Ruby Spellstone

m4.pngm4-1.pngm4-2.png
 

Fits into: Elemental Mage

Power Versatility
2 1

This card is obviously only worth considering in a dedicated Elemental deck, but I have my doubts as to whether or not it will even been good there. It's great with Leyline Manipulator, but the lesser version of Ruby Spellstone sucks, and the upgrade clause on this card is fairly steep. I need to see this card in action before I can totally dismiss it, but my instincts tell me that Ruby Spellstone has too much setup cost for what is ultimately a relatively modest reward.

Explosive Runes

m5.png

Fits into: Tempo/Aggro Mage

Power Versatility
4 2

Explosive Runes is at its best in decks which care about tempo and pushing damage to face. I expect Explosive Runes to find an immediate home in Tempo Mage (likely in place of Mirror Entity), and to be played in any other Mage deck which is particularly concerned with playing to the board early. Perhaps this card makes an appearance in a new-look Elemental Mage deck?

Leyline Manipulator

m6.png

Fits into: Elemental Mage, OTK Mage

Power Versatility
3 3

Chillwind Yeti with upside? Sign me up! This card has an excellent body, relevant creature type, and could totally rewrite the way that Exodia Mage decks are built.

Let's start with Elemental Mage. In that deck, I expect Leyline Manipulator to be a solid curve filler and lead-in to Servant of Kalimos. It combines well with Ruby Spellstone there, but it also doesn't seem much better than Steam Surger does in a dedicated Elemental strategy. If Elemental Mage ends up being a good deck in K&C, Leyline Manipulator will likely be a significant part of the reason why.

Leyline Manipulator also enables a new One-Turn-Kill deck that doesn't need to run Open the Waygate. All you need to do is copy two Sorcerer's Apprentice with Simulacrum, play a Leyline Manipulator to reduce their cost to 0, then on the following turn play three Apprentices, Archmage Antonidas, and cast a Molten Reflection on an Apprentice to start going infinite. Sounds easy, right? I really have no clue as to whether or not this new-look OTK Mage will be stronger than current versions, but I'm very excited by the possibility that Leyline Manipulator opens up the door for a hybridized Combo/Control deck. 

Deck of Wonders


m7.pngm7-1.png

Fits into: Big Spells Mage

Power Versatility
2 1

For Deck of Wonders to pull its weight in the average Control deck I think it needs to draw three Scrolls of Wonder, and I'm not convinced that will happen quite often enough under normal circumstances to warrant this cards inclusion. However, this card is excellent in combination with some of the other "Big Spells" cards, such as Raven Familiar and Dragon's Fury. As cool as this card is, I'm going to wait on crafting Deck of Wonders until I see some results from Big Spells decks on the ladder.

Dragon's Fury

m8.png

Fits into: Big Spells Mage, and certain Control Mage decks

Power Versatility
3 2

This card reads as an incredibly powerful board clear on first glance, but after giving it some thought I have my doubts as to whether or not Dragon's Fury will see play in generic Control Mage lists. I'm not looking to cut Arcane Intellect or Ice Block from those decks, and I don't think I'd be super happy to play this card as a lightly upgraded Volcanic Potion. That said, Dragon's Fury is a seriously strong card if it can consistently hit 4 or more damage, and figures to be an obvious inclusion in any Big Spells deck.

Aluneth

m9.png

Fits into: Tempo Mage?

Power Versatility
3 2

Drawing three cards per turn seems so good, and I love the fact that Aluneth has some built-in protection from weapon destruction effects as it it will draw three cards before your opponent can interact with it. With that said, drawing 3 cards per turn will quickly bring you to fatigue, and I don't think that slow or controlling decks will interested in playing a card which puts them so far behind in the fatigue race.

So, where does Aluneth make sense? It has to be played in a deck which is is feasibly able to play 3 cards per turn and isn't at all interested taking games to fatigue. Tempo Mage is the most aggressively built Mage deck we have today, so perhaps Aluneth can slot in there? It's also possible that the new OTK Mage deck could find room for Aluneth. That deck will be cutting Cabalist's Tome and Babbling Book, so it won't need to worry nearly as much about overdrawing as current OTK lists.

Dragoncaller Alanna

m10.png

Fits into: Big Spell Mage

Power Versatility
4 1

Yet another card which makes me happy I rate cards on two criteria, Dragoncaller Alanna is a game-ending finisher for Big Spells Mage and hot garbage everywhere else. Nine mana is a helluva cost for a 3/3, and I just don't see why this card would bump The Lich KingMedivh, the GuardianAlexstrasza, or Frost Lich Jaina from slower Mage decks. However, it's quite easy to imagine Alanna making 23/23 or more in stats in a Big Spells deck and completely taking over the game. Deck of Wonders triggers Dragoncaller Alanna, and her mighty brood of 5/5 dragons laugh in the face of Dragonfire Potion while crying at Shadowreaper Anduin.

Thoughts on the Class

Mage was one of the most difficult classes for me to evaluate from K&C due to the number of cards it is getting with unique and relatively unprecedented effects. It's hard for me to imagine a scenario where at least a few of these cards don't end up making an impact on the meta. The jury is still out as to whether or not a dedicated Elemental or Big Spells deck will be powerful enough to see play, but there's reason to be optimistic that Mage picked up enough new tools for their existing decks that they will be happy with K&C either way.

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If Ele mage turns out to be viable I will be happy with a few of the cards but currently all points more to "play the same old rubbish type of decks as the last year(s)".

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I so think that the raven is gonna flop. The latest mage card reveals shifted my opinion a little, I mean, if you're playing the 5 mana AoE you probably should just double down and play raven as well. But you're still playing some combination of secrets/arcane intelect/frostbolt, right? Idk, I hate rng effects, especially when it's all or nothing.

Arcanologist is just too good, much higher chance to draw and +1 health. 

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I think arcane artificer might possibly see play. Even if you just use it before a firelands portal or flamestrike it is a lot of armor

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