Basic Mage Deck
This Mage deck:
- is meant for players who are new to Hearthstone, and/or who have not invested much (or any) real money into the game;
- is comprised only of cards that are granted to you for free as a reward for completing the tutorial and leveling a Mage to level 10;
- does not include any Common, Rare, Epic, or Legendary cards.
Import This Deck in Hearthstone
While there are obvious weaknesses due to the Basic-only limitation, this deck is balanced, and quite strong. It should allow you to defeat the AI (in both Normal and Expert modes), and it can hold its own against players using Rare, Epic, and even Legendary cards in Play mode.
In addition to listing the deck, we will also explain why some cards have been included or excluded, how some of the minions in the deck are best played, and what changes you can make to the deck.
Note that to succeed with this deck (as with all decks), you need to make the correct decisions while playing. For this reason, we advise you to also read these two articles: Card Advantage and Why Am I Losing?.
Mage is one of the best classes for a Basic deck due to the high power of its class cards. Removal spells like Frostbolt, Fireball, Polymorph and Flamestrike are amongst the most efficient cards in the game and will often create a Mana or card advantage in your favour. On top of this, the Mage Hero Power is perhaps the best in the game for controlling the board. Being able to deal 1 damage to anything, even if it is behind a Taunt, without taking damage yourself is an extremely powerful tool that can easily tip the balance of minion combat in your favour.
This deck should be played as an outright Control deck, you should focus on removing your opponent's minions and dominating the board, to stretch the game out to the point where Flamestrike, one of the best board control tools in the set, can seal the game for you. Efficient tools like Frostbolt and Fireball can help you achieve this, since they are often capable of killing minions of a greater cost than the amount you invest in the spell. You also have one of the best hard removals in the game in the form of Polymorph. Polymorph can help you bridge the gap between you and players who have access to more Expert set, and even Legendary cards, since it is an automatic removal for any minion they play.
In this section we will discuss some of the cards that have been chosen, how to use them effectively, and why they are chosen over other possibilities. Hopefully this will both help you to succeed with this deck, as well as inform your own deck building decisions in the future.
Frostbolt is a fantastic removal spell. It is able to kill almost any 2 Mana minion in the game, as well as some 3 and 4 Mana minions. It can also be used as a Tempo play, to Freeze a minion you cannot deal with immediately and let you build your board while ignoring it for a turn.
Kobold Geomancer is included in the deck as a 1-off tech card. Although it is usually a slightly underpowered minion, the potential to combine it with the numerous removal spells in the deck makes it a viable inclusion.
Arcane Intellect is a card draw spell that helps you to cycle through your deck for the cards you need. Although it only nets you one card, since you spend one card to draw two, digging through your deck and effectively shrinking it in size is a powerful effect.
Fireball is one of the the most efficient cards in the game. It is one of the few clean answers to a turn 4 Chillwind Yeti, and can also be used to burst your opponent down for the kill.
Polymorph is the first of your trump cards in the deck. For 4 Mana, you are able to deal with any minion in the game and bypass any Deathrattle effects they may have. It also combines extremely well with your Hero Power since you can shoot down the Sheep for an additional 2 Mana. This card should be reserved for emergencies, to remove the largest minions in your opponent's deck, or when it creates an overwhelming advantage on the board for you.
Water Elemental is an extremely powerful minion and is perhaps the only 4-drop in the Basic set that is superior to Chillwind Yeti. 6 Health for 4 Mana is a very high amount and will comfortably enable you to create 2-for-1 situations in your favour.
Gurubashi Berserker is a minion that is reasonably weak in some classes but is considerably stronger in Mage due to the ability to shoot it with your Hero Power and buff its attack. Since the pool of 5 Mana minions in the Basic set is fairly weak, Mage having access to Gurubashi is of great benefit to the class.
Archmage, much like Kobold Geomancer is included as a tech card to buff the numerous spell cards in the deck. However, unlike the Geomancer, Archmage has fairly acceptable stats for the Mana cost, which makes it a very valuable minion for Mage.
Flamestrike is the second of your trump cards. In late-game battles when the game comes down to a low resource grind, Flamestrike can be the killer blow that crushes your opponents chances of recovery. You should aim to be greedy with this card and kill several minions at once, however, playing it just to kill a couple of minions and maintain the initiative if you already have minions of your own in play is also a strong option.
Here we will talk about some of the cards that are not included to help you understand and identify weaker cards, hopefully improving your deck building skills.
Arcane Missiles is not included in the deck because it is too inconsistent and difficult to use correctly. If the damage was only split between your opponent's minions, then this could be a very strong card. However, the potential for the missiles to hit your opponent's Hero and not clear their minions can be devastating.
Mirror Image is not used since it has very little effect on the board. Since the summoned Taunts have zero attack, your opponent's minions will be able to clear them for free, meaning you will be down a card without having had an effect on the board.
Arcane Explosion is omitted because 1 damage AoE is simply too weak to justify using a card on. There are only specific situations where this would be useful, and this card is fairly useless outside of those scenarios.
Frost Nova is not used for much the same reason as Mirror Image. Although it can be useful stalling tool in a deck that is built around it, in a straight forward Control deck such as this one, it simply does nothing to affect the board.
Obviously, as a Basic deck, this list has a lot of room for improvement. As you progress with the game and gain access to more cards and Arcane Dust, here are some additions that you may consider.
Other welcome additions from the Expert Set are listed below. However it should be noted that these cards should be added only if you open them from a pack. Spending dust to improve a Basic only deck is not particularly efficient, and you should instead try to save dust towards one of our low, or mid-budget decks.
- Counterspell or Mirror Entity can be included in the deck in place of some of the 3 and 4-drop minions. If you also have access to Kirin Tor Mage, these additions are particularly strong due to the Secret synergy.
For other strong cards to consider, look at our full budget Mage decks, or our Crafting Guide.
- 25 Aug. 2020: Removed references to non-Classic cards.
- 20 Nov. 2018: Removed One Night in Karazhan card swaps recommendations.
- 07 Jul. 2017: Card Swap section updated to reflect Standard rotation.
- 18 Jun. 2016: Edited for clarity on card swaps for Standard and Wild.
- 29 Jun. 2015: Added options for Blackrock Mountain cards to be added to the deck.
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