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Minion Tempo Mage Karazhan Standard Deck

Last updated on Nov 10, 2016 at 22:59 by Sottle 44 comments

Table of Contents

Tempo Mage is a deck that has existed in various forms since the Curse of Naxxramas expansion, but has continued to improve with each expansion. Whispers of the Old Gods has introduced Faceless Summoner, which brings a ton of value to the deck and fills in the awkward 6 Mana slot that the deck has always struggled with.

One Night in Karazhan introduced Firelands Portal, which although expensive, is capable of huge swings on the board.

Upon reviewing this deck after the nerf to Yogg-Saron, Hope's End it is deemed necessary to remove it from this particular build.

1. About the Author

This deck is presented to you by Sottle, a professional Hearthstone player who plays for compLexity Gaming. Sottle regularly streams on Twitch and explains all of his moves. Watching him is a good opportunity to see how this and other decks play out in practice, and how decisions are made in real time.

2. Minion Tempo Mage Karazhan Standard Deck

Our deck costs 3,420 Arcane Dust and it is made up of the following cards.

Mage Cards Neutral Cards

2.1. Mana Curve


3. Strategy

This build of Mage is an aggressive Tempo-based build that aims to curve out aggressively and overrun the opponent with aggressive early board presence before finishing the game out with burn spells. If this initial plan does not work out, the deck also plays powerful individual win-conditions in the late game like Ragnaros the Firelord.

Your early-game turns are extremely important with this deck. Due to the amount of synergy between your early-game cards, you are often able to gain a lead in the first few turns that is insurmountable for your opponent until the mid-game, allowing you to continue your pressure with your own mid-game threats. For example, the opening of Turn 1 Mana Wyrm into Turn 2 Sorcerer's Apprentice, The Coin, Frostbolt leaves you with a huge board on turn 2 and removes the opponent's opening minions. Starts like this will outpace even the fastest starts from decks like Zoo and Aggro Shaman.

Babbling Book is included in the deck to increase the consistency of your starts and allow you to have more cards to mulligan for. Often, Tempo Mage can feel like a deck that lives and dies by whether it hits a Mana Wyrm in the opening hand and although Arcane Anomaly does not quite represent the same power level, it can at least start to build a platform for you to build upon in the early game as well as replacing itself in your hand.

Cult Sorcerer is included in the deck to provide an additional minion to play early. Cult Sorcerer is chosen over other minions because the Spell Damage effect makes it more useful in later turns than most cards that you can put in your deck. Obviously, the C'Thun synergy has no effect on this deck, but it is a strong card nonetheless.

Finally, Flamewaker rounds out your early game perfectly and can provide you with even more Tempo, especially when combined with Sorcerer's Apprentice. This card improves your matchups against decks like Paladin and Zoo significantly, since you are able to clear up their small token minions efficiently, while targeting their more important minions with your removal spells. In this deck, Flamewaker also doubles up as an Aggro minion, since you can use it and cast multiple spells like Mirror Image and Arcane Missiles, to repeatedly deal damage to your opponent.

The key to playing this deck successfully is recognising when to simply race your opponent for damage, and when to go for a more board controlling strategy to create more repetitive damage from your minions over time. This usually comes down to reacting to your hand. If you are holding significant damage in the form of Frostbolt and Fireball, it can be right to engage in a race. Alternatively, if your hand is full of cards that give you longevity like Azure Drake, Firelands Portal, and Arcane Intellect, you can afford to play the long game and aim for board control.

This deck is tilted towards the more aggressive strategy due to its low Mana curve and lack of late-game power cards like Archmage Antonidas, but it can still be an effective deck in the late-game if you are able to hit your later curve threats.

Faceless Summoner is an extremely powerful card on 6 Mana that fills a very necessary slot in the deck. Previously Tempo Mage players have experimented heavily with the 6 Mana slot trying to find the right answer for the deck. Faceless Summoner provides exactly what you want in the deck: outstanding board presence and excellent aggression to back up your early Tempo plays.

Firelands Portal is a card that can sometimes feel clunky and hard to use effectively because of the high Mana cost, but in the right situation can completely flip a game on its head. The average stats from a 5-drop are very promising, offering above 4/4 of value on an average outcome. On top of this, the potential top end outcomes include Earth Elemental and other huge minions that can completely swing the game. Also of note is the ability for Firelands Portal to hit Heroes, which means it also functions as a good topdeck in situations where you are looking for damage to finish the game.

3.1. Synergies & Combinations

Mana Wyrm can be buffed with the various low cost spells in your deck.

Sorcerer's Apprentice also has strong synergy with the spells in your deck. This card is often the difference between simply removing a minion, and removing a minion while putting your own into play. It also combines excellently with Mana Wyrm to create some very scary board states in the early game.

Flamewaker also synergises extremely well with the various cheap spells in the deck.

3.2. Mulligans & Matchup Specific Strategies

In almost every matchup, your priority should be to get a Mana Wyrm in your opening hand. If you do not have this card, you should be considering throwing away your whole hand to get one. If you do have this card you can start to keep additional cards to support your Mana curve like Sorcerer's Apprentice and Arcane Blast.

Against Aggro matchups, the same rules apply, but you can give a higher priority to cards like Frostbolt and Arcane Blast to cement your board presence early, especially if you have Mana Wyrm. Flamewaker is an extremely high priority keep in these matchups, especially if you have The Coin or Arcane Missiles.

Against Control, you want to focus on simply getting your early game minions to make sure that the Control deck is on the back foot. Frostbolt or Arcane Blast are still strong in these matchups as many Control decks are still playing early minions in the Standard meta. Against Warrior specifically, Mirror Image is a fantastic keep as it will protect your early threats from Fiery War Axe.

3.3. Card Swaps

Ethereal Conjurer and Azure Drake are interchangeable and you can feasibly play any combination of these cards.

4. ChangeLog

  • 10 Nov. 2016: -1 Yogg-Saron, Hope's End, +1 Faceless Summoner
  • 12 Sep. 2016: -1 Flamestrike, -1 Arcane Anomaly, +1 Babbling Book, +1 Firelands Portal
  • 13 Aug. 2016: Deck added.
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