Control Mage is my favourite archetype in the game, with the “One Night in Karazhan” expansion I feel we have gotten one step closer to making the deck competitively viable. In this article I give some general ideas of what I feel could be useful tools to make the deck break into the competitive scene. A small disclaimer, I tried to design cards for a general game plan rather than a specific deck, thus not all the cards are to be necessarily played alongside each other.
My opinion on the Mage Secret pool:
Good: Ice Block, Counterspell.
Ok: Mirror Image, Effigy.
Situational: Vaporize, Spellbender, Ice Barrier.
All the Inspire cards that are currently in the game come from “The Grand Tournament”, when the set will rotate out we will lose this interesting mechanic. The problem with the mechanic is that you need to make the minion low statted as it has the potential to snowball after a few turns, this is especially true with cards which affect the board like Thunderbluff Valiant. I thought that a way around this was to make an inspire card which gave card advantage with a specific card pool to choose from, snowballing from Secrets is much harder. This is why I made this card a 3/3. Consider that you want to play this card turn 5 to gain full value from it, if not it will just be a vanilla 3/3, this is not very good in constructed. The random secret is a Mage spell, if you pay attention to where the card is slotted in your opponents hand you can see when it is played, this can help you identify if you have to play around a Secret naturally included in the deck or a random Mage secret. The effect is decent but it is by no means overpowered, it is actually very slow. The reason you don’t naturally include Secrets in the deck is that paying 3 mana is usually a very high cost for the situational effect they provide, additionally the effect is usually not worth a slot in the deck. Overall this is why I think the card is balanced.
The reason I think this card would help a control oriented build is because with the inclusion of Medivh Valet in Karazhan, a control deck with a Secret package is nearly viable. What this card would push is a way of using the strength of Mage, card advantage, whilst supporting synergy with certain cards. The biggest fear I have for this card is that it is way too slow in most match-ups, if you play this card turn 5 against any aggressive deck you will just get steamrolled. Additionally for 5 mana if you are creating card advantage you would probably just be playing Cabalist Tome, at least that card can potentially give you the answers you were looking for.
Overall, even if the card in itself might not be playable it is an interesting design that could help a more Secret oriented Mage and, given enough support, it might help make a new archetype viable. Additionally, it pushes Mage in a direction that had been abandoned in the last few expansions and only revived recently with Medivh Valet. One of the simpler designs in this article but I like it. (I wonder if the Mage text should be bold on the card text)
Ethreal Conjurer is a 6/3 thus I thought making the card a 3/5 would make it balanced, the effect of Naga Sorceress is slightly stronger as you can control it more. I think it could be justified making the card a 3/4 or a 2/5 but I feel that if the stats were lowered by 1 point the card would be too weak to ever see play. If you played 0 spells during the game the card won’t discover you anything, additionally in my mind I think the Coin should count as a spell you can discover. If you played only 1 or 2 spells during the game I am not sure what would happen, I don’t know how the Discover mechanic is coded in the game. Ideally I think that the Discover effect would just not go off as I guess the Discover mechanic is linked to three choices which have to differ from one another. On the other hand maybe players should be rewarded if they want to guarantee finding a specific spell. Overall not sure, Ben Brode’s Twitter would probably have to answer this query (and I doubt he has time to answer a query about a hypothetical card that doesn’t exist).
This card Is cool because it mixes a good RNG mechanic, Discover, which gives a degree of control to the player, whilst adding another layer of complexity in the fact you can plan ahead to maximize your chances of discovering what you need. Additionally the card has good counter play as you should be able to make a good guess about what the opponent chose from the Discover, especially if the card was used early in the game. I like this card because it fits in the Mage idea of card advantage whilst providing good synergy with the deck. My fear is that instead of Control Mage this card could be a tool that would be used in Tempo Mage, more spells are always welcome in that deck archetype. This is why I was considering lowering the stats even more. Overall this card would be interesting and maybe in a future standard Rotation, maybe when Flamewaker goes out, it could be an good addition to the card pool.
The reason Reno Mage is the only Control Mage archetype which is semi-viable is because, now that Healbot has been rotated out Standard, Mage doesn’t have access to enough heal to support that game plan. Healbot is exactly the inspiration I took for this card, Secretwhisperer can either be a weak heal or a Healbot on steroids, especially if coupled with Brann. This card should enable Control Mage decks to have a reliable way to stabilize the health total and the board against more aggressively oriented decks. I think two mana is justifiable because Secrets take time to develop and can be popped by your opponent, it is much harder than Healbot to set up the heal. Consider that, apart from Iceblock, most Mage secrets should be intractable for your opponent, meaning that it should be possible to play around a big heal. Additionally in the fast metagame in which we live now if the heal costed more than three (and I think it is justifiable to make the card cost 3) it would just be too slow to fight back against aggressive decks.
There is not much more to say with this card, one thing to notice is that it adds another card that benefits from Secrets being on board thus playing into that idea of a playstyle. Additionally, even if heal can help gain turns in Hearthstone if you don’t have board control you will just succumb a couple of turns later. Lastly the Hearthstone dev team said they do not want to introduce neutral heals but would rather have class ones, this is exactly what this is.
This card is really strong but I think it can be justified given it is a Legendary, thus you can include only one in your deck, and it is a value card with no immediate impact on the board. The idea is similar to Naga Sorceress, only that it has a Cabalist Tome type effect attached to it instead of being Discover. The stats are the same as Archmage Antonidas as I think the power level of the two cards is similar, they both create spells even if Antonidas requires more set up. I could see the card losing one or two stat points to make it a bit easier to deal with. Another idea could be making it a eight mana card instead of a seven mana one, this is in order to make sure that you have to spend your turn playing Kael meaning that you will probably fall behind on board. Overall I am not sure with this one, but I think given you can include only one in your deck it is ok to make it quite powerful.
I particularly like this design as it enables the opponent to know the range of spells you will get, so he will be able to play around it, as well as giving you option during the game to take certain line of plays in order to get specific spells from Kael. Additionally in my Control Mage decks I feel very often I have to include Antonidas in order to add removal to my deck, the problem is that I don’t really want to run the Tempo Mage package in my more Control oriented deck. Kael would provide a good alternative, it would make sure you could go for a more late game oriented build without including the Archmage. Additionally it makes it a question if you actually want to use the Coin or not, getting 3 coins from Kael wouldn’t be very good. Overall I think this card would help to give a good late game minion for Mage decks to play around with.
The Spilled Bean
I will admit I had no clue what picture to use for this one, I went with a male Human to balance out the gender in the cards so far. Additionally, I want to add that if you have no Secret in play you cannot play this card. The reason we haven’t seen any more board clear spells for mage is that it could make the class oppressive as it already has access to cards like Blizzard and Flamestrike. My solution to this is give Mage a clear which is not something Freeze Mage would like to run, destroying your Ice Block is bad, but that could still be a decent removal tool in the right circumstances. The power level of the card is high, you get a Twisting Nether for 7 if you play it on turn 7, but you can also set it up to be played earlier. I think though 4 mana is justifiable (potentially even 3) given that you are sacrificing a 3 mana card for it to work and you need to have a Secret in play.
This is a type of effect we haven’t seen before, destroying one of your secrets for a beneficial effect could be a new mechanic to make Secret decks more viable. Potentially you could even make a Neutral card which takes advantage of this mechanic. I like the card as it makes you plan ahead, it might be you do not want to play Iceblock in order to not destroy the Secret on a future turn when you will need to clear the board. Additionally it might make you introduce the Secret package in your deck just because you want to include this clear. Overall I was really proud of myself when I thought of this one, definitely my favourite out of these seven cards.
Frost and Fire
This card is really slow, it costs three mana with no immediate impact on the game, additionally it also dilutes the decks with cards you might not want to draw. I think the mana cost is high but fair considering it is really strong in Control mirrors, meaning it is ok if it is bad against more aggressively oriented decks. Not all cards can do everything. The reason I like the design of this card is that very often in Control Match-ups against I feel Control Mage has basically no life gain, the only viable option is to put cards in the deck to lower the fatigue count. The danger of this card is that it might make a deck like Freeze Mage stronger, adding burn to your deck is very useful. On the other hand Blizzard could control the release of this card by making sure it is released when a certain card rotates out from standard, for example Forgotten torch, in order to lower the amount of burn Mage can add to the deck in competitive play.
Also consider that adding cards to your deck in a control match-up reliant on Elise is a double edged sword, it will slow you down in trying to find your control finisher but will help you survive longer once you get it. The reason Prince Melchezaar is not the best card in the One Night in Karazhan card pool is that you would rather have more chances of drawing the right cards rather than drawing useless Legendaries. On the other hand this card is under your control, meaning that you can decide when to dilute your deck. Overall another card which adds decision making during the game and could help support different Mage archetypes.
Fire Spells: Forbidden Flame, Forgotten Torch, Fireball, Dragon Breath, Firelands Portal, Flamestrike Pyroblast.
Frost Spells: Ice Lance, Frostbolt, Shatter, Ice Barrier, Ice Block, Blizzard.
Both: Frostfire Bolt, Frost and Fire. (I know they don’t exist).
The reason I made the card six mana instead of five is that the power level of “Frost” spells and “Fire” spells is pretty damn high, meaning that you have to pay something in order to get this amazing value. For any particular Frost spell you have 1/8 (12.5%) to find any one spell. For the Fire spells you currently have 1/9 (11%), the odds aren’t bad at all. Additionally, apart from Shatter, the cards you can get are all really high value cards, putting more in your hand could be very useful in a wide range of situations. Again this card could be abused in Freeze Mage thus it might be a good idea to plan it with a specific set rotation in mind.
Whilst I think this might not be exactly what Control Mage needs, there are already enough high value cards in the deck, it showcases once again the idea of getting a random card from a smaller pool of cards. Additionally in general I liked the idea of making Frostfire spells and I thought this would be an interesting way to convey the concept. Overall I will say this is my least favourite card of the ones I designed, but I guess there always has to be a best and a worst if you have to select what you prefer from a list.
I don’t think RNG is bad in a game like Hearthstone, what I think is that the last two expansions Blizzard has been doing it wrong (but this is another topic). The reason I tried making RNG effects which are easier to play around as well as being under the control of the player is that I think this would higher the skill of the game. It would make sure the decisions you make during a match can be more informed. I think these cards are really cool and quite strong, I also think their power level is justifiable given Control is really weak in Hearthstone, as of now it doesn’t have enough overpowered tools.
I would like to hear what you guys think about these cards, you can comment on Reddit or on the Game Haus forums, I will follow closely both discussions. Lastly, if you want, you can send me your card designs for Mage at firstname.lastname@example.org, if I receive enough I will post them on the site with my general thoughts on the designs.
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