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 DIGITAL BOARD GAME WALKTHROUGH

Hearthstone Deck Guide: Secret Mage [Updated for The Witchwood]

Secret no longer
Product: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft | Developer: Blizzard Entertainment | Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment | Format: Android, iPhone, iPad, Board Game | Genre: Card battler, RPG, Strategy
 
Mage players have always had secrets in their arsenal, but it's only recently that a whole deck built on those secrets became viable. The key ingredient was Arcanologist, a card that puts a body on the board and pulls a secret from your deck, all for a sweet 2 mana.

The deck lost some key cards in the switch to the Year of the Raven. But, to the surprise of many, it remained viable in a re-imagined form. The current version is less aggressive but much more flexible and able to cope with different opponents.

Card Choice

  • 2 x Arcane Missiles
  • 2 x Breath of Sindragosa
  • 2 x Mana Wyrm
  • 2 x Mirror Image
  • 2 x Arcanologist
  • 2 x Frostbolt
  • 2 x Primordial Glyph
  • 2 x Sorcerer's Apprentice
  • 2 x Arcane Intellect
  • 1 x Counterspell
  • 2 x Explosive Runes
  • 2 x Kirin Tor Mage
  • 2 x Fireball
  • 2 x Vex Crow
  • 1 x Aluneth
  • 1 x Archmage Antonidas
  • 1 x Pyroblast
Deck code:



The legendary cards in the deck are essentially its win conditions, so you do need one of them. Aluneth, for preference, because it's useful in so many situations. The Archmage is less important.

There are a lot of card swaps you can make if you so desire: indeed there are several versions of this deck doing the rounds. Some players find Vex Crow is too slow to make much use out of: it can't make much of an impact until turn 4, and often dies quickly. Mirror Image is also of limited use and is in the mix partly to power the Crow and the Archmage.

In terms of replacements, your first addition should be a second Counterspell. After that, consider adding Lifedrinker or copies of the ever-useful Fire Fly. Bloodmage Thalnos is also a good fit, if you have him.

Some versions of this deck run Cinderstorm, but this can be very unreliable due to its random split of damage. If you use it, it's primarily there to target your opponent's face when the board is clear of minions.

Mulligan

No matter what you're playing against, your number one keeps are Mana Wyrm and Arcanologist. The former is probably the best small minion in the game, and can snowball into a huge threat very fast. The latter gets you a minion and one of the secrets that powers the deck. If you've got a Fire Fly, you should also keep that.

If you have drawn Arcanologist, or a secret, you should also keep both it and Kirin Tor Mage. Both let you play free secrets for a big early tempo swing.



Frostbolt is also a decent keep in most situations, especially versus slower decks. It can remove early minions, or stop bigger ones in their tracks.

If you think you're playing a slower deck, card draw is critical, so you can also consider keeping Arcane Intellect or Aluneth. Against more aggressive decks, Arcane Missiles and Mirror Image are very helpful.

Play Style

Secret Mage is also known as Tempo Mage for a good reason. The deck is all about outpacing your opponent in terms of cards and stats, then riding that curve to the win.

In the early turns your ideal position is to get out a minion or two, then use your hero power and early spells to destroy enemy plays and keep board control.



Your ideal early curve is Mana Wyrm, followed by Arcanologist, followed by Kirin Tor Mage for a free secret. Only the most aggressive decks can come back against that.

Whatever you get, your early focus has to be board control. Keep other decks, especially fast ones, off their curve by wiping out minions and making good trades. Watch for combos of spells with Sorcerer's Apprentice which let you get a minion down while also removing an enemy one.

As you enter the mid to late game, it's time to change tactics. By this point, the opposing deck can put down bodies it's harder for you to take out. So switch to focusing on the face instead. Most of your high end spells can put out massive direct damage. Get out the fire effects and let them feel the burn.

If you've got Archmage Antonidas, remember you'll need to save a spell or two to combo with him in order to generate Fireballs. With any luck, your opponent will spend the turn taking him out, leaving you free to fireball is face in reply.

Defensive Duties

This deck has almost no defence beyond Mirror Image, but it does have a trick up its sleeve in the form of Primordial Glyph.

In most cases you can use it to acquire cards that add to your spell and secret arsenal. But it's in the deck because it is incredibly flexible. It offers the chance to get a card to deal with any situation you find yourself in.



Secret Mage is very powerful against slow decks, but it struggles against lots of little minions. Should you find yourself fighting that sort of deck, prioritise area of effect spells from Primordial Glyph. Any kind of board wipe will tilt things back in your favour.

Even Flamestrike becomes an affordable 5 mana when gained from the Glyph. That means you can play it the turn before the earliest win conditions for speedier decks, then hopefully build back into the game.
 

Reviewer photo
Matt Thrower 25 April 2018
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