Having Trouble Playing Against Mages? Read

MVP - Hearthstone
Posts: 11,716
I recognize there are many players who are having trouble beating Mages. I'm currently at Rank 4 and quite a few decks are circulating which are both effective against most deck-types and quite strong against Mages. The three main keys (not necessarily all at once) to beating Mages are:
1) Very strong early game aggression, with health-buffing out of Blizzard range, and forcing the Mage to freeze every turn to not die immediately.
2) Charge / weapons, which can't be frozen.
3) Healing. Healing spells by default are twice as mana efficient as damage spells, completely trivializing things like burning with Pyroblast.

---------------

First, understand that different Mage decks will generally play in different ways. Some go heavy on board position, some do not. But some common things you'll encounter in many decks are:
1) Pyroblast. The Mage will be able to easily hit you for 11 damage in one turn starting at turn 10, and possibly more if they can Pyro + Frostbolt (though often Frostbolts are used up in early game control). So keep an eye on your health and don't let it dip below these numbers.

2) Ice Block. Most Mages will run at least one Ice Block, though some do not. Have a gameplan for this; proc is the first moment you can, but try to get their health as low as possible for the final blow. That is, if you have multiple minions, make sure you attack in such a way that the Mage is as close to 1 health as possible when you do your final hit. If possible, try to keep a direct damage or charge ability in your hand for the next turn incase they try to freeze you, so that you can deliver the last damage. Remember that the sooner you can proc the first Ice Block, the lower the chance is they'll have drawn their second.

3) Alexstraza. This is probably the thing people have the most trouble playing around. She can be used to either heal the mage up after an Ice Block or to knock your own health to 15 to kill you in a few turns. There's a few counters for this. First, running Big Game Hunter is a good option nowadays as most decks that aren't aggro decks are running something large enough to kill with it (Ragnaros, Giants, etc.).

Beyond that, the key is to realize that the Mage will expend their entire turn dropping Alexstraza and to capitalize on that. If playing with healing cards, do not heal yourself until Alexstraza comes out unless you're in range to be killed by Pyroblast. You want to wait until AFTER the Alexstraza drop to do this; otherwise, your healing will be wasted.

If they use it defensively, a major key to remember is that the Mage cannot freeze, cast Ice Block, or aoe your board on the same turn they drop Alexstraza. So for example, if the Mage has used up both of their Ice Blocks (they usually won't use Alexstraza until they have), if you fill your board super big at this point, you win: If they Alexstraza themself back to 15 health, you do 15 damage to them that turn. If they aoe your board, they're at 1 health and are killed by direct damage.

-------------------------

Class-by-class. You can look up specific decks online, but I'll give a very brief outline on how classes manage Mages for the most part.

1) Warlocks. Go EXTREMELY aggressive. As in, you should have 20 damage or so on the board by turn 5. Blizzard aoe is very expensive with the nerfs, and you have plenty of access to abilities that buff minion health. So swarm the board, and the first turn they don't have a freeze, kill them. They'll be so much on the defensive freezing you that they won't be able to cycle cards to draw into more freezes.

2) Priest. Make use of the hero power to heal yourself. Use big minions and health buffing abilities to safely fill your board without risk of Flamestirke. Don't be afraid to use Holy Nova as a healing ability rather than a dps one if you need a little extra health.

3) Rogue. Be very aggressive, like the Warlock. In general, charge minions are very effective for Rogues, especially if you play Shadowsteps.

4) Druids. Druids have been playing a late-game ramp variant against Mages. I can't elaborate on it too much, but Healing Touch is one of the keys. Ancient of Lore can be used for a little bit of extra healing in a pinch as well. Your hero power is an extremely effective counter to the mage attemping to ping you down, and if you build up some armor (including Bite and/or Claw), it can't be melted by Alexstraza.

5) Shaman. I know there are some anti-mage variants floating around, but I don't really know the details on how they work.

6) Hunters. Heavy traps to slow down the game as well as to MD giants back into the mage, focuses on direct damage from Eaglehorn Longbow and the hunter hero power as well as charge. Shoots for roughly a turn 7 win (the direct damage is pretty dang high). Uses Flare to remove Ice Block.

7) Paladin. Mainly focuses on massive amounts of healing to grind out the Mage's health. Big Game Hunter is basically a must-have to counter the Alexstraza drop since you don't have removal (you'll need BGH against other decks anyway). To put it in context, mages have 38 direct damage, Paladins have 48 total healing (36 if you don't include Holy Light), so they can easily outheal a Mage's damage as long as the Mage doesn't get control of the board.

8) Warrior. Makes use of Armor through the hero power and Shield Block. Alexstraza doesn't eat through armor, meaning if you build some up, they can't knock you down nearly as much. Warriors also inherently tend to have a lot of charge and weapons.
Edited by Sar on 12/20/2013 5:00 AM PST
Reply Quote
Posts: 9
I honestly expected this to say.

"Heal more nubs, git gud."

That seems to be your response in all these threads.
Reply Quote
MVP - Hearthstone
Posts: 11,716
12/20/2013 04:17 AMPosted by BrovietUnion
I honestly expected this to say.

"Heal more nubs, git gud."

That seems to be your response in all these threads.


You've been told how the good players are beating mages. You can either copy it and win games or ignore it, lose, and keep coming to complain to the forums about no one knows how to beat mages.
Reply Quote
Posts: 24
I think the best thing about a Mage is you both have to play aggressive to keep up with their extreme control, and you have to run a ton of heals to keep up with their burn. So from there you have healing minions not meshing correctly with your aggro tempo, and vice versa.

It's a card game, so something going to always be blatantly overpowered and overused, but just repeating "just run heals get gud :^) " doesn't really justify the Mage's power at all.
Reply Quote
MVP - Hearthstone
Posts: 11,716
12/20/2013 05:49 AMPosted by PrenerfMorde
I think the best thing about a Mage is you both have to play aggressive to keep up with their extreme control, and you have to run a ton of heals to keep up with their burn. So from there you have healing minions not meshing correctly with your aggro tempo, and vice versa.

It's a card game, so something going to always be blatantly overpowered and overused, but just repeating "just run heals get gud :^) " doesn't really justify the Mage's power at all.


More or less well said, except that it's healing minions OR aggro tempo; the two don't mix well in most decks. So either you shoot to win by turn 8 (before Alexstraza can be dropped), or you shoot to control the board and then heal up whatever damage the enemy does. Either works.
Reply Quote
Posts: 210
good thread. i hope this will teach all the kids something about strategies.
Reply Quote
MVP - Hearthstone
Posts: 11,716
12/20/2013 05:49 AMPosted by PrenerfMorde
I think the best thing about a Mage is you both have to play aggressive to keep up with their extreme control, and you have to run a ton of heals to keep up with their burn. So from there you have healing minions not meshing correctly with your aggro tempo, and vice versa.

It's a card game, so something going to always be blatantly overpowered and overused, but just repeating "just run heals get gud :^) " doesn't really justify the Mage's power at all.


P.S. I want to add that I keep responding with healing because people consistently keep saying "There's no counter to direct damage in this game other than Counterspell, which is ironically a Mage spell." My point is that's factually not true. They keep thinking that just because you can't stop the spell itself that you can't counter it, but you can counter a Pyroblast by healing it, and healing it is substantially cheaper than the cost of the spell. So no, what they're saying is wrong; you CAN counter cards like Pyroblast.
Reply Quote
Posts: 494
It seems a lot of the counter Mage strategy revolves around the Mage having Alexstrasza.

Do that many Mages really have her?
Reply Quote
Posts: 863
Paladin is an extremely strong "anti-Mage" class while remaining powerful on their own. They have some extremely good heals in Guardian of Kings (5 heal and a 5/7 minion) and Lay On Hands (8 health and 3 cards). Both cards are, admittedly, expensive at 7 and 8 mana respectively but, by the same token, you shouldn't be needing the heals in the early game anyway. It's the late game where Mages shine and Paladins, in my opinion, are just as strong in the late game.

There's a reason why a large number from the first wave of Legendary players ran Paladin decks and not Mage decks.

One day, before the mage nerf, I threw together a cheapish anti-Mage Paladin deck. My very first game of ranked was a stall mage and I fatigued him to death while I was sitting at 24 life. To reach that point I survived 2 pyroblasts, 2 fireballs, 2 frostbolts, Alexstraza, Ice Block and other mage tricks.
Reply Quote
MVP - Hearthstone
Posts: 11,716
12/20/2013 06:41 AMPosted by Firemane
It seems a lot of the counter Mage strategy revolves around the Mage having Alexstrasza.

Do that many Mages really have her?


I don't know if all mages have her, but all GOOD mages do. It's possible that being a legendary that some low level players don't run her. She synnergizes extremely well with both the offensive and defensive strategy of a mage, which is why she's so awesome. Offensively, she can bring anyone low enough to be killed off in 2 turns AFTER she's dropped by a Pyroblast + Fireball (as well as various other combos). That' assuming she's killed that is; if she's not killed, you can do it on the next turn.

Defensively, she synenrgizes well with Ice Block. Normally, a class would have to weight the benefits of healing up sooner vs. risking being outright killed. But due to Ice Block, mages can get all the way down to 1 health and letting Ice Block proc (or, if they're at 1 health, just plain healing up before it even procs) to maximize the effect of her self-heal.

In both cases however, the downside is that Alexstraza is a 9-cost minion, meaning it takes your entire mana for the turn to drop her, so you won't be able to combo her with anything else that turn. Alexstraza, if used right, can drastically change the state of a game.
Reply Quote
Posts: 1,670
It is highly unrealistic to expect every class to run healing in their deck, and still be effective at what the deck is designed for.
Reply Quote
MVP - Hearthstone
Posts: 11,716
12/21/2013 11:10 PMPosted by Ogrumz
It is highly unrealistic to expect every class to run healing in their deck, and still be effective at what the deck is designed for.


Shamans at least seemingly have the most trouble against Mages as they're the one class that lacks healing or aggro builds. That being said, I do see the baseline Shaman deck starting to do reasonably against Mages; I don't have stats on it, but from what I've seen, I'd estimate they lose more to Mages than they win, but they still stand a reasonable chance.

The variant seems to act sort of like Druid ramp, where almost all minions are big, expensive minions. The Shaman controls the early game with a plethora of cheap control abilities, then starting around turn 5-6 they start filling their board with big minions. It's kind of a weird strat in that the Shaman will do literally close to zero damage to their opponent (mage or not) for 6 turns or so, then suddenly they'll start hitting for massive amounts of damage each turn.

One thing I've seen a few Shamans do as well, though not quite mainstream, is to run Alexstraza in their deck. It's kind of interesting to me because players don't expect a Shaman to heal, so they'll often feel safe blowing whatever damage they can into the Shaman. What makes it potentially effective isn't that it's strong but that it's unexpected, so players don't plan around it. This seems outside of the norm though; you'd have to consult someone playing one of these decks for more info as I don't really know the full idea behind it, just that I've seen it done.
Edited by Sar on 12/21/2013 11:28 PM PST
Reply Quote
Posts: 1,670
12/21/2013 11:27 PMPosted by Sar
It is highly unrealistic to expect every class to run healing in their deck, and still be effective at what the deck is designed for.


Shamans at least seemingly have the most trouble against Mages as they're the one class that lacks healing or aggro builds. That being said, I do see the baseline Shaman deck starting to do reasonably against Mages; I don't have stats on it, but from what I've seen, I'd estimate they lose more to Mages than they win, but they still stand a reasonable chance.

The variant seems to act sort of like Druid ramp, where almost all minions are big, expensive minions. The Shaman controls the early game with a plethora of cheap control abilities, then starting around turn 5-6 they start filling their board with big minions. It's kind of a weird strat in that the Shaman will do literally close to zero damage to their opponent (mage or not) for 6 turns or so, then suddenly they'll start hitting for massive amounts of damage each turn.

One thing I've seen a few Shamans do as well, though not quite mainstream, is to run Alexstraza in their deck. It's kind of interesting to me because players don't expect a Shaman to heal, so they'll often feel safe blowing whatever damage they can into the Shaman. What makes it potentially effective isn't that it's strong but that it's unexpected, so players don't plan around it. This seems outside of the norm though; you'd have to consult someone playing one of these decks for more info as I don't really know the full idea behind it, just that I've seen it done.


Your between-the-lines condescending attitude is terrible.

All shamans rank 10+ run the same deck, with 1-2 variations to suit our own playstyle.
Reply Quote
Posts: 174
Mage is so overpowered atm.
It needs a huge nerf.
Too many control cards with low mana costs,and then dominating lategame.
Reply Quote
MVP - Hearthstone
Posts: 11,716
12/22/2013 08:09 PMPosted by UMCorian


3) Alexstraza. This is probably the thing people have the most trouble playing around. She can be used to either heal the mage up after an Ice Block or to knock your own health to 15 to kill you in a few turns. There's a few counters for this. First, running Big Game Hunter is a good option nowadays as most decks that aren't aggro decks are running something large enough to kill with it (Ragnaros, Giants, etc.).


Running BGH does nothing to stop Alexstraza from taking you down to 15.

This is as far as I bothered to read.


Convenient point for you to stop, since the first paragraph there was talking about killing Alexstraza herself so she doesn't deal 8 damage next turn, and the next 2 paragraphs were about dealing with her battlecry. I'm sure you chose to stop exactly at that point purely by coincidence.
Reply Quote
MVP - Hearthstone
Posts: 11,716
12/22/2013 08:25 PMPosted by UMCorian
I'm sure you fancy yourself a genius, but most people aren't complaining about mages because they don't understand the logic of: "Use card that kills big creature when big creature comes out."
No one's complaining about Alexstraza's stats - it's her battlecry when used in tandum with other Mage cards.

But fine. I'll read the next two paragraphs.

Beyond that, the key is to realize that the Mage will expend their entire turn dropping Alexstraza and to capitalize on that. If playing with healing cards, do not heal yourself until Alexstraza comes out unless you're in range to be killed by Pyroblast. You want to wait until AFTER the Alexstraza drop to do this; otherwise, your healing will be wasted.


As we've already discussed: there's exactly 2 healing cards in the game that are worth putting in your deck, and even if you assume every healing card should be put in your deck, there's exactly 3 classes out of 8 non-mages that even have healing cards. What exactly do the others do?

If they use it defensively, a major key to remember is that the Mage cannot freeze, cast Ice Block, or aoe your board on the same turn they drop Alexstraza. So for example, if the Mage has used up both of their Ice Blocks (they usually won't use Alexstraza until they have), if you fill your board super big at this point, you win: If they Alexstraza themself back to 15 health, you do 15 damage to them that turn. If they aoe your board, they're at 1 health and are killed by direct damage.


I don't even get the point of this paragraph. A mage isn't going to drop Alexstraza defensively unless he's completely screwed, has no board control/spells and is just praying to live 1 more round so he can topdeck a miracle card. He either doesn't and you win... or you simply flooded the board just in time for him to topdeck his Flamestrike and eradicate you.

As I said before - you're extremely out of touch and would benefit from playing another class from time to time.


Very well. You've been told how the good players are beating Mages. Its your prerogative to ignore it and keep coming to the forums telling us all about how its impossible to beat mages while everyone around you successfully does it, while you continue to lose games against them because you refuse to do it yourself.
Edited by Sar on 12/22/2013 8:41 PM PST
Reply Quote
Posts: 331


As we've already discussed: there's exactly 2 healing cards in the game that are worth putting in your deck, and even if you assume every healing card should be put in your deck, there's exactly 3 classes out of 8 non-mages that even have healing cards. What exactly do the others do?


Very well. You've been told how the good players are beating Mages. Its your prerogative to ignore it and keep coming to the forums telling us all about how its impossible to beat mages while everyone around you successfully does it, while you continue to lose games against them because you refuse to do it yourself.


I'm kind of curious as well.. of the whole healing thing Sar.
Just how many cards are there that heal you as say, a Hunter?
Or in that scenario would you just go straight aggro/trapper deck?
Reply Quote

Please report any Code of Conduct violations, including:

Threats of violence. We take these seriously and will alert the proper authorities.

Posts containing personal information about other players. This includes physical addresses, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and inappropriate photos and/or videos.

Harassing or discriminatory language. This will not be tolerated.

Forums Code of Conduct

Report Post # written by

Reason
Explain (256 characters max)

Reported!

[Close]