Going Legend on a Budget: Trump's Beatdown Mage

Posted by Juabe "moveslikejuaber" Inciong at 25 February 2014 12:45

Do you wanna climb the ranks in Constructed but lack the funds to get tons of packs? Then here an easy to build deck that not only teaches you a lot about the game, but is made by one of the most prolific Hearthstone players around!

*Image Credit to TamplierPainter @ DeviantArt (source)




I. Introduction
II. The Deck
III. The Cards
IV. The Matchups

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Once the Queen of the Classes, Mages have taken a rough fall into nigh-obscurity after few patches. From the Pyroblast mana cost increase to the nerfs at her frost spells, it seems that Jaina ain't so proud no more. There have been a few Giants Control Mage decks popping in and out of pro scene and the ladder, making use of the class' speciality of efficient board control via strong spells. However, gone were the days of Frost Control (I don't care about your board, I'll just freeze it) and aggro (face, face, face, and PYROBLAST), with most players, especially new ones, investing in more popular classes such as Druid if they ever want to be legendary.

Enter Trump. The so-called "Mayor of Value Town" built a Mage deck less than a week ago and after a few days, made it to Legend. Now, there are two very important things which made his constructed run interesting. First, it was a budget deck. Think 1160 dust levels of budget. Second, it is neither a total control nor an aggro deck. It was beatdown, something you wouldn't normally see this class be.

For this issue of Going Legend on a Budget, we take a look at Trump's Beatdown Mage, from how it works to what cards it uses and all the way to the matchups. Let's see how Trump managed to build an inexpensive, yet effective deck to achieve the Legend Dream.


The Deck

As said earlier, the deck is classified primarily as mid-range beatdown. It is a modified form of aggro wherein the pace is much slower, but the minions you cast slowly get bigger and bigger. This means that unlike typical aggros where your army is composed of a lot of small guys (and an occassional Yeti), you start casting small, but build up to something bigger. Ogre-level bigger. All this, coupled with the Mage's signature control spells, you are able to keep the pressure up from the early to the later stages of the game.

There really isn't any tricky mechanics to this deck, which is its biggest appeal. Each card it straightforward in what it does, giving it a very low skill ceiling. That doesn't mean you just cast everything and win, of course. Being a Mage at its core, learning to control the board is an important fundamental to learn. When to cast sweeps like Arcane Explosion and Flamestrike, which threat to Polymorph, and which minion Sunfury Protector should give taunt to, are some of the control-based decisions you constantly make. 

Lastly, while being a creature-heavy deck, you will learn how to play slow and steady, feeling the pace of the game as it happens and adjusting your decision accordingly. It doesn't have any "sudden kill with big spells" potential it has with old mages (unless you count double Fireball as such), so being patient is a good virtue to have here. 


The Cards


Mana Wyrm is great if you can cast it on T1, but it can still be a big threat when played later on. Its ability to potentially snowball makes it a priority target, and it would almost certainly cost your opponent tempo just to remove it. Even with only a few spells, as long as it can get a swing after a few ticks of its ability, you gain good value from it.

Amani Berserker is a good 2-mana minion that can suddenly spike up with its Enrage ability. What makes better for this deck is that you could activate it yourself anytime by using your Hero Power.

Harvest Golem is just a good 3-mana drop. With its Deathrattle, it almost always forces a 2-for-1 trade and ensures that you always retain some board presence after board sweepers. Almost every deck, from aggro to control, uses Harvest Golem so there's no point not having one. Plus, it's common, so crafting one is easy.

Sunfury Protector does not really do much in terms of aggression, but it definitely stops your opponent's. Having a lot of low-cost minions, you can stall a bit and force creature removal, a sweep spell, or a trade which ticks off control decks a bit and annoys aggro decks a lot.

Acolyte of Pain is essentially a walking Arcane Intellect. With a 1/3 body, you could ping it with your Hero Power for a sure 2-card advantage once it dies. It also helps a lot in killing tempo by giving it taunt via Sunfury Protector. There is only one copy is the deck in order to keep the focus on hitting the enemy very hard.

Earthen Ring Farseer is a good card with good stats and a good Battlecry. A 3/3 for 3 mana scores well on the vanilla test, but its ability to heal for 3 is what makes it valuable. Whether it is for your hero as you stave off aggression, or for other minions as they fight another day, it maintains your threats while being a good source of damage as well.

Chillwind Yeti and Boulderfist Ogre are the big bodies of the deck. They are efficient just from their raw stats, and are hard to take down, even with damage spells as the Yeti is outside Swipe range and the Ogre will survive the hits from the popular 6-drops like Cairne Bloodhoof or Fire Elemental. They are your main face-hitters and could both swing hard and act as damage soak, simply by being there or having taunt via Sunfury Protector.

Azure Drake is a great rare and is the best 5-mana neutral to have. It has a strong 4/4 body, instant card draw, and Spell Damage +1 which, being a Mage, gives your spells that much more reach. This gives it good value upon landing on the board with the potential for more once it starts swinging.

Faceless Manipulator is the only epic card in the deck, and is a one-of. It offers great versatility, copying either your own big guys or somebody else's. Cloning minions like Cairne Bloodhoof, Sylvanas Windrunner, or Giants is always amusing.



Arcane Explosion Flamestrike are your main sweeps in the early and late game respectively. Using them in the right moment is essential in maintaining strong board presence. You sometimes have to eat a few hits just so you could drop more threats on the board or take more out at once. But if you time it correctly, you will easily swing the game in your favor.

Frostbolt and Fireball are your pinpoint damage spells capable to either killing minions or just going for the face and get those extra points of damage. Frostbolt has more utility in that it can freeze, which you can use well against weapon wielders like Warrior and Paladin. Fireball, on the other hand, is just raw power, making it a good finisher in case your minions couldn't quite deal the killing blow.

Lastly, Polymorph is a surefire single-target removal spell that doesn't give a damn what card it hits, be it a common or a legendary or whether or not it has deathrattle or divine shield effects. This is the natural counter to popular legendaries like Sylvanas Windrunner, Cairne Bloodhoof, Tirion Fordring or Ragnaros the Firelord but is also valuable against beefy threats like Molten Giant and Mountain Giant. Whether you should target the taunter or wait for a more serious threat is a tough decision to make, but one that could make or break your game.



The Matchups


Being the dominant class right now, you might have a tricky time when up against it. The main problem when dealing with this class is its versatility. It simply has way too many options at a given time. However, because most of your cards are efficient on their own, you can go toe-to-toe with them, especially if you are able to make well-timed removals. Your big vanilla minions and your single-target spells will be your best friends in this matchup.


In this matchup, it is all about surviving the first few turns. It is a certainty that you will take damage in the early game, and the best you can do is to soften the blow. Here, Sunfury protector and Arcane Explosion is key to getting to the mid game. As long as you stall until you can get better minions out, you can easily win against the class when its gas runs out.


You are for the most part okay versus the Paladin, though it depends on its variation. Taking down Control Paladins might be tough. Equality + Wild Pyromancer and Aldor Peacekeeper can easily wreck your board, so you need to be thoughful in your plays. Against aggro Paladins however, as long as you get your sweeps in time, you should be able to take this variation of the class down with ease. Even if they pack buffs and Divine Shields, you have sufficient removal, as well as your Hero Power to pop the shield away.


Unfortunately, not only will the class' heals annoy you, but it also has a ton of good removal at its disposal. From the two Shadow Words to Holy Nova, Control Priest can stall hard and still maintain good amount of life.

All that being said, Priests are still a low-tier class right now and as long as you don't allow them to go into super late game and do whatever you want you'll be fine. Stopping your Mana Wyrm at 4 attack can be a game-ender as the minion is out of Holy Nova and Holy Smite range health-wise and Shadow Words attack-wise.


Controlling Rogues early on is easy. You have the removal and the threats to win the early game. The problem arrives around mid-late, especially when its the Miracle Rogue. It only needs one small opportunity for it to go all-out, turning the tide in the enemy's favor. From then on, it's the matter of hoping to have either a Polymorph or a Fireball in your hand still to take out the Questing Adventurer or Edwin VanCleef.

Another difficult matchup. Shaman has a lot of powerful spells at his disposal. Even with its Overload mechanic, not only can it keep up with you turn for turn, but it even overtake you in tempo. Hex and Lightning Storm will wreck your board, and with solid minions like Fire Elemental, it'll be an uphill battle to win. At the same time, value spells like Feral Spirit will put a halt to your early game heavy hitters like Amani Berserker and if there isn't an Arcane Explosion to soften up the wolves, getting into a good mid-game is difficult.

If Murloc Warlock gets a opening hand and you don't, you're dead. It can take you down from 30 to zero in as quick as four turns. Even with your Sunfury Protector and Arcane Explosions for stalling, you're screwed if it drops a Murloc Warleader or a Coldlight Seer. On the other side of the coin, Handlocks will give you a much easier time. You can take over the board around midgame, though you have to be careful about any Shadowflame or Siphon Soul plays. The Giants it usually has pose no problem to you as Polymorph is there to save the play, while Flamestrike can deal with things once the enemy board becomes too crowded.


Against Aggro Warriors, it's all about getting the right draws in the first few turns. It might be rough getting hit with small minions and axes, but as long as you are able to either taunt up, remove vital minions like Frothing Berserker, and even freeze up the hero with your Frostbolt, then you should be fine. Against Control, you will lose a ton of minions and go through a lot of armor thanks to cards like Shield Block. Proper risk management will help you win, though be prepared for a long fight.


Lastly, the mirror matchup. It is not easy to be up against your own class, especially since it has the tools to counter your own deck. The very cards you use to win will also be your demise. To make things worse, as most Mages go for control, it has an even better late game, you it is imperative for you to take over early on and win.