Welcome to our Beginner’s Mage Deck List Guide! If you are just starting out in Hearthstone this guide will help you learn how-to build and play this completely free Mage deck list. The guide includes card explanations, mulligans, play strategy, and future card replacements/substitutions.
Find More Beginner Decks: Beginner Hearthstone Decks for Every Class
Beginner Mage Deck Overview
Mage is the first class that a new player is introduced to and for good reason. The class contains many powerful Basic cards which will help a beginner start on the right foot. The Mage class can utilize spells to control the board and can also use them to help finish off the opponent. In general, it is best to use your spells to clear your opponent’s board, but more advanced tactics can involve you identifying situations where it is better to hold your spells and use them to finish off an opponent.
Don’t understand some of the terms in this guide? Check out our Hearthstone Terms & Glossary!
These card choices are broken down into two sections: Class and Neutrals.
Frostbolt – A very efficient and powerful 2-cost spell that can remove minions or slow down your opponent. The freeze effect is relevant for either delaying an opposing minion from attacking the next turn, or even making it so your opponent can’t use a weapon. This is a card you will see in just about every Mage deck from beginner to top meta lists.
Arcane Intellect – This is a reasonably costed card draw spell that is great for top decking in the late game and can be used to fill out your mana curve.
Fireball – Another of Mage’s spells that you will find in just about every one of their decks. The card can remove very powerful minions for a low mana cost, as well as finish off an opponent through taunts. The mere existence of Fireball forces your opponent to always play around it whether you have it in your hand or deck at all.
Polymorph – Versatile removal that helps against minions that have Deathrattle by essentially silencing it. The card is a bit slow and it does leave a minion on the board, but you will hopefully be able to use your hero power to remove it.
Water Elemental – Pretty powerful 4-drop that has strong health stats that makes it difficult to remove. The freeze effect is not trivial, it can slow down opponent’s that try to proactively use weapons.
Flamestrike – Just about every Arena player’s worst nightmare. Flamestrike can clear boards and also acts as a card that forces your opponent to play awkwardly when going into the seventh turn. Be on the look out for boards you can soften up a bit to prepare for the 4-damage AOE, you can use your hero power on a minion with 5-health to put it in range rather than just pinging your opponent’s face.
Acidic Swamp Ooze – Decent stats and an ability that is very relevant against certain classes. It’s generally best not to be too greedy with the effect unless you know for sure they are going to play a weapon. It’s almost always better to play something rather than wait and hope to destroy a weapon. Be more conservative with this card against Warrior.
Bloodfen Raptor – Mostly just a body for stats and a cheap cost. This is one of the cards you will want to replace as fast as possible (Mana Wyrm or Sorcerer's Apprentice being great replacements). The beast tag is largely irrelevant to Mage.
Shattered Sun Cleric – Solid minion that has a strong buff attached to it. While it’s nice to get the buff, it’s usually best to just play the minion on the board rather than hope for a best case scenario.
Chillwind Yeti – One of the best basic minions. 5-health is very important and can trade and survive against most minions of the same cost or below. The card saw some really early play in meta decks in the beginning of ranked play, but is just purely outclassed by better minions now.
Gnomish Inventor – Poor stats (decent health), but card draw on a body is valuable. However, this is one of the cards you want to remove relatively quickly.
Sen'jin Shieldmasta – Similar to Yeti but loses 1-attack stat for Taunt. This card can trade with a lot of early minions and help stave off pressure from aggressive decks.
Stormwind Champion – This is a great card when you have minions on the board. It also helps against AOE by giving your minions additional stats.
Beginner Mage Deck Mulligan Advice and Strategy
In Hearthstone, unless you are playing a very specific style of combo/control deck you are usually looking for 1 – 2 cost minions. While we don’t have 1-drop minions currently, we do have Acidic Swamp Ooze and Bloodfen Raptor. These are the cards you are mainly looking for and you shouldn’t keep anything else in your opening hand unless you have one of these. The second thing we’re looking for is a good mana curve. So if you start with a 2-drop, you can keep a 3-drop like Shattered Sun Cleric. If you have a 2-drop and a 3-drop in your opening hand you can keep a 4-drop! The best one to be kept is Chillwind Yeti which your opponent might have a hard time removing after dealing with your strong curve.
If you are going to go second, you could keep Razorfen Hunter and Shattered Sun Cleric together because you will be able to coin out the Razorfen and then follow it up with a Shattered Sun Cleric. You could also keep a 4-drop if you already have a 2-drop because you can coin it out on turn three!
Spells are a different story, you generally don’t want to keep them unless you know for sure your opponent will be playing some kind of problematic minion in which you’d consider keeping Frostbolt.
- Always Keep: Acidic Swamp Ooze and Bloodfen Raptor
- Keep w/2-drop: Shattered Sun Cleric
- Keep w/2-3 drop Curve or 2-Drop & The Coin: Chillwind Yeti, Water Elemental, and/or Sen'jin Shieldmasta
The object of most beginner’s decks is to control the board and beat the opponent down with minions. Mage has another option, however, which is control the board and finish them off with a Fireball. However, you will generally be looking to use those spells to keep your opponent’s minions off the board while you build your own.
Never just cast a spell like Frostbolt or Fireball and target your opponent in the early game. If you don’t have anything else to play, and your opponent’s board is empty it’s always better to save the cards. You will generally only target your opponent with your spells if it’s going to finish the game.
Now, one of the most important skills to learn with a Mage deck like this is when to use your hero power and when not to use it. You are trying to control the board, but you also want to be playing minions. A somewhat common scenario will be your opponent having a 1-health minion on the board. You could use your hero power to kill it, but you wouldn’t be able to play a minion. In general, the best play is to put a minion on the board that isn’t immediately threatened by your opponent’s minion. In most cases, your opponent will either have to ignore your minion or use their turn to kill it. If that’s the case, then you can then play a bigger minion the following turn and your opponent will have to deal with it which puts them on the defensive while you control the board. If you had used your hero power, your opponent would have been able to play a minion and YOU would have to address it on your turn putting you on the defensive.
The best times to use your hero power is when you can follow it up immediately with a minion. So if you have 4-mana and you can kill a minion and then play a 2-drop minion then you’d be more likely to use it in that situation.
If you have Flamestrike and you are behind and are looking to turn the game around you will want to try to soften up some of your opponent’s minions that have a higher health total. Don’t always be throwing your hero power at your opponent’s face, you can reduce the health of a high health minion and hopefully clear it with the Flamestrike.
If you are heading to the late game, you might want to hold onto some of your burn spells if you think they can finish the game. You won’t always be in a position to do this, but if your opponent has a taunt minion you can’t get passed then your spells can be your savior.
Card Replacements and Substitutions
I’m going to list cards that you should start to look to replace to stick with the theme of this deck which is a Midrange Mage. You should start to look towards budget decks and build towards them once you start to acquire cards. Once you’ve built a budget deck, you can then start to build towards a meta deck.
Find Budget Decks: Hearthstone Budget Decks for Every Class
The first thing you should do when possible is to do the Prologue to One Night in Karazhan. This will give you two free cards: Enchanted Raven and more importantly for this deck Firelands Portal. Once you get Firelands Portal immediately remove Stormwind Champion for it.
Sorcerer's Apprentice has good stats and gives you a side-benefit that Bloodfen Raptor does not, so once you get those get rid of the dino!
If you are this far then you’ll want to start looking at the budget decks. Our budget decks are updated every expansion and again if any nerfs take place, so be sure to check them out to learn what’s happening in the current meta.
Class Card Omissions
As a new player you might be wondering why certain class cards didn’t make the list. I will try to explain the justifications so you can have a better understanding for your future deck building endeavors.
Arcane Missiles – This card is close to being in the deck, but it is extremely unreliable and can often just flat out be bad. Now if you were to have more cards that have an increased need for spell synergy like Mana Wyrm or Gadgetzan Auctioneer the card would be more likely to make the list.
Mirror Image – It ends up being just a waste of a card the majority of the time. Your opponent will chip through them and you will be behind on card advantage. Mirror Image is sometimes good for stalling out aggro decks, but unless you are able to capitalize on the stalling you’ve essentially just wasted a card. Mirror Image would be decent if you were playing a deck that had minion buffs like Dire Wolf Alpha or Defender of Argus, but even then it would be unlikely to make the cut. This is another card that would be slightly better with more spell synergy cards.
Arcane Explosion – 1-damage AOE rarely kills more than one minion, so it’s often just a 1-for-1 in the early game and a dead card in the late game. Even when Mage runs spell damage cards, this card has rarely seen any play.
Frost Nova – Great for stalling out the game in a combo or control deck, but usually requires multiple cards to be truly valuable. This deck is much more midrange based, and even if you were to stall your opponent a turn it usually doesn’t amount to you getting lethal. This is a good card in some decks, it’s just not good in this one.