Our Big Spells Mage deck list guide will go through the ins-and-outs of the potentially viable deck from the Kobolds and Catacombs Expansion! This guide will teach you how to mulligan, pilot, and substitute cards for this archetype!
Introduction to Big Spell Mage
Kobolds is out and in full swing. There are a lot of new decks to play right now, and one of the more interesting is Big Spell Mage. This deck, unlike so many past builds, does not seek to kill its opponent with damage. Rather, it is a pure control shell that seeks to grind the opponent down through big finishers and constant AOE. The archetype has never existed before, but it got a lot of tools in the new set. The list not only has great synergy, but it has a ton of powerful options that can consistently keep up with just about any deck in the game. In this guide we will break down the different parts of the build to figure out why that is.
Big Spell Mage Mulligans
When mulliganing with this deck you need to start out small. Look for all of your early minions and then only move up the curve once you feel like you get a hold on the early board. Yes, that Blizzard is great against Zoo, but without any board presence for the first five turns, you will die. Always keep Raven Familiar and Doomsayer. You want the early board, and they help you out each game. From there, Acolyte of Pain and Tar Creeper are great with the coin or a good curve. Gluttonous Ooze should be kept against weapons classes or on curve, and Dirty Rat is a must-keep against Priest. The only AOE you can even keep is a Dragon's Fury when you’re facing a swarm deck and you have the coin with a strong opening curve.
Big Spell Mage Play Strategy
Your plan against fast decks is going to be the same across all classes: clear the board. Decks like Zoo, Hunter, Tempo Rogue, and Paladin make a living off of strong early game and powerful minion interactions. Your goal to combat that should be to do everything in your power to never let them go too wide. A turn two Doomsayer is a great way to make that happen, but your endless removal does the trick as well. These are games where you need to find a balance between proactive and reactive plays. You want to get the most value out of your big clears, but you also don’t want to wait too long and fall into burst range. Every single aggro deck these days runs a wide range of fast damage, and they will kill you with it if you take too long to get on top of their boards. Always calculate your opponent’s damage potential and then adapt accordingly.
On that note, healing is extremely important in these games. You have access to both Arcane Artificer and Frost Lich Jaina, and you need to try to use both when possible. The lich queen will almost always be an instant win against faster decks. Understand that, and push to her as much as possible. Also note that Arcane Tyrant is an elemental, so having one on the turn you drop the Death Knight is instant healing. Artificer is not going to be easy to play (that one extra mana makes a big difference) so just fit him in where you can. It might seem good to wait until turn eight to use him with Flamestrike, but that won’t matter if you’re dead.
I should also mention that Tempo Mage is always going to be a rough battle for this build. Counterspell hits you extremely hard, and there is no real way to play around that. You often need to have your early minions if you’re going to have a chance. If you do make it to the later turns of the game, you should prioritize healing over everything else.
When going up against slower decks, you typically want to lean on your finishers. This deck packs the big three of Medivh, the Guardian, Frost Lich Jaina, and Dragoncaller Alanna. All of those cards do a lot of work, especially when you’re trying to slowly grind your opponent down to dust. In every game, if you have the option of becoming Frost Lich Jaina, you should. The Death Knight is the best control tool in the game right now and will allow you to create a constant stream of threats for your opponent to answer. The same rules applies to Medivh. There is almost no weapon removal in the meta, so you need to get out the Atiesh and start casting big spells as soon as possible.
The hardest part of going long is deciding when to drop Dragoncaller Alanna. For instance, while she is great against Priest because she dodges Dragonfire Potion, she also gets crushed by Shadowreaper Anduin. You should almost always wait to play her until after your opponent has used whatever card can easily deal with her. Use your other powerful finishers first to get your opponents to burn things like Brawl or Twisting Nether, and then strike. She is a great way to cap off any game, but don’t pull the trigger too early.
Remember, this is a deck that is going to slowly break people down. You are taking things slow, which means against control builds you need to take things even slower. Hoard all of your removal and only use it when your opponent gets down their bigger minions. You may want to burn a Polymorph on a Warlock’s Despicable Dreadlord to limit Bloodreaver Gul'dan value, but that then leaves you exposed to both Voidlord and Rin, the First Disciple . You can also take a few extra hits in these games. Do not get squeamish if your opponent has something and you don’t. Waiting an extra turn or two against control can really bring power to your AOE.
Big Spell Mage Card Substitutions
This list, which I am running at rank 2, is quite powerful. It is a few cards from Kibler’s, and works to do a lot of good things. However, there are also a lot of flex spots to discuss. I believe that the core “big spell” package is absolutely necessary for this to work. That means you want to run all of the removal along with Raven Familiar, Arcane Tyrant, and the three finishers. However, the numbers on those are not always going to be the same.
I personally favor double Flamestrike, though you could get away with one and pack double Meteor. You can also run two of both. Spiteful Summoner is also not completely necessary. Yes, it can do some great things against slower builds, but when you’re facing off against faster decks there are other options. If you’re seeing a lot of aggro, then I would switch them to Water Elementals, Lone Champions or Kabal Couriers (a cool inclusion in Kibler’s deck).
The two tech cards in this version are Dirty Rat and Gluttonous Ooze. Rat is for Priest, and for Warlock when you don’t have a Polymorph for Rin, the First Disciple. It also has great synergy with the AOE, and you could make the argument that this list needs another one. Ooze is just more tech against Tempo Mage. Yes, it hits Hunter and Paladin as well (a nice bonus) but it is mainly here to take down Aluneth. I like both of these cards, but they can become whatever you want. You could go with more heavy removal, or other strong tech cards like Mind Control Tech or Eater of Secrets depending on what you’re facing. There is also the idea that you could run lower costing spells in this deck. However, that is something I am largely against because it could ruin your consistency. The secret package seems good on paper, but is typically weak in practice.
About the Author
Joseph Scalise (who is totally not writing this bio) has been discussing and playing card games for more than six years now. He’s an umpteenth time legend player who has covered Hearthstone for a ton of sites since beta and loves to play all manner of different TC and CCG’s. He also loves Aggro Paladin and pizza. Especially pizza.