Our Frozen Throne (KFT) Secret Tempo Mage deck list guide will teach you how to pilot this popular deck! Our guide features mulligan, play, and card replacement strategies!
Introduction to Secret Tempo Mage
Secret Mage, one of the biggest decks of the last meta, has been quite popular over the last six months. Not only does it have a strong opening curve and powerful, efficient spells, but it also comes with a slew of finishing burst that helps it close games out. Reach is something that all aggressive decks must have, and no class has more of it than Mage. This deck builds off of its strong opening curve to try to close things out before the opponent can get fully set. Not the most original plan, but one that is fun to implement and that works quite well. While KFT did not bring too many new cards to the list, it did bring a new meta. And that is where this shines.
Secret Tempo Mage – November 2017
Secret Mage is a solid choice in a post-nerf world. This version is very popular, but a similar version that cuts Babbling Book for Bittertide Hydra. This can be helpful if you are facing a lot of Highlander Priest as they can only run Shadow Word: Death.
Secret Tempo Mage Mulligan Strategy & Guide
I’ll divide the mulligan section into two – against fast decks and against slow decks. Fast decks are generally the Aggro decks (e.g. Pirate Warrior) or high tempo Midrange decks (e.g. Midrange Hunter). Slow decks are slower Midrange and Control decks.
VS Fast Decks
- Mana Wyrm – Great at stopping 1-Health minions and can force trades out of your opponent.
- Arcanologist – You want to always be developing the board and the 3-Health on this minion can lead to 2-for-1s in your favor.
- Sorcerer's Apprentice – Not nearly as good as the other two minions, but can be useful at preventing your opponent from spreading the board.
- Babbling Book – You really want Mana Wyrm, but this can make an early trade and potentially gives you a useful spell. It’s much better if you are going first.
- Frostbolt – Good at stopping minions that can potentially get out of hand if left alone, but you are mostly looking for your early minions.
- Medivh's Valet can be kept when you need a two drop and have no other opening minions against an aggressive class like Shaman or Warrior. This is especially strong with the coin because getting something out ahead of your opponent can often be the difference between winning and losing.
- Arcane Intellect can be kept here if you have a good opening. While not good enough on its own, having extra, on-curve draw can be a great way to get ahead once you cement the board.
- Kirin Tor Mage should be kept with Arcanologist so you have a guaranteed Secret to play. Best kept when you have a 1 and 2-drop already in hand.
- Fireball, while strong, is typically too slow against faster builds. However, if you have a quick start combined with solid spells this card can be kept against aggro decks as a way to kill them before they kill you.
VS Slow Decks
- Babbling Book – Better in a slower matchup because you’ll have more of a chance to utilize the generated spell.
- Mana Wyrm – A great snowball card that demands removal if you are able to support it with spells.
- Arcanologist – Solid stats and pulls a secret out of the deck which can tempo well with Kirin Tor Mage.
- Kirin Tor Mage – Always keep this with Arcanologist because you have a guaranteed secret. You can be a little more greedy with your mulligan against slower decks.
- Sorcerer's Apprentice – Solid 2-drop that can help you snowball wins with Mana Wyrm.
- Frostbolt – Good for removing annoying minions and buffing Mana Wyrm.
- Primordial Glyph – Better to be played when you know what your playing against so you can make your pick accordingly. Against slower decks you should look for direct damage or removal for taunt minions.
- Medivh's Valet serves the same purpose as against fast decks. You should keep this card when you want to play on curve and have no other early minions to play.
- Arcane Intellect is strong against slow decks. Even so, you only want to keep it if you have early minions first. Just holding this on its own is too slow and gives your opponent too much time to set up.
- Mirror Entity is keepable if you have Kirin Tor Mage but don’t have Arcanologist. Mirror Entity is much better against slower decks that have a harder time playing around it.
- Fireball can be kept in two situations here. When you think you can end the game around turn fours and five, or when you have a strong opening and you want a way to deal with one of your opponent’s big mid-game bodies.
- Kabal Crystal Runner should always be kept against slow decks when you have a secret before it. Being able to play a secret on three and then a 5/5 on four is very strong and will give a lot of decks absolute fits.
Secret Tempo Mage Win Rates
Secret Tempo Mage Play Strategy
This is a deck where you want to play the fast tempo game. That is to say, you spend the first two or three turns cementing the board, and then you rapidly build into damage from there. This transition is not always going to be easy to see, but it is important to prioritize your damage when possible. Especially when your opponent begins to stabilize or take over the board. Unlike other fast decks (such as Aggro Paladin and Face Hunter) you are not going to blindly go face or just hit your opponent as hard as you can. Rather, you want to only play to the cards you have. If your hand is burn heavy, then go for it. If you have a good minion curve, work on protecting the board. The play styles of this deck are all the same at the core, but you want to shift from a burn to an aggro to a midrange list as much as you can. Also note that your top-end is all damage related. If you feel things slipping away do not be afraid to point everything at your opponent’s head in hopes of drawing more.
Most aggro decks these days are based around board control, so that is what you should focus on. The plan of attack against decks like Pirate Warrior, Token Shaman, Aggro Druid, and Murloc Paladin is to keep them off their early curve at all costs. This not only disrupts their synergies, but it also makes it so you can start to become the aggressor entering the mid-game. From there, you just need to make your opponent play defensively while you assemble your final burst package. That is not going to be an easy thing to do, but achieving it should always be your goal. Damage is strong, but it isn’t going to really come into play until turn four and beyond.
Always look for strong tempo plays in these games. As mentioned, most aggressive decks build off of themselves quite well. However, all it takes is for one break in that chain to set them back a few turns. If you can leverage any turn where you put down a body and remove a threat you should be ahead. Prioritize strong trades and try to make the most out of Medivh's Valet. Sorcerer's Apprentice is also very powerful when paired with removal like Frostbolt or Fireball. The last thing to note is, you have a strong finisher package that most aggressive lists don’t. There is nothing wrong with taking your time and playing the control route for a good part of the game. This can be especially helpful against decks like Shaman, whose entire value is about making things stick.
Control decks, especially greedy ones, are one of the best reasons to play Secret Mage in the current meta. The way Secret Mage builds is not easy for slower lists to deal with, especially if they have a bad or awkward turn. This deck snowballs, and any deck that snowballs in this way is going to feast on bad draws or a slow mulligan. The goal for these games is damage. Lots and lots of damage. However, as with the aggressive decks, that damage does not need to come all at once. Rather, you should spread it out and find different ways to get it to build. Leverage your board, attack face with your minions and anticipate what big taunts or healing your opponent might have. Fireball and other big burn spells are great for clearing, but those should only be used on the board when you absolutely need them. You almost always need the reach they provide.
A big part of beating the slower decks is finding damage early on. Sure, it is easy to see where to point the Fireballs and Pyroblasts, but you get a lot of mileage out of your early game. Even something as simple as a turn two Arcanologist can get two or three hits in. That’s six damage for two mana. Also try to make good use of Counterspell in the slower matches. Control or big midrange decks need their spells to control the board, and all it takes is one good counter of a piece of removal to run away with things. Just make sure you drop it after your opponent has used the coin. Beyond that, your goal should be to draw as much as you can, keep dropping threats, and do everything in your power to save your burn for the end game push.
Secret Tempo Mage Card Substitutions
Secret Mage has gotten considerably cheaper as of late so the only real card you’d need to replace is Primordial Glyph. It’s a very good card and plays in just about every Mage deck so you should strongly consider crafting it if you like the Mage class. You can run Acolyte of Pain or even Water Elemental in its place, or if you are looking for a cheap spell Arcane Missiles and Breath of Sindragosa are other options.
This deck is a bit heavy on cards from One Night in Karazhan. Firelands Portal you get free from the Prologue, but Babbling Book (semi-important) and Medivh's Valet (really important) are late in the adventure. I probably wouldn’t try to play this deck without Medivh’s Valet, but if you are desperate you could go with a more minion based build with Water Elemental and even Faceless Summoner who would be good with Bonemare!
Well, I hope you guys liked the guide. My name is Joseph Scalise (if you don’t know) and I’ve been writing for numerous Hearthstone sites for the past three years.