Our Tempo Mage deck list guide for Rastakhan’s Rumble expansion features one of the top lists for this archetype. This Tempo Mage guide includes Mulligan Strategy, Gameplay Tips, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!
Introduction to Tempo Mage
Tempo Mage is one of the old Hearthstone archetypes, which was present through the game’s history in many different forms. The deck first gained notoriety after Blackrock Mountain was released. That adventure has added Flamewaker to the game, which in turn made a Tempo Mage lists based around it + a bunch of cheap spells a thing. Later, after Flamewaker has already rotated out, Blizzard has been pushing Secret synergies for the Mage, which revived it again during Year of the Mammoth. It played many Secret synergies to gain a lot of free early game tempo, and then burn cards as a finisher. However, since most of those Secret synergies have rotated out, the Raven version of Tempo Mage is going back to its roots – aggressive deck built around lots and lots of burn cards.
Sadly for Tempo Mage fans, Blizzard has decided to nerf Mana Wyrm in the middle of Boomsday Project, increasing its cost from 1 to 2. While it didn’t completely “kill” the deck, given that Wyrm was one of the strongest cards in the deck and the main way for the early snowball wins, the deck has suffered since then.
Players have tried to bring it back in Rastakhan’s Rumble, but so far without a lot of success. The deck works, especially at the lower ranks, but it’s still just a shadow of its former self.
Also check out our Wild Secret Mage Deck Guide!
Rastakhan’s Rumble Tempo Mage Deck List
Check out alternative versions of this deck on our Tempo Mage archetype page!
Tempo Mage Mulligan Strategy & Guide
The deck’s mulligan is pretty similar in every matchup, so I’m not going to divide it into two sections like I usually do.
High Priority (Keep every time)
- Arcanologist – Best 2-drop in this deck – 2/3 for 2 are solid stats and it fetches you a Secret on top of that.
- Sorcerer's Apprentice – While it’s worse than Arcanologist by itself, the deck runs lots of cheap spells, which have great combo with Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
- Spellzerker – Worst of your 2-drops, but you absolutely want to have something to play on the curve, so if you don’t have one of the two cards above, keep it.
- Kirin Tor Mage – Of course, ideally you’d want to play Kirin Tor with Secret, but it’s your best 3-drop no matter what. If you end up with Secret to play on curve, that’s great, but even if you don’t, you prefer playing it over skipping your turn.
Low Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Counterspell / Explosive Runes – Keep only if you have Kirin Tor Mage, but DON’T have Arcanologist to draw Secret from. Counterspell is generally better if your opponent starts first and has no Coin, Runes are better if he has Coin (he will often “waste” it to check for Counterspell) OR against decks that are very light on spells (like Zoo Warlock).
- Aluneth – Keep in slower matchups, while you will sacrifice some early game tempo by having a 6 mana card in your hand, it’s THE most important card in your deck against those decks.
Tempo Mage Play Strategy
When it comes to the Aggro matchups, curve is most important. You really want to start with a 2-drop into a 3-drops. The fact that you can’t open with a 1-drop (since Mana Wyrm was nerfed) already puts you behind, and you absolutely can’t fall behid in those matchups, because you will have a very hard time catching up. Tempo Mage is not a very board-based deck. Without big AoE clears, decks such as Odd Paladin just win once they take over the board in the early/mid game.
The only AoE card you run is Shooting Star. While it’s a bit lackluster by itself (it’s still useful in certain situations, but won’t likely win you the game), the card might get insane value in the mid game. If you can combine it with Arcane Anomaly, then it’s 3x 3 damage for just 1 mana. You can easily clear 2-3 minions and then still have a 4/3 with Spell Damage on the board, a very high priority target for your opponent. Alternatively, it can also be combined with Spellzerker. Either you play it on the curve and run into something to damage, or you play it with Hero Power on Turn 4. While it’s literally an inferior Anomaly then, you can still do it if you really need those 3 AoE damage.
Against the decks flooding the board with lots of small minions, such as Odd Paladin and – to a certain extent – Zoo Warlock, cards like Arcane Missiles or Cinderstorm can come handy. The worst thing about them is the RNG – sometimes perfect Missiles/Cinderstorm are a full board clear, but then 1 or 2 pings hit face and you neither dealt damage to your opponent nor cleared the board. Those also have some Spell Damage scaling, although not as much as Shooting Star. Arcane Missiles in particular can be a good play with Arcane Anomaly – it basically turns it into a 1 mana Cinderstorm.
Given that this deck is low on minions, at one point it will be impossible to keep the board control. You will need to switch your game plan to burn damage. If you had a good start, it means that you should have dealt at least some damage already. Then, if you still have minions on the board, try to protect them with the spells. If you don’t – go face with your spells as much as possible, clear only the highest priority minions (or use cards like Missiles/Cindestorm to clear). At this point, it’s the matter of whether you can kill your opponent before he kills you – it heavily depends on how much health he has, what cards you draw etc.
With Ice Block gone, you no longer have a way to stall the game for an extra turn – remember about that. However, Primordial Glyph can still give you a way to buy an extra turn, or even clear the board. Ice Barrier might prevent lethal and buy you a turn, same goes for Frost Nova. Getting a Blizzard or Flamestrike can just clear the board and buy you even more time. Picking AoE from Glyph is usually the right choice in the fast matchups.
Games vs Control are very different from games against Aggro. This time around, you don’t have to worry about board control. I mean, you still kind of do in the early game – e.g. if Frostbolt on their 2-drop might protect your small minion, and that’s great. But the general game plan is actually quite the opposite – you want to deal as much face damage as possible with your early game minions and then finish the game with burn spells.
I’ll mention it again, but sadly, with Mana Wyrm being nerfed, it’s much harder to deal early game damage with minions. Mana Wyrm alone could push A LOT of damage if not answered immediately. Right now, you mostly have to rely on your 2-drops. Having 2 on Turn 2 is absolutely necessary. You can’t win the games with just burn, so you need to get that minion damage in. The only minion that you might want to keep for the late game is Mana Addict. It’s like a delayed powerful burn card – when it works, it can really win you the game. For every spell you cast, it adds 2 extra damage, meaning that casting 3 spells adds 6 damage, for example. Since it’s only a 1/3 body, it can be answered quite easily, but still – if you manage to stick it, it can help you a lot. Spellzerker is also an interesting case. Ideally, you’d want to drop it early and trigger its effect by trading into something, but it won’t happen that often vs Control (they will likely remove it, they don’t want you to have +2 Spell Damage). But you can use it in the late game to deal some extra burn damage. For 4 mana, you can play it and ping it, adding +2 Spell Damage. It’s basically like playing a worse Arcane Anomaly, but hey, it can be effective sometimes. The best way to use it is to play it and ping it in the late game and then follow up by a few burn cards. E.g. if you play 2x Arcane Missiles + Frostbolt, those three deal 15 damage in total (6 of it added by Spellzerker).
The general rule when it comes to play Secrets is that your opponent is on Coin, you prefer to play the Explosive Runes – he will check for Counterspell with the Coin most of the time anyway. Counterspell is better when your opponent starts with no Coin (or has used it already) and you have a solid board, preferably right before a board clear. Let’s say that you face Even Warlock and you’re going into his Turn 4. He has no Coin. It’s a perfect time to set up a Counterspell, since he will now no longer be able to Hellfire the board away.
Unlike versus Aggro, when you play against a slower deck, Arcane Missiles and Cinderstorm aren’t exactly used for the board control – they are very efficient burn cards when played on the empty board. Arcane Missiles deals 3 damage for 1 mana, while Cinderstorm deals 5 for 3. They get even better if you have Spell Damage on the board. Because you want to use them as burn, ideally you want to play them before other burn cards – later in the game your opponent might have a board and they might not even hit him.
MVP of the slower matchups is definitely Aluneth. Thanks to this card, instead of drawing 1 per turn, you draw 4 per turn, meaning that you will never really run out of cards. After you use Aluneth, you no longer have to be efficient. Hero Power? What is that? You play as many cards as you can as quickly as you can. Try to not burn any cards, but don’t worry if you do – burning one or two is pretty common when you draw so many. After Aluneth, try to close out the game as quickly as possible – use your extra resources to burn your opponent. Remember that you have limited time – not only your opponent is most likely building a board of his own already (and you have no Ice Block to stall for an extra turn), but you will get to fatigue really quickly. Even if you play Aluneth on Turn 6, very early into the game, it will take only about 5 turns to hit fatigue, so you don’t have much time.
Since you run out of cards very quickly, you want to find Aluneth as fast as possible, or at least get some more resources. That’s where Arcane Intellect and Stargazer Luna come handy. AI is the most basic card draw out there – you get 2 cards for 3 mana (so +1 card advantage). Luna is a bit more interesting. The best time to drop her is with at least a single cheap card on the right side of your hand. E.g. play Luna + Mana Wyrm (from the right side of your hand) on T4, not only you create some board, force your opponent to clear, but also draw a card. Since half of the deck costs 1-2 mana, it’s very likely that if you’re on let’s say 6 or 7 mana, you will draw more than 1. Luna is not as good after you’ve already played Aluneth, but it can still speed up the draws a bit if you need it.
Tempo Mage Card Substitutions
For the most part, Tempo Mage is a rather inexpensive deck. The deck still works quite well when played on the budget, but there are some cards that you might not have.
- Aluneth – I’d say that this is one of the most important cards in this deck. Without it, you will lose lots and lots of matches, especially slower ones. You run out of cards very quickly, and you will often end up a turn or two short of killing your opponent. Aluneth gives you that extra steam you need to finish the game.
- Stargazer Luna – Not as important as Aluneth. She’s a nice source of card draw and a body on the board, but you will rarely draw more than 2 cards with her, because she usually dies right away.
- Primordial Glyph – Pretty good, flexible spell. It can give you whatever you need in the given situation – e.g. board clear vs Aggro or more burn vs Control. Still, not necessary for the deck to function.
And here are the cards you can replace them with:
- Secrets – A second copy of Counterspell, Mirror Entity or Splitting Image (if you’ve opened it). Well, you can’t really go wrong with putting the 4th Secret into the deck. I wouldn’t really go past that, because the deck hasn’t got enough Secret synergies for it to be worth.
- Fire Fly – It will be helpful against Aggro decks, a higher chance to get 1-drop means a lower chance to fall behind in the early game. Alternatively, you can try another 1-drop such as Argent Squire or Dire Mole, but I think that Fire Fly is the best one.
- Black Cat – Yes, in this deck, without the Odd synergy. It’s not optimal, but it gives you Spell Damage + it’s a 3-drop, and this deck suffers from the lack of 3-drops. Playing a Secret (without Kirin Tor) or Arcane Intellect is often a very weak Turn 3 play, and this way you could at least put a minion on the board.