Our Tempo Mage deck list guide for The Boomsday Project 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. 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.
Boomsday Project version of the deck is a bit all over the place. It has some spell synergies, some Secret synergies, some Spell Damage, and still lots of burn. The deck is no longer as good as it was last year, but it’s still possible to climb with it. While it mostly loses to other Aggro decks, it’s good at punishing slow, greedy lists that have very slow first turns.
Also check out our Wild Secret Mage Deck Guide!
Boomsday Project 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)
- Mana Wyrm – One of the best 1-drops (if not THE best 1-drop) in the game right now, 1/3 alone is good enough against Aggro decks, and the card can really snowball out of control very quickly.
- 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.
- 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 or Explosive Runes – With Kirin Tor Mage. While you prefer to get those from Arcanologist, a T3 Kirin Tor + Secret tempo swing is what you really need. Keep in mind that Counterspell is generally much worse if your opponent is on the Coin – in that case you might decide to drop it, since Countering a Coin is pretty useless.
- Stargazer Luna – Keep in slow matchups. They won’t always have a way to clear it, and if they do, they might not have an answer for your Mana Wyrm, Sorcerer’s Apprentice or Cosmic Anomaly. You run so many high priority removal targets that it might stick, and if it doesn’t, then it might mean that your other minion is still on the board.
- 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 hard-mulligan for 1-drop into 2-drop into 3-drop – the reason is that you can’t fall behind in those matchups. Tempo Mage is not a very board-based deck. Without big AoE clears, it might have hard time coming back into the game after another deck, such as Odd Paladin, takes over the board.
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.
Against the decks flooding the board with lots of small minions, such as Odd Paladin and – to a certain extent – Zoo Warlock, cards such as 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 Mana Wyrm or Apprentice, 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.
Mana Wyrm is, again, the best card you can have in the early game. Lots of decks might not have a way to deal with a 1 mana 3 health minion, and it can snowball out of control very quickly. If you follow it with 3 cheap spells, it’s a 1 mana 4/3 already, with a potential to grow further. If your opponent won’t find an answer, it can carry the game by itself. However, other minions are also good – especially Kirin Tor Mage, which not only has a solid body for the mana cost, but gives you a lot of tempo by playing a Secret for free. The best case scenario is going second, opening with a Mana Wyrm into Coin + Kirin Tor + Counterspell. Not only you have two strong minions on the board (on Turn 2!), but your opponent can’t remove them with spells OR proc the Counterspell with Coin.
Mana Addict acts like a sort of a third Mana Wyrm. It’s generally weaker, because the Attack gain is not permanent, but it gains +2 per spell instead of +1. That’s why the best use is to drop it in the mid/late game before a big burn turn and hope that your opponent won’t be able to answer it (he might be out of removals already, or be busy healing/gaining Armor, for example). If you combo it with just 3 spells, you get 6 extra Attack (for 7 in total) – a big Mana Addict punch can give you lethal. But realistically, it’s mostly a filler card – it’s great if you stick it, but it will usually just die the turn you play it.
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 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 Mana Wyrm or Arcane Anomaly 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 or Mirror Entity. 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.
- Celestial Emissary – Most of the time, it will be a 2 mana 2/1 that deals 2 extra damage (because you will upgrade one spell). However, it can come handy against Aggro, because you can combo it with Shooting Star or at least Arcane Missiles for more board control.
- 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.