Turtle Mage Deck List & Guide – Scholomance Academy – September 2020

Turtle Mage Deck List & Guide – Scholomance Academy – September 2020

Our Turtle Mage deck list guide goes through the ins-and-outs of this new board-locking Mage deck in Scholomance Academy! This guide will teach you how to mulligan, pilot, and substitute cards for this archetype!

Introduction to Turtle Mage

Sometimes cards from different expansions produce unexpected results when combined. Turtle Mage, or Tortollan Mage, is a brand new archetype from Scholomance Academy that was made possible by the combination of Tortollan Pilgrim from Saviors of Uldum and Potion of Illusion from Scholomance Academy.

When you build a deck with only three different spells in it, Tortollan Pilgrim will always allow you to choose between them when played, and Potion of Illusion allows you to chain one-cost Tortollan Pilgrims over and over again. In practice, the deck uses Blizzard and Frost Nova as the other two spells, which means that Turtle Mage can make copies of their minions and freeze the opponent’s board almost endlessly. Once the combo begins, it is almost impossible for minions to touch the Turtle Mage player ever again and Turtle Mage’s minions will slowly grind out the health of their hapless victim.

There are some caveats included. Turtle Mage is a deck that relies on not drawing some of its key cards: for example, should you draw both copies of Potion of Illusion, you can no longer chain one-cost Tortollan Pilgrims. That said, the deck has a number of tools to help prevent unwanted draws and you rarely need to chain Tortollan Pilgrims for more than a few turns anyway, so you are able to do the things you want in most of the games. The main vulnerabilities of the deck are fast aggro decks that could not care less about some eight-cost minion you might have in your deck and OTK combo decks that do not care about having their board frozen. Anything in between is ripe for turtling.

Turtle Mage Deck List

Deck Import

Check out alternative versions of this deck on our Turtle Mage archetype page!

Turtle Mage Mulligan Strategy & Guide

VS Fast Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Violet Spellwing – One-drop that also gives you a cheap removal spell.
  • Wandmaker – Cheap early-game minion that gives you a spell.
  • Astromancer Solarian – Cheap early-game minion with a potential upside later in the game.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

VS Slow Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

Turtle Mage Play Strategy

As Turtle Mage, you are slowly chipping your opponent to death. Sure, you have a sweet combo with Tortollan Pilgrim and Potion of Illusion that allows you to chain one-cost Tortollan Pilgrims time and again, but you can also win without it. All that you really need is some minions on the board and some freezes to prevent the opponent from responding, and then you chip away their health from there.

The signature way to win is still the board-locking combo. When you play Tortollan Pilgrim, you get to cast a copy of either Potion of IllusionFrost Nova, or Blizzard. You can start at eight mana, where you can play a single Tortollan Pilgrim that casts Potion of Illusion so that you will have a one-cost Tortollan Pilgrim in your hand for the following turn. That one-cost minion can then be chained with more Potion of Illusions and some freezes to get a handful of Tortollans while freezing the opponent’s board.

Much of the time, however, you cannot afford to essentially do nothing on turn eight, so you need to work on your survival on that turn and then go off with the combo either on turn nine of turn ten, depending on whether you have drawn one Tortollan or both of them. With one Tortollan Pilgrim and ten mana, you can make a copy, then make two copies, and then freeze the board while still retaining a single one-cost copy in hand.

You can do a lot more than just bounce some Tortollans around on your combo turns. The most direct threat you have is Sunreaver Warmage, which only works if you’re holding a Blizzard or a random expensive spell. You can make multiple one-cost copies of the Warmage and shoot things, including face. You can also make copies of Jandice Barov for more threats, Khartut Defender for defense and healing, and Wand Thief or Wandmaker for additional resources. You need to watch your hand size and board because it is easy to run out of space on both once you have the combo in place: trade away minions that you do not want and make sure that you have enough space in your hand and on your board for your Tortollan Pilgrims.

The choice of freeze spell depends on the situation: if you want to keep your opponent’s minions where they are, use Frost Nova. Many decks cannot do anything if they have no board space, and in such cases, you do not want to create any for them. If you want to get through or clear the board, use Blizzard. Sometimes, it is less risky to just destroy the board instead of freezing it.

Your worst nightmare is drawing both copies of Potion of Illusion. Sometimes you can still make it work, especially if you manage to hold on to some kind of a board, and can make copies of good Battlecry minions, even if you can only do it twice in the entire game. Luckily, you have multiple tools to control your draws: Sphere of Sapience is a powerful tool that can send unwanted cards to the bottom of your deck, especially your spells, and the real star of the deck is Lorekeeper Polkelt.

Lorekeeper Polkelt can rearrange your deck so that the most expensive cards are on top. Polkelt is an excellent tool for drawing Tortollan Pilgrim exactly when you want it: you can grab it for turn eight if things are calm and you have time, or you can take it for turn nine and ten if things are a bit more hectic. If you can equip Sphere of Sapience before Polkelt, you can send the eventual spells to the bottom for a lot of Tortollan Pilgrim goodness. However, often you do not find both cards, in which case it is completely fine to play Lorekeeper Polkelt without Sphere of Sapience. You know how many draws you have until you get to your four-mana cards and the Potion of Illusions, so you can plan ahead and have enough turns with Tortollan Pilgrims to win the game. Even after you’ve hit both Potion of Illusions, there is still some more time until you’re out of Frost Novas, and your supply of one-cost Pilgrims should easily last long enough to use them.

Note that any effect that shuffles the deck after Lorekeeper Polkelt can mess up your plans. Bomb Warrior is the worst in this regard because their bombs reshuffle the deck every time a new one is sent in. You can also shuffle your own deck by having Astromancer Solarian die after you use Polkelt. You usually do not want that to happen.

VS Aggro Decks

Against aggressive decks, your main goal is to survive. If you can withstand their initial onslaught and get to your Tortollan Pilgrims, you should be able to get out of reach with endless freezes and Khartut Defenders or Earthen Ring Farseers. If the opponent uses weapons or other Hero attacks, Frozen Shadoweaver can keep the Hero locked as well.

Use your resources liberally in the early game. Violet Spellwing and Wandmaker can give you crucial cheap spells to activate Firebrand, and dropping an Imprisoned Observer on the board can help against Stealth minions. Jandice Barov on curve can help you contest the board, and sometimes ends up just winning the game. Any freeze effects that you draw can be used to delay the opponent and potentially push in damage even without ever seeing a Tortollan Pilgrim.

VS Control Decks

Against slower decks, you can pay more attention to finding your combo pieces to chew them up with repeated freezes or with Sunreaver Warmage. In these matchups, hand space and board space are your most important assets: you want to clear your hand of unessential cards so that you can make several copies of game-winning cards with Potion of Illusion when you reach your combo turns. If those cards end up generating enough tempo to win the game, that’s fine too.

You still play your early-game cards much in the same way as against aggro decks, but your mulligan is different as you focus on the combo pieces instead of survival tools.

Turtle Mage Card Substitutions

The expensive cards in Turtle Mage come in three forms: the vital combo pieces, almost as vital support, and less mandatory support pieces. All of the expensive cards support the combo in some way, but some of them can nonetheless be replaced.

  • Tortollan Pilgrim and Potion of Illusion are the key combo pieces without which the deck cannot be built. Lorekeeper Polkelt is not strictly mandatory, but in practice, it is one of the best cards in the deck and cannot effectively be replaced.
  • Jandice Barov is a sweet value engine with the combo or on curve, but she can be replaced.
  • Sphere of Sapience improves your draws and allows you to send combo pieces to the bottom of your deck for more uses, but a few turns of the combo is usually enough, so it is by no means mandatory.
  • Astromancer Solarian gives you a sweet late-game win condition in her Prime form, but you can win games without her as well.

There are no direct replacements for any of the expensive cards. The ones that can be replaced are simply substituted with other good cards for the archetype that do not necessarily perform the exact same role in the deck. You can add second copies of some of the cards that are otherwise run as singletons, or you can add other useful Battlecry effects that can help you survive and improve your combo turns.

Old Guardian

Ville "Old Guardian" Kilkku is a writer and video creator focused on analytic, educational Hearthstone, and building innovative Standard format decks. Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/OldGuardian Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/old_guardian

Check out Old Guardian on Twitter or on their Website!

Leave a Reply


  1. MojoPogo
    September 29, 2020 at 11:54 am

    rest in peace to my favorite deck

  2. Percival
    September 18, 2020 at 7:42 am

    I love the suggestion of running an Elek and a Broom to remedy drawing both Potions. And I hadn’t thought about how Boompistol Bully could thwart the priest’s Mindrender Illucia deck-swap, so thanks for those outstanding tips!

    I saw a great Turtle Mage tactic in the recent master’s tournament against Bomb warrior: Eddie had a Sphere of Sapience equipped, and kept his hand at 10 cards. Whenever a potion or freeze came up that he wanted to keep, he’d send it back to his deck; otherwise, he’d let the overdraw happen, which burns bombs without detonating them.

    I’ve had a lot of fun with Malygos and Raz in my deck: while it adds a bit more complexity, it’s way more satisfying. With one of each on the board, suddenly you’re doing 6 damage to face and every enemy minion PER TURN until those minions are removed. Two Malys and three Raz do 11 damage three times per turn for a total of 33 damage per turn. That and a ping is enough to take out a Colossus of the Moon in one turn. Got a warrior or druid with tons of armor and big minions? No problem.

    • Vayley
      September 20, 2020 at 5:34 am

      Note that if u do it without a broom or enough mana (3 + 1 + 4 + 1 for freeze (and 1 more if ur tortollan is used)), you might be in trouble if the elekk sucks in additional spells or got sapped/silenced.

      The fun part about this deck is looking at your hand and thinking two turns ahead every turn.

      Against Priest, boompistol isn’t the best against Illucia, considering it can still be played for 8 mana (3 + 5), destroying at least 2 of your 1-cost tortollans. So the best thing you can do against priest is still having an 8-cost Tortollan, otherwise playing 2 boom pistol works too (try to have broom). Note that opponent minions must be used to your advantage, so sometimes NOVA is better than Blizzard.

      Against warrior, it is a good strategy to have a full hand. A better strategy would be to spam 1-cost 1-1 khartut defenders (heals 3 per death, whereas bombs deal 5 and is limited in quantity.

      Malygos and Raz style is an interesting twist, no doubt. With those 2, you can go without crocolisk. However, Malygos is played at 9 cost, so u can only play 1 just a tortollan . It has a chance of being removed and if it did get removed, your option left is to deal 1 dmg per Raz. I’d prefer a stable OG style instead. Against mirror, boompistol and crocolisk are more dependent as well. No doubt Malygos and Raz combination is satisfying tho!

  3. Hawk819
    September 17, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Ville, the problem with Mulligan for me, is telling what kind of deck I’ll be facing.

    I’m still learning how to Mulligan, and it’s rather tough.

    However, as for this deck, I’m going to give this a try.

    • Vayley
      September 17, 2020 at 11:58 am

      Actually, tortollan is a 10/10 must-keep in any match ups for me. There’d be games where u would last until turn 8/9/10 without drawing tortollan is just devastating. Another weakness of this deck is card draws.

      Even in aggro match ups, you can rely on your other cards to survive until turn 8 (then play tortollan for a 1/1 copy or blizzard [if you have to survive and have another tortollan in hand/potion in hand]).

      Against aggro, they have limited potential for damage. your best bet would be to make many copies of khartut defender using the combo (while freezing and hero power-ing/trading your khartut for health). I’d run mine with doomsayers as it goes well with frost nova and good against aggro decks too.

      Worst match up will probably be against bomb warrior for obvious reason. It’s not impossible but your win rate can be as low as 10%. Make sure to focus on surviving (ie. khartut spams).

      Additional tip: The thing about tortollan mage is the unreliability of drawing 2x potion. This means that your game might end on turn 1 if you drew both at the start, even after mulligan. A way to save this is an elekk in your deck. I like to run mine with a broom, so I could elekk -> broom -> potion -> charge the elekk to make him die, tortollan comes back with potion now. Running an elekk can also save u from drawing your entire deck, as you can simply shuffle spells into your deck forever. There are games where my crocolisk died and I had to burn my opponent with 1-1 minions, hero power, or let him draw to death.

      my deck code: ### Altnnoying
      # Class: Mage
      # Format: Standard
      # Year of the Phoenix
      # 1x (1) Animated Broomstick
      # 1x (1) Sphere of Sapience
      # 2x (1) Wand Thief
      # 1x (2) Acidic Swamp Ooze
      # 2x (2) Doomsayer
      # 2x (2) Wandmaker
      # 1x (3) Educated Elekk
      # 2x (3) Firebrand
      # 2x (3) Frost Nova
      # 2x (3) Overconfident Orc
      # 1x (4) Lorekeeper Polkelt
      # 1x (4) Maiev Shadowsong
      # 2x (4) Potion of Illusion
      # 2x (5) Boompistol Bully
      # 1x (5) Jandice Barov
      # 2x (6) Blizzard
      # 2x (6) Khartut Defender
      # 1x (8) Pit Crocolisk
      # 2x (8) Tortollan Pilgrim
      # To use this deck, copy it to your clipboard and create a new deck in Hearthstone

      • Vayley
        September 17, 2020 at 12:06 pm

        do also note 2 mechanics rather unique to this deck.
        1) Lorekeeper changes your deck to highest cost -> lowest. However, if a card get shuffled into your deck, lorekeeper’s effect will be undone (another reason why we suck against bomb warrior). This is why I don’t run solarian in my deck, it shuffles and ruin the lorekeeper order if u play it after playing lorekeeper. The deck is RNG-heavy enough as well. It’s a decent card but you should only play it as a last resort.

        2) Sphere of sapience is possibly the best legendary for the deck. It increased my win rate whenever I have it on turn 1. It inserts the card you draw to the BOTTOM of the deck. However, if you’ve drawn 1 potion already, try not to insert whatever card you’ve drawn to the bottom as you might draw your 2nd potion doing so.

        • Vayley
          September 17, 2020 at 12:11 pm

          highly recommend running 1-2 copies of boompistol (depending on how popular this deck is)

          Boompistol is your way to win your own matchup. Whoever has the coin usually win in this case). It works very well against rogue who runs flik to counter you, too (they can’t play a 12-costs flik)

          Against Priests with the legendary that swap hand and deck, make sure 1 of your tortollan is 8-cost. This way, they can’t ruin your combo. Of course, if galakrond gives them a 2nd copy, it’d be ruined anyway. To solve this, make sure your opponent’s board is constantly full (nova instead of blizzard).