Our Arugal Elemental Minion Mage deck list guide will go through the ins-and-outs of the potentially viable deck from the The Witchwood Expansion! This guide will teach you how to mulligan, pilot, and substitute cards for this archetype! For now the deck guide is theorycraft, but as soon as the expansion goes live we will start updating it right away!
One of the most unique decks from Kobolds & Catacombs was undoubtedly the Spell Hunter. A class that’s normally associated with the aggressive minion pressure got support for a deck built… without any minions (or at least minion cards – spells that summon minions were still fine). It looks like Witchwood is getting another oddity in a form of… Minion Mage. As we all know, Mage is known mostly for its powerful spells and spell synergies. So why would you ever want to build a deck around minions?
That’s mainly because of the two new cards – Archmage Arugal and Book of Specters. Not only they’re quite strong individually in a deck that’s based around minions, they form a very scary combo – if you play them together and draw 3 minions, instead of drawing 3 cards, you get twice as much. Because Mage doesn’t have a strong minion shell, the most common (and probably the best) idea is to go with the Elementals. The class has some Elemental synergies and those minions can be pretty good on the curve.
Technically, “Minion Mage” doesn’t mean that you CAN’T put any spells into your deck. In fact, this build runs a few spells. You just can’t put too many – after adding 2x Book of Specters, I’d say that you don’t want to run more than 4-6 extra spells on top of that. The perfect number will most likely need to be figured out during playtesting, but I’ve decided to add only the most flexible and strong spells you might want in a deck like that. Other types of cards like Weapons and Heroes are also fine. In this case, the deck indeed runs Frost Lich Jaina, but Aluneth doesn’t really fit into this build.
Between the fact that this is a Midrange deck and that you play Elementals, the most important thing is to stay on the curve. That’s why you want to mulligan for your 1-3 mana cards, especially minions. If you face a faster deck, or a deck where early removals is necessary (e.g. they might drop a high priority minion on Turn 2-3), you might want to keep the Frostbolt too.
Of course, you also want to keep the most powerful combo in your deck Archmage Arugal and Book of Specters. Even though you might not need the hand refill so early in the game, those are the strongest cards in your deck, so you always want to get them. Also, it might give you more options if your hand is poor.
The deck should mostly play like a classic Midrange build. You want to stay on the curve and on the board – that’s most important. Remember that since your deck is filled with minions, you have no AoE cards, so your comeback potential is pretty low. That’s why you want to play for the tempo and stay on the track. Playing off-curve, skipping turns doing nothing or almost nothing etc. is not advisable. Even though you run a Frost Lich Jaina, this it NOT a control deck and you can’t take the games slowly. You want to push with the minions and refill the board whenever it gets cleared.
When it comes to running out of steam, it shouldn’t be a big problem. Not only you have your Book of Specters (potentially with Arugal), but lots of your cards generate extra value – e.g. Steam Surger, Bonfire Elemental or Servant of Kalimos. Besides the Book, Arugal can also combo nicely with Bonfire Elemental – while it won’t give you as much value, you will most likely get an extra card and possibly make your opponent’s turn awkward by forcing him to remove the 2/2 from the board.
The deck runs exactly 6 spells besides Books themselves. 2x Frostbolt and 2x Fireball are there for the early/mid game board control and potential burn damage finisher. They’re just a flexible removal/burn spells. Then, there is also Primordial Glyph, because of its flexibility. Since you can’t naturally put many spells into your deck, the Discover part of Primordial Glyph might let you choose whatever you need against the deck you face. For example, in a fast matchup you might be able to grab some AoE or a defensive spell, while against a Control deck you might get a removal for their big minion or possibly some extra burn damage. Of course, that number of spells means that you won’t always hit 3 minions from Book of Specters, but also the chance to fail (draw 1 or 0 cards) is very low. 2 or 3 draws should be the most common outcomes.
The deck’s main win condition is putting pressure with minions and refilling the board again and again. Then, after you get your opponent low enough, you can finish him with burn damage. Between 2x Frostbolt, 2x Fireball and 2x Blazecaller, the deck runs quite a lot of potential damage from the hand.
One card that deserves an extra mention is Leyline Manipulator. The fact that it’s a 4/5 Elemental for 4 mana is almost enough to already put it into the deck, but it can get lots of extra tempo in the right circumstances. In this build, it can discount the 1/2 token from Fire Fly, cards generated by Primordial Glyph, second and third form of Pyros, Flame Geyser from Steam Surger and Elemental discovered from Servant of Kalimos. But probably the best play is dropping it after performing the Arugal + Book combo. All of the cards generated by Arugal haven’t started in your deck, meaning that you will get a 2 mana discount on each one of them, potentially leading to some crazy tempo plays.
Alternatively, if your main game plan fails, you can try to go for a longer game with Frost Lich Jaina. Even if you don’t necessarily play a Control deck, you can still get lots of value from this card. It’s also a great win condition in Aggro matchups if you managed to survive until Turn 9. At this point, you should have a bunch of Elementals on the board, so you’re not only gaining 5 points of Armor, but also give your Elementals Lifesteal, most likely gaining at least a few extra points of health (and most likely sealing the game in your favor).
This build is heavily experimental – we haven’t seen anything like that before. There are a lot of ways to approach this theme from the deck building perspective. You can, for example, go for a more aggressive build, possibly even Murloc Aggro Mage (although that might not work too well, because Mage has no Murloc synergies). You can try running no spells at all, with two books being the only spells in the entire deck. Or you can just try out the Book of Specters in a deck with even more spells – even if you will draw 2 on average, it will still be a more efficient version of Arcane Intellect. It means that this build will likely need a lot more adjusting before being viable, if it will be viable at all without getting more synergy in the future.