Our Budget Tempo Mage deck list guide for the Rise of Shadows expansion will teach you how to play this budget list. This guide includes Mulligans, Gameplay Strategy, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!
Introduction to Budget Tempo Mage
Tempo Mage decks use efficient spells and minions to gain advantage on board early, and then finish off the opponent with direct damage spells like Frostbolt and Fireball. While not the staple competitive option it was for budget players prior to the nerf to Mana Wyrm, the deck is reasonable enough to complete Mage quests and grind out wins for the golden Hero portrait by farming opposing board-centric strategies.
Rise of Shadows Update
Rise of Shadows includes an interesting Tempo Mage card in Magic Dart Frog. Along with cheap, multi-iteration spells Magic Trick and Ray of Frost, this provides a new board control package reminiscent of the Flamewaker days.
Budget Tempo Mage Mulligan Guide
These are the lowest cost minions in the deck, and thus the earliest way to get on board. Magic Dart Frog is the star of the deck against aggro, and is thus good to have as early as possible. Sorcerer’s Apprentice lets you accelerate your spells and combos very well with Magic Dart Frog. Your early spells are made much more effective by Spell Damage, and so your Spell Damage minions are good to have early as well.
All your early minions are meant to couple with cheap spells, so if you already have some to play, then you want to keep spells to use with them. Which spells you keep depends on what type of deck you’re up against. Shooting Star and Arcane Missiles are better against early minions, and Magic Trick is better against slower strategies.
Budget Tempo Mage Play Strategy
This deck tries to keep opposing minions off the board by enhancing cheap spells with Spell Damage and other effects. By continually clearing the opposing board of minions, your minions are able to chip away at your opponent’s life total unchallenged until your opponent is in range of your burn spells.
This deck really shines against aggro if it gets going, as almost every card in the deck either is removal or enhances removal. Of the removal enhancers, Magic Dart Frog is just about the best against aggro, pinging an enemy minion every time you play a spell. Unlike Flamewaker, Magic Dart Frog always hits a minion, so its damage is much more predictable. Token Druid is a fairly popular deck right now, and this frog eats it for breakfast. While in many situations not as good, your Spell Damage minions also make your early spells more powerful board clears, most notably in the case of Shooting Star. Once you’ve whittled your opponent down enough you can finish them off with some Spell Damage boosted burn spells.
Against control you will have less minions to remove and thus each of your spells will go a bit farther, but these types of decks tend to be less minion reliant. Once you’ve accumulated a few Spell Damage minions you can hit the enemy Hero hard with Frostbolt and Fireball if they are slow versions of classes like Warlock and Mage, but there’s a chance you might have to write off the control Warrior matchup entirely. If you get enough momentum early on you might be able to beat them, but they have a lot of armor gain and once they play Dr. Boom, Mad Genius many of their minions will gain Rush, preventing you from ever sticking your own fragile minions.
Future Card Replacements for Budget Tempo Mage
This deck doesn’t really build into a meta deck right now, but there are some more expensive cards that are worth including if you already have them.
- Leeroy Jenkins – Odds are if you’ve been playing for a while this card is already in your collection. This gives you another out to finish the game, and has some synergy with Shooting Star and Magic Dart Frog.
- Stargazer Luna – Stargazer Luna fits right into this deck, filling the void left by Aluneth. If you don’t have a lot of dust you might not want to craft a legendary that can only be used in this deck right now, but if Tempo Mage becomes top tier at any point in the next year Stargazer Luna will be a part of it.
- Mana Cyclone – You get decent value from this card if you get even one spell off of it, but the way this deck is built you’re likely to get more.
- Archmage Antonidas – Antonidas turns your tiny, insignificant spells into Fireballs, which is great for closing out games.
- Pyroblast – This deck is definitely looking for more burn spells and Pyroblast is a fat one. You probably don’t want more than one because it costs so much, but if you have one it’s worth including.
- Bloodmage Thalnos – Everyone’s favorite little Spell Damage card. Not only does Thalnos provide a little Spell Damage, but he also draws a card when he dies.
- Khadgar and Unexpected Results – This deck has a bunch of Spell Damage, so if you want to meme you can add Khadgar and Unexpected Results. It wouldn’t be a complete waste if you’re wanting to work on a better Mage deck, as Khadgar is played in just about all of them right now.
- Arcane Watcher and Spellbook Binder – These cards have some fairly strong Spell Damage synergy, the problem is the first cards I would cut to put them in are the surplus Spell Damage minions. They are a common and a rare though, so you don’t lose much if you want to experiment with them.
You could also opt for a Secret-based build if you don’t like the Spell Damage package. Mage Secrets are in a relatively mediocre position right now because we don’t have anything like Mad Scientist/Arcanologist to cheaply grab them, and we’re back down to Counterspell and Mirror Entity for useful Secrets to play. However, with two Kirin Tor Mage, two of each of the aforementioned Secrets, and two of the new Sunreaver Spy you have a pretty good amount of Secret synergy that can be more effective against slower strategies. While I would otherwise say there aren’t enough Secrets worth playing to justify Secretkeeper, Secret Paladin has a pretty decent list right now and Secretkeeper is a soft counter to it.