Elements and Secrets – Madness at the Darkmoon Fair Mage Deck Theorycrafts

Mage’s class cards from the latest set laid out a fairly clear direction in terms of potential archetypes, but there are also some old unexplored directions that are worth considering again with the set’s exciting new goodies. Though there’s less randomly generated random to work with this time around, there’s always Yogg to spice things up…

Elemental Mage

Elementals never really had a chance to shine so far in Hearthstone as far as tribal synergies are concerned, as past Mage decks involving such cards were more about the “Frost Lich Jaina and 29 other cards” identity rather than a hard lean into chaining these cards turn after turn into a strong curve. There are a lot of potential tempo bombs this time around if you play your cards right, and with a bit of spell generation thrown into the mix, you will always have a chance to draw that inside straight. It’s a very different approach than the past Elemental builds, which were much slower and grindy in nature.

Overused poker references aside, the thrust of this build is to leverage a potential Mana Giant payoff turn alongside the on-curve Elemental turns. Confection Cyclone completes the Elemental Allies sidequest by itself but also reduces the cost of your Mana Giants by two. The second half of Ray of Frost, the deathrattle of Violet Spellwing, the battlecry of Steward of Scrolls, any mileage you can squeeze out of Mana Cyclone: they all work in tandem towards that backbreaking extra pile of stats on the curve at some point during the game, potentially leading into an even greater Grand Finale or Animated Avalanche payoff on the following turn even if your opponent can respond to the initial threat.

Secret Mage

There are tons of Secret synergy cards in Madness at the Darkmoon Fair, and Mages have a long and storied history of aggressive decks involving question marks and tempo cheating. The real question about such builds was always whether they are able to consistently reload once they run dry by turn five. Past answers included Coldlight Oracle and Aluneth to varying degrees of degeneracy. This time, the burden is shared across multiple cards in the build – and if the cycling aspect is strong enough, this archetype could be a real contender once again. We think there’s definitely enough support here to work with.

This time, it’s a combination of Rigged Faire Game and Sayge, Seer of Darkmoon that are responsible for refilling your hand, with Apexis Smuggler and Ring Toss serving as additional card generation tools. To ensure that all the cheap Secret synergy minions (Apexis Smuggler, Arcane Flakmage and Game Master) made it in the deck, Sorcerer's Apprentice had to step aside – its secondary use as a curve card in a tempo deck is taken care of by the aforementioned cards, and the spell discount aspect would be negligible in a deck like this. Inconspicuous Rider replaces Kirin Tor Mage thanks to its superior effect as it makes it more likely that you can curve into Occult Conjurer. With a decent number of big cards to work with, there’s a risk you whiff on Kirin Tor Mage’s Battlecry even on curve, which is definitely something you want to avoid.

Just keep in mind that it won’t be the Secrets that ultimately win you the game: based on past experience, it’s the pretty damn overt Fireballs to the face that make the opponents explode.

Spell Mage

Who needs minions when you can have even more spells instead? (Admittedly, you can generate quite a few of them anyway, but we’ll let that slide.) Though the “no minion” Mage archetype hasn’t received any explicit support in Madness at the Darkmoon Faire, any good spell gets us closer to the dream, and there are many interesting options from the previous two sets that can make it a relevant deck again, most importantly Deck of Lunacy, which was the card we had in mind when designing the featured build, aggressively lowering the curve so that you can make the most of its effect no matter when you end up casting it during the game.

The goal here is to cycle into Deck of Lunacy as quickly as possible and then lean into the tempo and value it provides to close out the game. To facilitate this, Incanter's Flow had to go alongside the deck’s signature top-end spells (Deep Freeze and Power of Creation). Ice Barrier made way for Ring Toss for added flexibility in slower matchups and Devolving Missiles was introduced as a cheap removal tool. Since we’re so single-minded about finding Deck of Lunacy (in fact, you could say we’re crazy about it), Sphere of Sapience is worthy of consideration – but with the addition of Primordial Studies, a second copy of Cram Session is a worthwhile replacement if you don’t want to fork out the 1600 dust.

Yogg-Saron Mage

Let’s be real, which other class can be the true prophet of the God of Death?

This deck is consistent! Consistently random, that is. Double Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron plus the Old God itself ensures board clears and hilarity at the tail end of the game – which means your goal is to get there alive and in a good enough shape to capitalize on the fireworks. This is why we’ve employed every stall tactic in the book in the featured build: everything a Freeze Mage could dream of plus the Doomsayer+Silas Darkmoon clear. Inconspicuous Rider should make it easier to cycle through the deck and find additional survival tools. One copy of Rigged Faire Game is included to punish slower opposition. Rolling Fireball still remains a uniquely well-placed removal tool in the middle of the curve but Devolving Missiles can be a reasonable alternative if you’re looking for something cheaper.

Like any good cultist, all you need to do is to hunker down until the end times and then watch your deity do its thing. Don’t forget the highlight reels! Its many eyes are watching, and all the rods are roasting…


Luci Kelemen is an avid strategy gamer and writer who has been following Hearthstone ever since its inception. His content has previously appeared on HearthstonePlayers and Tempo/Storm's site.

Check out Yellorambo on Twitter!

Leave a Reply


  1. Dubwise67
    November 17, 2020 at 5:28 am

    Oh no highlander deck ? i must say that the deck is funnier than effective for the moment but i hope one list will be strong enough to be competitive

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      November 17, 2020 at 5:39 am

      We didn’t include Highlander, because we don’t think that the new lists will be different enough from the current ones. When theorycrafting, we try to focus on potentially new builds or builds that will be impacted most.

  2. KonuTech
    November 16, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    I play mostly mage. IMO new cards are introducing way to much randomness and little reliability. Can’t see any reliable deck here

  3. TheArcanist
    November 16, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    A Secret Mage list without Kirin Tor Mage. What is this world?
    Jokes aside, I’m really hyped for Mage this expansion. Secret Mage was always my favorite archetype.

  4. Trapdoorspy
    November 16, 2020 at 10:10 am

    Missed opportunity in my opinion: “Elementals and Secrets and Spells, oh my!” Other than that, great article. I’ll definitely be taking a closer look at the elementals list, as they are are of particular interest to me.