Rastakhan’s Rumble Odd Mage: The Past, Present, and Future of the Archetype

The reveal season for Rastakhan’s Rumble, Hearthstone’s upcoming expansion, is at full speed and new cards are being revealed daily. In Blizzard’s own reveal stream, we got to see some Rastakhan action in the form of a Mage deck that relied on Hero Power synergy cards. While that deck was a regular Mage deck, viewers could not help but notice that many of the synergy cards were odd-cost cards – and Odd Mage already has a more powerful, two-damage Hero Power, so building on more Hero Power synergies to the Odd Mage core is a very attractive concept.

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Can Odd Mage be the next big thing? To evaluate this, let’s take a journey through the current state of Odd Mage, the new Rastakhan’s Rumble cards the archetype will be interested in, and how they could be put together in a new deck.

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Odd Mage in The Boomsday Project Pre-Nerfs

Odd Mage has been a niche deck throughout The Boomsday Project. It saw more play before the nerfs, when the five-mana Giggling Inventor served as a powerful defensive tool, enabling the deck to buy time to get its big threats online, but it was by no means a popular deck even then.

This is what the deck looked like before the nerfs – and this build was Legend-capable back then:

Odd Mage was not without issues even at that point. In particular, it had a hard time finding good spells to make use of Dragon's Fury. For any control-style Mage deck, Dragon’s Fury is an essential tool, but it needs other big spells to keep it functional. Flamestrike is an easy choice that brings the total number of spells to four, but with only four spells in the deck, you will often find yourself in a position where you have drawn them all and still have an unused Dragon’s Fury in hand – five mana to do nothing, or at best to get five armor from Arcane Artificer (yes, I have actually done that a few times).

In the pre-nerf days, the most common answer to this issue was to include Luna's Pocket Galaxy as the fifth spell. It’s a big seven-mana spell that results in some big board clears with Dragon’s Fury, and every once in a while it is capable of some downright hilarious plays with Stargazer Luna, rapidly filling the board with big one-cost minions. That said, it was the lowest win rate card in the deck and far from an ideal inclusion.

The deck was largely a variant of Big Spell Mage. It had its moments when it was able to use that buffed-up Hero Power to ping down Flame Imps and Lightwardens and survive early aggression that would have raced down a regular Big Spell Mage. Limited access to board clears made it less consistent in the mid-game and lack of Polymorph doomed some matchups, such as Taunt Druid, but the Luna's Pocket Galaxy combo also gave it swing potential far ahead of Big Spell Mage. Overall, it was slightly weaker than Big Spell Mage with a bit different matchup spread.

Odd Mage in The Boomsday Project Post-Nerfs

After the nerfs, Odd Mage has found itself in a more difficult situation, as the loss of Giggling Inventor‘s defensive capabilities has made it harder for the deck to get to the late game. While it was a niche deck already before, at least you could search for it on statistics sites and find a few builds that saw play at rank 5 and better. Right now, there is not a single Odd Mage build that would see widespread play at rank 5 or better, and only one that sees enough play at rank 10 or better to get noticed by the statistics sites:

This is a very different deck than the pre-nerfs Odd Mage. It is an Elemental build with Fire FlyBonfire Elemental, and Blazecaller, and there are even Fungalmancers in the mix.

It is still a control-style deck and runs the same spell package with Dragon's FuryFlamestrike, and Luna's Pocket Galaxy. Still, it has not been able to reach even the limited success of its pre-nerfs predecessor.

There have also been various attempts to keep the old core without moving to Elementals. These attempts have started to use Dragoncaller Alanna as a late-game threat and sometimes change Luna's Pocket Galaxy for another spell, Deck of Wonders. Are you feeling lucky?

To be fair, Deck of Wonders is literally the only other big spell available to the archetype, so you get to pick from two options, neither of which are stellar. Either you go for Luna's Pocket Galaxy, a more expensive spell that is often a dead card in your hand when drawn as you struggle to find time to play it, but that can sometimes give you big swings, or you go for Deck of Wonders, which is slightly easier to play, but is a total clown fiesta results-wise.

If it is so hard to make Dragon's Fury good in Odd Mage, why not ditch the whole card and build a more midrange deck instead? Unfortunately, the Mage Hero Power does not lend itself easily to such an attempt if you cut all the even-cost cards from the deck. Playing on curve with such a deck is painful and that drives Odd Mage decks to the control archetype.

I have played around with the old core after the nerfs myself, and simply switching out the Giggling Inventors for a Tar Creeper and Dragoncaller Alanna makes for a playable deck. Not a great one, but a playable one.

Odd Mage has not been thoroughly explored in The Boomsday Project. The reason for this is rather simple: the card pool and the Hero Power itself push it to be a control archetype, and Big Spell Mage is a better control deck in many matchups, in large part because of Polymorph, Blizzard, and Meteor. Odd Mage has some advantages, but it is hard to see how they could make it better than regular Big Spell Mage, even if fully tuned.

New Odd Mage Cards in Rastakhan’s Rumble

Rastakhan’s Rumble is pushing Odd Mage with a number of new cards:

Daring Fire-Eater is an interesting one. Sure, you could use it in a regular Mage deck to hit for three, but it is really interesting for Odd Mage that is likely to use Hero Power a lot on the early turns anyway. The Odd Mage Hero Power is already capable of answering Flame Imps, and, interestingly enough, it can answer a Hench-Clan Thug on curve with Daring Fire-Eater. Even the admittedly weak 1/1 body is more relevant with Odd Mage, because it can help take down three-health minions with the Hero Power on the following turn. Finally, it can be used together with Frost Lich Jaina to turn a three-health minion into a Water Elemental. Making the Odd Mage Hero Power better able to defend in the early game can be a significant boost to the archetype. It all depends on the meta: what are the early-game minions that see play and how much health do they have?

Pyromaniac offers that premium 3/4 statline for three mana and a Hero Power synergy ability to boot. I am still unsure of its prospects. Currently, Odd Mage is a control deck, and early in the game it often needs Taunt minions more than it needs a good statline.

Jan'alai, the Dragonhawk is the big payoff. Dealing eight damage with the Hero Power is much easier for Odd Mage than for regular Mage, and throw in one Daring Fire-Eater and you only need to use the Hero Power three times to activate Jan’alai’s effect – to bring Ragnaros the Firelord back from Hall of Fame, at least in token form if not as an actual playable card. Ragnaros is an Elemental, so if you’re in Frost Lich Jaina form, those fireballs will have Lifesteal. This card is a big deal and the main new attraction to play Odd Mage.

Blast Wave is finally a new big odd-cost spell! It may be a bit underwhelming against larger minions, but it gives another activator for Dragon's Fury, wipes token boards, and potentially generates some resources while doing so – good material to buff up your Astromancer rolls too.

We have not seen all the cards yet, so there may be further synergy cards coming, but already this group of cards gives a good reason to be interested in Odd Mage. Keep an eye out for any other spells that cost five, seven, or nine, because big spells can change the way Odd Mage is built. Blast Wave is already promising though.

Odd Mage in Rastakhan’s Rumble

It is still a little early to theorycraft, but obviously we have to go for it now that a group of relevant cards have been revealed.

I predict that Odd Mage will remain a control deck. The big payoff card costs seven mana, and in order to play it on curve you need to use your Hero Power multiple times before turn seven. That is not an aggressive strategy.

There are at least two paths the deck can take: Elemental synergies or a more traditional control core.

The traditional core could look something like this:

Obviously, we do not know what tech choices will be good in the upcoming meta. Will weapon removal and silence be good? Will silence be needed in two copies, even? Will there be wide boards for Baron Geddon to clear? Is Stonehill Defender good enough for the three-mana slot or is the improved immediate defense from Tar Creeper needed, or even both? Is the armor from Arcane Artificer needed or can it be replaced with a more proactive card? Could we put Tinkmaster Overspark in the deck?

I expect Jan'alai, the Dragonhawk and Daring Fire-Eater to make the cut. There are quite a few nice seven-mana cards available to Odd Mage now by the way, so Zola the Gorgon looks like a really attractive card to potentially combo with them for ten mana. Why have only one Ragnaros the Firelord if you can have two?

Going for the Elemental core could look something like this:

Key cards for Elemental synergies are Fire Fly (for more Elementals), Bonfire Elemental, and Blazecaller. The main question for that build is how it can find enough Elementals to reliably activate Bonfire Elemental and Blazecaller. Those are fairly big payoff cards, but they do require setup on the turn before they are played.

It is difficult to fit Astromancer to an Elemental deck, the seven-mana slot is packed. So, you gain some threats and lose some threats and it’s hard to evaluate which way will turn out to be better.

In addition to finding the right build for the deck, the key question is whether Odd Mage can be better than a regular Big Spell Mage? Some improved early game from Daring Fire-Eater and a major win condition in Jan'alai, the Dragonhawk just might be able to do it, but it will still be close.

There are still more cards to be revealed from Rastakhan’s Rumble, but Odd Mage is definitely one of the decks I’ll try out when the expansion comes!

Old Guardian

Ville "Old Guardian" Kilkku is a writer and video creator focused on analytic, educational Hearthstone, and building innovative Standard format decks.

Check out Old Guardian on Twitter or on their Website!

15 Comments

  1. Idea
    November 30, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    Drakkari Enchanter instead of Zola.

    Reply
    • Old Guardian - Author
      December 1, 2018 at 9:44 am

      The only end of turn effect is Baron Geddon, so I would really not recommend that. Zola is not mandatory though, it is there to amplify the effects of important cards, such as Jan’alai, but that slot can be used for some tech card once the meta is more clear.

      Reply
  2. Su5eD
    November 29, 2018 at 7:26 am

    Does jan’alai trigger if you deal EXACTLY or AT LEAST 8 damage with your hero power?

    Reply
    • Old Guardian - Author
      November 29, 2018 at 8:58 am

      At least 8 damage. The card text updates to show you how much damage you still need to deal and shows when you have dealt enough and the effect is ready. This was shown in one of the reveal streams.

      Reply
  3. maelstrom
    November 26, 2018 at 2:34 am

    “I expect Jan’alai, the Dragonhawk and Daring Fire-Eater to make the cut.”

    *doesn’t put Jan’alai in any of the decks*

    Oh okay that’s fine. ;P

    Reply
    • Old Guardian - Author
      November 26, 2018 at 3:10 am

      It is in both decks. Not sure why they were both displaying only 29 cards, I tried to resubmit them and it looks like Jan’alai chose to re-appear again.

      Reply
      • Evident - Site Admin
        November 27, 2018 at 7:20 pm

        That was my fault, sorry!

        Reply
  4. Ivan Rujula
    November 25, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Why would you run dragons fury in a deck with so few spells? In the last deck, you could only use it once, you only have two spells…
    Am I missing something? Or thats just dumb?

    Reply
    • Tike24
      November 25, 2018 at 9:08 pm

      Dragon’s Fury is good enough if you hit the 5 mana spell Blast Wave(or itself) and can high roll up to flamestrike’s cost. It’s gonna be rare that you draw all your spells with it by turn 5 vs. aggro.

      Reply
    • Old Guardian - Author
      November 26, 2018 at 3:13 am

      Both decks run the same spell package: 2xDragon’s Fury, 1xBlast Wave, 2xFlamestrike. It is the same number of spells current Odd Mage decks run (they include Deck of Wonders or Luna’s Pocket Galaxy instead of the upcoming Blast Wave) and it is just enough to use Dragon’s Fury reliably.

      Reply
  5. Gerrion
    November 25, 2018 at 10:16 am

    All we need now is a 1-mana minion with + spell damage and we’ll be good.

    Heck, even a 0/3 “Voo-Doo” totem with Spell damage +1 could help. And yes, the 3 health is to give balance to the Blast Wave clear and not give you a guaranteed spell – if you’d want one, it had to come from the opponent.

    Reply
    • Neelix
      November 25, 2018 at 10:30 am

      But it would have +1 Spell Damage and deal 3 damage anyway….

      Reply
      • Neelix
        November 25, 2018 at 10:39 am

        Didn’t read the comment fully lol my mistake.

        Reply
        • Gerrion
          November 26, 2018 at 4:00 pm

          No worries 😉

          Reply

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