[Rank 14 Legend] Control Mage with explanations
3 Healing Potion
3 High Rock Summoner
3 Crushing Blow
3 Cunning Ally
3 Daggerfall Mage
1 Desperate Conjuring
2 Telvanni Arcanist
3 Elusive Schemer
3 Hive Defender
3 Lightning Bolt
3 Piercing Javelin
3 Ice Storm
2 Dawn’s Wrath
1 Nahkriin, Dragon Priest
1 Miraak, Dragonborn
[Rank 14 Legend] Control Mage with explanations
3 [card]Healing Potion[/card]
3 [card]High Rock Summoner[/card]
3 [card]Crushing Blow[/card]
3 [card]Cunning Ally[/card]
3 [card]Daggerfall Mage[/card]
1 [card]Desperate Conjuring[/card]
2 [card]Telvanni Arcanist[/card]
3 [card]Elusive Schemer[/card]
3 [card]Hive Defender[/card]
3 [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]
3 [card]Piercing Javelin[/card]
3 [card]Ice Storm[/card]
2 [card]Dawn’s Wrath[/card]
1 [card]Nahkriin, Dragon Priest[/card]
1 [card]Miraak, Dragonborn[/card]
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This is a variation of the Control Mage that’s standard on ladder, most probably the strongest deck on ladder at the moment.
For those who are somehow unfamiliar with the deck, it’s a hard control deck that relies on grinding out your opponent with spells/sticky drops/guards for the first half of the game, then finish off with a slew of gigantic minions that destroy whatever’s left of your opponent’s field.
It’s recommended for people who like a hard control style, reminiscent of Blue decks in Magic or Priest/Warrior in Hearthstone.
You will spend more of your early turns reacting to whatever your opponent places, depending on priority. Don’t be shy about letting them proc a few runes, however; the card advantage is important and you can stabilize with heals and Guard minions.
Bait your opponent into losing to a huge Ice Storm or a Divine Wrath – the latter is relatively easy to do by forcing your opponent to switch lane, which can be accomplished by locking down a lane with a Guard or sticky minions [Ashlander, Daggerfall, Telvani]. Finally, if you survived to the late game it’s where you should continuously dominate with your 10+ drops.
It’s NOT recommended to proc any runes with this deck until you firmly hold board control and have dried out most of your opponent’s hand. Even then, be very careful about your attacks; don’t hand your opponent more cards than what you need to. The only exception is if you have a potential to race because of a strong opening vs your opponent’s weak opening, or are forced to race [VS. Divine Fervor if you can’t react to it, VS. Archer to deny Soulrest/Jarl].
Thanks to the high amount of direct damage, it’s not rare to see a game end with a chain of multiple crushing blows/lightning bolts to end it. This deck packs a lot of burst, and it can sometimes be wise to hold off on using them on creatures if there is a potential to end the game with them.
Always keep Ashlander and Firebolt in the opening hand, and in 90% of games Crushing Blow as well. Mulligan hard for 3 drops; they are the core of your early game. Only keep High Rock Summoner in slower games, or games where the 1/1 body can actually trade into their early game minions [token decks come to mind]
Control dittos [Blue/Yellow, Purple/Yellow]: KEEP ELUSIVE SCHEMER. This card is the key to winning the ditto. It forces your opponent to waste removal on a card that has already replaced itself, and drawing multiple copies of it during the game will swing it in your favor.
Token [Yellow/Purple]: Look for Crushing Blow/Telvani to contest Fifth Legion Trainer. It’s possible and even quite decent to keep Ice Storm in your opening hand; its a key card to win the match-up.
Explaining the few differences between this and other Control Mage decks:
NO Shimmering Peddler: Peddler is a bad card in control mage, period. The card does not allow you to contest anything early with its 2/2 body, and is strictly useful only in the later parts of the game where you can actually chain spells and get a +1 off of it. On the other hand, Telvani Arcanist has a crucial 3 attack, which is important when dealing with many key cards in the meta [Fifth Legion, Cunning Ally, like every green card ever printed, etc] and replaces itself on death [netting you that +1 card advantage, like peddler] making it way, way better as a card option in every scenario except the one where you get 2 draws from Peddler.
NO Fate Weaver: Again, a bad card in control mage. Not enough prophecies to justify running this, and there is just no room for this over Guard minions.
3 Daggerfall: I consider this to be perhaps the best 3 drop in the game, so I did not see a reason not to run 3. Its 2 attack is lackluster, but it can contest boards over two turns with the Tome, and it generates a significant card advantage, which every control deck needs to function.
Miraak: I’ve always considered this just a 4th Mantikora, which in itself is probably the most important card in the deck. Unlike Mantikora, however, you are left with no guard – but the benefit is much bigger.
Ayrenn: None. Shove a mid-to-late drop like a 3rd Senche Tiger, Fate Weaver, Pillaging Tribune or even Supreme Atromancer instead, but it’s highly recommended to craft this card.
Dawn’s Wrath: Firestorm, Winter’s Grasp, Arrow Storm, or another high drop like the ones above. Highly recommended to have at least one copy of this card.
Nahkriin/Miraak: 3rd Senche Tiger, Fate Weaver, Pillaging Tribune, Supreme Atromancer.
VS Archer [Green/Red]: A relatively difficult match-up. The archer can easily clear your high drops with his destruction effects, and it’s very difficult to starve him out when he has Jarl. Additionally, it’s difficult to board clear an archer when a lot of his creatures have 4 health. Finally, if he plays Withered Hand Cultist, it’s near-impossible to win. It’s possible to capitalize on an Archer’s weak start to actually go for face and draw a life lead, but it requires good match-up experience to recognize that.
VS Token [Purple/Yellow]: A relatively easy match-up UNLESS they draw Divine Fervor, which changes the entire dynamic of the game. Minions that could be cleared with Ice Storm, Firebolt, Crushing Blow or Lightning Bolt suddenly can’t be, and your reliance on destruction effects instead [Like Javelin, Divine Wrath and Mantikora] becomes high. Some people tech Vicious Dreugh for this match-up, but I don’t recommend it; it weakens your deck in 90% of games just for 10% of them.
VS Ramp [Green/Purple]: A relatively easy match-up depending on their build. Their slow start allows you to build a decent hand, and you can clear their big threats very easily with Javelins and Mantikoras. Miraak can win this match-up single-handed.
VS Control mage [Blue/Yellow]: Draw Elusive Schemers, High Rock and Daggerfall mages and you win. Miraak is also very important here to go for gigantic swings late game.
The key in this match-up is to decide early, based on your hand, whether you are going to be the aggressor or not. I have found that funnily enough, most of the time I win if I take the initiative and start proccing my opponent’s runes. Though again, it’s important to consider your hand when doing this – do you have enough early game? Do you have enough damage? Do you have BURST damage [Crushing Blow, Lightning Bolt] to potentially end the game quickly? Etc.
VS Control spellsword [Purple/Yellow]: A surprisingly difficult match-ups. Blood Magic Lord can determine the outcome of games easily, and their 3 Javelin+3 Edict+3 Mantikora can clear all of you big drops. You want to have the same card as with the mage match up above.
VS any aggro [Red decks mostly]: You simply need to get lucky and draw the right removal and a healing potion or two and the game’s easy. It’s possible to lose this one very fast, before you can react, though.