Tempo Mage is a Hearthstone deck archetype that lets you build an early presence on the board, and then use either removal spells or high-value minion trades to control the opponent's board development and continue to grow your own. From here, it's a question of snowballing that threat and pushing damage into the enemy Hero's health pool whenever the natural opportunity to do so presents itself. By the time the end-game rolls around, you should be in a pretty commanding position.
This deck has been around in one form or another for as long as we've been playing Hearthston, and there's usually a new trick or two in each expansion that ensures it remains relevant in every metagame. The Karazhan release introduced a couple of new interesting cards for the Mage, but only Babbling Book and Firelands Portal survive into the latest incarnation of this deck. Let's see how the archetype develops as the Gadgetzan expansion heads into its final days.
In our Tempo Mage guide, we've got a look at one of the most consistently powerful Tempo Mage deck lists you can wield, followed by an overview of how to actually play it. After that, we'll give you a few pointers on Mulliganing your starting hand, followed by a look at all of the most important combos you need to know about.
Editor's note - March 2017 update: The very fast Tempo Mage deck list that we've highlighted recently re-accommodates Archmage Antonidas for this month. Apart from that, it's pretty much business-as-usual for this evergreen Hearthstone deck.
(For the Wild version of this deck, make sure you take a look at our Tempo Mage (Wild) deck list and guide)
BREAKING NEWS! - Don't miss our Journey to Un'Goro guide, which contains everything we know about the next expansion for Hearthstone!
Tempo Mage (Standard) deck list and strategy - March 2017
We think this is the best Tempo Mage deck list you can make use of in Season 36.
|2 x Arcane Blast||1 x Bloodmage Thalnos|
|2 x Arcane Missiles||1 x Acolyte of Pain|
|1 x Babbling Book||2 x Azure Drake|
|2 x Mana Wyrm||1 x Barnes|
|2 x Mirror Image|
|2 x Frostbolt|
|2 x Sorcerer's Apprentice|
|2 x Arcane Intellect|
|2 x Flamewaker|
|1 x Forgotten Torch|
|2 x Fireball|
|1 x Water Elemental|
|1 x Archmage Antonidas|
|2 x Firelands Portal|
|1 x Flamestrike|
Alternative Tempo Mage lists
While the deck list outlined above is our recommended one for climbing the ladder this month, you might like to check out some of the other options that are available.
It's crucial that you get off to a fast start with any Tempo Mage deck list and this version is no exception. Mana Wyrm is an incredible powerful card, particularly if you can back it up with cards like The Coin or Frostbolt. This will ensure you start the process of halting the opponent while growing your own threat nice and early on. The rest of your early-game minion presence comes from the likes of Flamewaker and Sorcerer's Apprentice.
This process of balancing control with aggression essentially continues throughout the mid-game, where you should keep holding back the opponent's progress while developing your own board further. Knowing when to start pushing damage over control is tricky with this deck, and you need to constantly review the strength of your hand. If things are looking slow then keep controlling the game, but if you're getting close to a big spell-based finish then it makes sense to start pushing damage straight into your opponent's health pool.
You've less raw late-game minion strength at your disposal now, although the likes of Firelands Portal can both deal with a bothersome minion and summon something deadly for your opponent to deal with. You now have Archmage Antonidas who can recycle your cheap spells into meaty Fireballs.
More great Mage guides:
Tempo Mage (Standard) Mulligan guide - March 2017
Mana Wyrm is hands-down your priority pick and you should never throw this creature back. There's an argument in fact for discarding everything to get your hands on just one of these minions. If you pick one up, you should next be looking for a nice clean early removal option like Frostbolt to back it up with.
If you're playing against Aggro opponents, further good picks include Flamewaker, along with some cheap spells like Arcane Missiles and Arcane Blast. For Control opponents, cards like Arcane Blast and Frostbolt become increasingly more valuable.
As always with tempo decks, the most important thing to do is build out a solid handful of opening turns, as you can't afford to miss a beat as you build up your board.
Tempo Mage (Standard) combos and synergies - March 2017
How you weave all of these spells and minions together is of course the secret of playing the Tempo Mage archetype well. To help you get on top of the latest Gadgetzan synergies, here's a quick breakdown of all the combos available to you.
- Azure Drake and Bloodmage Thalnos boost the strength of any damage spells you cast by one extra point of damage. Expect this card to be removed fast by any opponent worth their salt.
- Targets are randomly determined, but if you cast a spell while Flamewaker is out in play, this minion will spit out two extra points of damage that can hit either the enemy Hero or their minions.
- Mana Wyrm grows stronger with each spell that you cast. It's a superb Turn 1 play, particularly if you have the ability to feed it with The Coin, or another spell soon afterwards.
- Sorcerer's Apprentice reduces the Mana cost of all of your spell cards.
- Firelands Portal will not just remove a 5 Health-or-less minion from the board, it'll add something tasty to your side of the board as well!
- Every spell you cast while Archmage Antonidas is out in play will cause a Fireball to be added to your hand/
As part of his ever-growing tutorial series for Hearthstone's Standard metagame, popular streamer Trump has turned his attention to Tempo Mage. We think you'll get a lot out of watching the latest installment, and so have embedded it here in our Tempo Mage guide.
Keep in mind here that the archetype will change over time, and so the particular decklist being used by Trump will almost certainly become outdated at some point. It's more important to think about the general principles involved with Tempo Mage when learning from this video - these should apply whatever minor changes are made to reflect the current Hearthstone metagame.
If you've enjoyed this video by Trump then we recommend subscribing to his channel on YouTube. We learned a huge amount from him when we first started playing the game, and there are few streamers with a better talent for explaining the ins and outs of the ever-shifting meta.