Blizzard has released the full core set and we're in for a very different new year of Hearthstone! Today we're going to be taking a look at the Mage class in the Year of the Gryphon by looking at their new set of core cards and giving the new ones a full review.

Let's get to it!


Aegwynn, the Guardian

Aegwynn, the Guardian Card Image

Discuss this Card

Mage gets only a single completely new card for their core set, but it's a pretty important one - their Legendary. Gone are the days of trying to figure out how to get infinite Fireballs from Archmage Antonidas. Now it's all about trying to maximize the potential Spell Damage.

Aegwynn presents an interesting deck-building challenge. On the one hand, you want a decent number of minions in your deck, such that when she dies you can cycle in the inheritor fairly quickly to keep that Spell Damage coming. On the other, you need a solid number of damaging spells to make all that effort worth it in the first place. Too much one way and you end up with some useless card text tacked on to some of your minions; too much the other and your spells will forever be waiting for the next boost, either clogging your hand or sadly letting it go to waste.

I think in the end Aegwynn isn't a card you build a deck around. There's a fun idea floating around in my head about letting Murloc Tinyfin take her place as Guardian, but in the end, I don't anticipate there being the right set of spells to make that worth it in Standard (it goes without saying that Wild has far more reliable things Mage can be doing to kill you in one turn).

Most of the time I think you play Aegwynn as one of the last cards you add to a deck. You've gotten down to the final stages, and you notice that you have an opening for a ~5 mana card. You have some damaging spells, and a few minions as well. Might as well slot Aegwynn in and see how she does. There has been explicit Spell Damage synergy before though, and for a deck based around that concept, she'll be a great addition.


Buffed Cards

As I said before, Mage only has one completely new card, but I wanted to highlight the fact that they're also getting several old cards back with new and improved stats.

Flamestrike Card Image Cone of Cold Card Image Snap Freeze Card Image

Flamestrike sees its damage improved from 4 to 5, a very significant increase in power. Flamestrike was already a really good card, one of the best AoEs in the game, and it's interesting that they decided it needed to be even more powerful for Mages in the upcoming year. I know I'll definitely be cataloging any instances where 4 damage wouldn't have done it, just to see if there was a specific deck that might have prompted the change.

Cone of Cold and Snap Freeze both get a mana cost reduction. I'm interested in this pair in particular because they both also gain the new Frost spell school. I wonder if this change was in anticipation of a need for more powerful support for an upcoming Frost archetype - or even a multi-school archetype, given the class also has access to both Fire and Arcane magic at the very least.

Coldarra Drake Card Image Ethereal Conjurer Card Image

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that two of their minions also received a mild buff - just an additional +1 Health each. It's the kind of change that speaks of one of two paths; either extensive testing, tweaking cards just so in order to provide the best player experience possible... or somebody on the team just quite liked them, remembered them as a bit weak and decided to bump them up in an inoffensive way that might give them a bit more chance of seeing play.

I'm personally more inclined to think that it's the second one, but hey. I don't mind a bit of a shake-up for old cards coming into the core set, especially such tiny adjustments as these.


Mage in the Year of the Gryphon

I alluded to it before, but one of the most interesting things about Mage in the upcoming year will be how it interacts with spell schools.

Fireball Card Image Ice Barrier Card Image Shooting Star Card Image

The new core set contains two very powerful Fire spells, three Frost and four Arcane. Looking over the last year of cards, I can see an additional Fire spell, two more Frost and probably two or three Arcane (using my best guesses and being as conservative as possible - there may be even more). We haven't seen any Mage cards from Forged in the Barrens yet, or any Neutral cards that might interact with their three spell schools, so it's hard to see how it'll end up playing out on that front.

All that can really be said is that they have a strong base for an Arcane or Frost-focused deck in Standard right now if they choose to have Mage specialize in any of its schools. Of course, they may decide to have them focus more on spells generally than any one school, which I think would make sense for them as one of the most spell-based classes.

Beyond the unknowns of spell schools, Mage has good support for Secret-based decks, with some classic Secrets in their core set along with Arcanologist, plus powerful pieces mainly from Darkmoon Faire. Spell Damage is also a fairly well-supported idea, especially if you factor in Aegywnn as a puzzle piece, and of course, Mage retains a decent amount of random spell generation for those who just want to be surprised.

Worth mentioning are two potential directions for the next year that don't quite have everything they need yet. Hero Power synergy has been added back to the core set in the form of both the buffed Coldarra Drake and the unchanged Fallen Hero. There are no other pieces of this in Standard, but it's something to keep an eye on. Additionally, we saw a splash of Elemental support in Darkmoon Faire, and Water Elemental remains - could be something, could go nowhere.


Those are just my thoughts, but I want to know what do you think of the new cards Mage is getting and their outlook in the Year of the Gryphon. Let me know in the comments below!


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