Hearthstone at its core is a game that people should have fun with, but that can get bogged down in the pursuit of competitive meta strategies. Thus, I humbly present Memes and Dreams, a series on Out of Cards looking to bring some good ol' memey fun into people's Hearthstone experiences. Each week we will do a deep dive on a different 'for fun' deck, discussing the basic ideas of the deck, what makes it tick, and roughly how to pilot it. This week we dive into a Quest Mage deck, or is it Secret Mage? Maybe Elemental Mage? Why not all of it!
I Can't Hold All These Archetypes!
Year of the Dragon is rotating soon, along with a slew of fun and interesting cards. Previously in Memes and Dreams I covered Lucky Dragon Casino Mage, which utilized many of the titular Dragon cards from the year to create a certified fresh clown fiesta. This week's deck aims to celebrate Mage in Year of the Dragon by combining several different packages Mage got into one juicy deck. We've got Raid the Sky Temple, Mage's quest from Saviors of Uldum as well as both Sidequests from Descent of Dragons. The Secret package also comes from Uldum as well as many of Mage's powerful and supportive Elementals, such as Mana Giant and Violet Spellwing. To top it all off we've got the menace from Rise of Shadows, Mana Cyclone, who somehow supports ALL the aforementioned archetypes and shaped Mage decks for the past two years. The end result is a deck that pays homage to the fond memories Year of the Dragon brought!
The Meme - Some Midrange-style gameplay, going aggressive without being too aggressive. Show them what you got, but always leave a little to the imagination.
The Dream - Break their imagination. Bust open what they thought a single deck could achieve by showing the power of several Mage decks smashed into one!
As previously stated, Mana Cyclone is an absolute powerhouse of a card. Throughout its lifetime it has enabled serious shenanigans by turning Mage's ability to burn through spell resources into a value engine or RNG spells. People often cite Year of the Dragon as the year that card generation got out of hand in Hearthstone, and I think the prominence of Cyclone Mages played a decent role in that perception. Here Cyclone charges Raid the Sky Temple, Learn Draconic, Elemental Allies, and Mana Giant with minimal support, highlighting how strong this card really is.
Ancient Mysteries seems like a bit of an odd card for 'Key Cards', given that Mana Cyclone is a pretty difficult spot to follow. However, Mysteries' ability to consistently get a Secret into play or have one on standby for Arcane Flakmage (seriously though, wtf is a 'Flakmage'?) is unique and powerful. It also effectively procs Raid the Sky Temple twice and provides two spells worth of fuel for Mana Cyclone.
Elemental Allies has been out for a while now, but finally received the support needed to make it work with Confection Cyclone. Allies is fantastic by pulling many different aspects of the deck together, supporting Mana Cyclone and a plethora of spells. There's not a ton else to be said, it's just a great way to draw through your deck.
Mana Giant, similar to Mana Cyclone, is a powerful payoff card for playing a lot of spells and activates Elemental Allies. Mana Giant also provides a powerful threat that the deck would otherwise lack and can be integral to closing out games.
Violet Spellwing is another keystone card that ties the deck's many archetypes together. It is a fantastic cheap Elemental to play in the early game or to easily proc Allies. Generating Arcane Missiles also makes it exceptionally powerful at enabling Mana Cyclone as well as the Mage quests.
Budget / Alternate Options
The only Legendaries in the entire deck are Raid the Sky Temple and Astromancer Solarian, which are absolutely not integral to making the deck function. Raid is nice as a value engine in the late game, but its primary inclusion is for its meme-value and as an homage to the loss of Quests once the rotation hits. As such, it can be replaced with any number of cards! The main difficulty in replacing Raid is that it is a one-of, thus any replacements should also probably be one-ofs. Animated Avalanche is a potential consideration in that it also provides late-game value, albeit in a much more aggressive and board-oriented fashion. Running two in a non-dedicated Elemental Mage can be difficult, but a one-of should work fine. Raid could also be replaced with a generically good/decent Secret, such as Netherwind Portal or Mirror Entity. Neither are important enough to warrant two spots in the deck, but some extra mid-game value never hurts. Solarion can similarly be replaced somewhat easily since she does not provide any especially needed utility.
Replacing Epics is quite a bit harder, seeing as how that means dropping Mana Cyclone and Mana Giant, the deck's breadwinners. Cloud Prince is an alright consideration since it synergizes with both Elemental Allies and the deck's Secret package, providing potentially powerful board control or damage reach. Steward of Scrolls is the same mana cost and is another decent consideration for its Elemental tag and ability to fuel the deck's many Quests. Steward is slower but more consistent than Prince, but both are powerful options. Replacing Cyclone is very difficult since no cards provide quite as much value in a single body. Magic Dart Frog costs as much and also synergizes with many spell casts, but you likely won't find a singular card that fits the role of Cyclone. I personally recommend Trick Totem because I love Trick Totem, but really any early-game drop should work and might make the deck a smidge more consistent.
Since this deck is doing so many things, there are LOTS of ways to reimagine it. Chenvaala is a VERY powerful payoff Elemental for running many small spells, but the deck should probably be retooled to include other synergistic cards such as Conjure Mana Biscuit or Sorcerer's Apprentice. Part of me really wanted to make a Khadgar based deck, but the tools never really felt quite there. However, I think it would be super rad to pull off a double Learn Draconic or Animated Avalanche before the rotation hits. Specialize in Elementals, Secrets, Cyclone, Summons, this deck can really be retooled for almost anything!
This matchup is extremely reliant on getting the proper cards at the proper times. Against board-based Aggro decks, Arcane Flakmage and Flame Ward are especially potent at stabilizing. Try to hold onto any secret you draw with Ancient Mysteries so that your Flakmage will be able to clear when needed. Flame Ward earlier is alright if you're feeling the pressure though. Against something like Weapon Rogue that isn't as reliant on board presence is substantially harder though. The deck doesn't have ways to stop weapon aggression like Taunt, freeze, or healing, and chances are you're going to have a bad time. Your best bet is going to be through some RNG Mana Cyclone shenanigans where you might find an answer. The deck is stocked well enough for the early game, but the many quests don't do much for tempo and are not an insignificant reason why this matchup can be tricky.
The most import aspect of this matchup is spacing out threats. The deck doesn't have too many big things to play onto the board, Mana Giant kind of being the only one, so try to not to go too hard. The stars of the show are going to be Raid the Sky Temple and Mana Cyclone since you can afford to get greedy and look for major value. The deck also doesn't run any hard or specialized removal baseline, so try to pick things like that when you can. Magic Trick can find Devolving Missiles for things like Rattlegore or Ray of Frost if you need to buy yourself some time. Another key thing to consider will be timing Counterspell. It can be a tad difficult given how many ways there are to proc Counterspell for cheap, but if you wait to Counter when you have your Giants up it can be very disruptive to the enemy's plan of clearing.
Speaking of timing Counterspells, that's going to be a large part of this matchup as well. Especially against something like OTK Demon Hunter, clunking up their already fragile curve can seriously through them off and save you enough time to pull out a win. While this deck does also have some early-game going for it, the aggression it can pull off is still pretty small. Confection Cyclone and Violet Spellwing aren't exactly the biggest early-game powerhouses ever and your main threats are going to be Learn Draconic and your cheapest Mana Giant possible. Don't worry too much about getting huge value off of Mana Cyclone, settling for 2-3 spells and decent tempo will have to do when you need to end the game early.
This deck took quite a few iterations before I landed on something that really felt right. The original plan was just to use all of Mage's quests/sidequests since it was the class that had the most internal synergy and support between them all. It still didn't feel like enough though, the Elemental package didn't hit quite right and relied too heavily on newer cards. I swapped out some of the Elemental chaff in favor of Uldum's Secret package, affording the deck a smoother early game experience and showcasing a major part of the rotation. The official rotation date for Year of the Dragon is March 30th, which means we have ~2 1/2 weeks to get as much value out of the sets as we can. This deck aims to cram as much YoD goodness together so that you can get a taste of everything. The next couple of articles will have similar goals, trying to showcase the rotating sets one last time before they retire to Wild. I hope y'all enjoy this deck and have fun with Year of the Dragon for the rest of the month!
What is your meme deck of choice? Do you try different ones for each expansion or do you try to evolve old ones with new cards? Do you have any meme dream stories? Tell us in the comments below!