The full Fractured in Alterac Valley set has been revealed and it's time to look at all the new cards and, specifically, at how Mage will be doing this expansion. We'll be breaking each of the Mage cards down, judging their potential power levels and giving our thoughts on their place in the upcoming meta.
- You can see all the new cards in our Fractured in Alterac Valley guide.
- Our deckbuilder will let you theorycraft your own decks using the new cards before the expansion arrives.
- You can simulate pack openings in our Fractured in Alterac Valley Pack Opening Simulator.
- Don't forget to take part in our Tavern Crawl to earn on-site cosmetics!
Keep in mind that this is an early look at the class before we've been able to play with the new cards, so while we try to be as accurate as possible in our predictions of what is to come, no one can perfectly predict the Hearthstone meta.
Mage Deck Themes in Fractured in Alterac Valley
Many Hearthstone players asked the question, "Are we going to get Big Spell support in the new expansion?" Well, we can say that the answer is a definitive "Yes." Fractured in Alterac Valley has delivered such a cornucopia of Big Spell tools for Mage that it's actually more difficult to find Mage cards that don't synergize with big spells. Among those other cards are a stacking Frost spell for decks that like Freeze effects or spell schools, and a minion that could work well in Hero Power Mage decks.
Big Spell: Magister Dawngrasp, Balinda Stonehearth, Rune of the Archmage, Mass Polymorph, Iceblood Tower, Arcane Brilliance, Siphon Mana, Shivering Sorceress
Hero Power: Amplified Snowflurry
Frost: Build a Snowman
What? Arcanist Dawngrasp is Evolving!
Magister Dawngrasp is a powerful finisher, with a potentially game-altering Battlecry and a Hero Power that could ramp into large amounts of damage given enough time and targets on which to trigger its Honorable Kill.
Much of what's interesting about Magister Dawngrasp comes from their Battlecry, which is influenced by the spells you've played that game, giving you the power to build a better Battlecry depending on what you want it to do. It could mean a deck built mainly around Big Spells to give a huge Tempo swing when the Magister gets played, but it doesn't mean that they synergize only with big spells.
Thanks to Mask of C'Thun's recent enrollment in the Shadow school, Magister Dawngrasp could cast as many as four spells when played. We've rounded up our favorite four spell combos, but keep in mind that these are hardly the only (or best) ways to take advantage of this unique effect.
- Aggressive: Arcane Intellect, Ignite, Deep Freeze, Mask of C'Thun
- Defensive: Mass Polymorph, Flamestrike, Ice Barrier, Mask of C'Thun
- Value Overwhelming: Arcane Brilliance, Ignite, Build a Snowman, Mask of C'Thun
- Big Spells: Arcane Brilliance, Grand Finale, Deep Freeze, Mask of C'Thun
Magister Dawngrasp is an exciting build-around with a ton of flexibility in how you play them and what decks you include them in. However, we don't see this as something to be included in Quest Mage decks (those have their own Dawngrasp finisher); instead we expect it to be in slower, more minion-heavy Mage decks that have tailored their spell choices to cater to the Battlecry.
Finally, a quick flavor note: Since one translation of the Latin word "magister" is "teacher," it's fitting to see that this card cares about school.
She's considering changing her name for the SEO boost.
Balinda Stonehearth is a Big Spell enabler who can help cheat out expensive spells while still getting an on-board benefit from their Cost: a win-win. "Draw two cards and get a big minion on board" makes Balinda a high-floor, low-ceiling version of Edwin, Defias Kingpin. That's assuming she's only being run alongside big spells.
Mage has a decent crop of minions that can either draw spells or discount/cast expensive spells (Clumsy Courier, Deepwater Evoker, Grey Sage Parrot), so the idea is that Balinda Stonehearth fits alongside them in a Big Spell deck that can now be a little more consistent. The Big Spell package is an intriguing puzzle, and one we will be attempting to solve later on.
Rune of the Archmage
For verily did the runes read: "Praise Yogg."
The new-look Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron arrives just in time to become Big Spell Mage's panic button and value generator. From our perspective, there's both more reliability and upside from its spell pool being limited to Mage spells (and the guarantee that you get 20 Mana worth). It's a good spell for decks that can cheat it into play in a variety of ways and, like Yogg, could find victory in otherwise unwinnable situations.
Lady Prestor is Onyxia! Wake up, sheeple!
A fairly situational and expensive "board-clear." Mass Polymorph is at its best against a lot of large minions or sticky Deathrattles, but seven Mana is a lot to pay for an AoE that isn't one-sided and doesn't even technically clear the board. We'd expect to see this in a slow Control Mage *if* the meta becomes overrun by decks like Big Paladin and Deathrattle Demon Hunter. Otherwise, we don't think it would be something to include in your deck, but could be a welcome Discover option under the right circumstances.
We heard you like big spells, so here's a big spell that casts big spells while you cast big spells.
There's a lot of potential Mana cheat and deck-thinning inherent in Iceblood Tower, an effect that is definitely worthy of the ten Mana price tag. Mage has enough cards that can either discount or cast the Tower that most decks running it would expect to be able to get it into play much earlier than turn 10 (which is good, because it's likely too late by then). Balinda Stonehearth could draw it and set its Cost to 5, Clumsy Courier could cast it, Celestial Ink Set could discount it by 5. We expect to see this as one of the main engines of a Big Spell Mage deck designed to cheat out as many expensive spells as is humanly possible.
How many Archmages does it take to change a lightbulb?
Arcane Brilliance is in a strange place. On paper, it looks like the perfect value engine for a Big Spell Mage deck that makes sure they have extra copies of their expensive spells in hand when they need them. On the other hand, it has the potential to gum up the synergies of cards like Balinda Stonehearth, Iceblood Tower, and Celestial Ink Set.
Our main problem with Arcane Brilliance is that it appears to mainly be a value engine, giving Big Spell Mage even more big spells to cast so they don't run out of things to do before their opponent. But decks that slowly out-value their opponents by gathering extra copies of cards just don't have a place in a meta where Questlines can single-handedly win games. So, while Arcane Brilliance could be reliable spell fodder for Big Spell Mage, making sure Clumsy Courier always has something to cast, our guess is that the card is too slow and not impactful enough to see play.
Build a Snowman
Do you wanna build a snowgre? C'mon, let's go and slay!
A spell that's technically three spells and immediately brings back memories of Pyros: specifically, memories of never playing Pyros. Build a Snowman does more than Pyros, especially since its effect allows you to play two cards on the same turn (something that isn't possible with a Deathrattle minion) and the minion that it summons comes with a Freeze effect.
Build a Snowman should be useful in a meta that cares more about value and minion combat and gaining slow advantages over the course of the game. In other words: it's a very good Arena card, but not likely to see play in Constructed.
"Now, my straw goes across the room and... I drink your Mana. I drink it up!"
As Incanter's Flow has demonstrated, reducing the Cost of Mage spells is very good and balanced and not at all a problem or headache for people who have to play against an army of Mages on ladder. Siphon Mana certainly doesn't have the ceiling of Incanter's Flow, since it only discounts spells in hand (and only then when it can trigger its Honorable Kill), but it also deals two damage.
While Siphon Mana can go face (and probably will, from time to time), it effectively reads "Deal 2 damage to a minion," since the entire point of running this spell is to trigger its discount effect. Two damage is a tricky thing to hit exactly on most minions, but thanks to Mage's variety of cheap ping effects (Hero Power, First Flame, Runed Orb) and Spell Damage, we don't think Mage will find it too hard to get it to trigger (if you're in a pinch, you can always target your own Wand Thief). Thanks to this and Incanter's Flow, Quest Mage and Mozaki Mage will be able to string together even more obscene multi-spell turns , a prospect that we're sure every Hearthstone player finds thrilling.
This Snowflurry goes to eleven.
Amplified Snowflurry is a bit of a sore thumb when compared to every other Mage card from Fractured in Alterac Valley, since it's the only one that cares about Hero Powers. You shouldn't overlook it for that reason, though: as Tour Guide has taught us, free Hero Powers are very good and Wildfire decks should be pretty happy to add this minion for use as both a tempo play and stall tool.
The Freeze synergies aren't to be looked past either, as Mage has a variety of cheap effects that care about freezing (Snap Freeze, Shattering Blast) that would pair well with a 0-Cost Freeze effect that can be used whenever. We'd expect Amplified Snowflurry to mainly cut its teeth in Hero Power centered decks, but don't underestimate its potential in Freeze decks.
A little blue thing among the snow, crying "Heal! Heal!" in notes of woe.
A 2/2 for 1 Mana is already a good deal, and a 2/2 that effectively pays for itself with a discount on one of your spells is undeniably powerful. Congratulations, Hearthstone, you've entered the "cheap, overstatted minions must have upside to see play" era of your life cycle.
At first blush, Shivering Sorceress looks like the perfect minion for Big Spell Mage, making a high-Cost spell cheaper while contesting the board. But really, there's an argument to be made for putting this in any Tempo Mage deck, especially ones that run a lot of spells because it's arguably a free 2/2 in just about any situation. This is a very powerful, very pushed little minion and we'd expect to see it in a variety of decks.
Five Neutral Cards for Mage
While Mage doesn't necessarily care about minion-based combat, the synergy between Frozen Mammoth and cheap spells like Hot Streak, First Flame, and Ignite should not be ignored. An aggressive Burn Mage could make use of the overstatted body to get in extra damage while casting its bevy of cheap Fire spells.
Snowblind Harpy favors a slower Mage deck, one with a lot of Frost spells and the need to gain Armor in the early game to stave off aggression. It's a mediocre minion, but one that could sometimes be the difference between life and death.
Similarly to Frozen Mammoth, Ice Revenant could find a home in a Mage deck that casts lots of cheap Frost spells to stack up its stats.
Herald of Lokholar just wants to help you out by drawing some of your Frost spells (or one very specific one) and we think that is incredibly generous of them.
Spammy Arcanist is a bit of a stretch, but could have a spot in Big Spell Mage decks that don't want to gum up their Iceblood Tower engine with board clear spells. For those decks, this Defile-on-a-stick could be the very thing they need to stay alive long enough to get their big spells in play. You might have to bend over backwards to clear the board, though.
Theorycrafting Mage in Fractured in Alterac Valley
With all the new tools available to Mage, it shouldn't be any surprise that we've decided to cook up a Big Spell Mage theorycraft. Our deck du jour is that old favorite, C'Thun Mage, specifically a C'Thun Mage that uses Balinda Stonehearth or Clumsy Courier to cheat out Iceblood Tower, which can then use its end of turn effect to cast one or more pieces of C'Thun and turbo out the Old God to end the game.
Don't worry if you think the deck is too straight-forward: we've also gone heavily into Casino Mage style shenanigans with Rune of the Archmage, Magister Dawngrasp, and Solarian Prime, because no game is complete without making our opponents tear their hair out in frustration.
Quick shout-out to our favorite potential synergy: a Turn 6 Balinda Stonehearth into turn 7 Celestial Ink Set plus a (now) 5 Cost spell to reduce the cost of the other 5 Cost spell to 0.
Closing Thoughts on Mage and Fractured in Alterac Valley
Fractured in Alterac Valley says you can play any Mage deck that you want, as long as that Mage deck is Big Spells. There's a lot of power in both the expensive spells added by the expansion, as well as the tools for reducing their Cost or cheating them into play. While we expect that Quest Mage will continue to be the most powerful and the most popular Mage deck for the foreseeable future, there's no discounting the power level of a good Big Spell deck. In one form or another, Big Spell Mage will make its presence felt in an upcoming meta.
Overall, we're pleased with the direction that Mage is taking in Fractured in Alterac Valley: one that's a little slower, but no less powerful.
Did we get it right? Did we get it wrong? Share your thoughts in the comments!
More From Fractured in Alterac Valley
We've got more class reviews that you won't want to miss! Don't forget that you can see all the cards coming in the expansion in our Alterac Valley Expansion Guide and if you want to test your luck, you can head on over to our pack opener to crack some packs.