Reno Dragon Mage - Rank 5 (Anti Quest/Aggro)

Last updated 5 months, 2 weeks ago
  • Archetype Highlander Mage
  • Format Standard
  • Deck Type Ranked
  • Views 2060
  • Crafting Cost 22660
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BossWalrus's Avatar Registered User 6

This is the deck I built & used to hit Rank 5 from Rank 10.0 during the September 2019 season, losing only 3 games in the process.  This deck was built with Quest Druid & Shaman as the main targets, with Zoo & Murloc Paladin as the secondary targets.  It's heavy value game of Ysera, Hex Lord, & King Phaoris give it enough power to be able to combat Control Warrior as well.  I had a winning record against Priest, but I do think that this is probably unfavored vs Priest.  I've really enjoyed playing this deck, so I'll make sure I add a solid write up to it.


Basic Gameplay:

This is a control deck, but is also extremely flexible in how it can win.  It can grind out your opponents, out value your opponents, or can burst down your opponents with a mix of big boards, pyroblast, & Zephyrs.


The mulligan is always important, no matter the deck you play, but I feel like this one is even more important due to the inclusion of Hex Lord Malacrass.  Your mulligan targets will vary greatly per match up (for example, I always keep King Phaoris against quest druid), but the cards you'll always want are Zephrys, Witch Doctor, Doomsayer, & Ancient Mysteries.

Card Choices:

Ancient MysteriesWe run 2 secrets here, Flame Ward & Ice Barrier.  Running 3 feels excessive & not great, while you will almost always still have 1 in the deck by the time you draw Ancient Mysteries.  The use here is straight forward, draw a card, change the cost to 0, and play it when you see fit.  

Doomsayer:  Because the current metagame is flooded with aggro/tempo decks (at least in my climb it was) Doomsayer is just a really good inclusion here.  It's nearly impossible for someone to deal with on turn 2 when all they have is a 1 or 2 attack minion, and while you don't usually have a follow up on turn 3 (outside of Brightwing, Arcane Intellect, full cost secret) it buys you that extra turn you need to get into the late game where this deck flourishes.  Doomsayer can also be saved for later in the game if you need a clean board to set up something big like King Phaoris, Ysera, Hex Lord, Pocket Galaxy, etc.

Firetree Witchdoctor:  An easy turn 2 play that doesn't sacrifice card advantage.  Mage has so many flexible spells that you can find something useful almost every time.

Zephrys the Great:  Because we run Hex Lord in this deck, you can be a bit more aggressive with Zephrys should you have him in your opening hand.  Otherwise, I generally save him for a board clear, lethal, or if I need a Tirion.  He is a really powerful card, and it feels like he rewards smart card use.  Remember, he only analyzes the board and mana state.  Say that you want a brawl and you're at 6 mana with the coin in your hand, make sure that you play the coin before playing Zephrys, otherwise you'll most likely get shadowflame (which is usually good enough!), defender or Argus or frost nova.  Zephyrs really isn't an RNG Fest that we initally thought he would be and he can absolutely be tailored to give you what you need as long as you play correctly.

Arcane Intellect:  This is simple, we want to draw cards.

Brightwing:  An early game Dragon that doesn't sacrifice card advantage while way more often than not, giving you a high value card for later.  It really is a solid card.

Flame Ward:  I can't believe blizzard printed this card, the fact that hero attacks can't trigger it (like they can with explosive trap) really increases the power level.  This is one of the main reasons this deck does so well against aggro, being able to clear a board by turn 3/4 is just so incredibly powerful.

Ice Barrier:  I wanted to run at least 2 secrets to increase the likelihood that Ancient Mysteries doesn't whiff & this slots in really nicely.  8 armor is great, and it doesn't always feel bad to get it again if it ends up in the mulligan during aggressive match ups.

SN1P-SN4P Probably should be in almost every single deck, just an incredibly versatile card.  Good against aggro, good against control, combo's with Zilliax.  

Arcane Keysmith:  More Ice Barriers, more Flame Wards!  Or even Counter Spell, or Spell Bender!  

Twilight Drake:  A Dragon that will usually come down as a 4/6 or 4/7 on curve.  This card is more of a question mark, it performed fine so far, much better against slower decks, but will just sit in your hand against faster match ups.  

Blast Wave:  One of the best performing cards in the deck, it should probably be run in more Mage decks.  Since we're in a lackey meta, more often than not you're clearing the board and adding a handful of spells back to your hand.

Dragonmaw Scorcher:  Dragon that gives a small bit of AoE.  Again, because we're in a lackey meta, this is going to do some serious work against your opponent.

Naga Sand Witch:  This card is another question mark, probably would be the first one I would cut, it performed ok, but I rarely played it on my climb.  Theoretically it should be great, we run 5 spells that cost 6+ but in practice it's been just ok.

Zilliax:  Should be in every single deck.  Craft it now if you still somehow don't have it.

Blizzard:  Clear up/soften your opponent's board while freezing it.  Always nice to have.

Khartut Defender:  Taunt, heal up, summon another taunt, heal up.  

Reno the Relicologist:  He almost always clears the board for us while giving a 4/6 body, which is quite formidable!  Usually if you clear the board with Reno on curve with 20+ health intact, you are going to win. 

Crowd Roaster:  This deck contains almost nothing as far as single target removal goes (which makes priest a difficult match up) but Crowd Roaster can do just enough for us when needed.  A 7 attack minion that deals 7 via battlecry is pretty strong and outside of giants, you're gonna take out whatever the target is.

Flamestrike:  AoE that is almost always clearing the board.

Luna's Pocket Galaxy:  This is another question mark of a card, it's great of course when it goes off, but it hasn't seen that much play for me, even with Kalecgos & Pilgrim.

Siamat:  The new Dr. 7.  Powerful and versatile, I think it's one of the few auto crafts everyone should make in the Savior's set.

Hex Lord Malacrass:  Since we're targeting quests, I think Hex Lord is absolutely core to this deck.  He's a high skill level card, rewarding you for making smart mulligan choices at the beginning of the game.  Playing multiple King's, Zephrys, or Reno's is just back breakingly powerful.  The lack of consistent card draw here makes him even better as he can make the deck a bit more consistent.

Tortollan Pilgrim:  Great card, kind of a better version of Inkmaster from the Mean Streets set.  If I'm ahead, I'm looking for Pocket Galaxy, low on resources, Arcane Intellect, health, Ice Barrier, a hail mary, Yogg, quick board clear, Flamestrike.  

Alexstrasza:  I usually use her offensively to set up/get lethal, but she's saved me countless times as well.  She's my favorite card in the whole game, so versatile and powerful.

Ysera:  Since we're targeting high value decks, we need some high value cards & Ysera checks that box in spades.  She's difficult to deal with and generates powerful cards.

Kalecgos:  He brings us some extra value in the discover department, but of course, being able to drop a 4/12 dragon and play any spell we want the same turn is as powerful as it sounds.

King Phaoris:  We run a handful of high level spells, and the King has been instrumental in using those to close out games for me.  If you can land him while in a good spot health wise, you are most likely just winning that game.  Depending on the match up, he is a card that I will keep in my hand so that I can generate a second one via Hex Lord.

Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron:  Feeds the King, and acts as our emergency red button.  Sometimes the RNG doesn't go your way, but more often than not you're getting good stuff.

Pyroblast:  Yes, it's a bit top heavy, but I really like it as a finisher. Being able to chop off the last 3rd of health while going over a wall of taunts/life gain is just good and I like having this security.


Card Replacements

I get it, this deck is expensive & not everyone can have every card.  Here are some changes you can make if you need some dust breathing room:

  • Brightwing: Crafting Brightwing isn't a bad move to make since it's a classic card, but it is probably lower on your list. Messenger Raven is a solid replacement, there are some mage minion's that would feel bad to have to pick from, but getting Astromancer, Dragon hawk, second Kalecgos would be pretty terrific.
  • King Phaoris: Astromancer.  I know Astromancer as an epic still isn't cheap, but it provides a similar power play, and since you will usually have a large hand, the odds of getting something powerful are high.  Power of Creation is another option (gives a similar play when used with Kalecgos or Pilgirm).
  • Siamat: As I said above, I think that Siamat is a card that everyone should just have, but if you don't, I would go with Amani War Bear, Bone Wraith, or even Polymorph.
  • Luna's Pocket Galaxy: It just got nerfed, so the sensible players have dusted it and don't want it again (& seeing that I listed it as an iffy card above, makes sense to not craft).  I would use this substitution in a similar manner as you do with Siamat, Bone Wraith or Polymorph.  I do think that this deck is unfavored vs Priest, so adding something like Polymorph, which would increase your chances of winning, would probably be my choice here (& it honestly might be a swap I make as I climb higher).
  • Hex Lord Malacrass: As I said, I do think that this card is core, it's just so powerful, but it's a legendary that hasn't found a consistent spot in a tier 1 deck yet, so it makes sense that he's missing from a ton of collections.  There isn't another card quite like it, so I think I would add in some more draw, either in the form of Witchwood Piper (which can tutor out Zephyrs) or Acolyte of Pain.  Hex Lord really does help make this deck more consistent, so if you're missing him, it makes sense to add more cycle to make sure you land your threats.
  • Ysera:  Everyone should just have Ysera, right?  I'm not entirely sure what the best substitute here is, but I would go with whatever you find to be your best value generation card in your collection, if you don't think you have anything quite suitable, then pack in some tech or early game, so Messenger Raven, Polymorph, Mind Control Tech, or Vulpera Scoundrel.



Please Note, this section is a work in progress, I don't get too much time to sit down and write (or even play, it's why Rank 5 is now my main goal) but I will update as I can.  I'll list below what I plan to write on, if you have a match up you'd like to see, let me know and I'll add it!

  • Quest Druid: 
    • Mulligan:  Zephyrs, King Phaoris, Witch Doctor, Bright Wing.
    • Match Up:  Quest druid is not going to put any pressure on you turns 1-4, sometimes 5 if they don't start with coin or innervate, so you need to get something down to start making them spend something. 
    • Zephyrs, especially if found in mulligan, should always be played on turn 2 into Animal Companion, unless everything else is high cost in your hand, then pick Wild Growth.   
    • For Witch Doctor, I tend to go with board freezes, removal, or Conjurer's Calling. 
    • The main way that Quest Druid can beat you is by putting down a ton of heavy pressure between turns 5-8, if you can maintain control through there, you should do well. 
    • Because Druid no longer has naturalize, it's going to cost them most of their mana to remove your big minions, so go all in on your threats, unless they run mind control tech (& so far I haven't seen any that do), you can't be punished. 
    • From my experience against druid, they win by going into Chef Nomi or Malygos at the end.  You can win by overwhelming them on the board, especially with King Phaoris.  I can't overstate just how powerful the King is against druid, & he comes down much faster than a Malygos/Nomi combo. 
    • The most common way that I win is smart board control, King into Alexstrasza. 
    • If Quest Druid ever gets more assertive in the early games, than a decent portion of this deck will need to change, but for now, I haven't lost a single game against them.
  • Quest Shaman:
    • Mulligan: Zephyrs, Witchdoctor, Doomsayer, Dragonmaw Scorcher/Blast Wave.
    • Match up:  Quest Shaman is a weird deck because it seems like what they want to do is zoo things, and sometimes the stars align in their hands and that's what happens but most of the time (in my experience) they operate more like Caverns Below Rogue, playing a lot of small stuff to finish their quest, then they start packing on the pressure. 
    • The one key to this match up is, and i cannot stress this enough, CLEAR THE LACKEYS AND PREVENT EVIL TOTEM VALUE!  Preventing Weaponized Wasp damage is surprisingly huge and greatly reduces the pressure on you, and if they let their Evil Totem go off and generate 3+ lackey's, you are in for a long game.
    • We have more than enough AoE here, you should have almost no problem running them out of resources and during the games that you don't they are going to hit fatigue. 
    • Try to resist using your life gain minions (Zilliax, Khartut Defender) until you can get full heal value from them.  You should never pass a turn though if you can help it, so if your only play is to put one of them down, then always do that. 
    • Same goes with Witchdoctor on turn 2, on the rare occasion that you don't have a Dragon in hand, play her, you need to be on the board ASAP.
    • Don't be greedy with Doomsayer, if they play a 2 health minion on turns 1 or 2 (outside of totem) then play it.  Shaman can snowball quickly, and you have more than enough clear to keep up, don't start behind if you can help it.  They also run Earth Shock, so being greedy with a Doomsayer can just outright kill you since it only takes a 1 mana spell from them to deal with it.
  • Zoolock:
  • Aggro Rogue/Warrior:
  • Quest Paladin:
  • Priest:
  • Control Warrior:
  • Mech Hunter:
  • Highlander Hunter:

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  • FieselFitz's Avatar Anduin 370 355 Posts Joined 05/29/2019
    Posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    The deck looks awesome! I've been looking for some Mage Deck Shenanigans and i think this is it!

    I will have to replace Hex Lord Malacrass and Luna's Pocket Galaxy  because i do not have those (disenchanted Galaxy after the Nerf) and like you said, they aren't core cards!

    Im also not sure about Brightwind or the replacement Messenger Raven - maybe a Sandbinder so you could find Zephrys or Siamat more consistantly ? 

    I will defenitely try this and maybe mess around with some changes!


    • BossWalrus's Avatar 150 49 Posts Joined 06/04/2019
      Posted 4 months, 2 weeks ago

      Sandbider is a fine replacement too!  I almost never say no to adding more draw.  I hope you have fun with it & that it does well for you!

  • cokroktoprd's Avatar 35 3 Posts Joined 09/13/2019
    Posted 5 months, 1 week ago

    Hey man, i love your deck. I started at rank 15 and im now at rank 8 with a win-loss ratio of 14-2...thats a winrate of 87,5% :)

    Against druids im 3-0 and against shamans its 5-1.

    Despite your thoughts on your card choices i made 2 changes.

    Ancient Mysteries --> Polymorph 

    (especially since it can end up as a dead card, if the mulligan is bad....poly is a killer on magnetic minions...also against reborn it does fine)

    Hexlord Malacrass --> Vulpera Scoundrel

    (early board minion which lets me pick situativ cards, once i know the deck i play against. Especially secrets and freeze or cheap board clears are very good. And it allows me to have for example 2 blizzards, while its still a highlander deck. Having in in the opening hand won me maybe 2-3 games already. While i like Hexlord as a card, it can be just to slow if it isnt combined with Lunas Pocket Galaxy)

    Cant remember when i played last time so many games with the same deck in standard without losing interest!

    Good luck with climbing


    • BossWalrus's Avatar 150 49 Posts Joined 06/04/2019
      Posted 5 months, 1 week ago

      That's fantastic!  & those are excellent swaps too!  I wish you good fortune on your climb!

  • Bystekhilcar's Avatar Content Squad 225 275 Posts Joined 09/02/2019
    Posted 5 months, 1 week ago

    Personally, I feel like with the spot Mage is in right now metagame-wise, highlander Mage simply isn't in a good spot. Going highlander is inevitably going to reduce your consistency in doing what your deck is aiming to do, and if your goal is to beat quest decks like Druid and Shaman, you need to be consistent. Druid will always have major board control after turn 5-6, Shaman will always outvalue you in a Mage list if you go long. Note that when I say 'always', I don't mean literally - I mean that it's so often the case that you should be planning for it when building your deck.

    In my opinion, if you're going to target those decks, you need to be moving away from highlander and moving towards a game plan which those decks can't deal with. Mountain giants plus conjurer's calling is a good way of doing so, since neither deck is overly good at dealing with large threats (although you'd have to be careful of MCT, which Shaman usually runs and a lot of Druids have been experimenting with lately). Both decks pack healing, so you're not going to win from pure face plan - you're going to need to get the board, and to do so in a way that they can't get back with a one-turn clear.

    Past that, you're going to need reach to close the game. Sure, Zephrys can grab you a fireball - that's not going to be enough against either of these decks the majority of the time.

    In my view, if you want to target these decks, you go for something closer to the Big Spell Mage that's been popping up occasionally - double Pyroblast maindecked, discounted with Naga Sand Witch to give you a 20 damage burst turn. That's your win condition. Then build backwards from there, basically building your deck to be half ways of generating tall boardstates (since wide ones are easily punished by both decks), and half defensive AoE. Giants/Calling, Phaoris, that kind of thing. Keep Alex, drop the dragon package (especially Brightwing!), and have a good hard think about Luna's Pocket Galaxy (there's a reason it was basically unplayed before it got buffed).


    Separate to all of that, if you really insist on going highlander, I would at least swap a few cards out. Drop Ice Barrier for something that's going to have a more significant impact, like Counterspell (which is a fantastic anti-druid card, by the way, dropped on turn 4/5 to block a starfall turn). Drop Blast Wave (horribly inefficient) for a Frost Nova to make Doomsayer less of a dead draw in the midgame. Drop Brightwing (ugh) and Crowd Roaster (very vulnerable to all of the removal in both Shaman and Druid) to get some board presence from Power of Creation, plus Conjurer's Calling. Think about dropping Firetree Witchdoctor (due to dropping some dragons) for Khadgar to synergise with the aforementioned. Ysera is also pretty debatable given she won't come into play until the point when both Druid and Shaman will be overpowering you anyway.

    • BossWalrus's Avatar 150 49 Posts Joined 06/04/2019
      Posted 5 months, 1 week ago

      Yea.... I dunno man, I'm at Rank 2 and have a high winrate against shaman and druid at the moment, so maybe what I'm doing is correct here, (or maybe it is a bad deck & I'm a hell of a player).  The point of this is to be highlander Dragon, and it's been what's working for me.

  • Shosupply's Avatar 315 148 Posts Joined 05/28/2019
    Posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

    I have a similar version on my F2P account.  Of course I am missing some legendaries but I make due with the dragon package.

  • YJHS2000's Avatar Uther 265 119 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

    I gave this deck a go at rank 4-5, and went about 9-11 in 20 games. A lot of games where I drew nothing but big minions, and had nothing to stop aggro. I had much more success with the standard highlander Mage, but this was fun at least. Appreciate the deck and guide. 

    • BossWalrus's Avatar 150 49 Posts Joined 06/04/2019
      Posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

      Ah i'm sorry to see that, but thank you for giving it a go!  Sounds like you got a ton of crap draws, which.. given how top heavy this deck, is bound to happen. What suggestions would you make with improving it?

      • YJHS2000's Avatar Uther 265 119 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
        Posted 5 months, 1 week ago

        Honestly, I think Mage is in a bad spot right now after the nerfs. It's less a problem with your deck specifically, as it is with the ceiling for Mage (or at least Highlander Mage) being too low compared to the rest of the meta. 

        I had more success with the standard version with Mountain Giant and Conjurer's Calling, because the giant becomes an early threat that requires the opponent to deal with immediately at the expense of their game plan, and can lead to snowball wins. The standard deck also has Archmage Antonidas and cheap freeze spells as an additional win condition. I felt your deck was a little too reliant on Pharos as a win condition. I've tried Pyroblast as win condition in a few decks (made a freeze mage with Naga and 2x Pyroblast that was fun, but not very good).

        If you want to keep the dragons, I would suggest maybe cutting the Pyroblast and Naga, and adding in Mountain Giant and Conjurer's Calling. Conjurer's Calling also pairs well with Crowd Roaster (if you can get it to stick, harder now after the nerf). I had a dragon mage right after Conjurer's Calling came out that won a lot of games with that combo.

  • CableKnight's Avatar Content Squad Rexxar 320 171 Posts Joined 03/14/2019
    Posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

    Nice list, maybe instead of Naga Sand Wich you could try Sunreaver Warmage? I'd test it but I'm missing a couple of the key legendaries.

    • Shosupply's Avatar 315 148 Posts Joined 05/28/2019
      Posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago
      Quote From ColinthePyro

      Nice list, maybe instead of Naga Sand Wich you could try Sunreaver Warmage? I'd test it but I'm missing a couple of the key legendaries.

      I really like Sunreaver Warmage.  Seems fun to fit it into lotsa decks!

    • BossWalrus's Avatar 150 49 Posts Joined 06/04/2019
      Posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

      That's a great suggestion!  I completely forgot about that card, i think that is def. something to try out!  Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Zwane's Avatar Wizard 260 404 Posts Joined 06/04/2019
    Posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

    I am trying it out right now :) At rank 10 atm, with 2 out of 2 against a tempo rogue and a zoo lock. So it seems to be pretty strong against aggro.

    At first I thought it should have a bit more draw, but until now it worked out ok :)

    • BossWalrus's Avatar 150 49 Posts Joined 06/04/2019
      Posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

      Awesome!  I really thought I was going to regret not having as much draw as I thought I would, but turns out when you have so much AoE already, the deck will usually just take care of itself.  Hope it continues to do well for you!  I'll continue to update this as I can!


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