Hearthstone Help: How to build your own deck

Now it's time to build to put theory into practice. I'll be showcasing a Mage deck I've been working on lately which is largely 'reactive', but also includes a few fun 'experimental' cards.The goal of the deck is to beat Tempo Rogue, while making it a bit slower than the current popular Aggro Mage so that it has a bit more durability and is less dependent on drawing a good starting hand.

This strategy limits the deck's early damage output, but hopefully gives it more consistency when it comes to closing out games. First we need to create the core of the deck, and then move onto the filler cards – which are non-essential but help flesh out the deck and cover for some weaknesses and gaps.

[Note: The Mana Curve shows the number of cards picked at each Mana point from 0 to 10, cutting off at whatever value is highest.]

Phase 1: Core Construction

What are the highest quality cards available to the Mage? Fireball is a no-brainer for removing minions and attacking the opposing hero's face, while Mana Wyrm and Water Elemental are really solid minions, and Polymorph is just a great removal spell. They're all in. Frostbolt is also a great early removal spell, but can still be useful later in the game with its Freeze effect. Oh yeah, and of course there's Arcane Intellect . It synergizes brilliantly with Mana Wyrm, and Mage really does need that card draw potential.

Total Cards: 12/30

Curve: 0-2-2-2-6

Minions: 4

Spells: 8

Phase 2: Filler

Right now we're looking really heavy on 4 Mana cards, as is often the case for Mage. What with all the early pressure we can exert with the Mana Wyrm, we should probably toss in a few more spells. Mirror Image is great when it's protecting a 3/3 Mana Wyrm. Another card that works well with Mirror Image is Knife Juggler , so let's have a couple of those.

Alright, the early game is looking pretty strong, but we need some method for closing out games in case we're forced to use our Fireballs for minion removal. Ice Lance receives some added benefit in a deck which also uses Frostbolts, Water Elementals and Mana Wyrms, so that's another good pick.

Since we're focusing on the early game so hard, and we have so many cheap spells while being light on minions, Sorcerer's Apprentice could offer a lot of value too.

Okay, how's the Mana Curve looking like now? 0-6-6-2-6, with a split of 8 minions to 12 spells. That means we're looking pretty light on 3-Mana cards and minions in general. What could we toss into the 3-Mana slot? Well, there's the good ol' Harvest Golem , but a lot of decks run Silence nowadays and besides, he's a bit of a slow-play and 2 damage isn't that great. Magma Ra … No, no, no, no.

Huh, what about Kirin Tor Mage ? I've always wanted to use that card more, and getting a 4/3 minion and playing a secret for free (which invariably usually costs 3 Mana) on the third turn could be huge for temp. Yeah, let's try two of those. And since we're running Kirin Tor Mage, we may as well run Mirror Entity , as it's the best Mage Secret. If they don't manage to play around it, and we get a 4-drop (effectively with Charge, for 3 Mana!), it's probably game over for them.

As we have so much pressure in the early game, there's a risk that AoE spells like Unleash the Hounds, Consecration , Lightning Storm and Hellfire could really screw us up. Since we have Kirin Tor anyway, let's try Counterspell . On paper its effect should be really strong. Let's take a quick look at what Tempo Rogue runs for its spells: Backstab , Sap , Eviscerate, Blade Flurry , Deadly Poison and Sprint .

The worst thing we could hit would probably be Backstab, but that could still screw up a possible Perdition's Blade or SI:7 Agent Combo kill, and if it negates their one and only Blade Flurry that would be huge. Yeah, Counterspell is worth running.

Four slots are left open. We're looking really light on card draw now, and with those Secrets our 3-Mana slot looks really heavy. I think we could use a few more mid-game cards.

Since our 4-slot is already so packed, we should look on the 5-Mana shelf, where we find… Of course, the Azure Drake will work perfectly in this deck. The +1 spell damage buff will sync with our arsenal of spells, while also giving us that little bit of card draw we badly need.

Finally, let's top the deck off with an Argent Commander in case we need a bit more damage to remove a pesky minion with taunt, and since the card is so good anyway. Finally, I want to add a Dire Wolf Alpha , because I'm always impressed by this card in Zoo and Hunter decks, and it seems like it could work really well with our Mirror Image. Done! You can see the complete deck list to the right hand of the page.

Total Cards: 30/30

Curve: 0-6-7-8-6-2-1

Minions: 14

Spells: 16

Phase 3: Tweaking and Teching

From here, the deck's cards will be subject to change depending on a variety of factors. The metagame may evolve in a new direction, the cards may underperform or become redundant as new cards are released. Over a long enough period of time the deck may have so many tweaks done to it that it becomes a completely new deck!

Teching refers to specific counter-cards that players may introduce for tournaments or other events, which are specifically designed to destroy a particular strategy or deck-type while keeping this change secret so as to create an element of surprise.

A lot of decks have a few cards which could be changed out easily without damaging the overall integrity of the deck. In our example, the final two cards picked are just such examples. Overall our deck has a very Aggro-Control flavor to it: its aim is to produce a steady stream of threats, while countering potential plays against the opponent's threats using cards like Counterspell and Polymorph. Feel free to try-out the PCG Mage deck for yourselves and see how it does, altering cards to suit your particular playing style or card collection.

A lot of the fun in card games comes from the theorycrafting and deckbuilding. Sometimes it can be very quick, sometimes it can be tedious and frustrating as you struggle to make a certain card combination work when it doesn't seem to want to. But the reward when a plan finally comes together is immense, so don't feel daunted by the task and, as the Orcs like to say: Lok'Tar Ogar!

Tim Clark

With over two decades covering videogames, Tim has been there from the beginning. In his case, that meant playing Elite in 'co-op' on a BBC Micro (one player uses the movement keys, the other shoots) until his parents finally caved and bought an Amstrad CPC 6128. These days, when not steering the good ship PC Gamer, Tim spends his time complaining that all Priest mains in Hearthstone are degenerates and raiding in Destiny 2. He's almost certainly doing one of these right now.