Our Secret Mage (or Tempo Mage) deck guide features the best deck list for the new Kobolds and Catacombs meta, with Mulligan advice, strategy tips, card combos and synergies.
Secret Mage is a deck that's absolutely stuffed to the brim with Secrets and spells, and it's a playstyle that will leave your opponent on a permanent backfoot as they attempt to read the possible pitfalls that might lie ahead of them, and respond to your collection of Secrets as efficiently as they can - or can't, as the case often is.
All the while they're doing this, you'll hopefully be fattening up your own board with an ever-snowballing threat of your own. How exactly you play the deck out depends very much on what those Secrets happen to cook up for you at any given stage of the match, and the challenge that the opponent presents you with.
In our Secret Mage guide, we've got a starting deck list for you to get going with, along with some strategy advice and some tips for for making it through the Mulligan stage. Finally, we've outlined all of the combos contained in this particular version of the deck. Understanding all of these is key to navigating the uncertain path that every game is going to throw at you. Good luck!
UPDATE: 14th December 2017
No changes for Secret Mage as we enter the end of the first week of competitive play in Kobolds and Catacombs. Do make sure you're using the most up to date version of the deck list though, as it's seen a little tweaking here and there over the last seven days or so.
Secret Mage deck list and strategy
Here's an improved version of Secret (or Tempo) Mage that's proving popular in the early days of the Kobolds and Catacombs meta. We'll continue updating this guide throughout the launch window and beyond.
|1 x Kabal Lackey||1 x Medivh, the Guardian|
|2 x Mana Wyrm|
|2 x Arcanologist|
|2 x Frostbolt|
|2 x Medivh's Valet|
|2 x Primordial Glyph|
|2 x Arcane Intellect|
|2 x Counterspell|
|2 x Explosive Runes|
|1 x Ice Block|
|2 x Kirin Tor Mage|
|1 x Spellbender|
|1 x Ethereal Arcanist|
|2 x Fireball|
|1 x Aluneth|
|2 x Kabal Crystal Runner|
|2 x Firelands Portal|
Select and copy the long ID string below, then create a deck in Hearthstone to export this deck into your game.
Deck Import ID: AAECAf0EBsAB7gLJDaG3Auu6AqLTAgxxuwKVA6sElgXsBaO2Ate2Aoe9AsHBApjEAo/TAgA=
This is, in essence, the classic Tempo Mage of old updated with a Secret twist to keep it relevant for the Kobolds and Catacombs meta. A Secret from Arcanologist made free with a follow-up Kirin Tor Mage provides you with a huge tempo advantage, for example, and evolves the deck far beyond the established Mana Wyrm / Frostbolt / Primordial Glyph opening plays we all know so well.
If you have a flawless curve of insane tempo in the early-game, then you should race aggro opponents to the finishing line, otherwise you're best off taking a more controlling position. You're fast, but you're not aggro at the end of the day. Come the mid-game you can start taking a more aggressive approach when you've established firm control of the board. Board presence is everything with this deck, so always try to ensure you have more out in play than the opponent does
Against control opponents it's a lot more important to start putting the pressure on nice and early on and then slam your hand over the victory line quickly. These types of opponent will always beat you in the slow race when the late-game rolls around, after all, and so you do need to take quite an aggressive stance. Make your fast minion plays over everything else, and save cards like Arcane Intellect and Primordial Glyph for later on in the game when you need more fuel.
In slow matches, it's also a little more important to plan out your Secrets carefully, and set your opponent up for a very bad time of things. The better you know the meta, the more refined your reads will become here, so just keep practising and thinking about how specific match-ups went previously.
New cards in the archetype include Explosive Runes and Aluneth. The former should help out against Control opponents a great deal, while the latter can help refuel your hand after a very fast early and mid-game.
Strategies against each class:
The following advice is based on the current Frozen Throne meta and will be updated to suit Kobolds and Catacombs shortly after launch. Some of the broad insight will still apply, however, and so we're leaving it here in its current state.
Druid - Druid matches are tough for any class, although Tempo Mage performs OK against the big green menace. Counterspell and your excessive burn spells are difficult for the Druid to deal with - outside of their few armour generation options, that is - so always have an eye on whether you have the damage in hand to take them out.
Hunter - It might be tempting to go for that Volcanic Potion tech choice as insurance against aggro, but Hunter is seeing so little play right now it’s not worth the immediate inclusion. The spells you already have available to you - plus your hero power and the tempo you can gain with Kirin Tor Mage - should be more than enough to keep all the little minions in check.
Mage - Once you’ve uncovered which variation of Mage you’re up against you can strategise accordingly. Freeze Mage will look to stall your minions, so lean towards the burn approach. Exodia Mage is trying to find all the right pieces for the one-turn kill, so race them down as quickly as you can. Control Mage will be tough, but time your secrets well and you can disrupt their plans and burn them down before their late-game swing.
Paladin - Without area-of-effect removal options, match-ups against the popular Paladin decks on the ladder right now can be difficult for Tempo Mage. With a strong Murloc opening in particular, it can be impossible for you to claw your way back into the game. Nevertheless, try to control the early game by picking off the most threatening targets with your spells, such as Murloc Warleader and Murloc Tidecaller. If the Paladin isn’t able to build a stable board of Murlocs you can then take the lead in the match.
Priest - With their multitude of control options and excessive healing you can easily run out of resources when up against a Priest. Burning them down is not a great strategy either. However, four-attack cards such as Kirin Tor Mage are important for gaining an advantage as they are harder for the Priest to deal with. Kirin Tor Mage is especially good for getting the Priest on the back-foot early. They may panic and be forced to waste multiple resources in order to remove it.
Rogue - Tempo Rogue is your main concern in the current meta, and so your best bet is to take quite an aggressive stance in this match-up. Don't spend your entire time controlling the board, but do take sensible trades while building up towards your big burst finish.
Shaman - As with any class that comes up against Token Shaman, you’ll want to keep the board as clear as possible. Don’t be afraid to use your spells aggressively to do so, as much as it may pain you to Fireball a Flametongue Totem behind the safety of taunt minions. Save your secrets, particularly Counterspell, to disrupt potential Bloodlust or Evolve plays. If they misplay to avoid it or boldly waste one of these cards into it, you’ve already gained the psychological victory.
Warlock - Control Warlock will try to build a wall of minions in front of them to protect their life total. Your spells do not care for this. Do not, however, leave too much up on the board that you end up getting slowly whittled down. Their excessive life tapping will also work in your favour and push them nearer towards a life total you can easily burn down. If they’re too nervous to tap, their resources will run low too, allowing you to storm ahead.
Warrior - The Pirate Warrior match-up is a dangerous one as they are definitely far quicker at racing you down. Try to fend off the damage as much as you can in the early game with spells, your hero power and tempo plays via cards like Medivh’s Valet. Survive the early onslaught and the game is yours. Control Warrior is far tougher - don’t let them generate too much armour or they’ll race far out of burn range.
More great Mage guides:
- 1. Big Spell Mage - Big Spell Mage deck list guide
- 2. Exodia Mage - Exodia Mage deck list guide
- 3. Secret Tempo Mage - Secret Tempo Mage deck list guide
- 3. Kobolds and Catacombs decks - Best Kobolds and Catacombs decks
- 4. Dungeon Run - Dungeon Run guide
- 5. Kobolds and Catacombs guide - Kobolds and Catacombs guide
Secret Tempo Mage Mulligan guide
In both aggro and control match-ups you're always going to favour drawing Mana Wyrm, so hold onto it at all costs. If you can follow that up with a Frostbolt for removal or an Arcanologist, you're going to be in great shape. If you get the latter, you also want to hang on to Kirin Tor Mage to gain some major tempo.
Primordial Glyph will also empower the Wyrm and give you an extra tool to play with as well. Kabal Lackey needs to be played with a Secret in-hand to gain its power so just be mindful of how you factor this card into your early-game curve.
That's the basics of Mulliganing this deck, then, but why are we making those choices? Here's a closer look at some of the key cards we've outlined above.
1. Mana Wyrm: Nothing outranks this minion on the list and if you receive it in the Mulligan phase it represents the backbone of your early tempo plays. The raw vanilla stats aren't exactly terrible for dealing with early aggro minions, but it's the attack-increasing synergy with the many spells you'll play that really make it shine. Expect anyone but the greenest of opponents to remove this target as quickly as they can.
2. Arcanologist: This is of course a Secret-fuelled deck, and so the value of this card is pretty self-evident. Second only to Mana Wyrm when it comes to priority keeps, if you can pair this up with a Turn 3 Kirin Tor Mage and the free Secret provided, you're going to find yourself in very good shape indeed. Even if you don't get a combo rolling, it's hard not to get value out of this minion on Turn 2.
3. Frostbolt: The Mage's signature early-game removal spell not only helps stop the opponent from getting off to a preferential start, it also serves to empower your active Mana Wyrm, which can then go onto make a more meaningful play itself. Good times!
4. Primordial Glyph: We're quite surprised to see Primordial Glyph escape a swing of the nerfbat during the Un'Goro metagame - only its RNG element prevents it from being truly obnoxious. Like Frostbolt it has exceptional synergy with Mana Wyrm, and it also provides you with a sometimes powerful spell that's so cheap it feels like cheating!
Please note that we've removed our hero by hero Mulligan chart until the meta has stabilised in the Kobolds and Catacombs meta. We'll replace it with an updated version in time for the start of the January season. Thanks for your patience.
Secret Tempo Mage tips, combos and synergies
There are quite a lot of combos to juggle with any kind of Tempo Mage, and the latest Frozen Throne version is certainly no exception.
Here's what you need to be thinking about when playing this deck out:
- Every time a spell is played your active Mana Wyrm will gain an extra point of Attack power. Something to always keep in mind as you're planning out your turn, especially if this combo starts happening later on in the match than you might have liked.
- Arcanologist will choose a remaining random Secret from your deck and put it in your hand when played.
- You get to play a Secret for free after putting Kabal Lackey or Kirin Tor Mage onto the board. Keep that in mind when planning out your potential Mana options on any given turn.
- Try to avoid playing Medivh's Valet until you can trigger his Battlecry effect with an active Secret. Doing so can provide you with a very significant tempo advantage.
- Not only will Primordial Glyph allow you to Discover a new spell, the cost of that spell will be reduced by two Mana when it's in your hand.
- Ethereal Arcanist grows by +2 / +2 at the end of each turn if you still have an unexposed Secret in play.
- Aluneth will give you three extra cards at the end of each of your turns, and will do so until its destroyed by the opponent or replaced by Medivh, the Guardian. Watch the size of your hand so you don't end up burning any crucial cards!
- Kabal Crystal Runner costs two Mana less for each Secret you played earlier on in the match. It's very common to find yourself playing this minion for free.
- When you play Medivh, the Guardian you'll gain a 1 / 3 weapon. Cast a spell while this weapon is in your hand and you'll summon a minion that costs the same amount as the spell. You lose a point of Durability each time this occurs, so watch out for wasting it on cheap spells - something like Firelands Portal is much better, for example.
- Think about the best time to play Counterspell, so it can disrupt or psyche-out your opponent. Would their next turn be the perfect opportunity for a Bloodlust, Flamestrike or Ultimate Infestation? If you drop a Secret prior to that turn - even if it’s not Counterspell - you may force them to rethink their plans. Another possible outcome: they have no other option and play right into it, entirely wasting the spell!
- Similar to how you would play a Thing From Below, consider how long you want to hold onto Kabal Crystal Runner. Remember, it reduces in cost by two with each Secret you play. With at least four Secrets in this deck you should never be playing it at full cost. Once it drops to two Mana - or even zero - you can combine it with late game cards such as Firelands Portal for a huge tempo swing.
- Don’t rush to use a card like Primordial Glyph just because you have the Mana available. It may be a neat way to utilise all your Mana crystals, but also consider the board state before using it. Used freely you might get a decent card at a discount. What’s better? Saving it when you’re in a tough position and using it to find the exact answer you need. Devastating for your opponent; euphoric for you!
This article contains additional reporting by James Pickard.