Our Control (Big Spell) Mage deck list guide features the best deck list for Season 56 of Hearthstone (November 2018). Our Control (Big Spell) Mage guide also contains Mulligan advice, card combos and strategy tips.
Control - or Big Spell - Mage has undergone quite a few changes since its original incarnation towards the end of 2017. Dragoncaller Alanna has actually been dropped from the most popular version of the deck seeing play right now, although you still have access to powerful late-game minions like Frost Lich Jaina, Sindragosa and The Lich King.
In our guide to playing this archetype, we've got the best deck list you can use in the current meta. We've also outlined the general strategy involved in playing Control Mage, provided a few Mulligan tips, then created a teardown of all the card combos that you'll find in this particular version of it. That should give you a solid ground in the strategy required to play this huge deck.
UPDATE - NOVEMBER #1
There have been quite a few changes to Control Mage in recent weeks, and following the recent nerfs to Giggling Inventor which provided extra mid-game defense. Do make sure you're using the latest deck list and have imported the new Deck ID. We'll have another update for you on this one later on in the month.
Thanks to James Pickard, who provided much of the new content in this latest version of the guide.
Control (Big Spell) Mage deck list and strategy
This is the most popular version of Control Mage that's being played right now, although it will no doubt be refined further. We'll have another update for you later on in the month.
|2 x Arcane Artificer||1 x Prince Keleseth|
|2 x Arcane Keysmith||2 x Acolyte of Pain|
|2 x Polymorph||1 x Gluttonous Ooze|
|2 x Dragon's Fury||2 x Mind Control Tech|
|2 x Blizzard||2 x Stonehill Defender|
|2 x Meteor||2 x Saronite Chain Gang|
|2 x Flamestrike||2 x Arcane Tyrant|
|1 x Sindragosa||1 x The Lich King|
|1 x Frost Lich Jaina|
|1 x Pyroblast|
Select and copy the long ID string below, then create a deck in Hearthstone to export this deck into your game.
Deck Import ID: AAECAf0EBr8I08UCws4Cm9MC8tMCnOICDE3JA94F7Af7DJvCApbHApvLAtvTAtfhApbkAr7sAgA=
- 1. Rastakhan's Rumble - Hearthstone: Rastakhan's Rumble guide
- 2. Control Mage - Control Mage deck list guide (Boomsday)
- 3. Murloc Mage - Murloc Mage deck list guide (Boomsday)
- 4. Odd Mage - Odd Mage deck list guide (Boomsday)
- 5. Tier List - Hearthstone deck tier list
- 6. Rumble Run - Rumble Run guide
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that Control - or Big Spell - Mage is, well, a deck packed full of big Mage spells. Your aim with this deck is to drag matches as far into the late game as possible, where you can use some of the class’s most expensive spells to finish the opponent, or outlast them with Frost Lich Jaina.
The deck has definitely fallen down the rankings over the last few months, but if you enjoy playing a heavy control game while devastating your opponent with explosive spells and big minions, then it’s an excellent choice.
Early game: It’s all about control in the early game, and setting up for the future. In that sense, Prince Keleseth is an immensely powerful card as it'll boost all your subsequently drawn minions. Acolyte of Pain will also allow you to pull more cards as you build towards your late-game threat. You can also use Stonehill Defender to frustrate aggro opponents in particular.
Mid game: As you cross into Turn 5 and upwards, the deck starts to truly come alive. Any concerns of facing down an overwhelming board in the early game can now be wiped out instantly with a Dragon’s Fury or Blizzard. On the other hand, single targets stand no chance if you direct a Meteor at them.
Late game: From this point on you should be in total control of the game. Any last remaining minions can be burnt up for good with Flamestrike, and then it’s a case of using cards like Sindragosa to start building up a late-game board.
There’s still more to follow after that, too, if you transform yourself into Frost Lich Jaina. Now, your Hero Power will summon a fresh Water Elemental if you kill a minion with it, and they’ll all be granted Lifesteal to keep you healthy as the late game drags on. Pyroblast can be used to seal the deal if the opponent's within range of lethal damage.
Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with aggro opponents on the ladder:
- 1. Prince Keleseth is an incredibly powerful card in every deck it appears in and you want to play it as early on as possible.
- 2. Tar Creeper is good for holding back fast opponents, but it’s not much of a disaster if you end up taking some damage in the early game – you have a multitude of big board clears on the way.
- 3. It’s worth saving Arcane Artificer until you can combine it with one of your more expensive spells for a significant Armor gain.
- 4. Arcane Tyrant makes for a strong tempo play as a follow up to a five Mana or more spell. You can clear the board and then start staking your own claim over it.
These are some tips for facing control decks:
- 1. All the healing and Armor gain, plus Frost Lich Jaina, means you stand a great chance of outlasting most other control decks.
- 2. Blizzard doesn’t have to kill your opponent’s creatures. It can be used to freeze them for a turn while you push for damage.
- 3. Save your Polymorphs for the biggest threats your opponent is likely to field in the late-game.
Control (Big Spell) Mage Mulligan guide
Search through your deck to try and get these cards in your opening hand:
- 1. Prince Keleseth: The earlier you can play this card, the more value you'll gain over the course of the entire match.
- 2. Stonehill Defender - A superb tool for shutting down aggro opponents, and even giving slower decks something to think about for a turn.
- 3. Acolyte of Pain: More options are always awesome as Control Mage, and don't forget that you can ping this card with your hero power to generate more card draw.
- 4. Frost Lich Jaina: As expensive as this card is, it's such a crucial part of your win-condition that it's absolutely worth holding onto as a dead card for the early and mid-game.
Control (Big Spell) Mage tips, combos and synergies
Here are the most important card combos that you need to keep in mind while playing this particular version of Big Spell Mage. As the deck list changes over time, so will this breakdown of synergies:
- Every time you cast a spell, Arcane Artificer will grant you Armor equivalent to its cost. Your opponent is not going to let this card live on their turn, so you want to combo this with your bigger spells in the late-game.
- Once Prince Keleseth has been played, all the minions remaining in your deck pile gain an extra +1 / +1 of stats. It's very important to play this card as early on in each match as you can as it can be a source of incredible value.
- Don't forget that you can use your hero power to ping Acolyte of Pain and draw an extra card that way.
- Gluttonous Ooze will not just destroy the opponent's weapon, but also give you Armor equal to the blade's Attack value. Extra defense is always welcome in this deck!
- If the opponent has four or more minions on the board, playing Mind Control Tech will cause one of them to be randomly chosen and pulled over to your side of the table.
- If you've played any of the following spells, you'll be able to play Arcane Tyrant for free on the same turn: Dragon's Fury, Blizzard, Meteor and Flamestrike.
- You need to juggle Health values quite carefully with Frost Lich Jaina. If you ping a minion with your new Hero Power and your target dies you'll gain a free 3 / 6 Water Elemental for the board. You can target your own minions, however, and so sometimes it's worth "refreshing" a worn-out minion with a new one!
- You are guaranteed to dish out at least four points of damage when Dragon's Fury is played, as Polymorph is your cheapest spell in the deck.
- Hit the End Turn button and The Lich King will give you a randomly chosen card from the following options:
|2||Death Coil||Deal 5 damage to an enemy, or restore 5 Health to a friendly character.|
|2||Death Grip||Steal a minion from your opponent's deck and add it to your hand.|
|2||Obliterate||Destroy a minion. Your hero takes damage equal to its Health.|
|3||Death and Decay||Deal 3 damage to all enemies.|
|4||Anti-Magic Shell||Give your minions +2 / +2 and “Can't be targeted by spells or Hero Powers.”|
|5||Doom Pact||Destroy all minions. Remove the top card from your deck for each minion destroyed.|
|6||Army of the Dead||Remove the top 5 cards of your deck. Summony any minions removed.|
|7||Frostmourne||Deathrattle: Summon every minion killed by this [5 / 3] weapon.|
Big Spell Mage card choices and substitutions
Many of the key cards in Big Spell Mage are expensive and have very few alternatives, although we’ve suggested some where possible.
- Arcane Artificer: Paired with your late game spells it can generate some serious Armor to give you more survivability.
- Doomsayer: A great way to throw an opponent completely off their game plan and wipe out their entire board. Replacements are tough to find, although you can try Wild Pyromancer at a push to cope with early aggression.
- Raven Familiar: A perfectly OK minion. With all the high cost spells in your deck, though, there’s a strong chance you’ll win the duel on the Battlecry effect.
- Bright-Eyed Scout: Thirteen cards in the deck cost more than five Mana. That’s pretty good odds of getting a discount on something very useful.
- Dragon’s Fury: Eight of the ten spells in this deck cost five Mana or more. That’s usually enough for a full board clear.
- Meteor: Almost excessive single target removal. You can try running a Vaporize for a similar effect, but opponents can more easily find a way to play around that.
- The Lich King: A big body to drop on the board on Turn 8, plus some of the Death Knight cards can be put to excellent use.
- Alexstrasza: Quite an important element to make the deck work, especially against control decks. You can scorch through a huge part of your opponent’s health pool to set up a quick lethal.
- Dragoncaller Alanna: Another essential part of the deck that’ll summon an army of 5/5 dragons depending on how many big spells you’ve played throughout the current game.
- Frost Lich Jaina: Gives you some ridiculous lasting power in the late game by converting your hero power into an elemental summoning machine. Oh, and they now have Lifesteal as well, so you can survive into fatigue!