Our Control Mage deck list guide features the best Rastakhan deck list for Season 59 of Hearthstone (February 2019). Our Control 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. We’ve seen a big part of the deck, Dragoncaller Alanna, fall in and out of favour over time, but it’s now back in the card list once again. What has always stuck around, though, is 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 - JANUARY #1
We're in the process of updating all of our deck guides after the Christmas break, but nothing's changed at all for Control - or Big Spell - Mage. We will be tracking this one throughout January, however, and so will make a new update if we feel it's necessary.
Control (Big Spell) Mage deck list and strategy
After some time with the Rastakhan meta, this is the most popular version of Control Mage that's being played right now. There is still a lot of room for change, however, so we’ll be updating the list every so often.
|2 x Arcane Artificer||1 x Prince Keleseth|
|2 x Daring Fire-Eater||1 x Acolyte of Pain|
|2 x Polymorph||1 x Gluttonous Ooze|
|2 x Dragon's Fury||2 x Stonehill Defender|
|2 x Blizzard||1 x Tar Creeper|
|2 x Meteor||1 x Saronite Chain Gang|
|2 x Flamestrike||2 x Arcane Tyrant|
|1 x Jan'alai, the Dragonhawk||1 x Zilliax|
|1 x Sindragosa||1 x Skulking Geist|
|1 x Dragoncaller Alanna||1 x The Lich King|
|1 x Frost Lich Jaina|
Select and copy the long ID string below, then create a deck in Hearthstone to export this deck into your game.
Deck Import ID: AAECAf0EDPsMysMC08UCm8sCoM4Cws4Cm9MC8tMCnOICo+sCoIADqIcDCU3JA+wHm8IClscC29MC1+ECluQCzYkDAA==
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, or combine Daring Fire-Eater and your Hero Power to ping off low health early game creatures.
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. With all those big spells you’ve played, Dragoncaller Alanna can summon you a massive army or Dragons, or you can look to summon Ragnaros via Jan’alai, the Dragonhawk for another devastating win condition.
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. Tar Creeper: Similarly, Tar Creeper can be a frustrating blockade to your life total, even more so for aggro decks.
- 4. 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.
- 5. 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 defence is always welcome in this deck!
- Skulking Geist can completely ruin the plans on many combo decks by removing key spell cards from their deck when played.
- When you play Daring Fire-Eater your next Hero Power that turn will deal an additional two damage. This combines well with your base Hero Power to kill off minions, or you can use it once you’ve become Frost Lich Jaina to more easily summon Water Elementals.
- You should find it quite easy to deal eight damage with your Hero Power over the course of the game to enable the extra effect on Jan’alai, the Dragonhawk. Bringing Ragnaros the Firelord onto the board alongside it presents a huge problem for your opponent, and another win condition for you.
- 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.|
Control (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.
- Prince Keleseth: Can get your game off to a great start by empowering all your other minions in the deck with a + 1 / + 1 buff. Consider replacing with a Doomsayer or Raven Familiar if you don’t have the card.
- Gluttonous Ooze: With the multitude of decks in the current meta running weapons this is a wise tech inclusion that will also generate you some extra Armor. You can run an Acidic Swamp Ooze if you don’t own this and are running into lots of weapon-heavy decks.
- Arcane Tyrant: With all the expensive spells in the deck, this is guaranteed to cost nothing at some point setting you up for a powerful tempo play. Some versions are running Astromancer in its place.
- 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.
- Zilliax: A impactful and multi-purpose Rush minion that can help you catch up against aggro in particular. A handy inclusion but not massively necessary if you want to run an additional Saronite Chain Gang instead.
- 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.
- Jan’alai, the Dragonhawk: You’ll be doing a lot of damage with your Hero Power throughout the game, so you should be able to activate the bonus effect easily to give yourself another win condition with Ragnaros the Firelord.
- Sindragosa: A big minion to drop on Turn 8 that also comes with the added value of summoning two Frozen Champions that can give you a pair of Legendary minions into your hand. Decks that don’t run it seem to prefer Pyroblast instead.
- 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.
- 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!