Hearthstone: Why I Play Mage

Hearthstone is out now on both PC and iPad. With new players joining the battle each day, Shacknews is closely examining each of the game's nine classes and learning how to play with all of them from the perspective of Chatty. First up is Jaina Proudmoore, the Mage.
Hearthstone players are first introduced to Jaina as their first playable class. Players can use the Mage to gradually unlock the game's other classes. However, some will choose to stick with the Mage and her potent spell cards and killer combos, many of which center around her Hero Power of dealing 1 damage to any target.

Why the Mage?

On the surface, the Mage appears to be the friendliest class for Hearthstone newcomers. That's because of her ability to keep minion crowds under control, thanks to some powerful cards and easy combos. The aforementioned Hero Power can keep lower health minions at bay, while it can also be combined with higher-powered spells to either take out powerful summons or finish off any Heroes on the ropes. Jaina's spells and minions are often straightforward with few aftereffects, making her an ideal choice for learning how Hearthstone works. As poster nwillard points out, it carries a bit of a "noob stigma," given Jaina's position as the game's first playable character. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, given that for many people, Hearthstone is their first exposure to a collectible card game. "I play Mage often because of the strong hero power," Chatty poster Zteve says. "Also because it is the first class the game introduced me to and, thus, feels more familiar given that this is my first CCG of any kind." However, the Mage is also a surprisingly deep class that can help keep opponents and their minions at bay. Chatty users, like brickmatt, are among those that have observed that the Mage has several spells centered around crowd control. With classes like Paladin and Shaman that can use their Hero Power to summon minions at will, it's important that Jaina use her powers to keep the numbers to her advantage. "When I play control, Mage feels most natural," zakazi adds. "So many ways to remove things from the field or do damage. It can be a little boring, but it is fun trying to absorb an aggro player and then retaliate when they sputter out."

Notable cards/combos

Even newcomers to Hearthstone can take advantage of Jaina's most powerful spells. One of the most common combos, utilized by such players as Chatty's Patch-e, brickmatt, Chunks, and BeowolfSchaefer, involves using Polymorph, which can sink even Legendary minions by reducing it to a harmless 1/1 Sheep. Combined with the Mage's Hero Power, it can quickly take down even the strongest minions. "I grin every time I can 'Sheep' a Sunwalker or anything the opponent has buffed up significantly," Zteve added. Frost Nova (a 3-mana spell that freezes all minions on the field) and Blizzard (same effect, but all opposing minions receive 2 damage) can help a player buy precious time before coming up with a strategy that can further clear the field. These cards are brutal when combined with one of Jaina's most powerful cards, a 7-mana spell called Flamestrike, which does 4 damage to all opposing minions. Fireball (a 4-mana starter card that deals 6 damage on a target) should not be underestimated. It can deal serious damage to just about any minion, while Frostbolt can serve a similar function by dinging a minion for 3 damage while leaving it frozen for its next turn. "With rush and zoo so prevalent in the current meta, you'll also need solid control and creature removal," skinlab133 adds via a private message. "That's why I've got a couple Polymorphs, Frostbolts, and Flamestrikes to clear the board." The Mage can likewise play crowd control with certain minions. Mirror Image is a 1 mana card that will summon a pair of offense-less 0/2 minions with Taunt equipped. At worst, they're a simple distraction that can divert enemy minion attention. However, skilled players can combine them with stat-boosting cards like Raid Leader or Stormwind Champion to suddenly add some attack power to those minions and give them a chance to chip away at the opposing Hero. And of course, woe to the opponent that has to deal with a Mage packing Pyroblast, a 10-mana Epic card that deals 10 damage to any target. Chatty's f4lln is packing his deck with Fireball and Pyroblast cards, which should strike fear in the hearts of any Hero with low HP.

These are some of the Mage's most powerful spells, many centered around crowd control

Deck strategies

The Mage also has some potent Secret cards that can either be used to neutralize opponent summons. Spells like Vaporize and Ice Barrier can keep Jaina alive at crucial moments and buy some precious time. One player that loves to take advantage of the Mage's powerful Secret cards is skinlab133. "Obviously, one of the keys to a good deck is card synergy, and so any secret deck would be wise to include Kirin Tor Mage," skinlab133 explained. "A 4/3 for 3 mana with a Battlecry that lets you play a Secret for 0 cost, that's a 6 mana play for half price and it ensures you have Secrets up on the board early and often." skinlab133 likes to combine his Secrets and his Kirin Tor Mage with the Ethereal Arcanist. This is a 4-mana card that summons a 3/3 minion. If he controls a Secret at the end of his turn, the Arcanist gets +2/+2. Given that Kirin Tor Mage can make Secret plays cost no mana at all, an opponent can quickly be overwhelmed by an Ethereal Arcanist with 7/7 stats. An opponent will likely try to counter this onslaught with a Legendary minion, at which point skinlab133 can chuckle as Jaina unleashes the Mirror Entity card. This Secret will automatically summon the exact same opposing minion onto the field, which could potentially add a free Legendary to your ranks. "Bottom line is, it's a fun deck to play that's not only uncommon, but if played correctly, also effective!" skinlab133 concludes.