October 22, 2017
Table of Contents
Deck Guide: Nalguidan’s HCT Giant Mage
Hey guys! It’s me, Fuskee, and today I’m bringing you a pretty special treat from the Hearthstone Championship Tour. Right now if you’ve been playing Ranked you’ve seen a healthy dose of Highlander Priest and Jade Druid and that’s no surprise seeing as how pretty much every single person who was part of the Championship Tour was running those decks. Out of 16 players, 16 of them were running Highlander Priest and 15 ran Druid, 14 Jade Druids and 1 Druid Aggro/Zoo. But out of all the classes being run, there were only 2 Mage decks and both of them were very different from one another. Tom60229 ran an interesting Highlander Control Mage with things like Kazakus and Inkmaster Solia but for this deck guide, I want to take a look at Nalguidan’s Giant Aggro Mage.
Although Nalguidan didn’t make it into Top 8 you have to look at his statistics to understand why. In both of his matches he was dominating with a straight 2-0 before losing 3 games straight with his Control Warlock deck, 6 losses total with that deck alone. If he had run anything else I’m sure he would have done a ton better. I didn’t even vote for him for my packs but as I was watching the Hearthstone Championship Tour I couldn’t help but feel like I was rooting for him. He’s a great player and his insight into this Mage deck proved to be really powerful since it managed to dominate both of his matches against Tom60229’s Highlander Mage as well as Oldboy’s Fatigue Warrior.
I piloted the deck on my stream over the past week and was easily able to get from Rank 8 or so up to Rank 4 where I’m currently at. I think if I wasn’t sick for the past 2 days I would be much higher than that too, probably even Legend by now. Let’s go over the deck and if you’d like to watch a few matches, feel free to check out my Twitch stream linked below since there is plenty of footage of me dominating various opponents. Warning: I do get a little frustrated fighting against Highlander Priest at the end of my videos, haha.
Decklist: Giant Mage
The deck isn’t heavy on minions but these actually provide a great amount of aggro without leaving too much for minion removal to take care of. I mulligan pretty heavy for Mana Wyrm and Arcanologist to get the game started and they have been known to end games on their own, putting people within double Fireball range or less.
Mana Wyrm: Probably one of the best 1 mana drop minions in the game. With 3 health it’s hard to kill and since this deck is filled with 18 spells, along with Primordial Glyph which can trigger its ability multiple times if you’re lucky, these can get real big and real dangerous fast. They are your BEST card for early game since they provide both a good defense vs aggro by killing usually 2 minions or so, while also providing awesome offense by growing huge and attacking until your opponent can deal with them. I’ve had a few games where tossing up my Counterspell and avoiding things like Hellfire have literally won me the game alone, by keeping a single Mana Wyrm alive with 6+ attack. Obviously irreplaceable in any Aggro Mage deck.
Arcanologist: To be perfectly honest, I love these girls more than Mana Wyrm. They are basically a card draw that get you the end-game survival that you need to outlast opponents with your Ice Blocks and just burn them to death while those blocks are up. At the same time they do a GREAT job of stopping aggro decks like Evolve Shaman or Pirates, since they have the same 3 health as Mana Wyrm but also pack a decent 2 attack to kill most aggressive stuff. I consider any game where I start off with one of these in my hand as a good game. It’s a decent size minion, a card draw, and not just a random card draw, a guaranteed GOOD card draw since you will always need your secrets. I mulligan for these pretty hard.
Medivh's Valet: Not quite as powerful as Arcanologist even though they are the same size because you almost never drop them on Turn 2 unless you’re facing some heavy aggro and don’t have any answers for awhile. Best paired with an Ice Block on Turn 3 into Medivh's Valet on Turn 4 with a Hero Power, but that means you’re showing your opponent that you have it. Your best bet is to play it on Turn 5 along with the secret so they don’t see it coming and burn away one of their aggro minions while also getting a free 2/3 for them to deal with. Something you’ll learn as we go over this deck some more, don’t be afraid to deal 3 damage to their face and play it down as a 2/3 if you have no targets. This deck is very aggressive and powerful and if they don’t have anything attacking you, feel free to play it down and start attacking them because you can easily finish people off with the big damage spells in this deck.
Arcane Giant: Such a great card and in this deck, it’s pretty damn powerful. Games where you have the Coin have a higher chance of winning since you can drop these guys way faster, having 1 less cost because of the free spell. You’ll find that you can time these guys with Frost Nova or Blizzard when they cost like 2 or less mana and then follow up with something like Alexstrasza to put them to 15 or just a big Pyroblast to deal lots of damage in one turn. Keep in mind, Highlander Priest is really big right now, so Shadowreaper Anduin will easily kill both of these if you drop them at the same time, so use the cheap mana cost to bait that out if they haven’t played him already since you can always drop them after they cast the death knight. Super strong card and when combined with freeze effects, win lots of games.
Some people consider this a Control deck but I think they’re looking at it the wrong way. The high damage output this deck has in spells alone is something I would classify as Aggro and I’ve burned LOTS of opponents to death with no minions on the board at all. It’s hard to avoid spells and without any sort of healing or armor, this deck can take someone down real fast if they’re caught too low from the small early game minions we have.
Frostbolt: I use this mostly as early game removal for things like Southsea Captain or Flame Imp but there will still be games where you can use it on a Rogue or Warrior with their weapons equipped to freeze them like your Frost Nova and Blizzard keep their minions from attacking. Most of the time it’s used to fight early game but it can still go face so don’t be afraid to combine it with things like Fireball or Firelands Portal if you can see someone is close enough to death to burn them the rest of the way.
Fireball: What do I need to say about this card? It’s good for taking down things with Taunt that are blocking your small minions like Jade Behemoth but if you can keep those minions frozen I advise you keep this to go face. Because the deck has lots of burn and things like Pyroblast, I’ve had quite a few games where I’ll go Alexstrasza with Ice Block active, they pop Ice Block, Fireball with my 2nd Ice Block being cast, and then finish them with Pyroblast. Don’t hesitate to use it on big minions that are dominating you like something with a Bonemare buff on it, but usually your freeze effects can take care of them while you burn them to death with Fireballs.
Firelands Portal: Unlike Fireball I don’t usually go to my opponent’s face with these unless they don’t have any minions in play. Usually I’ll use it to keep midrange minions off the board while getting a few big guys to attack with or distract them while I draw into more stuff to keep hitting them with. I probably use it more as a control spell but the minions you get out of it do a good job of attacking, especially if you combine it with Frost Nova and maybe some Arcane Giants.
Pyroblast: Probably my favorite card of the deck. So powerful and one of the best finishers in the game. There’s not a lot of Pyroblasts being played right now so many players won’t see it coming and it’s fairly easy to hit them down to 10 health with an Ice Block up and then finish them next turn with a blast to the face. I’ve ended a LOT of opponent’s with this card and you will learn to love it. I usually save it as a surprise finisher but if you have Ice Block up and you think you’re going to try and burn your opponent to death, cast this first so you have the mana free to cast other spells along with Ice Block or Frost Nova to keep yourself alive.
These are the spells that keep you alive and prevent all these aggro decks from thinking they can overwhelm a Mage deck. It takes some learning to get used to when you can Frost Nova minions but once you’ve mastered that art, your survivability is insane.
Primordial Glyph: Such a magical card, not only does it make your Mana Wyrms super deadly it also makes your Arcane Giant super cheap. Look for big mana spells that you can make cheap and play early like Firelands Portal or Blizzard/Flamestrike. Another fun card I’ve found is Greater Arcane Missiles since you can play it turn 5 for 5 mana and deal 9 damage to your opponent if they don’t have minions, like a control Warlock or control Priest deck. Almost ALWAYS take Primordial Glyph if you see it come up since it will make your Arcane Giants super cheap.
Arcane Intellect: This is your basic card draw of the deck. One note to make is that if you’re playing against control, having one of these in your opening hand is REALLY good. I’ve started to mulligan for them in the control matchups like against Highlander Priest and I’ve found that if I have the extra cards to fight against them I do a lot better. Not much to say other than that, it’s your card draw as well as being a spell that pumps up Mana Wyrm.
Counterspell: Ok this is the ONLY change I made to Nalguidan’s original decklist that he took to HCT. Originally he had an Ice Barrier in his deck and while I agree that it’s good, I wanted this card because it helps against Highlander Priest, Evolve Shaman and Jade Druid. A lot of players can play around this card but if you watch my matches, you’ll see that it counters a lot of good stuff. It protects your Mana Wyrms if you can get them out and start swinging and also keeps Arcane Giant alive later on against Highlander Priest since all they run is 1 Shadow Word: Death. They’re also great for countering Nourish and Spreading Plague as well as occasionally hitting an Ultimate Infestation which feels REAL GOOD. 😉 Ice Barrier is an okay alternative since it allows you to stay alive at 1 health when you Frost Nova your opponent but still have to answer to something like Rogue’s Hero Power or Druid’s Hero Power, but in this meta I think this card fits really well. This is up to you, if you do want to take it out make sure you put in another secret because running 3 is important that way if you draw 1 of them, you still have 2 in the deck for Arcanologists to find.
Frost Nova: Your answer to early aggro that allows you to get into your lategame answers. Combo this with Doomsayer to wipe boards or with Arcane Giant to set up for a big swing but watch out for answers to Doomsayer. It’ll take awhile to learn the art of Frost Nova, knowing when to use it and when to save it, but like I said above once you learn how to use it the right way you can survive a long time with this deck.
Ice Block: The ultimate stall card. Throw these up whenever so that your Medivh's Valet has a guaranteed way to deal 3 damage since they can’t get them to trigger at all early on, and then rely on them to give you the time to burn your opponent and finish them off. Having one of these active in play and one in hand gives you a LOT of time to just throw out spells and deal massive direct damage before finishing with a Pyroblast. I’ve won a LOT of games this way and it seems to be the theme of the deck. Control the early game a little bit, deal some damage midgame and then when the minions get too big, use Frost Nova and Blizzard to stall while you deal some damage and then finish them off with Ice Block activations.
Blizzard: Just like Frost Nova you can combo these with other cards like Doomsayer but mainly these are the way for you to wipe the early game minions off the board and set up to come back during the midgame. Wipe the board while you play down a late Mana Wyrm or maybe even an Arcane Giant.
The Legends and Doomsayer
Doomsayer: This card is another one that is very difficult to use because you have to be able to anticipate your opponent’s reactions to it. Finding the right opening is very difficult but if you can learn to master this card, this is another one that gives you insane survivability. Dropping it early against things like Pirates or Rogue Aggro is strong, but also learning to use things like Frost Nova + Doomsayer is strong too. Watch out for things like Devolve and Shadow Word: Pain though since a lot of players will know to have them handy against a freeze Mage type deck. Basically, be ready for this guy to fail the first few times you’re learning to use him, have backup plans like Blizzard to follow up with the Frost Nova in case it doesn’t wipe the board.
Medivh, the Guardian: Basically a strong minion while also getting a huge momentum change in the match. Force your opponent to deal with a 7/7 and then cast things like Blizzard or Firelands Portal to fill up your board with big minions and then control their board with freezes while you attack. My favorite is to combine this with Blizzard since it gives you free attacks with the big minions and then following up with another Frost Nova with maybe Arcane Giant for some really damaging turns. Even if you can’t finish your opponent completely with those minions, they will deal enough damage to put them within lethal of your high damage spells like Fireball.
Alexstrasza: AMAZING card with lots of versatility. It has saved me a few times by putting myself back to 15 health but the best use of her is when you have Ice Block in play. You get to lay down an 8/8 and set your opponent to 15 health which is really scary for most players unless they are Warriors/DK Druids since they can gain armor, or Priests since they can heal themselves with things like Greater Healing Potion. Almost everyone else will begin to panic since this deck has a lot of spells that can finish off someone at 15 health. I almost never cast this without having Ice Block in play to protect myself and usually follow it up with another Ice Block while I cast spells to their face.
Giant Mage Deck Code
To use this code, highlight that string of letters/numbers and then right-click and Copy or press Ctrl+C to copy it to your clipboard. Then go to create a new deck and Hearthstone will ask you if you want to create a deck using your clipboard and it will autofill the deck for you!
Conclusion: Strong and Unexpected
I watched Nalguidan play this deck at HCT and was just in awe at how strong it was, reminding me of the old school days of Ice Lance Freeze Mage but without the full life combo effects. By just using high damage spells to control AND be aggressive, the deck does a great job of putting people within lethal range and keeping them there until it finds the cards to finish them off whether it’s Pyroblast or Arcane Giant + Freeze spells. I just wanted to test it out and take a break from Highlander Priest, which was my original article idea, but once I started playing it I couldn’t stop. I didn’t play against ANY other Mage decks like it, there were a few Secret Mage Aggro decks being played that use things like Kabal Crystal Runner and have the same type of aggro damage spells but this version is definitely my favorite of the Mage decks I’ve seen played. I think it does a great job of being competitive while also being unique so people can’t predict everything you’re going to do, I had a lot of games where I thought I was going to lose but then a Priest or Druid would end up not healing themselves or gaining armor for 1 or 2 turns and then all of a sudden I had lethal with Pyroblast and some other damage spells. It’s nuts!
If you like slinging spells like Fireball and blasting your opponent in the face, you’ll love this deck. And make sure to show Nalguidan some love! I think he did amazing at the Summer Championships and if he had something better than his Warlock deck I think he would have gotten way farther in the rankings. His Twitter is @Nalguidan if you want to check him out and see what he’s up to, I have to say I’ve become a huge fan of his and I hope to cheer for him again soon!
As for me, you can always follow my activity on Twitter at @whoisfuskee and find me on stream EVERY day at twitch.tv/whoisfuskee until I find myself a new job. I took the last 2 days off but I should be back to the grind tomorrow, trying to hit Legend to prove to you guys that I’m worth watching!
I hope you enjoy this deck as much as I do and if you have any comments, make sure you leave them below! I always respond to people’s questions or advice and I love talking Hearthstone with pretty much anyone. Check back in a week for my Highlander Priest update featuring YOGG-SARON and I should have a lot of fun videos up on my Twitch for that as well. Until then, good luck out there!