Welcome to the second entry of the newest THL blog series; THL Fiery War Primers! In this series, we will bring you all you need to know about some of the strongest decks, from the best THL players, with new guides coming regularly. Our goal here is to bring you intel on the major aspects of a deck: core cards and card choices, piloting advice, advice when playing against it, and how it can fit into your THL lineups. We’ll bring you a different deck every week(ish), based on meta trends.
It has been a long time since a meta took as long to develop as Scholomance Academy is taking. By this point in a regular meta, we’d already know all the tier 1 decks, and no big news would happen other than nerfs. This time, it feels like a new deck is coming up every single week. Even when nerfs come, it looks like a lot of decks are already poised to take the newly formed vacuum. Cyclone Mage, also known as Tempo Mage, Small Spell Mage, and Spell Damage Mage, is one of the latest decks to follow this trend.
-LotusKnight, BZRK, basedinc, Icicles & rebobson
Tempo mage is a powerful, versatile deck that has been increasing in popularity as more and more players experiment with the different lists and packages. It has a strong matchup spread, with very few awful matchups, and different builds can lead to a significant win rate variance.
1) What are the deck's matchups?
Matchups are not trivial to consider, but one of the first elements you should look at when considering a deck. That being said, your specific list will cause your matchups to vary. There are not specific cards or packages that affect a matchup as strongly as within Bomb Warrior, but you can expect some variance depending on playstyle and build. There are also many ways you can play Cyclone Mage, and choosing the right one will completely change your matchups; we will explore this in much more detail over the next couple of days. We here present some of the main matchups, with the data taken from HSReplay.net for the last 7 days, using only top 1000 legend data.
One of the major factors that attracts players to Cyclone Mage is the high number of positive winrate matchups. In fact, other than the significantly bad Bomb Warrior matchup, all other matchups find themselves around the 50% or higher range. Once again, we note that some of these matchups will vary by build and skill level, but are definitely significant points to note. This is a hard deck to play, so expect some of the favorable matchups to become not so favorable as you get to grips with the deck.
2) What are the core cards?
Cyclone Mage is still very much a deck in flux; there are constant improvements and refinements being made, with many different cards staking a claim as being ‘core’ to the archetype, at the very least within the current meta. As such, we are keeping this section to the 18 which have been staples since the launch of Scholomance Academy, and are what makes the deck function so effectively. These 18 cards can be split further into 3 distinct packages; ‘Small Spells’, ‘Spell Damage’, and ‘Payoff’ cards. All alternative inclusions, including many which have recently started becoming considered as ‘core’, will be covered tomorrow in Part 2.
Package 1: Small Spells
The first package, the ‘Small Spells’ package, will be largely familiar to anyone who played any amount of Rise of Shadows-era Cyclone Mage. The heart of the deck remains the same; run as many cheap spells as possible, in order to gain the maximum mana advantage in one turn through Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and as early in the game as possible. If you can cheat 10 mana before turn 4, how can you lose? Ray of Frost is still your premier stall mechanic, often allowing you to refrain from being hit in the face by your opponent’s largest minion for a turn or 2, giving you the crucial draw window in that time to assemble your own tempo swing turn. Magic Trick is often your secondary stall mechanic, giving you a lot of flexibility with your choices, though the pool of outcomes is quite varied (29 cards as of Scholomance Academy can be discovered by Magic Trick). The main advantage of both of these cards, however, is they will often be 1 spell which turns into 2 spells with Sorcerer’s Apprentice; the Twinspell of Ray of Frost will be castable immediately, as will the majority of options with Magic Trick. This allows for much greater tempo swings with your payoff cards within these turns. The newest addition to this package is the Legendary Spell ‘Evocation’, whose effect can be manipulated heavily through the use of 1 or 2 Sorcerer’s Apprentices. Evocation has a multitude of uses within the deck; when a hand has run out of value naturally through not drawing draw, as a hail mary in an impossible losing position, or as a last-ditch effort to find lethal when you are a few points off.
Package 2: Spell Damage
The second package is a completely new addition to this deck from Scholomance Academy, and indeed was what the deck really needed to come together after a series of Hall of Fames and rotations to core cards of the previous iteration of Cyclone Mage. Astromancer Solarian had already been introduced to the game in Ashes of Outland, and still provides the alternative win condition of Solarian Prime into Puzzle Box into opponent’s concede, however the new additions of Lab Partner, Primordial Studies, and Cram Session have allowed the deck to fill several key holes. Notably, Lab Partner fills the void left in Mage by the nerf to Mana Wyrm of a well-statted 1-drop, while Cram Session allows for consistent card draw a whole 1 Mana cheaper than Arcane Intellect, with the possibility of scaling draw even further. Primordial Studies ties the ‘Spell Damage’ and ‘Small Spells’ packages together beautifully, often filling out spaces in an early game curve to allow the board to fight more aggressively for board with minions in the early game while spell resources are being amassed.
Package 3: Payoff Cards
Finally, the ‘Payoff’ cards, the entire reason to run this deck and win in the first place. Mana Cyclone is the card which allows the deck to run so light on value with all of the cheap spells, as it will refuel your hand with random cards of a much higher value; having already obtained the value from your cheap spells. Mana Giant is the heavy hitter of the deck, with the idea being to play as many generated cards as possible, as quickly as possible, allowing the 8/8 to be played as early as possible. In quite a few matchups, playing a turn 3 or 4 8/8 is simply enough to end the game as a contest.
Tune in again tomorrow for Part 2 of Fiery War Primers - Cyclone Mage, where we will be walking you through all the possible cards you can use to fill up your Cyclone Mage decklist, each of the author's own preferred Cyclone Mage lists, budget inclusions, and more, and again on Saturday for Part 3 with play tips, mulligan guides, and everything else!
-LotusKnight, BZRK, basedinc, Icicles & rebobson
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