March 14, 2015
What is a Deck Battle?
Once a month, a guest host brings their favorite deck onto the show to battle the current reigning champion deck for control of the Happy Hearthstone Deck Battle Throne!
If the challenger wins the best-of-3 series, their deck becomes the new Reigning Champion Deck and will fight off future challengers until it loses, or until it’s earned its place in the Happy Hearthstone Hall of Fame!
View the Deck Battle Archive + The Happy Hearthstone Hall of Fame
Defending Deck: Dan’s Paladin Tech deck wins with slick tricks and lots of minions with special effects. His deck has reigned supreme for 1 month, and has beaten 1 deck before this episode.
Challenger Deck: Dan’s Mech Mage is an aggressive deck that wins through an immediate and punishing board presence. A strong draw can give you four or five minions on board turn 3, and your opponent racing for the Concede button.
In case you don’t have some of the ideal cards, here are some quality back ups and alterations you can make that keep with the same theme and strengths of the deck.
- Who won
- Obligatory bragging session
- Challenger Deck: How well did it perform?
- Defending Deck: How well did it perform?
- Best moments in the matches
- The Happy Hearthstone Champion Ceremony(tm)
- Max: Do you like Fel Reaver in Arena?
- iTunes Reviews
Card of the Week
- Follow Dan on Twitch or email him to find out more about his upcoming Hearthstone podcast, One-Eyed Cheat!
- What you want to see in future episodes
- What hosts you want to visit the show
The Mech Mage has been the bane of my existence in Hearthstone lately — rushing down my health before I can even get a stable footing with my late-game decks. That’s why I’m so happy that someone from the Happy Hearthstone community stepped up to share their own fun Mech Mage deck and took the time to walk us through his strategy of playing it.
Hopefully now, I can make the move over to the winning side of this deck, and I hope you give it a chance too! It’s one of the most exciting new decks to come out of the Goblins vs Gnomes expansion. You can see how this deck performed in its deck battle against the current Happy Hearthstone deck in this week’s episode!
Note from Josh: The rest of this article was written by Dan. Thanks, Dan!
The Mech Mage
Mech Mage is an aggressive deck that wins through an immediate and punishing board presence. A strong draw can give you four or five minions on board turn 3, and your opponent racing for the Concede button. Let’s get into each card and how it earns its place. You can find a completely plain deck list on the podcast episode.
2x Clockwork Gnome
Clockwork Gnome is a card I’m always happy to see in my opening hand. Against some classes, it’s the first step in establishing a dominating board presence and can often protect your two drop by favorably trading. Even if your opponent has a hero power that easily removes the gnome on Turn 2, you’ve caused them to drop behind on tempo and still have a clear board to place your 2-drop. Avoid playing Clockwork Gnome on Turn 2 unless you have both to play out, or you somehow didn’t draw a 2-drop, or don’t have an attractive Fireblast target. The key to this deck is curving out (meaning using all of your mana every turn), so Clockwork Gnome is easy to curve out as part of a turn 3 play.
Cogmaster is another card that feels great playing out on Turn 1. Considering the amount of mech minions in this deck, this should almost always have its condition met, making it effectively a 3/2 for 1 mana. The primary function of Cogmaster in this deck is to prevent your opponent from playing a minion on turn 2. If an opponent uses a removal card on your Cogmaster, that’s one less answer for the rest of the minions filling up your deck.
Annoy-o-Tron is a minion with very little of its value distributed into stats. On the bright side, the three pieces of text on the card (Taunt, Divine Shield, Mech) are worth their weight in gold. In the early game, if you can get him out cheap or free from a Mechwarper effect, it becomes a significant roadblock before the opponent can get to your more valuable targets. Later on, you can drop it after to protect an injured minion after a trade, or stop a huge burst of combo damage.
Without making substitutions and not counting Spare Parts, there are only 4 spells in this deck. If you’ve played a Mage before, or played against one, I shouldn’t have to tell you why these are a must! Frostbolt is fantastic for early removal, the freeze effect can be used as a tempo play against a powerful minion or an opponent with a weapon, and it’s cheap enough that it can be used in the late game the same turn you drop Archmage Antonidas. Hold this in your opening hand if you expect your opponent will play a Knife Juggler, Acolyte of Pain, Northshire Cleric, or any other early game threat.
Be careful when you Frostbolt a minion to 1 Health with the plan to ping it for the kill next turn – A good opponent will present you with a board where you’ll want to ping multiple targets. The freeze effect isn’t the best guard against a lethal strike from a late-game minion, either, as your opponent may have a silence in hand to nullify the effect.
The Snowchugger is a must-have for your match up against Warrior, Rogue and Paladin. The most significant threat in the early game to a weapon class is being prevented from using their mana-efficient removal. If a Warrior can’t remove a coined-out turn-1 Snowchugger, he’ll grind his teeth all game while his hand fills up with cards he can’t use. If you can drop this at the same time as the Mechwarper on turn 2 or 3, the weapon classes will be presented with a difficult choice in which to remove from play. For all other classes, the Snowchugger is a well-costed minion that can sometimes set up for favorable trades against larger minions with the Freeze effect.
2x Mechwarper” target=”_blank”>
This is the star of the deck. Without Mechwarper’s ability, this type of aggro mage couldn’t be successful. First, let’s examine the stats: 2/3 for 2 mana. This is arguably the ideal stat configuration for a two drop in GvG, so no complaints there. Now the effect: Mechs cost 1 less mana to play. Considering the makeup of this deck, that makes the Mechwarper essentially a persistent “Coin” card. It lets you out-tempo your opponent every turn they leave it in play. While you won’t draw both your Mechwarpers every game, knowing when to use it and how to protect it is one of the keys to success piloting this deck. The Mechwarper also has psuedo-taunt: your opponent cannot leave it unanswered, or they will lose. Considering this deck has no healing, anything that prevents your opponent from going straight to your face is going to help you live long enough to draw into your finishers.
It may be tempting to double up on Mechwarpers on board when you draw two in your opening hand, and that isn’t necessarily the worst move, but be careful: dumping your entire hand turn 3, 4 or 5 can allow your opponent to curve into their AOE removal. Don’t get too greedy, and don’t feel bad Fireblasting the opponent’s face with your last two mana instead of over-extending against a clean board.
2x Harvest Golem
Harvest Golem isn’t found in a lot of Mech Mage decks, and honestly it was one of the last inclusions in this deck. I like it a lot for Mech Mage’s early game, though, because of the second mech body left behind when the Golem eats it. This keeps your Cogmasters buffed and often forces the opponent to clear your 1-drop before your 3-drop to remove attack from the board. There’s only one Harvest Golem in this deck to make room for some of the more expensive, heavy-hitting minions.
x2x Spider Tank
The Spider Tank fills a hole that was missing in Hearthstone prior to GvG release: The neutral 3/4 minion for 3 mana. Think of it as a mini-Chillwind Yeti. The Spider Tank’s job is to prevent your opponent from playing minions that would die in a free trade, and force them to trade or remove if they want to gain back board control. It trades favorably against almost any 2-drop, and it has a tendency to stick to the board. This is because of the high health, and the fact that it’s often played behind Mechwarper, Snowchugger, or Annoy-o-tron. These cards eat the opponent’s removal cards or block their reach. That stickiness in a 3-drop is essential to this deck, because Turn 4 Goblin Blastmage or Tinkertown Technician with the battlecry effect can really help pave the road to victory.
2x Tinkertown Technician
Tinkertown Technician is one of the more powerful cards in this deck when played on curve. Assuming you can always get the bonus, which shouldn’t be a problem unless you top-deck him on an empty board, his value is well above his mana cost. Often you can use the spare part he gives you to help him survive the turn you play him by freezing a minion, or buffing one of your existing creatures with attack to help trade.
In Mech Mage variants that run fewer mechs and more utility/tech cards, I would only run 1 Technician, as you’re not going to be in great shape if you play him as a 3/3. While the value of a 3/3 for 3 by itself isn’t terrible, this Mage deck is built on trying to outgun your opponent, and his vanilla stats won’t give you the unfair advantage you need mid-game.
Fireball is in this deck to help you finish the game. Two Fireballs in hand makes for a 13-damage turn 10. Fireball should only be used against minions as a last resort, barring the existential threat of a Rogue dropping a Violet Teacher or a Sylvanis or Dr. Boom played against your empty board. It can also power through taunts if you weren’t lucky enough to draw your Black Knight, but the knowledge that you’ve spent your Fireball lets your opponent play more aggressively with their health and powerful minion cards.
If you have the option to trade and play minions or cast a Fireball to clear a taunt, you’ll almost always want to keep that 6 damage in hand. In the end game, be careful going out of your way to get your opponent to 13/15 health remaining at the end of the turn. This seems like a good idea initially, “Oh, I’ll still have lethal even if he wipes my board”, but that’s your opponent’s cue to heal up or play Loatheb, and use the minions you left behind on board to help stabilize.
Pro-tip: When you have a Fireball in hand and Antonidas (who summons a Fireball card into your hand every time you cast a spell), use all of your summoned Fireballs first! Your opponent can see which card you’re playing (position-wise) and knows how many Fireballs Antonidas gave you and where they were in your hand. But they will always have to guess whether or not you drew one naturally until you play it. Your deck’s Fireballs should be saved for lethal.
1x Mechanical Yeti
This is a card that was initially a 2-of in a lot of mech mages, and quickly dropped to a 1-of or none-of. I think part of that is because it doesn’t seem “unfair” enough to warrant a spot in the deck. Yes, the Yeti has phenomenal stats, but when played on-curve it doesn’t protect your vulnerable minions already on the board, and when played in late game it often doesn’t pack enough punch to threaten the opponent’s minions. I think another reason this card is unpopular is the fact that it gives your opponent a spare part card, which can (and does) backfire. Even if it’s very unlikely that 1 spare part will win the game for your opponent, the times where it plays into a loss will always stick out in your memory more than the times where they got something unplayable or useless. This perception makes Yeti an easy card to cut when players are looking to streamline the deck.
Now that I’ve given all the reasons not to run this card, I still keep 1 in the deck for a few reasons. The primary reason is Hearthstone won’t let me run 3 Piloted Shredders. But the spare part obviously has synergy with the deck, and it’s a card that has significant presence on the board, possibly over multiple turns. If you were going to remove this card because you feel it isn’t performing, I would switch it to a Sludge Belcher if you’re being swarmed by Aggro decks, a Flamestrike to help against a crowded midrange board, or possibly a Polymorph if you keep losing to control decks.
2x Piloted Shredder
One of the few mechs introduced in GvG that is being run in competitive non-mech decks, the Piloted Shredder is a minion that really rewards the intelligent player. The body by itself is decent, but obviously not worth the 4 mana investment. The pay-off in the random 2-cost minion, however, can be game-changing.
There are a significant number of these that are either Mech minions (tying into your existing synergy) or have active beneficial effects. It’s always fun to get a Knife Juggler, Armorsmith, or Annoy-o-Tron. Amani Berserker and Sorcerer’s Apprentice have great Mage synergy. Lorewalker Cho can bind up your opponent while you play out your minions each turn. I’ve had a leftover Mana Wraith protect my minions from a Turn 6 Fire Elemental.
There are times where the dice don’t roll your way and you get a Doomsayer or an Ancient Watcher, but in pretty much any other case it’s a body that gets left behind to do work. Piloted Shredder is just a fun card to play, and at 4 mana it’s a minion you shouldn’t have trouble getting out. I often keep it in my opening hand if I have the coin and I’m not facing Aggro.
2x Goblin Blastmage
Mages have some of the best spells for controlling and clearing a board, but this deck doesn’t run any of them. There are a few reasons, one is that those spells will eat the majority of your turn and sacrifice tempo if you don’t already have a full board. Another is that the effect is often overkill – it never feels good to use a Flamestrike against a Knife Juggler and a board of hounds or Silverhand Recruits. The third reason is that Goblin Blastmage provides an alternative at a lower cost that doesn’t make you pay in tempo or overkill your opponent’s minions.
Since I run this primarily as a value board clear, let’s discuss the Battlecry effect first. Four random damage to enemy characters is pretty potent. It works best against a board with four or five 1 health minions, as the way the random damage target is determined makes it likely that you will completely wipe their board. Against a board with one larger minion, it can help you bring their health down within trading range of your mech on board, which would leave the Blastmage uncontested.
Why is an uncontested Blastmage so great? While 5/4 for 4 isn’t the ideal stat distribution, it passes the vanilla test without factoring in the Battlecry, and it’s a minion that your opponent can’t leave on the board or they will lose the race. They’ll often have to overkill the Blastmage with a spell, sacrificing tempo and removal that they’ll desperately wish they had later.
If I have the Coin card, I’ll hold it in my opening hand against Paladin and Hunter, because it can take out Muster Recruits or Hounds on curve if you manage to keep a mech on board. If I’m facing a druid, it can be a nice turn-4 response to a Shade of Naxxramas played turn 3. The Blastmage will more likely than not kill the stealthed minion for you with the Battlecry effect. In the late stages of the game, you should hopefully have board control. Against an empty board, those 4 points of damage going straight to the opponent’s face can help you get lethal one turn sooner.
Blastmage should never be played without the battlecry unless you’re top decking it into an empty hand. Even if your opponent is wiping out your board each turn, you’ll be able to find a turn where you can play out a Mech and the Blastmage at the same time. Turn-5 Clockwork Gnome + Goblin Blastmage is a low cost combo that has a significant impact on an aggro board.
1x Azure Drake
A card without any mech synergy needs to do a lot of lifting to earn a spot in this deck, and Azure Drake passes the cut. The Mech Mage always has a problem with card draw, and any mid-range or control decks you face will try to weather the storm of your initial hand and then grind you out with card advantage.
By playing the Azure Drake, you make that strategy less viable after they’ve already committed to it. The card immediately replaces itself in your hand while putting a sizable 4/4 body on board. If I’m ahead on board on turn 5, I don’t mind over-extending with the drake because I’m not losing any tempo if it’s lost in an AoE spell. If I have no minions on board, it’s essentially a 4/4 with taunt, because the opponent doesn’t want me to benefit from the persistent spell power bonus. In the late game, it can sometimes draw that one spell you need for lethal. It’s quite exhilarating to top-deck draw into a lethal 4-damage Frostbolt or 7-damage Fireball.
Loatheb is another non-mech 5-mana minion that’s included for his serious impact on the state of the game the turn he’s played, but he should be played much more situationally. Turn 5 Loatheb isn’t an especially strong play and should be avoided, unless you’re placing it as the third strong minion on board against an opponent that has none. On turn 5, the opponent likely has a hand full of minions because they’ve been too busy spending their turns on spells or using their hero power to try and clear your board. This leaves the effect of Loatheb wasted.
Ideally, you’re using Loatheb to accomplish one of two goals. If your minions on the board have at least eight points of attack between them, use Loatheb to help them survive and hit face one more turn, which will help you knock out your opponent before they have the mana or cards to stabilize their health or the board. Alternatively, Loatheb can be used in the end-game to block lethal damage from spell combo decks. He’s saved me from Druids, Hunters and other Mages, but the key to playing him effectively is knowing which spells you’re trying to block and guessing ahead of time which turn your opponent is likely to play them. Learning how to play Loatheb is a bit of trial and error. If you toss him out and the opponent curves his next turn out with minions that challenge your board control, you probably should have held onto him for a later play.
1x Piloted Sky Golem
Sylvanas Windrunner is one of my favorite minions because her effect is so powerful. But she’s not in this deck because there’s no easy way to activate her, and committing 6 mana to an effect that can be played around by your opponent can throw off your entire gameplan. The Piloted Sky Golem, on the other hand, fills a similar role while working with the strengths of the deck. Sylvanas is a terrible card to play while you’re ahead on board but behind on cards, as your opponent can clear her first. Piloted Sky Golem, on the other hand, has it’s power spread over two bodies, which makes it a much better minion to extend with than Sylvanas. Unless you’re facing a serious control deck, a random 4-drop is probably better than whatever Sylvanas manages to grab from the board.
Because there’s only one of these in the deck, and I often have better value plays available on turn 6, the Golem doesn’t see nearly as much play as the Sky Shredders. As a result, it’s a little hard for me to gauge the actual value of the Deathrattle based on play experience, but it seems that the random 4-cost is much more likely to have some of that cost tied into a battlecry than a random 2-cost minion. Minions like Defender of Argus or Gnomish Inventor don’t really impact the game on turn 7 or 8, even if they’re uncontested. If you get really lucky, you’ll get a Yeti, a Shieldmasta or a Pit Lord, at which point your opponent will have some serious tempo problems.
1x The Black Knight
The Black Knight is a card that isn’t included in a lot of Mech Mage variants, as Fireball and Frostbolt already provide some potent removal. That being said, I love it in this deck for a few reasons:
- I want to save my direct damage spells for face damage to finish the game, or possibly remove a Dr. Boom. A Fireball against a Sludge Belcher still sets you back on tempo from the second body left over, and playing it from your hand lets the opponent play their 6+ drops and larger without fear that you’ll immediately remove it.
- Unless you’re playing against a rush aggro deck, winning with this deck means ignoring the opponent’s minions whenever it’s possible. They should always be behind and required to trade on their turn. By playing a taunt minion, they’re trying to flip this dynamic so you need to trade and they’ll have initiative on board next turn. Black Knight knocks out the one type of minion that will force you to spend your board presence, and leaves behind a 4/5 body. Almost all decks run some sort of taunt (most typically Sludge Belcher), and neutralizing it can be a key to easy victory against Mid-Range Hunters, Druids, Warriors, Handlock and Paladins. If you’re facing a lot of Oil Rogues or Face Hunter and this card isn’t doing it for you, consider swapping in Harrison Jones instead. These are the only matchups where I feel The Black Knight holds holds back the deck.
- Opponents often play out a big taunt as a last ditch effort to block lethal and stabilize. By the time you punch through taunt and re-established board control, they’ve often healed themselves out of lethal range. The Black Knight helps you take advantage of this one-turn window to finish the game.
- More of a “bonus” than something you can actually count on being in hand and useful, the Rusty Horn spare part can be used in a combo with The Black Knight to destroy any minion. This can really turn the tides in a control match-up, where you can use it to knock out Ragnaros, Kel’Thuzad, Alexstrasza or Ysera.
1x Archmage Antonidas
Prior to GvG release, Antonidas was seen as one of the weaker class legendaries. In order to make his effect reliably useful, you would need to weaken your deck by loading up on spells you wouldn’t otherwise run in the hopes that you can use them to conjure a Fireball. Since you can only have one Antonidas in your deck, reworking the entire minion/spell ratio in the hope of drawing the one card that will give you a victory condition isn’t very practical.
But he’s become much more viable since GvG for two reasons: First, Mages got two useful 2 mana spells (Flamecannon and Unstable Portal) to help activate him. More importantly, the Spare Part cards you accrue through the game can help you get him out early (on turn and keep him alive. The most obvious combo is with Finicky Cloakfield, as it’s almost impossible to clear him from the board before you can use him next turn to generate more Fireballs. The other spare parts are a little less useful, but if you can use one to set up a favorable trade and clear your opponent’s board, it’s usually a good play even if you leave Antonidas vulnerable.
If I have to use the Rusty Horn for a Fireball, I try to place it on another minion instead, as it leaves Antonidas open to a Black Knight counterplay. If you have both Dr. Boom and Antonidas in hand, play out the Dr. Boom first. It has more immediate board impact and can bait your opponent’s removal cards.
1x Dr. Boom
Dr. Boom rounds out this deck for the same reason he’s in almost every deck – He has the most value per mana spent of any neutral minion, and the RNG of the Boombot explosions prevents your opponent from having any easy answer. Since the bots need to be removed from the board before any opposing minions are safe, your opponent will often deliberately take the explosions to the face. This is especially helpful in the late game where you’re racing to lethal.
Besides the straight value, Dr. Boom helps to make your early game cards more viable in the late game. Opponents will often leave the boombots on board once they spend their turn removing the 7/7 body, and that allows for a follow-up play with Tinkertown Technician or Goblin Blastmage.
The 5 cards in this deck which I would consider swappable would be Harvest Golem, The Black Knight, Mechanical Yeti, Piloted Sky Golem, and Azure Drake. If you’re stripping out some mechs for more spells, you may want to consider dropping to one Tinkertown Technician as well. Some reasons you would want to remove any of these:
- Harvest Golem: It doesn’t have a lot of flair, and has a limited window of turns you can play it where it can really impact the balance of the board. Spider Tank is the better card to play on Turn 3, which means your hand can get crowded with 3 drops early and the card spot might be better used on a tech card with utility.
- The Black Knight: In an Aggro meta, this card is a stone around your neck. If it never finds a target against the opponents you’re facing, the opportunity cost of including this in the deck is huge.
- Mechanical Yeti: It’s just a solid mid-range card. Definitely pull this before removing Piloted Shredder if you’re trying to shift to a more aggro or control deck.
- Piloted Sky Golem: A little slow for this deck, and often you’re prevented from playing it on curve because you have a better play using your hero power.
- Azure Drake: Another card you might need to swap out if you’re facing too much aggro. Because some of its mana cost is tied up in the Battlecry and Spellpower effects, it won’t be enough of a threat on the board to keep your opponent from going to face.
Here are some options of cards you can consider using in their place:
2x Mad Scientist
An insanely powerful card that should be an auto-include if you plan on adding secrets. The benefit in this deck is that you can play him out before your mechs, letting you save your Mechwarpers for a turn where you can get more value. Triggering his Deathrattle equates to roughly 5 mana worth of tempo, helping you front-load your minion rush. You should always keep scientists in your opening hand and throw back your secrets.
2x Mirror Entity
This has been the most popular secret to include in the standard Mech Mage decks. By itself it’s nothing special, but with the Mad Scientist Deathrattle, it helps block or negate the Turn 3 or Turn 4 plays an opponent needs to stabilize, or keep them from playing a taunt on Turn 5 or Turn 6.
The Mad Scientist/Mirror Entity combo is very powerful, but I eventually took them out for two reasons: Hunter is all over the meta and loves to play Ironbeak Owl or Webspinner into the Secret, and Kezan Mystic/Doomsayer can absolutely wreck a game that would have been an easy win if you didn’t bring Secrets to play with. That being said, if you’re just getting started with a Mech Mage, I would probably recommend using the Mirror Entity variant to climb ladder up until the point it starts losing you games.
Counterspell has a decent enough effect, but the real benefit here is the fact that an opponent facing a Mech Mage with a secret up will assume it’s Mirror Entity. This will often prevent them from playing an optimal turn, and there’s a good chance they’ll use their turn attempting to clear while they wait to draw into a minion that’s less painful to give you a copy of. Your opponent has now taken a sub-optimal turn, wasted a card they probably need, and the mana used to play it.
If you already have 2 Mirror Entities and 2 Mad Scientists in your deck, it may just be valuable to have one extra secret in reserve in case you draw them before your Mad Scientists pull them from your deck.
2x Mana Wyrm
Mana Wyrm can fit well in this deck if you start swapping out some minions for spells, particularly Flame Cannon and Unstable Portal. If you can cast a spell on turn 2, or coin out another 1-drop on turn 1, the Mana Wyrm can start immediately trading up. A Turn-1 Mana Wyrm can also bait out removal, paving the way for your Mechwarpers and Snowchuggers. Mana Wyrm also is a good spot to drop Spare Parts, as you can get double value with the normally sub-par stat buff cards.
Flamecannon is a beast of a card if you’re struggling against midrange decks, and can help you get through taunts on the cheap. If you’re facing a lot of druids, Flamecannon is a great way to knock out Shade of Naxxramas. I would only recommend adding one, as there are a ton of 2-drops in this deck and 2 Frostbolts are already a must, so there’s already a bit of a glut of 2 mana cards.
2x Unstable Portal
Unstable Portal is a great card to include if you’re shifting toward more early game and are incorporating the Mana Wyrm. It can also be included by itself if you’re just looking for another Antonidas activator that can give utility early game. Ultimately, it’s just a fun card, and one that rewards the player that knows how to best use whatever drops into his hand.
The other cards that released alongside Unstable Portal actually make it much better than if it were introduced in Naxxramas – Blizzard added 22 Legendary cards with GvG, which definitely shifted the power range of your average random minion up. Anecdotally, I’ve gotten way too many Legendary cards to think this is pulling a true random minion, and those if you can play those card 3 turns ahead of curve, they can easily be enough to win you the game.
1x Arcane Intellect
Arcane Intellect is kind of plain in that it draws cards with no other effects, but it fits because the goal of this deck is to play out the most powerful minions you can on curve. Spending 3-mana this turn to have much better options next turn can be a great play if you’re ahead on board. Casting this spell instead of playing a minion can prevent you from over-extending into your opponent’s board clear, and give you the cards you need to recover from it. Don’t use this card when you have a play with minions in hand, as the 3 mana spent becomes less of a tempo concern the longer the game goes on.
Polymorph is a spell that doesn’t exactly fit into the theme of this deck. You should be spending your mana to put damage on the board or cast it from your hand, not using 4-6 crystals to remove a threat. That being said, it can be an effective substitution for Black Knight if you don’t have it, or can be slotted in if you’re struggling against control because it can be such a strong tempo play late game. If you have it in hand, don’t waste the effect on a mid-range minion if you’ve got another play, you’ll need to sheep a heavy hitter to get enough value to make it worth running.
2x Sludge Belcher
This is a particularly strong swap if you’re consistently losing to hunters. Although it’s obviously lacking the Mech syngergy this deck banks on, it’s a great on-curve play to guard the minions you already have on board. Be careful playing it out while you already have 3 minions on board, a Mind Control Tech can ruin your day if it grabs the Belcher.
Like Polymorph, Flamestrike is a spell that doesn’t really fit into the deck, but can situationally be very useful in keeping your board intact through the late game. It’s a bit of an insurance policy against your opponent out-pacing you, but including such a heavy costed spell in your deck makes it more likely that you’ll be in a position where you need it to begin with.
Mech Mage’s strength is that it’s straightforward: Play minions, go face, remove threats, use fireblast for value. It’s weakness is that it’s largely predictable: Your opponent knows what minions you’re trying to play on curve, and can use that information to skew the board state so you only have unattractive plays. To combat this weakness, once you’ve reached the point on the ladder where it seems your Mech Mage is topping out, reasses the tech cards in your deck. Which cards are still in your hand when you lose? Which cards are your opponents playing around? There’s a lot of flexibility here to help you keep your opponent guessing.