Sometimes it’s easiest to get the sense of a deck by watching a sample game, so here’s a few vods:
EDIT: here’s some more!
vs aggro: mulligan for frostbolt, doomsayer, explosive sheep, deathlord and earthen ring farseer (lots of stuff! so good starts are common here)
vs control: mulligan for duplicate, deathlord, sludge belcher, and maybe doomsayer (depends on how good your hand is already)
vs paladin: keep cone of cold to counter muster for battle
Your goal is to use the mage’s natural advantage — massive board clears — to absorb your opponent’s entire deck and then watch them die from fatigue. You have some help from the classic freeze mage board clear combo (frost nova + doomsayer) and from the GvG additions of explosive sheep (more board clear uniquely suited to the mage’s hero power), healbot (a huge heal you can copy), and echo (add coldlights, taunts, or heals to your deck as needed).
I won’t go card-by-card, but deathlord deserves particular mention as a cornerstone of the strategy. It’s an 8-hp taunt that mills your opponent (since the minion it spawns is pulled from your enemy’s deck) and loads his board up with value for your board clears, and since it’s only 3 mana it’s pretty easy to dupe/echo. Play a conga line of these and you usually win. Coldlights double as the deck’s card draw and finishing burst damage, so echoing those isn’t bad either.
best matchups: zoo, handlock, priest, freeze mage (free win)
worst matchups: control warrior, druids with two copies of the combo
Last month I got sick of playing my freeze mage list because antique healbots had messed with my handlock matchup. Freshca had been streaming his mill rogue for a while, and I recalled the games against the old miracle rogue when my freeze mage would end up winning by fatigue. So I made a list that looked like this:
It’s all 2-ofs and it all fits the concept. Dancing swords help with the mill, sunwalkers are great to copy if you want to go deep vs control. I figured doomsayers didn’t have duplicate synergy and I’d usually used them in freeze mage for tempo plays, which I didn’t think would be applicable here (freeze mage has an 11-turn win condition so every enemy turn nullified by a doom is essential).
So a couple days into playing the list I queued into Freshca and he stomped me with a rogue deck he was tinkering with, but when he saw my two coldlights, he said “Oh hey, I’ve actually been working on a deck like that, it’s really fun to play.” I mentioned I’d been winning the handlock matchup but pretty much losing to aggro all day with my list and so Freshca, with the knowing smile of a father correcting his son’s batting stance before a Little League game, sent me this:
And that’s what I’ve been playing since, minus the poly-for-BGH substitution which corresponds to the present ubiquity of Dr. Boom. Right away the zoo matchup started working for me and hunter games became winnable. Cutting fireballs wouldn’t have occurred to me but I haven’t missed them — I also hadn’t realized that silenced doomsayers have echo synergy. I’d love to get sunwalkers back in somehow for the control warrior matchup but I probably won’t try cutting earthens for them until I’ve hit legendary.
Since the season reset I’ve played nothing but this deck (all on my stream, which you can find here) and so far I’ve climbed to rank 7 (from 17). Since games take 20+ minutes each, this is not a deck for ranking up quickly, but if you love playing puzzle decks I’d really encourage you to give this one a try. A big chunk of the win rate comes from queueing into warlocks, but warlock is always in season, so much so that I believe I’ll be hitting legend with this list.
Why no pandas/dancing swords?
Basically earthen ring is better against zoo/hunter and those are incredibly prevalent ladder decks. There’s not much else to sub out.
This isn’t a real mill deck! Why even use coldlights?
Coldlights provide necessary card draw without getting you closer to fatigue (relative to your opponent). They can also burn your enemy’s cards, especially if he’s playing handlock, and they’re necessary at the end of a game to deal lethal damage when you’re finally out of clears and your opponent has been taking fatigue damage for four turns or so.
Does the word “heterological” describe itself?
“Yes” and “no” both lead to contradictions! More info here
Your opponent got a turn 4 Rag before you could deal with it! Why are you still using deathlords?
You just have to swallow some RNG on this one. Deathlords are unbelievably good in this deck, to an extent that isn’t really possible in any other deck than fatigue mage (since of all the fatigue decks, only mages with their huge clear cards actually want the power to manipulate enemy minions onto the board, whereas non-fatigue decks don’t like how it effectively draws the opponent a card). Very early Rags and Tirions are the exception.
That’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed the writeup and I hope you give this deck a shot in ranked. The new playstyle has really rejuvenated my love of the game — I’ve had more fun over the past few days with this list than I’d had in months. Huge thanks once again to Freshca (go follow him!) for the deckbuilding savvy and to everyone in Twitch chat for the thoughtful commentary and measured words of encouragement.