Secret Mage is back. This deck has been floating around for years, but was never quite good enough. During the last expansion, Secret Mage almost cut it, and several players tried their hardest to find the right dek. In Journey to Un’Goro, however, Arcanologist finally pushed the deck towards a more viable place. If you like tempo and secret, this may be the deck for you!
Secret Mage Decklist
This Secret Mage decklist put out by the Vicious Syndicate, attributed to a player called HelixFossil. They also attribute the archetype as the one with the second highest win rate this past week. Variants of this decklist usually involve adjusting the number of certain secrets. Pyros is a card that surprised me in the deck, but in playtesting I like it quite a bit. There are nearly infinite variants of this deck, I would test whatever you feel best.
Secret Mage Playstyle
This deck plays very similar to a typical Tempo Mage deck. You play for board control and tempo, and manage to often gain card advantage at the same time. Obviously the core of the deck revolves around getting secrets in play efficiently. Arcanologist into Kirin Tor Mage is an incredible early combo. The fact that these lead into free or nearly free Kabal Crystal Runners later is only a cherry on top.
The true power of this deck, in my eyes, is how little they rely on the perfect curve. You have so many early plays that you’ll very rarely not have board control. Your Arcane Intellects and Primordial Glyphs allow you to keep up card advantage, especially if you have a Wyrm or Sorcerer’s Apprentice in play. Your spells and Medivh’s Valet allow you to keep your opponent’s board clear all the while. And your secrets and Pyros provide consistent value and force your opponent to play inefficiently.
One of the hardest things in this deck is to decide when to stop clearing and go face. The biggest thing you can do is count up all the burn in your hand, and know where your opponent needs to be. Then you can prioritize things like pings in order to get them low enough efficiently. Making use of Ice Block allows you to do this without anywhere near the same level of danger. You can also easily load up the board if you can get a Counter Spell to guard you. Basically you have answers to absolutely anything, if you play well and have a bit of luck.
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This deck does extremely well against every deck that isn’t aggressive. Counter Spell alone can easily win matchups against control. If you counter their board clear, you typically win on the spot. Even if not, you can typically refill and keep pushing damage quickly, finishing with burst damage.
Aggressive decks do pose a challenge for Secret Mage. If you can manage to take the board with a good secret play, you can probably hold it. But if you’re forced to play from behind it can get quite difficult. This is largely dependent on who goes first, and if you have your secret combos. If you don’t, you still have a chance with early Wyrm plays. Aggressive matchups are by no means a sure thing either way, but they are definitely your weaker matchups.
All in all, Secret Mage is a surprising but very welcome addition to the meta. It’s nice to see cards and decks shattering expectations–even when there aren’t any actual players involved, rooting for an underdog in esports is always fun. and has shattered many expectations. I’m impressed that such a strong deck appeared so late. It’s also quite enjoyable to play, and very smooth. I hope we see more of this type of innovation as the months progress.