Hello! I’m Shoop, a professional Hearthstone player for team Vicious Syndicate. I recently hit Legend with a Freeze Mage, an old deck, but with a new twist that myself and several other players came up with independently. In this article, I’d like to introduce you to Duplicate Freeze Mage, and go over the statistics and lessons learned from my legend climb. Just a fair bit of warning, this guide is only meant for experienced players wanting to experiment with running Duplicate in their Freeze Mage, and not for players inexperienced to Freeze Mage wanting to learn the deck.
Recently, Freeze Mage has been considered a poor choice for ladder in part due to the prevalence of Patron Warrior. While Patron Warrior is not an almost instant loss compared to its Control Warrior cousin, it is still a very skill intensive matchup where a slight mistake can cost you the game. Patron Warrior has two game plans for this matchup. The first is to go aggressive with early Patron swarms, cycling, and quick Frothing combos; this can steal wins from the Freeze Mage but usually backfires against Flamestrikes and a defensive Alexstrasza from the Mage. The second plan is to use Whirlwind effects along with Patrons and Armorsmith to gain 30-40 armor, avoid drawing, and win several turns into fatigue, since the Mage will run out of damage. This strategy works well so long as the Warrior draws removal such as Execute and sometimes Shield Slam to match up with Antonidas and Alexstrasza. Some Freeze Mage players have tried including Malygos in the hopes of running the Warrior out of answers, but the Warrior can also use combo pieces to clear a threat, and Malygos can be clumsy in other matches.
Duplicate adds as much value to the deck as Malygos while maintaining exceptional flexibility. Patron Warrior usually cannot answer three copies of Antonidas on top of Alexstrasza and Emperor, while duplicating Emperor enables shenanigans ranging from 5-6 Fireballs off Antonidas to Flamestrike and defense Alex on the same turn – if the warrior can even kill all three 5/5s immediately. In non-Warrior matchups, duplicating Doomsayer can run aggressive decks out of resources very quickly, while the worst cases – extra Scientists or Acolytes – still mean more effective draw, adding some fuel to slower hands.
I’ve posted the data from my Rank 3 to Legend and subsequent scrims climb here. For each game, I noted whether Duplicate appeared and then ranked its usefulness. Games where Duplicate was a huge positive (ranging from extra Emperor to extra draw into lethal) received a 2; games where Duplicate was not useful but not harmful (ranging from extra unhelpful draw to drawing Duplicate but never needing it) received a 1; and games where Duplicate was useless and I had no other plays but could have used an extra Barrier, Blizzard, Healbot or similar received a 0.
The overall 2:1:0 ratio was 9:24:6, which is fantastic given that I faced only one Patron Warrior in 39 games. You can peruse the winrates against different archetypes, but here are some general points:
-Duplicate is awful against aggro and midrange when nothing is drawn that synergizes with it, but can help those matchups when present alongside an early Doomsayer or a late-game Acolyte or Thalnos after a board clear.
-Since many aggressive Mage decks have cut Mirror Entity, and since mages have Fireball+ping to answer Doomsayers anyway, the Mage matchup has become much more difficult – my record there was only 50% out of 8 games.
-Healbot was never duplicated, which is part of why I swapped it out for a second Ice Barrier.
To gather more statistics for the Patron Warrior matchup, Phonetap and Th3RaT agreed to help me by playing against the deck. Those matchups are recorded on Sheet 2 of the above spreadsheet. My overall record was 5-2, and both players agreed that Freeze Mage was favored with the addition of Duplicate. Unfortunately, Thaurissan and Antonidas can sometimes both be in your bottom 3 cards in which case Duplicate won’t have much of an effect.
Tips and Tricks
-Keep Duplicate in your mulligan against Warrior, as well as Thaurissan (even Antonias if you have some early plays). Your win condition is to either stick Antonidas for more than one turn or generate as many fireballs as possible before he dies, so your ideal Duplicate targets are Thaurissan and Antonidas. Alexstrasza is acceptable, but in that case you will likely have to enter fatigue – save one Alex for yourself, and monitor your draws carefully.
-Thalnos + Blizzard is your second Flamestrike against Patron. Save both pieces if you can afford to.
-Track your hand size when Duplicate is a factor in control matches – you should start preparing not to overdraw 1-2 turns in advance.
-Doomsayer is an excellent keep against Paladin and Priest; Dragon Priest and the more aggressive Secret Paladin lists often have no answer for it.
-Trade your early minions against Paladin. Coghammer, Muster, and secrets can punish you otherwise.
-It’s often correct to duplicate a useless minion rather than play nothing. Don’t lose tempo.
Tech suggestions from friends include: -1 Acolyte, +1 Healbot or +1 Explosive Sheep; -1 Cone of Cold, +1 Blizzard or Flamestrike. I’d love to hear back from people who try those builds! You can find me on twitch.tv/shoop22 or twitter.com/shoop_hs.
My sincere thanks to LBYS and Rayc591 for freeze mage guidance, to Phonetap and Th3RaT for scrims, and to Stargazer for reviewing this article.