The Comprehensive Whizbang’s Workshop Preview


Hidden Objects

Hidden Objects allows us to discover a secret for 2-mana and then cast it for 1. Essentially, we get to play a secret of our choice for 3-mana but split into two costs (which is better, due to flexibility).

Mage will only have five secrets available post-rotation: Counterspell, Explosive Runes, Ice Barrier, Azerite Vein, and Summoning Ward. This means we have a 60% chance of finding a specific secret. Three of these secrets can be very strong in specific matchups, while also having a distinct spell school.

Hidden Objects might be strong enough for a deck reliant on Rainbow synergies since it’s a single card that can find us spells from three different spell schools quite consistently. Furthermore, these secrets can be repeated by Projection Orb, amplifying their strengths in a desired matchup.

We think this card might be getting underrated because of Objection rotating. Good chance of seeing play across multiple Mage decks.

Score: 3

Spot the Difference

Spell Mage is being heavily supported in this set. The archetype has historically needed ways to summon minions, so that it’s capable of developing board presence despite not running minions in the deck. Spot the Difference offers a turn 4 that’s very likely to be above the curve.

We get to discover two 3-drops to summon for 4-mana. Unlike summoning a random minion of a certain cost, discovering them means we’re going to be far more consistent at finding the better 3-drops to summon, avoiding weak bodies which have most of their power tied into a Battlecry.

Spot the Difference is going to consistently put more stats than the average constructed 4-drop, which means that it’s strong enough to see play in Spell Mage if the archetype pans out.

Score: 3

Triplewick Trickster

Trickster is a 2/3 that deals 2 damage to a random enemy, three times. How much is the battlecry worth if it were a spell? Fel Barrage cost 2-mana and was very good. Trickster produces an extra shot, but the damage is random, so it cannot be funneled to a desired location unless we clear the board to direct everything face. Another way of looking at it is a smaller Marrow Manipulator.

Wrapped up in a 4-mana package, this card is a bit weak. It’s not a card you’d just put into a Mage deck because it’s strong by itself. Trickster’s main upside is its Elemental tag, making it a decent option for Elemental Mage, an archetype that is reliant on burn to control the board and close out games. For that purpose, it’s serviceable.

Realistically? Elemental Mage isn’t a deck.

Score: 1

Frost Lich Cross-Stitch

A 5-mana spell that deals 4 damage to any character, means that it can go face. If the spell kills its target, then you summon a Water Elemental.

Water Elemental is a 4-mana vanilla minion that would never see constructed play, so the question is whether the damage is worth it. Cross-Stitch is a spell that never goes face unless it kills the opponent, because the rate of 4 damage for 5-mana is terrible. You’re not going to be happy to do that on turn 5 simply because you have mana to spend.

We’re very unsure about this card. If the card always summoned a Water Elemental, it would be very strong, but the condition makes it far less consistent in its usefulness. If the opponent has an empty board, or a minion that’s too big to kill with Cross-Stitch, then this spell is quite dead in hand.

We think most expensive spells that can only target minions struggle to see play for that reason. Cross-Stitch essentially can only target minions. It is also an inferior responsive tool to Star Power at the 5-mana slot, a spell that’s much more at being able to deal with different kinds of threats, which is quite relevant if our ambition is to repeat our spells with Galactic Projection Orb. We don’t like this one.

Score: 1

Sleet Skater

Sleet Skater is a very cool card. It is a big Glacial Shard that can only target minions, but gains armor equal to their attack. If you freeze a giant for example, then you get 8 armor.

Sleet Skater also has Miniaturize, which makes the Mini card particularly powerful. A 1-mana 1/1 with this ability is now a boosted Glacial Shard. What we also like about Sleet Skater is that it’s a freeze card that generates another freeze card. This makes its stalling potential quite significant, as Sleet Skater can be a huge stabilizer across two turns against a big threat. A good example is Ray of Frost. Although it was far less expensive, Ray of Frost is strong because it packs two freeze effects into one card.

Another interesting synergy available to Sleet Skater is Mes’Adune the Fractured, which is the Elemental legendary minion from Showdown that splits an elemental in halves. This might be the best tutor target for the legendary 6-drop, as splitting Sleet Skater gives us 4 cheap freezes with the armor gain ability.

Sleet Skater’s baseline form is quite expensive, but the stalling potential it provides makes it a reasonable candidate for a defensive Mage deck. Alternatively, it can go into Elemental Mage since it offers two Elementals in one card.

Score: 2

Manufacturing Error

A major card draw engine for Spell Mage, Manufacturing Error is a casual Skull of Gul’dan without an Outcast requirement. As seen before with Skull, the card was incredibly powerful since its discount eclipsed its cost. Discounting spells by up to 9 mana exceeds the 6-mana cost of the spell. Manufacturing Error not only draws us three cards for essentially free, but it might also get us ahead.

There are very few draw options in the game’s history that accomplish this. If Spell Mage becomes a competitive deck once again, it’ll be mostly thanks to this card.

Score: 4

Watercolor Artist

An Elemental with a unique draw ability. Watercolor Artist draws a Frost spell from our deck and gives it a special enchantment. This spell is discounted by 1-mana at the start of your turns. This cost reduction persists indefinitely and isn’t reliant on Artist being on board. If you draw Blizzard with Watercolor Artist, it’ll keep getting discounted every turn until it costs 0-mana 6 turns later.

As a 4-mana 4/4, Artist isn’t a very strong tutor, so the discount ability needs to matter for it to see play. The best tutor target here is Blizzard, as a turn 4 Artist means we can play Blizzard as a turn 5 follow up or save it for when it’s cheap enough to develop alongside it.

Otherwise, the Frost spell school is currently underwhelming and doesn’t justify such support. Do we really want to draw Blizzard that badly?

Score: 1

Yogg in the Box

A new Puzzle Box type of card. Yogg in the Box casts 5 random spells, but if we’re playing a deck with no minions, these spells’ cost is guaranteed to be 5 or higher. This means that we’re casting at least 25 mana worth of spells with Yogg in the Box. Very often that number will hit 40. Note that this spell does not have a specific target for random effects. It works like Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron rather than Rune of the Archmage.

Yogg in the Box offers tremendous value for a Spell Mage deck. We know what this kind of spell does. These spells initially look like a harmless meme, then end up becoming very competitive. When you get to cast so many spells for a fraction of their mana cost, they’ll heavily benefit the player on average, even if their targets are random.

Furthermore, Yogg in the Box can be discounted by Manufacturing Error and repeated by The Galactic Projection Orb. Any type of high value spell is going to be coveted by a deck that chooses to run Orb. This is a strong card even though it will occasionally backfire (Wheel of Death into Triple Seven is probably the most hilarious outcome).

Score: 3

Puzzlemaster Khadgar

Puzzlemaster Khadgar is a unique legendary minion with a vague ability that needs a thorough explanation. It is a 6-mana 5/5 that equips Wisdomball, a 0/6 weapon. This Wisdomball casts a “helpful” spell at the end of your turn, expending a weapon charge in the process.

What is a “helpful” spell? There’s a limited list of spells that Wisdomball can cast: Polymorph, Arcane Missiles, Mirror Image, Frostbolt, Arcane Intellect, Fireball, Counterspell, Ice Barrier, Blizzard, and Flamestrike. All of them are legacy Mage spells that we’re familiar with since the dawn of Hearthstone. These spells aren’t cast at random. The Wisdomball evaluates the state of the game, elects several spells that it deems to be useful in this situation, and chooses one of those at random at a random target.

Every spell has certain conditions when it is deemed helpful, but we obviously don’t have access to Wisdomball’s logic. The most important thing to understand is that every helpful spell Wisdomball casts will improve your standing in the game, but it might not necessarily be the most perfect card among the options.

In a way, Khadgar can be considered a soft Zephrys the Great. You have less control over a single outcome, but Wisdomball casts a large volume of spells. We’re talking about 6 spells that improve your game state every turn. That is a lot of free mana, including free mana on the turn Khadgar is played, which should make up for playing a 6-mana 5/5.

We initially gave this card a maximum score, but after evaluating the card during theorycrafting streams, we realized that Khadgar might be dumber (or a bigger jerk) than we thought. It’s a very hard card to evaluate before you play it since it’s so vague.

Score: 2

The Galactic Projection Orb

This legendary spell is also relatively complex and unique. The simplest way to phrase it is that Orb recasts one spell you’ve played this game for every mana cost. For example, if you’ve played Discovery of Magic and Flame Geyser, both of which are 1-mana, it will repeat one of them at random. If Spot the Difference is the only 4-mana spell you’ve cast in a game, it is guaranteed to repeat it.

If you’ve played a discount spell from Manufacturing Error, Orb will treat the spell as if it were cast at its original cost. A Yogg in the Box that was discounted to 5-mana will be repeated for the 8-mana slot.

Finally, Orb’s order is not random! It will always start at 1-mana spell and end at 10-mana spell. This means that the outcome can be manipulated to some degree through the type of spells you choose to run at every cost. For example, if your early spells can clear enemy boards, it is more likely that damage spells that come after will hit the opponent’s face.

The Galactic Projection Orb might become a solid and consistent win condition for the class, since you can build your deck in a way that optimizes its lethality. The maximum amount of mana that Orb can repeat is 46 (Mage doesn’t have a 9-mana spell). Even if you don’t manage to play a spell for every mana cost, we’re talking about a 10-mana card that can easily cast 40 mana’s worth of desired spells you’ve played during the game.

Even though it takes time to ramp up, it’s the kind of finisher worth building around. A staple in Spell Mage that may find its way to other decks too.

Score: 3

Final Thoughts

Whizbang’s Workshop Set Rank: 8th

Overall Power Ranking:  9th

Don’t be fooled by its Energy Shaper driven renaissance, Mage is a dead class heading into rotation. Rainbow Mage was completely unplayable before the buffs to rotating cards. This Whizbang’s Worshop set will make or break the class for the next two months.

The most notable support the class has received is for Spell Mage. The memorable archetype that emerged at the launch of Forged in the Barrens is looking to make a comeback. Manufacturing Error is an incredible draw engine that’s very comparable to Refreshing Spring Water. It’s the main reason we believe that the archetype has a decent chance of being very competitive.  You never write off an unconditional Skull of Gul’dan.

Its late game could also end up being surprisingly strong. Yogg in the Box is the type of card that always ends up being competitive. It is worth too much mana, to the point randomness ends up favoring the player. Galactic Projection Orb, on the other hand, is far more consistent of a card than it may initially look. If Spell Mage ends up reaching the late game, it always has a great shot of winning any matchup through Sunset Volley.

The main question marks surround its survivability. Early game AOE tools are missing, with Star Power offering the best responsive tool to early aggression. For Spell Mage to be successful in the early game, its best shot is to find its own proactivity through Cosmic Keyboard and Spot the Difference. That still leaves it vulnerable to seeing its face plowed by aggressive opponents.

But rather than Spell Mage being in a bind, our evaluation of the class comes from the absence of alternatives. Rainbow Mage still has Sif and the Rainbow support in Titans, as well as the excavate package from Badlands. However, it loses a subtle amount of power when it was already struggling. It will take a monumental twist to see it thriving when its burn plan may require Molten Rune now (no more Arcane Bolts).

And then the rest of the options are even more barren. Elemental Mage has a small chance of being relevant, while it’s a struggle to see Control Mage formulating in the absence of Rommath and a proper grind/generation plan.

Should Spell Mage succeed, the class will be able to compete, and all concerns will look silly in hindsight. But if Spell Mage flops, then the class is in danger of falling off completely.

1 Comment

  1. Good read overall, but the write up on Timewinder Zarimi is a bit over the top. It just screams, “Blizz, if you’re reading our article nerf this card now!”, and I think it’s way too early to jump to that conclusion. Time Warp effects are strong, but it’s no more strong than OTK card strategies; one could argue it’s actually weaker cause you need two turns in a row to win when other decks can OTK.

    A weakness with Timewinder Zarimi that shouldn’t be ignored is its reliance on dragon tribe. Can’t just put in any deck, must devote enough other cards to get to 5 dragons.

    TLDR – Let’s try not to put a target on cards to nerf before they’re actually a problem.

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