Control Mage is not unlike Freeze Mage. The overlap is pretty apparent and pronounced. The cards that help you turn the corner, like Alexstrasa, Archmage Antonidas, and Primordial Glyph, are all still there.

Freeze Mage will give you consistency. It has a very clear and straightforward gameplan—though actually carving the path to said gameplan is an astronomically different beast, as it’s one of the most difficult decks to play in the format—and a solid, albeit unreliable, plan B. Control Mage, however, will give you a plethora of options and ways to bring a board state to a favorable position, with additional ways to play either a tempo, midrange, or control game, pretty much at the turn of a corner, in exchange for consistency.

On paper, it doesn’t look that much different from any Mage deck in this Standard format. Mana Wyrm is one of the biggest inclusions here, however, and it’s what gives you the early game that past Tempo Mage decks were known for. It also helps that later on in the game, Mana Wyrm allows you to pivot your control hands into aggressive finishes, something that Freeze Mage has trouble with when their burn plan may not get them there.

Secondly, the strain on your burn spells is alleviated quite a bit. You no longer need to hold a fist full of burn spells to reach a critical mass. Inversely, a strong aggressive start will help your burn spells hit lethal much earlier. Personally, it’s a bit easier to make decisions with Babbling Books and Kabal Couriers because you know exactly where you want to be given the context of your hand, board state, and role. If you’re pushing an aggressive hand and want to go further, then a Firelands Portal might prove more useful than, say, a Shadowflame, even if it means you would control the board a bit better. Maximizing your damage has always been the name of the game, as with almost any deck; but in Control Mage you can ill afford to make a mistake, as that can easily spell your defeat.

One of the biggest issues with Control Mage is its rather inconsistent draws. You don’t want to draw Mana Wyrm when you’re behind on board, and you don’t want to draw Alexstrasa when you’re looking for something to help you on turn seven. Kabal Courier is better at giving you more burn or utility, but isn’t as reliable as Acolyte of Pain, especially against other control decks. You also end up using a ton of your cards as much as possible, so Archmage Antonidas can often end up a seven mana 5/7, and that’s it. Lastly, you can easily misjudge when you need to turn the offensive, scale back to the defensive, or grind your opponent out, and not knowing that will cost you.

All of that said, refining and tuning will always happen, and it’s one of the most rewarding decks I’ve played this season. I’d highly recommend trying this out if you’d want a deck that will test your mind as well as your climb.

Anthony has been competing in games for the better part of his adult life and is dedicated to improving his game, improving his community, improving himself as a person, and most importantly having fun and enjoying himself while doing so. You can check out his stream to find out which video game is the latest to catch his attention.

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