I wanted to take a look at Hearthstone's individual Hero characters and briefly explore what makes them unique. I'll be covering the Hero Power, what it means for the character's role, and taking a look at some of the cards that the game supplies the hero with.

When you first start playing Hearthstone you are forced through a short series of tutorial battles and given control of a Jaina Proudmoore deck. Since she will be the first character that you familiarize yourself with anyways; she seems like the ideal starting point for conversation.

When playing as the Mage your Hero Power is Fireblast. It's very straightforward as far as powers go. Once per turn you can activate it by playing the 2 mana crystal cost. You then choose a target on the board to deal a single point of damage to. And when I say "choose a target" I mean literally anything. You can finish off a wounded minion that only has a single point of health remaining. You can damage your own minions (in some cases, this is actually a good idea). You can hit the enemy hero. You can even have Jaina Fireblast herself if you really want to.

This obviously gives Jaina an immediate theme of direct damage and creature removal. If you know what the color Red means in Magic: The Gathering you have a good idea of what direction Mage specific cards tend to take.
Most Mage cards are spells. You can pepper your deck with minion cards that aren't bound to any particular class, but Mage specific minions like the Water Elemental and Mana Wyrm are few and far between. That's fine, because Jaina really wants to use her spells to wipe out problematic enemy minions and blast away at the opposing hero.

As is obvious from the above pictured Arcane Missiles and Arcane Explosion; the Mage can spread damage around the game field without having to spend many mana crystals to do so. Arcane Missiles is especially fun because the game processes the 3 shots one at a time, and won't waste a shot on a target that gets killed partway through the spell. If the board is devoid of enemy minions it will simply hit the other hero 3 times -- which is pretty good damage for a single mana.

While some players will shy away from a spell card that they can't control directly; Jaina's Hero Power does a wonderful job of finishing off things that don't quite get killed by your spells or minion attacks. Another advantage to playing the Mage is that enemy minions with Taunt aren't as troublesome to her offensive -- since they can't block spell cards from going through to your ideal target.

Another aspect of Mage's toolkit is the fact that many of their spells can Freeze a target, causing them to be unable to act during their next turn. The Water Elemental minion can even Freeze people he hits. Control and destruction -- the bread and butter of a Mage.

Actually this card sums it up nicely.
Turning your enemy's best defender into a 1/1 sheep feels good. Spending the 2 extra mana to immediately Fireblast it into nonexistence never gets old. Oh, and speaking of the Hero Power; remember what I said earlier about purposefully Fireblasting your own dudes? Cards that get bonuses when they get damaged exist. This isn't a Mage specific card (I drew it out of a card pack); but the synergy is obvious.
If you just throw this guy on the table and leave him until the next turn (when he can start attacking) you can Fireblast him and attack your enemy for 5 damage when they anticipated only 2. Anybody with an ounce of pattern recognition will identify this as a threat that needs to be dealt with immediately because you can follow it up the next turn by doing it again and making his attack power go up to 8. Then 11. And so on.

You could even toss him on the table and immediately Fireblast him if you're willing to pay the 7 mana and are okay with telegraphing what you're doing before you can start attacking with him.

The Mage can really bring out the maximum potential of cards like this -- but most importantly they can do it cheaply and on their own terms.

Oh, and cards like this are good too.
You should also definitely be aware of cards that boost your Spell Power. That does exactly what it sounds like -- it makes your spell cards more effective. If you want to throw big nukes; +Spell Power minions on your side are the way to do it. Just make sure you have some guys with Taunt on hand to keep them safe from your opponent's minions.

If you want to blow opposing creatures up and then suddenly win the game by blasting the enemy Hero from half health to no health you might want to play as the Mage.

I don't want this to drag on much further; so I will stop here. But if anyone reading this would like to hear about more Mage card combo stuff or for me to do a post like this for another class, let me know. Comments let me know what people want to see.

Until next time, though. Cheers!

15/09/2013 8:05am

Card games tend to be one of the better examples of online communities I've found. Certainly not perfect, but my experience in them has definitely been better than most games like WoW, CoD, CS, etc.

Nice write up.

12/12/2013 3:58pm

I've gotta check this out. Not sure if it's too late to get in the Beta or not. Any word on if it will be on phones?


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