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Hand Mage deck list guide - Rise of Shadows - Hearthstone (July 2019)

Early thoughts on how Hand Mage might shape up in the new expansion.

Hand Mage is a Hearthstone deck that’s emerged as one of the top picks in Rise of Shadows, especially after its impressive showing at the recent HCT World Championships. Also known as Khadgar Mage, this deck is focused on using the extra summoning power from that legendary to create wide boards of extremely powerful minions to crush your opponent.

Players had been experimenting with the Hand Mage archetype in since the introduction of Meteorologist and Astromancer, but this version feels like a more significant step towards realising its full potential. Instead of exclusively focusing on amassing a large hand size, the introduction of Khadgar gives the deck a more impactful way to create a strong board.

We’re happy to say that with the Rise of Shadows expansion, Hand Mage is a very viable deck in the current meta. If you want to give it a go for yourself, our Hand Mage guide covers everything you need to know to get started. We’ve got the best deck list currently seeing play, some advice on how to pilot the deck and details on all the key combos you need to know to master it.

This article contains additional reporting by James Pickard.

Hand Mage deck list and strategy

This is the best Hand - or Khadgar - Mage deck list being played in the current meta. We don’t expect any major changes to be made in the near future.

2 x Book of Specters2 x Acidic Swamp Ooze
1 x Khadgar2 x Firetree Witchdoctor
2 x Conjurer's Calling1 x Sunfury Protector
2 x Messenger Raven2 x Twilight Drake
2 x Astromancer2 x Scaleworm
2 x Power of Creation1 x Dragonmaw Scorcher
1 x Kalecgos1 x Harrison Jones
1 x Rotten Applebaum
1 x Zilliax
1 x Safeguard
2 x Crowd Roaster
2 x Mountain Giant

Select and copy the long ID string below, then create a deck in Hearthstone to export this deck into your game.

Deck Import ID: AAECAf0ECPsGkAfF8wKggAPsiQPAmAOWmgOKngMLigfhB40Izu8CifECw/gC6IkD6JQD55UDg5YDoJsDAA==

More great Mage guides:

General strategy

As the name suggests, the main aim of Hand Mage is to be holding a full fan of cards in your grasp for as much of the game as possible. You want to do this as the deck contains many cards that are empowered or made easier to play in those circumstances, which can be a challenge for your opponent to handle when you get considerable value out of them.

The massive power gain of Hand Mage in Rise of Shadows is mostly down to the addition of Khadgar and Conjurer’s Calling. With these two cards combined, you can create incredibly wide board states of very powerful minions when you target the spell at the likes of Mountain Giant. You’ll often set up a wall of minions that your opponent simply cannot cope with.

Early game: Not letting your opponent get too far ahead on the board is the plan for the early game. You have a few minions that you can slam down to contest with theirs, some of which will also help you draw or Discover extra cards – that’s massively important for setting you up in a few turns while also maintaining your hand size. Find efficient trades and make full use of your hero power, while drawing extra cards into your hand with Book of Specters. Just hope it doesn’t hit Conjurer’s Calling!

Mid game: As you enter the mid game more of the power of Hand Mage becomes available. If you’ve got a large hand still, Mountain Giant should be at about the right cost to play and can floor your opponent if they have no answer to it. Twilight Drake is almost as effective, as that huge Health value will be tough for your opponent to chunk through.

Late game: Astromancer is one of the final cards in the deck that can exploit your hand size to summon a random minion with a cost that matches the number of cards you hold. If you pair it - or Power of Creation - up with Khadgar you can see some serious value from it in a single play.

It’s usually better, though, to pair up Khadgar with Conjurer’s Calling in the late game. If you can get him onto the board and target the spell at a Mountain Giant you’ll get four 12 Mana minions onto the board! If your opponent is out of resources or lacking removal that can usually be enough to win you the game.

Aggro opponents

Here are some important tips to help you best aggro decks:

  • 1. Look for the most efficient trades possible with your minions as this deck lacks a lot of classic Mage removal.
  • 2. Make full use of your hero power to ping down their minions and save your card resources.
  • 3. If you fall behind, Zilliax can be a great catch up card as it affects the board immediately and sticks around as a Taunt minion.
  • 4. If you get a Mountain Giant down early, sometimes it’s best to just go for their life total instead of minion trading as they may struggle to remove it efficiently.

Control opponents

These tips will see you to victory against other control decks:

  • 1. Save Acidic Swamp Ooze and Harrison Jones for when your opponent plays their most powerful weapon. Getting rid of it can give you a huge advantage.
  • 2. Be careful of committing all your resources to a single play as all the removal available to control can cancel it out in a snap.
  • 3. Hold on to your copies of Crowd Roaster so you can kill off their biggest minions. They are the closest thing you have to hard removal in the deck.

Hand Mage Mulligan guide

These are the cards you want to see in your opening hand to get off to the best start:

  • 1. Book of Specters: Massive card draw for the early game that should get you towards playing a Mountain Giant or healthy Twilight Drake as fast as possible.
  • 2. Firetree Witchdoctor: Solid two-drop that can fight for the board while also maintaining your hand size.
  • 3. Mountain Giant: If you can fill your hand up fast this will be heavily discounted and playable very early. If it’s early enough your opponent will struggle to remove it.
  • 4. Messenger Raven: Similar to Firetree Witchdoctor (see below), it’s not an especially great minion stat-wise, but it will refill your hand as well as giving you a presence on the board.
  • 5. Twilight Drake: Similar to Mountain Giant, you can get a big advantage from this card if you have a large hand size.

Hand Mage tips, combos and synergies

Knowing the interactions between your hand size and how that affects the cards your play is key to seeing success with Hand Mage. We’ve highlighted all the important combos here for you to memorise:

- A number of the cards in Hand Mage gain bonus effects while you have a Dragon in hand. These cards are: Firetree Witchdoctor, Scaleworm and Dragon Roaster. Playing them without these bonuses is usually not worth it.

- Sunfury Protector will give Taunt to minions adjacent to it when it’s played on the board. Look to position it between Mountain Giant or Twilight Drake to set up a significant wall for your opponent to punch through.

- Do your best to ensure that Khadgar is down on the board before you play Conjurer’s Calling, Astromancer or Power of Creation. These three cards go from good plays to absurd value if you summon multiple creatures from them.

- Astromancer is another card that directly benefits from a big hand. When placed onto the board, this minion will summon a random minion with a Mana cost equal to the number of cards you currently hold.

- There aren’t many spells in the deck, but when you Discover one after playing Kalecgos it will also be free, meaning you can have a huge tempo play if you get lucky with the effect.

- Mountain Giant costs one Mana less for each card you have in your hand. This is one of the signature synergies for Hand Mage, so always plan ahead carefully when it comes to acquiring - and spending - cards in your hand.

Card choices and substitutions

There are a number of key cards needed to make Hand Mage work. We’ve listed those below as well as any substitution options should you be looking for a budget version of the deck:

  • Book of Specters: Some excellent card draw for the mana cost and the downside is severely reduced in this deck as it runs so few spells. Run Arcane Intellect if you don’t have this.
  • Khadgar: Improves the summoning effects in this deck to provide some bonkers value and is why the deck is back in favour.
  • Conjurer’s Calling: A new spell that works along with Khadgar to provide some extra summoning value.
  • Twilight Drake: As your hand will be full of cards for a lot of the game you can ensure the Health buff this receives is significant.
  • Harrison Jones: Offers more weapon removal alongside the copies of Acidic Swamp Ooze in the deck with the added bonus of some handy card draw.
  • Astromancer: With a large hard size you can pull some pretty big minions using this card. Play alongside Khadgar and the value is astronomical.
  • Crowd Roaster: Does enough damage to kill most minions straight up. You can combine it with Conjurer’s Calling to get a minion with better stats after you’ve used the Battlecry too.
  • Power of Creation: High value spell on its own, but its power becomes even stronger when combined with Khadgar to summon four minions.
  • Kalecgos: Great stats for a late game card and the Battlecry effect is huge when paired with the fact that you can cast a spell for free on the same turn.
  • Mountain Giant: A classic inclusion for decks that aim to exploit a large hand size. Get it down early and you can start slamming damage directly at your opponent’s life total while they struggle to keep up.

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