Exodia mage is a deck that aims to win after playing [Archmage Antonidas] and four [Sorcerer’s Apprentice] in one turn, then killing the opponent with a barrage of 0-cost Fireballs. In the Wild format, the Mage has access to [Emperor Thaurissan], a card that allows you to reduce the cost of all the cards in your hand by 1. When you have [Archmage Antonidas], [Sorcerer’s Apprentice], and [Molten Reflection] in your hand, the cost reductions from [Emperor Thaurissan] will be enough to play them all in one turn, and finish the game! Exodia mage is strong against decks that don’t have a lot of minion pressure, like the ever-popular Reno Priest. In this article, I will explain how to create and successfully play an Exodia Mage deck, and explain when not to play Exodia Mage.
Disclaimer: Because I don’t have a 50-game sample size, the contents of this article are my own opinion. I do have a working knowledge of Exodia Mage after playing it in Legend near the beginning of the Frozen Throne expansion.
How to pull off the combo
This is what a typical Exodia turn looks like:
- Play [Archmage Antonidas]
- Play two [Sorcerer’s Apprentice]
- Play two [Molten Reflection] on the Apprentices, which will be discounted because of the effect of the Apprentices.
- Disclaimer: Sometimes, you will play three Apprentices from hand, and only one [Molten Reflection], if you created one from the effect of [Simulacrum].
- Because you played the Antonidas first, it’s not necessary to have an additional spell, unlike Standard’s Quest Mage counterpart. Simply keep Fireballing your opponent for the win!
If Emperor Thaurissan hasn’t been played yet, the total cost of the combo is 14 mana. Therefore, you must draw your Emperor, and the Emperor must discount at least 4 of your combo pieces. Your combo pieces are both [Sorcerer’s Apprentice], both [Molten Reflection], and [Archmage Antonidas]. Consider that the golden rule of Exodia Mage. If you don’t get an 4 discounts from [Emperor Thaurissan], you simply can’t kill your opponent in one turn, which is a good way to lose your games.
Decklist and Card Explanations
This is the Exodia Mage decklist that I prefer. It plays a lot of effective stalling cards like [Frost Nova], [Doomsayer], [Blizzard], and [Frostbolt]. The deck runs four area-of-effect freeze spells: two [Frost Nova] and two [Blizzard]. The more of these spells you draw, the more you can delay yourself from losing your [Ice Block]. In addition, [Frost Nova] plus [Doomsayer] is a five mana combo that forces your opponent to deal with the Doomsayer without being able to attack with any of their minions on the board.
Exodia Mage also runs a secret package, including two [Mad Scientist], an optional [Arcanologist], two [Ice Block], two [Ice Barrier]. In terms of stats per mana cost, [Arcanologist] and [Mad Scientist] are much more efficient than other card draw options like [Novice Engineer] or [Loot Hoarder].
[Arcane Intellect] and [Coldlight Oracle] are played to draw as many cards as possible. They are necessary because Exodia Mage is a deck that needs a lot of pieces in order to kill the opponent. It’s extremely unlikely to draw the entire combo while only drawing one card per turn.
And, of course, the deck wouldn’t be complete without the combo of [Archmage Antonidas], [Emperor Thaurissan], two [Sorcerer’s Apprentice], and two [Molten Reflection]. Finally, [Simulacrum] is a card that’s included because it’s a tech card against decks that might run [Dirty Rat]. [Simulacrum] also has utility against any deck because it gives you more draw possibilities when you need to draw your final Apprentice or [Molten Reflection].
Strengths and weaknesses of Exodia Mage
Exodia Mage excels against decks that don’t pressure you fast enough, such as Renolock or Reno Priest. These decks often miss their curve in the first four turns, leaving you relatively unscathed and letting you hold stall cards like [Frost Nova] and [Blizzard for longer]. On the other hand, Exodia Mage struggles against aggressive and midrange decks because not only do they pressure a lot in the first four turns, they also often run burst damage. Because of the absence of cards like Alexstrasza or Frost Lich Jaina, it’s very difficult for the Exodia Mage to stabilise from a low life total.
If you want to have an even winrate against aggro and midrange decks, Kobold Freeze Mage is a much better option. Kobold Freeze Mage wins a lot faster because it includes a heavy amount of burn, which is more suited to winning games before drawing your whole deck. Kobold Freeze Mage also includes [Alexstrasza], a card that lets you win games against face decks like Pirate Warrior by resetting your health to 15 after they pop your [Ice Block].
Mulligan Guide and Tips
Vs. Aggro and midrange: Look for [Arcanologist], [Doomsayer], [Mad Scientist], [Frostbolt], [Primordial Glyph], or [Arcane Intellect]. Against aggressive opponents, it’s important to have a turn 2 play like [Mad Scientist], [Arcanologist], [Doomsayer], or [Frostbolt]. [Doomsayer] is a tricky card to use effectively. Sometimes, it’s best to hold off from playing it after your opponent plays a non-threatening card like [Sir Finley Mrrgglton]. Sometimes, it’s best to wait until turn 5 so you can pair [Doomsayer] with [Frost Nova].
When moving into your turn 3, it’s often better to do a low-tempo play like [Arcane Intellect] or a secret instead of playing a two-mana card. Exodia Mage is a deck that often is tight on mana during the early and middle turns, so you prefer to use all of your mana when possible.
Vs. Control: When playing against control decks, look for Arcane Intellect, Mad Scientist, Arcanologist, and Primordial Glyph. These matchups grant you a lot more time to make low-tempo plays like [Arcane Intellect] or [Coldlight Oracle]. From there, it’s just a matter of waiting until you draw your combo alongside [Emperor Thaurissan].
When should you take drastic measures?
Sometimes, it’s not practical to win with the entire combo, especially if you’ve been taken to a low life total before turn 10 and you have no cycle in your hand. Sometimes, it’s possible to play one or two [Sorcerer’s Apprentice], freeze the opponent’s board, and follow up with [Archmage Antonidas]. Even in games where you don’t draw [Archmage Antonidas], it’s possible to win from four [Sorcerer’s Apprentice] hitting your opponent, or even playing an attrition game.
Knowing when to take such drastic measures is a matter of experience. First, you need to be able to evaluate how likely it is that you can win if you simply wait to draw your combo. If your chances aren’t good, you need to evaluate your chances of victory if you instead take alternative measures. Your chance of success is much higher if your opponent is playing an aggressive deck that doesn’t play much removal.
How to play around Deathlord
If your opponent is playing a control deck and plays [Deathlord], you’ll often have the opportunity to kill the [Deathlord] on your turn, and respond accordingly depending on which minion the [Deathlord] pulls.
If [Deathlord] pulls a [Sorcerer’s Apprentice], all is not lost if you have teched a [Simulacrum] in your deck. Exodia Mage has the ability to play five Apprentices: Two natural copies, two from [Molten Reflection], and one from [Simulacrum]. You can afford to lose one Apprentice because you still have four in reserve.
If [Deathlord] pulls [Emperor Thaurissan], you need to count how many combo pieces you have in your hand. Remember, you need four Cost reductions between two [Sorcerer’s Apprentice], two [Molten Reflection], and [Archmage Antonidas]. If you have four already, congratulations! You don’t have to do anything. If you have three, it’s still possible to [Molten Reflection] your [Emperor Thaurissan] and reduce the remaining two combo pieces by 2. If you have fewer than 3 combo pieces in your hand then, well, better luck next time.
If [Deathlord] pulls [Archmage Antonidas], you can turn the situation to your advantage by playing your Apprentices and playing as many fireballs as possible. In such situations, it’s also possible to [Molten Reflection] you [Archmage Antonidas], generate two Fireballs for every spell and increasing the chance that one Archmage will survive into your next turn.
I hope this guide has improved your knowledge of Exodia Mage, the iconic combo deck that will make your opponent uninstall I mean, win spectacularly with infinite damage! Now get out there and show the Wild ladder what you’re made of!