A Statistical Analysis: The best Ignite Mage deck is one that nobody’s playing

TL;DR: only run 1x Sandbinder, Witchwood Piper, and Hot Streak. Frostweave Dungeoneer isn't worth it. Travelling Merchant totally is. And this is all just to get a 25% chance of winning a turn earlier than normal.



Okay, so I'll keep it short: I like playing Ignite Mage. And I noticed that it's so consistent that I could script a simulation of the deck fairly easily. So I did that, and checked how a bunch of cards compare to each other. And boy oh boy was it not what I was expecting!

See, what got me curious was the State Of The Wild podcast saying that the 4-mana spell draw would be an auto-include in the deck. And I thought "yeah that makes sense". But the actual hsreplay stats were always showing it as… quite bad. Even though Dungeoneer had a positive winrate, for one mana less? And actually, why are staples like Sandbinder and Piper showing up as as bad as the Tradeables – the cards you literally never want to draw? And so, I decided "screw it, I like programming, let's program up a way to see what's going on!"

So we're on the same page, let me remind you how the deck works: You get one Chandler, one Sorceror's Apprentice, and then you either play another Apprentice or play low-cost fire spells until you get Hot Streak + Molten Reflection. Then you play more fire spells, until you get an infinite loop of Ignite, and win the game.

So the combo's simple: 1 Chandler, 1 (or 2) Apprentice, 10 mana not counting spell-based deductions, and more fire spells in hand than non-fire spells in deck. So what cards do you choose?

  • Witchwood Piper and Sandbinder: So, weirdly, it turns out the best number of each is… one. Precisely one. They sound amazing when you describe it as "they tutor your combo pieces", but if you have one, there's a 50% chance they won't fetch the other and are just dead in hand.

  • Traders: best cards. Seriously, run all of them, they put even Arcane Intellect to shame. …In combo decks, that is, where you've got buckets of mana to spare just re-shuffling them.

  • Spells: Hot Streak and Elemental Evocation are what I meant by "spell-based deductions". But you only need one Hot Streak, which is really unintuitive to me. First Flame is a must, and as you can guess, any other Fire cards aren't cutting it – low cost or not. Any other spells are right out, because of Chandler – yes, including Mana Biscuit.

  • Ice Block and searches: 2x searchers. Funnily enough, even if you could run Mad Scientist, it wouldn't be worth it. Not with Hunter being so prominent.

  • Varden, Loatheb: Varden needs just 33% of your losing matches to be minion-based to be worth it. Loatheb needs 40% to be spell-based. (Disclaimer: that's assuming that their effects + stats are enough to guarantee precisely one free turn against those decks.)

  • The last 1 or 2 cards: I calculated a lot, and as it turns out, I only see two viable choices:
    — Coldlight Oracle: 3 mana draw 2. So does your opponent.
    — Acolyte Of Pain: hard to calculate. But long story short – it's the damage sink that matters more than getting a double card. But if you can do that too: bonus!

  • As for the others…
    — Frostweave Dungeoneer: Fun fact – drawing a spell is worse in this deck than drawing any card. This card has a good winrate solely because of it's stats… but even if you count the double-elementals as getting an entire free turn, it's still not worth it over Acolyte. Weirid, huh?
    — Spice Bread Baker: Even if we take it as like a 50% chance to give you a free turn, it's not quite working out.
    — Fire Sale: tradeables are good, but not so good that they work as a spell. As for as AoE? Requires a large majority of opponents to be vulnerable to it to be a good choice.
    — Sphere Of Sapience: never mind Acolyte, this card isn't even better than Novice Engineer! It's simply not good for short games.
    — Aluneth: hilarious! Even if it didn't tend to burn your Everything, it still wouldn't be good enough.
    — Jaxon, Arugal: This is literally their best deck and they're still garbage!
    — The Darkness, Deck Of Wonders: Haha no. And yes, I checked.

Python code, if anyone wants to try spot my inevitable mistakes: https://pastebin.com/8fxtTUKh. Not commented though, so good luck trying!


I… might have wasted my time. I mean, it is cool to be able to see how much precision matters, but I was really hoping for a bigger result. …Well, a whole lotta Ignite Mage games end from just one turn away from winning, so 25% is actually pretty significant!

Oh, and if anyone's wondering, except against hunters and Zephys (aka: the ice block killers), the enemy gets an average of 4.95 turns before they're locked out from winning. Wild has gotten preeetty wild.


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