This week's fun deck is a Hobgoblin Echo Mage. It functions similarly to Reynad's Flood Mage, in that you overextend the board with small minions, and use card draw, Duplicate, and Echo of Medivh to repopulate the board faster than your opponent can deal with it. Hobgoblin and Sea Giant create the potential for extremely threatening tempo swings, and the deck runs enough burn to close out the game.
Since this deck is not intended for competitive play, I didn't want to test it on the ladder during my early season legend push. Instead I tested it in Friendly Battle mode against cmnights and IntractibleR, two other NA legend players, in several of the most common meta matchups.
Abusive Sergeant — Extra burst damage, good with Echo of Medivh, and has synergy with Divine Shields to help maintain a board presence until a power turn. Only 1 because it does not get buffed by Hobgoblin, and it is too situational to take up 2 slots in a deck with this many spells.
Argent Squire — Possibly the best minion in the game to combo with Hobgoblin, since the Divine Shield makes it resistant to Area of Effect. There aren't many things in Hearthstone scarier than turn 5 Hobgoblin + double Argent Squire.
Mana Wyrm — An extremely powerful 1-drop, given the number of spells in the deck. It can be buffed by Hobgoblin, and is capable of presenting a considerable threat on its own even without Hobgoblin.
Frostbolt — In the early and mid game, helps to stall while you prepare for a power turn. In the late game, provides burn to close out the win.
Annoy-o-tron — One of the most important cards in the deck, especially combined with Hobgoblin. The Divine Shield almost means that it receives the Hobgoblin buff twice. Taunt protects your face against aggro and your board against control. In many matchups, Annoy-o-tron is a priority target for Echo of Medivh.
Echoing Ooze and Haunted Creeper — These are basically two versions of the same card. Echoing Ooze is greedier because it puts two buffed minions on the board with Hobgoblin, but Haunted Creeper is stickier, since it spawns tokens via its Deathrattle instead of its Battlecry.
Mad Scientist — The strongest 2-drop in the game for secrets classes, since it draws a card and puts it into play for free. I always prefer to run 3 secrets in decks with 2 Mad Scientists, since with two types of secrets, the Deathrattle is less likely to fizzle.
Arcane Intellect — Given the low curve and the deck's reliance on specific power cards like Hobgoblin, card draw is essential. Since the gameplan is to have big power turns, rather than to fight for tempo turn by turn, it isn't a huge loss to play Arcane Intellect to draw into a key card or more resources.
Duplicate — In most games, Duplicate allows you to spend your 1-attack minions in the early game and still have some in hand to buff with Hobgoblin later. Occasionally, it can even copy a Hobgoblin or Sea Giant. Frequently, copying an Annoy-o-Tron is critical to victory.
Mirror Entity — For a third secret, Mirror Entity is the most consistent and fast, since it gives you board presence. Against a lot of opponents with strong area of effect removal, it might be worth trying Counterspell instead, but in most matchups, that is probably too slow and inconsistent. Counterspell is really only good if you are already ahead on board, but Mirror Entity is good either ahead or behind.
Acolyte of Pain — More card draw, and it can be buffed by Hobgoblin!
Hobgoblin — The core of the deck, what else is there to say? A big part of the fun and skill of playing this deck is understanding how greedy to be with Hobgoblin in different matchups. When is it appropriate to play Hobgoblin on turn 3 in hopes of buffing an insane board on turn 4? When is it appropriate to wait until turn 8 or 9 to buff multiple minions in one turn?
Echo of Medivh — Another core card. Usually you want to aim to copy a board with 3 or more minions, but it's important to be sensitive to when your opponent is likely to clear your board, and play Echo before that happens. Again, a big part of the fun of this deck is figuring out when to be greedy about overextending the board into a huge Echo the following turn, and when to go for an average Echo earlier to be safe.
Fireball — Generally, you want to save Fireball for burn to your opponent's face, unless there is a threat that absolutely cannot be ignored or a taunt getting in the way of even greater face damage.
Polymorph — Polymorph serves a dual function of silence for taunts and hard removal for major threats. Ironbeak Owl is another possibility for this tech slot, since it can be copied with Echo of Medivh (you probably would want to avoid Duplicating it), but Polymorph is better against control decks.
Loatheb — Protects the board against area of effect. Also strong if copied by Duplicate or Echo of Medivh.
Flamestrike — Tech card to deal with Patron Warrior, mainly. Since this deck tends to populate the board extremely quickly, you have time the turn afterward to play Flamestrike, which hopefully gives you an extra attack to face.
Sea Giant — Almost always playable for 2 or less mana, given the kind of boards this deck aims to develop. Extremely strong with Echo of Medivh. Sometimes, it's even possible to play Sea Giant into Echo of Medivh into a second Sea Giant on the same turn! Having one big threat on a board of many small minions makes it much more difficult for your opponent's removal, since they will need both area of effect and spot removal.
Since I tested the deck with friends, they knew my exact deck after the first few games, which gave them a substantial advantage. One of the strengths of this deck is that many openings mimic more common meta decks. For example, Mana Wyrm into Mad Scientist will have your opponent assume Tempo Mage. Mad Scientist + Acolyte of Pain is like screaming "FREEZE MAGE" at the top of your lungs, and Mad Scientist + Annoy-o-Tron looks convincingly like Mech Mage. Also, higher ranked opponents are more likely to be experienced playing against less common decks like Flood Mage, so at lower ranks, the surprise factor of this deck may provide a substantial advantage. That said, it still is not going to compete with top tier competitive decks.
We tested Hobo Mage against Patron Warrior, Handlock, Zoo, Midrange Hunter, Face Hunter, and Midrange Druid. It went 2-3 against Patron Warrior, but without Flamestrike, and one of the games would have been a win if Flamestrike had been in the deck. With Flamestrike, the Patron Warrior matchup is probably even or slightly favored for Hobo Mage. Much depends on draws.
Handlock and Druid were both 3-2 in favor of Hobo Mage. It is hard to say definitively based on data whether those matchups are favored or even. Druid felt more favored than Handlock.
Both Hunters and Zoo were extremely bad matchups for Hobo Mage. Against Midrange Hunter, the score was 1-4, and we didn't even bother after a few extremely one-sided games with Zoo and Face Hunter.