Malygos shaman, just like Freeze mage, is a very hard deck to play correctly. In this guide I will share my take on the deck and what you need to know to win with this particular list.
If you like playing control decks and want to try one that wins consistently then this might be for you. The only weakness to this deck is warrior, more precisely - control warrior. This is because the deck has the same problem as in Freeze mage - it has limited damage. If the meta you play in is warrior-free then you won't have to worry about losing.
You can think of this deck as a much better Freeze mage and rightfully so.
- You have a lot of healing when they have almost no real one.
- You have a 3 mana Flamestrike and more board clears than them.
- You have a better win condition.
- You have Hex to answer threats they can't, because they don't play Polymorph.
- And lastly - better card draw tools.
The winrate of the deck will depend on two factors: Luck and Skill. In controvercy to popular belief, the reality is that luck is always the dominant part of the game. Even when you know how to play your deck perfectly and make the best possible plays you can be defeated by (nothing personal) a low ranked player. This is because the rank system in Hearthstone does not reflect your skill correctly. A rank 25 player could play many times better than a Legend one. Higher rank players can play just as bad despite their higher experience.
Anything can happen to decide the game. If your opponent is a Freeze mage (for example) and all goes well, however, he uses Alexstrasza and you have no healing in addition to the ability of removing her you won't be able to answer the mage's next turn and it will be your loss. The game is based on interactions, directly through minions or indirectly - through answers to your opponent's plays.
Now, despite all I have said so far, that doesn't mean your wins and losses are decided only by luck. If you are making bad plays and lack the experience to play the deck correctly each turn you will lose a lot. You can blame luck all you want and there is nothing wrong about that in this game, but more importantly - blame yourself even more when it is your fault for losing due to bad plays and lack of experience. As people say - practice makes perfect!
You need to be able to assess the situation you are in every turn in addition to how the game will progress in future ones until the very end and make plays accordingly. Predicting what cards your opponent might be holding based on his turns played so far goes a long way. Pay close attention to indicators like what cards he highlights, on what side of his hand are they and where the arrows point to. The smallest details give many answers.
Since I have explained what you should expect of your personal winrate, I would like to point out that going against another combo deck, whether it be Malygos or another version, you can expect a 50-50% winrate due to the fact that whoever gets and plays their combo first shall win. Any other decks shouldn't give you trouble if all goes well.
You can think of your cycle cards the same way as with Freeze mage to simplify what you want in a matchup. If you are familiar with how Freeze mage plays then you already know which ones to keep or not in certain matchups. I will go over specific cards you want that are not cycle in the next chapter of the guide.
General -> Doomsayer, Stormcrack, Far Sight, Mana Tide Totem, Ancestral Knowledge and Azure Drake
In addition to the cards above, you should consider keeping a board clear if your starting hand is good enough. The one you should keep will be different depending on what matchup you face. Against some of them you might not want to keep one.
Aggro -> Lightning Bolt, Doomsayer, Stormcrack, Healing Wave, Far Sight, Mana Tide Totem
Against aggressive decks you should keep your board clears and heals. Far Sight and Mana Tide Totem are reasonable to keep if you have a board clear already in hand, because you won't get anywhere without card draw even if you clear the board. Mana Tide Totem is good to keep in particular, because it can serve as a heal in addition to the draw. Noone will leave it up for more than a turn, not even aggro decks.
Cards to keep versus Midrange and Combo decks are the same as those in the General category. Other cards to keep may include Elemental Destruction (in Midrange matchups) as it is good at killing all of your opponent's minions, since it does massive board damage. Cycle cards are also very important to keep.
Control -> Doomsayer, Stormcrack, Far Sight, Mana Tide Totem, Ancestral Knowledge, Hex and Azure Drake
Against control decks you should keep all of your cycle cards. Other cards to keep will vary depending on the class. You can consider keeping Elemental Destruction if you think you will need it against a particular control deck, however, this is done mainly against midrange decks.
Mulligans For Each Matchup
Stormcrack can kill Azure Drake and Harrison Jones in addition to their 5 health minions, which can be killed by boosting your spell damage.
Hex is used on their Arcane Giant, which they can play out of nowhere after a couple of spells early on.
Azure Drake can be kept in your opening hand, because you have the time to play it and is a better card to get compared to other cards that are quite useless in this matchup.
Stormcrack contests an early Savage Combatant and other semi-big minions.
Lightning Storm and Elemental Destruction can clear their minions early on and enable you to cycle from there.
Keeping any board clears is a good idea in order to contest Living Roots and their token combos.
The key to winning here is to keep mainly cycle cards and Stormcrack for their Acolyte of Pain.
Stormcrack kills Totem Golem, Mana Tide Totem, Azure Drake, Flametongue Totem and Tunnel Trogg.
Azure Drake is a better card to get compared to others if you mulligan it and also cycles very well.
Hex is a boon at removing a Flamewreathed Faceless, Fire Elemental, Thing From Below and Thunder Bluff Valiant.
Elemental Destruction can clear any board and give you time to cycle.
Azure Drake is a great keep as you have the time to play it.
Stormcrack kills Acolyte of Pain and the later Ivory Knight.
Hex is amazing at removing Murloc Warleader for good as transform effects do not count towards Anyfin Can Happen, if you can get it off.
Divine Shield Paladin
You should keep all the board clears you can get, because if you kill their annoying boards early on you pretty much win.
Healing Wave is nice as if they can't kill you they can't win.
Stormcrack is an important keep for Steward of Darkshire and other such minions that let them snowball the board.
Stormcrack can remove anything they play early on and lets you survive that much longer.
All the board clears are welcome to make them run out of steam and force them to Life Tap to death.
Healing Wave will sustain you until you get a board clear and since it prevents a lot of damage, you will be in control of the game.
Keep your Lightning Bolt if you don't have a board clear or Stormcrack. It is a good tool to remove their early minions.
Hex is nice to have against the very big minions they play on turn 4-5 like Twilight Drake, Mountain Giant in addition to Sylvanas Windrunner.
Azure Drake cycles in addition to being a better play compared to other cards you may get.
All the cycle cards are invaluable to keep as the player who gets their combo routine first will win.
Stormcrack is a nice keep for their Acolyte of Pain.
Azure Drake cycles further and against this deck you have the time to play it. Plenty of time.
Any board clears are good to keep, because their minions are vulnerable to them and this will prevent a lot of damage to you.
Stormcrack can kill all of their early minions.
Cycle cards are what you want in this matchup. Nothing else is any good.
Azure Drake is the best minion you can possibly keep versus priests.
All cycle cards are valuable as they play slowly, just like a typical priest.
Hex is great at dealing with things they like to Resurrect, making those effects useless.
Azure Drake is very good because of its stats against priests and helps you cycle even further.
All the cycle cards are good here as you need to find your combo and OTK them to win.
Elemental Destruction is an amazing keep for their high health minions on turns 2-5.
Azure Drake is simply very good versus priests and cycles as well.
Stormcrack kills their Wyrmrest Agent and Blackwing Corruptor.
Malygos & Miracle Rogue
The cycle cards help a lot and those are what you should look for in this matchup.
Elemental Destruction is invaluable for their Conceal turns so if you can you should save a copy for them.
Hex is the only way you can deal with Edwyn VanCleef, not to mention an early turn 2-3 one that can instantly win them the game if goes unanswered. This is pretty much the main way you lose.
Stormcrack kills Tomb Pillager and other small minions like SI:7 Agent.
Secret & Midrange Hunter
Any board clears are welcome as they prevent the most ammount of damage.
Stormcrack works wonders at their early plays.
Healing Wave gives you time until you get a board clear and keeps you alive due to the damage they do so quickly.
Versus Malygos Druid
Malygos Druid, the new Combo druid, is a deck that aims to control the board as much as possible through various spells and minions while chipping down your life points little by little and finishing you off with a big burst through a Malygos + Living Roots + Moonfire combo.
The way to approach this deck is to take advantage of your card draw capabilities and find your own combo before they find theirs. Whoever gets their combo first in combo matchups wins.
You have two copies of Healing Wave in addition to Hallazeal the Ascended, a lot of board clears and Hex to deal with the versions that run Arcane Giant so you are not in danger of dying as long as you take into consideration their burst potential breakpoints and play accordingly.
You must save your Hex for their Arcane Giant, Ancient of War and other annoying minions you cannot remove with your board clears, such as Ragnaros the Firelord and Onyxia.
Versus Beast Druid
Beast Druids are a piece of cake. They may try to Innervate a Savage Combatant early on and try to snowball damage with it, but you can deal with it easily with one Stormcrack. Their minions have little health and the only big ones they have are about 5 health, which you can kill with just one Elemental Destruction. The important thing to note is that you have to manage your life total and prevent them from having any scary board turns.
Some of them may have Ancient of War, Onyxia or Ragnaros the Firelord so if you see them play those cards, Hex them immediately.
Versus Token Druid
Token Druids are in the same state as Beast Druids, however, they require more time to establish a strong board with Violet Teacher combos and so you will have a couple of free turns early on to draw cards freely before that happens.
An important thing to mention is that these decks are very likely to run Soul of the Forest, which makes you clear their board twice until it is fully gone. You should prevent them from having too many strong minions in play to reduce the effect of the card.
Versus Control Warrior
Control Warrior is a deck you will never be able to win against, because they can simply armor up all the time in addition to their armor gain spells and your damage will never be enough to get past that wall. Your only hope is if they haven't found Justicar Trueheart until you play out your combo. All burn spells should go to the face if you are to have a chance.
Save your Hex for their big threats like Grommash Hellscream, Malkorok and others you may think they play.
Versus Midrange Shaman
Midrange Shaman is the most popular deck right now and the way to approach them isn't any different from any other deck that relies on minions. You must clear their board when it becomes too much to deal with, however, don't be afraid to take some damage. You have much healing in this list and you shouldn't waste your board clears.
Save your Hex for Flamewreathed Faceless, Thing From Below, Fire Elemental and Thunder Bluff Valiant. As a general rule of thumb if you can clear these minions with a board clear you should do so rather than Hex them. This is because you might need it for something bigger like Ragnaros the Firelord or similar cards they might run in their list.
Versus Murloc Paladin
The strategy against Murloc Paladins is almost the same as with Malygos Druids. Draw as much as possible, keeping an eye on your hand at all times to not overdraw, and find your combo before they get the chance to play theirs.
You should save Hex for Murloc Warleader if the paladin hasn't cleared it with an Equality + Wild Pyromancer combo to prevent you from hexing them.
Other cards you should look for are Ragnaros, Lightlord and Tirion Fordring, which you should Hex only when the paladin has killed their Murloc Warleader since you won't find any better target for Hex. If you have used it on the Murloc Warleader successfully you will have to clear these minions with Elemental Destruction or even a combination of board clears if necessary.
Versus Aggro Paladin
Divine Shield Paladins are less scary than their Murloc counterpart as their board is cleared very easily, because all minions have 3 or less health. They rely on having an annoying board to deal damage and without that they can do nothing to you. As long as you get your board clears early on you will be just fine.
Be wary that they run Divine Favor and can replenish their hand quickly. This you can't do anything about though, because your hand will always be big. The most you can do is cycle as fast as you can to your Malygos combo and clear their board as efficiently as possible while keeping yourself in the game.
Versus Zoo Warlock
Zoo Warlocks tend to use their hero power to rush you down by playing many annoying sticky minions. This, however, enables you to not wait for an OTK opportunity and instead use some of your combo pieces to clear their minions. This should only be done when you have no board clears left, because they are still a big part to your win condition.
Be advised to use your board clears efficiently as they can use their hero power to draw into more minions quickly and if you waste them on a small board you will be in trouble.
Versus Reno Warlock
Reno Warlocks are a bit more tricky to deal with, but you shouldn't have any problems beating them as long as you are aiming for an OTK poortunity and they simply cannot defend against that. Reno Jackson, despite being a very powerful card, is limited to 30 life points and won't help them against your insane burst.
Use your board clears and other removal wisely by prioritizing the threats they present on the board. Hex should be saved for Mountain Giant, Twilight Drake and other large minions you cannot deal with a board clear. Some of these decks run Leeroy Jenkins so be mindful about this combo and use your healing when you fear it might kill you at your current life points.
Versus Freeze Mage
Freeze Mages will try to burn you down with Alexstrasza and a couple of spells to finish the job. Never use any healing prior to them playing her otherwise you will lose. Use a heal only if they are trying to burn you down without playing Alexstrasza, but take into consideration that they will use her after you heal and you will have to Hex the dragon along with healing yourself as well in order to survive.
An interesting thing to note here is that Freeze mages play very few minions and you can take advantage of this by using Hallazeal the Ascended alongside a big board clear to heal yourself before playing Healing Wave as you won't have another opportunity to do so. you can save them for other occasions as they don't have a restriction of healing you.
Versus Tempo Mage
Tempo Mages are very weak to board clears, however, they will try to burn you down with their spells when they notice you are not playing a board oriented deck. This surprise will give you quite a bit of time so use it wisely and draw as fast as you can to your win condition. You have a lot of healing and they won't be able to kill you.
Versus Control Priest
Control Priest is a matchup you will win easily. They have the same playstyle as you by having a lot of board control cards and this may prove frustrating when trying to draw cards as you might have situations where your hand is full of garbage cards instead of your OTK combo. Other than that you will have no trouble defeating them.
Versus Control Priest
Resurrect Priest is a fairly easy matchup to win against. You must Hex their Injured Blademaster and other troublesome cards they play at the start of the match thus making their Resurrect cards useless. In most situations when that happens to them they will concede on the spot. The way to win is with an OTK combo as they also run Priest of the Feast, making your burst useless if used little by little.
Other than these problematic high-health minions they have nothing you cannot deal with your board clears and so you should win fairly easy. They rely on board to win and without it they can do nothing to threaten you, especially with all the healing you have in the deck.
Versus Dragon Priest
Dragon Priests can be annoying, because some of their minions have high health and are difficult to clear efficiently, but because they are playing priest you won't have to worry about getting bursted down. Take your time and evaluate how much pressure you are in and use a board clear accordingly. Remember that you have a ton of healing and can afford to use your life points as a resource, just like Freeze mages do.
You must cycle fast in this matchup, because even with all the board clears and healing you will run out sooner or later. Getting to your OTK turn is of the utmost importance before that happens.
Versus Malygos Rogue
Versus Malygos Rogues you will have a lot of time to cycle through your deck. They also tend to not play much on the board before using Conceal and when they do start populating it, you can remove it easily with all the board clear effects at your disposal.
The tricky part is staying at a certain life threshhold to avoid a huge burst with Malygos + Sinister Strike + Eviscerate. Manage your life total well and you will win.
Save your Hex for Edwin VanCleef and Malygos. Always take into consideration how many Coins they have in hand, because the more mana they have during their Malygos turn the more card combos you will have to worry about.
Another thing to consider is saving Elemental Destruction for when they use Conceal on Gadgetzan Auctioneer. This is a very important part in the match as it enables them to continue drawing cards next turn and the bodies in play add to the damage needed to finish you off.
Versus Miracle Rogue
Miracle Rogues are less threatening than their Malygos counterpart, because you don't have to worry about getting bursted down in one turn so easily. Their gameplan is very similar to a Malygos deck and you may use the same strategy as in that version. You should play around Leeroy Jenkins as Miracle Rogues always use him to combo with 2 copies of Cold Blood.
Versus Secret Hunter
Secret Hunters can be a pain to deal with, because of the Cat Trick secret, which triggers after casting a spell, making your board clears less helpful. This is the only thing they can do to annoy you as their playstyle is such that relies on secrets to do damage with Eaglehorn Bow and since you don't play any minions to proc them with you will only have toworry about clearing the board efficiently while staying alive with heals.
Versus Midrange Hunter
Midrange Hunters work almost the same way as Secret hunters. They, however, rely mostly on minions rather than secrets and will be more difficult to deal with properly.
Against either versions you will want to save Hex for their Savannah Highmane and some unusual cards like Ragnaros the Firelord if they have them.
Key Cards To Note:
Originally I looked at this card and thought it would perform very bad, because it is only useful in certain situations (mostly turns 2-3) and does nothing meaningful the rest of the time, but now that I look closely it is a card that is simply needed in order for the deck to perform well.
Doomsayer, when it is useful, can be interpreted as follows: "Two mana creature - destroy your opponent's board, make him pass his turn and in the process draw a card (because essentially it becomes your turn again)". Even though it is not a card that is always useful, like Maelstrom Portal and the rest of the cards you have at your disposal , it has an effect that is just what this list needs in order to perform well and slow down the game even more.
Far Sight is an amazing card , because it has many possibilities. You can either get lucky and draw a Lava Burst to combo with Malygos or it can serve as a draw mechanic in a manner that doesn't overdraw you. You can play the drawn card immediately if you wish and so it smooths the draw in your deck.
The card also allows you to reduce your drawn card to 0 mana and when you have 25 out of 30 cards that cost 3 or less you can tell how many possibilities it holds.
The card is a nice way to kill mid-sized creatures on which you don't want to use a board clear if you can save it. It will be used primarily as removal and not going to the face unless you are setting up lethal. This is because Malygos in combination with Lightning Bolt, Frost Shock and Lava Shock is plenty of damage to kill your opponent in one turn.
You should worry about the board when thinking of using this card. There will be situations when going to the face with it is correct, however, those will come very rarely. Your opponent will not overcommit to the board (if he's smart) when he doesn't need to and if he plays a minion that is threatening enough to bait removal you can clear it easily with Lava Burst and save your board clears. This will force him to use more resources onto the board and you will wipe it out, staying in control.
He is a card that should always be kept in your opening hand when you have Maelstrom Portal to go with it. This tactic varies depending on the matchup though. In aggressive ones you will want to do this, in others you may not.
You may want to save him in order to make a stronger combo if you have played most of your burst needed to go with Malygos and need a bit more to finish the job. Most of the time though you will use him alongside a board clear.
The totem is a very nice inclusion in all non-aggressive shaman decks (this one as well), however, its mechanic gives you a card at the end of your turn. This can be problematic when managing your resources and hand. You will generally choose to play Far Sight due to its many possibilities and better management of your deck.
You are not the player who is in control of how many cards the totem gives you and might fall into an opponent's trap to make you waste cards in order to not overdraw. Far Sight has no such issues and that is why it is the preferred card choice of the two. Note that if you manage your hand well you won't have to worry about choosing to put both cards in your deck.
For more information about the card choices you should check out the Deck Variations part of the guide.
Maelstrom Portal can be a useful clear in all stages of the game, however after some testing I have concluded that it isn't as great of a card as I had envisioned. At least for this deck. Initially I used it instead of Doomsayer, but it proved to be useless in many situations and so I am running Doomsayer instead.
The problem with this card is that it is mainly useful in Midrange shaman, because you have minions that can do damage alongside it and the card becomes an extension of them when dealing with the board. In this deck there are mainly spells and very few minions, which makes the card perform poorly.
This list will almost always rely on an OTK to win. You want to have Malygos, Frost Shock, Lightning Bolt and in some situations Lava Shock or Bloodmage Thalnos in hand before going all in with Emperor Thaurissan. You will then play him on the board and your next turn will be the end of your opponent. When doing the combo you have to be mindful of the mana you will need and whether you have overloaded mana crystals.
It is crucial that you never use Frost Shock and Lightning Bolt copies and instead use your board clears to remove the board. Those combo pieces will decide whether you win or lose. The only exception to that rule is when fighting Zoo warlocks as they will be killing themselves with Life Tap so there will be less need for many combo pieces before playing Malygos. Against them you can afford to lose a Lightning Bolt or freeze a minion if necessary.
- Never use your Lightning Bolt and Frost Shock unless you are about to burst with Malygos. They are just that essential to the combo.
- You should play Emperor Thaurissan only when you have the needed damage to win next turn in your hand, otherwise you will lose. This is not a deck that plays him for the tempo.
- Pay very close attention for how much you will be overloaded.
- Always watch out for the possibility of overdrawing.
The deck is built perfectly (for Standard) as each card is picked to be useful no matter on which stage in the game it is used (except Doomsayer), however, there will be fluctuations based on the meta you play in. That affects what lean you will take with the deck and which cards you will replace.
Lava Burst is a tool that enables you to have additional burst with Malygos or when trying to set up lethal the next turn with him. It can be used in many ways and is a card that can save you the need to use a board clear when you can remove the targeted big minion with it. You can be just fine without Lava Burst, but you will need to be more careful how you spend your resources.
Version #1: Balance and flexibility.
You will go with 2x Lava Burst and either 2x Far Sight or 2x Mana Tide Totem. The Far Sight draws a card on demand instead of at the end of your turn, which can be a big deal. That way you will have more control over your draw. The totem won't survive long enough to fish for more than 1 card against competent players so Far Sight is a better choice in many ways.
Version #2: Less burst, but more draw.
It will have 2x Far Sight and 2x Mana Tide Totem. This version is most useful when there are less targets for Lava Burst in the meta and you want to focus on ending the game faster. Your finisher remains the same regardless of whether Lava Burst is in the deck or not.
This is a more risky version to play, because you won't have a Lava Burst to clear strong 5 health minions, like those in Midrange shaman, and may end up using a board clear instead. Be extra careful with your resources if you can.
Those two versions of the deck are the core ones. You will need to substitute some cards for others if the meta calls for it. For example, Maelstrom Portal is not a very good card in this deck due to the lack of minions to support it, but it is a great card versus Zoo decks and those that play a lot of low-health minions and you might consider swapping the Doomsayer for it if these decks become popular enough. If midrange and control decks are more popular then Doomsayer will be the solid choice.
I hope this guide helped you and you are having success with the deck. If you have any questions or want me to add a matchup guide I have not included feel free to leave a comment.