November 20, 2016
Table of Contents
Malygos Ramp Druid Guide ft. Y’shaarj
Malygos Druid has been one of the most powerful decks in the first year of Standard and One Night in Karazhan pushed it even further through Arcane Giant, one of the deck’s most devastating minions. One thing that almost every player who has played the deck extensively agrees to the fact that even though there are some over the top plays the deck can do that can seem overpowered, it does take a lot of skill to pilot correctly. The difference between playing Malygos Druid and playing Malygos Druid to perfection takes a lot of skill and not everyone is able to follow through with the facets the deck has that need to be considered when playing. Today we have a unique twist on the deck that performed admirably at high legend ranks, so let’s get started!
While at first glance it seems like a combo deck that seeks to finish off opponents in one turn, there are a multitude of win conditions in the archetype and depending on your matchup you need to find your win condition. Purpledrank (PurpleHS) recently hit top 5 legend with this list and many other professionals picked the deck up. While the Malygos Druid lists that we have all become accustomed to have a lot of ramp, removals and some explosive lategame; Purple’s list seeks to drop some of the ramp in form of Mire Keeper and adds in even more lategame.
One of the problems of Malygos Druid in the past has been minion combat and the deck generally very dependent on removals up until the point it can drop Arcane Giants or put together a Malygos Combo. But this particular list seeks to add in some powerful minions and grind out opponents turn 6 onwards. If you land a good curve with the deck with Wild Growth on turn 2 and some high tempo plays it can get impossible for your opponent to come back.
One of the things I really liked about the deck is that it is quite better against Rogue and Tempo Mage versus the traditional lists due to more sustain and minions to apply pressure and soak in some burn. Let’s head straight to the deck’s card choices and check out what Malygos Ramp Druid is all about.
Innervate: One of the most game-breaking cards in the game. While it can be a complete mess of a topdeck, having it in the early to mid game can create massive swings that your opponent will have a hard time coming back from. Druid as a class is known for being able to manipulate mana and it can get ahead of the curve. Being able to put out large threats or use multiple cards in the same turn.
Moonfire: While the card has an image of Magma Rager dying to it, it isn’t as bad as it seems at first sight considering it can deal 6 damage for 0 mana when combo’d with Malygos and also get some damage boost from other spell damage minions and take out small minions. It is one of the combo pieces for finishing off the game and the 0 mana cost makes its use very flexible.
Living Roots: Unlike Token Druid, you do not want to play these as saplings in the deck. You want to save them for removal or use them for burn damage to finish off the game. If you are facing lots of weak 1 Hp minions however, you should play Living Roots as saplings to ensure you can use them to ping off opponent minions instead of having to invest on your hero power.
Raven Idol: The flexibility of Raven Idol makes it an auto include in pretty much any Druid deck that focuses on the Mid Range Style of play and endgame minions. The maximum burst potential you have with you 0 and 1 mana damage spells and Malygos is 26 and Raven Idol can allow you to get more Moonfires or Raven Idols to exceed the 30HP mark and make sure you get the full OTK against classes like Priest and Paladin, who can heal themselves up out of combo range. The ability to get either removals or spells makes it very valuable and it definitely warrants an inclusion in Druid decks.
Bloodmage Thalnos: A cheap 2 drop that does the job of an Azure Drake and allows you to get better board clears using your spells without adding too much to the cost of the combos. Being able to Swipe for more damage early in the game is a massive asset when facing aggressive decks.
Wild Growth: Wild Growth is one of the most powerful ramp tools that Druids have access to. Not only are you able to get a permanent increase to your maximum mana but when you have 10 mana you can also use it to cycle it for another card by generating the ‘Excess Mana’ card from it. Being able to speed up the curve and getting to your combo pieces is a great thing and it is definitely an auto-include in the deck.
Wrath: A very flexible card that allows you to take out small minions or simply cycle itself for card draw. Being a deck that requires multiple cards to set up a combo win condition, you need all the cycle you can get but being able to have a card that has both removal and card draw packed in makes it a great choice in the deck. Since Druids do not have access to good removal spells and suffers from poor early game, Wrath makes it perfect for you to stabilize and get to your bigger minions.
Feral Rage: A great tool to armor up or simply use as removal. While you can compare it to Healing Touch, the added effect of it being able to deal 4 damage makes it a lot more flexible. Since it is a card that is slightly situational, we include only one copy of it in the deck.
Mulch: Mulch is the only worthwhile spot removal Druids have for big minions and while the RNG element of the card can definitely be detrimental in some games, most of the time the tempo gain is very massive. Even if you end up giving your opponent a big drop you will be able to stabilize and control the game comfortably.
Barnes: Now this is where things get interesting. Barnes is a card that does not see play in Malygos Druid at all. But if you take a look at the minions in the deck, every single one of them except Arcane Giant have some effect attached to them. Being able out spell damage minion can help you combo Barnes with spells or pulling out a copy of your bigger threats can spell doom against your opponent.
Fandral Staghelm: One of the most powerful legendaries in the game right now. Being able to get more value out of your Choose One cards is something that can help you push your opponent behind in terms of card or board advantage. It is a very strong minion that demands instant removal else you can simply win on the back of the value generation capabilities of the card.
Swipe: Swipe is one of the most efficient spells Druid has access to and it can also function as burn if you need to. While on its own it is not very powerful against cheap drops, being able to use it with spell damage minions allows you clear out boards and get back in the game against aggressive decks.
Azure Drake: Arguably the most used card in the game at the moment, Azure Drake is one of the best minions in any combo or tempo deck that seeks to keep the draw engine going while also maintaining board presence. The Spell Damage on the minion is very good at keeping aggressive minions away and you cheap spells can clear out enemy minions better without needing to invest your hero power.
Nourish: Nourish is an excellent form of card draw, allowing you to assemble your combo pieces very efficiently and getting to your important minions quickly. It can also help you ramp up by initially investing mana and losing tempo, but your subsequent turns get a whole lot better.
Emperor Thaurissan: Emperor Thaurissan is one of the best legendaries in the game to include in a combo deck with very few exceptions like Anyfin Paladin that don’t need to run it. Emperor allows you to make your whole combo cheaper and allows you to kill your opponent in one turn with Malygos. Since the burn spells you need for the combo are extremely cheap, simply discounting some of the pieces is good enough and you do not need to wait for the whole combo.
Sylvanas Windrunner: The new warchief of the Horde makes an appearance in the deck to help against control matchup and also against the Druid mirrors. Sylvanas is never easy to deal with and being able to block your opponents turn completely in slower matchups is a big plus. With so many high health minions running around in decks, Sylvanas allows you to deal with them better and forces your opponent to answer your turn.
Ragnaros the Firelord: Ragnaros seems to be the next staple go-to legendary that Dr. Boom was in the past. Most decks run him these days and the kind of value that Ragnaros provides is just too good for any deck to pass up. Since the 8 damage happens before your opponent’s turn starts, it means that even if he is removed he at least takes out a minion or deals face damage – making Ragnaros, a perfect card both proactively and reactively in grindy matchups.
Malygos: The namesake card of the deck, Malygos is extremely difficult to deal with for most decks and the simple presence of the card on board can mean doom for your opponent across two turns. Malygos is a great win condition as well as a catchup mechanism. Since the deck does not go all in on the OTK plan and has plenty of lategame fuel, you will be able to use Malygos to remove minions using your 0 and 1 mana spells and come back in the game.
Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound: What seems to be an awful misfit in the deck and too slow to see play in the meta, Y’shaarj has won me more games than I can count and he’s never felt slow if I managed to get to the lategame. With an abundance of targets that can soak up hard removal, he can become the endgame win engine that the deck needs. Given, you are not going to get any points for playing this card extremely late in fatigue matchups – you will be able to pressure your opponent greatly and push them out of contention. I’d also like to point out that pulling out minions from your deck means you make it that much easier for yourself to draw your spells to combo with Malygos. Even control decks do not have sufficient removal to take care of all of the minions in your deck and they least expect it to drop on turn 10 and take you by surprise.
Arcane Giant: A card everyone complains about for valid reason. Simply playing your spells keeps ticking off the mana cost of the card and it’s more than likely you never pay more than 4 mana for them in any game. They are extremely difficult to deal with and can trade-off multiple minions quite easily if left unchecked. Since you play them for such low costs, it allows you to gain back the lost tempo while ramping or drawing cards using your spells.
- Wild Growth
- Turn 4 and 5 plays if you have mana ramp/acceleration.
- Swipe (against aggro)
Against slow decks you can also keep Azure Drake to keep your draw engine going for your OTK pieces to come together. Feral Rage is also a consideration during the mulligan phase if you know your opponent has a lot of 4 HP minions that you need to instantly remove. If you see strong Fandal Staghelm combos in the early turns with mana ramp/acceleration you can keep Fandral in hand too.
Druid: You are quite favored in the mirror matchups due to the deck being more minion-centric and Druids being unable to remove high health minions efficiently. Malygos Druid is the most common variant of Druid at the moment and Beast Druid has been non-existent in my matchups on ladder in the past week and a half.
Hunter: All variants of Hunter are extremely difficult due to their sticky minions and valuable traps that can block your tempo completely. The only way to win the matchup is by aggressively removing minions or simply using ramp to be the one who dictates the board. As soon as you have the tempo advantage you are sure to win but the aggressive curve that Hunter decks have can be hard to beat with the deck.
Shaman: It is an even matchup in my experience with one of the major reasons being you can actually out-value them with your plays. Since you have so many minions that demand hard removal, they do not have enough hard removal to deal with everything and if you can grind them out in the mid game you will be the one who drops the big guns on them. The early turns are very crucial and if you are not able to deal with their turn 1-3 plays you take too much face damage and fail to come back.
Warrior: Control Warrior is quite favored since you are able to keep their armor in check at all times to ensure Malygos is enough to finish them off. Justicar Trueheart can be tricky and allow them to go out of range but the continuous lategame push with your minions allows you to see the games through against slow Warrior Decks.
Priest: Control Priest is one of the most favored matchups for the deck since you get all the time in the world to assemble your OTK pieces and finish them off in one turn. Dragon Priest however can be hard to deal with since they have high health minions that Druid as a class cannot deal with efficiently. You need to push out your minions to contest the board and make sure you do not lose out on tempo.
Paladin: Both Deathrattle and Murloc Paladin are favored for you just like Priest since there is not much they can do about your combo except heal up. Their spot removal also cannot keep up with how much pressure you can build using your big threats. As long as you focus on drawing and getting to your combo, this should be an easy matchup.
Mage: The burn version of Tempo Mage has always been a difficult matchup for Druid due to their ability to burst you down and have massive swing turns. You need to ramp up as soon as possible and get on board; else they just keep assembling their burn and burst you down. Applying pressure means they will be forced to deal with minions and you have plenty of high impact threats that demand immediate answers in the deck. The 8 HP minions are particularly good in the matchup if you get to the lategame because Mages are not very efficient at dealing with them and they have limited removal and burn. Freeze Mage is also a favorable matchup due to the amount of pressure you can deal while staying out of burst range using Feral Rage and potentially other spells using your Raven Idols. Laughing, currently the best Freeze Mage player admitted that Malygos Druid can be as bad a matchup as Control Warrior due to Raven Idol deciding a lot of games and the massive amount of pressure the deck can build.
Rogue: Rogue is a difficult matchup due to them being able to out tempo you but the deck is teched to deal with big threats through Mulch. While Miracle Rogue is a hard matchup, Malygos Rogue should be much easier due to ramp being available to you and their inability to heal ensuring the combo kills them whenever you pull it off with all the required pieces. Ragnaros is a great counter to Sap, one of their most potent tempo tools since the effect triggers every time you play it. Arcane Giant also counters Sap since they are played for little or no mana in any matchup.
Warlock: Warlock is a hard matchup if the opponent is playing Zoolock since you do not have enough defensive tools and most of your deck is built around punishing opponents that are slow in nature. If you do start facing a lot of Zoolock you should include high value taunts in the deck and cut out some of the greedy inclusions to make the matchup favorable. Renolock on the other hand is a great matchup and the rising popularity of the archetype in the past few days has been visible with live meta data at meta snapshot sites stating Renolock has been seeing more play.
Ladder Experience and Conclusion
I played the deck at legend ranks on NA and it has been performing better than expected. I was initially unsure about how I could get away with all of these greedy inclusions but it turns out just fine with the right amount of ramp being available to you for dealing with threats and also the more proactive nature of the deck against traditional lists. I love the fact that some lesser played cards in Druid are included like Barnes and Y’shaarj. Purple hit Top 4 Legend on NA after a Chinese professional player suggested him to try it out. It has been a blast playing the deck and it has allowed me to have fun while waiting for the next expansion. With just more than two weeks to go for the expansion launch, I hope you are just as excited as me. Let me know what you think of the deck in the comments below and until then – take care!