Mastering the Malygos Warlock Deck: Matchups and Mulligans

Part 3 of Camzeee's Malygos Warlock In-depth Guide - Matchups and Mulligans!

This is part 3 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections:

Introduction

Hello and welcome to part 3 of my in-depth Malygos Warlock deck guide! This section is all about match-ups and mulligans. Match-ups are so crucial in understanding and playing a deck well. I hope this guide can help you become a better Malygos Warlock player.

If you haven’t read the other two parts of this guide, I recommend you do so before reading this one. I reference win conditions as noted in part 2 as well as some basic concepts from the deck itself.

Let’s have a refresher of the metagame and how our deck fares.

Match-up Overview

This match-up section is also available in part 1 of the guide. Here’s the match-ups at a quick glance.

Favorable

  • Handlock
  • Control/Midrange Paladin
  • Patron Warrior
  • Echo/Control Mage
  • Control Priest

Even

  • Zoo
  • Tempo Mage
  • Midrange Hunter
  • Mech Shaman
  • Oil Rogue
  • Aggro Paladin
  • Control Warrior

Unfavorable

  • Face Hunter
  • Midrange Druid
  • Freeze Mage

Malygos Warlock has some great match-ups overall and none that are unwinnable. Let’s start with everyone’s favorite class *ahem* Hunter.

Midrange Hunter

  • Even – unfavorable
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Mortal Coil, Darkbomb, Antique Healbot, Ironbeak Owl, Abusive Sergeant

This match-up is difficult purely because of how the Hunter and Warlock hero powers match up. However, this deck is built to be resilient in the face of Hunter and can boast an even match-up with Midrange/Hybrid Hunter.

  • Zombie Chows were built for this match-up and we have two copies so look for them every game. They are top priority so we can play them on turn 1. Other than that, look to your spell removals.
  • This is one of the match-ups where we’re unlikely to be able to use our secondary (more fun) spell win condition. It becomes a matter of pure survival so use your early game spells to stay alive and keep the board under control.
  • Hopefully by turn 4 or 5 we’ve stabilized and have a board ourselves. From there, just build a board as efficiently as possible and try to limit the number of tokens you generate to decrease the raw power of Unleash the Hounds.
  • Antique Healbots are really clutch in this match-up. I even keep them in my opening hand if I have a Zombie Chow already they’re that important.
  • Against Midrange Hunter in particular, be wary of Freezing Trap. This card can really sting because of the big tempo swing. Try your best to send back a card with a strong Battlecry like Antique Healbot.
  • Thankfully, the Hunter match-up is rather straightforward at its core. Keep up on board and stay alive. It’s the same motto for all variants of Hunter. Sadly, this match-up will almost always be no more than even because of the nature of each class’s hero power. Live by the Life Tap die by the Life Tap.

Face Hunter

  • Unfavorable
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Mortal Coil, Darkbomb, Antique Healbot, Ironbeak Owl, Abusive Sergeant

This match-up is a lot like Midrange Hunter with increased speed. Unfortunately, the increase in a Hunter’s speed really hurts our ability to react fast enough to threats and our spell removals become really important.

  • Mortal Coil goes from being a good card to almost essential against Face Hunter. Because the deck runs a number of charge minions and cheap 2/1 minions, the Mortal Coil can be amazing for helping to cycle through the deck while removing key threats like Wolfrider.
  • A Face Hunter can burst for a surprising amount of damage. You can’t realistically play around a 3 card crazy lethal but you can play around a common Unleash the Hounds and Kill Command finish.
  • Pay attention to their mana. It’s the one thing that hamstrings Face Hunter. As an example, if they only have 6 mana, you can get a little bit lower in health if it’s gonna secure you the board. Remember that when playing Malygos Warlock, the game is not over until your hero portrait explodes. Antique Healbots can pull off some pretty miraculous comebacks so play to your outs.
  • The key to beating Face Hunter is to clear their board while maintaining a life total. It’s much easier said than done, but it’s possible if you can get some strong starting minions like Zombie Chow.

Freeze Mage

  • Unfavorable
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Darkbomb, Ironbeak Owl, Imp Gang Boss, Imp-losion if on coin (if you know that it’s Freeze, go for Twilight Drakes.

Freeze Mage is sadly an unfavorable match-up. They have a really un-interactive playstyle which makes a lot of your removal worthless. Against a Freeze Mage deck we’re put in the unusual position of being the beat-down. Here are some key tips.

  • Pressure them. You have some decent minions to put out early game which they don’t have. Zombie Chows are great for trading and beating the Mad Scientists.
  • Be wary of the Doomsayer + Frost Nova combo. That deadly combo can shut your entire board down and force you to rebuild the board from scratch. Save your Ironbeak Owl for it.
  • Twilight Drakes are very powerful against this deck. As one of your few truly mid-game threats, they often do the vast majority of our minion based damage. I’d keep them in your opening hand if you know you’re facing a Freeze Mage.
  • To close the game off, try to get a really big Emperor Thaurissan discount and use the additional time that Freeze Mage affords you to assemble a deadly burst finish. The sooner you can unleash it, the more the Freeze Mage is pressured to stay alive.

Beating Freeze Mage is all about pressure. If their deck can get the card draw and time to do what it needs to do, you will lose, so our goal is to disrupt their flow. Freeze Mage can’t efficiently defend with Ice Block and unleash a barrage of spells in the same turn, so force them to have to choose.

Tempo Mage

  • Even
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Darkbomb, Ironbeak Owl, Imp Gang Boss, Imp-losion if on coin

Most Mages are playing a little slower nowadays which is to our advantage. There’s an old adage that you either want to be a little slower or a lot faster than your opponents. Our deck is about on a par with Tempo Mage which makes it a rather even match-up.

  • Tempo Mage is all about getting insane value out of its Mad Scientist, Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Flamewaker. If they succeed with this, your board will be in tatters and you’ll take a ton of damage.
  • To stop them, focus on removing their main offensive threat. Flamewaker in particular is capable of some truly disgusting tempo bursts. Shut it down immediately. Hellfire can do a lot of work against the early game board of a Tempo Mage.
  • The goal against Tempo Mage is to shut down their tempo. A deck has no tempo if it has no board so try to keep up. It won’t be easy, but if you do, you’ve got a stronger late-game push than they do and significantly better card draw too. We’re firmly on the control side of the spectrum in this match-up.
  • Zombie Chow should always be looked for in your opening hand since it has next to no value when played later in the game. Darkbomb is a safe and useful card at all stages in the game, and Imp Gang Boss represents our first meaningful sized minion so is a pretty decent keep.
  • This match-up is one where you will often have to shift gears between your two win conditions so keep this in mind before burning your Darkbombs on board control when your hand is starting to dwindle.

Echo Mage

  • Favorable
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Darkbomb, Ironbeak Owl, Imp Gang Boss, Imp-losion if on coin

This deck hits the perfect sweet spot for our deck. It’s slow enough that we have time to setup big burst, and not too slow that we are forced to be the beatdown. It’s a great match-up overall.

  • Echo Mage wants to out-value you. And I’ll tell you something right now, it will succeed. Wait so if it outvalues us how do we win?
  • The beauty of Malygos Warlock is that it has that secondary win condition that doesn’t much care about the board state. Utilize this to your fullest.
  • This doesn’t mean neglect the board, because we still need our board to set us up with enough damage to burst and also to buy us time to tap and draw what we need.
  • Try your best to play around Duplicate and the masses of insane value cards that start coming down in the mid-game. The good news is, you have a stronger early game than they do and thus can dictate terms. At some point, you will get out-valued and that’s okay because we don’t need our board to win us the game.
  • Be mindful of how and when to trigger Ice Block. It’s unwise to trigger the Ice Block if you don’t have enough in the tank to finish them off next turn. Echo Mage plays Antique Healbot and as clutch as it is for you against aggro, it’s similarly clutch for them against you. Don’t be shocked by it and blown out. The key is to still have enough pressure to finish.

Oil Rogue

  • Even
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Imp Gang Boss. Imp-losion, Twilight Drake

Rogues typically have slow starts to the game which suits us. We’re happy to play our early game minions down and force him to react to us. We also have the added benefit of being able to disguise ourselves as Zoo and thereby make him play a more all-in style to fight for board.

  • You should almost always Life Tap on turn 2 to build up a Twilight Drake for play on turn 3 with Coin or on 4 on curve. Imp Gang Boss is a great card to play on curve too since it requires multiple steps to fully remove.
  • Once mid-game hits, our ability to stay on board gets a lot more difficult. Rogue are specialists at controlling the board with spells and their hero power. However, they often do so at the expense of life which kicks in our secondary win condition. In a lot of Rogue games, you will lose the board but if you played smart, you should have gotten them low enough on health to put them in spell burst range.
  • Hellfire is an amazing card against Rogue for clearing out Violet Teacher tokens and for dealing direct damage. Don’t forget about the face damage part of the spell!
  • Try and leverage your early game freedom as much as possible. This means tapping and setting up for a big Emperor Thaurissan turn.

Midrange Druid

  • Unfavorable
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Imp Gang Boss. Imp-losion, Twilight Drake

This is a tough match-up for you. Druids are excellent at beating combo decks because they have the ability to ramp into threats which you can’t deal with fast enough.

  • Malygos Warlock is one of the better combo decks against Druid because of its relatively large early game board presence. Not many decks can boast the durability provided by Zombie Chow, Imp Gang Boss and Twilight Drake. Incidentally, those are the cards you should mulligan for.
  • Spell removal is a lot lower in priority in the mulligan phase since Druid typically doesn’t have any minions that cost 4 mana or less.
  • Once mid-game comes along, try to keep up on board. It’s not going to be easy at all, but with good draws and some early game board presence established it’s possible to push the Druid on the defensive where he’s particularly weak.
  • Druid is one of the worst classes at turning around a losing board, so play beatdown for as long as you can to force your opponent back.
  • Late game, both your win conditions are possible, so be ready to shift gears if need be. There may be a few tough choices here and there, but if you get a good Thaurissan, a lot of doors get opened and it shouldn’t be too hard to win.
  • Be wary of the Force of Nature + Savage Roar combo on 9 mana. It deals 14 damage from an empty board and gives any board it has an additional two attack each. As a result, try your best to lock down your opponents’ board and kill everything – even a 1/1 boombot

Control Warrior

  • Even
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Twilight Drake, Emperor Thaurissan

This deck is even and maybe slightly unfavored against Control Warrior. Our early game board presence while great against more aggressive decks is sadly losing value against a Control Warrior.

  • Tap as often as possible and try to emulate a Handlock’s style of play against a Control Warrior. Unfortunately, spell burst might not be quite enough for you to get through all the additional armor that a Control Warrior generates so you will need a board.
  • Build a board as well as you can and be wary of Brawl. You don’t want to go totally all-in against a Warrior and be outlasted after a big brawl.
  • While you should focus on playing a Handlock style against a Control Warrior, we also have a number of early-mid game minions that Handlock doesn’t have and this can put a surprising amount of pressure on and keep his armor down.
  • Keeping his armor down is crucial for avoiding big Shield Slams and also for keeping him within reach for a Malygos burst if we can assemble it.
  • Focus on building a good board that is difficult for the Warrior to remove. Spread out horizontally rather than vertically since Warrior has amazing single target removal.

Patron Warrior

  • Even
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Twilight Drake, Emperor Thaurissan

Malygos Warlock’s claim to fame is its favorable match-up against Patron Warrior. It achieves this by having enough of a board presence to force the Patron Warrior back and finish them with spell bursts.

  • Just like Patron Warrior’s arch nemesis Handlock, our two copies of Hellfire burn through any Patron board they build. It’s incredibly potent so save it for a really important clear.
  • Sadly, this Malygos deck is a little bit worse against Patron Warrior because of the inclusion of Imp Gang Boss which gives them extra targets for their Grim Patrons. Other decks try Blackwing Technician which is slightly better against Patron but you’re still favored if you play well.
  • Play like a Handlock would in this match-up if at all possible. Tap on turns two and three even to put out extra large Drakes. The more you can draw, the more likely you are to get Thaurissan and a bunch of spells for combo’ing.
  • No you’re not seeing wrong, I recommend keeping Thaurissan in your opening hand against Warrior. Your secondary win condition of spell burst comes into effect quite often, and you need Thaurissan to give you that extra hand.
  • Playing against Patron is all about limiting their ability to use their Patrons as board clear AND presence. Try to leave only 3 attack minions and higher out. This can be difficult with Imp-losion, but trade those tokens in asap and you should be able to build a Patron-resilient board.
  • Stay out of range of a Patron’s burst. This sounds like an impossible task, and it often can be, but if you can keep their board clear and build some solid mid-range minions up, they’ll be hard pressed to both clear and draw enough cards to assemble a game-winning combo.

Midrange Paladin

  • Favorable
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Mortal Coil, Darkbomb, Ironbeak Owl, Imp Gang Boss, Imp-losion and Hellfire if on coin

This match-up is one of Malygos Warlock’s best.

  • The tokens generated from Gang Boss and Imp-losion can be put to good work killing Paladin’s tokens and we naturally outdraw a Paladin. To cap it off, Paladin has no burst to scare us.
  • Mulligan for your typical Midrange Paladin with early game minions and Darkbomb. Imp Gang Boss in particular does amazing work against most of Paladin’s early game minions.
  • Twilight Drake is also a decent card to keep if you have some early game in your opening hand since it’s the first big threat that Paladin usually struggles to deal with.
  • Hellfire is also rather important to blow up the Muster for Battle dudes and can help you resecure the board in the mid-game.
  • You can win with both win conditions on a fairly consistent basis. Use whichever comes most naturally. I find I win on board against a Paladin often so the spell damage lethal is usually just the cherry on top.

Aggro Paladin

  • Even – Unfavorable
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Mortal Coil, Darkbomb, Ironbeak Owl, Imp Gang Boss, Imp-losion and Hellfire if on coin

While our deck does great against Midrange Paladin, it struggles quite a lot against Aggro Paladin. This new variant of Paladin is seeing a resurgence and can really wreck you if you’re unprepared.

  • Unlike the Midrange Paladin, tapping is NOT your friend. The more you Life Tap, the lower your health gets against their slew of fast small minions and it even powers up their Divine Favor.
  • As a result, I recommend you tap very rarely and simply try to stay on top of the wave of aggression coming your way. It won’t be easy, but we have some decent counters to the swarming 1-health minions.
  • Winning the game is purely a matter of winning back board control. We won’t be needing Malygos to win and in fact, we hope it’s the last card in our deck.
  • Save your Hellfire for a three or four for one. Two for ones just won’t be good enough against an aggro Paladin especially one that’s hyper aggressive and can Divine Favor to bring itself back up on cards.

Zoo

  • Even – favorable
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Mortal Coil, Darkbomb, Imp Gang Boss, Twilight Drake, Imp-losion/Hellfire if on coin ***Big Game Hunter and Ironbeak Owl if you know it’s Handlock

This deck is tailored to combat Zoo effectively because of the double Zombie Chow, double Abusive Sergeant and double Hellfire. It won’t be an easy match-up since Zoo has such intense pressure, but we should come out on top more often than not.

  • Stave off the Zoo’s swarm of minions. That’s the priority. Use spell removals, your own minions, anything you can get your hands-on.
  • It’s important to be as mana efficient as possible in this match-up. A good Zoolock player will play with deadly efficiency and if you’re not as ruthless as he is you’ll fall behind in mana debt and eventually succumb.
  • Use your board clears to reclaim the board and then start looking at the finish. You’ll be surprised how effective spell burst is against Warlock since they are constantly tapping and dropping themselves closer and closer to lethal.
  • The Mulligan looks complex but it’s really not that hard. Look for minions to play, a removal or two, and maybe a board clear if you have the other two elements.
  • Always mulligan for Zoo if you’re unsure what you’re facing. Keeping a slow hand against a zoo can spell immediate disaster whereas against a Handlock you have more time to tap into better answers.
  • This is the standard and purest form of the aggro match-up. Practice it, and if you can beat it consistently, you’re in a great place to climb the ladder since aggro decks define the majority of the metagame.

Handlock

  • Favorable
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Mortal Coil, Darkbomb, Imp Gang Boss, Twilight Drake, Imp-losion/Hellfire if on coin ***Big Game Hunter and Ironbeak Owl if you know it’s Handlock

Combo decks do pretty well against the modern day low-burst Handlock, and this one is well-built to beat it.

  • Focus on building an early game board presence. You’ll take on the role of the beatdown in this match-up which can be unfamiliar territory.
  • Use your spells and mid-game minions to pressure your Handlock opponent. Your tech cards of Big Game Hunter and Ironbeak Owl are key for dealing with his biggest mid-game threats. They should be mulliganed for if you know you’re going to be playing a Handlock.
  • Try your best to clear opponent threats as efficiently as possible. It’s important to not get too greedy and see a Handlock’s dwindling life as a sign of weakness. Control the board and bide your time so you can finish cleanly in one turn from either spell or minion burst.
  • Play around Molten Giants as much as you can. Because your deck does boast some pretty nasty burst, keeping your Handlock opponent above 17 health is largely okay as long as you still have control of the board.
  • Use your early-game freedom to build a big hand for Thaurissan to discount. A few key discounts on burst spells can be the difference maker in a tight game.

Mech Shaman

  • Even – unfavorable
  • Mulligan for: Zombie Chow, Darkbomb, Ironbeak Owl, Imp Gang Boss, Imp-losion/Hellfire if on coin

I haven’t played too many Shamans at all on ladder but the ones I have faced are all this aggro variant.

  • Use this to your knowledge and keep your Darkbombs and mulligan hard for those Zombie Chows which do a great job of shutting down any card they might want to play for two mana.
  • Imp Gang Boss is a star against Shaman as is Hellfire. It’s quite simple with Shaman – win the board, win the game.
  • A Shaman without a board is a Shaman in a very bad position. Fight hard for the board and don’t give it up unless you have your secondary win condition prepared and set up for lethal.

Control Priest

  • Favorable
  • Mulligan for: Darkbomb, Imp Gang Boss, Twilight Drake, Imp-losion

Priest is overall one of the best classes to face as a combo deck.

  • Their slow starts allow us to build up a hand to combo, and their inability to heal above 30hp means that we are still in the game if we can play hard into our secondary win condition and launch a magic barrage from Malygos.
  • Priest has the narrowest mulligan system because it’s rather simple – get minions to play. Removal isn’t as important, and you should try to tap on turn 2 as well to build your hand rather than playing your naked Abusive Sergeants or even your Zombie Chows (which are liabilities against Northshire Cleric.)
  • I keep a copy of Darkbomb usually to deal with Northshire Cleric since those have the potential to snowball hard and put you very far behind.
  • This match-up is one of the most fun in the game, and you should try to use your secondary win condition as often as possible here because Priest usually doesn’t threaten burst and you are free to tap as often as you like yo setup for some monstrous combos.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading! I know that’s a lot to digest, but if you haven’t already, go back and read the other sections I’ve written up about Malygos Warlock. There’s a lot of great information there to inform you of this deck and its nuances.

If you have any questions or feedback for me, I’d love to hear it! Drop a comment and I’ll get back to you.

Until next time!

This is part 3 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections:


About Camzeee

I am a multi legend-ranked player with Level 60 heroes for every class. My favorite card in Hearthstone is Lord Jaraxxus (gold of course!) and I’m also an arena infinite player with over 800 arenas completed.

If you’re interested in Arena, here’s my Arena Mastery link and my own personal 12-Win Arena Log where I record every card/deck I’ve made it to 12 wins with (80+). 

I offer Ranked Ladder and Arena coaching through HearthstoneCoaching.com (founded by Sheng). Visit the site if you’re interested in having me coach you!