Weekly Legends: Malygos Rogue!

For those of you that don’t know, I love . Aboslutely love, love, love Malygos. In addition (and this opinion is not very popular in the world of Hearthstone) I also really enjoy playing all versions of Miracle Rogue. So, as you can imagine, I am automatically going to gravitate toward any deck that puts […]

Introduction

For those of you that don’t know, I love Malygos. Aboslutely love, love, love Malygos. In addition (and this opinion is not very popular in the world of Hearthstone) I also really enjoy playing all versions of Miracle Rogue. So, as you can imagine, I am automatically going to gravitate toward any deck that puts both of those things together. LOE really did something amazing to Hearthstone. Not only did it shift the meta, but it brought a ton of new archetypes with it. While I love exploring the new, I also really enjoy when the game shifts in a way that can blend the old and the new together. This version of Malygos Rogue (made by Superjj) does that by bringing together three distinct different play styles into one list. It takes all of the things that made the classic Miracle Rogue good, and then blends them with elements from both Malygos Rogue and Oil Rogue. That collaboration really strengthens this deck and turns it into a well-tuned machine.

While this deck may feel familiar, it pilots very differently from most Rogue decks. Like Rogue, you are using your spells to advance the board, push damage through, and ultimately set up your final burst. However, as Malygos is your main finisher, you also want to spend most of the game stalling. Why? Because you are mostly playing to two different “key points”. The first of those points is getting Gadgetzan Auctioneer down and using the goblin’s ability to draw half-a-million cards. While not a direct win condition in itself, it is very hard to lose the game once you go off with the six drop. Beyond Auctioneer, you are of course playing towards Malygos himself. The dragon is the way you win 99% of your games. As such, after drawing your cards (or even if you don’t have Auctioneer) you are just going to everything you can to make sure you can play the dragon and a flurry of spells in the same turn, winning the game on the spot.

Key Cards

Conceal

Conceal, my old friend. Welcome back. While not in the regular list (this used to be a Violet Teacher), I honestly don’t understand running this deck without at least one copy of this card. Conceal is solid in any deck where you desperately need to protect minions, but it is especially fantastic for this hybrid build because it hits both Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Malygos. In both of those situations it is almost always going to lead to a win. Leaving Auctioneer alive will allow you to draw most of your deck, which means you are going to have the finishers you need to seal the deal against just about every deck in the meta. This is the way the classic Miracle Rogue won games, by concealing auctioneer and then just blasting their opponent the next turn. You can do that here, and it really pushes up your ability to go off. This is the main reason Conceal is in the deck, but it is not the only reason.

Beyond helping goblins stay hidden, conceal can also mask Malygos. One could argue that is even more powerful because giving Malygos stealth is pretty much an insta-win. While Malygos is almost often going to be lethal when he comes down, there are some games where you will only be able to play one spell with the dragon. Conceal helps that by giving you two turns (and approximately a hundred million damage) to play with the spell power. Even Control Warrior cannot outrace Malygos with ten mana at his disposal. You want to set this mini combo up in games where you know that you aren’t going to have access to the OTK. A 4/12 is hard to remove in its own right, but having that extra turn after playing the 4/12 can be the different between winning and losing.

Tomb Pillager

LOE’s inclusion into this mash-up of a deck, Tomb Pillager is an extremely powerful card that is just straight up unfair. By that I do not mean that it is overpowered, I merely mean that there is absolutely nothing your opponent can do about it. Silencing works, but using that on a 5/4 is not a proactive play, which is fine. Beyond that, they either they Rogue keep a 5/4 on the board (which is not acceptable) or they give you an extra coin. That extra coin may seem average at first glance, but it is the number one reason this deck works. While sometimes you are going to use it to get something else out a turn sooner (such as a turn five Emperor Thaurissan) the coin is mostly going to be used with Gadgetzan Auctioneer to generate as many cards as possible. The coin being a spell has always helped Rogue the most, and making it a sub-theme of the class really helps it get back to its roots. Having access to an extra coin is always going to be incredible, but just being able to reliably get one in your hand by turn six is very important.

Tomb Pillager works a lot like Azure Drake. It is a midrange threat that must be answered that also (sort of) draws you a card. While it doesn’t have the spell power that the drake does, it is a minion that you just drop down and don’t care what happens after. No matter what it is going to get it’s value. While Azure Drake draws a card from your deck, the coin you get from Pillager is almost often better. Another bonus of Pillager is its give attack, which enables it to both force removal and trade with just about anything in the game. Such a big threat makes it a very strong tempo play because your opponent is going to spend time to remove it while also furthering your finishing potential.

Antique Healbot

Another example of “blending”, Antique Healbot is one of Oil Rogue’s addition to this list. Healbot was by no means in a staple in those old decks, but it was used a fair amount (and got even more popular as time went on). The reason for that is the same reason it is in this list: the ability to stall. As a combo deck, you are almost always going to win the game if you just get the right cards into your hand at the right time. That means you need to do whatever you can to get to that moment in the game. Eight health allows you to do that really well because it often buys you the extra turn or two you need to put together the finishing burst or clutch AOE. This card is more of a fail safe than anything else. Most of the time you are going to be staying ahead of your opponent with removal, but sometimes that is not enough.

One of Rogue’s biggest problems (as evident by the double Shiv/Fan of Knives in this deck) has been aggressive decks. Things like Face Hunter and the old Zoo have always given Rogue fits because they simply cannot match wave after wave of damage. Your burst is often going to come one turn too late. Currently, there are a good number of aggressive decks in the game between Aggro Druid, Aggro Shaman and the return of Zoo. That means you really cannot afford to run this deck without some type of healing. While you could run an Antique Healbot/Earthen Ring Farseer split, I like having access to both healbots a little more because the ceiling is much higher. The personal preference is up to you, just understand how key having healing is when it comes to getting you to your end-game.

Gadgetzan Auctioneer

It has been a long time since I have teamed up with this smooth-talking goblin. As always, Gadgetzan Auctioneer is an absurd card that completely takes over the game with the right spells. There are two ways to play this card, and you need to understand both. You are either going to get it out with a Conceal or wait until you can maximize your spells. If you have Conceal you want to race towards the turn where you can play it and Auctioneer together. The best way to do this is with a turn six Preparation, but you can also make use of the coin as well. Just understand the spells in your hand, and know if you need to use the Conceal on the auctioneer. Some games you can actually get plenty of value without it, which will let you save the stealth for Malygos later on.

Know the only time you should play the goblin naked is when you can draw three to four cards off of it. That will differ from game to game, but that is the overall metric I like to use. Even if you have two in hand, you typically want to try and eek the most value out of them as possible because every card you draw takes you one step closer to winning the game. Emperor Thaurissan enables this quite well, but you can also get a lot of draws by using the coin (or multiple coins) or Preparation. As stated above, know your hand and know what you can play. All spell-based Rogue decks are about planning ahead, and you need to always be thinking about the cards you have and the way they interact with your various finishers and other minions.

Malygos

The essence of magic himself. Malygos is, quite simply, the way this deck wins games. You are going to remove minions, heal up, draw cards and play spells all in hopes of lasting long enough to play the nine drop with as many damage based spells as possible. Control Warrior has taken a nose dive as of late, meaning that most decks are going to cap at thirty, which is plenty in range if you play your cards right. Once the dragon comes down, you are almost always going to win. Just always be working to set up the end game in anyway that you can. For instance, if you Emperor Thaurissan early on, make sure you go out of your way to save those discounted spells because they can be played alongside Malygos later on. In that same vein, if you do not need to use Conceal on a Gadgetzan Auctioneer, then don’t. Rather, just save it for your finishing turn. The same rule applies to the coin, which can get you a clutch additional Blade Flurry or the like, and Preparation. You are almost always going to use the zero-cost spells with your goblins, but if you already have lethal in hand, then use it with Malygos to guarantee that damage through.

Matchups

How to play against the five decks I see the most on ladder.

Zoo

As much as I love me some Zoo, I am really starting to get sick of it. There are so many versions of this deck that it is has really just taken over the ladder. Warlock has always been strong, but Dark Peddler has pushed it back into the upper echelon of popular decks. That is very bad news for this deck, because Zoo is one of your hardest matchups. While you run a lot of AOE and individual removal, getting the right spells at the right time can be very difficult when you have to focus so much energy on clearing. Furthermore, that clearing is going to be very tricky. There are times where you are going to want to have some hard, solid removal and others where you need to clear the board. That, combined with how aggressive the low-curve Warlock can be, puts you on the back foot almost instantly. Once that happens the only way to properly bounce back is to clear hard and try to put on your own pressure.

In each matchup you want to stall until you can build your finisher. You go about drawing the game out differently from game to game, but here you do that by threatening damage. Rogue is known for its burst potential, and Zoo will play carefully if they think you can take them down. Anytime you see an opportunity to get damage in, you should. This also goes for getting a minion to stick. Whenever they are focused on your board they are not focused on killing you, which is good in getting you to that all-important Malygos turn. Beyond pressure, you just need to keep their board in check as much as you can. Clear everything that comes down, and Sap anytime you need a good tempo swing. While they do have some big finishers like Sea Giant, do not be afraid to hit a smaller minion as a tempo play earlier on in the game. Board presence is everything.

Secret Paladin

Shhh, it’s a…yawn…This deck still exists, and it is still one of the pillars holding up the metagame. While I was initially inclined to say this is a rough matchup, it is actually quite good. The reason is that, beyond your healing, you have so much early game removal with things like Backstab, Shiv and Fan of Knives that you really can pull this out more often than not. Being able to beat Secret Paladin is a requirement in today’s meta, and this deck passes the test quite well. The way you are going to do this is by just outpacing them, and then killing them before their large end game can take over. You do have to really careful about playing around Secrets (Redemption and Avenge can be huge problems) but if you have backup removal for each you will be fine. Once you break through to their later threats the game quickly falls into your favor.

Just like Zoo, you want to do what you can to stay on top of their minions. Secret Paladin is a deck that largely depends on board presence to carry them through a game. If you have board where their larger minions come down you should be fine. Your removal is there for a reason, and you should use it when the While Dr. Boom is a pain, almost all of their other threats can be taken out cleanly. Just do your best to get maximum value out of Sap. The two mana spells does a lot of work, resetting Avenge, hitting slow midrange cards and taking out Tirion Fordring. One more thing worth noting is that Antique Healbot feels clunky in this matchup. If you are debating switching one of them out for Earthen Ring Farseer, this would be the main reason why.

Tempo Mage

After so many years and so many games, I have to admit I just don’t understand the ladder. One day a deck is completely gone, and the next it is everywhere, selling like hot cakes. It was weeks (maybe a month) since I had seen a Tempo Mage list, but they have been absolutely everywhere in the past few weeks. I have no idea why that is, but you should be prepared to take down Jaina. Most decks challenge Tempo Mage by playing their game, attempting to get more value from their cards than Mage does from theirs. This works quite well, but it is not the proper approach here. Rather, you want to see this as a match where you are control. Tempo Mage can get a lot of value from all of their minions, and you need to aggressively clear to make sure they never get a foothold on the board. This will prevent them from building into their large minions and make it so their end game burst becomes removal rather than damage.

A lot of this game comes down to mitigating damage. You want to do that by keeping track of your life total while also keeping track of Mage’s future plays. For instance, always know how much burn they have used to clear, what minions they still have and their most likely course of action. Their secrets can also be very annoying, and you want to have a plan for them. Always play one of your smaller minions into Mirror Entity. If you can’t afford to play something small, then have removal for whatever comes down. Counterspell, though more rare, can be a large problem if you aren’t prepared. Always try to trigger it with a coin. If not a coin, figure out what your “worst” spell in hand is. The last rule is to get the most use out of your Antique Healbots. Tempo Mage has a lot of burst in Frostbolt and Fireball, and you need to stay out of burn range at all costs.

Aggro Shaman

Though dwindling in popularity, Aggro Shaman is still the real deal, which means you need to have a plan for it. This game is largely a race of sorts, and you need to do everything you can to push through damage. Clearing is fine and well, but it won’t matter unless you have healing to back it up. One of Aggro Shaman’s greatest strengths is their ability to ignore the game state and just start chucking burn at their opponent’s face. With only two Antique Healbots and no form of taunt, you are very susceptible to that kind of damage. As such, this is a match where you want to change your overall gameplan. You still want to try and do burst damage, but the way you achieve that is vastly different way. You just need to push and push and push. Aggro Shaman is not a deck that plays well when being reactive, and putting on early pressure (or having the early board) will work out immensely in your favor. The point of this game is to get them to use their burn on your minions. If you can achieve that you will usually be able to outlast them. However, also never forget just how much damage Shaman is capable of. While you may feel safe, or think you can push your luck, it is never worth it if you can take an extra turn. Always take the cautious road to mitigate just how much power they can dole out.

Midrange Druid

Tempostorm said it, so it must be true. Midrange Druid has once again climbed to the top of the meta, and a large part of that is because of just how strong Malfurion’s combo is. Never forget that when going up against Druid you need to make sure they can’t burst you down from fourteen. Any version of midrange, no matter what cards they run or the way they play, is going to have the combo. To prevent dying from that you need to exploit Druid’s biggest weakness: minions. Druid is not a deck that has a ton of removal and they have zero AOE. Rather, they rely on their big minions and quick ramp to clear and keep people in check. Your deck runs a lot of spells, but it also runs a lot of midrange minions. Always do your best to find a minion-heavy hand and try to play the midrange game as well as you can. That will make Druid fight for board, which takes the pressure off of your face and gives you extra time to put your own combo together. Just never let anything live if you can afford it.

Your best tool here is Sap. Not only is it a great tempo play against cards like Piloted Shredder and Sylvanas Windrunner, but it also one of your best answers to taunts. Now, taunts may not be the biggest problem since almost all of your damage is direct, but they can take away that early pressure I was discussing above. While Malygos can do a ton of damage out of nowhere, most of the time you are trying to get your opponent somewhere in the 20 range. To do that you need to get those early hits in as much as you can. If Druid does block off that with their taunts, the game becomes a lot shakier because of how reliably then can combo off on turn nine.

Mulligan Guide

When it comes to mulliganing you need to understand that Rogue is a deck that does not care about what their opponent is doing.You are looking for a set of cards, and if you find them you need to keep them. Shiv, Backstab, SI:7 Agent and Deadly Poison are your “must keeps” here. Tomb Pillager, while a little high in cost, should almost always be kept with other strong starting cards or the coin. On the other hand, never keep Conceal, Preparation or Bloodmage Thalnos. However, do note that the coin will drastically change your mulligans. While going first really constricts your options, having the coin is a huge bonus with this style of deck and will enable you to keep a lot of loose hands. Always play to the extra mana and think about how it will affect your middle game.

The number on decision you need to make (and I am not sure the right answer here) is whether or not to keep both Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Emperor Thaurissan. I personally think both should be sent back 99% of the time, but there are some who think they should almost always be kept. The choice on that is up to you. Try and test both and see what works. Beyond that choice, there are only a couple tech cards here. Sap should always be kept against Druid while Fan of Knives and Blade Flurry are great against aggressive or swarm decks. Eviscerate is also a solid keep against Hunter and Priest as a way to deal with Animal Companion and Dark Cultist.

Conclusion

Baptism by fire. Not for me, for my enemies. That is the rule of Malygos, and one of the many reasons I love the big dragon. I think this deck is really cool because it is a great exercise in deck-building, and shows how well different decks to come together to make a cohesive whole. There are so many good things and cool minions going on here that I just couldn’t resist. I hope you guys liked it as well, and I hope (as always) you learned something. Until next time, may you always draw your entire deck.