Maokai Bard Undying Mill To Masters – Everything You Need To Know!
Hey there, Raphterra here! Today, I’m sharing my guide on Maokai Bard Undying Mill Control, the deck that I used to climb in my AM account from Diamond to Masters at 70% winrate (22 Wins, 9 Losses).
The deck list featured in this article is my modified version of TealRed’s Bard Maokai build. I used his list as a starting point, but I didn’t find much success with it until I made my own changes to the deck. If you want to see the deck in action after reading this article, check out my detailed video guide!
Maokai Bard is a control/combo deck that wants to use toss cards ( Sea Scarab, Thorny Toad, Deadbloom Wanderer, Undergrowth ) to progress Maokai’s level up. As your deck gets thinner due to tossing cards, you will be more likely to draw Bard’s Chimes. In the late game, it will reach the point where you will be able to activate most of your chimes with Bard’s Traveler’s Call.
The Undying and Minion are my personal inclusions to the initial deck list I got from TealRed. The Undying works really well with several slay cards in the deck: Crumble / Shadow Isles Tellstones, Glimpse Beyond, and Spirit Leech. Not to mention, The Undying’s self buffs also progress Bard’s level up requirement.
Drawing multiple copies of The Undying can lead to bricked hands, so I opted to run Minion instead of The Undying‘s third copy. Having Minion alongside The Undying ensures that you will always have followers to buff up with Bard’s Chimes in the late game.
This deck also runs utility control tools like Vile Feast, Withering Wail, and Vengeance to survive and reach the late game.
In this deck, there are no cards that you always keep. Every mulligan will depend on what deck you’re facing.
If you’re up against aggressive decks like Annie Jhin or Powder Pandemonium, you want to ensure that you have a play in the first two turns. This includes Byrd, the Bellringer, Sea Scarab, Minion, Thorny Toad, and Vile Feast. If you already have an early play, you can keep more expensive cards like Deadbloom Wanderer, Undergrowth, Withering Wail, or Maokai.
Against champion-focused decks like Kai’sa Demacia or Darkness, you want to mulligan for your hard removal spells like Vengeance, Crumble, and Shadow Isles Tellstones. If you already have a hard removal spell, you can also keep units like Byrd, the Bellringer, Sea Scarab, Thorny Toad, Minion, The Undying, and Maokai.
Against most other decks, you can keep cards that help your early game or progress your toss combo: Byrd, the Bellringer, Sea Scarab, Thorny Toad and Maokai. If you already have a good hand, The Undying can ensure that you always have a unit to target with your slay cards.
Gameplay Combos, Tips, Tricks
- Play this deck like a control deck, not a combo deck.
You don’t need to work for a turbo level up on Maokai. Play reactive, control the board, and Maokai’s level up will progress itself as you play the game.
- Reserve mana for removal spells.
You want to make sure that you’re always representing mana to answer your opponent’s threats. For example, against Kai’sa Demacia, so you always need to represent mana for Vengeance or Crumble if your opponent is still representing mana for their Kai’sa.
- Keep Bard and Maokai safe.
You need multiple copies of your champs so that you won’t deck out in the late game. Make sure to not carelessly play your key units into removals unless you’re forced to do so.
- Know your deck combos!
Here’s a quick list of this deck’s combos and synergies for your reference:
- The Undying is your best target for Crumble, Spirit Leech, and Glimpse Beyond. You can also kill Thorny Toad if you need immediate Nexus healing.
- Attack with Level 2 Bard before using Traveler’s Call to get the most value out of chimes.
- The Undying‘s revival triggers Maokai’s Sapling effect.
- Mark of the Isles, The Undying self-buffs, and Deep activation all progress Bard’s level up requirement.
- Minion comes back at the start of your turn right before drawing, just in time to get Bard’s chimes.
- You can level up Maokai at fast speed with Undergrowth.
- Keep Deadbloom Wanderer in hand to accumulate chimes and win games against burn decks.
- Shadow Isles Tellstones into Spirit Journey can be used to save your champions from dying.
Meta Matchup Tips
I love playing this deck in the current meta because it wins hard against most aggressive decks. I specifically teched two copies of Withering Wail to counter Powder Pandemonium decks. You can go toe-to-toe against Kai’sa decks because of your multiple removal spells. The Bard Illaoi matchup feels very unfavored, but outside of that, most matchups feel winnable if you play correctly!
Below are some tips for the most common matchups that you will face in ranked ladder.
Kai’sa Demacia ( Combo / Champion-centric )
Mulligan: Vengeance, Crumble, Shadow Isles Tellstones. If you have 1 removal spell: Byrd, the Bellringer, Thorny Toad, Sea Scarab. If you have a good hand: Maokai, The Undying.
Gameplan: Kill Kai’sa on sight, level up Maokai, outscale with Bard‘s Chimes
- You want to hard mulligan for your removal spells to make sure that you can answer Kai’sa in the mid game.
- Always represent mana for your removals while your opponent is still representing mana to play their Kai’sa.
- You can play the mid-game differently depending on what removal spells you have in hand. If you have Vengeance or if you don’t have any removals, always bank 6 mana to represent or bluff Vengeance.
- If you have Shadow Isles Tellstones or Crumble, you can bait your opponent by purposely dropping below 6 mana. They often forget to play around these removal spells since only few decks run them.
- If you already have one removal spell, you also want to have some board presence in the early game. They can still run you over with their early curve if you don’t have units to play early.
- You might want to save Vile Feast and Undergrowth to pop Spellshield on Kai’sa or Void Abomination.
- If you survive until the late game, you can usually outscale them with stats through Level 2 Bard.
Decks that you can apply the same strategies: Yasuo Katarina, Jayce Heimer, Frozen Thralls
Powder Pandemonium ( Aggro / Burn )
Mulligan: Vile Feast, Byrd, the Bellringer, Thorny Toad, Sea Scarab, Minion. If you have early plays: Deadbloom Wanderer, Undergrowth, Withering Wail. If you have a good hand: Maokai.
Gameplan: Keep Nexus healthy, trade conservatively, gas them out, and win late with your champs
- Play reactive! Open passing is often the right move if your board presence is enough to stop their attacks. If nothing is happening on board, the better it is for you!
- Having a play in the first two turns is very important. You can’t afford to keep even heal cards like Deadbloom Wanderer if you don’t have cards to play early. Vile Feast is a premium card to deal with Teemo.
- In the mid-late game, you need to play differently depending on whether or not you have Withering Wail in your hand. If you don’t have Withering Wail, you want to trade conservatively to limit your opponent’s board space. Playing this way will limit the value of their Powder Pandemonium. You don’t need to rush to trade units, you will always win in the late game if you can keep your Nexus healthy.
- If you do have Withering Wail, you can afford trade more aggressively since you have a card to counter Powder Pandemonium.
- You do not want to trade your Deadbloom Wanderer early if you’re not forced to. This card can singlehandedly win the matchup if you grow it with Bard‘s Chimes.
Decks that you can apply the same strategies: Annie Jhin, Gwen Elise Spiders, Sivir Ziggs Burn
Bard Illaoi ( Midrange )
Mulligan: Byrd, the Bellringer, Sea Scarab, Vengeance, Crumble. If you have a good hand: Maokai, The Undying.
Gameplan: Remove key midrange units, outscale with Bard in the late game
- This matchup can get tough if they hit early chimes with a good curve. Your path to victory is to use your removal spells on their key units: Illaoi, Bard, and Tentacle. The Sea’s Voice is also a must-remove unit, but you can usually kill it with a combination of Vile Feast, Undergrowth, and Maokai‘s Saplings.
- Watch out for Tentacle Smash and Riptide Sermon. They will most likely use these spells on your Maokai. You can try to bait them out with Sea Scarab, or wait for Maokai to get some chimes before playing him.
- Once you’ve stabilized, you can outscale them with Bard and Traveler’s Call in the late game. If they don’t have their own Bard, your units will just be naturally bigger than theirs.
Decks that you can apply the same strategies: Shen Bard, Bard Demacia, Overwhelm
Katarina Twisted Fate ( Control / Tempo )
Mulligan: Byrd, the Bellringer, Sea Scarab, The Undying, Thorny Toad, Undergrowth. If you have a good hand: Maokai, Vengeance, Crumble.
Gameplan: Bait out removals, kill key units, outgrind through card advantage, and mill them with Maokai
- They have several removal options for your champions: Ravenous Flock, Disintegrate, Scorched Earth. Try to bait out these removals on your followers before playing your champions.
- It would usually require them at least two cards to remove your key units. Having Glimpse Beyond as backup when you play your champions will allow you to win trades in terms of card advantage.
- Save Undergrowth for Katarina. Level 2 Katarina wins games on her own if you don’t stop her level up.
- Beware of using Glimpse Beyond on low-health units since this play can be easily interrupted with Make It Rain or Blade’s Edge. Getting off your Glimpse Beyond is crucial to keep card advantage.
- You can use Crumble on Ravenbloom Conservatory to stop them from getting Tybaulk. They may try to use their spells to turbo countdown their landmark in response, so you can use this as a way to bait out their removals while you don’t have champions on board.
Decks that you can apply the same strategies: Yasuo Katarina, Ezreal Caitlyn, Annie Twisted Fate
Maokai Mill used to be only a meme strategy, but Bard and some support cards for Shadow Isles have finally made this archetype competitive! I think that this meta is a lot wider than the community’s perception. I believe there are more decks that players aren’t exploring yet, and hopefully we will see more in the coming days!
Hope you enjoy playing this deck! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on YouTube, Discord, or Twitter!