Nautilus Maokai Deep Deck Guide

Renowned for his mastery of the Deep, Random7 is here with a definitive guide for the archetype.

Hi, Random7HS here. I’ve been playing Deep in Masters and tournaments since Rising Tides and I got second place in the Empires of the Ascended Seasonal Tournament with the deck. I published a Treasure Deep guide a few months ago. However, since then, TF Fizz and Aphelios have both suffered nerfs, and Deep moved on from Treasure variants and it no longer needs to rely on high-rolling Treasure Troves to win.

Over the last couple of months, Deep has slowly gone from being a fringe pick to earning a status of consistent meta pick (albeit it was never really regarded as one of the top-tier decks). Because of its explosive nature, Deep has very good matchups into slower decks like TLC and Dragons, while maintaining even-to-good matchups against midrange decks like Ashe LeBlanc, Ezreal Draven, and Invokes. Unfortunately, Deep struggles quite a bit against faster board-based aggro decks such as Azir Irelia.

On the ladder, Deep has been one of my most consistent climbing decks, as long as I’m playing at a time when Irelia is less popular than usual. In tournaments, Deep can be very good if you are planning on banning Irelia and are confident playing into Thresh Nasus and various aggro decks.

Playstyle: Control/Combo.

In general, Deep is a late-game combo deck that wants to stall out the game until it hits Deep and fills a board with Sea Monsters.

In the early game, if you’ve drawn Lure of the Depths and Sea Scarab, try to save mana for a Lure + Scarab play on turn 3. Against faster matchups, this is not always feasible because you want to try to match their board as much as possible. Note that if you draw Dreg Dredgers and Sea Scarabs, it is often better not to trade-off your 1-drops until you play your Sea Scarab.

Against most non-control decks, starting on turn 3, if you have spell mana banked, you will often want to start your attack turns by burst-passing with Jettison, Lure of the Depths, Stalking Shadows, or even Salvage (on later turns). Burst-passing will allow you to react to whatever play they make with either Jaull Hunters or Devourer of the Depths. If your opponent decides not to play into these, in most matchups, it is usually best to take the pass.

In the mid-game, try not to lose your Abyssal Eyes. In most midrange matchups, Abyssal Eyes are your win condition. Try to stall until Deep, chump block with other units, and play your Devourer of the Depths to control the board. However, in some matchups when they can easily answer a 4 HP Devourer, it is sometimes better to wait until you hit Deep before playing Devourer.

Once you’ve hit Deep, keep potential Nautilus answers in mind before playing Nautilus. In most matchups, if they’ve tapped below their answer, you will usually win the game after summoning Nautilus followed by a bunch of Sea Monsters.

General mulligan tips:

  • Dreg Dredgers and Sea Scarabs are probably the only cards you always keep in every matchup. Keep Lure of the Depths in slower matchups or if you have a good hand. Keep Deadbloom Wanderer and Jettison if you have other early game cards (or unless facing an extremely fast deck).
  • Bone Skewer and Jaull Hunters are both good cards to keep against decks without good answers to them, and if you have other early game cards.
  • In slower matchups, keeping Nautilus and Salvage is fine. Some players like to keep Stalking Shadows as well, but I personally never keep that card.


Mulligan for: Salvage, Lure of the Depths, Dreg Dredgers, Deadbloom Wanderer, Sea Scarab, Maokai, and Jettison. If your hand is good, keeping Nautilus in this matchup is fine.

Dragons generally don’t come online until turn 8 with Eclipse Dragon + Aurelion Sol turn 9, while Deep comes online turn 7. By the time the Dragons player drops their Aurelion Sol, if you drew Nautilus and hit Deep, you will be able to drop your entire hand of Sea Monsters and Dragons will have no answers to it except for a possible Judgment which can be answered with Riptide or Bone Skewer.

During the early game, if they run Zoe, try to remove her as soon as possible with either Vile Feast, Jaull Hunters, or Bone Skewer. If possible, if you have Jaull Hunters and are attacking on evens, try not to summon Sea Scarab into Dragonguard Lieutenant on turn 2 because you will be able to get more value out of it on turn 4.

During the mid-game, your game plan is to just survive and hit Deep. Until you hit Deep, Dragons have the better mid-game with Shyvana and Screeching Dragon. Try not to summon Abyssal Eye into Screeching Dragon unless you can either hit Deep or have no better play.

Once you do hit Deep and summon Nautilus, now that most Dragons players aren’t running Solari Priestess, Dragons generally will have no way of removing Nautilus except for a late-game Concerted Strike.

Mulligan for: Salvage, Lure of the Depths, Dreg Dredgers, Deadbloom Wanderer, Sea Scarab, Maokai, and Jettison. If your hand is good, keeping Nautilus in this matchup is fine.

Tech Cards: Lost Riches, Shipwreck Hoarder, The Slaughter Docks and more copies of Maokai.

Similar to Dragons, TLC generally doesn’t come online until turn 8 and won’t win until turn 9. Unlike Dragons, TLC’s main win condition is decking you out with Watcher. If your hand is good enough, you will sometimes be able to hold off on summoning Nautilus until after they attack with Watcher and refill your deck. Even if you summon Nautilus beforehand, you can often refill your deck with Bone Skewer, Nautilus’s Riptide, or randomly generated Shipwreck Hoarders.

Note that in this matchup, it’s often better to wait until Maokai is leveled before summoning him to play around possible Vengeances. However, even if you cannot, exchanging your 4 mana for their 7 isn’t the worst trade.

In general, the main way to lose this matchup is not drawing Nautilus. The other way to lose this matchup is to play too slowly and lose to a board of Trundles and multiple Watchers attacking you for lethal.

Mulligan for: Dreg Dredgers, Deadbloom Wanderer, Sea Scarab, Bone Skewer, and Jettison. Keep Lure of the Depths if you have other early game cards.

Tech Cards: The Box, Black Spear.

Ezreal Draven has 2 win conditions in this matchup. Ezreal Draven can either try to out-tempo you by inflicting as much damage to you as possible before you hit Deep and finishing you off through burn damage, or they can run you out of cards.

To prevent losing by tempo, try to make as many positive mana plays as possible. For example, losing Sea Scarab to Culling Strike or Thermogenic Beam is fine. Losing Abyssal Eye to Get Excited! is not. Unfortunately, both of Ezreal Draven’s regions have very efficient removal spells in the form of Mystic Shot, Get Excited, Ravenous Flock, etc.

In order to not run out of cards, try not to let a potential Noxian Guillotine remove your entire board. Unless you are forced into it, do not summon Abyssal Eye before hitting Deep. This is one of the few matchups in which keeping too many Toss cards in your mulligan can be detrimental because Salvage (and other draw like Stalking Shadows) is generally too slow to keep.

Towards the mid-game, play very scared of Arachnoid Sentry. On your attack turns, try to be cognizant of how much damage an Archanoid Sentry can deal on a subsequent turn if you pass. Most turns, if you are even on board and your opponent lets you pass, you want to take the pass unless you don’t have enough low mana cards to chump block a possible double Sentry turn.

Try not to summon Maokai unless it’s already leveled or you can immediately generate a Sapling with it. Once you hit Deep, try not to summon Nautlius unless you can summon at least one unit off of it if your opponent Mystic Shots + Scorched Earth it.

Mulligan for: Dreg Dredgers, Deadbloom Wanderer, Sea Scarab, and Jettison. Keep Bone Skewer, Jaull Hunters and Lure of the Depths if you have other early game cards. If they are running Zoe, keep Vile Feast.

Tech Cards: Lost Riches, Riptide, Black Spear.

There are multiple Invokes decks such as Atrocity Invokes, Noxus Invokes, and Rubin’s Pile (Zoe Vi), but for the most part, this matchup almost always comes down to a race between Invokes winning with big Elusive celestials and Deep trying to win with a board of Sea Monsters.

In the early game, try to get as much value out of Sea Scarab as possible. If you draw the faster hand, try to get some early poke damage in since they will usually draw at least one Starshaping and effectively have 25 HP. Remove Zoe as soon as possible. Zoe is the main win condition for Invokes outside of a big Celestial late game.

In the mid-game, try to just match their board and not take too much damage. I would not generally play around Hush when attacking with Abyssal Eye because they can always Hush it later anyway.

If you can, try to play around Falling Comet if they have played Solari Priestess. Once you hit Deep, Devourer of the Depths can often contest the board without you needing to summon Nautilus. If you can summon a Nautilus with answers to The Great Beyond in hand, you will almost always win.

Mulligan for: Dreg Dredgers, Deadbloom Wanderer, Sea Scarab, Thorny Toad, Moakai, Vile Feast and Jettison. Keep Lure of the Depths if you have other early game cards.

Tech cards: Lost Riches, Mist’s Call, Black Spear, Ruination, Withering Wail

Ashe LeBlanc is one of the trickier matchups to pilot. Many players will argue that Ashe is actually favored in this matchup, but that has generally not been my experience. However, with the inclusion of Bone Skewer over cards like Black Spear and Withering Wail, this matchup has indeed become a bit worse.

Ashe’s win condition is to kill you before you can generate enough value from Abyssal Eye and Devourer of the Depths. To prevent this, try to save chump blockers for bigger units rather than smaller units. Ashe is the scariest card in this matchup because she can prevent you from chump blocking. Kill Ashe whenever possible. Be very careful of freeze spells when attacking with Jaull Hunters or casting Bone Skewer.

In the mid-game, try to play around Reckoning and not summon too many Sea Monsters before you can hit Deep. Try not to summon Abyssal Eye into Culling Strike unless you have no other plays. Towards the late game, be careful of Flash Freeze/Icevale Archer on Nautilus. It is often better to try to contest the board with other cards before summoning Nautilus.

Mulligan for: Dreg Dredgers, Sea Scarab, Thorny Toad, Deadbloom Wanderer, Vile Feast, Jettison. Keeping Bone Skewer and Jaull Hunters with a good hand is fine.

Tech Cards: Vengeance, Riptide.

Your win condition in this matchup is basically to hit Deep before you take too much damage that a potential Battle Fury can finish you off. If they draw Renekton on 4 with Vulnerable spells followed by a Battle Fury on 6, they will almost always win. However, once you hit Deep and start summoning a board of Sea Monsters, you will almost always win.

Be careful of keeping low HP units on board for too long because your opponent may be able to win games by dragging out your unit with a Vulnerable spell even after you hit Deep. If you have other cards to play, it is sometimes a bad idea to Vile Feast a Rock Hopper on 2 in case they never kill your Spiderling until late game and then use it to push a lot of Overwhelm damage.

Be careful of Shaped Stones and Troll Chant when trying to take trades. It is sometimes better to take a bit of extra damage to play around these if you can’t easily refill your board.

Mulligan for: Dreg Dredgers, Deadbloom Wanderer, Sea Scarab, Thorny Toad, Moakai, Vile Feast and Jettison. Keep Lure of the Depths if you have other early game cards.

Tech cards: Withering Wail, Riptide, Vengeance.

Many players think that this matchup is extremely favored for Thresh Nasus, and this matchup has certainly gotten significantly worse with the release of Merciless Hunters. However, in my experience, this matchup is a lot closer than most people think.

Your win condition as Deep is to eventually end the game with Abyssal Eye attacking 3 to 4 times before Nasus can win with Atrocity. If Nasus draws a slow hand, try to get early damage in. 

If your opponent draws a fast hand, try to prevent as much damage as possible. It is sometimes worth taking unfavorable trades to prevent damage. It used to be better to try to save chump blockers for higher attack units, but with the inclusion of Merciless Hunters, this is not always a good plan. Towards the mid-game, it is sometimes better to not chump block or take trades if their Nasus is close to leveling and you will have a future answer to an unleveled Nasus.

Make sure that you keep track of how many units your opponent slays and how much damage they can deal with Atrocity.

Mulligan for: Dreg Dredgers, Deadbloom Wanderer, Sea Scarab, Bone Skewer, and Vile Feast.

There’s not really much to say here, to be honest. Your only win condition in this matchup is hoping that your opponent either draws a slow hand or your opponent misplays and lets you clear their Irelia with Jaull Hunters or Azir with Jaull Hunters + Vile Feast. 

Try to clear Sparring Student and Greenglade Duo as soon as possible with Vile Feast. It is not usually worth playing around protection for these; if they have protection, you will probably lose the game either way.


Deep is not the easiest deck to play, but if correctly piloted, can be a very effective meta pick if the meta shifts to more midrange and control decks. I personally would not play the deck if Irelia is extremely prevalent at the time you are playing. However, when Irelia is less popular, Deep can be very good for climbing the ladder.

In tournaments, Deep is often paired with Irelia and Shurima Freljord to bully TLC, but TLC may not be the most popular deck in the upcoming Seasonals. Deep can also be paired with other decks that are good into midrange and Dragons – or just stuffed into a lineup that is planning on banning Irelia.

I personally just like playing the deck and will probably keep playing the deck so long as it is competitively viable.

As always, thanks for reading. I’ll be happy to answer any feedback, comments, questions on Reddit or on RuneterraCCG’s discord.