The Dreadlord Mal’Ganis has sown discord and chaos throughout Azeroth, monumentally influencing the course of history. His next fight brings him straight into the Nexus as a Warrior hero. Generally speaking, the Nathrezim (Dreadlords) are expert manipulators of the battlefield, draining the energy of their foes and turning the tide of skirmishes in their favor. As Team Freedom’s Warrior player, Merek “zugrug” Kangas is an excellent shield between his teammates and danger, so we asked him for his initial thoughts on Mal’Ganis.

Trait Talk: Vampiric Touch

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Dreadlords like to suck the life out of their enemies and Mal’Ganis is no exception. His trait, Vampiric Touch, heals the hero for 15% of the damage he does to non-heroes, including structures. This is bumped up to 45% when damaging heroes, giving Mal’Ganis a reliable form of self-sustained healing based on the damage he puts out.

This trait is a double-edged sword, as zugrug sees the potential to counter the healing with specific Support heroes. He says, “A lot of Mal’Ganis’ survivability comes from his trait, so I think heroes like Deckard and Ana with healing reduction will be good against him.”

Level 1: Time to Feed

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At Level 1, zugrug opts for Time to Feed, which heals Mal’Ganis for a small amount when damaging an enemy hero. You can only heal this way every six seconds against each unique enemy hero, and a helpful fang icon appears under the health bar for heroes you can feed upon. “Time to Feed should give you the most sustain, especially versus heavy melee comps where you can easily hit multiple heroes,” zugrug explains.

Be mindful of team compositions on both sides, as your Level 1 talents are situational. Zugrug elaborates: “Winged Guard if you are versus a lot of strong auto-attackers like Greymane and Raynor and Vampiric Aura could benefit a team with a lot of auto-attackers.”

Level 4: Fueled by Torment

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In some way, all three Level 4 talents enhance Necrotic Embrace, Mal’Ganis’ W ability that bursts out damage to nearby enemies and gives the Dreadlord 25 armor for three seconds. Zugrug’s choice at Level 4 is Fueled by Torment, which heals Mal’Ganis whenever he is damaged while Necrotic Embrace is active. Additionally, this talent gives Mal’Ganis’ trait Vampiric Touch a 15% boost in healing from hero damage during Necrotic Embrace. 

“Fueled by Torment gives you a lot of sustain, especially versus fast attackers like Tassadar or Tracer,” zugrug says.

Another option at Level 4 depends on the enemy team’s composition. “I think Might of Sargeras will be good versus blowup compositions like Tyrande/Jaina, [as] the extra armor will help a lot,” zugrug says. Might of Sargeras increases Mal’Ganis’ armor gain from 25 to 50 with the tradeoff of losing a second for its duration.

Level 7: Spreading Plague

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Zugrug’s choice at Level 7 is Spreading Plague, which adds damage per second over four seconds to nearby enemies once Mal’Ganis’ E ability, Night Rush, expires. When Mal’Ganis basic-attacks a hero, this duration refreshes.

“Spreading Plague adds a bit of damage and it should be pretty easy to keep up in team fights,” zugrug says. “It also [activates] your Level 1 talent Time to Feed, making it easier to get value from it.”

Level 10: Carrion Swarm

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At Level 10, players have a difficult choice between two Heroic abilities, each capable of being a huge playmaker. Carrion Swarm lets Mal’Ganis become invulnerable and converts 100% of damage to heroes into life for the Dreadlord. On the other hand, Dark Conversion allows Mal’Ganis to swap his health percentage with an enemy hero over the course of three seconds. Carrion Swarm is zugrug’s initial suggestion.

“Carrion Swarm seems a lot easier to get value out of compared to Dark Conversion,” he says. “It gives pretty good healing and gives you time for your cooldowns to reset, making you hard to kill.”

When playing Mal’Ganis, keep in mind that both of his Heroics come with a channeling time. Pay close attention to potential enemy crowd-control abilities that might delay your Heroic if interrupted, sticking you with a 10-second cooldown.

Level 13: Deep Sleep

Mal’Ganis’ Night Rush ability is an effective tool for surprising enemy heroes and putting them to sleep for 2.5 seconds. At Level 13, zugrug boosts this ability’s potency with Deep Sleep, which gives Mal’Ganis an extra 10 percent movement speed during Night Rush and makes enemy heroes stay asleep for an additional .75 seconds.

“Deep Sleep makes it easier to hit enemy heroes with your sleep and makes it an extremely long crowd control,” zugrug says.

Level 16: Plague Bats

Zugrug’s pick at Level 16 is simple but effective. Plague Bats sends out a wave of bats in front of Mal’Ganis when you cast Necrotic Embrace, giving the ability a boost in damage.

“Plague Bats just adds to your survivability and it feels like it’s a lot easier to get value out of compared to the other Level 16 talents,” zugrug says.

Another fun and flashy talent at Level 16 requires some help from your teammates. “Blind as a Bizzat could be a strong talent in coordinated play when your team can give you directions [since] you have no vision,” zugrug says. “Paired with Will of Tichondrius at Level 7, you could do a lot of damage.”

Level 20: Seeker Swarm

To wrap up zugrug’s Mal’Ganis build, he picks up Seeker Swarm at Level 20. This talent enhances Carrion Swarm by releasing bats at the end of the Heroic ability, seeking out close enemy heroes and putting them to sleep for 2.5 seconds.

“Seeker Swarm adds even more healing to your Heroic ability and the enemy team will have to be really careful with how they position because if you sleep multiple people coming out of your Heroic, you'll probably win the fight,” zugrug explains.

Final Thoughts

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Each time a Warrior is released, there’s a hot question that rivals the likes of the Burning Legion: will this Warrior be used as a tank, or in the solo lane? Based on his first impressions, zugrug sees Mal’Ganis serving in the primary Warrior role.

“I think Mal’Ganis will be a main tank. He feels tanky and he has pretty good engage with his Night Rush,” zugrug says. “I also don’t think he has enough waveclear to compete with a lot of the meta offlaners.”

As for the competitive meta, zugrug sees Mal’Ganis coming in later in the draft against heavy melee team compositions. “I think Infernal Shrines will be a good map for Mal’Ganis, [since] he has decent AoE spells which will help collect skulls and give him some bonus healing while fighting over the objective,” zugrug says.

Players looking to serve the Burning Legion will now have that option as Mal’Ganis becomes the newest hero to join the Nexus!