Tribal Laboratory: Modern Hydras

Pat Cook
December 21, 2017

One of the most impressive parts of magic is the growth of it. From when I began in 2013 the playerbase of Magic: The Gathering was at a whopping 16.2 million players, compared to the 20 million who play today, Magic is always growing. I began my journey when my buddy gave me a shoebox of commons and an information sheet from a deckbuilder’s toolkit. My first deck was mono-green commons, the deck was 3 times as large as a commander deck and about half as strong as a bad draft deck. My affinity with green came from the first Rare I ever owned: Primordial Hydra. The definition of growth to me in magic has always been Hydras.

The deck I constructed this time around in my laboratory makes use of the cards Hardened Scales, to make those hydras real big, and real stompy. Corpsejack Menace is a big card in this deck, as it makes your hydras that grow, grow a LOT. Let’s take a look at the list!

HydrasPat Cook Birds of Paradise Corpsejack Menace Managorger Hydra Mistcutter Hydra Polukranos, World Eater Primordial Hydra Savageborn Hydra Winding Constrictor Blood Crypt Forest Kessig Wolf Run Overgrown Tomb Raging Ravine Stomping Ground Swamp Verdant Catacombs Wooded Foothills Blossoming Defense Solidarity of Heroes Hardened Scales


Counters here, counters there, the whole deck is making use of +1/+1 counters. Your ideal game plan is to play birds turn one, which will allow you to play Hardened Scales and Winding Constrictor turn two. Corpsejack Menace is around to make things really fun. From there, all of your hydras become big killing machines.

Managorger Hydra has the potential to grow very large, Blossoming Defence and Solidarity of Heroes provide some defence, while also having the added bonus of adding +1/+1 counters onto it. If your opponent goes to push your hydra and you play Blossoming Defence, that’s at least 2 counters. 4 if you have a Hardened Scales or Winding Constrictor out. Managorger Hydra is a powerful card in control matchups, every cantrip they play is making your creature grow to the point where they can’t ignore it. Lightning Bolt is a very bad card against this guy! Primordial Hydra and Managorger Hydra are strong inevitability factors, that your opponent just can’t ignore. Primordial Hydra is a creature that has a target on it’s head, if you don’t kill this card, it wins games. Every turn this creature doubles the +1/+1 counters on it. So let’s say you play it turn 3 and you have the Constrictor and Hardened Scales, it enters as a 4/4, next turn it will become a 10/10 and have trample.

Mistcutter Hydra is another card that hoses control matchups. Not being able to be countered and having protection from blue will not only protect you from picking up your pile of lands, stacking them into a big pile, and dropping them down tapped,  it’ll also protect your Hydra from getting chumped by pesky Snapcaster Mages.


Savageborn Hydra and Polukranos, World Eater are creatures that exemplify what this deck wants to do, and that’s dump a ton of mana and do something big.Savageborn Hydra with help from Constrictor and Hardened Scales has the ability to grow by +3/+3 for every 2 mana spent on it. That’s huge when you’re both running out of cards. Polukranos on the other hand, is one big splashy effect. Monstrous, (an effect thematically fitting for this deck might I add), allows you to put X +1/+1 counters on Polukranos and then deal damage divided as you choose as X to any number of your opponent’s creatures, and they deal damage equal to their power back to Polukranos. Clear a path for your beaters!

As strong as these Hydras are, sometimes you run out of gas. My list runs Raging Revine and Kessig Wolf Run, value engines that double as lands. Your Raging Revine makes good use of the +1/+1 counter synergies of your Constrictor and Hardened Scales, as well as Corpsejack Menace. Kessig Wolf Run late game, makes any of your creatures lethal threats, even your Birds of Paradise!

Your sideboard for this deck probably wants protection against control decks, Vines of Vastwood is a powerful card, I didn’t include it in the mainboard, because I wanted the tricks in the mainboard to be as efficient as possible. In control matchups you probably want this card instead of Solidarity of Heroes. Savage Summoning is a powerful card, it allows you to pay one more mana to give your creature uncounterable and it enters with a +1/+1 counter, you can see why this card is strong. Your deck can be weak against decks that go very wide very early. Anger of the Gods is a good option because it will rarely kill your things, apart from your Birds and your Constrictors. A well timed Anger can win you the game. Affinity is also a pretty poor matchup, so vandalblast is a pretty good card.

As you come to play the deck, one of the most important things you should remember is to play around cards like Mana Leak. If you know your opponent has it, sure your hydra might be a little smaller, but at least you’ll resolve the spell. The first time you play your deck, you’ll probably blow someone out with Solidarity of Heroes or Blossoming Defense, but after that they’ll start being really cautious about those cards. Sometimes keeping one or two mana up can complicate combat, even if you don’t have a trick. As always, I’d like to thank you for reading my article on my latest lab experiment! Think I forgot a great hydra, or a card that would take hydras to the next level? Have an Idea on a tribe that needs some love? Be sure to comment and let me know!

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