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Deep Tracks: Rock Hydra


Welcome to another edition of Deep Tracks! Today will signify a milestone for the series, as it’s the first time we're traveling all the way back to Limited Edition Alpha to find our theme! We’re going to celebrate the birth of Magic: the Gathering by highlighting another first (of its kind):

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Ladies and Gentleman, I present Rock Hydra! That which once was the focal point of my (lightly filled) trade binder as a youngster has become a relic of the past, but it is one that needs to be honored. Over the course of Magics history we’ve been graced with a host of spectacular Hydra creatures, and they all lead back to the original Rock Hydra design in one way or the other.

But why choose Rock Hydra as the subject of our Alpha exposition? The short answer is Battlebond. While getting hyped up for Wizards latest “Masters” set, I went into hard-pause mode while scanning through spoilers:

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Apocalypse Hydra presents such a unique take on the Hydra creature type, and I’m fired up to put this multi-headed gargantuan to the test! As a matter of fact, we’re going to summon a variety of Hydra creatures while exploring an eclectic mix of formats…

Old School

To kick things off, take a look at this Old School deck that features Rock Hydra:

I came across this thing of beauty while doing some research on the Old School format. I really admire 93/94 decklists, and I was pleased to find that someone out there actually slipped Rock Hydra into their creation! You’ll find a link at the end of this article which includes the deck illustrated above and a bevy of other sweet Old School decks.

Legacy

If you examine Rock Hydra more closely, you’ll find that it's quite primitive in its design and it’s not a particularly overpowered Magic card, at least by todays standards. So, to support Rock Hydra, I’ve dialed up some additional Hydras in a brew that’s built to combo-off with infinite Mana:

Here we are leaning on some prison elements like Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere to buy time to set up our Hydras. Apocalypse Hydra is “lights out” if we can piece together the combo of Basalt Monolith, Rings of Brighthearth, and Deserted Temple, but also presents a powerful threat if we can simply stall the game and build up our Mana base. Rock Hydra is our secondary threat, and Chandra, Torch of Defiance provides flexibility and can be a win condition on her own. Also, you’ll notice in the sideboard a full playset of one of my favorite Hydras, which strengthens our matches against Control:

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Mistcutter Hydra is very good against Blue decks. And I love the artwork for this card... how many heads does that Hydra have?

Modern

It wouldn’t be Deep Tracks if I didn’t roll out a spicy Modern brew or two! This first decklist is coming to us courtesy of a long-time friend and fellow Magic player:

Mono Green Devotion is powerful and budget friendly (for Modern). And I’m proud to say that I had a small hand in helping my buddy fine-tune it. The ramp package is super consistent with Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl forming the backbone. And the combo of Voyaging Satyr plus Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx can be very explosive if it goes unchecked by the opponent.

The deck packs a tight suite of over-the-top game ending threats, like Craterhoof Behemoth, Primeval Titan, and Hornet Queen. In fact, an entwined Tooth and Nail into Craterhoof Behemoth and Hornet Queen is basically game over! We have a nice package involving Primal Command and Eternal Witness, a sleek card advantage engine revolving around Eidolon of Blossoms, and if that’s not enough, the deck includes everyone’s favorite Hydra from the Magic 2015 Core Set:

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Genesis Hydra does some serious work in Mono Green Devotion. Just imagine casting a huge Genesis Hydra and tacking on a Primeval Titan or Hornet Queenfor free! That’s the stuff dreams are made of :)

Sticking within the realm of Modern, I spent some time developing my own Hydra-focused creation:

I would have felt remiss if I didn’t include Progenitus in this article about Hydras. Let’s be honest, Progenitus is probably the most iconic of them all!

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U/G Dramatic Entrance has one main goal: cheat Progenitus into play via Polymorph or Dramatic Entrance. We have several token producing spells to enable Polymorph, and Dramatic Entrance serves as a safety valve for those occasions when we get stuck with Progenitus in our hand. Also, Dramatic Entrance enables “pseudo-haste” shenanigans since it can be cast at Instant speed! The rest of the build is devoted to card-filtering and powering out Progenitus. I included some light protection like Remand and Warping Wail, and we have Jace, the Mind Sculptor as a fine utility piece.

Standard

Standard has been kind of a rollercoaster ride over the past couple years, with bannings galore, and parasitic mechanics like energy (for example) dominating the entire format. However, for the sake of having an overall perspective on the Hydra creature type and its long tenure, I’d like to remind all of you about the deck that William Jensen piloted during his quest to take first place at the Magic 2017 World Championships!

Here’s a look at the decklist:

Here we are, 25 years later, still spawning Hydra heads as we see the creature type once again in all its glory:

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No one can deny that Temur Energy dominated the Standard format when Ixalan was released. And because of that I think we all became a little jaded. But looking back now, it’s a really cool deck to shine the spotlight on.

Standard is ever-evolving. I’m sure in the not-too-distant future we’ll see more great cards featuring our cranially-advanced Hydra friends! My question now is, what will we see next?

Conclusion

Limited Edition Alpha, the brainchild of Richard Garfield. As inventive and ingenious as the original concept for Magic: the Gathering was, I’m really not surprised the game has such a massive following to this very day. And Mr. Garfield, I thank you for including Rock Hydra in your vision! It’s a card that embodies everything that’s great about Magic. It was my honor to share such a monumental work of art with all of you today.

Well, that’s it for now. Let me know what you think! Do you have an all-time favorite Hydra card? How about that wild Old School decklist? As always, all comments are welcome, thank you so much for reading, and have a great one!

Follow me on Twitter - @WallofOmens

-John

Sources:

Old School 93/94

2017 Magic World Championship
 



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