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Much Abrew: Hydras in Modern


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Shivan Devastator has the potential to be one of the most...err...devastating cards from Dominaria United, but it doesn't line up all that well with our black-heavy Standard format. So let's forget about Standard altogether and give the Dragon Hydra a try in Modern alongside a bunch of other X-casting-cost Hydras and Unbound Flourishing (or maybe Doubling Season) to double up their power. How good is Shivan Devastator in Modern? What about Hydras in general? Let's get to the video and find out on today's Much Abrew About Nothing!

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Much Abrew: Hydras

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Discussion

  • So, that was interesting. We started off playing an Unbound Flourishing (aka X-spell-amonicon) version of Hydras only to find out in the most brutal way possible that Unbound Flourishing is bugged with X-cost creatures and doesn't do anything at all with our Hydras. The weird part of the bug is that the synergy seemed to work on the stack (we cast a Shivan Devastator with X = 4 and two Unbound Flourishings on the battlefield, and it correctly doubled up to eight and then 16), but once the creature hit the battlefield, it reverted back to its normal state like Unbound Flourishing didn't exist. 
  • After digging around on the Internet, I found that the bug is old—the first report I saw for it was back in July 2021, more than a year ago—and that a bunch of people had reported it, but it still hasn't been fixed. This suggests that making Unbound Flourishing work properly isn't very high on Magic Online's to-do list. While some bugs get fixed quickly, others languish for years. Some never get fixed at all. Considering it had already been 15 months, there's no reason to expect Unbound Flourishing to be debugged in the near future. We'd either have to scrap the deck or find a way to make it work without Unbound Flourishing
  • While there isn't another card in Magic that does exactly what Unbound Flourishing does, when you consider the main goal of our deck (using Flourishing to double the size of X-cost Hydras like Shivan Devastator), there is one potentially solid replacement: Doubling Season. As far as Shivan Devastator is concerned, Doubling Season and Unbound Flourishing do the exact same thing by doubling the number of counters on Shivan Devastator. The same is true of our other Hydras. While we'd have to cut some non-creature X-spells like Banefire and Earthquake, Doubling Season does offer some upside, like potentially instantly ultimating a Chandra, Torch of Defiance or making oodles of Goblins and Treasures with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker.
  • Unfortunately, Doubling Season has one major drawback: it costs five mana instead of three like Unbound Flourishing does. With Flourishing, we can do things like play a mana dork on Turn 1, Unbound Flourishing on Turn 2, and then a hasty 6/6 Shivan Devastator or Mistcutter Hydra on Turn 3. That's not possible with Doubling Season since it costs a massive five mana, which was an issue in our games. Modern is a fast format, and it's really difficult to take a turn off to play Doubling Season without dying. While it is undoubtedly a more powerful card than Unbound Flourishing is overall, after I played the deck a bunch, it felt like a meaningful downgrade for Hydras specifically.
  • Anyway, enough about MTGO bugs. As far as the deck itself, I ended up going 4-6 overall, which isn't a great record but not horrible, considering we were playing Hydra tribal and had to replace our key card. The biggest challenge for the deck is living long enough to start casting our huge Hydras. The deck feels pretty powerful when that happens, but we end up getting run over by something more aggressive just as often, which I guess makes sense. None of our Hydras are especially efficient in the early game, often being 2/2s for three and 3/3s for four. But once we get a bunch of mana (or a Doubling Season online), they become very impressive game-ending threats capable of winning with just one or two attacks!
  • So, should you play Hydras in Modern? Not yet. Right now, the deck felt a bit too clunky to really be competitive. Hopefully, Wizards fixes Unbound Flourishing sometime soon. The deck felt pretty powerful with it as our payoff before we realized it was bugged. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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