Hydras are cool. And flavourful. And win games. What’s not to like?
The Green/Black Constellation deck was my pick at the start of the Khans of Tarkir format, this was done whilst I was acquiring cards for my Temur brew deck. Basically it was a Green Devotion deck similar to Makihito Mihara’s Collossal Gruul from Pro-Tour Theros, but with Black as a singleton splash for Doomwake Giant and some Thoughtseize in sideboard.
This deck was horrifically bad vs. Control decks, in any shape or form. At the Khans of Tarkir game day in Bexhill (East Sussex) I got absolutely rinsed playing this deck so badly that I had to form in line with Jeskai Wins/Tokens for the next day even in Brighton, something I don’t usually do! I really tilted with my Devotion deck and was sure to play a more tried deck for the Sunday in Brighton.
To make the deck viable again in the current format we need to look at what’s going on, how everyone has reacted to the latest cards from Fate Reforged and what cards are the bombs in each deck…
My hypothesis is that if we look to the Temple of Mystery instead of the Temple of Malady for aid then maybe we can deal with more situation. Let’s be fair, the Mono-Green Devotion deck doesn’t need to worry about enemy creatures, when we have the literal best creatures in mid to late stage of the game. What does our Blue splash give us? Stubborn Denial! Why is this card good? Well, I’m going to list the cards I dislike seeing when I’m playing Green Devotion…
- Crux of Fate (seeing Tier 1 play with 3/4 copies in U/B Control)
- Perilous Vault (seeing Tier 1 play with 2/3 copies in U/B Control)
- Elspeth, Sun’s Champion (seeing Tier 1 play with 1/2 copies in Abzan)
- End Hostilities (seeing Tier 1 play in Abzan and Jeskai sideboards)
- Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver (seeing sideboard/maindeck play in U/B Control)
- Whip of Erebos (seeing Tier 1/1.5 play in Sultai and G/B Constellation)
- Anger of the Gods (seeing Tier 1 play in Jeskai/Mardu)
- AEtherspouts (seeing fringe play in Tier 1 decks/sideboards)
- Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (seeing Tier 1 play everywhere it seems!
Our cheeky Stubborn Denial deals with all these cards and if we can apply early pressure, we can force our opponents into playing our one of their trump cards and sucker them with the Stubborn Denial.
It’s not the best ever strategy when pondering over what’s going on, but it’s at least something, some small insurance against these decks.
So what about the rest of the deck? Well, we’re leaning on perhaps the best creature in Standard at the moment to give us value, Genesis Hydra. The guy is good in the mid-stage and late part of the game. He brings in un-counterable permanents. I’ve been flying out 8/8, 10/10, 12/12, 20/20 Hydras around turn 5-7 in many games… He pairs up with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx works insanely well alongside our next linchpin…
.…Eidolon of Blossoms! My word, is this card awesome? This is the real deal, this allows the deck to go silly, play out insane amount of cards are you are cantripping about 20% of your deck, and if you get two of them down (which becomes easier the later the game goes with one of these already on board), then you can find yourself going seemingly infinite with mana/spells as your opponent looks on in despair occasionally pausing to ask “does it actually work like that?…“. Of course the obscenity mainly comes if you have this little fella…
Voyaging Satyr! Makihito Mihara did real good with his concept at Pro-Tour Theros of Voyaging Satyr + devotion + Nykthos = Value train! This buddy goes in with the usual Elvish Mystic, Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix to ensure your deck has all the mana it needs, all of the time.
Polukranos, World Eater is well positioned at the moment against Jeskai + Abzan, so this legendary hydra makes it in, ready to eat worlds, monks, insect riders, cat demons, goblins, humans and many more. Once this guy is full-up eating your opponents army, then you can twist him sideways to victory. In fact even starved Polukranos can jostle with Siege Rhinoceros and comes out on top. That my friends is the power of the hydra!
Here is the full list:
2 Reclamation Sage
4 Nylea’s Disciple
2 Nissa, Worldwaker
3 Mistcutter Hydra
2 Kiora, the Crashing Wave
This deck isn’t a win in 5-6 turns job, not unless you are super lucky. This deck positions itself with value-based creatures and permission to go deep into the late game, holding a single blue mana back to stop the opponents limit-breaks (errr, mean sweepers) blowing this deck out the park. You’re looking at development turns 1-4 with some dorks and Eidolon/Courser and if you’re lucky – Polukranos.
Once into turns 5 through 8 you’re building up your board state probably slower than your opponent’s, but the longer the game goes the better your cards are paying off. Getting past turn 8 your deck usually has a mess of creatures on the table, mana generation in the high 20’s and your opponent hopefully with their head in their hands or even better your opponent overly confident that he has the spell needed to ruinate you, which of course your Stubborn Denial is patiently waiting to stop.
Onto testing now and the suite of creatures is cool but after a few hours testing at our local venue with my teammates at Team Storm Count we felt like maybe Hydra Broodmaster and Archetype of Endurance needs to go in lieu of 2x Arbor Colossus. The Colossus will do very well against the Jeskai threat and blocks things like Stormbreath Dragon/Wingmate Roc/various dragons all day long!
I’m interested in Frontier Siege, but I don’t really know what I would axe for it at this stage. I want as many of my spells to be as active as possible upon drawing, the only card what doesn’t really do this well is Stubborn Denial, but that card serves as the linchpin to keep this deck haulin’ during turns 5-8 when opposing control decks start hitting their sweepers.
The other card I want to put in and may have to find a way of fitting it is would be Bow of Nylea, this card gives me utility, gives me a cheeky bit of life, helps my deck cycle through (which can happen if I get 2/3 Eidolon of Blossoms out) and the trample/deathtouch combo I may once in a blue moon get with Nylea, God of the Hunt herself is utterly ruinous.
As for the sideboard I’m probably hitting out at Blue/Black Control decks a bit too hard, with only Nylea’s Disciple and Reclaimation Sage being the cards I wouldn’t bring in. I want to increase my success against Jeskai and Mardu a bit more!
Let’s talk through some sample hands, a concept I’ve just come up with, draw 7 analyse a few hands and get an idea of what we’re doing with this deck…..
Okay, so this is a slowish hand but I feel it gets there… Turn 2 Mystic is urgh, but if we’re on the draw and grab a land this is awesome. I feel like we’re going to hit one of the beasts at turn 3-4 and then this hand is off to the pantheon of winners. There is a fair risk attached though, we literally only have Eidolon as value, we have dorks and unless we draw a fattie we’re going to be so slow.
Hand 2 :-
Now this hand seems like complete gas! Turn one we’re looking the Elvish Mystic, then some scrys (hopefully we’ll draw into the Caryatid/Mystic/Satyr) and soon after we’re going Polukranos then a 5/6 mana Genesis Hydra… The perfect setup would be a Dork off the draw then maybe Courser before laying the mega beats!
Hand 3 :-
We’ve got the Caryatid here and we’re looking at some value with those Genesis Hydra’s, this optimistic hand needs something like Courser of Kruphix or Eidolon of Blossoms to truly go off! I like this hand a lot though!
Hand 4 :-
A tough one, but still a keeper, we’ve got the Satyr and the Nykthos and the Eidolon! This hand needs one more of the 12 dorks we’re running and it’s looking great!
So I’m happy with the deck, I’m off to Brighton in a few days for the Liverpool GPT and I’ll be back with some info on how it went! Over and out!