t may not be obvious on first reading, but Magic 2014 will include Magic's first legitimate Hydra lord. This is a creature that rewards you for building a Hydra tribal deck.
Hydras in Magic are most often creatures that cost X and some colored mana and enter the battlefield with X counters. Many other Hydras get +1/+1 counters in some way. There are other Hydras, but the new Hydra lord isn't interested in them. I assure you, it's still a Hydra lord, even if it doesn't treat all of its people equally.
This new, benevolent Hydra lord also isn't especially picky about ruling over Hydras in particular. It's similarly helpful to most Oozes, as well as a wide variety of other creatures.
The Hydra in question is, of course, Kalonian Hydra.
Kalonian Hydra's exciting because it offers a very reasonable body all by itself, but if you build to it, it can be remarkably explosive.
Standard, at the moment, offers a wide variety of creatures that naturally end up with +1/+1 counters, and with a few different rewards for playing them.
Like Hydras, growing Oozes are often represented in Magic with +1/+1 counters. In Standard, Experiment One, Scavenging Ooze, and Predator Ooze are all capable of growing very large, even without the help of Kalonian Hydra's doubling ability.
If we're in the business of doubling counters, Corpsejack Menace is an excellent way to do that, because, after all, the best thing to do when you're doubling something is to double it again.
Today's deck is all about generating the biggest possible Hydras, or the largest possible pile of counters on all of your creatures. If you play this deck in person, I strongly recommend individual glass beads rather than dice, not because it will make the game easy to keep track of, but just because it's more fun to bury all your creatures under piles of beads.
This deck uses Gyre Sage, Arbor Elf, and Elvish Mystic to quickly generate enough mana to play large Hydras, which will further evolve Experiment One, Gyre Sage, and Renegade Krasis. Renegade Krasis will make all the Hydras bigger, and Corpsejack Menace will double everything.
Savageborn Hydra adds double strike, which Primordial Hydra doubles in size.
I think Savageborn Hydra is slightly better, but it could easily be cut for three more Primordial Hydras and another Arbor Elf, allowing the Rootbound Crags, Stomping Grounds, and—optionally—the Cavern of Souls to be cut for Forests. This offers a much more budget-friendly version of the deck at a minimal cost to the power of the deck.
If you're looking for something cute and tricky, Burst of Strength is a good combat trick that also allows for explosive mana generation with Gyre Sage, allowing you to drop a gigantic Hydra in the midgame. I think it's a little inconsistent to recommend, but it's definitely a fun twist.
Sam Black is a Platinum Pro Player and longtime writer for StarCityGames.com. He is a respected deck builder and took over Daily Decks for the first half of 2013. If you have an original deck you'd like to see featured, email him with the link above.