Amonkhet is right on the horizon, and it brings many surprises along with it. Hazoret the Fervent, a dog that's a God. Prowling Serpopard, a Cat that's a Snake. May I interest you in a Snake that's also a mummy? Say hello to Honored Hydra.
Honored Hydra features one of the new mechanics from Amonkhet. Embalm is an activated ability that creates a token copy of the creature with embalm. The ability can be activated if a creature card with embalm is in your graveyard and only at sorcery speed. (Embalming is hard work; you can't rush these things.) Once the mummification process is complete, you end up with a token that is a copy of the original, except now it's also a white Zombie in addition to its other creature types. Take the Honored Hydra token, for example. Looking good in the afterlife, my snek friend.
Honored Hydra is a nice throwback to Roar of the Wurm from Odyssey, a seven-mana sorcery that makes a 6/6 Wurm token and flashes back for four mana. Honored Hydra plays out similarly, except it's more aggressively costed and there also are differences between embalm and flashback.
The first thing that stands out about embalm is how much value you can get out of a single card. Once you've cast it from your hand and Honored Hydra hits the graveyard, you've essentially drawn a copy of Honored Hydra again. While it's technically not a card in hand, it's still providing you with virtual card advantage. In the case of Honored Hydra, the embalm cost is significantly lower than its regular casting cost. This means that if we find low-cost ways to get Honored Hydra into the graveyard, we can get a sweet discount on the mummification process for this snake.
Vessel of Nascency and Grapple with the Past are two efficient and low-cost ways to mill yourself in Standard. You can use both of these cards to advance your game plan and sculpt your draws. If you reveal an Honored Hydra while casting either spell and allow the Hydra to hit the graveyard, you'll have the option to embalm it later in the game whenever you see fit.
Cryptbreaker is a card that has great synergy with the creature type Zombie, and it plays double duty with Honored Hydra. Not only is Cryptbreaker a discard outlet to get Honored Hydra into the graveyard, but once embalmed, the Zombie Snake Hydra can be tapped to activate Cryptbreaker's ability and draw you more cards. Let's be real though: you're gonna have a 6/6 mummified Hydra on the battlefield. Drawing cards is amazing, but so is attacking your opponent with a Snake mummy.
Lastly, a really nice thing about the way embalm is templated is that when you get the token copy, you're not actually casting a card. That means that counterspells can't stop you from embalming creatures. Pretty nice tech to fight against control decks. Of course, the card can be countered when it's cast from your hand, but that just puts it in your graveyard . . . ding!
Overall, Honored Hydra and embalm are fun to play around with during deck building and brewing. I'm also very curious to see how important Zombies will be in Amonkhet, and how much our mummy Snake friend can help us in that department. What do you think about Honored Hydra and the rest of the Amonkhet previews? You can let me know on Twitter @gabyspartz, or on my stream at twitch.tv/gabyspartz.