HAIL HYDRA!

Posted in PRO TOUR MAGIC 2015 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on August 3, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Coming into Pro Tour Magic 2015, the big question was which cards from the new set would have a big effect on the format. Goblin Rabblemaster has made quite the splash this weekend, but Tzu-Ching Kuo showed up with an exciting version of Green Devotion that features two of the most powerful cards from Magic 2015: Genesis Hydra and Nissa, Worldwaker. Let's have a look at Kuo's take on the Green Devotion strategy.

Tzu Ching Kuo’s Hail Hydra - Pro Tour Magic 2015

There's a lot going on in this deck, and every last bit of it is very exciting.

The first thing that jumps out is a pile of Planeswalkers.

Domri Rade does a ton of work here. Against control decks, we can play it right away and start generating a ton of card advantage. Domri Rade is especially strong on turn two and the presence of Elvish Mystic means we'll be winning a lot of games for free by virtue of having a Planeswalker on the table before our opponent has a single non-land permanent. Against creature-based decks, Domri's fight ability is an important tool in conjunction with all of the deck's huge creatures.

Xenagos, the Reveler is similarly awesome. The card is tremendous against Sphinx's Revelation decks and Black Devotion variants. Those two archetypes comprise significantly more than half of the metagame here this weekend. The +1 ability is surprisingly relevant here when we are playing Garruk, Caller of Beasts and Genesis Hydra in the deck as well.

Then there's Nissa, Worldwaker, arguably the most powerful card in Magic 2015. In this deck, Nissa, Worldwaker fuels massive turns with Garruk, Caller of Beasts, Genesis Hydra, and Polukranos, World Eater while also providing a steady stream of threats when the gas runs out. 4/4s are very real threats and the various applications of this card make it a seriously impressive addition here.

Garruk, Caller of Beasts is virtually unbeatable for control decks if they ever allow us to untap with it. With Nykthos, the deck can often cast Garruk, Caller of Beasts and many other threats on the same turn, protecting the Planeswalker and generating tons of card advantage in the process.

After the Planeswalkers, we notice the insane top end powerhouses that we can use to shut other permanent-based decks out of the game.

Polukranos, World Eater is probably the best anti-Blue Devotion card available in our colors. Not only do we get a 5/5 for four mana, but we then get a removal spell that punishes cards like Master of Waves and even Pack Rat if we're able to combo out with our Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.

Genesis Hydra is no joke. It produces card advantage a huge portion of the time and, in a deck with this many Planeswalkers, it's often going to represent a card that absolutely must be stopped by opposing control strategies. This deck gets additional value out of Genesis Hydra by being able to peek at the top of the deck with Domri Rade. We get a massive body, additional green Devotion, and an extra card to boot.

The deck plays two Gods. Nylea, God of the Hunt gives the deck something to do with extra mana while also providing it with some of the most incredible draws available in the Standard format. For example, we can cast Elvish Mystic on the first turn, play Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx on the second, cast Burning-Tree Emissary, another Burning-Tree Emissary, tap Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx for five mana, and cast Nylea, God of the Hunt as a 6/6 creature. That all happened on the second turn of the game! Xenagos, God of Revels ensures that the deck won't fall victim to strategies that are simply dealing with threats at sorcery speed. Every turn, our biggest threats will get even bigger and crash at the opponent with all sorts of hastiness.

The deck needs mana acceleration if it wants to do all of these powerful things. Elvish Mystic and Sylvan Caryatid are obvious choices that seem relatively straightforward, but the others are less linear.

Courser of Kruphix is, in terms of raw power level, one of the best cards in Standard. It might even be the single best card. In a deck like this, it ensures that we'll be able to hit our mana, and it combos with Genesis Hydra and Domri Rade, both of which allow us to manipulate the top of our deck.

Voyaging Satyr may seem like an odd choice, but the ability to untap Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx can lead to some incredibly powerful plays. At times, we'll be able to generate well over twenty mana with this and a single copy of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. With a crazy amount of mana and Polukranos, World Eater and additional ways to find the legendary hydra, it becomes very obvious why Voyaging Satyr makes the cut here.

I wouldn't be surprised if Tzu-Ching Kuo's Hail Hydra deck became a real contender for upcoming Standard events. There's a tremendous amount of power here and the interactions available are far more impressive than anything else that's being attempted at this Pro Tour.

See Brian David-Marshall's Deck Tech on Hail Hydra below:

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