While I currently identify as a Temur mage, when I first started I was all about Green and then later Gruul . As most early players are, I was quite a bit of a Timmy, in love with ramping out huge creatures. And what bigger creature out there than Hydras, which technically have no real bounds on how large they can get and I got a dose of from my few Theros block packs I had bought and cracked. Initially I thought I would create a monogreen Hydra deck focused around Omnath, Locus of Mana as I stored up mana like a battery turn over turn before letting it out all at once for a huge hydra. Battle for Zendikar came around though and Angry Omnath gave me access to the Red side of the family. Given that Omnath wants lots of lands out for his abilities to work, and Hydras need lots of mana from land to take advantage of their size, it seemed like a perfect fit.
Note: The below decklist is current as of M19 and may not reflect what is currently in the decklist linked below
|Omnath, Locus of Rage|
The goal of most of my tribal decks are, of course, to include as many of the chosen, relevant tribe as possible (that appear in the new frame). The Scryfall search for Hydras yields 34 results, including Tempest Remastered Spitting Hydra (Digital only) and Multi-Headed from Unstable. I actually cut some Hydras for a few reasons, but before we get to those, how should you play the Hydras?
Obviously those that have a set CMC should be cast when you can. Those with X in their mana cost are excellent because while they can thrive late game as a mana sink, should you be stuck early game without other options, they can come down for X = 1, and many of them are able to grow over time with built in mechanics.
To that end, I cut out Hydras that didn’t have this flexibility of growing out or scaling with the late game. These are Bristling Hydra (no other energy synergy), Clockwork Hydra (too hard to scale out) Honored Hydra (doesn’t grow over time), Phyrexian Hydra (plays into Infect, with no other synergies) and Ramunap Hydra (no Desert Synergies in the deck). Out of the 32 Hydras, that leaves 27.
In addition to the Hydras, I included Rosheen as a Hydra enabler with her ability to ramp for 4.
For the most part, I don’t usually discuss ramp packages in this series. However with this deck, Ramp takes on a different meaning; Omnath’s ability reads that land based ramp tacks on “Create a 5/5 Elemental” for each land that gets put into play. Even ramp that simply tutors up land, while not strictly ramp, is gas in the late game.
For the most part, you want your ramp instants or sorceries to meet certain criteria at each mana
- 2 mana: 1 tapped ETB
- 3 mana: 1 tapped ETB and 1 to hand OR 1 untapped ETB
- 4 mana: 2 tapped ETB
- 5 mana: 2 untapped ETB
- 6 mana: 3 tapped ETB
Some of these require going through hoops in order to get the ramp. There are other spells not included here that are essentially modal (have 2 modes); I chose to focus on the front half of the mode costing when evaluating cards. I also shied away from ramp that enables your opponents from taking advantage of the ramp, though they can be substituted in. I also skipped ramp that forces you to sacrifice lands as this version does not have any graveyard recursion and we’d prefer to have more lands to cast bigger Hydras. These ramp spells are
- Caravan Sigil
- Collective Voyage
- Crop Rotation
- Far Wanderings
- Grow From the Ashes
- Nissa’s Expedition
- Nissa’s Renewal
- Sakura-Tribe Elder
- Search for Tomorrow
- Tempt with Discovery
- Verdant Confluence
In addition, there are ramp spells that don’t directly act as ramp, but more as filtering and more importantly act as recurring ramp over the course of the game.
Notably I did not include Amulet of Vigor for budget reasons, but if you were to do so there is an infinite combo with Periloous Forays that leads to you removing all lands from your deck and making that many elementals.
|Animist’s Awakening – X / up to X-1|
|Boundless Realms – 5 / ???|
|Courser of Kruphix – 3 / Recurring|
|Cultivate – 3 / 1 ETB Tapped 1 to Hand|
|Explorer’s Scope – 2 / Recurring|
|Explosive Vegetation – 4 / 2 ETB Tapped|
|Farseek – 2 / 2 ETB Tapped|
|Fertilid – 3 + 2 / 1 ETB Tapped; Exception due to synergy with counters + Elementals|
|Harvest Season – 3 / ???|
|Into the Wilds – 4 / Recurring|
|Khalni Heart Expedition – 2 / 2 ETB Tapped|
|Kodama’s Reach – 3 / 1 ETB Tapped 1 to Hand|
|Ordeal of Nylea – 2 / 2 ETB Tapped and Synergizes with Hydras|
|Perilous Forays – 5 / Recurring and Synergizes with Elemental Sacrificing|
|Primal Growth – 3 / 2 ETB Tapped and Synergizes with Elemental Sacrificing|
|Rampant Growth – 2 / 1 ETB UnTapped|
|Skyshroud Claim – 4 / 2 ETB Untapped|
|Sword of the Animist – 3 / Recurring|
|Traverse the Outlands – 5 / ???|
While we could call it a day and throw in the 15 skipped Ramp spells and a few more Hydras instead of adding any Elementals, this package allows for some flexibility to our gameplan by taking advantage of our Commander’s unique properties.
The first set of cards I’ll discuss here are actually sacrifice outlets for the Elements that Omnath creates – toward the end of the game, being able to bolt for a few more damage gives us the reach we might need to close things out. Some of these appeared in previous sections.
The second set of cards are those that Generate additional Elementals around lands, be it Liege of the Tangle animating our lands, or Zendikar’s Roil creating mini elementals. I also included Elemental Bond here to tack on “Draw a Card” to our land drops.
The third set of elementals are either those that scale with the number of lands (not unlike our Hydras); one caveat here is that I limited it to those that have trample as our Hydras already have the issue of not trampling through.
Finally there are Elementals that are just too sick to not include. These include Avenger of Zendikar, Obsidian Fireheart, and the OG Omnath.
Some notable exceptions from this set I initially considered
- Doubling Season and Primal Vigor notably are absent for budget reasons. If I crack a Doubling Season in my Battlebond deck, I will include that as it also synergizes with Hydras. Not sure if I would include it instead of or alongside Parallel Lives
- Cosi’s Ravager gives some additional reach
- Embodiment of Fury and Insight lets you turn late land drops into kamikaze attacks / sac targets that trigger Omnath
- Vigor synergizes with Hydras
- Wilderness Elemental is meta dependent – if your playgroup has a lot of non basics it can get out of control
- Young Pyromancer works well with the ramp spells, himself is pretty fragile and doesn’t trigger Omnath.
|Avenger of Zendikar|
|Evolutionary Leap – Sac Outlet|
|Forgotten Ancient – Deterrent|
|Generator Servant – Self Sac Outlet|
|Liege of the Tangle – Elemental Generator|
|Magmaw – Sac Outlet|
|Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar|
|Omnath, Locus of Mana|
|Parallel Lives – Elemental Generator|
|Phytotitan – Sac Target|
|Rite of the Raging Storm – Elemental Generator + Self Sac Outlet|
|Skullmulcher – Sac Outlet|
|Zendikar’s Roil – Elemental Generator|
The land here skews toward basics as most of our ramp searches out basic lands specifically. That said we included those that would allow for multiple land drops in a turn to trigger Omnath multiple times a turn, and Nykthos to take advantage of our massive green devotion.
And of course I’m using BFZ Full Art Basics
|Forest x 20|
|Mountain x 10|
|Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx|