Temur Tempo - Hail Hydra

Written By - Sam BW

This last weekend, I played in as many events as I could at the 3rd annual MTG ADEPT Representationals, which meant starting on Saturday with the main event, going even and coming 26th as a result, then jamming Legacy in the evening and Modern again the next day. This is the deck I played on the Sunday, as I wanted to try playing a ‘real deck’ in the main event to give me the best chance of preforming. As it turns out though, I may have been underestimating this deck.

2x Island
2x Forest
4x Misty Rainforest
2x Steam Vents
1x Stomping Ground
4x Wooded Foothills
2x Copperline Gorge
2x Breeding Pool
4x Botanical Sanctum
2x Vendilion Clique
4x Goblin Rabblemaster
3x Managorger Hydra
2x Scavenging Ooze
1x Ghor-Clan Rampager
3x Savage Knuckleblade
3x Merfolk Trickster
4x Remand
3x Stubborn Denial
4x Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth
2x Atarka's Command
2x Electrolyze

To briefly outline, this deck is a tempo shell designed to establish and protect one threat, then try and keep your opponent off their game plan long enough to get in for lethal damage. Tempo as a strategy typically doesn’t do so well in modern, as the varied nature of decks as well as the very efficient removal often makes going deep on one creature in a game a bit difficult. This deck tries to mitigate that by playing threats that develop over the course of the game. This means that, most of the time, you can just leave up all your mana every turn and react to what your opponent is doing, all the while smashing serious face in. To that end, I’ll now describe how this deck does this in particular, by going in and describing each package of cards individually.

The Threats
(Managorger Hydra, Goblin Rabblemaster, Scavenging Ooze, Savage Knuckleblade, Vendilion Clique.)

Savage KNuckleblade.png

All the creatures in this deck are designed to win the game by themselves, either by scaling to the gamestate by getting better as they are left in play, or by allowing you to use your mana profitably without spewing additional resources. Managorger Hydra in particular demonstrates this perfectly. Every time you, or your opponent, makes almost any game action, this guy gets a bit bigger. It doesn’t take much for this card to go from woefully understatted at a three mana 1/1 to one of the biggest creatures ever printed at three mana, usually two full turn rotations. Obviously the trick is getting the guy to live that long, but more on that later. Savage Knuckleblade is a very underrepresented card in modern, and I would say for good reason. You really need to heavily commit to this card, as its insane colour requirement on turn three makes it difficult to utilise effectively in most decks, but in this deck it shines. Being a three mana 4/4, sometimes with haste, that can protect itself is a huge deal. That said, it’s still one of the weaker cards in the deck and I wouldn’t mind hearing some feedback on what else could go in that slot.
The other cards on this list already have some amount of pedigree, so I won’t bore you with waxing lyrical about cards you already know are good. Aside from a neat combo with Vendilion Clique and some sideboard cards which I will get into, they all present a fast clock with some added utility and synergy.

The Protection
(Mutagenic Growth, Remand, Stubborn Denial.)

Remand.png

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. The problem with Managorger Hydra is that when you play it initially, it’s a three mana 1/1 that dies to everything. You’ve just tapped out, as its turn three and you’re facing an aggressive red deck that requires you to do something proactive at some point or it’ll just run you over. They see you’ve unwisely left no mana up, and think it’s safe to bolt your Hydra. That’s when you hit them with the Mutagenic Growth, and your little 1/1 becomes a 5/5 in response to their removal spell, all at the low cost of two life. After that, assuming no further shenanigans, it is pretty easy to see how your Hydra can run away with the game. After you untap, it’s now a virtual 4/4, and between Remand and Stubborn Denial you should be able to keep them off stuff long enough for your threat to finish the job. The same trick works for Goblin Rabblemaster, but on offence instead of defence. Almost all of the time, when you attack with that 1/1 goblin token on turn three, if your opponent has a reasonable block they will snap it off, leading them to getting blown out when the 1/1 becomes a 3/3 or potentially even a 5/5. Because why wouldn’t they? The goblin has to attack, so it’s not like you’re representing a pump spell, and you also don’t have any mana available. I’ve had multiple occasions in the same game where opponents have been blown out by this.

The Utility
(Atarka’s Command, Lightning Bolt, Electrolyze, Ghor-Clan Rampager.)

Atarka's Command.png


This package is really just to round out the deck and alleviate some of the weaknesses the deck might have against some of the more aggressive decks in modern. Bolt allows you to remove early threats and mana acceleration from your opponent, as well as offering an amount of reach. You know, what it does in every deck. Electrolyse helps against small creatures that would otherwise gum up the board and stop you pushing damage, but you can always point it upstairs if you feel like drawing a card and triggering your Hydra. Atarka’s Command offers a whole bunch of options, but usually domes for three and pumps all your goblin tokens, or domes for three and lets you block flyers for a turn, both of which is a pretty good deal for two mana. The other modes offer a few different lines, notably letting you keep up Bolt or Stubborn Denial in addition to playing a threat on turn three. Ghor Clan Rampager also lets you push damage through a blocker, but has the added utility of being a four mana 4/4 with trample. That said this card should probably be another Clique or Scavenging Ooze or something, as it was usually just a four damage burn spell which this deck doesn’t really need help with. Let me know what you think!

Merfolk Trickster

Merfolk Trickster.png



This card deserves its own section because in all honestly it probably deserves its own article. I cannot overstate how good this card is. It may not look like much, but it very often is a split card destroy target attacking creature/tap down a troublesome blocker, all on a 2/2 with flash. There’s some nuance to this card that isn’t immediately apparent. After your opponent has declared some troublesome creature as an attacker, you can “tap” it down to remove all its abilities. Like the part of a Tarmogoyf that makes it bigger than a 0/1. Or flying. Or menace. Then, you simply block their now vanilla-ized guy as it marches towards its inevitable death.  As I learned during the tournament, this also counts for abilities granted by equipment, or auras. If they don’t attack, then if you need to get in for damage you just tap down their guy end of turn. And that’s just the first thing this card does! It shuts off lords out of tribal decks, combos with Bolt to take down indestructible or protection from red guys, and allows you to play at instant speed all the while. I played this guy in Merfolk in the main event, but I firmly believe this fish is capable of much more than just being another tool in that deck’s arsenal. Expect to see this card in many decks, in many formats, in the months to come.

The Sideboard

2x Ancient Grudge
2x Blood Moon
1x Entrancing Melody
2x Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2x Madcap Experiment
1x Platinum Emperion
2x Relic of Progenitus
3x Spell Pierce 

This is the area of the deck with the most flexibility, I feel. If the Madcap combo isn’t good in your local meta of Humans and Jund, feel free to switch it out for Thrun or something else that’s hard to remove. In this tournament though, with decks like Hollow One and various Eldrazi builds on the menu, Platinum Emperion is the truth. Often, these linear decks have no mainboard answer to artifacts, and seeing as the maindeck is all instants and creatures, they’d have to be a Mulligan Wizard to bring in some artifact destruction. As I mentioned earlier, if you are unlucky enough to draw your single copy of Big Plats, you can Clique yourself to ship that bad boy down to the bottom of your library again, or you can brainstorm him back in with Jace. Jace is also good against linear aggro decks, especially ones like Hollow One or Zoo where if you can manoeuvre past their early starts their gas starts to wind down pretty fast. The rest of the sideboard is pretty self-explanatory, though it is worth noting that you should be pretty selective in which decks you side in Blood Moon against. You can’t afford to bring it in against most three colour strategies, like Jund or Abzan, as you’re almost as likely to hose yourself as you are to hose them. It’s specifically in there to give this deck half a chance against Scapeshift and Tron, as those are without a doubt the worst matchups by far.

Wrap-Up

Though it may not look like much, this deck has been the result of many endeavours to make a much beloved card of mine, Managorger Hydra, at least remotely playable in modern. Suffice to say, I’ve far exceeded all my expectations, as well as the expectations of many of my friends. That being said, if any of you have other ideas about decks to awkwardly slot Managorger Hydra into, please tell me and I’ll give it a try! You can reach me on Facebook as Sam Bw, and I’ll be replying to comments on this article for the next fortnight or so. Looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks, and hope some of you decide to give it a try for yourselves.