One of the easiest strategies you can utilize in Magic: the Gathering is attacking with big, aggressive creatures. You don’t need complicated, multi-step combos or weird interactions here – just large creatures to command.
And if you’re looking for one of the best aggressive creature tribes out there, hyrdras are a strong contender. These huge monsters are infamous for their ability to grow even larger once you get them out – much like their mythological namesakes, they often get continuously worse the longer they’re left alive.
Interested in building a hydra deck or incorporating a few of them into another creature-based deck? We’ve gathered several of the best MTG hydra cards here for your consideration.
What are Hydras Like in Magic: the Gathering?
In traditional mythology, hydras are giant, multi-headed serpentine creatures that sprout two more heads for every head you cut off. Hydras in Magic: the Gathering take inspiration from their mythological predecessors by being huge, intimidating, and frequently having +1/+1 counters that increase in number with time.
Generally, hydras are green. Given that green is the color of powerful creatures, this makes perfect sense.
However, you can occasionally find hydras in other colors. It’s important to mention, though, that such hyras are exceedingly rare, as you’ll see from our list. The vast majority of the options we chose to include are mono-green.
If you’d like to learn more about what other colors are known for doing, read our guide to MTG color combinations and their names.
Best MTG Hydra Cards
Genesis Hydra has a couple benefits to it. The first is that it can help you cast spells for free. When you cast it, you can put X extra mana into it, and for each extra mana you add, you can reveal the top cards in your library. Any one of them that’s a nonland permanent with a converted mana cost less than the X number of mana you put into Genesis Hyrdra gets put onto the battlefield at no cost to you.
This is why you pack any deck with Genesis Hydra in it full of expensive creatures. Casting Genesis Hydra will likely net you a lot of them at no cost, especially if you’re able to pump tons of mana into it.
The second benefit is that it also gets a +1/+1 counter for every additional point of mana you put in for the X value. So, if you pay two green mana to cast it then add seven more mana on top of that, it would come out as a frightening 7/7 hydra.
If you want a classic example of a hydra, look no further than Kalonian Hydra. It starts off with a modest 4 +1/+1 counters on it. Every time it attacks, however, the number of counters on it doubles.
This means that it gets twice as big every time it attacks. It doesn’t even need to get through to do combat damage to someone – all it needs to do is attack. Plus, with trample, much of its damage will be able to get through even when people choose to block it further down the line.
You’ll see another X value in the mana cost for Hooded Hydra, much like with Genesis Hydra. You have to pay two green mana to cast it, but then you can pour as much additional mana as you’d like into casting it.
For every point of additional mana you put into X, Hooded Hydra will come out with a +1/+1 counter on it. You’ll want to put as much mana into it as possible, because when it dies, it will automatically create a 1/1 snake creature token for each counter it has. This makes losing it much less painful, since you’ll likely get a large number of snake tokens to attack and block with when it dies.
You can also play it for its morph cost instead. That means you can pay three to put it facedown on the battlefield as a 2/2 creature. When you’re ready to flip it up, pay five total mana to turn it into a hydra with 5 +1/+1 counters on it. This is particularly interesting, because you can attack with it while it’s a 2/2, and if someone lets it through because 2 damage doesn’t seem threatening, you can morph it to suddenly turn that 2 damage into 5 instead.
Read Also: Best MTG Dragon Cards
Hydras are, in essence, large and terrifying creatures. Nowhere is this displayed more fittingly than with the Managorger Hydra. Every single time anyone casts a spell, it gets a +1/+1 counter on it.
If you’re playing a multiplayer game, this means it will get huge fast. Think about it: a spell is pretty much any card that’s not a land. With all your opponents possibly casting multiple spells per turn, Managorger Hydra will soak up those counters rapidly.
To top that all off, it has trample. When it has several (or even more) counters on it, opponents will struggle to stop the damage from melting away their life points.
Hydroid Krasis is simply an all-around good card. There aren’t really any downsides to it. Like some of the other hydras on this list, you can put as much mana into it as you’d like beyond the basic one green and one blue mana cost.
You’ll gain life and draw cards equal to half the value of the additional mana you put into Hydroid Krasis. This makes it a perfect card to cast when you’re backed into a corner, your life is getting low, or you just desperately need to fill your hand.
What’s more, you’re getting a flying creature with trample here. Its power and toughness are also equal to the number of additional mana you paid into its X value, so you could potentially get a very large blocker and attacker.
Related Article: Best Life Gain Cards in MTG
As you may have noticed from many of the cards we included so far in this list, hydras often have an X cost in their mana cost. Typically, this allows you to pump the hydras up as they hit the battlefield.
If you’re going to make a hydra Commander deck, then Zaxara, the Exemplary is a wonderful pick for your Commander. You can tap it to add two mana, and it will create hydra tokens every time you cast a hydra with X in its cost.
Given how common this is for hydras, that means you’ll likely get a lot of hydra tokens quickly.
One of the most famous hydras in the game is Progenitus. This humongous card costs ten to cast: two mana of each color. This is without a doubt a hefty cost, but we feel it’s one worth paying.
Progenitus has protection from everything. This means spells in the game cannot target it. It’s totally immune to kill spells. You can’t even exile it.
Furthermore, opponents cannot block Progenitus because of its protection. However, Progenitus can block them – without taking damage, too, which is also due to its protection.
What makes Primordial Hydra terrifying is that it gets exponentially bigger each turn with no effort on your part. On each of your turns, the number of +1/+1 counters it has on it will double.
If you want to get a head start, you’ll play Primordial Hydra with as many additional mana poured into X as you can. That way, it will get bigger even faster.
Once it hits ten counters, it will gain trample, making it an even more horrifying threat. Block it all you like – some of its damage is still likely getting through.
On the surface, Apex Devastator might look like a confusing card. Allow us to explain what cascade means.
For each cascade listed on Apex Devastator, you exile cards from the top of your library until you get to a nonland card that has a smaller converted mana cost than Apex Devastator’s cost of ten. (Spoiler alert: that’s most cards in the game.) You then get to cast it without paying for it and put the rest of the cards you exiled onto the bottom of your library.
You’ll do this four times. In other words, you’ll get to cast four free spells whenever you get Apex Devastator out on the battlefield.
Here’s yet another hydra that you’re able to pay X additional mana into. You’ll get a couple benefits from doing so, as well.
First, you’ll get a powerful hydra that’s even more menacing, thanks to trample. The more you can pour into it, the more damage can penetrate your opponents’ blockers.
Second, when it dies, you get to gain life and draw cards equal to the same amount of mana you put into its X value. Card draw is your best friend in Magic; even if you draw above your hand size and need to discard, you’re able to shape your hand to be much stronger. It doesn’t hurt that you’re gaining life, either – in fact, you may even want to lose Lifeblood Hydra eventually.
Common Hydra Questions in MTG
What MTG set has the most hydras?
Unfortunately, hydras are far from the most populous creature type in the game. You might see a couple in a set. There have just been so many sets that the number of hydras has expanded with time.
To put the low number of hydras into perspective, Theros Beyond Death, M20, and Throne of Eldraine all had two hydras in them apiece. This is the largest concentration of hydras in sets we were able to find after a quick search.
If you really want to get as many hydras as you can at once, consider ordering the Enhanced Evolution preconstructed deck. It’s got a few hydras in there that you may find useful.
Can Progenitus be countered?
As you may have seen from earlier on in this post, Progenitus is a hydra that has protection from everything. Naturally, your opponents will be itching to use a counterspell when they see that you’re trying to get Progenitus on the battlefield. That begs the question: can it be countered?
Sadly (or perhaps luckily, depending on how you look at it), Progenitus can be countered. This is because its protection from everything is not active until it’s actually on the battlefield. Thus, someone can play a counterspell to stop it from coming out at all.
What is a hydra spell in MTG?
As with any question about what constitutes a particular creature spell, we’d say the answer depends. Some people may choose to define hydra spell as any card that specifically affects hydras or is itself a hydra. Our personal definition for this article was any card that is a hydra creature.
How does Hydra Broodmaster work?
Speaking about cards that have a mana cost of X, check out Hydra Broodmaster, pictured above. This is a card that has left some Magic players scratching their heads because of all the X’s. If you’re wondering how Hydra Broodmaster works, we’ll explain.
When you have a value of X, you can put as much mana into it as you want. If you see a value listed as XX, it means that whatever value you put into one X must be put into the other X. However, only one of those X’s is counted in the actual effect.
For example, say you want to make Hydra Broodmaster monstrous. You pay one green mana, then decide to put five more into X. You have to pay five on top of that, so you’re paying a total of eleven mana to make it monstrous. However, the Monstrosity X only counts one of the X’s, so it gets Monstrosity 5 and 5 +1/+1 counters. Then, in addition to that, you get 5 5/5 green hydra creature tokens.
The next time you decide to make a creature-heavy deck, you can’t go wrong with adding a few hydras to it. Hydras are fun and overwhelmingly aggressive – especially if you’re able to ramp into a lot of mana that you can drain into them.
If you’re struggling to get enough mana to sink into a hydra, consider checking out our list of mana rocks.