One of the biggest winners from the release of Gargos, Vicious Watcher from Core Set 2020 is Ulvenwald Hydra. Thanks to Gargos’ ability to reduce the casting cost of Hydra creatures by 4 generic mana, Hydra Tribal has become a new force to be reckoned with in EDH. Ulvenwald Hydra is one of a few Hydras that has become extremely cheap to cast.
With Gargos, Vicious Watcher on the battlefield, Ulvenwald Hydra costs but two Green mana to cast. His power and toughness are equal to the number of lands you control, which is great as he scales up as the game goes on. However, the best part about him is his ability when he enters the battlefield: you get to put any land card from your deck onto the battlefield tapped. Plus, he has reach, which protects you from pesky flyers that may otherwise be an issue. That’s a lot of value for only two mana!
Has Ulvenwald Hydra Seen Play in Other EDH Decks?
Previously, Ulvenwald Hydra had still seen some significant play in Commander in “lands matter” decks like Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar, Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer, Mina and Denn, Wildborn, Nissa, Vastwood Seer, and more. Of course, he also saw play in the previous Hydra Tribal decks led by Polukranos, World Eater. In competitive EDH (cEDH), Ulvenwald Hydra has been an important part of some Lord Windgrace decks.
Did Ulvenwald Hydra Ever See Competitive Standard Play?
Early in his Standard life in 2016, Ulvenwald Hydra often saw play at one or two copies in the main deck of Gruul Ramp. Part of the reason he saw main deck play was that he served to block or trade with the Dragonlords who were big in Standard at the time. However, Ulvenwald Hydra was also important for searching out the colorless lands such as Sanctum of Ugin, Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, and Wastes that were needed to cast various Eldrazi cards in the deck that required pure Colorless mana.
By 2017, Ulvenwald Hydra saw Standard play out of the sideboards of the broken Aetherworks Marvel decks and later Selesnya Ramp. Some sideboards even ran the full four copies of Ulvenwald Hydra. He still served as an important defense against decks with flyers and the mana ramp was still nice.
While certainly not the most exciting mythic rare from Shadows Over Innistrad, he certainly was relevant in competitive Standard play. He’s certainly never going to impact Modern, Legacy, or Vintage, he’s a Hydra that will always find a home. Gargos, Vicious Watcher finally gave him a consistent one.