How Magic Cards work
Kalonian Hydra

Kalonian Hydra Russian

Last Modified 29.03.2020

With Magic 2014 right behind the corner, one can’t simply ignore a new Hydra. Disputes over how powerful this card is have been out on the forums for days already. Everybody agrees that Hydra is broken in limited play. Some mages foresee it seeing some constructed play. Pro players have already started building their decks. Now it’s our turn to study Hydra-logy 101.

HYDRA, n. A kind of animal that the ancients catalogued under many heads.

Ambrose Bierce

Kalonian Hydra

Oracle Text:

Creature — Hydra


Kalonian Hydra enters the battlefield with four +1/+1 counters on it.

Whenever Kalonian Hydra attacks, double the number of +1/+1 counters on each creature you control.

So, a green Creature – Hydra is waiting for us with base power and toughness values 0/0, this particularly means that Imperial Recruiter can easily find it in the library and Reveillark can reanimate it. However, don’t exile it with your Duplicant, or do if you don’t care, since an exiled Hydra is a 0/0 creature card, and Duplicant will die the next time SBA are performed.

No matter how Kalonian Hydra appears on the battlefield its own ability gives it 4 +1/+1 counters. This means that you may not only cast it and resolve, but also reanimate it, use effects that put it from the graveyard on the battlefield.

Sneak Attack
Garruk, Caller of Beasts

Using Garruk, Caller of Beasts or Sneak Attack you may get Hydra almost for free. The latter will allow Hydra to attack the same turn. It won’t make your opponent happy, especially if you have already established your army.

Kalonian Hydra

Kalonian Hydra is a clone’s best friend. The rules say that effects that modify the event of entering the battlefield are applied in a specific order: first the effects that change control of the object, then effects that copy something, and at last other effects. It means that as Clone enters the battlefield it first becomes a copy of Hydra and then gets four +1/+1 counters.

Note that Clone doesn’t copy Hydra’s counters, he gains them thanks to Hydra’s ability.

Experiment One

There is no such moment in time when Hydra is already on the battlefield, but the counters haven’t been placed on it yet. This means that normally Hydra enters the battlefield as a 4/4 creature. All abilities that may trigger when such a bully enters the battlefield do so, as for example, Evolve.

Grim Return

Grim Return of Kalonian Hydra will also go as planned: Hydra will come under your control with four +1/+1 counters.

Change of control or characteristics of the object already on the battlefield are not the same as entering the battlefield.

Act of Treason

If you borrow an enemy Hydra, this action won’t increase the number of counters on it.

Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

If Lazav turns into a Hydra, he’ll become a 0/0 creature that will die the next time SBA are performed.

Let’s have a look at the Hydra’s triggered ability.

WheneverKalonian Hydra attacks, double the number of +1/+1 counters on each creature you control.”

  • Whenever” tells us that this is a triggered ability.
  • Kalonian Hydra attacks” is the triggering event.
    • This wording means that Hydra must be declared as an attacking creature. If an effect (such as Yore-Tiller Nephilim) prescribes you to put it on the battlefield attacking this ability won’t trigger. An example of such trigger we have already studied with Hero of Bladehold.
    • The ability triggers during the declare attackers step and resolves (if it happens) before the blockers are declared.
  • double the number of +1/+1 counters on each creature you control” is the ability effect that we  get when the ability resolves.
    • The counters are doubled, this means that if there were none, none would pop up.
    • The counters are doubled only for the creatures you control.
    • The counters are doubled for each creature you control, including Hydra!

How does this work?

Kalonian Hydra
Experiment One
Strangleroot Geist

You control Kalonian Hydra with four +1/+1 counters, Experiment One with two +1/+1 counters and Strangleroot Geist with none.

You declare all three creatures as attacking. Hydra’s ability triggers and on its resolution we get Hydra with eight counters, Experiment with four and Strangleroot Geist with none.

Now the opponent may declare the blockers.

Do you still think that the Rat is better? Reconsider!

Savage Summoning

Savage Summoning at the end of the opponent’s turn will be a wonderful surprise for him or her: an instant 5/5 creature that cannot be countered!

Strionic Resonator

Strionic Resonator is an excellent tool for copying Hydra’s trigger. If Hydra had four counters, after resolution of the first trigger, it’ll have 8, after the resolution of the second — 16!

Armed // Dangerous

An Armed Hydra is very Dangerous: 9/9 with Trample and Double Strike. If Hydra deals with all creatures blocking it during the first combat damage step, the enemy is getting 9 in the face during the second.

Kalonian Hydra
Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch

As Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch has Unleash you may choose it to enter the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter (you don’t need to cast it to do this in the first place). She won’t be able to block, but on the other hand, we want to kill the opponent here and now… or well, at least make sure that he or she doesn’t have creatures to counterattack. Exava provides all our pets that have counters with Haste. When this happens Hydra loses the last bits of patience and wants to draw some blood. Now if we send both creatures to attack, Exava will get an additional +1/+1 counter and will turn into a 5/5 killing machine with First Strike alongside the 8/8 Hydra with Trample.

Corpsejack Menace

If you have Corpsejack Menace on the battlefield, you may cast your Hydra and start cackling like a maniac as soon as it hits the battlefield: a 8/8 trampler for only 5 mana, that grows up to 24/24 as soon as it attacks. Mua-ha-ha-ha!

  1.  Armed doesn’t give creature a +1/+1 counter.

Translated by Lev Kotlyar