MTG Manager was updated today to support Core Set 2020 so I had a long morning scanning all of my cards from pre-release and the various planeswalker decks; 392 cards in total! Once that was done, it was time to crack another pack which contained this beautiful creature:

Gargos, Vicious Watcher

Gargos, Vicious Watcher is a 3 Generic ManaGreenGreenGreen legendary 8/7 hydra with vigilance. That is good on its own but it also has two static abilities:

  • Hydra spells you cast cost 4 Generic Mana less
  • Whenever a creature you control is targeted by a spell, Gargos fights up to one creature you don’t control

Reducing the cost of spells is always nice but reducing them by 4 Generic Mana is especially nice. Of the five hydras currently in Standard, two of them have a colourless cost component of 3 Generic Mana whilst the others use X Generic Mana mana1. Being able to follow this up with a Bioessence Hydra for just GreenBlue or using all your available mana on your next turn to cast a Voracious Hydra where X Generic Mana is 8 Generic Mana (giving you a 16/17 trampling hydra2) is crazy good. Oh, and there is Hydroid Krasis as well…

Aside from the hydra cost reduction, the defensive capability is also very nice especially as it protects itself; similar to the leyline I looked at yesterday, the trigger occurs when a creature is targeted so if your opponent tries to bounce Gargos it can take down one of their creatures before it goes. It is also worth noting that the trigger is whenever one of your creatures is targeted by a spell, not an opponent’s spell. If you cast an aura, it’ll trigger. If you add an equipment, it’ll trigger. You can even use a low power spell like Shock to cause a trigger if there is a big creature you need to kill. The only thing to watch out for is that it is the fight mechanic, not “deals damage equal to power”; this means that Gargos will also take damage so you need to ensure you don’t fight a creature that then puts it at risk of being killed by a Shock or similar.

Whilst I was very excited by this card initially, it was only when looking at other similarly priced cards that I realised it wasn’t quite all that. Consider that you can get a Aggressive Mammoth which gives you an 8/8 body and all your other creatures trample, or Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar that will give you a growing creature with reach and trample. If Gargos had trample then I’d be all over it but my excitement is slightly tempered even though vigilance is still a fine keyword ability.

The bottom line is that this is a definite inclusion if you’re running some hydras but there are likely better creatures you could be using in other decks. You also need to be up against a deck with a number of creatures to get the full benefit of that fight ability.

The final thing I wanted to mention about this card is the awesome artwork. This is now the fourth hydra to be created by Mathias Kollros with Bioessence Hydra being the other currently in Standard3. This beats the previous joint records of Chris Rahn and Raymond Swanland who have three hydras each. Mathias also worked on the promo version of Chandra’s Regulator which you can get exclusively in the Core Set 2020 bundle launching this weekend.

  1. And yes this works for X Generic Mana mana by basically giving you an extra 4 Generic Mana to play with. ↩︎

  2. Need I bring up Simic Ascendancy↩︎

  3. The Hydradoodle from Unstable is also worthy of mention! ↩︎

This post is part of a weekday series where I open up a booster pack and pick a card to discuss. Whilst these are often the best cards from the set, I'll often pick one that is a bit niche or one that has cool artwork or flavour text. If there's a particular card you want me to take a look at, get in touch or join my Discord community.