While scouring the internet for possible dinosaur deck lists, I found RG and Naya to be the more popular ones and I couldn’t find what I was actually look for – a straight GW midrange dinosaur deck that does not lose to a Fumigate or against deck with massive removals. I wanted a deck that did something every step of the curve, and gave us sizable value during combat, against removal, or fight better certain archetype.
In exchange for less conditional removals like Harness Lightning, Sweltering Suns and Lightning Strike, WG still gives us good options that offer similar control elements – more so now that in recent previous sets.
The fight mechanic goes really well with the dinosaur’s enrage mechanic. Savage Stomp being the best of these 3 fight-cards will surely have space in our 75 card pile.
The conventional style of building a dinosaur deck is ramping hard to get a 5-6 drop as early as turn 4 or 5. I won’t say this is a bad idea because this is how the Ulamog decks win their games. I do prefer having access to ramp, but not be disappointed if I can’t.
White gives us access to Kinjalli’s Caller. She’s great for blocking a lot of creatures from turn 1 and 2 like Bomat Courier, Artificer’s Apprentice, Longtusk Cub, Walking Ballista, Earthshaker Kenra (after ETB) and many more. It also allows us skip the 2 drop and fast forward to 3-drops which the deck allocated the most cards in. Drover of the Mighty is another great card that’s good early and great late game. I’m considering Ranging Raptors as a ramp creature because it will surely block something the turn after it hits the battlefield, or it will draw a removal spell. Apart from Walk the Plank and a revolted Fatal Push, it will most likely be killed by damage-based removal.
On to the three-drop slot we have GW’s best which can come down on turn 2 if we open with a Kinjalli’s Caller. Deathgorge Scavanger can easily come down as a 4/3 by eating an Opt which a lot of control players will be playing, a cycled Censor, an Evolving Wilds, or Attune with Aether which most energy players play on turn 1. Kinjalli’s Sunwing is great against super aggressive decks like Ramunap Red because it survives Magma Spray and Shock while tapping their hasty creatures. Territorial Hammerskull provides utility similar to Ahn-Crop Crasher by disabling a blocker EVERY combat without exerting.
We don’t have much dinosaurs on the 4-drop slot but we do have other options in our color Ripjaw Raptor is, in my opinion, the best 4-drop creature in standard. It’s stats are so under costed and it gives us the card draw we desperately need. Apart from a Harness Lightning and the occasional Walk the Plank, it’s very hard to get this off the battlefield.
Bristling Hydra and Ramunap Hydra are possible options to give us some top-line threats. Bristling Hydra’s self-protect ability is still relevant and some decks have an extremely hard time removing it. If the opponent 2-for-1s this dude, you already won. We will play some number of Deserts so Ramunap Hydra is another good card we have access too. Not to mention it has reach for pesky fliers which our deck is not very good against.
We’re skipping the 5-drop because this is where we lose access to Red’s Dino power – Regisaur Alpha, Glorybringer to say the least.
Lastly we have the 6 drop and this is where Carnage Tyrant lies.
It’s our Apex Predator, our King of the Jungle, our Jurassic Park Celebrity. There is no denying that a 7/6 for 6 mana is already a great deal but give it uncounterable ability ensures you that your 6 mana investment will give you profit. It has Trample, which means each combat step will net you at least some damage through. It also has Hexproof and this is why you are shedding $30 for each. If you can starve your opponent the chance to counter it, and still deprive your opponent from doing anything to it once it sticks – you’re godlike. Apart from Fumigate and Dusk//Dawn, nothing in standard kills it, not even Torrential or Noxious Gearhulks can profitably deal with it. Unless you run against an opponent playing Trial of Ambition but still, I doubt Carnage Tyrant will be your only creature on the battlefield.
The deck has a way to bring it down on turn 3. Turn 1 Caller, turn 2 caller then cast a discounted Ranging Raptor. Block something and fetch a land. Turn 3 play land, have 4 lands and cast Tyrant with 2 mana discounted from the 2 Callers. Spicy!
I can’t wait to test this list out so let me share my list with you.
4 Kinjalli’s Caller
4 Drover of the Mighty
4 Deathgorge Scavenger
4 Ranging Raptors
2 Territorial Hammerskull
3 Ripjaw Raptor
3 Bristling Hydra
2 Ramunap Hydra
2 Carnage Tyrant
3 Savage Stomp
2 Commune with Dinosaurs
1 Nissa, Vital Force
4 Sunpetal Grove
2 Scattered Groves
2 Unclaimed Territory
3 Shefet Dunes
3 Hashep Oasis
2 Scavenger Grounds
3 Heroic Intervention
3 Kinjalli’s Sunwing
3 Verdant Rebirth
3 Cast Out
3 Slash of Talons
A quick run-down on the card selections which I did not talk about previously. Firstly, the return of check lands gave allied color decks faster starts because dual lands come to play untap more often. Too bad Razorverge Thicket is not standard legal, but Scattered Groves does help us get to 2 W/G mana untapped on turn 2 if we play Scattered Groves turn 1 into Sunpetal Grove turn 2. The Desert package is there to open up some slot on the sideboard against God-Pharaoh’s Gift and Scarab God-based decks. Either way, the abilities of both Shefet Dunes and Hashep Oasis can be relevant later in the game. They also help ensure Ramunap Hydra comes to play as a 4/4 at least. Scavenger Ground ensures our dead dinos are not reanimated against us.
Commune with Dinosaurs is a great mid to late game draw because it helps us find more threats or dig deeper for that Carnage Tyrant if we don’t draw into it. I’m not putting more than 2 copies of Carnage to avoid drawing them in my first 7, but Commune will function like the 3rd and 4th copy – not to mention it helps us make our land drops if we end up having a 1-land opening hand plus Commune. We wanted 25 lands at least so we have 24 real lands, and 2 half-lands.
Sideboard is focused on making sure our threats stay in the battlefield. Heroic Intervention and Verdant Rebirth are great against decks waiting to Fumigate the board. Verdant Rebirth is also great at getting us back our creatures. Nothing feels sweeter than an opponent casting removal spells to kill a 5-toughness creature, or chump-blocking plus spending a removal only for our dinos to be reborn back to hand and draws us a card.
Kinjalli’s Sunwing did not make the mainboard but found its place on the sideboard against ultra-fast decks. Together with Slash of Talons, the deck should be OK against low to the ground, high aggressive decks. Cast Out is there for Planeswalkers or artifacts and enchantments we can’t get rid off. Rhonas in particular is one of the best targets for Cast Out.
Our honorable mention is Nissa, Vital Force. She’s a 1-off in the deck and is often one of the first cards boarded out, but I like to have a Planeswalker in the deck on game 1 that helps me get damage in, helps recur some cards, and her emblem is easy to pull off because the opponent would have probably fired off their removals at your creatures before you cast Nissa.
That’s it for now, I hope you enjoyed my take on Ixalan’s dinosaurs! Let me know what you’re looking at brewing for Ixalan Standard at the comment section below.