A Tour Through Magic’s New Jurassic Park

There be Dinosaurs! Today, my plan is to look over some of the spoiled Dinosaurs from Ixalan and fit them into different shells. Whether you should play a full-on Dinosaur deck or distribute them as standalone cards is difficult to say, but there’s a lot of power to go around, so maybe the question you should really be asking yourself is: why not both?

First, let’s talk about the eleph—the Dinosaur in the room.

Regisaur Alpha is pretty much exactly what a pushed rare for a new mechanic or tribe looks like. It’s most likely the best of the bunch. Everything I said about Captain Lannery Storm holds true here.

  1. It has a direct impact on the board since its minion has haste.
  2. Even if the Alpha is killed, it leaves behind a 3/3 Dinosaur, creating value as soon as it hits the battlefield.
  3. It snowballs. If you don’t kill the Alpha, there’s a chance you could get overrun by the coming horde of hasted Dinosaurs.

You can compare Regisaur Alpha with Glorybringer for a few reasons. They are red, cost 5, and deal haste damage. Glorybringer is better at killing off guarded planeswalkers and wins the fight versus an Alpha, but Regisaur Alpha is better against removal and at snowballing other Dinosaurs. Then again, why not play both?

Temur Dinosaur Energy

The energy mechanic is here to stay. It survived a Standard with 8 sets available, and I can’t see why it would disappear in an environment with only 5. The energy package is an excellent way to build a midrange deck. While most of the cards stand on their own merits, the energy gain attached to the cards gives you hidden value without losing tempo, which then becomes relevant as soon as you find a payoff.

When I saw Regisaur Alpha, I thought it was a great card, but I wanted to get more out of it. I wanted two or more at the same time. I searched through gatherer, even looking at Hazoret’s Undying Fury. Imagine hitting two of them plus another Dinosaur. That’s closing in on the 20 hasted damage territory. But Hazoret’s Undying Fury is too much of a Magical Christmas Land card for me and for even our own mathematician. This is where Saheeli Rai comes in.

There’s a chance Saheeli can shine once more with the help of your new monsters. If Saheeli has 2 or more counters when you cast Regisaur Alpha, that’s 14 hasted damage! With Glorybringer, you get to shoot two things and attack for 8 haste damage. That’s the reason I included a few Burning Sun’s Avatar in the main deck—dealing 3+3 damage to one or two creatures and 3+3 damage to a player or planeswalker while hasting in for 6 damage! Of course, it’s also a Dinosaur, making Regisaur Alpha even more powerful.

Saheeli Rai will never be the same without Felidar Gaurdian, but when you play it on turn 3 on the play, your opponent will be just as scared to tap out. While it’s not game over immediately, it’s pretty close! Another thing that’s great with Saheeli Rai is that it’s a way to combat Fumigate, which has been a way to trump Temur decks as of late since you can follow up any sweeper with lethal damage with these monsters.

The last card choice that doesn’t seem obvious is Ripjaw Raptor over Bristling Hydra. Yes, it’s a Dinosaur, but you have far more energy synergies than Dinosaur synergies. The reason why I think it might be better is because it lets you use your burn spells to draw cards in matchups where removal is dead, which is a huge boon. With more red mana for Burning Sun’s Avatar in the deck, there’s less of an issue with boarding in Sweltering Suns, which pairs very well with Ripjaw Raptor.

Another Dinosaur I want to talk about is Bellowing Aegisaur.

While it looks like a good Limited card, it has real applications with Walking Ballista. Walking Ballista and Bellowing Aegisaur is an infinite combo that gives an infinite number of counters to all of your other creatures besides Walking Ballista. [EDIT: I missed that you can only ping the Aegisaur 4 times a turn before it dies, since it says “other creatures you control.” That still creates a lot of counters for your team, but it’s not quite the infinite combo I thought it was.] So what do you do with this information? First, let’s put it in a shell that naturally wants to play Walking Ballista.

W/B/G Infinite A Lot of Counters

Turn 1: Forest
Turn 2: Concealed Courtyard, Walking Ballista.
Turn 3: Swamp, Rishkar, Peema Renegade, put counters on itself and Walking Ballista.
Turn 4: Forest, tap both creatures for mana and cast Bellowing Aegisaur, making infinitely large creatures!

If the combo is the real deal, I believe that one of the best places for it is in a proactive shell that puts pressure on your opponent to deal with your offense so that the combo has a better chance of going unanswered. What’s nice about this combo is that Walking Ballista often isn’t a card your opponent wants to kill because it can respond by shooting down a creature they control. Your opponent would rather pressure you as much as possible so that you have to use the counters to stay in the game. But with the Aegisaur, it forces your opponent to deal with Walking Ballista early.

Finally, B/G Energy is a natural home for Blossoming Defense, which is a great way to protect your combo when you pull the trigger.

Yes, I know, neither of these are real Dinosaur decks. To build an all Dinosaur deck, there are different paths to take. Sky Terror suggests that it would be possible to build an aggressive Dinosaur deck, but besides that, there’s little else to support that strategy. Imperial Lancer isn’t powerful enough and the mana in the Naya colors seems awful.

Ramping into Dinosaurs though—that’s a whole different story. A recently spoiled Dinosaur I haven’t heard much talk about yet is Ranging Raptors. This card might be a sleeper, and I’ll tell you why.

Say that you play a ramp dork on turn 2. Say Drover of the Mighty. On turn 3, you can cast Ranging Raptors together with either Savage Stomp—to both kill their creature and search for a basic land, which is an insane turn—or simply Magma Spray your own Ranging Raptors to search for a land. Not only that, but Ranging Raptors works wonders with Walking Ballista, making every +1/+1 counter on it effectively a basic land. Even the curve of playing Walking Ballista on turn 2 to simply shoot Ranging Raptors on turn 3 as a Rampant Growth isn’t too bad. To top it off, Raging Swordtooth turns into a 5/5 for 5, and searches for basic land with Ranging Raptors in play. Sometimes in Magic Christmas Land, you will be playing against Ramunap Red and kill their Earthshaker Khenra and Bomat Courier in the process.

After these interactions, Ranging Raptors still stay on the board, attacking and blocking. If they trade with it or kill it with any kind of burn spell, yep, you guessed it—you get another basic land!

Dinosaur Ramp

A huge draw to mono-Dinosaurs is Commune with Dinosaurs, which can easily be compared to Ancient Stirrings. Commune with Dinosaurs, like Ancient Stirrings, is so powerful because it fixes your mana and if you need it, can also find an enormous Dinosaur—meaning that it’s great on both turn 1 and turn 25—all for 1 green mana. Another sweet thing about this deck is that in any matchup without sweepers, once you hit with Gishath, Sun’s Avatar, there’s a chance that the game is completely over. Not only can you amass a board that’s impossible to come back from, but if you hit Verdant Sun’s Avatar with it, you gain life for every Dinosaur that comes into play, which easily can be around 10-15 life. This means that you won’t be burned or cheesed out of the game either!

I’m for sure looking forward to be playing with some Dinosaurs. I mean, come on, Dinosaurs and MTG? It’s like child’s dream come true! A lot of people will be looking forward to be playing with Regisaur Alpha the most, but I’m looking at Ranging Raptors myself.

How about you?

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