My last two articles have featured Dinosaurs and green beatdown. Following up on these, it’s time to talk about the overpowered, undercosted Dinosaur from Dominaria, which I’m hoping will put the tribe over the top for Standard play.
Last week, I mentioned that Territorial Allosaurus and Ripjaw Raptor appeared to be roughly equal in raw power level. Raptor might be better alongside Walking Ballista, Sweltering Suns, or other ways to damage your own creatures. But Allosaurus has its own strengths.
An important aspect of Constructed Magic is that the value of a card depends on its context. In the context of new cards like Llanowar Elves and Steel Leaf Champion, and Dinosaur payoffs like Commune with Dinosaurs, Thunderherd Migration, Drover of the Mighty, and Savage Stomp, Territorial Allosaurus could wind up dramatically outshining Ripjaw Raptor in terms of its immediate impact on Standard.
Yet one more factor at play is that Territorial Allosaurus and Ripjaw Raptor will now be legal together, making it possible to build a deck that emphasizes casting these heavy hitters on turn 3 as often as possible.
Commune with Dinosaurs finds Allosaurus and Ripjaw Raptor, or it finds the lands you need to cast them, thus greatly increasing the consistency of this strategy. As an extra bonus, it can dig you to niche role-player cards like Thrashing Brontodon, Carnage Tyrant, Ghalta, Primal Hunger, or Deathgorge Scavenger.
Llanowar Elves, Drover of the Mighty, and Thunderherd Migration are high-power cards that allow you to get out ahead of the other decks in Standard, and start unloading giant threats as early as the third (or even second!) turn.
Savage Stomp is a brutally efficient card in a deck with such a high creature count, and can push a tempo advantage by forcing through damage and crushing an opponent before they can stabilize.
Most of the best Dinosaurs are green, and Llanowar Elves requires a high concentration of green mana to function at its best. Building your deck to be mostly green facilitates Steel Leaf Champion, which is excellent even when it’s off-tribe. That said, Drover of the Mighty and Thunderherd Migration make a splash easy, and white offers cheap answers to Hazoret the Fervent and the The Scarab God, which would otherwise be problem cards for the archetype.
But the real power of this deck comes from the Territorial Allosaurus, which is the perfect card to pair with mana acceleration. When it comes down on turn 3, it will be the biggest creature on the battlefield, and can unload massive damage against an unprepared opponent. On the other side of the coin, the kicker makes it a late game payoff and a way to mitigate mana flood in a deck that plays a high concentration of mana sources. I envision plucking an Allosaurus off a midgame Commune with Dinosaurs being a very satisfying feeling.
Green ramp decks represent a strategy as old as the game itself. But it’s only when a flexible payoff card like Territorial Allosaurus appears that they reach their full potential.