Ixalan block brought a number of tribal decks to MTG Arena, and the Dinosaur deck is one of the heavy hitters. In this edition of Deck Primer, we’ll take a look at  Dino’s core primer and optional packages in terms of optmail Magic Arena Dinosuar deck options.

Dino Deck Core

Creatures (25)
Otepec huntmaster
Drover of the Mighty
Ranging Raptors
Ripjaw Raptor
Regisaur Alpha
Ghalta, Primal Hunger
Flex

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Spells (11)
Commune with Dinosaurs
Savage Stomp
Reckless Rage

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Land (23)
Unclaimed Territory
Rootbound Crag
Forest
Mountain

Core Choices

Creatures:

  • Optepec Huntermaster adds double accelleration by making Dinosaurs cheaper and giving them haste.
  • Drover of the Mighty also does double duty as an early game mana source and a mid to late game attacker/blocker.
  • Ranging Raptors are early game Savage Stomp targets that also generate ramp.
  • Ripjaw Raptor is a powerful 4-cost 4/5 card (often playable for a mere 3 mana) that increases draw.
  • Regisaur Alpha is a core powerhouse of the deck. At 5 mana (and often reduced to 4), he delivers 7/7 worth of stats, 3/3 of which is hasted, and he gives other dinos haste, too. When looked at in reference to Ghalta, he reduces Ghalta’s casting cost by an additional 7 and grants haste. Often, it’s possible to play Regisaur Alpha and a hasted Ghalta in the same turn, which typically wins games on the spot.
  • Ghalta, Primal Hunger is another core powerhouse. Ghalta can often be played for only  by turn 5 or 6, and with so many ways to give Ghalta Haste, she becomes a finisher unless your opponent has an immediate answer.

Spells:

  • Commune with Dinosaurs helps fine early game land or later game creatures. It’s also the decks only first turn spell.
  • Savage Stomp is ridiculously cheap removal that can both activate enrage and provide a stat bonus. It’s only real drawback is its timing as a Sorcery.
  • Reckless Rage is also ridiculously cheap removal that activates enrage. It functons as instant speed, but does come with the drawback requiring a creature to play.

Flex Packages

In this section, we’ll take a look at the various packages that can be used to fill the flex slots of the deck.  The core deck has 7 flex slots (6 creatues & 1 spell). Some might argue that the Ghaltas are flex, too, but I find Ghalta essential to deck as it’s a crucial card for steamrolling your opponents.

“Anti-Control

Creatures (6)
Carnage Tyrant
Thrashing Brontodon

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Spells (1)
Crook of Condemnation

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Land Swaps (2)
Field of Ruin

The Anti-Control package makes use of Carnage Tyrant to push through counters, and once it’s on the battlefield it’s incredibly difficult to remove since it a 7/6 with Hexproof.  Thrashing Brontodon protects your other threats from artifacts and enchantments. Lastly,  Crook of Condemnation offers some graveyard hate against token and The Scarab God decks. Overall, the Anti-Control package looks to ramp in the early game and send unanswerable threats in the mid-game. When the deck plays out properly, it can be quite oppressive, with opponents facing turn 5 or 6 lethal.

 

“Anti-Aggro/Swarm”

Creatures (6)
Needletooth Raptor
Raging Regisaur
Raging Swordtooth

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Spells (1)
Dual Shot

The Anti-Aggro/Swarm package provides reasonable answers to some of the more aggressive and swarm decks.  Raging Swordtooth kills off 1/1 creatures and activates your own enrage abilities, including Needletooth Raptor .   Needletooth Raptor can dispatch larger creatures and can usally be activated with a  Raging RegisaurRaging SwordtoothSavage StompReckless Rage , or even just by blocking. The  Raging Regisaur can be used to directly damage your opponent, ping creatures with 1 toughness, or simply activate your own enrage abilities. Finally,  Dual Shot serves as a multipurpose card that can ping enemy minions in the early game or enrage your own creatures for damage, draw, or ramp.

Alternate Options & Substitutions:

Creatures:

  • Forerunner of the Empire can be used as a filler if you’re missing a single copy of a major rare or mythic card. Helps pull specific dinos while also serving as possible remove or enrage trigger.
  • Deathgorge Scavenger offers some condition stat and life gain, but its largest strength comes in the form of graveyard had against embalm/eternalize decks. Strong substitue for early game dinosaurs.
  • Zacama, Primal Calamity acts as a late game problem solver and finisher. Zacama can deal with almost any situation except counter magic. Requires you to run a single planes.
  • Verdant Sun’s Avatar can be a viable replacement for high cost dinos. It’s cost is a bit prohibitive, but it’s ability is very strong, especially in combination with other dinos, like Ghalta. The surprise life gain can sometimes buy you time needed to turn the tied of the game.
  • Etali, Primal Storm is another vaiable subsitution for higher cost dinos. Extremely powerful on attack ability, but without an ETB effect, less valuable than Verdant Sun’s Avatar (great choice if you’re prioritizing fun over deck strength).
  • Snapping Sailback – high priced, but a viable filler for missing four or five slot cards.
  • Channeler Initiate and Naga Vitalist can serve as budget substitutes for Huntmaster and Drover of the Mighty.

Spells:

  • Thunderherd Migration is a reasonable substitute for any of the early game mana accelorators. It’s not a creature, but that comes as both a drawback and benefit.  It’s less vunerable to removal, but can’t be used for blocking/attacking. This can be a reasonable sideboard swap in if you’re facing decks with a lot of early game removal or direct damage.
  • Lightning Strike  – A reasonable alternative for Reckless Rage. Upside: Can target players and planeswalkers. Downside: Doesn’t trigger enrage.
  • Pounce : A reasonble substitute for Savage Stomp. Slightly more expensive with no +1/+1 counter bonus, but at instant speed.

 Hybrid Dino Decklist (Click for deck details & import list on Aetherhub.com)