Video Daily Digest: Disciplined Dinosaurs

Don’t just jam all the Dinosaurs you can find into a deck! Show some finesse! Ross Merriam shows a decklist that has done just that for this weekend’s SCG Indy Standard Classic!

When you think of tribal decks, you have to think linear aggro. The reason
to restrict yourself to a single tribe is to take advantage of lords and
other tribal payoffs, which like lords, are typically best when your deck
is packed with creatures of your tribe of choice.

But building like that has proven problematic with Ixalan block since the
tribes aren’t deep enough with powerful role players and solid payoff cards
to form a linear tribal deck. That may lead you to simply give up on tribal
decks entirely and work on vanilla midrange lists chock full of good cards
instead, but you don’t have to be linear when building with a tribe, and
today’s list is emblematic of that fact.

Of all the splashy dinosaur cards, the one that is actually most exciting
to me is Thunderherd Migration. Rampant Growth may not seem like much, but
there’s a reason the card no longer appears regularly in Standard, being
replaced by three cost effects like Gift of Paradise. Ramping on turn 2 is
a subtly powerful effect, and doubly so when you’re the only deck that has
access to the effect.

In order to cast Thunderherd Migration consistently for its discount cost,
you really only need about 12-14 Dinosaurs, and this deck splits the
difference with 13, only stretching a bit past playing generically
efficient or powerful threats like Regisaur Alpha, Thrashing Brontodon, and
Carnage Tyrant.

The rest of the list is a who’s who of the most powerful threats in
Standard with Rekindling Phoenix, Glorybringer, and Brad Nelson’s
Invitational Card, Merfolk Branchwalker. Pair these cards with a Rampant
Growth and quality red removal and you easily have the makings of a solid,
big aggro deck.

So while this may be a Dinosaurs deck in name, the Dinosaurs themselves are
secondary threats that gain much of their value from enabling Rampant
Growth to power out the excellent red fliers. That’s not to say that
they’re irrelevant, because turn 4 Regisaur Alpha into turn 5 Carnage
Tyrant is still a great curve. These may not be the ideal threats, but the
sacrifice you make playing them can be more than offset by the addition of
Rampant Growth.

It’s easy to simply jam the 30 best Vampires or Dinosaurs or whatever tribe
into a deck and say that’s optimal for that tribe, but finding the right
balance between payoffs from a tribe and sacrifices in restricting your
choice of creatures is how you find an optimal deck. This list has that
discipline, and as a result gets to play the best Dinosaur payoffs in the
format without resorting to playing cards like Drover of the Mighty which
matches up so poorly against Fatal Push, Magma Spray, Walking Ballista,
etc. That’s just good deckbuilding.