With the new set Ixalan freshly off the press, we are going into a new Standard Format! Most people like to test with aggressive decks at the beginning of a format or look to tweak already established decks to identify what might be best in the Standard Format before the Pro Tour begins to establish the more solid tier lists. This needs to be done for the events prior to the Pro Tour.
Of the tribes coming out of Ixalan there are four potential build around decks. Blue/Green Merfolk looks like fun with aggressive starts but seems to run out of gas. White/Black Vampires has some very cool possibilities for midrange minded folk and Pirates is clearly going to be a force coming into the new set. However, none of these tickle my fancy. Casting giant monsters earlier than you should tickles my fancy. A LOT!
So where to from here? What cards should go into a slightly ramp orientated Dinosaurs deck? As soon as Gishath, Sun’s Avatar was spoiled I was instantly hooked…
So how do we take advantage of such a powerful card? We need to have a lot of mana to cast this eight drop and we inherently need a lot of Dinosaurs to take advantage of dealing damage to our opponent. This ends up leading to us not having a lot of space for interaction, but let’s see where this takes us!
There are primarily three cards that fit this function for this deck. The first is Drover of the Mighty. This card provides us four real mana for turn three which will help us put more mana dorks out on the field, play a four drop dinosaur or a three drop Savage Stomp. Ranging Raptors on turn three is fine by itself to block and ramp, or in combination with a mana dork and a stomp will allow you to kill almost any creature your opponent controls at this point of the game, potentially leaving you with a 3/4 and giving you an additional land on turn four which is huge! To enable this draw to happen more often the third mana card we are playing is Otepec Huntmaster. This little beauty make your Dinosaurs cost less but does not give real mana so we will only be running two as on turn five we have double red to consider which is not a dinosaur. Also enabling haste is really, really clutch in some spots so he is a really cool card that can put you on the aggressive or swing a race.
So if we are wanting to hit as many Dinosaurs as possible off Gishath, Sun’s Avatar, we need to load the deck with Dinosaurs! Some of these creatures I believe are seriously premium and some may define standard as a format pending how things shape up.
Regisaur Alpha is a very aggressive card and gives us seven power and toughness over two bodies. Enabling haste on other Dinosaurs in subsequent turns depending on the situation lets us beat down or put our opponent’s brakes on attacks.
Ripjaw Raptor is a nicely undercosted four drop. It’s almost always a two for one for your opponent to remove and likes to attack hard. The five toughness is really nice defensively and on attack. Many options are great to have.
Carnage Tyrant; what is there to say? Hexproof? Must be dealt with a board sweeper. Can’t be countered? See you later Blue/Red control! Trample? Good luck favourably blocking this monster! Give it Haste and it’s “Good luck kiddies”. Six toughness will be key for us!
Deathgorge Scavenger gives us another three drop and some mainboard incidental graveyard hate for the pesky Scarab God, Torrential Gearhulk and God-Pharaoh’s Gift decks. With an Alpha in play it can also depending on the graveyards, swing in hard as a 5/4 haste.
Verdant Sun’s Avatar is my pet card for this list. I was looking for immediate benefit off of a Gishath hit. All the other Dinosaurs around this mana cost just didn’t cut the mustard. The deck plays out by managing your damage and board then turning the corner with a Gishath hit and revealing four Dinosaurs, one of which is Verdant Sun’s Avatar which can easily get you back to your starting life total if not higher. It’s a 5/5 which is nothing to sneeze at. If you hit both and two Ripjaw’s for example, enjoy your 40 life swing. Notably, any creature entering the field under your control gains you life, not just Dinosaurs, which is great!
Walking Ballista is a consideration out of the board. It is good early against X/1 decks with block pings, and can be used to ramp or draw with enrage creatures. Also late game when you have a spare 12 – 14 mana it turns into a huge threat.
By priming our deck full of creatures to try and combo with Gisath, there is very little room for main board removal. Therefore the deck only has eight removal spells. We have already spoken about how Savage Stomp can help us ramp early game, but it can also get out Ripjaw Raptor up to six toughness which is crucial for when we cast…
That’s right we are running four! This card helps us stabilise and you might think “Hey I’m killing my own dudes”, but… well let’s just think. We kill a Ranging Raptors? We rampant growth. We kill a Ripjaw Raptor? We draw a card. Sweeping the board is a huge deal, getting a Savage Stomp off and getting a dinosaur from five to six toughness is huge! We have four Hexproof creatures that do not die to Hour, Gishath does not die to it either. Generally speaking you sweep the board with a Carnage Tyrant in play and you win the game. This also sets you up for less creatures blocking Gishath. All in all no one see’s it coming and it is also a great way to incidentally hit cards like Chandra, Torch of Defiance. So after all the anticipation, here is the decklist!
Gishath, the Devastator
Sideboard Options and Final Thought’s
This is up to personal preference but some neat cards to possibly include are:
Ixalan’s Binding or Cast Out
These cards deal with anything. I think I lean toward trying out Ixalan’s Binding as the benefit of stopping your opponent casting their spell’s with same name reminds me so much of Reflector Mage I want to try it before it gets banned…
Abrade and Appetite for the Unnatural
Both of these cards are required. Abrade over Lighting Strike as we generally don’t need to hit face with burn in this deck and like the versatility of hitting artifacts and Appetite is a concession to Ixalan’s Binding honestly.
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
This deck could have a little trouble with flyers but it can crew a flagship really well. Being able to get in the air is nice and pinging off a troublesome creature or Planeswalker is great.
There are so many option’s here we can’t talk about them all. There are plenty of available sweeper’s in White and Red it’s just going to be preference honestly. There are also plenty of Dinosaurs that hate on strategies such as Rampaging Ferocidon, which for example if life gain or tokens take off, could be a real card against them and is a good aggressive creature. Just keep on top of your meta and adapt the board however you like.
I have had a great time testing this deck on Magic the Gathering Online and have had a good amount of success with it. So much so I have consequently built it in paper! The core of the deck is really solid, and Dinosaurs will be a deck you will see moving forward. It may turn out Gishath is not really needed as Carnage Tyrant is so strong anyway. Honestly it may seem like it but it is not a huge change to the list. Either way, get on the hype train and have fun out there!