Dinosaurs are all the (en)rage!
The Ixalan Prerelease weekend is upon us! When the rare sheet was spoiled preemptively it surely felt like Ixalan‘s release was still way in the future. Suddenly it snuck up on us like a pirate and hit us like a raptor out of nowhere.
You were probably wondering why I didn’t write an article yet, telling you what to trade for on the weekend. Well, it seems like one of the rampaging dinosaurs must have wrecked my main computer, and I had to salvage some treasure chests to be able to buy a suitable replacement...
Digging for gold
By now you know the drill of selling everything you open at your prereleases other than the most desirable cards – but which are those?
I already wrote about Ripjaw Raptor, which is good enough on its own to see play, but the community seems to believe Dinosaurs can already become a viable Standard deck with cards from only one set of the Dino block. There are some good reasons to believe so because the cards are surely powerful if you aren’t rushed out of the game by more aggressive strategies.
You can think of Regisaur Alpha as a trampling Bloodbraid Elf with +0/+1 which always cascades into a 4/4 dinosaur, which is in fact a great package even at five mana. Getting two big bodies from a single card is always nice, especially if you are behind on board. The haste is especially useful after a board wipe, which might often be your opponent’s best out against your big dinosaurs.
Carnage Tyrant is an absurd anti-control card. It can’t be countered and it can’t be targeted by opposing removal. With 7/6 it even wrecks blue mages’ favorite blocker Torrential Gearhulk and it’s trample ability even renders an endless stream of small chump blockers completely useless. This card alone will define a large part of how control decks will be built in the near future. Unless the Dinosaurs will be brought close to extinction by aggro decks, control decks will most likely need to be U/W instead of U/R to deal with giant threats via wrath effects.
Armed with Compass and Treasure map
So what are the plays once the set releases and prices come down?
Pick up the best dinosaurs (see above) if you can be persuaded to play ramp or midrange decks.
Pick up the required answers if you insist on playing control despite Wizards’ play design team obviously asking you not to. Commit // Memory can give you a short break even against Carnage Tyrant, but you will probably rather rely on Dusk // Dawn, and Fumigate, maybe even Hour of Revelation. You will definitely need Authority of the Consuls because it helps against hasty dinosaurs just as well as against the mono red aggro deck which will try to pray on them.
Search for Azcanta / Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin should also end up in your control deck. Due to the transforming being optional, you can keep one copy on the front side and one on the back at all times to optimize your draws, but is that enough of an argument for playing more than two copies of this legendary card?
Sell your red damage dealing control cards like Hour of Devastation as they won’t match up well against enrage and Carnage Tyrant. Consider selling cards that take splash damage from those upcoming metagame shifts like Torrential Gearhulk as well.
Let us know about your Prerelease experience! What performed so well in limited that we should consider it for Standard as well?