Here is my step by step process in building the deck:
1) I added Thunderherd Migration
and Commune with Dinosaurs
(x4 of each). They are the perfect pair. The deck wants to ramp on turn 2 so that on turn 3 we can start playing 4cc cards. T.M. is an amazing ramp card to do just that. CwD guarantees that we are fixed to have our Dino for TM or to have our third land on turn 3.
2) Next I added Dinosaurs. On Channelfireball.com Frank Karsten does the math on the perfect number of Dino's to play Thunderherd Migration
, and it is 14. You can cheat a bit with Commune with Dinosaurs
, however I want to be sure to have one so I went 14 deep.
So here are my 14 Dino's in the order of which I see importance:
a) Regisaur Alpha- always great regardless of opponents deck.
b) Ripjaw Raptor- great against any deck running creatures. Still decent stats at 4/5 vesus decks where you will not be able to trigger enrage
c) Carnage Tyrant- a true game closer. I went with a x2 in order to play a split here.
d) Burning Sun's Avatar- at 6/6 it will survive most removal and is a healthy body. The 6 total damage with ETB is devasting as well.
e) Kinjalli's Sunwing- great against creature based decks, otherwise a generic 2/3 flyer with an important creature type. Playing two in the main and two in the side as it is an all-star versus some matchups and a vanilla creature versus others.
3) My next thought was that I really want to ramp on turn 2. Lacking a second "Rampant Growth
" style effect in Frontier i began to weigh my options. The obvious choice is creature ramp and the best card to do that is Drover of the Mighty
. Producing any color can be important and he will almost always be a 3/3 on turn 3. The problem is it is not guaranteed ramp as a smart opponent will simply kill him and I'm essentially "timewalked" and left hoping to topdeck a 4th and 5th land. I came up with a surprising answer.
*My answer is Atarka's Command
. You never see it used for its play an additional land effect. Well here it is. It pairs so well with Commune with Dinosaurs
. If you do not have a Thunderherd Migration
in your opening hand, then you take a land with CwD and play two lands on turn 2 using AC. The only drawback is your land count needs to go up by one land in the main deck to have consistency, however the ramp is permanent.
-Playing Atarka's Command
also opens up other strong plays for the deck: a) Three damage to the face is always a solid play; b) Opponents not being able to gain life helps make the card a good topdeck against midrange and control; c) +1/+1 to all your creatures is actually the least useful, but still can help get those few extra points of damage through, however giving all your creatures reach can be a blowout effect when blocking that most opponents would not see coming. Overall, none of the abilities are dead
and you will always find that you can find a use for the card in any matchup or board state.
4) Next, I want to take a look at my mana base. I feel your mana base should be built around your core cards. Normally, I look at 28 core cards that work in synergy with each other. Here I only went to 26 because I know that some of my utility cards will also have some synergy and that I will also still be adding threats.
I feel the right number of lands for this deck is 23. Normally when playing 6cc cards you want to be playing 26 lands to be comfortable, however this deck has eight ways to ramp on turn 2 and four cards to dig for a land on turn 1 (and that is just in our core 26).
With this information I started to build the mana base:
a) I start with 8 fetch lands. Just obvious in a shard.
b) Added two Cinder Glade
and Canopy Vista
for fetching. I did two of each because that is enough to ensure you can color fix off of the fetches without drawing too many and having to play them tapped.
c) Need basics for fetches and Thunderherd Migration
. I believe three Mountains and Forest
are enough to be safe, and two plains
are enough since we are light on white in the core 26. *it is also nice to play a few extra basics as the card that is our main foil is Settle the Wreckage
d) This leaves three remaining land slots. The lands need to come into play untapped. The current count is green (15), red (13), and white (12). We need to be able to produce green on turn 1, red by turn 2, and white on turn 3 (however the white is not as essential to winning as the other two). 12 white sources is a decent number for a deck that is using it sparingly. I feel I need 2 more green sources and three more red.
*First I add x2 Rootbound Crag
. The deck is playing 8 basics and 4 checklands. this helps it come out untapped, however the clincher is that we often will use one of our 8 fetches to grab a forest
on turn one or two, basically putting us at 20 lands that guarantee that we get to play the Crag untapped.
* One land slot left. Green is covered. I'm thinking that I'd like a r/w land, just to put us at 16 and 13. This will help me play double red on turn three or double white on turn 4 if I want to do so in the remaining main deck cards or sideboard. Battlefield Forge
is the only land that really fits all my requirements. Inspiring Vantage
is tempting, though I'd rather pay a couple life throughout the game then have my land come out tapped (since we hope to already have three lands in play at the end of turn 2.
5) Now is the time to start looking at the remaining 11 main board slots. First I want to look at some cards that are flexible, while also having synergy with the deck:
a) Chandra, Torch of Defiance
. Draws cards or does damage, ramps us on turn 4 to our six drop creatures, and can be removal in a pinch. Two slots is the right amount as the card is very versatile, however is not what we want against aggressive strategies.
* I added two Settle the Wreckage
to be sideboarded in for Chandra in her weak matchups.
b) Dromoka's Command
. I need to add removal. Getting a +1/+1 counter on an already dangerous
creature is a bonus. Getting to two for one when an enchantment is in play is living the dream. I again went with a two of because you need a creature on board for it to be effective, and it is useless if your opponent does not play creatures.
* Since it comes out against control, the best sideboard option is Blossoming Defense
as it is fantastic against control.
. I want some removal on a stick. A really big stick. Nothing compares to Glorybringer
's ability to remove and threaten
. I don not want to get too bogged down with
high costing creatures so it is a two of. Glorybringer
is strong in every matchup. You might consider siding it out against turn 4 kill speed aggro, however we have 6cc creatures to remove first.
d) Selfless Spirit
. I felt I needed to dedicate two slots in the main board to protecting my fatty creatures. Not much point to ramp if everything gets wiped out. I first considered adding the rest of the playset of Blossoming Defense
to the main, but I believe Selfless Spirit
gives the deck many of the things it is lacking: a low costing creature that does not need to be played in the opening turns to be fully effective, additional flying, and a solid way to protect multiple creatures at once (stands up to everything except exile
is weakest against aggro, therefore this is a solid spot to sideboard in Sweltering Suns
(the reason I wanted to be cast double red spells on turn three)
***Just three slots left. Now it is time to look for cards that do very specific things***
e) Cast Out
. I want one card that is a catch
all. With cycling, this is the best option as you can cycle it if it is ever dead
or just not the right card at a given moment. It does cost 4cc, so it can be a bit costly against aggro decks.
* I put a one of Declaration in Stone
in the side as a Cast Out
replacement. DiS is great against aggro as it can easily two for one and demolishes tokens.
f) Hard choices for the last two slots. Here were the options I considered:
-I'd like to be playing a couple more 2cc creatures to help maximize the mana curve every turn, however they would need to be good late game creatures with utility.
-Cheap removal is always at a premium, especially if it only costs one mana.
-I could add a couple of one of's. I'm thinking a 4cc creature with great stats that also has synergy and a one of spell that has flexibility.
So here are the options as I see them
i)Nothing really fits the description. choices would be more Selfless Spirit
, Drover of the Mighty
(synergy at least), or Walking Ballista
since it could be juicy. Right now there is no creature fit, we will see in the future if a better fit gets printed.
ii) Cheap removal options are Magma Spray
, or Lightning Strike
(since I want it to be 2cc or less and instant speed. Probably not main deck cards for this deck.
iii) The best 4cc creature to add, as I see it, is Surrak, the Hunt Caller
. Enabling haste for both him and all the other creatures on the curve that come after, is overwhelming for the opponent to try to keep pace with.
As far as a spell with flexibility, I'd go with Valorous Stance
. Protects our best creatures and removes most creatures that we'd find threatening.
The decision I made is to go with Surrak and Valorous Stance
. There are no matchups where these cards are really bad. Not to say they can't be sided out, but they will never be a liability
6) Lastly, there are six slots left in the sideboard. This has been done purposely. I feel six slots should be devoted to the biggest threats we will face. The sideboard cards I already listed are fixes for cards that are bad in certain matchups. There are other cards or decks that need sideboard hate to have a fighting chance
. So here is a list of decks/cards that I feel need special attention.
a) Saheeli Combo
b) Aetherworks Marvel
c) Dig Through Time
d) The Scarab God
e) Collected Company
f) God Pharoah's Gift
g) Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
Some of these cards/decks have things in common and have answers that overlap. I'm looking for cards that are useful against more than one strategy. Here is a list of cards I considered:
(good against Saheeli and Jace)
(good against Jace, Vehicles, Marvel, and Gift)
iii) Tormod's Crypt
(good against Dig, Scarab, and Gift)
iv) Hallowed Moonlight
(good against Gift, Scarab, Saheeli, and Coco)
v) Rending Volley
(good against Saheeli, Jace, Coco creatures
vi) Stasis Snare
(good against Saheeli, Emrakul, Scarab)
Final results are:
In- Tormod's Crypt
x2. Deals with any deck playing blue or graveyard manipulation.
In- Hallowed Moonlight
x2. Good against multiple decks, but is the only answer we have for Collected Company
x2. The most versatile option.
It's a decent deck upon finalization. The deck is a fast monsters type deck that should be fun to play. Moving forward the deck may see some small tweaks, but the core will likely never change as we will not see more dinosaurs any time soon.
1) I got a suggestion the other day that Deathmist Raptor
was reclassified as a Dinosaur. I had totally missed this. So, the deck still wants to play 4 drops on turn three, however, if you are going to play something 3cc then Deathmist Raptor
is a great upgrade. I'm thinking the deck wants to run three copies. So here are the cuts, as best as I see it:
Cuts- x1 Valorous Stance
, x1 Burning Sun's Avatar
, x1 Surrak, the Hunt Caller
In- x3 Deathmist Raptor
Why these cuts? Two were these last additions to the deck and are flex slots. The hardest cut was Burning Sun's Avatar
. It is just ab it slow to play four 6cc cards. A Deathmist Raptor
can do a lot of work for you by the time you'd get to play BSA. As suggested to me, Dromoka's Command
has amazing synergy with deathtouch. After testing a bit it may be sensible to add the fourth Raptor.