A Royal Recipe for Dinosaur Tribal

Posted in Card Preview on September 6, 2017

By Nicholas Wolfram

Nicholas Wolfram fell promptly in love with tabletop and video games when he was only two years old, and he has been writing about them since he figured out how words worked. Now he puts together words about Magic, which he started playing way back in 2000.

Since you probably know just about nothing about me, let me start here by sharing a couple facts about myself. In college, I was a teaching assistant for a class titled "Dinosaur Biology." My five-year-old niece knows me best as "Uncle Professor Dinosaur" (often just "Dinosaur" for short). My bookshelves feature a prominent population of dinosaur books, both fiction and nonfiction. I have a tattoo of my third favorite animal, an Ankylosaurus, writing with a quill pen on my back (yes, I am aware how ridiculous that sounds).

In short, I like dinosaurs at least a little more than the average person. So, when I found out that Dinosaurs were becoming a supported Magic creature type with the release of Ixalan, I got excited, but I still tried to temper my expectations. When I actually got to see just how perfectly represented the Dinosaurs were in both art and flavor, my excitement officially became unrestrained, and I have not since been able to wrangle it back under control.

So, under that context, let's dive straight into what you're all actually here to see: Regisaur Alpha.

Click to reveal Regisaur Alpha


First of all, this clearly has potential across multiple formats. In Limited, it is a guaranteed bomb at an extremely efficient 7 power for only five mana. In Commander, this will obviously be an essential in any deck led by Gishath, Sun's Avatar. And in Standard, there's a strong chance this will perform in a Dino Ramp deck if the archetype takes off.

Let's take a deeper dive into how this will perform in each of those environments, starting with Limited.


Like I said, this is a clear bomb in Limited, and this only becomes clearer when we make some easy comparisons to other bombs we've seen in recent sets. For example, Verdurous Gearhulk was also a five-mana 4/4 that brought significant additional power along with it (and the additional power even has potential haste in both). While Regisaur Alpha is not quite on this same level, that it can be fairly compared to one of the biggest Limited bombs of the past few years shows the scale at which this Dinosaur deserves to be discussed.

A more obvious comparison is probably Samut, Voice of Dissent. Both cards have the exact same mana cost, both have similar stats, both slot best into a Naya deck, and both grant other creatures haste. Each card will perform better in certain situations and decks, which leaves me inclined to say that these two are on roughly equal power levels.

The bottom line is that 7 power for five mana is always going to be a great rate, and being able to send in 3 of the power right away (with trample!) is a huge upside to stack on that. If you can also manage to snag even just one larger Dinosaur and hit it on the draw, you're suddenly swinging in for massive haste damage in the following turns. This monstrous predator will certainly win more than a few games of Limited.


Frankly, this is what has me most excited about this card. Not only are we finally getting Dinosaurs in Magic, but they are crashing out of the gate with devastating tribal support. Of course, you've already seen Gishath, Sun's Avatar, the obvious choice to lead a Dinosaur Commander deck.

It is truly a monster with fantastic tribal support, but we've already seen that Dinosaur tribal support is running deeper than this wonderful commander. Priest of the Wakening Sun and Wakening Sun's Avatar also have explicit support for Dinosaur tribal, and others like Goring Ceratops are also going to perform extremely well in a deck full of massive tramplers. Ixalan is also bringing cards that offer more generic tribal help that would slot in well in Dino Commander, such as Vanquisher's Banner and its anthemy, cantrippy effects.

But of course, Regisaur Alpha also plays well with any creature fortunate enough to be graced by the most wonderful creature type Magic has seen yet, especially if they can curve in after Regisaur. Following a Regisaur Alpha with a Carnage Tyrant makes for a devastating mix of abilities that will leave your opponents facing a rampaging monstrosity that they can't target with removal. After this, hammering in with the aforementioned Wakening Sun's Avatar or Goring Ceratops will drive home some fantastic board and life-total security.

While you may be concerned about scrounging up enough parts for Dinosaur tribal, keep in mind that we've already seen nineteen cards from Ixalan alone that would slot perfectly into such a deck (including Huatli, Warrior Poet, who can pump out 3/3 hasty tramplers every turn with Regisaur's help), and I promise you that Ixalan still has more dino surprises to come. But remember that following The Grand Creature Type Update of 2007, when a new creature type becomes supported in a set, we retroactively apply that type to relevant creatures from past sets. So, here is the full list of existing creatures that will now be official Dinosaurs following the release of Ixalan:

Card Current Types New Types First Set Appearance
Alpha Tyrranax Beast Dinosaur Beast Scars of Mirrodin
Deathmist Raptor Lizard Beast Dinosaur Beast Dragons of Tarkir
Dromosaur Lizard Dinosaur Urza's Saga
Frenetic Raptor Lizard Beast Dinosaur Beast Legions
Fungusaur Fungus Lizard Fungus Dinosaur Limited Edition (Alpha)
Imperiosaur Lizard Dinosaur Future Sight
Magmasaur Elemental Lizard Elemental Dinosaur Tempest
Pangosaur Lizard Dinosaur Mercadian Masques
Putrid Raptor Zombie Lizard Beast Zombie Dinosaur Beast Scourge
Pygmy Allosaurus Lizard Dinosaur Ice Age
Ridgetop Raptor Lizard Beast Dinosaur Beast Legions
Ripscale Predator Lizard Dinosaur Gatecrash
Shivan Raptor Lizard Dinosaur Urza's Saga
Tyrranax Beast Dinosaur Beast Fifth Dawn

Okay, let's start parsing all this information. First of all, all but one of these fits the Naya color identity, which is a deck-building win (though it is unfortunate, because Zombie Dinosaur Beast is easily one of the coolest creature types ever). Second, this means that the planes of Dominaria, New Phyrexia, Tarkir, and Ravnica are all now officially home to at least one species of Dinosaur each, which is a flavor win. Finally, some of these are good enough to warrant a slot in a Commander deck, which is the biggest win we could have here!

As a side note, I find it interesting that what will now be the earliest Dinosaur we've ever printed, Fungusaur, has enrage, the signature keyword ability of Dinosaurs in Ixalan.

Anyway, along with the cards we've already seen in Ixalan, this brings the total number of strict Dinosaur tribal tools up to 33, which is plenty to start brewing a ferocious Commander deck with your own skull-chomping spin on it—especially since we know Ixalan has more tools than just the ones we've seen. Just don't forget Regisaur Alpha. Because the only thing scarier than a bunch of massive Dinosaurs is a bunch of fast massive Dinosaurs.


Regisaur Alpha's Standard viability is most likely contingent on one deck's performance: Naya Dinosaur Ramp. While it is absolutely certain that players will be trying their hardest to make this deck work (because who doesn't want to crush their opponents in the jaws of a Dinosaur army?), only time will tell if the deck has a place in the competitive metagame.

Why does it need to be ramp, though? To begin with, Regisaur Alpha is a card that is best in a Constructed home in Dinosaur tribal (though not many people would shy away from this being their only Dinosaur if it came to that). This means that a Standard deck slotting it in needs to be resplendent with glorious dinos. Now, many of the Dinosaurs we've seen so far are very big and splashy. Unless this trend changes with future reveals, that means many high mana costs. When you have a deck already centered around green that is rounding off its mana curve on the high end, one word comes to mind: ramp.

Fortunately we've got plenty of ramp in Standard already, even without Ixalan (although we've seen inklings of it in the set already with cards like Drover of the Mighty and Treasure Map/Treasure Cove). Green has mana creatures that can produce a rainbow of mana, basic-land fetchers that start at one mana, and even any-land fetchers all the way up at five mana. Add to this colorless mana rocks, and there are plenty of tools to ramp you up to Dinosaur-levels of mana by turn four or five. And with Regisaur Alpha sending all the Dinosaurs into battle with haste, your opponents will find themselves on the wrong end of the hunting pack all too quickly.

Stampeding Dinosaurs Across All Formats

While I may have covered the three main places we'll see Regisaur Alpha make an impact, I want to make one thing clear: Magic has Dinosaurs now, and we should all do our best to force them into every format we can. Modern? Dinosaurs have no fear of death itself, so of course they will have no problem devouring Death's Shadow. Legacy? Hah! The legacy of Dinosaurs extends back tens of millions of years, so they'll be right at home! Return to Ravnica block Constructed? Well, yeah, I guess there is now a Dinosaur in that block, but let's not get too carried away.

In short: put Dinosaurs into every deck that will take them, and make sure Regisaur Alpha is there to lead them to a hasty victory.

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