Exploring Ixalan – Regisaur Alpha

Posted in Feature 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.

As part of our preview season for Ixalan, we are going to take a deeper look at some of the cards previewed on our own homepage. Today, we'll be peering behind the scenes of the process that went into creating the design and art of Regisaur Alpha, which was previewed in my very own Card Preview article today!


R&D knew early on that Dinosaur tribal was going to be popular, and they wanted to take the steps to ensure that it could be viable as a deck archetype across multiple formats. With this in mind, they designed Regisaur Alpha specifically to fill out the five-drop spot in the mana curve of a Dino deck and serve as the linchpin of the deck as a whole. Given the nature of Dinosaurs and how they fit with Magic design, the Dinosaur curve tends to round out a higher point than normal for many tribal decks, so the set team decided that five mana was a great spot for a splashy effect like this to live. This allows for some powerful follow-ups to be made at six mana and beyond.


Like yesterday's Conqueror's Galleon, Regisaur Alpha's art highlights a first-time Magic artist. After seeing Jonathan Kuo's portfolio of excellent Dinosaur art, the art team specifically enlisted him for Ixalan. Here is what he was sent for this piece:

Setting: Ixalan

Color: Red and green creature associated with the Sun Empire

Location: In the forest

Action: Show a large predatory Dinosaur. It wears some armor, but has no saddle or rider. It is perched on a large fallen tree stretching diagonally across the scene. Behind it, we can see the rest of its Dinosaur pack—maybe one ducking under the fallen tree, maybe one coming around the other side. These might be partially obscured by tree trunks and undergrowth.

Focus: The armored Dinosaur

Mood: Leader of the pack, together on the hunt.

This is the final piece that Jonathan delivered:

Regisaur Alpha
Regisaur Alpha | Art by Jonathan Kuo

There were a few important features this art had to capture. One was that this apex predator was a part of the Sun Empire, but was still allowed to operate with independence, as seen by its metallic armor and lack of riding gear. Also important were the Dinosaurs in the background, as these represented the token-creation mechanic of the card. This Dinosaur is a natural leader, and while the members of its pack that it brings directly into battle may not be quite as powerful as their leader, they are still important.

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