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January 5, 2018

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Daily Dose of Ixalan – Cheating Elder Dinosaurs onto the battlefield

Welcome all to another edition of the Daily Dose of Rivals of Ixalan, where today I’m going to be talking about some very large and awesome Dinosaurs.

That’s right folks, we have Elder Dinosaurs. As you will notice throughout the article, Elder Dinosaurs are very large, but very expensive creatures. Not only do I want to talk about the Elder Dinosaurs, but also what’s currently available in Standard to cheat those Dinosaurs onto the battlefield a little sooner than intended. So without further ado, let’s talk about the big Dinosaurs coming in Rivals of Ixalan.

Earlier this week, I talked about the Green Elder Dinosaur Ghalta, Primal Hunger. Below is what I had to say about this amazing 12/12 creature:

ghaltaregular

Is that a 12/12 Trample dinosaur for 12 mana I see? Yes, it is!

This is a card that will get your deckbuilding juices flowing. Immediately I want to find a way to get this out as quickly as possible. Green doesn’t have any trouble getting creatures on the battlefield, but how can we most take advantage of this mana reduction? Here’s a scenario that involves two creatures from Ixalan:

Turn 1 – Play Forest, cast Commune with the Dinosaurs. Use it to get either a land you need, Ripjaw Raptor, or Ghalta, Primal Hunger. Current power = 0.
Turn 2 – Play land, cast Drover of the Mighty – Current power = 1.
Turn 3 – Play land, tap Drover of the Mighty for mana, cast Ripjaw Raptor. – Current power = 7.
Turn 4 – Play land, tap Drover of the Mighty for mana, cast Ghalta, Primal Hunger. – Current power – 19.

You read that right, 19 power on the battlefield on turn four. I do realize that this scenario won’t come up very often, but you can see there is an opportunity to get heavy mana cost reduction quite quickly. There are other Dinosaurs from Ixalan that can help in getting Ghalta, Primal Hunger out sooner rather than later. Regisaur Alpha will put eight power onto the battlefield, reducing the mana cost to only four. Carnage Tyrant will bring it down from 12 mana to five mana just with itself on the battlefield.

Next, I want to talk about the Red Elder Dinosaur. Here is a look at Etali, Primal Storm:

etaliprimalstorm

This is an interesting creature for me, as it’s the easiest of the Elder Dinosaurs to hard cast, but has the smallest body to work with. If you can attack with it even once though, there’s a good chance you’re going to get one or two free spells out of it, which could make it worthwhile. Plus every future attack you get with it will just be extra value.

This card reminds me of Combustible Gearhulk a bit. I was excited about that six-drop creature as well, but it never found a place in any deck. Being a Dinosaur makes it more appealing, and perhaps easier to cast as well.

Now I want to show you the White Elder Dinosaur. Here in all its glory, is Zetalpa, Primal Dawn:

zetalpaprimaldawn1

This is the Elder Dinosaur with the most keywords, but it’s also the hardest of the three to get onto the battlefield. Your opponent will need to have an exile effect, like Vraska’s Contempt or Cast Out to deal with Zetalpa, Primal Dawn. I like the fact that it has Vigilance and you can both attack and defend with it. Mono-white creatures don’t often have trample, so that’s a nice touch as well.

Now that we’ve seen the Elder Dinosaurs for each of the three colours, it’s time to combine those colours into one sweet multicolour Dinosaur. Here is Zacama, Primal Calamity.

zacamaprimalcalamity (1)

This creature is built to the nines, literally! There are nines everywhere on this card. It costs nine mana to cast, it has nine power and nine toughness, and its three activated abilities equal a total of nine mana to use.

If you can cast this monstrosity, you will get to untap all your lands to do who knows what. Maybe you can even use that mana to cast another Elder Dinosaur? Once on the battlefield, no creature is getting past its 9/9 body and the fact that it has reach. It even has trample, so it’s sure to do some damage on the attacking side of things as well. All three abilities are useful and can be used to fit your needs, but if you have this in play, chances are you’re ahead on the battlefield.

Now that we have these wonderfully large Dinosaurs to play with, we need to find a way to get them onto the battlefield quickly. You could of course play a bunch of ramp spells and creatures to get the mana needed to cast them, but where’s the fun in that? Let’s have a look at what is currently available in Standard to cheat these big boys out.

Champion of Rhonas – This forgotten creature from Hour of Devastation has been waiting for some large creatures to make it a viable threat. With some ramp, you could have this out on turn three, attacking with it on turn four and putting some of those sweet Elder Dinosaurs on the battlefield.

Reason // Believe – Being able to set up your draws and get an Elder Dinosaur onto the battlefield thanks to the Aftermath half of this card leaves me excited.

Dubious Challenge – If you don’t mind giving your opponent a large Dinosaur as well, this could do the trick. Ideally you would want to have some removal spell for the creature they get as well.

Indomitable Creativity – A slightly harder way to get Elder Dinosaurs onto the battlefield, but could lead to you getting multiple of them onto the battlefield at once.

Samut, the Tested – This will allow you to ping any Dinosaurs you play with Enrage, while working towards an ultimate ability that will get you some Elder Dinosaurs onto the battlefield.

Oracle’s Vault – A much slower way, but still an avenue you can use to cheat creatures onto the battlefield.

Liliana, Death’s Majesty – If you play some cards that will let you discard or get creatures into your graveyard (like Liliana, Death’s Majesty itself), you can use its second ability to put an Elder Dinosaur directly onto the battlefield.

Which way to cheat and Elder Dinosaur onto the battlefield is your favorite? Leave me a comment below on which you like the best. Thanks again for reading the Daily Dose of Rivals of Ixalan. Join me next week as we enter prerelease week and get to finish off previewing some new cards from Rivals of Ixalan!