Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Dinosaurs in Magic: The Gathering?
True to their intimidating nature, dinosaurs are a subtype of creature cards in Magic that wield incredible power/toughness ratios and often bear trample, piercing excess damage through blockers. Typically found in red, white, or green, many also activate bonus effects when damaged, rewarding you for scraping your own monsters.
Several dinosaur supports can reduce their hefty costs or cast fellow reptiles for free, and their savage abilities shred enemy life points with just a few attacks. But with dozens of prehistoric beasts running rampant, which carnivores reign supreme? These are the 30 strongest dinosaur cards in Magic: The Gathering!
30. Raging Swordtooth
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5
Swordtooth has sturdy 5/5 stats, trample, and a nice entry effect, hitting all other creatures for one damage. Not only will this kill enemy units at one toughness, it'll nick your other dinos, perfect for triggering their damage-activated effects.
29. Huatli's Raptor
A surprisingly cheap dino, Raptor enjoys solid 2/3 stats, vigilance, and an automatic proliferate effect on entry, letting you add another counter to players/permanents that already have one. Only a handful of dinos utilize +1/+1s, but this is still a powerful effect you might want in other themes.
28. Trapjaw Tyrant
Tyrant bears fierce 5/5 stats and his enrage effect exiles an opposing creature whenever he's dealt damage until he leaves the field. Your opponents can recover their troops if they play a removal, but without blockers, they'll be easy pickings, meaning they might not last long enough to find one.
27. Sun-Blessed Mount
My favorite specific-planeswalker tutor, Mount has decent 4/4 stats and adds "Huatli, Dinosaur Knight" from your graveyard or deck to hand on arrival. Not only does this boost your hand, it provides a dinosaur for Huatli to target, which she'll need since all her effects rely on controlling dinos.
26. Deathmist Raptor
Deathmist has solid 3/3 stats plus deathtouch, killing foes he damages regardless of their toughness. He fits perfectly in morph decks; you can return him to the field face-up or face-down (as a 2/2 creature) whenever a permanent you control is turned face-up.
Plus, Deathmist's own megamorph lets you cast him face-down for three, then turn him face-up for five, gaining a +1/+1 counter. That's a lot of mana for a small stat boost, but it helps trigger other morph abilities. As icing on the cake, Deathmist also has the beast subtype, enjoying extra tribal synergy.
25. Tetzimoc, Primal Death
Tetzimoc has great 6/6 stats, but on the off chance someone survives combat with him, deathtouch should finish them off. And Tetzimoc also provides a board wipe; you can reveal him from your hand during your turn and pay one mana to place a prey counter on an opposing creature; whenever Tetzimoc arrives, he destroys all opposing creatures with prey counters.
While his color is sadly outside the typical dinosaur hues, he's still a worthy card in his own right.
24. Zetalpa, Primal Dawn
For such a mana-demanding card, Zetalpa's 4/8 stats appear poor, but they're greatly bolstered by double strike, hitting twice with each attack. Throw in flying, vigilance, trample, and indestructible for a dominating beatstick that opponents can only defeat with non-destruction removals.
23. Thrashing Brontodon
Brontodon carries sturdy 3/4 stats and can sacrifice himself while spending one mana to destroy an artifact or enchantment. This makes him a versatile play, serving in battle or eliminating indirect threats as needed.
22. Territorial Allosaurus
Allosaurus wields 5/5 stats, impressive on a four-cost creature. But if you "kick" him by paying an extra three, he'll fight another creature on entry, each dealing their power as damage to the other. Use this when you have extra resources to take down enemy troops.
21. Burning Sun's Avatar
Avatar offers another removal/beatstick combo; not only does he possess excellent 6/6 stats, he hits another creature for three on entry and an opponent or planeswalker for three. Beatstick, removal, and direct-damager all in one.
20. Rotting Regisaur
Since he belongs to black, you're more likely to utilize Regisaur's zombie subtype than his dinosaur, but he can profit from either's supports. For his low cost, he wields insane 7/6 stats, but makes you discard during your upkeep.
Turn this into an advantage by running graveyard-activated spells and you'll have a menacing early-game titan.
Gigantosaurus needs all five of his mana to be green, so he's pretty unwieldy in multi-color decks (though he works wonders for increasing green devotion). However, he contains amazing 10/10 stats with no drawbacks (other than his specific mana cost). Get trample onto him to ensure his excess power isn't blocked and you'll have an excellent board state.
18. Raptor Hatchling
Hatchling sufers puny 1/1 stats, but he's low-cost and creates a 3/3 dino token with trample when damaged. So, have him purposefully take a hit to create an impressive token early on. Or, if you can boost his toughness with other effects, he can potentially create armies of dino tokens by surviving small amounts of damage!
17. Old Fogey
A gray-bordered joke card, Old Fogey isn't allowed in most official events, but he's still a fearsome (and confusing) play. For two, you've got a 7/7 with phasing, cumulative upkeep 1, fading 3, echo, banding with other dinos, snow-covered plainswalk, flanking, and rampage 2.
Some of these traits are harmful, but they're more than made up for by Fogey's amazing stats and positive effects.
16. Silverclad Ferocidons
For his price, Ferocidons's 8/5 stats are workable, bearing great power with mediocre toughness, but you're probably after his effect; when damaged, Ferocidons forces all opponents to sacrifice a permanent. Use dinosaur supports that nick all creatures to force foes to forfeit their field.
But if Ferocidons's mana fee turns you off, you might consider his smaller counterpart...
15. Needletooth Raptor
While Raptor's stats are a pathetic 2/2, whenever he's dealt damage, his enrage trait hits an opposing creature for five. This makes him surprisingly dangerous, especially if you can scrape him for one, letting him repeatedly survive damage and pick off opposing monsters.
14. Nezahal, Primal Tide
A rare blue dino, Nezahal requires several mana but enjoys great 7/7 stats, can't be countered, gives you an infinite hand size, and draws you a card whenever an opponent casts a non-creature spell.
He's also got an interesting defense, letting you discard three cards to exile himself until end of turn (returning tapped). This lets him dodge removals and puts your bolstered hand to good use.
13. Zacama, Primal Calamity
Zacama's enormous mana cost means you might want to play him with free-creature effects on cards like "Mosswort Bridge". That said, if you actually cast him, he untaps all your lands, restoring your mana.
Zacama brandishes incredible 9/9 stats alongside vigilance, trample, and reach, and he can spend three mana to deal a creature three damage, destroy an artifact or enchantment, or give you three life.
12. Ripjaw Raptor
Raptor has strong 4/5 stats, sturdier than most enrage dinos. Whenever he's hit, he lets you draw a card, a rare non-blue draw engine that keeps your hand stocked. Like other enrage traits, this triggers even if the damage kills him, ensuring he doesn't go down without a fight.
11. Regisaur Alpha
Regisaur bears decent 4/4 stats, but he creates a 3/3 dino with trample on entry, so you're really getting 7/7 in overall power. Plus, Alphas gives your other dinosaurs haste, letting your new token and other saurians act immediately.
10. Runic Armasaur
Armsaur's impressive 2/5 stats make him a strong blocker and provide enough toughness to survive multiple dino-damaging triggers per turn. More than that, he provides ongoing draw support, letting you draw a card whenever an opponent activates a non-mana ability on a creature or land.
9. Gishath, Sun's Avatar
Arguably the best dinosaur commander, Gishath's 7/6 stats are decent for his cost and supported by trample, vigilance, and haste. Haste is especially important because it lets Gishath attack immediately, and when he deals combat damage to a player (easy thanks to trample), you reveal that many cards from your deck and can cast all dinos among them for free!
Admittedly, this isn't very useful outside dinosaur themes, but in it's element, it's a deadly swarming effect.
8. Ranging Raptors
Ranging Raptors has average 2/3 stats, but he's pretty lenient with his colors and wields an excellent enrage ability, playing a basic land from your deck tapped whenever damaged. This grants both ramp and deck-thinning, giving you extra mana and increasing the odds that your draws will be non-lands (helping put that mana to good use).
An easy choice for dino decks and decent option outside the theme, Raptors is surprisingly cheap compared to other top dinos, costing less than a single dollar!
7. Marauding Raptor
A high-risk high-reward play, Raptor carries impressive 2/3 stats and discounts all your creature spells (not just dinos) by one mana. He hits your other creatures for two when they enter your field, so you have to be careful not to kill your own units. Still, this helps trigger enrage effects, and whenever Raptor deals a dinosaur damage this way, he gets +2/+0 for the turn, providing a fantastic 4/3.
6. Shifting Ceratops
An excellent anti-blue tactic, Ceratops can't be countered, enjoys 5/4 stats, and has protection from blue, preventing him from being targeted, damaged, or blocked by blue sources. He can also spend a green mana at any time to gain reach, trample, or haste for the turn, adapting to the situation as needed.
5. Carnage Tyrant
Another useful anti-blue dino, Tyrant can't be countered and has hexproof, making him one of the hardest beatsticks to eliminate since foes can't negate or target him. He's also packing 7/6 and trample, ripping through most foes before they can find something that'll work on him (like a non-targeting board wipe).
4. Wayward Swordtooth
Swordtooth enjoys terrific 5/5 stats, but he can't attack or block until you have the city's blessing, which you permanently get by controlling ten or more permanents. Counting himself, you'll need at least nine other cards out.
Thankfully, lands count, and you'll quickly get them since Swordtooth's effect lets you play an extra land each turn, rapidly accessing mana and attaining the city's blessing.
3. Regal Behemoth
Lizards were later turned into dinos, so don't be misled by Behemoth's printed subtype. For six, he's a respectable 5/5 with trample, and he makes you the monarch on entrance. The monarch gets an extra draw at the end of their turn, and players can steal the crown status by inflicting combat damage to the monarch.
Thankfully, even if someone seizes your throne, Behemoth's stats and trample should quickly reclaim it, and while you're the monarch, he lets your lands tap for an additional mana each, creating an amazing ramp tactic.
2. Etali, Primal Storm
Spinosaurus-based Etali wields 6/6 stats, and whenever he attacks, you exile the top card of everyone's deck (including your own) and can cast revealed non-lands for free! While a bit luck-dependent (less so if you're scrying), that's an amazing effect that grows even stronger in multiplayer; try to get haste onto Etali so he can swing immediately.
1. Ghalta, Primal Hunger
King of the dinosaurs, Ghalta offsets his cost with terrifying 12/12 stats and trample, making him one of the strongest creatures in all of Magic. Plus, he reduces his price by the total power of creatures you control, which can bring him down to just two mana (his green symbols can't go away).
Ghalta's also one of my favorite supports in "Omnath, Locus of Mana" commander decks since his discount is calculated by Omnath's stats before spending mana (Omnath grows stronger for each green in your pool).
How to Use Dinosaurs in Magic: The Gathering
Carefully consider your deck's theme when choosing which dinos to include. Can you deal damage to yourself? Go for dinos with enrage traits. High mana costs? use cards like Etali and Gishath to play them for free.
Whatever route you opt for, dinosaurs are a fierce bunch few rival in strength, and thanks to green's mana ramp and their own tribal supports, they can hit the field sooner than you might think. I hope to see more dinos in future sets, but for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of prehistoric carnivores, vote for your favorite dinosaur and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill