Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Legendary Elder Dinosaurs in Magic
Dinosaurs are generally red, white, or green Magic creatures who require substantial chunks of mana but provide awesome stats and effects. Six of their strongest legendary members (one for each color plus a hybrid) also carry the elder subtype. But despite their small ranks, elder dinosaurs are relentless in battle, ravaging foes with their unrivaled might.
These behemoths are particularly mana-taxing, but shred foes to pieces with their incredible power/toughness ratios and brutal abilities. But with several prehistoric reptiles available, which creatures reign supreme? These are the six best elder dinosaurs in Magic: The Gathering!
6. Tetzimoc, Primal Death
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 6
Based on: Ankylosaurus
Tetzimoc offers a rare dinosaur to the black team, and he arrives with an interesting blend of abilities. Deathtouch is usually overkill on a 6/6 beatstick, but it ensures Tetzimoc decimates anything he fights.
Additionally, this armored beast carries a forecast-like ability, letting you spend a black mana to reveal him from your hand during your turn and place a prey counter on a creature. Then, when he enters the field, Tetzimoc automatically destroys any opposing creature with a prey counter, offering a mass removal that clears the path for his assault.
5. Zetalpa, Primal Dawn
Based on: Pterodactyl
Zetalpa proves angels aren't the only aerial titans white enjoys. He's expensive even for an elder dinosaur, needing eight mana, and his stats appear disappointing at just 4/8. However, Zetalpa has double strike (essentially hitting twice with each attack) plus flying, vigilance, trample, and indestructible.
These are some of the best bonuses in Magic, letting Zetalpa strike twice, soar over ground blockers, attack without tapping, pierce through defenders, and resist all damage. I enjoy using him in both dino decks and green/white blends that gimmick monsters into play; fortunately, he's one of the cheapest elders available, costing less than two dollars!
4. Zacama, Primal Calamity
Based on: Tyrannosaurus Rex
Blending the three main dino colors, this tri-headed gargantuan requires an enormous amount of mana, yet carries an excellent 9/9 stats plus vigilance, trample, and reach. You can avoid Zacama's cost with free-creature effects like "Mosswort Bridge" or "Elvish Piper", but if you legitimately cast him, he untaps all lands you control, giving you enough resources for another spell.
Or, you can spend that excess mana on any of his abilities, all costing three mana. Zacama can either deal three damage to a creature, destroy an artifact or enchantment, or grant you three extra life, all nice add-ons to his formidable martial power.
3. Nezahal, Primal Tide
Based on: Plesiosaurus
Nezahal may be slightly less battle-focused, but offers several great support traits, and his 7/7 stats prove he's no slouch in combat. He can't be countered, ironically giving a nice defense against blue's counterspell prowess, and he grants you an infinite hand size, preventing you from discarding past seven cards.
This allows room for his next trait, which lets you draw whenever an opponent casts a non-creature spell, continuously bolstering your hand. Finally, you utilize your buffed hand by discarding three cards at any time to exile Nezahal, returning him to the field tapped at the next end step. Use this in response to a removal to spare your leviathan and access the reduced prices of spells with madness.
2. Etali, Primal Storm
Based on: Spinosaurus
Etali's cheaper than most of his peers, needing only six mana, and he carries a sturdy 6/6 stats. While he lacks battle traits, his formidable ability exiles the top card of each deck when he attacks, letting you cast any non-lands revealed this way for free! Give Etali haste with equipment spells like "Lightning Greaves" and "Swiftfoot Boots" to access these cards immediately.
Remember, you can cast any non-land, meaning Etali functions in not just creature-centered builds, but also instant/sorcery, artifact, and even planeswalker-devoted themes. Bonus points if you use scrying to rig your free spell.
1. Ghalta, Primal Hunger
Based on: Tyrannosaurus Rex
Ghalta appears to require the most mana of any elder dinosaur, but his effect reduces his cost by one colorless resource per power of creatures you control. This means you can potentially cast him for just two mana (his forest symbols never vanish), a hefty discount for this dominating monstrosity.
At 12/12, Ghalta stands as one of Magic's strongest creatures, and trample ensures he pierces through blockers. What more could you ask for; insane power atop a surprisingly inexpensive cost prove T-rex is still king.
Legendary Dinosaurs in Magic
While today's elders are certainly among Magic's best legendary beasts, they don't encompass all noteworthy reptiles; be sure to consider dinosaur aces like "Gishath, Sun's Avatar" and "Regisaur Alpha".
Dinosaurs remain one of my favorite Magic clans, rewarding aggressive strategies and offering late-game titans to secure your win. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of legendary dinos, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill