One of the most interesting competitive decks to come out of Core Set 2020 is Jund Dinosaurs. The deck is aggressive with the potential for explosive play. It has taken several weeks to come together, but the deck seems to have reach top tier status. At the Star City Games IQ Kennesaw, Tonya Byers piloted the deck to win a spot at the Star City Games Invitational later this year. Below is the deck she used to qualify.

Tonya Byers, Jund Dinosaurs, 1 – 2 Star City Games IQ Kennesaw (56 players) July 27, 2019

Creatures (28)
Llanowar Elves
Marauding Raptor
Otepec Huntmaster
Regisaur Alpha
Ripjaw Raptor
Rotting Regisaur
Shifting Ceratops
Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Instant (2)
Collision // Colossus

Sorcery (6)
Commune with Dinosaurs
Savage Stomp

Planeswalker (1)
Domri, Anarch of Bolas

Land (23)
Forest
Blood Crypt
Dragonskull Summit
Overgrown Tomb
Rootbound Crag
Stomping Ground
Unclaimed Territory
Sideboard (15)
Domri’s Ambush
Duress
Moment of Craving
Savage Stomp
Vivien, Arkbow Ranger
Vivien, Champion of the Wilds
Thrashing Brontodon
Veil of Summer

Before the release of Core Set 2020, Gruul was the way to create a dinosaur tribal deck. This configuration was not good enough to rise to more than Tier Two status. Core Set 2020 introduced three new dinosaurs that have move the deck to Tier One status. The three dinosaurs are Rooting Regisaur, Marauding Raptor, and Shifting Ceratops.

Rotting Regisaur is a 7/6, for two colorless and one black mana costing dinosaur providing a low-cost threat that demands an answer early in the game or Regi will beat down an opponent. The downside of Rooting Regisaur is that on your upkeep you must discard a card, but the deck wants you to empty your hand quickly making this requirement less impactful. Getting Regi in the late game can quickly lead to victory.

Marauding Raptor is the second addition from Core Set 2020. Marauding Raptor cost one colorless and one red mana for a 1/3 dinosaur that has two abilities that promote the decks game plan. First, the cost of casting other creatures is reduced by one mana. This allows the play of other dinosaurs ahead of curve. The cost for this is Marauding Raptor does two damage to any creature that enters the battlefield, so the deck requires that creatures have three toughness or more to survive.

This also means that you do not want to have two Marauding Raptors on the battlefield at the same time because they will kill just about anything casted. The second piece of value that Marauding Raptor brings is that it gets +2/+0 until the end of the turn when you cast a dinosaur. This makes Marauding Raptor an aggressive attacker on any turn that a dinosaur is cast.

Shifting Ceratops is the third addition to the deck. It is a 5/4 dinosaur with protection from blue for two colorless and two green mana. When Marauding Raptor is on the battlefield Ceratops can be played on turn three. Giving you a powerful threat that can thwart your opponent’s strategy. Ceratops has an activated ability that can give it haste, reach, or trample until the end of the turn for one green mana. This allows Ceratops to take on flyers on your opponent’s turn and push through defenses when it has trample. In the mid to late game, it can gain haste using that extra mana you have and possibly finish off an opponent.

The ability that makes Shifting Ceratops a difficult threat to contend with is it protection from Blue. Teferi Time Raveler is a key piece is several top tier decks and can quickly disrupt an opponent’s strategy by sending a creature, enchantment, or artifact back to its owner’s hand. Ceratops protection from Blue prevents this from happening to it and presents a threat that can eliminate Teferi on the next turn. Against Azorius Fliers, Bant, Mono-Blue, and Simic decks it has a similar affect on their strategy. Overall, Shifting Ceratops can change the course of a game any time it enters the battlefield.

The rest of the dinosaur package comes from the Ixalan block: Regisaur Alpha, Ripjaw Raptor, and Ghalta, Primal Hunger. Each of these dinosaurs puts significant pressure on your opponent. Ripjaw Raptor works well with Marauding Raptor. When Ripjaw Raptor enters the battlefield, it takes damage from Marauding Raptor. This causes Ripjaw Raptor’s ability to activate. Causing you to draw a card when it takes damage.

The deck includes two copies of Collision//Colossus and Savage Stomp that can take down an opponent’s creature. In addition, there is one copy of Domri, Anarch of Bolas to help advance your game plan. The final piece is Commune with Dinosaurs. This allows you to search the top 5 cards of your library for a dinosaur. This makes sure that you can quickly advance your game plan. With twenty-two dinosaurs in the deck you will not miss very often and most of the time you will have multiple options.

Some versions of the deck will replace the four copies of Llanowar Elves with two copies of Drover of the Mighty and two additional copies of Otepec Huntmaster. This can help you reduce the cost of casting dinosaurs and Drover can produce one mana of any color which helps cast Rooting Regisaur.

Here’s how you would like to ideally play out a hand. On turn one play Commune with Dinosaurs to add an additional creature to your hand or Llanowar Elves. On turn two you should play either Otepec Huntmaster or Marauding Raptor to reduce the cost of casting other dinosaurs. Another turn two option is Rooting Regisaur if you have a black mana source and a Llanowar Elves in play. Then on turn three you can start playing your four drop threats to take over the game.

The deck does have problems with other decks that have aggressive play outs and those that can remove your threats early in the game, but overall when the deck executes its game plan it is difficult to beat because of the large number of threats it can produce.

Until next time, good luck finding your win condition!