Ixalan is finally here and I’m very excited to sail the seas and fight some dinosaurs! Last week we tried a red/black Pirate draft and this week, thanks to the vote, we’re ready to stomp on some opponents with Dinosaurs!

I’ve run through a lot more drafts after last week and the format still feels pretty fast. It’s not Amonkhet blazing speeds, but if you stumble early you will tend to fall too far back to recover. The format has a lot of tempo with unblockable Merfolk like River Sneak, Tempest Caller, fliers, and bounce cards.  This is exacerbated by a few two card combos that can lead to incredible early curve outs; Cards like One with the Wind and River Heralds’ Boon will steal a lot of games. Does it mean that playing dinos is a bad idea? Are they just too slow? No – Not at all. You do need to have a plan for those early plays, however. A deck that only grabs high-power end game with no consideration for the type of aggression you’ll face won’t have the time to live long enough to get the value you’ve drafted. Lightning Strike is an obvious high pick, but cards like Raptor Hatchling and Crushing Canopy are great pick-ups for the aggressive decks. Canopy in particular is worth noting as this type of effect is often relegated to the sideboard, but here it seems to be main deck quality, especially if you’re light on Grazing Whiptails or other ways to stop fliers. One with the Wind, Mark of the Vampire, Pious Interdiction, and Ixalan’s Binding are all cards that will demand answers.

So my advice with the dinosaur deck is to build with early game in mind – large creatures are good, but the necessary cards for a good deck are the early answers, or good enablers. Aggressive starts with Thrash of Raptors and Otepec Huntmaster have been the decks that I’ve struggled beating, not the slower ramp into Colossal Dreadmaw.

Got an idea for what you want to see in next week’s episode? Vote in the Twitter poll below!