I’ve always been a sucker for dinosaurs. With the looming Standard rotation and a very poor dinosaur in War of the Spark, it seemed like time was finally up for my favourite archetype but it turns out there are a couple of good dinos lurking in Core Set 2020. Today I was very happy to find this raptor:
Marauding Raptor is a 2/3 dinosaur with two static abilities:
- Creature spells cost less.
- Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, the raptor does 2 damage to it; if a dino is dealt damage this way, the raptor gets +2/+0 until end of turn.
In many ways this card reminds me of a Forerunner of the Empire crossed with an Otepec Huntmaster. The advantage is that all your creatures cost less rather than just dinosaurs but you don’t get to find your best dinosaur card nor do you get to give your dinosaurs haste. You also don’t get to choose to do 1 damage to all your creatures when a dinosaur appears; you have to do 2 damage to any creature that enters. This is problematic in a number of ways but mostly with the old Polyraptor trick. In my Dino Enrage deck I can duplicate a Polyraptor eight times thanks to the Forerunner of the Empire trigger but with this card you end up in an infinite loop from which you can’t escape1. If you can’t stop the loop, then the game results in a draw as stated in Rule 720.42. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as you could feasibly use this to gain a draw out of a match you were going to lose but that’s a pretty niche piece of deck building!
Enrage triggers are definitely what you are going to be wanting to build around this thing so staples like Ranging Raptors, Ripjaw Raptor, and Sun-Crowned Hunters will definitely make the cut. In the later game, having a Forerunner of the Empire on the field as well will be a boon as you can deal damage to a creature such as Trapjaw Tyrant to exile an opponent’s creature, then opt to take the 1 damage to all your creatures to trigger enrage on the stuff you already have out; the tyrant will survive thanks to it’s large toughness and you’ll get double triggers.
It’s also important not to forget that your Marauding Raptor gets +2/+0 until end of turn whenever it damages an incoming dinosaur. This works especially well with Raptor Hatchling as it will gain you a 3/3 dinosaur and trigger the ability twice turning Marauding Raptor into a 6/3 until end of turn; that’s pretty good as a turn 3 play if you didn’t find a Ranging Raptors or if you’re mana screwed.
Whilst this is clearly designed for dinosaur decks, it’s feasible that you could include this in your big creature deck just for the mana cost reduction. In all honesty, I’m not sure I like that as a concept as you are likely going to be putting any big creature into danger upon entering the battlefield as they can be got at easily by a Shock or Lightning Strike. That said, this is the only card in Standard that gives you a blanket reduction on all creatures so there is something to think about there.
I’m definitely going to be trying to build a deck around this in the near future along with Ripscale Predator and Shifting Ceratops that both appeared in this set3. It might only be good in paper until we hit rotation but the recent announcement of Arena Historic4 means that my love for dinosaur decks can live on indefinitely!
Unless you have some form of removal or counterspell to stop the loop whenever you want to. ↩︎
Rule 720.4: If a loop contains only mandatory actions, the game is a draw. ↩︎
Arena Historic is to MTG Arena as Modern is to regular paper MTG. It’s a new format that will include everything from Ixalan onwards but they may retrofit some of the older sets in such as Amonkhet and Kaladesh at a later date. ↩︎
This post is part of a weekday series where I open up a booster pack and pick a card to discuss. Whilst these are often the best cards from the set, I'll often pick one that is a bit niche or one that has cool artwork or flavour text. If there's a particular card you want me to take a look at, get in touch or join my Discord community.