The Arena Boys are up and about! Every week, Toffel, Jamin, and I will be putting Standard’s sweetest and/or silliest decks through their paces on MTG Arena. If you haven’t already seen this week’s episode—the first—you can find it here.
We played a red-green ramp deck that uses Sarkhan’s Unsealing as a value engine to complement the enormous green monsters in the list. Not just any old green monsters, either—in order to enable a very powerful cantrip and Standard take on Rampant Growth, we went back to Ixalan and summoned Dinosaurs to harness the power of Commune with Dinosaurs and Thunderherd Migration.
This resulted in a streamlined and somewhat linear game plan, but as we demonstrated in the video, it produced staggeringly powerful lines of play that most creature-based decks aren’t equipped to deal with. Jamin actually played this exact deck at the last Pro Tour, and… well, he did pretty well with it. For him, anyway.
The ideal game starts with a 2-drop ramp spell, followed by a 4-drop on turn 3. Sarkhan’s Unsealing essentially adds a 4-damage kicker onto all of the top end, while Ripjaw Raptor is absolutely unbeatable against mono-red (and completely embarrasses Goblin Chainwhirler). Given the importance of the 4-drops rather than 3-drops, Druid of the Cowl gets the nod above Llanowar Elves. A 1/3 body is also very relevant against all the aggressive decks with cards like Dauntless Bodyguard and Viashino Pyromancer.
The top end is relatively straightforward, especially right at the high end of the curve. Carnage Tyrant is one of the best things you can do in Standard, and when it comes with a free Flame Wave thanks to Sarkhan’s Unsealing, there aren’t many creature decks that will be able to keep pace. Regisaur Alpha is also a great way to snowball games by making future plays have immediate, powerful impact as your Carny Ts and Thrashy Bs can get in for damage straight away.
These Dinosaurs are all powerful in and of themselves, but they also enable the deck to play two cards that are way above the usual power level in Standard: Commune with Dinosaurs feels a lot like Ancient Stirrings, while Thunderherd Migration is Rampant Growth. It helps that we don’t have to play bad cards in order to enable Commune and Migration, too—people are still playing Carnage Tyrant and Thrashing Brontodon even without this all-in Dinosaur theme.
The Power of Sarkhan’s Unsealing
With the rest of the deck being all about deploying to the board quickly and powerfully, why even run Sarkhan’s Unsealing? You have to take a turn off to cast it, it doesn’t immediately impact the board, and it weakens your early game against aggressive decks. Is it worth it?
When playing a value game, being able to “double spell” is critical. In midrange mirrors, if you can deploy both an answer and a threat in a single turn, you’re in good shape. Well, that’s exactly what Sarkhan’s Unsealing is all about—you can dump 5 mana into a huge beater and get a free Flame Slash for your trouble.
Given that this deck does want to play to the board aggressively by dropping creatures as often as possible, a way to turn those creatures into meaningful interaction is key. Taking turn 3 or 4 off to cast Sarkhan’s Unsealing isn’t great then and there, but by the time you cast your second post-Unsealing creature, you’re drowning in value. 4 damage kills just about everything, outside of Lyra Dawnbringer.
Finally, the interaction between Carnage Tyrant and Sarkhan’s Unsealing is absolutely bonkers. Wrath their board, pressure their life total and any planeswalkers they have, and still have a hexproof, trampling 7/6? Not many decks can keep up with that. Sarkhan’s Unsealing into Carnage Tyrant is one of the best ways to win a game more or less on the spot, even when playing from behind.
Updating Jamin’s Unsealing
While the interaction in this deck is powerful, there might be room for improvement. Lava Coil is a necessary answer to Arclight Phoenix, Drakes of all kinds, and other small aggro creatures, and Fight with Fire kills Lyra and scales nicely into the late game. Still, Savage Stomp might just be the better main deck option for a range of reasons.
First, it’s cheaper—1 mana for this effect is obscenely underpriced. Second, triggering enrage on Ripjaw Raptor can be difficult if your opponent won’t play ball. Third, a +1/+1 counter can be very relevant in drawn-out games, allowing Carnage Tyrant to attack past Doom Whisperer or Regisaur Alpha to get past a buff Jadelight Ranger.
Additionally, Raging Swordtooth was always a bit of a weak link, and there just isn’t enough reason to play this beefed-up Goblin Chainwhirler. Especially with aggressive decks being on the downturn, another undercosted beater is in order—Territorial Allosaurus is the perfect option in a midrange-heavy field.
Arena Boys will be back next week with another video, and I’ll be back with another deck guide. See you then!