The Dinosaur Dilemma

Doug Zeeff


I love the new Dinosaur cards.

We've had the Dinosmaher's Fury Structure Deck for two months now, and like many duelists out there I was hooked from Day 1. The strange part is that I wasn't a fan prior to actually picking up the cards; I just instantly fell in love when I started playing them in real life. The deck was a popular rogue choice before Maximum Crisis dropped, and it was clearly a fan-favorite considering how many weeks True King Lithosagym, the Disaster was TCGplayer's bestselling card.

But outside of Regional Qualifiers, Dinosaurs with Dragonic Diagram flopped. They didn't take a single seat in the Top 32 at YCS Pittsburgh, although that's more due to the absurdity of Elder Entity Norden and Fusion Substitute which won't be an issue after June 12th.

I don't think Dinosaurs are a bad deck on paper. If anything, they remind me of Sylvans in 2014, or Kozmos in 2016. The Dinosaur deck can make some frightening boards with very few cards, but they also have a higher chance to brick than a lot of the other strategies in competition right now, especially compared to Zoodiacs in the still-current format.

Dragonic Diagram and Babycerasaurus is actually just an insane two-card combo. It's reminiscent of Lonefire Blossom and Soul Charge or Kozmo Dark Destroyer and a Kozmo pilot. But you can't open with those two cards every game, and even if you do you're not guaranteed it'll go through. Today, I wanted to talk about the three biggest problems facing True King Dinosaurs right now. I think they're all fixable to some degree, and if you're looking to play Dinosaurs at the North American World Championship Qualifier you'll definitely want to keep them in mind.

They Lose To Every Hand Trap
Zoodiacs are weak to hand traps, which is why at the last ARGCS we saw the majority of the Top 16 players running not only Maxx “C”, Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit, and Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, but also Retaliating “C” and Flying “C”. People were literally playing hand traps for a quarter of their deck, something we haven't seen in a while.

The reason Zoodiacs could do this is all of their big plays only required one card, so you didn't need to draw specific combo pieces. Additionally, the Lunalight Black Sheep combo was one of the scariest Turn 1 openings a deck could have, and you chance of starting with it was over 80%.

However, it often took more than one hand trap to truly win the game. Zoodiacs are incredibly resilient, so if you only had one of the aforementioned hand traps you could still lose the grind game.

 Dragonic Diagram
Dragonic Diagram131170
Set Maximum Crisis
Number MACR-EN053
Type Field Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

All "True Draco" and "True King" monsters on the field gain 300 ATK and DEF. The first time each Tribute Summoned "True Draco" or "True King" monster would be destroyed by battle each turn, it is not destroyed. Once per turn: You can destroy 1 other card you control or in your hand, and if you do, add 1 "True Draco" or "True King" card from your Deck to your hand.

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Dinosaurs aren't so lucky. If you open with just one Dragonic Diagram and no True Kings then you really, really need that Diagram to work. Ghost Ogre and Ash Blossom both stop it, and many duelists are playing a full set of both cards in their Main Decks. That makes it quite difficult for Dinosaurs to stick any sort of board.

The good news is that hand traps are less important now that Norden's Forbidden. I doubt people will drop them entirely, but as the standard Zoodiac opening board becomes a lot more manageable I'm fairly sure people will cut back on their “going second” cards.

There's A Lot Of Bricks
The other issue is that Dinosaurs have several cards you don't want to draw at the wrong times, and some that you don't want to draw period. In the former category there's all of your Level 2 Dinosaurs, which are good to have when you need to destroy them with Dragonic Diagram or a True King, but not so much in other situations.

In the latter category there's Tyranno Infinity, Jurrac Aeolo, and even Ultimate Conductor Tyranno. You pretty much only want to summon Tyranno Infinity and Jurrac Aeolo with Miscellaneousaurus. You just want to search Ultimate Conductor Tyranno because it makes your brick hands even harder to play out of, despite its overall high power level.

The other competitive decks right now just don't have so many brick cards, and the ones they do have aren't so painful to draw. Jurrac Aeolo not only fills your hand with a dead card, it also stops you from using Souleating Oviraptor as a one card Denglong, First of the Yang Zing. Drawing Speedroid Taketomborg in Zoodiacs wasn't ever desirable, but you could still Special Summon it alongside Speedroid Terrortop for your Rank 3.

 Denglong, First of the Yang Zing
Denglong, First of the Yang Zing124746
Set Invasion: Vengeance
Number INOV-EN048
Level 5
Type Synchro/Tuner/Effect Monster
Monster Wyrm
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 0 / 2800
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

1 Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner monsters
If this card is Special Summoned: You can add 1 "Yang Zing" card from your Deck to your hand. Once per turn: You can send 1 Wyrm-Type monster from your Deck to the Graveyard; this card's Level becomes the sent monster's. If this face-up card leaves the field: You can Special Summon 1 "Yang Zing" monster from your Deck. You can only Special Summon "Denglong, First of the Yang Zing(s)" once per turn.

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I think the solution to this problem is cutting as much dead weight as possible. Is Tyranno Infinity flashy? Absolutely. Will it win you some games? Probably. But that doesn't necessarily make up for how bad it is to draw Turn 1, in a deck that's already inconsistent.

The alternative is playing more cards that deal with the bricks, or by playing more consistent engines to balance things out. A small Zoodiac suite accomplishes both of those things, providing constant access to Zoodiac Drident for defense, while also giving you another way to pop Babycerasaurus with Zoodiac Barrage.

A Lack Of Longevity
As I mentioned before, Dinosaurs can make some of the best openings in the game if they open Dragonic Diagram. It's not unlikely to see a field of True King of All Calamities, Evolzar Laggia, and Dogoran, the Mad Flame Kaiju. And that's threatening for your opponent to look at, sure, but you pretty much have zero follow-up options if they manage to break your board. Even adding a Naturia Beast to that field to stop Raigeki, Dark Hole, and Interrupted Kaiju Slumber doesn't guarantee your setup will be impossible to break.

So how do you fix that? Don't focus so much on one concrete field, and go for an adaptable, flexible board that can deal with multiple actions instead. To me, the best solution is playing a widened Yang Zing lineup. Denglong, First of the Yang Zing is one of the most powerful Synchro Monsters in existence, and all the standard Dinosaur lists just use it as a Level 9 monster.

Guess what: Denglong has two other crazy effects. You get to search any Yang Zing card on summon, and when it's sent to the graveyard you get to Special Summon a Yang Zing from your deck. I also like playing more Yang Zings because it turns Souleating Oviraptor into a one-card combo maker with two negations. You just summon it to send Miscellaneousaurus to the graveyard, which you then banish to Special Summon Jurrac Aeolo. From there you can make Denglong and search Nine Pillars of the Yang Zing. Before you end your turn, use Denglong's level copying effect to send Chiwen, Light of the Yang Zing to the grave.

On your opponent's turn you can use Nine Pillars as a negation, and then when Denglong hits the graveyard you can Special Summon the Chiwen and a Bi'an, Earth of the Yang Zing from your deck, which you can use to make Herald of the Arc Light. I love that play, and it's a good follow-up for when your Dragonic Diagram gets stopped by a hand trap.

What I'm trying to say in this article is that even though Dinosaurs have issues, I don't think they're a bad deck. The June 12th F&L List makes Yu-Gi-Oh! a lot easier to play for a lot of strategies, and you won't have to sit through ten minute combos on your opponent's first turn. Dinosaurs could be a respectable rogue pick going into the North American WCQ if you can figure out how to solve these problems, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple in the Top Cut!

-Doug Zeeff

Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major in college. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not a single walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularly posting unorthodox, unfiltered Yu-Gi-Oh! content on his Youtube channel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, Overwatch, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh. Click here to follow him and his adventures on Facebook!

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