Last updated on November 29, 2023
Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant | Illustration by Lars Grant-West
My personal connection to Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant is that I built a Ghalta, Primal Hunger deck when I got heavily invested into playing the Commander format in 2020. When I saw this card when reviewing the spoilers for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, I almost went dino doughnuts in delight!
This deck goes wide with primarily dinosaur creatures with a spicy hidden alternate win condition that may have members of your play group a tiny bit salty. Let’s dino dig our way through the details of this deck so you have the tools to build it yourself!
The Tarrasque | Illustration by Filip Burburan
Circle of Dreams Druid
Defiler of Vigor
Ghalta, Primal Hunger
Gilanra, Caller of Wirewood
Kazandu Mammoth / Kazandu Valley
Thrasta, Tempest's Roar
Yeva, Nature's Herald
Incorporating more high-mana creatures with back-up ramp sources is essential for this deck build. The high mana values of the commander and its support creatures mean you need as many land tutors and mana dorks as possible. Saving the high-mana creatures to place on the battlefield for free when you cast Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant gives you the utmost value.
Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant costs 8 mana for a 12/12 dinosaur with trample. While it doesn’t have a cost-reducing ability like Ghalta, Primal Hunger, Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant brings so much more value by being able to put all creature cards from your hand onto the battlefield when it enters. The mana that you save from placing these creatures onto the battlefield without paying their mana costs can be saved to cast mana ramp, land tutors, and creature fetchers during the rest of that turn that you cast Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant from the command zone.
The Big-Hitting Creatures
Rampaging Brontodon pumps itself on attack based on how many lands you control. Since there’ll be many land tutoring cards in this build, there’s a lot of value with this dinosaur as a one-hit wonder because of its evergreen trample ability.
Think of The Tarrasque as your secret commander. You’ll have enough mana from 11 land tutors, 4 mana dorks, and other sources of mana ramp to cast this creature so that it gains ward 10, making it almost impossible to remove.
Keep Thrasta, Tempest's Roar in your hand to place onto the battlefield for free when Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant enters because otherwise it costs 12 mana. The creature’s trample over planeswalkers ability is especially valuable.
Aggressive Mammoth is an 8/8 woolly mammoth-like creature that gives all your other creatures. Since most of your dinosaurs have a power of 5 and above, making sure that they all have trample reassures you still get some combat damage even if your opponent is chunk blocking with 1/1 or 2/2 creatures.
Beast Whisperer is the quintessential source of card draw for green decks because it’s one of the creature-heavy colors in Magic. While many of your creatures will be placed on the battlefield for free when Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant enters, you can still get some card draw value from Beast Whisperer as you cast early-game creature cards like Adaptive Automaton and Gilanra, Caller of Wirewood.
Earthshaker Dreadmaw gets you the card draw resources you need with the more dinosaurs that are on the battlefield. Since you’re primarily running a dinosaur deck, you can save this card for mid-game to get as many cards as you can from a healthy board state of dino creatures.
Curious Altisaur rewards you with a card to draw for each dinosaur that deals combat damage to a player. Many of your dinosaurs already have trample and the others that don’t can gain it from Aggressive Mammoth. It’ll be easier to land combat damage with trampling dinosaurs to increase how many cards you draw after each combat. Plus, it has reach so it can fend off any flying creatures that your opponent controls.
Ripjaw Raptor gives you card draw if you block an attack from an opponent’s creature because it’s a form of damage that’ll trigger its enrage ability. There’s also Doom Cannon in the deck to deal 3 damage to Ripjaw Raptor if you ever need an extra card without waiting for an opponent to attack with a creature.
Garruk's Uprising draws you a card as it enters as long as you control a creature power 4 or greater. This is easy enough to do since all the dinosaurs in the deck are power 4 or greater. If you don’t have Aggressive Mammoth out already, Garruk's Uprising can be your back-up source for giving all of your creatures trample. As more of your powerful dinosaurs 4 or greater enter, you’ll get to draw a card.
Two key battle cards add value to this deck build. Invasion of Ikoria helps you search for your best dinosaur based on how much mana you pour into the X cost. Then, you can put it directly onto the battlefield rather than your hand.
When you deal enough damage to the battle card, it transforms into Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria, which is like a hidden win-condition. All the creatures in your deck are non-humans, so as you attack with them, it’s guaranteed combat damage because it’ll be assigned as though it weren’t blocked by the opponent. This is just another way of saying that your creatures are now unblockable with this legendary dinosaur on the field.
Whether you need a land or a creature card, Invasion of Ixalan gets that for you from one of the top 5 cards of your library and places it in your hand. The battle transforms into Belligerent Regisaur. As long as you cast one spell per turn, this creature gains indestructible until the end of the turn. You can constantly swing with Belligerent Regisaur to slowly whittle down an opponent’s army of smaller creatures.
When Polyraptor is on the battlefield, opponents have to choose whether to block the 5 damage and see another token of this creature generated or take the 5 damage to their life total and save themselves the extra token coming into play. The more that opponents decide to block Polyraptor and the tokens they create, the worse it’ll get because they’ll have the same ability to keep multiplying how many Polyraptor creatures you control.
Urban Daggertooth also has the enrage ability. However, it proliferates when it’s dealt damage. Along with Evolution Sage’s proliferate ability, you can expedite how fast the poison counters increase for your opponents after you have attacked with Tyrranax Rex and Tyrranax Atrocity.
Speaking of toxic,Contaminant Grafter also helps you to proliferate whenever creatures deal combat damage. If your opponents have poison counters from one of the 3 creatures you control with toxic, you can draw a card and place a land on the battlefield on your end step. That’s a great value to every end step as you’re waiting on your other land tutors and card draw resources.
Choose dinosaur as the creature type when you cast Belbe's Portal. Many of your dinosaurs have a mana value of 5 and above, so you are saving mana by tapping 3 and placing them directly onto the battlefield. This is a great back up card to have for when you need blockers while waiting to cast Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant to get your best high mana value dinosaurs out.
Cryptic Gateway can get a creature out for free if you’re still waiting for the right time to cast Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant for the most value. As long as you control two dinosaurs, you can tap them to place another dinosaur of your choice on the battlefield with Cryptic Gateway.
Descendants' Path gives you even more value with another way to cast dinosaur cards from the top of your deck without paying their mana costs. If you choose to save this dinosaur card for later, you can place it on the bottom of your library.
Doom Cannon will be your resource for causing damage to dinosaurs with enrage in your deck for more value when opponents choose not to block them on attack. For example, Apex Altisaur can fight an opponent’s creature and kill it when it’s dealt damage.
Of the 36 creature cards in this deck build, 12 aren’t dinosaurs. That’s where Maskwood Nexus comes in. All your creature cards whether in your hand or on the battlefield can now be dinosaurs. If you need additional blockers, the Shapeshifter tokens with changeling that you can create with Maskwood Nexus’s mana ability are also dinosaurs. They can also benefit from the pump for dinosaurs from Thundering Spineback, Adaptive Automaton, and other typal staples in the deck.
There are many mono-green staples that can protect your cards while enhancing the benefits of playing a mono-green deck.
Yeva, Nature's Herald is a mono-green staple that gives all your green creature spells flash. You can cast your best dinosaurs at instant speed to block an opponent’s creature that’s attacking for a surprise interaction.
You don’t have to worry about the mana ability related to elf creatures becoming dinosaurs on Allosaurus Shepherd unless on the off chance you have all 7 elf creatures on the battlefield. What you’re really after with Allosaurus Shepherd is how it reassures all your green spells can’t be countered. This mono-green staple is essential against blue decks that will be on the hunt for countering your best dinosaur creatures. This also protects your commander from being countered, so it’s one less avenue of having to pay commander tax.
Defiler of Vigor from Dominaria United set the stage for more value in playing mono-green. The phyrexian wurm helps you to cast your permanent spells if you have less mana by paying 2 life for each green mana that you need for the cost. Even if you don’t pay life constantly to cast your green permanents, you can benefit from the +1/+1 counters that are placed on all your creatures for each permanent casted.
You can’t run a mono-green deck without Emerald Medallion. This can also be considered a type of ramp because you’re reducing the mana needed to cast your green spells so that mana can be utilized for other spells.
Circle of Dreams Druid is beneficial in any green deck that’s creature-heavy much like this one. Elvish Aberration and Llanowar Tribe are both mana dorks that you can tap to add 3 green mana to your mana pool. It’s better to have mana dorks that add more than 1 mana to your mana pool at a time for more value, especially when running a deck with high-cost creatures like dinosaurs.
Gilanra, Caller of Wirewood can help you draw cards off the spells that have mana cost 6 or higher, of which there are 18 in this deck. Even when you’re tapping this creature to cast a spell that has mana cost less than 6, it still acts as a form of great mana ramp.
Hulking Raptor adds 2 green mana to your mana pool on your precombat phase. It matches the mostly dinosaur typal build and is an easy way to add extra mana to your mana pool without having to tap it like you need to with the two mana dorks in the deck.
As long as you have one or more of the cards that increases the power and toughness of dinosaurs, Ranging Raptors can get damage dealt to it from Doom Cannon so you can search your library for a basic land card to put on the battlefield. If your opponent decides to block Ranging Raptors with a 1/1 creature, you can still get the land from its enrage ability and keep the creature alive for future use.
Regal Behemoth doubles your mana output as long as you stay the monarch. One green mana source actually taps for 2 instead. This is a great mana ramp dinosaur creature to have early in the game to expedite your win condition.
Topiary Stomper helps you get a land as it enters. Quickly get to 7 lands under your control so that it can start attacking and blocking. Plus, its vigilance ability allows it to stay untapped to ward off other creatures coming your way from your opponent’s side of the battlefield.
Wayward Swordtooth’s ascend ability is a contingency for it being able to attack and block. The main reason it’s in the build isn’t only because it fits the primarily dinosaur theme, but also because you can play one additional land on your turn. With the many land tutors in the deck build, this’ll be easy to do so you have more mana to cast dinosaurs.
Azusa, Lost but Seeking is another card that can increase how many lands you can put into play by two. Especially if you have many of the land tutor cards in your hand at once, having Azusa, Lost but Seeking on the field simultaneously generates additional value to get Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant out faster.
Old Gnawbone is the one and only flying creature in this deck that can get you a horde of Treasure tokens because of the high power and toughness among your dinosaurs. Attacking and landing combat damage with Old Gnawbone gives you 7 Treasure tokens. You get 12 Treasure tokens when landing combat damage with Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant or Ghalta, Primal Hunger if no blockers are declared.
Reliquary Tower is your ticket to having as many cards as you possibly can in your hand so you can play them for free when Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant enters. Since this land card grants you no maximum hand size, you can save your best dinosaur creatures with the highest mana values of 6 and larger for when you’re ready to cast your commander.
Thrashing Brontodon isn’t just your average 3-drop dinosaur. It can be a temporary blocker early in the game. Later, you can pay 1 mana to sacrifice it to destroy an artifact or enchantment that’s generating too much value for your opponent.
Tranquil Frillback allows you to destroy up to 3 artifacts or enchantments as long as you pour 3 green mana after casting the creature. Maybe an opponent with a black deck is getting too much value from graveyard recursion. You can instead choose one of the modes to exile the opponent’s graveyard.
Khalni Ambush helps one of your large dinosaurs fight another problem creature on an opponent’s side for only 3 mana. In the event you could benefit from more mana instead, play the land side of this card, Khalni Territory.
For the Ancestors can collect up to 6 dinosaurs and place them into your hand for later free casting when Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant comes into play. With its flashback ability, you have the chance to get up to another 6 dinosaurs into your hand.
Icon of Ancestry pumps your dinosaur creatures by +1/+1 with the most important feature being its mana ability that helps you fetch a dinosaur from the top 3 cards of your library. Let’s hope that there are no whiffs!
Herald's Horn reduces how much mana cost you have to spend on dinosaur creature spells by 1 colorless mana. It also fetches dinosaur cards by having you look at the top card of your library on your upkeep. If it’s a dinosaur card, you get to put it in your hand as long as you reveal it to your opponents.
Kindred Summons is great as a late-game card when you have 6-10 or more dinosaur creatures already on the battlefield. You search the top cards of your library equivalent to the number of dinosaurs you already control. If you control 8 dinosaurs, you can look at the top 8 cards of your library with the potential of placing up to 8 dinosaur cards on the battlefield without paying their mana costs.
There are multiple cards in this deck that strengthen the dinosaurs you control. Thundering Spineback pumps dinosaurs’ power and toughness while making additional Dinosaur tokens with trample with its mana ability.
Door of Destinies slowly increases the power and toughness of your dinosaurs based on how many charge counters are placed on the card. One charge counter is placed on Door of Destinies for every dinosaur creature spell you cast. If you’ve casted 5 dinosaur spells since Door of Destinies entered, it’ll have 5 charge counters on it and pump all your dinosaurs by +5/+5.
There are many colorless cards that can assimilate into any deck color to increase the power and toughness of the specific tribe you are building around with added benefits. These include Herald's Horn, Brass Herald, and Adaptive Automaton.
Animist's Awakening places green basic lands on to your battlefield tapped equivalent to how much you poured into the X cost. With the spell mastery ability, you can untap them for immediate use as long as you have 2 instant and/or sorcery spells in your graveyard.
Boundless Realms doubles your mana output by allowing you to search for a number of lands equivalent to how many you already control and place them on the battlefield tapped. Think of all the proliferate triggers you can get from Evolution Sage if you caused poison counters at least once already from Tyrranax Rex.
Celebrate the Harvest takes advantage of how many creatures you have with different powers and allows you to search for that many land cards from your library. The dinosaurs in this deck have base powers of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 12 respectively, so that’s already 7 lands that you can search for right there if at least one of each of those creatures with such power levels are under your control.
Circuitous Route and Explosive Vegetation get you 2 basic lands on the battlefield tapped for only 4 mana. If you decide to edit the land base of this deck with gates, you can search for up to 2 gates when you cast Circuitous Route.
Cultivate is a popular land tutor for green decks. One land goes into your hand while the other goes on to the battlefield. Entish Restoration is an essential land tutor because you’ll almost always be controlling at least one creature with power 4 or greater when running a dinosaur deck. You can benefit by getting 3 basic lands on the battlefield tapped rather than 2.
Kazandu Mammoth is the creature side of Kazandu Valley that increases by +2/+2 until the end of your turn for every land that comes into play. As long as you have one of the two ways to give it trample on board, it can be valuable for dealing combat damage as you place more lands into play from the many land tutors in the deck.
If your opponent gets hit with Tyrranax Rex 3 times from its toxic 4 ability, they lose the game. With Evolution Sage on the field and some land tutors in your hand, you can increase an opponent’s poison counters with Evolution Sage’s proliferate ability.
Tyrranax Atrocity can win you the game with 4 swings at your opponent. With both this creature and Tyrranax Rex on the field, the win can come quicker. However, Tyrranax Atrocity doesn’t have trample like Tyrranax Rex, so it may be easier for opponents to block to ward off the toxic 3. As long as you have Aggressive Mammoth on the field, you can give Tyrranax Atrocity trample for a more expeditious win condition with the toxic ability distributing poison counters.
As you pump your dinosaur creatures with the tribal staples and give them trample with Aggressive Mammoth or Garruk's Uprising, you can also swing in with all your creatures for a horde of combat damage to get your opponent’s life total to 0.
The Mana Base
Since this is a mono-green deck, there is not much mana fixing needed. There’s 23 Forest basic land cards to start off the mana base.
Arch of Orazca helps you can gain the city’s blessing from its ascend ability as long as you control ten or more permanents on the battlefield. Wayward Swordtooth and Relic of Orazca also have the ascend ability, so if you control those permanents before playing Arch of Orazca, you’ll already have the prerequisites of being able to pay 5 mana to draw a card off of this special land.
Jurassic Park, which transforms from the saga Welcome to… adds green mana to your mana pool equivalent to the number of dinosaurs you control. Plus, all dinosaurs in your graveyard gain escape where you have to pay their mana cost and exile three other cards from your graveyard to recast them. This is a great mechanic for your primarily dinosaur deck so you can get your best ones back on the battlefield that endured targeted removal.
Castle Garenbrig gives you 6 green mana when you tap 4 mana so you can use it to cast creature spells and activate creature abilities. Cavern of Souls reassures none of your dinosaur spells get countered as long as you use this land card as a mana source for casting them.
Command Beacon reduces commander tax that you’ll have to pay when recasting Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant by sacrificing this land and having the commander go into your hand from the command zone. Kazandu Valley is a tapped land option if you need the additional mana base in the coming turns if you prefer to not play the creature side, Kazandu Mammoth.
Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun transforms from Growing Rites of Itlimoc. Once it becomes a land, you can tap it to add green mana equivalent to how many creatures you control, much like Circle of Dreams Druid.
The strategy is to get as many creatures as you can onto the battlefield by saving them to cast for free when Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant enters. The protections from Allosaurus Shepherd and Cavern of Souls reassure that your commander doesn’t get countered so that you can place all the creature cards from your hand onto the battlefield with its ETB ability.
When all else fails, you can accumulate poison counters with 3 creatures with poison, proliferate them with 2 other creatures in the list, and then win against an opponent after they get 10 poison counters. Think of this as the alternate win condition.
Combos and Interactions
Doom Cannon helps to deal damage to the dinosaurs with the enrage ability in your deck like Polyraptor and Ripjaw Raptor. When opponents aren’t blocking these creatures to deal damage to them to trigger their enrage ability, Doom Cannon can interact with them to generate powerful tokens, draw cards, and other benefits.
Circle of Dreams Druid and Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun ramp you with green mana equivalent to how many creatures you control. Since this is primarily a creature-based build, these two cards are essential for generating a strong mana base to get them out quickly.
Curious Altisaur and Garruk's Uprising interact well. You not only draw a card off of a dinosaur with power 4 or greater that enters from Garruk's Uprising, but you can also draw a card from Curious Altisaur every time any of your dinosaurs deal combat damage. The combat damage is easier to achieve since Garruk's Uprising gives creatures trample.
Rule 0 Violations Check
Players in your playgroup could have an issue with the 3 toxic creatures in your deck. Some players don’t believe that a true win can come from opponents accumulating 10 poison counters. Talk this over with your playgroup to see how they feel about the 3 creatures with toxic in this deck. If they prefer not to play against these creatures with this ability, then you can edit them out for other green dinosaur creatures.
You can replace Allosaurus Shepherd with Prowling Serpopard. While not all your green spells will be protected from being countered like with Allosaurus Shepherd, you can at least protect your creature spells from being countered with Prowling Serpopard for about $18 less.
Carnage Tyrant is about $9 with trample and hexproof and reassures the spell can’t be countered. Colossadactyl has reach and trample and is only about 50 cents. Crested Herdcaller can give you two creatures for the price of 5 mana for about the same card price.
Old Gnawbone is about $25.00, but there’s other budget ways to ramp when playing mono-green. Use other creatures like Tireless Provisioner to give you Treasure tokens with each land that enters or Fyndhorn Elder which is mana dork that can give you 2 green mana. Even Lotus Cobra, which is only $3 can be a cheap way to ramp since there are many land tutor cards in the build already.
If you like running exclusively typal decks, you can remove the 12 cards that don’t have dinosaur typing and Maskwood Nexus to place in more budget-friendly dinosaur cards. Try dinosaurs like Armored Kincaller and Annoyed Altisaur.
To get the same protection from the mono-green staples that you’d be removing, you can include an enchantment base instead. Leyline of Lifeforce helps to stop creature spells from being countered, and Aluren to play 11 creatures in the deck with 3 or less mana value without paying their mana costs and so that they have flash. If you decide to have more enchantments in your build besides these two, don’t forget to include Destiny Spinner so that your enchantments also can’t be countered.
Consider editing a couple of cards out of the original build to add in other dinosaur synergistic cards. Knight of the Stampede reduces dinosaur spells by 2 colorless mana. The Skullspore Nexus can create you Fungus Dinosaur tokens if your main dinosaur supporting army members die.
Garruk's Uprising | Illustration by Wisnu Tan
Did you have a roaring good time learning how to build Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant? It’s a big and green stompy deck that can go wide with attacking with many dinosaurs on the field with a hidden win condition of dealing poison counters with a few creatures in the build.
If you’re ready to learn more about The Lost Caverns of Ixalan and other commanders that you can build from it, keep up with the latest updates on our Draftsim Facebook page. There, you’ll see when we post blog updates and news reports about the latest happenings in Magic: The Gathering.
Until next time, stomp on over to your LGS to grab something from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, have a growling great time with it!