I haven’t given up on my attention to Dinos in Standard, but it’s looking like that, even following the recent Standard bans, things aren’t looking up for much outside of Energy and RedDeckWins, which were the two deck builds that suffered the most from the bans. They still remain at the top. Though, it looks like the Temur Energy dominance has dispersed into other color identities, like Sultai and Grixis.
The Dinos took a major hit with the only Dino seeing any remote Standard play, Rampaging Ferocidon, being banned. Yay…Soon after the ban, Wizards of the Coast release their explanation letter to the public. The primary reason for the ban of Rampaging Ferocidons was to reduce RDW answers to creature aggro, and sort of preemptively, in hopes that this would bring about Vampire token decks possibly (one did breach the Top-8 in Selesnya Aggro, which I’ll get into below). It didn’t appear to work, as Energy is still “too strong” to introduce a new king besides the always-present RDW.
I always tend to look for the most interesting decks just squeezing into the Top-8. A Selesnya Aggro deck happens to be the unique style of choice at this moment. It focuses on cheap creature drops of 1-3 CMC. It is able to get damage going early with Adorned Pouncer and Resilient Khenra, among others. Blossoming Defense and Appeal keep damage up in the early game, while the several Embalm and Eternalize creatures can finish off resilient opponents in the mid to late game. There is a lot of balance in combat with Lifelink, Double Strike and Deathtouch present, and a couple of Kinjalli’s Sunwing to keep control of the battlefield. It’s even running a 1-of Huatli, Radiant Champion, I would assume as a little extra boost from the -1 ability. Rhonas makes an appearance as well, though it appears primarily for its permanent ability rather than its use as an Indestructible 5/5, given the limited power base.
As far as Dinos go, the only guy making a regular presence is the Thrashing Brontodon. It’s got a leg up for its 3/4 for 3 CMC, but on top of that has built-in Artifact/Enchantment removal. It’s a basic, but very effective card that is well-rounded for a lot of situations for the CMC.
The Ravenous Chupacabra isn’t seeing a lot of play, but has sprinkled into a couple of decks here and there. The meta is dominated by 3 CMC or less. This negates Chupa for 2 reasons. There are cheaper removal options for the low-cost/low toughness creatures out there that plague the field. Secondly, because anything over 3 CMC has limited space in competitive, Chupa is having a hard time beating out guys like Hazoret, Glorybringer and Rekindling Phoenix. Anything running Black without Red can consider Chupa, but in the current meta, that’s not often.
I’ll keep an eye out on the Top-8 for Dinos that are making a splash, though I’m not overly optimistic as long as Energy/Amonkhet constricting the format. To be clear, I have no issue with Energy and RDW. There is nothing wrong with a dominant meta, as it is bound to happen in every Standard meta. Of course, balance is ideal, but that’s virtually impossible to maintain. Life…uh…finds a way…to create a dominant meta.