The metagame has shifted once again, and players are digging deep into their bags of tricks for ways to stop the expected decks. Some of these cards are new to the scene, some have been seen before, but all are exciting...
The Squirrel/Opposition deck that won US Nationals is built on the backs of one-toughness men, like Birds, Elves, and Merfolk Looters. Fire/Ice might kill two of them, but Simoon kills them all, as well as all the squirrels in play. The Opposition decks here are using Simoon in their sideboards for the mirror, and some red/green decks are packing them as well.
Delusions of Mediocrity
One problem blue has is stabilizing against heavy burn decks. Delusions is a quick way to gain 10 life, effectively neutralizing two Violent Eruptions and a Firebolt worth of damage. The drawback of losing 10 when it goes away makes Upheaval a risky proposition, but the 10 life often buys enough time to win the game. Watch out for Hull Breach!
Brian Kibler preached of the power of this dynamic duo in his article on Miss America, and it appears the Canadians were listening. The Crimson Acolyte is good in both the U/R/W mirror, as well as against red/green. The Obsidian one is mainly for anti-Psychatog measures.
Gab Tsang and Elijah Pollock are among the players splashing red in Psychatog decks, and that alteration gives them access to this little gem. All the red/green beatdown creatures, Yavimaya Barbarian included, are adversely affected by taking two damage, and for two mana, it's quite a deal. Pyroclasm is also showing up in burn-heavy red/green decks' sideboards.
There was talk in these very halls yesterday among the legions of red/green players about how to beat Deep Dog's wurm tokens. The best answer they could come up with was the original green boon, Giant Growth. Whereas zero copies of the once-popular instant were played at US Nationals, there are many, many copies of it here. And no Deep Dog to use it on. Good thing it's useful in the mirror match.
Sudden Impact is old-school low tech, reminiscent of Storm Seeker. It basically says, "You might have a lot of cards, but you're going to take damage for them." Storm Seeker was used (to questionable effect) against Necropotence back in the day, and Sudden Impact is used similarly against Fact or Fiction. Several red/green decks have this four-mana instant in their sideboards.
If Gainsay is a narrow spell, Alter Reality is even narrower. Used primarily to counter Gainsay (by changing "blue" to some other color), Alter Reality is useful because it has flashback, meaning it can counter two Gainsays. The appearance of Obsidian Acolytes in the environment gives Alter Reality something else to do, making it a fine card for 'Tog to board in against Miss America.
Nightscape Familiar is one of the most important cogs in the Psychatog machine, combining the ability to endlessly block Wild Mongrel and Yavimaya Barbarian while reducing the cost of bombs like Fact or Fiction and Upheaval. The 1/1 Zombie is such a thorn in the side of red/green that sideboard slots must be dedicated to Engulfing Flames, a card tailor-made to kill them. The Flames are also good against Squirrel/Opposition's army of one-toughness men.
Teferi's Response / Tsabo's Web
These two cards, little-seen since the days of Rishadan Port, are being used against Squirrel/Opposition. Teferi's Response blows up the Opposition itself and draws you two cards, and the Web locks down any lands enchanted by Squirrel Nest, since the Nest splices an ability onto the land, making it susceptible.
This last card is not particulary popular, but it is cool. The one player running them is playing Psychatog, but the card actually seems good against that deck, preventing the Familiars from untapping once they regenerate, keeping 'Tog at home until the final blow, etc. I assume the 'Tog player plans on using them against Squirrel/Opposition. There seems to be plenty of hate for that deck, and not that many copies of it present.