In Round 6, I did an informal survey of every player sitting at 5-0 in two of the three flights here. It was informal because, well, you try to figure out what 122 different people are playing in ten minutes. It's difficult. But I noticed something pretty awesome. Within that 5-0 group, there were 24 different archetypes represented. 24. And honestly, I probably missed a couple of the sub-archetypes of WUR. Among the most common were Affinity, Pod, and Storm. In multiples but not as numerous were Ad Nauseam, Living End, Blue Moon, Big Zoo, and various WUR decks. But don't count out the more fringe archetypes out there; there's a couple Merfolk decks, a 4c Gifts, Mono-Black Infect Discard, Faeries, BW Tokens, and Elves! all in up in there.
In a world like this, how the heck do you sideboard? I tracked down some of the dealers to see what was selling hot and what the players were thinking. The gist was that the spike-the-football cards were selling much better than the more broad sideboard choices. Cards like Torpor Orb, which shuts down Pod and Twin cold, were selling like gangbusters at Cool Stuff Inc. Another static-effect artifact that was moving was Defense Grid. James at MTG First also said Defense Grid was a hot seller.
Defense Grid is an interesting sideboard choice, because it usually goes in proactive decks. If you want to cast a bunch of stuff, but you're afraid some counterspells are going to ruin your day, Defense Grid can help you do your thing without worrying about pesky "removal spells" and "card interaction." The Grid is what comes in if you're still the beatdown, and can afford to take a turn off casting something to help muscle through the competition.
Grand Prix Richmond Dealers
James also talked about a card we saw in the sideboard of the Pro Tour–winning decklist, Porphyry Nodes. This little drop of honey, though a bit slow, can gain its caster tons of advantage over the course of any game against creatures. Big Zoo, Merfolk, BG Obliterator Rock, Jund, Affinity, all have to win with creatures eventually. So repeatable removal for a paltry one mana can be the bees knees.
Over at the ChannelFireball table, they saw three cards move off the shelves quickly: Rule of Law, Fracturing Gust, and Runed Halo. Rule of Law is a potent enchantment that is surprisingly strong against multiple decks. Though the windmill slam against Storm, it also turns off Living End and Ad Nauseam with ease. The Ad Nauseam matchup is funny that way, because the usual build plays only one Echoing Truth in the sideboard, and plans to draw out its whole deck before bouncing any problematic permanent like Leyline of Sanctity. But Rule of Law stops the Ad Nauseam player from casting Angel's Grace and the namesake instant in the same turn, so drawing the bounce spell at all becomes difficult. The deck must instead rely on Phyrexian Unlife, which unsurprisingly gets sided out against more controlling decks.
The Fracturing Gust is pretty simple to understand. It hoses both Affinity and the UG Hexproof deck ("Boggles")—all while gaining back enough life keep out of death range. But the Runed Halo is my favorite. It's the panacea of the sideboard. The ability to grant protection from any card certainly stop decks that rely on one targeted win condition (think Grapeshot out of Storm or Lightning Storm out of Ad Nauseam). But it also acts as pseudo-removal. Sure, setting it on Deceiver Exarch can stop TarmoTwin from comboing out, but setting it on Tarmogoyf can just stop the beatdown when you need it to. The versatility of the enchantment is surprising.
The best anecdote from the dealers wasn't about sideboards at all, and came from Eric at Pastimes.net. He said the most common request he's gotten has been people asking if they have Remands for sale. And then customers just don't buy them. Eric said it's been happening all over the first few rounds, and he thinks it's less about cost and more about seeing how many control decks and counterspells are out there. If you want to jam a win-or-lose spell, it's nice to know how many counterspells are out there.
Grand Prix Richmond Dealers
It just works so perfectly as a metaphor. It's almost as if the dealers are casting the Remand on the customers.
Anyway, it's pure pandemonium out here in terms of playable decks. If you know it well, you can play it. It's a seller's market, or wait, a buyer's market...no it's a bull market? Ok, nevermind, I'm confused. Anyway, it's an awesome market out here. Come on down and have some fun.