he question: What's good right now?
The answer: Um, everything. Kinda, at least during round one.
Walking though the expansive playing area, legal pad in hand and nose for the news forward, one could not help but feel the aura of Nationals - you either played weenies or fatties. There is no longer a mana curve, at least regarding creatures. There seem to be but two options: you play a guy on turn one or you don't. Or maybe you do both, but who's to say?
Much like hard-and-fast rules that are neither hard nor fast, there is an exception: Court Hussar. The Impulse on a stick has made his presence known: he's here for the duration, and, oh, I ain't even trying to tap to attack, dawg. While he fits perfectly on the curve at the three-slot, quick name some two-drops that you might play in blue-white. No, I mean two-drops that you would actually put in your deck, thanks.
Never mind stuff that you play on turn three that isn't Compulsive Research, walk around the room with me…
Antonino De Rosa was dropping Elves, both the Llanowar and Wood varieties, and following up with Watchwolf, Selesnya Guildmage or Congregation at Dawn. From that tight little not-really-a-mana-curve-but-kinda, Ant would drop Yosei or Kodama and send them in to clean up the mess the li'l beaters started.
Standard Machine Billy Moreno spent some times shredding hands with Hypnotic Specter and Ravenous Rats, both of whom look awfully attractive wearing a Jitte, while Isamaru, Savannah Lions and Dark Confidant played supporting roles until Ghost Council of Orzhova came online and sucked the ever-lovin' life out of you. But he didn't shave.
Sol Malka brought his own white-black to the mix, with Phyrexian Arena, Bob and Descendant of Kiyomaro taking li'l chunks out of his opponent's life.
Eugene Harvey brought just about the prettiest deck you've ever seen: an almost completely foreign-language blue-white control deck. The usual suspects were present: Remand, Mana Leak, Hinder, Repeal, Wrath of God, and Verbal Kint, all who are not really part of a mana curve at all … at least until he would tap six for Yosei or Keiga.
Ben Goodman, sans ridiculous hat, stocked his deck fulla Angel of Despair, Compulsive Research and sexy technology in the way of Zombify. However, none of these cards are very good against Heartbeat, and Ben took one on the chin on his way to the loser's bracket.
I tried to take a gander at what Osyp was playing, but was unable to get through the throngs of adoring fans anxious to Meet Joe Black. Lucky is all you can call the ones who actually got through the Freshmaker, for he was off like a bad habit as soon as his match was complete.
Mike Krumb, Ichorid fan for life, brought Wrath, Remand, Persecute, Castigate, Condemn and even Ink-Eyes to the party, with Tidings to fill up with goodies, which may or may not have included Yosei, and Angel of Despair.
2005 Top Four competitor Mike Patnik, whom I beat at a prerelease, and Nick Eisel, whom I beat in a PTQ, were apparently incognito, but I just wanted to mention that I beat Patnik at a prerelease and Eisel at a PTQ. Maybe I'll catch up with them later, and let you all hear how they find the inner strength to move on.
The rest of the field was fairly diverse: play fat, stupid game-ending monsters, or small, silly looking weenies. Or maybe you play both. Have you ever seen Keiga, Kokusho and Paladin en-Vec on the same side of the table? Probably, and so did I, which goes to show that fatties and weenies can coexist, despite a series of spells that get better the further up the imaginary mana curve you travel.
Snakes on a Plane made a few appearances, and the sheer folly of seeing Sakura-Tribe Scout wearing Faith's Fetters is a sight to behold. While Hyppies were in the house a'plenny, Shining Shoals were apparently in hiding, which is what Persecute is likely to do for you. Cranial Extraction, by the way, costs less than Yosei, which may or may not have been the reason that the time walk on a stick ended up in the RFG pile more than, well, something that costs three and doesn't just, like, win you the game, match and adoration of hot chyx everywhere because you played white.
Zoo and Boros are persona non grata, or at least winning or losing so fast that I could catch only mere flashes of their presence.
And that's the Standard portion of Nationals: it's all good, dawg, kinda. Unless you like, lose. Alas, if you wish to play in this diverse Standard environment, first thank Wizards for building our decks for us, and then choose two or three colors and play the absolute best cards in said colors. Hopefully, you can ignore the mana curve and just kill stuff until you can drop a 5/5 game winner. If not, play out little fellas, watch them get blown to smithereens, and then play your 5/5 game winner.
If it works for the Pros, it can work for you too. Or your money back.