I posted this on the FB group (I also have a Reddit post), someone recommended I cross post to TMD as well. I was finally able to play in another vintage daily event on MTGO and of course I played Merfolk. I cashed out at 3-1, putting my overall performance in dailies with the deck at 11-5 so far (I've gone 3-1, 3-1, 2-2, and 3-1). Merfolk still seems to me to be a solid choice in the shifting meta, though admittedly it still has a bad Mentor matchup and probably a worsened MUD matchup with the recent inclusion of Walking Ballista. The great thing about Merfolk, though, is that even though it doesn't do anything broken to cheese out free wins, it has enough mana denial, counterspells, and threats to have a chance in any match. It's very consistent and well-rounded. Anyways, here's the rundown from Wednesday's daily:
4 Cavern of Souls
1 Strip Mine
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
4 Mental Misstep
4 Force of Will
1 Echoing Truth
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
3 Null Rod
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Master of the Pearl Trident
4 True-Name Nemesis
3 Phantasmal Image
4 Grafdigger's Cage
4 Hurkyl's Recall
2 Tormod's Crypt
1 Steel Sabotage
1 Ghost Quarter
These brief match summaries are from memory (from two nights ago), so there might be some errors. The actual matches can be found on my YouTube channel.
R1: UW Landstill (2-1)(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8m--tk6jys)
In game 1 I was able to establish a clock and force a Moat at the end of the game. I boarded out my Dismember and brought in the Ghost Quarter because I didn't think there was anything better. Game two I was able to build a board up but couldn't counter an eventual Moat. I played a little too conservatively in the intermediate turns, it's possible that I could have landed a TNN a lot earlier than I did. I scooped to go to game 3 a little too early because I forgot about my Echoing Truth, so I still had an out. Game 3 I believe they got stuck on mana and I was able to play a lot of merfolk.
R2: UWR Mentor (2-1)(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuVtfNED9xY)
I don't remember the exact order of games, but I believe I lost one game from a somewhat awkward series of plays where I had no choice but to keep copying a lord with Phantasmal Images that could be targeted by his Jace, and he was able to get ahead while I couldn't pressure him. Another game I was able to win by establishing a clock and Dismembering a mentor, and I think he was stuck on mana the other game, possibly helped along by Wastelands/Strip Mine. With Mentor being such a bad matchup, it's nice to have a little luck on your side.
R3: Saheeli Oath (0-2)(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq1WGe_R8ys)
Both games I lost to an early Oath of Druids that I couldn't counter. If they would have been on Griselbrand then I had the potential to Phantasmal Image the Griselbrand on my next turn, but they were on Sun Titan/Saheeli instead and killed me on the spot. Game two I had a Grafdigger's Cage with Misstep backup if they had Misstep, but they had the Force of Will instead. I've been seeing Jason put up a lot of results with this deck lately.
R4: UR Control (2-1)(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3d9sHJWTLk)
I saw Lightning Bolts, Sudden Shocks, and Pyroblasts in this matchup, along with counterspells and Snapcaster, making it a bit of grind. I made some play errors but was still able to win out. Game one I lost to a Pyromancer I couldn't beat. Dismembers out of the sideboard did a lot of work games 2 and 3, and True-Name Nemesis was the real all-star, avoiding loads of removal and bypassing blockers. Game 3 came down to the wire with the opponent presenting lethal if they could find any burn spell, however after a few minutes of cantripping they had to leave me at 1 or 2 and pass the turn, unable to block TNN.
I had a few recommendations in the FB group to make some SB changes, for instance to cut a Hurkyl's for another Steel Sabotage to help fight Ballista on the stack instead of dealing with it from the board, where it has the opportunity to be a 2 for 1 or more. Seems reasonable to me.
I run a full playset of TNN in Merfolk, but obviously it fits in very well with its own tribe. It's uncounterable off of Cavern of Souls and is an excellent target for Phantasmal Image. The clock speeds up with lords pumping it as well. The problem I've found is that if Merfolk's mana denial strategy (wastelands/null rod) or pseudo-control aren't disruptive enough, it just gets outclassed by what the opponent is usually doing. You need to untap a few turns with it in play, which is sometimes a tall order. Still, it's one of my favorite cards in my favorite deck and often wins the game when resolved.
Honestly, I could care less about the reserved list since vintage/legacy is so easy to play on MTGO. I acknowledge that my definition of playable is broad; no, bomberman/worldgorger/other combos? aren't playable, assigning flusterstorm triggers sucks, etc but for the most part it seems fine. Especially recently with the introduction of weekly challenges and competitive leagues. Why would I care about owning power/RL in real life when I can currently jam leagues whenever I want or play in a largish Swiss tournament every week if I wanted to? I know a lot of people would say they miss the community, but I hang out and occasionally post on TMD and the FB group every day and get a pretty good dose of community that way.