From 1,100 decklists down to 17, the Auction of the People had one more step before it could be ready for Invitational action -- the auction itself. Gathering Monday night, the 16 Invitationalists sat down to determine who would be playing what. Each player started with an eight-card hand and 25 life, bidding down from those totals until they "bought" a deck.
The players shuffled up to a brown paper shopping bag to pull out numbers to determine the order they would be bidding on decks. Jeroen drew first seed and kicked things off by starting out "Another" with an aggressive bid of 7 cards and 21 life. This was the first year that the system has been changed since the first Auction of Champions.
The remaining order for the selections went:
A few bids came in half-heartedly with minor down-ticks in the starting life totals. Kai got a little bit of a buzz going by jumping quickly down to six cards -- the equivalent of a five-card bid in previous years. Players would indicate that they were sitting out on a deck by literally sitting down when the opportunity to bid came to them, and many of them did just that with the prospect of the deck going right to six cards. Kuroda, Olivier, and then Nassif drove the starting life totals down to 14 before Kai came back in at 6/13.
Nassif was the only other player still in and had to decide how low he was willing to go. He seemed to be agonizing as he and Kai stared each other down over the purchase price. Osyp called out, "You don't have to win everything Nassif!" and that seemed to push him back into his chair.
Kai won "Another" at 6/13.
Kai Budde (6/13) - 2-1
2005 Invitational: Another, designed by Scott Wilson
"Thinking about it!" exclaimed Julien as he pondered where to set the opening bid after announcing that the consensus best deck was up for bid. Knowing there would be aggressive bidding for the deck, he decided to set the bar pretty high. With an opening bid of 6 cards/20 life, even if Nuijten did not win, the winner would likely not be given much margin for error.
How much is a card in hand worth? The bidding went down as low as 9 life for a six-card hand with Nassif dipping below 10. Jeroen bumped it down to 5 cards with a full life total which sat Julien down. Kuroda went to 20 life and that sat everyone but Olivier, Nassif, and Jeroen.
Finally it was down to Kuroda and Nassif, with Kuroda going to 5/16. Once again Nassif was agonizing with Maher needling him, "Don't mess this up Nassif. You could lose the whole thing right here."
Nassif sighed, "I have to make it go down."
He bid 5/15 and Kuroda came back at one fewer life point. Nassif was happy to let him have it. Bob seemed happy as well. "You Shocked him for all of us. Thanks."
Kuroda wins "Light" at 5/15.
Masashiro Kuroda (5/14) - 2-1
2005 Invitational: Light, designed by Matthew Hoffmann
Antoine made an unenthusiastic opening bid of 8/25 for Master. Pierre jumped things down to 7 cards after a few stabs at an eight-card bid. Olivier jumped immediately to 6/20 and once again the life totals dipped to the halfway point with Terry Soh offering 6/10. Jeroen upped the ante and went down to 5 cards. Terry went to 5/22 and that was enough to sit everyone else down.
Terry wins "Master" at 5/22.
Terry Soh (5/22) - 3-0
2005 Invitational: Master, designed by Paul Taylor
Before this deck came up for bid, Bob explained that he and Sam Gomersall were just following Tim Aten's lead and bidding one life lower on anything he bid on. They figured he knew what he was doing and if he wanted a deck, they wanted the deck. When the bid for "Top" came around to Tim, he went 6/16 hoping to rope them into a bid. They both sat down and prompted a scowl from Aten.
The bidding got aggressive down at five cards with Gab, Antoine, and Osyp ticking down the life totals. Bob sat back and whistled as the bids got down 5/16 from Antoine. Osyp wavered and Maher tried to get in one last burn spell as Osyp looked like he would sit down, "You have your skirt on today Osyp?"
Antoine wins "Top" at 5/16.
Antoine Ruel (5/16) - 3-0
2005 Invitational: Top, designed by Daniel Pantoja
The bidding came to Eugene and he limped in at 8/25. Pierre Canali promptly dropped the bid to 7 cards and Fujita went down to 6 on the subsequent bid, which prompted a wave of players to sit down. Jeroen, Osyp, and Eugene all made incremental bids down to 6/20 before Pierre went to 15 life. Fujita thought about it and Pierre tried to push him down into his seat -- he did not need to push hard. Jeroen went to 14 life but Osyp didn't feel lucky at 13. Bob, who was bidding on every deck from a seated position with well-timed barbs, appraised Osyp's wardrobe. "So that's a pleated skirt?"
"Yup," and Osyp took his seat.
Eugene was willing to overcome his triskaidekaphobia but Pierre went right to 12.
Pierre wins "Voice" at 6/12.
Pierre Canali (6/12) - 2-1
2005 Invitational: Voice, designed by Kevin Beireis
Fujita opened on Additional at 7/20. He was willing to drop immediately to 7/10 when it swung back around, which sat down potential deck-suitors Nassif, Carlos, and Jeroen. The kid stepped up though and bid 6/25. Fujita went one lower and Julien dropped down to 19 life. Maher admired how the kid was handling himself, "Fujita is gonna get beaten down by a child."
Julien wins "Additional" at 6/19.
Julien Nuijten (6/19) - 1-2
2005 Invitational: Additional, designed by Jeffrey Chen
Olivier seemed to want this deck and opened with an aggressive bid similar to the one Fujita led off with last deck. He offered 7 cards and 18 life. Tim and Sam came in with incremental bids but Bob could not bring himself to stay in despite declaring his intention to follow Aten's lead. "I could do nothing but screw it up. I just like cards and life too much."
The deck ended up with a stare-down between Olivier and Jeroen, with Olivier bidding 6/20. Jeroen was wavering and Bob lobbed another burn spell, "You're going to leave him with that much life?" By now this was starting to have the opposite effect and Jeroen sat down.
Olivier wins "Blood" at 6/20.
Olivier Ruel (6/20) - 0-3
2005 Invitational: Blood, designed by Matthew Lubich
This was the deck that Tim Aten really had his eye on coming into the auction. He and the three other Americans in the draft did not yet have a deck. Not everyone seemed familiar with all the cards. One of the younger players inquired about the ability of Metathran Transport. Mark explained that it was the same as Fylamarid, which almost made water shoot out of Randy's nose. "If he doesn't know Transport he won't know Fylamarid. That is basically just you, me and Bob territory."
"Blue" came down to a showdown between Aten and Remie in the seven-card zone. Aten basically conceded the deck but not before whittling Jeroen down to 7/15, "I wanted to see how much life I could get out of you."
Jeroen wins "Blue" at 7/15.
Jeroen Remie (7/15) - 0-3
2005 Invitational: Blue, designed by Erwin Leijenhorst
7/15 seemed to be a threshold that many players were unwilling to cross as Sam took this deck at the going price.
Sam wins "Burn" at 7/15.
Sam Gomersall (7/15) - 1-2
2005 Invitational: Burn, designed by Chris Turner
There were only seven players left and all four Americans were still without a deck. Everyone bid on "Pit" for the first pass but Carlos, Osyp, Eugene, and Fujita all dropped at the threshold of 7/23. Tim went down to 7/20, which dropped Bob. Nassif went one lower and Tim bowed out as well.
Nassif wins "Pit" at 7/19.
Gabriel Nassif (7/19) - 3-0
2005 Invitational: Pit, designed by Markus Beyreder
This was a perplexing one for most of the players who were out of the bidding. Many of them considered this to be one of the stronger decks with the potential for an early Spellweaver Helix/Time Stretch combo and the heady card drawing of Fact or Fiction. Carlos came in at 8/25 and Eugene came in below him at 8/24. Everyone else sat down but Carlos and Osyp and others cheered Carlos to sit down as well to "stick" Eugene with the deck.
Carlos sat down and there was a huge cheer. Jeroen looked dumbstruck, "That deck is actually good."
Eugene wins "Two" at 8/24.
Eugene Harvey (8/24) - 2-1
2005 Invitational: Two, designed by Kent Raquet
Everyone seemed to agree that "Word" was among the worst of the decks players had to work with and Osyp stood up with a huge grin. "Okay let's get nuts!" He bid 8/25 and everyone sat down like, well, I was going to say dominos, but they all sat down at the exact same time.
Osyp wins "Word" at 8/25.
Osyp Lebedowicz (8/25) - 0-3
2005 Invitational: Word, designed by Caliph Lebrun
Fujita wins "Ability" at 6/17.
Tsuyoshi Fujita (6 cards/17 life) - 2-1
2005 Invitational: Ability
It was down to three bidders and they fired off staccato bids in incremental life totals until Tim won "Lose" at 7/22.
Tim Aten (7/22) - 0-3
2005 Invitational: Lose, designed by Erik Murphy
That left only Bob and Carlos with three decks to choose from -- "Mind," "No," and "Pool." Bob smiled at the former World Champion, "Hey we can both get a deck here for 8/25." He bid the full amount on "Pool" and left the decision in Carlos' hands.
"If you outbid me it's fine. I didn't realize that 'No' had all these 2/1 creatures."
Carlos let Bob take the deck for 8/25 and took "No" for himself at full price.
Bob Maher (8/25) - 2-1
2005 Invitational: Pool, designed by Mark Matson
Carlos Romao (8/25) - 1-2
2005 Invitational: No, designed by Andy Jakcsy
Tim wins "Lose" at 7/22.
Bob wins "Pool" at 8/25.
Carlos wind "No" at 8/25.
Bob came into the auction looking to get a deck with as many cards and as much life as possible. He was happy to get that but even happier to discover the deck had three Stalking Stones and four Blinkmoth Nexus -- after the fact. Carlos, on the other hand, ended up with a deck that had pretty shaky mana with two Glimmervoids, few artifacts, and contradictory cards like Shortfang/Juntu Stakes. Antoine showed me his notes on the deck and claimed there were only 18 playable cards in the whole deck.
While the auction itself doesn't count toward the final standings, you would have to chalk it up as a victory for the reigning Invitational Champ, who worked the system to get a playable deck at full price while doing some damage with his comments before the 16 players even sat down to play the first game.