elcome, everybody! I hope you took my advice last week and gave your Johnny muscles a good workout. You're going to be using them very soon and we don't want you pulling up lame with a Johnny Horse. The reason you will need to be at your Johnniest is because of a special deckbuilding challenge that I'm going to announce in an upcoming paragraph!
Jon Finkel's Invitational card.
As many of you are aware, each year Wizards of the Coast hosts a Magic
"all-star game" called the Magic
Invitational. Sixteen of Magic
's greatest players square off in a number of different formats to see who will get the opportunity to design their very own Magic
card. One of the annual traditions of the Magic
Invitational is a format called the Auction of the People. (Last year's Auction of the Geniuses was a slight break from tradition.) As the name implies, the format is an auction where the Invitationalists acquire decks by bidding life and starting hand size. The competitors then play the decks against each other for three rounds, beginning with modified life and starting cards based on their bids.
Where do these decks come from? Why, from all of you. It is the Auction of the People, after all. Also, as is tradition, the decks have a weird restriction. In past auctions, the decks had to be tribal, feature cards drawn by a single artist, or be full of cards that contained the same word. Without any further ado...
The 2007 Auction of the People Submission Rules
1. The deck must be legal in Legacy as of today. For reference, here is the list of cards banned in this format.
2. The deck must have exactly 60 cards and a minimum of 24 lands. There will be no sideboards, not even for the Wishes or Ring of Ma'ruf.
3. The deck will have 1-4 copies of 26 unique cards (not counting basic lands). Each card's English name must begin with a different letter of the alphabet. So you will have to include one card beginning with A, one with B, one with C, and so on until Z. We know that your choices for X are limited, so you won't be penalized for resorting to Xanthic Statue. Additionally, cards that begin with the word "The" (like The Hive and The Fallen) will be considered "T" cards, and you can use either name on a split card. For example, Fire // Ice can be used as your "F" or your "I."
4. Only one deck may be submitted per person. When it's complete, send your deck directly to me by clicking on the "Respond via email" link at the bottom of any one of my articles. Write out your decklist in the email form that pops up. Either list all of your cards in alphabetical order, or if you would prefer to separate the cards into lands, creatures, and other spells (like we do here), then list the cards in each of those sections in alphabetical order. This will make it easier for anyone looking at the deck to tell if you've met the deckbuilding requirements. Finally, make sure to include your name (so we can properly credit you) and email address (in case you forget to include your name).
5. The decks will be selected based on a combination of creativity, entertainment and play value. We are not looking for the most powerful deck. There will be many submissions, so choosing offbeat cards and/or an offbeat strategy will help set your deck apart from the others.
6. The deadline for submissions is August 8th, 2007. That's three weeks from today. A couple weeks later, I will have narrowed the field down to around thirty finalists. I will then pass those decks off to an evil board of shadowy figures who will determine the final seventeen.
That's all you need to know. To give you an idea of what your submission should look like, I'll take you on an Auction of the People dummy run.
Lights. Camera. Auction!
Initially, I was going to build a bunch of decks for the format to give you a better idea of what we're looking for and to get your creative juices flowing. However, after reading Mark Gottlieb's announcement of the last Auction of the People, I realized that any deck I build would cut off one of your options. So I thought that I probably shouldn't build any decks at all. But then it occurred to me that this challenge is much, much more open-ended than that one was (it was the "word" challenge), so one deck wouldn't hurt.
Here's what I'm going to do to get the best of both worlds. I'm going to build a deck, but I'm going to substitute the names of Magic cards with the names of 26 TV shows, one for each letter of the alphabet. The format is the same (60 cards, 24+ lands, no sideboard, A-Z represented by at least one card, excluding basic lands). Of course, your deck will use real Magic cards and not TV shows.
Now that you have your decklist in order, you might want to write a brief description of the deck. To save us all some time, point out the key interactions in the deck, as well as anything that might not be immediately apparent from looking at the list. You don't need to write a primer on how to play the deck. To illustrate, for my TV show deck, you might write:
"This deck is built around the T.J. Hooker + Puppets Who Kill "invincibility" combo. You can use your According to Jims, Curb Your Enthusiasms, and Enterprises to protect the combo, buy time, or just curb your opponent's enthusiasm. Otherwise, you can go aggro and beat down with Knight Rider, Voltron, Defender of the Universe, Walker, Texas Ranger, and Zorro, aided as usual by a trio of Unsolved Mysteries. By the way, you are my favourite writer at magicthegathering.com."
Voilà. That's roughly how your submission should look. Now, get building!
A Little from Column A, a Little from Column B
One thing I like to do is riff on existing deck ideas, or merge two deck ideas into one. I guess that's two things. Well, last week I built a deck that used Cloud Key
to reduce the cost of your other artifacts, like Coalition Relic
and Gauntlet of Power
. The deck could generate a ton of mana, which it could use to play even more artifacts or play and replay Clockspinning
. I mentioned that I had Mishra, Artificer Prodigy
in the deck for a while, because, hey, he seems like a good card to include in an artifact-heavy deck. Ultimately, I cut him because I wanted to make the most of Gauntlet of Power
and a three-colour creature didn't seem to fit in with that plan. I wasn't entirely satisfied, however, because it seemed like a waste to have all those Gauntlets of Power but so few blue creatures. Only later did I realize that I could have had my cake and ate it, too. Which card in Time Spiral
block is an artifact and
(sort of) a blue creature? Other than Chronatog Totem
? Why, Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII
, of course. Okay, it's not really a blue creature, but it can make blue creatures.
To make up for their exclusion from last week's decks, I'm going to use both Mishra and Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII in the same deck this week. Since Slivers are just about the hottest things going right now, I think I'll use some of them, too. The main reasons to add Mishra to a Sliver deck are Sliversmith, Venser's Sliver, and Coat of Arms. Venser's Sliver isn't terribly exciting, but it gets much better when you get two of them for the price of one. Admittedly, this isn't saying much.
With Mishra slated for inclusion, the deck is going to be blue, black, and red. That gives us plenty of Sliver options. The red Slivers seemed to offer the best options (and the nicest mana curve), so I went with Two-Headed, Sedge, Homing, and Bonesplitter Slivers, with a single Shadow Sliver and Psionic Sliver as a slivercycling target.
Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII
works well with Coat of Arms, obviously, but it also lets you pump out Sliver tokens if you have a Conspiracy in play. Hivestone is a more mana-efficient way to turn your non-Slivers into Slivers, but Conspiracy lets you tutor for Mishra with a Homing Sliver, which I happen to think is pretty cool.
Stick a Reiterate in This Deck. It's Done.
Another one of my decks from last week featured cost-reducer Locket of Yesterdays. The deck was blue-green and used the Locket to abuse buyback spells like Clockspinning and Sprout Swarm. In the forums, Tekanan brought up the possibility of adding red to the deck for Storm Entity and Haze of Rage. Cool ideas. I was thinking of including red, but not for those two cards. Instead, I was going to use Locket of Yesterdays (and Cloud Key) to reduce the cost of both Seething Song and Time Spiral's buyback Fork, Reiterate.
With Reiterate's cost reduced by one, you can generate an arbitrarily large storm count by Fork-ing the Seething Song repeatedly. Play Seething Song and target it with Reiterate with buyback. When the copy of Seething Song resolves, you will have five red mana in your pool and Reiterate in your hand. Use the five mana to replay Reiterate with buyback, once again targeting the original Seething Song. Repeat as necessary.
The bad news is this requires an initial investment of up to eight mana. The good news is that it only requires eight mana if all you have is a Locket of Yesterdays
by one. If instead you have a single Cloud Key
(naming instants), you will only need seven mana to get going. Better still, the second Cloud Key
reduces your start up costs by two more (meaning you can fire off the combo with five lands) and
it lets you generate infinite mana along with your infinite storm count. Since Seething Song
produces five mana and you can play and buy back Reiterate
with four, you will get a bonus red mana with each iteration.
Grapeshot will kill your opponent once you have sufficient storm. Demonfire will kill your opponent once you have sufficient mana. A giant Storm Entity will kill your opponent if they have insufficient blockers (i.e. zero) or you have sufficient Fury Charms (i.e. one). The Charms also let you hasten the "One Big Turn" that Wheel of Fate will allow you to take. Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir is a bit of nuisance for this deck, so feel free to Skred him.
There are many other cards you can use in a deck like this, the most obvious being Rite of Flame and Grinning Ignus. You might also try Coal Stoker. Word of Seizing answers the Teferi problem and is one of the most powerful and expensive red instants in Standard, making it an ideal candidate for cost-reduction. For a while, I also had Pardic Dragons in the deck because they can come out on turn four with either Fury Charm or Seething Song and they also give you something to do with an arbitrarily large amount of red mana. A dragon is also a fine Plan B.
Until next time, let your auction decks speak louder than words!