by Randy Buehler
After a relaxing day of swimming, bowling, and trying to borrow cards to complete Block Party decks, the 16 Invitational participants sat down to one of their most difficult deck-building challenges ever. The Duplicate Sealed card set that mark Rosewater prepared for them was composed of cards that were nothing short of awful. Almost everyone was giggling as they first read through the cards. Dirk Baberowski looked at Okk and commented "I've always wanted top play this card, ever since it came out. I guess now is the time." Gary Wise read Avalance of Squirrels for the first time and asked aloud "This is horrible, right? This is the worst card ever printed!" By the end of deck construction the answer was obvious: a 3/3 with Echo for 6 is actually quite good in this format. And it's in Gary's deck.
After ten minutes of "Oh my God" and "Is there a good card in here?" the players seemed to agree on what cards to build their decks around. Dracoplasm was the consensus "best card" in the set. The other goodies were Fugitive Druid, Opalesence, and Forbidden Crypt. Meanwhile, Donate and Rolling Stones leapt out as cards to try building decks around. Pearled Unicorn looked so good to some competitors that they're splashing white for it! One hidden gem that most people found sooner or later is Tooth and Claw. Being able to put damage on the stack and then turn 2 dungy creatures into a 3/1 is pretty good. Another "bad" card that made an appearance was Swamp Mosquito, which won Brian Hacker a game through poison counters.
Personally, I would built blue, black, red with Donate-Forbidden Crypt as one very viable route to victory. Forbidden Crypt is my pick for the best card in the environment since it's also good on its own sometimes. I would also use Share my Pain and Aether Fart along with a bunch of creature enchantments. Who needs creatures?!
The actual participants, however, don't agree. White and green seemed to be the favorite colors as they finalized their decklists and black is the least played. Meanwhile every color is being played by multiple people and I expect the players to sideboard into entirely different decks as they come to understand the bizarre environment that they'll be playing in for the next three rounds. Interestingly, six of the competitors chose to play four colors, figuring that the environment was so slow that they'd have time to draw into their killer combos. Only one person elected to go with a 2 color deck.
Here are the statistics on what colors they finally decided to play with:
Green - 14
Red - 12
White - 12
Blue - 12
Black - 3
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