Unveiling the 2007 Auction of the People decks!
This challenge was much more open-ended than past Auctions. In previous years, you had to build around a certain tribe, or artist, or word. Once you chose a suitable one, you were left with a relatively small pool of cards to work with. Not so here. The letter X had its limitations (there are only six cards beginning with that letter), but every other letter had a ton of options, even, surprisingly, the letter Q.
With the necessary inclusion of so many unique cards, there were a number of viable paths to take in order to make your deck more consistent. You could cover a bunch of letters with redundant cards. If, for example, you wanted a two-mana artifact to fix the mana of your blue-white deck, you could use Talisman of Progress, Azorius Signet, Coldsteel Heart, and Prismatic Lens. If you needed four one-mana Elves to ramp you up to your Call of the Herds, you could use Boreal Druid, Llanowar Elves, Fyndhorn Elves, and Elves of Deep Shadow. Another thing many people did with all their unique cards was put them in a toolbox. If you chose to use Enduring Ideal, Captain Sisay, or even Homing Sliver as a four-of, you could easily justify the inclusion of a series of situational one-ofs. Last of all, you could come very close to building a deck full of four-ofs if your manabase consisted entirely of non-basic lands. In this case, you have to balance the consistency of your action cards (drawing what you need when you need it) with the consistency of your mana. All of these techniques are represented in the final seventeen. (There are seventeen final decks to ensure that even the last of the sixteen invitationalists has a choice.)
Without further ado, here are the seventeen finalists:
I See a Blood Moon Rising
Legacy is a format containing every non–Tolarian Academy land ever printed. Some have said that it is defined by the mana bases enable by fetchlands like Polluted Delta and the Alpha dual lands like Underground Sea. One of the interesting things about this "alphabet" format is that you can pack more four-ofs into your deck with the heavy use of non-basic lands. With these things in mind, this deck packs plenty of nonbasic land hate, from Blood Moon and its corresponding Magus, to Wilderness Elemental, Dryad Sophistciate, and Skyshroud Elite, to Lava Blister and Uncontrolled Infestation. It rounds out its arsenal of hate with a pair of Hidden Herds and a full complement of Price of Progress. Canyon Wildcat, Vug Lizard, and Zodiac Dog (a.k.a. The Littlest Hobo) become unblockable if you have a Magus or a Blood Moon and your opponent has a nonbasic land. Soften 'em up with some weenie beats and finish 'em with Incinerate, Reckless Abandon, or a Price of Progress.
(designed by Martijn Hennink)
Use Your Illusions
The next deck uses a familiar kill mechanism: you play Illusions of Grandeur, you gain 20 life, and then you Donate it to your opponent, who loses 20 life as soon as he or she can no longer pay its cumulative upkeep. You can find the combo with Brainstorm or Lu Xun, Scholar General, and you can protect it with the usual suspects, your Force of Wills and your Counterspells. If that doesn't work for whatever reason, you have a slew of powerful blue fatties at your disposal, including Keiga, the Tide Star, Jodah's Avenger, and Sun Ce, Young Conqueror. What makes this deck extra special is that the designer took the alphabet challenge one step further. Each of the 26 unique cards is illustrated by a different artist, and each artist's name begins with a different letter of the alphabet! For simplicity's sake, he counted the first letter in the name as it appears on the card. So, Kaja Foglio is the K, Ittoku is the I, Xu Xiaoming is the X, and Zoltan Boros & Gabor Skikszai is the Z.
|Illusions-Donate w/ A-Z Artists (designed by Julian Palermo)|
1 Underground River (NéNé Thomas)
1 Zoetic Cavern (Lars Grant-West)
|1 Giant Tortoise (Kaja Foglio)
1 Jodah's Avenger (Pete Venters)
1 Keiga, the Tide Star (Ittoku)
1 Lu Xun, Scholar General (Xu Xiaoming)
1 Man-o'-War (Una Fricker)
1 Sun Ce, Young Conqueror (Yang Guangmai)
1 Yixlid Jailer (Matt Cavotta)
|1 Arcane Denial (Richard Kane Ferguson)
4 Brainstorm (Christopher Rush)
2 Counterspell (Gao Yan)
3 Donate (Jeff Miracola)
1 Erratic Mutation (Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai)
4 Force of Will (Terese Nielsen)
1 Hinder (Wayne Reynolds)
4 Illusions of Grandeur (Quinton Hoover)
1 Neurok Stealthsuit (Francis Tsai)
1 Overwhelming Intellect (Alex Horley-Orlandelli)
1 Psionic Gift (Orizio Daniele)
1 Quash (Shishizaru)
1 Rewind (Dermot Power)
1 Tanglebloom (Val Mayerik)
1 Vex (Brian Snoddy)
1 Words of Wisdom (Eric Peterson)
1 Xanthic Statue (Hannibal King)
29 other spells
This deck combines some classic mono-white control elements (Wrath of God, Disenchant) with an unlikely combo involving Time Bomb and Circle of Protection: Artifacts. While you're charging up your Time Bomb, you might as well beat down with it. How? Well, with both Xenic Poltergeist and Karn, Silver Golem able to turn your artifacts into creatures, you can animate your Bombs and send them into the red zone with cries of, "OMG! He's a walking Time Bomb!" Barbed Wire keeps your opponent on a clock, Jester's Scepter and Aeolipile give you some more tools to control the game, and Orzhov Signet helps to fix and accelerate your mana before (possibly) smashing in for two.
(designed by Callan Archer)
Celebrational, Puppetational, Invitational
This deck caught my attention because I had to look up Puppet Strings to find out what it does. Turns out it forms a nifty creature-killing combo with Merieke Ri Berit. That's right there in the Gatherer entry, I swear. In all seriousness, Puppet Strings allows you to tap or untap a creature, which is fine on its own, but is especially good with creatures that don't untap normally (like Merieke or Reveka, Wizard Savant) or creatures with excellent tap ablities (the two I mentioned, plus Ertai, Wizard Adept and Orim, Samite Healer). Puppet Strings can also act like a makeshift Jayemdae Tome when you enchant an opponent's creature with Betrayal. The rest of the deck consists of a small Zur the Enchanter toolbox and a smattering of removal to complement Merieke and company.
(designed by Michael Wiles)
Night of the Living Dead Trees
The goal of this deck is to get one of your enormous monsters into the graveyard and then put it directly into play with one of your reanimation spells. You accomplish the former with Hapless Researcher, Careful Study, Intuition, and Foil, and the latter with Exhume, Reanimate, Goryo's Vengeance, and Necromancy. There is a small toolbox of fatties (Jedit Ojanen of Efrava, Masticore, Living Hive) to go along with three each of Akroma, Angel of Fury and Kodama of the North Tree. The last two laugh at the best creature removal in the format: Swords to Plowshares.
(designed by Eric D., a.k.a. Seeker After Chaos)
Back in Black
Combining efficient black creatures with, uh, more efficient black creatures, this deck seeks to beat the opponent to a pulp as quickly as possible. Starting with Carnophage and Sarcomancy, moving up to Nantuko Shades, pump knights, and Phyrexian Negators, and topping out with the all-mighty Juzam Djinn, this deck has no shortage of paths to pain. Dark Confidant keeps the threats coming, Aether Vial ensures they hit the table, and a small disruption package including Wasteland, Rishadan Port, and Hymn to Tourach makes it tough for your opponent to keep up.
(designed by AJ Sacher)
Survival of the Fattest
The first of the true toolbox decks, this one uses Survival of the Fittest as both a repeatable tutoring engine and a madness outlet. Discard Basking Rootwalla, Arrogant Wurm, or Krovikan Horror (sadly, there can be no Survival-Squee in this format) and go find one of your numerous utility creatures (Uktabi Orangutan, Viridian Zealot, Indrik Stomphowler, etc.) or one of your hasty finishers (Yavimaya Ants or Timbermare). With all of the cheap beaters and mana elves, you can also finish the game quite quickly with an early Overrun.
An Ode to Jamie
(designed by Sean McKeown)
What's a Terravore?
For smashing with. The previous deck was intended to be an homage to Jamie Wakefield, King of the Fatties and noted green advocate. The next deck completes the tribute, in a way, by enabling the famed Natural Order into Verdant Force play. There are two main paths to victory here. Either get a fatty on the board quickly (preferably a Terravore) and follow it up with a potentially game-sealing Armageddon, or turn one of your mana creatures (Birds of Paradise or Fyndhorn Elves) into board-dominating monsters like Phantom Nishoba or the aforementioned Verdant Force by way of Natural Order.
(designed by Chad Casarotto)
Who doesn't like land? We need it to play spells, and, in the case of this deck, to kill the opponent. Using Exploration and Manabond to fill the board with its whopping 42 lands, this deck wins on the back of "manlands" like Nantuko Monastery, Dark Depths, and Treetop Village, token producers like Urza's Factory, and direct damage from Barbarian Rings. You can disrupt the opponent with a full set of both Rishadan Port and Wasteland, draw cards with cycling lands and Horizon Canopy, or control creatures to some degree with Ice Floe and Quicksand. Life from the Loam is the key, allowing you to reuse your utility lands and resurrect your manlands should they fall in combat.
(designed by Devon O'Donnell)
Turn, Turn, Turn
Before there was Rings of Brighthearth, if you wanted to take infinite turns with Time Vault and one other card, you used Mizzium Transreliquat. The first trick is that Time Vault comes into play tapped and the Transreliquat doesn't. This lets you get around the fact that must skip a turn to untap the Vault. The second is that the Transreliquat allows you to copy an artifact until end of turn, which allows you once again to dodge Time Vault's untap requirement. The deck uses a full set of Enlightened Tutors (and three Intuitions) to find the combo pieces and Force of Will, Counterspell, and even Hanna's Custody to protect it. With four Enlightened Tutors enabling another toolbox, the deck features a number of artifacts or enchantments that can win you the game. Darksteel Reactor is great when you take the rest of the turns in the game and you can use either Legacy's Allure or Vedalken Shackles to borrow opposing creatures for as long as takes to beat them down.
Mizzium Transreliquat-Time Vault Combo
(designed by Alexandar Ortloff)
A Rock and a Hard Place
Perhaps the most sadistic of the bunch, this deck is packed to the brim with cards that force your opponent to make painful decisions. Is a Longhorn Firebeast worth being nugged for 5? Is your spell worth 5 life? How much would you pay to keep Menacing Ogre too small to be truly menacing? Is Prowling Pangolin worth two creatures or Shivan Wumpus a land? Should you block the Ogre Marauder? Heck, should you attack through that Hissing Miasma? Best of all, how much can you afford to take if you've already bid life to claim your deck in the auction?
Choose Your Destiny
(designed by Scott Dang)
The 'Rhythm is Still Gonna Get You
I wanted to call this deck Turbo-Rhythm, but who am I kidding? It's Elves! The deck uses the usual array of mana elves (Llanowar Elves, Fyndhorn Elves, Priest of Titania, and Quirion Ranger) to steal a game with a quick Biorhythm or simply play a fatty like Kamahl, Fist of Krosa and "Overrun" for the win. You can even do it the old fashioned way with Overrun itself. Summoner's Pact ties everything together, giving you access to a number of utility creatures (Indrik Stomphowler and company) as well as the elvish Overrun, Tribal Forcemage.
(designed by Hideki Okamura)
She Sells Sanctuary
The five Sanctuaries from Apocalypse (Ana, Ceta, Dega, Necra, and Rakahmm, weren't those the names of the Teletubbies?) trigger when you control enemy-coloured permanents. For example, if you control a red or black permanent, you will gain 2 life with Dega Sanctuary, but if you control both a red and a black permanent, you will gain 4 life. Why not cover all (or most) of your bases with a gold card, such as the easy-to-play Transguild Courier or one of the Nephilim? That's just what this deck does. (What, you thought I wrote all that preamble for nothing?) Joiner Adept and Utopia Sprawl help fix your mana so you can cast your Sanctuaries and other multicoloured spells, spells which conveniently pump up your Quirion Dryads.
(designed by David V. Messina)
This Is Only a Test
Martyr of Sands allows you to gain a ton of life. Playing it (or putting it into play) and sacrificing it every turn thanks to Reya Dawnbringer, Debtors' Knell, Proclamation of Rebirth, Lifeline, or Genesis recursion allows you to gain a ton of tons of life. With all that life, Test of Endurance becomes an excellent win condition. Zur's Weirding "lock" will often do the trick as well. Children of Korlis and Kami of False Hope act as pseudo-Martyrs, while Swords to Plowshares and Wrath of God allow you to survive until you can get your life-gain engine going.
Test of Endurance
(designed by Wayne Smith)
This deck not only contains a herd of Minotaurs, but it also features our second instance of Yuan Shao, the Indecisive (which would probably be my name if I was a creature from Portal: Three Kingdoms). Anaba Spirit Crafter, the Minotaur lord, leads the assault alongside the sneaky Minotaur Illusionist and the eternal warrior himself, Tahngarth, Talruum Hero. Didgeridoo, meanwhile, acts as the poor Minotaur's Aether Vial. Earthquake and Fault Line, powered up with Gauntlet of Might, help to finish what your horned minions have started.
(designed by Josh Epstein)
Unless you're a staunch Cyclops supporter, one of something might be good, but two is better. That's the logic behind Doubling Season, friend of Kavu Titans and Whirling Dervishes everywhere. Not only will your Kavus come into play with six +1/+1 counters, putting them in Force of Nature territory, and not only will your Dervishes gain two counters when they deal damage to an opponent, but your Forgotten Ancients become absolutely ridiculous. First of all, they'll get two counters every time a spell is played which is already pretty nutty. Even better, whenever you move counters off of your Ancient, you'll be able to put twice that many counters on one of your creatures. This can get even crazier if you have multiple Ancients in play, since you can move counters from one Ancient to another and then to a third creature, doubling the counters each time. You can also power out a doubly large Maga, Traitor to Mortals if you want to win without the combat phase.
(designed by Jon Tschida)
Name Brand (with Cabal Therapy)
Our final deck features a card near and dear to my heart: Varchild's War-Riders. There are many neat tricks to pull with all the Survivor tokens you can give to your opponent. One of the best is to use Brand. This spell allows you take control of all the permanents you own, which includes tokens created by permanents you control. This includes the Survivor tokens, the Goblin tokens created by Hunted Phantasm or Mogg Infestation, creatures you've traded with Gilded Drake, Cultural Exchange, and Legerdemain, the Ape tokens resulting from Pongify, as well as the Spirit tokens generated by Forbidden Orchard. You take them all back. Despotic Scepter and Tel-Jilad Stylus add a little "If I can't have 'em, no one can" spoiled-brattery to the equation. There are a few other ways to keep all those 1/1s in check, like Yamabushi's Storm, Echoing Truth, and even Zuran Spellcaster, as well as some blunter instruments like Nevinyrral's Disk and Oblivion Stone.
(designed by Michael Kuenzli)
And that's it. I'd like to congratulate the seventeen finalists and thank everyone else who participated. It was a tough contest to judge with so many outstanding submissions. Check out of the coverage of the 2007 Magic Invitational October 18th through 21st if you want to see these decks in action.
Until next time, have fun with the alphabet!