2007 Magic Invitational Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on October 19, 2007

By Wizards of the Coast

Catch up on all the action from previous days at the Magic Invitational.

THURSDAY ENTRIES

  • 7:01 p.m.: Auction Decks in Action
    by Tim Willoughby
  • 5:37 p.m.: Man o’ Mana(bond)
    Round 4: Guillaume Wafo-Tapa vs. Steve Menendian
    by Analynn Bustamante
  • Podcast: It's The Cube Show!
    by Rich Hagon
  • Decklists: Auction of the People
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Video: Auction of the People
    by Mark Rosewater
  • Podcast: Let's Get This Party Started
    by Rich Hagon
  • 1:52 p.m. - Cube Hits and Misses
    by Tim Willoughby
  • 1:27 p.m. - When Land Tax Attacks
    Round 2: Guillaume Wafo-Tapa vs. Shuhei Nakamura
    by Tim Willoughby
  • 12:45 p.m. - Drafting with Power
    by Tim Willoughby
  • Card List: Cube Draft
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • 12:00 p.m. - Cube Draft Pods
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Video: Introduction and Cube Draft
    by Mark Rosewater
  • Podcast: Auction of the People, Part 1
    by Rich Hagon
  • Feature: Do I Hear 5 Cards, 18 Life?
    by Tim Willoughby
  • Podcast: Rosewater on the Invitational, and Hoaen on Hoaen
    by Rich Hagon

BLOG

Podcast: Rosewater on the Invitational, and Hoaen on Hoaen

by Rich Hagon

We meet the Founder of the Feast, Mark Rosewater, who regales us with tales of the Invitational past and present, and we look ahead to the week of high-level competition. Then, we take you inside the world of Rich Hoaen, one of Canada's finest exports, and a man with some surprising views. Essential listening to start the Magic week.

  • Right-click here to download the podcast to your computer, or just click on the link to open it directly in your browser.

Podcast: Auction of the People, Part 1

by Rich Hagon

Thursday, the 16 giants of the gaming tables go head to head with the Auction of the People format. But it wouldn't be an Auction format without the auction itself, and in this second show we bring you every bid for every deck, as it happens! Work out who got out-Metagamed, and who did the dirty on their illustrious colleagues. And then? Get ready for Day One!

  • Right-click here to download the podcast to your computer, or just click on the link to open it directly in your browser.

Video: Introduction and Cube Draft

by Mark Rosewater

The brains behind the Invitational, the one and only Mark Rosewater, introduces the formats and takes you inside the Cube Draft, which no doubt forced players into draft decisions they never thought they'd have to make. Time Walk or Bob?

12:00 p.m. - Cube Draft Pods

by Event Coverage Staff
Pod A: Willy Edel, Jelger Wiegersma, Shuhei Nakamura, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, Raphael Levy, Craig Jones, Evan Erwin, Antoine Ruel.
Pod A: Frank Karsten, Gabriel Nassif, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Kenji Tsumura, Shota Yasooka, Tiago Chan, Rich Hoaen, Stephen Menendian.

12:45 p.m. - Drafting with Power

by Tim Willoughby

Here on Day One of the Magic Invitational 2007, the very first format to be played is Cube Draft. For those of you not familiar, it's a draft with a difference. The difference isn't in any of the rules, simply the cards available to pick. Where normally one might have, for example, a triple Lorwyn draft, here we just have the best bit of Lorwyn. We also have the best bits of every set ever printed.

All in all there are 720 cards within the card pool for players to draft, from the planeswalkers to Black Lotus. These have been picked out for their quality in general, and for Limited in particular. The decks that tend to spring from such drafts are typically approaching the quality of a decent Constructed deck—containing hugely powerful cards.

For the full list (and it's a big one) of what's in the Cube, have a look here. It is the undisciplined drafter's downfall. With so many good cards, first picks become very tough, and everyone is tempted to start splashing all over the place. It's not hard to have a good deck, but unfortunately good decks are often just not good enough. While some players, like Rich Hoaen, have been drafting this way for years, there are many who had their first experience of being able to draft moxes last night, in a practice draft run at our hotel. It's been a pretty exciting time.

Going into Thursday's draft there were some pretty wacky picks. Stephen Menendian had to work out how to choose between Time Walk and Dark Confidant. It says something that even a dyed-in-the-wool Vintage player went for Bob over the piece of blue power. Craig Jones, who was solidly looking at a white weenie plan, had a bizarre pack 2 where he received Recurring Nightmare and Survival of the Fittest in consecutive packs.

Sneak Attack

Some of the decks have turned out to be particularly nutty. Kenji Tsumura has a terrifying red deck sporting Sneak Attack and a whole host of fatties and burn, including a Rorix Bladewing who he snagged 13th. If that plan doesn't work, he also has the option of casting Illusions of Grandeur, and following up with Donate. Not a bad plan B. Meanwhile Shuhei Nakamura has drafted a naughty little reanimator deck, which includes Library of Alexandria and Land Tax to fill his hand to bursting, and such fatties as Angel of Despair to bring back. If that wasn't all, he has the combo of Black Lotus and Auriok Salvagers, to potentially just hard-cast every card he draws. Gabriel Nassif has been seen sporting a combo deck, that taps a large amount of mana, untaps its lands a lot, and then taps them again for more. We're still waiting to see what he can do with it all.

On the flip side of the coin, Frank Karsten looks to have made a bit of a metagame choice, with a deck that is pretty much white weenie with Armageddon, backed up by a nice little blue splash including Ancestral Recall. While everyone's trying to be big and clever, Frank could easily nip in and just beat them up with his tiny guys.

Stay tuned for all the results and decklists.

1:27 p.m. - When Land Tax Attacks

by Tim Willoughby

Thursday night at dinner I gave Shuhei Nakamura the gift of life. By virtue of the Pro Player cards, I'd noticed that he had the same birthday as me, and was born one year earlier. However, according to the Top 8 profiles of Pro Tour-Valencia, Shuhei is 26. Something didn't add up there, as I'm just 24. As it turns out, Nakamura had somewhere along the line lost track of how old he was. As if by Magic, he was a year younger!

Game 1

For this match against Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, Shuhei was on the draw, but had a wickedly good start, of Land Tax on turn one, and Sensei's Divining Top plus an Azorius Chancery on turn two. One way or another, he wanted to get his draws sorted for the rest of the game. Unfortunately for Nakamura, the tricksy Wafo-Tapa elected to not play a land for turn two, instead discarding Nether Spirit.

The spirit came into play for the Frenchman the following turn, but having held back on land, his hand was still pretty full when Nakamura played a Mesmeric Fiend, which ate a Vampiric Tutor. For a turn or two beats were traded, before Shuhei added an innocuous looking Altar of Dementia to his side of the field. Wafo-Tapa just shrugged, and played Night's Whisper to draw more cards, before playing Mox Jet and a Rakdos Carnarium. Each player still only had 2 lands in play, so Land Tax was looking a little weak.

Shuhei's Land Tax got the better of Guillaume.Eventually, Shuhei chose to block Nether Spirit with his Mesmeric Fiend, giving back Guillaume his Vampiric Tutor, which soon found Spiritmonger. This looked like quite the beating for Shuhei. The Japanese player had a cunning plan though, playing Living Death to wipe the French side of the board, and get back a Mesmeric Fiend, who permanently removed Mirari's Wake from the game, thanks to Altar of Dementia letting him be sacrificed with his coming into play ability on the stack.

It was up to Guillaume to again reload at this point, and he used Skeletal Scrying to do just that, drawing 4 cards, but going to 11 life in the process. The Scrying did perform one other useful function—leaving Nether Spirit again alone in the graveyard, to come back again the following turn. Shuhei had a fair blocker for the spirit in the form of Auriok Salvagers, but it soon got targeted by Tendrils of Corruption for 4. Shuhei used Altar of Dementia to stop the lifegain, and milled himself, in the hope of getting rid of some of the weaker cards he'd seen on top of his deck with Sensei's Divining Top.

Nakamura then played Angel of Despair, to take out Guillaume's Rakdos Carnarium. Chainer's Edict dealt with the Angel, though it did mill Wafo-Tapa for 5. Nakamura used a Faith's Fetters to deal with Nether Spirit, and play continued, without either player having a clock except for the Death Grasp that Wafo-Tapa had been building up to all game—which Nakamura had twice seen with his Mesmeric Fiend.

When it finally came, Shuhei performed a silent little laugh. He had the Mana Tithe all ready. The nail was put in the coffin when Shuhei followed up with Cataclysm, from which he would keep Azorius Chancery, Land Tax and Altar of Dementia, with Sensei's Divining Top on the top of his deck, while Guillaume would have virtually nothing. The Frenchman, out of gas, scooped them up.

Game 2

For Game 2, Shuhei again had the Land Tax start. He got to use it on his second turn, after Wafo-Tapa played a second swamp and Night's Whisper. Shuhei discarded a land and Yosei, the Morning Star for his turn, and in the turns that followed, got to tax again and again, filling his hand with lands, and ultimately his graveyard with fatties. Sundering Titan was the next to hit the bin, but Guillaume had a Stuffy Doll, who looked likely to cause trouble even if Shuhei could find a reanimation spell.

As it turns out though, he had the perfect spell for the moment though, with Living Death getting rid of Guillaume's only creature, and giving Nakamura 12 power of monsters, who ate most of Wafo-Tapa's land.

The Frenchman scooped it up.

Shuhei Nakamura wins 2-0

1:52 p.m. - Cube Hits and Misses

by Tim Willoughby

For the first round of the Invitational, there were quite a few saucy plays to show off, as players got to play the draft equivalent of Vintage...

Craig Jones got something of a soft lock out against Jelger Wiegersma, in the form of turn-two Abeyance on an Isochron Scepter, only to be trumped by a Winter Orb.

What would you pick?

Kenji Tsumura had to mulligan to 5 in Game 2 of his match against Frank Karsten, but pulled out a great hand that let him cast Wheel of Fortune to get right back in the game. With Sneak Attack in play, Frank cast Armageddon, leaving him with a Silver Knight in play. Kenji's hand sported Bogardan Hellkite and Akroma, Angel of Fury, all he needed was one more beater and he'd be able to come back with a horde of monsters with haste. Unfortunately for him, Karsten's deck, which seemed ideally set up to beat Tsumura's sporting such awkward cards as Sword of Fire and Ice, Silver Knight and Paladin en-Vec, threw up one more answer—Maze of Ith.

Shuhei Nakamura seemed to have all the answers against Evan Erwin, getting a sea of card advantage between Library of Alexandria, Sensei's Divining Top and Land Tax, only to seal the deal with fatties and reanimation. While Erwin had plenty of bounce spells, including a Tradewind Rider, there wasn't a lot he could do in the face of Sundering Titan and Angel of Despair, which Nakamura could soon just hard cast.

In slightly shakier play, Gabriel Nassif is currently leading the 'bad play of the day' race, as he cast Copy Artifact on his Mindslaver. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a combo. Mindslaver is legendary, and Nassif put 8 mana's worth of cards in the bin. Learn from the best kids. Don't make these mistakes at home, these are professionals here.

Podcast: Let's Get This Party Started

by Rich Hagon

It's Thursday morning, and time to get the Magic Invitational 2007 under way. We meet the 16 players who will battle across fiveformats and 15 rounds to reach the summit of Sunday's final showdown. We give you the lowdown on The Cube, the first format of the week, and foolishly predict which of these card cavaliers will bring home the bacon. Tune in later Thursday for full coverage of the first three rounds.

  • Right-click here to download the podcast to your computer, or just click on the link to open it directly in your browser.

Video: Auction of the People

by Mark Rosewater

This year's auction is alphabet-themed, where each deck had to contain at least one non-land card starting with each letter of the alphabet. Mark Rosewater breaks it down.

Podcast: It's The Cube Show!

by Rich Hagon

Ridiculous decks abound in the monster format that is The Cube. Elsewhere, assorted combo pieces were seen floating amid the wreckage of decks that almost, but not quite, came together to do unspeakable things. With no Swiss rounds at the Invitational, the standings promise to be tight all the way, and at the end of the first series only one competitor made it out unscathed, and only one has yet to notch a victory. Who are they? Listen to find out.

  • Right-click here to download the podcast to your computer, or just click on the link to open it directly in your browser.

5:37 p.m.: Man o' Mana(bond)

by Analynn Bustamante

This is the first round of the second format here at the Invitational: the Auction of the People. Guillaume Wafo-Tapa's playing a 42 land deck vs. Steve Menendian's Elves! (The exclamation point is part of the name; I'm really not that excited that he's playing elves.) In this format, the players bid life totals and cards in opening hand on various decks. Wafo-Tapa has seven cards and is starting at 18 life, while Steve has 5 and 25.

Game 1

Manabond

After winning the die roll, Wafo-Tapa decided to draw. Menendian sent his five-carder back for a possibly better four. Wafo led with an Exploration which Menendian answered with a Quirion Dryad. Wafo-Tapa complimented his Exploration with a Manabond, dumping a whole mess of land into play.

Steve then followed up with a Summoner's Pact for Priest of Titania. There was a little confusion with life totals and Wafo-Tapa forgets that they're not starting at 20, but even after this Wafo-Tapa had a plan. He used Ghost Quarter on his own land to gain threshold for Barbarian Ring to kill the priest. With Menendian unable to pay for the pact, he had to shuffle up and go to Game 2.

Game 2

For the Frenchman in Game 2 it was time to take a trip to Paris. After checking out the six-carder, Wafo-Tapa went to five. Steve once again shipped back his five cards for four.

Steve's first land drop got hit by Wasteland and from there he was forced to ship his next few turns with no plays, while Wafo-Tapa had a Manabond allowing his 42 land deck to take off. Wafo decided to dredge Life from the Loam in consecutive turns, which seems just fine for him. Steve finally got back into it with a forest into a Llanowar Elves, albeit many turns later. Wafo used Wasteland on his own Plateau in order to, once again, gain threshold for Barbarian Ring, killing the lone elf.

Steve tried to fight back with a forest and two more mana elves, but during his turn Guillaume cast Life from the Loam for Barbarian Ring and killed another one of Steve's elves. Menendian was still kicking, swinging in with a Fyndhorn Elf. Another dredge from Wafo-Tapa returned Life from the Loam to his hand, only to be cast, again, for Barbarian Ring. There seemed to be a pattern here.

Steve called the judge a couple of times to check on that tricky Manabond. Steve could never really get anything going with recurring Barbarian Rings offing his team, and when Wafo-Tapa started using Rishadan Port on Steve's only Forest during the American's upkeep, things looked bleak. As Steve had no elves and only two Forests, Wafo-Tapa decided to start the attack with two Nantuko Monasteries. During his next turn, he attacked for 14 with various land-creatures. Steve played Summoner's Pact again, with two lands, then offered the hand.

Wafo-Tapa wins 2-0.

This is the first loss for Menendian, leaving him on 3-1, still at the top of the standings for now.

7:01 p.m.: Auction Decks in Action

by Tim Willoughby

The Auction of the People was a pretty crazy bid-fest on Wednesday night, and while some players were celebrating their great bargains during the players dinner that evening, many others were wondering how they got so caught up in a bidding frenzy. The big talk for a lot of players was whether their deck could stand up to the five-card opening hands they had forced themselves to live with. The chances of getting two lands in a five-card hand are not especially high, and a mulligan to four is pretty horrible. The consensus seemed to be that choosing to draw first was where the money was at, and even then there were various decks that looked to be faced with an uphill battle winning against those with more starting cards in hand.

Brand

One player who is certainly smiling for the Auction rounds is Rich Hoaen. When it was just him and Tiago Chan left in the Auction, there were three decks left. There were two that Hoaen really didn't want to be stuck with, namely Transformers and Thunderbluff. When Tiago chose to take Transformers, Hoaen let down his grumpy façade, and briskly took Cultural Exchange, the deck that "wins any time it draws Brand." With eight cards and 25 life to play with, he will quite happily let opponents choose to draw, and just go about his game plan according to plan.

So how is the format actually looking? Well Kenji has skillfully managed to not mulligan all day, and has lived the dream of a turn-four win (turn four or turn infinity, depending on how you look at it). Meanwhile, there have been mulligans to oblivion from Jelger Wiegersma, whose Suicide Black deck is a touch short on black sources, and a little heavy on the suicide at five cards to start.

Games seem to be really really fast, with the exception of those where both decks work, or both decks mulligan a lot. Rich Hagon compared watching some of these decks play to "Watching two blind 90-year-old men in a field trying to find each other for a fist fight." With Evan Erwin gaining a whole mess of life with his Test of Endurance deck, some games are definitely running longer than others.

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