Auction of the People: Overview

Posted in Event Coverage on September 2, 2015

By Matthew Vienneau

Spirits were high amongst the competitors at the beginning of the Auction of the People as each player was both excited and afraid of what deck they might end up with. It wasn't so much that players worried about getting the good deck as they all were afraid of ending up with one of the really, really bad ones.

As the Auction format had only been done once before, there was very little to go on in terms of what bids to expect for the good decks versus the bad. Last year's decks were much more even in strength and had at least a small history of play to indicate how good they were. At 7 cards and 20 life even the worst deck stood a chance of going 2-1. But this year there are some decks that people don't want even at 7 cards and 20 life! What should happen is that this will drive the price of the better decks to highs unseen last year, but until a couple of decks have been bid on, it is likely that the players will be reluctant to go that high early on as it is strange new territory to be bidding 4 cards or less. I expect that early on, some of the better decks will be gotten for prices that seem extremely cheap by the end of the Auction as people get desperate to avoid getting one of the bad decks and drive the prices on the good ones higher and higher. Too make things more random, with so many totally new decks, many of the players have no idea of what deck wins what match-ups, which should reward those that are in the know such as Scott Johns and Brian Kibler.

One of the hazards of picking the deck to start bidding on is that if no one wants it, you may end up with the deck at 7 cards, 20 life. So players never begin the round with the worst decks as the last thing they want is for everyone to just sit down and give it to them! But most players also want to save the best decks until they can accurately gauge what price it should go for, so the tendency is to select a middle of the road deck to start the bidding with.

By having the Auction as the last format, an additional factor is brought into play. Each player knows the three opponents they will be facing in this round. With this information, it can really pay off if they wait for their opponents to purchase decks first. With that information they can bid higher for decks that are extra strong in the match-up. If one of your opponents gets the Chimera deck, then you better draft a deck that can handle The Abyss!

The draft began with Kai choosing the Homarid deck to bid on. It's interesting to note that both Clegg and Richards chose not to bid higher than the initial 7 cards, 20 life bid, indicating that they did not feel that the deck was playable, or perhaps indicating that they couldn't figure out how to play it! With Firestorm, Mana Drain, Sol Ring, Yawgmoth's Will and Force of Will, it's not hard to conclude that Brian Kibler stole this deck for only 6 cards, 14 life.

The Knight deck was next, with fierce bidding from most of the players. Antoine Ruel revealed one of his strategies by increasing the bid by two life instead of the traditional one, from 6 cards, 19 life to 6 cards, 17 life. This is a strategy that has a mind games component, as it gives the impression that one is very keen to get the deck and maybe the other bidders should back off before they end up paying too much life. Antoine employed the strategy of sudden jumps in the bidding throughout the Auction to throw off the other competitors. This deck went very high at 5 cards, 16 life.

Olivier Ruel took Antoine's strategy a step further with the Fungus deck. After a bid of 7 cards, 12 life from Scott Johns, Olivier jumped right to 5 cards, 20 life! This huge jump still wasn't enough to scare off bidders as four more people continued, but he still ended up with the deck at 5 cards, 14 life.

The next deck of note was the Chimera deck, widely regarded as the best in the Auction. Instead of opening with the traditional 7 cards and 20 life, Chris Benafel opened the bidding at 6 cards and 5 life! The bidding continued around the table before returning to him with a last bid from Kai of 5 cards, 12 life. Benafel, misunderstanding the rules of the Auction, bid 5 cards, 5 life, figuring that if no one matched his bid he could re-bid 4 cards, 20 life on the deck. But as Gary Wise learned last year with the Extended Necropotence deck, this is not allowed and Benafel was stuck with only 5 life to start each game. His opponents immediately took note of this and began fiercely bidding on the aggressive decks as they knew if they could deal five quick points of damage they would be able to beat the best deck out there!

Sensing that the players were going to start getting desperate for decks once there was only chaff remaining, Scott Johns fiercely bid on the Chicken deck and was relieved to walk away with it at 6 cards and 10 life announcing that he just wanted to make sure he had a viable deck. The added penalty of bidding on the Chicken deck is that you may have to act silly in some way, which I'm sure dissuaded some of the more subdued players. Gary Wise unsurprisingly selected the celebrated Rats deck, built by Gary Wise himself, for bidding at 7 cards, 20 life. Showing disdain for the deck, van de Logt refused to bid even once, indicating he didn't feel the deck was playable. The bidding was slow until Kai jumped in at 6 cards, 15 life, perhaps indicating that he saw something the others didn't, or just that he's a friend of Gary's and didn't want to embarrass his deck. After that the Rats continued around the room until Pustilnik landed it for only 6 cards, 9 life. This was a decent price, as the Rat deck gets much worse for each card it doesn't start with, as it counts on an explosive opening hand of Black Lotuses and Plague Rats.

Gary Wise picked up the Land deck next at 5 cards, 15 life, and declared that he had been given a gift, as the Land deck was very good and easily the best deck left in the draft. The bidding on the Dragon deck was not that fierce and Van de Logt picked it up without a problem for 7 cards, 16 life.

The Bear deck generated some of the fiercest bidding. Antoine Ruel knew he was facing Benafel and his Chimera deck, starting at 5 life. So Antoine desperately wanted the Bear deck and bid it up to 5 cards, 9 life after the third round of bids. Fujita also wanted the deck and after much deliberating, bid it up to 8 life. They continued back and forth in this manner, until Antoine finally bid 4 cards, 18 life - the first bid of 4 cards in Invitational history. He was sure this was enough, and gave many pleading looks to Fujita, but the Japanese player was not be swayed and finally bid 4 cards, 17 life to win the deck.

With almost no decent decks remaining, the bidding became very fierce as each competitor tried to get the bad deck that they preferred over the other bad decks. Clegg, Richards and Price each fought for the Imp deck before Dave picked it up for 5 cards, 20 life. Budde and Clegg then battled for the Legend deck with Kai emerging triumphant at 5 cards, 10 life. Clegg was not be denied again and he beat Richards away from the Spy deck with a bid of 6 cards, 13 life. Finkel, who at times seemed to know exactly what bid he was willing to make for each deck as he worked out various calculations in his head, had been quick drop out of most of the bidding, but Richards put up little fight before giving him the Lords deck for 7 cards, 17 life.

This left three decks - Goblins, Dwarves, and the much-maligned Walls deck. With only two bidders remaining, it was easy for them to each get the deck they wanted at 7 cards, 20 life as Antoine Ruel took the Goblin deck and Scott Richards picked up the Dwarves.

The Wall deck remained as the only unselected deck as the players rushed to study their opponent's decks before playing the first round. It will definitely be some of the most interesting Magic seen at a high level event as each Invitee tries to work out the zany decks of the People and play with cards that they haven't used since they were first playing, if at all!

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