Price of Progress: The Magic Invitational Preview

In a week, I’ll be hopping on a plane to Sydney, Australia to compete in the Magic: the Gathering Invitational, thanks largely to the votes from the readers of StarCityCCG.com. (You GO, girl! – ) Most of you probably know what the Invitational is all about, but in case you haven’t, here’s the general idea….

In a week, I’ll be hopping on a plane to Sydney, Australia to compete in the Magic: the Gathering Invitational, thanks largely to the votes from the readers of StarCityCCG.com. (You GO, girl! – The Ferrett) Most of you probably know what the Invitational is all about, but in case you haven’t, here’s the general idea. It’s an exhibition event, meant to showcase some of the game’s best and most popular Magic players, and promote Magic in a certain area of the world. Last year it was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the year before that it was held in Barcelona, Spain. This year it is going to be happening "down under" in Sydney, Australia and it will be going on immediately preceding and during part of Grand Prix: Sydney, so many of the region’s Magic players should be in attendance to watch the Invitational, as well as to compete.

Am I prepared? To be honest, I’m more prepared for the State Championships than I am for the Invitational, but I have been doing some homework. Here’s a rundown of the Invitational formats:

Duplicate Sealed and Solomon Draft – Two of the five formats (six of the fifteen rounds) are Limited, but they aren’t the traditional type of Limited which uses a few boosters or a tournament pack of Invasion. Traditionally, these formats feature new cards that have been designed by Mark Rosewater, old and powerful cards like Hammer of Bogardan, and anything in between. Its very difficult to predict what the workings of Mark Rosewater mind will bring, and as such it’s almost impossible to prepare for these formats. The best you can do is hope your experience with Limited can carry you through it.

Auction of Champions – What to say? In this event, players bid for the right to play one of seventeen decks used by Pro Tour and World Champions to win their respective events. The opening bid must be 7 cards and 20 life (for starting hand size and life total), and a bid of 6 cards and 20 life is better than 7 cards and 1 life for the purposes of winning the right to use the deck. The skill here comes in evaluating the various decks and determining how well they handle having fewer cards, etc. and how well they match up against the other decks in the environment. Between you and me, I have no choice but to try and get my own deck to play, the Tempest Mono Red beatdown deck that I used to win Pro Tour – Los Angeles 1998. Not only is it MY deck, but it is an aggressive deck that will gain a lot by having opponents who start with less than twenty life, and it can recover from having fewer cards in the opening hand better than others because of its cheap creatures and artifacts like Cursed Scroll and Scalding Tongs. I’m not going to pay too dearly for it, but I’ve gotta try.

Vintage – I don’t get much of chance to play Vintage (or Type 1), but I’ve played enough over my years of Magic that I can usually put a good deck together. The deck that I used in Kuala Lumpur last year was a Mishra’s Workshop deck sent to me by Andrew Cuneo, and I’m planning on playing a version of it again this year unless something else grabs me.

Workshop Deck

R Black Lotus
R Mox Sapphire
R Mox Jet
R Mox Emerald
R Mox Ruby
R Mox Pearl
R Sol Ring
R Library of Alexandria
R Tolarian Academy
4 Underground Sea
4 Underground River
1 City of Brass
4 Mishra’s Workshop
4 Wasteland
R Strip Mine

R Ancestral Recall
R Timewalk
R Timetwister
R Mystical Tutor
R Tinker
R Demonic Tutor
R Yawgmoth’s Will
R Demonic Tutor
R Vampiric Tutor
R Mind Twist
R Memory Jar

4 Juggernaut
4 Su-chi
1 Icy Manipulator
4 Duress
1 The Abyss
4 Mana Drain
4 Force of Will

Last year’s Vintage portion of the Invitational was overflowing with NecroDonate decks, but I don’t expect to see that this year with the recent restriction of Necropotence in the format. This deck excelled last year with its combination of Duress, countermagic, and quick threats, but can it hold its own against a greater variety of decks? If you have any suggestions on what deck to play, how I might want to change this deck, or what I need to be prepared against, please send me an email. I can use all the help I can get.

BYOB (Build Your Own Block) – This is another interesting format, in which you can choose one main expansion set (Ice Age, Mirage, Tempest, Urza’s Saga, Invasion), one second set (Homelands, Visions, Stronghold, Urza’s Legacy), and one third set (Alliances, Weatherlight, Exodus, Urza’s Destiny) with which to build a constructed deck. If any card is banned or restricted in any format (like how Necropotence is restricted in Vintage), it is banned in this format. My first instinct, of course, is to try and see if there is a good red beatdown deck and naturally there was. If you use Tempest as your first set for Jackal Pup and Mogg Fanatic, Visions for your second set for Fireblast, and Alliances for your third set with Pyrokinesis, Pillage, and Gorilla Shaman, you end up with a good selection of cards. Here’s a first go at a Tempest/Visions/Alliances Red Beats deck:

4x Jackal Pup
4x Mogg Conscript
4x Mogg Fanatic
4x Gorilla Shaman
4x Fireslinger
3x Viashino Sandstalker
4x Death Spark
4x Kindle
4x Fireblast
4x Pyrokinesis

17x Mountain
4x Wasteland

This deck looks like it could do well in a creature-heavy environment, but you could also modify it to include Pillage in the main deck to have a better chance against combo decks like Replenish. Any other ideas? If so, I’d love to hear them…

Finally, there is the matter of a card that I need to submit. If I win the Invitational, Wizards of the Coast R&D will make this card design see print in a future expansion set. I’m not much of a card designer, myself, but I’d like to give you the opportunity to have your ideas see the light of day in a real Magic: The Gathering expansion set. Last year, my favorite beatdown card idea came from Phil Mitchell:

Goblin Ruffian
Casting Cost: R
Power/Toughness: 1/1
Creature – Goblin

When Goblin Ruffian comes into play, return a Mountain you control to owner’s hand or sacrifice Goblin Ruffian. If you control another goblin, Goblin Ruffian gets +1/+2.

If I don’t find any other card that I like, I’m going to submit this one again because I love it so much. But there’s still time to change my mind. Send me your beatdown card ideas, and if you can convince me, I’ll be playing in the Invitational for the right to create a card for YOU.

So send me your card ideas, comments and criticisms. I could use the help on the constructed formats at the Invitational and I’d love to see your beatdown cards. Until next week,

David Price
[email protected]
King of Beatdown