The 2017 Smart And Thinvitational!

Why don’t more people get their friends together to play nonsense formats? Why?! Because this seems like the best time imaginable. How would you build your decks? What formats would you play? Could Cedric have screwed up this aura thing any worse?

While most of you have been getting ready for SCG Tour events, Pro Tour Amonkhet, or some other tournament where you can win something
tangible, I’ve spent the last three months preparing for the only
tournament that matters.

The Smart and Thinvitational!

For those of you unaware, The Smart and Thinvitational is a tournament with
some of the smartest and thinnest people I’ve met during my years in
Seattle where my best friend,

Steven Birklid,

brews up some formats for the nine of us to play, we take it far too
seriously, rent a house, break bread, and talk trash for three days
straight all while mixing in our favorite format when we have time: Cube

I did a write up of
last year’s tournament
, so feel free to read that if you’re so inclined, but this year brought
new formats, new degeneracy, and, unfortunately for me, a new champion.
Like last year, I’ll start by introducing the competitors:

Cedric Phillips

Hi. I’m Cedric. Nice to meet you. I love Lebron James, Hayley Williams, AJ
Styles, and swiping right on Tinder (not necessarily in that order). When
I’m not cheering on the Cavs, listening to Paramore (new album on Friday!),
watching WWE, or swiping right on Tinder, I’m talking or losing at Magic.

Steven Birklid

The mad scientist behind most of this nonsense, Steven is now the proud
owner of a Fast Signs in the suburbs of Seattle. Before he got a real job,
he was the guy winning all the PTQs in Alaska and probably swindling you in
a Fantasy Football trade. He’s also trying to find a way to buy Bud Light
Lime stock, but these attempts thus far have been unsuccessful.

Kyle Boddy

The Asian Sensation who has a love for blue cards unlike anyone I’ve ever
seen. Kyle wrote for StarCityGames.com

many moons ago

and was one of Ohio’s highest-ranked players back in the day. Nowadays he’s
the owner of Driveline Baseball,
where he works with pitchers to increase their pitching velocity. In his
spare time, he likes to yell at people on Twitter, Snapchat pictures of
himself yelling at people on Twitter, and Instagraming his Snapchats of him
yelling at people on Twitter.

David Bedoll

The originator of this tournament; The Smart and Thinvitational would not
exist without Mr. Bedoll. He’s an actuary by day, someone who climbs
mountains on weekends, and his bluntness will have you in tears laughing
whether you like it or not.

Brian Wong

A former contributor to the

[card name="Limited Resources"]Limited Resources

podcast, Brian is a legendary player in the Seattle area. He’s played on
the Pro Tour a handful of times and has never lost a game of Limited Magic
in his entire life (at least that’s what they tell me). When he’s not busy
taking every non-basic land in Cube or destroying people in Hearthstone, he
finds time to cook the best Salmon Fettuccine we’ve all ever had every

Peter Beckfield

A brogrammer who used to work at Wizards of the Coast, Peter is the ladies
man of the group (as you can see with the picture above) and actually is
smart and thin, which kinda ruins the whole name of this tournament. He
always finds a way to have the most creative decks that we all somehow
miss, and this year was no exception.

Jesse Wilke

A professional poker player who held the lead in the 2015 World Series of
Poker for a non-zero amount of time, Wilke is the most old-school of the
group, as he’s been playing Magic for some time. He’s been dabbling in web
design lately but only if you do something to have a website designed for
you. Which is weird and out of context, but some of you will probably
figure it out.

Max McCall

A former member of WotC R&D, Max now works for

[card name="Blizzard"]Blizzard
When he’s not busy trying to cast Channel, Show and Tell, or Eureka, he’s
baking us cookies, cooking us pulled pork, or something else similarly
delicious. One of the more introverted of the group, when Max does talk, it
generally leads to me tear-inducing laughter.

The most devastating man of the group,

Zac Hill

is a former member of WotC R&D and also did some Pro Tour coverage on
the side. He now is the Chief Innovation Officer for The Future Project,
but he still finds time to humiliate the rest of us with

[card name="Tangle Wire"]Tangle Wire



[card name="Winter Orb"]Winter Orb
I’ve heard rumors that Hour of Devastation was named after Zac,
but no one has been able to confirm or deny these rumors.

Now that you’ve been reintroduced to the cast of characters, let’s
introduce you to the formats of this year’s tournament:

Perfect Pool

First, the rules:

  1. Choose three Modern-Legal sets; you may choose the same set more
    than once.

  2. For each set, choose one rare, three uncommons, and ten commons.
    You receive one copy of each of those cards. If you chose the same
    set multiple times, you are not required to choose the same set of
    cards for each iteration of that set.

  3. Modern Banned List is in effect.

  4. This format has a non-zero amount of existing metagame, so I ask
    that you please don’t research and instead brew from scratch.

  5. Unlimited access to basic lands.

  6. Construct a 40-card main deck; the rest of your pool will be
    assigned as your sideboard.

  7. Matches will be best 2-of-3 games, with sideboarding after the
    first game.

How I Chose My Deck

When constructing this article, I considered acting like this format didn’t
even exist as to not embarrass myself, but I decided to not be a coward and
own up. In short, I don’t think I could have gotten this format more wrong
if I tried. My first thought was that having three of the same set was an
inferior strategy because it doesn’t allow you to branch out into various
synergies. Then, after further research, I realized that staying within the
same set was the best strategy because sets have so much built in synergy

The problem, however, is I assumed that everyone would just have a “bad”
Limited deck. Instead, it was me that had a bad Limited deck and everyone else who had a good Block Constructed deck. Let’s take a
look at what I submitted.

Packs Selected:

Rise of the Eldrazi

Rise of the Eldrazi

Magic 2012

Deck Submitted:

My thought process was that because everyone was going to have a bad
Limited deck, I would use a lame mechanic (Hexproof) to my advantage and
outdraw my opponents with Kor Spiritdancer and Snake Umbra. Instead, I
submitted a deck that had Knight of Cliffhaven and Caravan Escort.

My deck was so bad that people stopped calling it horrible and started
calling it H-aura-ble.

What I Should Have Done

Anything else is the short answer! An even shorter answer is Glimpse the
Unthinkable because everyone is playing with 40-card decks! Let’s
start with Steven’s deck.

Packs Selected:

Ravnica: City of Guilds

Ravnica: City of Guilds

Ravnica: City of Guilds

Deck Submitted:

See! This is a real deck that does real things! Instead of casting Boar
Umbra, Steven is doing real stuff that actually matters! However, he wasn’t
the only one employing a mill strategy: Max was as well.

Packs Selected:

Champions of Kamigawa

Champions of Kamigawa

Champions of Kamigawa

Deck Submitted:

If you think hexproof is lame, and trust me it is, I hope you enjoy Splice
onto Arcane! I played a match against Max for fun, got humiliated quickly,
and assumed he had the best deck. That was, of course, until I saw Brian’s

Packs Selected:

Magic 2012

Magic 2012

Magic 2012

Deck Submitted:

Not only does Brian have Jace, Memory Adept, arguably a card that’s better
at milling than Glimpse the Unthinkable and Dampen Thought, but he also has

three Elixir of Immortality in his sideboard because he figured out
other people were going to try to mill him as well


So it stands to reason that Brian has the best deck then right?

“Mill this.” – Peter Beckfield

Packs Selected:

Shadows Over Innistrad

Shadows Over Innistrad

Rise of the Eldrazi

Deck Submitted:

Dopelicate Sealed

First, the rules:

  1. Each player will submit ten cards to the overall pool, resulting in
    a 90-card pool. All players will receive the same pool.

  2. Submissions must include – at least one mono-color card of each
    color, one gold card, one artifact, and one land. This allows for
    two additional cards.

  3. Submissions must include – at least one card at CMC 1, 2, 3, and 4.

  4. Submissions must include – at least three creatures, one sorcery,
    and one instant.

  5. Submissions are encouraged, but not required, to include cards that
    have utility against the other cards you’ve submitted.

  6. Submissions will contain – no more than one planeswalker, no more
    than one card with CMC 7 or greater, and no more than one legendary

  7. Submissions are encouraged, but not required, to include cards that
    increase the level of interactivity, and are encouraged not to
    submit a pool of ten bombs.

  8. Players will construct 40-card decks on-site.

  9. Matches will be best 2-of-3 games, with sideboarding after the
    first game.

  10. Decklists will be submitted beforehand and made public after the
    event, but not during.

What Cards Did I Submit

Thinking about Dopelicate Sealed was far and away the most fun portion of
preparing for this year’s Smart and Thinvitational because you have to take
so many things into account. First, what cards do I think everyone is going
to submit? I know, for example, that one of either Brian or Peter is going
to troll us with complete and utter nonsense, but is it real nonsense or
fake nonsense? Zac is a devastating shark in most instances, but what does
a shark submit in this type of format? Kyle loves blue cards, but will he
submit cards that make an aggressive deck unplayable?

Once I stopping thinking about what other people would do, I had to decide
what approach I wanted to take. Keep in mind that of the nine players in
this tournament, I’m the only one who still plays Magic with anything
resembling regularity. Therefore, I had the opportunity to do some next
level trolling by just submitting the least fun Limited cards over the past
4-5 years. But would that be within the spirit of the tournament? In the
end, I decided to not be too much of a jerk and submit the following:

Smuggler’s Copter? Super lame. Cyclonic Rift? Mega lame. Pack Rat? Ultra
lame! But I’d like to think there are some cool cards here like Grand
Coliseum Kaya, Ghost Assassin, and Mercurial Chemister. With me out of the
way, let’s take a look at what everyone else submitted.

What Did Other People Submit

First up is Jesse, who went fairly old school:

Thawing Glaciers is adorable, Nicol Bolas is a game winner, and Mother of
Runes pairs nicely with my Brimaz if there are enough submissions for an
aggressive white deck. Next up is Peter, who trolled just as much as I
thought he would:

Of these ten cards, I could only imagine playing two for sure – Traveler’s
Amulet and Evolving Wilds. It’s not impossible to play the domain cards
(Aven Trailblazer, Evasive Action, etc.), but you have to imagine that
people would submit more powerful cards. For example, like Brian did:

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Moving right along to Zac then…

These ten cards are pretty all over the place. Fabled Hero is good in an
aggressive white strategy, but will be there enough good white cards to
make that work? Gitaxian Probe is banned in Modern, but how good is it when
you know that all nine players are building their deck from the same Sealed
pool? Phyrexian Vatmother is a huge creature with very little drawback, but
will people submit enough infect cards to make it relevant? Those are all
questions with no real answers thus far, so let’s move on to Max’s

Now that’s more like it! Here are some actual powerful cards that people
can play with! Compulsive Research is an awesome common fromRavnica, Oracle of Mul Daya is a busted rare from Zendikar, and Coalition Relic is the mana fixing we’ve all been
looking for. Throw in an additional copy of Grand Coliseum and Nicol Bolas,
Planeswalker, and it appears as though our collective Sealed pool has
leveled up.

On to Steven’s submission we go!

More powerful cards! Fetchlands provide mana fixing (though there aren’t
any searchable dual lands yet), Restoration Angel makes white look more
attractive, and Eternal Witness lets us grind with the best of em. And
let’s not overlook a second copy of Consuming Vapors and Coalition Relic
for those looking to build a deck with two copies of Nicol Bolas

Next up is David!

Now as cool as Cataclysm (hello, white aggressive deck), Disrupt (hello,
cantripping counter that allows for trash talk if you catch something), and
Knight of the Reliquary may be (hello, mana fixing large monster), the card
worth talking about here is Unexpected Potential because wow what an
awesome submission for this format.

As you can see through eight submissions, there isn’t a lot of mana fixing
going around here ignoring two Coalition Relics. Unexpected Potential is
the ultimate mana fixer while also being extremely difficult to
play around or predict. It’s funny because we all have access to the same
90 cards, yet trying to guess what card people will select with Unexpected
Potential (because everyone is certainly going to play it) is a sub game
within itself.

Last but certainly not least is Kyle’s submission:

Kyle’s submission isn’t as powerful as Max’s or Steven’s, but it’s still
pretty good. Shadowmage Infiltrator and Chandra, the Firebrand slide right
into a Grixis deck, Blade Splicer fits nicely into an aggressive white
deck, and a second copy of Compulsive Research slides nicely into anything
because it’s Compulsive freakin’ Research!

So my friends, here are your cards to build a Sealed deck from:

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to build a Dopelicate Sealed
deck from this pool and post it in the comments below along with why you’ve
built your deck the way you have. On Monday, I’ll reveal the builds from
all nine of us (spoiler: All nine decks were built differently) along with
the other two formats of the 2017 Smart and Thinvitational – Peasant Roto
and Team Set Sealed.

Until then, good luck building your Dopelicate Sealed deck and let me know
if you have any better ideas than the garbage aura deck I submitted for
Perfect Pool!