Your Shot at Immortality: Auction of the People!

Four themed decks for the Invitational critter format. Heck, who doesn’t love it?

Have you seen the formats for the Magic Invitational? I think Mark Rosewater and the gang have really outdone themselves on the sheer fun factor. Of course, there’s the old stand-by Type 2, and the Invitationally unique (but tried and true) Duplicate Limited. But it’s the other formats that totally rock my socks.


Is anyone else (besides format creator Kurt Hahn) as completely jazzed as I am about seeing sixteen of the world’s best players throwing down with 250-card decks? I’ve been noodling around with a way to get the Magic locals around here interested in this format… And having the Invitational feature it, bringing it out here in the spotlight of mainstream Magic, is a wonderful boon. Wizards knows that while the pro tour brings marquee splendor to the game, it’s the casual players that are Magic’s bread and butter. They’ve been kicking out cards recently that have been obviously designed with casual players in mind, but their embrace of this format is both smart business and an exciting opportunity for the larger Magic community. I mean, when some of the greatest Magic minds in the game have to turn their creative juices to a more casual mode, things are bound to get interesting.


Just when you thought they couldn’t put any more spins on draft formats, here comes one out of left field. Drafting the whole set has got to be insanely fun. Strategies for this format are interestingly different; my guess would be for you to take whichever broken rare still happens to be out there as your first pick, and then build a deck around it. Eighth position is probably going to be the catbird seat, since you can judge which two rares still out there work well together and snag both in one fell swoop.

Both of these formats showcase love for the game of Magic, and emphasize the fun of the game instead of just the winning and the cash. But neither of these is my favorite format…


Last year they had the Auction of Champions, whereby the giants of the game picked decks from Pro Tour winners past. Cool, but still operating in their own elite, incestuous, closed world. This year they have to pick decks built by people like you and me: Race theme decks, built around a particular creature type. Normally, competitive players simply focus on the best creatures available in the card pool they’re building in and build decks around them. This time, creatures are going to used because of their creature type. Can you get more casual than that? Anthony Alongi must love this.

I mean, is this the Alongi and Hahn Invitational, or what?

The really cool thing is that Mark Rosewater is opening up the Halls of Immortality to us mere mortals. While one lucky winner of each year’s Invitational gets the chance to make his mark on the game with a new Magic card, folks like you and I get the chance to be enshrined as the”Guy who made that cool Shapeshifter deck Zvi kicked ass with.” We get to have a deck forever linked to us and the pro who played it – and to top it off, Wizards gives you a copy of the deck you built, signed by the player who picked it, and enclosed in its very own deckbox. Talk about having something unique and special!

Of course, I wonder what happens to the seventeen deck that doesn’t get picked? How bad would that be? You get selected out of thousands of entries, but none of the pros want to play it. Do you still get the cards and deck box? Does anyone sign it? Maybe Mark Rosewater will sign it with his condolences.

So don’t dally, folks. You’ve got until noon PST September 10th to bum rush the Halls of Immortality and get your scrubby self forever linked to a big name pro. Heck, if he really likes your deck, maybe he’ll even shoot you some tech for your next PTQ. Who knows what doors this might open?

Anyway, I figured I’d share the decks I submitted for those who might be interested:

Deck #1″Sappy Good Times” (Saprolings)

4x Elvish Farmer

4x Wall of Roots

4x Wall of Blossoms

4x Nemata Grove Guardian

1x Verdeloth the Ancient

2x Verdant Force

4x Aura Mutation

3x Sylvan Library

4x Fecundity

3x Spontaneous Generation

4x Saproling Burst

3x Gaea’s Cradle

4x Savannah

4x Brushland

12x Forest

There are lots of tricks from my group game deck here; number one on the”huh?” meter is probably Fecundity, which has always done well by me. Nothing seems to die as fast as little 1/1 Saproling tokens, so why not draw some cards for your trouble? With a Farmer on the board or a Nemata, you can sac Saps to draw some mad cards (which naturally plays into Spontaneous Generation). Heck, with a Fecundity in play, a Burst could net you seven more cards.

The Walls are there to protect from other creature rush decks (a la Goblins, Merfolk, etc). Farmer is critical as a way to gain life, since I suspect the inevitable Goblin deck is going to be chock full of burn (Fireblast, Goblin Grenade, etc)…. Plus, lifegain helps you raid the Library if you need to.

Yeah, I know four copies of a legend (Nemata) might be suspect, but he’s really key to winning with the deck by making your Saps large and generating new ones. Any extras you draw can sit in your hand to feed the Generation.

Speaking of Generation, I’m only including three to take into account the fact that the winning player might have to bid down his hand size for it, so a turn 3 Generation for two critters might be less than impressive.

Aura Mutation takes care of problematic Engineered Plagues, and has great synergy with Sap Burst.

My one worry here is that, while it’s a”Saproling” deck, there are other creature types in the deck that support the theme. While I view that as a strength (making it more resilient to type hosers like Tsabo’s Decree and such), the guys who’re picking the Auction decks may think that’s not appropriate. So I’ve come up with more”ethnically correct” decks:

“Beebles Wobble But They Don’t Fall Down” (Beebles)

4x Bouncing Beebles

2x Bubbling Beebles

4x Counterspell

4x Force of Will

4x Mana Drain

4x Swords to Plowshares

2x Icy Manipulator

3x Dismantling Blow

1x Black Lotus

1x Sapphire Mox

1x Pearl Mox

1x Sol Ring

1x Time Walk

1x Ancestral Recall

1x Time Twister

1x Capsize

1x Stroke of Genius

1x Ashnod’s Transmogrant

1x Maze of Ith

1x Kor Haven

1x Library of Alexandria

4x Tundra

4x Mishra’s Factory

1x Strip Mine

4x Wasteland

7x Island

I thought it would be funny to build a broken Type 1 blue deck, with all the blue power cards… And Beebles as the win condition! Just imagine the hilarity of a bidding war over”The Broken Beeble Deck.” Notice the tech Transmogrant to combine with Bouncing Beebles or Dismantling Blow. Of course, it goes without saying that I would love to have Wizards give me a copy of this deck, and I don’t care if the cards are gold-bordered or what.

“The Horror…” (Horrors)

4x Dark Ritual

4x Duress

4x Engineered Plague

4x Oath of Lim-Dul

3x Ill-Gotten Gains

3x Firestorm

1x Diabolic Edict

1x Demonic Tutor

1x Buried Alive

1x Yawgmoth’s Will

4x Phyrexian Negator

4x Krovikan Horror

1x Witch Engine

1x Bazaar of Baghdad

2x Lake of the Dead

4x Badlands

2x Sulfurous Springs

16x Swamp

This weird deck is built to basically try and abuse Krovikan Horror, which is one of my all-time favorite casual game creatures. Oath of Lim-Dul should definitely qualify as one of those”little played cards.” It’s one of those weird card-drawing engines with a drawback that’s always lived in the shadow of Necropotence, and I’m hoping it’s inclusion wins me some brownie points with Mark Rosewater and the gang (not to mention Witch Engine — when’s the last time you saw THAT in a deck?). The self-recurring Krovikan Horrors help defray the drawback of the Oath while you (hopefully) draw mad cards. Ill-Gotten Gains, Firestorm, and Bazaar of Baghdad also combine synergistically with Krovikan Horror. Playing black also gives you the chance to use the format-defining Engineered Plague.

“Don’t Tread on Me” (Insects)

4x Carrion Beetle

4x Acridian

4x Marker Beetles

2x Pincher Beetles

1x Flow of Maggots

1x Caustic Wasps

4x Saber Ants

1x Mind Maggots

1x Hawkeater Moth

1x Giant Caterpillar

1x Deadly Insect

4x Oath of Ghouls

4x Survival of the Fittest

1x Recurring Nightmare

1x Demonic Tutor

2x Creeping Mold

2x Gaea’s Cradle

1x Phyrexian Tower

4x Bayou

4x Llanowar Wastes

8x Forest

4x Swamp

C’mon — you know I had to figure out an Insect deck to use Saber Ants in! I decided to throw them in a Survival/Oath of Ghouls build. Insects actually provide a good amount of utility — creature generation/defense (Saber Ants), beatdown (Mind Maggots, Flow of Maggots), card drawing (Marker Beetles), even artifact destruction (Caustic Wasps). Pinchers, Moth, and Deadly Insect give you some nice untargetable options. Carrion Beetle makes sure your Oath works just for you.

Anyway, it’s been a blast trying to figure out interesting creature theme decks. I was on MTGnews.com on their ultimate spoiler generator, and one of the things you can filter for is creature types. So I’m scrolling down it and I stumble across”Smith.” Hey, how cool would it be for Bennie Smith to make a Smith deck? (Especially if he was listening to the Smiths when he designed it! – The Ferrett) Looking over the limited options available, a concept coalesced. Hmm… This might work!

Bennie Smith Smith Deck” (Smiths)

4x Argivian Blacksmith

4x Dwarven Weaponsmith

2x Hyperion Blacksmith

4x Transmogrifying Licid

4x Viashino Weaponsmith

2x Argivian Find

4x Forge[/author]“]Thran [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]

4x Ashnod’s Transmogrant

4x Shattering Pulse

3x Diamond Kaleidoscope

1x Kaervek’s Torch

1x Sol Ring

1x Mana Vault

1x Urza’s Workshop

4x Mishra’s Factory

4x Plateau

4x Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]

5x Mountain

4x Plains

All right, so the Viashino Weaponsmith is technically a Viashino, but I figure I can get away with it since he’s got the right profession. Besides, he makes a great beatdown critter for the deck. All the”true” Smiths can do cool things with artifacts, so the deck revolves around making creatures into artifacts (mostly mine, but occasionally my opponent’s to be tapped by the Hyperion). With so many ways to make my opponent’s creatures into artifacts (and reusable ways with Thran Forge), I couldn’t resist running Shattering Pulse. Prism tokens from the Kaleidoscope can make chump blockers, sac for colored mana, or be artifact fodder for the Dwarven Weaponsmith. I chose not to run Repentant Blacksmith because it clashed with the Dwarven Weaponsmith’s ability, though if we had sideboards he would definitely be there in case of Goblin decks.

Boy, is this a candidate for the seventeen deck, or what? I imagine this deck would go for twenty life, seven cards easy. Hee!

Anyway, have fun and good luck. Maybe your deck will go down in Magic history!