n 2001, the Auction of the People format was added to the Magic: The Gathering Invitational. The Invitational was an annual tournament that ran 1997–2007, in which sixteen players were invited and the winner got to make a card. The tournaments featured a variety of unique formats rather than the standard competitive formats players are used to.
The Auction of the People was a format in which thousands of players from all over the world could submit decks to Wizards of the Coast, and seventeen final decklists were selected by Mark Rosewater. From those decks, players bid starting life totals and hand sizes for which decks they wanted to play. Because there were seventeen decks, if one deck was too horrible, no one would have to play it; otherwise, bidding would have to be absurd on every deck except the worst one if one deck simply couldn't win.
This first auction of the people had a tribal theme, but with no strict deck building rules. In fact, of the seventeen decks, one was a "dwarf Dwarf deck" with only forty cards, and one was a Plague Rats deck that completely ignored the presumed four-of-any-card rule.
The deck no one wanted was a Wall deck designed by Andrew Cuneo. Andrew is famous for building competitive control decks since the dawn of time. He's also a devout lover of bad cards and has a distinctive sense of humor. The deck he submitted was not just bad, it was so exceptionally terrible that merely finding the single path to victory requires some serious effort. But even that is nothing compared to actually pulling it off.
Here's what Mark Rosewater had to say on selecting it:
"When Walls Fight" [Walls] by Andrew Cuneo
This deck was picked for one reason. It was a wall deck that didn't attack to win. Walls were the second most popular creature type, falling only behind goblins, in submissions. In all the decks submitted, I believe this was the only one not to play Rolling Stones or Animate Wall and not to have walls that could activate to attack. Also, the deck was very cleverly designed. See if you can deduce how it wins.
I should also point out that Andrew Cuneo would have had two decks in the final seventeen if we didn't specifically have a rule saying that he wasn't allowed to do that. His other deck, a demon deck, can be seen in the honorable mentions.
Cuneo was one of our most creative submitters. See the honorable mentions for some of his quite unorthodox submissions. Speaking of originality, John "Friggin" Rizzo of Star City fame, submitted a deck whose titles all used dirty three letter words. While quite clever, it was a bit off theme and a little too adult for our PG site.
Here's the deck, with the explanation below, in case you want to follow Mark's suggestion to figure it out for yourself:
Andrew Cuneo's When Walls Fight
Auction of the People – Magic: The Gathering Invitational, 2001
None of these walls have power, but this deck does win by dealing damage. In order to deal damage to the opponent, you have to activate Sword of the Ages, which deals damage equal to the total power of the creatures you sacrifice. The challenge is that none of your creatures actually have power. You have two options to give them power. The first is Coral Helm, but at three mana and a card for 2 power, you're not likely to be able to kill your opponent with that alone. The second option is Infinite Hourglass. Infinite Hourglass will give your Walls power, and with time, it can give them a lot of power. The trick is that your opponent can pay mana to stop this from happening. Fortunately, Andrew provided a countermeasure for that. With Freyalise's Winds, all permanents only untap every other turn, which will both make it harder for your opponent to attack you, and probably also make it impossible for your opponent to keep counters off the Infinite Hourglass, so eventually, it should make your Walls big enough that you can win with Sword of the Ages. After all, given how long this will take, you're likely to have five or six Walls in play, so you'll only need four counters on Infinite Hourglass.
When it's all explained, the plan sounds so robust you almost wonder why no one wanted to actually play this deck.