he 2005 Auction of the People decks have been chosen! Recapping the format: Each deck is build around a specific word. That word (or an inflected form) must appear in the name, type line, rules text (including reminder text), or flavor text of an Online Extended version of every card in the deck. Basic lands are free, and each deck must contain at least 24 lands.
We received over 3 billion deck submissions covering every word in the English language (including all the fake words in the OED), plus some new ones that Wizards of the Coast made up themselves. “Nonland”? That's not a word! After a long, grueling process that in no way involved blindfolds or marmosets, the 17 selections have been made.
But first, a word about the decks that didn't make it. Far too many good decks were dashed against the rocky shoals of disqualification. The most common pitfalls were:
- Building Extended decks instead of Online Extended decks (for example, a nifty “white” deck was booted for including Havoc)
Relying blindly on Gatherer text searches (for example, an illegal “pit” deck contained Master Apothecary… whose flavor text contains the word “hospital”)
- Really not understanding the parameters of the deck challenge whatsoever (uh, too many examples to name)
Of the legit decks, we looked for the ones that fell into the sweet spot. If you chose a word that was too common, deckbuilding wasn't creative. The “artifact” decks that were perfect replicas of tournament-level Ravager Affinity decks? They met the same fate as the “discard” decks that looked suspiciously like blue-green madness, as well as the “goblin” decks, “elf” decks, “creature” decks, etc. On the other hand, decks with highly offbeat—and thus restrictive—words often wound up being nothing more than collections of some creatures and some spells. They didn't come together as decks; they had no internal synergy.
The 17 decks that were chosen to represent the people combine interesting word choices with creative deckbuilding. Various styles of play are represented, and the decks showcase a wide array of color choices. How much life and how many cards would you bid to get your hands on your favorite one?
The word “ability” appears on fewer cards than you might think. It's used on cards that have abilities with restrictive timing (“Play this ability only…”), including one of the three types of threshold reminder text. It's also in the rules text of “when this becomes the target” triggers, and a couple of oddball cards like Quicksilver Elemental. It shows up in Samite Healer's flavor text as well. The resulting deck is set up to pull off Cowardice and Fractured Loyalty tricks. Barring that, it can use protection, damage prevention, bushido, and tapping to control creature combat anyway.
An Additional Deck
The word “additional” has two main uses: Kicker reminder text, and the phrase “additional combat phase.” It comes up on a couple of other cards, and the result is a monored deck with some burn for early creatures, some mean fatties, and the ability to let those mean fatties attack repeatedly. Bonus points for getting both Godo and Tenza, Godo's Maul into the same deck.
Additional — Jeffrey Chen
“Another” may seem like “additional” in regular English usage, but their Magic usages are quite different. This artifact-heavy deck gets exactly half of its “anothers” from rules text (usually when another something comes into play), and the other half comes from flavor text (“Find another cousin” indeed). Fodder Cannon is the key to the deck, as it interacts devilishly with Myr Retriever, Myr Servitor, and Rotlung Reanimator while keeping the opposing side of the board clear. Both kinds of recycling Myr boost Arcbound Crusher and Serum Tank, while the Reanimator is happy to see a couple other Clerics in the deck.
One of the strongest elements of Kamigawa block flavor is the relationship between Ogres and Demons—a relationship predicated on blood magic. For that reason, “blood” is prominently featured in the flavor text of cards that fortuitously work well together. Villainous Ogre and Gutwrencher Oni, for example, clearly enjoy each other's company. Add in some of the numerous cards that feature “blood” in their names and you've got a reasonably suicidal deck—one that can clear out early creatures before playing mean ol' beaters that (hopefully) hurt your opponent a bit more than they hurt you.
The word “blue” appears 100% in rules text in this deck—no names, no flavor text. The deck is pretty straightforward in its trickiness: It changes things blue, then cares about having blue creatures around. Llawan, Possessed Aven, and Sphere of Reason make bad things happen to your opponent's azure-tinted creatures, and Disciple of Kangee, Metathran Transport, and Neurok Transmuter take care of the color shift. It's a bizarre form of creature control, and it clears the way for a flock of flyers to finish the game.
This is not your standard burn deck. The word “burn” is mainly used one of two ways on Magic cards: In flavor text (but surprisingly infrequently on direct damage spells), and in the phrase “mana burn” in rules text. Mana burn is only mentioned when there's an exception to the typical rule, so many “burn” cards let you add or save mana—specifically, Upwelling and the Betrayers of Kamigawa Snakes. Throw in Goblin Clearcutter and Explosive Vegetation, and you can generate a lot of mana. The deck then finds ways to use that mana, either by playing Mindslavers or by funneling it into—that's right—burn effects.
A Light Touch
Except for two card names, this deck is based entirely on flavor text. However, because “light” is so iconically white, the deck avoids a common pitfall of other flavor-text-based Auction submissions. Rather than being awkwardly constructed from a hodgepodge of random cards, the deck is a convincing white weenie build full of cheap flyers. The deck will be fast to begin with; find an early Sword and it may be lights out for your opponent. The Altar's Lights are notable in this environment—artifact and enchantment removal is scarily scarce, and there are a ton of powerful such cards among these decklists.
You can “lose” a flip, “lose” life, and not “lose” the game. This may be the weirdest deck among the bunch. It actively strives to lose life, often gaining card advantage in the process. Platinum Angel and Lich's Tomb specifically prevent you from losing the game, letting you fight on at 0 life or even at a negative life total. Then, if you haven't been able to win thanks to your unnaturally extended life, fat creatures, and extra cards, you drop the hammer: Reverse the Sands for an instant win. That's what you were digging for all this time! Reverse the Sands has the distinction of being the only card in the deck in which “lose” isn't in the rules text—and it's not in the flavor text either; “lost,” the past tense of “lose” and thus an allowed form of the word, is. That didn't come up on a Gatherer search for “lose”… Erik Murphy had to find it. That's creativity.
A Masterful Deck
This mix of “master” card names and “master” flavor text looks to pair Furnace of Rath with Kumano, Master Yamabushi or Thornscape Master. Joiner Adept lets you play Thornscape Master's protection ability or Thunderscape Master's drain ability. Journeyer's Kite fishes out lands to power up Kumano and to improve your draws. It's got quick beats, it's got high-end finishers, and it's even got a Shivan Dragon!
Do You Mind?
No deck whose word is a creature type got selected, but there are still some tribal decks in the final sepdecalogue. This monoblue Wizard deck intends to win via decking. Traumatize removes half your opponent's library, while Supreme Inquisitor (assuming he's got enough friends around) removes five cards of your choice each turn. (That will crimp your opponent's style.) Syncopate and Chamber of Manipulation provide some control, while Nameless One can grow to quite sizable proportions.
Just Say No
Possibly the most bizarre word choice among the final group is “no.” It has neither a specific mechanical meaning nor flavor meaning; it's just a functional English word! And it's enabled a Rat deck with a splash of blue for countermagic. “No” appears in both flavor text (unsurprising) and rules text (in a different way each time). It features in the flip conditions of both flippy Rats in Champions, as well as the self-destruct trigger for Glimmervoid, the unique Shell of the Last Kappa reminder text, and the phrase “deals no damage.” There's a subtheme of graveyard removal, as Nezumi Graverobber and Carrion Rats help each other out and are both helped by Fade from Memory. The Shell, while an atypical choice, may be the perfect answer to the burn cards sprinkled throughout the format, and finding a Coat of Arms at the right time can turn the game into a rout.
The pit fights were a major story setting in the Odyssey block, so there's a good bit of “pit” flavor text available. Add to that a select few cards with “pit” in the title and we get a happily cannibalistic deck. Sadistic Hypnotist, Malevolent Awakening, and Spawning Pit need creature sacrifices to work, and Death Pit Offering will clear your board for you. On the flip side, the Awakening will return your sacrificed creatures from the grave, but the true keystone of the deck is Mobilization. An eternal source of cheap, expendable 1/1 tokens, it makes the rest of the deck hum. And when, post-Offering, it makes 3/3 tokens with vigilance for 3 mana apiece, you'll be ready for a fight with anyone.
Into the Pool
There are two phrases in Magic that use the word “pool”: “mana pool,” a rules text phrase that appears on just about anything with a mana ability, and “Knowledge Pool,” a flavor text phrase that appears on a number of blue Mirrodin cards. This deck revolves around Vedalken Archmage, which can provide tremendous card advantage, and Grid Monitor, which can start stomping your opponent when the game is barely underway. Stalking Stones, Blinkmoth Nexus, and Guardian Idol give you more creatures even if you're under Grid Monitor's restriction. Thanks to the savvy word choice, the deck has no basic lands in it at all—and while the artifact lands won't help the Archmage, they will certainly power up the Overrides.
The Top Deck
“Top” is used almost exclusively in a mechanical sense here, and this deck fiddles with the top of its library like nobody's business. The scry cards, Tomorrow, and Sensei's Divining Top will maximize your card quality while making sure that the Deceivers are pumpable and Erratic Explosion is as big as possible. Millikin provides mana acceleration while clearing away chaff (you'll rarely be using it blind), and we all know what Arc-Slogger does. The one flavor text inclusion, Wildfire, is the icing on the cake—it leaves both Arc-Slogger and Tomorrow on the table, and you should be able to find the lands you need to recover faster than your opponent.
“Two” is strictly a rules text word in this deck—and note that the digit “2” doesn't count; only the word “two” adheres to the submission guidelines. “Two target sorcery cards,” “two extra turns,” “two creatures,” “two piles,” etc. In this deck, either the mana acceleration or the Spellweaver Helix (enabled by Careful Study and Acorn Harvest) can power out a devastating Time Stretch or Tooth and Nail. Using Tooth to put a pair of Hoverguard Sweepers into play bounces four creatures and leaves you with 10 power worth of flyers on the table; popping out a Sweepers and a Horror instead essentially Recoils two creatures and leaves you with 7 power in the air. No wonder Kent Raquet called his deck “TWOth and Nail.”
What a Voice
Except for two name-based choices, this deck is built entirely off of flavor text, yet it has a surprising amount of tribal synergy. Timberwatch Elf, Wellwisher, and Voice of the Woods are all Elves, and each one is happier to see more Elves in play. Innocence Kami, Soilshaper, Seedborn Muse, and Windborn Muse, on the other hand, are all Spirits, and the first two are happier to see more Spirits come into play. With enough Elves in play, Seedborn Muse doubles the 7/7 Elemental production from Voice of the Woods, and it lets Timberwatch Elf be available for both offense and defense. Not bad at all, especially considering the total available “voice” pool only contains 17 cards!
The last deck is the most meta, since its word is “word”! “Word” is split pretty evenly between card names and flavor text (amusingly, this deck uses a different Archivist than the one in the “mind” deck), and the result is a deck that uses ramped-up card drawing to send Words of Wilding into a Bear-making frenzy and/or Words of Wind into a bouncetastic typhoon. Relic Barrier is there to tap a dangerous artifact on your opponent's side, or to tap your own Howling Mine so only you get its benefits. And if you wind up producing more Bears than you know what to do with, Epic Struggle can let you win the game while sitting on defense.
Those are the 17 decks, folks. Congratulations to all the lauded constructors, and an appreciative thanks to everyone who sent in a deck this year. Feel free to play these decks against each other to see how they perform, and be sure to tune in during the Invitational when they're auctioned off and really put to the test.
Until next week, have fun with the sepdecalogue!