Auction of the Geniuses Bidding

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Tuesday night, the Invitationalists gathered to bid on the decks for the Auction of the Geniuses. The rules to the draft were simple.

    1. You must open the bidding on the deck you nominated.
    2. The opening bid would be 8 cards in hand, 25 life modified by the avatar of the chosen deck. For example, Karsten chose the Ink-Eyes avatar which is -1 hand, -3 life so the minimum opening bid was 7 cards, 22 life.
    3. Once you passed on a given deck, you were out of the bidding for the deck.

Going down on cards in hand means more than going down on life. For example 8 cards, 22 life would be losing to 7 cards, 25 life.

The draft order for the Auction of the Geniuses was as follows.

Half of your auction field.
    1. Frank Karsten
    2. Antoine Ruel
    3. Jose Barbero
    4. Mike Flores
    5. Geoffrey Siron
    6. Pierre Canali
    7. Jeff Cunningham
    8. Dave Williams
    9. Gabriel Nassif
    10. Terry Soh
    11. Julien Nuijten
    12. Osyp Lebedowicz
    13. Antonino De Rosa
    14. Tsuyoshi Fujita
    15. Olivier Ruel
    16. Kenji Tsumura

Frank Karsten started the bidding by nominating Chris Pikula’s Ink-Eyes deck with a bid of 7 cards, 22 life.

Karsten – 7, 22
A. Ruel – 6, 15
Barbero – 6, 14
Canali – 6, 12

From the back of the room De Rosa yelled out that the lands will kill you in this deck with only 12 life.

Winner: Antoine Ruel – 5 cards, 22 life

Chris Pikula/Ink Eyes, Servant of Oni (-1 hand/-3 life)
At the beginning of the game, look at target opponent's hand and choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. X, pay X life: Put target creature card with converted mana cost X in an opponent's graveyard into play under your control.

Antoine smiled when he won the bid. The ability to strip one card out of your opponent’s hand seemed valuable in a format where players would routinely go down to 5 or 6 cards in their opening hand. Of course being the first deck bid on meant no guarantees. Ruel was out of the bidding now, so Barbero got to nominate the second deck.

Barbero nominate Dan Paskins's Goblin Warchief (8 cards, 27 life)

And the other half.

Barbero – 8, 25
Flores - 8, 24
Siron – 8, 23
Cunningham – 7, 27
Williams – 7, 26
Nassif – 7, 25
Nuijten – 7, 24
Osyp – 7, 23: As he bid, Osyp remarked, “I hate Goblins, I don’t even know why I’m bidding on them."
De Rosa – 7, 22
O.Ruel – 7, 21
Barbero – 7, 18
Flores – 7, 17
Siron – 7, 16
Cunningham – 6, 27
Williams – 6, 26
Nassif – 6, 25
Nuijten – 6, 18
De Rosa – 6, 17
Barbero – 6, 16
Cunningham – 6, 15

As the bidding progressed, one of the Invitationalists tried to drive the bidding by yelling, “All you need is one goblin!”

Nuijten – 6, 14
Barbero – 6, 13
Cunningham – 6, 12
Winner: Barbero – 6 cards, 11 life

Barbero commented that it was the only thing he could play. Indeed as the bidding progressed, you could tell Barbero was committed to getting goblins at almost any cost. Much like Ink-Eyes would tear apart an opponent’s hand, Barbero played the metagame hoping that more players would start under 20 life than above.

Dan Paskins/Goblin Warchief (+0 hand/+2 life)
Attacking creatures you control get +1/+0.


I don’t know if Mike Flores has ever been called a genius before he got the opportunity to build a deck for this event, but Mike was gleeful when he got to nominate his own deck.

Mike Flores nominates Mike Flores's Hell’s Caretaker (6 cards, 23 life)

Flores – 6, 23
Siron – 6, 22
Canali – 6, 15
Nassif – 6, 14
Flores – 6, 13
Canali – 6, 11
Flores – 5, 23
Canali – 5, 17
Flores – 5, 16
Canali – 5, 15
Winner: Flores – 5 cards, 12 life

Much like Barbero wanted Goblins, Flores looked determined to play his own deck. After the draft he said he had been playtesting it all week and thought the deck was reasonable all the way down to 5 cards, 10 life. Time will tell.

Mike Flores/Hell’s Caretaker (+0 hand/+4 life)
3, Sacrifice a creature: Return target creature from your graveyard to play.


Geoffrey Siron nominates Steven Menendian's Eight-and-a-Half Tails (10 cards, 22 life)

Siron wasted no time in making it known he was serious about getting the combo deck of Menendian and began the bidding much lower than the ludicrous 10 cards.

Olivier's notes during a heated auction.

Siron – 7, 20
Canali – 7, 12
O.Ruel – 6, 20
Karsten – 6, 19
Siron – 6, 18
Canali – 6, 17
O.Ruel – 6, 15
Siron – 6, 14

At this point Olivier asked for some clarification on what the avatar did. It appeared to be more of a joke or at least a ploy to buy time because it would be surprising to see the avatar activated even once.

Winner: O. Ruel – 6 cards, 13 life

Olivier had some doubts about the deck after he won it. He was afraid that some decks would just have too much life for his deck to win. His previous record in the auction formats is an abysmal 1-8. He seemed optimistic about getting to 2-10 but felt that more than that was a dream.

Stephen Menendian/Eight-and-a-half Tails (+2 hand/-3 life)
1: Target permanent you control gains protection from a random color it doesn't already have protection from until end of turn.


Pierre Canali nominated Adrian Sullivan's Birds of Paradise (7 cards, 22 life)

Canali – 7, 15
Soh – 7, 14

Until now Soh had passed on all chances to bid, even sitting out of the long Goblin Warchief auction.

Canali – 7, 13
Soh – 6, 22
Canali – 6, 17
Soh – 6, 16
Winner: Canali – 6 cards, 15 life

Adrian Sullivan/Birds of Paradise (+0 hand/-3 life)
Lands you control have 'T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.'

Jeff Cunningham nominated John Rizzo's Fallen Angel (8 cards, 20 life)

Before the bidding started, there was some discussion on what Overeager Apprentice did. Unlike the rest of the weekend, the competitors didn’t have access to the wonders of Magic Online quite yet and needed some old-schoolers to figure out what the Odyssey creature did.

Cunningham – 8, 20
Williams – 8, 19

Up to this point, Dave Williams's strategy appeared to be to bid on which ever deck Cunningham bid on. His other strategy tip he shared was from talking to The Great One (Bob Maher) about how you wanted to get decks early or late but not in the middle. In the middle, players would panic and overbid.

Nassif – 8, 18
Soh – 8, 17
Nuijten – 8, 16
Osyp – 7, 20
De Rosa – 7, 19
Cunningham – 7, 18
Williams – 7, 17
Cunningham – 7, 16
Williams – 7, 15
Cunningham – 7, 14
Williams – 7, 13
Cunningham – 7, 12
Winner: Williams – 6 cards, 20 life

John Rizzo/Fallen Angel (+0 hand/-5 life)
Whenever a creature you control goes to a graveyard from play, target opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.

As a consolation prize Cunningham got to ask Williams for advice. According to Scott Larabee, tournament coordinator and a man who spends a lot of time on Magic Online, no one has practiced more for this tournament than Williams. His advice should prove valuable.

Gabriel Nassif nominated Tsuyoshi Fujita's Teysa (8 cards, 23 life)

Nassif – 8, 23
Soh – 8, 22
Nuijten – 8, 21
De Rosa – 7, 23

When Fujita passed on his own deck without bidding, the players started to become suspicious. Nassif called out, “How do you say sucker in Japanese?”

Tsumura – 7, 20
Karsten – 7, 19
Siron – 7, 16
Cunningham – 7, 15
De Rosa – 7, 14
Tsumura – 7, 13
Karsten – 6, 23
Siron – 6, 22
Winner: Cunningham – 6 cards, 15 life

Cunningham wasted no time jumping down 7 life to make sure he got Fujita’s deck. Who knows if he could have gotten a few more life points by going down slower, but Williams did recommend the deck when asked.

Tsuyoshi Fujita/Teysa, Orzhov Scion (+0 hand/-2 life)
Whenever a non-token creature is put into a graveyard from play, put a 1/1 white, Spirit creature token with flying into play.


Terry Soh nominated Andrew Cuneo's Serra Angel (8 cards, 24 life)

This wasn’t Cuneo’s first foray into the Auction of the Geniuses. This is the second time a Cuneo deck would be able to be bid open in an Invitational. Of course the first time around nobody decided to take his deck but now a Cuneo creation would be played for sure.

Soh – 8, 20
Nuijten – 8, 19
Osyp – 8, 18
De Rosa – 7, 24
Tsumura – 7, 20
Karsten – 7, 19
Siron – 7, 14
Soh – 7, 13
Nuijten – 7, 12
Osyp – 7, 11
De Rosa – 7, 10

Have you ever started a game of Magic with 10 life? Try it some time, you will be amazed at how different a game it is.

Tsumura – 6, 24
Karsten – 6, 23
Siron – 6, 22
Soh – 6, 21
Osyp – 6, 20
Tsumura – 6, 18
Siron – 6, 17
Soh – 6, 16
Tsumura – 6, 14
Winner: Soh – 6 cards, 13 life

Andrew Cuneo/Serra Angel (+0 hand/-1 life)
Whenever you play a spell, you gain 2 life.


Julien Nuijten nominated Akira Asahara's Loxodon Hierarch (8 cards, 37 life)

Nuijten – 8, 37
Osyp – 8, 36
De Rosa – 8, 35
Fujita – 7, 20
Tsumura – 7, 19
Karsten – 6, 30
Siron – 6, 29
Nuijten – 6, 28
Osyp – 6, 27
Fujita – 6, 25
Siron – 6, 24
Nuijten – 6, 23
Karsten – 6, 19
Siron – 6, 18
Nuijten – 6, 17
Tsumura 6, 16
Karsten – 5, 37
Nuijten – 5, 36
Tsumura – 5, 33
Winner: Karsten – 5 cards, 31 life

Antoine Ruel remarked to me that he had tried this deck at 5 life/14 cards and it didn’t lose a game. Needless to say that at 5 cards/31 life, Karsten was in great shape. That wouldn’t last for long, however.

Akira Asahara/Loxodon Hierarch (+0 hand/+12 life)
Sacrifice a permanent: Regenerate target creature you control.


Osyp nominated Itaru Ishida's Frenetic Efreet (7 life, 22 cards)

Before the bidding began, Williams started to talk about how the Krark’s Thumb is broken. Apparently, a believer in Grog the Goblin shuffler, Williams claimed that the Thumb only ended up with two coin flips heads or two tails, never one and one. Well, the winner of Ishida’s deck will have to prove him wrong.

Osyp – 7, 22
De Rosa – 7, 21
Fujita – 7, 20
Tsumura – 7, 18
Siron – 6, 18
De Rosa – 6, 17
Fujita – 6, 16
Siron – 6, 15
Fujita – 6, 14
Siron – 6, 13
Fujita – 6, 12
Siron – 5, 21
Fujita – 5, 20
Siron – 5, 19
Fujita – 5, 18
Winner: Siron – 5 cards, 17 life

Itaru Ishida/Frenetic Efreet (-1 hand/-3 life)
Permanents you control have phasing. At the end of your turn, flip a coin. If you win the flip, take an extra turn after this one.


At this point in the auction there was a stir. Apparently, during the previous auction’s Asahara deck. Tsumura had misheard the winning bid. He believed that Karsten had bid down to 21 life. After some discussion, head judge Mark Rosewater let the two continue to bid. The bid ended up with Karsten still winning the deck, but for the aforementioned 21 life. Maybe the Hidetsugu’s Second Rite should have been called Tsumura’s Second Rite, seeing how quickly Tsumura dealt Karsten 10 damage. (Although he wasn’t at 10 life, but you get the point.)

Antonino De Rosa nominated Frank Karsten's Bosh (8 cards, 23 life)

De Rosa – 8, 23
Fujita – 7, 20
Tsumura – 6, 18
Nassif – 6, 17
Osyp – 6, 16
De Rosa – 6, 15
Fujita – 5, 20
Tsumura – 5, 16
Nuijten – 5, 14

Osyp sat down at this point, visibly disappointed to not be getting the Affinity deck. He yells at Karsten, “If there were 4 Thoughtcasts but not 2! Who plays 2!” Karsten didn’t heed Osyp’s comments though, yelling back “Is Thoughtcast an artifact? I don’t think it is!”

Winner: Tsumura – 5 cards, 13 life

Frank Karsten/Bosh, Iron Golem (+0 cards/-2 life)
X, sacrifice an artifact of converted mana cost X: Deal X damage to target creature or player.


Tsuyoshi Fujita nominated Masashiro Kuroda's Etched Oracle (9 cards, 21 life)

Fujita – 9, 21
Nassif – 9, 20
Osyp – 9, 18
De Rosa – 8, 21
Fujita – 8, 20
Nassif – 8, 18
Nuijten – 8, 17
Osyp – 8, 16
De Rosa – 8, 15
Fujita – 8, 14
Osyp – 7, 21
De Rosa – 7, 20
Fujita – 7, 19
Osyp – 7, 18
De Rosa – 7, 17
Fujita – 7, 16
Nuijten – 7, 15
Osyp – 7, 14
Fujita – 6, 21
Nuijten – 6, 20
Fujita – 6, 19
Nuijten – 6, 18

As Nuijten and Fujita went back and forth, Williams started trying to sell both of them on the deck, “Fatties! So many fatties! Turn 2 fatties!”

Fujita – 6, 17
Nuijten – 6, 16
Fujita – 6, 15
Nuijten – 6, 14
Winner: Fujita – 5 cards, 21 life


It was Nassif’s turn to nominate another deck. There were only four Invitationalists remaining – Nuijten, Nassif, Osyp, and De Rosa. Talk around the room went to figure out which decks were left. Some of the decks that the competitors had joked about earlier in the day were now serious competitors. Would waiting until the end get these four the good bargains?

Nassif nominated Chris Millar's Stalking Tiger (8 cards, 27 life)

Nassif – 8, 27
Nuijten – 8, 26
Osyp – 8, 23
De Rosa – 8, 22
Nassif – 8, 21
Nuijten – 8, 20
Osyp – 8, 19
De Rosa – 8, 18
Nassif – 8, 17
Nuijten – 8, 16
Osyp – 8, 15
Nassif – 8, 14
Nuijten – 7, 27
Osyp – 7, 26
Nassif – 7, 25
Nuijten – 7, 24
Osyp – 7, 23
Nassif – 7, 22
Nuijten – 7, 21
Nassif – 7, 20
Winner: Nuijten – 7 cards, 19 life

Chris Millar/Stalking Tiger (+0 hand/+2 life)
Whenever you play a creature spell, you may pay 1. If you do, draw a card.


After Nuijten won the Millar deck, Osyp gathered the three remaining players to try negotiating which decks they each wanted. Osyp tried to figure out which deck to nominate and was hoping the three each wanted a different deck. He figured that even though they were getting last picks that they had no need to fight. Nassif had a different idea in mind, though; he was committed to getting the Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar Maro deck.

Osyp nominated Moldenhauer-Salazar's Maro (9 cards, 18 life)

Osyp – 9, 18
De Rosa – 9, 17
Nassif – 9, 14
De Rosa – 9, 13
Nassif – 9, 12
De Rosa – 8, 18
Nassif – 8, 17
De Rosa – 8, 16
Nassif – 8, 15
De Rosa – 8, 14
Nassif – 8, 13
De Rosa – 7, 18
Winner: Nassif – 7 cards, 17 life

Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar/Maro (+1 hand/-7 life)
Tap an untapped creature you control, Discard a card: Target creature you control gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of cards in your hand.


De Rosa dropped out, talking about how the Dragon deck was a “nice one.” Osyp once again tried to negotiate a deal but De Rosa wasn’t going for it. Eventually they decided to flip a coin for the deck they both wanted: Wakefield, Akroma. While the other players were getting a good laugh because of De Rosa and Osyp both fighting for a Wakefield deck, they weren’t too keen on the coin flip. The peer pressure was too much for the two Americans and the bidding began.

De Rosa nominated Jamie Wakefield's Akroma (9 life, 32 cards)

De Rosa – 9, 32
Osyp – 9, 31
De Rosa – 9, 30
Osyp – 9, 29
De Rosa – 9,27
Osyp – 9, 25
De Rosa – 9, 24
Osyp – 9, 23
De Rosa – 9, 21
Osyp – 9, 19
De Rosa – 9, 18
Osyp – 9, 17
De Rosa – 9, 16
Winner: Osyp – 8 cards, 32 life

Jamie Wakefield/Akroma, Angel of Wrath (+1 hand/+7 life)
When a creature comes into play under your control, it gains two of the following abilities at random: flying, first strike, trample, haste, protection from black, protection from red, or vigilance.

Main Deck

60 cards

20  Forest

20 lands

Blurred Mongoose
Caller of the Claw
Giant Solifuge
Jolrael's Centaur
Nimble Mongoose
Silhana Ledgewalker
Troll Ascetic

28 creatures

Chrome Mox
Overrun
Seedtime

12 other spells


This left only De Rosa left in the Auction of the Genius. He decided to take Ruel’s Arcbound Overseer deck with the full bid of 8 cards, 28 life.

Olivier Ruel/Arcbound Overseer (+0 hand/+3 life)
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a +1/+1 counter on target creature you control. At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a charge counter on target permanent you control.

To recap, here are the players, the designer and avatar of their decks, and their final bids:

Frank Karsten – Asahara, Loxodon Hierarch; 5, 21
Antoine Ruel – Pikula, Ink-Eyes; 5, 22
Jose Barbero – Paskins, Goblin Warchief; 6, 11
Mike Flores – Flores, Hell’s Caretaker; 6, 23
Geoffrey Siron – Ishida, Frenetic Efreet; 5, 17
Pierre Canali – Sullivan, Birds of Paradise; 6, 15
Jeff Cunningham – Fujita, Teysa; 6, 15
Dave Williams – Rizzo, Fallen Angel; 6, 20
Gabriel Nassif – Moldenhauer-Salazar, Maro; 7, 17
Terry Soh – Cuneo, Serra Angel; 6, 13
Julien Nuijten – Millar, Stalking Tiger; 7, 19
Osyp Lebedowicz – Wakefield, Akroma; 8, 32
Antonino De Rosa – Ruel, Arcbound Overseer; 8, 28
Tsuyoshi Fujita – Kuroda, Etched Oracle; 5, 21
Olivier Ruel – Menedian, Eight-and-a-Half Tails; 6, 13
Kenji Tsumura – Karsten, Bosh; 5, 13

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