MTG Wiki

DCI Sanctioned
Paper {Cross}
Magic Online {Cross}
Magic Arena {Cross}
Type Constructed
Multiplayer {Tick}/{Cross}
For the draft format, see Auction Draft.

Auction (sometimes Auction of the People) is a casual-tournament format for Magic: the Gathering introduced by Mark Rosewater in 2001.[1][2][3][4] It is usually played as a single-player format much like a Draft.

Description[ | ]

Several decks of comparable strength, at least as many decks as players in the tournament, are prepared and the decklists are made publicly available. An auctioneer then selects a deck and the participating players bid life points and hand cards below a starting value previously announced. In value, hand cards take precedence e.g. 6 cards, 25 life is lower than 7 cards and 1 life, though variants with a fixed conversion rate are also used. The lowest bidder is awarded the deck for use in the tournament, and may not bid on any other decks.

The format of a bid is usually denoted as "x/y", cards and then life; e.g. 7/20 represents a bid to start with seven cards and twenty life as in a normal game of Magic. The maximum bid, which opens the auction, varies; early instances during the Magic Invitational opened the bidding at 7/20, but later Invitationals (from 2004 onward) used 8/25, and 8/30 is also popular. If playing a format with a different normal starting life total (or starting hand size, if any such formats exist), different starting bids are advisable; a Commander Auction, for example, will most likely open the bidding with 8/50 or even 9/60.

After bidding is concluded, the players play a regular tournament with the decks they won in the action. However, every player starts with the number of cards in his hand and life total according to their winning bid. Due to this, players with largely better and therefore in the auction highly contested decks have a handicap compared to players with worse and less contested decks.

This tournament is usually played with Preconstructed Decks and found wide popularity for the Magic Invitational. Of the 11 Invitationals, 7 - all except the initial 4 - included an Auction format; in 5 cases these were Auction of the People, where the decklists were submitted by the worldwide community in response to a restrictive deck construction prompt. (The other two were Auction of the Champions - all Pro Tour-winning decks to that point - and Auction of the Geniuses - where specific famous deck designers were solicited for the deck construction.)

Setting up an Auction[ | ]

Decks in the auction should be of reasonably comparable strength - a Vintage Top 8 deck against a Standard deck which can't manage to win an FNM is unlikely to be fun - but within that constraint, a wide band of power is preferable. If all the decks are about equally good, the auction lacks competition and therefore interest. Having a single deck per player with no extras is unpleasant for the last bidders, but too many extra decks will also reduce competition; the Invitational standard was to have 17-18 decks for 16 players, and for 8 players 9 decks should probably be the default number.

Starting bids over 7/20 are recommended, usually 8/25, though if the deck pool is large (11 decks for 8 players or 20 decks for 16, for example), the optimal starting bid probably lowers to 8/20 or 7/25. Conversely, if there are exactly as many decks as players, a large starting bid is advisable; 8/30 or even 9/30 makes the decisions to take the late-picked decks more interesting, as they come with a substantial bonus. In terms of empirical evidence for starting bids, in the period where the Invitationals used 7/20 as their starting bid, it was rare for any bid of 5/20 or lower to do well, and often 5/20 bidders went 0 for 3 in their matches.

Auctions with Other Formats[ | ]

Normally, after an auction completes, the players compete in a standard tournament structure of 1v1 matches in several rounds, with round count depending on the number of players (e.g. 8 players in 3 rounds or 32 players in 5 rounds). However, this can in principle be used for any multiplayer format as well, from Star to Emperor or unstructured Free-for-All. Starting bids for such an auction should probably have higher life totals than otherwise, e.g. 8/40, as they increase the value of life relative to starting cards.

References[ | ]