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I hope everyone had fun at the Dark Ascension prerelease this weekend! I was pretty amused by the monster game that some prereleases did—dividing the players into Humans and the Spirits, Zombies, Vampires, and Werewolves that preyed upon them. It got me to wondering which of the tribes was the strongest. Of course, there’s only one way to find out: puzzles!


Figure out which tribe can deal the most damage to the opponent by turn five on the play.

Each tribe may not use other tribes’ cards (cards that say the name of the tribe anywhere on them count, so Moonmist is a Werewolf card and Heavy Mattock is a Human card). In addition, each tribe may only use cards in its own colors (green and white for Humans, white and blue for Spirits, blue and black for Zombies, black and red for Vampires, and red and green for Werewolves).


You have perfect luck; for example, even after you shuffle your library, it's ordered how you want. You may not assume anything about your opponent's hand or library, except that he won't do anything relevant and he's at an arbitrarily high life total.

All damage dealt up to the end of your fifth turn counts, not just damage dealt on the final turn.

Solution to Last Week’s Puzzle

You folks sure did a good job of topping the record of Essence copies! With only Innistrad, Rast was able to create 11,696 copies of Essence of the Wild. Using Dark Ascension as well, Jonathan Zolot was the first to send in this solution for infinite Essences:

Play Mana Cards in Hand
Turn one 0 7
Forest g 6
Avacyn's Pilgrim 0 5
Turn two gw 6
Hinterland Harbor ggw 5
Avacyn's Pilgrim gw 4
Avacyn's Pilgrim w 3
Turn three ggwww 4
Hinterland Harbor ggwwwu 3
Rooftop Storm 0 2
Grimgrin, Corpse-Born 0 1
Turn four gggwww 2
Requiem Angel 0 1
Turn five gggwww 2
Gravecrawler gggwww 1
Essence of the Wild 0 0

You can now create infinite Essences by repeatedly sacrificing and recasting Gravecrawler, creating a new Essence with Requiem Angel each time.

Rast also provided a solution for infinite Essences in only four turns on the play, with nary a Gravecrawler to be found:

Play Unknown Cards in Graveyard Mana Cards in Hand
Turn one 0 0 7
Forest 0 g 6
Avacyn's Pilgrim 0 0 5
Turn two 0 gw 6
Hinterland Harbor 0 gwu 5
Avacyn's Pilgrim 0 wu 4
Deranged Assistant 0 0 3
Turn three 1 1ggww 4
Mountain 1 1rggww 3
Avacyn's Pilgrim 1 1rgww 2
Mentor of the Meek 1 1g 1
Avacyn's Pilgrim, drawing from Mentor 1 0 1
Turn four 2 1rggwwww 2
(a) Village Bell-Ringer, untapping mana-producers, and then drawing from Mentor 3 1rggwwwwww 2
(b) Fiend Hunter exiling Village Bell-Ringer, drawing from Mentor 3 rggwww 2
(c) Infernal Plunge, sacrificing Fiend Hunter, untapping, then drawing from Bell-Ringer 4 1rrrggw 2
Repeat steps (a), (b), and (c) three more times, netting rrwww and two cards in the graveyard each time. 10 1ggr 16×w 2
Flash back Unburial Rites targeting Drogskol Reaver. 8 1ggr 12×w 2
Demonmail Hauberk 8 1ggr 11×w 1
(d) Sacrifice all four Bell-Ringers to the Hauberk. 8 1ggr 11×w 1
(e) Archangel's Light, drawing from Reaver 0 1rrggw 1
(f) Repeat (a), (b), and (c) four times, followed by (d) and (e) 0 1rrrgg 10×w 1

You can now produce infinite mana. To turn this into infinite Essences, use two more Unburial Rites to get another Drogskol Reaver and an Essence of the Wild. Now that you’re drawing two cards with each loop, cast Midnight Haunting before each Archangel's Light to net two Essence tokens.

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