It's probably because you're playing one of CJ's decks. This one has a theme that became really obvious after the first few turns: Your first play was a Wild Dogs, your Hollow Dogs were recently on the receiving end of a Condemn, and now you're about to lose your Mortis Dogs to a first-striking attacker.
"Isn't this kind of limiting?" you ask CJ. "I mean, there aren't a lot of dogs in Magic."
"Yeah, but it's cool. I always wanted to build a Hound deck."
"But I'm playing against a Human deck!"
"Oh yeah. I had a lot of Human creatures, too."
"And it's as if all the noncreature cards in this deck were randomly chosen!"
"I didn't think about those too much, yeah."
You sigh. Now you know how Mari feels.
"That's good," she says, adjusting the die that's keeping track of her life total. "I'm at 6 life now, and Mortis Dogs dies."
"Sure. Any other plays?"
"I'll cast a Border Patrol," Saluki says, "and then activate my Salt Road Patrol for its outlast ability. I'll end my turn, so my Exuberant Firestoker triggers from Jor-Kadeen and deals 2 damage to you."
You glance at the Firestoker, which would have been dead ages ago if it weren't for a timely Honor's Reward on Saluki's side. You scribble down your new life total and get back to your thoughts.
You contemplate playing the Bone Harvest in your hand, but then decide to hold off for a little while longer. You draw an Ainok Guide, then shuffle your three cards around, looking for an opening to exploit.
Eventually an idea comes to mind. "Do you have any creatures in this deck that aren't dogs, CJ?" you ask.
"Nope, everything in Baha Men is a Hound."
"Say that again?"
"Baha Men. That's what I call the deck."
Your eyebrow twitches slightly, but you manage to stop yourself from strangling him right there. "What about graveyard triggers? Does this have a copy of Gaea's Blessing, for example?"
"No," CJ says. "I barely even know what that is. Why do you ask?"
You glance back at the table. Mari might not be here, but you have an idea of how to end this farce. You've been on the defensive long enough; it's time to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.
It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Saluki before the beginning of her next combat phase.
You are at 7 life, with the following cards in play:
- Vampire Hounds
- Thraben Foulbloods
- Hound of the Farbogs
- Overwhelming Instinct
- Sol Ring
- 2 Swamps
- 4 Forests (one with your Wild Growth attached)
- Phyrexian Tower
You have the following cards in your hand:
You have not yet played a land this turn. You do not know the identities or order of any of the cards remaining in your library. However, you do know that you have several basic lands -- Swamps and Forests -- in there somewhere.
You have the following cards in your graveyard:
Saluki is at 6 life and has no cards in her hand. She has the following cards in play:
- Borderland Marauder
- Arashin Cleric
- Sell-Sword Brute
- Exuberant Firestoker (with your Patriarch's Desire attached and two +1/+1 counters on it)
- Salt Road Patrol (tapped, with a +1/+1 counter on it)
- Border Patrol
- Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (tapped)
- 3 Mountains (all tapped)
- 4 Plains (all tapped)
If you think you've got a great solution in mind, don't put it in the comments! Instead, send it to email@example.com with the subject line "Puzzle -- Year of the Dog" by 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, February 18, 2017. We'll include the best ones in next week's article along with the next puzzle!
Last Week's Puzzle
Correct solutions to last week's puzzle were received from Stephen Gross, Russell Jones, Ryou Niji, Maarten Wybaillie, and Chris Billard. Simon Lazarus provided a partial solution that identifies critical observations as well.
Quite a few people saw the infinite combo in this puzzle, although it's not actually an infinite combo because there's a limited number of creatures on the table, and Phyrexian Plaguelord can only give so many -1/-1 penalties. The main question lies in how to get the combo started, and how to end it at the right time. Russell Jones writes:
An alternative solution, however, allows you to deal more than 22 damage. "The key is realizing that we have to move Sadistic Glee to Triskelion and that we don't actually need Piracy Charm," Chris Billard writes. "The rest of our creatures provide everything that we need to start the loop that destroys all of Kent's creatures and moves Compelling Deterrence back to the top of our library. At that point, Sage of Fables lets us draw Compelling Deterrence again so that we that can bounce Kent's Ivory Mask and target him for the final damage: