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Copy That

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Clone
"I'll pay the embalm cost of my Vizier of Many Faces," Cecile says, putting a token into play. "I'll have it copy your Skyraker Giant."

You frown a little, but nod anyway.

Cecile taps two more lands. "I'll cycle my Remote Isle for a card," she says.

Your fingers tighten slightly on the Dash Hopes in your hand.

Cecile finally draws her card, and shrugs. It turns out to be a Transguild Promenade, which she plays immediately afterward, tapping a Plains for its enters-the-battlefield ability.

You visibly deflate, arms turning to rubber from behind your side of the table. Cecile watches you with interest.

"It's almost as though you want me to cast a spell," she observes.

"You could say that," you sigh.

Cecile shrugs again, then turns her Clone sideways. "I'll attack with just this one," she says. "Don't forget that it's copying your Pardic Dragon."

You know you don't have a lot of choice at this point: You're at 4 life, and you're playing a deck of random cards from your local game store's bargain box. You've also got only one possible blocker for the Dragon, and you need to throw it in the way.

"I guess I'm blocking with the Skyraker Giant," you say.

Cecile drops her Clone into her graveyard, while you put the Giant into yours and move its Executioner's Hood off to the side. You take the time to go over her board again, trying to remember which cards are supposed to be which. You should have taken better notes, you suppose.

"Could you remind me what those two Body Doubles are for?" you ask.

Cecile points at one of them, then at the other. "This one is the Flametongue Kavu that took down your actual Pardic Dragon," she says. "And this one's the Pith Driller that put a -1/-1 counter on your Polluted Dead."

"I remember that the Stunt Double is a Wall of Razors," you add, thinking about a particularly bad block several turns ago, "and that the Artisan of Forms copied my Feral Abomination before you cast that Path of Exile. What was the last thing your Cryptoplasm copied, though?"

"I think it was your Vexing Devil," Cecile says. "It's your turn, by the way."

"I'll assume it was the Devil, then. Why are you playing with a deck full of clone effects, again?"

"The twins found out I was passing by this weekend, so they lent me a deck. This is probably their idea of amusement."

"I was wondering that. The Leyline of Singularity isn't a good fit, though."

"I think they put it in here to make things harder. I'm surprised you're not playing one of your other decks, though."

"I didn't bring any today," you explain. "Besides, the best defense against a clone deck is probably a deck with a lot of terrible creatures."

"Don't let the twins hear you say that, or else they'll make me play something even worse."

You draw a Lava Dart to go with the Dash Hopes gathering dust in your hand. "We're both at four life," you say, "I'm playing a bunch of mismatched cards, and your board is getting more complicated by the second. What could be worse than this?"

"You would win with whatever you've got stuck in your hand?" Cecile laughs.

Your ears prick up, and you start inspecting the cards on the table.

"I wasn't being serious," Cecile says, now with a slightly worried tone.

It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Cecile before the beginning of her next combat phase.

You are at 4 life, with the following cards in play:

    You have the following cards in your hand:

You have not yet played a land this turn. You still have a substantial number of cards remaining in your library, but you know neither the identities nor the order of those cards.

Cecile is at 4 life and has no cards in her hand. She has the following cards in play:

If you think you've got a great solution in mind, don't put it in the comments! Instead, send it to puzzles@gatheringmagic.com with the subject line "Puzzle - Copy That" by 11:59 P.M. EST on Monday, March 18, 2019. 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 Addison Fox, Russell Jones, Kirk Maijala, Hyman Rosen, Ryou Niji, Matt Bocek, James Reuterskiold, Sean Patrick Keatley, David Arnold, and Michael Feldman. Partial solutions were also received from Michael Reluzco and Greg Dreher.

"This is a fun one," Addison Fox writes. "The text on Approach of the Second Sun is a little oddball: It doesn't care whether the first Approach resolved, or if it's the same copy of the card or anything, just that we tried to cast it at least one previous time this game. Additionally, it only cares if you cast it from your hand when it's the game-winning copy; the previous copies can be from wherever you want."

"Despite CJ's deck-building goals," Ryou Niji continues, "this deck isn't really that good at generating a large amount of mana, not when 'large' means '14 mana, plus whatever it takes to dig seven deep'.

"Instead, the plan is to first cast Approach of the Second Sun for free with Etali, then cast it the second time with Twinning Glass. At first glance it seems that at least the 'dig seven deep' part of the plan remains the same - and Skullclamp and Faithless Looting give us the draw power to do so. However, to win with 100% certainty, we must find another path for Approach to get back into our hand."

That approach, interestingly enough, takes the form of a rare move. Russell Jones elaborates:

  1. Cast Aviary Mechanic, which triggers and bounces Silkwrap. (4 lands left.)
  2. Replay Silkwrap, which triggers and makes Ruin Rat skitter off to its mousehole. You wouldn't want it to kill itself off for a death trigger at a point where you're locked out of sorceries, after all. (2 lands left.)
  3. Go to combat and swing with Etali, Primal Storm, along with whatever else you want other than Grinning Ignus.
    • Etali triggers and exiles some cards. Go ahead and cast your Approach, but unless Boris has something really tempting, you don't need to bother with that card.

  4. Sacrifice Judge's Familiar to counter Approach of the Second Sun (no need to pay the 1), so it ends up in your graveyard instead of deep down in your library.
  5. Let the rest of combat play out. Even if Boris didn't block anything, he takes a maximum of 9 damage, which doesn't change the outlook on that front. There may be some dead attackers or blockers, but none of them have triggers that can interfere with anything.
  6. Return Grinning Ignus to your hand to get 2r, and tap your last land to get to 4 mana. Skullclamp doesn't trigger since the Ignus isn't "dying".
  7. Cast Shreds of Sanity to get Approach of the Second Sun back in your hand. (You have no instants to target.) The only other card in your hand is Grinning Ignus, which can be discarded.
  8. Tap Twinning Glass, and look over the Approach checklist:
    • The first Approach has to be cast by some means (Etali's ability): Check. Because that casting happened this turn, Approach is eligible to use with Twinning Glass. (Sure, the first one was countered, but that's not part of this checklist.)
    • The second Approach has to be cast from your hand. Twinning Glass lets you cheat on the mana cost, but it's still coming from your hand: Check.
    • The second Approach has to resolve. I don't see any invisible Mindbreak Traps in Boris's hand (How could I? They're invisible!), so it doesn't look like that's going to be an obstacle.

  9. All checks are clear, and we're go for takeoff. Boris, meet Bolas. Bolas, meet lunch... er, Boris. OM NOM NOM [REDACTED].

While it's also possible for you to free Boris' Chittering Rats by sacrificing your Felidar Cub to get rid of the Silkwrap, you really need to get rid of his Ruin Rat. Otherwise he can declare it as a blocker for your Etali, then use it to exile Approach of the Second Sun from your graveyard before your second main phase!

Several people also wrote in to suggest an alternative solution which, while workable, comes with a catch. In addition to the solution above, Kirk Maijala also pointed out that you can do the following:

  1. Cast Aviary Mechanic and bounce Silkwrap to our hand. Chittering Rats returns to the battlefield, Boris puts its trigger on the stack and can only target us. We put Approach of the Second Sun on top of our library.
  2. Cast Silkwrap, targeting Soaring Show-Off.
  3. Attack with Etali, Primal Storm. Exile Approach of the Second Sun from the top of our deck and cast it from exile. Put the Approach back into our deck seventh from the top. Combat damage doesn't matter, and our opponent can exile something with Ruin Rat if he wants.
  4. Equip Skullclamp to Felidar Cub.
  5. Activate Felidar Cub targeting Silkwrap. Draw a total of three cards (two off Skullclamp and one from Soaring Show-Off). Our Approach is now fourth from the top of our library.
  6. Activate Grinning Ignus, bouncing it to our hand.
  7. Equip Skullclamp to Brighthearth Banneret. Draw two cards. Our Approach is now second from the top of our library.
  8. Equip Skullclamp to Judge's Familiar. Draw two cards, the second of which is our Approach.
  9. Cast Approach from our hand with Twinning Glass.

With this solution, however, Boris also draws a card from Soaring Show-Off... which opens you to a very well-timed counterspell effect. While that may or may not be possible, you probably don't want to risk this against a constructed ub deck.

"Mazel Tov on a puzzle well done," Michael Feldman writes. "If I Were a Rich Man, I'd buy more than one Approach of the Second Sun. Then I wouldn't have to cast the same card twice. Casting it would just be Tradition."