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Jinkies

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Slice and Dice
“Say that again.”

“Huh?”

“Say. That. Again.”

“But all I said was . . . ”

“Say that again! I dare you! I double-dare you!”

“That’s enough,” Mari says to your opponent. “It was just a lapse; that’s all. We didn’t think you would be so sensitive about the J-word.”

“Well, you try being called Velma!” Velma says, indignantly. “You try walking around and having people make the same joke every time you so much as introduce yourself!”

It’s the final week before the Shadows over Innistrad prerelease, and you’ve come in for one more crack at the Unabridged Cube. This collection includes one of each card ever printed, but lately, it’s been living up to its reputation too well: For some reason, the Cube’s been coughing up an increasing number of Shadows cards for its Booster Drafts.

“So?” Mari asks you.

You give her an odd look. “So . . . what?”

“So tell her you’re sorry already.”

“Oh, right. Sorry about that, Velma.”

“Hmph,” Velma says.

Your opponent may be strung a little tight because of your game: Velma started off on an aggressive bent, playing straight creatures on turns one through four. You fought back with blockers and removal, but she brought your life total down to single digits and had your back to the wall for a while.

Spirit Away
“And I would have gotten away with it, too,” Velma grunts, “if it weren’t for your top-decked Slice and Dice.”

You shrug. “You overextended,” you say.

“Well, overextend this,” she says, paying 7 mana and dropping a Spirit Away on the table. “I’ll take your Night Revelers, thank you.”

Velma’s play suddenly makes your situation look pretty bad. Not only does it even you out at three creatures each, the Aura gives her a 6/6 flyer that you can’t block. What’s more, it’s too big for your Prey Upon to take down.

You glance at Mari, and her prognosis looks equally grim. “No way around this,” she says. “How are your top-decking skills?”

You run two fingers along the top card of your deck, draw it, and see that it’s an Akroan Crusader. At first, you’re ecstatic to see a creature card for your Nullmage Shepherd. After a moment, though, you become convinced that there’s something else there—something that you finally see after a few minutes’ worth of thought.

“Well?” Velma asks.

“Well?” Mari asks.

You show Mari the Crusader. She takes one look at it, one look at the rest of your hand, and one look at your board state.

“Jinkies,” she says.

It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Velma before the start of her next draw step.

You are at 6 life with the following cards in play:

You have the following cards in your hand:

You still have some cards left in your library. However, you do not know the identity of any of the cards that are currently on top of it.

Velma is at 7 life and has no cards in her hand. She has the following cards in play:

  • Timber Shredder (transformed from Hinterland Logger)
  • Lamplighter of Selhoff
  • Night Revelers (stolen from you, with Velma’s Spirit Away attached)
  • Ulvenwald Mysteries
  • 4 Forests (three tapped)
  • 4 Islands (all tapped)

If you think you have a great solution in mind, don’t put it in the comments! Instead, send it to puzzles at gatheringmagic dot com with the subject line “Puzzle — Jinkies”. 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 Russell Jones, Ryou Niji, Aaron Golas, Etienne Brosse, Andrew Muravskyi, David Jacobs, Merlin Schmitz, Chadwick Bond, Matt Vorpahl, Matthew Harvey, David Foodym, Sanjay Saith, Andrew McLaren, Frederick Remolana, Tim Reinholz, Nathan Dwyer, Subrata Sircar, Scott Stoops, Hyman Rosen, Bohdan Yarema, Quadrangolo Tetra, Kriz Lee, David Solomon, Victor Munson, and George Leung.

Despite the usual disdain for Banewasp Affliction, it’s an unlikely blessing in this case. “Banewasp Affliction is exactly what we need,” Andrew Muravskyi writes. “We just have to make one of Olivier's creatures big enough and then blow it up. The first part can be helped by activating delirium for Olivier; the second is easier if we make ourselves delirious.”

The main issue for the first approach is that Olivier currently has no cards in his graveyard, which means that Olivier’s delirium must correspond to the four permanent types that he has in play. “The Monkey Cage could be triggered with putting a creature into play,” Tim Reinholz writes, “and the Lesser Gargadon can singlehandedly contribute the other three card types (a land, enchantment, and creature) if it blocks and dies. So how do we make Gargadon block and die? We provoke it with a Deftblade Elite that has been imbued with deathtouch!”

This leaves the question of how to put a creature into play, but George Leung’s solution covers that:

  • Tap and sacrifice Skull of Ramos to add bb to your mana pool.
  • Spend bb to activate Onyx Mage's ability targeting Deftblade Elite, giving it deathtouch.
  • Tap one Swamp and another land for 1b to cast Banewasp Affliction targeting Soul Swallower.
  • Move your combat phase. Declare Deftblade Elite and Topplegeist as attackers. Deftblade Elite’s provoke ability triggers; target Lesser Gargadon to block Deftblade Elite. Blocking triggers Lesser Gargadon's ability, and Olivier sacrifices a land. Topplegeist goes unblocked due to flying.
  • When damage is dealt, Deftblade Elite and Lesser Gargadon both die, and Topplegeist deals 1 damage to Olivier, putting his life to 6. When Deftblade Elite dies, Brilliant Halo goes to the graveyard, which then causes the Aura to return to your hand. When Lesser Gargadon dies, it and Eternal Warrior go to Olivier's graveyard.
  • Tap two Plains for ww to cast Brilliant Halo targeting Brood Keeper. When Brilliant Halo attaches to Brood Keeper, Brood Keeper's ability triggers and Olivier puts a 2/2 red Dragon creature token onto the battlefield. This triggers Monkey Cage's ability, which makes Olivier sacrifice it and put a number of green Ape creature tokens into play equal to the Dragon token's converted mana cost, which is 0, so Olivier doesn't gain any Ape tokens.
  • End the turn.
  • Olivier untaps; then, on his upkeep, Soul Swallower checks for delirium. Olivier now has a land, a creature, an enchantment, and an artifact card in his graveyard, so Delirium triggers and Olivier puts three +1/+1 counters on Soul Swallower, making it a 6/6.
  • Before Olivier's upkeep ends, tap a Swamp and another land for 1b to activate Onyx Mage's ability targeting Cuombajj Witches, giving it deathtouch.
  • Tap Cuombajj Witches to deal 1 damage to Soul Swallower and allow Olivier to have Cuombajj Witches deal 1 damage to a target of his choice (which won’t matter). Soul Swallower dies from the deathtouch damage and Banewasp Affliction's ability triggers, causing Olivier to lose 6 life, leaving him at 0.

Of note is that Olivier can block your attacking Deftblade Elite with more than one creature, but that won’t matter either—you can prioritize blockers and assign all of the Elite’s combat damage to the Lesser Gargadon.

There is a second solution that involves turning on delirium for yourself, and it involves a strange target for the Affliction: Spellwild Ouphe. Chadwick Bond demonstrates:

  • Tap and sacrifice Skull of Ramos to give ourselves bb (we now have two card types in our graveyard: sorcery and artifact) and then tap a third Swamp and sacrifice Haunted Fengraf to bring back nothing. (This gives us three card types in the graveyard.)
  • Go to the declare attackers step. Attack with Deftblade Elite and Topplegeist. Use provoke to force Lesser Gargadon to block Deftblade Elite.
  • Go to the declare blockers step. Lesser Gargadon's ability will force Olivier to sacrifice a land. Olivier has no creatures he can use to block Topplegeist due to its flying ability. Olivier can block Deftblade Elite with additional blockers, but it is unlikely he will, and it won't matter.
  • Go to the combat damage step. Topplegeist deals 1 damage to Olivier, who will go to 6 life. Lesser Gargadon will kill Deftblade Elite. Deftblade Elite will go to our graveyard (we have four card types in there now; delirium is active), and Brilliant Halo will return to our hand.
  • During our second main phase, tap a Swamp, and enchant Spellwild Ouphe with Banewasp Affliction.
  • Tap a Plains, and enchant Spellwild Ouphe with Brilliant Halo, making it a 2/5 creature.
  • Go to our opponent's turn. On his upkeep, Topplegeist will trigger since we have delirium. Tap Spellwild Ouphe.
  • Hold priority during Olivier's upkeep, and cast Swift Reckoning targeting Spellwild Ouphe, killing it (with two sorceries in our graveyard, we have spell mastery). Banewasp Affliction will cause Olivier to lose 5 life, going to 1 life.
  • Still on Olivier's upkeep, tap Cuombajj Witches to deal 1 damage to Olivier. He can deal 1 point of damage to whatever he feels like, but it will not matter because he loses the game afterward.

“We have to make sure to get almost everything done on our turn,” Matthew Harvey adds, “as Topplegeist's ability has an intervening if clause in it, which means it won't trigger if we don't have delirium online at the beginning of Olivier's upkeep.”

Interestingly enough, however, a more direct solution is available. “Though it's tempting to bring delirium online,” Victor Munson writes, “we actually don't need it to win:

The scenario still leaves a few questions unanswered, though. “Why are we running Cuombajj Witches in a deck with so many 1-toughness creatures?” Chadwick asks. “That seems to me to be a bad idea.”

And as for the increasing number of Shadows over Innistrad cards in the Cube, Russell Jones theorizes: “Clearly, all the cards were put into the Cube by Jace, to celebrate the Festival of Guildpact—or at least the birthday of this column. He won't be able to recall performing that act of charity, though, because Alhammaret ate his memory. Maybe he'll find the right clues to remind him on Innistrad.”


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