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Solitary Confinement
"Okay, Mari," CJ says, "I'll just use my Disciple of Tevesh Szat to kill off your Soul of the Harvest."

"And then you'll attack?" Mari asks.

"No, I think I'll stay right here."

Mari sighs. "You've got three flyers, CJ," she says. "I've got no blockers for any of them, a Time Elemental with summoning sickness, and a Femeref Archers that'll die the moment I activate it."

"So what are you saying?"

"Nothing," Mari sighs. "I just thought I'd mention it."

"I think you're leaning too much on that combo of yours, CJ," you point out.

"But it's a good combo."

"It's also really fragile. I mean, you're tapping Chalice of Life to get Regna, the Redeemer to give you two tokens on the end step, for which you're activating Mentor of the Meek so that you have cards that you can feed to Solitary Confinement."

"I just need it to last long enough for me to transform Chalice of Life," CJ says.

"Umm... you're at six life. You've got a long way to go there, chief."

"And I've got a Time Elemental coming online," Mari adds.

"I figure I'll get there eventually," CJ says.

You shake your head. There's something to be said about a man and his delusions, but you're not going to be the one to say it.

"I have to say that this is a nice collection we're playing with," Mari says.

Your expression brightens. "Yeah," you say, "CÚcile's wards - the twins - have apparently been building it up for a while. It's not quite an Unabridged Cube, but it's probably close."

"You could have fooled us," Mari says. "Speaking of which, are you done with your turn?"

"What?" CJ asks. "Oh yeah, sure."

Mari untaps her permanents and adds a Mirror Mockery to her otherwise-empty hand.

CÚcile steps inside your room, junk food in tow. "Sorry everyone," she says. "It was a long walk to the pantry; I'm starting to think that we should set up supply depots. Did I miss anything?"

"Just CJ trying to climb the most uphill route to victory ever conceived," you say.

"Is that a Solitary Confinement?" CÚcile asks. "That looks like it's going to be a long game."

"Probably not as long as you think," Mari says, cryptically.

It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat CJ before the beginning of his next combat phase.

You are at 10 life, with the following cards in play:

You have the following card 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.

You have the following cards in your graveyard:

CJ is at 6 life and has no cards in his hand. He has the following cards in play:

CJ has the following cards in his graveyard, in the following order:

If you've got a solution in mind, don't put it in the comments! Help keep this puzzle a mystery to other readers!

Instead, if you think you've got a great solution, you can send your solution to puzzles@gatheringmagic.com with the subject line "Puzzle - Personal Bubble" by 11:59 P.M. EST on Monday, April 6, 2020. 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 Sean Patrick Keatley, Jonah Comstock, Michael Feldman, "Bubbles" and Wei Lin.

"You might think that Eager Beaver's normal-sounding (if not normally-typed) ability would make it the rare silver-bordered card that doesn't dominate the puzzle it's in," Michael Feldman writes. "But deciding what to untap is probably the toughest choice of the puzzle. Not that deciding on Coffin Queen's target is necessarily a walk in the park."

In fact, there are several things that you can have Eager Beaver untap, all of which can work toward a win. Sean Patrick Keatley, for example, notes that you can do the following:

  1. Pay one Black and two Green to cast Grim Contest so that Fledgling Dragon kills our Eager Beaver. Our opponent taps Silent Attendant to mitigate the loss of life, so they are still at 5. We return Eager Beaver to our hand.
  2. Tap Phyrexian Tower to sacrifice Brushwagg. Our opponent drops to 4.
  3. Pay two Black and one Green to tap Coffin Queen and get Auramancer into play, returning Demonic Vigor to our hand. Orc Sureshot gives Fledgling Dragon -1/-1.
  4. Pay one Black to cast Demonic Vigor on Vesperlark.
  5. Tap Scattershot Archer to ping all fliers for 1 damage. Fledgling Dragon is now 8/8 with 4 marked damage, Vesperlark is a 3/2 with 1 marked damage.
  6. Pay two Black and one Green to cast Eager Beaver, untapping Scattershot Archer. Fledgling Dragon is now 7/7 with 4 marked damage.
  7. Tap Scattershot Archer again. This kills Vesperlark which returns to our opponent's hand, and brings back only the legal target in their graveyard, which is Forge Devil. Forge Devil deals 1 damage to some random creature that makes no difference, and our opponent which brings them down to 3 life.
  8. Because threshold is no longer there for our opponent, Fledgling Dragon dies, and Impending Doom deals the last 3 damage.

Alternatively, you can simply sacrifice Eager Beaver to Phyrexian Tower instead of using Grim Contest right from the start. Taking this approach still requires you to return Auramancer and put Demonic Vigor on Vesperlark, but Michael Feldman then takes a different turn:

The "sacrifice Beaver to the Tower" approach has at least one variation, but it's a good one that involves using Eager Beaver's ability one more time. Jonah Comstock's sequence points out the following:

It's worth noting that Jonah's last move also removes Vesperlark as well, and sets up your opponent for one more damage via Forge Devil.

"Another funny feature of this puzzle is the theme that '5' is really '6'," Michael observes. "That is, Silent Attendant makes CÚcile's '5 life' functionally '6 life', and reducing Fledgling Dragon to 5/5 by getting rid of threshold really only reduces the Dragon to 6/6, considering the assist from Paragon of Fierce Defiance.

"Then there's the theme alluded to in the title. As is so often the case, when confronting bloodthirsty barbarism and raw strength, cool manipulation and dexterous use of defensive power will be your saviors."

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