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Good Eatin'

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Prison Realm
Mari rolls her die. "One," she says, sadly.

"I guess that means your Paniac isn't attacking," you say.

"This deck isn't exactly the best thing I've put together," she admits. "It's all combos and lifegain, but not much else."

"You were able to get me down to three life. I'd say you're doing okay."

Mari draws her card for the turn, and raises an eyebrow. "That's timely," she says.

"And by 'timely', I think you're saying that it's going to absolutely destroy me."

"Not exactly, but it's close enough," Mari says, tapping five lands and casting a Griffin Dreamfinder. "I only have one enchantment card in my graveyard, so you know where this is going."

Unfortunately, you do. You watch as she returns a Prison Realm to her hand, then taps her last three lands to slap down your copy of The Mimeoplasm.

"...and I just cast that last turn," you say, mournfully.

"Just like what happened when your Death's Shadow started approaching double digits," Mari notes. "How big was that Mimeoplasm again?"

"Well, it was a 2/4 Seraph of Dawn with the counters from a Steel Leaf Champion, so... 7/9, I think? With flying and lifelink."

Mari gives you a look. "You'll have to excuse me if I don't feel too bad about that Prison Realm," she says. "Don't forget that I gain two more life from my Student of Ojutai. And I'll scry for one."

CÚcile peers into the room. "Lunch in about ten minutes, guys," she says.

"We'll be done soon," you call back.

"She's making lunch?" Mari asks.

"No, it's CJ's turn today. I'm surprised that he actually knows his way around a kitchen."

"I know he's done part time at that grill near Merriwether's."

"That probably explains it."

"I know that if I were hunkering down for a while, I'd have wanted to have a good cook with me."

"You and me both," you say. "Are you attacking?"

"No," Mari says, "My line's more on the defensive side right now, so I'll let you figure this one out. Any responses before I end my turn?"

You briefly consider spending the +1/+1 counter on your Gristleback to draw a card, but then discard the idea - you'll probably need all the life you can get at this point. Instead, you tap two lands to cast the Feral Instinct in your hand.

"Just for the card draw?" Mari asks.

"Just for the card draw," you say.

"That ends my turn, then."

You untap your permanents and take your draw from the Feral Instinct, adding a Courage in Crisis to your hand. You then follow that with a Cartouche of Ambition from your normal draw, and suddenly you're wondering if it's enough to put you back in this game.

"What's your life total?" you ask Mari.

"An even twenty," she says.

"That's a tough hill to climb."

"Since when was that an obstacle?" Mari points out, smiling.

"That's true," you say. "Okay, I'm at three life, so my Death's Shadow is a 10/10 right now."

"With a Pacifism on it," Mari notes.

"A Pacifism from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths," you add.

"I think we've already established that the twins have... extensive resources," Mari says. "I'm not going to bother asking how they got this one."

"And knowing them, they wouldn't tell us at all."

CÚcile peers into the room again. "Lunch is on," she says.

"We'll wrap up soon," you call back.

"Who's winning?"

You glance at Mari, and she glances back at you. "Don't look at me," Mari says. "Figure it out yourself."

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

You are at 3 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.

You have the following cards in your graveyard:

Mari is at 20 life and has no cards in her hand. She has the following cards in play:

Mari has the following cards in her graveyard:

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 - Good Eatin'" by 11:59 P.M. EST on Monday, April 13, 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, "Bubbles" and Wei Lin, Hyman Rosen, Michael Feldman, and Russell Jones.

"The main clue here was the amount of mana we have," Sean Patrick Keatley writes. "We do not have enough to really even entertain Time Elemental's bounce ability, so that steers us in a certain direction.

"I tried to figure how to get a bunch of Foul Imp triggers, but realized that their Chalice of Life is untapped so they functionally have 7 life. They also have too many flyers, so combat is out of the question. In addition, the Foul Imp can hit for 2 and that leaves 5 - a convenient number for Time Elemental and Sower of Discord."

The problem, however, lies in how to get Sower of Discord from your opponent's graveyard into play. As Russell Jones writes, you'll need to go through a lot of graveyard manipulation to get there:

  1. Put Mirror Mockery on Wicked Wolf. Triton Waverider triggers and gains flying. (6 lands left.)
  2. Let CJ activate Chalice of Life if he wants, gaining one life to 7 (or he can hang onto it for later with the same result). He might try to appeal that it feels like his starting life total should be -3, and therefore get the transformation, but it doesn't matter.
  3. Go to combat and swing with everything except Femeref Archers. Time Elemental and Mirror Mockery both trigger; put Mirror Mockery on top.
  4. Create a token copy of Wicked Wolf. It triggers and targets Driver of the Dead for a fight, but don't let that resolve yet.

  5. The third fight trigger hits Driver of the Dead like a ton of bricks (but since the Wolf token also takes 4 damage in the exchange, that must feel like 2600+ pounds of bricks). Driver of the Dead triggers, and like Dawn Evangel before it, there's only one cheap enough creature card in the graveyard to target: Foul Imp.
  6. Foul Imp comes back, triggers, and CJ loses 2 life (to 5, or 4 if the Chalice hasn't bothered to tap yet). Mentor of the Meek does not trigger, with Paragon of Open Graves pumping it to 3/2 and out of the Mentor's class... a good thing, because you don't want CJ to have a chance to draw Scars of the Veteran, Dark Triumph (sacrificing Sower of Discord), or whatever other goofy cards he might have.
  7. There's still one more trigger on the stack: Time Elemental, which deals 5 damage to you at end of combat (to 5). Now that Sower of Discord is around to witness that, it triggers and makes CJ lose 5 more life (to 0).

Notably, Time Elemental's triggered ability only resolves at end of combat, which gives your opponent ample time to block (and possibly deal lethal damage to it). However, this only gives them a temporary reprieve: Time Elemental will deal 5 damage to you regardless of whether or not it's still on the battlefield at end of combat.

"The solution requires fine control over CJ's graveyard and its order," Hyman Rosen observes, "so that when he must choose a card in his graveyard, the choice is forced. Getting this done requires careful ordering of abilities and resolution."

"I guess that sometimes," Russell adds, "even when you're isolated, and not taking any damage (or poison counters), the infection can still strike."

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