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The Other White Meat

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Titanoth Rex
"I'm confused," CJ says. "I mean, we're not getting an Ikoria prerelease."

"I think it was a practical decision," Mari says. "The store's in the middle of a shopping area, and they all chose not to open this weekend."

"Oh, I understand that," CJ says. "What I don't understand is how we can be so lucky."

"You mean the boxes," you say.

"Yeah, the boxes. I get to hang around with you guys for two months in a house that's as big as my entire neighborhood put together, and I score a free booster box of Ikoria? Best vacation ever."

"Assuming that you don't count what happened with the expired drink mix."

"I stand by my statement," CJ says.

"I'm just surprised that the package managed to make it here," CÚcile notes.

"Or that we managed to remember where the front door was," Mari whispers to you, under her breath.

"The twins' parents must have put in a pre-order," CÚcile explains. "I heard that a few stores built up their stock expecting a change in the release schedule, so these boxes might have just been waiting for a delivery date. It might be just coincidence that they arrived today."

"One box for each of us sounds good," you point out. "As far as I'm concerned, they can thank us anytime."

"We know that they can afford them, at least," CÚcile says. "But can we get back to the game, though? I need to know if you're blocking my Cavern Whisperer."

"Sorry," you say. "How big is it again? I haven't exactly gotten used to what the new cards do."

"I mutated a Dreamtail Heron under it," CÚcile says, so it's a Cavern Whisperer with Dreamtail Heron's abilities. That makes it a 4/4 creature with flying and menace. The other abilities only trigger if it mutates again, so they don't matter right now."

"Right," you say. "I've got a Gloom Pangolin with a Vulpikeet mutated over it... so that's a 2/3 with flying... wait, no, it got a +1/+1 counter when it mutated, so it's a 3/4 flyer. Then there's this Migratory Greathorn that I mutated over a Helica Glider, so that's a 3/4, and it's got a flying counter from the Glider and a vigilance counter from my Keensight Mentor. Did I get that correct?"

"Got it all in one," Mari says.

"I'll put both of them in front of your Cavern Whisperer," you say. "Menace and flying, right? I'm hoping that you don't have any tricks."

"I've got an Unlikely Aid," CÚcile says. "Do you have anything?"

"Nothing aside from a lot of regret," you sigh. "So it's an indestructible 6/4 now. Which one are you killing in combat?"

"The Vulpikeet and Pangolin," she says. "I'll put the last one damage on your Greathorn."

"Okay," you say, dropping the two creature cards into your graveyard.

"Then I'll cast Lurking Deadeye and destroy your Migratory Greathorn."

"Ouch," you say, raising an eyebrow.

"You were the one who chose to block," CÚcile points out.

Mari laughs, and you glance at her. "Maybe I should have tapped down the flyer instead of her Void Beckoner," you muse.

"Like dealing with an 8/8 deathtouch creature is a whole lot better," Mari says.

You take a deep breath. "Okay," you say, "I'll just sacrifice the Greathorn to my Bushmeat Poacher in response. That gives me four more life and an extra card draw."

"So you're at..."

"Fifteen life," you say, peeling a Titanoth Rex off the top of your deck. "I'll take comfort in the fact that I can at least get something back with my Offspring's Revenge."

"I still think that that enchantment isn't something I'd splash in a three-color deck," CÚcile adds.

You untap your permanents and draw into a Solid Footing, wondering how to handle the board at the moment. You and CÚcile are about even, but she's slowly backing you into a very defensive corner, and you're not sure how much longer you can last.

"That doesn't look good," CJ says, confirming your thoughts.

"That doesn't look good at all," you agree.

"I think you have the win," Mari adds.

"That's right," you say. "Hold up... say that again?"

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

You are at 15 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:

CÚcile is at 11 life and has no cards in her hand. She has the following cards in play:

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 - The Other White Meat" by 11:59 P.M. EST on Monday, May 25, 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 Russell Jones, Sean Patrick Keatley, Jacob Butcher, Hyman Rosen, Michael Feldman, and David Arnold.

With your opponent at 14 life, two turns at your disposal, and more than a few permanents on the table, you have a lot to do for this one. However, the first thing worth noting is that your permanents can't deal damage to CJ until the beginning of his next turn, and even then you don't quite have enough:

  • Geistflame can deal a maximum of 2 damage to your opponent.
  • Assuming that you can flip Kitsune Mystic to access its Aura-moving ability, each of your creatures can use Fire Whip to deal a total of 8 damage, plus 1 more damage from sacrificing the Whip.

This means that you need to look for other sources of damage. CJ's Eon Frolicker may protect him from damage coming from your permanents, but it doesn't prevent him from taking damage from his own:

  • Lava Hounds can deal 4 damage to CJ, and you can trigger its enters-the-battlefield ability by casting (and getting rid of) Faith Unbroken.
  • CJ controls Impending Doom, so if you can find a way to get it on one of his creatures, this could represent another 3 damage.

Impending Doom represents a further problem, though: It compels your Coalition Honor Guard to attack, and you don't want it running into your opponent's Humongulus - giving them an extra two life and dying in the process. This will put a damper on your plans, seeing that it leaves CJ at 16 life with your maximum remaining damage output at 15.

In addition to the above, David Arnold prefaces his solution with the following notes:

  • At any point, CJ can activate Anaba Shaman to deal 1 damage to Coalition Honor Guard. This doesn't matter.
  • CR 303.4j is crucial to correctly solving this puzzle: "If an effect attempts to attach an Aura on the battlefield to an object or player it can't legally enchant, the Aura doesn't move."
  • CR 603.4 is also crucial: "...When the trigger event occurs, the ability checks whether the stated condition is true. The ability triggers only if it is; otherwise it does nothing..."
  • It really wouldn't hurt Wizards to publish some rulings for Autumn-Tail, Kitsune Sage.

On your first turn:

  1. Tap Wojek Embermage targeting Raptor Hatchling. The Hatchling and Wily Goblin both die. Hatchling creates a 3/3 Green Dinosaur token from its enrage trigger.
  2. r to cast Geistflame targeting Tethmos High Priest. Return Wily Goblin to play. Goblin's ETB ability creates a Treasure token.
  3. Sacrifice the Treasure token for b, then activate Dega Disciple to give Coalition Honor Guard -2/-0 until end of turn. It is now 3/7.
  4. Tap Kor Line-Slinger to tap Coalition Honor Guard.
  5. rr to cast Fire Whip on Kitsune Mystic.
  6. wwww to cast Faith Unbroken targeting Kitsune Mystic. Exile Lava Hounds with its ETB ability.
  7. Pass through combat. Impending Doom tries to get Coalition Honor Guard to attack, but it can't because it is tapped. Pass to end of turn.
  8. At the beginning of the end step, Kitsune Mystic flips into Autumn-Tail, Kitsune Sage.
  9. w to activate Autumn-Tail to move Coral Net onto the Dinosaur token.
  10. Tap Autumn-Tail to activate Fire Whip to deal 1 damage to Wojek Embermage, killing it.
  11. r to activate Autumn-Tail to move Fire Whip onto Tethmos High Priest.
  12. Tap High Priest to activate Fire Whip to deal 1 damage to Dega Disciple, killing it.
  13. End turn one.

On your second turn:

  1. Untap your permanents.
  2. At the beginning of your upkeep, Thoughtbound Primoc's upkeep trigger goes onto the stack.
  3. In response, w to activate Autumn-Tail to move Faith Unbroken onto Thoughtbound Primoc.
  4. Resolve the Thoughtbound Primoc trigger. CJ has two wizards (Goblin Electromancer and Trinket Mage) to your one (Autumn-Tail), and gains control of Thoughtbound Primoc.
  5. Faith Unbroken sees that it is now attached to an invalid object, and falls off the Primoc, returning Lava Hounds to play. Lava Hounds' ETB ability deals 4 damage to CJ. CJ is now at 10 life.
  6. r to activate Autumn-Tail to move Impending Doom onto the Dinosaur token.
  7. Pass the turn.

On CJ's turn, CJ no longer has protection from you, so:

  1. At the beginning of CJ's upkeep, Coral Net's upkeep trigger goes onto the stack.
  2. In response, sacrifice Dwarven Ruins and tap all remaining lands for wwwwrrrr.
  3. Tap High Priest to activate Fire Whip to deal 1 damage to CJ. CJ is now at 9 life.
  4. w to activate Autumn-Tail to move Fire Whip to Kor Line-Slinger, and tap it to deal 1 damage to CJ. Repeat this for Autumn-Tail, Wily Goblin, and Coalition Honor Guard (using an additional www and dealing an additional 3 damage). CJ is now at 5 life.
  5. Sacrifice Fire Whip to deal 1 damage to CJ. CJ is now at 4 life.
  6. rrrr to flashback Geistflame targeting CJ. CJ is now at 3 life.
  7. Resolve the Coral Net trigger. CJ has no cards in hand and no way to get cards in there, so he sacrifices the Dinosaur token.
  8. Impending Doom sees the Dinosaur token die and deals 3 damage to CJ for the game.

This solution has at least one variation, which doesn't involve putting Faith Unbroken on your Thoughtbound Primoc. Instead, Michael Feldman points out that you can move it to your conveniently-removeable Kor-Line Slinger:

At the beginning of the end step on your first turn:

On your second turn:

Using the above sequence instead of the Thoughtbound Primoc play eventually gives you one extra damage, which you can throw against any available target.

"CJ's complicated plays might look like all he really wants, but they're not perfect," Michael adds. "Does he have his full attention on the game or is one hand in his pocket? Maybe he'll learn - probably not. And no, under no definition is that ironic, even if it is a jagged little pill for him to swallow."

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