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Tentacular Spectacular


Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Your game against CJ has been marked by some extreme swings. His gw deck started off quickly with several small creatures, but the initial rush died down as you added some defensive creatures and a Zuran Spellcaster to the table. CJ then shored up his side with a few lifegain cards, capping things off with a Leyline of Sanctity that's prevented you from pinging him for one each turn.

The real event of the game, however, involved you casting Kozilek, Butcher of Truth off an Irencrag Feat. Having an Anger in your graveyard allowed you to immediately attack with Kozilek and force CJ to lose five permanents - four to the big Eldrazi's annihilator ability, and one to the chump-block. CJ, however, countered with a massive Congregate to keep his life total stable (if a bit high for your taste), then proceeded to tie down Kozilek with a Sky Tether on his next turn.

Now you're both suspended in stalemate. (Or you would be, at least, if CJ didn't have the only flying creature on the table.) And considering that this is one of the more exciting things to happen in the last week, Mari and CÚcile can't help busybodying themselves at you.

"I'll hit you for four more with my Swans of Bryn Argoll," CJ says, turning it sideways.

"Yeah, well, that's obviously getting though," you say. "I'll ping it with my Zuran Spellcaster first."

"It's just going to prevent the damage," CJ points out.

"It's for the extra card," Mari says. "Read the Swans again."

"Ah," CJ says. "I knew that."

"...I'm sure you did."

You draw a Merfolk Secretkeeper and shrug. "Nothing good," you say, "so it connects for four. I'll go to four life."

"This is such a strange board," CÚcile says, shaking her head.

"Well, obviously there are no words in the vernacular that can describe this great event," you say.

"I'm serious," CÚcile says. "I mean, you've got a Zuran Spellcaster that can't ping much of anything. You've got a 12/12 creature that's doing its best impression of a wall. You've got an Oversoul of Dusk that can't attack. And you've got a Hornet Nest that's just waiting for something to disturb it."

"Technically that last one isn't out of the ordinary," you point out. "You could argue that that Hornet Nest is doing its job perfectly."

"Oh, you know what I mean."

"I'll just play a land," CJ says, dropping a Plains. "Your turn."

"I'm going to be in trouble if I don't draw something for your flyer," you note. "That would make this a really anticlimactic end to this game."

"It's not much of a game if all you're going to do is neutralize each other's threats," Mari says. "Besides, CJ's just going to slow-roll you with a million Elf Warriors if you don't run out of library first."

You peel a Diminish off the top of your deck and show it to Mari. "This is probably going to give me a short reprieve, but it's not going to stop CJ from doing what he's going to do anyway."

"Don't forget the Ominous Seas trigger," CÚcile says.

"Thanks," you say, hunting for a counter.

"I might have this one already," CJ says. "I'm seeing nine attackers - ten after I activate Imperious Perfect this turn - against your seven blockers. Even if you did draw something that can get rid of my Swans, I'll still have four damage spilling over from an alpha strike."

"That's assuming that you actually make it to next turn," Mari says. "How many cards do you have left in your library?"

"Umm... eighteen, I think," CJ says.

"I wasn't asking you."

"What, me?" you ask. "I need to do a count."

"I mean, if you have something like..."

"I've got fourteen cards left," you say.

"That is interesting," Mari says, getting that look in her eyes. "Do either of you have anything else in your decks that triggers if it hits the graveyard from your library?"

"Uhh, no," CJ says.

"You mean, like my Kozilek?" you ask. "No..."

"Now that's really interesting," she says.

You and CJ look at each other, and then you turn back to Mari. "Okay," you say, "now I really have to ask you to spill the beans."

"It's just a theory," Mari says. "But I can try it if you insist. Scoot over."

It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat CJ before the beginning of his 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 14 cards remaining in your library, but you know neither the identities nor the order of those cards. You do know that none of those cards has an ability that triggers if it's put into your graveyard from your library, though.

You have the following cards in your graveyard:

CJ is at 25 life and has no cards in his hand. He has the following cards in play:

CJ has 18 cards remaining in his library, none of which also has an ability that triggers if it's put into a graveyard from the library.

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 - Tentacular Spectacular" by 11:59 P.M. EST on Monday, June 1, 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 Max Bernstein, Sean Patrick Keatley, Jonah Comstock, James Parmenter, Greg Dreher, Hyman Rosen, Michael Feldman, Jacob Butcher, and David Arnold.

"We have a fair number of choices on this board," Jonah Comstock writes, "but our solution hinges on getting as much mileage as possible out of Keensight Mentor and Frondland Felidar's abilities. With the right sequencing, we're going to make two 5/7 creatures with vigilance, get two blockers out of the way, and then make sure all CÚcile's blocks are bad."

"You can start by counting your mana," Greg Dreher writes. "You have 10 mana available, which could be spent as follows:

"It's worth noting that we effectively can't tap down Glimmerbell," Jonah adds, "since CÚcile has the mana to untap it. Luckily, as the untapped creature with the second-least toughness, we weren't that interested in tapping it down anyway."

"I got the gist of the solution right away," Jacob Butcher continues, "but got stuck for the last 3 points. Mutate is a giant red herring for this puzzle. I kept poring over its rules but couldn't see how anything could mutate.

"Finally I realized that by delaying trample and Solid Footing until after blockers were declared, I could ensure that both Solid Footing and trample avoided Glimmerbell - ensuring that those last 3 points of damage land on CÚcile."

As a result, as James Parmenter notes, "We have to be a bit more careful around how our opponent blocks:

  1. Pay 1w and tap Keensight Mentor to put a +1/+1 counter on Frondland Felidar (now a 4/6).
  2. Pay 1 and tap Bushmeat Poacher to sacrifice Keensight Mentor and unimportantly draw a card / gain life.
  3. Beginning of combat:

  4. Exile Keensight Mentor with Offspring's Revenge and create a 1/1 token copy with haste. When it enters the battlefield, put a vigilance counter on Chittering Harvester (now a 5/7).
  5. Pay 1w and tap the Keensight Mentor token to put a +1/+1 counter on Frondland Felidar (now a 5/7) and Chittering Harvester (now a 5/7).
  6. Combat:

  7. Attack with Frondland Felidar, Chittering Harvester and Blitz Leech (each with 5 power).
  8. Before blockers are declared:

    • Pay 1 and tap Frondland Felidar to tap down opponent's Cloudpiercer.
    • Pay 1 and tap Chittering Harvester to tap down opponent's Chittering Harvester.
    • After blockers are declared:

      If both Vigilant creatures are blocked:

    • Pay w to cast Solid Footing on the vigilant creature (5/7) that is blocked by Lurking Deadeye (making it a 6/8).
    • Pay 1g to cycle Titanoth Rex and give that creature a trample counter.
    • The vigilant trampling creature will deal 8 damage due to Solid Footing. 6 of that damage will trample through after Lurking Deadeye's block. The other unblocked creature will deal 5 damage, for a total of 11.
    • If one of the Vigilant creatures is unblocked:

    • Pay w to cast Solid Footing on the unblocked vigilant creature. It will deal 8 damage as a 6/8 with Solid Footing.
    • Pay 1g to cycle Titanoth Rex and give a trample counter to the 5-power creature blocked by Lurking Deadeye. The 5-power creature will trample through for 3 damage to the opponent, for a total of 11.

Of course, your opponent can also choose to let at least two of your attackers through. In this case, however, you can simply cast Solid Footing on the unblocked vigilant creature for the win!

"The title not only gives us a hint to the solution," Jonah adds, "but also forces us to reckon with the fact that we're apparently resorting to cannibalism to win this game of Magic. They really should have given Bushmeat Poacher that 'non-human' clause..."

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