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Stop Hitting Yourself

Sower of Discord
Mari turns her head sideways as she reads the text box of your opponent's Sower of Discord. "It definitely works for multiplayer," she eventually says, "but I'm not sure if it's prime pickings for a two-player booster draft match."

"The way I see it," Ponch says, "it's still a 6/6 flyer. And it's a beast if you're ahead. So it's either a big wall, or a flyer that's hard to stop."

One of the interesting things about your local game store's Unabridged Cube is the fact that you get to have discussions about the strangest cards. You've had opponents wax poetic about Saltfield Recluse, for example, and been in arguments about whether or not Path to Exile is a first-pick. The Cube has one of each card ever printed, so it's likely that you're not going to see the end of these discussions anytime soon.

Today's conversation over Sower of Discord feels a little moot for you, though. Whether it's a good card or not, it's still beating you up from Ponch's side of the table. And when you're at less than 5 life, a 6/6 flyer is very bad indeed... triggered ability or no triggered ability.

"So, are you blocking?" Ponch asks.

You glance at your creatures and quickly determine that there are two things standing between you and six damage: a Weaver of Lightning, and a Sage Owl. One of them is definitely more disposable than the other.

"I'll block with my Sage Owl," you say, dropping it into your graveyard.

"And with that," Ponch says, tapping seven lands, "I'll cast my Butcher of Malakir to give myself another giant flyer. I'll throw in an extra mana to pay for the extort trigger from my Basilica Guards."

"Uhh..."

"The Sower works off damage," Mari says, "so it doesn't trigger."

"Rats," you say. "I guess that puts me at 2 life."

"And me at 3 life," Ponch adds.

Brute Force
You scowl as you untap your permanents and prepare for your turn. Unfortunately you don't have much to speak of on your side of the board: just a couple of high-toughness creatures, a face-down Riptide Entrancer, and a Military Intelligence. You certainly don't have anything that's capable of taking down the Sower or the Butcher, and that's a bit of a problem.

Your draw, though, turns out to be a simple Brute Force. That's not bad, and if you can somehow convince Ponch's Butcher to block one of your two-power creatures, then that'll mean one less headache for you to worry about. The problem is that you have no way to compel the Butcher to do so, and you might have to rely on a little luck...

"So are you going to win this game now?" Mari asks you.

You slowly glance at her. "What did you say?" you ask.

"You can win the game now, if you want. You've got everything you need on the table."

"She's serious, isn't she?" Ponch says, smirking at you.

"This is her thing, that's all."

"Well, if she's right and you manage to pull this off," Ponch says, "I'll get you a drink from the cooler. I really want to see how you can carve your way out of this."

"No joke?" you ask.

"No joke."

You glance at Mari again, and stretch your arms. "Okay," you sigh, "let's do this."

It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Ponch before the beginning of his next combat phase (or before he defeats you).

You are at 2 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 have 16 cards remaining in your library, but you know neither the identities nor the order of those cards.

Ponch is at 3 life and has no cards in his hand. He has the following cards in play:

If you think you've got a great solution in mind, don't put it in the comments! Instead, send it to puzzles@gatheringmagic.com with the subject line "Puzzle - Stop Hitting Yourself" by 11:59 P.M. EST on Monday, August13, 2018. 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 Addison Fox, Sean Patrick Keatley, Mikhail Payson, Aaron King, Russell Jones, Bruno Toledo, Ryou Niji, Jacob Kuska, Bradley Dixon, Marco Majoor, Hyman Rosen, Kenneth Hurt, Chris Billard, David Arnold, Greg Dreher, and Michael Feldman.

"This puzzle is a bit of a brainstretcher for this series," Addison Fox notes."A lot of the time we care about how much mana of a given color we can produce, but it's not every week we care about how many basics of a given type we control at any given time, and Dreamwinder changing them all around is key to this puzzle.

"We have two primary restrictions: For one, we can only use combat insofar as we can make things unblockable with Zhuge Jin, since Imperial Ceratops would gain Cristina 2 life and throw everything off. That means we're going to need to find ways to reuse him, and also find some noncombat damage to throw around. Second, we've only got four Blue mana since we're using Minamo to untap Zhuge Jin."

The solution, in fact, handles both of these and takes advantage of the Turntimber Sower on your side of the table. Marco Majoor writes:

  1. Tap Zhuge Jin, Wu Strategist to make our morph creature unblockable.
  2. Tap Simic Growth Chamber and Pristine Talisman for 1ug.
  3. Use 1g to pay for Feral Prowler.
  4. Use u to pay for Minamo, School at Water's Edge to untap Zhuge Jin.
  5. Tap Zhuge Jin to make Weatherseed Treefolk unblockable.
  6. Tap an Island for u. Sacrifice this tapped Island and pay u for Dreamwinder. Turn Minamo into an Island.
  7. Tap an Island for u. Sacrifice Minamo (because it's now an Island) to turn our leftmost Forest into an Island.
  8. Tap our rightmost Forest for g. Use Turntimber Sower's ability and pay g, sacrificing Feral Prowler and two Plant tokens to return Minamo to our hand.
  9. Play Minamo.
  10. Tap our last Island for u to pay for Minamo to untap Zhuge Jin.
  11. Use Zhuge Jin to make Dreamwinder unblockable. (Our opponent doesn't have an Island yet, but we'll get to that.)
  12. Tap our leftmost Forest for u (because it's also an Island now, due to our last Dreamwinder activation). Immediately sacrifice it and pay u for Dreamwinder to turn our second Forest into an Island.
  13. Tap our second Forest for u. Sacrifice it and pay u for Dreamwinder to make our third Forest into an Island.
  14. Tap our third Forest for u. Sacrifice it and pay u for Dreamwinder to make one of our opponent's lands into an Island.
  15. Attack with all our unblockable creatures (morphed Fathom Seer, Weatherseed Treefolk and Dreamwinder) for 14 damage to seal the deal.

"We don't need to play the Feral Prowler in this line," Aaron King observes."It's fine to rearrange a couple steps to have an extra Plant token to sacrifice instead. Spending the g from the Simic Growth Chamber to power Turntimber Sower then gives us extra mana to spend sacrificing land.

"We don't have anything else to spend the colorless mana on, though, and the Prowler would let us see an extra card in a scenario where that was allowed. The important thing is that we have three unimportant creatures to pitch."

In truth, you have several combinations of creatures to sacrifice here. You can even sacrifice the Fathom Seer during your post-combat main phase to get an Elephant token, which will trigger Wretched Anurid just as well.

An alternative solution, however, takes advantage of one other means to get lands into your graveyard, as Hyman Rosen writes:

  1. Tap three Islands and Simic Growth Chamber to add uuuug. We have four untapped Forests and three tapped Islands.
  2. Activate Zhuge Jin to make the face-down Fathom Seer unblockable.
  3. For u, activate Minamo to untap Zhuge Jin. We have uuug.
  4. Activate Zhuge Jin to make Weatherseed Treefolk unblockable.
  5. For u, activate Dreamwinder targeting Minamo, sacrificing an Island. We have uug, four untapped Forests, and two tapped Islands.
  6. For u, activate Dreamwinder targeting one of Cristina's Swamps, sacrificing Minamo. We have ug.
  7. For u, activate Dreamwinder targeting one of our untapped Forests, sacrificing an Island. We have g, four untapped Forests, and one tapped Island.
    • Turntimber Sower creates a third Plant and Wretched Anurid sends Cristina to 17.
    • Our Forest becomes an Island. We have three untapped Forests, one untapped Island, and one tapped Island.

  8. Tap our untapped Island to add u. We have ug, three untapped Forests and two tapped Islands.
  9. For u, activate Dreamwinder targeting one of our untapped Forests, sacrificing an Island. We have g, three untapped Forests, and one tapped Island.
    • Turntimber Sower creates a fourth Plant and Wretched Anurid sends Cristina to 16.
    • Our Forest becomes an Island. We have two untapped Forests, one untapped Island, and one tapped Island.

  10. For g, activate Turntimber Sower targeting Minamo, sacrificing three Plants. Our pool is empty. Minamo returns to our hand.
  11. Play Minamo.
  12. Tap our untapped Island to add u. We have two untapped Forests and two tapped Islands.
  13. For u, activate Minamo to untap Zhuge Jin.
  14. Activate Zhuge Jin to make Dreamwinder unblockable.
  15. Attack with face-down Fathom Seer (5/5), Weatherseed Treefolk (5/3), and Dreamwinder (4/3).Cristina takes 14 combat damage and goes to 2.
  16. Tap two Forests to add gg.We have one card, Feral Prowler, in hand.
  17. Unmorph Fathom Seer, returning two Islands to our hand. We have three cards in hand.
    • Fathom Seer triggers. We draw two cards. We have five cards in hand.

  18. For g, activate Turntimber Sower targeting an Island in our graveyard, sacrificing Fathom Seer, Dreamwinder, and Weatherseed Treefolk. We have g.
  19. For g, activate Turntimber Sower targeting an Island in our graveyard, sacrificing the remaining Plant, the Elephant, and Zhuge Jin.
    • The Island returns to our hand. We have eight cards in hand.

  20. During our cleanup step, we discard an Island.

"Perhaps Cristina should have listened to us when we suggested that she not tap everything she had," Chris Billard muses."Settling for five or six Angel tokens would have left her with just enough life to survive."