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."
"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.
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.
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:
- Arena Athlete
- Weaver of Lightning (with your Skeleton Key attached)
- Squee, the Immortal (with your Giant Strength attached)
- Triton Cavalry
- a face-down 2/2 creature (your Riptide Entrancer)
- Military Intelligence
- 5 Island
- 4 Mountain
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:
- Kithkin Shielddare
- Cavalry Drillmaster
- Basilica Guards (with Ponch's Shadow Lance attached)
- Emancipation Angel (with your Sensory Deprivation attached)
- Cabal Paladin
- Sower of Discord (tapped, choosing you and Ponch)
- Butcher of Malakir
- Vial of Poison
- 5 Plains (four tapped)
- 4 Swamp (all tapped)
If you think you've got a great solution in mind, don't put it in the comments! Instead, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
"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 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:
"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."