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Court of Appeal

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Conclave Tribunal
“You’re chewing gum again,” Mari growls.

Cristina’s expression doesn’t change. “No I’m not,” she says, reaching into the paper bag on her side of the table. “Want a peanut?”

Mari waves it off in response. You can tell she’s frustrated, mostly because she’s starting to lose her cool. You can’t blame her, though: You’re both in today’s Guilds of Ravnica release party, and she’s playing a deck that can’t quite decide whether it wants to be Golgari or Selesnya.

In contrast, her opponent this round is the ever-indifferent Cristina… who has somehow managed to draft an Azorius deck. (To be fair, it’s more an Izzet-Boros deck with a lot less Red cards.)Regardless of what it is, though, it seems to be doing its job: If it’s not gaining life with a ton of Soldier tokens, it’s coming in with sizeable flyers or holding the ground with tough blockers. To be frank, you’re surprised that Mari’s survived this long.

Cristina pushes her Parhelion Patrol and Healer's Hawk forward, tapping the Hawk almost as an afterthought. “I’ll attack with these two,” she says. “You don’t have any flyers, right?”

“Only because you took out all three of them,” Mari grumbles.

You glance at Mari’s graveyard. You can see a Hitchclaw Recluse and a Bartizan Bats in there - victims of Cristina’s Take Heart and Righteous Blow respectively - but you wonder where the third one is.

“I had a second Hitchclaw Recluse,” Mari says, as though reading your mind, “but it’s off to the side. She threw a Lava Coil at it.”

“No blocks?” Cristina asks, popping another peanut into her mouth.

“No blocks,” Mari admits. “I’ll sacrifice an Insect token to activate Izoni, Thousand-Eyed before combat damage,” she says, tapping two lands and peeling a Conclave Tribunal off the top.

“Anything else?”

Mari checks her mana. “I’ve got just enough left to blow up my Golgari Locket,” she says, “but I’ll save that for the end of your turn. I won’t be able to cast anything until I untap, anyway.”

“Okay,” Cristina says. “Take four damage. I’ll gain two life and go up to 16. My Dawn of Hope triggers, so I’ll pay two to draw a card.”

“Okay,” Mari says.

“I’ll tap four mana and cast Conclave Tribunal,” Cristina continues, playing the card she just drew. “Your Arboretum Elemental has hexproof, right?”

Mari starts looking over her cards, and you can practically hear the gears turning in her head. “Yes,” she says.

“I’ll exile your Lotleth Giant, then.”

Mari gives you an aside glance, probably wondering if you’ve seen the same thing she has. “I’ve got a Luminous Bonds on your Citywatch Sphinx,” Mari admits. “You’re not going to use the Tribunal to exile that?”

Cristina gives her Sphinx a look that suggests that she’s not about to do anything of the sort. “You’re already at 2 life,” she shrugs. “Removing the aura would probably be overkill. And if you’re planning to somehow get me to zero life during your turn, taking out one of your big creatures now might be a good move.”

“I guess that’ll be all for your turn,” Mari notes.

“Go ahead,” Cristina says, chewing on another peanut.

“I’ll break that Golgari Locket now,” Mari says, placing the artifact in her graveyard and drawing two more cards: a Prey Upon and a Sprouting Renewal. She then untaps, moves to her draw step, and adds a fifth card - a Crush Contraband - to her hand.

“That’s a lot of cards,” you remark.

“Yeah, I brought in a few cards from my sideboard, what with her enchantments and all,” Mari explains.

“You’re in a tight spot, though.”

“That just means I need to make my move now,” Mari says. “Could you ask one of the judges how much time we have left? I think I might need a few minutes.”

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

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

You have the following creature cards in your graveyard:

Cristina is at 16 life and has no cards in her hand. She 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 - Court of Appeal” by 11:59 P.M. EST on Monday, October 15, 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, Blake Briscoe, tobias andrion, Daniel Mimms, Matt Bocek, Sean Patrick Keatley, Tyler Reid, Russell Jones, Max Bernstein, Hyman Rosen, Ryou Niji, Greg Dreher, Chris Billard, and David Arnold.

“The things that stood out to me initially,” Tyler Reid writes, “were that we had to get two uses out of Maximize Altitude, and that it needed to be used on our threats with Trample and Menace. Casting as many spells as possible is also important to pump Fire Urchin, and figuring out that Blood Operative needed to be used for Jump-start was the last step.”

There are multiple variations on how to handle this approach, one of which is covered in Blake Briscoe’s solution below. Goblin Electromancer is critical here because of the number of spells you’re casting:

  1. Tap Island for u to cast Radical Idea and draw a card. This triggers Fire Urchin and makes it a 2/3.
  2. Tap Island for u to cast Maximize Altitude targeting Fire Urchin, to make it a 3/4 flyer. This also triggers Fire Urchin's ability and makes it a 4/4.
  3. Tap Island for u and discard the card drawn from Radical Idea to Jump-start Radical Idea from the graveyard to draw a card. This triggers Fire Urchin and makes it a 5/4 flyer. You now have Sinister Sabotage and one random card in hand.
  4. Tap Island for u to Jump-start Maximize Altitude from the graveyard, discarding the random card drawn from Radical Idea. Target Undercity Necrolisk with Maximize Altitude, making it a 4/4 flyer. This triggers Fire Urchin and makes it a 6/4 flyer.
  5. Tap Swamp for b and sacrifice Blood Operative to Undercity Necrolisk, making it a 5/5 flyer with menace.
  6. Tap Dimir Guildgate for b and sacrifice Goblin Electromancer to Undercity Necrolisk, making it a 6/6 flyer with menace.
  7. Proceed to Combat Step and attack with Nightveil Sprite, Fire Urchin, and Undercity Necrolisk.
  8. On attack, Nightveil Sprite triggers surveil, which then triggers Whispering Snitch to drain the opponent for 1 so the opponent is down to 7 life.
  9. The opponent only has two blockers that can block flyers. Whichever way they decide to block is lethal and you swing for the win!

This, of course, assumes that you have cards remaining in your library. “When we said that ‘Radical Idea gives you access to more cards’,” Ryou Niji explains, “we assume that there are more cards in the library to be accessed. Being a Dimir player with a splash of Izzet, that is nowhere near a given. However, we have just enough resources to put together a win regardless of how many cards we have in our library:

  1. Pay b and sacrifice Blood Operative to activate the ability of Undercity Necrolisk, putting a +1/+1 counter on the latter and giving it menace.
  2. Pay u to cast Radical Idea. It's more of a suicidal idea, since we probably have no cards in our deck, so of course don't let it resolve:

  • Pay u to cast Maximize Altitude, giving Fire Urchin +1/+1 and flying.
  • Pay u and discard Blood Operative to recast Maximize Altitude with Jump-start, giving Undercity Necrolisk +1/+1 and flying.
    • We have cast four instant / sorcery spells this turn, so Fire Urchin has triggered 4 times. Together with the +1/+1 from Maximize Altitude, it's a 6/4.

  • Pay b and sacrifice Goblin Electromancer to activate the ability of Undercity Necrolisk for another +1/+1 counter. It's now a 6/6.
  • From here, the solution plays out the same way: You attack with your Nightveil Sprite, Fire Urchin, and Undercity Necrolisk, then win regardless of how your opponent blocks.

    It’s also worth noting that you can cast Radical Idea once (getting Fire Urchin up to 5/4 total) and hold off on the second activation of Undercity Necrolisk (getting it up to 5/5 total). Attacking with three flyers then gets your opponent to 1 life: Whispering Snitch drains for 1, and your attackers still get at least 6 damage through. You can then Jump-start Radical Idea and use Sinister Sabotage to counter it on your opponent’s upkeep, using Whispering Snitch to drain their last point of life.

    “I should have known when the description said that Radical Idea would be useful that we wouldn't even let it resolve,” Matt Bocek adds.“Classic misdirection.”