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.
“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.
“No blocks?” Cristina asks, popping another peanut into her mouth.
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.
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:
- Bounty Agent
- Wary Okapi
- Inspiring Unicorn
- Izoni, Thousand-Eyed
- Arboretum Elemental
- 2 1/1 Insect tokens (created by Izoni, Thousand-Eyed)
- Selesnya Locket
- 4 Swamp
- 5 Forest
- Selesnya Guildgate
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:
- Healer's Hawk (tapped, with a +1/+1 counter on it)
- Hunted Witness
- Wall of Mist
- Piston-Fist Cyclops (with Cristina’s Candlelight Vigil attached)
- Parhelion Patrol
- Rampaging Monument (with four +1/+1 counters on it)
- Citywatch Sphinx (with your Luminous Bonds attached)
- a 1/1 Soldier token (created by Dawn of Hope)
- Dawn of Hope
- Conclave Tribunal (exiling your Lotleth Giant)
- 4 Plains (three tapped)
- 4 Island (three tapped)
- Boros Guildgate
- Izzet Guildgate
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 - 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:
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:
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.”