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Three-Piece Suit

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After two weeks of Throne of Eldraine events, you're regretting your decision to jump back into a small Unabridged Cube draft at your local game store. While a pool that contains one of each card ever printed might have synergies in the strangest places, it definitely doesn't compare to the new expansion's archetypes.

What makes things just a little bit worse is that you've just been paired against Ashish, who managed to nab most of the rares floating around your table. Ashish's strategy isn't anything new - it's really just your typical ground stallers and big flyers - but it's horrifyingly effective in more than a few ways.

Now, despite your best efforts, it looks like he's about to notch another win in his belt. You thought that rushing him with a lot of low-cost beaters might put him off-balance, but it turns out that he has ways to deal with that, too: It turns out that your deck has very few ways to deal with a life-gaining Wall of Reverence.

"Attack with Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp," Ashish says, turning his djinn sideways.

You briefly consider sacrificing your Hangarback Walker to get a few blockers, but you eventually decide against this. Whether or not Zahid kills you slowly or quickly isn't much of a choice, really.

"I'll take the five damage and go down to six life," you say.

"Postcombat main, cast Zetalpa, Primal Dawn?" Ashish asks.

"You only tapped seven lands," you point out.

"I have a Helm of Awakening," Ashish clarifies. "It costs one mana less."

You sigh. Maybe you shouldn't have used your Journey to Nowhere on your opponent's turn-four Whirler Rogue.

You wait as Ashish goes through the motions of closing out his turn, and briefly think about adding a fourth +1/+1 counter to your Hangarback Walker in response. Then your eyes drift to the Intrepid Hero on Ashish's side of the table, and you remember why you don't have any creatures with a power of four or greater.

Ashish gains five life with his Wall of Reverence, then passes the turn to you.

You untap your permanents and draw an Aviary Mechanic, which joins the Squee's Embrace in your hand. You wonder if you should just concede this game and hope that you can win your next match; With the Intrepid Hero standing at the ready, the chances of your creatures being able to get past a couple of high-toughness walls are virtually nonexistent.

That said, you've already been asking yourself if Squee's Embrace is worth playing right now: On the one hand, it can make something a good target for the Intrepid Hero (and return its enchanted creature to your hand). However, it'll also paint a huge bulls-eye on your Shambling Suit, and Ashish is canny enough to destroy the latter followed by the former.

The Aviary Mechanic opens up a new range of possibilities, though, since it can bounce anything to your hand without depending on anything Ashish does. But the more important question is, how do you parlay this into a decent shot at winning this game?

It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Ashish before the beginning of his next combat phase.

You are at 6 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 substantial number of cards remaining in your library, but you know neither the identities nor the order of those cards.

Ashish is at 16 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 - Three-Piece Suit" by 11:59 P.M. EST on Monday, October 21, 2019. 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 Russell Jones, Sean Patrick Keatley, Addison Fox, Hyman Rosen, Greg Dreher, Chris Billard, Jacob Butcher, and David Arnold.

"You don't naturally have any evasive creatures in this week's puzzle," Greg Dreher observes. "Even Gingerbrute can be blocked by Octavia's whole squad, thanks to Crashing Drawbridge."

"It looks like we have lethal damage on the board, if we can get Raging Redcap through Octavia's defenders," Chris Billard writes. "With the Heraldic Banner and Giant's Skewer equipped, it is a 4/3 with double strike. Mistford River Turtle would help with this, but we can't take control of it directly. Instead, it is actually the firstborn of our Piper of the Swarm that will help us out."

So rather than using Claim the Firstborn to steal one of your opponent's creatures, you're better off using the one-mana sorcery to untap your Piper of the Swarm for a second use here. This makes the solution a lot more straightfoward, as David Arnold writes:

  1. bb and tap and sacrifice Gingerbrute to gain 3 life. Deathless Knight returns to your hand.
  2. br and tap Piper of the Swarm to create a 1/1 Rat token.
  3. r to cast Claim the Firstborn on your Piper of the Swarm to untap it.
  4. r to cast Haggle (via Merchant of the Vale). Discard Deathless Knight and draw a card. Mad Ratter triggers, create two more 1/1 Rat tokens.
  5. rrbb, tap Piper of the Swarm, and sacrifice the three Rat tokens: Gain control of Mistford River Turtle.
  6. Tap Heraldic Banner to add r, equip Crystal Slipper to the Turtle.
  7. Move to combat. Attack with the Turtle and Raging Redcap. The turtle's ability triggers, make the Redcap unblockable.
  8. We don't really care what blocks the Turtle, because Octavia doesn't have any creatures with lifelink. The Redcap gets through and deals 8 damage for the game (1 base power + 2 from Giant's Skewer + 1 from Heraldic Banner = 4 x 2 from double strike).

"As is often the case," Addison Fox notes, "this puzzle looks unsolvable until you remember to read all of the text on a couple of cards. In this case, not only does Heraldic Banner give our Red creatures +1/+0, but it also inexplicably taps for r, which gives us a critical 11th mana needed for some elaborate maneuvers."

Throne of Eldraine is nice and all, but it does make for some awkward game situations sometimes. "I don't think the Brothers Grimm ever thought to defeat an evil queen with a goblin using a giant spear, riding a turtle with crystal slippers," Greg muses.

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