Mari slides into the seat next to you. "That's a lot of spiders," she says.
"You can imagine how my deck's dealing with them," you muse.
"It could be worse," Mari says, scratching her head. "You could be facing the more aggressive ones."
"I sided most of the small ones out. They're not going to be able to get past things like Hitchclaw Recluse anyway. I still have some big ones in the deck somewhere."
"You had that Drifting Djinn," your opponent points out.
"At least you've got a Consulate Dreadnought," Mari says.
"I don't exactly have the creatures to spare for it," you say, sadly. "And now that Sylvia's cast that Moldgraf Monstrosity of hers, I might need to hold back the Dreadnought to block."
"I haven't been able to off your Zephyr Scribe, though," Sylvia says. "So, if you think about it, you're still able to loot for solutions."
You're not quite sure what kind of solution you're supposed to be digging for, though, especially as none of your other big flyers are anything to write home about. Sylvia's also displayed a knack for aiming her direct damage spells at your most critical cards, so taking down her life total has been an absolute chore for you.
"Okay," Mari says. "So... you've got no tapped lands, right? No tapped creatures?"
"Aside from Syr Alin, I mean."
"Nothing tapped, no."
"You could have just told me that you've only started your turn," Mari says flatly.
"Yeah, but you looked so invested in trying to figure that out."
"So, you've drawn your card?"
You show her the Ray of Command in your hand. Sylvia shrugs - she doesn't have anything in her hand herself, but it's not like she hasn't been drawing well.
Mari thinks for a little while. "That's interesting," she says.
"That's an even more interesting tone of voice," you say, looking at her sideways.
"What tone of voice?"
"That tone you use whenever you see a good play coming."
"You mean you can tell?" Mari asks.
You shake your head. "I can tell you that it's definitely there."
"Look," Sylvia says, "are you going to make a play? Because it feels like something big's about to happen. And if something big's about to happen, then you might as well do it sooner rather than later."
You sigh. "Okay, I'll make a play. It might not be the good one Mari sees, though."
"Seriously," Mari says, "you can tell?"
It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Sylvia before the beginning of her next combat phase.
You are at 8 life, with the following cards in play:
- Pulsemage Advocate
- Zephyr Scribe
- Ticking Gnomes (with your Gryff's Boon attached)
- Leonin Battlemage
- Syr Alin, the Lion's Claw (tapped, with Sylvia's Roots attached)
- Arcane Melee
- Consulate Dreadnought
- 6 Plains
- 3 Islands
- Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
You have the following card in your hand:
You have not yet played a land this turn. You still have a substantial number of cards remaining in your library, although you know neither the identities nor the order of those cards.
You have the following cards in your graveyard:
Sylvia is at 10 life and has no cards in her hand. She has the following cards in play:
- Dawntreader Elk
- Twin-Silk Spider
- a 1/2 Spider token (created by Twin-Silk Spider)
- Cave People (with Sylvia's Iroas's Blessing attached)
- Hitchclaw Recluse
- Chandra's Spitfire
- Ogre Shaman
- Moldgraf Monstrosity
- 3 Mountains (all tapped)
- 6 Forests (five tapped)
Sylvia has the following cards in her graveyard:
If you've got a solution in mind, don't put it in the comments! Help keep this puzzle a mystery to other readers!
Instead, if you think you've got a great solution, you can send your solution to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Puzzle - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" by 11:59 P.M. EST on Monday, October 26, 2020. 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 Etienne Brosse, Hyman Rosen, Sean Patrick Keatley, Greg Dreher, David Arnold, and Michael Feldman.
Solving this puzzle involves some observation of its many moving parts. Experiment Kraj is by far the dominant card, but while this gives you a lot of opportunity for interaction, Kraj doesn't immediately show you how to win this game.
In his submission, Hyman Rosen points out the following:
As it turns out, both of Black Carriage's abilities are relevant here. In fact, to allow for its activated ability, Greg Dreher shows that most of your moves need to take place during your upkeep:
The question of "Should I pay the upkeep cost of Binding Grasp?" therefore has a non-obvious answer: It doesn't matter, as long as you can stack your abilities correctly!