“Nope,” you say. “It’s the Unabridged Cube, what do you expect?”
“One of each card ever printed? How you do keep from getting headaches during your games?”
“There’s a first-aid kit behind the counter.”
To be fair, though, you’re the one who’s been having a hard time this game. Between you and Hongjie, you’ve gummed up the board fairly quickly, and you’ve largely neutralized each other’s evasive creatures. The problem is that Hongjie has an additional source of direct damage — Vial Smasher the Fierce — and even if her ability only hits random opponents, you’re the only person sitting across the table at the moment!
“So that’s three flyers on my side,” Hongjie muses. “Wait, no . . . that’s really only two because my Vampire Nighthawk has zero power. And you’ve got that Phantasmal Mount to give one of your creatures flying, and your Demon’s a . . . 2/2, is it?”
“Yeah,” you say. You managed to get Demon of Death's Gate into playoff a bunch of sacrificed creatures and a fair investment in life, but Hongjie’s Quag Sickness quickly neutered it. You’d bounce it yourself, but you neither have the creatures nor the life to spare right now.
“I think that’s too much of a risk to attack with my flyers,” Hongjie concludes. “Maybe I should attack with my Nearheath Stalker, though? If you kill it, it becomes a 5/2 . . . ah, wait, you’ve got a Cytoplast Manipulator, so that’s not going to work either.”
Finally, your opponent shrugs. “I’m not even going to try and figure it out,” he says. “I’ll just cast a Sengir Nosferatu and pass the turn over to you. Take five damage from Vial Smasher?”
“I’m down to two life, then,” you say, adjusting your life counter. “Are you sure about passing?”
“I’m not in the mood for a headache just yet,” Hongjie says, smiling. “Besides, my flyers will probably bring it home next turn.”
You untap and are about to draw a card when you realize that you haven’t resolved your Skull Collector’s ability yet. It’s just as well: You’re looking over your creatures when the notion hits you, and you start seriously considering your board state.
Hongjie notices your shift in expression. “What, are you going to topdeck something and pull a win out of nowhere?” he asks.
You tap your fingers on the table. “No,” you eventually admit. “But that’s only because I don’t think I need my next draw at all.”
It is the beginning of your upkeep phase. You’ve just put Skull Collector’s ability on the stack, and you may still cast spells or activate abilities in response.Defeat Hongjie before the beginning of his next combat phase.
You are at 2 life, with the following cards in play:
- Festercreep (with one +1/+1 counter on it)
- Phantasmal Mount
- Simic Fluxmage
- Skull Collector (with your Ghostly Touch attached)
- Cytoplast Manipulator (with two +1/+1 counters on it)
- Lingering Tormentor
- Demon of Death's Gate (with Hongjie’s Quag Sickness attached)
- 4 islands
- 4 swamps
You currently have no cards in your hand. You do not know the identities of the next cards on top of your library.
Hongjie is at 6 life and has no cards in his hand. He has the following cards in play:
- Typhoid Rats
- Gurmag Swiftwing
- Vampire Nighthawk (with your Sensory Deprivation attached)
- Vial Smasher the Fierce
- Sangromancer (with Hongjie’s Sadistic Glee attached)
- Sengir Nosferatu
- Nearheath Stalker
- Dakmor Lancer
- 7 swamps (four tapped)
- 3 mountains (one tapped)
You do not know the identities of the next cards on top of Hongjie’s library.
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 — Counterpunch” by 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, November20, 2016. 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, Aaron Golas, Ryou Niji, Hyman Rosen, Subrata Sircar, Dominic Chan, Alex van der Bie, Allen Smith, David Windrich, Will Clendenning, Greg Dreher, and Michael Feldman.
“So, we're in a situation here,” Alex van der Bie writes.“We're at 3 life and we can't really prevent our Charging Cinderhorn from dealing damage to us.We have Deathgreeter to gain life, but we'll have to gain a lot of life to somehow survive this turn, let alone actually win the game.
“We have three different sources of damage, adding up to exactly 12:
“This would, however, also deal damage to yourself (11 damage, to be exact). This means we'll have to gain at least 9 life this turn, using just the Deathgreeter. We'll also have to take care not to die during our opponent's next combat phase.”
The trick is to realize that you don’t have to gain the 9 life all at once. Assuming that you can survive reanimating and activating Bloodfire Colossus, it should take care of the rest of the Deathgreeter triggers for you. David Windrich writes:
You could, of course, regenerate the Wildebeests first and then your Cinderhorn — this order doesn’t matter as long as both of these creatures survive. Note that even if Stampeding Wildebeests bounces itself on Cam’s upkeep (putting Soul Bleed into your graveyard), the Bleed’s ability will still trigger and resolve separately.
“The sequencing here is pretty hard,” Alex clarifies.“We have to wait for our opponent's upkeep for the Soul Bleed, but in order to survive the Cinderhorn damage, we have to sacrifice the Colossus first. We can gain enough life by sacrificing the Colossus during our own turn, but we might end up removing the Soul Bleed in the process.”
The final use of Diabolic Servitude is also necessary because Cam still has an extra draw phase with which to kill you (or at least draw an obstacle to your line of play). If you can topdeck your way out of a situation, then there’s also the possibility that she can do that, too!