“Yeah, it’s me,” Max smiles. “We haven’t seen each other since Dragons of Tarkir came out.”
“Only because you disappeared all of a sudden. Where have you been?”
Max shrugs. “Real life called,” he says. “Have you met my son Caleb?”
You glance at the bespectacled ten-year-old sitting before you. Caleb looks really uncomfortable in his glasses, almost as though he just got them yesterday.
“I took him for a checkup last week, and his grade went up,” Max says, as though reading your thoughts. “He’s still getting used to the new lenses.”
“I see. Why does he have four libraries?”
“Caleb got a Split Screen,” Max says. “From the Unstable set. It’s the Unabridged Cube, you know.”
“Yeah, one of each card ever printed. And that includes previews, too. I guess that explains why the four cards on the top of his libraries are face up.”
“Caleb’s trying to get better at drafting, so I thought I’d show him what this was like,” Max laughs. “He’s getting a mental workout at the moment.”
“He is being very quiet,” you admit.
“He’s thinking, so keep your voice down.”
“It’s his turn right now, so he’s trying to figure out how to beat me,” Max says. “After I paid the echo cost for my Urza's Blueprints, I got lucky and drew into a Patron of the Valiant. Caleb’s at eight life, so that’s bad news for him.”
“And you’re at . . . ”
“Four life,” Max says. “That’s within striking distance, I know. But I’ve got some nice defenses set up.”
You peer at Caleb’s cards in hand, wondering what he has in mind. For a ten-year-old, you have to admit that his expression isn’t giving anything away.
“He’s a lot more skilled than you might think,” Max says. “Caleb’s been thinking for a while now, so he might be looking at a way to win our game. If he does, though, then you can color me impressed.”
It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Max before the beginning of his next combat phase.
You are at 8 life, with the following cards in play:
- Shinen of Fury's Fire
- Chaos Harlequin
- Heart-Piercer Bow
- Split Screen
- 5 Mountains (one with your Unbridled Growth attached)
- 4 Forests
You have the following cards in your hand:
You have not yet played a land this turn. The top cards of each of your four libraries are as follows:
Whenever you draw a card, Split Screen allows you to choose the library that you draw from. You otherwise do not know the identities or order of any of the other cards in these libraries.
Max is at 4 life. He has the following cards in play:
- Nyxborn Shieldmate
- Trusty Companion
- Intrepid Hero
- Mine Bearer (with Max’s Cathar's Shield attached)
- Heavy Ballista
- Patron of the Valiant
- Urza's Blueprints (tapped)
- 11 Plains (all tapped)
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 — Changing Channels” by 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, December 3, 2017. 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 Photon Cat, Sean Rowe, TKDB, Ryou Niji, Stephen Gross, Addison Fox, Aaron Golas, and Chris Billard.
“While Vita's life total is low,” TKDB writes, “there's simply no way to deal more damage to her than she'd gain in the process. Our only ways to get damage through would involve:
“Even if we use Lure to keep them from blocking something and blow up our own Jugan to load up the counters on it,” Addison Fox points out, “the incidental lifegain from Nature's Claim already pushes them into unkillable territory.
“This was a difficult one to puzzle out until two things became apparent: There is a way to trigger Sultai Flayer two times, and it doesn't involve killing the Archangel of Thune. As it turns out, the key to that was simply giving all of Vita's creatures first strike . . . which she so helpfully allowed us to do by casting the Ainok Bond-Kin she drew.”
“Paradoxically,” TKDB adds, “our winning turn is going to involve the exact opposite of the usual approach: We want to help her gain *as much life as we can*.”
The solution is complicated and requires some tracking. Chris Billard elaborates:
“I feel sorry for Vita,” Ryou Niji writes. “She would never have seen this coming. She has been worrying about her life total, which is why she played so many life-gainers onto the board; how could she imagine that she would go to 30 life and zero cards in one turn?
“One may worry that Vita might have Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Progenitus in her library, which would ruin our plan. But although a few things in Iconic Mastersreturn from the graveyard to the battlefield or hand, they aren't applicable here — nothing at all returns to the library. There is nothing in this format that could possibly save Vita.”