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Tiger by the Tail


Emerge Unscathed
Iona's Judgment on your Stocking Tiger?” Holly asks.

You hesitate, but only for a second. “Emerge Unscathed on the Tiger in response,” you say, dropping the last card in your hand.

Holly smiles. “I knew you had something like that,” she says, dropping the Judgment into her graveyard, “but there was only one way to make sure.”

“I always seem to get a Stocking Tiger during the holiday drafts,” you admit. “I think it’s gotten attached to me.”

“I’ve heard Emi and Sophie talk about it before, but I don’t mind. It’s a good reason to treat yourself to a booster pack,” Holly agrees.

“That, too.”

You happen to have an Unstable booster pack sitting under the Stocking Tiger this year. It’s not exactly the best choice of pack for an Unabridged Cube tournament, but it does raise the fun quotient, and it fits well with a draft that contains one of each card ever printed. Besides, there’s always the chance that you’ll get a foil basic land.

“I’ll attack with my Metropolis Sprite and my Relentless Skaabs,” Holly finally declares after a moment’s thought. “Any blockers?”

“None,” you say, surprising your opponent. “Are you pumping the Sprite?”

“Yes,” Holly says, tapping her last Island. “You’ll take six damage, and go down to three life?”

“That’s right.”

Holly considers this for a moment, and then raises both her hands. “That’s all for me, then. I’ll end my turn.”

“Okay,” you say, untapping your permanents. “Emerge Unscathed rebounds, giving my Stocking Tiger protection from White again.”

Holly raises an eyebrow as she realizes that all of her remaining blockers are white. “Not bad,” she says. “I didn’t see that. If I’d had known that you were just going to take the damage, I would have attacked with everything I had last turn.”

You smile as you draw a card, then turn the Stocking Tiger sideways. “Take three damage?” you ask.

“Why not?” Holly says, amused. “Let’s see what’s in there.”

You tear the pack open and add fifteen new cards to your hand, trying to read them and hold on to everything at the same time.

“Okay,” you say, playing the lone card in your hand that isn’t from Unstable. “Fountain of Youth?”

“Tell me that that isn’t the play that’s going to win you the game,” Holly laughs.

“No,” you say, smiling. “But this one might . . . ”

It is the start of your post-combat main phase; you have already completed your combat phase this turn. Defeat Holly before the beginning of her next combat phase.

You are at 3 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 do not know the identities or order of any of the cards remaining in your library.

Holly is at 10 life and has no cards in her hand. She 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 with the subject line “Puzzle — Tiger by the Tail” by 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, December 24, 2017. We’ll include the best ones in next week’s article along with the next puzzle!

Last Week’s Puzzle

Willing Test Subject
Correct solutions to last week’s puzzle were received from Matthew Harvey, Russell Jones, Collin Malcolm, Stephen Gross, Ryou Niji, Aaron Golas, Greg Dreher, Steven Givens, Allen Smith, Addison Fox, Cody Pulvermacher, Terrance Eames, Kevin Spitery, Tara Timmons, Hyman Rosen, and David Arnold.

“A couple things come to mind when looking at this board,” Matthew Harvey observes. “With Bones at 16 life, we aren't going to win through damage. So what does that leave us?

“As luck would have it, we have an alternate win condition: As Luck Would Have It. We just need to find a way to roll a lot of dice. Willing Test Subject has an ability that lets us roll a die, but needs a payment of 6 each time. So we would need a lot of mana to do what we want.

“This gets our attention to Druid of the Sacred Beaker. It can tap for a lot of mana, as we currently have four Crossbreed Labs watermarks: Druid of the Sacred Beaker, Willing Test Subject, Proper Laboratory Attire and Refibrillator(since assembled Contraptions are on the battlefield). Eager Beaver lets us untap things, and if we make it a Steam-Powered Beaver, we can untap something again and again. That needs 5 each time, and More or Less can decrease this to 4, but then we would just be breaking even.

“The only other Crossbreed Labs permanent is Bones’s Inflation Station. Our Nanny can steal that for us, but only if it can get through.”

“As luck would have it,” Collin Malcolm writes, “Bones only left one blocker that can block a creature equipped with Proper Laboratory Attire:

  1. Tap Druid of the Sacred Beaker and an Island for ggggu.
  2. Cast Eager Beaver, and untap Druid of the Sacred Beaker when it enters the battlefield.
  3. Equip Eager Beaver with Proper Laboratory Attire.
  4. Tap an Island and three Forests to augment Eager Beaver with Steam-Powered (creating a Steam-Powered Beaver).
  5. Tap two Forests and cast Really Epic Punch targeting Steam-Powered Beaver. This makes Steam-Powered Beaver a 7/9. Have it fight and kill the Multi-Headed Bot.
  6. Tap two Islands to equip Suspicious Nanny with Proper Laboratory Attire. (Steam-Powered Beaver survives as a 5/8 with 7 damage on it.)
  7. “At this point, we get suspicious,” Addison Fox notes.“There is one card that could blow us out here, and Bones didn't tap out for his Hydradoodle despite having no activated abilities to pay for. Before moving to combat, double-check that the Entirely Normal Armchair he hid last turn is safely returned to his hand before we move to attacks. We’re not sure how they got it under their Big Boa Constrictor without us noticing, but we did have a lot of math to focus on.”

  8. Attack with Suspicious Nanny. Bones can't block it because all of his remaining untapped creatures let him roll a die in some manner.
  9. When Suspicious Nanny deals damage, re-assemble Bones’s Inflation Station on any of your sprockets (say, Sprocket 3). This is essentially stealing Inflation Station from Bones.
  10. Tap your remaining Island to cast More or Less, targeting the activated ability of Steam-Powered Beaver to reduce its activation cost from 5 to 4.
  11. Tap Druid of the Sacred Beaker for ggggg.
  12. Pay gggg to untap Druid of the Sacred Beaker with Steam-Powered Beaver's activated ability.
  13. Repeat steps 10 and 11 to produce infinite mana, 1 mana at a time.
  14. Use your infinite mana to activate Willing Test Subject's ability an infinite number of times, with each roll adding luck counters to As Luck Would Have It. Even with the worst rolls, you’ll get to 100 luck counters eventually.

“Note that while Multi-Headed Bot mentions dice,” Greg Dreher adds, “it doesn't actually roll them… so Proper Laboratory Attire would not give a creature protection from it.”

Unstable makes for a very weird draft experience. “I had to write in for this one,” Cody Pulvermacher remarks, “because there was a phrase that I couldn't get out of my head: ‘Pay 2 mana to Properly Attire your Steam-Powered Beaver.’”

“No bones about it,” Allen Smith writes, “the situation was a bit dicey. While we've been rolling with the punches so far, that Hydradoodle and Multi-Headed Bot hit like a pair of boxcars, and frankly, I didn't trust the beady little snake eyes on that Big Boa Constrictor, either. Fortunately, the situation hadn't completely gone to craps yet.”

Unstable is Now Available!