Given that you’re in the last few days of 2017, you’ve barely managed to scrape eight people together for one final Unabridged Cube draft. Then again, most of your local game store’s patrons are away for the holidays, so you shouldn’t be surprised.
You don’t want to end the year by coming in dead last in a format that uses one of each card ever printed. However, today’s draft has other ideas: no less than five people ended up drafting Red, and you ended up with most of the dregs. At least the Black component of your deck has been more up to snuff.
To make matters worse, you’ve been paired against Jerry, who seems to have gotten the table’s best Red cards. So far, you’ve lost a Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief to his well-timed Flametongue Kavu, spent three creatures just to take down his Cryptic Serpent, and have been forced to watch him recur Chandra's Phoenix . . . twice!
When Jerry attacked with his Phoenix last turn, you briefly considered blocking it with your Puppeteer Clique; this would allow the Clique’s Persist ability to trigger, let you bring back his Flametongue Kavu from his graveyard, and get rid of the Phantom Monster waiting on his side of the table. In the end, though, you decided against it — you’ve still got six more life in any case, and your deck might be able to cough something up.
Still, there are too many things that can go wrong here. Jerry can draw something that can bring his Bloodshot Trainee to 4 power, for example, or pull a land to Retrace his Flame Jab, or simply survive long enough to ping you to death with his Shivan Gorge. If you want this game to end well, you’re going to need to act now . . . but with him at 17 life, where do you start?
It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Jerry before the beginning of his next combat phase.
You are at 6 life, with the following cards in play:
- Bloodthorn Taunter (with Jerry’s Defensive Stance attached)
- Dwarven Bloodboiler (with your Necromancer's Magemark attached)
- Baron Von Count (with a doom counter on “5”)
- Skirsdag Cultist
- Phyrexian Defiler
- Puppeteer Clique
- 4 Swamps
- 4 Mountains
- Rakdos Carnarium
- Temple of the False God
You have the following card 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.
Jerry is at 17 life and has no cards in his hand. He has the following cards in play:
- Jeering Homunculus
- Chandra's Phoenix (tapped)
- Bloodshot Trainee (with Jerry’s Agility attached)
- Phantom Monster
- Mnemonic Wall
- Mindclaw Shaman
- Charmbreaker Devils
- 4 Islands (three tapped)
- 3 Mountains (all tapped)
- Swiftwater Cliffs
- Shivan Gorge
Jerry has the following cards in his graveyard:
- Flame Jab
- Cryptic Serpent
- Dwarven Patrol
- Flametongue Kavu
- Volcanic Hammer
- Storm Fleet Aerialist
- Anchor to the Aether
If you think you’ve got a great solution in mind, don’t put it in the comments! Instead, send it to email@example.com with the subject line “Puzzle — Countdown” by 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, December 31, 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 Robin Westphal, Addison Fox, Russell Jones, Aaron Golas, Ryou Niji, and Chris Billard.
There are quite a few solutions to this one. Brion Stoutarm has a good chance of single-handedly ending the game in your favor, but he’s hampered by the fact that Holly has a Mangara’s Equity in play. In this case, Robin Westphal points out that the response is simple: Get rid of the Equity!
There are, of course, more complex solutions. “Since we've already moved through our combat phase this turn,” Addison Fox writes, “we know that winning before Holly has a chance to crack in for lethal is going to require some outside-the-box damage sources. Luckily, Brion Stoutarm can throw creatures directly at our opponent and gain us life at the same time. A little rules-bending thanks to Unstable gets us another source, as well.”
This approach also happens to play it straight: “With Death's Presence on the battlefield,” Ryou Niji writes, “a straightforward approach should work just fine:
That said, there’s also the fact that you have an additional creature at your disposal, and you don’t have to pay its mana cost to get it into play. Aaron Golas elaborates on this with the following solution:
Aaron also points out that you can set up an infinite combo here, and that it involves Lobe Lobber (and some stack trickery):