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Fire in the Hole

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At first glance, Charging Cinderhorn doesn’t look like the kind of card that warrants inclusion in a booster draft deck. That said, the Unabridged Cube — a collection that contains one of each card ever printed — has a habit of manifesting cards that haven’t been officially released yet, and this is as good a time as any to see how the Cinderhorn performs.

Unfortunately, it turns out that Cam, your opponent, managed to draft a Blinding Angel. With the help of a few anti-flyer cards, Cam easily overcame your aerial defenses and made sure that you weren’t going to see any combat phases anytime soon. And with both of you now playing off empty hands, your sole substantial flyer — an Entropic Specter — isn’t of any help at all.

Of course, there are a few other things on the board that are making you feel sorry for even starting this game. Cam’s using her Stampeding Wildebeests to constantly bounce and replay her Sylvan Ranger, gradually thinning the lands from her deck. She also has an Always Watching in play — not that any of your tiny creatures are likely to get through her side of the table in the first place. And her Kismet means that any permanents you get onto the battlefield aren’t going to be immediately effective for you.

After Cam’s attack on her turn, she calmly recasts her Sylvan Ranger, searches for a Forest and plays it, then casts the Weatherseed Treefolk she drew. With a 3/5 flyer and two tramplers in play on her side, you’re not sure which one’s going to kill you first. But you do know that you have one turn to find a way out of this hopeless situation.

It’s at this point that you untap, take your draw, and find a Bloodfire Colossus staring at you. Finally, a way to clear the table and mount your counteroffensive! But your heart sinks when you realize that the Colossus’ ability deals damage to players too. At 3 life, you’re likely to kick the bucket long before Cam does.

You sigh. At the very least, it looks like you can easily take out Cam’s Sylvan Ranger. But is there something that you’re missing?

It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Cam before the beginning of your next turn.

You are at 3 life, with the following cards in play:

You have the following card in your hand:

You must skip your combat phase this turn, due to Blinding Angel’s ability. You do not know the identities of the next cards on top of your library.

You have only one creature card remaining in your graveyard:

Cam is at 12 life and has no cards in her hand. She has the following cards in play:

You do not know the identities of the next cards on top of Cam’s library.

If you think you’ve got a great solution in mind, don’t put it in the comments! Instead, send it to puzzles@gatheringmagic.com with the subject line “Puzzle — Fire in the Hole” by 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, November13, 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, Addison Fox, Victor Munson, Ryou Niji, William Grieve, Will Clendenning, Daniel Ray, Tom Avery, Thomas Pierre, Hyman Rosen, Allen Smith, Alex Perry, Greg Dreher, Andy Bardee, Dominic Chan, Miko Losantas, and Skip Franklin.

“Even if the Unabridged Cube was feeling stingy today,” Victor Munson writes, “Tommy has a lot of ways to mess with your board on your turn without casting spells, thanks to a host of creatures with relevant abilities. We have to put together 9 damage while playing around:

Allen Smith continues: “To start with, if at any point Conqueror’s Flail is not attached to a creature, we die as soon as we pass priority. So priority one is making sure that we never leave it unattached.

“Tommy also has approximately one million (okay, four) ground blockers, so we're probably going to need an aerial assault in order to win this. However, that means we need to deal with that Goblin Skycutter before we make our flyer so that it won't get shot out of the sky.

“Our only way to make a flier this turn is to put Avacyn's Collar on a Human and then kill it, netting a 1/1 Spirit token. Of course, that token also needs to get haste and at least 9 power so that it can actually kill Tommy, which likely means stacking a bunch of equipment on it. So here we go:

  1. Cast Momentary Blink, targeting Leonin Relic-Warder.
    • Tommy gets back Arachnoid, which has reach, so we'll have to deal with that later.
    • When Relic-Warder comes back, exile your own Threads of Disloyalty, returning Nightscape Familiar to your opponent.
    • Conqueror’s Flail now gives +2/+2. We've used 2 out of 13 mana.

  2. Flashback Momentary Blink, targeting Leonin Relic-Warder again.
    • Threads of Disloyalty comes back into play — attach it to Goblin Skycutter. There are no creatures with flying in play, so your opponent cannot activate it in response.
    • With Relic-Warder's enters-the-battlefield effect, exile your own Necropouncer.
    • Conqueror’s Flail now gives +3/+3. We've used 6 out of 13 mana.

  3. Cast Pongify, targeting Relic-Warder.
  4. Attach Avacyn's Collar to Shield Mate. We've used 9 out of 13 mana.
  5. Sacrifice Shield Mate to give the Germ token +0/+4. This is so that the Germ token sticks around when we move Necropouncer later.
    • We get a 1/1 White Spirit token with flying. (Oracle wording says that Shield Mate is a Human Soldier.)
    • Conqueror’s Flail still gives +5/+5 with our Spirit token being the White permanent.

  6. Attach the Flail to the Spirit token.
    • The Spirit token is now a 6/6 flier. We've used 11 out of 13 mana. Flail has never been not attached.

  7. Attach Necropouncer to the Spirit token.
    • The Spirit token is now a 9/7 flier with haste. We've used 13 out of 13 mana.

  8. Sacrifice Teardrop Kami to tap down the Arachnoid.
  9. Attack with our lethal Spirit token. Flail stops Explosive Impact from being cast, and still grants +5/+5, as we have a White Spirit token, Threads of Disloyalty, a 0/4 Black Germ token (not long for this world, but long enough), our opponent's Goblin Skycutter, and a Green Ape token.

One interesting variant involves leaving the Conqueror’s Flail at a +4/+4 bonus, mostly because Avacyn's Collar can make up the difference. Alex Perry writes:

  1. Blink Leonin Relic-Warder with Momentary Blink. This returns Arachnoid to play. Target Threads of Disloyalty when Leonin Relic-Warder re-enters the battlefield.
  2. Pongify Leonin Relic-Warder, putting a 3/3 Green Ape creature token into play. Threads of Disloyalty re-enters the battlefield. Use it to take control of Goblin Skycutter.
  3. Equip Shield Mate with Avacyn's Collar.
  4. Sacrifice Shield Mate, creating a 1/1 White Spirit token with flying and giving Teardrop Kami +0/+4.
  5. Equip Necropouncer, Conqueror's Flail, and Avacyn's Collar to the Spirit token — it’s now a 9/6 vigilant haste creature(+3/+1 and haste from Necropouncer, +4/+4 from Conqueror's Flail, and +1/+0 and vigilance from Avacyn's Collar).
  6. Sacrifice Teardrop Kami to tap down Arachnoid.
  7. Swing with a 9/6 white flying Spirit token for lethal damage.

Note that Goblin Skycutter is the only logical choice for Threads of Disloyalty; otherwise it’ll easily shoot down your Spirit token. You could take control of either Goblin Digging Team or Wall of Corpses to help pad your color count for Conqueror’s Flail, but Tommy can respond by sacrificing his Digging Team to destroy his own Wall.

It’s funny how you can access a lot of colored creatures without necessarily having color-changing cards, actually. Ryou Niji waxes poetic on this one:

Goblin is Red,

Threads are Blue,

Ape is Green,

And we have a White Spirit, too!


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