Viva La Revolucion
Sometimes the Unabridged Cube turns out to be a double-edged sword. As a collection of one of each card ever printed, some of its Sealed pools tend to be borderline unplayable, no matter what you try to build from them.
You’re agonizing over your latest game when Mari seats herself next to you. “Is this a bad time?” she asks.
“Can’t be any worse. Just look at this mess.”
Mari stares at the board. “Those aren’t very good cards,” she admits.
“Over half my pool was Red and Green,” you tell her, “with a small collection of artifacts on the side. Between Quicksmith Genius, Ezuri’s Brigade, and Pia’s Revolution, I figured that I could make do with an artifact sub-theme.”
You pick up the Red enchantment so that she can have a look at it. “The Unabridged Cube’s coming up with preview cards now. This one’s from Aether Revolt, apparently.”
“So what’s happening now?” Mari asks.
“Well, Ernesto here attacked, and . . . ”
“Oh, sorry. Okay, then . . . Ernesto cast a Wall of Omens, drawing a card and draining me for 1 life with Blind Obedience’s Extort. Then he attacked with his Arrogant Vampire and Lightkeeper of Emeria, none of which I could block. So I cast Foxfire on the Vampire.”
“Foxfire?” Mari asks.
“Foxfire,” you say, fishing the card out from your graveyard for her to read.
“These are some bad cards you’re using.”
“It still worked,” you shrug. “I only took 2 damage from the Lightkeeper. But then he cast a Syndicate Enforcer, drained me for another 1 life, and then followed that up with a Kami of Ancient Law for two more Extort triggers.”
“So you’re facing two Extort cards now, at how many life?”
“I’m down to five life. And he’s got a Haunted Crossroads to return any creature in his graveyard for re-casting. And I know he’s got a Corrupt in his deck somewhere — he nailed me with it in our first game.”
“No Angels or Eldrazi in my pool,” you say. “Not much mass removal either . . . ”
“Well,” Mari says. “That’s useful, at least.”
You survey the table, noting that there are a lot of creatures on it with 3 toughness or less. Ernesto looks at you expectantly.
“I think I’ve got a chance,” you tell Mari, “as long as he doesn’t draw that Corrupt within the next few turns.
Mari glances at you, having spent some time scrutinizing the board. “I think you’ve got an even better chance,” she says, “as long as you don’t give him another turn.”
It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Ernesto before the beginning of his next upkeep phase.
You are at 5 life, with the following cards in play:
- Multani’s Acolyte
- Horned Troll (with your Brawler’s Plate attached)
- Quicksmith Genius
- Hangarback Walker (with four +1/+1 counters on it)
- Impact Tremors
- Pia’s Revolution
- Broken Fall
- Seal of the Guildpact (naming Red and Green)
- 4 Mountains
- 6 Forests
You have the following cards in your hand:
You have not yet played a land this turn. You have eleven cards remaining in your library, but you do not know the identities of its topmost cards.
You have the following cards in your graveyard:
- Elf Replica
- Geyser Glider
- Lifespark Spellbomb
- Kithkin Daggerdare
- Aim High
- Longhorn Firebeast
Ernesto is at 8 life and has no cards in his hand. He has the following cards in play:
- Wall of Omens
- Kami of Ancient Law
- Sanguine Guard (with Ernesto’s Empyrial Armor attached)
- Mer-Ek Nightblade
- Lightkeeper of Emeria (tapped)
- Syndicate Enforcer
- Arrogant Vampire
- Blind Obedience
- Haunted Crossroads
- 5 Plains (all tapped)
- 6 Swamps (all tapped)
- Temple of Silence (tapped)
Ernesto has the following cards in his graveyard:
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 — Viva la Revolución” by 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, January 15, 2017. We’ll include the best ones in next week’s article along with the next puzzle!
Last Week’s Puzzle
“After a few minutes staring at this,” Ben Garrett observes, “it becomes apparent that combat is required to deal lethal damage. CJ's Pitchburn Devils are the only way to deal direct damage, and even if he sacrifices them twice, he can't deal more than 6 direct damage to Hannah. Still, the Devils have to play a part . . .
“Can CJ destroy Hannah's Guardian of the Ages and launch a pumped-up Accursed Spirit through her remaining army? It's possible for him to destroy Hannah's Guardian, but then he can't pump his Accursed Spirit enough to deal 8 damage by itself.”
“But what CJ's not thinking of,” Paul Seitz adds, “is how he can still use the Dark Favor without killing himself.”
“Dark Favor represents not only 3 additional power,” Ryou Niji notes, “but also a much-needed Blightcaster trigger . . . except that it would also kill us if it entered play. Our first intuition is to find a source of life gain; unfortunately, while we have Grim Return to steal a creature, none of the opponent's sources of life gain is actually a creature . . . so that doesn't work. Then, we realize we can forfeit the +3 bonus to fizzle the life loss, because Dark Favor doesn't trigger if it never enters the battlefield.”
“So, even if the Dark Favor looks as though it's a dead card,” Eric Crowe writes, “sacrificing the creature you cast it on still gets you the Blightcaster’s trigger. And in the case of targeting Pitchburn Devils, it allows you to kill off another blocker.”
With this in mind, the key is to make sure that Dark Favor gets cast without resolving. Bill Murphy’s solution clarifies this:
But then again, you can also win without necessarily using all your mana, as long as you’re willing to consider further blocking combinations. Benjamin Nassau demonstrates this:
303.4c If an Aura is enchanting an illegal object or player as defined by its enchant ability and other applicable effects, the object it was attached to no longer exists, or the player it was attached to has left the game, the Aura is put into its owner’s graveyard. (This is a state-based action. See rule 704.)
“Our options are pretty limited,” Benjamin adds, “so this solution can be found pretty quickly. Poor CJ, though.”