Armored Warfare

Silverclad Ferocidons
Ethereal Armor on my Duskrider Peregrine?” Raph asks.

“Yeah, go ahead,” you say. You were hoping that your Spidersilk Net might discourage the big, White bird from attacking, but Raph’s been telegraphing his aura for a few turns now, and you’re not sure if a blocker with reach is enough to stop it.

“I’ll attack with the Peregrine,” Raph says. “Are you blocking with that ogre of yours?”

You glance at your side of the table. With the Spidersilk Net, your Initiate of Blood’s only a 2/4 creature. In hindsight, you should have equipped the Net to your Frostburn Weird for better defense. Or you could have given it to your Giant Crab instead, if only for the irony. It’s probably one of those quirks that your local game store’s Unabridged Cube is known for; with one of each card ever printed, anything can happen.

For that matter, you have no idea how this game got away from you. You started out just fine, getting a bunch of fast creatures, cutting down Raph’s starting life total, and even pinning down an early Order of Yawgmoth with Leaden Fists in the process. But Raph then drew into a run of quality creatures, eventually stopping your offensive just in time. Now he’s sitting at a tantalizing 3 life — so near, and yet so far.

“Are you letting the Peregrine through?” Raph asks.

You glance at him and sigh. “I’ll take the damage,” you finally say. “I’ll go down to 4 life.”

“Okay. Postcombat main?”

“Sure.”

Raph taps his last five lands. “Beacon of Unrest?” he asks.

They can probably hear you groaning from a mile away. You know exactly what Raph’s planning to reanimate, mostly because your Careful Study discarded it on your second turn.

Silverclad Ferocidons,” both you and Raph say at the same time. Raph laughs as he pulls out the big dinosaur from your graveyard.

“I take it that you’re done?” you ask.

“Oh yeah,” Raph says, smirking. “I’m definitely done with my turn.”

You grumble as you peel the top card off your library. You’re going to need some good removal to get through this, but you’re not sure how you expect to hold off a massive alpha strike or two.

You find yourself holding a newly-drawn Deep Freeze, and you figure that that’s a fair start. It’s not quite removal, but you can at least use it to pin down the Peregrine. Of course, the Ferocidons might be another problem for you altogether.

Then, after a while of thinking, you realize that you might have a third option available. Raph might think that he has this game all sewn up, but there just might be a way to convince him otherwise . . . 

It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Raph before the beginning of his next combat phase.

You are at 4 life, with the following cards in play:

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 remaining cards in your library.

Raph is at 3 life and has no cards in his hand. He 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 puzzles@gatheringmagic.com with the subject line “Puzzle — Armored Warfare” by 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, May 20, 2018. 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 Norman Dean, Addison Fox, Brendan Dufty, Greg Dreher, Russell Jones, David Edelstein, Madeline Henry, Hyman Rosen, Subrata Sircar, Ryou Niji, Miguel Sanchez, somewhatdyslexic, Michael Feldman, David Arnold, and Chris Billard.

“With eleven creatures on the field,” Madeline Henry writes, “Blasphemous Act only costs a single Red, so the temptation is to go right in and nuke the board. With Vedalia having five blockers, we have to play the sweeper before the Attack Step anyway. Unfortunately, we can't go in too fast here.

“Of the opponent's creatures, Caustic Hound is the only one with a relevant ability upon death. But with us currently sitting at two life, it's a deadly one. We have no way of exiling or bouncing Caustic Hound, so to survive, we need to gain enough life to avoid the Caustic Hound taking us with it.

“On our side of the field, things are similarly worrisome. We have no burn, so the only way to beat Vedalia with damage is through attacking. Blasphemous Act is damage-based, so Field Surgeon can mitigate some of it. However, 13 damage is a lot and our toughest creature, Famished Paladin, is a just a 3/3. Even tapping every creature we have on the field right now wouldn't be enough to protect Famished Paladin by himself, let alone anyone else.”

“Fortunately,” David Edelstein continues, “we have a pretty good combo on board. Field Surgeon provides a free tap outlet for Patrol Signaler, letting us pay {1}{W} to make a token whenever we like. This process also prevents one damage to a creature of our choice and gains us one life. In fact, it lets us prevent up to three damage, divided as we choose, because at the end of the cycle, we have the following untapped permanents:

“We have enough mana to make four tokens, which will conveniently gain the life necessary to survive Caustic Hound's detonation. But that's not enough to kill Vedalia. The damage prevention will let us spare one of our creatures from the Blasphemous Act, but we don't have enough surgical skills to save more than one of our creatures.”

That said, the second creature you need to save isn’t on your side of the table. Miguel Sanchez elaborates on this further:

  1. Tap your mountains and plains to get {R}{R}{R}{R}{R}{W}{W}{W}{W}.
  2. Tap Patrol Signaler and Famished Paladin for Field Surgeon to prevent the next 2 damage to Famished Paladin.
  3. Use Patrol Signaler’s ability using {R}{W} to create a Kithkin Soldier token; Anointer Priest’s ability triggers causing you to gain 1 life, in turn causing Famished Paladin to untap. All creatures on your side are now untapped.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 three more times to end up with 8 prevented damage to Famished Paladin, four Kithkin Soldier tokens, your life total now at 6, and {R} in your pool.
  5. Tap Field Surgeon, Patrol Signaler, and Anointer Priest to prevent 3 more damage to Famished Paladin. This prevents the next 11 damage to Famished Paladin in total, bringing it out of Blasphemous Act’s lethal damage.
  6. Tap the four tokens and Abzan Skycaptain to prevent the next 5 damage to the opponent’s Fretwork Colony (9/9); this also brings it out of lethal damage to Blasphemous Act.
  7. Cast a discounted Blasphemous Act for {R}, killing all creatures on the battlefield except Famished Paladin and the opponent’s Fretwork Colony. Caustic Hound dies and triggers, making each player lose 4 life, bringing your life total back to 2 life, and your opponent to 6 life. Abzan Skycaptain’s ability triggers; you choose Famished Paladin to become a 5/5 (because it’s the only creature remaining on our side).
  8. Attack with Famished Paladin to bring your opponent’s life total to 1.
  9. End your turn. The opponent's Fretwork Colony triggers at the beginning of her upkeep, killing her by making her lose 1 life.

“Funny that ‘Pest Control’ here doesn't refer to the need to take out the insects or even to control them,” Michael Feldman adds, “but rather to give them control. Heck, even the creature that survives your side of the board is technically a parasite, albeit a noble one. It's a bit like tenting your house, only the fumigation is everywhere but the house. There goes the neighborhood . . . ”


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