Fiendish Delight

Archfiend of Ifnir
Wiley finally speaks up after a long silence. “I’ll attack with my Watchful Naga,” he says.

“Are you exerting it?” you ask.

“I’m exerting it, yes,” he says, and his expression doesn’t change after he draws his card. “Are you blocking?”

You glance at the Naga, wondering if Wiley has something up his sleeve. He’s demonstrated a remarkable poker face in your Amonkhet draft match, and you’ve lost more than one creature to his surprise plays.

“I’ll block it with my Hekma Sentinels,” you finally say. “If you’ve got another Shed Weakness . . . ”

“No,” Wiley says, dropping the Watchful Naga into his graveyard. “Go to second main phase?”

“Sure.”

“I’ll tap 5 mana and cast my Archfiend of Ifnir,” Wiley says.

“Wait, what?” you ask. You glance at the Lay Claim attached to Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, and are instantly struck with a twinge of regret.

Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons
“I drew it off the Naga,” Wiley admits. You can feel the relief in his voice.

You glance at your hand, grateful that you chose to leave 5 mana open. “Right,” you say. “Okay, then. You lose one life and I gain one life from Trespasser’s Curse. Then I’ll cast Final Reward on your Archfiend.”

Hapatra’s Mark in response?”

You have to stop yourself from saying something you’ll regret. That’s pretty bad, though, considering that the only other removal you have is a Winds of Rebuke — and it’s not likely to keep the Archfiend down for long.

“Now I’ll tap 1 mana,” Wiley continues, “and cycle my Horror of the Broken Lands. Archfiend triggers, and I’ll put a -1/-1 counter on each of your creatures.”

You stare at your side of the table, and now you really curse. “That kills all my Insect tokens,” you say, “and the Hekma Sentinels. And my Tah-Crop Skirmisher. And my Seeker of Insight with the two -1/-1 counters.”

Wiley’s expression doesn’t change as he draws his card. “I’ll tap my last 3 mana, then . . . ”

Oh, come on!

“ . . . And I’ll cast Defiant Greatmaw, putting two -1/-1 counters on my Doomed Dissenter. That kills it and gives me a 2/2 Zombie token.”

Trespasser’s Curse triggers twice,” you say almost automatically.“You’ll lose two more life and I’ll gain two more life,” you say.

“Oh, yes,” Wiley says. “I forgot about that. But I’ll end my turn now.”

Who would have thought that the board could have turned against you in such a short span of time? Your mind is in a haze as you untap your permanents and draw your card for the turn, a Supernatural Stamina. You can only hope that you can find some form of redemption here somewhere . . . 

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

You are at 8 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 have the following relevant cards in your graveyard:

Wiley is at 5 life and has no cards in his hand. He has the following cards in play:

Both you and Wiley still have a substantial number of cards remaining in each of your libraries. You do not know the identities or order of any of the remaining cards in your 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 — Fiendish Delight” by 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, May 21, 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 Aaron Golas, Norman Dean, Addison Fox, Russell Jones, Matthew Harvey, Fritz Hofmann, Bill Cheng, Lena Gutman, Ben Nassau, Allen Smith, Scott Dunn, Mikhail Payson, Ryou Niji, Esteban Landerreche, Nakai Salway, Dominic Chan, David Parke, Paul Seitz, Hyman Rosen, Greg Dreher, Bill Murphy, Enrique Cordero, SoDeFCallidus, zzo38, and David Arnold.

“Luckily for Octavia,” Matthew Harvey remarks, “she is going to be able to make her photoshoot appointment, no problem. The bad news is that she won't be arriving there as the winner of this match.”

“It's obvious that Octavia has too many creatures mucking up the ground,” Bill Cheng writes, “so you're going to need an air force (or an unblockable creature, we're not complaining). But how are we going to get an air force with a combined power of 6 this turn, let alone an air force with Haste? Good question . . . ”

“The only way to win is to get three 2/2 Drakes,” David Parke writes, “and give them all haste with Bloodlust Inciter. This means you need to find two ways to untap the Inciter. Both untaps come from Vizier of Tumbling Sands: once while it’s on the board, and once when it cycles. This also means that you need to get a Drake onto the board and give it haste before the Vizier’s first untap ability resolves.”

“I found this solution almost instantly,” Ben Nassauadds, “but then, I did have Drake Haven as my prerelease promo. That card is bonkers!”

  1. Tap the Vizier of Tumbling Sands to untap Bloodlust Inciter (this is legal as we don't have to target a tapped permanent).
  2. We do the same trick again: Cycle Vizier of Tumbling Sands. As we get to order the triggers however we want, let's pay {1} to make a Drake before targeting Bloodlust Inciter once more with the untap trigger ({U}{R}{R} left).
    • With the Vizier's ability on the stack, tap Bloodlust Inciter to give our brand-brand-new Drake haste.
    • Let the Vizier's ability resolve . . .  again, untapping Bloodlust Inciter. We also finally draw our (unknown) card off the cycling trigger.
  3. Cast Bloodrage Brawler ({U} left). When it enters the battlefield, it forces us to discard the last card in our hand.
    • Pay our last mana into the Drake Haven to make our third and final Drake.
  4. Tap Bloodlust Inciter to give our brand-brand-brand-new Drake haste.
  5. Move to combat and swing with our three hasty Drakes to smash Octavia for exactsies.

Other technical variants of this solution are possible, depending on how much you like holding priority. At step two, for example, you could cast Bloodrage Brawler, put its enters-the-battlefield ability on the stack, then cycle Vizier of Tumbling Sands and start a chain of triggers and instant-speed effects.

“And there we have it,” Matthew concludes.“Three flying Drakes from out of Obelisk Path on Amonkhet. It must have been their feeding time, and Octavia didn't have the survival skills to pass this trial of the God-Pharaoh.”

“So many Drakes,” Lena Gutman muses.“We should hold a concert and sell tickets!”


Modified Drake Haven image courtesy of David Parke

Hour of Devastation is now available for preorder at CoolStuffInc.com!

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