Not by a Long Shot
Normally you’d call him out on this sort of thing, but despite his limited vocabulary, Don’s a lot more civil than some of the other opponents you’ve met. That is to say: He hasn’t bragged about his draft, he hasn’t complained at your topdecks, and he hasn’t insulted your cards. That last one alone puts him above some of the more unsavory people you’ve seen on the other side of the table.
That said, you’d probably insult your own cards if you had the chance; the Unabridged Cube apparently wanted to give you a nice parting shot before the year ran out. For a set that contains one of each card ever printed, that means that you have a terrible, terrible card pool, and you’re wondering why you even chose to play with it.
Somehow, you managed to make it to a third game for this match. Don won your first game handily, but you got lucky in your second game when he took a mulligan to four and then failed to find a second land. After starting your third game with a prolonged damage race, you and Don eventually settled into a stalemate: You have an Ogre Resister standing guard, but Don has better creatures than you, has a steadily increasing life total due to Convalescence, and has a Cream of the Crop to help optimize his draws.
The interesting thing is that your instant-speed card draw has given you some assistance, in a way: Your draws are an Aftershock and a Spiraling Embers. Coupled with the Sever Soul that you pull on your draw step, you have the means to take down most of Don’s creatures this turn.
At first you’re worried about your mana requirements, but then you remember that you have a Blood Funnel in play. But the more you think about the Blood Funnel, the more you realize that there might just be a quicker way to finish this fight.
“I’m going to try something,” you tell your opponent. “If something doesn’t work the way I expect, just let me know.”
Don grunts. You’re not sure if it’s a positive or negative response.
“Then again,” you say, “it might be better to call a judge. But here goes . . . ”
It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Don before the start of his next combat phase.
You are at 5 life, with the following cards in play:
- Mesmeric Fiend (exiling Don’s Reprisal)
- Tavern Swindler
- Hasran Ogress
- Bog Witch
- Ogre Resister
- Blood Funnel
- Lich’s Mirror
- 4 mountains
- Tomb of Urami
You have the following cards in your hand:
You have not yet played a land this turn. You do not know the identities of the next cards on top of your library.
Don is at 7 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Puzzle — Not By a Long Shot” by 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, January 1, 2017. We’ll include the best ones in next week’s article along with the next puzzle!
Last Week’s Puzzle
The fact that you’re in your postcombat main phase is a huge deal for this puzzle. “Since we’ve already attacked,” Subrata Sircar writes,“the Massacre Wurm is really the only avenue that seems likely. But we’ll still need half the pack to pull it off!”
Luke Paulsen continues: “That Kaladesh booster has everything on our wish list! It's a tall order to deal 7 damage post-combat in Limited, let alone in U/G. But our pack came through with a Shrewd Negotiation to steal Sophia's Massacre Wurm, a Fireforger’s Puzzleknot to get a couple of pings in, and a Prophetic Prism plus a Dramatic Reversal to help fix our mana.
“The only question is, can we get enough of Sophia's creatures to die? Fireforger’s Puzzleknot on Wild Aesthir makes one. Select for Inspection on Tar Pit Warrior makes two. We need a third death, though, and we can get it from Fragmentize if Sophie somehow ends up with an artifact creature costing 4 or less . . . ”
This results in a solution with fairly loose sequencing — most of the steps involved don’t need to be done in a particular order, as Simone Samperna writes:
Note that, while you can use Shrewd Negotiation to exchange control of Stocking Tiger instead of Sky Skiff, you wouldn’t be able to Fragmentize the Tiger afterwards — this is because Stocking Tiger has a converted mana cost of five. It’s not too much of a stretch to realize the need for the Sky Skiff from here, though.
“Think of today's puzzle like a White elephant gift exchange,” Greg Dreher muses.“You unwrap your present and find nothing that will directly win you the game. So you look around the room for something to steal that will win you the game — something like Sophia's Massacre Wurm.”
“In a dramatic reversal of the usual order of things,” Norman Dean adds,“Dramatic Reversal actually allows us to win this game, rather than being useless!”