Magic Puzzles in Play, Vol. 4 – The Solutions

The cunning solutions to Jeff’s puzzles, including the very tricky Thieve’s Auction play and a puzzle that will probably occur hundreds of times at the various State tournaments.

Below are the solutions to the most recent set of puzzles. It appears as if some hard thought was put into these puzzles in the forum, and there is yet another lesson to be learned: read the card. You’re going to have an awfully hard time putting yourself in winning situations if you don’t know all of the factors involved!

Puzzle 10:

This was a trick question. You are playing in a block tournament, and are disqualified for running Vine Trellis! Just kidding, the trick is really the fact that I don’t give you the entire deck list for the Tooth and Nail player. There is just not enough information to make an educated choice.

For example, if you are playing an abundance of threats, such as 4 Tooth and Nail, Eternal Witness, and Mindslaver, and a Tranquil Thicket to boot, the outcome is very different from if you are only running a single Witness and a set of Tooth and Nail.

Without complete deck information, this is the best analysis you can make:

You can choose to either go for the fastest kill or the safest route. There is no sense picking anything slower than the fastest kill, after all. In this respect, 2 Colossus or Colossus / Angel are your best choices. From a safety standpoint, Darksteel Colossus / Platinum Angel is clearly the much smarter play, since you will only lose to a topdecked Shrapnel Blast. Unless your opponent draws multiple Myr Enforcers, this combo will kill him in two turns.

The alternative is the safer play of Triskelion / Angel. Now you can pick off the Disciple of the Vault with your three-armed robot, while still swinging in the air five turns for the win. In this scenario you will not lose to a single Shrapnel Blast, but your offense will be severely crippled by it.

So considering the trickiness, the closest”real” answer to this question is that you need to determine the ratio of threats you have to the number of Shrapnel Blasts Ike has. The higher the ratio, the more attractive the Angel / Triskelion becomes.

Puzzle 11:


This puzzle is all about understanding the stack.

All”comes into play” abilities will be put on the stack simultaneously after the auction has resolved completely. Since it’s John’s turn, his triggered abilities will go on the stack first and then George’s, meaning that George’s abilities will resolve first.

Despite having his abilities resolve first and having no cards in his deck, George can pull off the win with sufficient planning.

1) John floats U.

2) George sacrifices Bloodstained Mire (finding nothing).

3) George floats ten mana (in case he ends up with the Staff).

4) Thieves’ Auction Resolves. Make picks in the following order:

a) John: Platinum Angel

a) George: Viridian Shaman

b) John: Aether Spellbomb

b) George: Crystal Shard

c) John: Staff of Domination

c) George: Bottle Gnomes

d) John: Arrest (on Gnomes)

d) George: Aven Cloudchaser

e) John: Blinkmoth Nexus

e) George: Blinkmoth Nexus

f) John: Spawning Pit

5) At this point, the two players alternate taking land, until just Lava Hounds, Vampiric Spirit, Hunted Wumpus, and Phage the Untouchable remain. It is George’s pick, and he chooses Hunted Wumpus.

6) John picks Vampiric Spirit, George gets Lava Hounds, and John gets Phage.

7) John puts his triggers on the stack in no particular order.

8) George puts his triggers on the stack in this order: Lava Hounds, Aven Cloudchaser (targeting Arrest), Viridian Shaman (targeting Platinum Angel), Hunted Wumpus.

9) George uses U to bounce the Angel to his hand, so that when Wumpus resolves, it comes back into play.

10) The Shaman’s ability is countered on resolution.

11) The Arrest is destroyed and George sacrifices Bottle Gnomes for 3 life. George sinks his remaining mana into his Nexus.

12) Lava Hounds resolves, and George survives at one life. Phage and the Vampire resolve, but John lives due to the Angel (although he goes to negative life).

13) The turn ends.

During George’s upkeep, use the Crystal Shards to return the Angel to John’s hand. John loses.

Puzzle 12:

Tricks: You can your opponent down to one life trying to attack for damage, but you need to steal the Lich’s Tomb in order to finish him with a Disciple of the Vault.

1) Play Island.

2) Tap land for 31 mana.

3) Boomerang Lightning Greaves (29 mana left).

4) Confiscate Disciple and Tomb (17 mana left).

5) Double Shards True Believer (15 mana left).

6) Spellbomb Triskelion, dealing one damage with Disciple (14 mana left, opponent at 11).

7) Cast Welding Jar, and counter it with Fold into Aether. Put Triskelion into play. (10 mana left).

8) Opponent gains 2 life from Elder, going to 13, and you gain a Myr Token..

9) Shoot opponent 3 times with Triskelion, bringing him to 10.

10) Move into your attack phase and mana burn for 10. The Tomb will keep you alive at the expense of 10 permanents. Sacrifice Solemn Simulacrum, 2 Crystal Shard, 2 Extraplanar Lens, Triskelion, Seat of Synod, 2 Myr Token, and Welding Jar to trigger your Disciple 10 times. You win!

It seems as if the scenarios where planning are necessary (like the current Thieves’ Auction and the previous Fact or Fiction puzzles) are pretty popular, so I’ll try to make more of those in the future. If there are any other puzzle types or interactions you might like to see, let me know in the forums. I have a long plane ride to Hawaii for my honeymoon coming up, so I’ll have plenty of time to think up the next batch of head-scratchers.

Until next time, when we find out what conundrums the Champions of Kamigawa have to offer.

Jeff Till

[email protected]