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Here's a puzzle for Magic: the Gathering players out there. I feel that this puzzle is in the scope of the site, and is no different than other puzzles, e.g. chess, which require knowledge of the parameters of a game in order to solve. I'm adding the MtG tag since I hope to do more of these in the future. I've linked to cards so that you don't have to go look them up yourself. For those interested in learning the rules of Magic, see here and here.

I've tried to ensure that there is only one correct answer, but there are so many permutations, I may have missed one. Please don't post an answer unless it's distinct i.e. isn't just another answer but with mana tapped slightly differently or two spells cast in swapped orders if it doesn't affect the outcome. If I missed something, and there are multiple distinct solutions, I will accept the one that gets the most damage through. Your solution cannot involve opponent's cooperation (e.g. they choose not to block any of your creatures) in other words, it must be a guaranteed win regardless of what your opponent can do.

It is Main Phase 1 of your turn. You have played your land for the turn. No cards have been put into either graveyard so far this turn. Defeat your opponent during this turn (before end of cleanup step). Provide the sequence of spells/game actions that you take to achieve the goal. Please be specific about mana usage / land tapping (feel free to keep a count of mana between steps)

Your hand:


Your board (all untapped):

Birthing Pod
Voltaic Key
Kiora's Follower (no summoning sickness)

1 Forest, 6 Plains

1 life

Your graveyard:

Deceiver Exarch
Seismic Elemental
Storm Crow

Your opponent's hand:


Your opponent's board (all untapped):

3 copies of Morkrut Banshee

Your opponent's graveyard:

Grave Titan

Original Stipulation: 9 life
I actually missed a line that leads to being able to do 20 damage!
New Stipulation: 20 life!

Your Library:

Blade Splicer
Fire Imp
Goblin Chieftain
Hellraiser Goblin
Wood Elves
Avalanche Riders
Flametongue Kavu
Hero of Bladehold
Hero of Oxid Ridge
Huntmaster of the Fells
Obstinate Baloth
Karmic Guide
Morkrut Banshee
Puppeteer Clique
Laquatus's Champion
Massacre Wurm
Sun Titan
Twilight Shepherd
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Craterhoof Behemoth

  • $\begingroup$ Worst part is, I know the win-condition almost certainly, but uncertain how to get there. $\endgroup$
    – Waterseas
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 15:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's definitely a tricky one. I even missed a more optimal line that does more damage! $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry for having to edit this for those in the process (though if you were onto the 9 damage solution, you're only a small variation away from 20 damage). I'm no pro myself and still learning so please be patient $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 16:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Waterseas, welp. Looks like I've screwed this one up pretty badly. I even linked to the card and still misread it :/ Alright let me adjust so the solution is still valid $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 16:10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1 for Storm Crow. However, -1 for overlooking that if you get Storm Crow onto the battlefield, your opponent has no choice but to resign in terror anyways. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 23:19

1 Answer 1

  • Tap Forest, float a green.
  • Kiora's Followers Activate targeting Forest.
  • Tap Plains, use floating green to pod Kiora’s Followers - > Pestermite
  • Pestermite trigger targetting Birthing Pod
  • 1 Forest 5 Plains 1 Life
  • Tap Forest and Plains, pod Pestermite - > Obstinate Baloth
  • 4 Plains 5 Life
  • Voltaic Key targetting Birthing Pod
  • 3 Plains 5 Life
  • Tap plains, pay 2 life, pod Obstinate Baloth - > Karmic Guide
  • Karmic Guide Returns Deceiver Exarch to play.
  • Deceiver Exarch trigger targetting Birthing Pod
  • 2 Plains 3 Life
  • Tap plains, pay 2 life, pod Karmic Guide - > Twilight Shepherd
  • Cast Pestermite from Twilight Shepherd and target Birthing Pod.
  • Cast Obstinate Baloth and Kiora’s Followers, both returned from Twilight Shepherd.
  • Cast Karmic Guide returned from Twilight Shepherd, which reanimates Seismic Elemental
  • 1 plains, 5 life
  • Tap plains, pay 2 life, pod Kiora’s Followers - > Hellraiser Goblin
  • Swing 2/1 flyer (Pestermite), 2/1 flyer (Karmic Guide), 4/4 (Seismic Elemental, 5/5 flyer (Twilight Shepherd), 4/4 (Obstinate Baloth), 2/2 (Hell Raiser Goblin), 1/4 (Deceiver Exarch), all unable to be blocked due to seismic elemental's trigger.

    2 + 2 + 4 + 5 + 4 + 2 + 1 = 20 Damage

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You've basically got it, just one small error. Puppeteer clique can only get cards from an opponent's yard, so it can't get exarch or elemental $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ @NeedAName Should be fixed. $\endgroup$
    – Waterseas
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed. Solid work and thanks for the help in fixing up the puzzle! $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ @NeedAName No problem, thanks for the very difficult puzzle. Nice job on choosing cards to obscure the solution in the deck. $\endgroup$
    – Waterseas
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 17:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Cards not used in this solution: Grave Titan, Forest, Blade Splicer, Fire Imp, Goblin Chieftain, Wood Elves, Avalanche Riders, Flametongue Kavu, Hero of Bladehold, Hero of Oxid Ridge, Huntmaster of the Fells, Hellrider, Nekrataal, Morkrut Banshee (in library), Puppeteer Clique, Thragtusk, Laquatus's Champion, Massacre Wurm, Sun Titan, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, and Craterhoof Behemoth. If you want to recreate the puzzle using real cards but are missing some of them, you could omit the ones in this list (keeping in mind that omitting cards will decrease the difficulty of the puzzle). $\endgroup$
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 20:51

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