Previous Challenge


Today's puzzle is going to involve Mental Magic, a fun, memory-testing variant of magic. All of magic's usual rules apply, but with the following variations

  • Any card in your hand may be played face down as a land that taps for any color of mana. This land is treated as basic with no subtypes. (Usual land-per-turn rule applies)
  • Any card may be played as any other nonland MtG card as long as
    • that card does not have the same name
    • that card has the exact same mana cost (note: this includes color symbols, hybrid mana, X-cost, etc.) so e.g. Wild Guess can be cast as Eidolon of the Great Revel, but not as Rolling Thunder and Thoughtseize can be cast as Gravecrawler, but not as Deathrite Shaman.
  • The same spell may not be cast more than once in a game

Some additional house rules for simplicity:

  • Search effects are banned. This includes cards like Entomb and also cards where only part of the effect involves searching e.g. Sever the Bloodline
  • Cards in hand/library have no name, only their printed (sub)types and costs so no exiling an Elvish Spirit Guide or cycling Street Wraith
  • We'll be playing a Legacy game of Mental Magic, meaning that the Legacy banned list and rules should be observed.

Puzzle Setup

It's turn 1 and you're on the play. Let's assume that (magically) your opponent has no cards in hand. Win this turn with the rules given above and the hand and library below. Both boards and graveyards are empty. If your require interaction with your opponent's library (remember that searching is banned) you may assume the card type(s) required are there. Your solution must be a guaranteed win, not involving your opponent self-destructing (e.g. they choose 20 on a Choice of Damanations) or random chance (you Hymn to Tourach yourself and hit the right 2 cards). If multiple solutions are achieved, the one that does the most damage wins.

Your hand:
Cabal Ritual x 2 (1B)
Candelabra of Tawnos (1)
Doomsday (BBB)
Reanimate x 3 (B)

Your library: (top to bottom)
Reanimate (B)
Tarmogoyf (1G)
Council's Judgment (1WW)
Lightning Bolt (R)
Brainstorm (U)
Hymn to Tourach (BB)
Glimpse of Nature (G)

EDIT: There's been a lot of confusion surrounding the not-very-well-defined parameters I provided. In an attempt to clarify this, I've posted what I believe to be a more clear, more well-defined version here

  • $\begingroup$ "Let's assume that your opponent has no cards in library" "win this turn". Okay, I do nothing and he top-decks himself. ;) $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2015 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ @IanMacDonald nice try, that's why I specified win this turn ;p $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Nov 25, 2015 at 16:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @NeedAName then it's also easy. Just cast any "target player draws cards" spell on your opponent :P $\endgroup$
    – Ivo
    Nov 25, 2015 at 16:51
  • $\begingroup$ @IvoBeckers those are surprisingly thin on the ground in those mana costs... $\endgroup$
    – histocrat
    Nov 25, 2015 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ lol good point. Fine then. Edited the post to cover this error $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Nov 25, 2015 at 16:55

4 Answers 4


Think I figured out a line.

  1. Doomsday as land
  2. Play (reanimate) dark ritual
  3. Play (reanimate) blood pet
  4. Play (reanimate) culling the weak and sac blood pet (BBBBB)
  5. Play (candelabra) cromantic star and sac for G (floating BBBG) draw card
  6. Play (reanimate) song of the damned and name all 4 cards in your yard as critters go to BBBBBB G floating
  7. Play (cabal ritual) plunge into darkness and pay 19 life. Take the glimpse.
  8. Play (cabal ritual) shallow grave, pick (reanimate) death's shadow as the card
  9. Attack and play (glimpse of nature) berserk to deal 24 (edit math fail)

Easy game.

  • $\begingroup$ Went ahead and edited to add new lines (you have to put two spaces at the end of a line to make new line). $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Nov 25, 2015 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ That is... very good. You can get one more B by declaring Song of the Damned a creature as it resolves, but it doesn't really matter. I couldn't find any loops in these mana costs yet, so I suspect straight up damage will win and 38's not bad. Beats anything I was going to do with Pack Rats and Rites of Initiation. $\endgroup$
    – Zerris
    Nov 26, 2015 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ This beats my intended solution of 31 damage. @Zerris what you mentioned wouldn't work since Song wouldn't be in the gy until done resolving (therefore not counting itself). Actually, now that I reread it, how do you do 38 damage? Death's Shadow is a 12/12 if you're at 1 life so where does the other 14 damage come from? $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Nov 26, 2015 at 0:45
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, you're right, it resolves first then goes places. I really want a training grounds / pack rat solution here, but it's so hard to set up any mana cycles in mental magic, especially when everything costs the same... $\endgroup$
    – Zerris
    Nov 26, 2015 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ Hm. I don't think Song of the Damned or Culling the Weak works here. "Cards in hand/library have no name, only their printed (sub)types and costs" implies that the Reanimates will all still be sorcery type no matter what. $\endgroup$ Nov 26, 2015 at 14:38

Update: I finally did it, a solution all my own that deals infinite damage, without counting anything as having a card type not printed on it (even for targeting purposes). As OP stated in the comments of the question, Recover works, which is a triggered ability belonging to a card in a graveyard. Based on this, I will be using the triggered abilities of several cards in graveyards. Since I am not casting these cards, they do not become unusable.

Starting Hand: 1, B, B, B, 1B, 1B, BBB
1: Play Reanimate as land, tap it for (B)
2: Cast Dark Ritual (BBB)
3: Cast Cast Carnival of Souls (B)
4: Cast Myr Moonvessel, Carnival triggers (B)
5: Cast Culling the Weak, sacrificing Moonvessel (1BBBB)
6: Cast Cruel Bargain, drawing Reanimate, dredging Reanimate as Darkblast (milling Tarmogoyf, Council's Judgement and Lightning Bolt), drawing Brainstorm and Hymn to Tourach (1B)
7: Cast Blood Artist, Carnival triggers (B)
8: Cast Viscera Seer, Carnival triggers (B)
9: Cast Blood Pet, Carnival triggers, sacrifice it, Doomsday in the graveyard triggers as Bridge from Below, you get a token, Carnival triggers (BBB)
10: Cast Distress on the opponent just to get it into the graveyard (B)
11: Sacrifice a token, Hymn to Tourach in the graveyard triggers as Nether Traitor, pay to bring it back, Carnival triggers
12: Sacrifice Nether Shadow, Bridge triggers, Carnival triggers.
13: Return to step 11, repeat infinitely for infinite Blood Artist triggers and infinite mana.

Edit: Previous solution was wrong due to an illegal dredge, fixed now.

  • $\begingroup$ I figured out how to discard the hymn. It involves using Rain of Filth pre-Song, then using Macabre Waltz to pitch the damn thing. But it's 5 AM and I'm going to bed, will update solution in the morning. $\endgroup$ Nov 26, 2015 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ Technically this is only 35 dmg, since he dies before the other 35. Better to berserk after first strike damage $\endgroup$
    – DrunkWolf
    Nov 26, 2015 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ Currently on vacation, so no time to post big things, so thought i'd leave this idea with you, which would've been my answer, and can combo infinitely : Retribution of the ancients, Geralf's Messenger (or any other undying creature if you use blood artist), Carnival of souls (!!!!) and a sac outlet (viscera seer?) + a life gain engine (essence warden/blood artist) $\endgroup$
    – DrunkWolf
    Nov 26, 2015 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ @DrunkWolf Why is it only 35 damage? Berserk kills in the end step. $\endgroup$ Nov 26, 2015 at 14:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DrunkWolf doesn't matter how it's counted, now using Carrion Feeder. You have no idea how stupid and elaborate my six-card Rot Shambler solution was, before I realized I could just replace Viscera Seer and Rot Shambler with the Feeder. $\endgroup$ Nov 26, 2015 at 16:31

On a phone, so I'll fix formatting later.

1B - land

Tap for B

B - Dark Ritual

B - Blood Celebrant

Pay B, 1 Life: R

B - Culling the Weak

BBB - Cruel Bargain, draw 4, lose 10 life

R - Mana Clash

Opponent flips 20 tails before you flip 9, and you never both flip heads - you win!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Forgot to copy over the usual corollary regarding guaranteed wins. Thanks for catching that $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Nov 25, 2015 at 17:52

Play Candelabra of Tawnos facedown.
Tap [facedown] for B. (pool: B)
Play Reanimate as Dark Ritual. (pool: BBB)
Play Reanimate as Dark Ritual. (pool: BBBBB)
Play Doomsday as Geralf's Messenger. (pool: BB)
Play Reanimate as Retribution of the Ancients. (pool: B)
Play Cabal Ritual as Bloodthrone Vampire. (pool: -1)

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Puzzling.SE! Can you please flesh out your answer a little more to explain how your solution works? $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2015 at 17:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can't use dark ritual twice in mental magic. $\endgroup$
    – Zerris
    Nov 25, 2015 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ I've updated your answer to add links to it and spell out mana costs. I wasn't able to follow how you won, so I didn't attempt to expand on it. Also, you don't have enough mana to cast all the spells you listed (in addition to breaking the "no duplicates" rule). $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2015 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ He thinks he won because he forgot Retribution of the Ancients had an activation mana cost. It would work if there was a phyrexian altar. $\endgroup$
    – Waterseas
    Nov 25, 2015 at 20:34

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