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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Jan 28 2019 1:00pm
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These ain't your granddaddy's Magic puzzles. You not only have to consider the board, you have to consider every card that's ever been printed. That's because, with these puzzles, your deck contains four of every Vintage-legal Magic card. Your tutor can get anything!!! The solutions are therefore more about trivia than strategy.

Try your best! And using Scryfall's Advanced Search is not cheating—I used it myself when making these puzzles. 

1. The Case of the Large Robot

We'll start with an easy one as a warm-up. You tap your only three Islands for a Fabricate, leaving only a Mishra's Workshop untapped. What artifact can you fetch that wins you the game upon casting? The board is empty on both sides other than your Pandemonium, and your opponent is at 7 life. In case you skipped this article's preamble, your deck contains four of every Vintage-legal Magic card.

On the stack: Your battlefield: Opp's hand: Opp's battlefield:
Fabricate tapped Islands
Mishra's Workshop
irrelevant just some tapped lands


2. The Case of the Aspirant Dragon

Your opponent cackles with glee. "Not even your Scion of the Ur-Dragon can save you now!" And it certainly seems that way: this opponent is at 2,000 life, has 2,000 cards left in their library, and is even protected by an Ivory Mask and Privileged Position! Fortunately, you have a Demonic Tutor and, with three of each basic land in play, enough mana to cast almost anything you get. You'll even have mana left over to activate the Scion if needed.

You have way more options than the first puzzle—but with four of every Vintage-legal Magic card in your deck, you're sure one of them can guarantee victory this turn. What is it?

Your hand: Your battlefield: Opp's hand: Opp's battlefield:
Demonic Tutor
Vodalian War Machine
3 of each basic
Scion of the Ur-Dragon
irrelevant Ivory Mask
Privileged Position


3. The Case of the Buried Something

This time it is you who is cackling with glee. Your deck with four of every Vintage-legal card has been a little inconsistent, especially when it draws so many Kobolds, but you have found a way to win this game. You just started a Mindslaver turn, your opponent has a Puppeteer Clique in hand, and you have an Entomb. What can you Entomb for that would win the game this turn? (And before you start reaching for Wall of Blood, notice the Linvala, Keeper of Silence in play.)

Your hand: Your battlefield: Opp's hand: Opp's battlefield:
Adventurer's Guildhouse
Kobolds of Kher Keep
Kobold Drill Sergeant
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Puppeteer Clique 12 Swamp


4. The Case of the Small Birthing Pods

If those first three puzzles were too easy for you—good news!

Things are looking grim. Your opponent has 2,000 life and Platinum Angel in play. You may be at an impressive 200 life with 3 of each basic land, but your offense is a measly Elvish Farmer, and it doesn't even have any counters. Fortunately, there is something valuable on your side of the battlefield: four Birthing Pods. You mentally review the contents of your deck (four of every vintage-legal card) and activate the first Pod, confident you can win the game this turn. How do you do it? (This puzzle has more than one solution.)

Your hand: Your battlefield: Opp's hand: Opp's battlefield:
Apocalypse Chime 3 of each basic
4 Birthing Pod
Elvish Farmer
irrelevant Platinum Angel


5. The Case of the Big Birthing Pods

And things get even harder! This is exactly like the previous puzzle, except:

  • Instead of starting with a 2cmc creature, you start with a 5cmc creature (let's say, uh, Orgg).
  • In addition to the four Birthing Pods, you also have 3 Voltaic Keys, giving you seven total Pod activations.
  • You have more land to cover all of this. How does 5 of each basic sound?

Your hand: Your battlefield: Opp's hand: Opponent's battlefield:
Forethought Amulet 5 of each basic
4 Birthing Pod
3 Voltaic Key
Please save us, Orgg
Whatever Platinum Angel


6. The Case of the Extra-Hard Puzzle You Have to Be Super-Smart to Solve

You have Time of Need in hand, and when your deck has 4 of every vintage-legal card, that gives you a lot of options. But even that doesn't seem to be enough, since your opponent is at 40 life and assures you they can win next turn. Other than tapped lands, their board is empty—but how can you possibly deal 40 damage this turn with only one card and 35 mana? You are about to concede until Cotton Rhetoric assures you that there really is an out, if you think carefully.

Your hand: Your battlefield: Opp's hand: Opp's battlefield: 
Time of Need
35 G and R mana something idk





— ♦ — Hints & Solutions — ♦ —

Due to the nature of these puzzles, there are likely to be alternate solutions I did not think of! Please share them in the comments if you find any.


1. The Case of the Large Robot

All we need is an artifact creature costing 3 or less mana with 7 or more power. I had Phyrexian Soulgorger in mind when I made this puzzle, but of course Phyrexian Dreadnought works as well. (Consulate Dreadnought does not, as it's not a creature when it enters the battlefield and so will not trigger Pandemonium.)


2. The Case of the Aspirant Dragon

Hint #1: You can solve this puzzle without activating Scion of the Ur-Dragon. Highlight the black bar for another hint.

Hint #2: I couldn't think of a way to deal 2,000 damage or mill 2,000 cards. Maybe there's some other approach?

Hint #3: I said you don't have to ACTIVATE Scion. It does still matter toward the solution, though.

Hint #4: So do your lands....

Solution: Scion is a creature of all 5 colors. You have all 5 basic land types in play. Just grab a Coalition Victory and use that to win!


3. The Case of the Buried Something

Hint: You obviously want to get something that would harm your opponent when they put it on the battlefield. What's the biggest harm a creature can do? (Eviscerator's "lose 5 life" isn't going to cut it.)

Solution: Phage the Untouchable isn't just a years-old forum punchline, it's also the solution to this puzzle. Put it into your graveyard with Entomb, force your opponent to cast their Puppeteer Clique and put your Phage onto their battlefield, triggering its first ability and causing them to lose the game.


4. The Case of the Small Birthing Pods

Hint #1: The best solution I could think of does use all 4 Pods. Make a checklist of what you need to accomplish, then figure out what each Pod can fetch to check off that list.

Hint #2: The trickiest part of this puzzle might be that you can only have one creature in play at a time. Can you find creatures that work around that restriction?


First Pod: change the 2cmc Elvish Farmer into the 3cmc Reclamation Sage (or something similar) to kill the Platinum Angel.

Second Pod: change the 3cmc Reclamation Sage into the 4cmc Anger.

Third Pod: change the 4cmc Anger into the 5cmc Master of Cruelties.

> Note that this puts your Anger into the graveyard, giving Master haste. It attacks and reduces the opponent's life to 1.

Fourth Pod: change the 5cmc Master into any 6-mana creature that deals immediate damage, for instance Inferno Titan.


5. The Case of the Big Birthing Pods

Hint #1: At higher CMCs, there are fewer options, and they often have quirky packages. Parse what options you do have and I'm sure you can find cards that do what you need them to.

Hint #2: My solution uses all 7 Pods, and if you calculate what CMC that ends up at, this was a large hint indeed.


First Pod: change the 5cmc Orgg into the 6cmc Cyclops of Eternal Fury.

Second Pod: change the 6cmc Cyclops into the 7cmc Angel of Serenity, exiling the Cyclops that is now in your graveyard.

Third Pod: change the 7cmc Angel into the 8cmc Ashen Rider.

> This returns the Cyclops to your hand in addition to exiling the opposing Platinum Angel. Hardcast the Cyclops.

Fourth Pod: get basically any 9cmc creature.

Fifth Pod: get basically any 10cmc creature.

Sixth Pod: get basically any 11cmc creature.

Seventh Pod: get Blightsteel Colossus, attack with haste for the win.


6. The Case of the Extra-Hard Puzzle You Have to Be Super-Smart to Solve

Hint #1: Boy, this one is hard. It really is possible though, and without milling, poison counters, or an alternate win condition. You can deal 40 damage this turn off your one tutor.

Hint #2: 35 mana and 40 life sounds really precise. What could cost exactly that much and deal exactly that much?

Hint #3: Your deck has 4 of every card. Not one of each, four. This actually matters, and I don't mean Howling Wolf. (You couldn't get that anyway; it isn't legendary.)

Hint #4: Your only card is a tutor, but maybe there's something you can do in addition to tutoring?

Hint #5: Wasn't there some weird rules-bending card in Coldsnap?

Solution: Panglacial Wurm! Remember that one? For 7 mana each, you can cast them while searching your library for something else. Use 2 mana to cast the tutor, 28 more for all four Wurms, and the remaining 5 for a legendary creature capable of giving them all haste, like Urabrask the Hidden. His 4 power plus the wurms' 36 totals 40 damage.


Thanks, and hope you enjoyed!


Re: Eric FletcherGood catch! by CottonRhetoric at Fri, 02/01/2019 - 11:04
CottonRhetoric's picture

Re: Eric Fletcher
Good catch! I am definitely more familiar with quirky old cards than viable tournament strategies.

Also I just realized two other alternate solutions:
- In Puzzle #2, the Scion can become a Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, and the Demonic Tutor can get any number of pump spells.
- Puzzle #3 can be solved with Minion of the Wastes.