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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Mar 11 2019 1:00pm
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On this occasion, the fifth of my T&P articles, we shall have five new puzzles centered on the number 5.

Try, if you dare!


The Jigsaw Killer

    (pic=Startled Awake)

Your ring tone jolts you awake at, let's say 5AM. "Who's calling?" you sharply demand, the adrenaline from your nightmares still surging through your veins.

"You know darn well who this is, [name of puzzle solver]. It's your old captain. We need your help, and we need it bad."

"Darn it, McCormick, I quit the force years ago. Let me enjoy my retirement in peace."

"You know who won't be enjoying their retirement in peace? These five Magic cards who were just murdered."

You are about to hang up until the weight of those words hits you. Somebody killed five innocent Magic cards. Oh god. Not again. Your body is engulfed in chills as sweat cascades through your sheets, mattress, and bedframe.

McCormick notices your silence. "Got your attention, have I? This sicko not only killed them, but arranged their parts into some horrifying concoction. You're the only one who can identify the pieces. I don't know the first thing about Magic."

"That's what you get for choosing Middle Earth back when we were still in the academy. I warned you then, and it's finally caught up with you."

"There's no time for bickering! Get your patootie down to the corner of 5th Street immediately—come in your pajamas if you have to."

"I will," you say, rushing through the door without changing.

* * *

(Writing fiction is pretty fun, I'm going to keep this going a little longer before I reveal the puzzle.) You arrive at the scene of the crime, each step punctuated by the slosh slosh of your fuzzy gorilla slippers through the puddles. "Captain," you say to your captain.

"Thank heavens you're here," McCormick blurts while hugging you firmly, almost yearningly. "Our scientists at the lab know this consists of one card from each color, and that all five are from the game's first five years, but beyond that, we can't make heads or tails of it. What do you figure?"

You hunch down to get a closer look, the elastic on your kigurumi squeezing your midriff. "I know who they are, alright. Their absence might not affect the metagame much, but the sad truth is we've lost—"


Solutions to all puzzles are at the bottom.


5-Letter Words

Each answer is a five-letter word. But wait, there's more. If you enter the letters going across this grid, two of the columns will combine to spell another Magic card.

1. These Alpha cards changed other cards' colors.                    
2. This old nickname refers to creatures who pump a tribe.          
3. If an elf can produce mana, it's usually this creature type.          
4. In Invasion, a creature of this type made its caster pay extra mana.          
5. This nickname refers to spells dealing direct damage.          

For a hint, the first letter of each answer can be revealed by highlighting below.

1. L  2. L  3. D  4. L  5. B


5 in the Middle

Each following string of five letters appears consecutively somewhere within a Magic card title from the game's first five years. For example, "VANDR" would be Shivan Dragon. How many can you deduce?

  1. GIRVA
  2. RRAAN
  3. RAYOG
  4. PUNGE
  5. TAISM
  6. SENCH
  7. ERELO
  8. OLKAN
  9. OLRIN
  10. RASPU


>5 or <5?

You do not have to guess the exact answer. All you have to do is pick from two options: more than 5 or less than 5. In these ten questions, both possible answers are used five times each. No answer is exactly 5, and no answer is 0.

    Fig. 1: A 5/5 for 5 with 5 abilities.
  1. After Alpha came out in 1995, how many years did it take to print a card whose exact rules text was "Destroy target creature" with no other words? >5 or <5?
  2. How many elementals were printed in Alpha? >5 or <5?
  3. How many Magic cards have ever been illustrated by the famous comic artist Geoff Darrow? >5 or <5? (You may know him from a number of Frank Miller collaborations and/or his concept art for The Matrix. Here's a sample to remind you of his style. What detail!)
  4. How many auras casting exactly W are strict upgrades to Lance? >5 or <5?
  5. How many red creatures were in Antiquities? >5 or <5?
  6. These days the only counters to modify p/t are +1/+1 and -1/-1. How many different types did Fallen Empires have? >5 or <5?
  7. How many cards have ever used the word sheep in their rules text? >5 or <5? (Flavor text does not count.)
  8. How many cards, outside of Un- sets, have ever used an exclamation point in the title? >5 or <5?
  9. How many cards use the words "Gain 10 life"? >5 or <5?
  10. How many cards feature the exact word "hell" in their flavor text? >5 or <5? (Do not count words like "hellkite" or "hello.")


How Many 5's?

In this entire article, counting everything except for the title, main page summary, card images, and below solutions section, estimate how many times you think the number 5 appears. Do include the word "five," but not the word "fifth." A number like "555" would count three times, unless it were written out as "five-hundred fifty-five," in which case only twice.

P.S. I would just like to say, "55555" counts as five fives.

P.P.S. Did you know a typical squirrel's lifespan is about five years?

  1. 25
  2. 46
  3. 67
  4. 88
  5. 109


— ♦ — Solutions — ♦ —

Jigsaw Killer

This puzzle has one solution but multiple endings.


Highlight here for the romantic ending.

Tears stream down McCormick's face after you announce the victims' identities. "McCormick, I didn't realize how much these old Magic cards meant to you."

"That's not why I'm crying," he says. "I'm crying because... well... [your name], because I just realized I'll never have your love."

You step forward and gently brush aside his long, silken hair. "You will indeed," you say as you lean forward and passionately smooch him.

Highlight here for the surprise ending.

Tears stream down McCormick's face after you announce the victims' identities. "McCormick, I didn't realize how much these old Magic cards meant to you."

"That's not why I'm crying," he says. "I'm crying because... I'm the killer, and you're my next victim."

You feel the sharp pain of his knife in your stomach before you have time to react. "I'm not even a Magic card," you say as you fall to the pavement.

"But you are," he says. "You were Rakalite this whole time."

"Noooooo," you howl with your dying breath.

Highlight here for the happy ending.

A big, toothy smile beams across McCormick's face after you annouce the victims' identities. "McCormick, aren't you upset about those old Magic cards dying?"

"Nope!" he says.


5-Letter Words

1. L A C E S
2. L O R D S
3. D R U I D
4. L E E C H
5. B O L T S


5 in the Middle

  1. GIRVA = Sengir Vampire
  2. RRAAN = Serra Angel
  3. RAYOG = (Gray Ogre)
  4. PUNGE = Expunge
  5. TAISM = Ertai's Meddling
  6. SENCH = Disenchant
  7. ERELO = Derelor (I had to have a couple of obscure ones....)
  8. OLKAN = Sol'Kanar the Swamp King
  9. OLRIN = Sol Ring
  10. RASPU= Rasputin Dreamweaver 


>5 or <5?

  1. More! Like, way way more. 2012's Murder was the first, a full 17 years after 1995. Alpha had "destroy target artifact" in Shatter and "destroy target land" in Stone Rain, but Magic's creature removal all came with extra clauses for a long time. (Since 2012, we've also had (Eviscerate) and (Impale).)
  2. Fewer! Before the game considered Rust to be an element, there were only 4, and across only two colors. (Force of Nature shows up in that search as a fifth, but it was not printed as one; the change was retroactive.)
  3. More! 10 of 'em.
  4. Fewer! 4, as of this article's printing.
  5. Fewer! Only 4.
  6. More! 6 different ones, for some reason: +0/+1, +1/+0, +1/+2, +2/+2, -1/-1, and -2/-2 are all in there, sometimes more than one of them on a single card. (Even more strangely, the whole set has no +1/+1 counters.)
  7. Fewer! 2, as of this article's printing.
  8. Fewer! 2, as of this article's printing. (Including Un- cards, another 8.)
  9. More! 10, as of this article's printing.
  10. More! 7, as of this article's printing.


How Many 5's?

67! I really stick to my themes.


Thanks for playing!