You don’t often come across Magic: the Puzzling situations in real game play, but the scenario I presented a few days ago was just that. As a refresher, here’s the scenario:
You are in game one of a Dragons-Fate Reforged draft, and it’s the end of your opponent’s turn.
The first two scenarios in this column had no correct answer, but this one certainly does. You have the win, even if it’s a little tricky.
Tail Slash the Scion of Ugin end of turn. Untap, attack with both creatures, and Kindled Fury the Salt Road Quartermasters. After dealing 4 points of first strike damage, move two counters onto the Summit Prowler to deal the last 6. Yahtzee!
There’s certainly less debate about scenarios like this, so I imagine they will be in the minority, but sometimes real games do need you to figure out unintuitive lines and new interactions. One of the ways I feel like I improved my game when I first started to get really serious is to just think of these kinds of situations. By thinking of all the ridiculous scenarios and cool plays, I prepared myself to see them if they ever came up, and the real strength is that I did so while I wasn’t even playing Magic. Obviously we think about Magic all the time when doing other things, and I have spent a lot of time in my life just pondering all the strange card interactions I can come up with. It doesn’t replace practice, but thinking about Magic can’t hurt, and I honestly believe it has meaningfully contributed to my ability to see the sweet plays that you sometimes need to win the game.
Another thing about this particular scenario: what if the opponent was even 1 life higher?
At that point, going for the kill isn’t ideal. Lightning Bolting your opponent’s face when they are at 4 is rarely correct, and certainly isn’t here. My inclination is to still Tail Slash the Scion end of turn. You can wait to use Slash and just attack, but if the opponent doesn’t block then you should Slash anyway, and I’d rather spend the mana at the end of turn in case you draw something expensive.
Once it’s your turn, if you draw a blank, the safest attack is to hit with Summit Prowler and leave Quartermasters back. You can even move a counter to deal an extra 1, though that makes using Kindled Fury a little weaker since you have to cast it if your opponent passes after you block a 2/2 (which you clearly should do if you leave Quartermasters back).
You can also attack with both and just knock your opponent to 4, which is what I’m leaning toward. Even an Atarka Efreet won’t kill you, so the opponent will need multiple cards to deal an extra 6 damage, and having a 4/3 and a 3/3 with Kindled Fury in hand seems pretty good against an opponent at 4.
I’ll be back in a few days with another play, and remember that you can email me interesting scenarios from any format at LSV@channelfireball.com.