Andrea Forge

Puzzle: Living in Harmony

Your aggressive Boros deck has been stopped in its tracks by a giant Harmonious Archon providing big blocking power while also messing with your own board state. There’s a way out of it though, if you use the tools available to you in the right way. Can you figure out how to win this turn?

Possibility Storm

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Show solution (available Wednesday)

How Torban Works

Occasionally, these puzzles result in a good rules learning opportunity, and today is a great example, because there is an important distinction in how Torban's damage addition effect works.

This effect applies as a replacement effect after damage is already assigned. Usually that doesn't really matter, but with trample involved, it's relevant. Let's see how:
If the active player controls Torban and attacks with a 3/3 red trample creature, which is blocked by a 4/4 creature, the damage assigned during the damage step in combat would be 3 to the blocking creature, and zero to the defending player. Then, Torban's effect applies, and that instead becomes 5 damage to the blocking creature, and still zero damage to the defending player.

If that creature was instead blocked by a 2/2, the initial damage assignment would be 2 to the blocking creature, and 1 to the defending player. After Torban's effect applies, that becomes 4 to the blocking creature and 3 to the defending player.

So for the purposes of increasing damage to the defending player, you must ensure some amount of trample damage is going through in the first place, because the additional blocker damage added by Torban will not trample through on its own!

Keep that in mind as we get to our choice of creature to have Tajic mentor in the solution!

The Solution
1. Cast Torch Courier
2. Cast Arrester's Zeal on Tajic in your main phase, making him now a 6/7 flier.
3. Use Tajic's ability to give him first strike.
4. Attack with a 4/3 trample Torban, a 6/7 flying, first strike Tajic, and a 3/3 Torch Courier.
5. Use Tajic's Mentor trigger on Torch Courier making it now a 4/4.
6. Since Tajic would deal 6 + 2 = 8 damage to the opponent, they must block him, and therefore do so using Harmonious Archon as it is their only flier. The other creatures will block, but it doesn't matter how.
7. First strike damage applies, and Tajic deals lethal damage to Harmonious Archon, destroying it. 
8. Now the Archon's static effect is gone, and we are left with a 3/5 trample Torban and a 3/2 trample Torch Courier being blocked by two 1/1s in some arrangement. Because both Torban and Torch Courier have 3 power, they are each guaranteed to trample through.
9. Regular damage applies and Torban and Torch Courier deal 8 lethal damage to the opponent. (4 on their own, and 4 due to Torban's effect.)

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Thanks for playing and tune in again next week!

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