Can You Win this Turn? 5 More Standard Puzzles

For the coverage of Grand Prix New Jersey, I was asked to prepare several gameplay puzzles that could be shown in between rounds. In case you missed the stream, I featured five of them last week, and today I’m back with the other five.

In all of today’s puzzles, you may assume that the opponent has no relevant permanents or cards other than the ones shown. In some puzzles, the question is, “how do you win the game this turn?” Other puzzles are a bit more silly and ask a slightly different question.

An Avacyn Puzzle

How Do You Win Before Your Opponent?

Avacyn Puzzle

You’re in your first main phase. How can you win before your opponent combos off with Hedron Archives and the like?


A Liliana Puzzle

How Much Life Do You Need to Gain?

Liliana Puzzle

You’re currently at 20 and just cast Felidar Guardian in your first main phase. Its 2 triggers target Filigree Familiar and the other Felidar Guardian, and you can repeat this as often as you like. How much life should you gain with your infinite life combo so that, even if there are only lands in both players’ decks, you can still beat Fumigate followed by the Liliana, the Last Hope emblem before you deck your opponent?


You should ensure that your life total is at least 140,737,488,355,235.

This might look like a silly puzzle, but it could be valuable to know, especially if you play Modern with the Viscera Seer/Melira, Sylvok Outcast/Kitchen Finks combo. If you assemble it, don’t settle for 10 million life, like one of Jasper Grimmer’s opponents did last year at Grand Prix Lille 2016. When Liliana, the Last Hope is in the format, just be safe and pick a googol (a 1 with 100 zeros).


A Paradox Puzzle

How Do You Win This Turn?

Paradox Puzzle

You’re in your first main phase. With your opponent at 20, how can you win the game this turn? There are only lands on top of your deck.


1. Tap all permanents for 8 mana.
2. Cast Paradox Engine.
3. Cast Cultivator’s Caravan, triggering Paradox Engine.
4a. Tap 2 Hedron Archive to activate the investigate ability of Magnifying Glass.
4b. Add 1 extra mana to your pool with Cultivator’s Caravan.
4c. Cast Metalwork Colossus, triggering Paradox Engine.
4d. Sacrifice Metalwork Colossus and the Clue token to bring the Metalwork Colossus from your graveyard back to your hand.
5. Repeat steps 4a-4d 8,000 times, generating 1 extra mana with every loop.
6. Cast Walking Ballista for X=20 and win the game.


A Release Puzzle

How Do You Win This Turn?

Release Puzzle

You’re in your first main phase. How can you use the cards in your hand to win this turn?

  1. Tap 7 mana and cast Release the Gremlins for X=3, targeting Walking Ballista, Thopter token, and Cultivator’s Caravan.
  2. Even if your opponent shoots their own Thopter to reduce the number of legal targets, Release the Gremlins will still provide 3 Gremlins.
  3. Tap 3 Gremlins to pilot Consulate Dreadnought and attack for 7.

An Unlicensed Puzzle

How Do You Survive?

Unlicensed Puzzle

Your opponent just attacked you with a bunch of creatures, including 2 Scrapheap Scroungers. For some reason, you took the damage and didn’t cast any of your spells, falling down to 3 life. After combat, they cast their last card: Unlicensed Disintegration, targeting your Depala, Pilot Exemplar. If you can survive this turn, then you could still claw back thanks to your creaturelands. But how can you avoid dying to the opponent’s Unlicensed Disintegration?

  1. Remove the last counter from Walking Ballista to deal 1 damage to your opponent.
  2. Tap Depala, Pilot Exemplar to crew Heart of Kiran.
  3. Cast Unlicensed Disintegration on your own Heart of Kiran. When the game checks the “if you control an artifact” clause, Heart of Kiran has already been destroyed, so you don’t control an artifact and don’t take damage.
  4. Cast Unlicensed Disintegration on your own Depala, Pilot Exemplar.
  5. Your opponent’s Unlicensed Disintegration is countered due to the lack of legal targets, and you survive to play another turn!

Did you manage to find all the answers? (For the Liliana puzzle, it’s fine if you were off by a 100 trillion.)

Thanks for reading, and thanks for all the positive and valuable feedback that I received last week. I’ll surely do some puzzle content like this again, likely with slightly higher difficulty. In 2 weeks from now, after the Team Modern Grand Prix in San Antonio, you can expect several interesting Modern “Dead Man’s Hand” puzzles!

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