Solution to Convocation

by Chris Luhrs

Figure out the cards played in the Magic game. The flavor text indicates that cards from joke sets and Portal sets will not be used. Fill the names of the cards into the grid (the bold lines indicate turn breaks). The shaded letters spell out ALBUMAFTERLIVENOISE so the answer is THORNHILL.


The cards are as follows:

[1] Snow-covered Swamp x 16
[2] Badlands x 8
[3] Tainted Peak x 11
[4] Hand of Cruelty x 13
[5] Funeral Charm x 12
[6] Verdant Force x 12
[7] Great Furnace x 12
[8] Boros Guildmage x 14 98
[9] Darkwater Catacombs x 18
[10] Suntouched Myr x 13
[11] Predator's Strike x 15
[12] Karplusan Forest x 15
[13] War elemental x 12
[14] Exalted Angel x 12
[15] Tinder Farm x 10
[16] Mox Jet x 6 199
[17] Shrapnel Blast x 13
[18] Crushing Pain x 12
[19] Svyelunite Temple x 16
[20] Pendelhaven x 11
[21] Thermokarst x 11 262
[22] Disembowel x 10
[23] Faerie Conclave x 14
[24] Wheel of Fortune x 14
[25] Anger x 5
[26] Arrogant Wurm x 12
[27] Cabal Pit x 8
[28] Slay x 4
[29] Goblin Burrows x 13
[30] Werebear x 8 350
[31] Overgrown Tomb x 13
[32] Swirling Sandstorm x 17
[33] Chill Haunting x 13
[34] Strip Mine x 9
[35] Unyaro Bee Sting x14
[36] Force of Will x 11
[37] Mystic Snake x11
[38] Ancestral Recall x 15
[39] Vicious Hunger x 13
[40] Sandstone Needle x 15
[41] Mountain x 8
[42] Goblin Balloon Brigade 20
[43] Ben-ben Akki Hermit 16 525
[44] Swamp 5
[45] Vodalian Zombie 14
[46] Ben-ben Akki Hermit 16
[47] Vendetta 8
[48] Wall of Wood 10
[49] Animate Dead 11
[50] Tropical Island 14
[51] Living Wish 11
[52] Price of Progress 15
[53] Annex 5

The identities of all the cards can be figured out as follows.

[5] is Funeral Charm since it is the only one mana instant that can cause discard.
[6] is Verdant Force, famously called the best fatty every printed.
[10] is Suntouched Myr. Search gatherer for creatures that have +1/+1 in their description and cost three or have X in their casting cost. The other two creatures that fit the description either can't attack or can't block.
[13] is War Elemental since it needed damage to be dealt before it came into play.
[2] has been tapped for red and black mana, so it must be Badlands since it came into play untapped, didn't cause damage, and could produce colored mana when its controller had no other lands in play.
[17] is Shrapnel Blast. It is a two mana instant that did 5 damage to a player. Search for '5' and sort by casting cost will get you to a very small set, only one of which makes sense.
[7] is Great Furnace since it needs to be an artifact for shrapnel blast and produces red mana.
[11] is an instant that gives trample and some increase in power and toughness. The only options are Predator's Strike and Sylvan Might. But we know it is just short of saving a 6/6 War Elemental with three damage on it from [18]. [18] then does 5 or 6 damage and only costs two mana. Since it didn't require a sacrifice [18] is Crushing Pain and [11] is Predator's Strike.
[21] is Thermokarst since it is a land destruction spell that can make its caster gain 1 life.
[1] is a snow-covered land since it triggered Thermokarst's ability. It also was used to cast Hand of Cruelty or Hand of Honor (a two mana bushido creature with a protection ability), so it is Snow-covered Swamp or Snow-covered Plains.
[3] must be Tainted Peak since it could no longer produce red mana when a swamp or plains was destroyed. [1] is then Snow-covered Swamp and [4] is Hand of Cruelty.
[8] is a white creature because it can't block Hand of Cruelty, but neither of the lands used to cast it can produce white mana. It must then be Boros Guildmage.
[12] is Karplusan Forest since it can produce red (War Elemental) or green mana (Thermokarst) at the cost of a point of damage and also taps for colorless later.
[14] is Exalted Angel since it has double white in its morph cost and flies.
[22] is Disembowel or a red instant (many options) since the spell costs one mana and can kill a face down angel but not a face up one. You need to know how many cards are in Kai's graveyard to rule out Ghastly Demise.
[16] is Mox Ruby or Mox Jet since it is a 0 mana artifact that produces mana to cast [22].
[24] is Wheel of Fortune. Only two cards would let you draw 7 here and the other shuffles away the graveyard.
[26] is a creature that can be cast as an instant when discarded. It must then have madness. The only valid option at this casting cost is Arrogant Wurm.
[28] is Slay. It's an instant that costs three mana, destroys a creature and draws a card. Slay and Execute are the only options and the wurm is green.
[33] is either a card that involves threshold or the total number of cards in the graveyard. Gatherer graveyard and sorcery or instant. The only option that would do damage to multiple creatures is Swirling Sandstorm.
[32] is Chill Haunting. Kai is also doing something tricky with his graveyard on this turn. The only spell that would remove two cards from the graveyard from the game and target a creature is Chill Haunting.
[20] is Pendelhaven. It's the only land that can pump a creature with no activation cost that doesn't have some very obvious drawback.
[30] is Werebear. Kai had eight cards in his graveyard before casting Chill Haunting, has six while it is on the stack, and will have seven upon resolution. [30] must be a 1/1 when [20] targets it, but somehow get big enough to survive five points of damage. The only possibility is threshold (suggested by Kai's graveyard count). The only two mana creature that would be a 1/1 without threshold and have toughness four with is werebear.
[36] is Force of Will. The description is clear.
[38] is Ancestral Recall. It draws three cards for one mana.
[39] is Vicious Hunger, since it does 2 of something to a creature (the land must either do two damage or make the creature a 2/2) and gains two life for the player.
[34] is Wasteland or Strip Mine since it is a land sacrificed to destroy a land. It doesn't matter which since they both have nine letters, none of which are used.
[29] is Goblin Burrows. It has an ability with activation cost of 2 that pumps the power of a creature. This is the only option.
[16] must then be Mox Jet because it was used to cast Chill Haunting and Goblin Burrows produces colorless.
[22] is Disembowel since Mox Jet produces black.
[43] and [46] are Ben-Ben Akki Hermit. Jon is at three life when the comment is made that goblin burrows would be lethal. Thus [43] has power 1. It is also legendary, a goblin and costs 4. [46] must be the same creature because the legends rule triggers. If it were some creature that copies a creature in play (like clone) there would be a point where it had resolved but before the player chose which creature to copy, and it could co-exist with [43] briefly (though neither player would get priority in that time).
[42] is Goblin Balloon Brigade. It has an evasion ability that can be used before combat and is a goblin.
[23] is then Faerie Conclave since it comes into play tapped and can become a flying creature.
[47] is Vendetta. It is a one mana kill spell with a drawback that does damage or causes loss of life related to the toughness or power of a creature.
[49] is Animate Dead. It is a two mana enchantment on a creature in the graveyard without an upkeep cost.
[52] is Price of Progress. It is doing a huge amount of asymmetric damage, and only costs two mana, so it must be red. You can actually check through the list of red instants and sorceries costing two without spending too much time, since most of them can be ruled out without even reading much of the card.
[41] is Mountain. Price of Progress would have hit Kai for 8 and it's the only land that could be basic. It was also used to cast Goblin Balloon Brigade, determining color.
[35] is Unyaro Bee Sting. It is cast using two colorless mana a black or red and a green. Jon is at two life and the spell only targets him. There is no X spell or black or red spell four mana spell that will do exactly two at this cost.
[9] is Darkwater Catacombs and [27] is Cabal Pit. We know [27] is either the red or black threshold land from Odyssey since it helps to kill a creature and causes pain. [9] must be one of the cycle of lands that takes in one colorless mana and produces two mana of allied colors. One of those colors is blue since it was used to cast Ancestral Recall. The other must then be black since there is no such land for UR.
[15] is Tinder Farm. Jon had a white mana available to him when Exalted Angel was Disemboweled, and [15] is the only remaining candidate for that. It also sacrifices to produce red and another mana.
[45] is Vodalian Zombie. We know it must have power 2 if we keep track of Kai's life total, and it has protection from either red or green since [48] can't block it. It is cast using UB so gatherer only gives one option(look at the 10 or so 2 mana creatures with protection that cost U or B).
[48] is Wall of Wood or Tinder Wall (again, they have the same number of letters). It is a green one mana wall.
[40] is Sandstone Needle. It gets tapped for two mana twice and sacrificed, so it was one of a cycle of five lands. It, [19], and [31] are used to cast Ben-Ben Akki Hermit. [31] cannot produce red mana and Ben-Ben takes two. Thus, [40] is the red one of the cycle.
[25] is Anger. [25] has been in the graveyard all this time and done nothing. It must have an effect from the graveyard. Furthermore, we know a saproling token somehow was able to attack the turn it got into play. We can easily rule out [53] as giving haste and all the other non-land permanents are known.
[31] is Overgrown Tomb or Watery Grave. It must have the type swamp since Tainted Peak was able to produce red mana for Swirling Sandstorm when there were no other possible swamps in play.
On Jon's last turn he attacks with five creatures. We know four of them: two saprolings, Vodalian Zombie, and Verdant Force. The fifth creature cannot come from one of Jon's lands because that would require an activation cost. We can also rule out [53] which is enchanting one of Jon's lands. The only card we haven't identified left is [37]. It must be our last creature since we have no other options. Since it counters a spell also, it is Mystic Snake.
[51] is Living Wish since it returns Mystic Snake from removed from the game and cannot have the casting cost of Death Wish (it could cost three mana if [50] produced two mana but then double black could not be paid).
[19] is Svyelunite Temple. It is sacrificed to cast Mystic Snake along with [31] and [3]. [3] produces no mana of useful colors so it must sacrifice to produce at least one blue mana. If it only produces one blue mana the other mana is green. If it sacced for UG it would be irrigation ditch which taps for white normally. But then Jon would have been able to flip Exalted angel.
[31] is Overgrown Tomb. It needs to produce the green for Mystic Snake.
[53] is Annex. There are technically three other cards it could be at this point (ignoring the number of letters, which definitely makes it unique), but this is the only one that could possibly affect the game state. Jon needs to steal a mountain to give his creatures haste. You could figure out it was Annex without assuming it does something in a few different ways, but they're longer.
[50] is Tropical Island. It produces the green for Living Wish and must also produce a blue for Annex without any drawbacks.
[44] is Swamp. We know one of Jon's lands was basic for Price of Progress and this is all we have left. It produced black for Vendetta.

2006 MIT Mystery Hunt