Solving the Puzzle: Crazy Theories


A few weeks ago, on…

When we last left Our Hero, he was wielding the mighty Ad Nauseam Tendrils combo deck and facing down both a Meddling Mage (naming Ad Nauseam) on the battlefield and a Kira, Great Glass Spinner on the stack. Looking at the top three with his Sensei’s Divining Top, can he make it out alive!?

A few weeks ago, Alex Hayne posted an article featuring a pretty cool puzzle. As I was the first to solve the puzzle in the comments, and Our Leader KYT has been trying to get me to write for him forever anyway, I gave him a snap-yes when he asked me to write up the answer in article-form (with Alex’s blessing, of course).

Once again, here’s the game state:

board state
(Click to enlarge)

(You know the opponent’s hand from a previous Thoughtseize.)


You realize you can win on your next turn; this is how you do it.

  1. Order your cards so that Polluted Delta is on the bottom.
  2. Draw a card with Top.
  3. Allow Kira to resolve and calmly wait for the opponent to end his turn.
  4. Untap, and win.

Yes, that’s right. You’re going to let Kira resolve. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually need to cast Ad Nauseam to win with a deck called Ad Nauseam Tendrils (But you do need to cast Tendrils). This is something that can’t be stressed enough to those unfamiliar with the deck. One might say it can be explained ad nauseam.

It’s your turn:

  1. Cast Top. (Storm Count 1)
  2. Spin your Top to draw Lotus Petal.
  3. Cast Slaughter Pact targeting either creature (Storm Count 2). It’s countered by Kira’s triggered ability.
  4. Cast Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond. (Storm Count 5)
  5. (A) Sacrifice both Lotus Petals, and cast Infernal Tutor. (B) Without passing priority, cast Cabal Ritual. (C) Without passing priority, sacrifice Lion’s Eye Diamond (Storm Count 7).
  6. You get BBBBB from Cabal Ritual and BBB from Lion’s Eye Diamond.
  7. Search your library for Infernal Tutor with Infernal Tutor.
  8. Cast your second Infernal Tutor, getting another Tutor (BBBBBB) (Storm Count 8 ).
  9. Cast your third Tutor, getting a Tendrils of Agony (BBBB) (Storm Count 9).
  10. Cast Tendrils of Agony, put nine additional Tendrils onto the stack.

Now, this solution actually has multiple solutions, but the one I’ve just outlined is the optimal one. Allow me to explain…

While piloting ANT, you’re looking to set up one of three series of plays:

  1. Cast a series of spells into an Ill-Gotten Gains, cast three of those spells again, and then cast a Tendrils of Agony.
  2. Cast a series of spells into an Ad Nauseam (preferably with a high life total and mana floating) followed by more spells and a Tendrils of Agony.
  3. Cast a series of tutor spells into a Tendrils of Agony.

Casting Ill-Gotten Gains is generally reserved for non-blue decks that can’t take back counterspells with IGG if you’ve previously made them discard (Think Goblins, Junk, Dredge, etc.). Casting Ad Nauseam is often your fastest kill, but isn’t a sure thing, as you can sometimes die to unlucky flips or be forced to go off with little to no mana floating at a low life total. Casting a series of tutors into a Tendrils of Agony is one of the most common ways you actually win, and is sometimes combined with one of our two previous options.

With that in mind, try looking to kill with IGG or a tutor chain before attempting to Ad Nauseam, if you have the time, as those are sure things. A lot of the responses to Alex’s article pointed out this kill:

  1. Activate SDT’s rearrange ability, and then the draw ability without passing priority.
  2. Draw Slaughter Pact, and rearrange so that Lotus Petal is on top.
  3. Cast Slaughter Pact targeting Meddling Mage (Kira is still on the stack).
  4. Pay for your Slaughter Pact during your upkeep (if you happen to be playing against Kenji Tsumra, he’ll remind you).
  5. Play your Underground Sea and two Lotus Petals.
  6. Use the Sea and one Petal to cast Cabal Ritual (BBB).
  7. Cast LED.
  8. Cast Infernal Tutor (B), crack LED with it on the stack (BBBB).
  9. Get Ad Nauseam with with Infernal Tutor, and use the remaining Lotus Petal to cast it.
  10. Cross your fingers (okay, I added this step…)!

This is one possible solution, but not the optimal one. You only have two Lotus Petals left in your deck, and you’ve already played your land for the turn. There’s a reasonably large chance that you just die to your own Ad Nauseam while trying to go off.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to KYT for kicking my ass enough times about getting me to write that I actually did.