Need you hint: to read both
Or, should I say, puzzles.
That's right, there are multiple sub-puzzles to the puzzle! It would be really, really mean not to tell you all of them. So since Jay and I ARE really, really mean, we're only telling you what three of the four puzzles are. The fourth puzzle is only partially known – we'll tell you the goal, but not the puzzle used to get there. That much you must figure out on your own. (We guess that's a fifth puzzle, if you want to be picky.)
You may want to read these carefully.
The layers are presented in number order; but there's no guarantee you'll do them in this exact order. In fact, you'll have to do at least one before you can crack the first layer.
First Layer: Locating the Hint Halves. Half of the hint you're trying to answer is in Jay's column. Half is in mine. That's all we're giving you. Finding the hint halves requires understanding what the puzzle is.
Estimated Time: Depends on how intuitive you are. If it's taking more than 5-10 minutes, start the rest of the puzzle and come back to this.
Can I skip this? Technically, you can solve the overall puzzle without learning the hint; but it won't make much sense.
Second layer: Decoding the Cryptogram. Parts of Jay's article – and most of mine – are clues. The clues are in cryptograms – each letter is represented by a false letter. To prevent insanity, once you crack one clue's cryptogram, you've cracked 'em all. (So if Q=A for one place in an article, then Q=A everywhere in both articles.)
Estimated Time: Cracking the code shouldn't be hard – maybe 15-20 minutes for people familiar with cryptograms to get the most important letters – but it'll take another 15-20 to apply the solution to all the clues. Hey, we're off for a couple of weeks – you've got the time!
Can I skip this? After each encrypted clue, you'll see a place to click. If you do, the entire clue will show up decoded. Don't use this unless you've given up, or have gotten bored! The cryptogram really isn't that hard – just involved.
Third layer: Using the Article Clues to Solve for the Hint. The answers to the clues will be very specific – usually, but not always, a Magic: the Gathering card name.
Estimated time: It should take you anywhere from 2-10 minutes with each clue to figure out the answer. Deeper knowledge of cards will increase speed. Skip the ones that take longer, and come back to them.
Can I skip this? What, you want to skip the whole puzzle? No dice.
Fourth layer: Unjumbling the Answer. Once you have all ten answers, you take the first letter of each. Unscramble these letters for the answer.
Estimated time: Just a couple of minutes.
Can I skip this? No. If you can't unscramble ten letters into something coherent, I don't know how to help you out, dude.
There was almost a fifth layer – I tried to get both articles graphically scrambled into actual puzzle pieces, so readers who wanted to could print them out, cut out the pieces, and have a real puzzle! Turns out this is a logistical nightmare. (Who knew? Well, everyone except me. Jay thought I was nuts.) Content Manager Scott Johns did his best to advocate for my dream; but we will all have to content ourselves with the fantasy of a "puzzle puzzle", instead of the reality. (Hint: if you're really dedicated, you can still print both articles out, cut them into pieces, scramble them up, and reassemble them! Your call.)
My article today is short and spent entirely on the puzzle – Jay and I agreed my duty would be encrypting and setting up the puzzle, which takes at least as much time as it does for Jay to find decent reasons why Consuming Vortex might be better than Otherworldly Journey in his samurai deck. (Of course, I'm kidding. The rest of you really ought to know by know that Jay builds decks Jay-style. That's what makes them cool.)
Before giving way to jumbled, cryptic madness, I'd like to pass on a warning. Jay and I do not recommend going to the message boards until you have either solved the puzzle or given up. So do yourself a favor and resist the temptation to go there until you feel you must. (If the answer doesn't show up on the message boards over the next couple of weeks, one or both of us will provide the answer in a January article.)
In a moment, you'll be in cryptogram world. For the ease of those who print this out, here's a key where you can fill in the blanks as you discover what each letter is. Capitals are consistent: if x = a, then X = A. Numbers, punctuation, and symbols are uncoded: 2 = 2, dashes are dashes, and # = #.
As we get started, you may eventually find this random haiku useful:
Lw zdegkw sylbv
gcgktdwg bggrx jsglk mgxj jdtx
ywe zlqsj xrgyb wdwxgwxg.
In modern haiku
Everyone keeps their best toys
And might speak nonsense.
Uivg #1: Jslx myjjig-fgykt ukgyjvkg akdz jsg Myjjig Kdtyig xgj uyw udzg dvj dw jsg alkxj jvkw, mvj lx yixd vxgavi iyjgk lw jsg qyzg jd zybg drrdwgwjx' midublwq usdlugx elaaluvij.
Clue #1: This battle-weary creature from the Battle Royale set can come out on the first turn, but is also useful later in the game to make opponents' blocking choices difficult.
Uivg #2: Fsyj xlwqig uyke uyw egxjkdt jfd Eklii-Xblzzgkx; dk y udzmd da Sywwy'x Uvxjdet, Fslxrgkxlib Uidyb, ywe Ryiyelw gw-Cgu; dk yw lwalwljg wvzmgk da Wlzmig Zdwqddxg – mvj uyw'j egxjkdt jsgz yii yj dwug?
Clue #2: What single card can destroy two Drill-Skimmers; or a combo of Hanna's Custody, Whispersilk Cloak, and Paladin en-Vec; or an infinite number of Nimble Mongoose – but can't destroy them all at once?
Uivg #3: Ywjsdwt ilxjge fsyj ykjlayuj yx #22 yzdwq yii ykjlayujx lw slx zdxj kgugwj Zvijlriytgk Uyke Syii da Ayzg? Gpjky uivg: Lw zdxj clxldwx, syia jsg sgye lx rkgjjt xbgjust.
Clue #3: Anthony listed what artifact as #22 among all artifacts in his most recent Multiplayer Card Hall of Fame? Extra clue: In most visions, half the head is pretty sketchy.
Uivg #4: Fslus Vwslwqge udzzdw vxgx y uiyxxlu ukgyjvkg lw jsg ykjfdkb jd xsdfuyxg y cgkt qkggw zgusywlu?
Clue #4: Which Unhinged common uses a classic creature in the artwork to showcase a very green mechanic?
Uivg #5: Vkny elxudcgkge y ugkjylw "udwjlwvdvx" ykjlayuj lw y uycg. Fsyj xgj sdiex jslx zlqsjt xjdwg?
Clue #5: Urza discovered a certain "continuous" artifact in a cave. What set holds this mighty stone?
DB – I mean, OK, we're out of code now! You'll need to go to Jay's article today to locate the rest of the hint, solve the rest of the clues, and assemble your answer!
Anthony cannot give deck help. Nor will he provide puzzle help until January's article. If you're looking for the answer to the puzzle down here, you're completely off track.