Magic: The Puzzling, Duels Style

Posted in Feature on July 2, 2009

By Wizards of the Coast

So you haven't played Duels of the Planeswalkers? And you've got some excuse like "I don't have an Xbox," which is fine, but that means you're missing out on some fun.

Well, we have good news! It occurred to us that the puzzles, while naturally more fun in a full Magic-playing environment, work pretty well on their own. So, thanks to puzzlemeisters Mark L. Gottlieb and Jay Schneider, here are the puzzles for your enjoyment. Keep in mind that they get harder as you go along. Good luck!

Challenge #1 – Garruk vs. Elspeth

Wings of Light Challenge

You're playing Garruk, and you're getting beat down by his Craw Wurms. You've got the situation under control, though, because you can win the game this turn. It's your turn, and you've already drawn your card. How can you win the game?

Puzzle Setup

Your hand:
Glorious Anthem
Mass Calcify
2 Angelic Blessing

Your life: 4

Permanents you control:
7 Plains (untapped)
Skyhunter Skirmisher (untapped)
Soul Warden (untapped)
Youthful Knight (untapped)

Your Graveyard:
Holy Day
Goldenglow Moth

Garruk's hand:
(no cards)

Garruk's life: 14

Permanents Garruk controls:
6 Forests (all tapped)
Wall of Wood (untapped)
Spined Wurm (untapped)
4 Craw Wurms (tapped)

Garruk's Graveyard:
Rampant Growth
Grizzly Bears

Hint #1:

Double Strike
Attacking and blocking creatures that have first strike and double strike deal combat damage before other creatures. Then, all creatures except those with first strike deal combat damage.

Creatures that have double strike deal combat damage twice each combat.

It's possible for a creature to be destroyed before it can deal its combat damage.


Hint #2:

Double Strike also doubles the effect of creature enhancements.


  1. Tap six Plains for mana. Play Angelic Blessing targeting Skyhunter Skirmisher. Play another Angelic Blessing targeting Skyhunter Skirmisher.
  2. Attack with Skyhunter Skirmisher. It's 7/7 and has flying and double strike. It deals 14 damage to your opponent.


Challenge #2 – Elspeth vs. Chandra

Hands of Flame Challenge

You've been playing a fevered game against Elspeth, and it's all come down to this. Although you've knocked Elspeth down to just 1 life, you're in grave danger of losing next turn thanks to the Serra Angel that's been taking big chunks out of your life total and the Voice of All with protection from red that just joined it. It's your turn, and you've already drawn your card. How can you win the game?

Puzzle Setup

Your hand:
Raging Goblin

Your life: 2

Permanents you control:
5 Mountains (untapped)
Earth Elemental (untapped)

Your Graveyard:
1 Lava Axe
1 Goblin Piker
1 Raging Goblin

Elspeth's hand:
(no cards)

Elspeth's life: 1

Elspeth's Graveyard:
Venerable Monk
Suntail Hawk

Permanents Elspeth controls:
5 Plains (all tapped)
Serra Angel
Soul Warden
Voice of All (the chosen color is red) enchanted with Holy Strength

Hint #1:

Sometimes a creature's abilities are more important than their power and toughness.

Hint #2:

A creature under your control, even temporarily, uses his abilities to benefit you – not his owner.


  1. Tap three Mountains and play Threaten targeting Soul Warden. You gain control of the Soul Warden, and it gains haste.
  2. Tap one Mountain and play Raging Goblin. Since you now control Soul Warden, you gain 1 life. (It's not important that you gain the life – but it's very important that Elspeth doesn't!)
  3. Attack with Raging Goblin, Soul Warden, and Earth Elemental. Dr. Wombat can block only two of them, meaning that at least one will be unblocked and deal 1 damage to Elspeth. You win!


Challenge #3 - Garruk vs. Garruk

Teeth of the Predator Puzzle

Garruk is chewing into your life total with an unblockable Craw Wurm. It'll kill you next turn, so you have to win the game this turn. It's the beginning of your main phase, you've been stockpiling creature enhancing effects and it's now or never. Can you win on this turn?

Puzzle Setup

Your hand:
1 Roughshod Mentor
1 Blanchwood Armor
3 Giant Growths
1 Overrun
1 Might of Oaks
1 Duskdale Wurm

Your life: 5

Permanents you control:
5 Forest (untapped)
3 Grizzly Bears (untapped)
1 Elvish Piper (untapped)

Your Graveyard:
1 Spined Wurm
1 Rampant Growth

Garruk's hand:
(no cards)

Garruk's life: 8

Permanents Garruk controls:
7 Forest (tapped)
1 Craw Wurm (tapped) enchanted with Treetop Bracers
2 Civic Wayfinder (untapped)
1 Wall of Wood (untapped) enchanted with Blanchwood Armor
1 Wall of Wood (untapped)

Garruks Graveyard:
1 Rampant Growth
1 Giant Growth
1 Grizzly Bears

Hint #1:

If a creature with trample would deal enough combat damage to its blockers to destroy them, it deals the rest of its damage to the defending player.

Hint #2:

Put all your power behind the point of least resistance.


  1. Tap 1 Forest for mana and play Elvish Piper's ability to put Roughshod Mentor into play.
  2. Attack with all 3 Grizzly Bears.
  3. The creature that is blocked by anything except the enchanted Wall of Wood (ie civic wayfinders) is Giant Growthed 3 times and deals lethal damage


Challenge #4 - Chandra vs. Liliana

Eyes of Shadow Puzzle

Your game against Chandra hasn't been going well. She's still at 19 life, and you're just at 1. Your opponent has a bunch of cards in her hand, and is playing a red deck – one burn spell and you're toast. It's your turn, and you've already drawn your card. How can you win the game?

Puzzle Setup

Your hand:
Final Revels
Mind Rot
Ravenous Rats

Your life: 1

Permanents you control:
5 Swamps (untapped)
Abyssal Specter (untapped)
Crowd of Cinders (untapped)
2 Drudge Skeletons (untapped)
Phage the Untouchable (untapped)
Megrim (untapped)

Your Graveyard:
Severed Legion

Chandra's hand:
(5 cards)

Chandra's life: 17

Permanents Chandra controls:
6 Mountains (all tapped)
Earth Elemental (untapped)
Lightning Elemental (untapped)

Chandra's Graveyard:
Goblin Piker
Lightning Elemental
Lava Axe
Lava Axe

Hint #1:

Punish their hand!

Hint #2:

Discard and combat damage go hand-in-hand.


  1. Tap 3 Swamps for mana and play Megrim.
  2. Tap 2 Swamps for mana and play Ravenous Rats.
  3. Your opponent discards a card.
  4. Each Megrim triggers and deals 2 damage to your opponent. She's at 15.
  5. Attack with Abyssal Specter, Crowd of Cinders, both Drudge Skeletons, and Phage the Untouchable.
  6. Your opponent can block only two of them. She can't block Abyssal Specter (flying) and Crowd of Cinders. She must block one Drudge Skeletons and Phage the Untouchable.
  7. Your opponent is dealt 2 damage from Abyssal Specter, 8 damage from Crowd of Cinders, and 1 damage from Drudge Skeletons. She's at 4.
  8. Abyssal Specter's ability causes your opponent to discard a card.
  9. Each Megrim triggers and deals 2 damage to your opponent. She's at 0.


Challenge #5 - Liliana vs. Nissa

Ears of the Elves Puzzle

Liliana is toying with you. She's assembled an impressive collection of gigantic black creatures, but she's been content to sit back and let Hollowborn Barghest whittle away your life total. You've got one turn left—and even if you get rid of the Barghest, Liliana can finish you off with a single attack. It's your turn, and you've already drawn your card. It looks like you have no choice but to win the game this turn! The only question is . . . how?

Puzzle Setup

Your hand:
Elvish Champion
Elvish Eulogist
Elvish Warrior
Eyeblight's Ending
Imperious Perfect

Your life: 2

Permanents you control:
3 Forests (untapped)
3 Swamps (untapped)
Drove of Elves (untapped)
Elven Riders (untapped)
Immaculate Magistrate (untapped)
Lys Alana Huntmaster (untapped)
Moonglove Winnower (untapped)

Your Graveyard:
Gaea's Herald
Giant Growth
Elvish Visionary

Liliana's hand:
(no cards)

Liliana's life: 13

Permanents Liliana controls:
7 Swamps (all tapped)
Crowd of Cinders (untapped)
Dread (untapped)
Hollowborn Barghest (untapped)
Nightmare (untapped)
Phage the Untouchable (untapped)

Lilana's Graveyard:
Unholy Strength
Raise Dead
Ravenous Rats

Hint #1:

Maximize your elves!

Hint #2:

Immaculate Magistrate can make one of your creatures huge. Make sure it's the correct creature and make sure that creature can get the job done.


  1. Tap 3 Swamps for mana. Play Eyeblight's Ending targeting Nightmare. Lys Alana Huntmaster's ability triggers and you get an Elf token. Nightmare is destroyed.
  2. Tap a Forest for mana. Play Elvish Eulogist. Lys Alana Huntmaster's ability triggers and you get an Elf token.
  3. Tap two Forests for mana. Play Elvish Warrior. Lys Alana Huntmaster's ability triggers and you get an Elf token.
  4. Tap Immaculate Magistrate to use its ability targeting Elven Riders. You control 10 Elves, so Elven Riders gets ten +1/+1 counters.
  5. Attack with your 13/13 Elven Riders. Your opponent can't block it. She takes 13 damage. You win!


Challenge #6 – Chandra vs. Jace

Thoughts of the Wind Puzzle

You're playing Chandra, and you're down to just 1 life. It's a dangerous position to be in, but you realize with delight that you can put Chandra away before she gets another untap step. It's your turn, and you've already drawn your card. How can you win the game this turn?

Puzzle Setup

Your hand:
Put Away

Your life: 1

Permanents you control:
7 Islands (untapped)
2 Cloud Sprites (untapped)
Phantom Warrior (untapped)
1 Persuasion enchanting a Prodigal Pyromancer (untapped)
2 Wall of Spears(untapped)
1 Memory Erosion

Your Deck
15 Islands
Your Graveyard:
2 Unsummon
1 Air Elemental

Chandra's hand:
3 Shocks

Chandra's life: 5

Chandra's Deck:
30 Mountains

Chandra's Graveyard:
6 Mountains
2 Incinerate
2 Goblin Piker
1 Goblin Sky Raider

Permanents Chandra controls:
7 Mountains (all tapped)
Earth Elemental (untapped)
Flamewave Invoker (untapped)
Goblin King (untapped)
Lightning Elemental (untapped)
Raging Goblin (untapped)
Shivan Dragon (untapped)
Shivan Hellkite (untapped)
Rage Reflection (untapped)

Hint #1:

Read all of Chandra's permanents. Carefully!

Hint #2:

Use Chandra's creatures against her.


  1. Tap the Prodigal Pyromancer to deal one damage to Chandra.
  2. Tap two Islands for mana. Play Boomerang targeting Persuasion.
  3. Tap five Islands for mana. Play Persuasion targeting Chandra's Raging Goblin.
  4. Your opponent can't block the Phantom Warrior (unblockable) or the Raging Goblin (Mountainwalking). Attack with both for 4 damage (Raging Goblin has Haste by default and gets +1/+1 from the opponent's Goblin King. Your creatures will deal 4 damage, and you'll win the game!


Challenge #7 – Nissa vs. Sarkhan Vol

Scales of Fury Puzzle

Nissa has a small army of gigantic, forestwalking Elves. Even worse, she's been gaining life each time Rhys the Exiled attacked. She's at 26 life, you're at 1, and the situation looks bleak. It's your turn, and you've already drawn your card. How can you win the game?

Puzzle Setup

Your hand:
Broodmate Dragon
Sprouting Thrinax

Your life: 1

Permanents you control:
2 Swamps (untapped)
2 Mountains (untapped)
2 Forests (untapped)
2 Goblin Deathraiders (untapped)
3 Saproling tokens (untapped)
Sprouting Thrinax (untapped)
Flameblast Dragon (untapped)

Your Graveyard:
1 Incinerate
1 Civic Wayfinder
1 Rampant Growth

Nissa's hand:
(no cards)

Nissa's life: 26

Permanents Nissa controls:
5 Forests (all tapped)
1 Swamp (tapped)
Rhys the Exiled (tapped)
Elven Riders (tapped)
Elvish Champion (untapped)
Moonglove Winnower (untapped)
Coat of Arms (untapped)

Nissa's Graveyard:
Farhaven Elf
Elvish Visionary
Elvish Warrior

Hint #1:

Make your guys bigger.

Hint #2:

Creature – Saproling


  1. Tap a Swamp and one other land, and play Terror targeting Elvish Champion.
  2. Attack with all your creatures.
  3. Flameblast Dragon's ability triggers. Target your own Sprouting Thrinax. Tap your remaining four lands to have Flameblast Dragon deal 3 damage to it.
  4. Sprouting Thrinax goes to the graveyard. Its ability triggers, and you put three Saproling tokens into play. Thanks to your opponent's Coat of Arms, your Saprolings that are already attacking get bigger.
  5. Your opponent blocks your biggest creature (a Saproling token) with Moonglove Winnower. All your other creatures get through and deal damage: the 2 Goblin Deathraiders each deal 5, the 2 unblocked Saprolings each deal 6, and Flameblast Dragon deals 5, for a total of 27 damage!


Claws of Vengeance Puzzle

The fight with Liliana has been long and hard and she's pulled out all her unlocks. Next turn, the Corrupts she's taunted you with from her hand will defeat you. Do you have what it takes to deal 9 damage and defeat her on this turn?

Puzzle Setup

Your hand:
2 Incinerate
1 Sangrite Surge
1 Pariah
1 Wooly Thoctar
1 Rip-Clan Crasher

Your life: 1

Permanents you control:
9 Forest (untapped)
5 Mountain (untapped)
4 Plains (untapped)
1 Brion Stoutarm (untapped)
1 Mistmeadow Skulk (untapped)
1 Knight of the Skyward Eye (untapped)

Your Graveyard:
3 Rampant Growth
Farhaven Elf
1 Tundra Wolves

Liliana's hand:
1 Platinum Angel
2 Corrupt

Liliana's life: 9

Permanents Liliana controls:
19 Swamp (tapped)
1 Sengir Vampire (tapped)
1 Platinum Angel (tapped)
1 Dread (tapped)
1 Royal Assassin (untapped)
1 Ravenous Rats (untapped)
2 Megrim (untapped)
2 Underworld Dreams (untapped)

Liliana's Graveyard:
Raise Dead
Drudge Skeletons
Dusk Imp

Hint #1:

You can Fling a creature at either player.

Hint #2:

Dread's destruction ability triggers the response timer.


  1. Tap 1 Forest and 1 Mountain for mana and Incinerate the Royal Assassin
  2. Tap 1 Forest and 1 Mountain for mana and Incinerate the Ravenous Rats
  3. Tap 2 Forests and 1 Plains for mana and cast Pariah on the Platinum Angel
  4. Tap 1 Forest and 3 Plains for mana and activate the Kings of the Skyward Eye's ability
  5. Tap 4 Forests and 2 Mountains for mana and cast Sangrite Surge on Knight of the Skyward Eye
  6. Attack with Mistmeadow Skulk and Knight of the Skyward Eye
  7. 8 points of first strike damage is dealt by Knight of the Skyward Eye to Liliana, triggering Dread's ability
  8. Tap 1 Mountain for mana and activate Brion's ability sacrificing Knight of the Skyward Eye targeting yourself
  9. Pariah redirects the damage from Brion's ability from yourself to Platinum Angel (killing it).
  10. Mistmeadow Skulk deals 1 points of damage to Liliana defeating her


Core Set Survivor!

There are exactly sixteen cards that have been in every core set from Alpha to Tenth Edition. When Magic 2010 comes out, only eight cards will have been in every core set. Over the weeks before the Magic 2010 prerelease, we'll be counting them down in this special Arcana sub-feature, giving you an "IN" or "OUT" on one card a day. Step forward, Bog Wraith.

Reveal Bog Wraith's fate!

Air Elemental
Bog Wraith
Drudge Skeletons—IN
Giant Growth—IN
Giant Spider
Goblin King—OUT
Grizzly Bears—OUT
Howling Mine—IN
Orcish Artillery—OUT
Rod of Ruin
Samite Healer
Scathe Zombies
Wrath of God

Bog Wraith

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