Am I The Bolas? - But YOU Told Me They're the Threat!

Mike Carrozza • August 3, 2022

Breena, the Demagogue Illustrated by Simon Dominic

Hello and welcome to Am I the Bolas?

This column is for all of you out there who have ever played some Magic and wondered if you were the bad guy. I'm here to take in your story with all of its nuances so I can bring some clarity to all those asking, "Am I the Bolas?" Whether it's because of a mean play or even just getting bored with your playgroup, I'm ready to hear you out and offer advice. All you have to do is email!

I'm Mark Carbonza! I'm the guy who thinks Dominaria United is going to be an all five-color set!

"Hi, Mark. It's Jodah. That's really stupid!" Thanks, Jodah!

This week, an email from a person who plays a lot of green and red.

(Email edited for clarity and brevity.)


Hello. So, I have a bit of an issue.

Over the weekend, I went to play Magic at my local game store. One group was missing one of their regular members, so they invited me to play. One of them is playing a Tuvasa the Sunlit enchantress deck, another is playing a "basically unmodified precon" Breena, the Demagogue deck, and I forget what the third player was playing. I decide to play my Mowu, Loyal Companion deck: a monogreen +1/+1 counters Voltron list that is sometimes explosive, but fragile. As the game gets going, the Breena player proves to be really good at politicking, and Breena gets very large very fast. I start to target him first because, being in mono green, I have very few ways to block flying creatures. He gets fairly annoyed because he was "basically playing a precon" but is mostly fine with it. Fast forward a couple of turns, I've taken enough Breena damage that the next hit will eliminate me.

However, I had a very large Mowu and a couple spells to double his power. The Tuvasa player had a Words of Wind on the field, which the other two players have notified me is a combo piece. Then he played a Control Magic on Breena. My turn is next, so I basically have to deal with the Tuvasa player or die to Breena. He was able to counter the first power-doubling spell (with a Force of Will pitching an Intuition, no less) but had nothing for the second, and I eliminated him. He became very upset and stormed off in a huff. His friends then informed me that since he wasn't "an immediate threat at the time", that was uncool of me, I really hurt his feelings, and it was unsportsmanlike. Then they leave in disgust.

Meanwhile, I'm still wondering what I did wrong. Am I the Bolas for eliminating a player who had lethal on me and was told has a combo piece on the field?


A person who plays a lot of green and/or red



Thank you so much for writing in. It means so much to me when people do and I encourage anybody else with stories to write in! But please forgive me on the delay - given continual preview season and the backlog I have for the column, these are being released later than they're worked on. Keep 'em coming, please!

And now to the story.

Maaaaaaaaan, let me start with Mr. "Basically a Precon", really quick.

Precons have gotten really good. One of the precons I recommend the most is one of the five that the Silverquill Statement (Breena's precon) was part of. I love recommending the Prismari Performance precon to folks looking to get into the game and who love the idea of Magic being about wizards with lightning, slinging fire spells, and guitar solos, baby!

The Breena precon is really good, too! It just is better suited for pilots who know the game a little better and don't mind playing the political game. I've played the precon, untouched, in a pod against decks that were more optimized and I took that W. Saying it's just a precon doesn't mean that they can't be the threat.

I'd like to highlight that I am very pleased that you included your reasoning for going after Breena's owner. Monogreen decks don't have much to deal with creatures. However, when green does get creature removal, it's usually creatures with Flying so I can't say I agree completely. Maybe your deck didn't have a Whiptongue Hydra or a Plummet - which is fair, Plummet is a narrow instant and isn't a great include in the 99. I will absolutely recommend Liquimetal Torque since Artifact removal is plentiful in your color. Pack those Beast Withins and Meteor Golems in the slots and thank me later. (It's green! You can hit seven, easily!)

Moving onto the Tuvasa player being salty about being taken out. Let me be very clear - if your opponent presents the possibility of taking you out in one more attack, it's totally fair to view them like the threat they are. Especially since the playgroup that regularly plays with this person told you that they have just played a combo piece for their combo-based win condition.

Moreover, the Breena player has proven himself to be pretty good at politicking, you have lots of Breena commander damage on you, not to mention that by choosing to Control Magic the Breena, it is very unlikely they'll be going for them because if they take out Breena's owner, they lose Breena and an enchantment.

That said, if you had killed the Breena player, Tuvasa's owner would no longer control Breena and the Aura would have dropped then anyway.

Regardless of the situation, you were threatened and knowing the Breena deck, there may have been some removal or damage prevention waiting for you, too. I think you were in a hard place for your game decision and I'd weigh both about equally, leaning toward the plan to kill the Breena player a little more.

I don't think this makes you the Bolas. You had to make the call on who to eliminate and you did. You made the decision, you fought to power through and you got the knock out.

The Tuvasa player's response to this is ridiculous. I get being salty. I have feelings, too! To storm off away from your friends after a game while blaming a player for making a game decision to stay alive in the game,  that's garbage conduct. We know politics were encouraged in this pod, did Tuvasa try that? Had they shown their ability to counter spells throughout the game, making them not only one of your threats, but your biggest one. I have more questions about this game, but I think all in all, the fact you were presented with a Catch-22 is BS.

When you're playing a game, unless lines were crossed like a deal was broken, names were called, insults were hurled, or offensive talk is had, I don't think it's fair to leave a game without a thanks for the game or a handshake/whatever equivalent you're comfortable with.

Not the Bolas.

Once again, thank you for writing in. If you have a story and you'd like me to weigh in, please email! People have even been sending me Reddit threads which has been fun to go over as well!


Mike oh no I mean Mark.

Mike Carrozza is a stand-up comedian from Montreal who’s done a lot of cool things like put out an album called Cherubic and worked with Tig Notaro, Kyle Kinane, and more people to brag about. He’s also been an avid EDH player who loves making silly stuff happen. @mikecarrozza on platforms