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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
Who am I?
I'm the guy who emcee'd Sorin and Olivia's wedding!
(Taking a gamble, writing this before we know what really happens in Innistrad: Crimson Vow!)
This week, something little different. A discussion with someone in the Commander community I admire quite a bit. Dana Roach of the EDHRECast (and some excellent editorials on this website).
I've been listening to EDHRECast from the start and it has come up a few times that Dana plays his ABUR dual lands when he's got them available, regardless of power level. Dana's been playing Magic: The Gathering for a long time and has these prized pieces of the game. They've gotten pricey and aren't ever being reprinted, making them scarce. How has this affected the expectations of opponents in games?
I asked Dana a few questions about his experience playing expensive, sought-after cards in janky decks.
Thanks for answering some questions this week, Dana. I appreciate it. Please check out Dana's Superior Numbers series on EDHREC, follow him on Twitter, check out his work here on Commander's Herald and of course listen to CMDR Central and EDHRECast.
I've gotta admit, I'm guilty of perking up when somebody slams a dual land into play. When my playgroup migrated to online play using untap.in one of my buds decided to take advantage of all digital decklists to use cards he "will never own". That included dual lands. I razz him for it, but it doesn't bother me. If someone I'm playing against breaks out a dual land in a deck, my instinct is either this person has A. been playing Magic a long time, or B. put a lot of money into their hobby.
This is also why I've always appreciated hearing Dana say that he explains that while the deck is a jank pile that can hang with mid-powered decks, it also has a dual land which might draw some attention, but don't let that make you misdirect threat assessment.
Dana's point aboutand how the philosophy applies to Reserved List cards or dual lands really resonated with me. I have so many copies of now because it was reprinted into the ground for a while and I cracked a bunch of packs. It used to cost five or six bucks (I'm Canadian) and I had Swords in my staple binder system so I could proxy it into my decks to avoid spending on a card that I already owned. For a while, you could get a copy for 50 cents. Now, as Dana said, it's back up to $3-4 range (USD mind you!) and that's also a barrier. It's something to consider. It feels nuts to have a box of cardboard sit around and for it to appreciate over time. Wild!
The game we love (Magic: The Gathering, have you forgotten?) is getting more and more popular. A friend of mine recently told me he got into Magic through Arena and really likes Kaldheim. He asked me about Commander. I told him about some cards that he can use to upgrade a precon and showed him the tools I use (our sister site EDHREC and Scryfall). He asked why some lands are expensive, "they must be game changing, they've gotta be powerful!" Then I had to explain how an ABUR dual land could be replaced by the right choice of basic in a two-color deck. "So, they're overkill?"
Maybe? If that's your bliss and you're happy, get after it. Enjoy that. And if someone does play a card you're impressed by, you can always high five and have a chat about it. Don't let flashiness cloud your threat assessment though. Your opponent plays a, hell yeah bud, that's great. Smooths out your game, good for you.
But If anybody snaps athough...
Thanks for reading through this more experimental version of the column. We'll get back to the regular format next week. Send in your stories to email@example.com!