Am I The Bolas? - Child's Play

Mike Carrozza • June 8, 2022

Child of the Pack | Illustrated by Mila Pesic

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, and my Background after reading this post would be Tavern Brawler.

This week, a friend of the column sent me a Reddit thread that I think is pretty clearly within the scope of this series.


I'm unsure if this is allowed, but I have a rant incoming.

While playing EDH tonight in this pod, two of the players were bragging about correcting this kid's "infinite combo" despite it being a completely legal move. They made mention of bringing him to tears and laughing at him for it. Further, [they] made the comment to the kid that they would[,] "[K]ick his mother to death if he handled their cards like that again[.]"

I'm all for correcting me if I've made a wrong play. I'd rather learn so that I may play it better in the future. I'm all for setting boundaries on how to handle my cards. Especially when they cost a fair amount of money.

What I'm not for is acting like a spineless bully to children. Magic should be a game for everyone where everyone feels welcomed. These kind of people have no place in the community if or when this behavior continues. Bullying has no place in this community. Baseless threats against a child's family have no place in this community either.

Let's aim to be better than these groveling cesspools so that MTG can be an inclusive game rather than the latter.

EDIT #1: I agree with many of you that ["]child["] could be dropped from this story and still stand. Bullying shouldn't be tolerated regardless of the context.

EDIT #2: For those who are understandably concerned, I did have words to say (although they were more civilized than I'd prefer seeing as I was acting like an adult), and the LGS management was notified. Management knew who they are and reassured me that they would take care of it. What that means, I don't know, but it is out of my hands at the moment.


Thanks for sending that in, Shoryo. To summarize, are they the Bolas for making a child cry? This feels like a dumb question.

This is going to be a very simple one. The guys threatening a kid (or anybody for that matter) are the Bolas. Over a combo that turned out to be fine and handling cards. Believe it or not, this isn't the first post or story I've received about players threatening one another or poorly treating kids or all-in-all hostile behavior.

Usually this series dives into both sides of a situation and tries to see things from all perspectives. Like, yeah, sure, it definitely isn't fun when people handle your expensive cards in a way that you don't want them to be touched. I've even covered that here and outlined that there is a way to handle that discussion (long story short: ask for permission).

But threatening to "kick [a kid's] mother to death" is a hard no. I'm not even saying telling someone they're an idiot is out; I've gotten a few emails where the writer is just being sexist and needs to hear it and those aren't discussions that go without a touch of aggro. If someone starts being a transphobe in your vicinity, I think it's fine encouraged to step up and strongly tell them to stop. But that's not over a game of cardboard playing cards. That's not threatening physical violence on a person's loved ones for picking up a fancy land.

All of that said, please don't send me any more stories about players threatening each other over the game. I fully encourage people standing up for themselves. I fully support people standing up for one another when someone is hurt, physically and emotionally. Playing Magic is a safe space. If someone is being a [Mike, we've talked about that word, you've got to stop using that word] then it's on people around to step up. Tell the game store management, speak directly to the person being a [Mike, stop it] and tell them to check their tone and what they're doing, or invite the person being hurt away from that situation. Standing up for each other is what we've got. I was happy to see in the second edit of the reddit post that management was informed and that the offenders are being handled.

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