Am I The Bolas? - Competitive Takebacks

Mike Carrozza • December 29, 2021

Brought Back | Illustrated by Mitchell Malloy

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 at MagicFests who's always asking nonplaneswalker cosplayers how they even got to our plane!!!

"Yeah, yeah, killer job on the suit, bud, but HOW'D YOU EVEN GET HERE?!"

This week, a Facebook group post about cEDH raises a question. Two players from this game weighed in!

(posts, emails, and messages edited for brevity, clarity, and anonymity)


Playing in a cEDH pod on Spelltable. Dauthi Voidwalker has been on board for, like, 4 turns, preventing everyone from winning.

Brago, King Eternal guy gets infinite blink triggers to draw his deck, but for whatever reason only decides to do it X times to draw about 2/3 of the deck, presumably because he thought he had win in hand. A couple of his things get countered and he doesn’t get there. 

He moves to end step, realizes he has to discard 2/3 of his deck, then says, "Hey, can I draw the rest of my deck, since that’s what I should have done anyway, because I didn’t draw Thought Vessel?”

I say no, someone agrees, I draw removal for Voidwalker and get the win.

Am I the jerk?




Hey, Mark!

Player One on Koll, the Forgemaster 

I was Player Two on Eleven, the Mage and Mike, the Dungeon Master

Player Three was on Dina, Soul Steeper

And Player Four on Brago, King Eternal

I was able to get Dauthi Voidwalker and Mike out with a Phyrexian Tower by turn 3. Koll was trying to do Dockside Extortionist + Skullclamp shenanigans, and Dina had a Viscera Seer and a Protean Hulk on the battlefield.

Neither could complete the combo because of Dauthi Voidwalker, and anytime they tried to remove it, I’d bring it right back with Mike, the Dungeon Master. So after a few rounds of this, with Brago kinda just building value, eventually landing his Strionic Resonator/Omen of the Sea infinite. He decides to draw 66 cards instead of his full deck. He put a Venser, Shaper Savant on the stack, and the Koll player Red Elemental Blasts it. Brago misplays here also and tries to Ephemerate Venser, Shaper Savant. We had to explain that he could not  target Venser because he never resolved. Then he tries to cast something else, for the life of me I can’t remember what it was, but I sacrifice Dauthi Voidwalker and cast the Red Elemental Blast and also return the Voidwalker to the battlefield with Mike to keep my lock.

This is when Brago realizes he can’t get there now and asks us if he can draw more cards to just look for a Thought Vessel so he doesn’t have to discard into exile under Voidwalker. Obviously, this is too late and we don’t let him go back. Koll player is the leading voice here and I back him up by agreeing that, “That ship has sailed long ago, buddy.” So he moves to discard and passes the turn, Koll top-decks a Path to Exile and targets the Voidwalker. Since I had just returned it to the battlefield, I’m unable to sacrifice it and use one of Brago’s many counterspells he discarded. With Voidwalker gone, the Koll player and Dina player battled it out for the win, but those details aren't important here. 

I'd also like to say that this was a long game, maybe close to one and a half to two hours. Everyone in the pod was a pleasure to play with and very good. This story is really just one misplay that he tried to take back.




I really would like to begin by saying thank you to both Corey and Matt for their story. Matt and I messaged back and forth, but Corey is the one who originally posted the story. That said, if you're into technical death metal, check out Matt's band, Aethereus; they've put out some new singles, and I've been listening to them while writing this. Behold, The World Eater is a beating!

I will say, I have little experience with cEDH. I know that the main defining characteristic of the format is that it's about winning and optimizing as much as possible so that you can get that W. According to one of my closest friends, the spirit of the format is to live by the following principles:

  1. Play as optimally as possible
  2. Be present
  3. Give your opponents hell by being a challenge

It's my understanding that this takeback would violate the first and second principle as it's been explained to me. It was a two-hour game, it's normal that some plays got sloppy or not completely thought out. However, this adds to the test of endurance that Magic can present sometimes. I reckon with the table all vying for the perfect opening to execute their game-winning combo, takebacks are way less likely to get approved by the table.

If I were in this game, I would very likely agree that it was too late for a takeback if I'd allow takebacks of this magnitude at all in this format.

So, you are NOT the Bolas!

Takebacks in EDH are a whole topic unto themselves. I think takebacks are fine in the right circumstances. The game is complicated, it's normal to miss a few things in play or a few triggers here and there. You either correct it or ask for a rewind and go from there. In general, I would say if new information has presented itself, then a takeback is a tougher sell. For example, if you play a creature and somebody plays an Essence Scatter, you can't ask for a takeback because you "meant" to play your Rhythm of the Wild first.

The best way to learn a deck is to play it as much as you can. Sometimes that means walking into some misplays or missed triggers from time to time. That being said, I'd say that asking to walk something back to better grasp the game or sequencing is fair in a relaxed environment.

It's also important for me to respectfully note that this isn't to imply that cEDH tables can't be relaxed environments. I've dabbled with a friend's cEDH deck in a pod where everybody knew to give me some explanations when there are particular combo pieces in decks at the table while also allowing me the leeway to resequence for optimal play patterns.

My point is, be kind to each other. This also means when asking for the takebacks.

Happy holidays everybody 🙂


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