Am I The Bolas? - Conceding With Game Actions

Mike Carrozza • June 12, 2024

Plumb the Forbidden by Andrey Kuzinskiy

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?"

I'm ready to hear you out and offer advice. All you have to do is email! You might see your story in the column. You might even hear it on the podcast. Which podcast? 


I'm Mike Carrozza, aka Mark Carbonza, the big guy who can do a cartwheel.

This is my nickname!

This week, so conceding as a game action is bad in response to something... but what if I use the game to do it?

(Post edited for brevity, clarity, and to get rid of the scary wasp in it. It's not there anymore because I took care of it, but I promise, it was huge. You should have seen it!)


Hey Mark (Mike? Mark? Mike?)

Let me start by saying big fan of the column. I've been reading for about a year now and I eagerly await each one.

This happened a number of years ago, but the increase in questions about instant-speed surrenders have got me thinking back to it.

The game was a The Ur-Dragon deck, a Lathliss, Dragon Queen deck, a deck I cannot recall, and myself, running a Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker one-power themed deck. The early game was fairly standard affair: the Lathliss player took an early lead with some Dragon-oriented ramp, the forgotten deck hit the table with a board wipe after Lathliss came out, and we all rebuilt. Unfortunately, The Ur-Dragon player rebuilt the best of us all, getting down Scion of Draco and a couple double strikers alongside a massive field. No one had anything at the time, but I was considered the threat (Lathliss player lost basically all of his ramp when his creatures died, the other player was not having much impact on the game).

I had something like 20 creatures, two of them were flyers, and was at about 30 life. He was attacking me with his full board, representing 70 or 80 damage; of that, about 20 was first strike damage.

I blocked two of the double strikers without trample and then, after declare blockers, before first strike damage, I cast a Plumb the Forbidden, sacrificing my whole board. This caused me to die during first strike damage, preventing about 50 life gain. 

So, my question is this: what's the difference between tactical self-death and instant-speed concession? Am I the Bolas for considering putting these "self-death" strategies into my decks to achieve the same result as instant-speed concession without the same connotation?

Honorable Intent


Hey there, Honorable Intent. I'd like to begin by saying thank you for leading with such kind words. That you not only enjoy the column, but also look forward to it; that really, really means a ton to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you! If you, the reader, have a story of your own or see a post somewhere you'd like me to comment on, please send it over to I'm catching up to the backlog I've had so I'd love to see more of you folks write in. Thanks for everything!

Full disclosure, this was submitted in April, so when you say "the increase in questions about instant-speed surrenders", you're referring to another article from that month. Hot on the heels of this article, you sent in your email. To give you all a TL;DR on it: the question of instant-speed concessions to foil opponents' advantages is asked, and I said that if you're conceding to negate effects or triggers that require your presence to go off, that's a faux pas. 

Your question is the same question with a few key differences.

If an opponent is attacking you with an army of lifelinking creatures and you concede to prevent your opponent from gaining life, that's a no-no. But if an opponent is attacking you and you've got a way to K-I-L-L yourself to prevent your opponent from gaining that life, it's a little spiteful and some will definitely cry about "kingmaking", but technically you're good. Whether it's on-board, like Ancient Tomb, when you've got two life left or from your hand like with Plumb the Forbidden by sacrificing enough creatures to die, because it's an action available to you in-game, it's seen as fine.

I think the reason is because you have to have the options there for you. It's about having the cards to be able to pull it off. You have to have Ancient Tomb in play, it has to be untapped, you have to be at a low enough life total to be able to die. If you don't have enough creatures to sacrifice to Plumb the Forbidden, you can't take yourself out. You need to have enough to be able to make that move. These all need to come together for it to work out.

Instant-speed concessions are like having the perfect blank instant card that happens to be in your hand at all times, can't be removed, can't be discarded, can't be countered, doesn't cost mana, rids all advantage to your opponents, and while you don't win, you get your way. 

So, no, you're not the Bolas if you have an out from the game at your disposal. You can do it to spite one of your opponents, but it's way more acceptable this way instead of simply conceding. 

Thanks for reading!

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