Am I The Bolas? - Crushing Rocks

Mike Carrozza • January 9, 2024

(Shatter |Illustrated by Amy Weber)

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 Mark Carbonza, the guy who has a hunch about who murdered who in Karlov Manor.

Plenty of ghosts on the Karlov Estate, maybe we can ask them for help!

This week, a question about removal.

(Post edited for brevity, clarity, contracting stuff and uncontracting other stuff.)



I've very recently come across your articles, and didn't think I'd have a submission of my own, but alas.

I had been tinkering with my Balan, Wandering Knight deck that I made about a month or two ago to try and get it to the power level of the pods I play. That is to say my deck can certainly get scary and explosive, but it has a really hard time doing it consistently or recovering when I start falling behind.

My opponents were playing a Gisa and Geralf deck, a Zhulodok, Void Gorger precon, and a deck I can't remember.

My main concern was the Zhulodok player since they were the biggest threat by record, having essentially gone undefeated all semester despite playing in the higher-powered pods. Credit where credit is due, they are an amazing pilot. I had even been destroyed earlier that day by them when they played the Hakbal of the Surging Soul precon.

During the game with Zhulodok, they had established themselves as the threat by swinging at a player for 11 damage and being able to cast their commander by turn three. They swung Zhulodok at me on turn four before I had a blocker ready, so I exiled their commander. I played my commander on turn four, but still lacked any Equipment to make him a viable blocker just yet.

What makes me concerned that I may be the Bolas is that on turn five, I responded to them recasting Zhulodok by exiling a mana rock of theirs that produces four colorless mana. This clearly upset them as they stopped socializing with the table as much and proceeded to equip Helm of the Host to Zhulodok and attack me until I died from combat damage. I couldn't really block because my commander was a 3/3 and I didn't have the mana to recast him or make any other blockers, so it ended up being a short game for me despite the rest of the table being over 30 life and having more threats on the board for both of the two turns it took for them to kill me.

I was a bit annoyed, so once lethal was confirmed I consolidated my cards pretty quickly and got up to spectate the other games as pleasantly as I could.

I am familiar with how bad it feels to have your mana rock destroyed, but my reasoning was that, on top of being the most skilled pilot at the table, they were producing well over ten mana a turn by turn five to my four mana a turn. With no other valid targets for my removal, moving their mana to be closer to the rest of the board's seemed to be better value than cycling the artifact removal (I used Forsake the Worldly to remove their mana rock).

There were no hard feelings after the match, but I'm still left wondering if I was the Bolas for targeting their mana rock.




Hi, Pseudonym! Thanks for writing in. I really appreciate it, and I'm glad you've been digging the column. If you, the reader, feel like sharing a story or a Reddit post, please send it over to

Now, are we ready for possibly the shortest Am I The Bolas? entry ever? 

You are absolutely NOT the Bolas. Let's be super friggin' clear: you were slowing down the threat that was coming at you and wanted to pump the brakes on them more. It didn't work out. Whoopsie! They're the best pilot at the table by your admission, they've got a great track record, they hit for 11 damage, presented possibility of more. I would also try to do everything to stop that player from taking over. There's maybe another option, but we'll get to that later.

Not the Bolas for trying to slow down a threat, not the Bolas for sending a message to a player who keeps coming at you. There are consequences for zeroing in on a player, and you delivered. Unfortunately, that didn't work out for you, but you had to try your way. 

Let's address this quickly: is it wrong to target mana rocks? 

Mana rocks get swept up in board wipes like Austere Command and (ugh) Farewell, and we deal with it. It's annoying for some decks; Grixis decks definitely have a hard time with it. Green sort of gets a pass with all their Rampant Growth land-based ramp, which is often why it's often cited as the strongest color (I think it's black, personally). Armageddon-type cards remain taboo, but I digress. 

So is it a Bolas move to remove mana rocks?

It depends. Let's be real: If you're removing an opponent's Rakdos Signet when they're stuck on two lands on turn four, they better be piloting an aggressive deck you've seen go off real quick or you're in danger of being a bit of a villain. If an opponent has a mana rock that taps for four mana in a deck that cares about casting expensive spells and they've already gotten off the ground, somebody better be doing something about that!

Of course, everything is subjective and context matters, but a good rule of thumb is that if somebody is way ahead, being the biggest threat, and they need to be reigned in, absolutely cut their resources a little!

Thanks for writing in! Please check out the podcast Am I The Bolcast? !

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