Am I The Bolas? - Disappearing Act

Mike Carrozza • April 17, 2024

(Disappearing Act |Illustrated by Anthony Palumbo)

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, and I've been thinking about <3 her <3.


This week, it's time to get up and go!

(Post edited for brevity, clarity, and for an Oxford comma)


Hi, Mike - I mean, Mark.

I just had a game that had an instance that I think is absolutely perfect for your column... which is about the only silver lining I can think of for this game.

It was a random pod online. I was testing my Gale, Waterdeep Prodigy/Master Chef Slime Against Humanity deck, and I was facing an Eligeth, Crossroads Augur/Siani, Eye of the Storm deck, a Tariel, Reckoner of Souls Angel/Lifelink deck, and a Zevlor, Elturel Exile deck. Due to a greedy start that backfired horribly, I was basically out of the running the entire game. The Eligeth/Siani player spun their wheels all game, and the Zevlor player get in a few removal spells and a decent amount of draw, but not much else.

The Tariel player, however, despite being very new to the game and constantly needing to be told basic stuff like 'Path of Ancestry enters the battlefield tapped' and needing to be reminded of their triggers, got down a Sanguine Bond early, then proceeded to chain it into a Valkyrie Harbinger, Angelic Chorus, and a Righteous Valkyrie, allowing them to gain a massive amount of life and basically take over the game.

The Bolas moment comes during the last turn of the game. Thanks to a Bribery plus Twinning Staff play, the Zelvor player managed to nab Avacyn, Angel of Hope and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight from the Tariel player's deck, so they didn't want to swing. But the Eligeth/Siana player and myself were wide open. Thanks to a deal I made earlier, I was immune to being swung at, but with a Vault of the Archangel to give all his creatures lifelink, the Tariel player could swing at Eligeth and easily gain enough life to take the win. As they were about to do so, however, the Eligeth player announced that if they got swung at, they would concede at instant speed, meaning that no lifelink damage would go though.

I objected to this, saying that instant-speed concession isn't allowed, but because it wasn't discussed before, they disagreed and said nothing is stopping them from walking away. I admitted this was a point, but I said I would argue that despite this, if they conceded at instant speed, I would consider that as them declaring no blocks so that the Tariel player would gain full lifelink to take out the Zevlor player with the damage. But this was argued against, especially my use of 'Rule Zero' as that happens only before the game, with even an outside observer butting in. In the end, since the game was all but finished, I decided I should just leave. The attitude at the table had been horrible. After I made my deal to not be swung at, one of them - I think the Zevlor player - literally said they would pay $10 if the Tariel player killed me. So I have no issues with my choice here, this random group of people is not worth my time.

But what do you think about the Eligeth/Siani's player choice to concede at instant speed? Are they the Bolas for this spite play, as I certainly think so. And does the fact that conceding was not specifically talked about before the game matter, or should it be acceptable to discuss when someone says they are planning to surrender at instant speed?


Santos, the Person


First of all, thank you for writing in! Without folks writing in, there is no column. It means a lot that the emails are piling up! I promise to get to them. By no means does this mean I'm asking you to slow down! Please, keep sending stories. Sometimes, I bump one up when it's relevant to a heated subject of the week in Magic discourse. 

So, if you, the reader, have a story or see a Reddit post or something you'd like me to write up on Am I The Bolas? or chat about on Am I The Bolcast?, please send it over to

Alrighty! A topic I've touched on before.

Let's get down to it: concessions are pretty socially agreed to be at sorcery speed, or taken to a group vote, or at the very least without negating a player's game actions. I feel like The Command Zone touched on this recently.

(Minor digression: they also have a video I keep finding myself thinking about that I would like to shout out about goldfishing/playtesting decks. I have found myself being more intentional in my playtesting since watching this one, whether it's shuffling my deck in paper or running a playtest on Archidekt, I've found this video massively helpful and wanted to share.) 

Anywho, conceding to spite a player or using concession as a bargaining chip is pretty frowned upon. It seems like the pod was split on whether or not they'd allow a concession essentially to protect their interests. I bet if tables were turned, they'd sing another song. That alone, frankly, makes me not respect them much. Bribing with money? Come on, now!

And I say frowned upon because technically, it isn't an illegal game action. I will repeat this several times. Technically, you can concede at instant speed.

But you literally, in-game, have nothing to gain from this. So what do you gain from conceding at instant speed to negate some trigger or action? 

Exactly. (Being a jerk to someone, for those who didn't catch the implication.)

Don't you enter a game assuming good faith?

While it is a fair point that terms of concession weren't discussed before the game.. .it's still uncool, I think.Conceding a game when it's one-on-one means that when you concede, you're ending the game. There's nobody left in game. By conceding in a multiplayer game, you're leaving behind other players. As a community, it seems we've come to a general consensus that the plan is "don't be a jerk." And I'd call conceding out of spite a jerk move. Or a Bolas move. Hey, look, it's the whole premise of the column!

This game is complicated. Turns require clever sequencing and (often) a well-thought-out plan. Having somebody go through all the potential game actions and pick their course of action with the assumption that a player will act in good faith only to have them commit this faux pas is such a bummer. It's essentially becoming a full-on walking middle finger at that point. Might as well flip everybody the bird because clearly, you couldn't be bothered to even feign respect. 

There are game actions that can be taken to do what you want to be doing. Teferi's Protection is a catch-all for this. Plus, of course there's removal. But if you're beat, take your lumps? Another game is coming!

Look, it's poor form. It just is. Saying you'll concede to negate a trigger is a BS move. It takes away all trust I have in future games or interactions. Gotta start from scratch, pal. 

Is conceding at instant speed against the rules? Again, technically, no! Just like technically my little brother isn't touching me when he's pointing his finger an inch away from my face and yelling "I'm not touching you! I'm not breaking the rules, mom, I'm not touching him! Na-nana-na boo boo."

Conceding is something to do on your turn at sorcery speed with a few exceptions. 

  1. If you've got a hard out and need to leave by a certain time: you can concede at instant speed. Warn folks as you get into the game, though. 
  2. If someone is being an absolute doorknob, making you uncomfortable, name calling, yelling, saying racist/sexist/bigoted things, is bullying anybody at the table, has been asked to stop but continues to engage in this kind of actively:- you can concede at instant speed. 
  3. If you mention that you are no longer enjoying yourself and are ready to concede while most players agree: you can all concede at instant speed. 

If you're being a spiteful person and conceding to negate a trigger, again, technically, you can concede. But it's not a great move. If the rest of the pod has any respect for the game or the people they're playing with, they will move forward with the game actions as though that player did not concede and then move on. 

Eligeth/Siani player? Bolas.

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