Am I The Bolas? – Do You Want Fries with that Salt?

Jevin Lortie • April 6, 2022

Sowing Salt | Art by Hideaki Takamura

Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Umami, and…

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 Jedit O’Jevin! Mark Carbonza and I were hanging out in a creepy antique shop and found an old box of Fallen Empires. We each got a dusty pack. As we were cracking them, we happened to say at the same time, “I wish I could write someone else’s EDH article just for one week!” The lights flickered ominously, but we just figured someone was performing a routine light switch check and didn’t think anything of it. The next morning, we woke up in each other’s bodies! So, I’m writing the Am I The Bolas? series this week and he’s writing my Challenge the Stats article over on EDHREC! We’ll have to see if we can find that antique shop again to switch back, but the box of Fallen Empires is still there, waiting for more unsuspecting EDH content writers…

(Email edited for brevity, clarity, and anonymity)

Hi Mark! (Or in today’s case, guest judge Jevin)

I had a situation come up over Spelltable recently that made me a little upset and uncomfortable.

Friends of mine and I started a discord to keep in touch and to set up Commander games. It’s been fun! We share our booster pulls and decklists too. It’s been a good time. We have a nice mix of really experienced players and new players who got their first precon and haven’t modified it (yet!). I’m somewhere in the middle.

One game was between two of the lesser experienced players, myself, and another mid-to-experienced player. Each of us was playing a low-powered deck. Jason played the Vampire precon, Ben played a Strixhaven precon (can’t remember which because he has 3 of them), I played my five-color group slug deck. David played a Tribal Tribal list where every card was a tribal payoff, a Changeling, or Maskwood Nexus-type of card.

As you can imagine, when David’s deck gets off the ground it gets scary. The game went on for a little bit, but whenever David played a tribal payoff card, the conversation turned to, “Well, that can be scary if he can give it to his whole board, we better do something about it.” We ended up using a lot of removal on David’s permanents, and Jason was running away with synergy. David was upset about being targeted so much. He became very unpleasant and curt. He was quite mean. As a player who’s played for some time, I had encountered this kind of salty player at the local game stores, but never in a pod of friends. It didn’t help that David is someone we met through someone else in the Discord.

After the game, Jason, Ben, and I texted for a week about how upsetting and weird that experience was and we realized that when we are looking for a game, we’ve been asking people directly rather than posting in the LFG Discord channel, even actively avoiding games that David is trying to set up.

I guess I’m wondering, are we the Bolas for ignoring David’s game requests or basically going around him? I feel bad, but I really didn’t care for how he raised his voice at me and two friends who just started playing the game.

Looking forward to your advice,

Coach Frank

Hey, Coach! Let’s just start off right away and say Not the Bolas! It’s up to you to cultivate your game experience. If someone isn’t acting appropriately, you absolutely can and should exercise your right to not play with them anymore. This also goes for playing games at a local game store. At any point, if the other person is making you feel uncomfortable, you can hit that real-life block button and walk away–even if it’s in the middle of the game!

It sounds like David raised his voice at the pod at least several times. It’s hard to tell where on the spectrum of “raised voice” to “screaming” he was, but we can be safe and say from the way it made you feel that it was Bolas-y behavior. We all know how it feels to get salty in a game, and sometimes it’s hard to express those feelings in a positive way. David should have apologized to the table after the first time he yelled and made sure it didn’t happen again. This is where a post-game discussion can really help. David can let the table know how he felt from being targeted, and perhaps the rest of the table can express their feelings about a deck power imbalance. The Command Sphere podcast has a great episode on the post-game discussion HERE.

It sucks that you don’t feel comfortable looking for games in the Discord server that you started. If you’re up for it, I think you still have a chance to de-Bola-fy the situation by shooting David a DM about how you felt during that game. Make sure to do so in a way so he doesn’t feel attacked (using classic “I feel… when… because…” language). David might appreciate knowing how his actions made the pod feel after he’s had a chance to calm down. Maybe you can prevent him from blowing up at other people in the future, and since you don’t know him that well, there isn’t much to lose. If that doesn’t help, you can open the discussion to the group and, worst-case scenario, boot him from your server.

Thanks again for writing in, Coach! If you, the reader, have a story to share, please don’t hesitate and email! awaits you!

Don’t forget to check out Mike’s article on today!

Once we switch bodies back, you can usually find me writing articles over on or @jevinmtg on Twitter.

Also, comment and let us know what’s the best way to handle when players get too salty in a game?