Am I The Bolas? - Eeyore

Mike Carrozza • November 22, 2023

Forbidden Friendship Illustrated by Jakub Kasper

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, the guy who is awful at crafting things.

I even followed the instructions!

This week, a story about dealing with difficult people.

(Email edited for brevity, clarity, and so on and so forth.)


Hi Mark,

I've been an active Commander player for eight years and a reader of your column for the last two years! Love the column and honestly never thought I'd submit something, because my EDH nights are usually pretty easy-going.

In the past year, I've made a new pod with Pioneer players that also dabble in EDH. We often come to our LGS' Pioneer events early to play Commander before the event starts to try and get a couple of games in.

One day in particular, one of my friends (Player A) was meeting us right after he got out of work. He wanted to grab something from the LGS' binders before we started, so we said we'd hang out until he's ready.

During his search, another player who we recognize from Pioneer (let's call him Player E for "Eeyore", you will see why) asked if we were looking for a fourth to play. I explained that we had a fourth and we were waiting for him to get back in a minute.

Player E responds with complaints about how they've been kicked out of their pod and often can't find a game. They say they should just take their EDH decks apart if they aren't going to use them. Very mopey. We were warning him that our pod was full even though it appeared otherwise.

Player A returned and said he's starving. Looks at Player E and said he should play in his spot while he gets food. The three of us at the table, having witnessed the mopiness a moment before weren't thrilled, but hey, maybe the game won't be so bad.

However, every time Player E was attacked or targeted with an ability, he would complain in a similar fashion. He would only be targeted because it was the optimal play (no flying blockers, he had a big spell coming down, etc). It made the game very frustrating to the point where as soon as our friend came back from getting food, we noticed one of our podmates winning combos was just played on the board and just let it resolve to move on with the night.

I've had great experiences at this LGS with my pod and other players joining our group when we were looking for a fourth in the past. Sometimes we split up our pod with another to mix up the games and experience new decks and stuff too. This one experience with Player E left a bad impression on me, and I do not seek out games with him because of it. I hope it will change in the future; for now, his attitude about the game irritates me.

Am I the Bolas for not treating Player E like I do my podmates/other players at this LGS? Or does his attitude towards the situation justify my feelings?

Thanks for all you do,
The Midwest Magic Player


As always, thank you for writing in! It means a lot that after two years (almost three, if you can believe it!), folks are still sending in stories for me to comment on and chat about. Thank you for being a longtime reader, and thank you for being someone who writes in! If you're reading this and thinking, "Well, hey, I've got a story of my own," send it to me at Yep, you read that right, the email is no longer, though I still have and use that.

With that out of the way, let's talk about this story. 

I can see why you're upset having to play with someone who's just complaining a bunch. That gets old really quick, especially when it's someone who's saying stuff like "I should dismantle my decks if I don't get to play them." 

Look. It's not your job to take care of people who make things very negative and consistently bring down the mood. It's not your responsibility to get down into this person's feelings and find out what is going on or anything. After all, you're just there to get some games in, and this is a social format where personalities are more involved than in others. 

However, you are a human being, and if you have the capacity and the space to empathize, it might be good to ask what's going on, and I totally understand if you don't want to or don't have it in you to do so for a stranger, but I know that after the third time of the same schtick, I might have to speak up and find out what's up with sad boy. 

I've said this before and I'll say it again: I am certain that most of the stories I get for this column could be resolved if folks were less conflict-averse.

"Hey man, you're complaining about being targeted unfairly, here is why you're being targeted."

"Hey champ, you're in here a lot talking about not being able to get games in and saying you're going to dismantle your decks. What's happening?"

I'm not saying it's up to you, but this person needs a reality check or some sort of wake-up call. If you're getting kicked out of playgroups and people huff at the thought of playing with you, it's time for some introspection. 

The problem with introspection with someone like Player E here is that that self-reflection is likely to be just as negative and will probably compound the issue. 

This is way more complicated of an issue to comment on than just "hey, yeah, this guy sucks." Because yeah, it totally sucks to play with this kind of person! The negativity is not conducive to a good time, and if you're playing against a wet blanket, it sours your experience with the game and can lead to you taking time away from the game altogether or writing off a swath of people. 

You're not the Bolas for feeling the way you do. You're not the Bolas for not being Player E's "wake-up call" either. That's not on anybody in particular. 

But I think it would behoove somebody to have a conversation for the eternally down-in-the-dumps guy at the LGS that people roll their eyes at when they're confronted with the possibility of having to play with them. 

There's something to be said about him getting his stuff together and coming down to the LGS at all. This might be somebody reaching out. Maybe this is someone who is just in need of some honesty before course correcting. 

Either way, I hope he finds what he's looking for and finds the joy of the game and the community again. I hope he can become somebody folks at the LGS are stoked to see walk in, and maybe you can be part of that if you want to. 

Thanks again for writing in!

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