Am I The Bolas? - Enchantress's Chain

Mike Carrozza • July 20, 2022

Sythis, Harvest's Hand | Illustrated by Ryan Yee

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's been having a hell of a summer!

It's spicy out there!

This week, a question from Costa Rica!

¿Cómo está, Mark?

Hey Mark,

I have always been a huge fan of Enchantress Decks. I started with Karametra, God of Harvests, turned it into a Sigarda, Host of Herons (Voltron), and eventually landed on Sythis, Harvest's Hand.

I built it with over 50 enchantments. My ramp and removal were also enchantments in order to optimize the deck. I played it the first time with a completely new playgroup that focused on wholesome plays and a casual meta. I thought the deck was not going to be very strong since it mostly had budget cards and avoided cards like Stony Silence

The game started pretty solid. I managed to ramp with a Wild Growth and then followed up with Sythis, an Enchantress's Presence, and an Overgrowth. It was by turn 4 and 5 that I played a Mirari's Wake and a Magus of the Candelabra that the deck went completely nuclear. I played more enchantments, drew around 8 cards per turn, and started removing stuff with Darksteel Mutation and Kenrith's Transformation.

Unfortunately, my turns were taking around 15 minutes due to all the triggers. With Sigil of the Empty Throne and Archon of Sun's Grace, I filled the board with tokens and had around 20 Enchantments, but I was still not able to find my win conditions, like Ancestral Mask. My opponents started begging me to end the game. They even "helped" me by keeping track of my mana pool and triggers in hopes that I'd eventually kill them. 

Am I the Bolas for playing a trigger-heavy deck in a casual meta game?

After that, I considered running stuff like Approach of the Second Sun or other finishers, but I was so concerned about having people being bored playing against the deck that I eventually decided to dismantle. I learned that sometimes you don't need to play salty cards to make everyone salty. Sometimes endless turns and hundreds of triggers will bore people out of their minds - even yourself. 

Love your articles!

Greetings from Costa Rica!

¡Muy bien! ¡Gracias por su correo electrónico!

Wowee! Folks are reading my column all the way in Costa Rica! Thank you so much for writing in.I've experienced this with my Zaffai, Thunder Conductor deck. The first outing for it was in an online game right after the Strixhaven precons were released. I made some upgrades to the deck the day before it was time to appear on a stream with some pals (shoutout to Andy Hull and Sean Tabares of Commander's Brew).

I ended up taking such long turns that led nowhere, I didn't know my deck well enough to know what I was digging for, triggers piled up, triggers were missed, tokens that should have been made weren't, and it was miserable. I ended up playing a card that killed me by accident. Whoops. After about ten minutes, I lost the game to myself. I learned a lesson that day.I'd say for trigger-heavy decks, my advice is to goldfish a bunch.

Playtest your deck against other decks of yours, see what lines of play emerge, and get to know your creation. Sythis, like it or not, is a powerful commander. When you have ramp or card advantage in the command zone, automatically, your deck is stronger for it. Sythis is two mana and, especially when built with 50 enchantments, draws a ton of cards while pulling your life out of reach for your opponents.

I've been tempted to turn my Estrid, the Masked deck into a Sythis, Harvest's Hand deck, but have resisted for this exact reason. When your opponents track your deck better than you do, it's time to spend more time playing it solo by goldfishing until you know the deck inside and out. Your long turns are cool because it's just a chain of excess, but ending the game is equally important (your opponents were begging for a finish!). Approach of the Second Sun is perfect for this. I'd even suggest Nylea's Colossus or more All That Glitters-type effects, etc.

I can't call you the Bolas here because a consideration of what determines a "casual" meta according to many an online thread is budget. Some folks would argue the opposite, but there's no doubt that being able to slot in Argothian Enchantress and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove is a boon, but Mesa Enchantress and Druid Class get the job done similarly.

The point is, sometimes a commander is so powerful that it will lead to this kind of play pattern, a chain of spell after spell. You need to close out the game.

I don't think you're the Bolas, especially since you took the time to learn from the experience and came out the other side with an insight you'll carry with you from now on.

I appreciate you writing in!

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Thanks for sticking around!

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