Am I The Bolas? - End It, Already!

Mike Carrozza • October 11, 2023

Jegantha, the Wellspring by 

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, and I still don't understand Doctor Who

I mean, what the hell is this?


This week, a chat about not having a wincon.

(Email edited for brevity, clarity, a little zhuzh, a little pep, a little zip, etc.)


Hello. I love your articles, but I have never had any Bolas-y incidents while playing Magic until today.

I was playing six-player two-headed giant EDH in my regular playgroup. The decks where: 
Queen Allenal of Ruadach. This player has very powerful decks and is usually the archenemy. Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient. This player didn't really know how to play, so Allenal was basically playing for him because they were on a team.
My Eruth, Tormented Prophet deck was paired with the Nekusar, the Mindrazer player.
Kellan, the Fae-Blooded was paired with Jegantha, the Wellspring, the player I want to talk about. He didn't really know how to play Magic, but he was Allenal's friend.
Jegantha played a turn-one Deafening Silence, which shuts off my deck completely, so I was frustrated.
The game goes on, and by turn three, Jegantha has played three stax pieces. We play casual, so it was weird, but stax is still a valid strategy. I would like to make it clear that I am fine with stax, because I play cEDH. I asked him if he had a wincon and he said no! Stax without a wincon is not fun to play against.
I told them I didn't want to play against that deck again because it just drags out games. Everyone else said that it was funny, especially because I couldn't play the game. I didn't want to concede because I would abandon Nekusar, so my best choice was to keep playing.
I did so until Jegantha said that he was not going to try to win. Instead, he was only going to try to help Allenal win; his friend, not his teammate! They were ganging up against my team. We weren't even a threat; Nekusar had his commander out, and I couldn't do anything with Deafening Silence. Meanwhile, Klauth had around seven Dragons.
This is when I left the game. Allenal, Nekusar, and Kellan are my friends and I cannot find a new playgroup. Who is the Bolas? Is Jegantha the Bolas? Am I the Bolas?
After this incident, my playgroup has started playing more competitively, and one of the decks is a Winota, Joiner of Forces stax deck. I have found it to be very different than the Jegantha, the Wellspring stax deck because it actually wins. Sure, I'm still a little salty when Soulless Jailer or Deafening Silence is played against my Eruth, Tormented Prophet deck, but I don't get upset about it, because Winota has a wincon.
Thank you for reading.


Hi, Jin-Gitaxias! Big fan of your cards!

Thank you for writing in. Without folks like you sharing stories, there is no column! If anybody reading has a story of their own or even a Reddit post you'd like to share, ship it to, and I'll talk about it here.

Before getting too deep into this, I have to address the format you're playing. I have never heard of the Two-headed Giant variant with more than four players in Commander. What a wild, wild way to play. I am curious enough to try it someday, but I think this will require a trusted pod, for sure.

It's always is a bummer to have your deck's strategy invalidated. I play a lot of graveyard/death-trigger-heavy decks, so seeing a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet anywhere but my battlefield makes me feel like my odds of having much fun are lower than when we started the game. Playing Eruth, Tormented Prophet means that a single Drannith Magistrate is a huge roadblock, and I can see how when you're running a value machine like Eruth, a Deafening Silence can feel like the end of the road, too...

BUT! The game isn't over just because of something like that. Surely you and Nekusar, though not in the right colors to handle enchantment destruction, could find a way to wreck through and still take game actions.

The thing about stax is that it presents new constraints and allows you to navigate a new terrain to get to the same goal you're reaching for. I know you understand this, given your penchant for cEDH and your mention of the Winota deck, but I still feel like it's a good idea to destigmatize stax as a playstyle in general. Can it be oppressive and unfun? Certainly, but it can also lead to rewarding gameplay.

I have a hard time with a verdict here. I feel like a stax deck without a wincon can be one of the most frustrating decks to play against. I also think that the group's attitude being one of "it's a big joke" should also clue you in on the "hey, it's a game" vibe going on. But then there's the fact that the stax player openly isn't trying to win and is assisting another player who isn't even on his team, all while ignoring any real threat assessment and all in the name of having a laugh at you getting upset. Yeah, it's getting a little easier to figure out this verdict.

I appreciate that you spoke up, and, while your playgroup was teasing you, it seems like it was all in good fun. If you didn't have fun, you expressed that and now they know. Seeing as you're all playing more competitively, you were heard.

Jegantha's whole deal of not playing a wincon and also supporting an opposing player makes me call him a Bolas because come on, bud. Try at least a little.

All that said, I want to commend you all on adapting to each other. A playgroup's meta shifting is usually a great sign of growth within your little community of pals. Getting more competitive while keeping everybody happy? Sounds like a good time to me. Enjoy it!

So to recap: Jegantha player, Bolas. Playgroup shifting and growing together, big thumbs up.

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