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 email@example.com!
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.)
MARK, CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE
Hello. I love your articles, but I have never had any Bolas-y incidents while playing Magic until today.
I'M ALL EARS, JIN!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 aanywhere but my battlefield makes me feel like my odds of having much fun are lower than when we started the game. Playing means that a single is a huge roadblock, and I can see how when you're running a value machine like Eruth, a 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!