Collector Protector Illustrated by Christopher Rush
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!
Who am I?
I'm the guy SUPER excited for the return to Kamigawa rumors resurfacing.
I BOW TO THE MASK
This week's email is a funny writer being pretty considerate of others regarding the space he takes within the game, or rather out of the game.
WELL, IF IT ISN'T MARK CARBONZA!
I have an “Am I the Bolas” situation that does not arise from playing, but from not playing. Am I the Bolas for being an “armchair commander?”
I started playing MTG in high school with the Revised release (yes, I am that old). I took a loooooong break from the game while I was in college, then in graduate school, then a postdoc (if we’re being formal, you can call me “Dr. Armchair Commander.”) I am finally at a point in my life where I can financially afford to get back into MTG. I participated in a few pre-release events at my local game store, prior to the COVID-pocalypse. With many of my other normal activities put on hold during the pandemic, I started spending more of my “disposable” income at my LGS (both because I like collecting cards and to help keep the store open).
I still have not played a single game of EDH. I do not belong to a local playgroup because I moved to town shortly before the lock-downs and I never managed to join any of the established ones. I have not tried to join any online games because I have young kids, so I don't often have stretches of several free hours to play.
Here is what makes me wonder if I am the Bolas: I am buying MTG stuff, including singles, that people actively playing the game might want; I am building decks and making the decklists public, which means they are being scraped by EDHREC. So, I am having a (very) small impact on the EDH scene without actually playing a game (yet).
I really do hope to play EDH some day. I have old friends who got into the game the same time I did, and I am now living close enough to them that we could actually play together for the first time in years. But, it hasn’t happened yet.
So, what do you think, Am I the Bolas for being the Monday Morning Quarterback of EDH?
Dr. Armchair Commander
WHAT'S UP, DOC?
Hello, Dr. Armchair Commander.
This might outright be the nicest AITB question I've gotten. Let me say this real quick: Enjoy the game or game pieces the way you want to.
There are so many reasons to be into Magic: The Gathering.
It's a fun game! Gets you thinking, gets the pals together, you meet new people, there are satisfying interactions to be discovered, but there's also the collecting aspect. The art on the cards is beautiful and different cards resonate with different people. I've always loved the art on. I have no reason to play it in any of my decks...but do I have a foil one somewhere in my collection just because I like the art? Yes, of course.
MORE CARDS I OWN BECAUSE I LIKE THE ART! (Uba Mask has since become relevant BAY-BEEEEEEE)
Even in the eventuality that I have to cash out my collection to downsize considerably, there will be cards I simply will refuse to part with based on the fact that I like what they look like or I'm attached to them.
I know people who own cards just to collect them. Good for them! I also know people who left cards in their parents' attic. Same outcome for the overall availability of the game if we don't think too hard on it, but altogether, it's a big fat who cares!
Are you enjoying the cards? Good! You're doing fine! You're eventually also going to get to enjoy the game. You're supportive and fun! That's very nice.
Are your decklists affecting EDHREC's numbers? If it's part of the dataset they pull from, sure. Does that matter? No! You're earnestly deckbuilding. You're theory-crafting lists with the eventual intention of playing them. Even if you weren't, it's a thing you enjoy. I have so many decklists on Moxfield. I leave them mostly unlisted because I'm terrible at building decks and often get overwhelmed. I like to have lists go up to like 140 cards and then whittle down to 102 and then ask people if they're cool with me not wasting any sleeves (if there are 102 sleeves in the box, I wanna use 102 sleeves, life's too short).
So no, Doctor, you are NOT the Bolas. (I absolutely typed that with the cadence of Maury telling someone they are "not the father".) You seem great and I look forward to you being able to play EDH with your pals, new and old.
There are plenty of Discord communities with Looking For Games channels that set up on Spelltable that I also recommend, should you find time what with them youngins hanging around.
Keep having fun 🙂