Am I The Bolas? - Good Times with Mass Land Destruction
Jokulhaups Illustrated by Richard Thomas
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 Mark Carbonza! I'm the guy who thinks Stranger Things kids cards should be reprinted as the Scooby-Doo Gang!
SAY WHAT YOU WANT, YOU KNOW I AM RIGHT!
This week, a personal story! *Gasp* Is this even allowed? It's my column, I get to do what I want! (editor's note:
Mike Mark talks a big talk, but he asked us for permission for this.)
I recently played a Spelltable game with a few Commander's Herald/EDHREC pals. I was playing Prosper, Tome-Bound (my sweet, sweet boy). One of my opponents was playing an Iroas, God of Victory Voltron deck. With one pip away from devotion and land in hand, Iroas' pilot slammed a...
IS THAT MASS LAND DESTRUCTION?!
Yes, it is.
And I had a great time. I was lucky with a well timed Malakir Rebirth that kept my sweet, sweet boy Prosper, Tome-Bound around.
The Iroas player has a reputation for playing some strategies that are taboo at some tables - mass land destruction, heavy stax, combos. Nearing cEDH but not close enough to it due to some esoteric choices. With the board state the way it was, he was one pip away from one-shotting the table thanks to Fiery Emancipation (or something, this was a few weeks ago). Mass land destruction in that moment would stagnate his opponents and he'd need one colored permanent to take the game. With the lands he held in hand, it was just the luck of a top deck.
But, no such luck. Iroas' deck only offered more lands for a few turns. Prosper was able to get me a second card a turn, I was able to rebuild well enough, hitting more land drops than others. One player was completely out for basically the rest of the game, another laid back, playing lands and pillow fort type enchantments. But the Iroas player could not hit that pip for a few turns, instead drawing a ton of lands. This gave me time to make Prosper indestructible with Tyrite Sanctum and I churned out a few extra blockers for when Iroas was able to attack me.
In the end, Iroas took me out and the enchantress player took home the game.
All of us experienced the land destruction differently.
One player was completely out and that seemed like it sucked big time. Enchantress had no target on him and was able to rebuild for the win which presented its own challenges. I was aggressively rebuilding and a bit of a threat before the destruction, my resilience only painting a bigger target on me. It was a very cool feeling like tug-o-war, I dug my heels in and held on for a while and finding new ways to have to do that was very rewarding. The Iroas player however had moments of apology ("I figured I'd draw something that would lock it up quick") and frustration (more lands?!), but ultimately was able to take me out which was a goal on his list.
I had fun with mass land destruction. I didn't think I would. I think I would have hated it if I didn't have my commander still on the battlefield. I would have been fine with it if the game was locked up right after that turn too.
So why this story?
I've seen a lot of conversations around mass land destruction become declarations of "if I play against MLD, I'm scooping no matter what". I've seen those conversations because I've also been that guy. I've realized in the last couple of months, a lot of Twitter discussions devolve into open hostility. It's made me consider the Salt Score over on EDHREC as well. Am I really salty about Armageddon or am I salty that I wasn't told that it was in the deck? Am I really tilted by Jokulhaups or am I upset because the player who played it didn't plan ahead for it and none of the opponents were able to rebuild either? Do I really hate Rhystic Study or do I - yes. I hate Rhystic Study.
I love Commander. It's the thing I spend most of my time thinking about besides comedy and my close relationships. Having to play through a strategy I swore up and down against only to find new joy in the game, that's rewarding and eye-opening. I trusted the players at the table with my time and they did the same with me.
I guess the point of this article is to try something new and different in this game we love. Try something you hate from long ago, see if that makes you find new respect for how far the game has come.
Thanks for reading the ramble.