Am I The Bolas? - Got Guffed!

Mike Carrozza • September 20, 2023

Guff Rewrites History |Illustrated by Matt Stewart

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 would like to make a deal!

This is how I would dress if I went on Shark Tank. 

This week, we're looking for games online!

(Email edited for brevity, clarity, punctuation, and for fun. What, I can't like my job anymore???)


Greetings Mark, I have a situation I found myself in that feels like it needs further discussion.

I have picked up webcam Magic recently to play once every now and again to tune my decks for different playstyles. I normally prefer a relaxed environment and refuse to play with people who have... issues when it comes to temperament.

The game in question was a Looking-for-game Discord match. Additionally, I brought a friend along who is newer to Magic and specified that I wanted the match to be lower-powered to help him along. During the rule zero chat, we were discussing decks and I decided on playing my Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder budget power Fling deck. My friend was playing a budget, non-precon Éowyn, Shieldmaiden Human deck. I do not remember what player 3 played, but player 4 is who inspired this email.

Player 4 wanted to "test out for future purchase" the upcoming precon commander Commodore Guff (the game took play in the month of  June 2023). I didn't see much issue at the time, so we agreed on letting him use the deck. Fast forward into six or seven turns into the game he is snowballing planeswalker after planeswalker, even with me attempting to disrupt his board. Every turn, he's casting spells like Cyclonic Rift or Fierce Guardianship. I am trying to figure out how to win when I am being shut down with $500 worth of Magic cards. We all know who in the end won the match.

I rarely have a bad taste in my mouth about matches, but this is one of the worst. My first issue revolves around the fact that his deck was just throw in every single good card possible regardless of cost and then bring it to slam dunk a new player at a marketed low-power table. The second gripe I have is if he wants to build around a future precon, why not wait to see what's in it first. Finally, I am now starting to have more and more issues with people who will bring out "test" decks from deckbuilding websites, everyone else is paper and 70% of these are just throw every good card under the sun in and force my way into play groups. Am I the Bolas for it not wanting to play against these decks unless I see the list first?

Thank you for your time I am a huge fan of your articles.

[placeholder name for pseudonym]


Thank you so much for the kind words [placeholder name for pseudonym]! If you're a reader and want to send in your own story, send 'em over to, and I'll get into it!

Speaking of which, let's talk about this story.

What I love about doing LFG Discord games is being able to find them quick and at varying power levels. Just like at your LGS, there's a chat to be had about what power level you want to play at. This is exactly what you all did, and it seems like you all represented yourselves well, save for Player 4.

We've all been there. Hell, there's even a meme response to this kind of shenanigannery: "My deck's about a seven."

When you take the time to have a discussion with somebody about the game you all clearly care about and describe the experience you'd like to have, coming to an agreement, you'd expect everybody to respect that, but it's unfortunately not uncommon of an occurrence, and, frankly, there's no real way to avoid it.

It all comes down to trust and, when it's broken, it's difficult to build that up again, so I don't blame you for how you feel, but I do think it's a little much of a reaction. Not everybody is this guy.

Let's also see the other perspective: planeswalker decks are kind of a glass cannon. They can be attacked as a main mode of removal, so there's definitely room to protect your strategy, as I'm sure you understand. If this was their first planeswalker deck, he may have overcompensated for the fragility of the deck. Let's not forget that your commander is a creature that doubles an attacking creature's power, and Fling can hit any target.

So, from Player 4's perspective, I'm going up against a Human deck that wants to make plenty of attackers and a Jund Fling deck that makes creatures big and tosses them wherever you want. That's a tough sell.

What I am seeing is that it's not that he had answers, but rather the quality of those answers.

Cyclonic Rift is a better Consuming Tide or River's Rebuke, and Fierce Guardianship is a better Counterspell or Narset's Reversal. Having these kinds of cards is necessary for the interplay of the game and makes it more interesting. If you got to do everything you wanted without some road blocks, you'd be bored. What I found so fun about the latest God of War game was that I was bad at it and had to keep trying different things to get around the enemies' defences to kill them.

This is like when I ended up putting a hell of a fight with my Prosper, Tome-Bound deck against my boss's Iroas, God of Victory deck after he Jokulhaupsed the board and I had a Malakir Rebirth and a Tyrite Sanctum.

I digress.

It sucks that the game wasn't what you all had agreed on. That, I can't take from you. But I will say that closing yourself off to just games where people have lists ready isn't going to be much better. You won't have as many bites if Facebook groups are any indication of how people present their decks. I mean, seriously, most of the time it's people laying out all their cards on a carpet, taking a picture of them all at the worst quality possible, and going "what you do you think of my new deck?" and what I think is that they should totally get it on Moxfield or Archidekt.

And even I use these sites, but once I build the deck, I barely keep lists up to date, and I straight-up friggin' breathe this game!

My point is, you're not a Bolas here. Was Player 4? Yeah, probably, but that's not the question. You're not the Bolas for feeling the way you do, but you'd probably feel a better after a little bit of time. Trust me, you'll have a few decent games for a while, and this'll be old news. I don't like that it happens, but it does. I hope you get all the games you want and you have a great time.

If you've got stories or see any online that you'd like me to comment on, email me at! Thanks again 🙂

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