Am I The Bolas? - I Take Your Turn and Then Your Life!

Mike Carrozza • December 27, 2023

(Emrakul, the Promised End | Art by John Avon)

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?"

I'm ready to hear you out and offer advice. All you have to do is email! You might see your story in the column. You might even hear it on the podcast. Which podcast? 


I'm Mark Carbonza, the guy who never knows what to get you!

"An arm? You shouldn't have!"

Now, let's get to the story!

(Email edited for brevity, clarity, and brevity again also.)


Hi Mark.

I've been reading your column for a while now and thought I'd send in a story from a few years back that we still occasionally talk about to this day.

It was a dark and stormy night, and the wind was howling outside the LGS. We were all gathered, waiting with bated breath for the Commander pods to be announced.

I ended up paired against Rhys the Redeemed, someone I've forgotten, and Jhoira of the Ghitu, whilst I was on my brand-new Muldrotha, the Gravetide lands deck. All three of my opponents were local players I kinda knew, and the usual prize of an FNM promo was on the line.

The game went on about as you'd expect. I ramped and filled my graveyard, Rhys made a board of tokens, the irrelevant player did something, and Jhoira played their commander and followed up with suspending a Diluvian Primordial.

A couple of turns went by before I spotted an opportunity for a really funny but evil play. The turn before the Diluvian Primordial came off suspend, I cast Toxic Deluge to clear the Rhys player's board and followed it up by casting Emrakul, the Promised End, taking control of Jhoira's next turn.

I passed the turn to Jhoira, who I commanded to cast the Primordial, then use its ETB trigger to have them cast Toxic Deluge where X is 40, killing them immediately.

Notably, before this, Jhoira was the only spell they'd cast that game, and they'd spent their turns suspending other giant blue creatures.

The rest of the game isn't as memorable, but I think I won it by attacking with Emrakul and Marit Lage while looping Glacial Chasm, picking up a shiny FNM promo for my troubles.

As it turns out, it was also Jhoira's first game with the deck and I'd killed them using their first non-commander spell. They'd never play that deck again, but after about five years of D&D and countless less awful games of Commander later, we're good friends somehow. I still struggle to play down to the power level they prefer to play at to this day, though.

Anyway, at what point does a cool play become too evil to execute, and how much of a Bolas am I?

Yours, cackling maniacally.



Hey, Simon! I appreciate you writing in! I'm glad somebody who regularly enjoys the column has a story of their own to submit. If you, the reader, much like Simon, have a story that you're thinking might interest me for the purposes of this column, I would absolutely LOVE to read it. Thanks to everybody who reads and writes in! It means the world to me!

Anyway, onto my commentary for this story. 

I've got the classic angel and devil on my shoulders right now. 

On the one hand, while you didn't know it was the first flight for the Jhoira of the Ghitu deck, they hadn't impacted the board. Yet! They weren't a threat, yet! Suspending cards is pretty scary, especially when some of that stuff is on the level of Diluvian Primordial in the right spot. The Achilles' Heel of a Jhoira deck like this is that it's all projected. That's how you got to plan something so silly. 

They weren't up to much and you put an end to the possibility, which can feel like a bummer and a bit of a meanie move, but given the competitive setting (i.e., prize on the line), if you find a clever kill, it's go time!

You played to your outs given the information provided: as cool as suspend is, it does have an imminence and gives a lot away. You saw something cool to pull off and you did it, which I still contend is the spirit of the format. 

Show me another format where you can pull this whole sequence off like this! I know cool stuff happens all over this game, no matter the format, but this feels like the kind of Commander story I'd want to be telling people with a bit of a "glory days" filter on it. 

Are you the Bolas? Let's see. 

That was such a convoluted play and it's such a cool line that it's hard to be mad at it, but you did take out a player at the table who wasn't doing too much. In doing so, you board wiped the token player and set yourself up for success with your next turn since you knew what was coming. This is just smart playing. 


You know what? My gut says no!

I like this! This is what I want to see happen in a game. Hopefully the game didn't drag on too long after, but this is a play that should impress the table and even make people laugh. That's what I want out of the game. If anybody suggests that they want to just do the thing, that's what gold-fishing is for. You play your deck and you'll be up against some obstacles you'll need to deal with. That's part of it. Do you disagree because you think people should be playing optimally? I think this move, as described, killed a player and set back at least one other one. Is that not optimal?

In my opinion (by the way, this column is absolutely just my opinion!), you did nothing wrong and I love this story. 

I'm throwing you a party because this ruled.


This year has had its ups and downs, but overall, people have really been connecting with this column. It feels surreal to be a weekly column on a website that some people check every morning. When I took a break for a sec this year, I had people writing in asking if all was well. 

This means the world to me. Thanks for making me feel like I'm having a positive impact on your lives. If I can make you smile or nod in agreement - hell, if I can make you shake your head in disagreement - I feel like I've provided you with something that you can mull over in your brain and enjoy. Thanks for another great year.

Please listen to Am I The Bolcast? and check back in with the column next year. 

Love, Mark

(but really it's Mike. Comedian Mike Carrozza)

Further Reading:

Brewing Baldur's Gate - A Shadowheart, Dark Justiciar Commander Deck

Conditions Allow - Near-Death Experience EDH

A Practical Guide to Protection in Magic

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