Am I The Bolas? - Losing All Day

Mike Carrozza • February 14, 2023

Lose Hope | Illustrated by Matt Cavotta

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, boop boop bap bap biddy biddy bop!

Note from editor: Running out of these intros, Mike?

This week a submission about losing every game!

(Email edited for brevity, card names, anonymity, etc.)


Hi Mark!
I invited a friend over whom I haven't seen in a while. We played some one-on-one Commander, switching it up every time. I won all four games. I didn't stomp him every game, but I have to admit, I did stomp him a couple times, but that was only because I drew really well. He also got mana screwed in three of the games. To be fair, I did play a variety of decks at different power levels, but it does suck to get mana screwed, and if I sandbag then I'd be accused of playing with kid gloves on. 
It kinda feels bad when you spend the whole day losing, and I could tell he was a bit bummed. Am I the Bolas for winning every game we played in our time together?
I'll take my answer off-air. 
Chrome Cat


Hi, Chrome Cat! Thanks for writing in! I can't thank you enough for sending me your story. If anybody reading this would like to send theirs in, they can send stories to and I'll discuss them in this column.

Now, let's chat, Cat.

This is oddly one of the most complicated entries I've had sent to me, yet.

You and your friend haven't seen each other in a while and decided to catch up and play some one-vee-one, which is nice! Having asked a few follow-up questions in our emails - Yeah, if you write in, you'll get some back-and-forth with me about it! - I know that multiplayer Commander is your preferred format.

One-on-one Commander is such a different beast than I'm used to discussing. One-on-one Commander narrows your focus to one player instead of (likely) three. Your resource management is different, how you play your threats and removal is different. It's more cutthroat because you don't have to manage and juggle other opponents. Therefore hereafter heretofore hence, it is a game where everything in your deck is pointed at one person, and it's less about "everybody having a good time". It is direct competition: you are pitted against each other without dilly-dallying.

Yes, it is important to care about both players having a good time, but it's harder to hide your sandbagging and your punch-pulling when you've got a clear commanding lead and only one way for your battle resources to be pointed. Witnessing your opponent try to slow themselves down when you're playing one-on-one Commander can be insulting. Which is why I think you did the right thing when you played to the best of your ability.

I don't know what I would do differently, besides probably offer up a deck for your friend to pilot or have a swap round if power levels were a problem, but that doesn't seem to be the issue here. Maybe a comment after the second or third game about switching it up, maybe even like a, "Hey, you got mana screwed a few times already, do you want to mulligan until you've got an okay hand?" This environment is very casual! Why not extend some leeway here?

The issue seems to be mana-screw. I'd hate to blame the victim here, but while being mana-screwed is part of the game and it happens, for it for happen 75% for the time, it makes me wonder... Does your friend need to up his land count?

Not like they need the signal boost, but The Command Zone did an episode on "How to Mulligan" not too long ago, and there's a lot of good advice there. No matter what, if I don't see three lands, I'm 75% likely to mulligan. That's my recommendation.

My verdict? Not the Bolas. You played your best and that's how you gotta be, bubba.

See you next time! Send in your stories!

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