Am I The Bolas? – Peekaboo!

Mike Carrozza • February 16, 2022

Gitaxian Probe | llustrated by Chippy

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 markcarbonza@gmail.com!

I’m Mark Carbonza! I’m what your opponents will never suspect you Ninjutsu out with Satoru Umezawa.

THAT’S ME ON YOUR TABLE NOW!

This week, a Reddit post that got me thinking.

HEY, MARK! IT’S YOU, MARK! LOOK AT THIS!

Hey, everyone!

So the other day I was playing with my regular playgroup, and player A cast Opposition Agent in response to player B casting a tutor. As per the rulings of Opposition Agent, you control target opponent, and when you do you can look at that opponent’s hand, and so player A did.

Thing is, player A then showed the rest of the table some of the cards in player B’s hand. Player B got very upset with that, saying it was unfair to do it.

My opinion is that if a player got information on cards in a hidden zone through a card’s effect, that player can do as they please with that information. As far as I know, there’s nothing in the rules that prohibit that, and it could warn other players of potentially problematic cards, being in the best interest of others. I can understand asking the person affected if it would offend them as one may see that as not fair or not very casual.

So I ask you, EDH community, what is your opinion on the matter? Is it okay to reveal cards from an opponent’s hand if by an effect you got access to that information? Should you keep it to yourself? Should you ask the affected person?

Thanks for reading!

HI, ME!!! HOW’S THE INTERNET?

I think I’m drawn to this post because it feels dirty without really being dirty? Does that make sense? Let’s explore!

Technically, you can look at that player’s hand and tell the table. That’s not against the rules – again, technically – but it definitely feels wrong. Being able to look is very different from that player revealing.

I polled a few pals and checked the Reddit thread for this, and here’s where I’ve landed on it:

If the player whose hand is being looked at has a massive game-winning threat, like a Craterhoof Behemoth, that can crush the table, maybe then it’s okay to tell the table of the imminent doom. Even then, my instinct is to just say something like, “We need to take care of [player whose hand you just saw]. They’ve got something good.” Is this still too much?

The possibility of bluffing also came up during my chats with pals. Is another player running away with the game? Take control of the blue player, hand them back their cards and say something like, “Good thing you’ve got that Cyclonic Rift for us. That’s a relief.”

BUT! Full-on revealing cards from their hand feels like pantsing your opponent and having a giggle.

That said, I’m not saying it’s a Meanie Move™️ to reveal what’s in an opponent’s hand when you’re able to take a look at it with, like, Gitaxian Probe or something, but I am saying wouldn’t feel right giving that information up unless it’s particularly explosive. Even then… I don’t like it!

The cards that say “look at an opponent’s hand” vs “opponent reveals their hand” are mechanically different, as is controlling an opponent. So, if you Emrakul, the Promised End a player, unless you somehow figured out how to make them a ventriloquist dummy, I probably wouldn’t flash the table someone else’s grip. But the information is yours, you’ve earned that.

Something about this feels bad! It feels evil! And sometimes you’re playing to be EVIL! Players who play Baral, Chief of Compliance decks exist! (I apologize to the Baral players who are not evil. If you think this is you, consider yourself a recipient of this wonderful apology: Sorry.)

Sometimes you just play to be in ultimate control and that means finding out what you shouldn’t.

I’m torn, but I guess it comes down to something that I feel like I should address in a broader sense regarding this series:

Your playgroup is unique.

Whether that means that your group’s made up of few random folks that meet at an LGS and never come back together or if it’s you and your pals of 15 years playing every Sunday, your playgroup is unique. And so are you! Unless you’ve actually written in, I am not speaking necessarily for or about your playgroup. This column is about addressing conflicts that happen in Magic situations, so it maybe sparks a discussion in your circles or helps you out if you’re experiencing something similar. I am not a format leader nor am I the final word. I just love this game and like telling folks my opinions about stuff they’re dealing with.

If you have a story of your own, please send them in. I’m happy to include it on here and I will have some words to share!

As for this story, I believe the Bolas move lies in the full reveal of the hand, absolute proof of their resources laid bare. There was no mention of a follow-up, but I hope Player A and B hashed things out and that would lead me to say there probably is no Bolas here.

Thanks for reading!



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