Am I The Bolas - Please Don't Touch my Card

Mike Carrozza • September 8, 2021

Didn't Say Please by Jason A. Engle

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!

Who am I?

I'm Mark Carbonza! I'm the guy who spent a month tracking down a foil General's Regalia because it makes me laugh. 

The hahaha the robes are just hahaha toooooo big for Squeeeeeeeee!


This week, a conversation about his collection prompted this question.

(email edited for brevity and completely constructed from conversation with my friend whose name is changed to remain anonymous)

Knock Knock, Mark


I don't know why you're making me write this email, couldn't you just paraphrase what I said and go from there?

Am I the Bolas for not letting people touch my cards when they play theft effects like Thada Adel, Acquisitor? Obviously, among very close friends I have no problem with it but still prefer to fan out my deck and do the handling myself. The biggest reason is because I have been playing since the beginning of the game and there are some cards I own and play with that are extremely valuable. I don't like the possibility of showing up to a Local Game Store or a MagicFest and handing over my deck to a complete stranger. What if they steal it, their hands can be dirty, they can accidentally bend it, shuffle into their things - no. Not for me. If they're playing that kind of deck, I handle my cards and I keep them on my playmat while everybody tracks the board state. 

My copy of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale is one of my favourite cards I own. I play it because it's in a stax deck of course and just because the card is hard to come by being as scarce and expensive it is, doesn't mean I shouldn't get to play it. I'm not having it Annexed.

That said, I'm extra careful. Does that make me the Bolas if I tell people not to touch my cards?


Al Pacino


Who's there? It's AL?!

Thanks, my dear friend, Al Pacino for writing in this week.

Look bud, I know you and I get where you're coming from. The way I've always approached the situation across the table from someone with a card I'd like to see or hold is by asking them. The best practice in all cases is ask for permission. "Oh sick, I've never seen a foil Wrenn and Six. Can I take a look at it?" Asking for permission means being okay with whatever answer you get. Remember that.

Yes, it's a card game. Yes, it's important to be able to have a clear board state and to be able to properly read the game so that you can have fun. But it's also a very, very expensive hobby. Anybody wanna check out and take a look at what like Stomping Ground is at in each of its printings? That's a land! We need those to just play the fun stuff even. Some people find that foiling their decks, also an expensive process, satisfying. Not even just foiling, but premium versions or altered card art even.

It's a game, but it's become expensive and popular. It's a game but it's become a hobby a lot of people have become used to expressing themselves with in a fun way.

That said, if you're setting boundary at the table for your comfort, there shouldn't be a problem. I would be very confused if someone got mad when you said "I'd rather you not hold one of my cards worth over $5000, stranger who is mad I played another stax piece."

I think this is a pretty easy, pretty short one, Al. I don't think you're the Bolas for being protective of your - essentially - investment. If you were into riding high end sports cars, I doubt you'd let just anybody touch them or get in. While it's not quite the same can get pretty close.

So yeah, no Bolas.

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