Am I The Bolas? - Pumpkin Eater

Mike Carrozza • June 28, 2023

Tibalt's Trickery |Illustrated by Anna Podedworna

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, the guy who still hasn't seen The Lord of The Rings!

Please, leave me alone, I don't want to watch extended editions of anything, I swear!

This week, a straight-up lay-up of a submission.

(Email edited for brevity, clarity, adding the thing needed for you to hover and see a preview, also, blink twice if you're safe!!)


Hi Mark!

I have a sort of rotating five-player playgroup that has gotten infinitely better since a certain player left.

This player was notorious for cheating (i.e. drawing extra cards, changing life totals). It got to the point where they had openly admitted to cheating, said it was "funny", and made it clear they weren't going to stop. Now, in the time before they left the playgroup (not for any reason related to their behavior, by the way, but just because they moved away), the other players and I were consistently targeting them in-game because of the cheating.

This despite the fact that their decks were a few tiers below the sort of explosive, powerful stuff the rest of us would regularly jam; for example, Krenko, Mob Boss, Queza, Augur of Agonies, Atraxa, Praetors' Voice Infect, and occasionally I'd run Korvold, Fae-Cursed King.

Am I the Bolas for targeting this player because of their behavior in the past and possibly present? Or are they the Bolas for stealing and cheating in the first place?

-Glistener Dwarf


Hello, Glistener Dwarf! Thank you for submitting your story to me, and I want to thank everybody who has sent me anything at all. I promise I'm getting through your emails and will have articles up soon enough. Please continue sending stories in to

This has to be one of the easiest of stories to comment on. Of all the stories I receive, the ones where it's someone cheating brazenly that they basically announce themselves to be the Bolas. In this case, they came out and said they were cheating and thought it was funny. That's a jerk. And I'm only calling them that because I can't use other words I want to.

If someone has admitted to cheating and that they will continue to do so, it's over! If they show no remorse or will to change, unless for some reason your group is fine with it, then it's curtains for Cheatyface.

Let me get on a bit of a soapbox here.

If somebody feels the need to cheat at a game where there is no gain of standing or money or some sort of anything, they are a sad, sad, sad, sad, sad, sad, sad loser freaking loser dingus loser. 

Whenever I play at a prerelease, I offer my deck to be cut. When a deck is offered to me to cut or shuffle, I don't bother. Because if somebody is cheating at a prerelease, what a friggin' loser. If someone is cheating during a casual Commander game, what a friggin' loser.

If they'd admitted to cheating a bunch and don't care to change their ways, they are the Bolas. Full stop.

Are you the Bolas for targeting them every game for past games?

Usually, bringing in heat from past games is a no no. But this is someone who has continually behaved in an untrustworthy way and in a way that warps the game. So yeah, go for it. To hell with 'em.


If this person had apologized or tried to make amends, promising to play fair, and you still decided to target them, I'd say that you might be the Bolas for not giving someone a chance to better themselves at all. If they'd proven themselves past that point, then I can't blame you. Fool me once, et cetera, et cetera.

But that's not the case here. Good riddance.

Thanks again for writing in!

Keep on sending me 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