Am I The Bolas? – Putting Foot Down

Mike Carrozza • October 20, 2021

Prismatic Ending Illustrated by John Stanko

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!

Who am I?

I’m Mark Carbonza! I’m the guy who aspires to be as happy as Gisa is.

SHE JUST LOOKS ECSTATIC TO BE IN HER ELEMENT!

This week, an email about a stick in the mud at a local game store:

(Email edited for brevity, clarity, and anonymity)

I SEEK THE ONE THEY CALL MIKE MARK

Hey there, arbiter of Grixis Elder Dragon status!

My name is 3ColorsAllDay and I wonder of I’m the Bolas.

I went to Commander night at one of my local game stores (not my usual one, though). I got there a little early and sat down with another player looking for a game. Quickly enough two others joined. The first game was wild. I ended up winning mostly due to an opponent’s Timesifter. We all agreed to play another game.

One of my opponent’s asked if we could play a lower powered game. I happily obliged, even offering up several of my lower powered decks. They interrupted me while doing so and said “I trust you not to pub stomp.” So I pulled out my Sigarda, Champion of Light humans deck. It quickly became clear that my choice was not cool by this other player. They made several comments about my deck being too powerful, even when one of our opponents started going off.

When I cast an Akroma’s Will on my team to try and stop the player popping off, the only comment from my unhappy opponent was “I guess 8s are low powered to some people.”

I was trying to save their neck (and mine) from certain defeat. It didn’t even work!

In the end the player who kept complaining won.

This person plays at several of the stores I frequent. My question is, will I be the Bolas when I refuse to play with this player again? If they ever ask to join a pod I’m part of, I mean –  to refuse to let them. I don’t care if I win or lose, but I don’t like being the target of another player’s incessant complaining when I’m not even remotely targeting them. Especially when I’m trying to stop another opponent from winning and while I’m literally protecting the person complaining.

Thanks funny man of Cards!

3ColorsAllDay

YOU HAVE FOUND WHAT YOU SOUGHT

First of all, thanks for writing in! I hope MORE PEOPLE DECIDE TO DO SO BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT MAKES WRITING THIS COLUMN SO MUCH FUN FOR ME AND THE READERS!

I really appreciate it.

I’ll say that anytime someone asks for lower powered decks, I like to ask for clarification. To some people, lower powered decks still include infinite combos or tutors. To me, that’s not the case for example. I deliberately prefer to not use tutors at all (besides land tutors like Rampant Growth) because that’s more powerful than I care to play. My reason for saying this is that some people might not feel the same way. I’m glad they called for a lower-powered game, but to not set parameters or even hear you out when you were going through your decks for the game they requested??? No thank you bud, not a fan of that.

That said…

Buuuuuuddy, you don’t have to play with anybody you don’t enjoy playing with. This person sounded like a pill.

“I guess 8s are low-powered to some people.” News flash, jerk! It’s a game of variance where even precons can stand a chance to win at high-powered tables. With the perfectly timed protection spell in a creature based deck, that’s not an 8, that’s just playing the game right. The latest Midnight Hunt Coven Counters precon deck has Unbreakable Formation in it for god’s sake. That card costs one cheaper than Akroma’s Will!. They’re looking for something to blame if they lose. They can kick rocks and eat sand.

That kind of negativity bombarding at you just trying to play the game right – under the conditions and terms that were asked for without any clarification – that’s not an environment I’d be happy with either. If you can isolate the issue to one person, then you’ve found the problem.

That said, rather than immediately icing them out, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend having a chat with them about the situation. However, with the details in your email, I’d be shocked to hear they’d want to have any kind of chat anyway, despite winning. (Wow, who knew an 8 could lose to a lower powered deck by their standards huh hahahahahah this guy sounds like a fun person!)

Altogether, you don’t owe anybody anything. Courtesy of kindness and respect in those environments is expected, but once someone breaks through courtesy, you readjust. Sounds like you have a plan and it’ll take one maybe awkward and blunt conversation when the time comes, but your game experience might be better for it. (…maybe try to have the chat anyway even if they don’t seem like they’d be into it, maybe they’ve cooled down…)

NOT THE 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