Am I The Bolas? - Reading the Play

Mike Carrozza • December 20, 2021

Blind with Anger Illustrated by Dave Dorman

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 your Secret Santa!

 

I hope you like it!

This week, threat assessment time.

(Email edited for brevity, anonymity, and clarity)

Hi, Hello, How do you do, Mark?

Hello, Mark.

In a recent game, I was in a decent position, but not game-winning. Just  slightly ahead of everyone else. I had a bunch of Merfolk that weren’t attacking.

The guy next to me was playing Borborygmos Enraged and had a small hand, but then played Nylea's Intervention where X was 13. 

He could have killed every creature I had, so I asked what he’s planning to do with those lands. He said “I dunno.”
I discussed briefly with an opponent since I was really the only solid target, I decided to counter it.

He said “Alright. I didn’t say I was gonna target you, but fine. I scoop.” And picked up his cards and left.

Am I the Bolas for this instance of threat assessment?

Thank you, 

Brett Harris

Hey, it's me and I say hi hello back!

Hey, Brett.

It's refreshing to have a name I don't have to make up this week! (lol jk, I came up with Brett Harris because they're the guys from Parks and Rec Animal Control.)

This feels incredibly cut and dry. Almost too easy, even. You're the Bolas for playing Counterspell.

I'm kidding! Of course, I am!

As much as I dislike counterspells and prefer on-board removal (excuse me, it's not my fault I love Rakdos and Orzhov over everything), I have to say you made the correct call. With the information presented to you in play, countering a Nylea's Intervention fetching 13 lands was correct. Hell, if you can counter that anytime, you should! That's a 15-mana spell, what the hell kind of spell costs 15 and does nothing? Especially with Angry Bobo who pitches lands to damage. He not only could have taken out your board but also tossed some lands to dome you some, too! Angry Bobo doesn't mess around!

LOOK INTO HIS EYE!

You were in a commanding position and made the right move. There are two things bugging me in this. I will now address the Bobo player.

NUMBER ONE - You don't slam down a 15-mana spell without a plan, bud.

"I dunno" is bullcrap I can smell through my screen just reading the email. You knew exactly what those lands would do. Three damage per land with 13 lands to hand means 39 damage in a format where 40 life is the starting point, and I would wager a lot of money here if I bet that this game had gone a little while and Brett had lost at least one life. Angry Bobo is an 8-mana creature. Time has clearly passed. Therefore, allowing the resolution of this spell would more than likely spell the end of the game for Brett. Also, Brett was offering the possibility of a deal! In asking the question of what your plans are for the lands to hand, Brett is asking for some assurance that he and his creatures will survive. Bobo player slammed the Intervention down without thinking about countermagic and got boned, simple as that. Who hasn't directly played into a counter?!

NUMBER TWO - Interaction is paramount to the success of Magic as a game and Commander as a format. Throwing in the towel when your big spell that threatened to kill off a player gets countered by said player is a real ding dong move.

Not to mention "I didn’t say I was gonna target you, but fine" sounds like you crossed arms and huffed as you said it. And guess what, bud! You didn't not say it either. You were given an opportunity and thought you had it in the bag. "If I don't signal my intentions, maybe he'll let it slide and he'll miss that my commander can take him out once this resolves!" Whoopsie, looks like Brett paid attention and you salty scooped rather than accept that it was absolutely the correct move.

Try to remember that this is a single game out of what hopefully end up being many. You want to have to remember that sometimes things don't go your way, but that's fine because they will again sometime soon. If you keep getting got in the same way, that means it's time for some meta adjustment! Sneak a Guttural Response into that Gruul deck, dude. Protect your wincon. Maybe don't sink all your 15 mana into the spell that makes it obvious you're going for a kill? And try not to be so outwardly salty about someone properly reading your play. Present anybody who knows this game at all with Borborygmos Enraged and Nylea's Intervention, then tell them X in the Intervention is 13. Watch them correctly identify the next move. Have some table talk. Make some deals. And maybe don't get too greedy when a blue player's got mana up and is in the lead. That's a lesson I haven't learned yet, but get reminded of all the time. You have time to grow and learn from this.

But for now...

You're definitely the Bolas.

Not you, Brett.

I meant the Bobo guy.

Thanks for writing in!

If you, the reader, have a story you'd like covered on Am I The Bolas?, please email markcarbonza@gmail.com!

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