Am I The Bolas? - Shovel's For Digging, Friend

Mike Carrozza • February 7, 2024

(Othelm, Sigardian Outcast |Illustrated by Alexey Kruglov)

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?"

I'm ready to hear you out and offer advice. All you have to do is email! You might see your story in the column. You might even hear it on the podcast. Which podcast? 


I'm Mark Carbonza, the guy who's going to Chicago in a few weeks and can't wait to see the wind!

I hear it gets cold out there this time of year.

This week, the holidays were a while ago, but the stories are just coming in!

(Post edited for brevity, clarity, and to sprinkle a little holiday spice!)


Hi Mark!

Longtime reader, first-time caller!

This story is from last Chrismas Eve. I got together with friends to play some holiday games. Overall, the night was enjoyable with a lot of fun games. Unfortunately, the mood completely changed when we played our last game.

I was playing my Gluntch, the Bestower deck (shoutout to Ben Doolittle for the base of this list!). For context, the goal of the deck is to use Gluntch's Treasure-making to ramp into big threats. It also allows me to give opponents resources to deal with anyone while they're ahead. Overall, I'd describe the deck as a group hug deck with a serious endgame. My friends were playing Isu the Abominable, Meria, Scholar of Antiquity, and Obzedat, Ghost Council.

I keep a starting hand with a one-mana ramp spell into Gluntch on turn two. Things change drastically on turn three. I draw my only tutor in the deck, Shared Summons, and proceed to cast it just before turn four. I tutor up Bennie Bracks, Zoologist and Tendershoot Dryad, since drawing cards is the weakest aspect of the deck. With my Treasures and creatures, I am able to cast both of these on turn four. In all of my goldfishing with the deck, I was not prepared for this.

The next few turns I assembled a massive board state, drew 12+ cards, and had total control of the game. My friends were developing their boards during this time but could not compete with the acceleration Gluntch's Treasures gave me. Unfortunately, I could not use the endless amounts of Saprolings on board to attack because the Meria player had gotten Colossus Hammer and a trample Equipment out. I knew the Meria player tended to have Temur Battle Rage/Embercleave type effects, so holding back was my best option.

I kept removing threats when they popped up while still creating an overwhelming board state. Unfortunately, we got stuck in this loop of me taking long turns trying to dig for a way to end the game and removing my opponents' biggest threats. Even with all of the draw, I could not find any ways to let me attack. I knew the table was really frustrated with how the game was going. I was as well.

We finally got to the point where the other players are accusing me of "spinning my wheels", which I will admit I was. But I was trying to end the game. I also tried to reiterate to them that I had never had this happen, which, in hindsight, never actually helps the table feel better about what's happening. I'm finally able to end the game off of a Skyboon Evangelist and Silverwing Squadron being able to knock everyone out. An awful game to end the night on.

Immediately after the game finished, the Obzedat player said that my deck is the most unfun deck they have ever played against. I was already feeling self-conscious at this point because of the comments they were making during the game, but this one sent me over the edge. I held my tongue until the Obzedat player left and then I attempted to discuss what happened with the other players. They both held firm that I was spinning my wheels and dragging out the game. I countered that if they thought that, then why didn't they attempt to help me through my turns, even when it was obvious I was struggling to find a way to end the game.

I said my goodbyes and left. This is where I may be the Bolas. The comment from the Obzedat player stuck with me for days and I eventually contacted each of the players about the situation and how hurt I was by what they said. I did accuse them of not trying to help me through my turns, not being happy about the deck being so explosive, not asking to just end the game if they were so unhappy with how things were going, and telling me my deck was unfun. I never received a response from the Obzedat player, but the Isu and Meria player both told me that, at the end of the day, it was just one bad game. More importantly, they never meant to offend me, but just wanted to point out that my pace of play was too slow. That immediately made me regret making all of the accusations and having any anger towards my friends. Instead of taking what they were saying as constructive criticism, I took it personally. Even the Obzedat player had a point: I did not play the deck in a way that was fun for the table during that game. In the end, this became a learning experience for me on how to interact at a table where I am so far ahead.
The main thing I would like to know: Am I the Bolas for taking the criticism so personally rather than acknowledging its validity?

Being a year removed from this situation and after reading so many of these Am I the Bolas? articles, a similar situation to this seems to pop up every three to four articles. The only hope I have is that the players who are receiving criticism can give themselves the grace to learn from the experience. I love these articles because they do bring a lot of perspective onto the specifics of these stories. I think most Magic players could use a little more perspective on the game and give themselves the space to grow and learn. Thank you, Mark, for giving us space to do that. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

P.S. - Shameless plug for Am I the Bolcast?, it's HILARIOUS!

Warmest Regards,
Kwain, the Bestower


Hello! Thank you so much for the kind kind words at the end of your submission, Kwain. It means a lot to me that you not only wrote in but that you've been digging the podcast, too. If you, the reader, have a story to share, send it over to and I'll write it up here and maybe bring it to the crew for a podcast episode. 

Let's talk about this story, buddy. 

We've all had games where the deck has gotten away from us and you're digging and digging for an end, but it feels like you're holding things up. It's not fun to play against, and the pressure of closing it out is also not very fun! I've been on both sides of this. Recently, this happened to me while playing my Othelm, Sigardian Outcast/Wernog, Rider's Chaplain where I had one turn to win the game before passing to the Hakbal of the Surging Soul player. I knew I could dig into my deck really hard to find two cards that would clinch it for me. Unfortunately, they ended up being 30 cards deep into my library, and I had to do a lot of work to get there. Luckily, when I got the cards, I played them and explained to the opponents that unless they can deal with those cards, it was game over and we shuffled up. 

You bet your butt I was apologizing the whole way. 

That said, we were a bit more invested because it meant one of two players was going to take the game while the third remaining player kind of just let everything ride, no longer invested. 

In terms of your story, I get the game getting away from you and telling everybody that you've got the win, you just need to dig for it. Sometimes, that should be the springboard into a potential concession discussion. Also, it's not your opponents' job to offer to pitch in with solutions for you to win. If they don't want to help you out while you're "spinning your wheels", that's totally fair. 

The question here is whether you're the Bolas for confronting them for their comments. 

Short answer: no. You're not the Bolas for having a discussion with your playgroup about something that has transpired. I appreciate that you did. Like I always say, confrontation isn't always negative. In fact, letting things gnaw at you can usually come up subconsciously and erode relationships more than just clearing the air. I love that you did speak to them. I do think that, by the tone here, you may have gone a little aggro on it. Remember, when you're going to have a chat with pals about stuff like this, be sure to have a level head and had time to cool down. 

It's totally fair to take the criticism personally, but even after the fact, you recognize that they were right. What's important is that you apologized and alerted everybody to how it made you feel. I'm glad you were able to work past this and get in more games. And thanks for crediting this column with the good that happened here. That's very nice. 

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