Am I The Bolas? - Squeaking Out a Win

Mike Carrozza • September 11, 2023

Tear Asunder |Illustrated by Dave Kendall

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, and I made you a pie!

Aw, man. Eldraine is fun!

This week, what's the point of agreeing to playing to win if you're going to be salty about it?

(Email edited for brevity, clarity, punctuation, and to hide lyrics by Sum 41 in here somewhere. Look for the *.)


I know I've written in once already, but I have another situation I think might be interesting to look at. Apologies for the length, I wanted to be thorough.

Storming through the party like my name is El Niño*, the set-up is me (playing Sidisi, Brood Tyrant), P2 (Giada, Font of Hope), P3 (Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait), and P4 (Zur the Enchanter). We're in a decently high-powered pod, and we all have our rule 0 conversation (don't pull punches, anything goes, we're all trying to win).

Game is fairly standard. I'm really the only person who's able to have their commander sit for more than a turn as the other three are all killed on sight. We reach a point in the game where Aesi and Zur are a bit behind on board, Giada has an Avacyn, Angel of Hope and a few other Angels out (including Giada due to a timely Teferi's Protection), and I have Sidisi, three tapped Zombie tokens, a Mesmeric Orb, an Altar of Dementia, and four open mana. The only notable board piece on Aesi and Zur is that the Zur has a Rest in Peace in play, which has been steadily exiling people's decks over the course of the game.

The Giada player moves to secure a win by casting Armageddon, which the Aesi and Zur players don't have an answer to. I don't either, but I do have a Tear Asunder in hand and the mana to kick it. I hold priority to think it over for a minute, but eventually I end up choosing to Tear Asunder the Rest in Peace instead of the Avacyn, my reason being that not a lot of my deck is left. I had maybe 30 cards left. A lot of my cards were stuck in exile. I was losing seven lands to the Armageddon, and after checking the massive exile pile I had, I saw my World Shaper was still in the deck. The Giada player was at a very low life total (low enough that there was a chance I could win if I kept my lands), and I decided to go for the glory play instead of the smart one. With the Armageddon on the stack, I cast Tear Asunder for two mana, targeting the Rest in Peace. This is met with a few confused looks between the other three players, at least two of them mention I could easily have targeted the Avacyn. I said I was sure and the game continued.

All my lands went to the 'yard, and the turn eventually loops back around to me. On the start of my turn, I untap, mill the three cards to Mesmeric Orb, and I manage to flip not only the World Shaper into my graveyard, but a Dread Return and a Wonder as well. I flashback the Dread Return by sacrificing three of my Zombie tokens, then bring back the World Shaper, leaving it up for defense as I can sac it at instant speed to the Altar of Dementia to give my board flying with the Wonder.

The turn goes to the Giada player, who swings out at me. I do the expected and sacrifice the World Shaper to give my board flying and block enough damage to stay alive. This whole time, the Zur and Aesi players have mentally checked out and are on their phones due to not really being able to do anything due to the state of the game, having most of their decks in exile and not having any mana due to the wipe. They both draw-go for their turns, and I rip a Living Death off the top to bring my board back. I barely manage to kill the Giada player the next turn, having maybe two cards in my library left and would have died the next upkeep, but after the Giada player died, the other two players just scooped and said their GGs. That was the last game of the night, but the Zur player remarked to me before we said our goodbyes that me targeting the Rest in Peace was a bad decision, that I should have just given the game to the Giada player, it felt like a spite play because my entire deck was graveyard and self-mill-based and Rest in Peace turns my deck off (I'm also quite vocal about my dislike for the card), and it was petty of me to drag the game out that long when the other two players didn't really get to impact the game anymore.

The other two agreed with them, and I didn't really know what to say so I just stayed quiet. I really didn't mean to make them feel excluded from the game or ruin their experience, I was just going along with what I thought we had agreed on in our rule zero: don't pull punches and try to win. I talked to them later and they all said they didn't care, it was one game and they were over it before they went to bed that night. I still feel like I might have made the wrong decision, and I'd like another's opinion.

TLDR: I targeted a hate piece that, if removed, could allow me to win the game instead of making an MLD spell affect the caster, Am I The Bolas?


Torn Asunder


Hello again, and thanks again for writing in...again!

This column really doesn't work without you: the readers. Whether it's by reading the articles or sending me your stories or Reddit posts, I really cannot thank you enough. Please send more through to! I'll get to 'em, I promise.

That said, my gut reaction is that this is ridiculous. Never mind that Rest in Peace is a card I also absolutely hate as a graveyard-lover.

I feel like this is one of the most cut-and-dry cases on from this series. You all had a conversation before the game and expected each other to "pull no punches" and to "play to win". So what's the fuss all about when you demonstrate that you had a way out, defend yourself from the Giada player's board, while also pacifying your other opponents? Yeah, it's not fun to have your lands blown up, but blame the person who brought that to the table. If you're going to be salty because somebody didn't make the "good for everyone" move in a setting where the goal is the be the only one standing, I don't know what to tell you.

Torn Asunder made the selfish move, but it remains a move that had hope and potential to take the game. It ultimately did! TA, you won! Sure, you'd lose to your own upkeep, but then what? Aesi and Zur duke it out? Whatever, you did something that could have maybe won you the game without concessions and it was a cool as heck line.

I don't think you're the Bolas here. I think you did what you said you'd do, and I appreciate the cool line you had.

If you've got stories or see any online that you'd like me to comment on, email me at! Thanks again 🙂

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