Am I The Bolas? - Targeting "Not That Kind of Deck"

Mike Carrozza • October 25, 2022

Tergrid, God of Fright | Illustrated by Yongjae Choi

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, I'm making a list and checking it twice! 

Editor's note: Mike Mark, it's way too early for Christmas jokes.

This week, a Reddit post from a little while ago that was sent my way by our pal Jake Fitzsimons!

(Email edited for clarity, brevity, and whatever else people edit for, I'm not a doctor. I also shoehorned the article premise into it, obviously.)


I was playing my Wort, the Raidmother deck at a table with Narset, Enlightened Master, Tergrid, God of Fright and Isshin, Two Heavens as One. Before the game, the Tergrid and Narset players assured us that they weren't playing "those types of decks" (which they in fact were). Me and the Isshin player then both sort of agreed that it was an "anything goes" type game.

On turn five, I copied Boundless Realms to take me to 28 mana. On turn six, I then Storm King's Thunder where X was 22 and copied it with Wort, so I would copy the next spell 44 times. I then used Beast Within to blow up all noncreatures (including lands), followed by a Blasphemous Act.

The Isshin player didn't have an issue with it, but the Narset and Tergrid players kicked off and said it was an unsportsmanlike way to win and that they won't be playing with me in the future.

Should I apologize, or based on the fact that it was a fairly high powered table, was it a fair play? Am I the Bolas for my cutthroat play against decks that were stronger than I was led to believe? 

(The following was added in the comments later in the Reddit Thread:)

When someone plays a Narset on turn three and the Tergrid player's opening plays are Tinybones, Trinket Thief into Plaguecrafter, you quickly notice that they are those types of decks. They weren't necessarily cEDH decks, but they did lie about what their decks do in the pre-game talk

(For those wondering how OP accomplished this on turn five, also in the comments was an explanation that I've expanded on:

Three lands in opening hand.

Turn 1 - Myriad Landscape.

Turn 2 - Forest + Farseek. Total lands: three.

Turn 3 - Cultivate + land from Cultivate in hand to play for turn. Total lands: five.

Turn 4 - Mountain from hand + Wort, the Raidmother. Total lands: six.

Turn 5 - Land for turn + Boundless Realms copied with Wort and two Goblin tokens. First copy resolves ramping seven up to 14, then the second copy adds 14, bringing to total of 28 lands.)


Thanks for sending this to me, Jake. If you have a story of your own or would like me to opine on a Reddit post, be sure to send it over to !


Let's start with an obvious point: this is just one person's perspective of the events of this game, and it's not the person who submitted it, so I don't get to ask further questions. That little extra bit I found in the comments later is going to be doing some heavy lifting as far as context goes, but as you can imagine, I'll be using this as a springboard for a topic we'll get into later.

Let's just say the fact that you got to turn five with such an explosive play tells me that these decks you were up against weren't likely cEDH decks. Your "turn-five 28 lands" play is going to make me ask all Wort players if their deck is "that kind of Wort" deck from now on.

I understand that having the Isshin player here to back you adds some credibility that these other two were playing their decks the way "those kinds" of decks would play, but let's review something:

If somebody shows up to the table with a Tergrid, God of Fright deck, I'm going to  assume we're dealing with a discard or edict deck. Would I be shocked to see Tinybones? Not at all. Will I be shocked to see Plaguecrafter, a card that, in my opinion, has some of the absolute best synergy with the commander? Not at all! Come on, even in a fail case on a board where my opponents have no creatures to sacrifice, at least you get a discard out of it. Asking a Tergrid player to avoid playing a card like that is frankly like asking, I don't know, a Wort player not to play Boundless Realms!

I don't think, at least not with the context provided (or lack thereof, rather), that your opponents had enough of a chance to prove or disprove that their decks were "not that kind of deck". I understand that you have the support of the Isshin player here, but I don't think that seeing two synergistic cards from one player is enough evidence to justify going absolutely nuclear and clearing the whole board of everything.

That said, hot damn, what a cool play. That is disgusting. That's very funny, I'd have a laugh and ask to shuffle up and go again, but I'd ask why you're so worried about "those kinds of decks" when your deck is capable of getting to this point itself?

Benefit of the doubt and OP saw Tergrid player tutor and announce Pox or the Narset player revealed two extra turn spells off of an early Faithless Looting, I can appreciate confronting these players for their misrepresentation of their decks with an absolutely savage play. Good on you.

But we simply don't have that information.

And even if they are playing those kinds of decks and they misrepresented it, if you don't have an out like the impressive explosion your deck pulled off, you can point at the cards and ask why they would claim not to be playing "those kinds of decks" when in reality you're seeing pieces of them. Then you can scoop and scoot over to another table or tell them that you have another deck to go toe-to-toe with "that kind of deck".

The truth is, if somebody has to misrepresent their deck to tables for them to enjoy stomping at a table that was not properly primed for the correct power level, what an absolute loser! I mean, sincerely, what a sad, sad person! 

Who NEEDS it this badly that they can't be honest about their deck so they can stomp? This is the kind of person who thinks they can delude themselves into believing that they've earned a victory when in reality they know in the back of their mind that their victory is hollow because its foundation is in deceit. 

If you've made it this far and you have a deck that really is "not that kind of deck" but get the same pushback, introduce your deck with the theme, the cards that differ from the regular builds, and how you've powered away from the builds that draw stigma.

Have fun out there.

Thanks for reading! Come on back! Send in your stories!

Oh, yeah. I can't render a real verdict without more context so I'm going to flip a coin.

Yup, OP is 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