Am I The Bolas? - Tergrid EDH + Pox = Scoop.

Mike Carrozza • February 23, 2021

Tergrid, God of Fright 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!

Who am I?

My name is Mark Carbonza. I'm the guy who legally had his middle name changed to Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar from David. 

This week, we have a moment brought to us by a God from Kaldheim. Can you guess which?

Mark, Am I The Bolas...

...for Playing Pox into a Tergrid, God of Fright in EDH, leading to my friends to scoop?

I was playing my Nath of the Gilt-Leaf deck with a couple of pals. With Kaldheim's arrival, naturally I included the new God Tergrid, God of Fright because of its synergy with my commander. But Tergrid is too powerful to not warrant adding in some extra toys like Pox and Smallpox. Anyway, I played Tergrid and slammed a Pox on the table, but everybody scooped. Am I the Bolas here? 


Tergrid Has Another Face?

Hi, Tergrid Has Another Face!

Thanks for writing in about this, because this has actually come up on my playgroup recently! I made changes to my Anje Falkenrath Everybody Discard deck, obviously tossing Tergrid in for a spin. 

Here are my thoughts on Tergrid. The closest thing we have to her ability in Magic is It That Betrays, a 12-mana Eldrazi that shares half a textbox with Tergrid in that with either of them on your battlefield, opponents sacrificing nontoken permanents will result in you putting them into play under your control (or in Tergrid's case, the choice of whether or not to put them in play). Tergrid comes out at less than half of the mana cost and tacks on that the same thing happens to permanent cards opponents discard. Yikes!

Upside: They're both creatures and removal in Commander is everywhere. 

Downside: Tergrid's low mana cost means that there can be a follow-up in the same turn while hard-casting.

I don't have a ton of information. What I do know is that, being a discard and a mill player myself, people don't like seeing their favorite pieces slip through their fingers. People put together their decks to make the deck do what it does. Conversely, you're doing the same thing, so what gives! Why are you the bad guy? 

Because Pox hits a third of everybody's hands, lands, and creatures. If permanents are discarded, you're getting them. You're definitely getting ramped from the lands getting sacked. Maybe the token player is fine with sacking a fraction of their army. But I don't think such a shift in power is inconsequential. You're pulling so far ahead that maybe it's not possible to catch up, or worse: not fun.

"But what about removal or Counterspell?" 

Okay, buddy. Sometimes even in counter-heavy decks, you just don't draw the right one. Hell, Nath is green. Veil of Summer is legal in EDH and could have been the windmill slam that sealed the deal. 


Verdict: You're the Bolas here, bud.

That said, I don't have the full story and maybe the power level was up there and you had the win on the table. But you could have also had no way to close out the game and sent people back to a few lands with no way to really do much. 

ALSO! I am assuming you're playing online on Spelltable or something. These days? Shuffling permanents around the board? Nah. Not into it. Infinitokens might be making a mint these days because of it, but the effort that goes into going around the table asking what got sac'ed and discarded, having to watch the only person at the table having a fun time with the latest play draw on these tokens... it's a lot to ask for and the effort-to-fun ratio probably meant that scooping is the way to go. A collective scoop is a win, though! So silver lining, pal!

More Thoughts on Tergrid, God of Fright in Commander

Personally, I think I would have been entirely satisfied if Tergrid's only effect was the discard rather than the sacrifice one. With discard, players can play their things and that maybe speeds up some poor decisions, but they get their most important stuff out before they get snagged by Tergrid. Maybe that allows players to prioritize holding nonpermanent spells to hose the Tergrid player. Either way, I believe the discard angle to be more interesting. 

What I really like is that it is a choice. Because this is how I personally feel, if I determine that the sacrifice ability is too strong or want to play Tergrid as ifthe God only cared about opponents discarding cards, I can decide to not take sacrifices in my Anje deck, for example. Maybe I make a deal with the table that I will only accept five sacrifices if she makes it to that many. A "may" ability is strong in the way that it allows political plays or adjustments to your own preference of game environment. 

Also sidenote: I wish I could play both Tergrid and Tergrid's Lantern in the same deck as different cards. I love the Lantern and love the creature. Truly so happy with the card despite how absolutely pushed it is.

Finally, it's no secret that Tergrid's spoiling brought up the discussion of Banned as Commander's return to the banned list, prompting folks to ask for Tergrid's inclusion on that list and others to prematurely celebrate the potential return of

to the 99s of their lists. I think Banned as Commander should be a house rule thing. Rule 0 chats should lead to discussion of power level and subsequently whether your commander is too good for the table. Having the Rules Committee come up with a Banned as Commander list may result in some currently banned creatures returning to the 99 of some lists, but most certainly also would mean some legends players love would make their first appearance on the list. 

All this to say, if you've got a commander people groan at too frequently, maybe consider having an alternate commander in the deck to swap places with or finding folks who are interested in meeting you at that power level.

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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