Am I The Bolas? - The Couple That Spells Together...

Mike Carrozza • July 5, 2023

Spellweaver Duo |Illustrated by Steve Argyle

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 now that the One of One The One Ring has been found, let's focus on finding me the real best foil out there. 

My king!

(Email edited for brevity, clarity, and Bulgarity - shout out to Bulgaria!)


I recently found your articles and fell in love. Thank you for the great articles!

I joined an awesome playgroup ~6 months ago, and with that came a move to a new LGS, about 44 minutes away. Most people are great; there are a lot of players with issues with threat assessment, targeting, triggers, rules, the normal for a large mostly unregulated group on weekends, so I stick mostly to the people I know and the people they pod with to get more fun games in. My Bolas transmutation happened the previous weekend at a birthday party, I knew a little over half the 16 people. I am a little behind, so when I get there games are already underway so the other free people form a pod. Rule 0 asked for perceived power level, I keep a range of decks from 0(arcane)-cEDH. We shuffle up with:

Player 1 - The Locust God - Wheels
Player 2 - Queen Allenal of Ruadach - Tokens
Player 3 - Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor - Fear, Shadow, Intimidate small creature, good stuff
Me - Ognis, the Dragon's Lash - Haste Tribal

Game progresses well for four turns, people are establishing boards: Player 1 has Toothy, Imaginary Friend and The Locust God, Player 2 has Allenal with Rancor and three tokens, Player 3 has a 1/1 fear creature and Gix has already been played and destroyed by Player 1, and I have my commander and Lagomos, Hand of Hatred. Then Player 3 plays Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. No big deal, I have Whip of Erebos in hand and he lets us know he has no wheels, it's just a good stuff card. Unfortunately, The Locust God player is immediately butthurt, visibly souring. It's his turn and he drops Windfall. I question him on this since it will be for six cards each. He gives no explanation other than, "I just need to." I have removal, but now I don't know if I want to get rid of Sheoldred, The Locust God, or the 3/3 Toothy at this point.

I choose Toothy so there isn't an impossibly large creature on board since I am about to lose my removal and also to punish the greedy/rude play. It resolves, we all take 14 since Toothy brought Player 1's hand up to seven.

Player 1 then plays Bident of Thassa.

I again question this as he is now at five life with eight locusts on board plus commander; he says, "Well, Sheoldred counters my entire deck anyways, and he just gained 14 life so we can't win."

I know this mentality, so I don't respond, knowing it would be useless. He then swings all out at me, I again question this play. "Why not swing at Player 3 if you're going to kill yourself anyway? I have lots of removal so if you strike a deal I can try and get rid of Sheoldred."

"I just want the game to end so we can play another game."

Swing goes through, putting me at 11 life and knocking him out of the game.
Player 2 ramps and swings her commander at me, saying she didn't want to lose her commander to deathtouch. Fine, I'm at five life.

Player 3 gets me with a funny kill: Sign in Blood targeting me for 6 life lost. RIP. Everyone but Player 1 has a good chuckle.

The game proceeds to last 12 more turns. Player 3 eventually wins with Cabal Coffers emptying his hand into Gary, but I've already left the table to play a different game, more than mildly miffed at Player 1.

As the day continues, the salt consumes me and I refuse to play if Player 1 & 2 are the only people free (they are a couple and exclusively play together). Trying not being rude about it, I just conveniently "take a break" whenever they are the only ones open.

Am I the Bolas for not giving the players a second chance?




Before we begin, I'd like to say thank you for the kind words about my column. It's really nice to read everybody's positive feedback about it, and I really appreciate it. And thanks for sending in a story. If you, the reader, have a story you'd like me to cover here, please send an email to and I'll work on it!

Alright, let's dive in.


I want to begin by saying that you are never obligated to play games against anybody you don't want to play with. Full stop. Unless it's a tournament setting, I guess? But casual play, you have many decision points that allow you to opt out of the game. Sit down, yes or no? Shuffle up, yes or no?

Getting to know these people at your local game store and recognizing that you don't mesh well is good, and now you can not waste your time on games that will frustrate you.

Player 1, aka The Locust God, is a sore, sour duck. I get that you've built your deck around wheeling the table and that Sheoldred, the Apocalypse is a great counter to this strategy, but my god, play to your outs! Kind of just giving up and saying he has to Windfall is garbage. You've got attackers! Swing your flying commander in for some damage to counteract the life gain!

It's also a multiplayer game! Speak to your opponents in the same boat and ask them if there's a deal to be made. I'm glad you offered one up. I'm upset Locust God said no.

Did the Queen Allenal player have any other reason to attack you in this instance besides not wanting to lose the commander to deathtouch? It's not like there were highlighted bonuses to the attack. Also, if they decided to block with Sheoldred, you did the table a solid and can cast your commander again. If they don't block, the Sheoldred player just took commander damage!

I see what you mean by lack of threat assessment and such.

You're not the Bolas for not wanting to play against anybody. The attitude is what does it over the gameplay decisions: the defeatist attitude in the face of an opportunity to work together to take on a collective threat is really what's frustrating.

Would I choose not to play against them forever? Probably not, personally. But do I respect you if you choose not to? Sure!

I think what you have to do is see how you feel when you go to your LGS. If they're the only ones available and you just drove 44 minutes to get there, do you really want to wait around or potentially not get to play because these two are the only ones? Are there ways to express your displeasure with situations that might be constructive and that Locust God player will maybe implement? Either way, I wish you well and hope more pods open up for you in the future. Thanks for writing in, JB!

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