Am I The Bolas? - Thumb Twiddling in the Void

Mike Carrozza • February 14, 2024

(Void Mirror |Illustrated by Colin Boyer)

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 this weekend!

Let's go, everybody! Say hi!

This week, let's talk about the meta!

(Post edited for brevity, clarity, and to do a little bit of razzle dazzle!)



First time writer here! Let me preface this with some backstory if that's quite alright. We have a pod that meets every Tuesday night for some Commander. Before my roommate (Jack) and I went over to our mutual friend's (Ryan) place, he informs me that they wanted to try two-headed giant tonight and I'd be paired with the newbie of the group. This wasn't an issue, and I was excited to play more casual decks to help the new guy (Pete) out.

So me and Pete get our decks picked out, and I'm thinking we're gonna have some nice casual fun. Apparently, the two across from us had other plans and start busting out their Eldrazi and hardcore artifact decks against us. Needless to say, the newbie and I didn't have any fun and he really didn't get to learn anything.

Fast-forward to why I'm asking if I am the Bolas? My roommate is the person who played the Eldrazi against us the prior week. He announces he feels like "spreading the pain" again with it. I knew I had one specific deck that had a Void Mirror in it, I knew it was a long shot, but I grabbed my Pirate deck and shuffled up. My opening hand was two lands and Void Mirror. Perfect.

I kept it and, on turn two, I threw it down.

The look on my roommate's face was priceless. An absolute seething aura all around him. He was a pillar of salt the entire match. All of his colorless spells couldn't be cast, and his entire deck was colorless. He refused to scoop and just sat there getting angrier every turn his buddy from last week couldn't destroy the Void Mirror for him every turn. By the time his buddy did destroy it, I had a legion of Pirates and Admiral Beckett Brass out and just stealing his mana rocks left and right before killing him and everyone at the table.

He's been upset about it for a while now.  

I told him, "It sure wasn't fun not getting to play your cards and having to hold them, right? It's probably just as bad as inviting a newbie to play a game and kicking him in with your best decks."

He knew he didn't have a counter-argument, but he still feels like I did him a great injustice.

I ask you now, am I the Bolas? I mean, I know I am and loved every second of that game 😇.

-Nico Bolas


I'm glad you wrote in! I have some thoughts on this one, but I won't even wait to say it: I agree with you! Bolas! For sure! Before we get too far in...

If you, the reader, have a story you want to share, send it in to and I'll get to it for the column and maybe even the Bolcast!

Let's get into this story and the topic it introduces, which is one I've been thinking about a lot lately. 

Folks, there is a reason Iona, Shield of Emeria is banned. Preventing players from casting cards of a particular color (or in this case, lack thereof) is especially backbreaking if they are already running a mono-colored deck. A two-headed giant game should have afforded your opponent the ability to get out of this with some targeted removal courtesy of his partner, but even so, starting the game with no ability to play anything whatsoever is brutal. And it sounds like you enjoyed it.

I get that it feels righteous to be "teaching someone a lesson", but this could have been a conversation. In your story, there doesn't seem to have been any attempt to state your worry about the new player at the table not having a good game experience playing against their highest power decks. There doesn't seem to be any semblance of trying to reason with this player you're worried about. Getting Void Mirror down on turn two does feel like living the dream in a game like this, though, especially when you're throwing this Hail Mary. 

In this scenario, I agree that you are the Bolas: you didn't clear it with the table, it hoses one player badly, it's rough. 

But, is it bad that you metagamed your playgroup? 

I think that if a playgroup is getting together regularly and the same decks are cropping up and evolving or players stick to some playstyles, it's only natural for folks to pick up cards that'll be good against those decks and strategies. It's only fair for the players who regularly play against a discard deck to pick up copies of Nephalia Academy and Library of Leng to keep pieces they're tired of tossing in the graveyard. 

Packing a Void Mirror at a table where an Eldrazi deck keeps stomping around is definitely a smart move, but understand that locking players out of a game isn't a great time. Unless you're aiming for competitive play, it's a bummer to be on the receiving end of it, and that's why this situation feels like it's fair to play it in. It isn't a free-for-all, it's two-on-two, two pairs facing off. You essentially have one opponent. 

The part that makes you the Bolas is the fact that you identified an issue in the playgroup, specifically with this player and their deck, and you made no effort to communicate the issue instead opting to play a silver bullet and then taunt them. 

Were you right? Sure, it's not the best way to show off a game to a new player. Slamming what is the equivalent of a nine-mana banned card in Void Mirror on turn two might also be sending an awful message to your newbie friend. 

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