Am I The Bolas? - Wasting a Land
Wasteland | Illustrated by Una Fricker
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
I'm Mark Carbonza, and I'm L O S T I N S P A C E
Is Unfinity still happening?
This week, a Reddit post that was sent my way.
(edited for brevity, spelling, and formatting. They didn't ask if they were the Bolas, but look at the article you're reading. I'm giving this person a fun name and sign off even. It's my column! I do what I want!)
MARK, LOOK AT THIS OVER HERE!
My friend A tells us he kept a risky two-lander when starting off, and I already had a Wasteland in hand. He's on Veyran, Voice of Duality. I'm on Liesa, Shroud of Dusk, and there's two other players. Turn one, Riptide Laboratory, then on turn two, he plays Izzet Boilerworks then discards to hand size. I'm after him and go Wasteland and hit your Izzet Boilerworks.
He got really salty. I told him I wouldn't've done it had he not told us all how risky his keep was and how he hadn't drawn another land, plus he could've been lying. The next three turns, he fails to draw any lands, discards to hand size then concedes.
After the game, he wasn't that mad, but in-game he was rather upset and one of the other players told me it isn't really fair to do that. They said I should play Ghost Quarter over Wasteland and Strip Mine to avoid the feel-bads. I told them to run more lands and I wouldn't run any of them if there weren't lands I'm worried about, plus I'm trading one for one and losing a land so not a low cost for me either.
Edit: just wanna say the other player who told me to play Ghost Quarter has played Grand Arbiter Augustin IV stax, so not completely uncompetitive. Also, my opener was four lands, so I figured I could lose a land even in vain and not be out of the game.
So, am I the Bolas for using Wasteland as a tempo card when people keep a greedy hand?
I'll take my answer off air,
Papa Fun Time
STRAP IN, PAPA FUN TIME!
Thank you to readers for sending in stories and, of course, Reddit posts you want me to weigh in on! Please continue to do so!
Without further ado, let's get into the topic at hand. Papa Fun Time (I know I picked that name, but I am using it, honey), you've got to read the room. If a player is openly announcing they kept a greedy hand and offering up information about their game, it feels safe to say that this is a casual game.
If somebody were playing a competitive game, trying to win at all costs, wouldn't you assume that they would mulligan for a playable hand? Wouldn't competitive players assume the worst and plan for the possibility that there are cutthroat shenanigans such as turn-two targeted land destruction? Are bounce lands making the cut in competitive decks?
Either way, I understand the value of running targeted land destruction and encourage people to play more of it. I love Cabal Coffers and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, and I know how powerful they can be. If somebody wants to destroy them, honestly, that's fair. But I will be upset about it, obviously. Upset, but ready to admit that it's the correct play under the right circumstances. I also accept that the cost of something so powerful is a land drop and that seems like a fair trade. It absolutely is...when we're playing to win.
I'm of the mind that there's nothing worse than a total non-game. If somebody keeps a hand that seems good and doesn't quite make it while the rest of the table pulls ahead, it doesn't feel like I'm getting the most out of that game. I want to be challenged, I wanted to push ahead, I want my deck to do its thing, and I want to show off a little bit! If I get to do those things without being challenged, it's like showing my cousin's kids I can dunk on their five-and-a-half-foot-tall basketball net (which is still impressive: I'm 5'3"!).
You made the "correct" tempo play when it comes to a competitive environment, but you made the wrong play in terms of allowing yourselves to have the experience of a full game. Letting that player even have one turn with the land means they might have had a draw spell, hit another land, and possible done something with two mana after you blow up the Boilerworks. This isn't as effective at basically killing a player out of the game as what you've done, but hey, it's still pretty good.
The addendum about the stax player and saying it isn't uncompetitive rings like a "hey, my friend is a bad guy too, and he says Ghost Quarter, but what's he know, he plays stax!". Stax is a valid strategy. It's annoying, it's frustrating, it's a strategy a lot of people dislike and get salty over. But ultimately, stax is about locking things down and tempo, which are restrictions positioned throughout the game to offer new barriers and hurdles to get over. It can be rewarding to play against a stax deck. Unpopular opinion, I know, but I believe it.
That said, Wasteland a turn-two bounce land when player announces hand to the table, trusting his buddies to be cool and see if their luck can turn - bad. ON BOTH COUNTS!
OH, DAMN! IT'S A TWIST!
THAT'S RIGHT! You're both Bolases.
I'm going to say this as someone who does not do a great job with his own landbases in decks:
- PLAY MORE LANDS IN YOUR DECKS
- DON'T KEEP GREEDY HANDS! THREE LANDS MINIMUM, BUD! GET IN THE GAME!
I hope you've all enjoyed reading this article and until next time, email me at email@example.com! Send in your stories and I'll weigh in!