Am I The Bolas? - Wipe, Wipe, Wipe, Wipe, Wipe, Wipe
Bring the Ending | Illustrated by LA Draws
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 previews for Aftermath are also done and we can get our hands on cards!
I'm celebrating by raising my enemy's bones above my head!
This week's story: how much is too much?
(Edited for clarity, brevity, spelling, italicizing, style guide elements, etc. Howdy, readers! It's fun that you read this part too!)
MARK, IT'S NATHAN I HAVE A STORY FOR YA!
Hello Mark! I'll preface this with I am sure I am the Bolas.
A week or so ago I sat down with a few friends at my house to play some Commander. I was playing Kenrith, the Returned King with a heavy vote/political control theme. Decklist provided here.
My opponents were the infamous Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats deathtouch ping, Muldrotha, the Gravetide, and Feather, the Redeemed. This was our second game of the night, and because of me being a little to competitive it turned into a three-hour game.
After getting my colors online early, I befriended everyone by casting Folio of Fancies then Seedborn Muse making everyone draw four cards every turn. The table was decimating the Feather player's board.
After everyone had roughly 20-plus cards in hand, I made my move: I used Wrong Turn to disable Zagras by giving him to the Muldrotha player - but wait there's more - I then shut down Muldrotha by using Head Games to replace his massive hand with all lands and Crucible of Worlds (a cherry on top).
This didn't sit well with the Zagras player, who blew up the Folio and everyone's maximum hand size with it. I proceed to use Wishclaw Talisman to get Farewell and checked all of its boxes after I cast it. A few turns later and the Feather player falls once Zagras returns from the command zone. I cast Archaeomancer returning Farewell. I let the 'mancer die, then exile everything but graveyards. I cast Kenrith to return the Archaeomancer and eventually the Farewell again. The Muldrotha player eventually falls to my Council Guardian. Me and the the Zagras player go back and forth for another 20 minutes until I make a bad play with Promise of Loyalty. I was quickly disposed of following this.
Alright, that was a a lot I know. The question is was I in the wrong for board wiping at every opportunity (total of six during the game: 1x Coercive Portal, 1x Promise of Loyalty and 4x Farewell), or should I have let the game progress faster and accepted my inevitable fall? I also realize I could add one or two alternate win cons, like Approach of the Second Sun. Thank you as always.
-Nate the Great
WHAT A STORY, NATHAN!
Hey! Thanks so much for writing in! A lot of you wrote in this week so it will take a while to get through these, but I cannot tell you enough how much it means to me that you are sharing your stories or sending me Reddit post threads for me to comment on. It really, really, really means a ton. Thank you so much. If you have one, email@example.com is ready for you.
Alright, let's get down to it.
DAMMIT, NATE! WHY SIX BOARD WIPES?!
Sorry, I needed a sec.
Six board wipes is a lot for any game at all. It extends the game into likely its third hour. Six board wipes coming from one player, though? That's insane. Not just any board wipe either, it's gotta be Farewell? You getting rid of all hope? Is the goal of the deck to drive for a concession?
I have to commend you on noting that you need more win conditions, and I hope that since writing in you have included some. It's a five-colour deck, and while the theme is political and about voting, I recommend even more than just Approach of the Second Sun. As much as I dislike alternate win conditions, that's just how this kind of controlling deck can make it happen. Felidar Sovereign can be reanimated by Kenrith, the Returned King before your upkeep after you've pumped a ton of mana into Kenrith's life gain ability. Test of Endurance lets you have it on an enchantment. Five-colour decks have a lot going on and a lot of ways to create resources, and Happily Ever After was probably designed with your commander in mind! Helix Pinnacle lets you use mana you've kept up to activate your commander and let you pump it into the win condition. Triskaidekaphile lets you keep your hand full for control and then you get to win if you've got the right amount of cards and it has an activated ability that enables itself. Simic Ascendancy is probably the easiest with Kenrith in play since you've got +1/+1 counters on demand for two mana means that you can inch towards it pretty well.
I say all this because as much as I can appreciate a challenge of beating a nonstop beating of the board, having everything get wiped away over and over with no way to rebuild, that's just not a great time to play against.
However, taking a look at your list, it just seems like it allows many varied games and it feels unlikely that this is a common occurrence. If you find that it is, I guarantee that popping in a different wipe instead of Farewell will make it less of a feels bad.
This story, though? Yeah, Bolas for sure. BUT! You were playing to your outs! That's a good thing if you could secure a win, try it out. But if you're trying to have a good time for yourself and everybody, this would have my head in my palms.
This is a tough one to evaluate, because yeah, sure, you did the right thing by the situation. But in retrospect, Nathan, it's not fun!
Thanks again for writing in! I really appreciate you and can't wait to jam some games someday!