Am I The Bolas? - You Said How Many Artifacts?

Mike Carrozza • March 29, 2023

Kibo, Uktabi Prince |Illustrated by Zoltan Boros

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 I'M THE ONE WHO TEMPTS THE RING!

Really stretching for a Breaking Bad and LOTR mechanic reference.

A story from Reddit courtesy of TheeOldKing!

(Post edited for clarity, brevity, and other whatsithoosits.)


I was playing with my playgroup yesterday and played my Kibo, Uktabi Prince Commander deck.

Halfway through the game, I chose to play Vandalblast to destroy a bunch of artifacts as well as artifact creatures because my friend was playing an Ultra Magnus, Tactician artifact deck.

After the Vandalblast resolved, I asked everyone how many artifacts were destroyed and boosted Kibo to a 15/15.

After attacking a player and dealing 15 commander damage, my turn ended and the Ultra Magnus player played Ascend from Avernus on his turn and brought back all the artifact creatures I destroyed, however when I played Vandalblast the turn before he told me I was destroying four artifact creatures and yet he brought back six artifact creatures which he told me were destroyed from Vandalblast.

I then questioned if I was given the appropriate amount of +1 counters on Kibo, and the player I attacked with Kibo said, "It's your responsibility to count how many artifacts," and that, "I should have gone to each player and counted them and not relied on what they told me." And I said, " I asked everyone how many artifacts were being destroyed and just trusted I had the right number."

It was only a difference of two, but I felt like it was kinda cheating? Maybe I should've gone to each player and counted it myself. I will be doing that from now on.

TL;DR: When I asked for a number from each player, my opponent told me the wrong number of artifacts I destroyed which made my creature a little less stronger. I was then told it's my responsibility to count and shouldn't rely on what the person said. I believe my friend miscounted and not on purpose, but then after the fact said I missed the trigger because I didn't count it myself.


Firstly, I'd like to thank TheeOldKing for giving me permission to cover this story for this column and to my pal Christian for sending a few Reddit stories that caught his eye. If you - yes, you! - ever have a story or read a story you think would be interesting to have talked about here, please send it to It makes me really happy and I appreciate all the Commander's Herald readers coming by every week and enjoying/hate reading the column.

Secondly, I am heated today.

(Editor's note: Mike is a sweetie, he censored his own stuff.)

Your opponents should read Kibo a little closer, because those +1/+1 counters get added no matter what: it does not say that you may put the counters on your Apes and Monkeys. It had to happen. Understandably, your friend who took a ton of commander damage can be upset, but the difference between 15-18 commander damage when the commander hitting you is going to be hitting for a ton is negligible...

Not to mention that the real villains here - yeah, I'm tipping the horns here - are your opponents.

The player who took Kibo damage, let's call him Fred for simplicity's sake. Fred took damage, was salty about it, found out it was supposed to be more damage, and put the onus on you, the player.

So far so good. This is normal.

You mentioned that you had done your task of asking others for how many artifacts were destroyed to account for your commander's trigger and that it was misrepresented by the Ultra Magnus, Tactician player. Fred then does not sympathize with you or call into question the situation nor UMT's actions, but rather blames you.

"It's your responsibility to count how many artifacts. [You] should have gone to each player and counted them and not relied on what they told [you]."

Fred can kick rocks. Ultra Magnus can, too. But Fred can sit and spin big time.

Being told you should have counted the cards yourself instead of trusting that your opponents wouldn't misrepresent themselves in a friendly game of Magic: the Gathering? Ridiculous.

First of all, if Ultra Magnus feels the need to "cheat", that's just sad. What a loser. Whatever is going on in your life that you need to cheat so badly at something that is an inconvenience at best is necessary (TWO +1/+1 COUNTERS?!), get that sorted out. Even if he missed it accidentally, the response is, "My bad, I said four and I meant six. Whoops. I'm sorry." Rectify and move on.

Secondly, imagine if you had done what Fred suggests. All of a sudden, you've got this weird dynamic at the table where a player doesn't trust what anybody is saying? Weird!

"Hey, I'm playing Windfall, what's everybody's hand size? Nuh, uh-uhhhhhh. Gimme your hands, I have to count them myself."

Then what happens?

  1. You: "Great, everybody had the amount of cards they said they did? I just wasted everybody's time?" Them: "Why do you feel like you can't trust us to share information that is meant to be public in a game that's already difficult to track?"
  2. You: "Look at that, we have a liar among us who said four instead of six, hoping that everybody would draw two less cards." Them: "Yeah, well, I am a liar and I hate you."
  3. You: Look at that, we have a liar among us who said four instead of six." Them: "I just miscounted, that's my bad. But thanks for calling me a liar."

Fred, I hope you're reading this and you see how stupid this is. 

Listen. If you're ever playing a game of Commander and you feel like lying about information that everyone would have if the game was automated, concede. The game is complicated enough and getting more complicated ("My permanents phase in. Untap. I convert my Transformer commander during my upkeep. Draw step, trigger my Sagas, it's the first draw of the turn, so I reveal it thanks to Inquisitor Eisenhorn from Warhammer 40K. It's an instant, so I make this token, still in my draw phase. In my first main phase, after flipping for my Attractions, I put my Companion from the Companion Zone into my hand...).

If you make a mistake, own up to it and learn from it. If you intentionally misrepresent something on board, you are a problem and I hope you slip on banana peels a lot more often than is normal and your knees give you trouble sooner than they should. Same goes if you also someone who blames something on the wrong person and suggests something that is as braindead as undermine the trust in the group.

TheeOldKing, you aren't the Bolas, but you're in need of a new playgroup. If no discussion can have either of them seeing they were in the wrong at all and nothing gets them to recognize that, the answer is simple:  Bye to these two.

Not the Bolas.

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