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 Post subject: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2013-Nov-15 1:27 am 
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Joined: 2013-Nov-04 2:12 am
Age: Dragon
Location: Northamptonshire, UK
Deck name: “Nicol Bolas and Friends”

Commander: Nicol Bolas

Colours: Blue/Black/Red

Theme/s: Nicol Bolas, discard

Primary Win Condition/s: Attacking with creatures

Secondary Win Condition/s: Commander damage

Budget: I’ve spent a not-unreasonable amount on this deck, but I’m not planning on spending much more.

Playgroup: My playgroup is a very casual kitchen-table style with up to two opponents. We don’t use Eldrazi (for fear of mutual deck escalation) or many infinite combos (usually because no-one owns the right cards to do so). I generally play against any or all of the following decks:
Player 1: mono-Green goodstuff (looking for a Commander)/ mono-Red Chandler artifact creature destruction+Intimidate, White/Black/Red Kaalia of the Vast Angel tribal deck, Green/Blue/Red Riku of Two Reflections pre-con from Commander 2011
Player 2: Bant Rubinia Soulsinger “Tim” deck/Selesnya Gabriel Angelfire Banding deck


I no longer have a regular playgroup. I now play at a store that has a wide variety of decks with little-to-no self-imposed restrictions. Things like very well tuned Blue or Izzet control can go up against things like "Jace.dek" (a similarly-themed deck to this one, only with Jace rather than Bolas) or other, lower-powered decks.

Welcome to my first ever deck posted here at MTGCommander, and it is only my third ever EDH deck ever designed. I'm going to use this thread, like all of my deck threads here, to keep a log of the changes that I make to this deck.

This deck is based around the winner of the Elder Dragon wars, Nicol Bolas (and even has its own theme song). Sometimes it’s nice to play the villain and Nicol Bolas is Magic’s ultimate individual villain. With fingers (talons?) in plenty of pies across the multiverse, it’s also quite easy to pass off a loss as being “just as planned” Xanatos Gambit ;-)

The core of the deck is, as the deck name implies, based around Nicol Bolas and the cadre of minions he’s built up over the past few years in the background. It also features every card that Nicol Bolas is named on or is quoted on.

In addition to the rather Timmy core listed above, the rest of the deck tries to utilise Nicol Bolas’s discard ability to force opponents to discard their hands. Previous versions of the deck played around with equipment and auras that granted the ability to “ping” (like Viridian Longbow) but I’ve ended up removing those cards from the deck as a Commander of Bolas’s stature is far more useful attacking and killing in three hits.

I’ve also added in a number of creatures that force an opponent to discard when they deal damage to them, as well as a couple of “discard matters” cards to take advantage of that. Prior versions of this deck had few other cards that forced discard, but removing cards from your opponents’ hands is often a useful way of reducing their options in the game.

I’ve also added a few spot removal spells, as a game against Antis, Segrus, and maiden77 had me realising that it’s one of the best things that Grixis does.

In addition to the discard theme, there are also a few cards in here that force opponents to make choices, none of which are palatable. In my opinion, this is a very thematic way to represent Bolas on the tabletop. The deck used to also include cards that forced opponents to make unpalatable choices, but they've been taken out for more powerful cards.

All cards noted with ** are cards that are related to Bolas in some way, whether by mentioning him in their name or flavour text, featuring him in the picture, or by having been under his control in the story (Myojin of Night’s Reach, Sarkhan the Mad, and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas being the main ones in this last category).

I've uploaded the deck to TappedOut.net, and that can be found here, in case anyone wanted to look at the deck in more detail or to playtest it.

Nicol Bolas - the Commander

Augur of Bolas **
Baleful Strix
Burnished Hart
Dimir Doppelganger
Disciple of Bolas **
Fathom Feeder
Guul Draz Specter
Mindclaw Shaman **
Mulldrifter
Myojin of Night's Reach **
Nightveil Specter
Notion Thief
Rakka Mar **
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Solemn Simulacrum
Underworld Cerberus
Viscera Seer

A wide selection of creatures here, spanning all three colours and all mana costs, though not as many as former versions of the deck had. I removed the early-game blockers and the discarders as I felt they didn't do as much work as they could do, and I diversified my creatures to give me a wider array of effects. Burnished Hart and Solemn Simulacrum give me some ramp (though they'll really pop if I can get my hands on a Corpse Dance), Dimir Doppelganger and Underworld Cerberus give me some tools against graveyard decks, Fathom Feeder, Mulldrifter, Notion Thief, and Shadowmage Infiltrator give me draws whilst Viscera Seer gives me a sacrifice outlet when my opponents use removal.

Guul Draz Specter is an interesting card as it is simultaneously a discard enabler as well as a discard matters card. Whilst it works really well with the discard cards in the deck, it goes really well with Bolas himself as well as Wit’s End.

Nightveil Specter is a bit of an oddity. I think I put it in there because I needed to finish the deck up quickly and it'll likely be the first card to go on the deck's next incarnation.


Artifacts
Argentum Armor
Commander's Sphere
Darksteel Ingot
Gem of Becoming **
Geth's Grimoire
Lightning Greaves
Mind Stone
Obelisk of Grixis
Sol Ring
Thought Vessel
Unstable Obelisk

Mostly ramp here. I've gone for lower costing ramp artifacts rather than the more expensive option of Gilded Lotus (which used to be in the deck, but I once got stuck on 4 mana with it in my hand and I couldn't do anything). Some of the mana rocks also provide some other functions, like Unstable Obelisk helping me get rid of problem Enchantments (traditionally a Grixis weakness). Argentum Armor helps with that too.

Enchantments

Blood Reckoning **
Painful Quandary
Waste Not

In previous versions of the deck, I had Painful Quandary as one of those “opponent’s choice” cards, but it turns out that it's pretty powerful once you've stripped your opponents of their hands. It makes it pretty difficult for them to catch up again. Waste Not is one of the few “discard matters” cards in the deck that will hopefully give me some incremental advantage whenever my opponents discard.

Instants

Burn Away
Chaos Warp
Counterflux
Counterspell
Countersquall ** (Duel Decks: Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas version)
Cower in Fear **
Crosis's Charm
Grixis Charm
Hero's Downfall
Imp's Mischief **
Increasing Vengeance
Kolaghan's Command
Magmaquake **
Murderous Cut
Psychic Barrier **
Recoil
Reiterate
Silumgar's Command
Soul Manipulation **
Terminate

Lots of changes here from the previous version of the deck. I added a lot more Instants, especially spot removal, which is one of Grixis's strong points and something that was previously lacking. I have lots of Charms and Commands to give me flexibility and cover a lot of different potential problems, as well as other flexible cards like Burn Away, which helps me deal with problem graveyards, and Chaos Warp and Recoil (if the opponent has an empty hand), which give me answers to Indestructible creatures and/or Enchantments.

Planeswalkers

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker **
Sarkhan the Mad**
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas **

Nicol Bolas’s main minions in current card form are Sarkhan and Tezzeret. There's only a single Dragon in the deck (Bolas himself) so his ultimate won’t get used very often; he’s generally just a card drawing engine. Tezzeret likewise probably won’t use his ultimate, though there are enough artifacts in the deck to do some serious damage if I get a number of them out. However, 11 of my artifacts are lands, tutor for lands, or are mana rocks, so even though his +1 ability won’t always hit, when it does then he ramps me. His -1 has a handful of useful targets, including Darksteel Citadel, Darksteel Ingot, and Baleful Strix.

Sorceries

Cruel Ultimatum **
Crux of Fate **
Damnation
Deep Analysis ** (Eternal Masters version)
Slave of Bolas **
Wit's End **

Slightly cut down on the Sorceries, but part of that includes adding two more on-theme cards that I'd previously not included (Cruel Ultimatum and Crux of Fate). Most of these are fairly self explanatory.


Arcane Lighthouse
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Bojuka Bog
Command Tower
Creeping Tar Pit
Crumbling Necropolis
Darksteel Citadel
Dragonskull Summit
Drowned Catacomb
Ghost Quarter
Great Furnace
Grixis Panorama
3x Island
3x Mountain
Myriad Landscape
Polluted Delta
Reliquary Tower
Seat of the Synod
Steam Vents
Strip Mine
6x Swamp
Tainted Isle
Tainted Peak
Temple of Deceit
Temple of Malice
Temple of the False God
Thespian's Stage
Vault of Whispers
Watery Grave

The land count of this deck is 39, with 8 artifacts to aid that (between tutoring or tapping for mana). The artifact lands are in there to give Tezzeret some extra things he can find and help turn his +1 ability into more of a ramp ability.

There are a number of lands here chosen for their additional abilities such as Arcane Lighthouse, Bojuka Bog, and Ghost Quarter. My one and only Strip Mine (pulled from a 4th edition starter box back in 1995) is in here as I can’t think of any other deck that deserves it more (because that’s how Bolas rolls).


The first incarnation of the deck included a lot of cards that allowed Bolas to ping for damage to force opponents to discard, along with cards that took advantage of that, but I invested too much of the deck into cards that didn't really work well without him doing that (and didn't really work all that well even when he did).

The second incarnation of the deck swivelled more towards the opponents’ choice cards, but a lot of them weren’t all that great or only targeted one payer (which could totally obliterate that player but not any of the others). I’d love to include more of them in the deck but I honestly don’t know what I could cut in order to do so. It also contained a number of creatures that were in the deck more because they were good than because they were on theme; there’s nothing wrong with good creatures but the ones I have now feel better than the ones I had before.

The third incarnation of the deck was built to try and shore up the weaknesses of the previous version. It included a number of cheap but difficult to remove creatures as I'd had a lot of trouble in one-on-one duels and three-way games due to playing against aggro decks. It also included more sweepers but far fewer spot removal spells and fewer Instants, making it harder to react to problems.

The fourth, and current, incarnation of the deck is a lot more balanced, trying to have a larger number of answers to things my opponents can throw at me before grinding them down.

Future thoughts for the deck include the following:

- Finding room for the Dragons of Tarkir version of Tormenting Voice (as it references Nicol Bolas in the flavour text),
- Evaluating the usefulness of Nightveil Specter and, if it's not good enough, finding a replacement,
- Replacing a number of cards (1 x Island, 3 x Swamp, Steam Vents, Temple of Deceit, Temple of Malice, Fathom Feeder, Nightveil Specter, and Notion Thief, plus two more) for a number of other cards (Blighted Cataract, Blighted Fen, Blighted Gorge, Cabal Coffers, Smoldering Marsh, Sunken Hollow, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Corpse Dance, Dragon Tempest, Larceny, Pain Magnification, and Dimir Cutpurse), because that is what the ACTUAL current version of this deck should look like, but I either couldn't find those cards or don't own all of those cards in time for my most recent game,
- Mind Control effects to steal creatures,
- More “opponents’ choice” cards (though, to be honest, there aren’t all that many, especially those that don’t revolve around card draw, which isn’t the best thing to have your opponent/s have some control over),
- More “discard matters” cards, though not many of them seem worth using in EDH, and,
- Adding in more Timmy cards:
* Cards that let Bolas ping for damage, including the possibility of Runed Stalactite and Titan of Eternal Fire which has the unintended side effect of making Nicol Bolas a God :D, and,
*Adding Bludgeon Brawl and either Mycosynth Lattice or Liquimetal Coating so that Nicol Bolas can wield Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker as a weapon :D.

_________________
Regards,
MT.


Putrid Pirate Proliferation
Lord of Voltronhorn
Unlife of the Party
Jaya Ballard, Discard Mage
Zedruu and the Minotaurs
Vish Kal's ManSlaughterhouse
Izzet Any Good?

Chorus of Counters


Last edited by Masked Thespian on 2016-Nov-12 9:08 am, edited 12 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2013-Nov-15 1:28 am 
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Joined: 2013-Nov-04 2:12 am
Age: Dragon
Location: Northamptonshire, UK
Reserved for changes and for overflow, if necessary.

Changelog

15/11/13: Deck posted
16/11/13: Added "At a Glance" section
03/12/13:
Added:
Myojin of Night's Reach, Hankyu, Nightscape Familiar, Lim-Dûl's High Guard, Killing Wave, Choice of Damnations, Do or Die, Fact or Fiction, Steam Augury, Dismal Failure, Library of Lat-Nam, Foresee, Mulldrifter, Sphinx of Uthuun, Swiftfoot Boots, Whispersilk Cloak, Clout of the Dominus, Seat of the Synod, Darksteel Citadel, Vault of Whispers, and Great Furnace, and changed numbers of basic lands.

Removed:
Fire Whip, Lightning Prowess, Quicksilver Dagger, Hermetic Study, Aura of Dominion, Freed from the Real, Pemmin's Aura, Devastation Tide, Words of Wind, Equilibrium, Hollowhorn Barghest, Liliana's Caress, Quest for the Nihil Stone, Shrieking Affliction, Megrim, Tyrannize, Illusionist's Bracers, Mycosynth Lattice, Bludgeon Brawl, Mutilate, Messenger Drake, Izzet Guildgate, Rakdos Guildgate, Dimir Guildgate, Opal Palace, Cabal Coffers, and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.

24/08/14:
Added:
Chilling Apparition, Crimson Muckwader, Crosis, the Purger, Doomsday Specter, Fatespinner, Flametongue Kavu, Guul Draz Specter, Inferno Titan, Liliana's Reaver, Okiba-Gang Shinobi, Scythe Specter, Sedge Troll, Silent Specter, Xathrid Slyblade, Dimir Signet , Izzet Signet, Rakdos Signet, Elder Mastery, Painful Quandary, Soul Ransom, Waste Not, Hero's Downfall, Perplex, Rakdos Charm, Blasphemous Act, Deep Analysis, Dreadbore, Urza's Guilt, Barren Moor, Bojuka Bog, Creeping Tar Pit, Dragonskull Summit, Drowned Catacomb, Forgotten Cave, Lonely Sandbar, Polluted Mire, Reliquary Tower, Rogue's Passage, Smoldering Crater, Strip Mine, Tainted Isle, Tainted Peak, Temple of Deceit, Temple of Epiphany, Temple of Malice, and Tolaria West.

Removed:
Viridian Longbow, Wolfhunter’s Quiver, Hankyu, Mind over Matter, Sword of the Paruns, Umbral Mantle, Distorting Wake, Body Double, Sepulchral Primordial, Bloodgift Demon, Crypt Ghast, Reassembling Skeleton, Clone, Rakdos Keyrune, Choice of Damnations, Do or Die, Fact or Fiction, Steam Augury, Dismal Failure, Library of Lat-Nam, Foresee, Mulldrifter, Basalt Monolith, Darksteel Ingot, Armillary Sphere, Clout of the Dominus, Izzet Boilerworks, Rakdos Carnarium, Dimir Aqueduct, Crosis’s Catacombs, and a number of basic lands.

Also, I changed a lot of the wording of the post, including a lot of individual card explanations.


12/11/16:
Added: Arcane Lighthouse, Bloodstained Mire, Ghost Quarter, Island x 1, Mountain x 1, Myriad Landscape, Polluted Delta, Thespian's Stage, Argentum Armor, Commander's Sphere, Lightning Greaves, Mind Stone, Obelisk of Grixis, Thought Vessel, Unstable Obelisk, Burn Away, Chaos Warp, Counterflux, Counterspell, Crosis's Charm, Grixis Charm, Increasing Vengeance, Kolaghan's Command, Murderous Cut, Psychic Barrier, Recoil, Reiterate, Silumgar's Command, Terminate, Cruel Ultimatum, Crux of Fate, Burnished Hart, Dimir Doppelganger, Fathom Feeder, Mulldrifter, Nightveil Specter, Notion Thief, Shadowmage Infiltrator, Solemn Simulacrum, Underworld Cerberus, Viscera Seer.

Removed: Barren Moor, Forgotten Cave, Lonely Sandbar, Polluted Mire, Rogue's Passage, Smoldering Crater, Swamp x 1, Temple of Epiphany, Tolaria West, Elder Mastery, Soul Ransom, Chromatic Lantern, Gilded Lotus, Swiftfoot Boots, Capsize, Cyclonic Rift, Perplex, Rakdos Charm, Black Sun's Zenith, Blasphemous Act, Dreadbore, Killing Wave, Urza's Guilt, Chilling Apparition, Crimson Muckwader, Crosis, the Purger, Doomsday Specter, Fatespinner, Flametongue Kavu, Inferno Titan, Liliana's Reaver, Lim-Dul's High Guard, Mercurial Chemister, Nightscape Familiar, Okiba-Gang Shinobi, Scythe Specter, Sedge Troll, Silent Specter, Sphinx of Uthuun, Xathrid Slyblade.

Also, I changed a lot of the wording of the post, including a lot of individual card explanations, especially the above changes.

_________________
Regards,
MT.


Putrid Pirate Proliferation
Lord of Voltronhorn
Unlife of the Party
Jaya Ballard, Discard Mage
Zedruu and the Minotaurs
Vish Kal's ManSlaughterhouse
Izzet Any Good?

Chorus of Counters


Last edited by Masked Thespian on 2016-Nov-12 9:08 am, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2013-Nov-15 4:58 am 
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Joined: 2013-May-29 9:57 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Atlanta, GA
I still think Leshrac should have won... Stupid Deus Ex Machina. I hate the Myojin of Night's Reach.

Oh, by the way, minor nerd alert, but you should probably include the Myojin of Night's Reach, since during the Time Spiral series Nick B defeated her, enslaved her, and stole her (real) mask and used it to destroy Leshrac. Flavor!

Mycosynth Lattice + Bludgeon Brawl is a fun combo, but it feels out of place in this deck. First of all, an expert manipulator like Nick would have a diabolical plan with a bit more depth than "Pick up a club and beat someone to death with it." Secondly, the lattice is going to draw you a disproportionate amount of hate considering the things that you are trying to do it. I would suggest to build around it more with some extra "Artifacts Matter" cards, but your Elder Dragon overlord might get jealous. Cut the brawl for sure though, and maybe replace lattice with Liquimetal Coating if you really need it.

You could probably cut most of your Megrim style cards. I like their style, but they often take a long time to set up and are too easy to play around. Another sad case of Theoretical // Practical, though to be fair, you probably won't get a solid Practical until you start testing them. Out of all of them, I would say Tyrannize is the one that could definitely go, and the others I would flag for testing.

For adds, there are a lot of ways you could go with this. A fun track is to load up on evil choice flavored cards like Do or Die, Killing Wave, and Choice of Damnations. Bolas is one of the only powers to have sided with the Phyrexians (albeit indirectly) during the Mirran/Phyrexian war, so you could recruit Geth, Lord of the Vault, Jin-Gitaxias, Sheoldred, Whispering One, and Urabrask to your cause. You could put in other planeswalkers to represent unwitting pawns (Bolas has famously manipulated Jace and Chandra to do his will many times). You could add some Eldrazi, since Bolas played a major part in their release from Zendikar.

SO MUCH FLAVOR!!! Keep at it, loving this deck.

_________________
"Expect nothing but scorn, flattery, and lies. And never turn your back on him." - The Northern Paladin

Bladewing the Risen - MTG: Blood Dragon - OST by Powerglove
Dosan the Falling Leaf - Mono-Green Accelerator
Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter - Feed it to Vish
Toshiro Umezawa - Budget Creatureless
Prossh, Skyraider of Kher - Combo Jund
Marath, Will of the Wild - Beast-Mode Tribal
Scion of the Ur-Dragon - Mortal Combat Dredge
Kamahl & Jeska - Tag Team Voltron


Last edited by Zirilan of the Claw on 2013-Nov-15 9:00 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2013-Nov-15 5:51 am 

Joined: 2013-Aug-20 4:37 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Boston
I'm loving the flavor on this one. You may want to get a commander Cruel Ultimatum if you want to see Bolas's face instead of just his shadow. Personally, I like the shadow.

My gut instinct is that 35 lands+7 mana-related artifacts isn't going to be enough for your mana-hungry dragon given the light amount of card drawing you're packing. It is equivalent to 21 lands+4.2 ramp spells in a 60-card deck, which looks more like an aggro thing instead of something that wants to cast 8-drops.

A few specific inclusions that should still be budget friendly are Thespian's Stage (copying a Ravnica bounceland is pretty sweet) and Coalition Relic. Thawing Glaciers can also help a ton since it will effectively draw you 3 or 4 lands over the course of the game. You can probably also shave some of the weaker nonbasics (probably Guildgates, Crosis's Catacombs, and Opal Palace) to put in a few more swamps to power Coffers and Mutilate. You could also use Terramorphic Expanse or Evolving Wilds if you're concerned about the fixing aspect since they will let you get the basics you need, and could potentially slot in over an Island and a Mountain if you wanted.

A lot of your plan relies on Bolas living and being enchanted, which isn't going to happen very often. I like the pingers as a non-combat way of pushing through Bolas hand-wreckage (and during draw steps, too!), but most of the support cards for the pinging plan would be better as protection for Mr. B. Mind over Matter stands out as being good enough on its own since it is just such a do-anything engine.

Lightning Greaves (Don't be a slowpoke, Mr. B! Angels don't wait for slowpokes!), Swiftfoot Boots, and Whispersilk Cloak spring to mind. If you want some options that are just going to surprise the crap out of people, nobody is going to see it coming if you drop Clout of the Dominus or counter something with Not of This World.

I'd sacrifice the bludgeon brawl/mycosynth latice combo and pinger support cards to fit in more card drawing (and probably some of the slots for more land or mana rocks come from pinging support, too). Fact or Fiction seems like the type of scheming Bolas is about, and Foresee and Compulsive Research do some really good work. You aren't using your graveyard much, either, so Skeletal Scrying is worth a look as well. Messenger drake really wants to be a Mulldrifter, IMO.

Of the discard support cards, I'd say that Painful Quandry and Geth's Grimoire are the only two that I really like. I suspect that Shrieking Affliction and Quest for the Nihil Stone are going to be really disappointing, and I'll say for a fact that Tyrannize is going to disappoint you. It is the saddest thing in the world to have Tyrannize in hand when your opponents have no cards.


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 Post subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2013-Nov-15 5:54 pm 
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Joined: 2013-Nov-04 2:12 am
Age: Dragon
Location: Northamptonshire, UK
Hey, guys. Thanks for taking the time to look over my deck and comment on it. Every little helps.

Zirilan of the Claw wrote:
Oh, by the way, minor nerd alert, but you should probably include the Myojin of Night's Reach, since during the Time Spiral series Nick B defeated her, enslaved her, and stole her (real) mask and used it to destroy Leshrac. Flavor!


That's awesome. I'll have to track down a copy and put it in. Although I bought my first Magic cards in 1995, I've only really been playing properly for just over a year now, so story events like that I missed out on when they happened. Especially as there's no hint on the card itself that that event happened.

And I'm a nerd in several other areas, so I don't have a single problem with you sharing your insight here :wink:

Zirilan of the Claw wrote:
Mycosynth Lattice + Bludgeon Brawl is a fun combo, but it feels out of place in this deck. First of all, an expert manipulator like Nick would have a diabolical plan with a bit more depth than "Pick up a club and beat someone to death with it." Secondly, the lattice is going to draw you a disproportionate amount of hate considering the things that you are trying to do it. I would suggest to build around it more with some extra "Artifacts Matter" cards, but your Elder Dragon overlord might get jealous. Cut the brawl for sure though, and maybe replace lattice with Liquimetal Coating if you really need it.


I read about the combo a little while ago, either here or on another EDH forum, and it seemed like one of the funniest things I'd ever heard of; picking your future self up and whacking people over the head with... you. And Bolas is one of the few creatures that can actually pull it off (Venser, Shaper Savant being the only other one I can think of). I am, now that I'm a little more read on the subject, somewhat more aware of the issues that Mycosynth Lattice can cause in terms of combos, so I may well take these two cards out. It just seems like a funny thing to do (and gets Bolas up to 15 power, which is only a handful away from an instant kill with a single swing). Swapping out the Lattice for Liquimetal Coating does seem like a good idea, though.

Zirilan of the Claw wrote:
You could probably cut most of your Megrim style cards. I like their style, but they often take a long time to set up and are too easy to play around. Another sad case of Theoretical // Practical, though to be fair, you probably won't get a solid Practical until you start testing them. Out of all of them, I would say Tyrannize is the one that could definitely go, and the others I would flag for testing.


I understand. My main view is that if I obliterate my opponents' game boards, but have nothing of my own to follow it up (as this deck doesn't really have any big hitters nor game-ending combos), then I feel that all I've really done is extend the game on into a long, drawn out slugfest. I'd rather have cards that take advantage of that game state and actually affect my opponents, possibly winning the game in one fell swoop.

Zirilan of the Claw wrote:
For adds, there are a lot of ways you could go with this. A fun track is to load up on evil choice flavored cards like Do or Die, Killing Wave, and Choice of Damnations. Bolas is one of the only powers to have sided with the Phyrexians (albeit indirectly) during the Mirran/Phyrexian war, so you could recruit Geth, Lord of the Vault, Jin-Gitaxias, Sheoldred, Whispering One, and Urabrask to your cause. You could put in other planeswalkers to represent unwitting pawns (Bolas has famously manipulated Jace and Chandra to do his will many times). You could add some Eldrazi, since Bolas played a major part in their release from Zendikar.


Those are some very good ideas that I will take on board. Those are certainly the types of cards that I could see someone like Bolas using on a regular basis. Eldrazi aren't much of an optioon for me, since my gaming group has kinda agreed not to use them (since it would simply lead to an escalation of all of the decks that no-one really wants) but, again, I'll keep it in mind.

Zirilan of the Claw wrote:
SO MUCH FLAVOR!!! Keep at it, loving this deck.


Thank you :D

JJackson wrote:
I'm loving the flavor on this one. You may want to get a commander Cruel Ultimatum if you want to see Bolas's face instead of just his shadow. Personally, I like the shadow.


That's a good point. I've got both the Commander 2013 version as well as the original Shards of Alara version so I'll give it a good think over as to which one to use.

JJackson wrote:
My gut instinct is that 35 lands+7 mana-related artifacts isn't going to be enough for your mana-hungry dragon given the light amount of card drawing you're packing. It is equivalent to 21 lands+4.2 ramp spells in a 60-card deck, which looks more like an aggro thing instead of something that wants to cast 8-drops.


Ouch. That's a very good point. I always figured that 35 lands + 5 rocks would be good enough, and in (goldfish) playtests it's almost always been enough, but I've only done a couple of dozen of those so the sample space is small enough that I could get a poor result. Upping the land count is certainly something I'm going to do with this deck as Bolas would otherwise become nearly uncastable after getting killed once or twice.

JJackson wrote:
A few specific inclusions that should still be budget friendly are Thespian's Stage (copying a Ravnica bounceland is pretty sweet) and Coalition Relic. Thawing Glaciers can also help a ton since it will effectively draw you 3 or 4 lands over the course of the game. You can probably also shave some of the weaker nonbasics (probably Guildgates, Crosis's Catacombs, and Opal Palace) to put in a few more swamps to power Coffers and Mutilate. You could also use Terramorphic Expanse or Evolving Wilds if you're concerned about the fixing aspect since they will let you get the basics you need, and could potentially slot in over an Island and a Mountain if you wanted.


To be honest, the landbase was written almost as an afterthought, based on what I thought would be good choices at the time that I already owned. I'll put some more work into it, based on your suggestions.

JJackson wrote:
A lot of your plan relies on Bolas living and being enchanted, which isn't going to happen very often. I like the pingers as a non-combat way of pushing through Bolas hand-wreckage (and during draw steps, too!), but most of the support cards for the pinging plan would be better as protection for Mr. B. Mind over Matter stands out as being good enough on its own since it is just such a do-anything engine.


Yeah, I did see that as a potential problem. Which is why I tried to include some Equipment cards in both pinging and untapping so that if he got killed whilst using them then they'd stay on the table.

JJackson wrote:
Lightning Greaves (Don't be a slowpoke, Mr. B! Angels don't wait for slowpokes!), Swiftfoot Boots, and Whispersilk Cloak spring to mind. If you want some options that are just going to surprise the crap out of people, nobody is going to see it coming if you drop Clout of the Dominus or counter something with Not of This World.


All good points. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I want to put a few counterspells in because nothing ruins an opponent's day more than preventing them doing what they thought was a game-winning more.

JJackson wrote:
I'd sacrifice the bludgeon brawl/mycosynth latice combo and pinger support cards to fit in more card drawing (and probably some of the slots for more land or mana rocks come from pinging support, too). Fact or Fiction seems like the type of scheming Bolas is about, and Foresee and Compulsive Research do some really good work. You aren't using your graveyard much, either, so Skeletal Scrying is worth a look as well. Messenger drake really wants to be a Mulldrifter, IMO.

Of the discard support cards, I'd say that Painful Quandry and Geth's Grimoire are the only two that I really like. I suspect that Shrieking Affliction and Quest for the Nihil Stone are going to be really disappointing, and I'll say for a fact that Tyrannize is going to disappoint you. It is the saddest thing in the world to have Tyrannize in hand when your opponents have no cards.


Again, all really good points. The more I think about it, the more I think 26 cards dedicated to the discard strategy is too many and that I probaly ought to pare down that aspect of the deck. Also, my lack of EDH experience is showing here with the choice of Messenger Drake over Mulldrifter... :oops:

Thanks again to both of you. I'll put some more work into this and come back with another version when I get the chance :D

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 Post subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2013-Nov-17 3:10 am 

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Masked Thespian wrote:
Actually, the more I think about it, the more I want to put a few counterspells in because nothing ruins an opponent's day more than preventing them doing what they thought was a game-winning more.

If you want the most Bolas-worthy counters, I would recommend Desertion, Spelljack, and, of course, Dismal Failure.


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 Post subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2013-Nov-19 10:30 am 
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JJackson wrote:
Masked Thespian wrote:
Actually, the more I think about it, the more I want to put a few counterspells in because nothing ruins an opponent's day more than preventing them doing what they thought was a game-winning more.

If you want the most Bolas-worthy counters, I would recommend Desertion, Spelljack, and, of course, Dismal Failure.

Speaking of counterspells: the Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas duel deck has art/flavour text on Countersquall.

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 Post subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2013-Nov-22 2:39 am 
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JJackson wrote:
Masked Thespian wrote:
Actually, the more I think about it, the more I want to put a few counterspells in because nothing ruins an opponent's day more than preventing them doing what they thought was a game-winning more.

If you want the most Bolas-worthy counters, I would recommend Desertion, Spelljack, and, of course, Dismal Failure.

Duly noted. Those all look like splendid choices :twisted:

Sinis wrote:
Speaking of counterspells: the Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas duel deck has art/flavour text on Countersquall.

It's in the deck already, but thanks for the advice; if I had missed it then I certainly would have wanted to be informed :wink:

=====

So, even though I'm pretty sure I'm going to change the core of the deck (and remove most of the pinging and support cards), I actually managed to playtest a game with this deck. Thanks to mtgdeckbuilder.net I was able to "test" the deck, even though I don't own all of the cards yet, against the Esper pre-con from Commander 2013 (with Oloro, Ageless Ascetic at the helm). I played against myself, trying to play the game as evenly as I could given the circumstances (like knowing what was in each players' hand).

The deck worked relatively well. Oloro leapt to an early life lead, with a turn four Wall of Reverence giving it some nice life gain (getting up to nearly 100 life at one point). Bolas's deck floundered a little in the early game, managing to get a nice early blocker in the form of the now-destined-to-be-cut Messenger Drake who actually performed an admirable task holding back Oloro's deck for a while, before trading with a Phyrexian Gargantua (thanks to a ping). That Gargantua then got stolen by a top-decked Sepulchral Primordial on the next turn.

Eventually, Nicol Bolas hit the table, but got killed by a Spinal Embrace (dealing 7 Commander damage to his own player in the process) before he'd even lost Summoning Sickness. The second time he hit the table, though, things went his way. Using a Fire Whip he managed to remove Oloro's hand (full of some pretty nasty cards). Unfortunately, Oloro had just cast, the turn before, a Phyrexian Reclamation so wouldn't have been too worried about losing its creatures. However, thanks to an Illusionist's Bracers that had been out since the second turn, an Umbral Mantle that had been on the table since the third turn, a Freed from the Real, and a Crypt Ghast providing extra mana, Bolas was able to ping to death the one Flying blocker (the aforementioned Wall of Reverence), even when it got brought back from the Graveyard via Phyrexian Reclamation, and used the Umbral Mantle to pump himself up to do 21 points of Commander damage over 2 turns (finishing the game on only 13 life).

Lessons Learnt
  • 35 lands is not enough; the deck stalled for a while whilst it was stuck on only 6 or 7 lands. I've got to get to 8 (or more) as soon as possible to get Bolas out, not to mention keep 3 of them aside each turn to pay Bolas's upkeep cost, so I'm definitely going to have to up the land count. It didn't come up in play, but it occurs to me that I ought to probably increase the Swamp count if I'm going to keep Mutilate in the deck.
  • Early game blockers are needed; not sure what to do here, other than simply increase the creature count in the deck. I'm going to be taking out some of the pinging so there'll definitely be room, but I'm not too sure on what creatures would make good replacements. I'm probably going to look at cheap (CMC 3 or less) creatures with Regenerate.
  • Geth's Grimoire was an absolute star. When Bolas was eventually able to ping Oloro, he completely refilled his hand (having discarded it a few turns earlier thanks to Oloro stealing Bolas and using him). It's almost certainly going to stay in the deck, even after the tuning.

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 Post subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2013-Dec-03 3:42 am 
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The deck has been updated with the following changes:

Added:
Myojin of Night's Reach, Hankyu, Nightscape Familiar, Lim-Dûl's High Guard, Killing Wave, Choice of Damnations, Do or Die, Fact or Fiction, Steam Augury, Dismal Failure, Library of Lat-Nam, Foresee, Mulldrifter, Sphinx of Uthuun, Swiftfoot Boots, Whispersilk Cloak, Clout of the Dominus, Seat of the Synod, Darksteel Citadel, Vault of Whispers, and Great Furnace, and changed numbers of basic lands.

Removed:
Fire Whip, Lightning Prowess, Quicksilver Dagger, Hermetic Study, Aura of Dominion, Freed from the Real, Pemmin's Aura, Devastation Tide, Words of Wind, Equilibrium, Hollowhorn Barghest, Liliana's Caress, Quest for the Nihil Stone, Shrieking Affliction, Megrim, Tyrannize, Illusionist's Bracers, Mycosynth Lattice, Bludgeon Brawl, Mutilate, Messenger Drake, Izzet Guildgate, Rakdos Guildgate, Dimir Guildgate, Opal Palace, Cabal Coffers, and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.

For the most part I've removed things that were suggested as being not so great. I've gotten rid of almost all of the pinging support cards but left a few in there as an additional strategy. In addition I've trimmed out a few superfluous lands including Coffers, which doesn't work so well considering there are only 15 Swamps in the deck, and Nykthos, since I don't intend to have all that great a board presence for Devotion.

I've added a number of early game blockers, as well as a number of cards that reflect Bolas's machinations, forcing opponents to make painful decisions.

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 Post subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2013-Dec-04 1:40 am 
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How is Tezz, Agent of Bolas working out? You seem a little light on the artifacts necessary to make him worthwhile.

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 Post subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-24 1:57 am 
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So, having taken this deck for its second ever test drive last week (against Antis, maiden77, and Segrus, over Skype), I decided to give the deck an overhaul. I took a good long look at what I was doing and decided to change a number of things.

First of all, I decided to remove the ping enablers (Viridian Longbow etc.) and the untappers (Mind over Matter etc.); I think that my idea to ping every player with Bolas (untapping him repeatedly) then bouncing the board to my opponents' hands whilst the abilities were on the stack to give everyone except myself a board wipe was a great idea, but not one that could be achieved easily. My opponents were far more scared of Bolas flying in and hitting them for 7 (putting them only 2 more hits away from death) than the idea of losing their cards, so I think I'm just going to use him as a big hitter instead.

I've also decided to use discard as a tool to remove threats; in both of the games I've played over Skype I've lost due to players using cards from their hands to create an instant, big unstoppable threat (or wave of threats), so I think I'd rather try and remove cards from their hands in order to limit their options and to improve my chances of winning. To this end I've included a number of evasive threats that force my opponents to discard when they deal damage to them. I've also included a couple of "discard matters" cards to try and take advantage of this (though not too many; the majority of "discard matters" cards don't have that great an effect in EDH) including the brand new Waste Not.

I've also included a number of new cards designed to deal with threats that I'd not previously considered, including Graveyard hate, Instant-speed spot removal, and weenie hordes. I've also taken Enchantments into consideration (one of the traditional banes of Grixis) with bounce combined with my discard plan.

I've had to lose most of the "opponents' choice" cards, but I've put in a couple of new ones in order to force my opponents to make difficult decisions in games, just like Bolas would do. Most of the ones I removed were either card draw (now on other cards) or only targeted a single player, meaning that I'd likely devastate one player whilst leaving the two of us easy pickings for everyone else at the table.

I've also diversified the land base somewhat, adding a lot more non-basic lands. Some of them provide utility (Strip Mine, Reliquary Tower, Rogue's Passage) whilst others give me more flexibility with adding coloured mana to my pool (the Temples from Theros block). I've also added a number of the Cycling lands; I'm not sure whether I want these or not, as this kind of deck can be pretty mana hungry, especially if I'm either paying Bolas's upkeep cost every turn or having to keep casting him with a +2 cost each time, so I'm debating on whether to keep them or switch them out for more ETB tapped duals or even go back to Basic lands instead.

I've uploaded the deck to TappedOut.net, and that can be found here, in case anyone wanted to look at the deck in more detail or to playtest it.

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 Post subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2016-Nov-12 9:10 am 
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So, after posting in the Cool Plays thread, I realised that I haven't updated this deck list in a while, so I've gone ahead and done that. I'll also repost my story from that thread here, as it's a little more relevant here than there.

==================================

Yesterday was, of course, the release of the Commander 2016 decks, so today my local store did a Commander event. I turned up with the latest version of my Nicol Bolas deck, which is actually several versions further along than the one linked to (which I should really get around to updating). I ended up playing against a Prime Speaker Zegana Merfolk deck, an Ezuri, Claw of Progress deck, a Breya, Etherium Shaper precon (perhaps slightly modified), an Atraxa, Praetors' Voice precon (slightly modified), and an Aurelia, the Warleader Angels tribal deck, in that turn order.

The game started off fairly innocuously, with all of us ramping up a bit (me doing so with a Solemn Simulacrum, a Burnished Hart (that I wasn't able to use thanks to Aurelia playing an Angel of Jubilation), and a Gem of Becoming. The Ezuri player played a Frozen Aether on turn 3 which slowed all of the rest of us down, and he started building up a board state that included several Experience counters, a Champion of Lambholt, and a Copperhorn Scout. The rest of us chugged along for a bit, slowed down as we were by the Frozen Aether. The Atraxa player got a Necroplasm out which killed a bunch of tokens, my Baleful Strix and Burnished Hart, and most of Ezuri's board.

Eventually, I bounced Frozen Aether to Ezuri's hand in Aurelia's end step using Crosis's Charm, then on my turn I cast Nicol Bolas, equipped him with an already cast Lightning Greaves, and swung at Ezuri, getting rid of the Frozen Aether and the rest of his hand. He proceeded to sulk for the rest of the game for getting "ganged up" on. To try and avoid being hated out, I then equipped the Greaves to another creature, to give the table a chance to deal with Bolas (but they didn't).

Zegana cast a cheap spell then a Crush of Tentacles (paying its Surge cost) to leave him with an 8/8 Octopus, the Atraxa player with an Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker that had been trapped underneath Aurelia's Chained to the Rocks, and everyone else with their boards in their hands.

We all started rebuilding our boards. I cast a Myojin of Night's Reach and (re)cast and equipped Lightning Greaves to it, so I had a blocker for the 8/8 Octopus. I also played a Thespian's Stage and used it to copy Zegana's Reliquary Tower as I had a plan. In my next turn I cast Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker and -2ed him to steal Atraxa's Ishai, who had become a 20/20 due to people rebuilding their boards. I then cast a Disciple of Bolas to sacrifice Ishai to gain 20 life and draw 20 cards, which I then didn't discard due to my actors having a VERY good set (though I did misplay by not having Ishai attack someone for 20 first).

I lost Bolas to Zegana's next attack, though I wasn't too bothered as I was quite happy just to have drawn 20 cards and gained 20 life off of him.

On his next turn, Atraxa cast a Languish, so in response I removed the Divinity counter from the soon-to-be-dead Myojin, and in response to that Zegana cast an overloaded Cyclonic Rift. So everyone except for Zegana sent most of their board to their hand, then everyone except me discarded their hand, then Zegnna lost most of his board to the Languish (only having the Octopus left over).

At this point I struck, casting a Painful Quandary to slow down/hurt the rest of the players, since they had no hands and little-to-no board presence, and a Waste Not to take advantage of those discards. I had a huge grip of cards with which I could make sure I could keep them down long enough to win me the game.

Zegana cast his namesake and drew 8 cards since the Octopus was still in play, then cast a Coralhelm Commander that he'd drawn. On Atraxa's turn, he cast Atraxa then Proliferated Zegana's +1/+1 counters to make her a 10/10. In my next turn, I cast Slave of Bolas targeting Zegana, attacked Aurelia with Zegana, then recast Disciple of Bolas to sacrifice Zegnna to draw me 10 more cards and gain 10 more life.

Breya started building up a nasty board state, despite my precautions, so I had to cast Crux of Fate, choosing non-Dragons, to get rid of everything except Bolas, including a number of my Zombies from the Waste Not (though I attacked Ezuri's Nissa, Voice of Zendikar first with them to make sure she died).

Aurelia managed to cast her namesake and attack me a couple of times. She also cast an Archangel of Thune and tried to swing with that alongside Aurelia but I managed to Terminate the Archangel before damage was dealt. Good thing too, as the bonus +1/+1 counter would have otherwise given Aurelia enough Power to kill me (I ended the game with 18 Aurelia damage).

One by one I picked the other players off, first bouncing Aurelia then attacking her owner with Bolas-boosted-with-Grixis Charm's third mode, since she was on 9 life. Then Zegana died to exact damage from Bolas (since he'd cast Zegana again, taking his life down to 7, to try and draw into an answer), and Ezuri conceded. I cast a Cruel Ultimatum which I then Reiterated, and had both copies target Atraxa, since he'd cast a couple of nasty creatures that I couldn't otherwise deal with at the moment. He then tried to cast Avacyn, Angel of Hope but missed that I had counterspell mana up and I used Counterflux to stop that dead. Breya then died as I used an Argentum Armor'ed Guul Draz Specter to destroy her own Baleful Strix that was otherwise flying in Bolas's way. And finally I killed Atraxa after a long and hard-fought battle.

This game took up three-and-a-half hours, during which the other 5-man pod had managed to play 4 games of Commander themselves. It's the first time my Bolas deck has actually won a game (and how, drawing 30 cards and gaining 30 life off of Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, Slave of Bolas, and Disciple of Bolas) and I reckon after that performance it'll be the last time it ever does so, too :P

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 Post subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen: Nicol Bolas and Friends
AgePosted: 2017-Apr-30 8:15 am 
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So, you'd think that with Amonkhet released I'd be ecstatic, what with all of the references to Bolas there are.

Well, the truth is that I'm simultaneously ecstatic and horrified, as I don't think I can continue to run the deck as it stands, from the basis that it contains every card that references Nicol Bolas through art and/or flavour text. The complete list of new Grixis-coloured cards that reference Bolas in either of these ways can be found in the following spoiler:

Art References to Bolas (mainly his horns appearing in the art)

Angler Drake
As Foretold (maybe)
Aven Initiate
Cartouche of Knowledge
Essence Scatter (maybe)
Glyph Keeper
Hieroglyphic Illumination
Naga Oracle
Vizier of Many Faces (maybe)
Archfiend of Ifnir (maybe)
Dispossess (ugh)
Faith of the Devoted
Final Reward
Grim Strider (maybe)
Liliana, Death's Majesty
Ruthless Sniper
Splendid Agony (flavour text too)
Wasteland Scorpion
Brute Strength
Combat Celebrant (maybe)
Consuming Fervor (maybe)
Deem Worthy
Harsh Mentor
Hazoret the Fervent
Pursue Glory
Soul-Scar Mage
Sweltering Suns
Trial of Zeal
Merciless Javelineer
Shadowstorm Vizier (maybe)
Gate to the Afterlife
Throne of the God-Pharaoh
Aggravated Assault (Invocation)
Bontu the Glorified (Invocation)
Chain Lightning (Invocation)
Consecrated Sphinx (Invocation)
Dark Ritual (Invocation)
Divert (Invocation) (maybe)
Hazoret the Fervent (Invocation)
Kefnet the Mindful (Invocation) (maybe)
Pact of Negation (Invocation)
Technically every Invocation has the Bolas horns around the holographic sticker

Flavour Text references to Bolas

Hekma Sentinels
Open into Wonder
Doomed Dissenter
Nimble-Blade Khenra
Tormenting Voice
Hazoret's Monument
Luxa River Shrine


At this point, I'm going to have to make some serious decisions about the direction I'm going to take this deck. Amongst other things, I'm going to have to think about how much I want to stick to the theme of "Bolas-flavoured cards" because with the above list, I don't think I can field every single one of them any more. I already run a number of sub-par cards, power-level-wise, because they fit with the theme. But with a larger card pool than I can run, if I'm going to stick to it then I'll need to think about what to cut.

On the other hand, I could ignore most of the Amonkhet stuff. None of it directly refers to Bolas (only to his legend of being the God-Pharaoh) as no-one on Amonkhet has interacted with him, that we know of. I don't fancy having to acquire a number of Invocations, either (I was just about gathering up my courage to attempt to trade for (or purchase) a Judge Mana Drain, which has a Bolas quote as its flavour text).

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MT.


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