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Pojo's Magic The Gathering
Card of the Day

Daily Since November 2001!

Nicol Bolas
Image from Wizards.com

Nicol Bolas

Reviewed March 18, 2015

Constructed: 2.30
Casual: 4.19
Limited: 3.50
Multiplayer: 3.50

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale:
1 - Horrible  3 - Average.  5 - Awesome

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Deck Garage

Nicol Bolas

Who would have dreamt that one of the five original Elder Dragons would become one Magic: the Gathering's most venerable and ruthless villains? Whatever happened to the other four?

What probably happened was that their cards weren't as good as this one, and so the players forgot about them, so the Creative team made the one people remembered the villain. I once read a short story about the five Elder Dragons in an official Magic novel, and all five of them were pretty cruel. Any one of them could have been an excellent recurring villain.

As a card? I mentioned yesterday just how powerful of a combination flying and high power are. Eight mana is a lot to ask, but it's part black-- the color that loves to discard creatures and reanimate them. The upkeep cost is really no big deal for what you get, especially since you only have to pay it if you untap with this in play. And if you do, well, old Bolas has an interesting take on "protecting himself from the opponent's response"-- if he hits you even once, you're in topdeck mode. Bolas is a perfect example of a card that must be answered as soon as it hits the table or the game is over. It's just a shame he isn't easier to get ON the table.

Constructed- 2.5
Casual- 4.75
Limited- 5
Multiplayer- 4.5

David Fanany

Player since 1995

Nicol Bolas
Before he became the master manipulator and driver of many recent expansions' stories, Nicol Bolas was "just" one of the Elder Dragons who battled for control of Dominaria, millennia before the present day shown in 1990s cards. He is one of the few cards that you can play as both a creature and a planeswalker, and holds up well in both forms. It's tempting to reach immediately for your copies of Through the Breach and the like, but he actually does well when played the normal way, too: he has the most powerful ability of Legends' Elder Dragons, which makes waiting a turn for it less of an issue. Lore tells us that Bolas won the war with the other Elder Dragons, and it's fitting that his ability makes it hard for anyone to recover and fight back against him (even an Elder Dragon).
Constructed: 4/5
Casual: 4/5
Limited: 4/5
Multiplayer: 4/5
Michael "Maikeruu" Pierno

Today's card of the day is Nicol Bolas which is an eight mana Blue, Black, and Red 7/7 Legendary with Flying that forces an opponent to discard their entire hand if he deals damage to them and he has an upkeep cost of one Blue, Black, and Red mana.  This requires a great deal of support to be a threat as it has a prohibitive mana cost, a multicolor upkeep, and lacks Trample.  While it can wipe out a hand in one hit the effort needed to make that a reliable outcome is just too high and this is at most a centerpiece for a dedicated Casual design.
In a Limited format with this it could be a rare draft, but the original elder dragons are very difficult to work with in a deck as they require more than a splash of three specific colors each.  The upkeep is less of a concern than simply getting it on the battlefield in the first place. 

Passing for an uncommon or common in Booster is viable when drafting to win as this is likely to be a dead card in hand most of the time.  In Sealed the 7/7 evasive may be tempting, yet having a pool in all three colors and successfully casting it is unlikely and working away from it will usually be the more consistent design choice.
Constructed: 2.5
Casual: 3.0
Limited: 2.5
Multiplayer: 2.5


Deck Garage
Nicol Bolas
For those newer to the game, this is Nicol Bolas the creature, not Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker. In Legends, one of the earliest expansions in Magic, there was a series of creatures called Elder Dragons. All of them cost 8 mana, were 7/7 fliers, were three colors, and had an upkeep costs of one of each of those three colors. All three of them also had some sort of extra ability. Nicol Bolas’s ability was usually considered the best ability of the Elder Dragons, as it stripped the opponent of potential ways of dealing with him.
The biggest problem with the Elder Dragons was the very color-intensive 8 mana cost. The three mana upkeep hurts a little, but if you can untap with Nicol Bolas on your side, you don’t mind paying three for what he can do. You just hope they don’t have a stream of flying spirit tokens or something to keep chump blocking him.
The Elder Dragons, and most notably Nicol Bolas, are much like Shivan Dragon in the fact that they are more symbolic of Magic than they are really one of the best cards. They are the inspiration of the Commander format, which began it’s life called EDH, or Elder Dragon Highlander, because the Elder Dragons were popular choices for the commander. 
Of course, today, we rarely play cards for 8 mana, and if we do, we expect to get something like his planes walker version, or Ugin the Spirit Dragon, Akroma, Avacyn, Griselbrand, or Vorinclex. So, if you’re playing Nicol Bolas, it’s pretty much for the casual nostalgia.
Constructed: 2.5
Casual: It’s a dragon. 5.0
Limited: 2.5
Multiplayer: 3.0

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