Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
– War of the Spark
April 29, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 4.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I remember waxing lyrical about Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker and how well it represented the oldest and most evil planeswalker in our game. This card takes everything that the Conflux version did well and cranks it up to 11. I think I’m going to re-name my Cruel Control Filth Casserole deck as Dragon-God Control, because he does everything a Grixis player could possibly want: drawing cards and killing things at the same time? And his static ability offers endless possibilities for every play style. Imagine stealing Chandra, Torch of Defiance’s fast mana – or Ajani Vengeant’s ultimate.
He has some gaps that can be exploited, notably his lower starting loyalty than some of his other incarnations and the timing of your use of all his abilities plus anything you might steal. I doubt that will hold him back too much. He’s great in planeswalker theme decks – what would the Grixis equivalent of such be? Legion of Doom? – and he could even be played as “just” a control card. The War of the Spark will end, but Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God’s legacy will live on across multiple formats.
there is no god
Talk about making a statement. Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God is the ultimate form of the most Evil of all dragons, and he’s a doozy. In particular, his static ability means he is no longer confined to his own (pretty decent) set of abilities; if it involves loyalty going up or down, he can copy it. This includes things like ultimates, general fun abilities, and all the fun it entails. And it’s both your planeswalkers and those owned by your opponent, so that’s fun!
Even without his ultimate, Nicol Bolas has a lot to offer, with his +1 giving you more card draw (and forcing opponents to part with their worldly goods) and his -3 acting as spot removal. As with most planeswalkers, that ultimate is more nifty than practical…or this is what I would usually say, but War of the Spark offers a lot of proliferate shenanigans to be had, so it’s possible (though impractical) to try to tick him up to that ultimate. A “you lose” button is always fun, and with the ability to try and remove their permanents en route to their doom, Nicol Bolas can make that happen. It’s somehow a fitting ultimate for the most Evil of all dragons.
One major downside to Nicol Bolas is that, in spite of having the lowest converted mana cost of all the Bolas planeswalkers, he asks for five colored mana across three different colors, which is quite a tall order, especially in Limited. He can end the game once he’s out, but getting there can be a challenge, since his color requirements are very picky. And aside from trying to blast things with his -3, he has a hard time protecting himself, so it’s possible that he gets undone before things get a chance to happen.
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