Conflux – Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

A quick review on Conflux mythic rare, Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker.

Aesthetics:

Well that’s big.

I don’t know what to say other than you can really feel the majestic power of this Dragon-Planeswalker with how they’ve laid out the card. Looks great. Certainly scarier than the librarian-Dragon from the old Nicol Bolas card.

The mana is interesting. Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker is actually a slightly easier cast than Nicol Bolas version 1.0 (exchanging a U and R for 2 generic mana).

All right. All right already!

Is it any good?

In play Nicol Bolas is pretty daunting. Activating its “plus” ability puts Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker to eight loyalty, which is very hard to crack.The “minus” ability is just Control Magic. Only it’s better than Control Magic because you can’t Disenchant it. Yes, Nicol Bolas keeps his minions forever… It’s not just a Threaten. Yes, that’s pretty ridiculous. As for the “ultimate” ability, I think that you would have difficulty losing if you activated it.Interestingly, Bolas is designed to live through using the ultimate ability (5+3+3-9=2)… In fact, Nicol Bolas has one more Control Magic left in the barrel (if necessary).

So is it good?

Well that’s the thing… Not conventionally.

A Cruel Ultimatum in the same colors is cheaper and has more immediate effect on the game.

As for Planeswalkers, both Ajani Vengeant and Elspeth, Knight-Errant have similarly effective action… and they can get going much more consistently due to being half the mana cost (Ajani is only Icy Manipulator to Nicol Bolas’s Vindicate, and “only” Lightning Helix to Control Magic, but Ajani’s ultimate ability is just as automatically game-winning and nearly as destructive).

But the fact of the matter is that Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker is probably going to be one of the chase [mythic] rares of the set, and is undoubtedly powerful in play… Plus I recall being told something recently. All the Planeswalkers are meant to be good. So maybe there is a way to “cheat” Nicol Bolas into play that we haven’t seen yet. I mean, if you don’t consider the mana cost, he’s pretty insane.

Where can I see this fitting in?

I don’t think Reflecting Pool Control would necessarily play Nicol Bolas; they have a nice Grixis finisher in Cruel Ultimatum already, and you can only play so many seven or eight mana spells. However I think Planeswalkers might find a one-of spot for this guy. They have a lot of mana (some builds) and others are optimized to make Planeswalkers look good with, say, Rings of Brighthearth.

But unless there is a cheatyface way of breaking Bolas… He’s not even a role player in non-kitchen table Magic.

Snap Judgment Rating: Role Player (low)… but expensive!

LOVE
MIKE

All Conflux

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8 comments ↓

#1 jmgh on 01.21.09 at 2:39 am

I think it’s playable but at this time, only in block constructed.
For Standard Ultimatum it’s better than Bolas and in rest of format’s Obviously it’s unplayable….

I like this Planeswalker… but it’s to expensive for play with this :'(

#2 Gifts Ungiven on 01.21.09 at 1:07 pm

Unsurprisingly, a vocal subset of people are wigging out about Nicol Bolas over on the home site forums.

The biggest complaint is directed toward how he supposedly breaks the color pie (since he can ace out permanents), although someone cogently pointed out that you can envision his Vindicate power as Boomerang + Cabal Therapy, which is perfectly blue-black (and is, in fact, already a card, albeit one that only bounces creatures).

I agree that Nicol seems pretty nichey right now, without some way to either cheat him into play or otherwise make him better than immediately hitting your opponent with a Cruel Ultimatum.

#3 GRat on 01.21.09 at 6:10 pm

Bolas does not quite have the touch. 🙁

He is big, dumb, but at the same time, awesome. The practical uses are not exactly there, however. It’s unfortunate that it turned out the way it did, but only for his obvious flaws of being too damn expensive. I can see that he will have a much better application in limited than constructed, for now.

Most of what I like is from a flavor standpoint. It’s definitely showing that he is powerful as well as bad ass to the point where you just don’t want to want to screw with him, ever.

#4 KZipple on 01.21.09 at 6:44 pm

And he seems savage in Type 4.
It might actually get played in block, since 1) the colors are easier, 2) is can steal you a blocker, essentially killing two creatures instead of just one, and 3) the format is slow enough that the extra mana doesn’t matter that much. Of course, Oblivion Ring is frowns.

#5 Five With Flores » Conflux - Maelstrom Angel on 01.21.09 at 9:30 pm

[…] cards like Conflux (review forthcoming) and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker seemed very out of whack. Like I guess they can print largely impractical if aesthetically […]

#6 admin on 01.23.09 at 8:02 am

Hey everyone!

When I wrote this, I obviously didn’t know about Maelstrom Angel yet. So I think that gives Nicol Bolas a little more of “the touch” to reference by boy GRat.

Possibly there will be more cheatyface in the set for cards like this and Conflux.

LOVE
MIKE

#7 Five With Flores » Alara Reborn - Sphinx of the Steel Wind on 04.12.09 at 10:50 pm

[…] be honest, I don’t really know. For the mana I would sooner explore Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, and I’m not exactly getting in line on that […]

#8 Five With Flores » Fieldmist Borderpost, Mistvein Borderpost, & Tezzeret the Seeker on 05.03.09 at 7:07 pm

[…] Knight-Errant One of the best cards in Standard. It’s basically Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker for half the […]

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