The Hour of Devastation is upon us!
So, with that theme in mind, we’re going to dive right into this installment of Big Daddy Brews, Nicol Bolas! One of the original Elder Dragon Highlanders has returned as God-Pharaoh. I have very little to hype to build here as Wizards has done that for me so let’s dive into the list, shall we?

Commander: Nicol Bolas

1 Augur of Bolas
1 Baleful Strix
1 Gilded Drake
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Dualcaster Mage
1 Thada Adel, Acquisitor
1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
1 Notion Thief
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Geth, Lord of the Vault
1 Sepulchral Primordial
1 Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
1 Nicol Bolas, the Deceiver
1 Reanimate
1 Vandalblast
1 Counterspell
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Go for the Throat
1 Pull from Tomorrow
1 Rakdos Charm
1 Terminate
1 Crosis’s Charm
1 Dissolve
1 Exclude
1 Hero’s Downfall
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Ancient Excavation
1 Damnation
1 Deep Analysis
1 Memory Plunder
1 Mystic Retrieval
1 Mystical Teachings
1 Wrecking Ball
1 Bribery
1 Dark Intimations
1 Desertion
1 Increasing Ambition
1 Slave of Bolas
1 Spelljack
1 Blatant Thievery
1 Cruel Ultimatum
1 Decree of Pain
1 Dig Through Time
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Sol Ring
1 Dimir Signet
1 Talisman of Indulgence
1 Chromatic Lantern
1 Coalition Relic
1 Commander’s Sphere
1 Pristine Talisman
1 Visage of Bolas
1 Animate Dead
1 Necromancy
1 Control Magic
1 Soul Ransom
1 Treachery
1 Mind’s Dilation
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Canyon Slough
1 Command Tower
1 Crosis’s Catacombs
1 Crumbling Necropolis
1 Desolate Lighthouse
1 Dragonskull Summit
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Fetid Pools
1 Grand Coliseum
8 Island
1 Mana Confluence
4 Mountain
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
6 Swamp
1 Temple of Deceit
1 Temple of Epiphany
1 Temple of Malice
1 Throne of the High City
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Watery Grave

Nicol Bolas Planeswalkers.jpg

Obviously, this is where we start. Our Nicol Bolas deck not only has creature Bolas but is also playing all of the Planeswalker variants of the iconic dragon. At the deck’s heart, it’s a Grixis Control deck. Each of these cards has a high enough power level to take over a game if left unchecked. The deck has a relatively low creature count to protect its Planeswalkers, but have no fear! We’re not playing with our creatures; we’re playing with our opponents’!

Bribery Treachery Slave of Bolas.jpg

When designing the deck I had to ask myself in what ways could I make the deck *feel* like a Nicol Bolas deck outside of it being of Grixis color identity? The answer I came up with was to steal all of my opponents’ creatures that matter and slaughter the ones I’m not stealing. Even Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker steals creatures! It seemed perfect. We have a rather strong suite of cards that help us take control of opposing creatures.

Sepulchral Primordial Reanimate Animate Dead.jpg

Blue isn’t the only color that can steal opposing creatures. Note that our reanimation spells can target creatures in opposing graveyards in addition to our own. Sometimes you’re going to be forced to kill a strong creature, or somebody else may even kill it for you. That’s when we get our Bolas on and turn them into our undead slave. Yeah, Bolas!

notion thief minds dilation thada adel.jpg

We’re pushing the “steal stuff” theme a bit further here as we have cards that can steal things from our opponents that aren’t just creatures. Everything from spells to artifacts to additional draws belongs to us.

Dark Intimations Visage of Bolas Cruel UItimatum .jpg

Cruel Ultimatum here as an honorary Bolas matters-spell even though it technically doesn’t qualify. But these cards interact with our Bolas Planeswalkers or are just iconic Bolas themed spells.

Crosis Charm Heros Downfall Mystical Teachings.jpg

We play Mystical Teachings (one of my all time favorite cards), so we have a strong suite of Instants to toolbox for. We have countermagic, kill spells, land destruction, artifact removal, bounce, mass bounce, and card draw available to us as various Teachings targets.

Deep Analysis Mystical Retrieval Increasing Ambition.jpg

Casting a card for its Flashback cost generates card advantage. We play a small package of Flashback spells to help us keep up on cards.

And…well, that’s it. I tried to build a deck that feels flavorful but can also sit down and compete at your local table. Sometimes flavor first decks lose a lot in power level to their theme. Lucky for us Grixis spells, Bribery effects, and Nicol Bolas is a fairly strong combination of things. Any thoughts for me? Leave them in the comments below! Next time you hear from you’ll get to see my decklists that I’ve had for years!

-Brandon “Big Daddy B” Dauer
Twitter: @BrandonDauer
Instagram: midwest.brandon

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What do you think?