Amidst a flurry of massive spoilers for the newest Magic: the Gathering set War of the Spark, the biggest player in this epic story is finally here. Today, we laid eyes on the official reveal of Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God. We also saw him bring along the legendary Elderspell.
We saw Nicol Bolas previously leaked early in spoiler season. Today, we finally saw the official reveal of the card on IGN.
Throughout the years in Magic: The Gathering many villains have antagonized the main characters. However, none have been as iconic and powerful as Nicol Bolas. Bolas started his career as a Magic card back in “Legends” as the Legendary Creature – Nicol Bolas. He was one of five Elder Dragons released in that set and became an instant favorite for many players.
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Bolas then became a Planeswalker in the “Conflux” set, where he used the Conflux to gain more power. He then took a short hiatus until appearing on Amonkhet, where he deceived the population there into believing he was a God. The Dragon Planeswalker always touted some of the most powerful loyalty abilities and his latest form is no different.
The first and most important part of the Dragon-God is that his passive ability gives him “all loyalty abilities of all other Planeswalkers on the battlefield.” This effect by itself creates a huge advantage for the owner, as now that player can use the abilities of Planeswalkers they don’t even own. The way the effect is worded, this means that if a player is playing Ral Zarek and Bolas has 7 loyalty counters, the owner of Nicol Bolas can flip the 5 coins and potentially take five extra turns.
Bolas’s +1 ability allows the owner to draw a card and then forces each opponent to exile a permanent on the field or a card in their hand. This card and board advantage gives you a leg up on your opponents and helps keep the Planeswalker safe.
Bolas’s -3 feels like a typical Nicol Bolas strategy, where he destroys a Planeswalker or creature on the field. This targeted removal that is difficult to avoid presents a huge threat to the opponent’s board state and, in multiplayer formats, can be used as a great bargaining tool.
The ultimate ability of Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God is the stuff of nightmares. For -8 loyalty, any opponent who does not control a Planeswalker or Legendary Creature immediately loses the game. There are a lot of powerful win conditions in Magic but this one looks to be the most devastating of them all.
How to Utilize the Card (Y’all Like 1-Turn Win Conditions?)
Another one of the cards spoiled today was a little spell called The Elderspell. This card is insane when looking at it in combination with the Dragon-God. We went into more detail on The Elderspell in another post. A quick recap: for two black mana you can destroy any number of Planeswalkers and then put twice that many loyalty counters on a Planeswalker you control. If the dots aren’t connecting just yet, let’s break it down.
Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God enters the battlefield with 4 loyalty counters and his ultimate costs 8 loyalty. With The Elderspell, you only need to destroy two other Planeswalkers to get Bolas up to 8 loyalty and use his ultimate that turn. If your opponent has Planeswalkers on the field, it makes targets for The Elderspell obvious.
There is one problem, however. Nicol Bolas stipulates that the opponent needs to also have no Legendary Creatures on the field. This could pose a problem unless you have prepared in advance. Enter the God-Eternals, and Ob Nixilis’s Cruelty can both effectively remove creatures. Another option is to set up for a couple turns with other Planeswalkers like Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted, and Kaya, Bane of the Dead. These Planeswalkers will not only deal with pesky Legendary Creatures, they can also be sacrificed to The Elderspell to buff your Dragon-God to 8 loyalty.
Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God triumphs as a card, both lore-wise and mechanically. It utilizes very powerful loyalty abilities and can create a massive problem if your opponent doesn’t have a way to avoid or disrupt the ultimate. Nicol Bolas is a super powerful pickup for almost every format in the game and definitely has staying power in Standard for as long as War of the Spark is in the format.