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MTG: Top 5 Nicol Bolas Cards

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Nicol Bolas is a long-time bad guy in MTG.

Nicol Bolas is a long-time bad guy in MTG.

Who Is Nicol Bolas?

Nicol Bolas is one of the most fascinating figures in Magic: The Gathering and one of the greatest antagonists. The ancient dragon first made an appearance in the Legends Set and has since returned several times throughout MTG's history. He has been featured on several cards.

A great speaker and manipulator, his machinations are often the engine of events and happenings throughout the multiverse as he tries to regain the power lost during the Mending.

In this article, we're going to look at the best incarnations of Nicol Bolas over the years. The evaluation does not only represent the playability in competitive formats but also the representation of the character through the cards.

5. First Appearance: Legends Set

Let's start with his first appearance in the Legends set (shown above). The design of the card is very simple, but that's essential to start outlining the identity of the character. Nicol Bolas is an ancient dragon paired with the red, black and blue mana colours, which will characterize him in each subsequent appearance. Planeswalker cards didn't exist at the time, and so he was portrayed as a creature.

Playability

Like all major dragons, he can fly, but his distinctive trait is the ability to discard the opponent's hand in the event of a successful attack. The combination of these abilities can be devastating as they are difficult to block.

Also, we have a disadvantage in having to pay a mana tax every turn to keep the ancient dragon in play. This symbolizes Nicol Bolas' greed and his need to continuously feed his thirst for power to have his favours.

Planeswalker

Planeswalker

4. Planeswalker

Now we come to the first version of Nicol Bolas as a Planeswalker! While this card is not the most powerful version of Nicol Bolas, this is certainly one of the most representative as it marks his return to the scene. In addition, his abilities are consistent with future incarnations of the card, creating an indissoluble bond with the character.

Playability

  • The first ability symbolizes the destructive power of Nicol Bolas, unmatched in the entire Magic: The Gathering multiverse.
  • The second ability symbolizes his speaking ability and his ability to manipulate people to get what he wants. The creature becomes in effect a slave of his will.
  • The third ability is a mechanical reference to the original card from the Legend Set.
  • Each numerical reference in this skill is exactly equal to seven, which is the strength value of the original card.

In addition to the original card references (damage and discarding cards), destruction of permanents by sacrifice has been added. This serves to symbolize, as the first ability, the great destructive power of the ancient dragon.

God-Pharaoh

God-Pharaoh

3. God-Pharaoh

We then move on to his incarnation on the Amonkhet plane. Amonkhet is an Egyptian-inspired plane that was subjugated and shaped by Nicol Bolas according to his needs. This is the moment in history when he collides with the Guardians and still manages to win the fight. The five young Planeswalkers don't pose any difficulty for him.

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Playability

In this version of the card, he is so powerful that he even has four skills:

  • The first ability allows us to exploit the opponent's deck and use it against itself. It symbolizes Nicol Bolas' great persuasion and his great oratory skills.
  • The second skill is a call to his mind control ability and a refinement of his skills to make the opponent discard cards. In this case, the cards are exiled and cannot be recovered.
  • The third ability allows you to inflict seven damage on a target controlled by the opponent. This ability, mana cost, and loyalty all refer to the number seven on the previous cards. This is to maintain an identity with the character.
  • The fourth skill is the most destructive. The opponent must exile all his non-land cards on the battlefield, which symbolizes Nicol Bolas' victory over the Guardians who are forced to retreat.
Dragon-God

Dragon-God

2. Dragon-God

The Dragon-God is another representation of Nicol Bolas that symbolizes a specific point in the history of MTG. We find ourselves on the plane of Ravnica in the final confrontation between the ancient dragon and the recovered forces of the Guardians. Not only that, to stop Nicol Bolas' rise to the rank of Divinity, most Planeswalkers flock from across the multiverse to try to stop him.

Playability

The dragon's omnipotence is symbolized by the static ability that allows him to use all the loyalty abilities of all Planeswalkers in play.

  • The first ability allows us to gain Card Advantage over the opponent while they are forced to give up some of their resources.
  • The second ability symbolizes the destruction of Ravnica by Nicol Bolas or his followers and allows the destruction of a creature or Planeswalker.
  • The third ability symbolizes the dragon achieving his plans and defeating all of his opponents.

Unfortunately for our ancient dragon, Liliana Vess's betrayal and Gideon Jura's sacrifice will lead to his defeat and imprisonment. Will he be able to free himself? Are his machinations over, or was it all part of a bigger plan?

Double-faced card: Ravager

Double-faced card: Ravager

Double-faced card: Arisen

Double-faced card: Arisen

1. The Ravager and the Arisen

In this double-faced card, we witness the ignition of Nicol Bolas's spark as it passes from creature to Planeswalker. The creature side represents the young dragon and connects him to the identity of the first card printed in the Legends set—simply smaller.

The player, by paying the required amount of mana, can transform the card into its Planeswalker version.

Playability

The Planeswalker side has four abilities.

  • The first ability allows the player to draw two cards. This symbolizes Nicol Bolas' ability to learn and collect spells and knowledge from the different places he has visited.
  • The second ability allows the player to easily destroy their opponents.
  • The third ability represents Nicol Bolas' power to bend his defeated enemies to his will and take advantage of his machinations.
  • The fourth ability symbolizes the total defeat of the opponent through mind control and the destruction of their memory.

© 2022 Christian Allasia

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