Slave of Bolas

Slave of Bolas


Gain control of target creature. Untap that creature. It gains haste until end of turn. Sacrifice it at the beginning of the next end step.

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Want (2) synstaley , ZeroEntropy

Printings View all

Set Rarity
Archenemy: Nicol Bolas (E01) Uncommon
Duel Decks: Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas (DDH) Uncommon
Alara Reborn (ARB) Uncommon
Promo Set (000) Uncommon

Combos Browse all


Format Legality
Tiny Leaders Legal
Noble Legal
Leviathan Legal
Magic Duels Legal
Canadian Highlander Legal
Vintage Legal
Modern Legal
Penny Dreadful Legal
Vanguard Legal
Legacy Legal
Archenemy Legal
Planechase Legal
1v1 Commander Legal
Duel Commander Legal
Oathbreaker Legal
Unformat Legal
Casual Legal
Commander / EDH Legal

Slave of Bolas occurrence in decks from the last year

Commander / EDH:

All decks: 0.01%

Slave of Bolas Discussion

jessniem on Marchesa's Dominance

2 months ago

Hi, I would switch Slave of Bolas to Mark of Mutiny . It’s cheaper and adds a counter to the creature.

TypicalTimmy on Vlad the Impaler

2 months ago

My take on one of history's most brutal butchers; Vlad the Impaler. Rather than going all out in full-blown detail, just do a few Google searches and catch up. It's a lot of content, very graphic depictions, and horrific nature.

Vlad the Impaler

Legendary Creature - Human Minion

Deathtouch, Lifelink

, : Gain control of target creature. Untap that creature. It gains haste until end of turn. Sacrifice it at the beginning of the next end step.

Whenever another creature dies, you gain 1 life.

Pay 3 life: Draw a card.


So Vlad is known for several things: Being a ruthless leader, feasting on the blood of his victims, and displaying graphic scenes of torture by impaling captured victims on spikes.

His mana cost and color requirements are set at for several reasons -

  • 1.) It helps justify having 5 distinct abilities on the card. He has 2x keyword abilities, 2x activated abilities and 1x triggered ability. If he were mono-black, he should easily cost or even perhaps . But the second color makes it more difficult to cast, and thus we can reasonably lower his cost down to 5 CMC rather than 6 CMC.
  • 2.) The secondary also helps justify all five abilities on the card in general. Setting his cost at would give the impression that he is severely over powered for his cost. Commanders that cost in a sliding scale would be Xantcha, Sleeper Agent and Mogis, God of Slaughter . I feel that both increasing Vlad's CMC to 5 and slotting in three specific colors is more than fair for what you are getting from him.

The reason he is a Minion is because in MTG, a Minion is a creature type who knowingly bring harm upon others through subterfuge or open malice

Deathtouch and Lifelink because he butchered thousands (Both by his command and by his own sword) and even was known to drink the blood of dying victims.

First activated ability mirrors Slave of Bolas . He was known to capture many enemies alive and kill them in ruthless displays. I am not sure if he kept any as slaves, but regardless you might as well put them to some good use.

Gaining 1 life whenever something else dies hones in on his bloodlust. I didn't want to go with another typical Blood Artist design because I feel focusing more on his gross gluttony is of greater design than balancing the scales of war. To balance this trade-off, card advantage is built into him. Rather than bleeding your opponents dry (Which would be more on flavor), you use the deaths of their creatures to further your own campaign of slaughter (Which is more historically accurate).

Paying 3 life to draw a card plays nicely into his death-gain abilities. Rakdos has solid draw, but this just adds another onto the pile. A lot of cards actually put life-for-cards at a lower value. Consider Night's Whisper , Read the Bones and Sign in Blood . Additionally there is Greed , Arguel's Blood Fast  Flip and Necrologia . All of these roughly put the value of a card at 1 life + mana costs. Even Yawgmoth's Bargain asks for merely 1 life per card, at the cost of your draw step. The reason Vlad sets the price at 3 is because it is expected you will be building either a midrange deck or an Aristocrats deck, meaning mass death will be something constantly happening. In this way, you benefit greatly by pushing your life total ever higher than your opponents. This in turn means paying a higher cost for cards is not only something you can reasonably do, but should be expected as Vlad is essentially giving you a free card whenever 3x creatures die.

I recognize that some users may be turned off by a potential T3 Vlad (Hit your land drops and play a Sol Ring ), then drawing potentially 10x cards right off the bat. However, the way I see it is that if you want to sink 30 life into him on T3, by all means be my guest. If you are the type of player who views life as a resource, go for it. It just means you're that much easier to take down. It becomes a balance between raw power and a stable position. That decision rightfully lays at the feet of Vlad's controller and it is their responsibility to use it wisely.

He is set as a 3/3 because while he is a terrifying and deadly person, he is just Human and thus should be within this range. He is strong enough to kill generic Soldiers / Knights / Zombies / Humans / Elves but will easily die to more threatening foes as we squishy Humans are, in fact, quite frail.

Setting him as a 3/3 rather than a 2/4 means that when he deals damage, you gain 3 life and can thus pay into his ability to draw a card. While it is true that he might die and thus you won't be able to pay into his draw ability, it also means you can recast him during your 2nd main phase and spend the life immediately. It's a way to balance his want to block / attack with his draw. Just another way to feed into his abilities.

GhostChieftain on What Commander for Grixis Steal ...

2 months ago

I will also say marchesa. She can be pretty nutty, especially with things like Slave of Bolas and Spinal Embrace or even a simple Act of Treason + Viscera Seer .

If not marchesa, I would say vial smasher/kraum simply because they are very strong and not because of any synergy.

Last_Laugh on Altered Marchesa, the Black Rose EDH

5 months ago

I'd trade Sower of Temptation for Slave of Bolas .

Feel free to check out my list for ideas. I've been running Marchesa for several years now. Every Masochist Needs a Marchesa To Love Them

Optimator on Nikki Borgees

7 months ago

"One-card wincons" to consider: Insurrection , Expropriate , Painful Quandary , Rise of the Dark Realms , Revel in Riches , Cut / Ribbons . Perhaps Clone Legion , Rite of Replication , Mogis, God of Slaughter , Hour of Promise , Blatant Thievery , Grave Betrayal , or Mind's Dilation .

The Chain Veil , Inexorable Tide , Contagion Clasp , and Contagion Engine maybe?

One thing to think about is getting Nicol Bolas flipped and maybe joined by the other planeswalkers and casting Obliterate , Jokulhaups , Devastation , or Decree of Annihilation . Almost guaranteed ultimates. Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God would be the best--proxy for now and include in first build?

Possible upgrades:

Boardwipes: Toxic Deluge , Black Sun's Zenith , Hour of Devastation , Decree of Pain , Curse of the Swine , In Garruk's Wake , Deadly Tempest , Evacuation , Nevinyrral's Disk , Last One Standing , Perilous Vault , Oblivion Stone , Kindred Dominance , Necromantic Selection , Subterranean Tremors

Removal: Capsize , Bedevil , Hero's Downfall , Chaos Warp , Kolaghan's Command , Reality Shift , Pongify , Rapid Hybridization , Vraska's Contempt , Rakdos Charm , Price of Fame , In Bolas's Clutches , Plaguecrafter , Merciless Executioner , Fleshbag Marauder , Unstable Obelisk , Vandalblast , By Force , Shatterstorm , Hostage Taker , Yawgmoth's Vile Offering , Settle the Score , Dark Impostor , Hour of Glory , Sever the Bloodline , Silence the Believers , Spread the Sickness , Slave of Bolas , Electrodominance

Draw: (I would add Erebos once you're home) Patient Rebuilding , Phyrexian Arena , Greed , Arguel's Blood Fast  Flip, Notion Thief , Windfall , Mystical Tutor , Blue Sun's Zenith , Pull from Tomorrow , Stroke of Genius , Braingeyser , Mind Spring , Expansion / Explosion , Invoke the Firemind , Deliver Unto Evil , Augur of Bolas , Painful Truths , Fevered Visions , Search for Azcanta  Flip, Fact or Fiction , Dig Through Time , Treasure Cruise , Tidings , Thassa, God of the Sea , Day's Undoing , Reforge the Soul , Standstill , Deep Analysis , Necrologia , Steady Progress , Tezzeret's Gambit , Oath of Jace

Random utility: Ophiomancer , Metallurgic Summonings , As Fortold, Pendrell Mists , No Mercy , Stranglehold , Fated Return , Dark Intimations , Spellseeker , Sire Of Insanity , Thief of Sanity , Spark Double , Primal Amulet  Flip, Dragon's Hoard , Mystic Retrieval , Shreds of Sanity , Spelltwine , Ashiok, Dream Render , Torpor Orb , Baleful Strix , Darksteel Myr , Solemn Simulacrum , Wayfarer's Bauble , Vedalken Orrery , Saheeli, Sublime Artificer , Will Kenrith , Mana Geyser , Gem of Becoming , Thran Dynamo , Narset, Parter of Veils , Keranos, God of Storms , Thrilling Encore , Star Compass , Coldsteel Heart , Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs , Ensnaring Bridge , Crawlspace , Expedition Map , Burnished Hart , Torment of Scarabs , Cruel Reality , Mnemonic Betrayal , Yawgmoth's Will , Bloodchief Ascension , Nightscape Familiar , Gonti, Lord of Luxury , Thaumatic Compass  Flip, Dreadhorde Invasion , Fraying Omnipotence , Thrummingbird , Viral Drake , Past in Flames , Mizzix's Mastery , Omniscience , Tainted AEther , Aid the Fallen , Deepglow Skate , Flux Channeler , Rings of Brighthearth , Silent Arbiter , Meekstone , Mudslide , Astral Cornucopia , Everflowing Chalice , Lethal Vapors , Sunbird's Invocation , Stolen Strategy , Maze of Ith , Spreading Plague , Merchant Scroll , Polluted Bonds , Black Market , Grave Upheaval , Memory Plunder , Pain Magnification

Beaters: Dragonlord Silumgar , The Scorpion God , The Locust God , The Scarab God , God-Eternal Kefnet , God-Eternal Bontu , Darksteel Colossus , Colossus of Akros , Visara the Dreadful , Tsabo Tavoc , Avatar of Woe , Balefire Dragon , Nicol Bolas , Hellkite Tyrant , Bladewing the Risen , Grave Titan , Inferno Titan , Steel Hellkite , Vampire Nighthawk , Torrential Gearhulk , Noxious Gearhulk , Combustible Gearhulk , Dominus of Fealty , Roil Elemental , Tidespout Tyrant , Kokusho, the Evening Star , Keiga, the Tide Star , Ryusei, the Falling Star , Wrexial, the Risen Deep , Etali, Primal Storm , Nezahal, Primal Tide , Tetzimoc, Primal Death , Dread , The Haunt of Hightower , Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind , Razaketh, the Foulblooded , Enigma Drake , Crackling Drake , Archfiend of Depravity , Sheoldred, Whispering One , Thing in the Ice  Flip, Niv-Mizzet, Parun , Sepulchral Primordial , Molten Primordial , Diluvian Primordial , Ob Nixilis, Unshackled , Sire of Stagnation , Utvara Hellkite

multimedia on Cheesa and the board that never goes away

9 months ago

Hey Saint, I haven't had enough time to look over your deck enough yet to give detailed suggestions of cuts.

Some advice however is cut cards that don't give repeatable value. Key is repeatable. Creatures should be the priority because they are best with Marchesa. But this doesn't mean play 40+ creatures, still want to have a nice balance between card types. 30-35 creatures, 36 lands with 8x mana rocks is something to consider.

Captivating Crew is a creature who's ability is a repeatable steal creature effect. Crew is also a mana sink which is a good thing to have in Commander. Zealous Conscripts is also a creature, she can give you possible repeatable value of stealing your opponents permanents. These are more powerful than other cards that give you the same one shot effect such as Act of Treason , Threaten , Traitorous Blood , Slave of Bolas , etc. These cards are fine if you have reliable ways to recur them to cast them again, but you don't have that. You don't really need them because you have cards like Crew and Conscripts.

Mark of Mutiny is the only card with this type of one shot effect I would keep because it's only three mana and also puts a counter on the creature you steal which is good with Marchesa. Don't misunderstand some budget cards that give you a one shot effect are excellent, worth playing, such as tutors ( Gamble ), instant removal ( Chaos Warp ), counterspells ( Arcane Denial ) and low mana cost draw spells ( Brainstorm ), but these cards need to be powerful if you're only getting to use them once. In fact consider adding all of these?

The next place to look for cuts are the four and five drops since there's a lot of them and you don't need them all. All the four and five drops are good cards, but some are better than others. I honestly think you can consider ending the creature curve at six drops with Flayer of the Hatebound . The majority of the power level here is coming from the four and five drops. Can keep Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker as the top end since he's repeatable removal and steal your opponents creatures. The avg. CMC of your deck is currently 3.6 which is in my opinion high. Try to get this number less than 3.0 for smoother game play.

I don't think cards with graft in Grixis colors are worth playing. Graft as an ability for the +1/+1 counters synergies is lackluster. Consider Olivia, Mobilized for War ? She can be a repeatable source of +1/+1 counters for creatures as long as you have cards to discard.

More later :)

samthompson46 on Grixis EDH

10 months ago

Heres a few suggestions to help the sacrifice package: Dictate of Erebos , Merciless Executioner , Plaguecrafter , Slave of Bolas , Call to the Grave , Grave Pact . As for the mana ramp package, you may want to add Sol Ring , Izzet Signet and Rakdos Signet . Since Thraximundar costs CMC of seven, playing him and getting him bounced/killed and having to pay commander tax afterwords is going to really set you back a couple of turns considering the deck revolves around him sticking on the board to get bonuses for players saccing creatures. Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves are EDH staples that will help him stick to the board.

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