Archenemy – Nicol Bolas

June 5th, 2017

Archenemy - Nicol Bolas

Nicol Bolas


Gideon JuraChandra, PyromasterNissa, Worldwaker

Scheme 20

Scheme 19

Scheme 18

Scheme 17

Scheme 16

Scheme 15

Scheme 14

Scheme 13

Scheme 12

Scheme 11

Scheme 10

Scheme 09

Scheme 08

Scheme 07

Scheme 06

Scheme 05

Scheme 04

Scheme 03

Scheme 02

Scheme 01

  • Dr. Burn Crow

    Boy, Bolas has a thing for horrors. Me gusta.

    • Marvin Sürig

      Exactly what I thought. Is a nice way to hint in the direction Amonkhet goes.

  • Nixalys

    Was wondering when we’d see new archenemy. Interesting bolas deck list.

  • Kyle Ryker

    How does command tower work here?

    • Mr.Mayhem631

      The Bolas deck is wrong.

  • Mr.Mayhem631

    It’s worth noting that the Bolas deck (not shown here) is generally stronger than the others, so it seems they’re doing that as another way to balance the 3v1.

  • DirtyHoboLord

    That’s not the Bolas deck, that’s Derevi’s commander deck (well, most of it anyway). How does this even happen?

  • Geddon

    1st question: Why is Bolas in Bant?
    2nd question: When did Bolas turn into Derevi?

    • Tolle

      They posted the wrong deck. Go to the articles page of wizard’s site to get the real deck. Basically it is grixis control with big creatures

  • Dr. Burn Crow

    Does anyone else think that Nissa seems most likely to take down Bolas on her own?

    • Mr.Mayhem631

      Really? Interesting, hers seemed the worst.

      • Dr. Burn Crow

        I just meant in Vorthos terms. She can make the land itself fight. That seems pretty formidable.

        • Mr.Mayhem631

          Oh, yeah. Definitely.

          I mean, Gids just whips around some metal and Chandra shoots fire. Not that great vs. the greatest Elder Dragon.

  • Vectis

    Anyone else strongly dislikes the artworks for the gatewatch planeswalkers?
    I’m tempted to buy the box, but these pictures are a huge turnoff…

    • Aarhg

      I actually quite like them. Chandra looks a bit goofy though, flailing her arms around like that.

    • Thomas Signer Jr

      I agree. The first thing I thought is the 3 look weird and like a knock offs.

  • foxboy1000

    Hey, we found the good card frames for the Invocations!

    • Hedronal

      Wait damn, you’re right. ****

    • I kinda liked the Invocations. =<

      I don't like how you can barely read their names though.

      • Oiram

        No you didn’t. No one liked the Invocations.

        • Unfortunately for you, I did. I hear the exact same line when I say Skyward Sword is my favorite Zelda game haha. =P

          The invocations needed work — their titles are almost unreadable — but I like several of them. I think the main problem is they didn’t print very interesting cards with them.

  • Aurore

    You know, for a set that has to sell itself solely through reprints (yeah, play experience, sure, but come on) you’d think they’d give us a few better ones than what we got.

    • Dr. Burn Crow

      Nissa’s face looks super weird, but Chandra looks pretty cool.

      • Aurore

        I’m talking power-wise and price-wise, not designs. Most of the rares have already been reprinted several times, so the value of this thing isn’t looking so great.

        • Dr. Burn Crow

          Oh. I think it’s a decent product, so if I can find the spare cash, I’ll probably try to get it. I don’t have a lot of the rares in this, so it seems alright to me.

    • PooperScooper

      Better reprints? We get 4 planeswalkers, 3 of which are worth around 10 dollars at the time I’m writing this, plus 4 full size decks, plus an archenemy deck. What more did you want? Lel

      • Happy The Cat

        *4 planeswalkers that cost ~$10 and now have alt arts.

      • Aurore

        Reprints of power cards. PWs aren’t really enough to sell this for me.

  • Tim Jenson

    On a Vorthos aspect, does anyone have any idea what Nicol Bolas is actually trying to do as he is blowing up Amonkhet? I assume he has destroyed the barrier separating Nakmutan from the rest of the desert, but how does that help his plans?

    • Matt Wasser

      Maybe he is still trying to regain his lost power.

    • Hedronal

      That’s part of how Bolas works, even when people know most of what he’s doing, they’re rarely sure why.

  • Hedronal

    And then there’s people like me who will probably just buy the schemes online separately.

    • Derek Niles


    • Happy The Cat

      meh, it comes in a nice box for collectors and all the pws have alt art, plus that hp counter looks super cool.

  • Nanya

    Can someone explain it to me?

    Why is Command Tower in the Bolas deck?

    And how do Schemes work exactly?

    • Tolle

      That isn’t bolas’s deck. Also, for an excellent explanation on theme’s go to the Magic judge on Tumblr. She just did this long post of it.

  • Happy The Cat

    I kinda feel some of the scheme names could have used a comma or a period, but they are still just as fun to read in a slow deep voice.
    “Every Dream. A Nightmare”
    “No One Will Hear Your Cries”
    It’s still fun to act edgy and play archenemy.
    anyhow if this is goodbye to the gatewatch from the story, gideon looks like he’s almost completed his transformation from kinda hairy white guy to bronze ape-man. Like one or two more sets and he would look like he got hit by a Pongify.

    • Hedronal

      The scheme names are one of the best parts of Archenemy, they really sell the over-the-top big-bad-evil-guy vibe.

  • theEternalPilgrims

    Most of the art for this is really cool, especially the schemes. But “For each of you, a gift” the minotaur guy looks hilarious. He just looks so startled.

  • William Lyth

    The decklist sucks

    • Happy The Cat

      congrats? you have the required minimum intelligence for this game to know that precons aren’t good decks.

      • What is it with this site’s comment community and snarking at basic statements?

        • Shagoth

          It’s better than most. This wasn’t a basic statement, it was an unconstructive and immature one. I don’t think any party is innocent in this.
          Also speaking of snark, I’m going to add some snark, you put smilling emoji things after statements that ooze with passive aggression.
          “If you didn’t post things like this, you wouldn’t be having to deal with me right now! 8D”
          Well, btw, if you didn’t make posts like that, you wouldn’t have to deal with me right now, either.
          Seriously, snark mode off, the emojis are kind of bothersome after snide comments.

          • Believe it or not the reason I’m using the emoticons is because I’m in a genuinely good mood. That’s my actual expression/mood. =P

            I apologize if they’re annoying — and I can definitely see how they seem hostile in a disagreement — but I’ve gotten a much worse reputation when I don’t use them. I DO avoid them when I’m in a serious mood but when I’m not… Eh. Also and to be entirely fair, sometimes I do mean them as annoying; I think Happy The Cat was being a creep so I don’t really care if he finds me annoying.

            The comment was unhelpful but I don’t see why a comment needs to be; this is a preview site for products. Some people will put thought-out responses and some people won’t, but there shouldn’t be any restriction on which gets to state their feelings. I would argue Happy’s response was a lot less helpful considering he ACTUALLY AGREED with the original commenter and was rude whereas the original comment was just unconstructive. You might disagree but that’s how I feel on the subject.

            No beef with you though. Thanks for being polite in your criticism! ^_^

        • Mr.Mayhem631

          Some are worse than others.

      • Aurore

        Commander precons are generally pretty good decks.

        • Happy The Cat

          Playable and fun? Yes, but I wouldn’t call them good.

          • If it’s playable and fun, then how isn’t it good in a game that you play, with the intention of having fun? =P

            Yeah obviously you don’t take it to a tournament, but is that really necessary to say?

          • Happy The Cat

            You really just don’t understand things do you? As decks they aren’t good. But if you want a fun deck they are fine. Good and fun are not equals. Look at modern right now, most of the “good” decks are bgx and share 25-30% of their cards. I can say I’ve not had fun in almost any game involving them. But, for example, I play Tomorrow edh. Never heard of him? It’s cause he’s a six mana 1/5 that makes drawing better. I’d go nowhere near saying the deck was good, but it is fun. Cause who doesn’t like drawing cards?

          • I made the exact same point in the post you’re replying to, just in fewer words. The only reason I replied in the first place is I object to your tone. I get the sense that you’re mouthing off at people; some of your posts aren’t nice and the fact is they’d probably go off a lot better with people if they were. Maybe not that last one so much but the other post you made that I replied to, was deeply immature:

            “congrats? you have the required minimum intelligence for this game to know that precons aren’t good decks.”

            If you didn’t post things like this, you wouldn’t be having to deal with me right now! 8D

          • Happy The Cat

            Yes, I snapped.After the twentieth time seeing someone say these decks suck on various threads I snapped. But what has confused me now is why so many people feel I am wrong for saying fun cards/decks don’t have to be good cards/decks.
            Archenemy is the most casual format in magic, it makes commander look like legacy or vintage in comparison . And most of the fun comes from these kinda mediocre decks archenemy comes with, cause once you let players start building their own decks the game gets fairly one sided.
            And while you’ve had a good week mine has been sitcom worthy bad. Just the bull-list here includes my hot water to a sink rupturing and flooding a bathroom, a bird built a nest in my dryers vent causing it to back up and, while it luckily didn’t catch fire, blew the vent open and filled a quarter of my house with dust, then, not even joking, I had a collectors n64 sitting in my living room get hit by lightning through a skylight which scared my mother half to death which made up for her deciding she “needed” to visit me for a week. Lastly to top it all off I’m having to use my phone for this cause the power cable for my computer decided it was a good time to melt itself, so I’ve been a bit on edge, cause being ruder than normal mildly abrasive Happy seemed like an alternative to what angry me would have been doing irl.

          • I see. Sorry to hear all that.

            Well, as far as I could tell it didn’t seem like anyone had an issue with you suggesting fun decks didn’t need to be competitive, though I can see where it looked like that. You did get singled out by multiple people who realistically disagreed as much or more with the guy you were originally replying to (William Lyth; “The decklist sucks”), but I think you got singled out because as you admit your post had a harsh tone to it, much harsher than his. I don’t think anyone realized you were criticizing the notion of expecting a fun deck needing to be competitive; to the contrary it sounded like you technically agreed with William, just that you thought what he was saying was overly obvious. In my posts I was more or less trying to say the decks didn’t need to be good to be fun; apparently this was your sentiment too, but it didn’t seem like that to me.

            Me, I really mainly got involved at all because I thought your post was rude and felt like I should defend William. I understand you had a terrible week and I completely get it — we all get torn down sometimes, acting worse than we usually do; I’m just as guilty of this as anyone — it’s just you should keep in mind that it will only make it rougher on you and others taking it out on them. It sounds like you didn’t mean your post as harshly as I took it to be, but I would just caution you in the future that using full sarcasm like you did when replying to William and doing those aggressive “congrats?” kinds of questions, are basically all always taken as hyper-scornful and really just read to me and many people I know as highly hostile, not just a little annoyed or frustrated. Again I get how you feel though.

            I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad week and I’m sorry if I contributed to it here. I hope things start looking up sooner rather than later! ^_^

            (I also applaud you having the patience — good mood or bad — to type up a post like that at all on a phone. I hate small device key inputs. @[email protected] )

          • Shagoth

            I mean, if your definition of good in commander is competitive, well you’ll get killed as your good decks fight three bank decks at once.
            My definition of good is that I look at the cards and want to do something with them other than put it into my “Muraganda Pteroglyphs of Awful, bland cards that I hate” deck (totally have that), the deck itself has a sufficient amount of synergy, there’s value, and it’s fun AND doesn’t feel like playing a deck that could have been made from draft.

          • Shagoth

            You can usually profit with a great deal of them if you resell individual cards.

      • potatogod442

        For a pre-con deck to be consider competitively good, they need to be build by tournament winning pro. Basically they need to be over $200-1000.

        When you look at these pre-con you aren’t looking for good, you are looking for potential profit. (Which, in your defense, most aren’t that profitable)

        • Happy The Cat

          Exactly, I’m saying that these decks aren’t meant to be good, they are meant to be fun. Yet it gets blown out of proportion by people who can’t understand that good and fun are not proportional, and while that is true it can also mean that a deck can both be fun and good, but, for some odd reason, me saying something I thought every player who has ever made a casual deck knew seemed to insult people.

  • Lexozorn

    In “Power without equal” and “A reckoning approaches” what is that giant dude depicted? Could it be the notorious “Gift of the God Pharaoh”, as it looks like it stands beyond the gates of the afterworld?

    • Lord Reptile

      In “Power without equal” there are three giants, and one of them holds a staff. Currently three Amonkhet gods are missing, so the Zombie gods theory could be true (although I don’t like it very much). Or maybe the giant could be one of the “giants, covered in metallic blue, stomping through streets” of Nissa’s visions (however in the card the giant doesn’t seem blue).

      • Tolle

        What is the zombie god theory?

        • Lord Reptile

          Someone thinks that the three missing gods of Amonkhet were killed by Bolas, so they should now be Zombies due to the planar reanimation.

          • theEternalPilgrims

            Now confirmed in the story that the three missing gods were not killed, just set aside for safe keeping.

          • Lord Reptile

            Yes, I read that a few minutes ago. The story clearly says that “he stowed them away” (without specify how or why), so they are almost surely alive. The giants reported in these schemes seem like zombies or horrors, so they are unlikely the missing gods.

    • Hedronal

      Could be. Gift of the God Pharaoh sounds like an enchantment name to me for some reason.

      • Kahai

        gawd i want that enchantment now.

        Gift of the God-Pharaoh
        Enchantment – aura
        Enchant Creature
        You control enchanted creature.
        Enchanted creature gets +3/+3 and gains deathtouch.

        Whenever enchanted creature dies, return it to the battlefield under your control. (This enchantment goes to the graveyard)

        • Hedronal

          From below:
          When Oath of Bolas enters the battlefield, gain control of all planeswalkers you don’t control. If you gain control of no planeswalkers this way, each opponent loses five life.
          Whenever (or the first time each turn) you remove loyalty counters from a non-Bolas planeswalker, you may put a loyalty counter on a Bolas planeswalker you control.

        • Happy The Cat

          Well, if it’s a bolas mind control, I’d say lure over deathtouch. Then have flavor text like “you once fought me, now you shall fight for me.” Or something along those lines.

  • Kahai

    Early unboxing video from WPN:

  • Jordan Batty

    In “power without equal” it does depict 3 giant figures, these could be the 3 missing gods since they were “put aside for another time of need, i.e. the Hours” i think these are those gods but corrupted in a different way to the other 5, these ones seem to be completely under his personal control when they return as well so it is something through the same magic he corrupted the other 5.

  • ConDucktor Whirl Crate God

    When and where is this coming out?

  • Shagoth

    Ugh, why do Wizards have to put so many bad cards in their precons. As a new player, I hated it because I could tell right away that some decks that were precons had no synergy and also had terrible cards like a plethora of 5 mana 3/5s that did nothing else. They aren’t interesting and this has been a problem forever. I mean, they are getting better, but I just wished that the good cards/played cards/valuable card were printed next to cards that weren’t only mediocre in Doran EDH and were okay cards that don’t see play, heck, some bears would suffice.

    • To be fair this is an issue in most every CCG I’ve ever played… with the possible exception of Pokemon although I don’t really remember how good the decks I’ve seen in there were. I guess I’m mainly thinking of starter decks though, so perhaps I’ve just never seen the good precons in those other games.

      I imagine it’s difficult to produce a series of decks that come in some kind of set or product line that have synergies without pushing one ahead of the other without realizing it; having minimal-synergy deck might well be their (admittedly lazy) way of ensuring the decks are mostly balanced.

      It also occurred to me that there might (or might not) be genuine market data in favor of selling this kind of product. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if, at least for casual players, decks with lots of singles and duos instead of complex synergies requiring the maximum number of more specific cards might simply seem funner to people because they get to play around with more different kinds of cards, as well as feel like their deck can do more (as opposed to do less things very well). I dunno.

      • Hew Hoffman

        Also, they are starter decks. They’re not meant to be great, they’re meant to be something you can start with and then build on from there. If they were synergetic then no one would want to build on them. There’s more money to be made by selling something that’s not as good and then having the players spend more money to make them great.

        Plus the high value cards you’d want in this deck are often expensive cards. If they printed them in here it would cause those cards to drop in price which would anger the collecting community. (Example: The new Commander Anthology set had a reprint of Kaalia if the Vast, causing her value to drop down to $40 ish when in the past she could cost as much as $75 ish. Anyone who owned Kaalia before Anthology lost a chunk of of value with that release) If Wizards did that with more cards in each precon deck then eventually collectors and long time players would get mad and quit playing because their collections they’ve been building for years -maybe even decades- would constantly be dropping in value until they were essentially worthless.

        • I was under the impression that Archenemy isn’t really a starter deck at all, but a specific piece of content for a specific format. Not all precons are starter decks; even Yu-Gi-Oh eventually started putting out “structure decks” alongside its starter decks, and though I never played any of them I imagine they were quite a bit different.

          (Also never play Yu-Gi-Oh.)

          As for reprinting… yeah that is a concern, but there’s also a balance to be maintained there as well. Modern would be rendered a basically unplayable format if all of the cards in it never got reprinted because the only people who’d have most of the best cards would be either really old players or ones with tons of money to throw around. Modern is, I think rightfully, one of the formats people prefer if they aren’t willing to shell out tons of money on new packs (constantly) to keep up with Standard as sets cycle out. It can’t ever be dominated by old expensive cards.

          Obviously you can’t alienate the collectors either, though. It’s something that needs to be balanced. The Masters reprints are a decent middle ground because they keep the rarities intact and probably don’t modify the value of the originals as bad; you’re right that printing too many valuable cards as part of decks you can just buy changes the game a lot.

          • Hew Hoffman

            You may be correct in regards to this specific Archenemy set. I know in the past Archenemy sets were one precon deck with schemes and you were expected to build the decks to face it out of your own cards. They added the three precon decks to the set to solidify the format and balance out the 3v1 combat setup. I would assume with the specific set that it would be treated as starter decks. Either play as is for a casual game night, or modify each deck to fit your group’s level of competition.

            As someone who plays Modern, I greatly appreciate the Masters sets. It does make it a lot easier to obtain quality cards without dropping hundreds or even thousands on a deck as some people do. And even though it does cause some change in value to collections, it isn’t enough to alienate collectors. Which as you said, is a decent balance to keep the game alive and well.

            As far as this specific set goes, it’s literally magics most casual format. No one should expect greatness from it. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s ready to go when you get it. I’d almost think of it as more of a board game (just one can modify if you feel the inclination). If you’re looking to be competitive, build your own deck or be prepared to strip down any precon you buy and rebuild from the ground up. Otherwise, just appreciate the more casual side of the game as something you can use to get your none-magic-playing friends to play with on a game night, or so you can have a relaxed and casual game with some friends when you’re not feeling the heat of competition.

  • niz-mizzet

    Maybe the creatures on power without equal could be the 3 lost gods

    • Happy The Cat

      It could also be the three in pay tribute to me, yes meaning both that pwe and ptm contain the same creatures or that those three are the gods, after they went “missing” as bolas destroyed their former bodies and gave them new forms as planeswalkers, thus they have to pay tribute to their creator.

  • Happy The Cat

    Question, who makes the armor for bolas? He’s got like three sets of the stuff, and it has to be custom orders cause not only does he have a dragon body but he’s got a kinda weirdly shaped dragon body. And why did he turn yellow/ orange? My dude used to be a green dragon that liked to read books. So much has changed…

    • Other people have said it before me but that old, original card art of Nicol Bolas reading books is REALLY funny considering what he’s like now. xD

  • TJ

    Ok, since I don’t keep up with MaRo or other feeds this question, might seem a bit self answering, are these going to be available at big box stores as they were in the past?

    • Vizzerdrix

      I would think so, however I would be quick to check for them if you plan to get them from a big box store, I work at a target anda lot of times product like this go pretty quickly

      • TJ

        I know my target vendors schedule

        • Vizzerdrix

          That’s good, my store is interesting I’d say, sometimes product is out morning of release sometimes 2-3 weeks late, bfz and oath fat packs took almost a month to be put out or received not sure but worked out well bc hype died down and I was able to buy some

          • TJ

            It could be that people like me waited for the vendor to get there and bought them out. I don’t buy the store out, but I do get it right out of the box

    • Michael Spidey Babineau

      Barnes and Noble will carry it. I already asked

      • TJ

        Thanks for the heads up

        • SlimAndSlippery

          So does Walmart. They’re around $60. And the cards within are all great for casual. :)

          • TJ

            I hit a LGS and picked it up for 50+tax. We actually started using the schemes for Commander chase, so far it’s enjoyable and it can level the odds a lot of the time.

  • Oiram

    I doubt this will be read by anyone or if anyone cares about Archenemy anymore, but I played a few games with this product and I found it to be ultimately very tiresome and boring.

    Me and a few of my friends who weren’t as into Magic as I was bought this product and split it among themselves. I purchased the item as an introduction to Magic for them, and so each of them could learn how the game goes. I claimed the Archenemy cards, while they plan on leaving the Bolas deck around in its state as a kind of ‘time capsule’ so they can revisit it and challenge it later as a test of how much they’ve progressed as players.

    Before I truly begin, I know people have been complaining about the box’s general value and suckiness… which is true, but that doesn’t mean the decks have to be boring. You can make decks for under $10 that can be more fun than a $500+ tuned competitive deck.

    But in the end, none of my friends really had a ton of fun with the decks, because they just ended up being slugfests of creatures beating face and removal spells destroying said face beaters. Fine for draft of limited; really stale for pre-con.

    In terms of the decks, they definitely felt different from one to another, but there was a definite disparity between the powerlevel of the Gatewatch decks.

    The Gideon deck did its job: it provided pressure in the early game, while being able to help a bit later in the game. Most of the cards that I didn’t think would matter, particularly Those Who Serve, actually made a difference, while cards that I thought would really do good work, like Aegis Angel, always found a way to not work out. Sacrificing, stealing, or just plain removal always found a way to not only kill the Angel, but whatever the Gideon player made indestructible through combat tricks or blocking mechanisms.

    The champion of this deck was Vizier of Deferment, weirdly enough: there’s enough 3/3 Horror tokens and creatures that were stolen where a flicker effect is exactly the kind of effect you’ll want.

    The Chandra deck was nearly useless in every game. The deck list does encourage this idea that when blood’s shed, it starts up the Bloodthirst engine that will steamroll over the Bolas deck. Additionally, considering its large quantity of ‘deal damage’ and ‘can’t block’ spells, it was also meant as the trimmer for Bolas’ deck to keep it in line so the other two decks that beat its face in.

    Not so. Because Bloodthirst is a tricky little ability that only works when the Bolas deck’s getting damaged, that means that whenever the Bolas deck is ahead, none of your comrades want to sacrifice their small army so you’ll have a 3/3 Menace or 5/5 vanilla Minotaur. More often than not, the Chandra deck didn’t play spells because it knew it could make them better. When it finally cracked and played Blood Ogre and Skarggan Firebird as their base power/toughness, it was easily outdone by the frequent visits from the 3/3 Horror party courtesy the Archenemy cards.

    The only games the Chandra deck mattered were the ones where it played Inferno Titan. Once out, it not only provided the deck with the Bloodthirst trigger it needed, but also an actually good card (that more often than not, got stolen).

    The Nissa deck should just be renamed the Scaled Behemoth deck. Games would be determined once that fell on the board, because the Bolas deck has so few spells that can deal with a 6/7 with Hexproof. Sudden Demise was effective, but usually used earlier in the game. Sacrificing triggers and Deathbringer Regent were the only ways the Behemoth died (and one time Aegis Angel was killed and it made a combat trade with a Bone Picker).

    Honestly though, the Nissa deck might be the only deck capable of fighting the Bolas deck single-handedly. Turntimber Basilisk turned around games so frequently that Doom Blades were being saved for when it arrived. Add up all the other valuable creatures that deck has to offer, and you’ve got something that, if lucky, can still defeat Bolas (Archenemy cards included!).

    The Bolas deck was decent and actually pretty fun to play around with. I like the heavy usage of Deathtouch creatures as well as a focus on removal. It does have a little bit of trouble dealing with enchantments and/or artifacts though, so once something like Sword of the Animist hit the field, it was there until the game was done.

    In the end, after two games with it, we were burnt out and didn’t really want to play with the decks anymore. We tried rotating the decks around a week later to change the roles so everyone tried every role, and we still didn’t have much more fun. Investing in Commander Pre-cons sounded more like a fun idea.

    But as a bit of a compliment to this criticism, it did definitely help re-introduce Magic to my less-Magic friends! The instructions included really did help with how the game worked, and once they began to really learn the game, they began to consider ways to improve decks, add or take away things, or use other decks in place of the deck provided. So I guess that’s a positive, I suppose.

  • Mr.Mayhem631

    I still don’t see it. What is it?