The Issue with Bolas’s Citadel, by Paul Palmer

Is Bolas's Citadel overpowered? Paul Palmer explains why he says 'Yes!'.

Bolas's Citadel (WAR)

This just in: from 26th April, Commander is going to be miserable for at least 3 months.



Why am I expecting Bolas’s Citadel to be banned in the first announcement from the Commander Rules Committee?

Let’s take this one effect at a time…

Mana Cost 3BBB

For a game winning artifact this is not only cheap, but even the three black mana is easy to fix for. Griselbrand is harder to cast and he’s banned; Sheldon Menery says that he’s so powerful he’s never likely to be unbanned.

Legendary Artifact

It may not seem like a lot but this is actually very relevant. There are already a lot of artifact strategies that use quick mana or spells like Show and Tell to power out extremely powerful cards like Paradox Engine and Blightsteel Colossus, which either win the game on the spot or very swiftly afterwards. This easily slots into those decks with minimal changes.

You may look at the top card of your library any time

This isn’t a huge deal. There are a lot of cards that allow you to do this from Experimental Frenzy to Precognition Field – I wouldn’t say any of these break the game. However, the ability to look at the top card and know if you need to pay to change their order with something like Sensei’s Divining Top[/card] is definitely another positive in this card’s favour.

You may play the top card of your library. If you cast a spell this way, pay life equal to its converted mana cost rather than pay its mana cost.

I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?

You may play the top card of your l-

I obviously wasn’t being serious… But this card is. Griselbrand is banned because of it’s ease of casting from your command zone and its pay 7 life to draw 7 cards effect. This monstrosity lets you PLAY THE CARDS meaning that you can play Omnsicience, Paradox Engine and cards like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger straight out of your deck. Add the fact that Vampiric Tutor, Mystical Tutor and Enlightened Tutor can all set up insanely busted turns but aren’t necessary to run away with the game.

There was A LOT of conjecture around the banning of Razaketh, the Foulblooded when it was spoiled, due to how similar it was to Griselbrand.

This is even closer, since Razaketh needs other creatures in play with it, so only works in certain styles of aristocrat or sacrifice-centric decks, while Bolas’s Citadel can just get jammed into any black commander deck and win the game for you.

T, Sacrifice 10 nonland permanents: Each opponent loses 10 life.

I actually think this is the fairest line of the whole card. Granted you can play it in a deck with a ton of mana rocks, Paradox Engine and then just drain everyone but I really don’t think that is what this will be used for.

Cards that break this even further

Sensei’s Divining Top
Pretty self-explanatory. Pay 1 mana to reorder the top three cards of your deck. Play all the spells, rinse and repeat until you hit three lands, draw a land, play Top for 1 life keep going. This is not fair, Wizards. Why have you done this to us poor mortals?

Aetherflux Reservoir
I don’t even want to start with this. You cast a spell, pay life to cast it and then gain life for casting it. This is literally the jam to Citadel of Bolas’s peanut butter. Fish to its chips… I can’t think of any more, but basically you win the game.

Goblin Welder
A staple in red artifact decks. With Breya being the most popular artifact commander, you get access to Goblin Welder,Daretti, Scrap Savant and Transmute Artifact. Get ready to die on turn 2. Oh, and you can also Entomb this for ease of access.

A lot of the other cards that break this I’ve already talked about: Vampiric Tutor, Imperial Seal, Soothsaying. I could go on and on but this article would be about 100 pages long.

Let me know what you think of Citadel of Bolas. What other WAR cards are you excited for (Buy a Box Tezzeret anyone???) and let me know how long this disgusting artifact will stick around until the ban-hammer comes down on it!

Thanks for Reading and I hope you enjoyed this rant about probably the most disgusting thing printed since Paradox Engine.

Paul Palmer

Check out my other articles in my 32 Commander series:

  1. Mono-Blue – Kefnet, the Mindful
  2. Simic – Edric, Spymaster of Trest
  3. Grixis – Mairsil, the Pretender
  4. Mono-Red – Neheb, the Eternal
The issue with Bolas's Citadel by Paul Palmer
The issue with Bolas's Citadel by Paul Palmer
Is Bolas's Citadel overpowered? Paul Palmer explains why he says 'Yes!'.

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