This week features  MTG's most infamous villain. That's right, it's Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker. As usual, here's a link to my introduction to the Planeswalker Deck Project if you're not caught up!

Nicol Bolas is, in a word, awesome. He never saw much competitive play, but does it really matter? You look at Nicol Bolas, with the big loyalty numbers and the abilities, and you can't help but feel at least a little bit impressed.

Storywise, Bolas's grand plan to create an army of zombies and transport them across the multiverse became pretty clear. But before those sets and other Bolas Planeswalkers, back before we had some flavorful thematic connections, we had these two spicy numbers: Nicol Bolas and Cruel Ultimatum.

We're not playing the Legends version of Bolas—I'm not made of money here—but thankfully the Timeshifted version still looks delightful. He looks so happy with his books! I hope he's reading about these Planeswalker decks. And Cruel Ultimatum...if y'all have not had the pleasure of casting this monstrosity, you need to treat yourselves. Luckily this deck will provide that opportunity. Those two cards, when combined with Bolas's 3 colors, also confirm our game plan: go long. We want to live to cast an Ultimatum! So we need some defensive plays and plenty of removal to let us live long enough for our incredibly expensive and powerful spells to come online.

Here's how we get there:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker by Andy Hurst

'Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Andy Hurst

Event:

Rank:

Freeform (Casual)

Market Price: $20.80

Cards

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

Color Identity:B,R,U

Market Price: $5.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/132245_200w.jpg

+3: Destroy target noncreature permanent.
−2: Gain control of target creature.
−9: Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker deals 7 damage to target player or planeswalker. That player or that planeswalker's controller discards seven cards, then sacrifices seven permanents.

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Filigree Familiar

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/226885_200w.jpg

When Filigree Familiar enters the battlefield, you gain 2 life.
When Filigree Familiar dies, draw a card.

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Nekrataal

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.17

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/118763_200w.jpg

First strike
When Nekrataal enters the battlefield, destroy target nonartifact, nonblack creature. That creature can't be regenerated.

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Twisted Reflection

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191212_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Target creature gets -6/-0 until end of turn.
• Switch target creature's power and toughness until end of turn.
Entwine {B} (Choose both if you pay the entwine cost.)

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Ruthless Deathfang

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/248779_200w.jpg

Flying
Whenever you sacrifice a creature, target opponent sacrifices a creature.

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Foresee

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/233788_200w.jpg

Scry 4, then draw two cards.

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Cruel Ultimatum

Color Identity:B,R,U

Market Price: $0.46

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/132259_200w.jpg

Target opponent sacrifices a creature, discards three cards, then loses 5 life. You return a creature card from your graveyard to your hand, draw three cards, then gain 5 life.

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Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215722_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}.)

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Agony Warp

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128832_200w.jpg

Target creature gets -3/-0 until end of turn.
Target creature gets -0/-3 until end of turn.

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Sedraxis Specter

Color Identity:B,R,U

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128483_200w.jpg

Flying
Whenever Sedraxis Specter deals combat damage to a player, that player discards a card.
Unearth {1}{B} ({1}{B}: Return this card from your graveyard to the battlefield. It gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step or if it would leave the battlefield. Unearth only as a sorcery.)

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Silumgar Sorcerer

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96655_200w.jpg

Flash (You may cast this spell any time you could cast an instant.)
Flying
Exploit (When this creature enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice a creature.)
When Silumgar Sorcerer exploits a creature, counter target creature spell.

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Gravedigger

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192882_200w.jpg

When Gravedigger enters the battlefield, you may return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.

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Recoil

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.35

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/52140_200w.jpg

Return target permanent to its owner's hand. Then that player discards a card.

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Minister of Pain

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96680_200w.jpg

Exploit (When this creature enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice a creature.)
When Minister of Pain exploits a creature, creatures your opponents control get -1/-1 until end of turn.

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Crosis's Charm

Color Identity:B,R,U

Market Price: $0.81

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/139924_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Return target permanent to its owner's hand.
• Destroy target nonblack creature. It can't be regenerated.
• Destroy target artifact.

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Jorubai Murk Lurker

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/91070_200w.jpg

Jorubai Murk Lurker gets +1/+1 as long as you control a Swamp.
{1}{B}: Target creature gains lifelink until end of turn. (Damage dealt by the creature also causes its controller to gain that much life.)

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Essence Extraction

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/122652_200w.jpg

Essence Extraction deals 3 damage to target creature and you gain 3 life.

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Nicol Bolas

Color Identity:B,R,U

Market Price: $1.56

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161486_200w.jpg

Flying
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Nicol Bolas unless you pay {U}{B}{R}.
Whenever Nicol Bolas deals damage to an opponent, that player discards their hand.

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196476_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Terminal Moraine

Market Price: $0.87

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/7895_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{2}, {T}, Sacrifice Terminal Moraine: Search your library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle.

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Crux of Fate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.80

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/139805_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Destroy all Dragon creatures.
• Destroy all non-Dragon creatures.

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Sol'kanar the Swamp King

Color Identity:B,R,U

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/14640_200w.jpg

Swampwalk (This creature can't be blocked as long as defending player controls a Swamp.)
Whenever a player casts a black spell, you gain 1 life.

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Opportunity

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/167873_200w.jpg

Target player draws four cards.

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Mindclaw Shaman

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/59826_200w.jpg

When Mindclaw Shaman enters the battlefield, target opponent reveals their hand. You may cast an instant or sorcery spell from among those cards without paying its mana cost.

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Augur of Bolas

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187183_200w.jpg

When Augur of Bolas enters the battlefield, look at the top three cards of your library. You may reveal an instant or sorcery card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

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Crypt of the Eternals

Color Identity:B,R,U

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/136744_200w.jpg

When Crypt of the Eternals enters the battlefield, you gain 1 life.
{T}: Add {C}.
{1}, {T}: Add {U}, {B}, or {R}.

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Wayfarer's Bauble

Market Price: $2.38

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/243989_200w.jpg

{2}, {T}, Sacrifice Wayfarer's Bauble: Search your library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle.

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Bone Picker

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/219507_200w.jpg

This spell costs {3} less to cast if a creature died this turn.
Flying, deathtouch

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Vulturous Aven

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96690_200w.jpg

Flying
Exploit (When this creature enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice a creature.)
When Vulturous Aven exploits a creature, you draw two cards and you lose 2 life.

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Bituminous Blast

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/243913_200w.jpg

Cascade (When you cast this spell, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card that costs less. You may cast it without paying its mana cost. Put the exiled cards on the bottom of your library in a random order.)
Bituminous Blast deals 4 damage to target creature.

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Palace Familiar

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96650_200w.jpg

Flying
When Palace Familiar dies, draw a card.

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Rakshasa Gravecaller

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96682_200w.jpg

Exploit (When this creature enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice a creature.)
When Rakshasa Gravecaller exploits a creature, create two 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens.

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Mudbutton Torchrunner

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128904_200w.jpg

When Mudbutton Torchrunner dies, it deals 3 damage to any target.

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Nightscape Familiar

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.21

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/132251_200w.jpg

Blue spells and red spells you cast cost {1} less to cast.
{1}{B}: Regenerate Nightscape Familiar.

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Terramorphic Expanse

Market Price: $0.24

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/243987_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Terramorphic Expanse: Search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle.

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Rise // Fall

Color Identity:B,R,U

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/52141_200w.jpg

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Gem of Becoming

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/59828_200w.jpg

{3}, {T}, Sacrifice Gem of Becoming: Search your library for an Island card, a Swamp card, and a Mountain card. Reveal those cards, put them into your hand, then shuffle.

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Slave of Bolas

Color Identity:B,R,U

Market Price: $0.51

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/132261_200w.jpg

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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Crumbling Necropolis

Color Identity:B,R,U

Market Price: $0.35

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/140081_200w.jpg

Crumbling Necropolis enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {U}, {B}, or {R}.

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Shatter

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.01

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/155718_200w.jpg

Destroy target artifact.

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Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215717_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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The Eldest Reborn

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.34

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196779_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Each opponent sacrifices a creature or planeswalker.
II — Each opponent discards a card.
III — Put target creature or planeswalker card from a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control.

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The Game Plan

Like I said, we're trying to stay alive until we can cast Cruel Ultimatum, then drop either Nicol Bolas to finish the job. There's a fairly sizable Exploit package because that seems exactly like something Bolas would endorse, with a pair of Palace Familiars as ideal food that blocks well if the Exploiters don't show up.

The midrange creatures excel at buying time. Mudbutton Torchrunner, Nekrataal, Gravedigger, and Mindclaw Shaman all offer some interesting 2-for-1s. Jorubai Murk Lurker can stall as long as you keep mana up to activate it. Sedraxis Specter (Downshift alert! Go go Modern Masters) offers an evasive threat that can draw some removal or take cards out of your opponent's hand, as well as exploit fodder in a pinch, since it can unearth. Once you get to the late game, Ruthless Deathfang turns our Exploit shenanigans into board control and the advantages start to snowball.

Our removal package in this deck is incredible. Enchantments are a problem, but other than that we can kill darn near anything. Indestructible stuff can be shrunk to death by Agony Warp or Twisted Reflection. Hexproof stuff (not that there is much, because I utterly loathe that ability) gets hit by The Eldest Reborn. Crosis's Charm straight up kills, Essence Extraction gains some life back, and Bituminous Blast gets most creatures and tacks another spell along for a nice bonus. As long as the mana works out, this deck slays.

Speaking of the mana, we've got some rare acceleration in the form of Wayfarer's Bauble, and we can get the lands we need from Gem of Becoming. Black is the color that demands priority, but the other colors matter too. Some tri-lands, a nice luxury, are also valuable.

The Rares

This swamp king makes an excellent midrange threat. Cost effective, gains a little life, offers the occasional evasive threat. And for that color combination, our Swamp King has some very solid size. Plus the Richard Kane-Ferguson artwork is *chef's kiss.* A fantastic Timeshifted card.

Another Timeshifted Gem. If he isn't reading about these decklists, I at least hope he's picked out something tasteful. Not only will it be a total flavor win if you assemble Nicol Bolas and his Planeswalker version, but I imagine it will be a game win as well.

This one's here for the flavor. Ugin and Nicol Bolas, bitter enemies and also twin brothers (!!!), fought to the death in the storyline of Fate Reforged. Bolas got the better of him and killed Ugin, but unbeknownst to Bolas, the time traveling Sarkhan Vol was there to seal Ugin up and let him have a millennia of recovery. In the gameplay, having a board sweeper does an awful lot of work at keeping us alive until the big nasties come online. Keep in mind that if Bolas or Deathfang are in play, naming Non-Dragons can be even more desirable.

This represents one of the iconic late game bombs in Constructed Magic history. Is it hard to cast? Definitely. Can it rot in your hand, unused, as you get beaten down before it comes online? Affirmative. Will this spell successfully turn a game around if you're behind, or nail down a victory if you're at parity? That's why we're playing it! The Ultimatum here generates an incredible swing. Between the swings in life totals, cards in hand, and board presence, this thing is almost worth an entire full hand of advantages. This card is extra fun—for you, that is. Your opponents are gonna look like Donald Faison in "Remember the Titans".

Unsung Hero

Rise//Fall

Dissension offered new variants on split cards that hadn't been seen since Invasion Block, and for the most part, they were extremely lackluster. But Rise//Fall was a star. Either half is excellent. The Black/Red half is a fixed version of Hymn to Tourach, but remember that it's much more potent in the later stages of the game, when it's less likely to tag some lands. Casting this on Turn 2 is reckless and honestly somewhat foolish. Casting this on Turn 6, on the other hand, can swing a game.

The Blue/Black part really shines late game. Keep in mind that you do not have to target zones controlled by the same player. Mostly, you'll want to return your opponent's creature to their hand and rebuy one of yours from the graveyard. But if you want to get a second kill out of a Nekrataal or create a giant chain off a Gravedigger, that option exists as well. Rise//Fall is flexible and powerful, and is a rare example of a cheap card best cast later while also offering lots of options and plenty of interesting play.