So I normally do a lot of top fives at the end of the year in bigger categories, but I wanted to break it down for a few specific categories within board games so you can see what I really enjoy in the various genres […]
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our very first Guest Post Wednesday! We’re proud to present a fantastic article on the color designations in Magic: The Gathering, by Sam Nelson. Sam is a good friend with whom we very much enjoy gaming and nerding out, and who just so happens to be the one who introduced Peder to Magic.
Magic: The Gathering – An Introduction to the Color Pie
By Sam Nelson
Knowing where to begin with Magic: The Gathering can be daunting, especially when considering the near limitless combination of cards available. However, there is a good way to guide your curiosity by simply examining the specific colors that make up the color pie. In this article, we’ll explore the basic philosophies behind each color to help you find your potential play-style!
First, we should address the concept behind the Magic: The Gathering color-pie. The order goes clockwise in this manner: White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green. Colors that are adjacent to each other are considered allied, while those that are not are considered enemy colors. This concept is generally utilized in sets to show how each color works in conjunction with its allied colors against those of their enemy colors. However, there have been blocks and sets that explore colors working with their enemy colors as well! We’ll likely delve into these advanced concepts in future articles. For now, let’s focus on each color on its own, or as they are often referred to: mono-colored.
The color of order, justice, and divinity, focusing on the group as a whole over the individual are the foundations of a White mage’s philosophy. Structure is perfection, and looks to benefit all those within its grasp, but doing so as they dictate. It is not unheard of for a White mage to sacrifice for the greater good. Even though White is seen as the color of justice, leaving it unchecked can result in it turning into a very authoritarian role, dictating how the game progresses and is played.
Many mechanics revolve around life-gain, damage prevention and defense, and balancing the playing field (while slowly tipping the scales in your favor). There is value placed in sheer numbers when it comes to creatures, often in smaller creatures that work well in conjunction with each other. Adding additional rules or taxes to spells is utilized frequently to preserve order on the battlefield, as well as creating order and balance amongst players.
Intelligence is paramount to the Blue mage. Careful planning and knowing when to strike is just as important as brute force, and Blue embraces this approach. Not instinctual in nature, it instead takes a logical approach to dealing with threats and overtaking the opponent. Potential, and predicting and understanding change can only improve one’s position and power, so Blue mages ultimately strive to achieve omniscience.
Knowledge and illusion are a Blue mage’s weapons, so many spells revolve around drawing cards and planning and shaping your strategies to fit the current situation. Controlling the pace of the game (also known as tempo) is part of a Blue mage’s strategy. Some of the most common tactics are to simply deny an opponent’s action through counter spells or through such effects as returning creatures and permanents from the battlefield back to their owner’s hand or library. When all else fails, there’s always the ability to simply take control of that which you need!
Death and personal gain “no matter the cost” is the mantra of a Black mage. Though not necessarily evil, Black encompasses a much more pessimistic world view. Risky, opportunistic, and amoral, Black’s approach benefits from the suffering of all. Those that are weaker are simply meant to be exploited.
Black magic trusts no one but itself and will do whatever it takes to rise in power. As a Black mage, everything at your disposal is a resource, and you can often exchange one thing for another, such as trading life for additional cards, or sacrificing your creatures to harm your opponents. It excels at spreading death through both creature destruction and the parasitic actions of draining the life from both creatures and opponents alike. It can also cause trauma through discard mechanics, reducing your opponents’ available choices through systematic destruction before they can even make anything happen. One of the most powerful tools comes from the utilization of re-animation spells. With them, the graveyard is not just a place where used spells go, but is rather a resource in and of itself.
The color of passion and chaos, no other color plays as impulsively as Red. While often acting first and thinking second, it does so with purpose for an end goal of doing as much as is possible in the shortest amount of time. Red mages embrace the aspects of fire and passion, being able to shift their plans at a moment’s notice if needed to keep up the momentum. Inhibiting oneself goes against their philosophy, as immediate gratification and acting on impulse is what drives them forward to victory.
One of the primary tools of a red mage comes in the ability to deal direct damage to specific targets. Creatures are often aggressive in this manner as well, utilizing quick strikes through blitz tactics with little focus on endurance for the long game. Despite the lack of endurance, they exhibit strengths in their own ability to hit faster and stronger with prowess and power-enhancing abilities. Being able to shift the roles of their resources on the fly amidst the chaos is where a Red mage revels.
Embracing the ideals of instinct and “survival of the fittest,” Green looks to change the field around them through individual action and growth. However, green is not necessarily selfish, but rather looks to resolve conflict through the life cycle, with its spells and creatures often giving way to new life. Obtaining resources comes naturally to Green, allowing for faster growth. Through pure strength, Green seeks to overcome all obstacles.
Fierce and often aggressive, Green mages show their might through having some of the biggest creatures on the battlefield and often having the ability to enhance their creatures through increases to power and toughness. Getting to these big creatures would often be difficult if it were not for the Green mage’s affinity for accelerating into mana resources quickly and efficiently. Having two or three lands more than other players early on in a game is not uncommon. Green also encompasses natural protections through regenerative abilities, and through abilities that protect them from being the target of opponents’ spells.
As you can see, each color embraces vastly different philosophies from the others. They showcase their own strengths in a variety of ways and create wildly different approaches to play. Advanced players will often mix these colors to two or three strong to take care of a variety of strengths and to account for some of the weaknesses that come from mono-colored philosophies. Which color speaks the strongest to you?
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