Color Pie

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The "Color Pie" (a.k.a. "Color Wheel") is a representation of Magic colors and their mechanics, and how Wizards categorizes mechanics in the game of Magic: The Gathering. It is also how one differentiates the philosophies behind the colors. The Color Pie is a simple tool for players less familiar with each color's workings to become acquainted with the surface of their philosophies, their strengths, and their weaknesses. However, the true depth of each color lies not only within the game but within the articles that designer Mark Rosewater has provided his readers with. Simultaneously, the Magic novels have been known to provide readers and players with a more intense perspective and insight into characters who appropriately represent a certain color or color pair on an individual level, which is an important aspect to take into account.

Comprehensive Rules[edit | edit source]

From the Comprehensive Rules (Shadows over Innistrad (April 8, 2016))

105. Colors

  • 105.1. There are five colors in the Magic game: white, blue, black, red, and green.
  • 105.2. An object can be one or more of the five colors, or it can be no color at all. An object is the color or colors of the mana symbols in its mana cost, regardless of the color of its frame. An object’s color or colors may also be defined by a color indicator or a characteristic-defining ability. See rule 202.2.
  • 105.2a A monocolored object is exactly one of the five colors.
  • 105.2b A multicolored object is two or more of the five colors.
  • 105.2c A colorless object has no color.
  • 105.3. Effects may change an object’s color or give a color to a colorless object. If an effect gives an object a new color, the new color replaces all previous colors the object had (unless the effect said the object became that color “in addition” to its other colors). Effects may also make a colored object become colorless.
  • 105.4. If a player is asked to choose a color, he or she must choose one of the five colors. “Multicolored” is not a color. Neither is “colorless.”

Representation and meaning[edit | edit source]

The color pie is represented as a circular pattern of objects representing each color, e.g. the back of each Magic card features a representation of the color wheel as round colored gems. The order of the colors is always the same, clockwise White, Blue, Black, Red and Green. This in itself does not give any information about the philosophies of the colors themselves, but is an easy tool to remember how colors interact with each other. Colors that are adjacent to each other in this pattern are referred to as allied (e.g. White is allied with Green and Blue) while colors that are not adjacent to each other are called enemies (e.g. White's enemies are Black and Red).

While individual blocks and sets have explored the implications of enemy colors working together, each color is much more likely to work in concert with its allies and against its enemies and even more so if two allied colors work together against their shared enemy. Commonly a block will feature at least one cycle of color-specific Hoser cards: Each color has either one card for both enemies or one card for each enemy that either have a specific effect against cards of that color or their respective basic lands. For example Coldsnap features the following cycle which was reprinted in 10th Edition: Luminesce, Flashfreeze, Deathmark, Cryoclasm, and Karplusan Strider. In contrast to that, only very rarely will there be cards in a color with a detrimental effect to its allied colors (i.e. Glissa's Courier).

Individualism and the Color Pie[edit | edit source]

When pulled apart from the rest of its kin, any individual can be observed to discover similar traits to its color or guild, yet toned down to a smaller, more 'realistic' scale. For such an example (based upon the first color of this article), White as a group works toward peace, harmony, and unity for the world. However, for White as an ordinary individual or citizen, these goals can easily be considered "too large" for their day-to-day life. To clarify the difference, a White group would believe in order and ethics, and would enforce its belief by enacting rules, ordinances, and laws. However, a White individual would do something on a much smaller scale, like prefer that his or her family eat at the dinner table and not in front of the television, would put value in dining etiquette and proper manners. A White group can outcast a troublesome individual, but an individual has little to no power in doing such a thing on his or her own. (See Gaze of Justice for a perfect representation of this.)

However, there are some guidelines and some rules for determining the identity of a character.

  1. There are five flexible traits, primarily present in one color but visible in characters of all colors. These five traits are as follows:
  1. Organization (White)
  2. Intelligence (Blue)
  3. Self-concern (Black)
  4. Emotion (Red)
  5. Instinct (Green)

An organized character is not automatically White. A character that values organization, however, may be. For reference Black/Red has shown signs of organization in such cases as the mathematically designed destruction of Void, and the efficiently-costed, targeted destruction of Terminate. Green/White has shown self-concern in the form of life gain (Heroes' Reunion), but that does not make Green/White selfish — that would be comparable to saying that a person is selfish for brushing his or her teeth. Instinct is unavoidable in all forms of non-artificial life, as even vampires must feed to sate their natural hunger. Wizards cannot learn on an empty-stomach and even they are drawn to sexual partners — it is as nature wills, but that does not make them Green. It is the value of these traits that defines a character to a color, not the presence of them. That said, their presence should not be taken into heavy consideration.

  1. Influences must be taken into account. If the character spends a great deal of time around Black characters, he or she will likely do some things that can be considered selfish or outright Black. This does not make them Black, as they may have been suffering under peer pressure, they may have lost or may be losing sight of morality, he or she may not be entirely aware of what they're doing, or they could perhaps be in the process of reconsidering his or her own views and making a shift into or toward the color. Influences also come from bloodline, race, and occupation. If the character is a Goblin in the Azorius Senate, he or she may be Blue/White, but will likely have a Red influence that will surface in his or her actions, words, responses, or thoughts. Typically when an opposing influence surfaces it serves only to dilute the character's other colors. For example, a Black/Red character with a White influence would be a much more toned down version of a Black/Red character.
The "Color Wheel". © Wizards of the Coast.

White[edit | edit source]

Main article: White

Flavor[edit | edit source]

White puts value in the group, the community, and its civilization as a whole. White's ultimate goal is peace, harmony, and perfection — a world where everyone gets along and no one seeks to disturb the bonds of unity that White had worked so long to forge. To govern and protect its community, White makes use of and puts value in a number of broad concepts; morality (ethics, grace, truth), order (law, discipline, duty), uniformity (conformity, religion), and structure (government, planning, reason). White is a color commonly associated with good and justice, but if left unchecked, white can become authoritarian, inflexible, and capable of sacrificing a small group for the sake of a larger one. Everything necessary to preserve the laws, rules, and governance that white created.

Mechanics[edit | edit source]

  • Damage prevention and life gain: White is a protector first; it has many cards that prevent damage to itself and/or its creatures ("healing"). In addition, White places great emphasis on the continuity of life, and endurance. It can restore life to a player, allowing that player to shake off the attacks of the opponent. To contrast, whereas Green life gain cards always have life gain as the main effect, there are White cards whose principal effect is not life gain but have that as an added bonus, making White the best choice for keeping up a life total while fighting off the opponent. Note the keyword ability lifelink, primary in White. Examples: Healing Salve, Angel of Salvation, Ancestor's Chosen, Reverse Damage.
  • Rules-setting and "Taxing": White values order and law, and so it has ways of restricting the actions of players so that they do not do anything which White considers unnecessary or unfair. This can be outright denial of privileges (rules), or an imposition of some form of "cost" on a regular part of game play (taxing). Rules-setting on players is commonly symmetric, while taxation is asymmetric. Examples: Rule of Law, Humility, Windborn Muse, Ghostly Prison, Land Tax.
  • Artifact and enchantment destruction: Although White is attached to both these types, it sees vice in their excess. White mana has the ability to purge what is false, to take away the vestments in which wickedness hides. Recently (with the rotation of Disenchant from Standard), White is able to destroy enchantments with much less effort (less mana) than for artifacts. Examples: Demystify, Tempest of Light, Dispeller's Capsule.
  • Balance and uniformity: White has a sense of honor and fair play, which is seen in its use of mass destruction effects, and other 'equality' spells. "Mass destruction" spells reduce all players to possessing no more of any resource than that of the player with the least, and oftentimes, they set that quantity to zero. In addition, White believes in making the world uniform. Differences cause individuals to dissent and dislike one another. Differences only allow for unrest. In sameness, there is fairness, and the way to consider a person justly is clearer. Examples: Wrath of God, Balance, Mirror Entity.
  • Peacemaking: White is a peacemaker, the first step of maintaining peace is to avoid combat. Peacemaking can be presented by prohibition in attacking/blocking, activated ability lockdown and converting hostility to peace. Examples: Pacifism, Recumbent Bliss, Arrest, Condemn, Swords to Plowshares.
  • Combat superiority: Ultimately, White wants to create peace. It has no interest in prolonging warfare and hates to kill even its enemies. As a result, White emphasizes the need for strong, effective methods to bring an engagement to a close - or at least bring the enemies offensives, and resistance, to an end. In addition to spells which banish or utterly destroy attackers or blockers, White has creatures with abilities representing skills (e.g., "archery") that allow White's team to break up stalemates, protect each other from the enemy, and in general, facilitate the end of the hostilities. Examples: Hail of Arrows, Ballista Squad, Loxodon Mystic.
  • Total defense: Above and beyond the degree to which White seeks options to expedite combat, it has every ability to stop attackers and other aggressors in their tracks. It will punish anything which causes - or even threatens to cause - pain. In this way, White magic sends a clear message, and it is that those who dare to inflict harm, will soon meet their maker. Examples: Chastise, Neck Snap, Reciprocate, Retaliate.

Blue[edit | edit source]

Main article: Blue

Flavor[edit | edit source]

Blue is the color that looks on the world and sees opportunity. For Blue, life is a chance to contemplate oneself, and what is possible, and to bring about the best of both. Implicitly, in that general world view, Blue believes in tabula rasa: it sees in each thing, the potential for being anything. One need only understand how, to make the change. So with this ill-formed goal before it, Blue reasons that if it is to make itself better, it must become capable of everything it could be capable of, for that is to "merely add" to its own capabilities. Blue believes it can't possibly be bad to acquire the potential for any conscious action. Thus, Blue, believing it is capable of changing anything if it understands the change, and believing it is imperative that it acquire every capability it could have, concludes that it is imperative that it understand change. Moreover, Blue decides that it must understand everything; for truly, understanding can only improve one's effectiveness in any task. To gain understanding, Blue must acquire knowledge. Since knowledge itself will inform every other decision, Blue forms its principle goal: omniscience, the knowledge of all.

Mechanics[edit | edit source]

  • Card drawing: Blue is the color of knowledge and research. As such, it is the best at expanding its mind, represented by unconditional drawing additional cards by minimum mana cost. This also comes about via card selection (i.e. the "looter" ability), which enables Blue to keep its ideas and plans relevant and up to date. Examples: Inspiration, Telling Time, Merfolk Looter.
  • Counterspells: Blue is disposed to deny or reverse its opponents' actions, rather than take actions of its own. Blue's logic empowers it to prevent others from taking actions it deems foolish. The use of "countermagic" reflects Blue's understanding of magic itself: dismantling opposing spells at their fundamental level. Examples: Cancel, Mana Leak.
  • Mimicry: Blue is the color of knowledge, where imitation of other cards can reflect its nature of desire to learn. Blue's mimicry effects are spell duplication and cloning. Examples: Twincast, Clone, Shape Stealer.
  • "Return to hand" ("Bounce") effects: Blue is the color most adept at manipulating time. The use of bounce effects net crucial tempo for Blue, slowing its opponents long enough for a permanent solution to be found. It is an element of Blue's technological aspect: changing the environment, in precise ways, to its advantage, such as by removing an attacker or blocker, or preserving one of its own permanents. Examples: Boomerang, Evacuation.
  • Tapping and untapping permanents: These effects come from Blue's tricky nature. The untapped status is necessary for certain actions, and for some of those, it is expended (the permanent becomes tapped). Due to this, Blue can slow or disrupt its opponent with tap effects, or untap its own permanents for extra and perhaps unexpected uses. Examples: Dehydration, Stasis, Twitch, Puppeteer.
  • Gain control ("Stealing") effects: Blue is a controlling color. It believes it knows best how to use others' resources. It is also very practical about combat, turning its knowledge of the mind toward controlling it. Examples: Persuasion, Take Possession, Annex.

Black[edit | edit source]

Main article: Black

Flavor[edit | edit source]

Black is the color of self-indulgence, parasitism, amorality and unfettered desire for power. It believes that the world is made for its taking and that the weak exist to be exploited by the strong. The essence of Black is to see one's own ego[1] as so supremely invaluable, that the prospect of enslavement, of subordinating that ego to another, is utterly inadmissible. So, to be in accord with its perceptions and beliefs, Black simply must discard all obligations but to acquire power for itself. It can be no less than the one supreme being who is subordinate to no other, the possessor of all power in the universe - it must become omnipotent. This does not mean that black is evil, is more like a pessimist or even a realist. Black sees the world as a place of struggle and pain, and if black wants to survive in such a place, it needs power. Maybe is not the best world, maybe is not a happy choice and some people will suffer, but black didn't make the rules and is determined to accept the truth and get what it wants by any means necessary.

Mechanics[edit | edit source]

  • Creature destruction: Black is the color that most embraces death as a tool. It sees the ability to take a life as exerting the greatest power over others, and so will ruthlessly demonstrate this power against its enemies. Homicidal effects are exemplified by deadly spells, as well as creatures that have lethal activated abilities and/or deathtouch. Examples: Terror, Royal Assassin, Avatar of Woe, Dark Banishing, Giant Scorpion.
  • Weakness: Black is the color of disease and infection, and is capable of weakening enemy creatures, potentially leaving them too weak to survive. (That is, it can bestow -1/-1 counters or impose temporary power and toughness reductions, as well as power-reducing enchantments). Additionally, black can use poison counters to defeat its enemies no matter how much life they have. Weakening effects can be presented by plague-like spells and creatures having infect. Examples: Weakness, Mutilate, Disfigure, Plague Stinger.
  • Discarding: Black is able and willing to cause mental trauma to others. As a result, black can cause its opponents to discard cards. Examples: Mind Rot, Hypnotic Specter.
  • Reanimating creatures: Black has no compassion for the dead, nor any moral inhibitions about exploiting them. As a result, black will force its creatures (or even those of its enemies) to serve it even from beyond the grave. Examples: Zombify, Animate Dead.
  • Sacrifice utilizing: Black will not turn down any opportunity to gain power, even if it comes at great personal risk. As a result, black will enter into agreements with powers other colors would never go near. This gives black access both to under-costed creatures and powerful effects such as card drawing, but they are balanced with dangerous drawbacks. Black not only sacrifices its own creatures and life for power, but also forces opponents to sacrifice their resources. Examples: Dark Confidant, Lord of the Pit, Pox, Cruel Edict.
  • Parasitism: Black is parasitic in nature, growing through taking (draining life) from others. Its ability to siphon life from creatures and players is reflective of this. Examples: Drain Life, Soul Feast, Consume Spirit.

Red[edit | edit source]

Main article: Red

Flavor[edit | edit source]

Above all else, red values freedom of expression. It wants to do what it wants, when it wants, to whom it wants, and nobody can tell it otherwise. Red loves life much more than any other color and so it believes that all people must live to its fullest. Red believes that life would be much more fun if everyone stopped caring about rules, laws, and personal appearances and just spent their time indulging their desires. This leads into red's other core value: chaos. Red sees order of any kind as pointlessly inhibiting, believing that only through embracing anarchy could everyone really be free to enjoy life to the fullest. Finally, Red is the color of immediate action and immediate gratification. If it wants something, it will act on its impulses and take it, regardless of the consequences.

Mechanics[edit | edit source]

  • Direct damage (Burn): Red favors direct action. It doesn't waste time looking for ways 'around' a problem -- it blasts a path clean through. When the obstacle is a physical thing, Red employs this solution literally, throwing fire, rocks, or anything else at the problem until it goes away. Examples: Shock, Pyroclasm, Char, Fireball, Barbed Lightning.
  • Artifact and land destruction: Red's use of destruction goes to a deep philosophical origin, although it is frequently explained as unthinking glee. Briefly put, order arises from tradition, which occurs when some things are constant or expected. Chaos is the counter to order because chaos is change - unsettling change. When everything is changing, people are free, because there is no tie to "the way things were." Since Red wants freedom, it uses chaos. Destruction is clearly a force of chaos; it changes the world by removing something from it. Additionally, since Red is in every other respect a short-term thinker, the disruption effect of destroying your opponent's resources before they are used can be quite valuable. Examples: Shattering Spree, Manic Vandal, Volcanic Awakening.
  • Aggressive creatures: Red is capable of mounting a quick offensive, hoping to blitz its opponents before they have a chance to react. Unlike White, Red's creatures are focused almost entirely on the attack; little to no thought is given to blocking or endurance. Red creatures can be fast, but often at the cost of consistency, long-term resources, or harm to the controller. Examples: Ball Lightning, Jackal Pup, Goblin Cohort.
  • Gambits and short-term mana acceleration: Red wants to act on its desires without delay, whatever the cost. As such, its magic can give itself sudden, potent, but short-lived boosts of energy, or create high-risk-high-reward effects. This enables Red to do powerful things quickly and easily, though they carry the risk that, if the opponent recovers, Red's resources will "burn out." Examples: Fiery Gambit, Final Fortune, Seething Song, Desperate Ritual.
  • Randomness: Red is the color of chaos; it can hurt itself and others randomly. Randomness spells can be reflected through coin flips and random card discard. Examples: Tide of War, Mana Clash, Barbarian Bully, Gamble.
  • Trickery: Red is the color of pranksters; Red enjoys playing tricks on its enemies and changing the effects of their magic. Blue interferes with magic, too, but it specifically controls the magic for its own long-term profit. Red is concerned more with taking control away from its enemies - forcing them to deal with the unexpected. Sometimes Red can dictate the new effect, sometimes it is random. Such trickery includes temporarily gaining control of permanents, preventing creatures from blocking ("Panic"), and changing the targets of spells, though some cards in this category are truly unique. Examples: Threaten, Stun, Reroute, Confusion in the Ranks.

Green[edit | edit source]

Main article: Green

Flavor[edit | edit source]

Green is the color of nature, growth, interdependence, and instinct. It believes that obeying the natural order alone is the best way to exist and thus favors a simplistic way of living in harmony with the rest of the world. Green accepts the world as it is and tries to coexist with it instead of trying to change it, regulate it, norm it, or take advantage of it. This can often lead to it being perceived as a pacifistic color, as it does not seek to make conflict with the other colors as long as they leave it alone and do not disrespect nature. However, it is fierce when it feels threatened and can be predatory and aggressive if its instincts dictate.

Mechanics[edit | edit source]

  • Powerful creatures: As the color of nature and growth, green is able to field mighty creatures with ease. Although other colors have access to cheap creatures or strong creatures, Green alone has access to efficiently-costed and well-rounded creatures at any cost. Examples: Elvish Warrior, Leatherback Baloth, Verdant Force.
  • Token creatures: Tying in with green's creature focus and emphasis on growth is its ability to generate large numbers of token creatures. In green, these effects are often repeatable and represent an ever-expanding community of creatures. Examples: Thallid, Centaur Glade.
  • "Pump" effects: Green's philosophies of growth and strength both mean it can boost the power and toughness of its creatures, making them more effective in combat. These boosts can either be temporary, through instants and sorceries, or permanent through enchantments and +1/+1 counters. Green also has creatures that can provide a temporary boost to another creature or gain a temporary boost when blocking. Examples: Giant Growth, Thrive, Briarhorn, Giant Badger.
  • Instinct attack: Green relies on instinct, which is reflected in the tactics of combat. Excess damage to creatures and its controller results as trample and even extreme as super trample. Luring is a passive ability to force opposing creatures to block, making smaller creatures to be killed by the larger creatures. Examples: Endless Wurm, Rhox, Lure, Elvish Bard, Hunt Down.
  • Permanent mana acceleration: Green's focus on growth enables it to permanently expand its mana base, varying from creatures that produce mana, enchantments that generate additional mana, land tutors, and putting additional lands into play. Examples: Llanowar Elves, Overgrowth, Sylvan Ranger, Exploration.
  • Mana fixing: Green's community aspect means it is the best color at creating other colors of mana, either through being able to search for other lands or through changing one color of mana into another. Examples: Birds of Paradise, Farseek, Orochi Leafcaller.
  • Artifact and enchantment destruction: Green hates illusions and the artificial, seeing them as perversions of the natural world. Thus, green actively works to destroy such things. Examples: Naturalize, Viridian Shaman.

Off-Color — Artifacts[edit | edit source]

Flavor[edit | edit source]

Artifacts, in Magic, by and large run on magic, rather than science and technology. [2]

Rules[edit | edit source]

There are several mechanics that are artifact centric, but artifacts can also have mechanics borrowed from colors. An artifact is a "Jack of all trades, master of none.", meaning that it can have abilities that certain particular colors might not have, but it isn't very efficient at those abilities. For example, Arcbound Hybrid is a 2/2 with haste for four mana, while red can get a 2/2 with haste for three mana in Raging Cougar or Goblin Chariot, or even one mana with Goblin Guide. In fact, some red cards are even better, such as Suq'Ata Lancer, which offers haste, a 2/2 body, and flanking for three mana. While an artifact creature is not as efficient at using haste as a red creature, other colors cannot use haste at all, under normal circumstances.

The keywords that are only in artifacts are:

Multicolored[edit | edit source]

Main article: Multicolored

Some cards can be multicolored, meaning they require more than one type of mana to use. Until recently, that was about all that the players could really know about multicolor. Though Invasion block, the first set to introduce widespread multicolor-ism, was a smashing success (as evidenced by a definite spike in tournament attendance), in Mark Rosewater's words, it wasn't really a mechanic they explored much. The card pool was dominated by "Chinese menu" cards, meaning they took one ability from two colors, scrunched them together on one card, and saw what happened.

The "guild model" from Ravnica block has given way to a new era of understanding color combinations. Mark Rosewater boldly campaigned to showcase all ten two-color combinations equally. Those combinations, and the names of the guild associated with them in Ravnica block, are:

According to a set of "'Color Pie' philosophy" articles by Mark Rosewater (see below), each two-color combination is defined as the intersection of the two colors.

Color bleed[edit | edit source]

While the color pie is the foundation of Magic, from time to time, R&D stretches what mechanically (and also creatively) is allowed in each color. When cards in a certain color do something that the color doesn't normally do, it is called color bleed.

Pink[edit | edit source]

The Unhinged set features a sixth color: pink. Water Gun Balloon Game can create a pink permanent and for abilities that let you produce mana of any color, you can choose {P} pink. However, there is no Unhinged (Basic) Land card that can produce pink mana.

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. For the purpose of this article, the ego is the psychological embodiment of the conscious will of a thing.
  2. Doug Beyer. (March 23, 2011.) "A World Sculpted from Metal", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]

External links[edit | edit source]

General[edit | edit source]

Artifacts[edit | edit source]

Color bleeding[edit | edit source]

Color hate[edit | edit source]

Destruction[edit | edit source]

Mono Colored[edit | edit source]

White[edit | edit source]

Blue[edit | edit source]

Hosing of Blue[edit | edit source]

Black[edit | edit source]

Red[edit | edit source]

Green[edit | edit source]

Multicolor[edit | edit source]

Allied[edit | edit source]

Enemy[edit | edit source]

Shards[edit | edit source]

Wedges[edit | edit source]