Magic: the Gathering has 5 main colors: White, Blue, Black Red and Green. Each color has a lot of meaning behind it and its combinations too.
Wizards of the Coast, owner of the game, cannot simply print cards without respecting what we call Color Pie: the rules that dictate the meaning of each color. In addition, it also cannot print color combination cards at random, and this is due to the game's lore.
In this article, we will understand: the meaning of each color; which sets brought theme to specific color combinations; and what are their names.
The Meaning of each Color
Every color in Magic has its limitation and its strength. In the game, examples of limitation (or weakness) are "not being able to destroy opponent's creatures", an effect difficult to see in green, or not "interacting with your opponent's hand", something difficult to see in white. The strength can be "having bigger creatures", like green, or "countering spells", like blue.
In addition to their limitations and strengths, there is a meaning in the game's story for each color and what they represent:
- White Color: Peace, law, structure, selflessness, equality
- Blue Color: Knowledge, deception, caution, deliberation, perfection
- Black Color: Power, self-interest, death, sacrifice, disinhibition
- Red Color: Freedom, emotion, action, impulse, destruction
- Green Color: Nature, wildlife, connection, spirituality, tradition
In white, we will see cards focused on the law or society structure, in other words, cards that focus on giving buffs to a type of creature are much more common, wanting you to focus on the strategy of putting several creatures on the battlefield, for example Field Marshal. Peace is also part of it, so we have cards that exile other creatures, the most famous being Path to Exile.
The knowledge of the blue color is linked to your way of handling mana differently from other colors, enabling cards that work with the game's stack like Counterspell. Your quest for this knowledge can also be summarized in cards that allow you to draw more cards, that is, bring you more "knowledge", such as Brainstorm.
The sacrifice of the black color is possible to see in cards like Liliana of the Veil that discard cards from the player's own hand, but this allows a greater power for the card. The classic Fatal Push is the cleanest removal that black has as well
The red color represents impulse and passion, which allows for abilities like "Haste", allowing creatures to attack the moment they are cast, such as Goblin Guide. The willingness to exchange the known for the unknown is also part of red, and this is usually translated into cards that you discard from your hand to draw new cards, such as Cathartic Reunion.
At last, the color green represents tradition and nature, with the best destruction of artifact or enchantment, that is, of what is manufactured by human beings, such as Naturalize. Wildlife also epitomizes some of the game's largest creatures, such as Gigantosaurus.
Generally, with monocolored decks, we just add "Mono" before every color name. Like bellow:
Some people don't like how "Mono-Black" gets big and abbreviates it even more using the English color acronym. That is, Black (B), Green (G), White (W), Red (R) and Blue (U, as B has already been taken). So, you'll see people using Mono-U to represent decks with only blue cards.
Many decks, especially those with Eldrazi creatures, are decks that have no color. Generally, these decks are often called "Colorless" and, of course, colorless is not a color.
As these decks tend to have many artifacts, some people also call them after the frame color of old artifact cards. Below you can see one of those frames, they were brown and that's why these decks were called "Mono-Brown", or "MUD".
On Ravnica, we've seen powerful 2-color cards, as the plane takes place in a world where 10 guilds vie for power with each other. Each guild represents a two-color combination in Magic, and almost everyone uses the guild name to denote decks of that color.
|White / Blue||Azorius or UW|
|Blue / Black||Dimir or UB|
|Red / Black||Rakdos or BR|
|Red / Green||Gruul or RG|
|Green / White||Selesnya or GW|
|White / Black||Orzhov or BW|
|Blue / Red||Izzet or UR|
|Green / Black||Golgari or BG|
|White / Red||Boros or RW|
|Green / Blue||Simic or UG|
In the old days, people called 3 colors according to the flags: for example, red, white and blue is the American flag, so "american" was the name of this combination. We also used (and many still use) the acronyms of each color to indicate the combination, as BUG stands for black (B), blue (U) and green (G).
In Shards of Alara, we saw the appearance of the planes corresponding to 3 colors: Naya, Esper, Jund, Bant and Grixis.
As we only saw half of the 3-color combinations, not everyone used these names, although Naya became quite popular.
Soon after, in Khans of Tarkir, the remaining plans appeared. This set was famous due to the fetchlands reprint, also made us change how we indicated 3-color combinations.
The 3-color combinations received a "fixed and official" name, so it ended up falling into popular appeal:
|White / Black / Green||Abzan|
|White / Blue / Green||Bant|
|White / Blue / Black||Esper|
|Blue / Red / Black||Grixis|
|White / Blue / Red||Jeskai|
|Black / Green / Red||Jund|
|White / Black / Red||Mardu|
|White / Red / Green||Naya|
|Blue / Black / Green||Sultai|
|Blue / Green / Red||Temur|
Guildpact brought us four-color legendary creatures, all of which had the Nephilim creature type.
Although everyone usually calls any four-color combination as "Four-Color", we do have some unofficial names for them.
|BRUW (all less green)||Yore|
|BGRW (all less blue)||Dune|
|BGUW (all less red)||Witch|
|GRUW (all less black)||Ink|
|BGRU (all less white)||Glint|
Those name came from the cards from Guildpact.
Combining all five colors in a deck is commonly known simply as "five colors" or "WUBRG".
Because there are many colors, many also call it Rainbow. For example, some decks with Niv-Mizzet Reborn were called Niv-Mizzet Rainbow because they have all colors.
We can see that the names of Magic's color combinations ended up coming from factions or the names of famous cards. In other words, these names will likely change over time.
Recently, we were at Strixhaven, which reminds and shares a lot with the world of Harry Potter. In Strixhaven the wizardry schools competed for more test points and, similar to Ravnica, the schools were represented by different color combinations.
|White / Black||Silverquill|
|Blue / Red||Prismari|
|Black / Green||Witherbloom|
|White / Red||Lorehold|
|Blue / Green||Quandrix|
A new Magic player will most likely name these combinations based on Strixhaven's color combinations, which wouldn't be wrong since language has an everchanging nature, and we are always adapting to new features and ways to express ourselves or debate our topics.