Its time for part 11 in my series on How to Play Magic and the 4th one about color philosophy which will be about shards and wedges. If you missed the previous ones be sure to go back and read them by clicking on the links below. As you go through the shards and wedges, try to look for the elements of each individual color and the two-color combinations and how they come together to create these three-color combinations.
Shards are the 3-color color combinations consisting of a primary color supported by its two ally colors. They get their name from the Alara block. To provide some understanding, I’ll go over a brief history of the plane. All planes have leylines that run through them. Leylines are the sources of mana and when they are correctly aligned, the plane exists in a more harmonious and balanced state as there is one for each color. In Alara’s past, an event called the sundering tore the plane along these lines of mana. This cataclysmic event divided the plane into 5 shards, each separated from different sources of mana. This caused the shards to evolve differently from one another over the next millennia. The names of each shard are Bant, Esper, Grixis, Jund, and Naya.
Bant (Green, White, & Blue)
Bant is primarily white supported by green and blue. Isolated from red and black mana, this shard developed into something of a peaceful utopia. Remember back to the 2-color guilds; white and green are about harmony while white and blue are about law. Bant has a capable military force on its side, consisting mostly of humans and angels, to protect the inhabitants of the shard. Although peaceful, the color will defend itself when necessary.
Esper (White, Blue, & Black)
Esper is primarily blue supported by white and black. Lacking the strength and ferocity of red and green, Esper is all about knowledge and control. Remember that blue and white are about law and order while blue and black are about secrets and deception. Because they are isolated from green mana, the color of life and growth, a portion of the living things on Esper are artificial or have artificial parts.
Grixis (Blue, Black, & Red)
Grixis is black supported by blue and red. Since Grixis is isolated from white and green mana, two colors that care about life and renewal, most of the inhabitants of this shard are undead, resembling a twisted imitation of life. This shard is hardly anything more than a wasteland. There are, however, a few humans and some powerful demons on this shard. Remember that black and blue are about secrets and deception while black and red is pure chaos.
Jund (Black, Red, & Green)
Jund is primarily red supported by green and black. Isolated from white and blue mana, the colors of order and knowledge, this shard evolved into a savage and unforgiving landscape where the strong prey upon the weak. Most of the inhabitants of this shard are goblins and other small creatures with dragons at the top of the food chain. Remember red and green are strength and brute force while red and black are chaos.
Naya (Red, Green, & White)
Naya is green supported by white and red. Isolated from blue and black mana, the colors of knowledge and greed, Naya evolved into a thick forest area where beasts, animalistic humanoids, and elves live together. Remember that green and red are strength while green and white are harmony. Naya is like a less chaotic version of Jund, and a stronger version of Bant in terms of raw power. There is a harmonious societal element, but nature’s law of survival of the fittest still applies.
Now for the wedges. The 3-color wedges were featured in the Tarkir block through clans. The lore behind Tarkir and the clans says that there was once an ancient dragon on Tarkir, but as the block begins there are no more dragons on the plane. Each of these clans chose a part of that ancient dragon that they wanted to embody. This is relevant and I will return to it as I go because its the best way to describe these color combinations. Unlike the shards, wedges feature a primary color supported by one of its ally colors and one of its enemy colors. The wedge colors are called Abzan, Jeskai, Sultai, Mardu, and Temur.
Abzan (Green, White, & Black)
Abzan is primarily white supported by green and black. This wedge is about endurance and the Abzan clan on Tarkir symbolize the endurance of the dragon. They believe that you win the battle by being at the last one standing. There is a sense of protection from white, while green is constantly growing and getting stronger, and black offers its determination. All of these elements come together to ensure that they can take whatever the enemy can throw at them.
Jeskai (White, Blue, & Red)
Jeskai is blue supported by white and red. The Jeskai clan embody the cunning of the dragon; they believe that you win by being the smartest. Blue and white are about laws while red and blue love to experiment. The Jeskai believe that the laws of nature cannot be broken, but they can be bent or circumvented to give themselves the advantage. The jeskai do rely on a bunch of spells but they can also rely on a bunch of creatures just as easliy. Clearly some color combinations are better position for one over the other but jeskai can do either.
Sultai (Blue, Black, & Green)
Sultai is black supported by blue and green. This clan embodies the ruthlessness of the dragon; you do whatever you need to do to win. You can bribe the enemy, you can blackmail the enemy, you can kill them before the fight even begins. This is what black is all about on its own, but when you bring in blue it becomes deceptive, and green brings a sense of survival to the equation.
Mardu (White, Black, & Red)
Mardu is red supported by black and white. They embody the speed of the dragon; you win by being the fastest. Most aggro decks have red or white in them and black is also very strong usually in decks that fall under the midrange category and it lends its power very well to other colors. These three colors also have some of the best removal spells at their disposal.
Temur (Blue, Red, & Green)
Temur is green supported by blue and red. They embody the savagery of the dragon; you win by being the strongest. Green certainly has the strength while red brings its speed and blue brings knowledge. Without blue, red and green together just want to smash things. By having blue, it adds a sense of strategy that can take the brutality of red and green and properly channel it towards victory.
That wraps up the shards and wedges color philosophy. Even though shards and wedges consist of a primary color and two supporting colors, any deck that runs all three colors, however balanced or unbalanced, is named after the appropriate shard or wedge. For example, Jund is primarily red, but the modern deck called Jund is mostly black. Which color combination sounds like your play style? I’m actually kind of relieved to be done with this part of my How to Play Magic: The Gathering series so I can move on to other things like more deck analysis for Modern, commander analysis, and other topics in my How to Play Magic: The Gathering series.