How to Play Magic: The Gathering Part 6: Color Philosophy III (Enemies)

So far in this color philosophy series we have covered the individual colors and ally color pairs. If you haven’t read those or want to review them, click the links below. This post will be about the enemy color pairs. They are called enemy colors because they are across from each other on the color wheel. Like the ally colors, the enemy colors are also found on the plane of Ravnica. The names of the enemy color pairs are as follows: Orzhov Syndicate (black and white), Izzet League (blue and red), Golgari Swarm (black and green), Boros Legion (red and white), and Simic Combine (green and blue).

Orzhov (White & Black)

Recap: white is a color that cares about society and protection. Black cares only abut itself and obtaining more power.

It’s hard to see how these two could come together, but they do have one thing in common: fear. White is afraid of not being a part of something and black fears it could fail in its quest for power. Black is the dominant color and it has its power over the guild while white gets to be a part of something. That does sound like quite a compromise for the two, but let’s dive a little further into really understand the relationship. The organization of the guild is a syndicate, like a crime syndicate, but it’s also a church. Remember that black is the color leading the guild and white is just happy to be a part of something.

The church aspect of the Orzhov is based on fear, black fearing becoming powerless and white fearing the inability to protect itself. Black gets to have power and lends its protection to white, but black knows better than to offer protection for free. The guild mechanics are all about taxes and everything is taxed, even life itself.

Izzet (Blue & Red)

In battle, blue is a planner while red is a pantser. Blue likes to think about what its next move will be while red doesn’t like to think at all. Red wants the freedom to act while blue wants to gather knowledge. Combining knowledge and freedom brings about creativity and that word, creativity, defines the Izzet very well. Blue is now forced to use its knowledge faster and red has no real idea how to use it. Everything is a science experiment to the Izzet.

The power of the Izzet lies in combining spell after spell to pull off whatever they are trying to do. The guild usually lacks direction because it tries to accomplish so much. Think about all of the card effects in blue and red: counter spells, draw cards, damage based removal, damage to opponents life total; it’s all very simple, but the Izzet want to do it all.

Golgari (Black & Green)

No two colors understand the paradigm between life and death more than black and green. Individually, green believes that what is dead should stay dead and black disagrees; black wants to use what is dead. In the case of the Golgari, what is dead is used to create new growth, which is something that green wants. The Golgari Swarm is pretty easy to understand. Living things die and decompose which makes way for new living things. Now add evolution into the mix because green wants to make creatures better suited for survival. By using the dead creatures, black helps in this process.

Unfortunately, nothing can last forever no matter how much evolution is involved, but that doesn’t stop the Golgari from trying. On Ravnica, the Golgari inhabit the lower parts of the city, where the crypts and sewers provide dead and decaying matter for the guild to fuel their cause.

Boros (Red & White)

Red and white are both capable of putting out an impressive number of cheap creatures, but they disagree on philosophy. White is patient and orderly, which is just the opposite of red. By combining red’s raw power with white’s order and both colors’ numbers, you get the Boros Legion. The Boros serve as the military force on Ravnica.

Through white’s discipline, red’s power is now harnessed and focused into a fighting force to be reckoned with. With red, the guild is focused on combat, but with white added, the creatures are now better suited to survive the combat.

Simic (Green & Blue)

Remember that green is the color of nature and wants to grow and survive and it hates what is not natural. Blue is the color of knowledge and technology. Once again it’s hard to see how these colors could get along together, but they can with evolution. Green believes in survival of the fittest and blue has the knowledge to make the creatures fit to survive, but the problem is blue is forcing evolution. This does provide a conundrum for green; evolution is natural, but is it natural to accelerate it?

Just as the Izzet experiment with spells, the Simic experiment with creatures. Many of their non-creature spells appear to contain blue and green effects on one card or deal with +1/+1 counters making creature bigger and stronger over time.

That wraps up the guild color parings. Does one of these sound like your play style: slowly tax your opponent’s life total, cast a bunch of spells, use the graveyard to your advantage, amass a military force, or grow the best creatures? Next, we will go over three color combinations known as shards and wedges when this series resumes.

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