How to Play MTG Part 4: Color Philosophy I (WUBRG)

Color philosophy deals with the fundamental strategies, beliefs, and mechanics behind each color and color combinations. Each color plays differently, just like each player, so it’s important to know how each color prefers to play so you can better understand what your opponent is trying to do and how the colors in your own deck will match up to them.

This post will be looking at the colors individually. Future posts about this topic will feature ally color pairs and enemy color pairs, both referred to as guilds, and three color shards and wedges.

White (W)

White is the color of order. It believes that there is a status quo to maintain. Everyone has a place in society and it is that society that must survive. White doesn’t believe in individuality; no one is special to white. If white had to sacrifice one person for the whole to survive, it would. As Spock said in The Wrath of Khan, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” White is good at protecting itself and its allies.

One thing that can be said for white is that it is devoted to its cause. White also symbolizes faith and hope. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that white is good, in fact none of the colors can be labelled as inherently good or evil. In battle, white employs a strategy best described as I-can’t-lose-if-my-opponent-can’t-win. White relies on a lot of smaller creatures that can still be a decent threat, get bigger, or provide better benefits over time while remaining expendable. Creature types most likely to be associated with white include Soldiers, Humans, and Angels.

Ajani's Pridemate
Fencing Ace
Avacyn, Angel of Hope
Squadron Hawk
Thalia, Heretic Cathar

White is also one of the best colors for removal spells – cards that eliminate threats. It also has a decent amount of enchantments meant to neutralize what it can’t remove. It also relies on combat tricks, instants that give creatures a power/toughness boost or an additional keyword.

Blue (U)

Blue is the color of knowledge. This color wants to know everything about everything and no knowledge is out of its reach. Since the color relies heavily on counter spells, drawing cards, and looking at cards it’s about to draw, it’s fair to say that the more blue can learn in a battle, the better its odds of winning.

Blue is not typically an aggressive color, except when it comes to merfolk, but that’s a different discussion. Unlike other colors, blue is interesting when it comes to creature types that identify with the color. Merfolk are popular, but most decks that go into merfolk tribal are not as control oriented as the color wants to be, which again is another discussion entirely. Some of the other iconic creatures that are found in blue include sphinxes and sea creatures like leviathans and krakens, but they are often too expensive to see play in most formats.

Augur of Bolas
Stormtide Leviathan
Alhammarret, High Arbiter
Jace's Phantasm
Master of the Pearl Trident

Blue can be a hard color to play against because it relies on so many spells that can return a creature to its owners hand, counter a spell, draw more cards, stop a creature from attacking, … the sky is the limit when it comes to blue’s shenanigans.

Mana Leak
Serum Visions
Sphinx's Tutelage
Beacon of Tomorrows

Black (B)

Black is the color of ambition. The color wants what it wants and it doesn’t care about the cost. Remember that white is willing sacrifice a little for the greater good, but for black nothing is off limits when it comes to sacrifices, including the color’s own well being. Just as white is not necessarily good, black is not necessarily evil; it’s just selfish. That doesn’t mean black can’t make friends, but it’s not above using these friends to further its own goals.

Creatures that are most commonly associated with black include zombies, vampires, skeletons and other undead creatures. Demons are also associated with black, which makes sense since the color is willing to give up everything in exchange for more power or a longer life.

Reassembling Skeleton
Vampire Nighthawk
Dross Hopper

Black does extremely well with removal spells, but it also has reanimation effects and card draw at its disposal. Some of the more efficiently costed spells also have an additional cost which black is too willing to pay. Black also has access to spells that cause the opponent to reveal their hand, you select a card and they have to discard it.

Bone Splinters
Night's Whisper
Rise from the Grave

Red (R)

Red is the color of emotion. It prefers not to think too hard about things and it would rather just act. In battle it adopts a strategy best described as ready-fire-aim. The color just wants to be free, free to do whatever it wants to do with no regards for rules or consequences. Some players will say that red is the weakest of all the colors, but it’s an excellent color for beginning players because it’s so simple and straightforward.

Goblins and dragons are among the classic red creatures. Goblins are weak, but they are so cheap they are highly expendable. However, in numbers they can pose a real threat. Dragons are where red’s power really lies.

Raging Goblin
Ghitu Lavarunner
Mordant Dragon
Krenko, Mob Boss
Minotaur Skullcleaver

Reds creatures may be on the weaker end of the spectrum, but with the proper spell support, they can get the job done. Red spells rely on combat tricks and damage based removal spells. Its goal is to deal as much damage as fast as possible; it’s war, not rocket science.

Lightning Bolt
Trumpet Blast
Goblin Grenade
Krenko's Command

Green (G)

Green is the color of growth. All the color wants to do is grow because what doesn’t grow dies. It believes that there is a natural order to things. Green likes what is natural and hates what is unnatural. What is natural is survival-of-the-fittest.

If you were to ask green how to kill another creature, it would probably respond with “a bigger creature.” Green is know for having some of the biggest creatures in the game like wurms and hydras. It also has a lot of smaller creatures that are capable of producing mana, like elves.

Llanowar Elves
Managorger Hydra
Worldspine Wurm
Runeclaw Bear
Lys Alana Huntmaster

Green is a color that relies more on creatures than any other color. Because of this, its noncreature spells are very straightforward. It’s great at getting rid of artifacts, enchantments, and flying creatures, but it forces creatures to fight each other in mortal combat. This can work for removal, but it is a little riskier than other colors. Green is also very good at producing mana and keeping lands on hand.

Hunt the Weak
Ezuri's Predation
Giant Growth

This is just the first of several posts about color philosophy. While powerful on their own, they can combine with other colors to become even stronger. So be looking out for the next post because it’s about to get interesting.

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