Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering (colloquially "Magic", "MTG", or "Magic Cards") is a collectible card game created by Richard Garfield and later bought by the company Wizards of the Coast in 1994, which was purchased by Hasbro in September 1999. Magic inspired an entirely new game genre and has an estimated six million players in over seventy countries worldwide, as well as a successful Internet version. The game is a strategy contest that includes an element of chance due to the random distribution of cards from shuffling.

Each game represents a battle between powerful wizards called "Duelists" or "Planeswalkers" who use magical spells, items, and fantastic creatures to defeat their opponents. Though the original concept of the game drew heavily from the motifs of traditional fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, Magic bears little resemblance to those pencil-and-paper adventures.

The Colours of Magic

Most spells come in one of five colors. The colors can be seen on the back of the cards, in a pentagonal design, called the "Pentagon of Colors". Starting from the top, going clockwise, they are: white, blue, black, red, and green. To play a spell of one color, mana produced by a land of the appropriate type is required. These are, respectively: plains, island, swamp, mountain, and forest.

The equilibrium among the five colors is one of the defining aspects of the game. The various strengths and weaknesses of each color are attributed to the fact that each color represents a different "style" of magic. The following is a discussion of the various color philosophies.

  • White is the color of order, organization, purity, balance, law, justice, community, righteousness, and light (although not necessarily "good", in the same way that laws and the assumptions behind them can be flawed). Typical white creatures include knights, nomads, soldiers, clerics, and angels. White's strengths lie in protecting and enhancing its creatures, healing damage, efficient small creatures (rather than large individual creatures), imposing restrictions on players, the removal of enchantments, and the ability to "equalize" the playing field. White's weaknesses include its difficulty in removing the opponent's creatures permanently, its inability to change game plans, and the fact that many of its most powerful spells affect all players equally.
  • Blue is the color of knowledge, illusion, reason, dreams, clouds, ingenuity, manipulation, and trickery, as well as the classical elements of air and water. Typical blue creatures include wizards, illusions, faeries, merfolk, vedalken, drakes, and air, water spirits. Blue's cards are best at letting a player draw additional cards, stealing control of opposing permanents indefinitely, returning permanents to their owner's hands (informally called "bouncing"), and countering (canceling) spells as they are being played. Blue's creatures tend to be "tricky" and precise; they often have weaker base statistics than other colors, but commonly have evasive abilities such as flying. Blue's weaknesses include having only limited ways of dealing with opposing threats once they have entered play, a fairly weak set of creatures, and a lack of ways to increase its mana production. Blue, while historically considered the strongest of the five colors, is often the slowest.
  • Black is the color of death, darkness, despair, plague, selfishness, ambition, greed, corruption, and amorality (although not necessarily "evil"). Typical black creatures include rats, undead, vampires, demons, imps, mercenaries, and necromancers. Black cards are best at killing opposing creatures, making players discard cards from their hand, and raising creatures from the dead. Black is also the most flexible color in many ways; it is willing to do anything, which is reflected in being able to cast many unusual out-of-color effects. However, black also tends to sacrifice resources to achieve its goals, and uses non-mana costs more than any other color. Black's main weaknesses are its extreme tendency to hurt itself in order to gain an advantage, and an almost complete inability to destroy enchantments and artifacts.
  • Red is the color of chaos, destruction, war, art, passion, and fury, as well as lightning and the classical element of fire. As Red is the color of direct damage, it is also capable of inflicting damage through ice and cold. Red shares an association with the classical element of earth with the color Green; Red has an affinity for the nonliving aspects of Earth such as stone, metals, lava, and seismic effects, while Green is focused on the organic aspects. Typical red creatures include goblins, barbarians, dragons, minotaurs, dwarves, and fire spirits. Red is one of the best colors for destroying opposing creatures and lands, trading long-term resources for short-term power, and for playing spells that reduce the opponent's life points (colloquially, "burn" or "direct damage"). Red also has the vast majority of cards that involve random chance. Red shares the "trickery" theme with Blue and can temporarily steal an opponent's creatures or divert their spells. Red's weaknesses include its inability to destroy enchantments, the random or self-destructive nature of many of its spells, and its generally weak late-game play. Red tends to be the fastest of the colors.
  • Green is the color of life, nature, growth, instinct, and interdependence. Typical green creatures include beasts, elves, insects, centaurs, wurms, and druids. Green creatures are unparalleled for sheer raw strength. Green also excels at destroying unnatural artifacts and enchantments, increasing a player's life total, and increasing mana-production capabilities, both in quantity and the ability to produce or grant access to the other colors. However, green has difficulty removing opposing creatures from play, and it lacks damaging or controlling spells; nearly all of its strategies are creature-based. Green is one of the most friendly colors, as its ability to grow can aid most other strategies.

The colors adjacent to each other on the wheel are "allied" and often have similar, complementary abilities. For example, blue has few efficient, aggressive creatures in general, but does have a relatively large number of flying creatures. White and black, being next to it, also have many flying creatures. The two non-adjacent colors to a particular color are "enemy" colors, and are thematically opposed. For instance, red is the color of chaos, while white and blue are the colors of order and logic. While red has many aggressive and damaging spells, white and blue have defensive and protective spells.

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