For beginners, a breakdown of the color of magic, with their strengths and weaknesses.
Table of Contents
In game play, each color tends to have cards that can do specific things that other color cannot (or cannot do as well) as other color. So while playing magic the gathering, it would be very keen to keep an eye on the colors that your opponent is playing and recognize what that color is capable of, so you may know what they could have in their hand even without being able to see it personally.
This guide is aimed at newer players to allow them to make more informed decision, for more experience player, I recommend learning more about “the stack”,”layers”, and the archetypes (control, mid range, aggro) though I am not covering that here.
White (Color of Law)
Often regarded as one of the weaker color, it is not to be underestimated. White excel at having excess to single target exile effect (usually for creature and usually in the form of a enchantment), both creating and buffing creature token, systematical board wipes, and creature and enchantment that adds addition rules to the game (such as preventing more than one spell being cast per turn). They also specialize in life gain, though don’t rely on that to help win the game by itself. They also tend to have access to enchantment aura that they can use to buff their own creature awhile hindering your own creature.
The weaknesses of white is that it play a bit too fairly as a color. Though card are being printed to help solve this problem, they still have difficultly drawing card as is without some condition attach to it. Being the main color for board wipes, it might need to wipe out it own field in order to deal with your field. Enchantment removal that white uses has the downside of being a permanent that can be removed (though I would recommend against running enchantment removal unless the card being used has more function than just enchantment removal as you don’t want to draw a dead card in a match-up where your opponent might not even have enchantment.
Tips on Playing with White (Good Luck)
- If you are running board wipes and you are not in impeding danger, feel free to sandbag a bit (as in, don’t play out your hand as soon as possible), let your opponent play out their hand, and wipe the field accordingly, than you play out your hand. (Though I would keep in mind that if your opponent is playing a control deck, ignore what I previously said, if you don’t kill them as soon as possible, it going to be a bad time for you, but as a consolation prize they might not be playing that many strong creature they can play at the start of the game, so your early creature might be able to end the game before the control player can play a bomb (as in a card they can win the game by itself) or can play interaction.
- Don’t remove card the moment you see them, read what the card does, how that can help your opponent, and them make the judgement. Remember that large creature that your opponent plays next might be a higher priority target than a 2 mana creature with a keyword.
Tips on Playing Against White
- Your going to lose some of the permanent you put into play, if you can try to bait out removal by playing less priority creature, do so.
- Board wipes usually cost 4+ mana, so if you suspect them having a board wipes, I would recommend playing out your hand just enough to be threatening and sandbag if your in a winning position (unless what in your hand can win the game on the current turn, than put that pressure on)
Blue (You Didn’t Say Please)
Blue, the color mainly associated with control. Blue typical game plan usually revolve around slowing down the opponent by playing a lot of instant speed interaction before finishing with a bomb they will try to protect.
The Strength of blue is it ability to play its turn on the opponent turn. If a blue player plays a land and pass, that does not mean that they did nothing, It mean that they are waiting for you to do something, and responding accordingly. The strongest tool it has for this job is the counter spell, something your going to have to get used to seeing, a lot. Other than messing with your stuff while your casting it, it while bounce your stuff you did manage to get on the field back to hand, draw a lot of card (being the best card draw color), taking extra turn for (sometimes just for the extra draw and land drop). This color tend to become much more deadly as the turns count grows, not just the powerful spells they have access to at higher mana cost, but also with card advantage. It not unlikely that a blue player can have nothing on the field but lands but still be winning with a grip full of counter spell, just waiting for a opportunity to cast a bomb (or kill you with a man-land, a land that can turn into a creature)
The weakness of blue is that it is slow to win and other than the counter spells, it has trouble dealing with stuff permanently (though I will note that it has access to enchantments that can turn a creature you control into a non-factor, alongside being able to tapped down creature for a extended period of time).
Tips on playing with Blue (you monster)
- Don’t counter spell the first eligible spell the opponent cast. That 2/2 can kill you in 10 turns, at which point you should have answer for it. Counter spell key card, like one that can give your opponent a large advantage (board state and card in hand). Also keep in mind how much land they have tapped, if they are mostly tapped out, feel free to play a draw spell while your opponent does nothing (on the end phase of the opponent turn.)
- In the mirror match of blue vs blue, keep in mind the how much mana they hold up, as it might be beneficial to play your spells before it get to your turn to try to bait out a counter spell before it get to your turn and you play your bomb as they tap out (though it will be a very painful game of footsies (as in the term for fighting game, playing to gain the advantage in a neutral state), so your going to have to learn that on your own.)
- your going to be weak to aggro deck by the nature of being a control color, as long as you can survive the first few turn until they are top decking, you should be fine. (just hold up counter magic for when they might thrown 5 damage to your face)
- you might not have any interaction in your hand, but your opponent does not know that. Bluff, bluff like there no tomorrow by holding priority to fake holding up a spell. You can make your opponent play sub-optimally by the threat of having a counter spell. (will not work against other new player)
Tip on playing against Blue
- counter spell are usually costed 2-3 mana, 2 for counter spell that counter a certain type of card (IE, creature and non creature) and 3 mana for counter spell that can counter anything. That your window of opportunity, if can play a valid threat or two before the control spell are online, you can win the game before they can answer effectively.
- You are on a time limit vs blue on how long it take for them to take over the game with control magic, so aim to beat time limit or beat blue on their own game by taking advantage of them tapping out to do your own things.
Black (Color of Ambition)
Black gimmick is that it tend to sacrifice something (life, creature) for a gain. They are the color of the kill spell, the color of discard, and the color willing to give up everything to secure a win. They excel at killing your creature, their own creature for card advantage, looking and picking out your key card to discard. Their creature tend to be harder to block (either by having deathtouch or menace, and flying at a lesser degree then white and blue). The color tend to either aggro or control, depending on the deck.
Weakness of Black is that if they are reckless, they can kill themselves better then the opponent. While blue can draw card with just mana, black either need to give up life of creature for a similar (or better) effect. They also have a small issue with dealing with artifact and enchantment (though card are being printed that help a bit on the enchantment part).
Tips while playing Black (ready to win at any cost?)
- Remember, you are not dead until you hit zero hp (most of the time), so feel free to spend that life for advantage (though be wary of red, as they can do direct damage, so end the game before you reach 2-5 hp, as they can kill you with spell at that range
- black has reanimation spell and creature don’t have to reach the graveyard by dying to get to the graveyard
- black is technically the secondary color for board wipes, so you can take advantage of wiping the field like white can with the same though process. Or don’t, if the act of killing your own creature is a benefit for you.
Tips on playing against Black
- The scariest thing black can do to you early on is to play a card that look at your hand and discard one chosen card. It a bad start to play against but it not unwinnable, it strongest against combo deck as it can take away your win condition, but less effective against aggro deck or late in the game where your top decking anyway. As such, they are more like to draw a brick if you play out your hand before they can take it away. (though this is merely word of encouragement)
- Your creature are not long for this world against black, so don’t invest too much resources on any single one, instead play wide (watch out for the board wipe)
- I am trying to write this guide in a way that keep it relevant while disregarding standard, that being said, pack creature removal, not just because winning with creature is the most common win condition, but also black as some very strong creature that you have to deal with. (strong in a sense of either power and/or ability they have)
Red (Burn, Baby, Burn)
Red, the most fast paced color. Prone to winning the game before the opponent can say “I concede”. Red relies on spell with direct damage to creature or player, creature that can attack the turn they are cast and card that discard and draw to try to improve the quality of their hand.
The weakness of red is that like a bonfire, it will burn itself out quickly. If it not able to win early on, it might not get the win at all because they already played out their hand. Their low cost creature, while fast, tend to be small and red big spell (5+ mana) might not get to be played in a mono red deck because it both too slow and they cut some land from the deck to make room for more burn spell.
Tips for playing Red (Got to go fast)
- As an aggro deck, the plan it to go under whatever game plan your opponent was planning on playing, and finishing the game before the opponent can even start their plays.
- the amount of burns spell you have is large, but they are typically one use, as such it might be better to remove a creature rather to aim at the opponent to let your creature do damage, as they can do damage each turn.
- Red does not really have access to direct card draw, being replaced by draw and discard (or discard and draw) or impulse draw (as in exiling a card that can be cast on that turn only), as such be careful as the game is dragged on.
- if your opponent has interaction but at low health, you can either wait for them to tap out to finish them of with a burn spell, or wait till you have two or more, casting one, then the other if the first get counter spelled or healed)
Tips playing against Red
- Mission Objection: Survive
Try to cast low mana cost creature to block the red creature onslaught, try to interact with whatever bomb they play (at around 4-5 mana), A strong life link creature be very useful, but I recommend against adding singular cards to improve one match up but make the rest of your match up worse.
- Be wary as your health drops to lower values, as it put you in range of their burn spell straight up killing you.
- You can take over the game after they are top decking, just assume that if it a burn spell they pull off the top, it going directly to your face if your at low enough health.
- Red is know to have temporary creature control type of card, so if your own creature is liable of killing you if they took control of it… (there is no real good answer here, it based on the situation, so use your best judgement)
Green (Color of Nature)
The color of ramp and big creature. They excel at having more mana then it opponent by putting more land on the field and having creature that can produce mana. With all that mana, they like to cast very large creature that tend to end the game in the next few turns if not dealt with. They spell are can also cause their creature to fight and kill your creature (if they are bigger), prevent combat damage for the turn, temporary buff their own creature, and destroy any enchantment and artifact you own. They are quite strong when paired with other color.
The weakness of Green is that they don’t have a very good way of dealing with any creature you play that are bigger then its own. They can draw card somewhat well, but not as good as black or blue. They can’t clear the field that well (beside maybe for clearing enchantment). They play rather honestly, as in, they will get a lot of mana and then play a bomb at a much higher mana cost then what you are capable of playing right now, but that green main game play.
Tips on playing Green (landfall, the color)
- The high mana cost creature you play will most like end the game in the next 2-3 turn, so unless you can decrease that amount of turn, keep them in your hand so when the opponent does kill them off, you have another one to replace it. (this tip is mostly so you don’t get blown out by a board wipe)
- if given the option to remove a creature a opponent control, try to remove one that gives them card advantage, as you most likely have or will have the largest creature on the field.
Tips on playing against Green
- If a Green player attack with a creature that seem it might die to a block, there a good change they have a spell that can buff it if you block, so don’t be too over zealous on your health total, you die at 0, not 18 health. Plus green direct damage sources are very limited, so I would not worry about it. (for the most part)
- If they play a creature that can generate mana, kill it imminently, it is effectively a land, and if destroying a land is a strong effect that can both slow them down and mess up their plan if they were expecting to cast a three drop next turn.
Color Mixing / Pro and Con
Their are benefit to having more than one color in a deck. For one, the color can reinforce strength and cover weaknesses of the individual color. They are card printed of two or more color that can be stronger other option of that mana cost. The added color can you give options and way to build a deck, be it with access to interaction, combo piece, or just a strong spell.
The downside of adding more than one color of the deck is your land base. The more color you have, the more specialized lands you will need to make sure you are not in a situation where you don’t have the color to cast the spells in your hand. At three color up, the land that tap for those colors comes in tapped, and the duel color land may only come in untapped under certain condition. (and one last remark, mostly all the good land to use are rare).It added complexity that you will have to tune your deck for if you want to play multi colored deck. The less color that are in the deck, the less color fixing you will need, plus you can add more utility land that you can’t put in otherwise (such as exiling your opponent graveyard at the cost of common in tapped).