I was teaching my newbie friend Magic when out of the blue he asked me “Can I be the barbarian?”
I replied, “umm there aren’t any classes in Magic but I guess you’d like red”, handing him the red Welcome Deck.
He liked red but he was curious about the other colors. “What’s blue, is that the wizard?,” he asked.
“Yes, that’s the closest you’re going to get to a wizard,” I replied.
“What about green, is that the druid?” he asked.
“Yes, green is the druid,” I shrugged.
“Black is the necromancer?” he asked.
“Yes, I suppose black would be the necromancer”, I sighed.
“What about white? The priest?”, he asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Boring”, he said.
While my friend’s hasty method of understanding the colors of Magic wasn’t the most accurate, what mattered is that it made sense to him. His experience of D&D and other RPGs was at least somewhat transferable to Magic, although it was like fitting square pegs in round holes.
However, it was a much better training method than what I’ve seen other new players experience. Once I saw, to my dismay, two would-be new players quit before even playing the game in the face of the firehose of the color lecture from a seasoned player.
So even if equating colors to traditional roleplaying game classes doesn’t make perfect sense in Magic (apart from the new D&D set’s class enchantments), it’s still useful for onboarding new players that like RPGs.
Without further ado, let’s dive in and explore what makes these colors tick and what traditional RPG classes they best represent. Hopefully, this will give you a sense of each color’s personality and play style.
White MTG Cards
No one’s going to argue that white doesn’t best represent priests and paladins; it has by far the most clerics and knights, with black being the closest runner up. However, just because white = knights, does mean white = good. The colors of magic don’t fit into a clean dichotomy of good or evil, and beginners may be surprised that white is capable of being just as evil as black is.
Aside from apparent armored do-gooders on horseback, white represents order and balance, has the best life gain and removal (mostly exiling or jailing stuff), and loves taxes (Smothering Tithe) but is the worst at drawing cards. The latter is noticeably a problem in Commander, making white the worst color of the format.
White is the fun police, and if you’re having too much fun in a game of magic then white’s going to tax and exile your stuff until you wonder why you’re even playing the game anymore.
Blue MTG Cards
Just like in the example above, blue has probably the most wizardlike personality of the five colors, with red taking a close second. Blue likes to mess with people’s stuff with its bounce mechanic and, of course, counterspells. Rather than destroying or exiling stuff, like other colors, blue manipulates time to disrupt it or transforms it into something harmless. Blue is also the best at stealing stuff too, making it suitable for rogue enthusiasts.
While blue’s personality and desires are as deep and mysterious as the ocean, its penchant for mischief is what sets it apart from the other colors. It’s the best color for drawing cards, the best for counterspells by far, the best at stealing stuff, and the best at taking extra turns making it infamously the most annoying color in the game. Even the most seasoned players get anxious and salty about untapped islands when they’re casting a spell.
Like white, blue also polices the battlefield but instead of restoring balance and order, blue selfishly sows disorder to benefit itself. It’s arguably second only to black in terms of selfishness.
Black MTG Cards
Well, if the necromancer class had to pick a color then it seems eyerollingly obvious it would be black with no questions asked. Black is the edgelord color of Magic, after all, with its fixation on the occult and morbid. Black kills creatures, it can also bring them back to life, then it can sacrifice them to kill something else.
Just like a necromancer, black likes making dead things walk again, only to fling them at living things in order to make them dead too.
Black is amazing at killing creatures and has probably the best removal for that card type in the game. However, black struggles with inanimate and ethereal things like artifacts and enchantments, having only recently acquired some new tools to kill the latter like Invoke Despair.
The big misconception is that black is evil. And while it’s easy to see why people might think that, with all the horror-themed imagery that’s abundant on its cards, the more we play the game the more we realize that black’s not doing anything wrong compared to the other colors.
Though, if selfishness is a crime then black is the worst offender – seeking greatness at any cost.
Red MTG Cards
Red has the most barbarians and dragons in the game, so you get no prizes for guessing what kind of loincloth-wearing, warpainted class this color best represents. If red doesn’t like something, it zaps, burns or smashes it. Red is a color of fiery passion and impulse; it prefers actions to words and would rather destroy an obstacle than reason with it.
That doesn’t mean to say red is unintelligent though. Just because blue, red’s enemy color, loves elaborate spellweaving and temporal manipulation doesn’t mean that red’s approach to problem-solving is less effective. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.
If blue and white—red’s enemies—seek order, red seeks anarchy.
Green MTG Cards
Tree-hugging hippy stuff is green’s game so no one’s going to argue against it being the color of druids. Green has the fastest mana in the game making it one of the best colors in Commander, as well as being fearsome when combined with blue’s card draw and counterspells.
Despite green’s ostensible obsession with growing mana and creatures with ramp and pump spells, it also has a strong distaste for the manmade. Like red, green cares little for artifacts and prefers to smash them and enchantments alike to make way for its trampling behemoths.
While it’s tempting to label green as ‘good’, once you’ve seen enough green mages get their tendrils around your artifacts or enchantments, or accelerate their mana into fatty creature drop mode then you’ll reconsider your moral compass.
What about combinations of colors? Well, we’re glad you asked:
Bard = green/white
Fighter = red/white
Monk = red/white/blue
Rogue = blue/black
Artificer = blue/white