My Five Cents On… Color Faction Names.

<Scene: An LGS Near You>

New Magic Player (Citadel Castellan):  Wow, Magic is a cool game. Five Colors, each with it’s own philosophy and play-style.  I like Blue for its emphasis on knowledge (Oh Jace… he’s so Dreamy… and just exactly like me), but Red really gets the job done.  I think I will make a “Blue-Red” deck.

Less New Magic Player (Hazduhr): Oh, we’re not supposed to call it a “Blue-Red” deck.

Castellan: Okay, “Red-Blue” then.

Hazduhr: No, that won’t work either. They have special names you’re supposed to use.

Castellan: Well, if it’s not “Red-Blue or “Blue- Red”, What is it?

Hazduhr: Yes.

Castellan: Yes It’s what?

Hazduhr: Izzet!

Castellan: That’s want to know (I’m a Blue Mage). What is it?

Hazduhr: Exactly!

Castellan: Now I’m getting Angry (I’m a Red Mage). You’re not messing around with me, are you?

Hazduhr: RU? That’s not okay either.

Castellan: Am I? I’m not the one doing anything wrong here. You are!

Hazduhr: UR? Not okay. Izzet!

Castellan: No. It’s not okay. I asked a simple question, and you’ve given me nothing but lip. I quit this game. Get bent!

Hazduhr: Bant? that’s three colors…


First, let me say, that I LOVE the flavor of the different factions. I thought Ravnica was amazing with the Guilds expressing one aspect of the color-pairs, and I was overjoyed with Tarkir as one expression of the Wedges.  I think that’s GREAT and I want to see more creative expressions of the color groupings.

What I don’t like is that the Faction Names have been mandated as non-flavor expressions of those colors. Here’s why:

  1. The Color Pie is great, and the 5 Colors of Magic are important.  And by not naming them when they are combined, it’s saying they’re not to be in the forefront.
  2. The Flavor of the Guilds and Shards and Khanates/Dragonates aren’t the only expressions of those colors, and therefore limit new creative exploration. If we continuously hear those terms they will become the important and default ones and we will more highly value them.  It’s like the Availabilty Heuristic in action.
  3. It is confusing/unclear to people who don’t care about flavor. Magic has enough terminology that I don’t see how adding 20 more terms to describe something that could more easily be communicated using combinations of 5 terms that are the fundamental core of the game is helpful.
  4. It is confusing/unclear to people who DO care about flavor.  I hate when I see a deck posted as “Jeskai” Control and there’s not a single Monk or creature with Prowess in it at all. I like that Khanate a lot so I get excited when it seems like it’s getting some play, but then the deck just happens to be nothing but RWU.  Does a “Temur” Delver deck even have any Temur cards in it?
  5. The Slippery Slope:  now that they’re “doubling down” on (humanoid, easily castable for screen and stage) Planeswalkers’ stories,  I fear the day when the colors get permanently “branded” with the walkers.   “The final round  of the Pro Tour featuring [Some Pro] piloting her ‘Chandra Deck Wins‘  vs [Some Pro] and her ‘Gideon Weenie‘”  or  “This is an Island.  It taps for one “Jace” mana in a game of Jace: the Jacening.”    Okay, it’s not that bad (and that’s the topic for another chunk of change).