MTG Color Combo Names: The Ultimate Guide to Deck Strategies

In the world of Magic: The Gathering, understanding the color combinations is crucial to building successful decks and mastering the game. Each color has its own unique abilities and characteristics, but when you start exploring the various pairings and combinations, the strategic possibilities become limitless. In this article, you will get a better grasp on the names and strategies associated with these color combos.

There are ten two-color combinations, known as guilds, each with its distinct name, often related to a piece of MTG history. These combinations bring together colors that complement each other and open up more complex strategies. You’re likely to encounter popular guilds such as Azorius (Blue/White), Golgari (Green/Black), and Rakdos (Black/Red), among others. Familiarizing yourself with these names is essential to exchanging ideas and collaborating with fellow players.

Besides the base five colors and the ten guilds, there are even more combinations to explore, including the three-color combinations and four-color pairings. Expanding your knowledge to include these groups will allow you to adapt and optimize your deck-building skills. Stay tuned as we delve into the nomenclature and intricacies of all these MTG color combinations to enhance your understanding and gameplay experience.

Basic Color Combinations

In Magic: The Gathering (MTG), colors play a significant role in shaping the gameplay and strategies. There are five main colors: Red, White, Blue, Black, and Green. When building a deck, various combinations of these colors can be utilized. These combinations have specific names, often based on MTG history. Let’s explore the various color combinations you may encounter when creating your deck.

Two-Color Combinations

These color combinations are also known as guilds and were introduced in the Ravnica block. Each color pair represents a guild, which is a group with specific goals and gameplay strategies. Here are the ten two-color combinations and their respective guild names:

  • Azorius Senate: Blue – White
  • Golgari Swarm: Green – Black
  • Izzet League: Red – Blue
  • Gruul Clans: Red – Green
  • Simic Combine: Green – Blue
  • House Dimir: Blue – Black
  • Cult of Rakdos: Red – Black
  • Selesnya Conclave: White – Green
  • Orzhov Syndicate: White – Black
  • Boros Legion: Red – White

Three-Color Combinations

The three-color combinations are split into two groups: Shards and Wedges. Shards were introduced in the Alara block and consist of one primary color and its two allied colors. Wedges were presented in the Khans of Tarkir block, with one primary color and its two enemy colors. Here are the ten three-color combinations:

Shards:

  • Bant: White – Green – Blue
  • Esper: White – Blue – Black
  • Grixis: Blue – Black – Red
  • Jund: Black – Red – Green
  • Naya: Red – Green – White

Wedges:

  • Abzan: White – Black – Green
  • Jeskai: White – Blue – Red
  • Sultai: Black – Green – Blue
  • Mardu: Red – Black – White
  • Temur: Green – Blue – Red

Four-Color Combinations

Four-color combinations are relatively rare in MTG but were introduced in the Guildpact expansion through a group called the Nephilim. Each combination represents a color missing from the WUBRG (White, Blue, Black, Red, Green) sequence. Here are the five four-color combinations and their respective Nephilim names:

  • Glint-Eye: Blue – Black – Red – Green (White missing)
  • Dune-Brood: Black – Red – Green – White (Blue missing)
  • Ink-Treader: Red – Green – White – Blue (Black missing)
  • Yore-Tiller: Green – White – Blue – Black (Red missing)
  • Witch-Maw: White – Blue – Black – Green (Red missing)

Five-Color Combinations

Five-color decks, also known as “WUBRG” decks (pronounced “wooberg”), utilize all five colors: White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green. While challenging to construct due to mana requirements, these decks can achieve a wide variety of strategies.

In addition, there are also colorless decks and cards that can be used in any deck or color combination. These colorless cards typically represent artifacts, Aeldrazi, or lands that support various strategies.

Guilds and Shards

Guilds of Ravnica

In Magic: The Gathering, the plane of Ravnica is divided into ten guilds, each representing a unique two-color combination:

  • Azorius Senate (Blue-White): Focuses on control, law, and order.
  • Orzhov Syndicate (White-Black): Represents a mix of hierarchy, control, and life manipulation.
  • House Dimir (Blue-Black): Deals with secrets, deception, and mill strategies.
  • Izzet League (Blue-Red): Emphasizes spells, interactions, and instant effects.
  • Cult of Rakdos (Red-Black): Encourages aggression, discarding, and sacrificing.
  • Gruul Clans (Red-Green): Focuses on big creatures, ramping, and land interactions.
  • Selesnya Conclave (Green-White): Characterized by token generation, life gain, and denials.
  • Simic Combine (Green-Blue): Masters of evolution, counters, and manipulation.
  • Boros Legion (Red-White): Revolves around fast-paced combat, damage, and protection.
  • Golgari Swarm (Green-Black): Excels in recursion, resource management, and graveyard interactions.

Shards of Alara

Shards of Alara introduced five three-color combinations known as shards:

  • Bant (White-Blue-Green): Prioritizes control, protection, and a balance of creature abilities.
  • Esper (Blue-White-Black): Showcases artifacts, life manipulation, and a denial of opponent strategies.
  • Grixis (Blue-Black-Red): Masters of manipulation, chaos, and creature destruction.
  • Jund (Black-Red-Green): Relishes resource management, powerful creatures, and control through sacrifice.
  • Naya (Green-White-Red): Boasts large creatures, life gain, and aggressive interactions.

Khans of Tarkir

Khans of Tarkir brought five more three-color combinations known as clans:

  • Abzan Houses (White-Black-Green): Embodies endurance, life gain, and a focus on creature abilities.
  • Jeskai Way (Blue-White-Red): Practices non-creature spells, prowess, and control of the tempo.
  • Sultai Brood (Black-Green-Blue): Thrives on graveyard interactions, card advantage, and resource management.
  • Mardu Horde (Red-White-Black): Takes an aggressive, resilient, and go-wide approach.
  • Temur Frontier (Green-Blue-Red): Encourages ramping, versatility, and efficient creature-based strategies.

As a Magic: The Gathering player, having a solid understanding of the guilds, shards, and clans is crucial to navigating the complex world of deck-building and game strategy. Familiarize yourself with the color combinations and their unique characteristics to elevate your gameplay and knowledge of the ever-evolving realm of MTG.

Lore and Background

Color Pie Philosophy

In Magic: The Gathering (MTG), created by Wizards of the Coast, each of the five colors represents different aspects of power and philosophy. They are as follows:

  • White: This color is associated with law, peace, and order. As a player, you focus on community and cooperation, using your resources to enforce rules and protect your allies.
  • Blue: This color symbolizes knowledge, thought, and manipulation. Your strategy relies on careful planning, using counterspells and control to outthink your opponents.
  • Black: Death, ambition, and sacrifice are central themes in black’s approach. As a black mage, you seek power at any cost, even if it means harnessing destructive forces or betraying your own creatures.
  • Red: Emotion and freedom drive red’s playstyle. You unleash destructive spells and powerful creatures, seeking to overwhelm your enemies with raw action and swift tactics.
  • Green: A connection to nature and growth defines green. You summon powerful creatures and harness the forces of life to defend your territory and enhance your army.

Mana and Its Representation

Each color’s philosophy directly ties to the game mechanics, shaping the way you create your decks and engage in battles. These basic tenets are represented through mana, the energy resource you use to cast spells and summon creatures. Mana comes in five different types, corresponding to the colors:

  • Plains: Generate white mana, fueling spells and abilities that promote cooperation, healing, and control.
  • Island: Generate blue mana, powering control spells and counterspells focused on strategy and knowledge.
  • Swamp: Provide black mana, enabling spells and creatures that harness death, sacrifice, and ambition.
  • Mountain: Generate red mana, responsible for aggressive, emotion-driven spells and creatures.
  • Forest: Produce green mana, supporting spells and creatures representing nature, growth, and strength.

Adding color combinations to your deck introduces more strategic depth and possibilities, allowing you to harmonize the strengths and weaknesses of multiple colors. For example, combining white’s peace and order with black’s death and sacrifice leads to a unique synergy to exploit and outmaneuver your opponents. Remember to always consider the color pie philosophy when building your deck and adapting to different playstyles.

Guilds and Their Attributes

Azorius Senate

The Azorius Senate represents the blue and white color combination, focusing on controlling the board and upholding laws. As a player of Azorius, you may utilize aspects such as:

  • Counterspells
  • Enchantments to lock down opponents’ cards
  • Board-wide protection

House Dimir

House Dimir is the combination of blue and black, blending secrecy and manipulation. With Dimir, you can expect:

  • Milling (making your opponent send cards to the graveyard)
  • Card draw and discard manipulation
  • Evasion and unblockable creatures

Cult of Rakdos

The Cult of Rakdos, represented by black and red, is known for chaos, destruction, and dealing direct damage. Playing Rakdos, you can:

  • Destroy opponents’ permanents
  • Deal direct damage to opponents
  • Utilize aggressive creatures and sacrifice strategies

Gruul Clans

Gruul Clans, consisting of red and green, focuses on raw power, using big creatures and spells to smash through opponents’ defences. Gruul strategies involve:

  • Fast, powerful creatures
  • Land manipulation and ramp
  • Trampling over opponents with massive creatures

Selesnya Conclave

The Selesnya Conclave combines green and white, harnessing nature and unity. With Selesnya, you have access to tools such as:

  • Token creation
  • Lifegain and healing effects
  • Enchantment-based strategies

Orzhov Syndicate

Orzhov Syndicate unites black and white colors, with themes of debt, control, and life manipulation. As an Orzhov player, you can:

  • Drain life from opponents and gain life yourself
  • Destroy or exile opponents’ permanents
  • Use sacrifice and recursion strategies

Izzet League

The Izzet League brings together blue and red, characterized by experimentation and spell-slinging. Izzet gameplay involves:

  • Casting multiple spells in a single turn
  • Drawing numerous cards and discarding others
  • Utilizing instants and sorceries

Golgari Swarm

The green and black combination, Golgari Swarm, focuses on growth and decay, utilizing the graveyard as a resource. Golgari players can:

  • Recur cards from the graveyard
  • Utilize creature sacrifice strategies
  • Build up strong board presence with resilient creatures

Boros Legion

Boros Legion combines red and white, representing warfare, justice, and aggression. While playing Boros, you may:

  • Attack with hasty creatures
  • Utilize combat tricks and damage multipliers
  • Benefit from removal spells and board-wipe protection

Simic Combine

Lastly, the Simic Combine pairs blue and green, highlighting evolution and adaptation. With Simic, players can:

  • Adapt and mutate creatures
  • Ramp and mana fixing
  • Counter spells and gain control of the board

Nephilim and Four-Color Combinations

Nephilim Creatures

In Magic: The Gathering, the five four-color combinations are named after the Nephilim creatures. These creatures were first introduced in the Guildpact expansion released in 2006. Nephilim are powerful beings that come in various forms and embody the characteristics of the four colors they represent. Some of the notable Nephilim creatures include:

  • Glint-Eye Nephilim
  • Dune-Brood Nephilim
  • Witch-Maw Nephilim
  • Yore-Tiller Nephilim
  • Ink-Treader Nephilim

Four-Color Names and Themes

The four-color combinations are derived from the color they are missing, which creates a unique theme for each combination. Here is a table of the four-color combinations, their missing color, and the associated Nephilim creature:

Four-Color ComboMissing ColorNephilim Creature
WUBRGreenYore-Tiller Nephilim
UBRGWhiteGlint-Eye Nephilim
BRGWBlueDune-Brood Nephilim
RGWUBlackInk-Treader Nephilim
GWUBRedWitch-Maw Nephilim

In addition, the Ikoria Lair of Behemoths expansion introduced the Triomes, which also provide unique names for the four-color combinations:

  • Indatha (WBGU)
  • Ketria (UGRB)
  • Zagoth (BGWR)
  • Raugrin (RWUG)
  • Savai (WRBG)

These names are used to describe the dual land cards in the Ikoria expansion, and they can also be used to represent the four-color combinations in other contexts.

As you explore the world of Magic: The Gathering, understanding the various color combination names and their associations with Nephilim creatures and Triomes will help in navigating the gameplay and strategies involving these combinations.

Gameplay Mechanics

Enemy and Ally Color Pairs

In Magic: The Gathering, the five main colors (White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green) can be combined into different color pairs, creating various alliances and rivalries between the hues. There are ally color pairs and enemy color pairs:

Ally color pairs:

  • White & Blue (Azorius)
  • Blue & Black (Dimir)
  • Black & Red (Rakdos)
  • Red & Green (Gruul)
  • Green & White (Selesnya)

Enemy color pairs:

  • White & Black (Orzhov)
  • Blue & Red (Izzet)
  • Black & Green (Golgari)
  • Red & White (Boros)
  • Green & Blue (Simic)

These color combinations impact your gameplay mechanics and the strategies available in your deck.

Strategies and Synergies

Different color combinations lend themselves to distinct strategies and synergies within gameplay:

  • Azorius (White & Blue): Focused on control, you will find spells that keep your opponent’s creatures at bay, often using flying creatures to attack directly.
  • Dimir (Blue & Black): Mill strategies become available in this combination, forcing your opponent to discard cards into their graveyard or library, disrupting their gameplay.
  • Rakdos (Black & Red): Your deck might be more aggressive, utilizing direct damage spells and creatures with haste to quickly whittle down your opponent’s life total.
  • Gruul (Red & Green): Featuring larger creatures with trample and other powerful abilities, a Gruul deck can feel overwhelming and difficult to stop once it gets going.
  • Selesnya (Green & White): This combination can lead to token generation, overwhelming your opponent with numerous small creatures to eventually overpower their defenses.

Remember, your chosen color combination will drive your gameplay mechanics, so choose wisely based on your preferred style and strategy.

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