The Color Pie and Deck Building Part I

Magic was the original collectable card game.It was created back in 1993 and there was absolutely nothing else like it. At the heart of the game you pay resources or mana and then you can play cards. But what separated Magic from the other collectable or trading card games to come is what is called the color pie. When Richard Garfield created the game he envisioned five different types of magic. Each type of magic had its own color and it’s strengths and weaknesses.Since 1993 this basic concept has crept into our culture. If you have some time and enjoy reading you might want to consider The Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks. This fantasy series takes the colors of light and turns it into magic. It is a long read but a very good one.  

Whether you read The Lightbringer Series or not there is a concept here that will affect your deck building. Each color brings its own personality and abilities to your deck. Your playstyle and the deck you want to build should be affected by the color pie. Choose the colors that suit you and build to their strengths. You will need to find artifacts and colorless cards to fill in the gaps as necessary sometimes to shore up a weak area in a color’s game.

It also leaves clues as to what color combinations you may want to avoid. For example, Boros or Red-White combinations can be very tricky to build and play. Personally, I love the card Assemble the Legion and it is Boros in colors. It an enchantment that slowly puts out more and more tokens as the game goes on. This card is never left unchecked. It’s that good. Despite my love for this card, until Feather, The Redeemed, I would not build a Boros deck and utilize it unless my commander has either green or blue in it to compensate for the weaknesses of Boros. Below is an introductory look at the color pie for you to think about when choosing your commander and building your next deck. Today we will cover white and Blue and follow up with black red and green next time


The white mage is about order and control. Some may say white is about the collective over the individual. When you look at white as a color several aspects of this come to mind. First is board wipes. White can take a complicated board and order it by wiping it. Second it creates order through enchantments and enchantment destruction. The enchantments essentially establishes rules that need to be followed while the enchantment destruction wipes away the rules that the white player does not find advantageous.

White also contains a lot of targeted removal to take out an individual card and has a strong token strategy which devalues individuality. When white has strong individual creatures often they will have effects that give the flavor of order or to hold the peace for the collective good. Soldier, warrior and clerics are themed tribes for white. White also contains a lot of buff cards and combat tricks to help the collective survive. As for keywords white’s strength is in defense. First strike will help individual cards survive being blocked and Vigilance will allow you to attack and still block any incoming attacks. Lifelink helps you survive by increasing your life and flying assures you can block anything that comes your way. 

The weakness of white is that it is slow and methodical. It is difficult to get off to a fast start in white. White does not have many effective ramp cards. White does contain cards that let you pull lands to your hand but they do not allow you to play them directly. As a white mage you get to methodically play one per turn.

Card advantage is rare in white.  Card draw is based in cantrips at best or a couple of tutors. You can play a card to get a card or change a card into a strong card for your strategy. It’s not card draw but white also has cards that create multiple tokens. These tokens are generic. They create two for one permanents. Often the individual token is not strong enough compared to the man spent. The white mage will need to synergize these tokens with other effects to make them a valuable strategy. Board wipes can be a form of card advantage. If you play less cards that are destroyed than your opponents, then you gain an advantage in resources. However, Once you are out of cards the white mage will find it difficult to replenish his hand.

These two weaknesses of white unfortunately are the two things a commander deck needs to be successful. This makes white a very strong support color for your commander deck but not a great stand alone color unless you build heavily into artifacts.   


Blue is about knowledge and control. Blue’s land type is an island and it is often thought of as the water color. Blue has a merfolk tribe which supports this concept. When you think of someone who is cold and calculating, this is the blue mage. The blue mage wants to know as much as he can and use that to his advantage to control the environment around him. The blue mage is more reactive than proactive as this helps him assess the situation. For these reasons blue is strong in instants and sorceries. Blue often wants to find flash effects and mana sinks to hold up playing as many cards as he can for as long as he can so that he can make the best decisions and stop the best spells and the most dangerous threats.

This feeds into blue’s control strength. Blue is the color of counter magic and Counterspell is an iconic blue card. Blue also feeds into the desire for knowledge through scry effects, card draw, and sometimes looking at their opponents hands. Blues creatures are not strong creatures and often rely on evasion in order to deal damage. While not a keyword unblockable is a theme in blue and flying is a staple of blue creatures. Hexproof and vigilance also make some appearances as keywords on blue cards. 

Blue is weak in creature removal. It normally does not permanently remove a creature from the game. Instead blue looks to bounce creatures back to their hand, tap them down or reduce their power and toughness. Blue also has several options that will copy or steal other creatures on the battlefield. In this way the blue mage looks to use their opponents cards against them. Unfortunately, blue does not have any pure board wipes and this can be a serious disadvantage.

The best form of removal for blue is counter magic which encourages the blue mage to play at flash speed. It also means blue has difficulties dealing with creatures once they enter the battlefield. Again their creatures are often weak in power so the blue mage may find it difficult to block creatures as a removal tactic.

The weaker creatures will also cause blue to find it difficult to reduce an opponent’s life total to zero. For these reasons blue will look to win through a combination of cards as opposed to attacking. Blue can be strong on it’s own as long as you are not an aggressive player. Otherwise it is a good support color for card draw. 

Next Time

By understanding the color pie it will help you make an informed decision on what commander to choose and in turn what deck to build.It allows you to know what the strengths of the deck will be so you can choose cards that capitalize on those strengths while choosing colorless cards that will help mitigate those weaknesses. Next time we will review the final three colors of the color pie.