Blue is one of the five colors of mana in Magic. It is drawn from islands and embodies the concepts of logic and technology and seeks perfection through knowledge. The mana symbol for blue is a drop of water. On the color pie, it is allied with white and black and is the enemy of red and green. For a time, blue was the dominant color and R&D was forced to change its approach to the color in order to bring it in line with the strength of the other colors.
Flavor[edit | edit source]
Blue's philosophy, like that of each color, is determined by its world view. To blue, the world is opportunity. Within it, hide wonders and possibilities most fantastic: the stuff of dreams. Blue is characterized by the desire to know the world's secrets and to make those possibilities real. The belief that dream can be reality—to which blue holds fast—is belief in tabula rasa, the blank slate.
Blue believes that all things begin existence blank, without destiny or purpose. This is contrasted with green's belief that one's life is predetermined, say, by natural ability. Rather, blue believes the essence of a thing is given to it, that it is shaped by the storms and eddies of its existence. Those with the knowledge and willpower are masters of this: shaping and changing things at will. To them, essence is as malleable as clay.
Mastery of possibility, mastery of essence, is exactly what blue pursues. Thus, blue comes to prize knowledge. It is with knowledge that blue will unlock great possibilities, and changes itself for the better. With all knowledge—omniscience—blue can make itself perfect.
Recurring themes in blue are illusion over reality (nurture over nature), thought over action (reason over passion), and the future over the past or present.
Blue is the enemy color of red and green. Blue is opposed to red because blue focuses on thinking and strategy, while red focuses on freedom of action. Blue wants the world to be full of thought and controlled by logic, free from emotions, while red prizes personal freedom and passion. Blue sees emotion and personal freedom as a hazard to the controlled world it wants, and plans to destroy red before it causes permanent damage.
Blue disagrees with green about the nature of change, and that blue is obligated to shape the universe. Green sees artificial change as an affront to nature and highly presumptuous. Blue sees green's resistance as immovable and non-progressive. This appears mechanically in the game: blue tends to construct complicated board positions and use interesting effects from non-living sources, while green tries to destroy those complications and substitute more basic, primal, living creatures.
This may cause confusions in the case of cards that represent sea monsters and other water-related creatures; they may, at first, seem to exhibit green feral traits, instead of blue's attitudes, but are in reality more closely related to the mysterious depths and non-traditional natural setting of the ocean than the tranquil forests. However, at least Zendikari Krakens do in fact happen to embody blue characteristics: they represent free will and self-determination, capable of destruction when willing violence, but generally spending most of their adult lives in the depths, contemplating and exploring.
Rules[edit | edit source]
A blue card is defined as any card that has in its mana cost or any card that has a blue color indicator. Blue is famous for its card drawing and countering abilities. It also has the most flying creatures along with white.
The following keywords are associated with the color blue (as well as a second color):
- Flash (shares with green)
- Flying (shares with white)
- Hexproof (shares with green)
- Shroud (shares with green)
- Prowess (shares with red)
(This only currently lists recurring keyword mechanics)
Mechanics[edit | edit source]
Blue's mechanics primarily involve manipulating time and information. The central mechanics that define the color are:
Card drawing and variants[edit | edit source]
Even though "draw a card" can appear on any card, Blue can draw multiple cards, unconditionally, at a cost of only mana. Contrast with green, which has conditional card drawing; and black, which requires some other sacrifice (usually life). Having more cards represents information and options, those things with which blue is primarily concerned. Since Blue can draw cards at any time regardless of its board position, this allows it to recover from any game situation if just given time (provided an answer is in the player's library), representing blue's self-fulfilling belief that every problem has a solution. The card drawing mechanic sees many variants, and this category includes any of those effects which get cards from "the top" of the library into the hand. "The top" is a loose restriction here, meant to exclude basically the tutor mechanic. A notably common variant is the "looter" ability, which draws one card, then has that player discard one card. This is generalized to spells which draw some number N cards, then discard some number M cards, with M less than or equal to N (though there are exceptions).
Counterspells[edit | edit source]
Blue has the ability to counter spells, which entirely prevents their effects (see the stack). This can be seen as the prevention of chaotic action; Blue uses its logic to deny others the ability to express ideas that aren't helpful (in blue's opinion). Countering can also be perceived as the maintenance of the status quo, such that it can be studied more completely. Finally, it is indicative of blue's precise understanding of magic, as it understands how spells work so thoroughly that it can interfere with them as they are being cast. Note that spells which counter activated or triggered abilities also exist, and are just as commonly assigned to blue. However, they are not commonly known by any one name, except possibly "Stifle," a card which, though not the first of its kind, was very high profile due to the relevance of triggered abilities in the Type II environment of its time. (See storm.)
Change-of-control effects (stealing)[edit | edit source]
Another signature mechanic of blue is "stealing," which takes the form of gaining control of cards, or in some abstract way, effects. Blue has a need to control the world, and these effects embody that. Blue sees itself at times as the sagely guardian of the world, confiscating those things which others use irresponsibly. At others, it may see the taking of an item as an experiment itself. The constant is that blue controls something because it believes that is part of understanding it. This also plays into blue's talent for subterfuge and deception. Recall the ideal of blue is for everything to be known well enough to be controlled. Note that blue's kind of thievery has its own flavor, for while red and black also steal, blue's is the strongest magic for permanently commandeering permanents.
Library destruction[edit | edit source]
This is an infrequently visited mechanic which consists of removing some number of cards from the top of a library, placing them either in a graveyard or outside the game (called "milling" when the cards go to the graveyard, after Millstone). These cards are depicted as causing mental attack such as hypnosis or amnesia, although some force the interpretation of stress or anxiety, such as Broken Ambitions. This mechanic brings the "milled" player closer to the losing condition caused by attempting to draw from an empty library. Though mono-colored mill spells are most often blue (Mind Sculpt), a great many mill spells are blue-black.
Mimicry[edit | edit source]
Blue cards can imitate other cards or aspects of other cards. A game term that collects a wide range of these is "copy", but "mimicry" as used here should be understood to include cards like Shape Stealer, which does not, strictly speaking, copy anything. Blue's mimicry effects have been flavored as spell duplication, cloning, and magical disguise, though Shape Stealer is not alone in defying such static categories. The tactic of imitation is closely related to blue's desire to learn. By mimicking its enemies (in multiplayer games, possibly allies), Blue allows itself to know at least what others know. With a mimicry card in its repertoire, Blue ensures that it is able to do anything that anyone else can. While an individual card may be flavored as a disguise or trick, it is this connection to knowledge which underpins it—even an impostor creature in blue is motivated by a fancy for illusion over reality, the power of perception to control the world.
Morphology[edit | edit source]
Blue is the color of shapeshifting, nearly all shapeshifters and other cards that change their creature type or other attributes are in blue. Though the morph ability occurs in all colors, it occurs in blue more than any other color. An extension of that are spells such as Pongify and Curse of the Swine that replace creatures on the battlefield with creature tokens of a given type, power and toughness.
Power reduction[edit | edit source]
- Target creature gets -X/-0 until end of turn
Blue has a minor theme of reducing the power of creatures using spells (e.g., Meishin, the Mind Cage, Hydrosurge). Flavor-wise, this represents a hex causing weariness or dizziness; unlike black, blue does not affect the toughness of creatures. Power reduction was originally in the black and green slices of the pie, but has shifted to blue in recent years.
Returning permanents to hand[edit | edit source]
Blue can return permanents to their owners' hands. On the surface, this is mostly a delay tactic—undoing the opponent's actions to set them back, giving oneself more time to stabilize (or win the game). In a subtle way, observing whether and how one's opponent replays the card can give information about the opponent's game position. However, since these spells can be—and often are—used on one's own permanents (say, to protect them from hostile spells, or combat), the interpretation of the prototypical bounce spell is unclear. In addition, blue can return its own permanents to its hand to either Rescue them or for some other beneficial purpose.
Tapping and untapping permanents[edit | edit source]
Blue has cards which can cause some permanents to become tapped or untapped. Usually, both options are present on a card, although some only untap permanents, and some only tap permanents. The latter is flavored as using some harmless means to overwhelm the target, usually wind or rain. Other than those, tap and untap effects are shown as any varied ways that Blue can tinker with "the underlying material of things," giving energy or taking it away. Some effects not only tap a permanent, but prevent it from being untapped in subsequent untap steps; these are usually flavored as encasing a permanent in a block of ice. Untapping a permanent gives it an extra use; for creatures, it means the ability to block. Tapping a permanent takes away its power, preventing creatures in particular from engaging in combat of any kind. These effects allow blue to win subtle advantages, caused either by the surprise of the changes, or, in the case of cards like Puppeteer, the versatility and repeatability of the effect.
Evasion and stealth[edit | edit source]
Blue mana often invests in creatures that are hard to capture and pin down whenever it decides that a force is threatening its existence. Cards like Invisible Stalker and Keymaster Rogue represents Blue's desires for efficiency whenever someone is stifling its creative process and needs a friendly reminder to stop harming blue. Blue also has the most flying creatures, as seen with Welkin Tern and Jeskai Windscout, it can be very effective at finishing an opponent off quickly, as blue can make things that can render many of its enemies' options redundant.
Illusions and nonreality[edit | edit source]
Blue can quickly create very large and intimidating threats, like with Crystalline Nautilus, that seem difficult to destroy until Blue's deception comes to light. Cards like Leyline Phantom also have a similar weakness, returning to blue's hand whenever it deals damage.
Technology and industriousness[edit | edit source]
Blue has the best cards for working with artifacts. Cards like Ensoul Artifact represent blue's affinity for technology. Blue also can make the most of instants and sorceries, such as through Battlefield Thaumaturge, and does have more specialized creatures, like with Illusory Angel.
Time manipulation[edit | edit source]
A minor theme that has been present in blue since Alpha is time manipulation. Beginning with the Power Nine card Time Walk, blue has had most of the cards that allow a player to take extra turns (Time Warp, Time Stretch). It also contains cards like Time Stop that end turns.
Interactions with other colors[edit | edit source]
Agreements[edit | edit source]
Blue and white: In white, blue sees a color with discipline, forethought, and a genuine desire to make the world better. Each color respects authority (though they define it differently), and are alike in their regard for continuity and stability in approaching their ends. The colors share a disregard of the experience of life, seeing it as a distraction, and commonly an obstacle, to the more important objective of "acting appropriately" (with respect to logic or ethics). White and blue can cooperate in a world of peaceful studiousness.
Blue and black: In black, blue sees rationality and straightforwardness. Black doesn't imagine the world as being different than it is. It accepts the disgusting truths without wasting (too many) resources denying them, or angrily breaking stuff in accepting them. Rather, black gets right on determining what to make of the situation. Blue also shares with black the view of self-determination. Both colors affirm, as a matter beyond all dissuasion, that one forges one's own life. An alliance of blue and black comes from a mutual usefulness, where the lack of trust bothers neither color the slightest.
Blue and red: In red, blue sees a color that wants to explore. Red explores life, taking in experiences, passionately seeking out new ones. Blue is also an explorer; it explores the realm of theory, seeking out knowledge with its experiments. Red enjoys change, and blue is always changing (itself or others). The two colors are common in their regard for what is new, and alike in their distaste for those barriers that keep them from investigating it. Blue and red can form a partnership of exploration, colluding in their discoveries and assisting each other in destroying barriers to their wanderlust.
Blue and green: In green, blue sees a color that has a deep sense of global good and an encouraging stance toward growth. Green wants a world where all things are free from restraint, to grow into their roles in life. Blue shares green's distaste of those who pursue personal good with a disregard for outward destructiveness (or inward destructiveness). Blue also can sympathize with preserving the environment, but only to a certain degree and for very different reasons from green: if the environment was destroyed, then blue would not be able to know things that it could have learned by researching how nature works, how the ecosystem works, what different kinds of species exist in the world, and so on. Blue also acknowledges that there is a lot of unpredictability to the world it resides in, and therefore there is a lot to be learned about how it works, otherwise it would not be unpredictable. Both colors desire to make more of what is, while being careful in the sense that, it is not really good to make one thing "better" if it results in the entire system in which it exists, breaking down. When green and blue collaborate in their efforts to rid the world of its ailments and promote the betterment of the big picture, they shall both content with the knowledge that all things have fulfilled their most perfect roles, and that no better world is than this. The two also value the search for knowledge. Learning is part of the process of growth, and it improves the group and self simultaneously. While blue's relationship with knowledge is more of a search for easy answers, green can appreciate the act of learning as a joy in and of itself.
Disagreements[edit | edit source]
Blue versus white: In white, blue sees a color of fatal rigidity. White is far too stringent on its policy of right and wrong. Blue doesn't see anything wrong with its deceptions in principle. And some things just have to be done for research. White wants for uniformity so much, it will persecute ideas simply for being unpopular. That kind of rigidity is discomforting for blue, an innovator and philosopher. When White finds something it doesn't want in its world, it, and the society under it, will turn full force against the likes of blue. Additionally, blue believes strongly in meritocracy, valuing the skills and knowledge individuals have accrued. White ignores the strengths of the individual in favor of viewing everyone equally.
Blue versus black: In black, blue sees a color of vicious decay. Black is so distrusting, it would do anything just to add a little insurance to its own survival. This goes too far for blue, as soon as black considers things like genocide—things that destroy whole swaths of potential and possibility just for the sake of putting teeth behind a threat. Black reckons with great forces beyond its control, hungry for power and disregarding the risk for great loss. While the two share a thirst for forbidden knowledge, black is just too pragmatic. Blue is upset by the fact that black will disregard a piece of knowledge just because it is not immediately helpful to its own goals. There is no love for the act of discovery. Blue must be wary of black accessing great power, just as anyone should be wary when apocalypse becomes a distinctly possible future.
Blue versus red: In red, blue sees a very foolish, dangerous color. Red cares nothing for blue's patient thought and slow progress. Red wants to act on its emotions immediately. This short-sighted behaviour is very dangerous, as exemplified in the flavor text of the Mirrodin printing of Shatter: "Days of planning, weeks of building, months of perfecting, seconds of smashing." Red doesn't give blue the time of day to reason out their differences, and so to protect itself from red, blue must stop red.
Blue versus green: In green, blue sees a color of stubborn ignorance. Blue wants to change the world, but green would do anything to keep it the same. No amount of technical papers or empirical findings will sway green from this incomprehensible dogma. Further, Green insults Blue by saying the world is perfect as it is, and nothing can escape its inherent nature. Everything blue makes, green unmakes, brutal and unthinking, wielding the untamed wilds with no regard for what is trampled underneath. Green is a malignant growth on the world, and Blue intends to prune it. Or perhaps, blue versus green could represent physical prowess versus mental prowess, brain versus brawn, or mind versus muscle.
Blue-aligned tribes[edit | edit source]
- Merfolk (characteristic creature)
- Aven (Birds; shared with white)
- Faeries (shared with black)
- Harpies (shared with black)
- Mutant (shared with green)
- Nagas (shared with green)
- Noggles (shared with red)
- Sphinxes (iconic creature)
- Zombies (shared with black and white)
- Birds (shared with white)
- Chimeras (shared with green)
- Elementals (shared with red and green)
- Hippos (shared with green)
- Snakes (shared with green)
- Surrakar (shared with black)
- Weirds (shared with red)
- Artificers (shared with white and red)
- Monks (shared with white)
- Ninjas (shared with black)
- Rogues (shared with black and red)
- Wizards (shared with black and red)
References[edit | edit source]
- Mark Rosewater. (August 13, 2014.) "I'm a bit confused on the actual idealogies of the five colors. Is there any way I could get a quick summary of them?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (August 11, 2003.) “True Blue”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (July 20, 2015.) “True Blue Revisited”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (March 21, 2005.) “The Troubled One”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Randy Buehler. (August 15, 2003.) “The Decline of Blue”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Tom LaPille. (January 08, 2010.) “Singing the Blues”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Plane Shift - Zendikar
- Mark Rosewater. (June 5, 2017.) “Mechanical Color Pie 2017”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (March 15, 2015.) "Characteristic and iconic creatures for each color?", Blogatog, Tumblr.