Color identity

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Color identity is a concept expanding the color of cards. While in game play mechanics the color of a card is always determined exclusively by the colors used in its casting cost or its color indicator (which was retroactively applied to cards like Ancestral Vision, which previously specified it in the rule text), the color identity of a card is specified by all mana symbols that appear in its casting cost, color indicator, and rules text. This is primarily relevant for the Commander format, in which players are not allowed to use any cards whose color identity isn't encompassed by that of their General.

For example, while Fires of Undeath is a red card, and Silver Knight has protection from it and White Knight does not, it can't be used by a player who uses Kumano, Master Yamabushi as his or her General in a game of Commander. This is because the color identity of Fires of Undeath is red-black and is not a subset of the color-identity of Kumano (red).

Phyrexian mana is considered to be the mana of the color it replaces, e.g. Dismember is a black card. Hybrid mana is considered to be both colors, thus Kitchen Finks has a color identity of white-green.

A special case is the hybrid white-black mana symbol on creatures with the Extort ability. It is considered part of the reminder text, not part of the rules text, so it doesn't determine color identity.

Rules[edit | edit source]

From the Comprehensive Rules (Rivals of Ixalan (January 19, 2018))

  • 903.4. The Commander variant uses color identity to determine what cards can be in a deck with a certain commander. The color identity of a card is the color or colors of any mana symbols in that card’s mana cost or rules text, plus any colors defined by its characteristic-defining abilities (see rule 604.3) or color indicator (see rule 204).

    Example: Bosh, Iron Golem is a legendary artifact creature with mana cost {8} and the ability “{3}{R}, Sacrifice an artifact: Bosh, Iron Golem deals damage equal to the sacrificed artifact’s converted mana cost to target creature or player.” Bosh’s color identity is red.

    • 903.4a Color identity is established before the game begins.
    • 903.4b Reminder text is ignored when determining a card’s color identity. See rule 207.2.
    • 903.4c The back face of a double-faced card (see rule 711) is included when determining a card’s color identity. This is an exception to rule 711.4a.

      Example: Civilized Scholar is the front face of a double-faced card with mana cost {2}{U}. Homicidal Brute is the back face of that double-faced card and has a red color indicator. The card’s color identity is blue and red.