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As my collection has started growing (new to MtG) I'm now needing to organize. I've done quite a bit of blog reading on the different methods and strategies but one thing I can't quite seem to determine is how to handle multi-color cards. I have 2 examples:

One Thousand Crashes

Initially what I'm doing is calling this a white since it is the first colored cost symbol.

Beckon Apparition

This one is an either or so I have no real good idea what color to put it with. Any suggestions on these types of cards? Is it just preference on my part?

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I just put all my multicolored on three pile's. common uncommon rare/mythic. and since there are not that many multi collord, the piles are not that big. –  SirDuckduck Mar 13 '13 at 8:21
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5 Answers 5

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In general, I think how you organize really depends on what you want to do with your cards.

  • If you like to look at your collection for inspiration when building decks, try organizing cards by color and then by function — keep all of your blue counterspells together, keep all of your black creature removal together, group your red creatures by their mana costs so you can easily plan around a curve. Here's an example of someone doing this with a very large set of cards. Group multicolor cards by their color combinations (and function as well) so that it's easy to see look for cards that match the colors of a deck.

  • If you mostly use other resources, like Gatherer, to choose cards, then you can optimize for finding individual cards quickly instead. This means you'll likely want to organize alphabetically or by set and serial number (don't do anything special for multi-color cards).

    • Alphabetic organization may be better if you're likely to have lots of different editions of the same card.

    • Organizing by set and serial number doesn't involve shifting as many cards when you get new ones, but you might have to search slightly longer for often-reprinted cards (alternatively, move them all up to the most recent set when they get reprinted — e.g. both the Mirage and Innistrad versions of Dissipate just go in the Innistrad section).

    In both cases, you don't really have to do anything special for multi-color cards.

  • If you don't like to spend a lot of time organizing or have a hard time keeping cards in order, try organizing color, or by block and color (and not alphabetically, because it's too much work). It'll take you a bit longer to find individual cards, but it's really easy to put cards back after you've taken them out. Group multicolor cards by color combinations; in most cases you can just put the hybrid cards in their matching multi-color category.

  • If you tend to mainly build competitive-oriented decks, it makes sense to separate out your "staples" — cards like Brainstorm and Lightning Bolt — so you have an easy time grabbing the cards you expect to use most.

  • Regardless of what else you do, if you play Standard, you'll also want to organize by sets, because it's easy to handle rotation that way.

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I follow the same procedure for organization that my LGS does. I have a big 4 row box. In each row, I have a set. So, right now one of my boxes has (in order): Innistrad, Dark Ascension, Avacyn Restored, M13. What do all of these sets have in common? They rotate out at the same time.

Now, for organizing each set, I follow WoTC's number system, and I put like cards together in penny sleeves (clear sleeves that generally cost $1 per 100). This way, they are organized by color, and then alphabetically. This makes searching for cards much faster, at least for me.

Now, the order that WoTC does things is Colorless/White/Blue/Black/Red/Green/Gold/Hybrid/Artifact/Lands. Also, if you look at the bottom of each card, there is a number associated with it. For instance, the One Thousand Lashes you linked, is card number 183. So, it would go 183rd in my box.

I hope that this helps.

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When you say hybrids, are you talking about any card that requires more than 1 color? Or is there a distinction between hybrid and multi-color? Hybrid being either/or ? –  Gregg Mar 12 '13 at 22:14
    
Hybrid's are cards like the ones you linked, that could be either or. –  MyCodeSucks Mar 12 '13 at 23:40
    
Colorless cards (Eldrazi for example) are first in WoTC's order if I remember correctly :) –  Autar Mar 14 '13 at 8:27
    
Yes, colorless would come first. But I've only just begun playing when Innistrad came out, so was unaware of colorless cards. Edited to show this. –  MyCodeSucks Mar 14 '13 at 13:07
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I would recommend against sorting the cards by the first color symbol. It's not going to be as useful that way, especially for hybrid mana. What if you want to put Dryad Militant in a while deck but you sorted it green, or the other way around?

Instead, I recommend using a system similar to the Return to Ravnica Holiday Gift Box. It comes with dividers and a sheet of stickers to put on the dividers that classify things in the way magic players often do: it has stickers for the types (sorceries, instants, planeswalkers, etc) and for the guilds and shards, and the vanilla colors. I don't know if there's still boxes available, everywhere I checked they sold like hotcakes, but the system they used is clearly in use (they don't release things like that without doing appropriate market research to determine consumers' needs).

(Note this isn't to say the other answers are bad, just trying to think outside the box. Or inside the box, depending on how you look at it...)

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"this isn't to say the other answers are bad." Good. Because my answer is pretty much what you said. ;) –  ghoppe Mar 12 '13 at 23:21
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Wizard's numbering system orders the cards alphabetically by colour, taking the following order into account (see pentagon of colours back of card, start at white going clockwise): White-Blue-Black-Red-Green.

After that, hybrid mana cards are listed, then gold-bordered multicoloured cards, then artifacts, then lands.

When accounting for hybrid and multicoloured order, I believe it goes by the same priority. White-Blue cards are listed before White-Blue-Black which is before White-Red, which is before Blue-Red, etc.

Personally I sort my Hybrid/gold cards together by "guild" as in Ravnica, or "shard" as in Alara, and then the wacky 4+5 colour together, sorting them in WUBRG order.

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When I am ordering cards I order them by number of colors used and the colors themselves or lack of color as the case may be.

Single Colors: White, Blue, Black, Red, Green

Cards with no color. Artifacts, Different land cards

Two Colors: White/Blue, White/Black, White/Red, White/Green, Blue/Black, Blue/Red, Blue/Green, Black/Red, Black/Green, Red/Green

Three Colors: White/Blue/Black, White/Blue/Red, White/Blue/Green, White/Black/Red, White/Black/Green, White/Red/Green, Blue/Black/Red, Blue/Black/Green, Blue/Red/Green, Black/Red/Green

Four Colors: White/Blue/Black/Red, White/Blue/Black/Green, White/Blue/Red/Green, White/Black/Red/Green, Blue/Black/Red/Green

Five Colors White/Blue/Black/Red/Green

I normally don't group by expansion but that is something that can also be added to help in finding cards that are still legal based on the rule set you are playing. Also if you tend to favor certain colors it would make sense to move them to the front of the grouping order. I just started with white because that was a place to start.

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You have an entire section for Yore-Tiller Nephilim, one for Witch-Maw Nephilim, one for Ink-Treader Nephilim, and one for Giant-Eye Nephilim, and not one for poor Dune-Brood Nephilim? For shame! (And those are the only five that have color combinations thus far.) –  corsiKa Mar 12 '13 at 22:34
    
@corsiKa I knew I as missing a color combination! :) And it never hurts to plan ahead so you have a place to put a combo when it appears! –  Joe W Mar 12 '13 at 22:43
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