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I often see people referring to Blue color mana as U. What is the reason for that?

I know that Black starts with B as well but this is somewhat confusing. My guess is that u is the first letter which is different if I start to read both black and blue from the start.

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2 Answers 2

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According to Magic Head Designer Mark Rosewater's "Drive to Work" podcast on the subject, Wizards used "B" for Black and "L" for Land, leaving "U" as the next reasonable choice.

Blue we represent with the letter U. Oh, real quickly. Why do we do that? I’ve talked about this in my column, but for those that haven’t heard me say it, when first Richard made the cards, the problem was that black and blue both start with B. So why not go to L then? Well, land...card colors are used to signify the border, the kind of card it’s on. And so land has its own border. So L is for land. Well, why not go to A for black? Well, A is artifact. And so U was the first we could get to in either of them, so we ended up going with U.

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5  
The full explanation of all the letters they use is in this Making Magic column - he gives essentially the same reason there. –  Jefromi Jun 4 '13 at 16:56
    
it worked out for the best this way I think, as U is pronounced (at least in english) a lot like blue anyway. –  Patters Jun 5 '13 at 10:19
    
Had it been me, I would have used B for blue and K for black; printing already uses K for black, even though K being in the name isn't the source. –  corsiKa Jun 20 '13 at 19:50

To piggyback on top of Jadasc's explanation: not only do the names go all the way back to Magic's dawn, we know that they do because of a number of misprints in Alpha that featured the actual letters for the colors on the cards! For instance, if you look at the Alpha printing of Phantasmal Forces, the text reads 'Controller must spend U during upkeep to maintain' :

Phantasmal Forces, alpha version

Note that even as soon as the Beta printing, all of the letters had been correctly swapped out for the appropriate mana symbols.

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