For example, Esper refers to decks made up of White, Blue and Black cards.

What are the names of the other colour combinations? In particular, how do we refer to a Red-White-Black deck?

  • 4
    Thank you so much for asking this. I'm just now getting back into Magic, and seeing like "Bant X" and "Temur Y" without any cards with those names in the list was driving me nuts. And it was surprisingly hard to find the answer. Very much "tribal knowledge". – Brian Sullivan Sep 8 '16 at 22:28

One color

Most decks with a single color are not competitive in tournaments (due to the fact you're settling for the top ten cohesive cards in a color instead of two sets of the top five in two colors. The difference in power level between the top 1-5 and the top 6-10 can be massive and game deciding. The other colors also make up for each others weaknesses.) But they do exist, and are referred to as "Mono X".

  • Mono red
  • Mono black
  • Mono blue
  • Mono green
  • Mono white

Two colors

Each of these corresponds to a guild of Ravnica. Since the guilds were released (and especially now that we've returned) the color pairs have become common names for duo-color decks. Both allied and enemy color pairs are common to see, although allied more so (due to higher deck cohesion).

  • White + Blue = Azorius
  • Blue + Black = Dimir
  • Black + Red = Rakdos
  • Red + Green = Gruul
  • Green + White = Selesnya
  • White + Black = Orzhov
  • Blue + Red = Izzet
  • Black + Green = Golgari
  • Red + White = Boros
  • Green + Blue = Simic

Three colors

The first of these are the shards of Alara. They jive well because they give two sets of allied colors each. The less commonly used are the wedges, which involve two enemy color combinations: they're derived from the dragons of Planar Chaos, the volver cycle from Apocalypse, the triomes of Ikoria, or more recently the five clans from Khans of Tarkir. Having only one allied color pair (the two enemies of a single color will be allied) limits deck cohesion, making their use infrequent.

More typically, enemy three color decks are not fully fleshed out in the colors. You're more likely to have an "Izzet splashed with green" deck than a "Ceta" deck.

  • Red + green + black = Jund
  • White + green + blue = Bant
  • Black + red + blue = Grixis
  • Green + white + red = Naya
  • Blue + white + black = Esper
  • Blue + red + white = Jeskai (clan on Tarkir), Raugrin (Ikoria triome), Numot (dragon from Apocalypse) or Raka (from Rakavolver)
  • Red + white + black = Mardu (clan on Tarkir), Savai (Ikoria triome), Oros (dragon from Apocalypse) or Dega (from Degavolver)
  • Black + green + blue = Sultai (clan on Tarkir), Zagoth (Ikoria triome), Vorosh (dragon from Apocalypse) or Ana (from Anavolver)
  • Green + blue + red = Temur (clan on Tarkir), Ketria (Ikoria triome), Intet (dragon from Apocalypse) or Ceta (from Cetavolver)
  • White + black + green = Abzan (clan on Tarkir), Indatha (Ikoria triome), Teneb (dragon from Apocalypse) Necra (from Necravolver), Junk citation, or Doran citation

Informal usages:

  • Red + white + black = Borzhov
  • Red + white + blue = USA/American/Patriot
    (although note that Team America is actually black + blue + green)
  • Red + green + blue = Grizzet
    (although it's usually Simic splashing red)

In addition, it's especially common for red + blue + green and black + blue + green to be called by their abbreviations — "RUG" and "BUG" — because these are names that are easy to remember and pronounce.

Four colors

Most decks do not have four full colors. As with three color enemies, if they reach this many colors, it's a shard with a splash of another color. So you're more likely to see something like "American splash black" instead of "Yore".

Names for four-color identities come from one of two sources:

So the four colour identities' names are:

  • Blue + black + red + green = Glint-Eye, or Chaos, or Non-white
  • Black + red + green + white = Dune (or Dune-Brood), or Aggression, or Non-blue
  • Red + green + white + blue = Ink-Treader, or Altruism, or Non-black
  • Green + white + blue + black = Witch (or Witch-Maw), or Growth, or Non-red
  • White + blue + black + red = Yore (or Yore-Tiller), or Artifice, or Non-green

Five colors

Decks with all five colors usually revolve around a single combo that they hope to pull off. It takes a lot of mana fixing and a massive amount of playtesting to get a reliable five color deck. For this reason, you don't often find them in tournaments. You find them often in Commander (giving the player access to every card ever, greatly increasing the power level of the deck) and in skill challenges where a player just tries to come up with a crazy deck idea to see if he can make it work. Obviously there's only one five color deck, it uses all five:

  • Rainbow/Domain/Five-Color/WUBRG (pronounced Whoo-Burg)

Sometimes, four color decks will also be called Rainbow just because they have so many colors.

No colors

Sometimes, particularly in formats with a very large card pool, you'll see colorless decks as well. The most common name for these is a reference to the old card frame for artifact cards:

  • Mono brown (not to be confused with BrownTown which is a draft deck leaning heavily on minotaurs)

  • Some newer colorless decks have come to be referred to as "Diamond" decks in reference to the diamond-like new symbol for colorless mana

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    I have always been under the impression that five-color decks are referred to as "Domain" decks. Beyond that, great job pulling everything together for all color combinations. +1 – SocioMatt Mar 21 '13 at 15:52
  • I think it's useful to note RUG, BUG, and "5-Color" as the most typical labels for decks of those types (different from just color names because you see deck names like "NO RUG") -- mind if I edit that in? – Alex P Mar 21 '13 at 16:11
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    Okay, I thought this was a silly question, but +1 just for insane levels of completism :) – thesunneversets Mar 21 '13 at 18:16
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    We always used to call Black and Blue decks "bruiser decks", back in the day. – ire_and_curses Mar 21 '13 at 20:18
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    For four-color decks, there's also the recent names like dark Jeskai. (or is it wet Mardu, or light Grixis, or hot Esper?) – Cascabel Nov 26 '15 at 5:57

As noted by others, the 'aligned' color triplets - that is, those that consist of a color and its two siblings to either side on the usual Black-blUe-White-Green-Red color wheel - have nicknames (but not formal names!) based on their 'shards' in the Shards of Alara block: Esper (Ubw), Bant (Wug), Naya (Gwr), Jund (Rgb), and Grixis (Bru).

As for the non-aligned color triplets (which of necessity are one color and its two enemies), the 'dragon' scheme that Lee Abraham mentions based on the names of the dragons that were in Planar Chaos (Intet for Urg, Oros for Wrb, Vorosh for Gub, Numot for Rwu and Teneb for Bgw) is one that I've seen; the other (and slightly more common, at least in the playgroups I play with) is based on the 'shards' that were in Apocalypse, the original 'enemy colors' set - there's a consistent name there that's used on both enchantments and creatures that care about the enemy-color combinations. That set is:

  • Ana for Gub
  • Ceta for Urg
  • Dega for Wrb
  • Necra for Bwg
  • Raka for Ruw
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    Those are the names. Not widely-used, though. Just saying "WBR" will get you much more recognition. – Alex P Mar 20 '13 at 19:43
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    I agree with Alex fully on that point. They may accurately suggest the colour combination, but they have no actual terminological "currency" among most Magic players. – thesunneversets Mar 21 '13 at 11:36
  • I will stick with Dega. Sounds awesome. – wesdfgfgd Mar 21 '13 at 13:07
  • I would go so far to say that the shards (and guilds, which are sadly missing from this answer) are formal names. They are routinely referred to by shard and guild by wizard's employees in their Daily MTG columns. – corsiKa Mar 21 '13 at 15:49
  • @corsiKa Where this gets a bit annoying is that they're also archetype names. "Jund" is a thing beyond just being a BRG deck. Ditto not every Esper-colors deck in Standard is "Esper control." – Alex P Mar 21 '13 at 16:28

WUB: Esper
UBR: Grixis
WUG: Bant
GRW: Naya
RBG: Jund

The other colour combos (two allied colours, plus their joint enemy) have not yet been "named" by another Shards of Alara-esque block, but I'm sure it will happen one day...

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I've seen some people call the other color combos by the names of the elder dragons.

For instance RWB - Oros after the card Oros, The Avenger. Other times I've seen them called based on a national flag that contains their colors. For instance RWU is regularly called American.

However the moment there are no "official" names for the wedge colored decks.

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    Oros (and the other dragons in the same cycle) is not an Elder Dragon. "Elder" is a creature type, and there are 5 Elder Dragons represented as cards: Arcades Sabboth (Bant), Chromium Rhuell (Esper), Nicol Bolas (Grixis), Palladia-Mors (Naya), and Vaevictis Asmadi (Jund). The five Elder Dragons are siblings in the storyline, survivors of the Elder Dragon Wars, and Nicol Bolas is the last (known) living Elder Dragon in the "present" time of the story. The Elder Dragons are ancestors of all other dragons, or at least those on Dominaria. – Brian S Feb 11 '14 at 18:56

Other answers have addressed the 3 color combinations (aka Allied colors correspond to the Shards of Alara and Enemy colors are much less clear) but the two color combinations correspond to the guilds of Ravnica:

WU - Azorius
WB - Orzhov
WR - Boros
WG - Selesnya
UB - Dimir
UR - Izzet
UG - Simic
BR - Rakdos
BG - Golgari
RG - Gruul

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Blue white Azorious, Blue black Dimir, Blue green Simic, Blue red Izzet, White black Orzhov, White green Selesnya, White red Boros, Black green Golgari, Black red Rakdos, Green red Gruul.

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I don't believe there is an answer to black-red-white. Esper refers to one of the Shards of Alara, of which there are five. From a post on TappedOut and MTGSlavation:

Bant - primary white, secondary blue/green

Esper - primary blue, secondary white/black

Grixis - primary black, secondary blue/red

Jund - primary red, secondary black/green

Naya - primary green, secondary red/white

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    The problem with the "secondary" language is that that's not how most decks with these names actually play in practice. Many Jund decks often get more from its BG axis than its red part, for instance. – Alex P Feb 10 '14 at 17:22

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