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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?

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    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". Sep 8, 2016 at 22:28

8 Answers 8

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One color

In the most common environments, 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, especially in older formats where consistency is required to win in a couple turns and where you have such a large pool of powerful cards to pick from, and are then referred to as "Mono X".

  • Mono white, Ardenvale (kingdom on Eldraine), Auriok (human tribe on Mirrodin)
  • Mono blue, Vantress (kingdom on Eldraine), Neurok (human tribe on Mirrodin)
  • Mono black, Locthwain (kingdom on Eldraine), Moriok (human tribe on Mirrodin)
  • Mono red, Embereth (kingdom on Eldraine), Vulshok (human tribe on Mirrodin)
  • Mono green, Garenbrig (kingdom on Eldraine), Sylvok (human tribe on Mirrodin)

Two colors

They are usually referred with the names of the guilds 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).

Allied colors

  • White + Blue = Azorius (guild on Ravnica), Ojutai (Dragonlord on Tarkir)
  • Blue + Black = Dimir (guild on Ravnica), Silumgar (Dragonlord on Tarkir)
  • Black + Red = Rakdos (guild on Ravnica), Kolaghan (Dragonlord on Tarkir)
  • Red + Green = Gruul (guild on Ravnica), Atarka (Dragonlord on Tarkir)
  • Green + White = Selesnya (guild on Ravnica), Dromoka (Dragonlord on Tarkir)

Enemy colors

  • White + Black = Orzhov (guild on Ravnica), Silverquill (College on Strixhaven)
  • Black + Green = Golgari (guild on Ravnica), Witherbloom (College on Strixhaven)
  • Green + Blue = Simic (guild on Ravnica), Quandrix (College on Strixhaven)
  • Blue + Red = Izzet (Guild on Ravnica), Prismari (College on Strixhaven)
  • Red + White = Boros (guild on Ravnica), Lorehold (College on Strixhaven)

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, five clans from Khans of Tarkir, or more recently the the triomes of Ikoria. Having only one allied color pair (the two enemies of a single color will be allied) limits deck cohesion, making their use infrequent, although this obviously varies as the meta changes.

Note that if one of the colours is not particularly present in the deck, for example there's only a single card of a given color, you may see a two color name with a third listed as a "splash."

Allied colors

  • Green + White + Blue = Bant (shard of Alara), Brokers (New-Capenna's crime family)
  • White + Blue + Black = Esper (shard of Alara), Obscura (New-Capenna's crime family)
  • Blue + Black + Red = Grixis (shard of Alara), Maestros (New-Capenna's crime family)
  • Red + Green + Black = Jund (shard of Alara), Riveteers (New-Capenna's crime family)
  • Red + Green + White = Naya (shard of Alara), Cabaretti (New-Capenna's crime family)

Enemy colors

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

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, even though those are not the proper color orders.

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", and lately simply "four color" is rising in popularity.

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

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

Occasionally, some informal usages of four color decks, especially when it involves a typical three color deck with a splash of a fourth, will be to include some kind of pun or other indicator to an established name. For example, taking a Jund (Red, Green, and Black) deck and adding Blue would be more likely to make it something like "Wet Jund" than it would be Glint-Eye or Chaos. Or if only splashing Blue for a single card might make it "Moist Jund", that is Wet Jund that is slightly less wet than Wet Jund. Similar puns can be made for Dark Jeskai (Blue, Red, and White adding Black) and I could envision something along those lines for a splash like Dim Jeskai (Blue, Red, and White splashing Black) although admittedly I've never seen it in the wild.

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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    Okay, I thought this was a silly question, but +1 just for insane levels of completism :) Mar 21, 2013 at 18:16
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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, 2013 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. Mar 21, 2013 at 11:36
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    I will stick with Dega. Sounds awesome.
    – wesdfgfgd
    Mar 21, 2013 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, 2013 at 15:49
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    Is it ironic that when you take Boros (rw) and add black (b), you get Oros (which is boros minus a b)?
    – corsiKa
    Oct 10, 2013 at 1:31
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In addition to the Ravnica Guilds listed in corsiKa's answer, Strixhaven adds the following (each of which represents one of the colleges):

  • White + Black = Silverquill
  • Blue + Red = Prismari
  • Black + Green = Witherbloom
  • Red + White = Lorehold
  • Green + Blue = Quandrix
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    This is technically correct, but it's unlikely to be widely adopted in place of the existing common names Orzhov, Izzet, Golgari, Boros and Simic
    – Andrew
    Mar 24, 2021 at 21:10
  • Raj, feel free to edit them in appropriately
    – corsiKa
    Mar 25, 2021 at 6:09
  • Nobody has started referring to the shards via their Ikorian names, even when Ikoria was the most recent standard set. I'd be 99% sure that same will happen with the Strixhaven colleges. Mar 25, 2021 at 16:26
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    Thanks for adding this; these are worth including for completeness, even if the Ravnica guild names remain more widely used. One further note: we will see how it plays out in practice, but the Strixhaven design team has said there is a distinction in how color pairs interact in Strixhaven vs prior sets (Lorehold / RW is not traditional Boros aggro, for example). So perhaps a deck built around the Strixhaven RW mechanics will retain the "Lorehold" name, and other decks will go back to being called Boros? Hard to say.
    – BradC
    Apr 6, 2021 at 21:10
  • 2022 update: It's safe to say, since Strixhaven has rotated out of standard, that these names aren't still in widespread use; Prismari may be the only exception due to the relative success of UR control decks featuring Prismari Command and/or UR dragon decks featuring Galazeth Prismari in combination with Goldspan Dragon.
    – BradC
    Nov 2 at 15:29
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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, 2014 at 18:56
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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

-1

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.

-2

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, 2014 at 17:22

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