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I noticed that Prismatic Lace explicitly states "color or colors" in it's rules text:

Target permanent becomes the color or colors of your choice.

I realise "colorless" is not one of the five colors of Magic, but can I choose no colors as an option? I'm thinking of scenarios where I may want to protect a permanent from an effect such as those from Ugin and Ugin.

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  • What do you suppose would be the distinction between a "colorless permanent" and a "permanent with no color"? – Nuclear Hoagie Nov 13 '20 at 20:28
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    The distinction here is between trying to choose "colorless" as a color (which it isn't), and trying to choose zero colors as the set of colors that the target permanent becomes. The "color or colors" in the rules text reasonably implies that you could choose 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 colors, so it's reasonable to ask whether you could also choose zero colors. – murgatroid99 Nov 13 '20 at 20:34
  • I have to admit, I was not considering a difference between the two phrases, since from the perspective of the permanent, it would end up colorless either way. I was thinking more along the lines of the phrase "color or colors". If it stated just "color", then obviously, the caster has to choose exactly one color, but the second option (under rule 607.2e) seems to allow either zero or more or one or more colors to be chosen. Is zero valid here? – Matter Nov 13 '20 at 20:37
  • A little tangential, but section 607 isn't relevant here because there are no linked abilities. More broadly, these probably don't qualify as different choices from a rules perspective. It's just one way of writing the various options available within a single action. – murgatroid99 Nov 13 '20 at 20:46
  • Thanks! I have to admit, I just had a quick search for anything that referenced choices where the word "or" appears! – Matter Nov 13 '20 at 20:51
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You have to choose at least 1 color.

105.4. If a player is asked to choose a color, they must choose one of the five colors. “Multicolored” is not a color. Neither is “colorless.”

Prismatic Lace instructs you to choose a color or combination of colors. If you were allowed to choose zero colors, the instruction would be worded such that the zero choice would be obviously allowed, for example by containing the phrase "any number of...". There is also the wording that a player may make a choice, in which case you could avoid choosing at all, rather than choosing zero colors. However, there is no mechanical difference between these approaches, the result would be the same.

Also, just in case, don't get hung up on the potential difference between "a color" and "the color" - unless a term or phrase is defined in the Comprehensive Rules, apply the normal rules of English to it.

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  • Great answer - thank you! – Matter Nov 13 '20 at 20:53
  • Even more generally, when instructed to make a choice, you can't choose "no choice" as a choice. If a card tells you to choose a creature/opponent/card/color, you can't choose no creature/no opponent/no card/no color as your choice. – Nuclear Hoagie Nov 13 '20 at 21:01
  • @NuclearHoagie True, though I would word it the other way around - you have to do whatever the instruction says and the instruction is to make a choice, You have 5 legal choices in this case (plus the various combinations), so you have to choose one of those even if you don't want to. – Hackworth Nov 13 '20 at 21:09
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    I think it's important to distinguish between "not making a choice" and "choosing an empty list". It turns out that an empty list is not an available option in this situation, but it may be with other wordings. In particular, if a card instructs you to choose "any number" of members of some group, you are allowed to choose none of those things. – murgatroid99 Nov 14 '20 at 0:25
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    The point here is that "red/green" is a valid choice in all of these scenarios, and it is also not a color, so it is not consistent to say that a choice is not a color and is therefore invalid. Colorless is just the property of not having any colors, so the difference between "becoming colorless" and "becoming 'no colors'" is just semantics. As for the "may" wording, there is no real mechanical difference between my wording and yours. In both cases, whether you choose to not choose a color, or to not take the action, the result is that no action is taken. – murgatroid99 Nov 15 '20 at 6:20
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No, you must choose at least one color.

I asked in the official Magic Judge rules question IRC

Can Prismatic Lace make a permanent colorless? The phrase "color or colors" seems to allow the player to choose any number of colors; would that "any number" include zero?

and got a response from a judge that says

It does not say "any number", it say "color or colors of your choice", so it will be at least one color.

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