Four Color Magic – No White

Oblivion RingWelcome to the first in a series of posts where I look at what Magic might look like if it only had four colors. Today, we look at a world without the color White. What would happen if order and “good” were not in the game of Magic? How about “fairness” and taxing effects? Are we really going to miss White if it leaves?

No, your eyes don’t deceive you; that’s a Blue Oblivion Ring you see to the Right. It’s in a colorshift frame because how often do we get to use those awesome frames? If we’re going to take a look at a world missing a color, how are the other four colors going to come in and cannibalize that make sense with the Color Pie? If you saw this card staring up at you from a new pack, would you scream no way or accept it as normal?

Color Wheel

If White wasn’t made, let’s look at how the allied and enemy colors now:

Blue – Friends with Black, hates Red/Green
Black – Friends with Blue/Red, hates Green
Red – Friends with Black/Green, hates Blue
Green – Friends with Red, hates Blue/Black

Obviously it’s not uniform, Black and Red both like each other. Let’s remove that bond so each color has two enemies and one Ally.

Blue – Friends with Black, hates Red/Green
Black – Friends with Blue hates Red/Green
Red – Friends with Green, hates Blue/Black
Green – Friends with Red, hates Blue/Black

There we go, Blue and Black team up against Red and Green. The control colors versus the aggro colors. And you’ll see that as White’s themes get brushed out to the other colors. The main ideals that each color plays off against is Blue’s illusion/knowledge versus Green’s reality with Red’s emotion and Black’s Death/Selfishness versus Green’s Life with Red’s Community (taken from White). While the Red flavor may seem a little off, if you think of Red now being the “Army” color that used to be shared with White, it can make sense.


Life gain

One of White’s main themes is life gain. You see it every time there’s a cycle of cards and White always gets stuck with the life gain. Life gain, life gain life gain! Not any more, because there’s no White (Burn!). Instead three of the colors get the ability to gain life while Red doesn’t. All of these cards have been printed before but now they would be a much larger focus.


Green – Green gets lifelink (Green can do anything as long as creatures are involved) and the straight up life gain spells (You and Mother Nature have a nice thing going on). Most people point to this as one of the reasons why Green and White are so similar, and why alot of the Green/White spells deal with gaining life. Green used to have Stream of Life, so that’s not a rush, but how about the the new Congergate? Does that scream Green?

Black – Black already has this covered as well; lifelink (with vampires and the such) and drain life effects. Lifelike works in black because you are draining life from an opponent and taking it for yourself, which is why the vampire analogy works. Of course, you could do that in another interesting way as Lightning Drain shows.

Blue – There have been two main cards that have allowed Blue to gain life: Delusions of Mediocrity and Illusions of Grandeur. Both of those were illusions of you gaining more life, but if those cards left the battlefield then you would lose that illusion of gaining life. While you wouldn’t see this alot, you would see it more then now, and make for some new design space.


Control is something that White has had a hand in for years, from Wrath of God and Disenchant to Path to Exile. But if the other colors had their take of it, there might be some weird things going on. Again, most of these cards have seen print over the years, but with just a little spin things would be so different.

– Creatures

Mass BeheadingsBlack – While Black got it’s own Wrath of God (Damnation), it would most likely be the king of sweepers for creatures. I would believe that most of the cards would be worded differently to make them Black. Like the card to the right, I wouldn’t argue if it did see play since it is “fair” but also Black at the same time (I’m selfish, I don’t want anyone to have more creatures then me.)

Red – Red wouldn’t be losing anything, it would gain a little something more with an interesting design. Red loves doing something right now while not thinking about the future. How would a modified Condemn sound in Red? Red would get more combat tricks, but that’s another section.

Blue/Green – Blue already has bounce and Green has combat tricks it’s gaining from White. I merely wanted to show off Path to Exile (down below) since it combine Blue’s new love of exiling things and Green’s love making things fair for everyone (What’s that? Oh, yeah, this: Game Preserve, Hunted Wumpus, Iwamori of the Open Fist, Vernal Equinox). I take your creature, but I give you a basic land.

– Enchantments

Honestly, nothing really changes. Green will become the best at killing enchantments, Red artifacts, and Blue is third place because of bouncing and Oblivion Ring effects.

– Land

ArmageddonWhite has gone away from land destruction as it’s moved to Black, Red and Green. But the mass land destruction would be Red (like the mass creature kill would be Black). I’m sure that everyone would love to see the following card. Well, not everyone.

Combat Tricks

White’s combat tricks come in two fashions: +X/+X and damage prevention. Red would get the +X/+X (Being an army of one) makes sense but with a twist. You would have the Goblin mentality of combat tricks: sacrifice for the effect (giving up tomorrow for today). Plus, the Crusade effects would be Red also because of the group mentality feeding off the energy of war.

Green on the other hand would get “damage prevention” and “protection from” more. The damage prevention works well with regeneration (you lose a hand in battle, you come back from that easier then your head cut off) and a push towards more powerful creatures that Green needs.

Final Thoughts

Obviously taking away a color would leave holes in development: Where would Angles go (Every color), what would be the good color (Black might not be the “bad” color anymore), and which color would get taxing (Blue for counterspells, Green for creatures, Black for everything else)? While not every card can be made a direct port to another color/or even two colors while keeping the same color and mana cost, there are some abilities and mechanics that can be. While Black could take over damage prevention for creatures (Pay 2 life: prevent all damage dealt to target creature this turn) and Blue might only be able to exile cards in certain realities, White is an important color in the game of Magic.

Because if it wasn’t, which color might be the laughing stock in Vintage (Green?)?

Here are the other mockups of the other cards in the post:

Battletide Alchemist
Green's new love for damage protection
Red's new creature control with a drawback
Red's new creature control with a drawback
Sacrificing tomorrow for today
Red's sacrificing tomorrow for today combat tricks
Everything Blue does is an illusion
Everything Blue does is an illusion
Black's new drain life effect
Black's new drain life effect
Turning creatures into pastures
Turning creatures into pastures

What are your guy’s thoughts/opinions about this? Would love to hear them with a comment here or on twitter (@mtgcolorpie).

5 thoughts on “Four Color Magic – No White”

  1. I really like this sort of null-hypothesis approach to examining the color wheel. You have come up with some interesting conclusions. I could see Path to Exile as being exclusively green. The notion of turning a creature into a land definitely plays into the circle of life theory. Furthermore the exile would represent that creature’s consumption/decomposition, and wouldn’t necessarily have to indicate a planar exile (most zombies are at least partially intact corpses). I cannot name the card off the top of my head, but I recall once seeing a green creature which removes itself, and another target creature from the game, designating a predator/prey relationship. Despite the current game environment, exile can be green.

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  3. Great idea for a column!

    White is on of my favourite colours so I would never want to see it go but most of your attributions make sense.

    You missined one thing out though, weenie armies! White has always been famous for its 1 or 2 mana creatures that end up getting bigger and better.

    Probably this would go to red, they have soldiers too after all!

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