Patriot Games

Friday, 15 March 2013

Do you like Pie?

As anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows I am a wrestling fan and used to play a card game called Raw Deal.  There was a card based on one of the Rock's catch phrases called "Do you like Pie?"  The card did exactly the same as Magic's Intuition from Tempest.  Allowing you to look for 3 cards keep one and 2 go in your graveyard.  The card could not be countered if played by the Rock.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and his eyebrow!

However, this is not about The Rock or his Pie but about a completely different pie - the Magic colour pie.

The above is a very posh representation of the colour pie but if you look at the back of a Magic card each one features the same thing in a more simple way:

Just in case you didn't know what those coloured dots on the back were...

Going right back to the beginning of Magic the colour pie was not as established as it is today and you had weird and wonderful things like Red counter spells and blue "pingers" (creatures/artifacts that tap to shoot you for X damage).  The colour pie is actually really clever and very simply shows the relationship of all the colour's to one another.

On each side of a colour are the 2 friendly colours to that colour and if you take all 3 together you get the popular 3 colour combinations which have the most synergy and also make up the various shards of Alara (more on that in a bit).  Opposite each colour are their enemy colours which make up the "wedge" colours they based the commander decks around a couple of years ago.  Some of these have catchy names based on the acronym of the colours that make them up.  So we have;

  • RUG - Red, Blue, Green (Blue wedge).
  • BUG - Black, Blue, Green (Green Wedge).
  • Junk - Black, White, Green (Black Wedge).
Ok so Junk is not an acronym but that is what they call it.  Oh and it is also known as Rock... 

By now you should be familiar with the 2 colour identities Wizards came up with as they are the guilds from the original Ravnica block.  These are;

UW (Blue/White).
RW (Red/White).
UB (Blue/Black).
BG (Black/Green).
RG (Red/Green).
UR (Blue/Red).
BW (Black/White).
BR (Black/Red).
GW (Green/White).
UG (Blue/Green).

Blue is shown in abbreviations as "U" because black already had B.  20 Years ago single colour decks were far more popular than they are today partially because there was not the degree of mana fixing we now enjoy - only having 4 underground seas in your deck as your only duel lands wasn't great.

The most expensive of the original dual lands.

2 Colour decks have been covered pretty extensively recently as we are in the Return to Ravnica block at the moment.  So I wont bother to go into any more detail about that here.  

Magic has a habit of naming things based on the first thing to do a thing, this is why we call putting cards from your deck into your grave yard as "milling" after the card known as Millstone from Antiquities which did this as it's ability.

Mill you for two...

This is why we call the Ravnica lands "Shock" lands as Shock is a spell, originally from Stronghold,  which does 2 damage and so do the lands if they come in untapped.  This is especially true when it comes to the 3 colour deck archetypes given names as the Shards of Alara.

Each of the shards in the story line were devoid of 2 colours of mana and this allowed Wizards to create really strong identities for each shard and the names are still used by players 5 years later.  the 5 shards are:

UWG (Blue, White, Green)
UBW (Blue, Black, White
UBR (Blue, Black, Red)
RBG (Red, Black, Green)
RWG (Red, White, Green)

These 5 make some of the most potent combinations in Magic and can be found throughout all formats.  Several of these are recognisable as top tier decks in current standard, with Naya Blitz and good old Jund making waves in the current meta.  Wizards did this Planes Explorer thing for the shards of Alara which can be found here.  It helps get the flavor and feel of each shard across.

As mentioned above certain of these colour combinations see play across formats so I would like to look at 3 deck lists, all of which are "Jund" but are notably different.  Here we have the popular standard Jund list:

4  Blood Crypt
3  Dragonskull Summit
3  Forest
2  Kessig Wolf Run
4  Overgrown Tomb
1  Rootbound Crag
4  Stomping Ground
4  Woodland Cemetery

25 lands

3  Arbor Elf
4  Huntmaster of the Fells
2  Olivia Voldaren
4  Thragtusk

13 creatures

2  Abrupt Decay
4  Bonfire of the Damned
1  Dreadbore
4  Farseek
1  Murder
2  Pillar of Flame
2  Rakdos's Return
1  Ultimate Price
17 other spells

2  Garruk, Primal Hunter
3  Liliana of the Veil

5 planeswalkers


2  Duress
2  Grafdigger's Cage
1  Murder
1  Olivia Voldaren
1  Pillar of Flame
1  Rakdos's Return
2  Staff of Nin
2  Strangleroot Geist
1  Tragic Slip
2  Underworld Connections

Now here we have a Modern Jund list after Bloodbraid Elf got itself banned:

1 Forest
2 Swamp
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
2 Blood Crypt
4 Marsh Flats
1 Overgrown Tomb
3 Raging Ravine
1 Stomping Ground
1 Treetop Village
4 Verdant Catacombs

Lands (23)

3 Bloodhall Ooze
4 Dark Confidant
4 Deathrite Shaman
2 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Putrid Leech
4 Tarmogoyf

Creatures (21)

4 Liliana of the Veil

Planeswalkers (4)

4 Lightning Bolt
2 Terminate
2 Blightning
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Thoughtseize

Spells (12)


2 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Spellskite
1 Abrupt Decay
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Burst Lightning
1 Dismember
1 Maelstrom Pulse
4 Molten Rain
2 Thoughtseize

And then we have Legacy "Punishing" Jund.  Please note that Legacy Jund has similar cards but they are notably better and it gets to play all the really cool stuff that has been banned in Modern (Like Bloodbraid Elf and Punishing Fire).

3 Badlands
2 Bayou
2 Bloodstained Mire
1 Graven Cairns
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Wasteland
4 Wooded Foothills

Lands (24)

4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Dark Confidant
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Tarmogoyf

Creatures (16)

3 Abrupt Decay
3 Lightning Bolt
4 Punishing Fire
2 Hymn to Tourach
4 Thoughtseize

Spells (16)

4 Liliana of the Veil

Planewalker (4)


2 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Obstinate Baloth
1 Sylvan Library
3 Mindbreak Trap
4 Pyroblast
3 Duress

As you can see the term Jund refers to the colour combination rather than a specific set of cards.  I hope this explains what people mean when they talk about Bant and Esper from now on.

I'll be back next week with more blogs, till then keep turning those men sideways!

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