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Oct 31 2016

Wally D.

MTG Names of Four Color Combinations

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Commander 2016 is here and it won’t be long before we will be able to get our grubby little paws on four color legendary commanders! I have already started writing my top 10 set review article for C16 but I wanted to take a quick detour first and explore the naming conventions of four color combinations in Magic. Some players, like myself, like the fact that color combinations have a proper title. Being able to refer to a white-blue-black deck as Esper or a blue-red deck as Izzet, puts terms in a neat and organized fashion with regards to Magic lingo. So what are the names of the five 4-color groups? That is what we are here to find out, so let’s take a look at the possibilities!

Please note that I have done a little bit of research before diving into this subject but I could have very well missed an “official” announcement from Mark Rosewater or Wizards that directs us towards the proper names of the five, four color combinations.

Sans, No, Without
It seems that the most popular reference to four color combinations in the Commander world are the ones that refer to the missing color. So for White-Blue-Black-Green some players are using the term Sans-Red (the term sans means “without”) or No-Red.

Nostalgic Nephilim Terms
Before commander 2016, only five 4-color cards previously existed in Magic the Gathering™, the Nephilm cycle from Guildpact. While browsing forums, I have noticed that some players have a bit of nostalgia for these odd creatures and are clamoring for the four color combinations to be named after the Nephilm. Myself, I do not share the same nostalgia since I was on hiatus from playing the game during original Ravnica block, but I understand their reasoning. In this naming mechanism, the non-blue color combination would be called Dune-Brood or Dune after the Dune-Brood Nephilim.

The First Four Color Commanders
Could it be that the hive mind at Wizards may have strategically created the five new legendary commanders in anticipation that we would reference their name with regards to their respective four color combination. If this is the case then the would be referred to as Breya (Breya, Therium Shaper) and the as Yidris (Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder).

Shard Adjectives
What is cool about our new four color commanders is that the first 3 colors in their casting cost is a three color Shard. Since the first three mana symbols form a naming convention that is already well known among players, we can simply use the last color in the casting cost as an adjective to describe the shard. For example, in the Green/White/Blue/Black color combination, the first three colors are Bant and the last color is Black. Therefore we could call this color combination Black Bant or Dark Bant.

Identity of the Four Color Commander Decks
On the MTGSalvation.com Gamepedia for Commander 2016, the wiki has given a name for each color combination claiming: Each preconstructed deck was designed with an identity for each four-color group. If this is the case then the grouping would be referred to as Artifice since the combination revolves around an Artifacts Matter theme. The other four include Chaos for Random Effects, Aggression for Aggro, Altruism for Group Hug and Growth for the +1/+1 counters.

Table with Names of Four Color Combinations

Here is a table that reference the naming conventions we have already discussed:

Four Color Combination Missing Color Nephilims C16 Legends MTGS Wiki Shard Adjectives
White/Blue/Black/Red No Green / Sans-Green Yore-Tiller (Yore) Breya Chaos Hot Esper
Blue/Black/Red/Green No White / Sans-White Glint-Eye (Glint) Yidris Artifice Green Grixis
Black/Red/Green/White No Blue / Sans-Blue Dune-Brood (Dune) Saskia Aggression Jund Light
Red/Green/White/Blue No Black / Sans-Black Ink-Treader (Ink) Kynaios and Tiro Altruism Wet Naya
Green/White/Blue/Black No Red / Sans-Red Witch-Maw (Witch) Atraxa Growth Dark Bant

Only Time will Tell

In addition to the above, there are some creative players out there that have settled on just naming one or two of the four color groupings. I have seen Urborg for URBG and Goober for GUBR . If I had to choose from what I have seen so far I am leaning towards the Shard Adjectives. Dark Bant or Jund Light. It seems, however, that most deck builders are taking to the Missing colors as I see a lot of “Sans-Green” and “Sans-Black” in discussion forums.

Honestly, I believe all of the stars and moons in the galaxy would have to align for Magic players to come together and unanimously agree on the five names of four color combinations. We still have not come together as a player base to choose Wedge names, although, it does seem that the Khans block is winning out. For example Temur vs RUG or Mardu vs Dega.

Let’s wrap up here and begin our discussion. What names are you using for the four color combinations? Is there something I missed? Be sure to let me know in the comment section below!

On to the Next!
—wallyd

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Wally D.
Nick Wallace (Wally D.) writes for EDHREC in addition to being an author here on MTGCasualPlay.com. His favorite brews include cool Commander decks with a touch of jankiness and cold, frosty craft beers. In addition to writing articles, Wally D. can also be found playing Commander on the MTG Casual Play YouTube channel.

4 comments

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  1. Kuchisama
    Kuchisama

    Hey,

    Being a linguist, I really appreciate the topic! This is something I haven’t seen being discussed so far and really like the idea.

    However, finding the right names is really difficult here and isn’t something that can be enforced. You can of course try to influence what will ultimately be chosen but people always seem to come up with nick names out of nowhere, with the new “Nerd Ape” (Inventor’s Apprentice) being a favorite of mine.

    Having said that, your idea for RGWU (“Wet Naya”) is highly controversial… ;)

    1. Wally D.
      Wally D.

      Hey my friend! Thank you for the comment! Yeah, I think it will be years before proper names for these color combinations would become entrenched (if ever). It will definitely be interesting… and wow, I just realized the controversial Wet Naya… haha! Hope it sticks. :)

      Thanx again!

  2. avatar
    Rafael Hanna

    Hey! Nice article!
    I heard somewhere that the product ‘s head designer meant for the names of the 4c combinations to be the names of the 4c commander(or. Atraxa for WUBG)
    Also, I have seen people use -less, as in “Greenless” for the WUBR deck.
    Only time will tell, though!
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Wally D.
      Wally D.

      Interesting… I could see the 4C commander names sticking, although “Kynaios and Tiro” is quite the mouthful, lol.

      Thank you for the reading and leaving a comment, I really appreciate it! :)

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