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True Blue

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The letter W!elcome to Blue Week! This is the third in a series of theme weeks dedicated to the five colors of Magic (We’ve already had weeks dedicated to green and white). During each week, I use my column (so far "It’s Not Easy Being Green" and "The Great White Way") to explain the flavor and philosophy of that week’s color. This time I will examine the world of blue magic.

There’s Always Room For Pie

During R&D’s work on the color wheel, we asked ourselves the following questions about each of Magic's five colors:

  • What does the color care about? What is its end goal?
  • What means does the color use to achieve these ends?
  • What does the color care about? What does the color represent?
  • What does the color despise? What negatively drives the color?
  • Why does the color like its allies and hate its enemies?
  • What is the color1s greatest strength and biggest weakness?

What does the color care about? What is its end goal?

Each color’s philosophy stems from how that color sees the world. Blue looks out and sees opportunity. To blue, the world is a collection of resources that allow an individual the ability to transform himself into whatever he wishes. Each person is born as a blank slate. The purpose of life is to learn what you want to be and how to achieve that goal.

To accomplish this, the blue mage learns to value the most important resource in the world: information. In order to find one’s place in the world, a wizard must collect as much knowledge as he can. With this tool at his disposal, he will find the answer to any and every problem. Thus, blue’s end goal is omniscience. Blue wants to know everything. For he who knows all has no weakness.

This thirst for knowledge can be seen mechanically in blue’s ability to draw cards and manipulate the library. When blue gets itself in a bind, it seeks out new answers. More than any other mage, blue understands that a magical duel is a battle of resources. The wizard with the most spells has a huge tactical advantage.

Accumulated Knowledge

What means does the color use to achieve these ends?

To gain knowledge, blue has come to respect the importance of intellect. Blue wins its battles by outthinking its opponent. For magical duels, this means understanding how magic works. This is why blue is the master of the counterspelling and unsummoning. Blue’s mastery of the art of magic allows it the ability to stop spells in their tracks or even reverse them. This is also the reason that blue has spells like Sleight of Mind or Magical Hack that actually rewrite how a spell functions.

Blue also uses its intellect to trick the opponent. Blue has no qualms with winning through confusion. Blue makes use of illusions and spells that cause the opponent’s own magic to work in different ways than it expects. Blue also makes efficient use of theft and disguise. Blue knows that it cannot win a physical fight, so it uses its abilities to tilt the duel to its favor. Blue isn’t the fairest of colors, but hey, if the rules allow it, blue has no problems exploiting the system.

In addition, blue is an advocate of creating the things you need either by building them from scratch or by converting them from their original designs. Thus, blue is the color most often to use technology and has the greatest synergy with artifacts.

What does the color care about? What does the color represent?

Blue is part student and part scientist. Blue’s ongoing quest is to collect as much knowledge as it can and then find ways to apply it. Blue wants to constantly better itself to maximize its own potential. This means blue represents those qualities that collect and utilize information.

Knowledge Creativity Subtlety Man-made
Intellect Trickery Artifice Passivity
Mind/Thought Manipulation Illusion Cold
Academics Control Construction The elements of Water & Air

Air Elemental

What does the color despise? What negatively drives the color?

Blue lives by its intellect. As such, it loathes those that cannot or, even worse, will not take the time to think things through. Blue is a slow, methodical, passive color. Those that rush to action without giving proper time to think through their actions gnaw at blue’s very core.

When blue encounters such sophomoric behavior, it does what any good parent would do, it attempts to assert control to try and make the creature in question act they way blue knows it should.

Why does the color like its allies and hate its enemies?

In white, blue sees a color that understands the importance of thinking and planning. White has the discipline to take a step back and think through the consequences of its actions.

In black, blue sees a color that does not back down from the occasional ugliness of truth. Black does not cloud itself with a veil of ignorance or self-delusion. Black does not make excuses. Rather, it looks for solutions.

In green, blue sees a color stuck in the past. It is so set in its ancient ways that it shuns anything new or innovative. In addition, green rejects rational intellect for irrational instinct. Green is an outdated philosophy that only serves to slow down the necessary progress of change. If blue is to advance its cause, green must be removed.

In red, blue sees a color that spits in the face of intellect. Red is guided by the most chaotic force in the multiverse, emotion. Red cannot be reasoned with and its destructive nature seeks to break down everything blue wishes to build. If red is left unchecked it will cause blue only pain in the future. Thus, red has to be eliminated before it runs amok.

What is the color’s greatest strength and biggest weakness?

Blue’s greatest strength is its ability to outthink the opponent. With access to unlimited information, blue has all the answers. The problem is that this way of working is very slow and blue has a tendency to be passive when it needs to be taking action. Often a fast opponent can defeat blue before blue has time to assess the situation.

Blue Meanies

For each color philosophy I give some examples of the characters R&D used to help flesh out the flavor of the color. (We had a giant color wheel on the wall and were allowed to pin up any photos we wanted.) This has proven to be the most controversial part of my color philosophy columns, so heaven forbid I stop now. Here are what we considered to be blue characters:

Merlin – Merlin is where the stereotype of the detached, brainy wizard locked up in his tower comes from. He is the epitome of blue.

Spock – Emotionless, logical, and focused in the task of "seeking out new worlds and new civilizations," Spock is the bluest of any of the Star Trek cast.

Willow and Giles (from "Buffy") – Specifically I’m talking about the early Willow and Giles (I’ll admit that evil Willow might be a wee bit black). When problems came to Sunnydale, these two broke out the books and studied to learn how to defeat the "big bad." Victory, they proved, came from knowledge.

Mr. Fantastic – The leader of the Fantastic Four is at his heart a scientist. Sure, he fights tyrannical mask-wearing madmen and planet-eating celestial beings, but in his heart, he’d rather just explore the nature of the universe. Reed Richards, more than any other character in the Marvel universe, is guided by a thirst for knowledge.

Lisa Simpson – Lisa defines herself by her intelligence. It is very important to her that she knows more than everyone else. And hey, it’s important to have a Simpson represented in every color article.

Confiscate

Something Blue

And we reach the halfway point of the color philosophies. In future months I promise to explore the last two colors, black and red.

Join me next week when I serve up a little more pie.

Until then, may you solve your problem by thinking before you act.

Mark Rosewater


Mark may be reached at makingmagic@wizards.com.
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