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The Player in the Game: Identity and MTG

Forewarning for anyone who doesn’t like MTG or thinks Myers Briggs tests are BS: you probably aren’t going to like this article. Warning you now, please feel free to explore the rest of the site.

Everyone else? Cool, let’s get started.

So for you readers who don’t know what Magic: the Gathering is, it’s a card game where you play a powerful magician, casting spells and summoning creatures to defeat your opponents. That’s the entire game at a practical level.

However, for many people, myself included, the game is more than cardboard and arbitrary action phases. No, it isn’t a cult, hush.

The five colors of MTG describe personality types, likes and dislikes, values and modus operandi of individual players. The color combinations a person decides to play can telegraph their innermost feelings and tendencies to a keen-eyed observer. So I wanted to discuss the idea of bleeding personal identity into game identity and vice versa.

The inspiration for this article came from a piece shared with me from Medium, and I highly recommend giving it a read. I’m also going to primarily focus on MTG, so as to tie it to the other piece.

So…let’s see what the colors say.

Five in One, One of Five

To start this off, we have to break down the color pie at a very basic level. That is, what each color values or exemplifies at their core.

White, above all, values peace. Structure. Safety. You will keep yourself safe by removing threats and preventing damage, growing your army over time.

Blue, above all, values perfection. Knowledge. Adaptability. You control what happens and what doesn’t, only moving in for the kill when the time is right.

Black, above all, values power. Amorality. Ambition. You can do some of everything if you’re willing to pay a part of yourself for victory.

Red, above all, values freedom. Passion. Emotion. Speed and damage are the name of the game, and you want to come out swinging right away.

Green, above all, values harmony. Community. Openness. You have powerful allies in nature, and only the strongest survive.

Many people more erudite than myself have written about the personalities behind each color and how they blend together. And I do recommend that you go give them a look if you’re interested. But that’s not what we’re doing here. Instead let’s see how people view the game and, to a degree, themselves, through this lens.

Say you were going to grab a deck and shuffle up for a game. What would you be looking for? Do you want to be the aggressor, smashing in fast and hard for damage? Or would you rather control the board, countering spells and killing creatures? Do you prefer a well-rounded and synergistic strategy, or perhaps a deck intent on eking out value? Serious study or silly shenanigans? There’s a little of everything for everyone in the wheel, and everyone has a little bit of each color in them.

Personality vs. Playstyle

After reading the Medium article and sharing it with the TGE staff, I tried to figure out where I stood. What’s my personality, where do I fit in this circle? The end result was a mix of red and green: emotion and acceptance, authenticity and enjoyment of presentness in the moment. But a little digging unearthed occasional flirting with black and white, valuing independence and community in paradoxical equality. So which is it? Fiercely independent Jund or community-minded Naya?

There’s the rub: I can be both. And it’s fine for someone to be both.

The color wheel isn’t a hard-and-fast commitment to an idea or personality type. It’s a frame through which people can be better understood, a way to connect or relate to someone. The colors and combinations are more guidelines than actual rules.

Now when talking about gameplay, things shift a bit. I’m fortunate enough to have a few different MTG decks. Time, money, research, and occasional impulse buys have gone into constructing them, and I love shuffling them up for games. But while I personally love all of them, no two are exactly alike. One lets me steal things, another has me sacrifice; one relies on a lot of creatures, another revolves around one. All of them are aggressive, but none subscribe to a particular common philosophy. All colors and ideals are represented, but one theme is always present. The red/green mindset of combat. Even when playing monoblack, I know how I enjoy playing the game.

Even the best lens can get cloudy and blur out the details.

I am Me, Who are You?

So if you are a Magic player, what did you think of this interpretation of the color pie? If you aren’t, what colors do you think you would be? Does your personality align with your gameplay style? Is there anything you want to yell at me? Comment section and Twitter info are down below, go nuts.

As always, this has been Crab. May you find your spark someday.

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