Irencrag Pyromancer
12, Feb, 23

MTG Players Want Red to Get More Effects

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Article at a Glance

For a number of years now, White has been playfully mocked by the MTG community for being the “weakest color in the game“. At first, this seems strange. White has some of the best removal spells around like Swords to Plowshares, Generous Gift, and Path to Exile. The color also has an excellent selection of low-cost aggressive creatures like Luminarch Aspirant, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Usher of the Fallen. Despite these strengths, the color gained a reputation, deserved or not, for struggling in Commander, the game’s most popular format. White’s low-cost aggressive creatures are less useful in a format with multiple opponents to finish off, each of whom has 40 starting life. Additionally, White’s lack of card draw options makes it difficult for the color to maintain momentum in the late game.

White’s reputation has changed in recent years. Wizards of the Coast were very open with the player base about the steps they were taking to make the color more viable in Commander. Amongst other things, White received several powerful new card draw spells and also got given some new ramp effects. All of these efforts to improve White seem to have paid off. A recent poll on the blog of Magic’s head designer indicates that players now seem to think it is Red, rather than White, which most needs additional support.

The Poll

The poll, which received 1143 votes before it closed, asked MTG fans “Which color most needs to add other effects to its color pie?”. Red was in the lead, with 39% of respondents (about 446 people) voting that the color needs new effects. White, despite all of its recent buffs, came in second place earning 30% of the vote (roughly 343 people). There was then a large gap separating Red and White from Blue and Black which came in joint third place with 12% of the votes each (approximately 137 people). Green was the color voted least in need of new effects, getting only 7% of the votes (around 80 people).

In the notes section beneath the poll, there are comments from members of the community discussing why they’ve voted as they have.

User Valvadis writes: “Good to see Red winning, I sometimes feel the color is too straightforward. White has the “bad in commander” curse but at least the color has a bunch of interesting stuff for 60 card formats.”

Juush writes: “I don’t think any of the colours need much added to their colour pie right now, but mono-red consistently feels the least flexible in its strategy to me, so if you had to expand anywhere I think red would be the best choice.”

What Does Red Lack?


Just like White, card draw also is also one of Red’s weaknesses. Red and White are both described as tertiary in card draw. This means they get less access to card draw spells than Blue, which is the Primary card drawing color, or Black and Green, which are the secondary drawing colors.

There are Red card draw spells, but they tend to come with downsides. There are “Impulsive draw” cards that exile cards from the top of your deck, giving you the option to play them, but only for a small window. Blazing Crescendo from Phyrexia: All Will Be One is an example of a card like this. There are also “rummaging” draw effects. Named after the card Rummaging Goblin, rummaging effects allow you to draw new cards, but only if you discard some first. Thrill of Possiblity and Tormenting Voice are the most common examples of this. Notably Faithless Looting breaks this pattern, allowing you to draw cards prior to discarding them, but Faithless Looting is regarded as a color pie break.

Though perhaps better than White at card draw, Red’s removal is not quite as good. Red relies on dealing large amounts of damage to creatures in order to destroy them. Whilst White’s removal either outright destroys, or exiles threats, Red needs to reduce their toughness to zero. This can sometimes make it difficult for Red to take down bigger creatures that can’t be killed with just a Lightning Bolt. Even the more powerful damaging red spells like Blasphemous Act and Crackle With Power run into trouble against cards like Blightsteel Colossus and Phyrexian Vindicator which either shrug off the damage through indestructibility or actively punish the player attempting to hurt them.

Red also struggles to destroy enchantments. Red has very, very few options for dealing with enchantments. There’s Chaos Warp and Wild Magic Surge which are actually randomized replacement effects, rather than outright enchantment removal. There’s also Enchanter’s Bane a card designed to deal damage to opponents until they sacrifice their own enchantments in frustration.

It’s important, when considering these weaknesses, to note that just getting rid of them entirely would make the game worse. Red’s inability to destroy enchantments is a core part of its identity. Printing a Red Demystify would make the game actively worse. For the game to remain nuanced, engaging, and fun it is necessary for the colors to retain their weaknesses as well as their strengths.


So should Red get more effects, or is the situation fine as it is?

After the poll concluded, hitek1208 wrote to Rosewater to say: “Your last poll doesn’t have an option for being happy with the current colors pieces of the pie, so I felt like not answering would be more accurate, but it doesn’t let me see the results if I don’t answer”. Had the option to say everything was balanced as it is been available, maybe things would have looked significantly different.

Even if Red is regarded, by some players, as the weakest color at the moment, perhaps this is just the nature of the game. MTG’s color pie will never be perfectly balanced, and perhaps it never should be. A game where all five colors are exactly equal in strength might grow stale quickly. For a while, White was regarded as weak, but now it is improving. If Red is seen as the worst color at the moment, it will only occupy this niche for a short while before another color slides in to take its place.

Read More: MTG Players Lament Hasbro for Making Magic More Expensive

*MTG Rocks is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more