10/10/2011 Feature: "Innistrad From the Top"

64 posts / 0 new
Last post
This thread is for discussion of this weeks's Feature Article, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Nice job! I know I'm not alone in saying that Endless Ranks of the Dead is my favorite piece of art in the game. Knowing the story behind its conceptualization (and that of other cards) is nice. I hope we have many more articles like this to come.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
A non-Magic-playing friend of mine adopted the Endless Ranks of the Dead wallpaper for his computer immediately when I linked it to him. And, although I like Endless Ranks the most, I vote Village Cannibals as the creepiest. Sense of dread, indeed.

The art in this set is amazing. My praise to Jenna and everyone else involved.
i agree that the art in this set is phenomenal.  doomed traveler is another one of those cases where the feeling you get is based on what isn't happening.  the card name already spells out everything you need to know and the artwork does a great job of giving you that feeling of dread.   you can see the moon behind him, so it's obvious that the light shining on him is from some other source, a less-friendly source.  then you have his shadow in a different pose than he is.  a pose that seems to show that his spirit has surrendered and is resigning to its fate.

and i'd vote for bump in the night for having the creepiest artwork.  realizing that, apart from the purple eye, the only reason you can even see anything at all is because of the flash of lightning makes it especially creepy.  the lightning also serves as a reference to the spell's similarity to lightning bolt, and possibly also the red flashback cost.  also the uncertainty of whether those are just leaves fluttering about or if they are bats, which means more vampires.  extra points for even showing faint beams of light shining in the window.
(Disclaimer: this message sounds like it's all negativity but I actually really love the set as a whole; it's just that there isn't much that needs to be said beyond "it's awesome" when things are good, whereas anything that goes wrong requires extensive analysis of how it could have gone better.)

Aw man, I would have liked fungus monsters.  Oh well, Hollowhenge Scavenger is pretty close.
I wish Slaughter Gator had made it in; granted we now have a version that's playable in Snake tribal instead of a functional reprint of Dross Crocodile, but still, the Fensnake is just kinda dull to me.  Also I would have admired their gutsiness if they'd actually printed a card named Bloodbath, and am somewhat sad that they chickened out (Blasphemous Act sounds much more low-key and I didn't instantly "get" it the way I would have with Bloodbath, which is basically the perfect name for a red Wrath spell).
My moment of going against the grain for today is to say that when I set up the Endless Ranks wallpaper on my computer, I didn't like it at all.  The picture is great, but somewhere between the way Avacyn is facing and the giant curvy border on the left (my computer is angled to the right), it left her way off-center and just didn't look good.  The picture is good, but as a wallpaper it didn't work at all to me, a fact which I found somewhat surprising.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
I knew that there was going to be a church that offered real power and protection. It would be the bulwark that kept the humans from being entirely devoured by monsters. I wanted the theology of that church to be devoid of real-world imagery.



...Jenna Helland, that was a very silly thing to say.

The imagery of Innistrad is inspired by two things, European fairy tales in the tradition of the brothers Grimm, and Victorian gothic horror. These require Christian church imagery. So Innistrad has a standard Christianity knock-off. It has one twist, but the Blessed Sleep isn't even a terribly original idea. The concept is called 'soul sleep', and let's not get into pagan religious and concepts of death. The Church of Avacyn is Innistrad's Christianity stand-in. The imagery blatantly copies the Christian imagery of gothic horror, and replacing a cross with an inverted omega does not make it different or unique.

On side notes, Aliens is not a horror film. It is an action film. Alien was horror.

Oh, and the silly 'White isn't good, Black isn't evil' thing again. There are 49 Black cards in Innistrad. Every single one either represents something evil, or is something mindless, amoral, or otherwise ruthless (e.g. Rotting Fensnake, Brain Weevil). *sigh* Good and evil have always been associated with White and Black. That is why there are cards like Evil Presence or Spare from Evil. (There are earlier cards that display the same thing, but I chose very recent printings to make it clear.) Good and evil are not the only things associated with those colours, and sometimes cards get to play against type, but good and evil are and have always been clearly associated with White and Black, and I really think it is time we admit this.

Anyway.

I'm actually of mixed opinion on the art on Endless Ranks of the Dead. On the one hand, it is undoubtedly a beautiful piece of art. However, while I like it qua art, I really dislike it qua card art. That is to say, to me it does not look good on a trading card. M:tG cards have very small art boxes and the viewer's gaze is immediately directed to the centre of the image. You need card art to immediately convey an image and a mood. A card's art needs to show what the card is about and more importantly get across a powerful mental image. You should be able to glance at the card and get a sense, from the art, of what the card is about.

My issue with Endless Ranks of the Dead is that the focus of the art is the beautiful stained glass window and the angel. That's the brightest part of the picture and it's in centre-frame. I glance at the card Endless Ranks of the Dead, and I go, "Wait, why does a Black card show a picture of an angel?" The art draws your attention to the angel, not the zombies. It's jarring. Then you need to bear in mind that M:tG card art always needs to fit the colour of the card. It sounds trivial, but it's important. Take any random collection of White cards, say, and you'll find that the dominant colours in their art are whites, yellows, browns, and so on. They look bright. The colour palette of Black cards is usually greys, purples, and other dull, muted hues. Similarly, art for Blue cards is usually blue-dominant, and so on. But the Endless Ranks of the Dead art draws our attention to the bright yellow section. It looks more White.

As a piece of art, I like it, especially when you increase the size. The art hinges on this wonderful tension between the calm, serene image of the angel and the way it's slowly undermined by these ravenous zombies clawing up from below. That tension makes the picture quite disturbing and communicates the horror image wonderfully.

But I don't think it is good card art. It's a good piece of art, but I think it is mis-used.
I knew that there was going to be a church that offered real power and protection. It would be the bulwark that kept the humans from being entirely devoured by monsters. I wanted the theology of that church to be devoid of real-world imagery.



...Jenna Helland, that was a very silly thing to say.

The imagery of Innistrad is inspired by two things, European fairy tales in the tradition of the brothers Grimm, and Victorian gothic horror. These require Christian church imagery. So Innistrad has a standard Christianity knock-off. It has one twist, but the Blessed Sleep isn't even a terribly original idea. The concept is called 'soul sleep', and let's not get into pagan religious and concepts of death. The Church of Avacyn is Innistrad's Christianity stand-in. The imagery blatantly copies the Christian imagery of gothic horror, and replacing a cross with an inverted omega does not make it different or unique.

On side notes, Aliens is not a horror film. It is an action film. Alien was horror.

Oh, and the silly 'White isn't good, Black isn't evil' thing again. There are 49 Black cards in Innistrad. Every single one either represents something evil, or is something mindless, amoral, or otherwise ruthless (e.g. Rotting Fensnake, Brain Weevil). *sigh* Good and evil have always been associated with White and Black. That is why there are cards like Evil Presence or Spare from Evil. (There are earlier cards that display the same thing, but I chose very recent printings to make it clear.) Good and evil are not the only things associated with those colours, and sometimes cards get to play against type, but good and evil are and have always been clearly associated with White and Black, and I really think it is time we admit this.

Anyway.

I'm actually of mixed opinion on the art on Endless Ranks of the Dead. On the one hand, it is undoubtedly a beautiful piece of art. However, while I like it qua art, I really dislike it qua card art. That is to say, to me it does not look good on a trading card. M:tG cards have very small art boxes and the viewer's gaze is immediately directed to the centre of the image. You need card art to immediately convey an image and a mood. A card's art needs to show what the card is about and more importantly get across a powerful mental image. You should be able to glance at the card and get a sense, from the art, of what the card is about.

My issue with Endless Ranks of the Dead is that the focus of the art is the beautiful stained glass window and the angel. That's the brightest part of the picture and it's in centre-frame. I glance at the card Endless Ranks of the Dead, and I go, "Wait, why does a Black card show a picture of an angel?" The art draws your attention to the angel, not the zombies. It's jarring. Then you need to bear in mind that M:tG card art always needs to fit the colour of the card. It sounds trivial, but it's important. Take any random collection of White cards, say, and you'll find that the dominant colours in their art are whites, yellows, browns, and so on. They look bright. The colour palette of Black cards is usually greys, purples, and other dull, muted hues. Similarly, art for Blue cards is usually blue-dominant, and so on. But the Endless Ranks of the Dead art draws our attention to the bright yellow section. It looks more White.

As a piece of art, I like it, especially when you increase the size. The art hinges on this wonderful tension between the calm, serene image of the angel and the way it's slowly undermined by these ravenous zombies clawing up from below. That tension makes the picture quite disturbing and communicates the horror image wonderfully.

But I don't think it is good card art. It's a good piece of art, but I think it is mis-used.



With all respect, I have to disagree with you on several points. The designers have already stated several times that in Innistrad black (as well as Blue, Red, and Green!) are explicitly meant to represent evil. The whole idea in Innistrad is that White is the color of the victimized humans, and all of the other colors are meant to be the monsters threatening them. So yes, black cards in the set are all naturally going to be associated with evil things, and the white cards are going to be associated with good things. In Innistrad.

This is not the case in other settings. For example, the other card you mentioned, Evil Presence, is from Scars of Mirrodin, and also represents something evil. But again, the whole idea of that set was to show how all the colors can be evil - including white! Magic has also had its share of white villains and black heroes, such as in Kamigawa. The designers have said that it's important for the game that every color has the potential for both good and evil, and they're absolutely right. Moral struggles, heroes and villains, good and evil, are the primary means stories are told - if we cut out three of the colors from that, the game would fail.

Anyway, this was an incredible article! I very rarely post my thoughts on an article, but I really loved seeing the mental process of how bottom-up mechanics can still become incredibly flavorful cards like Endless Ranks. Its art easily "ranks" (haha, I made a terrible pun!) among my top five favorite pieces of Magic art. I have to say that I also think it works quite well on the card specifically because of the size. When large, the contrast between the beautiful stained-glass window and the zombies is immediately apparent. When shrunk to fit on a card, your eye is immediately drawn to the window ... and when your gaze goes down the card to read the text, you suddenly see the zombies. Perfect.
With all respect, I have to disagree with you on several points. The designers have already stated several times that in Innistrad black (as well as Blue, Red, and Green!) are explicitly meant to represent evil. The whole idea in Innistrad is that White is the color of the victimized humans, and all of the other colors are meant to be the monsters threatening them. So yes, black cards in the set are all naturally going to be associated with evil things, and the white cards are going to be associated with good things. In Innistrad.



Oh, psh. There is no respect due in this situation.

Anyway, I won't repeat the argument here for I've had it before, but suffice to say I think that through the entire history of M:tG the thematic associations of White with good and Black with evil are too strong to be denied. White is good. Black is evil. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

Now, White and Black are associated with more than just good and evil. That's true. It is also true that cards in any colour are allowed to sometimes play against type. There can be White villains every now and then, provided they show other White qualities, like respect for tradition, valuing order, and so on. By the same token there can be sometimes be angry and impulsive Blue characters, or calm and reflective Red characters.  Just as mechanics colour bleed, sometimes you get flavour bleeds. But that doesn't redefine a colour.

Today I was discussing with a friend and we tried to make lists of morally good Black characters and morally evil White characters who are represented on cards. For Black heroes, all we could manage were Toshiro Umezawa, Maralen of the Mornsong, and Crovax the Cursed, and the latter two needed qualification. (Neither of us had read the Lorwyn novels but from the M:tGS wiki description we couldn't see why Maralen was all that Black. As for Crovax, he's Black purely because he's a vampire. His personality is not even remotely Black. It's racial typecasting again, which is stupid every time it comes up.) So that leaves only Toshiro, really, and Toshiro is an anti-hero: his motives are never genuinely good. Then for White villains, we could just manage: Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Konda, Lord of Eiganjo, Major Teroh, Lieutenant Kirtar, and Radiant, Archangel. And again, a bunch of qualifications are needed. (Elesh Norn exists because of NPH's kludgy 'every colour is Phyrexian' mess. Akroma is a magical construct who doesn't really have free will. We're told Teroh is the villain but it's never clear why. Teroh's goals are not evil nor are his methods frankly all that extreme, and the 'hero', Chainer, is transparently an evil murderous monster.) So what do we have? Black heroes... Toshiro. You can suggest that Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief is admirable, I guess. Some other things like that. But Black people who are genuinely morally good... I really can't think of any. There's more bleed in White because it is easier to construct someone who does evil out of their desire for order and their desire to help everyone than it is to construct someone who does good because he or she is motivated purely by self-interest.

The point is that, okay, there is occasional flavour bleed, just like there's occasional bleed in mechanics. But mechanical bleed does not change the colour wheel, and neither does flavour bleed. Since the very beginning of M:tG and continuing consistently to the present day White has been thematically associated with moral goodness, and Black with moral evil. We cannot deny this. It is part of what the colours are.
The point is that, okay, there is occasional flavour bleed, just like there's occasional bleed in mechanics. But mechanical bleed does not change the colour wheel, and neither does flavour bleed. Since the very beginning of M:tG and continuing consistently to the present day White has been thematically associated with moral goodness, and Black with moral evil. We cannot deny this. It is part of what the colours are.



Red is the color of art and passion. Yet we don't see that on cards a lot, because it doesn't fit very well into the fantasy battle flavor. But just because it's not on the cards doesn't mean it's not part of the color wheel. The color wheel dictates the cards, the cards do not dictate the color wheel.

Good and Evil transcend the color wheel. Every color has good and evil sides, and that has nothing to do with bleed. The reason we see a lot of Black Evil and White Good is because that fits better in the fantasy flavor. The government in 1984 would be Evil White. Capitalism would be Good Black. Minority Rights is a battle between black and white. They are just less suitable for the game.

Then you need to bear in mind that M:tG card art always needs to fit the colour of the card. It sounds trivial, but it's important. Take any random collection of White cards, say, and you'll find that the dominant colours in their art are whites, yellows, browns, and so on. They look bright. The colour palette of Black cards is usually greys, purples, and other dull, muted hues. Similarly, art for Blue cards is usually blue-dominant, and so on. But the Endless Ranks of the Dead art draws our attention to the bright yellow section. It looks more White.



They do bear in mind that the art needs to fit the card colour usually. Just not always. Force of Will's red art makes it memorable and distinctive even from a distance. It is true 90% of the cards should have a coherent palette, like you say, 'usually', but that only helps to strengthen those few cards that break the pattern. They're awesome exceptions to an awesome rule. There has been a Savor the Flavor article about this a while ago =)

As for the focus, I kinda like how it's off. This is a horror set, subtlety fits it. Again, while I agree with you the majority of art should be functional, conveying clearly what the card is about, I think exceptions now and then keep the art fresh.
I think Endless Ranks of the Dead's art works fantastically for it as a card. (It's also gorgeous artwork independent of its card, but nobody's arguing that point )

Yes, it's surprising to see that art on a black card. That's the point. There was a post by someone which I'm sad I can't remember who or precisely how it was phrased, but it described their reaction on seeing the art:

"What a lovely stained-glass painting. Wait, why is this a black card? Zombies? This is just a view from inside a chur-- OH MY GOD THEY'RE OUTSIDE THE WINDOW, HORDES OF THEM AAARGH!"

And I think that experience is a lot more unsettling than the Abattoir Ghoul "I'm a nasty gory zombie" feeling. To get the feeling that right outside your sacred chapel, your place of beauty, there's a restless, waiting, growing horde... that's a very different feeling to "graargh I'm a gory zombie", and one that evokes a bit more of a chill. Precisely what Innistrad is meant to evoke, in fact. 
First of all... "Oh, psh. There is no respect due in this situation." is a bit of a... dangerous thing to say on these boards. But if you want the gloves off, very well.


Today I was discussing with a friend and we tried to make lists of morally good Black characters and morally evil White characters who are represented on cards. For Black heroes, all we could manage were Toshiro Umezawa, Maralen of the Mornsong, and Crovax the Cursed, and the latter two needed qualification. (Neither of us had read the Lorwyn novels but from the M:tGS wiki description we couldn't see why Maralen was all that Black. As for Crovax, he's Black purely because he's a vampire. His personality is not even remotely Black. It's racial typecasting again, which is stupid every time it comes up.) So that leaves only Toshiro, really, and Toshiro is an anti-hero: his motives are never genuinely good. Then for White villains, we could just manage: Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Konda, Lord of Eiganjo, Major Teroh, Lieutenant Kirtar, and Radiant, Archangel. And again, a bunch of qualifications are needed. (Elesh Norn exists because of NPH's kludgy 'every colour is Phyrexian' mess. Akroma is a magical construct who doesn't really have free will. We're told Teroh is the villain but it's never clear why. Teroh's goals are not evil nor are his methods frankly all that extreme, and the 'hero', Chainer, is transparently an evil murderous monster.) So what do we have? Black heroes... Toshiro. You can suggest that Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief is admirable, I guess. Some other things like that. But Black people who are genuinely morally good... I really can't think of any. There's more bleed in White because it is easier to construct someone who does evil out of their desire for order and their desire to help everyone than it is to construct someone who does good because he or she is motivated purely by self-interest.

The point is that, okay, there is occasional flavour bleed, just like there's occasional bleed in mechanics. But mechanical bleed does not change the colour wheel, and neither does flavour bleed. Since the very beginning of M:tG and continuing consistently to the present day White has been thematically associated with moral goodness, and Black with moral evil. We cannot deny this. It is part of what the colours are.



Sorin Markov? Anowon, the Ruin Sage? All the Vampires in Zendikar that fought against the Eldrazi? Admittedly I'm not a big novel reader so maybe they somehow all jumped ship in the end and I don't know it... but if so, I don't know it. :-) I got the impression though that they were all last-standy about it. If Black were just evil except in weird cases of color bleed, why didn't they try to find a way to leave, or something? (Again, if they did, my oops for not reading novels.)

I can see the idea that maybe they wouldn't care if the Eldrazi hadn't enslaved them and weren't coming for everyone. That's consistent with Black. But I don't think it would be inconsistent with Black for them -- yes, as a society -- to want to protect their home, either. They'd defend it for reasons that are selfish rather than selfless, sure, but I don't think they wouldn't defend it.

Does that make them "good?" Well, maybe not -- if "good" is defined as "self-sacrificing for selfless motives" then no. But if "good" is "defending their world," well -- then maybe yes. It's definitely possible to define good in particular ways that exclude Black by default, because Black's motives aren't sweet (though I do think Black characters can certainly have soft spots.)

But as for whether "good" should be defined in those ways... I say no. I say that excludes anything messy. (How very White, not-at-all incidentally.) And Magic's worldbuilding and characters should be messy because it should reflect life and life is messy.

I think you should go read In the Black again, and pay attention to the distinction Maro draws between "more prone to evil" and "inherently evil." I don't think anyone who defends the possibility of good Black characters is claiming there are tons of them running around everywhere. Might makes right thinking and ends-justify-the-means thinking are definitely key ingredients in a lot of the evil in the world.

But believing those things are generally how the world works, which is Black's philosophy, doesn't necessarily mean personally believing 100% in them all the time. Some Black characters will, of course, but not all. And they don't preclude having honor, or the intelligence to see when ambition will be destructive to things even the Black character finds worth preserving.
the Blessed Sleep, which cannot be achieved by cremation (because as Innistrad's inhabitants know, cremated folks come back as angry ghosts).



I think this point could have been shown a little more strongly. Until I read this I never understood why cremation wasn't the norm in Innistrad, given all its problems with reanimating corpses.

That didn't bother me all that much, though. Jenna, I hope you're reading this: Innistrad is an amazing achievement. Nice work.
I'll add that Endless Ranks of the Dead</a> by Ryan Yee is definitely my pick for signature art for Innistrad.  It's also a great reference to the 2004 Dawn of the Dead (remake) movie poster.

56866188 wrote:
I knew the attempt to "make the game simpler and more [accessible] to new players" would get forgotten and it sure didn't take long. Gary Adkison
This may sound like I'm sitting on a fence (trust me, I'm not) but I have to say that both sides in the good/evil discussion are actually correct.

Irandrura is saying that Evil is associated with Black and Good is associated with White, and he is very much correct. You will never see a white card with "Evil" in its name, aside from exceptions such as Spare from Evil, where the evil is something the card is against. The same goes for "Good" on black cards (excepting non-moral uses of the term). Black is Evil and White is Good. It's the simplest way to get across their philosophies because, as a culture, we tend to define Good as "selfless" and Evil as "selfish" (D&D just doubles down and defines them as exactly that). Since White is the selfless color, it's Good; since Black is the selfish color, it's Evil.

The other point, raised by many others, such as echelon_house, states that White is not always good and Black is not always evil. Effectively, that White can be the bad guy and that Black can be the good guy. This is entirely true, by other (equally valid, though not as commonly used) definitions of Good and Evil. White is the color that includes fascism, which is definitely evil; Black includes capitalism, which to most people would be considered good. There are traits in all five colors that could lead to a villain aligned to that color.

The problem is that we rarely see true White villains, or Green ones for that matter. Blue, Red and Black are almost always the villains, and of the few White or Green villains out there, almost all of them are either being used or manipulated by someone blue, black or red (Radiant was being manipulated by a black villain; Akroma was being used by Ixidor, who's blue) or are multicolored (the Azorius senator is White-Blue, the Ghost Council is White-Black). The same is not as true for heroes, as every color has had almost its fair share of heroes (Black vampires in Zendikar, Red was the most heroic color in Scars, White in Innistrad is the heroic color, Jace is a good guy, as is Liliana [pre-Innistrad]).

There's a reason they always use Kamigawa as an example of a white villain: it's about the only purely-white villain out there. Also, does anyone have an example of a mono-green villain in Magic, because I can't think of any.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
For Endless Ranks of the Dead:
I agree that the art is amazing, but I also agree that in card form, it doesn't work quite as well. Still not bad, by any means, but at card size, not my favorite piece of card art. (For that I'm going with my shiny Reckless Waif/Merciless Predator. Seriously, that card looks amazing when shiny)

As far as color good/evil goes:

For a green villain: Myojin of Life's Web.

Personally, I think that looking at the legendary creatures is the wrong way to do it. Legendary creatures and Planeswalkers are exceptions, and tend to intentionally have more complex personalities. Usually if a character has a complex personality and they aren't specifically designated as villain, they'll be heroes of some sort (Or at least be relateable enough to be sympathetic). On non-legendary cards, white is more obviously good, focusing on healing and teamwork and such while black focuses on sacrifice and Torture and such. Are they specifically good/evil? No. But it is disingenuous to claim that there isn't a significant bias in that direction.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
As far as color good/evil goes:

For a green villain: Myojin of Life's Web..

Thank you.
It's interesting that the best example of white and of green villains is Kamigawa. Here's hoping they do another moral-expectations-inversion block like Kamigawa again soon!
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
I knew that there was going to be a church that offered real power and protection. It would be the bulwark that kept the humans from being entirely devoured by monsters. I wanted the theology of that church to be devoid of real-world imagery.



...Jenna Helland, that was a very silly thing to say.

The imagery of Innistrad is inspired by two things, European fairy tales in the tradition of the brothers Grimm, and Victorian gothic horror. These require Christian church imagery. So Innistrad has a standard Christianity knock-off. It has one twist, but the Blessed Sleep isn't even a terribly original idea. The concept is called 'soul sleep', and let's not get into pagan religious and concepts of death. The Church of Avacyn is Innistrad's Christianity stand-in. The imagery blatantly copies the Christian imagery of gothic horror, and replacing a cross with an inverted omega does not make it different or unique.

On side notes, Aliens is not a horror film. It is an action film. Alien was horror.

Oh, and the silly 'White isn't good, Black isn't evil' thing again. There are 49 Black cards in Innistrad. Every single one either represents something evil, or is something mindless, amoral, or otherwise ruthless (e.g. Rotting Fensnake, Brain Weevil). *sigh* Good and evil have always been associated with White and Black. That is why there are cards like Evil Presence or Spare from Evil. (There are earlier cards that display the same thing, but I chose very recent printings to make it clear.) Good and evil are not the only things associated with those colours, and sometimes cards get to play against type, but good and evil are and have always been clearly associated with White and Black, and I really think it is time we admit this.

Anyway.

I'm actually of mixed opinion on the art on Endless Ranks of the Dead. On the one hand, it is undoubtedly a beautiful piece of art. However, while I like it qua art, I really dislike it qua card art. That is to say, to me it does not look good on a trading card. M:tG cards have very small art boxes and the viewer's gaze is immediately directed to the centre of the image. You need card art to immediately convey an image and a mood. A card's art needs to show what the card is about and more importantly get across a powerful mental image. You should be able to glance at the card and get a sense, from the art, of what the card is about.

My issue with Endless Ranks of the Dead is that the focus of the art is the beautiful stained glass window and the angel. That's the brightest part of the picture and it's in centre-frame. I glance at the card Endless Ranks of the Dead, and I go, "Wait, why does a Black card show a picture of an angel?" The art draws your attention to the angel, not the zombies. It's jarring. Then you need to bear in mind that M:tG card art always needs to fit the colour of the card. It sounds trivial, but it's important. Take any random collection of White cards, say, and you'll find that the dominant colours in their art are whites, yellows, browns, and so on. They look bright. The colour palette of Black cards is usually greys, purples, and other dull, muted hues. Similarly, art for Blue cards is usually blue-dominant, and so on. But the Endless Ranks of the Dead art draws our attention to the bright yellow section. It looks more White.

As a piece of art, I like it, especially when you increase the size. The art hinges on this wonderful tension between the calm, serene image of the angel and the way it's slowly undermined by these ravenous zombies clawing up from below. That tension makes the picture quite disturbing and communicates the horror image wonderfully.

But I don't think it is good card art. It's a good piece of art, but I think it is mis-used.



This.

Interesting to know that Jenna came up with the idea, I always thought the artists were given a little more freedom with their concepts or at least the option to pitch ideas.... beign artists and what have you.

The piece is becoming a fast favourite, but it really isn't great. It doesn't look good on the physical card, the zombies are not the focus, the Church is empty (save for the viewer who, if it's in your deck, is a black planeswalker) and the light effect used makes the zombies look like ghosts in front of the window rather than beyond. The only interesting thing I noticed was what I at first thought to be the tattered wing of an angel, but is probably just a torn curtain flapping in the imaginary breeze.

I've never actually commented on one of these before, but I had to say that I loved this article.  The art was what first brought me to this game, and I love that it has only gotten better since then.

Your explanations behind the flavor and art choices in the set were marvelous.  Your descriptions of the concept behind the art for cards seuch as Selfless Cathar and Victim of Night were incredible memorable.  And I love how you ended the article.

Keep up the good work. 
On non-legendary cards, white is more obviously good, focusing on healing and teamwork and such while black focuses on sacrifice and Torture and such. Are they specifically good/evil? No. But it is disingenuous to claim that there isn't a significant bias in that direction.



Again, red is the color of art even though it is rarely shown on cards. The cards do not dictate the color wheel.

@Irandrura (and the discussion you started)

I agree with you to a point about the white=moral good, black=moral evil thing. It's nuanced, I know, but I would rather say that white lends itself to moral good, rather than say that moral good is the norm for white. This is because the qualities that white displays regularly, community, healing, dicipline, sacrifice for a greater cause, lend themselves to good most of the time. In black, it seems much more apparent that moral evil is indeed the norm. I will say, however, that for better or worse, it seems that Wizards has been making a conscious effort to move away from that in recent sets.

As for endless ranks of the dead, I think the art works beautifully. Your attention is immediately drawn to the angel and the soft light coming through the stained-glass window, but you quickly realize that all is not well, and the dread from the zombies on the other side grabs you. The effect comes from the perversion of your expectations.

Overall, the art in Innistrad is probably the best of any Magic set to date.
Profile picture by Mackenzie Schubert www.plaincomics.com
TobyornotToby:

Red is the color of art and passion. Yet we don't see that on cards a lot, because it doesn't fit very well into the fantasy battle flavor.



To me, that's actually a major issue with Red. You can't say it's the colour of art and then never print any Red cards that have anything to do with art; and you can't say Red is not stupid and then constantly print Red cards that show graphic stupidity. There should not be these strong disconnects between what a colour supposedly represents and what images are used to represent the colour in the game.

Good and Evil transcend the color wheel. Every color has good and evil sides, and that has nothing to do with bleed. The reason we see a lot of Black Evil and White Good is because that fits better in the fantasy flavor. The government in 1984 would be Evil White. Capitalism would be Good Black. Minority Rights is a battle between black and white. They are just less suitable for the game.



Let's look at those assertions in more detail, shall we?

Oceania in Nineteen Eighty Four. I... actually don't think they're White. They might be an example of W/B. I think there's some Blue in there as well: they're maybe even U/B. The Party believes in exploiting the masses for the benefit of a tiny elite, that perception is reality and history can be rewritten, and they use fear and hate as tools to control people. I see a strong Blue influence in their view that reality is subjective, and that by changing what people believe. Their focus on lies and illusions is U/B, as those are the deceptive colours. White loves the idea of truth (e.g. Sphere of Truth, Voice of Truth, Demystify, Michiko Konda Truth Seeker, Archon of Justice, Alabaster Mage, Bathe in Light, Ray of Revelation, Reinforcements, Strip Bare, Veteran Swordsmith). The means of control in Nineteen Eighty Four are not only not White, but they're distinctively U/B. But that's just the means. What about the ends? Again, I can't really see the ends as White. Oceanian society is set up to allow the overclass to crush everyone else: to exercise power purely for the sake of exercising power. That seems archetypally Black.

The argument I can see for White, or rather for W/B, is that Oceania seems stable. The Party maintains cohesion over time, and the Inner Party members need to suppress their own ambition to do this. Otherwise one of them would just rally and arm the proles, lead a revolution, take over, and have all the pie. There's also the issue that the Party is a corporate entity, not an individual. Even Big Brother is a facsimile. Subordinating the individual in some corporation seems more White. I think there is an argument that Oceania is W/B or W/U/B along these lines. What White's doing is coming in and creating stability. It's perpetuating the system. (If indeed the system truly perpetuates itself: on a realistic face reading, of course, Oceania is going to collapse in on itself very quickly.) If the future is indeed a boot stomping on a human face forever, Black is the boot, and White brings in the forever.

Capitalism. Hang on. As I've pointed out before, the cards in M:tG that represent trade and mercantilism do not tend to be Black. They actually tend to be Blue, and occasionally Red. (See e.g. Aether Tradewinds, Bazaar Trader, Magus of the Bazaar, Merchant Trader, Spawnbroker, the various Rishadan cards, Trade Routes, Wanderwine Hub, Vodalian Merchant, etc.) Moreover, I think it'd be highly questionable to say that capitalism itself is good or evil. It's a term used for the trading and creation of value. One can be a capitalist and be good or evil. So we should think about how the colours themselves participate in wealth creation: how does each colour behave economically? And the thing is, Black is associated with deceptive, monopolistic, or exploitative economic practices. Slavery appears exclusively on Black and Red cards, for instance. (Okay, Slave of Bolas is Blue as well.) Meanwhile White is associated with charity, social work, and fairness. Appeals to good capitalism or moral capitalism always seem to be backed up by White.

Minority rights... no, to be frank, you're crazy here, because not only are the cards about persecuting minorities usually Black (e.g. Persecute, esp. the 7th ed. version, and its variants, Tsabo's Decree), but the very idea of rights is White. Minority rights is a White idea because only White thinks that rights exist. Rights exist to make clear the sort of systematic moral behaviour that is required in a civil society. Black does not believe in rights for the same reason that Black does not believe in morals. Rights are a set of imaginary rules that someone came along and tried to enforce on everyone; and Black has no truck with that sort of thing. As far as Black is concerned, if you're on the bottom, sucks to be you; and while Black might equip the individual with the tools needed to rise to the top, Black doesn't care about communities.

They do bear in mind that the art needs to fit the card colour usually. Just not always.  Force of Will  's red art makes it memorable and distinctive even from a distance.



I tried to use only modern examples. Force of Will is a very old card and frankly its art is hideously ugly.

AlexaM:

First of all... "Oh, psh. There is no respect due in this situation." is a bit of a... dangerous thing to say on these boards. But if you want the gloves off, very well.



We're having an argument on the internet. And as far as I'm aware I haven't done anything that warrants your respect. ;)

Civility, yes, but respect is earned.

Sorin Markov  ? Anowon, the Ruin Sage  ? All the Vampires in Zendikar that fought against the Eldrazi?



Sorin, maybe. He's clearly an anti-hero at best. He didn't occur to me before because I was searching all Black legends in the game and planeswalkers aren't legends.

Anowon... based on his appearance in the webcomics, I would say no. Anowon was a dangerous resource, not a hero, and he was a murderer as well.

As for fighting the eldrazi, fighting evil does not make you less evil. Nicol Bolas worked against Phyrexia, and that did not make him any less evil.

I got the impression though that they were all last-standy about it. If Black were just evil except in weird cases of color bleed, why didn't they try to find a way to leave, or something?



Because they don't know other worlds exist?

Even a rat will fight for its life if it's backed into a corner. I thought Pestilence Demon was an excellent example of a Black attitude in Rise of the Eldrazi. "This is my world. I will rule it. I will not be denied my ambition by a bunch of giant Lovecraftian monsters from nowhere!" The vampires fought the eldrazi because it was in their self-interest to do so.

Does that make them "good?" Well, maybe not -- if "good" is defined as "self-sacrificing for selfless motives" then no. But if "good" is "defending their world," well -- then maybe yes. It's definitely possible to define good in particular ways that exclude Black by default, because Black's motives aren't sweet (though I do think Black characters can certainly have soft spots.)



You do tap into a real issue here. I am tempted to respond to every example with 'well, X isn't really a hero, because X's motives are purely selfish. To be a hero you need to act for the sake of others.'

The objection to that line of reasoning is that it restricts heroism to White and Red a priori, because they are the only colours that care about other people. But I'm not sure that's a bad thing. (You might be able to add Green as well - see e.g. Thriss, Nantuko Primus - but Green has always been the most incoherent, poorly defined colour.) If we have our coherent definition of heroism - or rather, our definition of moral goodness - and we look at the colours and discover that only one or two are capable of matching the criteria, then we've found that only one or two colours are capable of moral goodness and heroism. There doesn't seem anything unacceptable about that.

It's only an issue if you're already committed to the idea that all colours can be good or evil, and if you are, you're just begging the question.

(Note that humans are WUBRG. Kamahl cares about other people, even when he was a Green card, but that doesn't make caring about other people a Green trait.)

I think you should go read In the Black again, and pay attention to the distinction Maro draws between "more prone to evil" and "inherently evil."



No Black character is a pure instantiation of Black's values. The same for any other colour.

Chronego:

Irandrura is saying that Evil is associated with Black and Good is associated with White, and he is very much correct. You will never see a white card with "Evil" in its name, aside from exceptions such as Spare from Evil  , where the evil is something the card is against. The same goes for "Good" on black cards (excepting non-moral uses of the term). Black is Evil and White is Good.



Let me put it this way.

There are always some exceptions, of course. Please note that White and Black are not synonymous with good and evil. But one of White's values is moral goodness, and one of Black's values is moral evil. That's why cards representing good and evil, conceptually, go into White and Black respectively. But both White and Black represent other things as well. For example, another of White's values is law and order, and law can be used for evil. Another thing associated with Black is death, and there's no reason to think death is always evil. Characters and societies are put in certain colours based on approximations. Konda, for example, is White because while he is not morally good, he shares most of White's other values. (He believes in discipline, law and order, he is motivated by a desire to protect and aid his homeland, and so on.)

I am not saying that the terms good and evil can't be applied to characters outside White and Black either. Barrin is a good person. Hidetsugu is evil. Chandra Nalaar is morally good. Thrun and Melira are both good. And so on. I am merely saying that moral goodness falls under White's area of the colour wheel, and moral evil falls into Black's section. Every sapient being has moral qualities.

What I think we need to do is abandon the pretense that the colours are somehow neutral with respect to morality. They're not. Morality is not colour-blind. Some colours are predisposed to good and others to evil. I don't think anyone in this topic is likely to disagree with this. Pick a bunch of random legends of every colour and you will find, statistically, that heroism and moral goodness occur in White much more, and villainy and moral evil are the most common in Black.

If we were talking about anything other than morality I think we would be happy to say that the qualities are White and Black based on a study like this. Why not say it about morality, though?

Every character can be judged morally. Almost all human characters have consciences, and take morality into consideration when they act. But moral goodness, I think, is White in the same sense that e.g. thoughtful reflection is Blue or anger is Red.

White is the color that includes fascism, which is definitely evil;



Actually, as I've said before on this site, I dispute that. Fascism isn't White. Fascism is a very specific type of political movement and its hallmarks are not White. See here and then this page. People often throw the word 'fascism' around too casually.

There's a reason they always use Kamigawa as an example of a white villain: it's about the only purely-white villain out there. Also, does anyone have an example of a mono-green villain in Magic, because I can't think of any.



Vorinclex.

...yeah, okay, he's the only one. And Vorinclex's philosophy is stupid on multiple levels, he's immensely hypocritical, and he clearly doesn't understand the meaning of the words he throws around. But he is a Green card and he is unquestionably evil.

Astronautic_Bullfrog:

I agree with you to a point about the white=moral good, black=moral evil thing. It's nuanced, I know, but I would rather say that white lends itself to moral good, rather than say that moral good is the norm for white.



I can understand that. The point is that all five colours have clear biases when it comes to morality, and White is undeniably the colour with the strongest bias towards moral goodness, and Black is the colour with the strongest bias towards moral evil.

It does make sense, I think, to say that all five colours are actually a vague continuum. They aren't clearly delineated from each other, but they blur together at the edges, and you never find one colour in complete purity. But certain traits tend to occur with certain colours, and moral goodness certainly co-occurs with White more than it co-occurs with any other colour. If you search M:tG cards for depictions of moral goodness, you will find them more quickly if you start with the White cards. The same for depictions of evil and Black. I don't think anyone would argue with that?

You see, following this sort of logic, it just seems obvious to me that good is White and evil is Black. I don't really understand the denial of it: even though WotC says otherwise, when you look at the cards they actually design and print, it seems clear that they do accept it, whatever they say, because they keep printing cards associated with moral goodness mostly in White, and cards associated with evil in Black.


EDIT:

Anyway, I feel that whole debate is a tangent. Helland just repeated the party line in this article, nonsensical though the party line is. Honestly, the bit that nagged me the most was the bizarre assertion that the Church of Avacyn is 'devoid of real-world imagery' and has a unique theology. That is just... demonstrably wrong, on every level.
A very well-reasoned post, Irandrura, and I can't really disagree with anything you said (with one exception, which I'll get to later). However, I am pretty sure the reason for this disagreement is differing definitions of good and evil. You are using "selfless" as good and "selfish" as evil, which are probably the most common definitions of the two (and the exact definitions as used in D&D), but not the only definitions.

White does have selflessness as a trait, and Black does have selfishness. This is undeniable. However, there are other forms of evil. White is about protecting its population; what if White set up a government which greatly restricted individual rights: curfews, outlawing magic in the hands of the common man, forcing people into jobs they don't want, etc. all for the greater good. This is still very much selfless, as the goal is to protect the people, but is it good? You may argue that it is, but I would say it is evil. It is not selfish evil, but another form of evil that is equally valid. The population may be safe, but at the cost of not being happy.

What if a black character, while striving for personal power, arms the populace to free them from the above repressive regime? He seeks a revolution after which he will come out as a hero, the champion of the people and very likely their new leader. By continuing to treat the people well, he retains individual power, which is the prime motivator for Black. Yes, he is selfish, but is he evil? I'd argue no, he's good. He gave the people what they wanted.

The reason many (myself included) say that Good is not a trait of White and Evil is not a trait of Black is that the two terms are very deep. There are many shades of Good and Evil, and while a majority of them fall neatly into White and Black respectively, there are others that apply to other colors. It's not a case of being white-aligned in spite of being evil, as you say is the case with Konda; it's a case of being evil because certain white traits are taken to an extreme. The same holds for Black and being good.

Now, the one thing you said with which I disagree: Vorinclex. Yes, his card is mono-green, but I do not think he, as a character, is mono-green. He's either green-black (due to being Phyrexian) or, I'd argue more strongly, green-blue. He is a twisted form of the Simic - he seeks to improve upon nature (in his own twisted, hypocritcal way) through experimentation, augmentation, and magic. The end goal is to artificially create a perfect world of the strongest predators possible, which is very blue-green.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
chronego:

However, I am pretty sure the reason for this disagreement is differing definitions of good and evil. You are using "selfless" as good and "selfish" as evil, which are probably the most common definitions of the two (and the exact definitions as used in D&D), but not the only definitions.



That is not precisely my definition, but I do think that altruism and compassion are essential to moral goodness, and pure self-interest unconditioned by concern for others is evil.

White is about protecting its population; what if White set up a government which greatly restricted individual rights: curfews, outlawing magic in the hands of the common man, forcing people into jobs they don't want, etc. all for the greater good. This is still very much selfless, as the goal is to protect the people, but is it good?



That would be evil, certainly, assuming that the restrictions are not necessary for social order and peace. (I could see strict restrictions being temporarily necessary e.g. in war-time.) But I don't think selflessness is sufficient for moral goodness. I also agree that insofar as White values order, White is capable of evil, albeit only by ignoring and overriding another part of White.

What if a black character, while striving for personal power, arms the populace to free them from the above repressive regime? He seeks a revolution after which he will come out as a hero, the champion of the people and very likely their new leader. By continuing to treat the people well, he retains individual power, which is the prime motivator for Black. Yes, he is selfish, but is he evil? I'd argue no, he's good. He gave the people what they wanted.



This, on the other hand, I must strongly disagree with. I think that good - and evil for that matter - must be intentional. Accidents or coincidences don't have moral content. To be good you don't just have to help people, you have to choose to help people. Removing choice entirely from the situation doesn't seem acceptable to me. If that were the case you could argue e.g. a tree is possessed of moral virtue, if a chance falling branch were to crush an evil dictator during his morning walk and occasion a revolution.

Now, the one thing you said with which I disagree: Vorinclex. Yes, his card is mono-green, but I do not think he, as a character, is mono-green. He's either green-black (due to being Phyrexian) or, I'd argue more strongly, green-blue. He is a twisted form of the Simic - he seeks to improve upon nature (in his own twisted, hypocritcal way) through experimentation, augmentation, and magic. The end goal is to artificially create a perfect world of the strongest predators possible, which is very blue-green.



*shrug* I would just say that Vorinclex is an idiot who does not know what the words 'evolution', 'natural', and 'artificial' mean.

But this is a perennial problem with Green.
i didnt see a need to comment on an article until this one. the part where Jenna talks about Selfless Cathar, i didn't expect all these details and thoughts that go into a common slot. I havent paid much attention to that card until this article and the enlarged version of the art. 

i agree with some of the comments here, Innistrad has great art pieces but most of them are wasted in a tiny art box. 
To me, that's actually a major issue with Red. You can't say it's the colour of art and then never print any Red cards that have anything to do with art; and you can't say Red is not stupid and then constantly print Red cards that show graphic stupidity. There should not be these strong disconnects between what a colour supposedly represents and what images are used to represent the colour in the game.



How many cards show cooking? marriage? toilets? =p
The cards of magic show part of a world, the parts that are most exiting for what the game's mechanics represent. Some things just aren't on cards, but they're definitely there. 
I agree it's an issue they could adress some more though.

Nineteen Eighty Four.



Sure it's way more complicated than mono-W, but things like the ban on intercourse, that's as white as it gets! There are definitely a lot of white means there.

As for the 'Truth' part, that's a dangerous one. What white believes they will see as absolute truth and universal right. That doesn't make it the truth, just that white believes it to be.

Green is the true 'truth' color, being the enemy of black and blue, the colors of secrecy, and being the color of nature, 'everything is what it is'.

Capitalism. Hang on. As I've pointed out before, the cards in M:tG that represent trade and mercantilism do not tend to be Black. They actually tend to be Blue, and occasionally Red. (See e.g. Aether Tradewinds, Bazaar Trader, Magus of the Bazaar, Merchant Trader, Spawnbroker, the various Rishadan cards, Trade Routes, Wanderwine Hub, Vodalian Merchant, etc.) Moreover, I think it'd be highly questionable to say that capitalism itself is good or evil. It's a term used for the trading and creation of value. One can be a capitalist and be good or evil. So we should think about how the colours themselves participate in wealth creation: how does each colour behave economically? And the thing is, Black is associated with deceptive, monopolistic, or exploitative economic practices. Slavery appears exclusively on Black and Red cards, for instance. (Okay, Slave of Bolas is Blue as well.) Meanwhile White is associated with charity, social work, and fairness. Appeals to good capitalism or moral capitalism always seem to be backed up by White.



Pirates are blue too but that makes no sense whatsover. The sea is connected to the color blue because of the land system, but that's a bit of a silly part of the color wheel.

Indeed capitalism can be good or evil, but that can be said about a lot of things. That's the idea of the color wheel. Any color taken to its extreme will be unhealthy, evil. 19th century capitalism could be an example of black to the extreme.

If white had its way, we wouldn't have any kind of capitalistic system.  

Minority rights... no, to be frank, you're crazy here, because not only are the cards about persecuting minorities usually Black (e.g. Persecute, esp. the 7th ed. version, and its variants, Tsabo's Decree), but the very idea of rights is White. Minority rights is a White idea because only White thinks that rights exist. Rights exist to make clear the sort of systematic moral behaviour that is required in a civil society. Black does not believe in rights for the same reason that Black does not believe in morals. Rights are a set of imaginary rules that someone came along and tried to enforce on everyone; and Black has no truck with that sort of thing. As far as Black is concerned, if you're on the bottom, sucks to be you; and while Black might equip the individual with the tools needed to rise to the top, Black doesn't care about communities.



If I'm crazy there, MaRo is crazy too, but then again, he wrote an entire column about that so no surprises there.

In a world without White, Black wouldn't care for rights indeed, but within a white system, 'rights' are something that give it what it wants: freedom, empowerment, opportunity, they're part of those tools they want to equip the individual with. The right of persuit of happiness.

White is all about the greater good, the group, it doesn't care much for minorities.

I tried to use only modern examples. Force of Will is a very old card and frankly its art is hideously ugly.



But it's the most iconic card of its kind =p
Alright, how about Consecrated Sphinx or Awakening Zone as more recent examples? I also love the amount of red/purple in Angelic Arbiter.

Sorin Markov? Anowon, the Ruin Sage? All the Vampires in Zendikar that fought against the Eldrazi? Admittedly I'm not a big novel reader so maybe they somehow all jumped ship in the end and I don't know it... but if so, I don't know it. :-) I got the impression though that they were all last-standy about it. If Black were just evil except in weird cases of color bleed, why didn't they try to find a way to leave, or something? (Again, if they did, my oops for not reading novels.)


Spoiler for novels and comics:
Show
Both the Zendikar novel and one of the webcomics of the sort demonstrate that Anowon is compulsively treacherous, a la the scorpion in the old folktale.  Clearly someone who was involved with writing him didn't believe that even a scholarly, intelligent, motivated-to-unravel-a-mystery vampire could possibly keep his fangs in his mouth long enough to work reasonably with others.  In the comic he attacked Chandra for no other reason than disliking her, and in the novel he went hunting every time he was around civilians even when it was vital for the expedition to avoid discovery.  The only vampires we've ever seen display any self-control are Baron Sengir and Sorin, suggesting that Bloodcrazed Neonate's flavor is intended to be typical of all vampires everywhere - they have to be extremely high-level to be at all capable of resisting their wicked impulses.  Which I think would be perfectly fitting for the red ones in Innistrad but is not especially so for black vampires in every plane we've seen them in.

It seems clear that Wizards thinks that more than the slightest trace of "maybe vampires aren't Always Chaotic Evil" will offend their core constituency.
I can see the idea that maybe they wouldn't care if the Eldrazi hadn't enslaved them and weren't coming for everyone. That's consistent with Black. But I don't think it would be inconsistent with Black for them -- yes, as a society -- to want to protect their home, either. They'd defend it for reasons that are selfish rather than selfless, sure, but I don't think they wouldn't defend it.


It was implied that the Eldrazi had more or less created ZEN's vampires to further their own predation; the details weren't fleshed out that I ever saw, but I found it amusing to think of the vampire as being basically an Eldrazi spoon, used to scoop up mana and carry it to the Eldrazi's mouth for easy consumption (of the well-fed vampire).
If they ever decide to write sympathetic black characters, I'll be the guy they want to call, since I'm a past master of moral relativism.  But at this point I'm not holding my breath; a huge chunk of their audience seems to vastly prefer black-and-white morality (and Goblins), so my preferences represent too much of a financial risk for them to have much chance of investing in me.
I think you should go read In the Black again, and pay attention to the distinction Maro draws between "more prone to evil" and "inherently evil."


It's worth keeping in mind that this article was written in the voice of a black "mouthpiece", like a lawyer or a guy who writes press releases for a corporation.  He probably wasn't being precisely objective on the subject.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
I tried to use only modern examples. Force of Will is a very old card and frankly its art is hideously ugly.



More modern examples =D

Eland Umbra, Emerge Unscathed, Drag Down, Griffin Sentinel, Harm's Way, Infantry Veteran, Lead the Stampede, Lurking Predators, Mayor of Avabruck, Memoricide, Nomads' Assembly, Phyrexian Rager, Postmortem Lunge, Praetor's Counsel, Prey's Vengeance, Reassembling Skeleton, Ricochet Trap, Righteousness, Rotting Legion, Scavenger Drake, Scrapdiver Serpent, Seascape Aerialist, Seize the Initiative, Sigil of the Empty Throne, Solemn Offering, Spirit Mantle, Stabbing Pain, Stone Giant, Tel-Jilad Fallen, Tempest of Light, Thrummingbird, Treasure Mage, Trinket Mage, White Knight, Soulbound Guardians

Things I got from this:
- No color seems to have dibs on yellow: all colors use it from time to time.
- Rise of the Eldrazi has a lot of them: so it's not just the Eldrazi who have otherworldly colors, the cards themselves are more frequently showing color shemes outside of the color. That's pretty cool.
- Alara did it too, but that's on multicolor so you don't really notice. Bant Sojourners and Stormcaller's Boon show them in a world different from their mana cost, but they have a gold frame anyway.
- White seems to do it the most: I think they look awesome on white.
- Red is really red: Reall, really red. No, redder than that. Even redder. Keep Going. More. No, more. Look, we're talking about Incinerate and Pyretic Ritual as baseline here. It is red.
TobyornotToby:

How many cards show cooking? marriage? toilets? =p



Cooking. Marriage. Toilets. :P

(Gatherer does not seem to include Proposal, and when I put in Sauté it gives me Saut, which is Jump in French. There are lots of cards that reference eating, though: Brindle Boar and Gristleback spring immediately to mind.)

But for a more serious answer, they aren't the points under discussion, because no one argues those things need to be represented. Everything that is represented in the game is chosen specifically because it communicates something important about a fictional world or about a colour.

Sure it's way more complicated than mono-W, but things like the ban on intercourse, that's as white as it gets!



I do not see how.

As for the 'Truth' part, that's a dangerous one. What white believes they will see as absolute truth and universal right. That doesn't make it the truth, just that white believes it to be.



I think that an intellectually honest White - for we must assume all colours to be intellectually honest and fair in their convictions: not a single colour is cynical in its claim to value something - would seek the objective, universal truth. To say otherwise is to be unfairly prejudiced against White. Every colour genuinely stands for the things it says it stands for.

Pirates are blue too but that makes no sense whatsover. The sea is connected to the color blue because of the land system, but that's a bit of a silly part of the color wheel.



Oh, I agree that a large part of the colour wheel as it has been defined makes no damn sense at all.

If white had its way, we wouldn't have any kind of capitalistic system. 



Why?

You can't just assert things without reasons. White is not committed to any particular economic system, since White's core values don't include any economic system. White will select an economic system on purely pragmatic grounds: what sort of economy will best accomplish White's aims? (That is: what economic system is most conducive to peace and social harmony, the equality of individuals, fair treatment before the law, the promotion of moral values, and so on?)

If White's ideals are best served by some sort of free market, then White will support a free market. It will, however, not support a free market simply out of ideological commitment. White has no belief that the market should be free and unhindered as a matter of principle. But if it is the best system for White's goals, White will be okay with that. If White's goals are best served by a state-run economy, then similarly White will choose that. But White is not ideologically committed to a state-run economy either.

If I'm crazy there, MaRo is crazy too, but then again, he wrote an entire column about that so no surprises there.



Oh, Rosewater has always been crazy.

In a world without White, Black wouldn't care for rights indeed, but within a white system, 'rights' are something that give it what it wants: freedom, empowerment, opportunity, they're part of those tools they want to equip the individual with. The right of persuit of happiness.



Then it is highly disingenuous to claim that Black is a defender of rights, either individual rights or minority rights. What you've suggested here is that in a world dominated by White or quasi-White power structures, Black will cynically exploit rights for its own benefit. That is true. Black will cynically exploit anything for its own benefit. But, as you note, Black has no particular ideological commitment, either to the existence of rights or to their defense, and indeed had Black the power, Black would systematically violate human rights as long as doing so served Black's interests.

(On a side note here, I think it is also a caricature of Black to say that Black is a rational amoralist. Black is not motivated purely by rational self-interest. Black is sadistic. Black does genuinely enjoy seeing people suffer. Rosewater himself admitted this in the Rakdos article. Black is the sadist colour. Curiousely Rosewater doesn't think Red is, which is odd: I think Red is entirely capable of taking a vicarious, emotional pleasure in the suffering of others. Anyway. Black isn't just amoral: it's actively immoral. Black does impractical things for the sake of Black's own gratification, such as torturing people to demonstrate Black's own power.)

So: where do rights come from? I would contend that White is the only colour with the ideological resources to invent a conception of human rights.

White is all about the greater good, the group, it doesn't care much for minorities.



Minorities are a part of the group: insofar as rights exist in order to codify the ways in which different groups can interact, and so promote peaceful and harmonious relations between those groups, White has to care about rights. Who else will?

willpell:

It seems clear that Wizards thinks that more than the slightest trace of "maybe vampires aren't Always Chaotic Evil" will offend their core constituency.



*facepalm* TVTropes. Right.

The biggest exception to the rule I can see in M:tG is Repentant Vampire. Crovax, of course, was also a highly moral individual.

But I cannot resist pointing out here: yes, M:tG vampires are almost universally evil. Vampires are a Black tribe. So of course they're evil. That's how Black works. This should not be surprising. Vampires were brought back into the limelight in Zendikar because WotC thought that zombies didn't show Black's traits very well and they wanted a tribe that would represent all of Black's qualities in a much better way. (As Rosewater tells us in this article.) So they made vampires, and vampires do a good job of showcasing Black's values.

...and it is surprising that vampires are evil? Vampires, we have been told, are meant to represent what Black is. So vampires are murderous hedonists with poor impulse control. That seems fine to me, because Black is a murderous hedonist with poor impulse control. Let's not blame vampires just for doing what they were designed to do. If Anowon was a scholar who just happened to have fangs and intelligently compensated for his need for blood in socially acceptable ways, then he would be Blue.

We're only now seeing non-Black vampires and I honestly have no idea why there are Red vampires in Innistrad. No; I tell a lie. There are Red vampires because WotC needs to enforce the artificial symmetry of its tribal/colour structure.

If they ever decide to write sympathetic black characters, I'll be the guy they want to call, since I'm a past master of moral relativism.



*raised eyebrow*

Humble, too.

It's worth keeping in mind that this article was written in the voice of a black "mouthpiece", like a lawyer or a guy who writes press releases for a corporation.  He probably wasn't being precisely objective on the subject.



No, 'In the Black' was given from an omniscient designer perspective.

You are probably thinking of 'Looking Out For Number One', which is from a mouthpiece, its various other issues notwithstanding.
Quite funny than when Irandura stopped being an imbecile, someone clicked on a reversal button and made him stupid again. Oh well:

The worst offender against rationality is the  idea that =truth. There is a good reason why , which is the colour most concerned with obtaining knowledge, is at odds with ; when both colours are at conflict, is the one trying to discover the truth, while is hiding it. is the colour of self delusion, the colour associated with denying the unpleasantness of reality in favor of comforting idealism that may be at odds with the situation. There is a very good reason why most characters manipulated by villains are either , or , all being colours comfortable with stupidity. The idea that represents the truth is the single most pathetic pseudo-argument I have EVER seen, and makes one wonder if the people offering it represent 's delusional side.

And you guys conveniently forgot many villains in order for your idea of as a Mary Sue to function. For instance, there's Lieutenant Kirtar, which was already a fanatically extremist before the Mirrari corrupted him, the Myoijin of Cleansing Fire, an kami who burned his own followers to death according to flavor text in the shrine card associated with him, Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile, who commited MANY morally ambiguous actions, and Gaddock Teeg, who was the secondary Big Bad of the Lorwyn story (NOT of the entirity of the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block, though), ALL OF the kithkin in Shadowmoor, which were fanatically paranoid, the Nobilis of War, which was devoted to spreading war and subsequent misery, Gwafa Hazid and the Knight of the Skyward Eye from Bant and the ALL aligned characters from Esper (seriously, they're like the Azorius, only more tyrannical and deceptive), and now several characters in Innistrad (go check the card image gallery if you don't believe me).

As you can see, there's a gigantic variety of truly despicable characters, and the best part is that they truly feel because none of them (with the exception of Gwafa Hazid and Nobilis of War) are the least bit selfish, all having communitary goals but practising them in the most atrocious ways imaginable.

For aligned heroes, there's Dralnu, Lich Lord, the ever popular Xantcha, Jarad from the Ravnica novels (arguably all of the Golgari with the exception of Savra and the gorgon sisters were good) and several Shadowmoor/Lorwyn characters, including ALL of the boggarts (there's a very good reason why I have that signature). They were not unpleasant people, according to the people who read the books

What many of the imbeciles who require the idiotic notion that =good and =evil forget in order for their bizarre psychological dependencies to not be threatened is that  both and are not extremes in a cosmological ladder, but part of a wheel with many other colours. They are not "good" and "evil" aspects, but rather "elements", alongside , and , and hence are neutral. From day one they were designed with good aspects and evil aspects in mind.

While fascism is debatable (and even then it HAS to be part due to several aspects in its philosophy), ALWAYS represented holy war (which is why we have genocidal spells like Wrath of God; is in fact the colour with the most wrath-effect cards, fitting well with its tendency for divine wrath and genocide), xenophobia (the kithkin, the mirran Loxodon, several innistradi cards, although the latter with good reasons), delusion (duergars from Shadowmoor), and lack of individuality (this is why it is the enemy of , which is the colour of individuality).

For 's good aspects, it is mostly via information by the staff, with no cards to illustrate it as of yet. However, characters have generally shown pragmatism, which is a very good quality.
IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/global/images/mtgcom_daily_mc52_picMain_en.jpg)IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/73821e61e013eadf56a8e4e2226d89a3.jpg?v=90000)
But for a more serious answer, they aren't the points under discussion, because no one argues those things need to be represented. Everything that is represented in the game is chosen specifically because it communicates something important about a fictional world or about a colour.



Yeah maybe they're not the best examples, but the point I was making is that there are a lot of aspects of every color that are not depicted on cards, because they are not important to communicate the worlds of Magic. It seems wizards believes things like art, commerce, etc. don't need to be represented that much.

I do not see how.



It's using rules and laws to herd society in the 'right' way, restricting and taking away personal freedom and pleasures.  

You can't just assert things without reasons. White is not committed to any particular economic system, since White's core values don't include any economic system. White will select an economic system on purely pragmatic grounds: what sort of economy will best accomplish White's aims? (That is: what economic system is most conducive to peace and social harmony, the equality of individuals, fair treatment before the law, the promotion of moral values, and so on?)

If White's ideals are best served by some sort of free market, then White will support a free market. It will, however, not support a free market simply out of ideological commitment. White has no belief that the market should be free and unhindered as a matter of principle. But if it is the best system for White's goals, White will be okay with that. If White's goals are best served by a state-run economy, then similarly White will choose that. But White is not ideologically committed to a state-run economy either.



Of course it is, capitalism is about individuals making personal gain. The peaceful, stable society White wants it achieves through a central authority ruling it all.

As Shamsiel says, white is the least pragmatic, most idealistic color.

(On a side note here, I think it is also a caricature of Black to say that Black is a rational amoralist. Black is not motivated purely by rational self-interest. Black is sadistic. Black does genuinely enjoy seeing people suffer. Rosewater himself admitted this in the Rakdos article. Black is the sadist colour.



"Black is the color that can actually enjoy watching others suffer." A cow is an animal, an animal isn't a cow. Sadism is part of black, but black does not automatically mean sadism.

Then it is highly disingenuous to claim that Black is a defender of rights, either individual rights or minority rights.



It's not so much defending rights as it is about creating rights where none were before. Morally progressive is very much B(/R) against the conservatism of W(/G) 

Minorities are a part of the group: insofar as rights exist in order to codify the ways in which different groups can interact, and so promote peaceful and harmonious relations between those groups, White has to care about rights. Who else will?



Gays should stay in the closet, women in the kitchen. That could be how white creates a peaceful and harmonious society.


EDIT: I'm talking about 'evil white' all the time, white taken to its unhealthy extreme. Every color has a balanced good and unbalanced evil side.
Quite funny than when Irandura stopped being an imbecile, someone clicked on a reversal button and made him stupid again. Oh well:



Please, you flatter me.

The worst offender against rationality is the  idea that =truth. There is a good reason why , which is the colour most concerned with obtaining knowledge, is at odds with ; when both colours are at conflict, is the one trying to discover the truth, while is hiding it.



Blue is the colour of deception and illusion, I remind you. This is not only explicit in Rosewater's Blue article, where we are told that Blue represents trickery and illusion, but it is supported on many Blue cards. As recent as M12 illusions were a major tribal theme for Blue.

As for White, I will simply point out that when I said that White is associated with truth, I listed eleven different cards, from a large number of different sets, as evidence.

I think my assertion that Blue is associated with deception and White is associated with truth is quite well-supported by evidence, both in the cards and on the site. If you would like to take issue with my claim I would recommend presenting similar evidence, preferably on multiple printed M:tG cards.

I don't think this is unreasonable of me. My methodology is that we can get a good idea of what a colour represents by looking at the sorts of things that are most frequently represented on cards of that colour. This seems fair to me, especially since the vast majority of M:tG players learn what the colours are and what they stand for from the cards. The sort of evidence needed to defend the claim that White cares about truth would be a large number of printed White cards that depict White caring about truth, seeking truth, defending truth, and so on. I believe that I have presented such evidence.

is the colour of self delusion, the colour associated with denying the unpleasantness of reality in favor of comforting idealism that may be at odds with the situation.



May I ask why you believe this? What is your evidence for this claim? What cards show it? I cannot help but notice that cards depicting self-deception - Illusions of Grandeur and Delusions of Mediocrity spring to mind - seem to be situated in Blue, not White. That is in fact what you would expect if Blue was the colour of deception and White was fundamentally honest, as I believe, but it seems a major issue for someone who thinks White is a self-deceiving colour.

The idea that represents the truth is the single most pathetic pseudo-argument I have EVER seen, and makes one wonder if the people offering it represent 's delusional side.



I have clearly presented my evidence for the view that White represents truth. If you wish to take issue with my view, I would politely ask you to present your evidence and make your argument politely.

And you guys conveniently forgot many villains in order for your idea of as a Mary Sue to function. For instance, there's Lieutenant Kirtar  , which was already a fanatically extremist before the Mirrari corrupted him, the Myoijin of Cleansing Fire  , an kami who burned his own followers to death according to flavor text in the shrine card associated with him, Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile  , who commited MANY morally ambiguous actions, and Gaddock Teeg  , who was the secondary Big Bad of the Lorwyn story (NOT of the entirity of the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block, though), ALL OF the kithkin in Shadowmoor, which were fanatically paranoid, the Nobilis of War  , which was devoted to spreading war and subsequent misery, Gwafa Hazid  and the Knight of the Skyward Eye  from Bant and the ALL aligned characters from Esper (seriously, they're like the Azorius, only more tyrannical and deceptive), and now several characters in Innistrad (go check the card image gallery if you don't believe me).



If you look back, I mentioned Kirtar explicitly.

For many of the others, I must point that I and my friend have not read many M:tG novels, as they are frequently of poor quality. I have only read the first Kamigawa novel (which was good; I could never find the subsequent ones in stores). I have not read any of the Lorwyn novels, so I will refrain from commenting on Brigid or Teeg. In such cases I frequently browse the M:tGS wiki to get the gist of the characters, and I will say that I did check Brigid's and I thought she looked quite reasonable. The Nobilis of War is a multicolour card; I was scanning only monocolour cards. In the case of multicolour cards like the Nobilis there's always room to dispute which colour represents which aspects of the character. Gwafa Hazid is multicolour, and in Alara Unbroken we saw him to be foolish but not outright malicious; indeed, he was wracked with guilt at what happened when he delivered Bolas' cargo. We never saw any knights of the Skyward Eye in novels or webcomics, and I was listing named, legendary characters anyway. I am not aware of any mono-White Esper legends. While, for example, Sharuum is a very creepy individual - my friend thinks, rightly, that Time Sieve has one of the most disturbing and frightening flavour texts in M:tG - it is not at all clear that this extends to White.

Regarding Innistrad, we did follow up our search for non-evil Black cards with a search for non-good White cards. You might be interested to see our conclusions. They were as follows. Elite Inquisitor is a bit creepy. Ghostly Possession and Midnight Haunting seem bad. Nevermore is quite disturbing, with the implications of magical thought control. Both Rebuke and Urgent Exorcism might be reasonable in the context of Innistrad but seem to betray rather questionable attitudes which could, in the wrong circumstances, lead to acts of considerable evil. Lastly, we were confused by the flavour text of Spectral Rider. Why would the avenged scream? The avenged are the people on whose behalf an act of vengeance has been carried out.

For aligned heroes, there's Dralnu, Lich Lord  , the ever popular Xantcha, Jarad from the Ravnica novels (arguably all of the Golgari with the exception of Savra and the gorgon sisters were good) and several Shadowmoor/Lorwyn characters, including ALL of the boggarts (there's a very good reason why I have that signature).



I have not read the Ravnica or Lorwyn novels and therefore refrain from commenting on them.

I did, however, read the Invasion block novels and I have no idea how anyone could read Dralnu as a hero. Dralnu infected the allies fighting against the Phyrexians with a plague so that he could stab them in the back at the opportune time and take over. He was the evil within, as opposed to the external threat presented by Phyrexia.

They were not unpleasant people, according to the people who read the books



Are you citing books you haven't read as evidence? That seems questionable.

I would also raise a methodological criticism here with regard to evidence. As I said above, I think the most players learn what the colours represent from the cards. The vast majority of the M:tG player base is not familiar with the novels. (And probably reasonably so, since the majority of M:tG novels are rather poor quality.) I think that we have to go to the cards first when we debate the colours, and use them as primary evidence.

What many of the imbeciles who require the idiotic notion that =good and =evil forget in order for their bizarre psychological dependencies to not be threatened



I would ask if we could remain civil while disagreeing.

I don't think we need to respect each other, as I said on page two, but I do think that civility should be a basic requirement.

They are not "good" and "evil" aspects, but rather "elements", alongside , and , and hence are neutral. From day one they were designed with good aspects and evil aspects in mind.



'Day one' is Alpha, presumably? Alpha gave us cards like Evil Presence, which suggests to me that Black was designed with evil in mind. Mirrored pairs like the Alpha printings of Holy Strength/Unholy Strength, or White Knight/Black Knight suggest that the common fantasy theme of good and evil was in mind. Cards like Righteousness suggest that from the start White was associated with morality. Even the flavour text of the Alpha printing of Wall of Swords suggests that the colours were associated with morality.

From the very beginning, I would argue, White and Black were designed with moral imagery in mind. As for the other colours? I don't believe I'm talking about them right now. I don't dispute that it is possible to make every other colour good or bad.

While fascism is debatable (and even then it HAS to be part due to several aspects in its philosophy), ALWAYS represented holy war (which is why we have genocidal spells like Wrath of God  ;



I would have pointed to Crusade, Jihad, or Army of Allah, actually.

xenophobia (the kithkin, the mirran Loxodon, several innistradi cards, although the latter with good reasons), delusion (duergars from Shadowmoor), and lack of individuality (this is why it is the enemy of , which is the colour of individuality).



Individualism is a difficult thing to place, actually. Black's predilection for slavery, much less zombies, makes it rather difficult to talk about Black as a bastion of individual freedom and expression. Red seems the most natural fit, but historically Red is as much associated with slavery as Black.

For 's good aspects, it is mostly via information by the staff, with no cards to illustrate it as of yet. However, characters have generally shown pragmatism, which is a very good quality.



I think the cards must come first, as stated above.

As for pragmatism, I would strongly take issue with any system of morality in which pragmatism is viewed as morally good. Do we really think it is morally praiseworthy for a person to be pragmatic? Sweatshop labour is without a doubt pragmatic - by which I mean amoral means-end rationality would endorse it - but we do not think a person is deserving of moral praise for making use of it.
Please, you flatter me.



It is quite true, considering the progress you had in the Flavor area and what you speak of now.

Blue is the colour of deception and illusion, I remind you. This is not only explicit in Rosewater's Blue article, where we are told that Blue represents trickery and illusion, but it is supported on many Blue cards. As recent as M12 illusions were a major tribal theme for Blue.

As for White, I will simply point out that when I said that White is associated with truth, I listed eleven different cards, from a large number of different sets, as evidence.

I think my assertion that Blue is associated with deception and White is associated with truth is quite well-supported by evidence, both in the cards and on the site. If you would like to take issue with my claim I would recommend presenting similar evidence, preferably on multiple printed M:tG cards.



Storywise, there are more examples of characters hiding the truth that is found out by characters (although admitely whereas they latter reveal it or not depends on the scenario). The most iconic example is Tezzeret finding out the deception of the Seekers of Carmot (a aligned group, mind you), while the flavor text of their cards suggest that the partly aligned merfolk of Lorwyn are more hellbent on controlling the flow of knowledge than the more aligned merfolk of Shadowmoor (who simply don't care either way).

In many of the cards shown, "truth" seems to be more the case of personal view of truth than actual truth. For example, several Zendikar cards throw around the concept of "truth" in regards to Emeria, when it turned out that their pwecious little goddess was a lovecraftian monster.

This was prececily what I was talking about. These characters think they are being truthful, but in truth (no pun or irony intended) theyare living comfortable lies that they view as truth. In some of the cards, the context is even nonsensical. The Archon of Justice, for example, is saying that he is "spreading the truth", when in fact he is slaying monsters, there being no archon as a character in Shadowmoor to tell everyone of Oona's deception (if it can even be called that, since nobody cared considering most creatures were stupid monsters).

 
May I ask why you believe this? What is your evidence for this claim? What cards show it? I cannot help but notice that cards depicting self-deception - Illusions of Grandeur and Delusions of Mediocrity spring to mind - seem to be situated in Blue, not White. That is in fact what you would expect if Blue was the colour of deception and White was fundamentally honest, as I believe, but it seems a major issue for someone who thinks White is a self-deceiving colour.



is the colour of decepting other people; I have no doubts some characters are self deceiving to some extent, but self deception is not primarily , because most characters have been depicted as a control freak at least to some extent, which implies some degree of introspection, the bitter enemy of self delusion. I raise you again Duergar Assailant (yes, part , but it's like Crovax; only due to flavor reasons), which is incidently far more recent than the two cards you mentioned, as well as the mirran loxodon, according to flavour articles.

Perhaps most obvious, though, is that both and are stated to be united in not denying the reality of the world.

I have clearly presented my evidence for the view that White represents truth. If you wish to take issue with my view, I would politely ask you to present your evidence and make your argument politely.



I would have great pleasure in observing you trying to maintain a polite position when you have to use the same arguments almost literally a thousand times.

If you look back, I mentioned Kirtar explicitly.



My bad.

 For many of the others, I must point that I and my friend have not read many M:tG novels, as they are frequently of poor quality. I have only read the first Kamigawa novel (which was good; I could never find the subsequent ones in stores). I have not read any of the Lorwyn novels, so I will refrain from commenting on Brigid or Teeg. In such cases I frequently browse the M:tGS wiki to get the gist of the characters, and I will say that I did check Brigid's and I thought she looked quite reasonable. The Nobilis of War is a multicolour card; I was scanning only monocolour cards. In the case of multicolour cards like the Nobilis there's always room to dispute which colour represents which aspects of the character. Gwafa Hazid is multicolour, and in Alara Unbroken we saw him to be foolish but not outright malicious; indeed, he was wracked with guilt at what happened when he delivered Bolas' cargo. We never saw any knights of the Skyward Eye in novels or webcomics, and I was listing named, legendary characters anyway. I am not aware of any mono-White Esper legends. While, for example, Sharuum is a very creepy individual - my friend thinks, rightly, that Time Sieve has one of the most disturbing and frightening flavour texts in M:tG - it is not at all clear that this extends to White.



In the case of Teeg, his actions where somewhat justified in that he was trying to protect the kithkin clachan, but Brigid killed several people of questionable inoccence, and she only spoke back against Teeg in one instance. The Order of the Skyward eye is mentioned in the Planeswalker's Guide as being quite fanatical, although in this case it is more of Bant's fault, as appearently most people favoured that type of orders instead of the less extremistic (half ) ones.

Regarding Innistrad, we did follow up our search for non-evil Black cards with a search for non-good White cards. You might be interested to see our conclusions. They were as follows. Elite Inquisitor is a bit creepy. Ghostly Possession and Midnight Haunting seem bad. Nevermore is quite disturbing, with the implications of magical thought control. Both Rebuke and Urgent Exorcism might be reasonable in the context of Innistrad but seem to betray rather questionable attitudes which could, in the wrong circumstances, lead to acts of considerable evil. Lastly, we were confused by the flavour text of Spectral Rider. Why would the avenged scream? The avenged are the people on whose behalf an act of vengeance has been carried out.



Maybe he/it doesn't have any idea of who he is killing? It is implied that Innistradi ghosts have no idea that their presence alone is mind numbingly horrifying for the living humans.

I did, however, read the Invasion block novels and I have no idea how anyone could read Dralnu as a hero. Dralnu infected the allies fighting against the Phyrexians with a plague so that he could stab them in the back at the opportune time and take over. He was the evil within, as opposed to the external threat presented by Phyrexia.



A failure on my part. He is established as a sympathetic character, only for pretty unexplainable betrayal in the following novel. His betrayal is generally considered one of the most reviled violations of continuity in the novels. Needless to say, I am still right on the boggarts. Mostly.

I would also raise a methodological criticism here with regard to evidence. As I said above, I think the most players learn what the colours represent from the cards. The vast majority of the M:tG player base is not familiar with the novels. (And probably reasonably so, since the majority of M:tG novels are rather poor quality.) I think that we have to go to the cards first when we debate the colours, and use them as primary evidence.



Except that many cards contradict each other and can easily be misinterpreted? Besides, if you want to write a story, cards are not the way to go, because they only reveal a tiny fraction of what is happening. For example, Sorin is an anti-hero, yet most cards where he is reffered show only the bad parts of his character.

'Day one' is Alpha, presumably? Alpha gave us cards like Evil Presence, which suggests to me that Black was designed with evil in mind. Mirrored pairs like the Alpha printings of Holy Strength/Unholy Strength, or White Knight/Black Knight suggest that the common fantasy theme of good and evil was in mind. Cards like Righteousnesssuggest that from the start White was associated with morality. Even the flavour text of the Alpha printing of Wall of Swords suggests that the colours were associated with morality.

From the very beginning, I would argue, White and Black were designed with moral imagery in mind. As for the other colours? I don't believe I'm talking about them right now. I don't dispute that it is possible to make every other colour good or bad.



I suppose that, since the first editions didn't concern themselves with flavor, they just didn't had a strict colour philosophy and what fell under each colour. For example, back in the day you had werewolves in , when now they are clearly . However, that colours were neutral was considered since early on, since many early cards showed things like Land Taxing, which is not considered nowadays.

Individualism is a difficult thing to place, actually. Black's predilection for slavery, much less zombies, makes it rather difficult to talk about Black as a bastion of individual freedom and expression. Red seems the most natural fit, but historically Red is as much associated with slavery as Black.



concerns itself with the needs of the individual. Of course this is going to cause evil things, but it also makes the first to act when it feels opression. Xantcha as a character illustrated this; she was , but she felt opressed by Phyrexia (while Phyrexia was almost mono- in the days, it was clear that they weren't pure , as Tsabo Tavoc, Rout and Metathran Zombie), so she rebelled.

, I think, has evolved a lot since earlier days. Back then they knew how to make it villainous, but now most characters are heroic, which is kinda boring.

As for pragmatism, I would strongly take issue with any system of morality in which pragmatism is viewed as morally good. Do we really think it is morally praiseworthy for a person to be pragmatic? Sweatshop labour is without a doubtpragmatic - by which I mean amoral means-end rationality would endorse it - but we do not think a person is deserving of moral praise for making use of it.



Largely depends on the scenario. Owning a child factory would be Stupid Evil and a wish to prison or death in a civilised country, for example. Pragmatism is good in that it focuses exclusively on what works/is useful, and currently the lack of pragmatism is what causes the most unecessary conflicts. For example, several branches of Christianity are currently alieanating youths away from it due to its homophobia, while others are more accepting and are no declining; Germany is currently avoiding to bail some other european nations, but instead of being pragmatic and recognising that the long term benefits are greater than the low term lesser amount of money, it chooses to horde irrationally.

Pragmatism is usually how or protagonists are likable, while adherence to opressive moral codes or to irrational emotions is how , and are villainous. In fact, it is only when isn't genuinely pragmatic that it is evil (in 's case, pragmatism is generally still present in villains).
IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/global/images/mtgcom_daily_mc52_picMain_en.jpg)IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/73821e61e013eadf56a8e4e2226d89a3.jpg?v=90000)
(Gatherer does not seem to include Proposal)


Sadly that one doesn't really count for much, not being a standard Magic card (and the marriage it references is out-of-game, not part of the universe and storyline as far as I'm aware - I don't think they were THAT meta about it, though in their place I would have been!).  However there are a couple examples, Unlikely Alliance for sure and I think one or two others.  It's certainly not a major subject, which is kind of a shame, it'd make a good setting piece for "showing the peace before the war" in a set like Innistrad, or Scars, or the Bant portions of Alara.  (Hm, they seem to like starting wars.)
As for a cooking-themed card, nothing tops Recycle.  :D  And the shortage of toilet-themed cards suits me just fine, thankyew.
Pirates are blue too but that makes no sense whatsover. The sea is connected to the color blue because of the land system, but that's a bit of a silly part of the color wheel.


Oh, I agree that a large part of the colour wheel as it has been defined makes no damn sense at all.


Most of these glitches are due to a schism between the color's philosophy and its elemental associations.  Red, for instance, comes from mountains and is associated with fire and free expression.  Most mountains aren't on fire, mountains have at best a tenuous connection to free expression, and most people who are on fire aren't free to express much of anything other than "AAAARGH!".  So there are invariably some rifts (and not the fun kind that are full of delicious blue time jelly).  Pirates in blue are a good example - they're blue because they're on the sea, not because they have anything to do with intellectual profundity.  From a philosophical standpoint, very few pirates come out as blue - actually every other color fits better!  (Red for jolly old Rogers, black for merciless cutthroats, green for raiders just trying to survive at the expense of those better-blessed with resources, and white for honorable privateers or buccaneer Rebels that are too civilized to be Red.  Seventh Sea's "Explorers" are about as close as I've ever seen to Blue-philosophy pirates, and they were only barely pirates at all.)  But just as they haven't printed a green Shark since concluding that Sharks should be green philosophically, I don't expect to see nonblue Pirates in a ship sailing the ocean anytime soon.
If white had its way, we wouldn't have any kind of capitalistic system. 


Why?


Capitalism is not at all consistent with white's ethos; it might be tolerated or even exalted up to a point, but it's never an ideal.  White's ideal economic system is a perfectly fair arrangement of bartering contracts and guanxi relationships which makes it fundamentally impossible to ever get more than you give away; profit would be impossible, people would serve for the sake of service and consider the "relationship" part of a "trade relationship" more important than the "trade" part.  The whole system might be administrated through a definitionally-uncorruptible central authority (such as the angels who ruled Bant, who were pure white mana and thus functionally incapable of abusing the system for their own benefit), or perhaps just enforced by a highly socialized honor system where nobody dares upset the balance in even the slightest way lest they be entirely shunned or worse.  At its most extreme, white is like an ant hive; those who step out of their place in the system are considered dangerous and insane, and are "cured" for their own good whether they like it or not, or else put down if no cure is available.
*facepalm* TVTropes. Right.


Actually, while I am an occasional Troper, Always Chaotic Evil comes straight out of the D&D book (and is applied to their version of Vampires, though I always houserule to the contrary).
The biggest exception to the rule I can see in M:tG is Repentant Vampire. Crovax, of course, was also a highly moral individual.


No version of Crovax is both highly moral and a vampire at the same time.  He was an Urborg noble (black-aligned but "good" - he's actually my ur-example of a Black hero, far more than Toshi Umezawa who was just a protagonist), then he was cursed to become a vampire (black-aligned and pretty much mindlessly malevolent), then he got Phyrexianized and became the Evincar (black-aligned and thoroughly evil by even the most tolerant definition, as seen on Massacre and Phyrexian Tyranny), and in an alternate universe where he never got cursed, he turned into a Redeemed Hero (who was white-aligned because he had risen to a more typical definition of heroism after seeing Mirri take the curse meant for him, but if nobody had been cursed and Selenia had just gone off to mope by herself, Crovax could have just remained his old broody self-involved self, doing the right thing for the wrong reasons and thus being at least one of the chief permutations of how a Black character can be a hero).
But I cannot resist pointing out here: yes, M:tG vampires are almost universally evil. Vampires are a Black tribe. So of course they're evil.


This is not really necessary.  Vampires have to be kinda grim since they need to drink blood to survive, but some versions may be able to feed from their prey without killing them, may even care for them (if only as valuable resources to be kept fat and happy so they don't make trouble for their owner).  Black is always "dark", but wouldn't have to be Evil, except that in our sickeningly PC society, people are driven to consider Evil sexy and awesome and cool, so they want to buy Magic cards that are "totally wicked", not nuanced portrayals of moral relativism.  If our society as a whole was more Green in its attitudes, we would still idolize Black's devil-may-care attitude, but we might focus more on the "parasitic and isolationist" aspect rather than the purely "selfish and vicious" aspect that strongly runs contrary to our White-aligned norm.
So vampires are murderous hedonists with poor impulse control. That seems fine to me, because Black is a murderous hedonist with poor impulse control. Let's not blame vampires just for doing what they were designed to do. If Anowon was a scholar who just happened to have fangs and intelligently compensated for his need for blood in socially acceptable ways, then he would be Blue.


Murderous hedonism is at least as likely to be Red as Black; Black tends toward requiring a bit of self-control, though this varies heavily by the individual.  A red vampire is more likely to flip out and bite everything that moves than a black one; see Blood-Crazed Neonate and Vampiric Fury versus Stromkirk Patrol and Lord of Lineage.  I don't think a more self-controlled Anowon would necessarily be blue, though he would certainly be more on the blue side of Black than the one we've seen.  It depends on how much of Anowon's desire to know the truth is motivated just by his selfish desire to know (more black, though often seen in blue as well, keeping him on the black side by virtue of his species defaulting to that color), and how much is due to a desire to help his people better understand their origins and place in the world so that they can better their lot (a whitish-blue motivation which would pull him across the border into blue despite his being a vampire).  Blue doesn't just want knowledge; it wants to use that knowledge to transform the world into something it considers objectively better by its definition, rather than just something more to its personal preference (an admittedly fine distinction, but one is purely selfish and thus Black, while the other partakes of White's trend toward hypocrisy and self-justification, neither of which Black bothers with unless having to weasel out of answering to a more powerful authority).
We're only now seeing non-Black vampires and I honestly have no idea why there are Red vampires in Innistrad.


Short tempers and uncontrollable "lust" (mostly this is hunger, but cards like Rakish Heir hint at a trend toward hinting at the sensual undertones, even if the game remains too PG-13 to go into much detail).  The vampires portrayed here have a civilization, a sense of refinement and authority, and they have to lean on their Black side to manage that.  Their red side just wants to go crazy, drink dry everything that moves until they're bloated like a tick, and run and hide from anything powerful enough to stop it from doing these things.  All their more restrained, sophisticated behaviors are possible only through the idea of keeping their hair-trigger viciousness in check and making a pretense of civility.
(One disclaimer: Stromkirk Noble completely exemplifies the Black side of the vampires behaviorally, and I think he's only red for mechanical reasons since he's an aggro card and black isn't playing aggro much this block.  But this is admittedly an interpretation; he does form something of a counterexample to the pattern I've decided, and it's possible, though IMO unlikely, that he was intended to set a precedent.  Overall, however, I'd expect that most of the "nobility" displayed by the Markovs and Stromkirks is a self-aggrandizing pretense, a bloviation intended to make them feel even more awesome despite the fact that they already rule the land with an iron fist, so that they can condescend to let some of their subjects eke out a bare survival and then pretend that this display of restraint proves how generous and compassionate they are.  It's very self-congratulatory and full of Night Soil, but that's one of the better tendencies Black portrays; sometimes it pretends to be "not so bad once you get to know me" well enough to actually BE not so bad.  And lest you think this is the White in a White-Black example, it's actually the opposite; the Orzhov demonstrated how adding White to Black can actually make Black worse, because now it has to not only be evil on its own behalf, but also for the sake of protecting its constituents and pre-empting threats to the group.)
Humble, too.


I have never denied being thoroughly full of myself.  Better than feeling hollow, IMO.
No, 'In the Black' was given from an omniscient designer perspective.


You're right, I was thinking of the Grixis Week article where "Black" actually speaks for itself.  I apologize for the error.  (Though I regret that I cannot promise that the individuals responsible will be sacked; it would be an exercise in futility.)
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
The worst offender against rationality is the  idea that =truth. There is a good reason why , which is the colour most concerned with obtaining knowledge, is at odds with ; when both colours are at conflict, is the one trying to discover the truth, while is hiding it.


Unfortunately, while white's status as the color of truth is dubious, blue certainly doesn't claim the title; blue has always had a strong undercurrent of trickery, illusion and duplicity.  Really, it's more a color of "situational truth" - black would actively prefer to lie if it thinks you're stupid enough to believe it, just because it might be fun to watch you fall into the trap it's set, while blue needs a good reason to lie but doesn't hesitate in that case.  Red has no compunctions about lying but despises being lied TO, so in general it tends to be anti-deception, just not in a way that involves any consistent policy (red not being big on consistency under any circumstances, though of course that rule includes its own numerous exceptions).  The color of truth, in general, would almost certainly be green; white tries to tell the truth, but isn't above lying in the name of a greater good once in a while, or even more than blue about "situational truth" - something I have to practice sometimes in my job, when a duly appointed overseer in the hierarchy doesn't fully understand a situation and isn't interested in doing so, and would cause harm through ignorance just because their authority makes it possible to say "do it my way" without forcing them to consider whether they're right or wrong (this might be a function of black individuals within the hierarchy, but white created the hierarchy itself in at least as many cases, and is usually committed to preserving it for the sake of stability even if it is known to contain some "necessary" evils - white has faith that those problems can be worked out in time, but not if the structure is brought crashing down by some red-aligned hothead who wants justice NOW).
For aligned heroes, there's Dralnu, Lich Lord


Er, not so much a hero, given what he did to the Metathran commander.  An ally against a greater evil, but still evil himself.
the ever popular Xantcha


She's a difficult case to analyze; she might have been Black in species alone, though I haven't seen enough characterization of her to be sure.  She certainly wasn't typical of Black; at best she was an example of how a hyper-individualistic color produces numerous exceptions to its rule, which in no way means that the rule is completely invalid.
including ALL of the boggarts (there's a very good reason why I have that signature).


Agreed.  I was just reflecting a while ago about how much I miss the boggarts.  They were disgusting and obnoxious, but that's still a huge step up from "evil", and are just about the only BR faction to share that distinction.  A non-Goblin version of the same principle would be even more fun - if I were to write a Ravnica novel, I would definitely include some non-evil Rakdos characters (sensualists who believe in living on the edge and escaping maddening conformity - they might be doomed by their association with the fully psychopathic ones, but in and of themselves they'd just be normal folks trying to enjoy life as best they can, no different than folks who work a low-paying artsy job and go out for a beer afterward), as well as some others that qualify more or less as "evil" but are at least more nuanced about it (population-control advocates who honestly believe murder is a necessity in overcrowded Ravnica, or somewhat-insane sadomasochists who believe you haven't truly lived unless you've almost died - and who like to help others get over their fear of participating in similar thrills).
(which is why we have genocidal spells like Wrath of God


That one's not genocidal so much as omnicidal; Extinction was originally designed under the playtest name Genocide, IIRC.  WOG/DOJ are based on the idea that White wants to be fair, punishing everyone equally for the sins of any members of the group, so that the group knows it's their responsibility to police their own members and not let anybody screw up.  A brutal ethos, but one at least vaguely connected to some definition of justice.
For 's good aspects, it is mostly via information by the staff, with no cards to illustrate it as of yet. However, characters have generally shown pragmatism, which is a very good quality.


Gotta agree with whoever called you on this one; pragmatism is about making hard choices in the face of a not-ideal reality, and while it might be better than any of the alternatives, I don't think it can be called "good" when it involves a complete and utter failure to believe anything better is possible.  Blue's dreams lead to white's structures, and red's passions lead to green's family and tribal bonds; black is the nadir of both of those upward paths, and it is at best "making the most of a bad situation", which I wouldn't call "good" per se.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
A very well-reasoned post, Irandrura, and I can't really disagree with anything you said (with one exception, which I'll get to later). However, I am pretty sure the reason for this disagreement is differing definitions of good and evil. You are using "selfless" as good and "selfish" as evil, which are probably the most common definitions of the two (and the exact definitions as used in D&D), but not the only definitions.

White does have selflessness as a trait, and Black does have selfishness. This is undeniable. However, there are other forms of evil. White is about protecting its population; what if White set up a government which greatly restricted individual rights: curfews, outlawing magic in the hands of the common man, forcing people into jobs they don't want, etc. all for the greater good. This is still very much selfless, as the goal is to protect the people, but is it good? You may argue that it is, but I would say it is evil. It is not selfish evil, but another form of evil that is equally valid. The population may be safe, but at the cost of not being happy.

What if a black character, while striving for personal power, arms the populace to free them from the above repressive regime? He seeks a revolution after which he will come out as a hero, the champion of the people and very likely their new leader. By continuing to treat the people well, he retains individual power, which is the prime motivator for Black. Yes, he is selfish, but is he evil? I'd argue no, he's good. He gave the people what they wanted.



This is it exactly for me. And in an amusing moment of Fandom Convergence, reminds me very strongly of Megatron in Transformers: Exodus. He eventually ends up obviously and clearly evil, but in the beginning it's not so clear. The society described in that is a caste society that is so hidebound it's clearly unjust, and Megatron leads a revolution against it, wanting (as I understood it; some parts of his early agenda are unclear or deceptively represented) the new society to be one where social role and rank has to do with what someone is good at and what they want and what rank they can earn.

There's some Red in there too I suppose, at least as stated. But I think they were also going for what I'd call (and you'd call, from this post) a heroic Black character (at least before he chooses his personal ambitions over even the good of his own revolution.) Although I felt the book was written so poorly I wouldn't be surprised to discover the author was actually a monkey flinging poo at a touchscreen, I really liked that about it. The seeds of Megatron's eventual fall from grace were obvious, but I don't think he was evil -- or at least don't think he was entirely evil -- in the beginning. He wanted a more individualistic society, and many of his reasons for that were more selfish than about caring for others.

And I think that's Black-aligned, all along -- the good side and the bad side.
Let's put it back to what MaRo said about red: While Red is about emotions, and this includes Love and such, it is difficult, if not impossible, to depict "Love" on a card with any real mechanical element. The mechanics of what the cards must do in the game must give way to what the color must represent in general. This still means that color is "about" that thing. So Red is still about caretaking and adulation and reverence and awe and such, but it is noever really going to get that on cards with any sense of that being a positive.

Keep this mantra in mind:

Flavor cannot always be represented in mechanics.

That said, I figured I'd chime in on the 'ol concept of Good versus Evil, because it seems some in this discussion have gotten some pretty interesting ideas about what the colors "represent." Of course, this means I disagree.

White.
Show
White is about Balance. This means it is about sharing, about ignoring the specific for the overall, the trees for the forest. It will ignore the individual because, to it, it must preserve the group, and it's mantra is "Greatest Good for the Greatest Number." If it can preserve a thousand by sacrificing a hundred, then so be it, although it will regret it. So white ultimately cares about the overall effect of things and the sense that things should never go out of whack, no one should have the upper hand, and that if anyone should have a constraint, then either everyone should have it, or none should. White is idealistic, and it preserves a sense of the ideal above others, even if this interferes with an individual's ideal.

It is at conflict with Black ('Power") and Red ("Impulse") because those ideals conflict with the Greater Good; it shares with Green ("Transformation") and Blue ("Progress") the sense that things can be improved within the group, even if they differ on the means.

Mechanically, this is represented with universal board wipes, the most comprehensive permanent removal capability, casual creature pump, token generation of weenies, and the ability to protect the masses or the individual when necessary.

There is nothing innately "good" about White. It is that societally, it is closely tied to the feeling of community and group think, and this tends to reflect on the development of organizations and religions, which collect like-minded folks and act as groups. That White has become the "religion" color seems vacuous and problematic in equating White = Good = Religion when there are many potential conflicts with personal disagreements.


Blue.
Show
Blue is about Progress. This mean it seeks to gain, and progress, and generally is reflected in the search for knowledge. The individual is only useful in the advancement of the ideal, while the group is only useful if it continues to the ideal; it can be individualistic or it can be group-think: Whichever gains more progress at the moment. When an object can be reduced to its components and knowledge gained, a reason can be found to justify this to the hierarchy, if at all. This can lead to a subversive element: "Truth" is an ideal which Blue does not necessarily share, and is willing to create said truth out of whole cloth. In a way, this is a positive: In a scientific hypothesis, a scientist observes a thing, considers said thing in context, and formulates an hypothesis; he then examines the potential of said hypothesis to be "true" and if it does not conflict with the remainder of observed reality, he then collates said new information into "truth." So "truth" to him is mutable, flexible, progressive. It's mantra is "Everything is a blank slate."

It is at conflict with Red ("Impulse") and Green ("Transformation") because it feels change can be guided, developed, rather than uncontrolled and uncontained; it shares with White ("Balance") and Black ("Power") the sense that all things are essentially equal (any one can do anything), even if the constraining idealogy differs.

Mechanically, this is represented by manipulation, the control of objects, the acquiring of objects, the manipulation of other people's "memories" and "thoughts."

Blue can be very, very cruel, and very, very benign. It can help the masses with newfound cures or subject them to experiments to better some esoteric thing. It can be the developer of new technologies and new ways of working with the universe, or develop new theories of how to look at things. It's the ultimate "scientist" trope.


Black.
Show
Blue is about Power. Selfishness, aggrandizement, the desire to get anything and everything, these are all embraced because it feels nothing should be restricted from it. It's mantra is "What is mine is mine." If something is hidden, it wants to have it, even if to then discard it. The individual ideal is at utmost based on the premise that for it, the person is the only true "truth," the only thing you can be sure of, and the only thing you can be aware of; so you might as well go with it. It is the purpose of gain regardless of cost because the possession is the point, and questioning the value of this expresses it's other attribute: showmanship. It will produce any number of fantastic sights and images of the depths to which it will sink in order to awe and amaze, just so you notice him. In many ways, it is the most insecure, least sure in its self and power, because it knows, ultimately, that everyone else is just like it.

It is at conflict with White ("Balance") and Green ("Transformation") because it wants to be just the way it is, only more so; it shares with Blue ("Progress") and Red ("Impulse") the ideal that the individual has value.

Mechanically, this is represented by the ability to acquire cards to hand, and the ability to summon forth monstrosities from other planes, based on pacts for which it gains power. These are contracts it must somehow maintain, although it chafes.

Is Black Evil? No. Black is selfish. Black is the ultimate forest for the tree idealism, except it's not: Black doesn't think there are any other trees in the forest, and if it meets one, it pretends it doesn't matter and will revise its moment of thought to subject the "tree" to some shrubbery in order to devalue it. Only it matters. This is an impulse that can serve the righteous well, because such people can be very powerful, CEOs tend to be like this, and feel they are deserving of the respect due their mere position, which they nonetheless obtained through effort -- even if it's backalley stabbing and "morally questionable" behavior. Morals are simply a means that can be ended.


Red.
Show
Red is about Impulse. It is about the moment. All that matters is the now. It cares, deeply so, for the ideal of the moment, and this leads to hedonism. Red's mantra is simple: "Now." It is focused on the ideal that no one should be constrained by someone else's ideal, or even that one should be constrained to any ideal, much less their own. This leads to behavior that is sporadic, chaotic, quixotic, but it is all orderly and constrained in the mind: It is ultimately about the drive for personal wellbeing, in that whatever feels "right" is right.

It is at conflict with White ("Balance") and Blue ("Progress") because those colors demand a constraint on its behavior; it shares with Black ("Power") and Green ("Transformation") the primacy of the self and the ideal of "what I am."

Mechanically, this tends to become chaos cards, uncontrolled changes or development of the board state, flip cards, etc. Because Red is associated with Fire and Lava and Rock, it tends instead to get more spells that are rather precise and tuned to "hit" and "harm" and "destroy" than it is about anything else. It can "invoke" the sense of rebellion and control others' creatures temporarily.

I think for the most part Red is pigeonholed for the elemental aspects of its "land" association among all other colors: Mountains, molten rock, the blistering of snowstorms, etc., all seem to be about burning and hurting, and this belies Red's often compassionate side: Hedonism is about love, not anger, and about doing what feels "fun." It is a cruel, evil thing to associate "fun" with destruction and killing, or at least a sadistic thing, and that makes Red's mechanics very, very Black.


Green.
Show
Green is about Transformation. What it idealizes is that change is nature, and "nature" is to become better, faster, stronger, by any means, and if this means consuming ones surroundings, then prey beware. Its mantra is "Be better," and this means it will seek self-improvement through the idea of becoming more, greater, larger; or smaller, finer, more svelte. Transformation is not constrained to the bulk, but to the idea of function fitting form; what it wants to be able to do develops how it can do it: the ultimate predator can be a tiny fly, or a great gargantuan beast. Nature, to it, is a testing ground, a place to prove one's ability to attain betterment. It is not selfish, and desires the pack structure above all others because it sees it cannot do everything by itself: By nature of being in a path of change, it knows it lacks abilities others have, and thus prefers to merge capabilities to improve the qualities of the whole.

It shares with Red ("Impulse") and White ("Balance") the sense of caring about their surroundings, where the pack is part of one's development; it conflicts with Blue ("Progress") and Black ("Power") because they ultimately place a single thing above that of the whole, and seek to alter their surroundings for the sake of the individual, rather than adapt to the surroundings.

Mechanically, this results in token generation and creatures with a diverse range of abilities, bodies perfected against some but not all things. It requires the host of Green things to "perfect" a pack or individual, an investment of the whole into one. Land fetching and stuff is generally tied to Green's tendency to have Druids and such, but this seems to ignore the quality of the pack and the herd. Instead, it feels fairly Red, in generating "new" things, or Blue in exploring and finding new things.

Green is often associated with the "Nature only" ideal, which eschews artifice, but this seems a problem when it comes to those among Green whom are not hairless apes or elves, who wield weapons and conjure magics. Instead, it seems that the sense of perfection (which it regards as ultimately futile -- there is always room to become better) leads one to use what tools can be used to attain change. In this way, the effects of naturalization should realistically be toward creating things from others: more Deconstruct, less Oxidize.


Enjoy.
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
I don't think anyone in this discussion is wrong, as there are multiple ways to interpret the color pie, but from the way I interpret it, I agree the most with willpell. Irandrura has some good points, but on the majority of issues, I think willpell is spot-on.

Here's how I interpret the colors of White and Black in a nutshell.

White:

White is the color about the good of the group over that of the individual. White establishes rules to protect everyone, at the expense of individual freedoms (as rules always do. Rules tell you what you're not allowed to do, where a lack of rules means you have total freedom). Since we, as a society, commonly associate good with selflessness, this leads to White being most often portrayed as the color of Good, but it really isn't; it is merely the color of selflessness, which is a form of Good.

White will delude itself and others for the good of the group. There are a few examples of Magic religions (which are White-aligned, since religion is part of what White is) that are full of self-delusion: the goddess Emeria, the "religion" of the white Phyrexians. It is also the color of truth, though, in that it strives to see through lies (other than its own). Blue casts illusions, White tears them down again.

On the topic of economy, White is not capitalist. Capitalism is entirely about the individual's motivation via the chance at profit. This is very much what Black is about: individual gains. White would establish a socialist economy, where everyone (in theory) does equal work and gets equal pay, and none are left lacking. In White's eyes, anyone who sought individual profit would threaten the system, as it means he's taking away from another person, who now gets less than he needs.

Black:

Black is the color of selfishness and the indivual. Black's philosophy is "I look out for myself because no one else can be trusted to do so". Black isn't necessarily against the good of the group, as long as helping the group also yields gains for Black. Black will support a rules structure if it gives Black power it didn't previously have, and it will fight against a rules structure that takes away its power. I'd say that, while White sees Black's selfishness as the biggest threat and thus tends to view Black as its biggest enemy, Black is much more concerned with Green as an enemy, as Green is entirely about giving up individuality, whereas White's rules system is a useful tool if you know how to manipulate it.

Black will practice deception of others, but never of itself. Knowledge is power, so controlling its flow is the ultimate way to use it; denying the truth to yourself just makes you weak, as it means you are hiding from reality. This is why Black is the most associated with Death, which is the ultimate truth, and the one from which all the other colors hide - White conceptualizes an afterlife in order to feel better about the inevitable end of its life; Blue strives to leave a lasting impact so that its name lives on after it is gone; Red doesn't even think about death, preferring to live in the moment; Green sees life and death as a cycle, and thus believes, if not in reincarnation exactly, that it will be reintegrated into the system in some way.

To answer the point previously raised about how Black is the color of slavery, therefore it's not about individual rights:
This is not quite the case. Black is the color that will use others, therefore slaves (such as mindless zombies) fall into Black's slice of the color pie, but only as minions, tools to be used by black planeswalkers. I'd argue that the slaves (another example: thralls) aren't themselves Black-aligned, so much as colorless tools that are associated with Black only because Black is the one that uses them.

As I already stated above, Black is the color of capitalism, because Black seeks individual profits for itself. If its actions help others, fine, as long as Black comes out ahead as well. Neither socialism nor capitalism is inherently better (socialism works when you have an unbiased adjudicator, such as White's Angels), they're just different means to the same end.

In conclusion:
While White tends to be more associated with Good and Black with Evil, this is only because the most common forms of Good and Evil are "Helping Others" and "Helping Yourself". This does not mean that Good is a trait of White and that Evil is a trait of Black. Selflessness taken to an extreme can cross the line into being considered evil, and selfishness does not preclude doing good. All colors are capable of being either villainous or heroic, though not equally capable.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
Keep this mantra in mind:

Flavor cannot always be represented in mechanics.

That said, I figured I'd chime in on the 'ol concept of Good versus Evil, because it seems some in this discussion have gotten some pretty interesting ideas about what the colors "represent." Of course, this means I disagree.

Your post is probably the best summary of the five colors in one place that I have ever seen. Kudos.

I think for the most part Red is pigeonholed for the elemental aspects of its "land" association among all other colors: Mountains, molten rock, the blistering of snowstorms, etc., all seem to be about burning and hurting, and this belies Red's often compassionate side: Hedonism is about love, not anger, and about doing what feels "fun." It is a cruel, evil thing to associate "fun" with destruction and killing, or at least a sadistic thing, and that makes Red's mechanics very, very Black.

I agree, and it's a shame, since Red is possibly one of the deepest colors: creation and destruction both fall into Red's purview. The sad truth is that the nicer sides of Red don't map well to card mechanics, and thus Red is sort of a one-trick pony. Personally, I'd like to see Red get more things like creation of tokens that sacrifice at the end of the turn (in more numbers than it gets them now, I mean) to express artistic creation and expression. As it stands, almost all Red is now is goblins and fire.

That said, I would also like to point out that, as far as iconic race goes, Blue is the most shoe-horned by its elemental associations, as the only thing about Merfolk that I see being Blue is that they live in water. At least Goblins emphasize ONE aspect of Red (impulsiveness) beyond just living in mountainous terrains. That's not to say that Blue is in any other way shoehorned - only in Merfolk, not in mechanics.

...Of course, White doesn't even have an iconic race...
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
In regards to slavery, I am also not entirely sure if it is pure . uses minions, and is fine with slaves, but there is an inherent aspect because slavery historically was largely supported by the law and was considered morally apropriate. This doesn't seem far from the truth; in Ravnica, the Orzhov were the guild that practised slavery the most, while the remaining guilds either used zombies or killed people en mass either to due hedonistic frenzy (Rakdos) or to keep themselves secret and further their plans (Dimir).
IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/global/images/mtgcom_daily_mc52_picMain_en.jpg)IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/73821e61e013eadf56a8e4e2226d89a3.jpg?v=90000)
in Ravnica, the Orzhov were the guild that practised slavery the most



Surely you jest.

The Church of Deals did not practice slavery: As the enforcers of the contract in the Guildpact, and the function that was meant to hold the Guildpact in place, the Ghost Council developed the binding of contracts and practiced at being lawyers. When your contract's terms came up, it was they who stood there to see that you got what you were promised from others. But to gain their services, you had to swear service to them, either in this life, or in the years after you died as a spirit, before you could be released to Agadeem. No one signed a contract with the Orzhov without knowing that their service in the afterlife was bound up in that contract.

Note that all spirits who are bound in service do so because of the Orzhov, including so-called Azorius or Dimir ghosts. Wojek and Boros legions are regularly contracted as part of the Guild sign-up to then spend their time serving the Guildpact in death, and thus become one of many, many of Prahv's endless ranks of ghostly protectors.

Slavery? I think not. The point of the Guildpact was to stop that level of exploitative garbage, even if the Orzhov became adept in wheedling through the terms of their deals. (Despite this, in the story, it was the Azorius who engineered the breaking of the Pact, along with Simic and Dimir operatives, the leadership of the Golgari but not the whole, while the Boros, Selesnya and Rakdos were pawns.)
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
I'm pretty sure they use actual slavery. The Gruul are the main victims of their rights to own slaves, after all.
IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/global/images/mtgcom_daily_mc52_picMain_en.jpg)IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/73821e61e013eadf56a8e4e2226d89a3.jpg?v=90000)