Races and flight

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Given that this is the result of mechanical needs in MTG designing, I suppose it doesn't account much for flavour, but still...

When it comes to MTG settings, if there is a tribal/faux-tribal theme, if there are flying races, they are always focused on /.

Is there a way to shift the focus to other colours, though? It's for lack of flyers that there's basically no tengu on Kamigawa, just akki, and tends to be a lot less volant than or . To say nothing of .

From a storytelling perspective, I know it doesn't matter, but since it is a Magic setting, would it seem out of place to have the flying race be /, while and have non-flying races and large flyers, and is in-between?
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Every color gets iconic flyers.  They just aren't evenly distributed.  It's based on the color pie and what each color is known for.

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

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@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

Flying represents a form of evasion. Blue gets this because it eschews conventional combat and prefers to stay away from actual combat. The reason White gets flying is a bit more mechanical, I think. They need some kind of evasion, and flying fits better than trample of intimidate. Also, Griffins are White, so flying is a natural fit. For a more flavorful explanation you could look at the soldier-y tactical side of White, using flying to outmaneuver the opponent. 


Black gets a decent amount of flying, actually, mostly Bats and Insects, but Vampires get  flying as well. Black gets flying when it makes sense.


Flying wouldn't fit Red too much. Red (combat-wise) doesn't want to evade, it wants to fight. Mechanically, Red is supposed to be faster than the opponent, only getting flying when the ground is clogged up.

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It's a matter of color balance mostly.

White and blue are allowed to have their token races have flying because those two colors are the flying colors.

They could very, VERY easily let other colors have more flying at common.
Vampires for example.
Flying is well within their sphere of influence, it just doesn't come up as often as it could for gameplay balance.
While Zodiac Dragon agrees with your analysis, the rest of the dragons, phoenixes and Bird Maiden think that flying is somewhat represented in red still, though not as much as the other colours. And Goblin Sky Raider is just funny. I think they rather formulate a need for flying creatures in a colour in a set, and go on assigning them creature types based on that, most of the time. Next to the flying rare fatty of the colour, of course (dragon demon angel sphinx wurm).
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It's just so weird, since is the colour of freedom and all, while /, well, I let the Azorius speak for themselves.


I suppose balance issues could be solved by making reach bleed into other colours, specially .
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Black doesn't need reach.  It has pleanty of small cost flyers.

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

This is yet another example of the details of the setting being beholden to the mechanics of the game for which the setting is built. But it's not impossible to justify in-universe why flying races might be skewed toward living in open grasslands or on islands and archipelagos.

When you want to fly, it's just easiest to get where you want to go and to handle air traffic in flat, open areas, so aven and other flying humanoids might live on plains out of convenience. And in places where there isn't a lot of open ground such as island chains, it's easier to fly around than to rely on a boat or ferry system, so flying creatures might live in these places because no one else can work comfortably there... besides aquatic or amphibious peoples. Unfortunately this also applies to mountainous, craggy, or otherwise red-associated areas, so the justification isn't complete.

But in places where it's difficult to get between the ground and the sky, there's no real point in flying, and trying to do it just isn't that helpful, sometimes even dangerous. So it makes sense not to see many flying creatures in forests and swamps.
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forests make it difficult to fly, and so they don't. The few things that do get caught in the webs of giant spiders, and that just doesn't end well.

plains are large and open so it is easy to fly, and then there are the eyries in some cities for the Griffin to live and fly from.

islands mean that often flying is just the easiest way to get around without becoming a target for whatever monstrous sea creature is chillin and trying to get some tail

swamps suffer many of the same problems as forests but small fliers manage as the trees are dead and so less intrusive (and mobile in some cases)

mountain s might seem like the ideal place to fly, until you consider that there is always a dragon around. Always. When was the last time there wasn't a dragon around in magic? And do you want to be the guy flapping up there going "look at me! I'm edible!"? Didn't think so. Chandra's Phoenix only manages it because the dragons got bored of eating her only for her to come back.

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Well, not all planes have or even organic dragons. Kamigawa's dragons were spirits evenly distributed in all five colours. Yet instead of tengu, we had slightly original goblins.
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Red and Green are much more limited.

Red preferrs it's Flying on dragons.
Green preferrs Reach.

Flying-related abilities seem to be just plain rare in Black.
They've said before that red wouldn't have access to flying if it wasn't for the fact that dragons just have to be flyers.
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