Return of Colorful Replies

Posted in Making Magic on July 29, 2019

By Mark Rosewater

Working in R&D since '95, Mark became Magic head designer in '03. His hobbies: spending time with family, writing about Magic in all mediums, and creating short bios.

Last year, I wrote an article called "Colorful Replies," which was a mailbag column where I let all of you directly ask questions of the five colors. It was so popular, I promised I'd do it again. Well, it's again. Here's the tweet I posted:

From here on out, I'll turn over the column to White, Blue, Black, Red and Green.


Q: (All colors) What would be the pet of your choice?

Something small and domesticated. Probably a cat or dog.

I'd want a fish.

I'd like a bird of prey, something I could train to attack.

I'd like a kavu.

I don't believe in the concept of pets.


Q: What's your favourite food, Blue?

Food is just a means to an end. For ultimate perfection, you have to understand the impact that various foods will have on your physical and mental wellbeing and then schedule them accordingly to maximize their impact. I have various spreadsheets I use to monitor my caloric and nutritional intake. Certain foods present themselves as better choices for selection, but I'd hardly refer to those as my "favorite" as that implies an emotional connection which would only serve as a distraction from optimizing my food intake.

So, to technically answer your question, I do not have a "favorite."


Q: Hey Red, does your magic ever involve dancing or music?

It does. I'm a huge fan of dancing and music. I'm a fan of art in general. I love activities where you can embrace your passions, and dancing and music let you do that. Here's the problem. I'll make a fun card like Fanciful Mambo and R&D will ask if I have anything else. So, I'll offer up Aggressive Tango and they'll reply, "What else you got?" Ready to Rumba? No. Expressive Salsa? No. Hot to Foxtrot? No. Mad Merengue? "We like the mad part, but what if you were throwing punches instead?" Maybe, one day.


 Q: Ehi Green! I feel like you're the most misunderstood color. I would love if you can explain how wonderful being Green is!

Let me use a metaphor. Imagine you were a puzzle piece. All you had on you was a splash of a few colors and it wasn't even clear what exactly you depicted. And you're lying under a couch all alone without any sense of why you even exist. It's a lonely, sad life. Then one day, a hand grabs you. The person who finds you is so excited because they've spent the last few months working on a 25,000-piece jigsaw puzzle and you are the last piece, one that's been missing. When they put you in the puzzle, suddenly you understand what the colors on you mean. You're part of a beautiful picture and because of you, the picture is finally complete. You're not a single, solitary object. You're a piece of a large, beautiful puzzle.

That's what I'm trying to get people to understand. Stop seeing yourself as the lonely, isolated puzzle piece and instead realize you're a vital part of a much larger picture. When you understand your role and how you fit in and why the puzzle isn't complete without you, that's what brings you happiness—that's what I'm all about. Getting people to realize their own beauty and the role they play in the bigger picture. What could be more wonderful than that?


Q: This one is for all colors: "What is love?"

It's a bond that helps you understand why the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

I like to think it's a mutually beneficial relationship where all parties gain advantage through their interaction.

It's a tool to get others to act against their own self-interest.

It's one of life's great experiences.

It's connecting with all other life, a realization that you're intrinsically linked together.


Q: I'm dieting but my coworker brought in cookies. I shouldn't eat them because I'm dieting but they look delicious. Should I eat the cookies, and if so, how many?

I would have just one to demonstrate to your coworker that you appreciate their generosity.

Stick to your diet. Don't be distracted by temptation.

Nice play by your coworker. Feign disinterest and steal some when they're unaware.

You obviously eat the cookies. If they're good, eat as many as you can.

Dieting? I don't condone that. If you're hungry, eat them. If you're not, don't.


Q: Hey, Red: How do you feel about you being the only color that can't answer Enchantments reliably?

You do understand when a player's life drops to 0, all their enchantments go away, right?


Q: Why does black get so much lifelink now?

Think about lifelink for a second. Your creature deals damage and then you gain life equal to that damage. It's almost as if you're draining the life out of the other creature. If only I was the color all about draining life from other things. Oh wait, I am. The question isn't why do I have a lot of lifelink; it's why White even has it at all? What's that about? In fact, I think it might be a good idea for as many as you as possible to contact R&D and insist that lifelink be removed from White.


Q: Green: Does your appreciation of natural harmony extend to Blue and Black's places in the color pie?

Here's where I differ from the rest of the colors. If I could snap my fingers and make my enemy colors disappear, I wouldn't. That's not true of anyone else. I get that Blue and Black have a role to play. It's my role to keep them in check, make sure they're not doing things that are going to fundamentally harm the world. In some ways, they're what keeps me sharp, what motivates me, what ensures that what I do matters.


Q: Hey Red, why do you pump power so much more than toughness? You talk about self-care, but not pumping toughness when you pump power seems to go against that?

Self-care? I think you're confusing me with another color. I'm all about living life and seizing the day, about achieving emotional fulfillment. I'm not the "be sure you're wearing all the proper armor" color. That's White. Part of living life is embracing the now and not letting the later slow you down. Yeah, you might get hurt, but that's what living life is about—putting yourself out there, taking risks, scraping your knee from time to time. I'd argue if there's never a chance you'd hurt yourself, you're not really living life to its fullest.


Q: Any/all of the colors: What's your favorite high school memory?

Getting elected student government president.

Being editor-in-chief of the newspaper.

Beating Blue out for valedictorian.

Winning the State Championship.

I was homeschooled.


Q: Black, why aren't you more concerned about your image? Everyone thinks you're nasty and malevolent, but I know that it's less about malice and more just you looking out for number one.

You have to make a choice at some point. Are you going to prioritize what others think of you or are you going to prioritize doing what it takes to get what you want? My advantage is that I'm willing to pursue opportunities when they arise. A big part of that is not allowing others to control me through peer pressure or societal conventions. The downside of this is that it allows others to paint me in a negative light. The upside is I have the power to do what I want. I consider that a worthwhile trade. Am I what my enemies paint me to be? Of course not, but it's not in their best interests to show me in a fair light. I get that. Let them paint me as some kind of monster. It will be just another tool I can use to get what I want.


Q: Hey Red, who gives the best smooches?

The short answer is every color is a good kisser in their own way. White is very caring, blue is very technical, black is very bold, and green is very wild. It depends on what you're in the mood for.


Q: Hey White, where do you put all that stuff you keep exiling?

I got a good deal on storage from my local U-Exile. I structured a long-term arrangement which allows me to acquire more space if necessary.

Would you mind if I used it to exile a few things?

You can get your own storage.

Yeah, but most of my storage is temporary. It doesn't make a lot of sense to get my own space.

Well, you're not using mine. Last time I let you, there was molten lava everywhere.

Oh, that was a good party.

You shouldn't be partying in my exile space.

Are you upset because I didn't invite you?

I value self-preservation enough not to attend your parties, but yes.


Q: All colors should answer: What do you call a 2/2 for 2?

A Bear.

A Zombie

A Soldier.

A Goblin.

Sigh


Q: For Black, what do you think makes you heroic?

I'm not falling for that. "Heroic" is another of White's concepts to justify people making poor decisions that work against their own self-interest. I look out for the people who matter to me. If they're in need and helping them advances my long-term goals, I'm there to help them, even if it appears to be working against my own interests in the short term. If I'm going to compliment someone, I prefer calling them "practical" rather than "heroic."


Q: Blue: what is tricky about water Magic?

There seems to be this desire to condense colors down to two-dimensional stereotypes. I'm about a lot more than just trickiness. How is knowledge tricky? How is perfection tricky? How is technology tricky? Hopefully, the point of answering questions is showing people that we colors have many different facets.

Tell me about it. Everyone just sees me as the color with no impulse control that just likes to angrily start fights.

You don't have much impulse control.

Yeah, but sometimes I impulsively go dancing or go eating or go on a hike or do some skydiving skeet shooting.

You're more than just angry outbursts.

Exactly. And you're more than just sitting around doing nothing.

It's called thinking.

You could think while moving. I find bungee jumping really gets the brain going.

And how many times have you injured yourself?

That's too big a number to remember.

My point exactly.

At least I have stories to tell.

I have stories to tell.

Not interesting ones.

We're getting way off topic.

I know. Isn't it great!


Q: Black: Regarding Liliana's actions in the War of the Spark trailer: On the one hand, turning against Bolas goes against self-preservation. On the other, it showed she wasn't going to let him push her around anymore. What do you think? Was that a black-aligned decision?

It was a very black-aligned decision. Liliana chose to do what she had to do to stop Bolas's control. That's the crux of what black is all about—living your life on your own terms. Making choices that force you to face your own fears (Liliana is quite afraid of dying) is as black as it gets. Yes, self-preservation is important, but it's not the only important thing.


Q: Dear White, why so serious?

I'm not so serious all the time. I have a lighter side.

You do not.

What are you talking about? I sit around and make jokes on occasion.

Those aren't jokes.

Yes, they are. They're formulaic comedy. That's technically a joke.

I stand corrected. Those aren't funny jokes.

I find them funny.

Exactly.

Just because I don't constantly throw parties where everything gets trashed doesn't mean I'm always serious.

You alphabetize your cereal boxes.

You constantly make jokes about it.

And those jokes are funny.

I think we just have a different definition of "serious."

The fact you have to define it might be a sign.


Q: To Black: you used to break the color pie more often than other colors by paying a price, what changed? (I still love you)

It's a combination of things. First, early R&D was just more willing to take bribes. Second, the members of the Council of Colors just don't have much good blackmail material. Kids these days. And with Maro, how can you keep up? I have something juicy, he makes a podcast about it. I have a new lead, he makes a blog post. I have something embarrassing, he writes an article in greater detail than even I had access to. What aspect of his life hasn't he talked about? I'm not giving up, though. I'll find a way.


Q: What would each color do if they came across a cat in the street?

I would find the cat's owner and return the cat.

Who says the cat has an owner? Maybe it's a wild cat.

I wouldn't find an owner if it didn't have one, but I would check.

What kind of a cat is it?

What does it matter what kind of cat it is?

Knowing what kind of cat it is might give you additional information to understand its plight. Wait, why would you care?

It's possible the cat could have value.

So, you'd just keep the cat?

Unless there was a large enough reward to warrant returning it.

I'd pet it.

I guess I'd study it. It would be an interesting challenge to figure out where it came from.

So you could return it to its owner?

If I figured out who they were, I assume I'd return it. It would be more about the challenge, though.

Than the wellbeing of the cat?

I said I'd return it.

If anyone owns it. Why does everyone assume animals are owned by someone?

In theory, you could eat it. What does cat taste like?

Seriously?

No, I just like seeing that vein pop in your forehead.


Q: White: do you think you are stronger than Black?

I know I'm stronger than Black. Black has no moral conviction.

I don't believe they were asking about self-delusion.

What does that mean?

You have to be dumb enough to believe in morality to have moral conviction. It's beside the point, though. That wasn't what they were asking.

Which was?

Are you more powerful than me?

Can I beat you in a fight?

That's what they were asking.

I could beat you in a fight. A fair fight.

A fair fight? So, no. There's no such thing as a fair fight.

You have to cheat to win?

The entire concept of cheating is just you trying to handicap others. A fight doesn't have rules.

It can.

Only if you're dumb enough to agree to them. You know, like morality.

You're admitting you can only beat me if you cheat.

You can only win if you label the things I do as "cheating."

There is no victory without virtue.

Are you quoting flavor text?

It doesn't mean it's not true.

It's on a white card. Of course, it's not true.

Fine, you can only beat me if you cheat.

Thank you.

That wasn't intended as a compliment.

I don't care.


Q: Hi Red, how do you feel about the state of land removal these days?

I'll be honest. I miss the glory days of land destruction. Nothing blows up quite like a parcel of land. Whether imploding or exploding, dirt flying everywhere—it's just sublime chaos. I smile whenever I think about it. So yes, I miss it. R&D still lets me blow a lot of things up, so it's not like I'm going completely cold turkey. Sometimes, though, I dream of the old days. Boom!


Q: For White: How does it feel to always be considered the underdog?

I don't consider myself the underdog.

Really?

What makes me the underdog?

Blue, define underdog.

"A competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest."

This again? Why does no one seem to think I'm capable of winning a fight?

Your creatures are pretty little.

So are your creatures.

Yeah, but I also have Lightning Bolts and Fireballs. And Dragons.

I have Angels.

I don't consider you the underdog.

Thanks, Green. I'm glad someone believes in me.

Little ones are scrappy.

Statistically speaking, the larger creature in a fight tends to win.

Tell that to a bunch of Squirrels.

Scurry. The collective for Squirrels is a scurry of Squirrels.

What's the scurry?

I'm not an underdog.

Keep telling yourself that.

Who picked out these questions?

In Living Color

That's all the time I have for today. Thanks to everyone who took time to send in a question. Just like last year, this was a lot of fun to do. I hope you all enjoy it. As always, I'm interested in hearing feedback about this column. You can email me or contact me through any of my social media accounts (Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram).

Join me next week for Commander (2019 Edition) previews.

Until then, may you get some colorful answers of your own.


 
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