Enemy colors are two opposed colors of the color pie: , , , , and . Philosophically, these pairs tend to have stronger internal conflict than allied colors in their union. Enemy colors naturally repel and are often hosers against each other. Historically, this used to manifest in having weaker mana fixing and less prevalent dual lands, but modern design has moved away from this as it develops poor constructed environments.
Several sets have centered around enemy-colored cards. These include Strixhaven: School of Mages, Eventide, and five of the Ravnican guilds. Due to drafting considerations, enemy colors are the backbone of wedge-based sets, such as Apocalypse, Khans of Tarkir and Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths.
White / Black
- Target player loses life and you gain life.
Since white is the color of gaining life and black is the color of losing life, life drain is a common mechanic of white-black, particularly among cards of the Orzhov Syndicate. Example cards include Debt to the Deathless and Agent of Masks. This manifests itself in the mechanics lifelink (Divinity of Pride) and extort (Kingpin's Pet), as well as a number of white-black effects that hinge on a player's life total.
White and black combine to be the colors most capable of exiling permanents of any kind. Examples of this include Unmake, Castigate, and Identity Crisis. A number of these spells, such as Merciless Eviction, also serve as board wipes.
White and Black tend to interact with enchantments regularly, often getting some rather complementary effects and enchantments-matter cards between the two of them.
- Death Grasp - combines black X dealing damage spell with white's gain life onto a very efficient sorcery.
- Mortify - combines white's disenchantment ability with black's creature destruction onto one card with no drawback (i.e. cannot target black creatures).
Black / Green
Black-green cards have strong interaction with the graveyard, with many effects allowing cards to be returned from the graveyard to your hand (Desecrator Hag) or to the battlefield (Bloodbond March). This is supported by mechanics such as dredge that combine reclamation with "self-mill" effects.
Exiling from the graveyard
A recurring theme among black-green is exiling creature cards from graveyards. These can be either from your own graveyard or from an opponent's. This effect is often accompanied by some positive effect, such as creature tokens (Necrogenesis) or +1/+1 counters (scavenge).
Since black is good at destroying creatures and lands and green is good at destroying enchantments and artifacts, permanent destruction is a minor theme of black-green. Examples include Putrefy, Maelstrom Pulse, and (as a board wipe) Gaze of Granite. One way that black-green is particularly good at destroying creatures is with the mechanic deathtouch.
- Consume Strength - combines green's "pump" effect with black's "weakness" effect onto a very efficient instant
- Putrefy - combines green's dislike of artifacts with black's creature destruction onto one card with no drawback (i.e. cannot target black creatures)
Green / Blue
Green's penchant for creatures combines with blue's "mad scientist" tendencies to create large creatures (often mutants) that have lots of +1/+1 counters. In Ravnica, this is achieved with graft, evolve, and adapt. Examples include Nimbus Swimmer, Lorescale Coatl and Fathom Mage.
Blue and green are the two strongest colors in terms of card drawing, and blue-green has both powerful draw spells (Biomantic Mastery) and creatures with repeatable card drawing effects (Cold-Eyed Selkie, Fathom Mage).
- Winged Coatl - combines the Evergreen mechanics common to green - deathtouch and blue - flash, flying onto one creature efficiently
- Yavimaya's Embrace - combines blue's "stealing" creatures from opponents with green's creature boosting "pump" effect and trample
Blue / Red
Instants and sorceries
Blue-red has strong interaction with instant and sorcery spells. A number of effects (Cloven Casting, replicate) allow the color combo to copy instant or sorcery spells. Other blue-red cards (Blistercoil Weird) have effects that trigger upon casting of instant or sorcery spells. Blue-red also has a number of cards (Nucklavee) that allow reclamation of instant or sorcery cards.
Red-blue has a number of cards that allow the drawing of cards at the price of discarding cards.
Blue and Red are the two colors most likely to interact with Artifacts of all kinds, with Blue Tutoring, duplicating and enhancing them, while Red takes a more direct, often destructive approach, sacrificing or tapping them to gain some desired effect.
- Magefire Wings - combines red's power enhancing effect with blue's flying onto one enchantment efficiently
- Schismotivate - combines red's power enhancing effect with blue's power reducing effect onto a very efficient instant
Red / White
Red-white finds most of the their synergy through combat abilities, especially in the Boros guild of Ravnica. Many red-white creatures have first or double strike (Boros Recruit, Boros Swiftblade). Red-white creatures receive bonuses when attacking together, such as through the Battalion mechanic. Other cards (Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran, Akroan Hoplite, Duergar Assailant) pump attacking creatures, and still other cards allow the player running red-white to make determinations about whether his opponents' creatures can attack or block.
More than any other two-color combination, red-white is the combo for small but powerful creatures.
- Cerodon Yearling - combines the Evergreen mechanics common to red - haste and white - vigilance onto one creature efficiently
- Lightning Helix - combines red's damage inflicting Lightning Bolt with white's life gain of Healing Salve onto one card that does the same as two mentioned
The Enemy color theme was especially strong in the Apocalypse set. It featured:
- Enemy color pain lands
- Enemy color split cards
- Cards with enemy color kicker costs (i.e. Orim's Thunder)
- Cards with two enemy color kicker costs (i.e. Anavolver)
- Cards with abilities requiring an enemy color (i.e. Angelfire Crusader)
- Enchantments which gave bonuses if you controlled cards of an enemy color (i.e. Ana Sanctuary)
- Multicolored cards with enemy color casting costs