Every color in Magic: The Gathering has its own benefits and its own downfalls — that’s part of why deck-building can be such a difficult thing to do. This idea of a Color Pie in MTG means that, theoretically, each of the five colors should have its own unique place in the game while also being balanced with the other colors.
Tumblr user rough-hewn-hipster asked Mark Rosewater, the Head Designer for MTG, about the Treasure mechanic’s place in Green decks. The user argued that Treasure creation in Green decks is being pushed despite the fact that the mechanic makes more sense in other colors like Black and Blue.
Making Treasure tokens is a way to ramp up mana, especially considering the tokens can tap for any color mana. This makes them highly effective for multi-color decks and arguably a bit overtuned in green decks, which already have plenty of ways to ramp.
Which is Better: Red or Green Treasures?
Mark Rosewater commented with a few different explanations, noting first that red decks are supposed to be the primary deck for the Treasure mechanic, and the synergies in the colors show this. Despite that initial argument, Rosewater argued that green is “supposed to be primary in producing other colors of mana” when compared to the rest of the Color Pie – in other words, Treasures are at the heart of what green decks should be able to do, but red is better for the mechanic.
One one hand, what Rosewater said makes sense. There are x red cards with the Treasure mechanic and only x green cards. However, as one Reddit user argued, the potential of the green Treasure cards shouldn’t be ignored. Cards like Tireless Provisioner and Jewel Thief have the potential to add way too much mana with other benefits, especially considering the other mana ramp cards in green.
Red Has to Risk More for Treasures
Additionally, Red Treasure cards generally have to put more risk into getting that sacred Treasure. Unexpected Windfall requires that another card in hand be discarded before making any Treasure, and even Captain Lannery Storm can produce Treasure tokens but only after attacking — with only 2 health, it’s easy to lose the card to an opponent’s creature. Even the relatively popular Magda, Brazen Outlaw needs to tap to produce a treasure, thus it’s generally played in conjunction with Jaspera Sentinel. On the other hand, Prosperous Innkeeper has no draw back and just creates a Treasure on entry.
Red requires a lot of mana in order to consistently create Treasure, or to create lots of Treasure at a time, with cards like Brass's Bounty, Reckless Endeavor, or even Goldspan Dragon which all work better later on in the game.
Red may have more cards that play around the Treasure mechanic, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Red Treasure cards are better than the green or that players are using the cards as often as they are green Treasure cards. The mechanic may have been meant to work like that, but players make their own meta once cards are released.
Maybe More Red Treasure Cards Will Be Seen in the Future
A user on Reddit mentioned that Red deserves a great mechanic considering a lot of what the color originally had was removed from the game because it’s ridiculously not fun to play against (like land destruction.)
While there’s certainly Red Treasure cards, it’s just not as strong in the color when the color feels like it’s missing its space in the Color Pie. If White all of a sudden became the primary color for counters, then Blue decks would all of a sudden feel lackluster. Considering Rosewater explained that Red should’ve been the primary Treasure color, perhaps better Red Treasure cards could come in the future.
Rosewater did explain that there were a few mishaps with Treasures in the past, calling Blue Treasure creation in Pirates a mistake. Additionally, he pointed out that it was too easy to create Treasure in Black. The fact that Rosewater (and probably the rest of the design team) are acknowledging the issue may just mean that there will be better Treasure control in future sets.
It’s clear that the design team had a plan – it just didn’t quite follow up with everyone’s expectations of the Color Pie and arguably didn’t translate to the meta very well.