Counterfeit Magic Cards, I mean Proxy Magic Cards, Sorry

I bought a set of Counterfeit Magic Cards of the power 9. Want to see a really bad fake black lotus? I’ve got you covered right here.

Ah Magic The Gathering, my problem child. I’ve been semi-obsessed with it since it was first introduced. I never really played, I grew up in a very small town and nobody else there would play, and there was nowhere to buy cards anyway. I learned and read about the game through magazine articles, and occasionally my friends would come across a pack and we’d open it.

As an adult I’m an avid Arena player, spending the equivalent of a box on each release. I own only a few real cards, and only one unopened pack which I will get around to at some point.

But today, today I have something really interesting to show you. I’m sure you’ve heard of the concept of “proxy” magic cards. As kids this would mean writing the name and power/hp of a card on a post it note and sticking that to a standard playing card and we’d all pretend it was real. As you get older maybe you print pdfs of card scans and put them in sleeves over real cards to practice against decks you can’t afford to buy.

MTG:Arena, the most expensive Free-to-Play game I’ve every encountered. So much money poured into these virtual cards.

Well, what if I told you there was a whole cottage industry centered around this concept? Companies that will print any magic card you want, or entire sets, decks, custom cards, foil versions – they’ll even put the rarity emboss stamp on it if you want. These cards are printed on the same exact stock as the real cards, by feel alone you could never tell the difference. It’s only issues with cutting, printing, color matching, this is how we identify fakes. My friend Rudy over here is something of an expert on the subject.

I digress… the point is that if somebody wanted to get some really high quality proxy cards – there are many companies waiting to take your money and then possibly send you something. What are they going to send you? Well I gave 20 dollars to a store I was asked not to identify on AliExpress and asked them to send me proxy cards of the power 9, the most notorious and often expensive cards ever printed. A month later a tiny little packet arrived, backed by some seriously thick cardboard, and inside were these:

This set also includes a Mox Ruby, so it should be called the Power 10, but whatever.

These are some seriously good proxies, at least from far away. By feel they are identical to a modern magic card, this is the biggest give away that they are fake. I don’t have any real beta cards, but I suspect a card printed 40 years ago does not snap the same one as one printed this year would. The coloring is incredibly accurate. Let’s take a closer look at the lotus:

Up close though, things fall apart fast. Above I’m comparing the proxy I have against the scan from Scryfall. Notice anything weird? No, not the slightly off coloring, that’s fixable if you want to really make a good fake, something else. Look at the corners, see those white semi-circles at each corner? Really zoom in now, all they did was print the scan from Scryfall onto modern card stock! The scan includes the fake black border Scryfall puts on their scans. The inner real beta border is not actually 100% black due to the printing process. The break between the real border and the fake border is night and day and gives these fakes away in an instant.

So why did I buy these? I’m not going to try and pawn them off on anybody, or scam anyone. These would never pass even the most cursory check, and given the value of these real cards people would be looking pretty hard at them. No, I just wanted to be able to open a page in my card binder and look at all of these cards and pretend that I did own them. That’s all.

If you actually needed proxy to play with these are really high quality but also kind of expensive. Even in bulk they end up around 0.50$ a card which is a lot, more than real sealed magic cards cost in fact. The benefit is you get to pick the cards you want. Buying a proxy vintage deck like this would cost you ~40$ vs I guess infinity dollars since you literally cannot buy some of these cards at all these days.

I won’t be adding these to the database, this was just a fun little thing I bought since I was gambling on AliExpress anyway. Oh, and these did get held up in customs, they were released, but it’s clear these sellers are being watched so don’t be surprised if you don’t get anything for your money in the end.

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