dockside extortionist
27, Jun, 22

Card Shops are Selling Fake MTG Cards

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Article at a Glance

With MTG being a costly game with an overwhelming amount of product releases, it’s easy to fall behind when trying to keep up with your wallet. One of the most common complaints from MTG players is product burnout. Unfortunately, because so many alternate versions of things are being released, it’s becoming more challenging for players to identify what cards are real and what are fake. This is worrying when various card shops may be trying to sell counterfeit cards, or proxies, without making it clear to the customer what they’re buying.

The MTG Proxy Issue

Reddit User anyawn_ posted this picture on Reddit asking where this specific version of Mizzix of the Izmagnus comes from. It didn’t take long for other Reddit commentators to break the news that it was a proxy. Her boyfriend bought a ‘Commander Shop Deck’ from their local shop, which had this card as the Commander. Reddit users identified it as a printed MTG proxy made by Instagram user Atomicashes. Honestly, the proxy itself looks pretty stunning with the Kaladesh Invention finish. Remember that the artist is not at fault for potentially misleading buyers here.

Simply put, an MTG proxy is a fake, sometimes stylized card that’s meant to serve as a replacement for the real thing. Generally, proxies’ purposes are to either stand-in for a costly card that is out of your price range (which happens a lot in MTG) or to play unofficial, highly stylized versions of cards made by various artists. This is a massive part of the MTG community and is an incredibly healthy thing most of the time.

You generally can’t use proxies in most tournament settings for obvious reasons, but they are a very celebrated option in casual formats like Commander. The line is drawn, however, at players knowing that they are purchasing a proxy, as these are usually cheaper than the actual copy of a card. Passing off a fake card as a real one is a blatant misuse of a proxy and can border on becoming a counterfeit if the proxy is trying to mimic a legitimate version of the card (unlike this one). If an actual copy of Mizzix was included in the Commander Shop Deck, and the rest were real, then this isn’t an issue. As of right now, no such information has been provided.

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This is More Widespread Than You Think

force of will

Many Reddit users pointed out that if the store owner wasn’t present and it was just part-time employees, they may not have been aware that a proxy was being sold. This is a common issue with game stores that specialize in multiple brands. Having been on both sides of the shelves, it’s normal for a store to hire one employee (at minimum) specializing in each of their prominent brands. This results in an occasional mismatch when an MTG player wants to buy cards during a Warhammer tournament or something of the like. It’s rather likely that the present employees will be Warhammer specialists during the tournament.

Unfortunately, a few years back, I ran into a game store that was questionably passing off proxies as real MTG cards. This particular instance involves a stack of Alliances Force of Wills for sale at $30 apiece. For reference, this is a costly card currently retails for $118 at TCGPlayer median. This price alone should be the start of a warning sign.

This particular store was known for having some weird prices on cards. This resulted in the possibility of getting some fantastic deals and getting ripped off from time to time. These were in a glass showcase that most card stores use to show off their more expensive cards to customers. That, alone, makes these proxies misleading. Only after an extended investigation did I see a tiny ‘proxy’ sticker on the top left corner of the showcase. These cards were also ‘final sale,’ which, while very typical for a card shop, makes this practice a little more questionable. I believe that there weren’t any MTG specialists present when this incident occurred, however.

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Proxies are Great When People Know they are Proxies

In most cases, proxies are an extremely healthy option to allow players a lower bar of entry when trying to play MTG with friends. It’s also a harmless potential add-on that enables an EDH player to show off a deck full of wacky popular cartoon arts. There have even been incidents where more prominent MTG proxy artists in the community had the opportunity to create their own Secret Lairs. The point here is to state that proxies themselves aren’t the villain. Only the people who intentionally try to pass them off for the real thing are at fault. Be aware of this when approaching a card store you’re unfamiliar with.

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