• Magic events (sanctioned and unsanctioned) can only allow genuine Magic: The Gathering cards.
• Proxy cards are substitute cards created solely by judges in sanctioned tournaments pursuant to the official tournament rules. These substitutes are allowed when authorized game cards become unplayable during a sanctioned tournament because of damage or excessive wear.
• Counterfeit cards are copies or reproductions of actual Wizards trading cards, whether or not they are identified as non-genuine. The creation and distribution of counterfeits violate United States and international copyright laws and negatively affects the integrity of Wizards’ trading card games. Counterfeits are strictly prohibited, even for personal, non-commercial use.
While this will affect mainly Vintage and Legacy players, EDH/Commander players may also feel the heat. As an eternal format, giving players access to all cards that have been printed (besides those cards on the ban list) is part of the joy and appeal. Is this update on policy good, bad, or somewhere in the middle?
Why it’s bad for Wizards of the Coast
Part of the appeal of playing Magic: the Gathering is the wide spread of players, formats, and cards you can utilize. As you go further back into MtG cardboard history, it becomes increasingly more difficult to obtain cards due to rarity, price, collections, and other means. That means new players will likely not have access to these rare and often powerful cards. Most stores have accepted this, especially for Legacy and Vintage, allowing a certain number of cards to be proxied to balance the scales. Without the ability to use proxies, Legacy and Vintage tournaments may disappear altogether, becoming a fossil of ancient times, and slashing the value of those cards due to lack of use.
Why it’s bad for the Players
As said before, having access to cards like dual lands can severely put you behind in certain formats; proxies are needed just to keep up with the pace. Now, in order to play, you need to truly commit-either own copies of the cards you need, borrow them from a friend, or even rent them, rather than quickly searching to find a decent image and print/sleeve them.
Why it’s good for Wizards of the Coast
Perhaps WotC is trying to kill its older formats; it’s like that strange old man that comes around stroking his beard, saying “Hmm…” and then moving on to scrutinize someone else-rarely do we know what goes on and is discussed behind closed doors. While something tells me they aren’t too worried about the secondary/third markets on their product, the overall concern may be a longer-term problem-the Reserved List (as if there wasn’t enough controversy here already). For example, all the dual lands are on the list for a reason-they are extremely powerful to the point where the game can warp around them. Every card on the list was likely put there because it as viewed as a “mistake” of sorts, being too powerful for the set or Magic overall, in an attempt to dramatically slow Power Creep, as making cards of that sort would bring ruin to the game at an unmanageable pace.
Why it’s good for the Players
A few months ago, we published an article on how using proxies is harmful to both the player and the game. It garnished a lot of negative responses, with the words “elitist” and “classist” being used as often as bullets in a minigun. The proxy debate walks quite a fine line there; however, the answer does come down to money.
Magic: the Gathering is a pay-to-play game, and there is little substance to have any illusions about it. With WotC now pumping out more sets per year than before, and the constant rotation of Standard, their main pull where most new players begin at, it does require taking money out of your pocket and putting it in theirs. Some people do get lucky; having a friend who just gives/sells you their cards, finding a collection at a garage sale, or some other means. Others, mainly new players or those who wish to enter a different format, are often left in the dust.
How is this good for the players? I often think back to my college days, where in my playgroup we had one friend who would have to borrow a deck from someone. Not because he didn’t have the means to build a deck-he had been collecting since elementary school-but because his one and only “deck” was entirely proxied Riku of Two Reflections combo deck priced in the thousands.
Unanimously, we told him he couldn’t play that deck with us; every single other player had decks without a single proxy in it, and it wasn’t fair in the slightest. This came when I was new to EDH/Commander as a format, where building a deck was hard, took time and investing in buying/trading/pulling good from packs. It would have been far simpler for me to proxy a $1000+ deck and beat every other player time after time-but I didn’t. I valued what little I had, and slowly worked my way towards the decks I have today(which still often get taken apart and rebuilt on some regular basis). The difference is in work, and fairness. It takes time and work in order to build a deck to the means you want it; it may take weeks, months or years and sometimes even money to “finish” a deck, while printing a deck out takes a few minutes and whatever pittance the printer asks. Yes, it takes time to earn something powerful and useful-which is the entire purpose of something powerful and useful.
Why do we have a stake in this?
As a blog all about the community, and playing/having fun on a budget, why should we not wholeheartedly support players proxying cards, if not whole decks in order to save money? The short answer is that we in our own way support when Wizards is doing a good job; the long answer is that we support the players’ growth.
If the clear-cut banning of proxy cards has you upset because of limitations it has placed on you, my response is clear: overcome those limitations, or don’t. It may take time, it may take money, it may be frustrating-but if it’s worth it to you, then it will be worth it to you. The true value of this game is in the interaction between people and cards, however it is all about what you want. For those who still wish to play with proxies, there is honestly nothing stopping you from doing so at the most important battleground-the kitchen table. Only glory and stories for future gatherings are at stake there, and the scales can be evenly stacked to everyone’s liking.
If not being able to use a proxy card because it’s worth $400 (and you would never pay/trade/come into luck with that) causes you to get upset, think of how someone who would sit across from you, having taken the time or money or trading to get that card would feel when you play a proxy version. All that effort that they had taken to obtain such a rare and valuable piece to their deck was printed out for 10 cents in under a minute. Now, that is something to get upset about, especially when anything is on the line (planeswalker points, qualifiers, prizes, etc.).
As someone who has played Magic on and off(mostly on) for for thirteen years now, I am still nowhere close to making that kind of investment on a card. I likely never will-I’m a budget player at heart, and I’d rather play with a Mountain or an Island than a Volcanic Island, which is easier, more fun for me, and is the whole philosophy of this blog. I also encourage everyone to do the same reason: While WotC may be trying to squeeze every nickel and dime it can out of players, you save TONS of money while still having TONS of fun with what cards you may already have collecting dust in a box or bargain bin. You may think you limit is how much you can spend, or print; I say, your limit is in your creativity, imagination, and willingness to try. So, proxies be damned, and long live the budget options.