Proxy Guidelines for newbie to paper Vintage

Hey all. I'm thinking of playing my first-ever Vintage tournament in paper form this weekend at Eternal Extravaganza. The only way I can even play Vintage in paper is via the 15-proxy rule, but I've never used proxies in Magic before (being a Legacy/Modern player primarily).

Does anyone have any good guidelines as to how to make proxies for Vintage? Specifically, I need to proxy the Moxen, a Black Lotus, and Mishra's Workshops. I was thinking of using the C14 cycle of "Diamonds" to represent the Moxen, a Lotus Bloom to represent the Black Lotus, and something like Mishra's Toy Workshop for the Workshops. Would this be fine? And would it be adequate just to write the actual functioning of each card I'm proxying in black marker on top of the card itself? I.e. for the Lotus Bloom->Black Lotus I would draw a "0" in the casting cost box, and black out the "suspend" text and leave only the "T: Add 3 of any color" text, and write "Black Lotus" over the "Lotus Bloom" name. Is this the way to do it easily and properly?

And is it possible to use a foil promo card like Mishra's Toy Workshop as a Workshop proxy or would the silver border/foiling be problematic? What is the best card to use as a good proxy for Mishra's Workshop?

@pathym You should read the rules of the tournament. There are a lot of tournaments that have strict rules regarding proxies (a few allow only basic lands with sharpie written on it).

And don't ruin real cards for that (specially good cards like Lotus Bloom). If they allow cards like that as proxy, I wonder if a Perfect Size shield with sharpie text written on it instead of written on the card isn't better - actually I'm not sure perfect sizes would be allowed as proxyes, but I don't see any compelling reason not to...

last edited by fsecco

I usually print proxies off of : No images just text. It might not be the coolest proxy but there is no question on what card it is. But I would definitely check the rules for the event like the other user noted above.

It's important to remember that as there is no such thing as a sanctioned proxy/playtest tournament, there is also no such thing as official rules for making proxy cards.

Typically every TO has their own set of rules, so the only sure thing is "read the announcement, ask the the head judge". However, there do tend to be common themes between the rules. A good playtest card is:

Clear: It should be completely obvious to your opponent what the card you're playing is. There should be zero chance they mistake it for something else, even at a glance. At a quick glance your opponent should be able to tell "that's a playtest card", and they should be able to tell which card it is without having to give away the fact that they're looking at it. (e.g. they shouldn't have to pick the card up to read the name). Many tournaments will require the full card text to be written on the proxy as well, but if there's so much text that it makes the card less clear, I would opt for clarity and confirm with the head judge ahead of time

Unmarked: This should be obvious, but you should not be able to tell that a card is a proxy if it is in a face down sleeve. Whatever you use to make your playtest card shouldn't be visible through the back of a sleeve, and it shouldn't change the thickness in a notable way. A low-key, 100% proxy event might allow a deck entirely using paper printouts inside a sleeve, but a larger event never will.

You should confer with the TO and/or Judge first, but practically speaking, I've never been to an event that didn't allow "A basic land + Sharpie" as a valid playtest card. Just be sure to make it clear that they're proxies, and don't use a basic you're also running in the deck 😄

I would recommend blanking a foil, either by using acetone to just take off the ink (blank shiny canvass) or peeling off the foil layer entirely (blank white canvass, my preference). Using thin sharpie markers you can then write on the text and approximate the art. I think this gives the clearest presentation, and even if you aren't amazing at art, the older iconic stuff you will be copying has simpler images that are so well known that even a passing resemblance should allow an opponent to clearly identify the card.

I once had this same issue. I went and bought a set of nice-looking proxies with the Magic Online art (as opposed to the original art that is the only one to appear in paper). I was thinking that these would be clear as to what they were, obviously not real cards so nobody could get scammed with them, and they wouldn't have my ugly writing on them.

I found out the hard way that this is NOT a good idea. Even though I'm not a cheater and I couldn't tell the difference between these any any of my other cards the head judge ruled them as marked due to being a tiny fraction of an inch thicker. My opinion is that these were no different than any of my foils, but since I'm honest I had to replace these with hastily-drawn crude-looking basic land proxies.

Paper print outs also do not work as they change the thickness even more. I now have blanked revised cards with laser printed proxy images on them. They look legible, but obviously not authentic, so if they get stolen I'm not worried about them being used to scam someone.

TLDR contact your TO and head judge.

As others have said, it is up to the individual TO. The TSO tournaments I run in Ohio are fairly casual and so I allow a wide variety of proxies (CE cards, blank World Championship cards, etc). EE might be a bit more strict, so double-check the rules.

For what to actually write on the cards - make sure that the name, mana cost, and supertypes are obvious. The full exact oracle text doesn't really have to be there, but if you can fit it in that's nice to have.

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