Please educate me about fakes

@GHitchHiker Cripes. That Ancestral looks really good. Can you please explain how to tell that one's a fake? And do all of these pass the light and black-light tests?

@Topical_Island said:

@GHitchHiker Cripes. That Ancestral looks really good. Can you please explain how to tell that one's a fake? And do all of these pass the light and black-light tests?

Looks like the white text and the mana symbol are both wrong (compare to a normal Unlimited edition card). Also the rules text doesn't look super crisp, but that could be the scan.

last edited by Gumgod


The biggest tip off is that it's Near Mint. The other is that the gloss is off. It's too glossy compared to a real card. It does not pass either light test.

Can we keep this discussion on the topic of how to identify these? Personally I'd like to see them all burn in a fire. If you want a nice proxy there are some awesome options out there that aren't illegal.

The two I mentioned earlier just in case you didn't feel like clicking my links:

This is an individually hand painted Time Walk from the original artist that painted Time Walk. It's $25 on ebay right now. It has a normal Magic back because it was painted directly on a blanked Magic card.
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These are a set of 9 proxies for less than $30 (for the entire set) that you can buy from ‎Mark Aronowitz. You can find him if you search Facebook. They are a limited series of only 500 and are numbered on the back.
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These have way more pimp factor than fakes, and you don't have to order from some shady asshole in China.

If you don't like these, then commission someone to make you some.

last edited by Brass Man


That's a beautiful Time Walk. And I agree, we should probably keep proxy discussion to a separate thread.

@Gumgod I second using alternatives to the Chinese proxies. I understand that people want nice looking proxies, but supporting the people who are literally counterfeiting cards seems like a poor way to do it.

last edited by DeaTh-ShiNoBi

@DeaTh-ShiNoBi It would be nice if there were informal, or even formal agreements that even at proxy tournaments, those proxies that could just as easily be called fakes, shouldn't be allowed. I would think that all proxies need to be clearly labeled as a proxy. It would make the line between proxy and counterfeit much clearer, and fund the efforts of artists over forgers. The hand painted stuff is clearly much better anyway... in every way.

last edited by Topical_Island

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There are differences, particularly in the sharpness of certain borders, but they're not especially obvious unless you know exactly what you're looking for. I'll dig out my Beta Ankh of Mishra and compare it to the Moxes as well later. These were considered some of the better fakes when I came by them and I considered them reasonable for Cube drafting. Some of the new ones are much better, so please be aware of that.

@AmbivalentDuck SO... exactly what am I looking at here?

@Topical_Island The inner borders are printed on the black layer and that layer doesn't have a visible rosette pattern so the lines should be sharper when contrasted with the rosette pattern of the other coloured layers. In the case of the time walk the black layer is slightly blurred compared to the same lines in the control magic. This is actually a pretty good fake.

If I saw anyone at all playing with gem mint Beta power I'd be suspicious.

I recently picked up one of the new black core Tabernacles off eBay so that I can compare it to the real one. The new fakes can look scary good in a regular picture, but from things I have found online it seems there are pretty much always issues with the gloss, the coloring and things like that. The black cores can pass the bend test, though the chart I looked at had them rated as stiffer than actual Magic cards.

The black light test seems to be the universal, as of now. None of the current fakes are known to light up under the black light. I bought a black light to go with my fake Tabernacle.

I know people who are really concerned about the quality of modern fakes, but I am becoming less concerned. Even if they get the colors and gloss right (which evidently they don't), they have to hit the weight, thickness and opacity correctly or there will be differences that you could detect with a sufficiently sensitive scale or caliper.

Something else worth considering is that these fakes are not made using the original source images. There should always be something off about them, just a question of what it takes to detect.

Right now I feel fine with a loupe and a black light. I will post some side by sides when I get the Tabernacle, probably tonight or tomorrow.

@rikter The gloss issues are typically addressed by simulating play wear on the cards. I agree that black light is probably the best current test.

@Gumgod said:

These have way more pimp factor than fakes, and you don't have to order from some shady asshole in China.

I just want to strongly, STRONGLY second the sentiment behind this post.

While the community usually uses the word "proxy" to mean any non-official card being used as a real one, that's not really the right term of art and it can be confusing in conversation. Wizards has defined three kinds of non-official cards: (1) Proxies, which are authorized replacements by a judge if your real card was damaged during a tournament; (2) Counterfeits, which are non-authentic cards that try to pass as real cards; and (3) Play-Test Cards, which are non-authentic cards that would not pass as real even under even the most casual inspection.

Sharpied basic lands, and the cards Gumgod linked, fall into the "Play-Test" category. Chinese fakes fall into the "Counterfeit" category.

Paper Vintage cannot survive without some form of unofficial cards due to the cost and card availability of the format, so I totally get that people need access to some kind of unofficial card. What I take issue with, however, are people using Counterfeits and calling them "proxies." That's wrong. Even if you're upfront with people about the fact that the cards are not genuine, you have contributed to the production of more counterfeits and increased the risk that your counterfeits will someday get into circulation and someone will be defrauded.

Luckily, you don't have to go get a counterfeit card if you want to play with something snazzy looking. You can find dozens of artists on Etsy who do exactly this, printing or painting custom Play Test cards. They don't fool anyone, and in many cases they look better than the original card did anyway. You can have your cake and eat it too.

Now, Wizards probably is not OK with even Playtest cards, at least if they use the mana symbols or other copyrighted materials. But, if you are going to have unofficial cards in your deck, the whole community is better off if you choose these Play-Test cards and STAY AWAY FROM COUNTERFEITS.

Please tread carefully in this thread - try and keep discussion on how to identify fakes, so we can keep them OUT of vintage tournaments. The last thing we need is WotC getting the idea that TMD and the Vintage community is enabling counterfeiters.

@Brass-Man The only reliable way to spot a fake is to know what the counterfeiters know AND see fakes and known real cards side-by-side. This walks a fine line, but I think we're all safer knowing what to look for and which tests still work. Certainly, nobody here has encouraged the use or acquisition of counterfeit cards. This stands in contrast to /r/bootlegmtg whose purpose is to enable players to obtain and "pass" counterfeits.

Personally, I wish they'd just start a redemption program where you could trade in your older cards and 20 cents per card for freshly printed cards with the holofoil stamp. Then we could all stop talking about this and they could just ban all cards without the holofoil stamp from tournaments.

last edited by AmbivalentDuck

@AmbivalentDuck I'm not saying any lines have been crossed, I'm just saying be careful they aren't

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