Understanding MTG Proxies : How To Use Them And What They Are

Magic: the Gathering is an extensive multiplayer tabletop card game with many, many, many different cards. These cards can be bought from secondhand sellers individually, such as TCGPlayer and Card Kingdom, if you’re looking for a specific card. The alternative to this, which is also the original method intended by Wizards of the Coast, is to buy packs of cards and hope you pull the card you’re looking for. This can be an expensive and tricky method, as some cards are so rare, you may need to purchase multiple boxes of packs to pull just one. These cards are known as ‘chase cards’ due to their rarity and the fact that they are good cards people want to pull in their packs. 

Those two options make playing Magic: the Gathering a pretty expensive game, right? You either spend a fortune trying to pull a specific chase card, or you spend a fortune buying single cards from secondhand sellers. However, there is a secret third option; proxying. MTG Proxies, in the terms of Magic: the Gathering, are non-official cards that act like playtest or placeholder cards. These cards are not made or sold by Wizards of the Coast, and are not advertised as actual cards. Magic: the Gathering proxies can be made at home with just a printer, or can be bought from specialized sellers for higher quality. Some places even use the same cardstock as Wizards themselves, thus making their proxies more satisfying to play with.  

Why People Use MTG Proxies

There are a multitude of reasons people will make and/or use proxies in the game Magic: the Gathering. One of these reasons is the fact that some cards are very, very expensive. Mana Crypt, a staple in every format of the game that it is legal in, is currently priced at roughly $175 USD per copy. Luckily, the only two formats it’s legal in only allow one copy per deck; but that is still one $175 USD card per deck. 

Keep in mind that that is per deck as well, meaning if you want to stay on a good power level as the rest of your average player at most local game stores, you’ll want to play the good cards like Mana Crypt. One solution to this price problem is to use a proxy, which can range between $0.75 USD and $5 USD, depending on where you go and how fancy you want the card. That’s a $170 USD difference, which saves your pocket another hole.

Another reason people may proxy cards from Magic: the Gathering the the rarity of the card. Recently, I was looking for a borderless Orzhov Basilica from Double Masters 2022, but I couldn’t find one anywhere; my local game shop didn’t have a copy, and neither did any of the players that offer trades. The card is only $0.50 USD, but since it comes from a set where each pack costs $20, people aren’t exactly keen to open them that often. To combat this issue, I ordered a couple copies of the card as a proxy, which allowed me to use the version I wanted in multiple decks. This can be applied to any number of cards that are somewhat rare, regardless of price. 

Proxies can also be used to help a deck fit an aesthetic. With the release of the Brother’s War commander preconstructed decks, which featured 100% retro-framed cards (cards with old borders), a lot of cards that have retro-frame borders rose in price. Some cards don’t have retro-frame, but are considered staples and wanted in any upgrade of the decks anyway. The Urza deck, for example, deals with tokens, so players would want a card called Anointed Procession, which doubles your token making. 

Anointed Procession is a somewhat expensive card, sitting between $20 and $30 USD, but the main issue here is the fact that Anointed Procession does not have a printing in the retro-frame style. With a little bit of creativity, and some program that allows customization of images and/or cards, you can design a version of Anointed Procession that features a retro-frame, then commission a company that specializes in Magic: the Gathering proxies to print it for you. 

This process can be applied to any card for any aesthetic; people have made an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth that looks like it came from Zendikar Rising Expeditions, for example. Maybe you want a deck that features your beloved pet; you could sneak a picture of said pet in the art of every card in your deck and proxy them out, allowing you to see your beloved pet every time you play the deck. 

What Are The Types Of MTG Proxies?

In general, there are two types of proxies for Magic: the Gathering; physical and digital. Physical proxies are either cards that are modified by hand (such as taking a blank token and writing the card details in with a pen), or printed on paper and glued onto a card. This also includes digital proxies that have been printed onto cardstock, allowing them to be played in person. 

Proxies cannot be used in digital games, like MTGA (Magic: The Gathering Arena) or MTGO (Magic: The Gathering Online), so the idea of a digital proxy sounds strange. Digital proxies refer to edited card images, custom made artwork, or simply downloaded images of cards. These digital proxies are used to help create physical proxies that will actually see play. Seeing the actual card is much better than having it just written on in pen, most people would say. 

How Are Magic: The Gathering Proxies Used?

MTG  Proxy in the game Magic: the Gathering are mostly used for casual play. This brings us to the commonly accepted rule of proxying in Magic: the Gathering. Most people will allow proxies in casual gameplay if you own an actual copy of the card. Players agree that some cards are entirely too expensive to buy a new copy of for every deck, such as Mana Crypt, but also agree that at least one copy must be bought. Owning one copy of the card shows that you are willing to put the time, effort, and money into the game. This also prevents people that do buy actual copies of the cards from feeling invalidated. Collectors that want to play with their expensive cards use this idea, keeping their pricey cards in a binder, or otherwise accessible and viewable format of storage, while playing with proxies. Magic: the Gathering can be a hectic game; opponents grabbing your cards to read them, shuffling mishaps, clumsiness, et cetera, and can lead to cards being damaged. This fact supports the idea of proxies, as they are cheap and easy to replace. If a proxy of a  Mana Crypt gets bent, you either pull out a new one, or just bend it back and keep playing. If an actual Mana Crypt gets bent, you’re going to have to sell a kidney or similar to get a new one. 

One method that some players use to abide by this unspoken rule, while also keeping their budget tight, is to buy cards on Magic: the Gathering Online. Prices on MTGO are a lot more lax, usually. Mana Crypt is only $9.50 USD on MTGO, allowing players to own a copy while not blowing the bank. This is because MTGO has had more reprints than the paper game has, allowing for a more stable second-hand market. 

Where Can You Buy Magic: The Gathering Proxies?

If you want high quality MTG Proxies for an amazing price, your best bet would be, a site that not only prints proxies for extraordinary prices, but allows you to upload your own cards, allowing custom art or even custom cards to use in personal or casual play. 

They feature amazing bulk rates, making each individual card cheaper the more you get. The site also shows unfiltered reviews in the form of a Discord input, which allows members of the Discord (a free to use and easy to join website) to post their photos and personal experience. The Discord is also where giveaways and contests are held; every Saturday at 11AM PST (2PM EST), allowing anyone to join and win free proxies.