How To Tell If A Magic Card Is Fake?

January 18, 2023 · Your Playmat
fake and original mtg cards comparison

Magic: The Gathering is a popular and huge card game franchise worldwide. Millions of players collect and play rare and common monster cards. And thousands of players meet at official tournaments and start epic battles.

Due to the great popularity of the franchise, many scammers often counterfeit cards. And then they sell them for the price of the originals. Many players would not want to fall into this trap. It's because using such cards in official tournaments is illegal. And because of having such a card in a set, one may lose the chance to play at an official event.

In our article, we will discuss the basic principles of distinguishing the original card. With our informative guide, you can easily distinguish real Magic cards from fake ones. Read the article to the end so that you’ll use only original products and never fall for the deceit of scammers.

Examine The Quality Of The Card’s Printing And Materials

Examining the quality of the printing and materials of an MTG card is an important step. Here are some things to look for when examining the quality of the card's printing and materials:

  • Card stock. Genuine Magic cards are typically printed on high-quality card stock. It has a consistent thickness and feels. It may be MTG fake cards if it feels flimsy or has a different texture than a genuine card;
  • Printing quality. Genuine Magic cards will have crisp and clear printing. And they have no blurred text or misaligned imagery. If a card has any of these issues, it may be fake;
  • Color quality. Genuine Magic cards will have consistent and accurate color reproduction. If a card has washed-out or off-color imagery, it may be fake;
  • Gloss finish. Some Magic cards may have a glossy finish. Genuine cards will have a consistent and even finish; if it is smudged or uneven, they may be fake;
  • UV light test. Some MTG fake cards are easily detected under UV light. Genuine cards will not have any visible reactions under UV light.

It's important to note that even with these guidelines, it can be difficult to spot a fake card. And the best way to ensure authenticity is to buy it from a reputable source.

Look For Differences In The Card’s Artwork Or Text

Another method for detecting fake Magic cards is a test for the quality of printing images and text.

Many experts in card games know that special printers make MTG cards. All characters and images go first. The machines print these things using the color dot method. But, the dot method does not print sharp edges, lines, or text. Thus, an extra layer is applied to the card with other characters. It can be text or lines and it goes after the first printing layer. Using a microscope or magnifier, you may find out that the original card has a multi-layered print. While MTG fake cards will have a single-layer print.

You can also pay attention to the position of the colored dots on the chart. On the original card, each point is separate from the other. They are close enough to each other but do not overlap. The MTG fake cards will have the same colored dots, but they overlap each other. In simple terms, the original print looks neater and more lined up. At the same time, printing on a fake card will look chaotic and messy.

You can also pay attention to the text that is on the card. Fake cards often have:

  • Writing mistakes;
  • Names of other characters;
  • Incorrect health and attack indicators;
  • Jumping text;
  • Wrong font, different from the original card.

These parameters will help you understand that you have MTG fake cards in your hands. But always remember that even original MTG cards can have mistakes. In this case, such cards are highly valued among collectors, and you should keep them in card sleeves.

Compare The Card To An Official Version

real and fake mtg cards

Also, the next great method to check your MTG card for originality is to compare it with the original. But, in this case, you need to be ready so that you can damage your card.

MTG Cards Test Under Light Conditions

To do this, you must take your card in your hands and direct the light from the lamp onto it. Original MTG cards must show through a certain amount of light. And you will have to see what is on the other side. But you should not see clear text or a picture. If your card is completely or not translucent, you have a fake one.

You can also use a UV lamp to determine the card's authenticity. The real Magic cards will have UV radiation. At the same time, a fake MTG card will not have this effect.

Also, one of the safe and working tests will be checking the weight of the card. The average weight of an MTG card should be between 1.7 and 1.8 grams. You face a counterfeit Magic card if it weighs more or less than this indicator.

MTG Cards Folding Test

The first test involves folding the card. Original MTG cards will bend freely in your hands. And after that, there will be no creases or cracks on them. While fake MTG cards will, 100% have creases and damage after bending. But, during the test, you may damage the original MTG card. Thus, when bending the card, ensure you do not put too much pressure on it.

MTG Cards Tearing Test

The second test involves tearing the card. This test is usually done only if it is fake in all other aspects. After tearing the card, the original MTG card should have several layers of cardboard. In comparison, an MTG fake card is usually made of paper. Although many fake cards also use many layers of paper, you can recognize fakeness in another way. A torn original MTG card usually has a blue ribbon inside. And the fake card will not have any color additions between the base material layers.

Check For Unofficial Or Unauthorized Set Symbols

Here are some things to look for when examining the card's set symbols:

  • Official set symbols. Genuine Magic cards will have an official set symbol corresponding to the set it was released in. The set symbols can be found on the card's bottom right corner. And it should match the set symbol of the edition of that card;
  • Unofficial set symbols. If a card has an unofficial set symbol or one that does not match the card's edition, it is likely to be fake;
  • Unauthorized set symbols. If a card has an unauthorized set symbol or one that does not exist, it is likely to be MTG fake card;
  • Check the card's edition. Ensure that the card's set symbol matches its released edition. The card's set symbol may be fake if it does not match the edition.

It's vital to note that not all fake Magic cards have unofficial or unauthorized set symbols. So it's important to check other aspects of the card, such as printing, materials, and artwork.

Verify The Card’s Serial Number Or Other Security Features

Verifying the card's serial number or other security features is important. Here are some things to look for when examining these indicators:

  • Serial numbers. Some Magic cards may have serial numbers printed on them. You can usually find them on the card's bottom right corner or back. Genuine Magic cards will have a unique serial number. It corresponds to the card's edition;
  • Holograms. Magic cards may have a hologram on them. Genuine Magic cards will have a hologram corresponding to the card's edition. And it should be consistent with the card's design and not added later;
  • Microtext. Some Magic cards may have micro text. You can find this small text on certain areas of the card. Genuine Magic cards will have micro text that corresponds to the card's edition;
  • Barcode. Some Magic cards may have a barcode, usually on the bottom right corner or back;
  • Check for the authenticity of the card's edition. Some cards may have been altered to appear as a different edition. Check the authenticity of the edition by comparing it to a genuine version.

By verifying the card's serial number or other security features, you can also identify if a card is fake. But it's vital to note that not all fake Magic cards will have a fake serial number or security features. So it's important to check other aspects of the card, such as:

  • Printing;
  • Materials;
  • Artwork;
  • Set symbols.

Consider The Source Of The Card

Considering the source is also vital in determining whether it's a fake Magic card. Here are some things to consider when examining the source of the card:

  1. Reputable sellers. The most secure way to ensure a card is genuine is to buy it from a reputable seller. It can be a licensed retailer or a well-established online store;
  2. Trusted traders or players. If you are trading for or buying a card from another player, ensure that the person is trustworthy. Also, they must have a good reputation in the Magic community;
  3. Online marketplaces. Be cautious when buying cards on online marketplaces like eBay or Craigslist. Always research the seller. Read reviews, and be aware of the common scams and counterfeit techniques;
  4. Conventions or tournaments. When buying a card at a convention or tournament, scrutinize the card. And ask the seller any questions you may have about its authenticity;
  5. Be aware of the prices. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be mindful of the prices of the cards you buy and ensure the price is consistent with the market value.

Considering the source of the card, you can reduce the risk of ending up with a counterfeit Magic card. But it's always recommended to examine the card's:

  • Printing;
  • Authenticity;
  • Text.

Do it before buying cards.

Beware Of Common Scams And Counterfeit Techniques

Beware of the following common scams and counterfeit techniques:

  • Photocopied cards. Some counterfeiters may use a photocopier to create a counterfeit Magic card. It can result in poor quality and noticeable differences compared to a genuine card;
  • Reprinted cards. Some counterfeit Magic cards by reprinting as genuine cards with a different back;
  • Sticker-swapped cards. In this scam, a card has a fake card face on a genuine card. This can be difficult to spot, but a genuine card will have a different texture and feel than a fake card;
  • Online scams. Some fake cards may be on sale online through sites like eBay or Craigslist. Be careful when buying cards online, and only buy from reputable sellers;
  • Traded scams. Some individuals may trade fake cards for real Magic cards. Be aware of who you are trading with and check the card's authenticity before trading.

It's essential to be cautious when buying or trading Magic cards. Especially if they are rare or expensive. Always compare the card in question to a genuine version of the same card. And be aware of the common scams and counterfeit techniques used by counterfeit Magic card makers.

Get An Expert Opinion Or Use Authenticity Checking Services

Here are some ways to get an expert opinion or use authenticity-checking services:

  • Consult with a professional card grader. Professional card graders are experts in authenticating Magic: The Gathering cards. They can examine the card's printing, materials, and condition to determine its authenticity;
  • Ask for opinions in the Magic community. Join forums or social media groups dedicated to MTG. And ask for opinions from other players. They have experience with identifying fake Magic: The Gathering cards;
  • Use authenticity-checking Services. Some companies offer authenticity-checking services for Magic cards. They may use different techniques such as UV light tests, comparing genuine cards, and more;
  • Check with the Wizards of the Coast. Wizards of the Coast, the publisher of MTG, maintains a database of all legitimate Magic cards. You can check if a card is legitimate by searching its barcode or other unique identification numbers in the database.

With an expert opinion or authenticity checking services, you can be certain that it is not a fake Magic: The Gathering card. But it's important to remember that even experts can make mistakes. And these services may not be 100% accurate.

Thus, before visiting an expert, always try to check the originality of the card yourself. And if you have further doubts, you can contact a specialist.

Bottom Line

As you can see, it is quite easy to distinguish the original card from the fake Magic: The Gathering card. But with each new release of a new set, scammers are improving forgery technologies. That is why you need to update your knowledge in this area. This will help you always know the current fraud methods and avoid falling into this trap.


How To Spot Fake Magic Cards?

Look for certain telltale signs such as:

  • Poor card quality;
  • Misaligned or blurred printing;
  • Incorrect card text or imagery.

How To Make A Fake Magic Card?

To make a Magic card, you will need a few basic materials such as card stock, a printer, and a cutting tool.

Here are the steps you can follow:

  • Find an image of the card you want to fake online;
  • Print the image on card stock and cut out the card using a cutting tool;
  • Write "Fake" clearly on the card with a marker.

What Should I Do If I Come Across A Fake Magic Card?

Report it to Wizards of the Coast or the tournament organizer if it was in tournament play. Additionally, you should not use or buy fake cards. It's because it supports illegal activity and harms the Magic: The Gathering community.

Are MTG Fake Cards Expensive?

Many scammers use fake cards as original ones. This means that they cost the same. Both common and rare cards will be on sale at market prices. Thus, you can buy a card for both $2 and $100, thinking that you are buying a rare card.

Is Making Fake MTG Cards Legal?

No. If you counterfeit an MTG card, you can receive a large monetary fine for doing so. The company will file charges for copyright infringement. It's best to make a proxy card. This will hepy you avoid sanctions.