1. An excellent and timely article! It is quite concerning that counterfeit cards are becoming more of an issue (branching out into “non-power” territory as you mentioned). Someone was attempting to sell fake power 9 on craigslist locally about a month ago. A keen eyed player in the community was considerate enough to post an ad warning everyone about the fakes. Absolutely something to be aware of and on the lookout for while trading or buying. I am curious how the community will adapt to this while trading? People may get offended if their cards are scrutinized more closely with every trade.

    Thanks you for the excellent article and all of the tips for spotting fakes!

    (PS- Don’t be afraid to bend test a card. Practice on commons, ask permission first, follow the instructions above, then commit. A real card does recover, just ask my Underground Seas).

    • I agree James. After submitting the article I’ve posted several things in the forum post regarding this issue and I truly believe this is a much bigger concern than many think. I understand that because the copies are “illegal” and WoTC has the right and will press legal actions against the printers some people think this is more of a minor “blip” on the radar. The playerbase itself will need to adapt to this information. We will need to take a hardline against playing with the fakes, I will feel really bad the first time I play against someone and call them out for using fakes (especially given they are unlikely to be aware of them), however, without this kind of hardline stance the use of fakes will be considered a much more “economical” way to play MTG and without strict punishment there won’t be the incentive needed to make players actively root out fakes. After all, if you think about the average FNM player, they would be thrilled to buy their playset of Domri Rade’s for 20 bucks on ebay and take them to their LGS and play with them (likely never knowing they are fake)…then they tire of the deck and trade them off…now those Domri’s are floating through the MTG community likely being traded at “full value” to other un-suspecting players up until they come across someone aware of the potential who looks and validates the cards. Then those with the Domri’s are left feeling terrible that the cards they traded for are fakes and worth nothing and aren’t allowable in tournaments. They’ll be left with 4 options; destroy the cards (what they should do), pull the cards from their decks and trade binders and just put them in a box or something, trade them to people alerting them that they are fakes and are at best “proxies”, trade them to people without saying a thing….sadly I see option 4 being used the most because nobody wants to get stuck with the loss. The only way to properly combat this is to get the playerbase aware of the issues and to isolate fakes as soon as possible. If unethical people are bringing in fakes to unload and find that they can’t do so they will stop doing it.

      • I am not sure there is much that Wizard’s can really do. Suing internationally (especially China) is very difficult if the foreign government does not care. Fake pins (aka scrappers) have plagued the Disney pin collecting hobby for years. Little is done about it.

        • Yeah I don’t see much being done on that level. Hell, look at the miniature wargaming hobby. There have been counterfeit minis being made in China for years, and as much as Games Workshop goes about suing like maniacs they can’t do anything to stop the Chinese Warhammer/40k knock-offs.

  2. First, why the question mark next to dot patern B?

    I much appreciate this article. One place to gather information on counterfeits is a very good idea. That said I think this should both be a free article and updated as some of the information presented is incomplete or even incorrect.

    – I would add a reminder to bring a common from the same set for the dot patern check.

    – Real cards will show either a blue or a black trace of the glue, not just the blue. Under magnification you might identify the line along the edge as well.

    – Not all Beta cards have the white dots. A 3rd copy of every Basic land type was added, the darker one compared to the other 2 and these do not have the white dots. The same is true for Volcanic Island and CoP: Black, which also wern’t in Alpha. For some reason Red Elemental Blasts also don’t have dots as I noted when searching for my CoP: Black and there might be others too.

    – Real cards will fail the bend test eventually. High end cards may have been frequently bend tested already and doing so again may lead to damaging them. I would recommend against this practice unless you are already in doubt. Definitely execute every other test before trying this one.

    – Alternate 4th cards also don’t glow in black light. They could be argued to be fake, but should probably be noted seperately.

    – A link to some of your sources could be recommended,… and both have some info in addition to what’s in your article.

    It would be great if your article had also covered “Dark Beta”, which was an after hours printing on the actual printers with the actual card stock done by a former Carta Mundi employee. Except for being darker than normal cards “Dark Beta” cards are indistinguishable from real cards. Despite the name one can also find non-Beta cards from this printing, I have for example seen a Moat come by on the rarities and misprints FB group.

    • Hasbro also has shown precedent for completely ignoring Chinese counterfeiting operations in the past. So far, they have completely ignored counterfeit G1 Transformers for about 6 years, for example.

  3. I think that this article should be on the free side, it is very important the all the magic comunity know about this.

    Great article!!!

    • Thanks Pi. I will actually dig deeper into the subjects you’ve broached here and amend the article as such. Ideally I’d love this to be a VERY comprehensive article covering everything we can think of. Unfortunately, I was only made aware of the counterfeit Tarmogoyfs (and other non-power) counterfeits Sunday night/Monday…and I submitted my article Monday night (thus time constraints prevented me from going as in depth as I’d like)..hence consider this article a “living document” (to borrow a favorite term of some co-workers).

      • (Yet one of your pictures has a fake Razor Barrier ;)).

        I’d also try to get the article on the free side. There is no reason for this to be insider, in fact, it might shine a negative light on QS if information on how to identify fakes is not shared with the general public.

        Making it a living document seems like a good idea. If you want me to proofread some of the information you gathered feel free to send me a PM. I wouldn’t say I’m an authority on spotting fakes, however I am a bit of a sponge as far as information gathering on things that interest me goes. If I’ve read anything related I will remember I have.

  4. Great article, although it’s one of those that I strongly feel should be on the free side of the website.

  5. Great that you’ve done some updates. I usually go by “pi”, no capitals, maybe you could update that?

    Some more comments:

    – Your first reference to the blue line is under the picture of the torn up cards. I suggest to place the comment in regard to there also sometimes being a black line, there. It makes less sense in the rebacked section. Maybe an anecdote to add would be that there’s supposedly a Summer Taiga out there that was torn to a small extent to check on its authenticity.

    – Good that you have an example of “Dark Beta” in there, I also remember a Tundra being shared on the Misprints and Rarities FB group in case you want to look for more examples.

    – You didn’t add whether the light test example shows 2 real cards or a fake and a real one. The right one is a fake. They are probably the same Armageddons as you show later on in the black light test.

    – You’ve missed the basics in the list of Beta cards that don’t have dots, also, I am not sure if my list is complete, there may be others. It could be worthwhile to do a check of more cards, I just had a quick look through my commons.

    – A bend test leaves no trace on a card right up to the point when it does. You cannot see if a card will survive the bend test. I agree a beat up card is more likely to fail, but there is no guarantee a NM real copy will pass.

    • I went through Markers’ fully signed set:

      I identified a few more:

      COP: Red


      I have confirmed both with copies I own.

      Basalt Monolith seems to be darker, just like the others, but does have small dots on the left side (which are a little red-ish on my copies). Icy Manipulator is also darker, but a white dot is visible in the bottom right.

      Interestingly Markers’ copy of Volcanic Island does appear to have dots:

      But that would mean that either his or this graded copy is a fake:

      I’m not sure what to think as I do think Markers knows his stuff, though it’s clear to me that the dots are not a good rule of thumb.

      • I mentioned Marker’s Volcanic Island in a discussion on the Beta dots on the FB Misprints and Oddities group and this eventually led to a thorough check of Marker’s card. His card unfortunately turned out to be an altered Unlimited copy.

    • About the light test: how do you figure the right one in the picture is fake?

      I’ve tested with several cards and some show a sort of “muddy” shadow (reminiscent of the left card in the picture above), while others look smoother (more similar to the right one). Other than that they let about as much light through. This seems random, but newer cards mostly have the more “muddy” shadow. I figured it’s just an insignificant printing difference. I don’t know if that’s what you’re talking about, can you explain your reasoning?

      • I wish I could show off my skills here, but I simply went to the page he got the images from and it literally says “The one on the left is real, the one on the right is fake.”.

        If you can, compare to a copy of the same card from the same set or otherwise try to get as close as possible (same set, color and card type perhaps). While you might see differences between sets within a set the results should be comparable.

  6. Hi

    Just wanted to note, that with a jewelers loop (I have 30x with a led light which works nicely) you can also check out the blue line that you can see when ripping the card, without actually destroying it. It’s easier to see it from the corners, but it can also be seen from the sides with a little practice.

  7. I bought a fake Mox Pearl off eBay a number of year ago. The seller took it back claiming he didn’t know it was fake. I have my doubts but at least I didn’t get screwed.

    Has anyone tried to order that set from the printing company. It would be interesting, for the sake of the community, for someone to buy them and report on the quality and how to tell them apart.

    Sucks that the Chinese are the ones behind this. Their government doesn’t care and, in fact, to some extent encourages this type of behavior. They do the same thing in the international market by manipulating their currency. Their culture has no respect for intellectual property. There won’t be a lot Hasbro can do.

  8. So those white dots are supposed to be on Beta cards? I have had a Beta Wheel of Fortune for years that I thought was in worse condition than it is because of those.

  9. Here a chat I just had with the supplier/printer in China

    cn220161770(2014-01-09 09:09:33):

    hi, what can I do for you?

    guest(2014-01-09 06:05:53):

    can you tell me more about your magic the gathering cards? What do I get if i order.

    cn220161770(2014-01-09 06:07:18):

    sorry no stocks now’

    guest(2014-01-09 06:07:46):

    When will have have more in stock?

    cn220161770(2014-01-09 06:09:19):

    10days later, don;t tell anybody

    • I’ll try and buy some in ten days and post what I find plus detailed scans if I can get them to sell me a set. The site seems to imply they are only really cheap at bulk prices. I’m not interested in buying 100s of sets.

    • They are unlikely to hold up well, and here’s why:

      The dot pattern you see is a moire pattern, and is a result of the offset printing press process. There are four different colors of ink that are printed out as a set of halftone dots (a “dot screen”), and each screen is at a different angle. The interference pattern created by the overlaying of these differently angled screens is the moire pattern.

      When someone wants to produce a counterfeit card using an offset press, they are not going to have access to the original artwork that Wizards used to print the card, so they are going to have to scan a card. That scan will not have the same amount and quality of image data as the original art scan, and will likely need to be blurred to eliminate the original moire pattern in order to have an image that can be used to create a new halftone screen for the counterfeit. You can see this on the Ancestral Recall in the article. This means that close examination of the card’s art will likely always reveal some telltale differences, even if the rest of the layout gets more sophisticated.

      Theoretically, someone could do a very high resolution scan of a card and reverse engineer the CMYK and text K plates of a Magic card, and then print an exact-enough dupe on a printing press, but it would be an awful lot of work and would probably still have some kind of telltale visual flaw or fail to pass another test.

  10. I live in China, have been for the past decade, and honestly, all the fakes we actually see here, are horrid. The really good fakes are sent overseas. Now, I have bought boxes of fake cards, with the intention of using them for cube and edh. Nobody has ever tried to pass of fakes as real and sell them to me.

  11. I just got this email from one of the chinese vendors:

    “Dear customer,

    I am Sorry, our company was stopped by the police, so we can’t do MTG cards business no!

    pls don’t response here to make the e-mail box full.


    So hopefully the gig is up for them, for now, but I highly doubt it will stop them for long.

  12. Just a quick note: Looking for obviously miscolored backs will also turn up every Alternate 4th card you own as a fake. The “A” in the Magic logo on the back of Alternate 4th is darkest in the upper right corner, as opposed to every other card where there’s a light spot in the upper right.

  13. Does anyone have a direct link to this “55 card set” being sold? I would like to do some more research.

  14. Just got a fake in the mail today that I bought on Ebay. Glossy coat when you look at it from the side, Flimsy feeling, blurred text, thicker black border, and the side of the card where it is glued together doesn’t match that of a typical card.

  15. We’re currently talking with printers in China about getting some tokens made for our shop. One of the vendors sent me this just yesterday. Apparently the 55-card fake decks are alive and well.


    For the ​ MTG cards , not originl cards. rare cards

    ​ US$25 for a deck, 55 cards in a deck,

    4 decks at least. US$150 for 4 decks including freight by DHL to USA

    please let me know, if you want to buy,


    the list:

    1-Arid Mesa

    2-Jace the mind sculptor

    3-Tropical Island

    4-Temple Garden

    5-Stomping Ground

    6-Overgrown Tomb

    7-Scared Foundry

    8-Breeding Pool

    9-Misty Rainforst

    10-Celestial Colonnade

    11-Flooded Strand

    12-jace architect of thought


    14-Inkmoth Nexus

    15-Elspeth Sun’s Champion


    17-Scalding Tarn

    18-Hallowed Fountain

    19-Polluted Delta

    20-Sol Ring

    21-Underground sea

    22-Maesh Flats

    23-Reflecting Pool


    25-Wooded Foothills

    26-Windswept Health

    27-Watery Grave

    28-Godless Shrine


    30-Blood Crypt

    31-Verdant Catacombs

    32-Swords to Plowshares

    33-Chalice of the Void

    34-sword of war and peace

    35-sword of fire and ice

    36-demonic tutor

    37-elspeth knight-errant


    39-pernicious deed

    40-sword of feast and famine

    41-goblin lackey

    42-goblin pilcdriver

    43-engineered explosives

    44-lona shild of emeria

    45-stoneforge mystic

    46-karn liberated


    48-Vampiric Tutor

    49-Snapcaster Mage

    50-Academy Ruins


    52-Forcc of Will


    54-Sphinx’s Revelation


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