Last updated on September 21, 2023
Arcane Proxy | Illustration by Kekai Kotaki
With the rise of Commander as a format, casual play flourishes like never before. Commander is the game’s most popular format, with quite a few products and cards being designed specifically for EDH play.
As a largely casual format, Commander has also influenced the rise of proxies for casual play. Proxy cards are great for players looking to test new ideas or save money on an expensive hobby, but where can you get the best proxies for your money?
Let’s get started!
What Is a Custom MTG Proxy?
Dissatisfied Customer | Illustration by Yangtian Li
Custom MTG proxies are cards that resemble Magic cards. Some proxies are simple slips of paper added to a sleeve with a regular Magic card, but you can also order card-like proxies from companies with printing facilitates that allow them to print on paper that resembles genuine playing cards.
Because you can customize them, proxies don’t need to be the original art or even the border of the cards. You can easily make all kinds of custom designs and alterations to established art to print.
Why Get Custom Proxies?
One of the biggest reasons to get custom proxies is to save money. Magic can be a very expensive hobby, especially if you’re playing formats with older cards that could be on the Reserved List. A fully decked-out Commander mana base can easily be a few hundred dollars before considering the rest of the cards. It’s also a cost-effective way to build something like a Vintage Cube that contains the Power Nine and original dual lands.
Proxied Magic cards also offer tons of customization. What better way to show off your style or things you care about than making proxies? It’s common to find pop-culture alters that adapt anime or other popular characters to Magic cards, but you could also showcase your artwork or that of your friends. It gives you another medium to show off your favorite things in the context of a brilliant game.
Quick Summary: My Top Pick
My top pick is Make Playing Cards. The Hong Kong-based company offers wholesale prices, making them one of the cheapest options. Their formatting is very specific, and it can take weeks to ship, but we’ll get to that.
Printing Proxies is also a fine choice with their fast shipping and huge database of custom card images.
Proxy King is a bit different than the other sites we’re looking at. The other two sites are great for players who want to print a bunch of Magiccards, likely to proxy out an entire deck. Proxy King offers proxies of specific Magic cards, including foil options.
The price point of these proxies means they’ll still cost a fair bit to print out an entire deck, and they may not even offer the cards you’re looking for.
The proxies themselves are high quality. They look a lot like actual Magic cards, to the point they may raise a few eyebrows as counterfeit cards. They’re a little glossier than an actual Magic card and have a far smoother texture, noticeable as not-Magic as soon as you touch them. You don’t notice a difference once they’re sleeved up.
The foiling looks excellent, just like what you’d expect from a traditional foil. Overall, the quality of these cards is high, and they ship quickly; I received these two within a week or so of placing my order.
I’d recommend this site to anybody who wants to proxy one or two cards. This is a great option if you have most of a deck and don’t want to shell out forty dollars for a Demonic Tutor or other pricey cards. They also don’t offer any customization options. Proxy Kings is a great way to round out a deck, though far from the best option if you want to purchase a proxy deck from scratch.
Printing Proxies is better suited for players looking to proxy up an entire deck. They offer proxies of Magic cards and other popular TCGs like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!. You can upload custom images, but they have almost every artwork for all cards on the website as well as custom art you can select.
If you’re doing proxies with custom art, you need to upload them one at a time. If you’re using the existing art, filling out the order is as simple as importing a decklist and selecting your images with the dropdown options. Some images are considered blurry and tagged with a warning sign; this Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker is one such art that I ordered to see how blurry it was. I’ve not noticed much of a difference, but it’s still a useful feature.
When selecting the background of your cards, they have several options, or you can import a custom design. They’ll cancel orders with the traditional Magic card back, but they have a few options that resemble it, like these pixelated card backs. They’ve also got some stellar options, including card backs with the stained-glass basics from Dominaria United.
These cards are priced far better for ordering entire decks. The price range depends on how many cards you’re ordering, from $2 for a single card down to $.75 if your order contains more than 200 cards. One commander deck of 100 cards would be in the $1 per card range, so a full deck would cost $100, or maybe a little more if you toss in some tokens.
Shipping was simple. I got the cards pretty quickly, again within a week of ordering. The quality of the cards is fantastic. These feel just like Magic cards. They shuffle up beautifully once sleeved and are overall fantastic.
Make Playing Cards
Make Playing Cards is my choice website, though I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have a few drawbacks. First and foremost, the reason I like it is that it’s cheap. Ordering a single Commander deck with their option for 108 cards (which leaves plenty of room for some tokens in addition to the deck) is $30, or about $.27 a card, compared to a flat hundred from Printing Proxies. This pricing is for the S33 quality paper; there are cheaper options if you’d like.
There are two drawbacks to Make Playing Cards. It takes some time to get the proxies, at least in the States. It’s a Hong Kong-based company, and it can take several weeks to get your cards; plus, shipping is a little extra compared to the other options. I don’t mind waiting longer to get a steep discount, but that’s a personal choice.
The website is also a bit dense, and they’re very specific about what they’ll print. They won’t print cards with copyright on them; they need to have the copyright removed and NOT FOR SALE added to the cards, especially those with WotC art. The website also has a ton of options, so you’ll need to do some digging to figure out what you want. The size to order for Magic cards is their custom game cards option, with 63 x 88mm as the dimensions.
The easiest way to add your proxies is with a second website called mpcfill.com. This site was designed to work with Make Playing Cards entirely. You’ll import your decklist here, and it takes care of adding the NOT FOR SALE tag and all of that; it also lets you upload custom designs. In addition to the released card art, the site has plenty of fan uploads, like this art for Rashmi, Eternities Crafter.
The cards are great. They’re of similar quality to Printing Proxies and feel like the real deal. This is my website of choice. Printing Proxies is a close second; it’s quicker for people in the States and a bit easier to navigate, though considerably more expensive. I’m happy to use Make Playing Cards and get a much better deal for a slightly longer wait time, plus access to far more custom art via MTGFill.
Are MTG Proxies Illegal?
Proxies aren’t illegal, so long as they’re for personal use and you don’t try to sell them; trying to sell counterfeit Magic cards is illegal. This is why some sites we looked at require the cards to say NOT FOR SALE or a back face that’s not the Magic card back.
Proxies are okay for personal play but can’t be used at officially sanctioned WotC events. As long as you don’t try to pass the proxies off as the real deal, you’re good.
How Do I Make My Proxies Nice?
When making custom proxies, the best way to ensure they print well is to closely follow the guidelines on your site. Don’t just rip the images off Google if you can help it; try and find the highest quality images possible.
How Do I Print My Own Proxies?
When printing proxies at home, your best bet is with a regular old printer. Home printers can’t typically print cards that look and feel like Magic cards, but there’s a plethora of sites that let you insert a deck list and format a PDF file that’s easy to print on regular printer paper. My preference is MTGprint.net, though they don’t allow you to upload custom designs.
Once you’ve printed off your cards, just cut them out and slip them into sleeves in front of a regular Magic card. You need to put them over the normal card so they shuffle properly; a pile of sleeves with slips of printer paper won’t shuffle. This is the easiest way to make proxies at home and perfect for trying out brand-new cards before springing for the real deal.
Makeshift Mauler | Illustration by James Ryman
Getting custom proxies of your Magic deck for Commander has gotten more and more popular alongside the game’s most popular, casual format. They’re useful for players looking to test new decks or cards or those who want in on a fantastic format without blowing a ton of money or buying budget decks.
The accessibility of proxies helps open the game up even more. After all, Magic is for everyone who wants to sleeve up some cards and start slinging spells. What’s your favorite site to get proxies from? Do you proxy your decks? Let me know in the comments or on the Draftsim Discord!
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