Last updated on August 16, 2023

So Shiny - Illustration by Drew Tucker

So Shiny | Illustration by Drew Tucker

One of Magic’s many charms is the variety of cards you can play with. Not just literal game pieces, but the unique versions of many of these cards. There are so many different frames and unique art thanks to reprints, and this diversity has only grown with the introduction of Secret Lairs and Universes Beyond.

A classic way to show off the cards you love the most is with the foil treatment. What better way to show everybody how much you love your Commander deck than blinging it out with foils? That said, not all foils are made the same. Let’s look at what makes the foil-etched treatment, introduced with Commander Legends, so special!

What Is an Etched Foil in MTG?

Foil - Illustration by Donato Giancola

Foil | Illustration by Donato Giancola

Foil etched cards are a special foil treatment on MTG cards that’s distinct from regular foils. The traditional Magic foil treatment covers the entire card in a foil laminate that makes the entire card shiny. Etched foils use a varnish that gives a sparkling effect to highlight certain parts of the card rather than the entire card.

How Do You Tell if a Foil Is Etched?

There are a few key differences between a traditional foil and a foil-etched card. Traditional foils are entirely shiny due to the foil laminate. A foil-etched card is much more subtle, with only parts of the art and border shining in the light.

Additionally, traditional foils have a flat sheen. Foil-etched cards have a granular, sparkly look, like they’re covered in dots, as well as being less shiny overall. Foil-etched cards also have a very slightly rough texture.

How Do You Get Foil Etched Cards?

The only way to get foil-etched cards is by opening them from specific booster packs that can contain them.

What Type of Packs Have Etched Foils?

For most sets, the only booster packs with etched foils are Collector Boosters. Some sets, like Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, offer etched foils in Set Boosters as well.

What Sets Have Foil Etched Cards?

What Are the Odds of Opening an Etched Foil?

In sets that offer foil-etched cards, you get one etched foil in every Collector Booster. For many sets, these can be any rare or mythic in the set.

Are Etched Foils Valuable?

Foil cards are inherently rarer than non-foil cards, etched or otherwise, which bumps their value up. Etched foils can hold more value given their scarcity and unique traits that may make them more appealing to players who don’t care for traditional foiling.

Etched Foils vs. Regular Foils

The biggest difference between an etched foil and a traditional foil is the sheen. Etched foils have a matte finish and a texture to their foiling; instead of the entire card being uniformly shiny, only certain parts of the card are. These have a subtler reflection, like metal flecks embedded in the card.

Textured Foils vs. Etched Foils

Textured foils are far rarer than etched foils and can only be found in Collector Boosters.

Can All Cards Be Found as Etched Foils, or Only Certain Ones?

Only certain cards from certain sets can be found as etched foils; this treatment is often reserved for the rare and mythic rare cards in chosen sets.

Do Etched Foil Cards Warp or Bend More Than Regular Foils?

Because of the difference in treatment, foil-etched cards tend to warp a little less than their traditional counterparts.

Are Etched Foils Tournament Legal?

While the etched foils have a slight texture to their finish, they’re tournament legal for official MTG events.

Wrap Up

Etched Host Doombringer - Illustration by Helge C. Balzer

Etched Host Doombringer | Illustration by Helge C. Balzer

Etched foils are just one of the treatments you can use to make your decks as shiny and unique as you want. The special finish that lets them glitter like they’re flecked with metal and subdued luster makes them especially interesting.

When coupled with their limited number, since not every set or card gets the etched treatment, it’s a great way to show off the cards you love the most. What’s your favorite foil treatment? What card do you want to see as an etched foil in the future? Let me know in the comments or on the Draftsim Discord!

Thanks for reading and stay safe!

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