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Postby eldashgato » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:25 pm

Last updated 3/11/16

This is a living document. As our tournament series evolves, members of the Eternal Struggle Planning Cabal will regularly discuss whether, why, and how these rules should be updated.

Please read this carefully before creating any playtest cards!

Players may use an unlimited number of playtest cards in our Eternal Struggle Vintage tournaments, free of charge. We allow this because, realistically, this is the only way that the Vintage format can survive, let alone grow or become accessible to a wide player base. Colloquially, these playtest cards are known as proxies.

Tournaments that allow playtest cards cannot be sanctioned. At the same time, we need to preserve the integrity of the format and our tournament series. In order to prevent players from cheating--whether they know it or not--we have special rules regarding the kinds of playtest cards we allow. In a nutshell, these rules boil down to: 1) card thickness, 2) marked backs, and 3) card characteristics.

All decks must be sleeved in opaque sleeves.

There are four main types of acceptable playtest cards. They are:

1) Acetone alters
2) Altered basic lands
3) Printed cards
4) CE and IE cards

These are discussed in more detail below.


1. Altering Foils with Acetone

We strongly encourage players to use acetone playtest cards, which is already one of the more popular methods around. Acetone alters are great because they have legit Magic card backs and are the same thickness as regular cards. (In other words, you can just sleeve them up in a deck with other, legitimate cards.)

The idea is to wipe a foil card clean with acetone, then write in the appropriate card characteristics. How this works:

First, you'll need some cheap foils - commons, uncommons, and basic lands. Cards you don't mind ruining, in other words. Our experience shows that foils from newer sets and especially Core sets (M14, M13, etc.) are easiest to work with. You're going to want a bunch of these, because some trial and error will be involved.

Second, you'll need acetone, i.e., fingernail polish remover. Be sure you that you use 100% pure acetone. It will say so on the bottle. You can find this stuff at pharmacies and grocery stores in the beauty supplies aisle. Do not use scented or colored fingernail polish remover - these are watered down, and will damage your cards.

Third, you'll need a rag and/or cotton balls and Q-tips.

Finally, you'll need a big piece of cardboard to use as a work area.

With your card face up on your work area, dab some acetone on your rag. Using quick movements, wipe the face of a foil you want to use as a playtest card. Give it a couple tries if it doesn't come off immediately. Soon, you should be left with a completely blank foil. After wiping the ink off, you can simply write in new card characteristics with a fine tip Sharpie marker. As an added bonus, you can wipe the card clean with acetone again if you screw up with the Sharpie.

With practice, you can actually use a Q-Tip to selectively remove portions of a card that already shares characteristics with the one you would like to make a playtest version of. For instance, the card Unsummon is a good basis for making an Ancestral Recall. Similarly, foil basic lands can easily be altered into Moxen.

Here are some playtest cards that one of our players uses in his decks:

Acceptable foil playtest cards example #1.
foilproxies1.jpg (50.74 KiB) Viewed 6526 times

Acceptable foil playtest cards example #2.
foilproxies2.jpg (56.91 KiB) Viewed 6526 times

As you can see, we allow some creativity with playtest cards. Most players know what a Black Lotus does, so these are perfectly fine. Crucially, they have the correct names and casting costs - this is a must for every playtest card. For cards with several lines of rules text (such as Oath of Druids or Yawgmoth's Will), we ask that players include as much of the relevant Oracle text as possible. For every playtest card, it should be reasonably clear what that card does.

It should be noted that you can alter non-foil cards with acetone (or even just an eraser), although to be honest we don't recommend it. The ink is harder to remove from non-foils, and usually they don't turn out quite as clean-looking as the acetoned foil playtest cards do. These are also allowed, but tread carefully.

2. Writing on a Basic Land Card

Players may also create playtest cards by eliminating the wrong characteristics from a basic land card and writing in the appropriate ones. Players may NOT write on the back of a card as a playtest card, because the card is considered marked, even when sleeved.

The Gravecrawler on the left would not be acceptable; the Bazaar of Baghdad on the right would be acceptable.
landproxy1.jpg (49.03 KiB) Viewed 6526 times

3. Printing Cards

Players may create playtest cards by printing them out and placing them in sleeves in front of basic land cards. This method is least preferred, but recommended if you have bad handwriting or need to create several cards for your deck. Players may not mix printed playtest cards with other kinds of cards! If you choose to use this method, you must print out and sleeve up the entire deck and sideboard this way, so that the cards are all the same thickness.

Several websites allow users to print playtest cards. We recommend these two:

It helps if the printouts are as close to the correct card size as possible. Full sized card faces make for a better play experience. When inserted into a sleeve, the printouts should obscure as much of the basic land as possible, to help prevent confusion during matches.

When sleeved, the printed cards must appear over the face of normal Magic cards, so that, when sleeved, each has a normal Magic card back. The Silvergill Adept in the picture below would be acceptable, but the Phantasmal Image would not.

The printed playtest card on the left is not sleeved appropriately; the printed playtest card on the right is sleeved appropriately.
printedproxy1.jpg (44.41 KiB) Viewed 6526 times

4. Collectors' and International Edition Cards

In December 1993, Wizards of the Coast released two sets, called Collectors' Edition and International Edition, as special commemorative editions of Beta cards. Although they are square-cornered and feature gold-bordered card backs, Vintage enthusiasts point to these as a key step in reviving interest in the format.

Following an intense discussion, the Eternal Struggle Planning Cabal voted to let players use these in our tournaments.

As noted above, all players must use opaque sleeves. This applies especially to players who use CE or IE cards in their decks.


Any types of playtest cards not covered by the above rules are not allowed in Eternal Struggle tournaments. This includes, for instance, Power 9 proxies produced by companies such as Gaming Etc. In addition, players may not use bootleg or counterfeit cards, such as those coming out of China right now. If you have a question about making playtest cards or want to know whether yours are up to snuff, please feel free to ask.

As noted above, these rules have evolved. We are open to suggestions from players about other possible kinds of acceptable playtest cards.
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Postby Annorax » Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:17 pm

Are foil printed proxies allowed for these events?
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Postby eldashgato » Tue Oct 06, 2015 2:50 am

Whoops, I just saw this. Sorry for the late reply - I've been writing lately and out of touch with these boards.

Hopefully you're one of the people who already messaged me on Facebook. If not: We're a little flexible on foil proxies. However, we like to see them in advance and expect that the entire deck consists of these foil proxies, so that they all have the same thickness/bendability.
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