Lessons from the Kitchen Table: Vol.4 The Proxy Paradox


It's real..I swear.
It’s real..I swear. <cough, cough>

Yes, I’m fully aware that my cohort already wrote an opinion piece on the seedy world of MTG proxies, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject as well. As Shawn wrote in his article “My Case for Proxies”, he has brought up the subject of proxies to me a few times in the last couple of months. Each time I briefly thought about it before I shelved the idea thinking to myself, “What fun is that?” You see, I’m a collector at heart. My dad raised me on sports cards, which is basically one big stock market. It’s all about opening that pack or box and getting that big money card to flip for a profit. I try really hard to not see Magic that way. It’s just a game. Right? Despite that belief, I have to admit that I’ve always been remotely aware of the value of singles. I still remember standing in my local game store during the days of Gatecrash, buying 5 boosters, listening to the clerk say that he still hadn’t pulled a Boros Reckoner (which was selling for $15-$18 back then), opening one pack in front of him and pulling a Boros Reckoner out. There was a rush that I hadn’t felt since my sport card days. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: we’ve all opened that one pack and got that rare that we were looking for.

My point is that when it comes to proxies..there is no real excitement. There is no mystery of “what’s in the pack?” And there is absolutely no monetary value. It took me looking back at my banking statements and seeing just how much I spent last year on the hobby before I decided that the rush of possibly pulling a high value single was not worth the dent my bank account was taking. Shawn had been talking about proxies for Vintage and Legacy, but I decided to take it to the next level and say that I was completely done with buying actual Magic cards and I would proxy everything. I justified it by pointing out the fact that literally Shawn is the only person I play the game with. None of my other friends have an interest in it. If I’m only playing it with one person, why spend so much? At this point, the money I save can be put towards other games that we need to report on for our podcast. The decision was made. I was out.

After talking about it with Shawn and finding a rather useful proxy site, we agreed to split the cost of a printer and would begin our adventure into the world of fake cards. I found a nice printer on sale and eagerly drove home beyond excited at the prospect of finally playing a Time Walk or a dual land. Needless to say the first batch I printed consisted of the Power 9. I took land cards and pasted the proxies over them. I took a step back to inspect my work and thought to myself that they looked good. Real good. Too good. I sent Shawn a text with a pic of my Black Lotus and a Mox Sapphire . He agreed. They looked real. He was thinking more along the lines of printing in black and white (I didn’t get that memo). I’m an artist and half the appeal of MTG is the artwork so I didn’t want to sacrifice it just because I wanted to save some money. Besides I was riding the high of every single MTG being available to me for playtesting. I quickly put together the control deck of my dreams that consisted of vintage and modern staples and printed it out.

After a couple of hours of arts n’ crafts, I had a deck. I decided to play-test it against my Modern RDW. It was like a dream..turn 1 Black Lotus, Ruby Mox and a Volcanic Island right into a Monastery Mentor. The game only lasted 4 turns. My vintage control had out-aggro’d my aggro deck. I couldn’t believe how great the deck played. Easily the most dominant deck I have. I guess that’s to be expected though. It was a rush to play..but that rush was followed by a creeping feeling of guilt. Was what I was doing okay? I had basically declared that I was going to stop supporting the game that I love. In a way I felt like I broke the game. After playing the most powerful cards you can possibly play, how can you go back to playing whatever the flavor of the month is?

I had to take a step back and start working on some modern decks with my *actual* cards to get back into the swing of things. After a couple of conversations with Shawn and a few nights of deck-building, I came to the conclusion that Proxies are *needed* in the Vintage/Legacy format. There is no place for them in Standard/Modern..for the most part the singles are cheap enough and If I really want to save money, stop buying sealed product. Stick with singles. Yes, I lose the excitement of opening a booster pack, but to me it’s worth it to not feel like I’ve broken the game. Plus, I get to scratch that collecting itch that has stuck with me throughout my life. Will I proxy Vintage? Yes. Will I feel guilty? No. There is a huge difference between creating a proxy of Mana Drain or a Mox, and a proxy of Brimaz, King of Oreskos. What’s your opinion of proxies? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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