How to Spot Rare Magic Cards


Distinguishing rare Magic Cards for the game Magic the Gathering is a simple task. Cards ranging from the expansion set Exodus to the present day sets are all marked with different colored symbols in order for players to spot rare, uncommon and common cards. However, prior sets ranging from Alpha to Stronghold do not hold this luxury, and these will need to be identified by other methods also present in this article.

  • Look at the expansion set symbol located at the right-hand side of a Magic Card. Each Magic Card falls under an expansion set and is marked with a specific symbol. If this symbol is gold then the Magic Card is rare. If it is silver the card is uncommon, and if it is black it is common. For example, the Magic card "Masticore" is a rare card as shown by the symbol of a gold potion bottle.

  • Analyze a card's special abilities and uniqueness. You will most likely be able to tell if a card is a rare by looking at what it can and cannot do. For example, if a creature has a high power and toughness and a superior ability such as "cannot be countered," then it is much more likely to be a rare card than a small creature that simply produces mana. Also, many older rare cards will be labeled differently under their spell type, such as "Mono Artifact" instead of simply "Artifact" or "Legendary Land" instead of simply "Land."

  • Compare the texture of older cards to newer ones. A good way to spot rare cards is by becoming accustomed to the way older cards were printed. For example, the ink used to print cards with black borders from sets such as Alpha and Antiquities appears much more dense on older cards. Newer cards appear to have a lower grade print quality to them, because as the game became more popular more of the same cards needed to be reproduced quickly and with more regularity.

  • Browse Magic-related websites like or to review card price guides. Checking the price of cards that are for sale on websites such as eBay is always a good way to see what people are looking for and if a card is valuable. Often, the rares that will always increase in price are the ones that are staples in decks, such as "Dual Lands." As a result, "Dual Lands" are the most sought after cards on eBay.

Tips & Warnings

  • Not all rare Magic cards are necessarily expensive. Some uncommon and even common cards may be worth more than many rare cards.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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