Posted by ‘BRIONNE’ aka ‘FORK OF DOOM’
The first week of January, I was in Magic player heaven. I spent four days in Austin, Texas (a fun city on its own) at a Grand Prix. For many Magic players, GP’s are nothing to get excited about. It’s different for me, being the poor college student that I am. I’m lucky to make it to two big tournaments a year. GP Austin promised to be four days of EDH, rare cards from dealers, artists, and general awesomeness. I spent a good deal of time making sure all my decks were in good shape. Part of that process involved spending about an hour trading out all the proxies in my various Commander decks for the real thing.

Quite frankly, it was a pain in the ass.
I had to dig through my legacy binders for lands, I had to raid other decks (especially my legacy Junk list) for cards. Even when all that was done, I still had a few cards that I would have to trade between decks. (I will never own enough copies of Crucible of Worlds or Sword of Light and Shadow.) It would have been much easier if I could have just left the proxies in.
Proxy Crucible and SoLaS
–These look just fine to me. Besides, I own several copies of the real thing. Just not enough.

Before I start defending the use of proxies, I should say up front that I am talking about well made proxies. Printed ones of some sort, even if they’re just black and white printed on computer paper and pasted to a land. I think that anyone thinking about using a sharpie proxy for more than about ten seconds deserves to be stabbed in the eye with the corner of the crappy common they’re using.

That being said, I believe that aesthetics are also one of the biggest arguments for the use of proxies. Let’s face it, there are many cards in this game (especially the older ones) that are just plain ugly. For instance, there is one of my favorite cards, Survival of the Fittest. Not the worst art in the game, but I’m still not a big fan. My solution?

Proxy Survival and Real Survival

Commander players are all about pimping. In the end, pimping is about making your deck unique. Sometimes the best way to do that is to find a proxy you like, especially if the card you’re looking for doesn’t have any printings you like. I think that “it’s okay to proxy if you own the real card” is always a good rule of thumb.

A large majority of players are willing to concede this point. Once it is established, many players will dig their feet in and refuse to even consider allowing proxies for any other reason. “It’s not fair to players who collect the real cards” is something the oft-cited argument against proxies. As someone who has put time and (way too much) money into collecting “the real thing”, I have to call bullshit on that. Just because I funnel almost all of my disposable income into this game, doesn’t mean I have the right to expect others to do the same. Nearly everyone I play this format with is in college. Some of them work two jobs to put themselves through school. A few proxied Tundras won’t make our Commander games burst into flame. I firmly believe that if you are an elitist jerk who wants to play only with other people who can afford to sleeve up $100 bills, then maybe you should go play legacy.

Bayous

 

That being said, there is another kind of proxy jerk. I’ll call him “Mishra’s Workshop Guy”. S/he is the one who takes advantage of a playgroup with generous views on proxies. Proxying to keep up with the arms race in your playgroup, or to add variety to the game, is perfectly alright. Even I, who am almost always in favor of proxies, draw the line there. What is never okay is showing up to the table with hundreds of dollars worth of cardboard freshly printed, with the sole intention of crushing the table. I’ve never personally seen it done, but according to the internet there are people who have.

Another great thing about proxies is they can save you a lot of money in the long run. With as many decks as I’ve built and then torn apart, (Thada Adel, Acquisitor, Nicol Bolas, Rafiq of the Many, and Doran the Siege Tower) I’ve sunk a lot of money into cards that end up in binders gathering dust. As you can guess from the generals I listed, that is a lot of expensive cards that I didn’t really need. When I built Glissa, the Traitor I came up with a great idea. Why not just proxy the cards I didn’t have, until I decided if I was going to keep the deck?

Smokestack and Forbidden Orchard

Best. Idea. Ever.

Glissa herself is here to stay, but a lot of cards in the original list have been replaced. These include a Smokestack and Forbidden Orchard, both of which I had proxied. Since I don’t plan on building Lands, Oath, or any sort of 60 card stax deck, it’s probably a good thing I never invested in the real cards. The other missing cards are being gradually replaced, although in some cases the real copies are going into binders because I can’t stand to look at them unless I have to. I’m talking about you, Maze of Ith .

Proxy and Real Maze of Ith
–Seriously, what is with the artwork on Maze of Ith? It’s unreasonably ugly and looks like a brain that somebody with long-haired cats dropped on their carpet.

The other big reason I proxy cards is because the real thing is too expensive for me to feel comfortable having in an EDH, because I sometimes lend them out. This applies in particular to dual lands, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, and Moat. I’d be pissed if someone swiped one of my Swords, but if something happened to my Moat, it would be a very long time before I could save up for another one.

Proxy Moat and Tabernacle
Speaking from personal experience, proxies can be a wonderful thing, if used responsibly. As with everything involving playgroups, I am a huge advocate of coming to an agreement before you start using them. Don’t just show up with a new five color deck that has a freshly printed set of Japanese Beta duals without asking your playgroup first. My buddies and I always have a few proxies running around, and they enrich our play experience. Everybody has the manabase they need to support the deck they want to play, and that is the biggest perk of using proxies. Duals, shocks, and fetches for everyone!
Proxy Tundra, Plateau, and Volcanic Island

The best thing to do is try out using proxies. If it makes your Commander experience better, then it is well worth your time.  Not to mention you get to play with some very pretty cards.  Call me a girl, but that’s the best part of all to me.

Phyrexian Elesh Norn, Hamlet Entomb, and Full Art Exploration

–Brionne (aka Fork of Doom)
–snapple.coffee(at)gmail(dot)com
–@snapplecoffee