On Proxies, Policy, and Communication
This week, a discussion emerged on the internet, particularly on Reddit and Twitter, about Wizards of the Coast's policy on proxies and in-store play. There is clearly a lot of confusion about what our policy is, where we stand on some of the finer points, and why we're trying to kill Legacy and Vintage (we're not).
Here is what happened. We became aware that a store was running a tournament with a suspiciously large prize pool and that they appeared to be allowing proxies. Since the word "proxies" is used colloquially to range in meaning from a marked up playtest card to counterfeit cards, the large prize made the event curious enough for us to want to make sure there wasn't something unsavory going on. We contacted the store to find out more about the event. Our intention was to educate them on counterfeit cards and proxies and ensure they understood our policy. Our communication specifically said that no sanctions were being handed out to the store; this was purely a fact-finding and educational outreach. So that's good.
The bad part was that the details of the policy discussed with the store were both unclear and inconsistent with other communications we've put out. As we dug into what was actually said, we realized that we had different reps in different offices around the world sending different messages, making the confusion even worse. And that's completely our fault.
So, let's clear things up.
Our stated policy specifically applies to DCI-sanctioned events. Cards used in DCI-sanctioned events must be authentic Magic cards. The only exception is if a card has become damaged during the course of play in a particular event (for instance, a shuffling accident bends a card or a drink gets spilled); in that case a judge may issue a proxy for use only for the duration of that event so the player can continue playing.
Our stance on counterfeits is also clear: Wizards remains committed to vigorously protecting the Magic community from counterfeiters. We will remain vigilant for illegal activity, and we will continue to work quickly and decisively with law enforcement agencies around the globe to protect against the creation or distribution of counterfeit Magic cards. Additionally, we reiterate in the strongest terms possible that any individual or retailer who knowingly deals in counterfeits works against the best interests of the community. Wizards has eliminated and will continue to eliminate from the DCI and WPN anyone who knowingly distributes counterfeit cards.
What has gotten caught up in the confusion are playtest cards used outside of sanctioned DCI events. And the reason it has gotten confusing is because we've never really talked about them before. So let's do that.
A playtest card is most commonly a basic land with the name of a different card written on it with a marker. Playtest cards aren't trying to be reproductions of real Magic cards; they don't have official art and they wouldn't pass even as the real thing under the most cursory glance. Fans use playtest cards to test out new deck ideas before building out a deck for real and bringing it to a sanctioned tournament. And that's perfectly fine with us. Wizards of the Coast has no desire to police playtest cards made for personal, non-commercial use, even if that usage takes place in a store.
What we really care about is that DCI-sanctioned events use only authentic Magic cards, and that we stop counterfeits.
I know there have been different messages in the last few days saying things that conflict with the above (and with each other), and I apologize for the confusion we've caused though our own internal misalignment. Going forward, please take this post as Wizards' official stance. If you need to vent your frustration on anyone, send your thoughts my way instead of piling it on the various individuals who have tried to help by communicating through our chaos. And please know that we have multiple people looking at your feedback and comments on this topic and every other passionate issue that springs up in the community, so please do keep them coming.
And lastly, I wanted to end with a commitment to you for 2016. Speaking for everyone at Wizards, going forward we’ll be as transparent as possible and respond to issues you care about as soon as we can. We will always strive for clarity and better partnership, and will communicate with the belief that everyone has the best intentions for the game and community that we all love.
Enjoy Oath of the Gatewatch Prereleases this weekend!