How do you tell the rarity level (common, uncommon, rare) of old magic cards? (Alpha, beta, unlimited, revised)


The rarity of some sets cannot be determined only using the cards themselves. Early in Magic's history, it was intended to be part of the "experience" to let the market determine what was rare, and to let rares be surprises.

Over time, it became clear that players wanted more feedback, and the rarity was added to the card.

Your only hope now is to use an external resource. The canonical resource for all cards is the gatherer at http://gatherer.wizards.com which you can use to filter by individual cards, sets, rarity levels, and so forth. Keep in mind that searching for a card at a given rarity might yield strange results if that card was later released at a different rarity.

  • 1
    Do you have a source for that first paragraph? Not a thing I was ever aware of. – Neil Meyer Nov 28 '15 at 7:30
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    archive.wizards.com/Magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/mm/… - specifically, the 8th footnote. – corsiKa Nov 28 '15 at 16:33
  • One note from someone unfamiliar with contemporary MTG is that the default pictures in that search are not the ones from alpha and beta cards (I was confused seeing when I looked up my mox pearl [sold long time ago] and my brother's lord of the pit [also sold a long time ago]) – virmaior Nov 30 '15 at 15:44

Properly identify it to a set, per the copyright, color condition, bevel, etc — instructions on that can be found in How can I tell the difference between early Magic: The Gathering card editions? . Then reference a set list.

  • I suggest you elaborate on how one does that. – doppelgreener Nov 28 '15 at 2:15
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    If your answer is literally a link to another answer, it's not an answer - the question is a duplicate. – corsiKa Nov 28 '15 at 6:14
  • @corsiKa, short of the request for how to identify the rarity of a card within a set, it would have been duplicate. – Drunk Cynic Nov 28 '15 at 13:51
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    You should elaborate on "reference a set list". As it stands, your answer is basically "read this other question, then look up the answer to your question". – murgatroid99 Nov 28 '15 at 20:00

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