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

2 Answers 2


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, 2015 at 7:30
  • 3
    archive.wizards.com/Magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/mm/… - specifically, the 8th footnote.
    – corsiKa
    Nov 28, 2015 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, 2015 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. Nov 28, 2015 at 2:15
  • 3
    If your answer is literally a link to another answer, it's not an answer - the question is a duplicate.
    – corsiKa
    Nov 28, 2015 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. Nov 28, 2015 at 13:51
  • 4
    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, 2015 at 20:00

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