I bought a bulk pack of magic cards today and one of them was in a foreign language. I don’t know which language it is. Google translate is not recognizing it, even when I take a picture of it. How can I determine what the card says?
Instead of trying to translate the card, just search for it with other unique identifiers. Your image contains a collector number (that first number at the bottom of the card 71/244) and a set symbol (the one for Avacyn Restored, aka
AVR). With those two pieces of information, I used Scryfall to search for the specific card. In this case I searched for https://scryfall.com/search?q=number%3A71+set%3Aavr which returned a result for Peel from Reality
If you don't recognize the set symbol, you could include other search parameters (like the mana cost and artist) or look up the set symbol at https://scryfall.com/sets. Here's another search using just the collector number and artist that also found a single result: https://scryfall.com/search?q=number%3A71+artist%3A%22jason+felix%22
Use an app
Probably the simplest way to find what a foreign card is to get yourself a buy/sell/trade app for Magic. For example TCGplayer.com has an app for both Apple & Android that lets you scan cards with your phone's camera.
The beauty of these apps is that since price varies between set and language for every card, it's usually super easy to switch between different versions of the card (whether set or language) This should make it relatively easy to find the english (or any other language it's been printed in) version of the card.
There are a list of elements to a card that are the same regardless of what language it's printed in:
- Artist (with some exceptions)
- Art (similar exceptions)
- Collector number
Scryfall is probably the best choice for finding these things using their advanced search function. Put in as much of the information as you know and go from there.
Color and cost are always easy, no matter the language, the way these are shown is always the same, colors are checkboxes and CMC one of the stats of the card for searching on Scryfall. In your example the card is Blue with CMC of 2.
Set is extremely easy since M15, the three character code is printed on the cards at the very bottom left and can be entered directly into the set info on Scryfall. For older sets, you'll know if you recognise the set symbol, if you don't the end date on the copyright range printed on the card tells you the year that set came out, and you can find a list of sets in many places (I have usually looked here, but wikipedia and scryfall also have lists) Finding the year will give you only a handful of symbols to compare. This doesn't apply to some promos that don't use a set symbol like FNM and Judge promos. In your example the card is from 2012, looking up that year finds the set symbol belongs to Avacyn Restored (AVR).
The set symbol has been color coded for rarity for some time, black is common, silver is uncommon, gold is rare and orange is mythic rare. As of M15, the letters for the rarity are printed on the card, C, U, R, M, next to the collector number and rare and mythic have a holofoil oval with the planeswalker symbol. your card example is common.
Artist is always on the card, in latin characters (English) in addition to the artists native language when that applies. Just type the name into the artist box on scryfall to search. The exceptions to this are mostly Japanese - where there have been language specific alt arts, notably the War of the Spark planeswalkers - these artists won't actually match the English versions, but finding the Japanese alt art card will give you the English name. The artist on your example is Jason Felix.
With the same exceptions as artist, namely language specific alt arts, the English card art will match the foreign art - this could be used for searching if you do a google image search, but mostly you'll use this to verify the card you found in your search is the one you were looking for. Some older sets, like fallen empires, did have multiple arts for the same card, however to my knowledge these sets were all English only. The only cards that have multiple arts in the same set currently are basic lands, and those are very recognisable having no mana cost and the large mana symbol being the only thing in the text box, or the only full art cards within sets in the case of things like Theros Beyond Death.
Collector number is printed on the cards ever since the Exodus update to the card frame in 1998. It's moved around during the changes to the frame, but it shouldn't be hard to locate at the bottom of the card as a number out of the total cards in the set. The collector number for some cards, certain promos, the planeswalker deck specific cards have a collector number, but not what it is out of, they are numbered above the normal set size. There is nowhere to put this on the advanced search directly, but you can add it to the search url as
+number= then the number. Your card is number 71/244.
Type isn't quite exact, you can't read the words on the card to know what type it is, but you can know some things about the type. Planeswalkers are obvious, the layout of the multiple abilities, the loyalty count at the bottom will tell you it's a planeswalker. Artifacts, even the colored ones have a different frame from other cards. A creature will have the power and toughness notation. This lets you tell your search if you are looking for a creature, a planeswalker or a card that's not either of these. For planeswalkers and creatures, loyalty, power and toughness are under stats and you can enter them too. Your card has no loyalty, no power and toughness, and is not an artifact - you can enter all of these things.
The more information you have, the easier it is to find your exact match, but most of the time only a few of these things will be needed to narrow that search down to a single card. For your card, with all the search criteria you can enter using the web page directly except artist (so we see how it returns multiple matches) we have this:
3 cards where (the card types exclude “artifact” and the card types exclude “creature” and the card types exclude “planeswalker”) and the colors is U and the converted mana cost = 2 and the set is “avr” and the rarity is equal to common
If we include the artist we get a single card:
I use Delver Lens on Android (totally not affiliated) to scan the card. Once the app recognizes it (works on non-English cards), you can tap the three dots and select Download image to get a clear English-version image.
I've used an English Masticore for the example because that's the only card I have here, but I've checked it works with non-English cards too.
If you can identify the card, you can simply look up its English text in Gatherer. The following helps you achieve that.
If you can scan or photograph the card, another easy way of identifying the card is to submit it to Google Image Search (click the camera). This will find pages about that card, and these will surely tell you its name. (In fact, you might very well get the card's Gatherer page.)
Otherwise, determining to which set it belongs would greatly narrow down the search space. For at least 15 years, Wizards has been placing a set icon on the card. Wizard maintains a list of the icons for the proper sets, but this doesn't include the special sets (e.g. duel decks). A quick search reveals that TCGPlayer maintains a comprehensive list. If you have a card that predates the set icon, this earlier post will allow you to determine the set to which it belongs.
Armed with the set, obtain the card number from the small print at the bottom of the card. Locate the set (in the appropriate language) on this page and locate the card by its number.
If the number is illegible, you can still easy locate the card by looking at all the cards in the set with the correct casting cost.
This approach may fail for promo cards. If this is what you have, the copyright date can help you narrow down the search.
If all else fail, please provide a scan of the image.
Call a Judge.
At any time in a Sanctioned Magic tournament, you may call a Judge and ask for the Gatherer text of a Magic card. They'll look it up for you and read it out. While apps on your phone may help you during more casual play, the use of them will likely be banned during an official Magic tournament.