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image of card 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?

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    Google Lens on an Android phone translates it. – Andrew Morton Mar 9 at 13:45
  • A better question would simply be "What language is this?" The Cyrillic alphabet used narrows it down considerably. It appears to be Russian, according to Google Translate given the first three words "Верните целевое существо". – chepner Mar 11 at 15:52
  • The ў character (tricky, because the italics version looks more like a Latin "u" than "y"), suggests Belarusian. – chepner Mar 11 at 15:58
  • @chepner It's clearly Russian. This Latin "u" is actually Cyrilic и written in italic. – Gherman Mar 11 at 16:42
  • Ah, OK. My knowledge of Cyrillic italics is very weak. – chepner Mar 11 at 17:02
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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

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    And once you've found the card on Scryfall, you can easily check through the different languages on the side in order to figure out what language yours is in. – Arcanist Lupus Mar 8 at 23:43
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    @JollyJoker depends on the set: gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/… – Michał Politowski Mar 9 at 8:23
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    You can also do a google image search. – Hackworth Mar 9 at 12:48
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    FYI, since nobody has mentioned it yet, the language on this card is Russian. – Darrel Hoffman Mar 9 at 18:50
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    A Google search for mtg 71/244 2012 1u , or even just mtg 71/244 turns this up as the first image result. – amalloy Mar 9 at 22:51
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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.

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    I suggest refining your advice toward translation. Just saying "use an app" isn't helpful advice in and of itself (which ones?), and "use a trading app" doesn't mean the app will have any translation capacity available. Specify "use a mtg translation app", help us understand which ones are available, and clarify whether tcgplayer's app actually successfully identifies the English version of the card. (It doesn't follow that in identifying the price it might give us any clue as to the English version—for all I know it may just report back on the Russian print and give us no further help.) – doppelgreener Mar 11 at 10:54
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    @doppelgreener Edited to clarify. As price varies by language and set for the same card you totes can switch between versions of a card super easily w/in the TCGplayer app (and other card sale apps I've used). TBH it's so easy to use that I just glossed over the functionality need. – aslum Mar 11 at 12:56
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    Thanks, good edit! – doppelgreener Mar 11 at 13:01
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There are a list of elements to a card that are the same regardless of what language it's printed in:

  1. Color
  2. Cost
  3. Set
  4. Rarity
  5. Artist (with some exceptions)
  6. Art (similar exceptions)
  7. Collector number
  8. Type*

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:

https://scryfall.com/search?as=grid&order=name&q=%28-type%3Aartifact+-type%3Acreature+-type%3Aplaneswalker%29+color%3DU+cmc%3D2+set%3Aavr+rarity%3Ac

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:

Peel from Reality

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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.

Masticore been scanned in DelverLens, showing the menu that includes "Download image" option

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.

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    I think the most obvious question is why are you carrying around a masticore and nothing but a masticore? – Andrew Mar 10 at 18:13
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    Favourite card back when I was a kid - I keep it in my wallet 💚 – mgarciaisaia Mar 10 at 18:49
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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.

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    This question wasn't asked in the scope of a tournament, it's just someone wanting to identify a card in their collection. There is not a judge available in this scenario. – doppelgreener Mar 11 at 10:50
  • @doppelgreener Nevertheless, if you're in a tournament scenario, and your opponent plays a card in a foreign language that you don't recognize, the correct response is to call a judge, not to pull out your phone and try to look it up. – nick012000 Mar 11 at 12:28
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    I think that's more appropriate for an answer to a separate question saying "someone played a foreign card in a tournament”. Calling a judge is not a solution to “I have this card in my collection”. (That question's been asked here before. It's closed as a duplicate of another question that points this out.) – doppelgreener Mar 11 at 12:40
  • Funnier scenario is when you are the one playing the card in a tournament and don't know what it does. Solution? Call a judge. Fair enough 😂 – M3RS Mar 11 at 16:36

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