Currently, I have a rare binder with all of my rares, and the rest of my cards are broken into several boxes by color, gold/multi color, and land. The problem with this methodology is that if I have a specific card in mind that's a common, I have to search through the entire box until I find it. Is there a better way to manage by cards?


14 Answers 14


There are a lot of ways to organize your cards that are efficient. What it is going to come down to, is what sort of efficiency are you looking for.

Deck building efficiency - This is pretty much a non-issue if you use digital deck builders, but if you don't know exactly what cards you own, it is helpful in finding possible alternatives for cards you want to run but don't own. Because all cards are near other cards of the same color/type, it is easier to find cards to fill out your deck.

  • Color, Card Type, Mana Cost, Alphabetical

Card finding efficiency - This reduces the size of all your box divisions, making it easier to find a particular card.

  • Set, Alphabetical (or collector number)

Trade/Deck Idea efficiency - Separating the Rarest cards from the most common cards allows you to easily find more valuable cards, or cards that an entire deck can be built around.

  • Rarest/Non-rare, any other sorting criteria.

Size efficiency- With many of the other sorting types, you may try to separate the individual Colors/Sets by placing them in their own box and filling up empty space with deckboxes or basic lands. When you organize for space, you need to only separate sections with index cards cut to fit card sleeves.


I first pull out the valuable cards to go into my binder. Then I organize the rest by Block -> Set -> Alphabetical. In addition to this, I use a collection manager of some sort (currently Essential Magic, but there are plenty of options) so I don't have to go digging through the actual cards when I work on deck building.


For me I have a box for: 1. Black 2. Blue 3. Green 4. Red 5. White 6. Uncommons 7. Artifacts 8. Lands

Creatures are separated from non creatures. Sorted alphabetically by set. Somewhat slimmed down by eliminating cards there are 10 or more of through most of the collection. For good cards like lightning bolt, swords to plowshares, etc. I don't limit at 10.


I find "by set" irrelevant. If I need a disenchant, I don't want to look through every set.

Color -> alpha by first letter

I don't mind flipping through all the white Ds to find something and it's easy to sort. Some letters get bun.ched together based on how many cards UVWXYZ for example in most colors.

If I want to search, I search using Oracle. I have a decent idea of what I own.


I think the easiest way to sort and find cards is by Block->Serie->Color, and if you're hardcore, in alphabetical order.

This setup is good both for searching for a specific card you know about, vague searches like "blue cantrip" and for casual browsing.


I've stopped playing, but I used Color -> Creature/Non-Creature -> Alphabetical, not sorting by expansion. When I was playing all cards were equally available for deck-building; if the newer blocks/sets don't work that way then you'd want to sort by that first. I found the creature/non-creature split to help manage the volume while planning and assembling decks. (I don't know if this is typical -- I was never an excellent player -- but I tended to think about deck-building as having those two, related, sub-tasks. So I'd choose creatures, choose spells that complement that, perhaps adjust creatures, etc.)


I found the best way to sort my cards was by:

  1. Color
  2. Creature / Non-Creature
  3. Converted Mana Cost.

After you sort it is this way you can easily compare the effectiveness of each card and you will be able reduce the size of your usable cards.


Put value cards in a binder. I put all my land in a seperate box. Another box is then organized into columns based off of color/artifact/multicolor. Those columns are organized by format, then into set in chronological order as they were released. Each section is in alphabetical order. The columns for Standard contain dividers based off of how close they are to rotation as well as what set. If a card is a staple like lightning bolt, I have it in a box that was for a fat pack that is organized into a similar way. If a card has been printed multiple times, I put them all with the most recent printing of the card. I try to get rid of any copies over what I think I will need generally 8 since I card pool with someone.


I have my collection primarily sorted by set. I like this method because it optimizes for the "find a given card" case. If I want a Platinum Angel, for instance, I only need to search my cards from Mirrodin, M10, M11, and M12. The worst case would be searching for something like a Llanowar Elf, while the best case would be searching for, say, Emrakul.

Within a given set, I may divide by rarity, color, and type. But sorting by set is best balance of findability and re-sortability that I have come up with.


I also use the Block->Set->Color->Alphabetical organization method. I can usually lay my hands on a card I want in a couple of minutes once I know that I want it.

I don't try to optimize for "find a good cheap red creature", I can use Gatherer for that sort of searching and then go find it in my collection (since I also have the containing sets information on the Gatherer page).


I’m thinking of breaking up my commons and uncommons into 10 boxes, as follows (all the rares being in binders):

  • Box 1- Core sets: grouped by creature/non-creature/non-basic land, ordered alphabetically. Anything that I find that’s been printed in a core set would go in here (whether that print is from a core set)
  • Box 2 – Latest block: grouped by creature/non-creature/non-basic land, ordered alphabetically. At this particular time this would be all my Innistrad cards
  • Box 3 – Second latest block: grouped by creature/non-creature/non-basic land, ordered alphabetically. At this particular time this would be the Scars of Mirrodin block.
  • Box 4 – White cards: grouped by creature/non-creature, ordered alphabetically.
  • Box 5 – Blue cards: grouped by creature/non-creature, ordered alphabetically.
  • Box 6 – Black cards: grouped by creature/non-creature, ordered alphabetically.
  • Box 7 – Red cards: grouped by creature/non-creature, ordered alphabetically.
  • Box 8 – Green cards: grouped by creature/non-creature, ordered alphabetically.
  • Box 9 – Artifacts, Multi-color, colorless, non-basic land: grouped by creature/non-creature, ordered alphabetically
  • Box 10 – Basic lands

With this setup, I’ll always have my standard cards easy to find (hence grouping the core sets). Once a block cycles out of standard it’ll get distributed into boxes 4-9 (unless a card is put into the core set, then it goes into box 1).

The most strenuous part of this would be picking out anything in a core set, but that doesn’t have to all happen at the same time, they can migrate into the core set box over time.

I'm going to try this and I'll update to let everyone know how this turns out.


First I have current standard in separate boxes. They are separated by block then color then alphabetical order. After rotation commons and uncommons get separated by color then alphabetical order in penny sleeves in groups of 4 (playsets). If I have more then 2 playsets of a given card from the same set.. it gets trashed or given away. I do all my deck building on gatherer this makes it easy to find anything in my collection. All rares go into binders by color and alphabetical order. Standard rares in a separate binders by block and color.


Although I'm new to the game and still trying to find a good way to sort the 3K+ card collection my brother just gave me I personally believe the best way to sort cards for a specific card would be alphabetical with index cards to separate the letters. That method is only good when you have a lot of time on your hands depending on the collection size since if you just bought your first toolkit it would be easier to start with those than with boxes upon boxes. This is just something I know my friends and their parents do and it seems to work very well 90% of the time in case they misplace the card when it goes back. And if you are trying to make decks such as maybe a low mana cost deck with all one mana creatures you could do a mana sort deck where the prices go up in each section and in the individual sections you can separate by color, rarity, rotation, alphabetical, or how often you think you'll use it. These our just a few thoughts i have after looking threw the ways friends sort their cards and how I'll be sorting my cards.

  • +1 Alphabetical with index cards is an expandable system because, as your collection grows, you can move from {A, B, ... , Z} to {Aa, At, Be, Br, ... , Za}. Very nice to have a solution that can be as granular as the size of your collection requires.
    – Rainbolt
    Dec 2, 2016 at 14:17

bro buys thousands of cards and shoves the pricey cards in his binders and dumps the rest on the floor.

I have tried by set and block and such, but it was to hard to keep adding sets with each new release. The easiest way i found was to sort by rarity. Multi-row boxes for each rarity. Then i seperate each by color. white, blue, black, red, green, gold, dual, artifact and land. Then each is sub sorted by the first letter of its name. So when bro needs a white common card that starts with s. I have a 4 inch stack of cards to finger through to find it in a few seconds and never have to keep making and adding dividers and reordering for new sets. If you don't want extra bulk. The cheap penny sleeves can hold 8 or so singles. So i put cards with 6 copies in the sleeve so when i get another copy i can set it aside in a bulk box to trade into shops. A lot of shops offer deals for extra bulk. Bring in a few hundred and they give you around a penny piece and will swap you a free pack or something. This way the bulk is kept way down and super easy to find cards bro needs. If i had some of the better cards. I would consider doing decks cause it would be easy enough to look up the types of cards i need for a type of deck and then pull out the ones i have and see what i could toss together.

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