Identify What Set Your Magic The Gathering Cards Come From With 3 Easy Tips


Whether you are a Magic the Gathering player or collector, you will probably know that it can be sometimes difficult to identify which set a MTG card comes from, here’s a helpful guide to help you identify what set your MTG cards come from.

The Identification Process

There are three types of MTG cards that can be grouped together for identification purposes:

1. Cards with Set Markers

All Magic the Gathering Expansion Sets, and Core Sets from 6th Edition onwards fall into this category, which is the majority of MTG cards in circulation today.

On each of these cards there is a set icon which uniquely identifies each Magic the Gathering set. This icon can be found in the information bar between the card’s picture and text box on the right hand side. There’s a useful and complete reference on my website which details how you can recognise each icon for each set; details are located in the resource box below.

It should be noted that the colour of that icon represents its rarity, generally, the plain black icon is common, silver is uncommon, gold is rare and purple is mythic rare (or time-shifted for Timespiral cards only). This does not change what set the card comes from, simply its rarity within that set.

2. Cards without Set Markers

There are a few older sets that were printed without a set icon. Those MTG sets are:

– Limited Edition Alpha – Limited Edition Beta – Unlimited – Revised Edition – Fourth Edition – Fifth Edition

Fourth and Fifth Edition cards can be easily identified. Both sets have the date they were printed in the bottom left hand corner of the card. 1995 for Fourth Edition, 1997 for Fifth Edition.

The next way to differentiate the remaining sets is the colour of the border. Alpha and Beta Edition cards have a black border, Unlimited and Revised have white bordered cards.

To be able to tell the difference between Limited Edition Alpha and Beta cards, you need to look at the shape of the card. Alpha cards have very rounded edges, which are different to all other Magic the Gathering cards. Comparing a suspected Alpha card to any other newer card will highlight the difference. If there is no difference, then you have a Beta Edition card.

Differentiating between Unlimited and Revised is a little more tricky. Unlimited cards usually have a blurry look to them due to the way the cards were printed. Revised cards also tend to look much more “washed out” and pale due to the printing process used.

3. Promotional Textless Cards and Reward Cards

There are also two other notable types of card which fall outside of those two categories, textless cards and DCI reward cards.

Textless cards are promotional cards given out to Magic the Gathering players who have gone to a number of tournaments sanctioned by Wizards of the Coast. As the name suggests, they have no text block and an expanded art area that covers most of the card’s surface. As such, these cards belong to no set at all and have no set marker. If you wish to play with these cards, they count as being from any set that already has a version of that card in it.

Reward cards such as DCI promotional cards (e.g. Arena cards) and FNM foils have a DCI icon as its set marker. As per the textless cards, this means they belong to no particular set.


This simple guide tells you how to identify all types of Magic the Gathering card and where they come from. This identification process is essential if you want to sell your Magic the Gathering cards as the values vary greatly between the sets. Make sure you properly identify what set your cards come from and get the true value from your Magic the Gathering cards.

Want to know more? Need a complete Magic the Gathering (MTG) set list, help sorting or protecting your Magic the Gathering cards? Find complete tutorials and MTG set lists at How to Sell Magic the Gathering (MTG) Cards. Now you’ve identified the set of your Magic the Gathering cards, its simple to value and release the potential from your cards, visit to find out how, and for much more.



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