A growing concern in the Magic community is the increasing decline in card stock quality. At this point you’ve probably seen the issue first hand, but if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I’d suggest checking out Tolarian Community College’s video on the subject. Their video is very well constructed, holds valid points to not just the problem itself but also steps towards solutions that Wizards should take. The question this article is going to tackle though is how it affects us, EDH players.
The obvious start to this is that it will immediately affect the collections of all players. Cards will no longer sit right after being owned for a while. Tolarian even references the effects that can be seen after only twelve hours; just imagine what your Choke or Stranglehold would look like today if this was the quality printed then. Imagine what’s going to happen to foils a year down the line. Personally, I feel like the check lands’ new art is an amazing improvement; in my opinion, it really shows how digital art and printing has changed. Unfortunately, these beautiful lands are going to deteriorate rather quickly, especially the foils. These cards specifically came to mind because I played pack wars with a friend last night. The cards shown have been sitting in a deck box for just over 24 hours. Now, I know that that’s not the best way to keep cards, but what’s going to happen to cards left in bulk? I can guarantee that players do not keep all of their owned cards in sleeves.
There are two things to note about these cards:
1. These cards are not nearly as bent as the ones shown by Tolarian Community College. I don't have any particular reason for that. He does state that his cards were kept in a significantly more controlled environment, meaning that his should have been in even better condition than mine, but I don't have anything else to add other than that.
2. The foil is just as bent as the non-foil. Let that sink in. The foil is just as bent as the non-foil. When people say there has been a depreciation in card quality, this is what's getting worse. The card itself is so poor that it's even comparable to a foil's bend.
That’s not where the damage ends though. Not only do these cards pose problems because they themselves are warped, but they have the potential to warp other cards you own! Put that foil Glacial Fortress in a deck: by the next time it’s played, the card above or below it may be warped. That’s the worst part about warping; if one card in a stack does it, the rest will follow suit. Cards are in no way heavy enough to flatten each other. Personally, I use books to reshape my cards. I’d hate to be the player that has a Karn, a Goyf, a Liliana, or even an Underground Sea become damaged because of another card’s fault.
The solution to this problem is few and far between. So far, there are two viable options. The first is to double sleeve. This only goes so far. Double sleeving can delay and slow down warping, but I doubt that it will work forever. This mostly goes for foils; regular cards might be saved by double sleeving, but I’d be wary of foils. The second solution, and far worse, is to just not play them at all. If you’re willing to risk damage to your cards, something I’m fine with, then play them. Yes, that Glacial Fortress will be on my mind, I’ll blame it for any major warping that happens to my deck, but I’m willing to risk it. If you only play with mint cards that are perfectly flat, then I can only say that you’re SOL. Warping is an inevitable part of a game made entirely out of cardboard. The only thing you can do is slow it down. The real problem is that Wizard’s poor quality control is speeding it up.