A public service announcement for players using double-faced cards.

Double-faced cards (DFCs) are the bane of many judges’ existence right now. Not only do they often have weird rules interactions, but I’d wager they lead to more game losses at this point in time compared to any other issue (yes, even deck/decklist problems). The reason is the marked cards upgrade policy….

The definition of Marked Cards is as such: “The cards in a player’s deck are marked or oriented in a way that could potentially give an advantage to that player.”

The upgrade path reads as following: “If the Head Judge believes that a deck’s owner noticing the pattern of markings would be able to take advantage of this knowledge, the penalty is a Game Loss.”

If you are playing DFCs, are not using checklist cards, and your sleeves are not completely opaque: you are running the risk of having this come up as a game loss during an event. Because it is only the DFCs that are “marked” in this way there is 100% a pattern. When coming up in games I have never heard of a judge not upgrading to a game loss for not opaque sleeves with DFCs.

So how do we avoid this? There are two very easy solutions. First, you can just play with opaque sleeves. I always use black matte sleeves (KNC Hyper Mattes), and have no issues. I’ve never actually had an issue with ANY black matte sleeve, regardless of manufacturer. I realize that fun colors are great and all, but now is not the best time for them. I have personally seen issues with every color of sleeve other than black. It’s not super noticeable but it certainly can be noticed, and it does give advantage (this is very similar to how certain foils being warped can end up being a marked cards upgrade, usually the FtV foils). The problem with sleeves can easily be seen with the following image:

If you have any doubts about your sleeves: check with the judge at the event before it starts. They will be able to take a look at your sleeves to see if they are an issue, before it becomes a penalty. Another test that some players have suggested: take a DFC and a few regular cards, shuffle them up, and lay them out face down. Then try to figure out which is the DFC based on the backs.

The second solution is to just use checklist cards. This is pretty easy for the current set, as packs are still being sold at a good pace and many players have a bunch. It’s much more of an issue for older cards, such as Delver of Secrets or more recently the Origins flipwalkers (though these checklists are all available online, at least at Star City Games, and at a reasonable price too). There’s no guarantee that a store will have these in stock, especially anything other than Shadows, so if you need older ones I’d suggest ordering them with enough time to get them before your event.

My Judge friends and I hate assessing Game Loss penalties. Please help us.

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.