Alters Tournament Legality Guide

After 3 years of alterations, I realized multiple times that some people, not knowing the alterations, judged their legality without the real acceptance criteria stated by Wizard of the Coast. Some fear of playing cards alter is obvious because of the lack of information about them. In this article, I aim to make a reality report on the legality of alterations in the competitive environment based on the rules of WOTC and my personal experience to allow you to better judge the validity of a card in tournaments. In addition, this article directly targets my alteration service: you will see the fidelity and professionalism that the field of alteration requires. First, I will define what is an altered card and types of alters. After that, I will present the official rules about alters and add the personal information that I have been collecting with the years concerning the legality.

What is an alteration

An alteration of a card is simply a modification, usually on the art, applied once the card has been printed. We can find very different alterations, from the ones that simply add an element to the art to those changing the original drawing completely, through alterations that retain the original drawing but extend its size.

Mostly, altered cards are played in eternal format and the popularity of altered cards is increasing with the years since more players play them in tournaments.

Alteration types

Text box effect: This addition to the original card gives some different effect on the text box such as distressed, old effect or others.
Popups: Usually, this type of alter simply extend some parts of the original artwork through text box or borders.
Character Replacement: Replace the original character with a funny one or something fitting with the colors, flavor text or name of the card.
Borderless: This alter is the extended art of the original illustration on the borders of the top (name and ccm) and bottom (type, effect) box of the card
Textless: This alteration is typically keeping the borders of the cards, but extends the art through the bottom text box.
Full art: Replacing or extending the original artwork over the whole card except for the top text box and/or power toughness

What about proxy cards?

Proxy are made my digital work and are not officially printed by wizard. In this matter, the nature of the card doesn’t fit to the alteration definition above. Then, I would not consider proxies to be an altered magic card.

What are the conditions of an alteration to be legal for tournament play?

From the official magic the gathering rules, here are the following elements that are required by wizard of the coast to determine the legality of an altered card: Artistic modifications are acceptable in sanctioned tournaments, provided that the modifications do not make the card art unrecognizable, contain substantial strategic advice, or contain offensive images. Artistic modifications also may not obstruct or change the mana cost or name of the card. While the Head Judge of an event may decide to allow or disallow any given altered card, it is important to keep the above guidelines in mind. If the art is still recognizable, the name and mana cost are not obstructed, and the card is not distinguishable from any other card in the deck while in a hidden zone, then it should be allowed. The potential offensiveness of an alter is a more subjective area and should likely have a more conservative approach.

The Head Judge is the final authority on acceptable cards for a tournament.

To ensure consistency within any given tournament, the Head Judge is the sole arbiter of the legality of a card. It is good practice for players using altered cards to get approval from the Head Judge prior to the start of the tournament. (Wizard of the coast, Based from 3 years of experience, many different opinion and knowledge from judges at GP, PPTQ and players, here is my addition to the rules:

1. The text box of the name is untouched. You are able to recognize the original card artwork. In order to be friendly for your opponent, its important that he’s able to recognize what you are playing. The alter obstruct is understanding of your boar.

2. The card conserves its original thickness. Mostly, you’re not supposed to feel edges and paint strokes on the card trough a sleeve. My alteration production is based on this element. The card must be legal in this area to be legal in most of the time by many judge that I’ve met. The top border or side of the card is not a different color than the other sides of the card. In fact, you’re not supposed to notice a difference between the alters and the untouched cards of your deck when you place it in front of you. Officially, No folding is allowed.

Final words

At the beginning of each tournament, I recommend that each player with cards alter in his deck to have them approved by a judge to avoid confusion. As judges generally say, the most common mistakes in tournaments are based on lack of communication. Since changes in original artwork have a propensity to create a lack of understanding of the opponent, it is important to specify the playing card that the opponent clearly knows what card it is and its effect. In my opinion, it is the responsibility of each player to ensure mutual understanding of the cards to have fun in a context of competitive games. With that, I leave you with my sincere sense of pride in my integration into the field of alterations. I believe that the style of cards altering to the magic domain is an addition that allows to personalize the favorite cards of all in order to have a visual pleasure, that is to see what the player would like to see most on this card , what he likes, whether it's Rick and Morty, mangas or the original artwork !