Card back

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Magic card back.jpg
Magic card back 2.jpg
Cardback yellow.jpg
Challenge Cardback.jpg
Cardback Contraption.png

The card back is printed onto the back of each Magic card, except double-faced cards.

Regular backs[edit | edit source]

The back of each card is identical, with exception to those of commemorative sets, and features the Magic: The Gathering logo, a representation of the color wheel and the word "Deckmaster" at the bottom, all on top of a brown background with an oval shape meant to represent the cover of a book (your deck is your "library" of magic spells, obviously kept in some kind of magical tome). It was designed and colored by the original art director for the game, Jesper Myrfors, together with Christopher Rush. [1].

Until the release of double-faced cards, no legal card could have a different print on the back than the regular Magic card back. That is also the reason that the back stayed unchanged during the 8th Edition revision of the card frame.

The topic of changing the card back comes up every couple years but so far the status quo has always won.[2][3][4] According to Mark Rosewater, the change would have zero impact on Limited formats and would only affect Standard for a year. It would have an ongoing impact on formats with older cards, but the mere fact people are playing with older cards greatly increases the chances that the play with sleeves already.[5]

Different backs[edit | edit source]

Originally it was planned to feature different backs for Arabian Nights and each following expansion but this was infeasible as people would be able to tell which card they would probably draw next depending on the ratio of cards from each expansion in their decks. [6]

For the Tempest set, design briefly considered creating cards with draw triggers that had different backs so the opponent would see when such a card was drawn. [7]

In 2001 or early 2002 the word "Deckmaster" was almost trademarked without thinking of the ramifications the change would have on the game, namely that players could cheat by using lands that didn't have the extra trademark sign after "Deckmaster" and spells that did, or vice versa. This was timely recognized and prevented. [8]

On April Fools' 2004 Wizards of the Coast jokingly announced that due to a trademark challenge by the Orlando Magic ™ of the National Basketball Association, the name of the game would be changed to Magique: the Gathering. To solve the problem of mixing different card backs for casual and tournament play, the company had decided to run a limited print run of each previously published Magique: the Gathering expansion with the new card back. [9]

[edit | edit source]

Since the card back cannot change, it features some imperfections as the logo is the older, blue version while everywhere else the logo has been updated for yellow with red trim. After the blue version was locked on the card back, the brand team realized that blue was a poor choice for packaging and advertising. [10]

The only paper cardbacks with the updated yellow logo are the oversized Commander and oversized Planechase cards. The idea is that as long as all the oversized cards have the same back, even if it’s slightly different, it doesn’t matter. [11]

Deckmaster[edit | edit source]

When Magic was first designed, Wizards of the Coast had plans for a series of trading card games. To group these games together, they were all given the name "Deckmaster". Magic, Jyhad (renamed Vampire: the Eternal Struggle), Netrunner and BattleTech were all Deckmaster games. Wizards of the Coast eventually abandoned this method of grouping their trading card games, but the Magic card back is locked so the Deckmaster logo remains. [12][10]

There are the markings of a ballpoint pen over the 'T' and 'R' in Deckmaster which accidentally were introduced to the logo before the printing. [13][14]

Trademark[edit | edit source]

One more detail on the back of the card that has changed everywhere but remains the same on the back of the card is the trademark of the logo. Everywhere else the logo is used it now has a registered trademark (an ®) rather than a simple trademark (a ™). At the time of the original printing, the logo didn't yet have a registered trademark. [10]

On the Battlefield[edit | edit source]

If a permanent on the battlefield is turned face down by a spell or ability, it becomes a 2/2 face-down colorless creature with no text, no name, no subtypes, no expansion symbol, and no mana cost. A card that enters the battlefield face down also has these characteristics.

Double-faced cards[edit | edit source]

A double-faced card's back face is indicated by the transformation related icon (often the moon symbol) in its upper left corner.

Digital[edit | edit source]

In the digital Duels of the Planeswalkers, the “Deckmaster” logo has been removed. Also, the Magic: The Gathering logo has been changed from blue to yellow.[15] This is also the design used in Magic Duels, in Magic Online, and on physical oversized cards. There are also official card sleeves with this design.

Challenge cards[edit | edit source]

Challenge cards have different card backs, which indicate that they can't be played in regular decks.

Hero cards and tokens[edit | edit source]

Hero Cards and most tokens both have advertising on their card backs, to indicate that they are to be kept separate from all decks. Some token cards, however, may be double-faced to represent two different token permanents.

Contraptions[edit | edit source]

Contraptions have a special card back to show the sprockets and the rules of the CRANK! counter.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater. (January 27, 2003.) “Frames of Reference”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater. (September 03, 2017.) "Is there yet a possibility of the actual paper card back changing?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  3. Mark Rosewater. (September 04, 2017.) "I'm surprised that there's been consideration given to changing the card back.", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  4. Mark Rosewater. (September 04, 2017.) "When it does come up for discussion, what do people think should be changed?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  5. Mark Rosewater. (September 04, 2017.) "Wouldn't changing the card back make playing with card sleeves mandatory?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  6. Magic Arcana. (August 05, 2002.) “Almost a Different Back”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Mark Rosewater. (November 24, 2014.) “Top 8 and a Half Tales”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Magic Arcana. (March 26, 2002.) “The eternal cardback”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater. (April 1, 2004.) “Ask Wizards”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  10. a b c Mark Rosewater. (February 16, 2009.) “25 Random Things About Magic”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Mark Rosewater. (April 03, 2012.) "Why is the logo on the back of the oversized Commander cards yellow?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  12. Mark Rosewater. (April 29, 2004.) “Ask Wizards”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater. (April 01, 2012.) "What is it really!?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  14. Worth Wollpert. (May 22, 2004.) “Ask Wizards”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Monty Ashley. (August 24, 2012.) “The Alternate Back”,, Wizards of the Coast.