A couple weeks ago, I purchased a play set of 4 Alliances Force of Wills from a novice seller on eBay. The pictures weren’t great but they were listed as “played” so I assumed they were probably moderately played with wear in the usual spots. The seller was from Canada but shipped with tracking so I felt like the purchase was safe.

When the cards arrived, they were mint. I initially thought that the seller copy/pasted a description from a different listing so I declared “success!” and moved on to my routine for making sure the cards are authentic. This is when things started getting interesting.

Heading South

Testing magic cards isn’t terribly difficult. Chas Andrews wrote an excellent article on detecting counterfeits for Star City Games a few years ago during an outbreak of counterfeits that largely holds up today. Much like the cards from Chas’s article, my Force of Wills didn’t feel quite right. I dug out some authentic Alliances cards and it was immediately clear that the Force of Wills were a bit thicker and just a bit too glossy. I could have stopped here and requested a return but I kept going just to be sure. When I flipped the cards over the backs were dead giveaways. The browns were wrong, the black mana dot had a green hue instead of the reddish hue found on real cards, and the black border around “Magic” was too bold.

Everyone Needs a Loupe

At this point, I started documenting everything. I knew that I would easily be able to prove that the cards are fake to eBay in case the seller refuses to accept a return. To finalize the evidence, I brought out my jewelers loupe. Loupes are an essential tool for any collector. They’re cheap and readily available on Amazon. My loupe is similar to this one and 30x is perfect for me. While the cards had the rosette pattern, it had a black core instead of the correct blue one. As I suspected, the card stock was wrong and I confirmed that by shining my cell phone light through the card.

Money Back Guarantee

With all of the documentation laid out, I opened my return request. This feature has driven many sellers away from eBay since its inception. A quick glance at any eBay forum will provide a host of stories about buyers that are abusing the system. The sellers often say that eBay sides with the buyer too often and that may be right but I’m sure glad they have my back on this one.


Co-founder of Relic Scout. Marketing guru by day, card collector and pop culture enthusiast by night.