MTG: All Foil Types, Explained

TheGamer 23.06.2023 18:54:13 Ryan Hay

It seems like every new set Magic: The Gathering releases nowadays has a new type of foiling process in it, and here's a comprehensive list of every type of foiling ever printed. Foil cards are considered Magic's premium cards and will have a shiny, foil finish. These cards are much rarer than most other Magic cards.

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The various types of foiling can generally be divided into evergreen foils, ones that Magic has used multiple times across multiple sets, and set-specific foils, ones that have exclusively been used for just one set or perhaps limited to a specific plane.

First released into packs during Urza's Legacy, this type of foil would last all the way up to Scourge. The first widely available foil card was a promotional card for Urza's Saga called Lightning Dragon, which was distributed at Urza's Saga prerelease events. Because of the way they are printed, lines can sometimes appear in the foil, which may appear to be damaged but are normal.

At the time, these foil cards were exceptionally rare, much rarer than drop rates that players would find today. These types of foils have a shooting star icon on the bottom left-hand corner of the card, making them unique from every other type of foil.

Picking up from where the Pre-Modern foils left off, the current most popular foiling process has run from Eighth Edition to now. These cards feature a 'rainbow effect,' covering the entire card with a metallic sheen.

While Traditional foils are considered the same foils you can open in packs today, there have been several iterations of this process. This has led to some variation in foils over the years, most notably in the sets Future Sight, Lorwyn, and Shadowmoor, which had darker foils than other sets.

This special series of cards featured a special foiling process unique to the set. Cards from any From the Vault sets are more reflective than Traditional foils and have a varnish finish, making them feel almost slippery to the touch as well as making them weigh more than the normal foil Magic card.

From the Vault was a limited set of products that sought to highlight powerful cards or show off a particular theme. The downside to these cards is that they are particularly vulnerable to curling, the process of a foil card's edges bending so that it is no longer flat.

Related: Magic: The Gathering - A Brief History Of Innistrad

Originally revealed in Commander Legends packs, the Etched foil cards are a different approach to the foiling process that highlights specific sections of a card. Cards with an etched foiling appear almost grainy and feel textured to the touch.

Etched foil cards use a metallic paint to achieve its foil look, which is very visible on the border of cards and is used to selectively enhance parts of the artwork. This type of foiling includes Gold Etched foiling from the Secret Lair Drop Series: MSCHF, which is functionally similar but with a gold tint to them.

Textured foil cards came about to Magic through the Double Masters 2022 set as a new way to make some of the most powerful cards in the set more valuable to players and collectors. These foil cards bring an embossed effect to cards, giving them the appearance that they are moving as the art shifts perspective.

Since their release, Textured foils have been released in other sets like Dominaria United, with legendary creatures getting the treatment, and they return in Commander Masters. These cards are visibly etched, with raised lines in the art that are visible even at a distance.

An incredibly rare type of foiling, the Double-rainbow foil is a type that is only available in The Brothers' War set. More specifically, only on serialized versions of the schematic printings of cards, alternate art printings with artwork that appears to show the schematics of how some of Magic's most powerful artifacts are made. Cards with the Double-rainbow foiling process are only available in Collector Boosters and, because of the nature of serialized cards, are only found on a fixed number of cards.

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From the depths of deep space comes the Galaxy foil printing of the Unfinity set. This unique foiling process transports players to the stars with a scattered starburst pattern embedded into the foil sheen.

This type of foil bears a striking resemblance to classic Pokemon card foiling, which helped make it a very popular style among fans. As of this writing, the Unfinity set is the only set to feature this style of foil, making it highly collectible.

For players looking for a little extra pizzazz to their decks, Streets of New Capenna invited players to chase after Gilded foil cards. This type of foiling features a golden frame as well as three-dimensional embossing that highlights a traditional foil card's normal shine.

Cards with Gilded foiling work with the special art deco designs unique to New Capenna, and can only be found on cards with three colors. This foiling is exclusive to the Streets of New Capenna set, with the sole exception being a Secret Lair version of Atraxa, Praetor's Voice.

Reserved exclusively for Multiversal Legends cards from March of the Machine and cards from March of the Machine: The Aftermath, these foils can only be found in Collector Boosters from the sets.

Inspired by the enigmatic and magical Halo substance made from the essences of angels on New Capenna, it became the natural anthesis of New Phyrexia and the phyresis process. This type of foil features a swirling, almost liquid-like effect, mimicking the magical substance it draws inspiration from.

There are only eight cards with the Neon Ink Foiling, split evenly across Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Collector Booster packs, and the Secret Lair: Showcase: Neon Dynasty Neon Ink Foil Edition, which was a limited-time drop.

From packs, the only card that came in the Neon Ink foil was Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos, which also had four different variants of blue, green, red, or yellow neon inking. Different colors have different rarities as well, with the yellow ink variant being a promotional card. Opening one of these Neon Ink foils is exceptionally rare, even for a chase card.

Related: Magic: The Gathering - Card Rarities, Explained

These textured foils can only be found in Phyrexia: All Will Be One Bundle: Compleat Edition, and that's it. The Oil Slick foiling is designed to portray the glistening oil of Phyrexia, also called Ichor, which is both a means to spread disease and to help transform living beings into Phyrexians.

Cards with the Oil Slick foiling feature raised sections to help depict the almost living nature of the glistening oil. There are only 25 cards with this treatment, which are mythic rares from the set and a collection of Phyrexianized basic lands.

With the release of the special black-and-white Innistrad: Double Feature set, which included all cards from both Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Innistrad: Crimson Vow with a limited color pallet, came the silver screen foil. These cards diverged from the typical rainbow foil treatment for a more classic film 'silver screen' foil.

Replicating the retro appearance of black-and-white films, the silver foiling process helps complete the appearance that you're experiencing the set as if it is an old monster film. The border of cards from this set still has accent colors to help identify the cards color identity.

Drawing inspiration from step-and-repeat banners often found at red carpet events, the Step-And-Compleat foiling highlight either Phyrexian creatures or those who have fallen to the corruptive powers of New Phyrexia.

Cards with the Step-and-Compleat foiling feature the Phyrexian symbol in a repeating pattern embedded in the foiling. Sixty-three cards across all rarities received the Step-and-Compleat foiling and included plenty of variant art cards, including alternate art for planeswalkers who were never compleated by Phyrexia, offering a what-if scenario for some of the heroes of the set.

Exclusive to Universes Beyond sets, Surge foils offer a new style of foiling to help signify the special status of the sets. Surge foils have a ripple effect in the sheen of the foiling, giving it a distinctive look.

So far, this process has been seen on cards from both Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 and The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. Surge foils are exceptionally rare and can even be found on special Realms and Relics from Tales of Middle-earth Collector Boosters.

Next: TCG Release Dates 2023

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