Hydraulic presses are used for cutting the corners of Magic cards.
Some cards are cut from the front to the back (front cut). Front cut means the cards were face up when the corners were cut.
Some cards are cut from the back to the front (back cut). Back cut means the cards were face down when the corners were cut.
This leads to different burrings. Cards with the burr on the back are front cut. It can be seen when the card is held against the
Left: front cut. The burr is pointing to the beholder. Right: back cut. The corner is reflecting the light where the cardstock became squeezed during cutting.
Left: Front cut. The corner is bent away from the beholder. Right: Back cut. The corner is pointing to the beholder.
If the cutter didn't work accurately, there are white spots on the corners even if the cards are pack fresh (If these are on the back, the card is front cut):
Front cut cards tend to loose ink on the back corners easier than on the front, because the burr is very vulnerable to that:
Some sets were printed in factories which used different corner rounding dies. The corners were (supposed to be) rounded nicer, but
it actually looked rather strange
unless cut very exactly (which was almost never the case). For that, it will be referred to as weird cut. The following picture
shows an extreme example:
So far known weird cut sets are:
- Chinese 4th Edition black bordered
- USA dark Mirage
- USA Visions
- gold bordered cards
- T-Chinese Portal Three Kingdoms
- S-Chinese 6th Edition
- 8th Edition: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, T- and S-Chinese
- 9th Edition: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, S-Chinese
Formerly, Carta Mundi Belgium printings were generally back cut. The first known front cut cards are:
- a Revised Edition print run
- a portion of Revised Edition artist proofs
- an English 4th Edition print run
- a German Unlimited print run
- at least some Italian 4th Edition artist proofs
Starting in 1996, Wizards also used various printers in the United States, where the cards were always front cut. In 5th Edition, Tempest block and
Urza block the black border on the reverse is saturated black, the surface a bit shiny, whereas the Belgium counterparts are rather dark grey.
Preconstructed decks until 2003 and two-player starter sets from 5th and 6th Edition are all front cut, too, even if they are from the Belgium factory. However, these don't feature the extra dark border on the back.
The point of printing of following sets is questionable:
T-Chinese and Korean 5th Edition
Boxes: Made in the USA
Features: back cut, back coloration like Belgium languages
Beginning in 2003 with 8th Edition, sometimes European languages have been printed in the USA, too. They don't vary as much in color as previously and thus are not discernible from the preconstructed deck versions. Since 9th Edition, made in Belgium preconstructed decks haven't always been front cut anymore, the cutting also varies between languages.
Starting with Innistrad in 2011, the booster cards of all languages have been front cut. Short before, some sets
were completely back cut again, for example, Magic
2011/Rise of the Eldrazi (except English) and M12. M11 intro packs have back cut and front cut languages; no front cut versions from M12 intro packs are known so far; M12 event decks are front
Since 2013, Japanese booster cards have been printed in Japan with perfectly rendered corners. The surface is glossy and very slippery.