Card Identification Guide

So you've been given some cards by a friend, or got some from a magazine. You have no idea what the game is, so you want to trade it to someone for a game you do play. How do you judge a card's worth? How do you know what is a promo card? How do you tell which set a card is from?

This is an evolving web-page devoted to card identification. There are a LOT of different games, card printings of those games, and variants. This is an attempt to help clear up some of the confusion over the different cards out there.

Identifying the Game

Most CCGs print the name of the card game on the back of the cards. However, some cards are not as easily identifiable. Here's a quick guide to the CCG cards which don't have a name on the back:

  • Yin-Yang symbol in center: Wheel of Time

    Telling promos, expansions and other cards apart.

    The following sections discuss each game that has multiple releases, sets, or promotional cards, on a game-by-game basis. If I do not list a particular CCG, then either:

    CCG Matrix
    7th Sea Aliens vs Predator Ani-Mayhem Arcadia
    Babylon 5 Battletech Blood Wars Dark Ages
    Doomtown Doomtrooper Dragon Storm Dune
    Galactic Empires Guardians Hyborean Gates Legend of the Burning Sands
    Legend of the Five Rings Magic Middle Earth Mythos
    Netrunner On the Edge Pokemon Rage
    Shadowfist Shadowrun Spellfire Star of the Guardians
    Star Quest Star Trek Star Wars SuperNova
    Towers in Time Vampire (and Jyhad) WildStorms Wyvern
    X-Files Xena

    7th Sea

    Two main sets (No Quarter and Broadsides) and two expansion sets, with more coming. The expansion symbol is found on the right side of the card illustration, just preceding the artist credits (facing the right side of the card). The expansion symbols are:

    Aliens vs. Predator

    Only one release (so far), one expansion (Resurrection), and a number of promos. Some of the promos also appear in the main set, but can be distinguished by extra spacing between letters in the title of the card. The card design is considerably changed between the base set and the Resurrection expansion - the colors are brighter and


    Two stand-alone releases (Set #0 and Dragonball Z) and one expansion (Set #1). The easiest way to tell these apart is by figuring out which Anime series the illustrations come from.

    There were promos which don't fit the above pattern. A number of cards were released as single inserts, but these are identical to cards in the sets. Other promos were available to people purchasing Anime videos; these are distinct.


    There were two releases of this game - Arcadia: the Wyld Hunt (TWH), and King Ironheart's Madness (KIM). Much of the character-cards (those found in Character Packs) cannot be easily distinguished from each other without a cardlist. Cards from the Story packs, on the other hand, can easily be distinguished. Quests from TWH have brownish borders, while KIM Quests are grey. Waylays are even easier - the backs are beige from TWH, and black in KIM. League cards from TWH have stronger colors; the roads in KIM frequently blend into the fields.

    There was one promo card released for Arcadia: Wandering Imp. This card also appears in TWH, and the promo is indistiguishable from the card in the set.

    Babylon 5

    The main set has a 1997 copyright, while The Shadows expansion has a 1998 copyright. Later expansions have the expansion name on the bottom of the card. Promos also have no identifying marks, and are associated with particular expansions


    Three base sets, and several expansions. No promos that I am aware of. The expansion symbol is generally a backgrounded symbol in the text area, centered and with text overlaid. All expansions had black borders


    There were three expansions, which have no distinctive marks to tell them apart. There was one promo (Guardian Molydeus), which specifically says Promo 1 on it.

    Dark Ages

    Only one set was released for this game, Feudal Lords. There was also a promo card, Clergy Ann, which was available in Guardians: Necropolis Park packs.


    This game has been released in FRPG's Rolling Thunder format. The cards from each three months can be distinguished, but telling the individual release down to the month is not easy without a cardlist. An expansion symbol appears right below the artist's credits - the expansion mark is one of the "traditional" card suits. Pinebox repeats a number of the cards from the Rolling Thunder sets, with changes to cards to fix problems


    Two releases (limited and unlimited), several expansions, and promo cards. Expansion symbol appears below and to the right of the illustration. Cards have a thin red line near the outer edge unless otherwise noted

    Several promos were released. None appear in any of the sets; some have a magazine logo; not all do.


    One main set of 270 cards, plus a 180 card expansion (Kanchaka Valley). There is a card number in the lower left corner of each card, plus a rarity indicator - such as C23 or R57. Kanchaka Valley cards have numbers from 91-150, while the base set has 1-90.

    Several cards were released in magazines (such as Corynthian Spear). There is no difference between these cards and cards from the set.

    Galactic Empires

    A lot of different expansions, and a lot of promo cards. There is no reliable way to figure out which card comes from which expansion without a card list. There were two types of promotional cards: Magazine inserts (which will have the magazine name on the card somewhere) and cards designed and printed by individuals or businesses. The latter have a company (or person's) name, phone number, or email address on them - sort of a fancy business card. Cool idea!


    Two releases (limited and unlimited), and three expansions, as well as a few promos. Expansion symbol is at the very bottom of the card.

    Hyborean Gates

    Only one set, but there were several promo cards. The promo cards were all either Mercenary Companions, or labelled with a GenCon 1995 stamp.

    Legend of the Five Rings

    There are four releases, a number of expansions, and plentiful promos. This is one of the most confusing games to collect - in addition to different promos, there are basic cards which appear in expansion starters, but are not included in the card lists. The distinguishing feature of L5R cards is the outer border - there are marbled patterns in the black border which indicates the card set.

    Magic: The Gathering

    Far too many expansions and releases, several promo cards too. Expansion symbols are on the right side, below the illustration. The outer borders for all sets are black, unless otherwise noted. Starting with Exodus, the expansion symbol is gold on rare cards, and silver on uncommons. Starting with XXX, the cards included a number at the very bottom

    Promos: Five promos were gotten from books; these had a Pen as expansion symbol. One (Nalathni Dragon) has a Dragon as an expansion symbol; this was given out at DragonCon and in Duellist #3. There were also a few cards released in comics and magazines that were identical to the 4th edition, but with a 1994 copyright.

    Middle Earth

    Two releases (limited and unlimited), and a number of expansions and promos. The promotional cards are distinguishable by the small white crown on the lower right hand side of the card. The expansion symbol is a rune, also found on the lower right side. All cards have a black border unless otherwise noted.



    One release, and one expansion (Proteus). The identifying feature is the small print right below the artist name; the basic set will have v1.0, while Proteus cards have a v2.1

    On the Edge

    Three releases, and several expansions. Although the releases are distinguishable, I am not sure which is which. The expansions are easy - just before the card number is a letter indicating the expansion.


    There are both Japanese and English versions of cards. The Japanese card backs are labelled Pocket Monsters, not Pokemon. I am not sure how to tell the various Japanese card sets apart. However, for the English versions, its pretty simple. The expansion symbol appears by the lower right corner of the picture for most cards. Also, first edition printings of each set also have a number 1 in a small circle near the lower left corner of the illustration. Expansion symbols are:


    Rage had a limited and unlimited release, plus several expansions. In addition, FRPG has published a new version of the game, which is not very compatible with the earlier version. However, telling the cards and sets apart is fairly easy.

    The easiest way to distinguish Rage cards is to look in the upper left-hand corner. The identifying glyph there is the expansion symbol for First Edition Rage (or Classic Rage, or Rage1). All First Edition Rage cards except Unlimited and Promos have a silver pip in the lower right-hand corner. Second Edition Rage cards have either text in the upper left-hand corner which indicate the card type, or a number within a blood-splot; no silver pip on any version of the cards. The following list indicates what you would see in the corner glyph:

    There were a number of promos released for the White Wolf version of Rage; most are versions of cards that appeared in the sets. There are differences between the promos and the version in the sets; no promo has a silver pip, but they have the same glyph as the set they appear in. There are usually wording differences between the promos and unlimited versions of the same cards. A few promos (those given out to Garou Nation members) have a different glyph than those mentioned above.


    Two releases (Limited and Unlimited), and multiple expansions. There were also numerous promos.


    Several releases and a number of expansions. The expansion symbol is just to the left of the card number; it is frequently the logo of the D&D world.


    Star Trek

    Star Wars


    Towers in Time

    One print run, but there was also a promotional set of cards which were released too. All cards had TO ### in the lower right corner (where ### was replaced by the card number), but the promotional cards had AC## OF 55 just to the left of the other card number.

    Vampire: The Eternal Struggle

    Vampire: the Eternal Struggle (VtES) was originally published as Jyhad. Vampire had one edition (not counting Jyhad), and three expansions. The expansion symbol is in the upper right-hand corner.

    There were two promo cards (both vampires) available thru a book redemption. Neither has an expansion symbol.




    This game had two releases (Limited and The Truth is Out There) and one expansion (101361). The cards are numbered.