People in my group don’t really proxy. I am probably the only one who does, and I have known rules for when I do.
1. Proxy with the intent to purchase.
2. Proxy duplicates to avoid Mass card swapping between decks and games.
Example 1: I am fleshing out a new commander like Rikku and know I am going to want an Imperial Recruiter. I will proxy for a session or two while it is on order. If I don’t intend on buying it (for whatever reason) I don’t proxy it in the first place.
Example 2: Time Spirals are difficult to find, and expensive. I own a copy already and intend to buy another one months down the road. I will proxy it to save time swapping cards from one deck to another between games.
Generally my group has never really had an issue with this as they know I tend to only have the proxy for a play session or two. Way back when, this was how my initial group handled things as well, proxies were never meant to be a permanent thing. If someone wanted and Underground Sea but had no intention of purchasing one, they just never proxied it. There is something about being prideful about the curation and ownership of a Commander deck, that many players silently acknowledge and want others to aspire to. If you genuinely feel like you cannot keep up because you don’t want to shell out for a Cradle - then you need to have an honest conversation with your group and with yourself, about what you want from commander. If it is getting out of control in your group, you should all agree to some basic rules, either like mine above, or cap the number of proxies. I personally find that half of the fun is actually collecting the cards to play with them.
All that being said, I think most people who have played the format long enough, probably just don’t care if you proxy or not.
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