Commander Masters, the much awaited new Magic: The Gathering set releasing August 4, 2023, began its official preview season this past Tuesday. While fans got an early look back in February, the Weekly MTG stream officially kicked off the first Masters set for Magic’s most popular format, and what should be the biggest Commander-centric set ever put together. 

Amongst a handful of exciting reprints and new artwork treatments, there was one reasonably unassuming card in particular caught my attention:

Arcane Signet by Drew Tucker

The card is not new, but I found myself immediately down the rabbit hole. This is in fact Arcane Signet’s tenth new artwork in under four years, which may actually be some sort of record, all things considered. But this is the first time the card appears in a Masters set, and it’s first time with a borderless treatment of a brand new artwork, and the first time we see several motifs of past depictions married together. And not for nothing, it’s also illustrated by one of my favorite artists, the legendary Drew Tucker.

Drew Tucker is one of Magic’s original 25 artists, illustrating for the game since 1993 and the very first Limited Edition Alpha set. After taking nearly a decade hiatus during the teenage 2000s, Tucker returned to Magic for Modern Horizons 2 in 2021, and since has been a contributor to most of the subsequent Masters & Remastered sets, as well as a handful of Promo cards. It seems if it’s something special, Tucker is likely getting a call to do a card (or three). His style is instantly recognizable and rich with story, and this new Arcane Signet is no different. Here we see a wizard, who is in fact Drew himself, bearing skyward a ring with a very familiar insignia. This new artwork is a fever pitch for one of the Commander format’s most popular cards, and one that both old and new players should be excited about.

But why does it matter? To answer that we’ll need to look back; back through those four years to when this card first appeared, and all the signs it’s sealed and delivered since. 

This is Arcane Signet: A Visual History

The First Arcane Signet: Throne of Eldraine Brawl

Arcane Signet began as a Throne of Eldraine Brawl deck-exclusive card, designed to help accelerate and facilitate this brand new format Magic was beginning to support in 2019. Its first artwork was painted by Magic mainstay Dan Scott, who unknowingly would see his artwork printed over and over again in the next few years. 

Arcane Signet by Dan Scott. Digital.

The original name for the card was “Personal Signet,” as seen on his mixed media sketch that was sold a few months after card release:

Arcane Signet (Sketch) by Dan Scott, mixed media. Sold $1,500, January 2020.

This earlier title explains the signet itself literally made one with the hand we see in the artwork. And while Arcane Signet’s artworks would change over the next few years, that very particular emblem would become a recurring element in several of its future iterations. 

Secret Lair: Arcane Signet

Arcane Signet’s initial popularity did not go unnoticed, and it only made sense to begin catering to the Commander crowd that loves variations and personalization. The first new artwork for the card came in the “A Box of Rocks” Secret Lair in late-2020, from artist Dani Pendergast. 

Arcane Signet by Dani Pendergast. Digital

Highly graphical and in a palette of pinks and purples, it features the same signet emblem, but larger than life, as told in the flavor text written by the inimitable Ari Zirulnik:

“After using the signet to finish the miniaturization spell, the novice wizard realized they’d have big shoes to fill.”

It’s a version I’m quite fond of, and is the one I use in my most cherished Commander deck. It exemplifies the idea of Secret Lair, where new artists and new styles tell the recognizable stories of Magic, and was a perfect follow up to the “regular” artwork that started to see a lot of circulation. But it did not come alone.

Arcane Signet by Dan Frazier, oil on Gatorboard, 9” x 11”. Sold for $15,000, June 2021.

The “secret” card, otherwise unknown to collectors when purchasing the ‘Dan Frazier is Back’ Secret Lair, was none other than an Arcane Signet of the artist’s own design. It was the first departure from the signet style itself, as Frazier reworked the concept to fit the style of the old Moxen for which he is famous. Because of this, the card reads as “an” Arcane Signet as opposed to “the” Arcane Signet, although it is not a ‘legendary’ artifact. My headcanon likes to think maybe the Dan Scott version was inspired by this more ‘ancient’ relic, and that what we’re actually seeing is the Arcane Signet’s stylistic predecessor. The things you tell yourself, I suppose, but it sounds pretty good to me.

Baldur’s Gate & Universes Beyond

‘The’ Arcane Signet would continue to fall out of memory, as the card traveled to far away lands, into the far future, and went There and Back Again. It next appeared in 2022’s summer expansion Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, and this time, as a ring 

Arcane Signet by Sam White. Digital.

This artwork only didn’t make my Grand Art Tour because I didn’t have an image in time. It’s an excellent illustration all the way around, from the technical execution of the hand to the drama emanating from the ring itself. The idea of the signet as an actual signet ring began right here, and it’s safe to say that without White’s illustration, Tucker’s prompt for this newest work might have looked very differently.

Arcane Signet also appeared in the Universes Beyond:Warhammer 40,000 Commander Decks, and this time, further removed from that original design. The Arcane Signet needed to take the shape of its culture within this world, which meant it was simultaneously a ring, a rune and a rod.

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And again, while Arcane Signet is not legendary so it need not stick to a centralized artwork, its previous continuity does lend itself to a familiarity that begins to be forgotten with each new iteration. Even as recently as this summer, we see the idea of the ring repeated, but the design is different once again, albeit for good reason

Arcane Signet by Randy Gallegos. Digital.

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Commander decks brought their own themed Arcane Signet, and once again the artifact took shape to tell a different sort of story in the world it was representing. Randy Gallegos shared on his blog what we’re seeing: a letter, a signet ring, and the Dwarven rune “G,” whose identity is revealed in the flavor text:

““Magic rings are, well, magical; and they are rare and curious.”


This is supposed to be Gandalf’s ring; not the Ring of Power as can be seen in the film and TV adaptations, but rather a very regular ring used for very regular things. It’s a bit of realism within a world of fantasy, and as much as it doesn’t look like that original Arcane Signet, it helps build the world and further the narrative of this very special crossover.

The 30th Anniversary: Gaboleps Gauntlet

Arcane Signet by Gaboleps (Gabriel Romano). Digital.

Stepping back a bit out of order for a moment, our penultimate entry is an Arcane Signet that keeps on giving. Debuted at Magic30 in Las Vegas in the Foil Etched treatment, the “gauntlet” Arcane Signet by Gaboleps has undergone several printings in just a few short months, appearing subsequently in both Traditional foil and Non-foil, and potentially, based on what appears to be an early replacement, Retro Foil.

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Gaboleps’ artwork, while wholly unique in composition and color, still incorporates the sigil of the signet as seen in the original artwork, but imbued into a glove instead of a hand. It reinforces this design as ‘the’ Arcane Signet, and something singularly Magic that millions of players will recognize. It looks as if it’s poised to be one of the most popular and widespread versions of the card, and I’d suppose the sky’s the limit for frames and foils as we’ve already seen.

Sidebar: The Arcane Signet Ring by RockLove

Also revealed at Magic30 in Las Vegas was another Arcane Signet, and this time, it had been brought to life. 

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Designed in celebration of The Brother’s War expansion, Alison Cimino and the team at RockLove introduced a second line of Magic: The Gathering-inspired jewelry late last year, and among it was an Arcane Signet you could wear yourself. Sterling silver and blue enamel were brought together by champlevé to create only 500 of these unique rings. John Dale Beety wrote about their creative brilliance last year ahead of this release, and Arcane Signet’s presence in this collection is a testament to its importance in Magic, and that design as a whole. 

What we see here in reality is literally what Tucker’s wizard is wearing in the new artwork. It’s the Oracle of the Five Faces of Vorthos, and this RockLove ring allows you to step into the artwork, and that role as the wizard, well beyond the game. How cool is that?

Commander Masters, Drew Tucker, and The Arcane Signet

Arcane Signet by Drew Tucker, oil on hardboard, 18” x 24”

Who would have thought that a card made for a medium-popular format would go on to be one of the most widely reprinted and reimagined cards of the last five years. According to EDHREC it’s the second most popular card in the format behind Sol Ring, and will likely stay there for a very long time. Arcane Signet has a place in Magic’s history forever now, and this newest version by Drew Tucker is simply exceptional. It takes the cards original design and adds a narrative, in a storied artist’s signature style, and in a card treatment that will literally make the light shine off the signet itself. Art Director Tom Jenkot knew exactly what he was doing when he tapped Tucker for this commission, and it’s an example of Magic’s creative team working at its best to create something so simple, and yet so poignant. It’s very early on, but it could very well be my favorite card in this set.

Drew Tucker alongside his Arcane Signet

Wrapping Up

I’ll be watching the rest of Commander Masters closely over the next days and weeks, and preparing for my Grand Art Tour to drop right before I travel to MagicCon Barcelona at the end of this month. If you happen to be in Spain for the event please say hello- I’ll be at Titus Lunter’s booth most of the weekend, and I’d love to hear from folks that enjoy the column! See y’all back in a few weeks, and as always, thanks for reading. 

Donny Caltrider (he/him) is a Senior Writer at Hipsters of Coast writing about all things related to the art of Magic: The Gathering and the larger imaginative realism genre. He has an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and enjoys telling stories about art, objects, and the intersection of fantasy with real-life. When he’s not writing for Hipsters or working with artists, you can find him traveling with his wife, petting his two cats, and watching the Baltimore Orioles.

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