Arcane Signet | Outlaws of Thunder Junction Commander | Dan Murayama Scott
19, Apr, 24

Commander Staple Gets Stunning Secret Lair Bonus Card!

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Article at a Glance

From the moment it was spoiled, MTG players were undeniably interested in the Artist Series: Rovina Cai Secret Lair drop. Offering a gorgeous tarot-inspired aesthetic, these stunning cards were certainly the star of the 2024 Equinox Superdrop. It’s almost no wonder that this Secret Lair drop took less than ten hours to sell out completely!

Despite the problems that Secret Lair’s new limited-run model has introduced, there have been some upsides. As Wizards claimed when making this change, the shipping speed has sped up considerably. Rather than waiting the months previously required, some MTG players have gotten their prized cards in just weeks! This is the case for Reddit user u/El_Panda_Rojo, who appears to be one of the first to receive their order.

Thanks to this enterprising Redditor, the Bonus card for the Artist Series: Rovina Cai Secret Lair drop has been revealed. As a guaranteed, albeit mysterious, fixture found alongside the Secret Lair drop’s guaranteed contents, these Bonus Cards are always enticing. Thankfully, the Bonus Card for Rovina Cia’s Secret Lair doesn’t disappoint, as it continues a gorgeous and unique lineage!

Read More: Top Five Most Expensive MTG Outlaws of Thunder Junction Cards

A Sketchy Signet

The normal and bonus versions of Arcane Signet, with art by Rovina Cai

The Bonus card for the Artist Series: Rovina Cai Secret Lair is a sketch variant of her take on Arcane Signet. This was revealed in a Reddit post by El_Panda_Rojo, who was lucky enough to get his drop delivered already. It uses the same border and layout as the original, and the design itself, right down to the position of the hand, is very similar as well. There are some subtle yet important differences between the two versions, however.

Most notable among these is the design of the Signet itself, which features a sun insignia as opposed to the moon one present in the regular version. The two snakes that encircle the insignia are absent in the sketch version, too. The sketch version also features some armor plating just below the wrist, which is completely absent from the regular. There’s also a big stylistic difference, with the sketch version lacking the heavy shading and ethereal tone of the regular.

While this bonus card isn’t as big a departure from its alternative version as past Secret Lair sketch cards (more on those later), it’s still a great choice for this drop. Of the four cards featured in Artist Series: Rovina Cai, Arcane Signet is by far the most played in Commander. This means players are more likely to get mileage out of a cool alternative version than they would for, say, Inalla, Archmage Ritualist. Aether Vial would’ve also been a nice pick, however. The card sees heavy play in Modern, Legacy, and Commander, even 20 years after its initial release.

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Bonus Round

Now some of you may be thinking, “That’s great and all, Nathan, but what exactly is a Secret Lair Bonus card?” Well, I’m glad you asked. The Bonus card is a proud tradition of the Secret Lair product line. In every drop that’s sent out, a Bonus card is included in the package. These cards aren’t publicized ahead of time. Instead, they’re meant as fun surprises for the dedicated fans who purchase Secret Lairs.

These Bonus cards have taken many forms over the years. Some have been alternative versions of cards already in the drop, like Arcane Signet. Some have been part of curated lists, like the extended art Slivers or Stained Glass Planeswalkers. Other Bonus Cards have been off-the-wall choices, such as a mirrored version of Viscera Seer.

For better or worse, the pricing, and innate rarity of Bonus Cards can vary wildly. Some Secret Lair Bonus Cards are guaranteed fixtures that appear alongside every copy of the drop. Other cards, however, such as variants of Persistent Petitioners are exceedingly rare, leading to exceedingly high prices.

Currently, it’s unclear which rarity category the new Arcane Signet falls into, since this is such an early reveal. That being said, the price of past sketch variants indicates this new card may follow the trend of being guaranteed.

Read More: Thunder Junction Commander Decks Add A Whole New Way To Play!

Works In Progress

Artist-Series-Rovina-Cai-Bonus-Card-Sketch-Cards

The Arcane Signet Bonus card from Artist series: Rovina Cai is very cool, but it’s not the first of its kind. In addition to the Bonus cards covered above, we’ve also seen sketch-style Bonus cards in the past, too. In fact, every Artist Series Secret Lair Drop has had one of its own. Whether it’s John Avon’s Brainstorm or Rebecca Guay’s Cleansing Nova, these cards have given players the chance to peek behind the curtain of the artistic process.

This style makes a lot of sense for drops celebrating a single artist. For those who enjoy an artist’s work, their creative process is just as interesting as the finished product. Seeing a beloved piece in a rough early state, devoid of color or detail, is oddly fascinating. Particularly when there are visible changes between it and the final draft.

Cai’s Arcane Signet is a great example of this, but similar shifts can also be seen in Rebecca Guay’s Cleansing Nova. This appears to be a very early draft of the piece, completed in orange felt pen rather than Guay’s signature hyper-detailed brushwork. There’s also an added signature, implying that this version may have been a discarded early attempt rather than a work-in-progress of the real thing. Thankfully, regardless of how it was created, plenty of MTG players should still enjoy this artwork.

A Question Of Value

Unfortunately, MTG’s finance-focused fans who were hoping for another stellar value slam dunk may be disappointed. As much as Arcane Signet has some history of expensive Secret Lair variants, sketch artworks are surprisingly unpopular. Looking back at the past sketch variants, each one is less expensive than the finished art counterpart.

In most cases, these price differences aren’t too major, but there are exceptions. The sketch variant of Torbran, Thane of Red Fell goes for less than half of what its regular version does. The reasoning behind this may lie in the specificity of the style. Outside of dedicated fans of a specific artist, most players would likely prefer a finished piece over a rougher version. Whatever the reason, the impact on the long-term value of these sketch cards is plain to see.

Despite this past price precedent, the new Arcane Signet could hold some value. Since the card is so popular in Commander, even unfinished artwork may garner an impressive price. It’s also from a Secret Lair with a lower print run than the majority that came before it, which may factor in as well. Just how much this card will end up selling for, however, remains to be seen.

Read More: The Best Art From Outlaws of Thunder Junction

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