Branding, Gaming

Magic the Gathering Expansion Symbols

Each Magic the Gathering card set gets its own expansion symbol, helping collectors determine which set a card is from. The the first expansion symbol I designed for Wizards of the Coast was for the Mind vs. Might duel decks, and it is my favorite.

Now you might say to yourself, “That doesn’t seem like such a big deal,” but believe me, it can be a very big deal to the fans. The symbol is announced before any cards are revealed, and is the subject of speculation and scrutiny for months until the set comes out, similar to a trailer for a new blockbuster movie. There have been over 100 Magic sets, and each symbol has to be instantly discernible at a glance. Fans wear shirts and caps with their favorite symbols on them, and even create jewelry to show which sets are their favorite.

There are several rounds that go into designing these symbols, sketching hundreds of potential directions and ways to convey “might” or “mind”, for example. The final symbol, pictured here, is derived from the iconic paraphernalia of the two women that helm each deck; it is a combination of the Celtic engravings from Lovisa’s axe and the distinctive curve of Jhoira’s tongs.

Other expansion symbols that I designed for WotC include Ixalan, a combination of a graphic sun and a compass rose, Rivals of Ixalan, which was a close up section of the Ixalan symbol, referencing the spires of the golden city, and the Explorers of Ixalan board game, which conveys a ship’s wheel.

Project Info

Wizards of the Coast