Nuka-Cola Vending Machine | Fallout | Art by AKQA
25, Apr, 24

New Fallout-Themed Bonus Card Selling For Over $800!

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As players crack into their fresh purchases from the Secret Lair Equinox Superdrop, we’re also starting to see the new Bonus cards out in the wild. Of particular note among these is the Fallout Mana Vault: a reprint of the iconic mana rock with stylized art by AKQA. The existence of this card isn’t surprising. It was officially announced along with the rest of the drop at the beginning of April, after all. What is surprising, though, are the insane prices the card is commanding now that it’s in player’s hands.

We’ve seen pricey Secret Lair Bonus cards in the past. The Autographed Baseball Planeswalkers and certain versions of Shadowborn Apostle spring to mind. But, if early trends are to be believed, this new Mana Vault could surpass them all. But what’s fueling these early spikes? And just how high can the price go? Charge up your Pip-Boy: today, we’re going vault-diving.

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From The Vault

Fallout-Mana-Vault-Card

As mentioned above, the early prices on the Fallout Mana Vault are as eye-watering as a nuclear blast. While there are no listings for the card at present on TCG Player, there are multiple eBay listings available. These range from just over $1,000 to way up over $1,800. These are just listings, but there has been an actual sale, too. Earlier today, a copy of the card sold for just over $800. It’s worth noting that Card Kingdom has the card listed at a much more reasonable $55-65, but it’s currently out of stock, so those are more than likely placeholder prices.

These prices may sound ridiculous, but are they really? There are two aspects to consider here: the card itself, and the distribution method. Mana Vault is a legendary Magic card and one that scarcely needs an introduction. It costs just one mana to play but gives you three colorless mana when tapped. There are downsides intended to balance the card, such as making it expensive to untap, but those are easily circumvented with other cards. The result is an eternal staple that sees extensive play in both Commander and Vintage.

Typically, the card goes for around $50-100 for its more accessible printings. Older or more exclusive versions can easily go between $300-1,000. We’ll get into it more below, but this new printing is very exclusive indeed. Not only is it tied to a product with an incredibly low print run, but it’s also not a guaranteed inclusion in said product. For this reason, a price in the range of $800-1,000, and possibly beyond, isn’t out of the question at all.

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The Nipton Lottery

Let’s talk a little more about how you can actually get the Fallout Mana Vault. There are three new Fallout-themed drops included in the Equinox Superdrop 2024. These are the S.P.E.C.I.A.L., Points of Interest, and Vault Boy drops. In most cases, the Bonus card you get with the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. and Points of Interest drops will be a Wastes, while for Vault Boy it will be a Codex Shredder. In “A very small number of drops,” according to the announcement post, players will find the Mana Vault, however.

The exact odds of pulling a Vault this way are, as always, unconfirmed. We’ve been down a similar road before with the Bonus card versions of cards like Relentless Rats. These cards tend to be very rare, and as a result very expensive once the dust settles price-wise. And given that that’s the case for mundane cards like Relentless Rats, one can only imagine the effect a Mana Vault working on the same system will have.

This trend, of ultra-rare, ultra-expensive Bonus cards that can swing the value of a Secret Lair purchase wildly has been quietly criticized for a while now. In the case of the Fallout Mana Vault, however, players have been more vocal than usual. This is likely down to the increased transparency this time around. Normally the pool of Bonus cards is kept a secret, and players discover it on their own after launch. This time, however, all three Bonus cards were known in advance, which has had a major impact on player sentiment.

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A New Direction?

Bonus Round | Battlebond | Art by Lake Hurwitz

It’s not hard to see why. While the new versions of Wastes and Codex Shredder are undeniably stylish, also coming with stellar art by AKQA, they don’t hold anywhere near the same value as a Mana Vault. Codex Shredder is a sub-$1 card that only sees sparing play in Commander and Modern Lantern Control lists, while Wastes is a literal Basic Land that only sells slightly higher in special printings. As a result, buying any of the Fallout Secret Lair drops is essentially like buying a lottery ticket.

This has been the case before with Secret Lairs, but never in quite so extreme a fashion. And it’s never been published ahead of time as a marketing tactic. When pricey Bonus cards felt like surprising extras, they were largely tolerated. Revealing them in advance to incentivize players to buy a particular drop, though, changes the whole dynamic. When paired with the now-infamous “Fight FOMO with Secret Lair” messaging Wizards has been using on social media recently, a worrying trend starts to emerge.

Will future Secret Lair Bonus cards be treated in the same way, as extra incentives announced in advance? Will the limited print runs of the Equinox Superdrop remain, creating a compound effect that makes it difficult for the average player to access the product at all? It’s hard to say for now, given that these ideas are only just seeing their debut currently. For the sake of the player base, I hope these are just one-off experiments, but the ever-beckoning bottom line may just make them stable fixtures in time.

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