Koth of the Hammer
2, Feb, 23

MTG Players Look To Correct Secret Lair Let-Down

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Article at a Glance

Following the brand’s inception in 2019, Secret Lairs have been a frequent source of surprisingly good value for MTG Players. Considering that Wizards are the ones curating Secret Lair drops, this promising value is rather remarkable but nevertheless welcome. Typically, each Secret Lair drop comprises a few Commander favorites and some niche yet beloved cards. Sporting striking and often unique new art, many of these Secret Lair drops are prized enough to hold their value. Unfortunately for eager MTG investors, however, not every Secret Lair drop is a financial success.

Second-Rate Secret Lair

Artist Series: Sam Burley
Artist Series: Sam Burley | Secret Lair

Within the recently pre-orderable Winter Superdrop 2023, several Secret Lairs are unmitigated successes for MTG players. The Draw Your Hand drop, for instance, includes a reprint of Counterbalance which costs over $30 alone. Alongside this Commander favorite, the drop boasts another $18 value, which is essentially pure profit! So long as the prices don’t dip, at least. Similarly, the Phyrexian Faves drop also offers impressive value, with the drop’s cards being worth $15 over MSRP. While these two Secret Lairs are worth it from reprint value alone, not every Winter Superdrop 2023 drop is so financially enticing. 

Unfortunately for fans of the artist, Sam Burley’s Artist Series Secret Lair drop is one such example of this. Technically, the reprints in the Ssssssnakessssss drop are even less valuable. However, this drop is saved by compelling foil prices. For the Artist Series: Sam Burley drop, however, even foils can’t save the day. Within the drop itself, only one card is notable for its price Braid of Fire. Available for a market price of $10.04 via TCGplayer, this effective mana ramp is a commander favorite and personal pick by Sam Burley. However, it’s not nearly enough to justify the drop’s price. 

“I should also mention this is a card I loooove. It was at the top of my list. My default deck is mono-red, and I’m just obsessed with how weird and baffling and kind of awesome the card is. I started playing around Ice Age, so I remember both cumulative upkeep and mana burn well. And the fact that this aged in such a good way with the rule change makes it even weirder and makes me love it more. Exactly the type of old card that gives me the feel-goods in Commander.” 

Sam Burley

After Braid of Fire, Karrthus Tyrant of Jund is the drop’s second most expensive card at just $4.79. Following this, Koth of the Hammer is only worth $4.01, and Master of the Wild Hunt’s $0.93 value is barely worth talking about. Due to the lack of value on display, MTG players have been quick to lambast this Secret Lair with criticisms. Reddit user u/Ninjaboi333, for instance, called it “the biggest flop of the drop. […]  Even if you were looking to pick up a Braid of Fire, you’d be better off just getting the single.”

Artist Series: Everyone

Blue Sun's Zenith
Blue Sun’s Zenith | Strixhaven Mystical Archive | Dominick Mayer

Thankfully, while the reprint-focused value of Sam Burley’s Secret Lair drop may leave much to be desired, the SLD still features stunning and enticing artwork. Subsequently, fans of Sam Burley’s work and those after a new look to their Jund deck should still be thoroughly pleased. While investors typically make the most noise around Secret Lair drops, this passionate fanbase shouldn’t be dismissed. Making their voices heard, recently, MTG players across Reddit came together to discuss their favorite artists and which Artist Series Secret Lair drops they might want to see next. 

Kicking off this conversation, Reddit user u/iKenric stated they would “definitely pick Dominick Mayer. I know he’s done a couple of cards for Secret Lairs, but I wish he would get his own lair.” Having created cards such as Cut Down and Cut Your Losses, Dominick Mayer undoubtedly has an incredible visually distinct style. Alongside this suggestion, other users highlighted their desire for all things Richard Kane Ferguson. Recently creating stunning artworks for Dominaria Remastered, including Wordly Tutor and Vampiric Tutor u/fredbroca4949 explicitly asked for “a cycle of basic lands. I would spend SO MUCH MONEY!”

Throughout the Reddit post, countless users highlighted their desires for myriad different artists. Reeling off just a few more, players requested manga artist Yusuke Murata, “Mike Mignola of Hellboy fame,” Rebecca Guay, Igor Kieryluk, and Yoshitaka Amano. Thankfully for players interested in these potential Secret Lairs, they’re not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Following comments from MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater, last year, it appears that Secret Lairs do factor in player demand. While Rosewater stated, “I don’t think there’s high demand for crayon art,” player suggestions could eventually become reality. 

Art Over Value

Regal Caracal
Regal Caracal | Secret Lair

At the end of the day, Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro are a business, much to MTG players’ chagrin. This means that, like it or not, Wizards wants their products, such as Secret Lairs, to sell well. Subsequently, it’s in Wizards’ best interests to pack Secret Lairs with value where possible, as it essentially guarantees sales. This compelling business tactic, however, doesn’t always need to be the case. As MTG players have showcased with their myriad suggestions, artists are also what makes Secret Lairs great. The right art can even propel the value of an otherwise unassuming card to greatness. Cards from the OMG KITTIES! Secret Lair Drop, for instance, is absolutely adorable and seriously expensive! 

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