2, Jan, 24

MTG Secret Lair Sacrifices Availability for Faster Shipping

Article at a Glance

A recent announcement from Wizards of the Coast spells big changes to the way that Secret Lair products will be arriving in players’ homes. Ever since the direct-to-consumer product line was introduced to Magic: the Gathering four years ago, Shipping has largely remained a bigger issue. Whether it was enormous expenditures to get Secret Lair products across national borders, or a Secret Lair Commander deck that went missing for more than a year, shipping for Secret Lair products has already improved leaps and bounds from where the product started.

According to a recent statement from Wizards of the Coast, however, long shipping times remain a big complaint from many MTG players. Depending on the Secret Lair, it can still take multiple months between ordering a Secret Lair product and having that product arrive at your front door.

“As with all our products and services, we’re constantly listening to feedback, and one piece of feedback we’ve overwhelmingly heard is that you want to have Secret Lair drops in hand more quickly.”

Wizards of the Coast

In an effort to continue improving the Secret Lair product, Wizards of the Coast plans to make changes to the Secret Lair product line in order to successfully get the product into players’ hands sooner. This change, however, may create even more problems for the Secret Lair product.

Limited Availability

Collected Company | Secret Lair
Collected Company | Secret Lair

A statement issued by Wizards of the Coast this afternoon claims that some big changes are coming to the Secret Lair product line. In order to speed up shipping times for Secret Lair products, they will be switching from a print-to-demand model to a limited-print-run treatment.

“Starting in 2024 and to expedite shipping and reduce wait times for receiving some of the wildest treatments in MagicSecret Lair is officially shifting from a print-to-demand model to a limited-print-run model for most of the product line.”

Wizards of the Coast

According to the statement, there may continue to be exceptions to this change, where some Secret Lairs will continue with the current print-to-demand model that remains available for an allotted amount of time. That said, “moving forward, you should expect that most drops will be pre-printed and therefore able to ship out and reach you more quickly once you’ve placed your order.”

This does make shipping out Secret Lair products a much faster affair since each individual order does not need to be processed and printed, but limited print run products have their own set of problems: namely having demand outweigh their supply:

“Practically speaking, this means that some products may sell out before their end date. However, it also means waiting significantly less time from order to Secret Lair drops arriving at your doorstep.”

Wizards of the Coast

This issue has plagued past MTG product releases, completely destroying product availability. One of the most extreme examples harkens back to the release of War of the Spark. The Mythic Edition box was a limited print-run product that, at the time, was incredibly valuable. The product sold out in literal minutes, with many MTG players getting a false confirmation on their order. Fortunately, players affected were refunded and received an Uncut Sheet of Foil Rares and Mythics from War of the Spark for their troubles.

Secret Lairs Selling in Minutes?

Time Out
Time Out | Unstable

Limited print-run products selling out very quickly in the world of Magic: the Gathering has historically been a major issue, and players appeared to be worried right out of the gate. This doesn’t seem to plague current releases too badly, but many Limited Edition MTG deals in the past have sold out terribly quickly. This means that many players did not even have the opportunity to buy these products from Wizards of the Coast themselves.

This leads to another problem that a limited print run creates. Limited print-run products that sell out quickly tend to have an additional clientele to their traditional customers: scalpers. Not only does this mean that demand for the product already outweighs supply, but the additional interest from scalpers trying to make a quick buck can make these products sell out even quicker.

This also means that the fantastic reprints coming out of Secret Lair products may not have as big of an effect on secondary market prices either. This is, arguably, one of the most beneficial aspects of the Secret Lair product line for players.

As an example, I personally was able to purchase a non-foil Mycosynth Golem for $26.30 from the Mycrosynthwave Secret Lair from my LGS. This is still above the average rate for the card according to TCGplayer, but a bargain in comparison to the card’s previous value of $40 or more.

Limited print-run Secret Lair products could mean that these cards have little to no impact on the secondary market. In fact, since these cards could be even rarer than other potential counterparts, it may just introduce a more desirable version of the reprint without impacting the card’s secondary market value. That is assuming, however, that the limited print run will not meet demand.

Player Concerns

byu/Copernicus1981 from discussion

Early concerns from the player base suggest that many are worried about the overall availability of Secret Lair products following the change. We’ve already had one Secret Lair product follow this limited print run strategy, and it sold out incredibly fast. As mentioned by the Reddit user Sharkysharky21, the 30th Anniversary Countdown kit was a particularly valuable Secret Lair containing a whole Advent Calendar worth of cards that sold out quickly. Scalpers were also all over the product, quickly listing the Countdown Kit for higher than its initial price on sites like eBay.

byu/Copernicus1981 from discussion

This could make acquiring mechanically unique MTG cards even more difficult than previously. Between the Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Secret Lair, the new Tomb Raider crossover, and the recent Doctor Who Secret Lair including the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Doctors, mechanically unique MTG cards are becoming more frequent in Secret Lair products. Secondary market prices for desirable ones are also rather ludicrous.

Read More: MTG Most Expensive Ravnica Remastered Cards

All Is Not Lost

Fortunately, Wizards of the Coast appears to be aware of the potential issues created by this change. In their statement, they mention that previous data for Secret Lair product will be used in order to create enough product to satisfy the audience they believe it will reach:

“While popular Secret Lair drops may sell out fast, we now have four years of Secret Lair sales to base our print-run numbers on, and we’re aiming to get as close to overall demand as possible.”

Wizards of the Coast

Hopefully, this means that the overall impact of this change is exactly what this statement aims to communicate: faster shipping times at little to no downside. That said, we won’t know just how impactful the limited availability of these Secret Lairs will be until players experience the change for themselves.

Will premium reprints sell out overnight? Will Secret Lairs end up being available for even longer periods of time? Maybe we will start seeing Secret Lair bundles as prizes in MTG Arena events? It’s quite difficult to say at this point. Hopefully, players who want Secret Lair products are able to buy them and start playing with their cards even quicker.

Read More: MTG’s Next Set Could Make These Staples Dirt Cheap!

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