7, Jul, 24

New Secret Lair Bonus Card Pays Tribute to EDH Legend

Article at a Glance

From February 26 to March 24 earlier this year, a really unique and special product went on sale. Known as Sheldon’s Spellbook, this Secret Lair was designed to honor the legacy of Sheldon Menery. Menery played a large role in the evolution of the Commander format, which grew to become one of the most popular ways for people to play Magic. He was even a leading member of the Commander Rules Committee.

Back in 2023, Sheldon sadly passed away after a long battle with cancer. The creation of Sheldon’s Spellbook served as a great way to pay tribute to him and recognize his massive influence on the game. With this in mind, Sheldon’s Spellbook features seven of Sheldon’s favorite cards with cool alternate art. Half of all sales went to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Now, months later, it appears we finally get a glimpse at the bonus card for Sheldon’s Spellbook. It may not be the priciest card in the world, but it’s still a great inclusion for a multitude of reasons.

Keen Duelist in Commander

Keen Duelist

Keen Duelist is a very funky card specifically designed for the Commander format. It serves almost as an inverted Dark Confidant, but with a sweet group hug feel. Unlike with Dark Confidant, you aren’t the only one to generate card advantage with Keen Duelist in play. Instead, you and an opponent of your choice will each get to reveal the top cards of your libraries and put them into your hands.

The key here, though, is that you and the opponent you chose each lose life equal to the mana value of the card revealed by the other player. As such, Keen Duelist actually works nicely in conjunction with expensive cards on the top of your deck.

There are a variety of ways to help maximize this ability. Cards like Vampiric Tutor that can put specific expensive spells on top of your library ensure that an opponent will lose a boatload of life. There are also a number of Commanders that provide a reward if an opponent loses life during your turn. For instance, Keen Duelist can help you cast Rakdos, Lord of Riots on curve, then help make your creatures cost less on future turns. Similarly, alongside Abaddon the Despoiler, Keen Duelist can enable your cards in hand to have Cascade, which is extremely powerful.

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Value Beyond Finance

Sheldon, the Commander

From a financial perspective, Keen Duelist isn’t the most exciting card ever. Like most Secret Lair bonus cards, it isn’t worth too much. The card debuted in Commander 2021, and according to TCGPlayer market price, it currently sits at just under $2 in its cheapest form. Even so, there’s certainly value in this inclusion beyond just monetary value.

First and foremost, the card does a great job honoring Sheldon. The artwork depicts Sheldon as the “Keen duelist” himself, and it’s quite pretty. For extra flavor, the card was a part of the Silverquill Precon, which Sheldon helped design. Meanwhile, much like the other cards in the Secret Lair, the flavor text hits home. The phrase “win before you start playing the game” embodies what Commander is all about: bringing players together to participate in a fun-filled activity.

Furthermore, this bonus card gets some extra mileage due to Keen Duelist’s lack of reprints. Keen Duelist has only ever appeared in Commander 2021. So, this is the first time Keen Duelist is available with alternate art. It’s also the first time Keen Duelist has appeared in foil, which has some players excited.

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Player Reaction


There’s truly a lot to appreciate about this bonus card and the Secret Lair as a whole. Overall, the bonus card choice and execution seem to be very well-received amongst the player base. One player pointed out how cool it is that cards like Keen Duelist and Inkshield, which are part of the Silverquill Precon, are associated with the plane of Arcavios. This plane features different colleges where characters learn magic, which serves as a perfect tie to Sheldon’s influence on players learning all that Magic: The Gathering has to offer.

Players were generally quite happy with the art style as well as the flavor text for Keen Duelist, too. As a whole, this Secret Lair has been a slam dunk, and the addition of Keen Duelist is the icing on the cake. It’s really nice to see these solid reprints get featured for a good cause. If you’re still waiting for your Secret Lair to arrive, make sure to take the time to appreciate what this product symbolizes.

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