Since launching back in 2019, the Secret Lair sub-brand has managed to cause quite a few controversies over the years. From production problems, Universes Beyond cards, to the very nature of the brand, players have had all manner of complaints. However, one of the most damning debacles followed one of the brand’s best products: an entire Secret Lair Commander MTG deck.
Known as Heads I Win, Tails You Lose, this product suffered extensive and repeated delays. So much so that it left a dark stain on Secret Lair’s reputation. Despite this, however, Wizards of the Coast is doing it all again this year. That’s right, Wizards is creating another 100-card Secret Lair. Called “From Cute To Brute,” this new Secret Lair product has a lot to get players excited. So long as it doesn’t get delayed, that is.
Tails, We Lost
All the way back in 2021, Wizards of the Coast announced the Heads I Win, Tails You Lose Secret Lair. Priced at $99.99, this Secret Lair drop was lauded for offering incredible value, as this wasn’t any ol’ regular SLD. Instead, this Secret Lair was an entire 100-card Commander MTG deck. As you might expect, given the name, this deck was themed around coin flips.
Offering excellent art treatments, plenty of reprints, spectacular value, and even a special coin, this product was immediately beloved by players. Unfortunately for players and Wizards alike, however, this special Commander product wouldn’t be all sunshine and roses following the announcement. Initially being penned for an April 2022 release date, in January, Wizards announced the Heads I Win, Tails You Lose Secret Lair had been delayed.
Pushed back until the Fall of 2022, no reason for this delay was given at the time. It was presumed, however, that production issues and the COVID-19 pandemic were to blame for this extended wait. Understandably, MTG players weren’t too happy about this extended wait, regardless of being promised compensation.
Thankfully, after almost a year, Wizards would finally break their silence and provide a shipping update to players. Revealing the product should ship on October 24th, 2022, players were finally able to get excited once again. For some, however, this joy was shortlived, as for some players, delays continued. Ultimately, this reached a point that third party sells canceled orders on players’ behalf!
Thankfully, since this debacle, Wizards of the Coast has somewhat improved the Secret Lair shipping process. That being said, however, this extensive delay has nevertheless left some deep scars and lingering doubts.
From Cute To Brute Secret Lair
Hopefully, not repeating any of the past shipping woes is the recently announced From Cute to Brute Secret Lair drop. Similar to Heads I Win, Tails You Lose, this product is a 100-card preconstructed Commander deck featuring brand-new artwork. Themed around double-faced cards, this product lives up to its name by having adorable creatures flip into truly terrifying monsters. While expensive at $149.99, this limited print run product is certainly desirable, however, it does have its problems.
To kick things off with the good, the From Cute to Brute deck is exceptionally valuable. More than justifying its $149.99 price tag, the overall value of the deck is worth over $300! Unsurprisingly, the Commander deck’s most valuable cards are the few which receive new art. King amongst these is Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, who is worth $24 on average on TCGplayer. While this is already valuable, the new adorable and threatening art may boost this value even more.
As if the MTG cards with new art weren’t enough to get this Secret Lair alone, there are also plenty of enticing regular reprints. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, for instance, boasts a compelling $16 value. Additionally, there are plenty of cards like Guardian Project and Nissa, Vastwood Seer that are worth a smidgen under $10.
While these reprints are undoubtedly good from a financial perspective, provided the price doesn’t tank, it’s not all good news. As many players across social media have pointed out, for instance, this deck doesn’t appear to be the strongest. Sure, it might have a strong theme, however, unlike Heads I Win, Tail You Lose, these mechanics aren’t automatically fun or powerful.
“This feels more like From the Vault: DFC than a deck. It looks like this deck couldn’t hold its own against most precons. Why not just make those 5 cards as the secret lair instead of making a non-functional gimmick deck?”u/Dying_Hawk
“The idea of playing an entire deck based around double-faced cards feels like a massive pain in the ass”u/Lawlor
While there are pros and cons to the From Cute to Brute deck’s cards, other players had a more fundamental issue: the theme. Pointed out by Reddit users such as u/Imnimo, the deck’s gimmick isn’t entirely cohesive. Sure, all the cards may be double-faced, but the standard reprints hardly embody cute to brute. Just look at Valki, God of Lies as an example. Cute? No. Brute? Also no.
Instead of being a constant presence throughout the deck, the From Cute to Brute theme is primarily only seen in the new art. Even here, however, the theme isn’t entirely perfect in the eyes of some players. Reddit user u/Sability, for instance, noted how “Esika being a ‘cute to brute’ is an insane flavor fail, imo. The Prismatic Bridge is literally the unity between the sub-planes of Kaldheim.” Thankfully for WotC, not all players disliked the new art. Just look at the art of baby Nicol Bolas and Ugin, for example! How could you not love that?
Ultimately, at the end of the day, even if the flavor might not be perfect, this is still one hell of a Commander product for MTG fans. If you want it, however, it might be best not to wait around, as this is a “limited quantity product.” This means that it’ll only be available “while supplies last.” Currently, Wizards of the Coast has not announced just how many supplies they have to sell to players. Subsequently, there’s no telling when or if this product will sell out. Since that seems to be a possibility, however, if you want this Commander series deck, it would be best not to delay.