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Secret Lair

Secret Lair is a “sub-brand” of Magic: The Gathering that groups existing cards into small collectible pseudo-sets called "drops", with strange themes and wild new art styles.[1][2] The name was inspired by the un-card R&D’s Secret Lair.[3]

Description[ | ]

The Secret Lair Series is Wizard of the Coast's first full foray into selling single reprints directly to players.

The first Secret Lair series all consisted of alternate art reprints. Wizards of the Coast was trying to work with artists they usually didn't: street artists, comic book artists, album cover designers, etc. Alternately, they used traditional Magic artists working with very non-traditional art briefs. In some later series, original art was used in combination with alternate card frames.

With the The Walking Dead series, the premise of only reprints with alternate art was abandoned. Mark Heggen revealed that R&D views the Secret Lair platform as a product-testing grounds platform that lets them try things they can't do in normal products. He acknowledged that it had been art up to 2020, but that they had broadened the concept to speak to audiences of different sizes.[4] If they identify a small group that would be thrilled by a specific product, this could cater to them: "like the game of Magic the Secret Lair will always try new things and evolve - the first year focused on art which is the low hanging fruit" and "as we have new ideas and want to try new things to make the game joyful for more people, Secret Lair is the place to do that experimentation".

Even though the reaction among the fans was very negative, the Walking Dead was the best-selling drop, luring buyers from outside of the Magic world. This prompted the company to keep on experimenting in this realm[5] and creating the Universes Beyond product line. The 2019 Secret Lair team was awarded a Heroes of the Realm card: Keeper of the Secret Lair.

Drop Series[ | ]

All cards in the Secret Lair Drop Series have a rare or mythic rare shooting star expansion symbol. The tokens have a common expansion symbol. The Secret Lair Drop Series are in English only.

Each "drop" usually contains between three and seven cards and/or tokens in a customized collector box, costing either $29.99, $39.99, or $49.99 depending on the drop – some of which use premium foil cards as well. Additionally, the "drops" can contain digital product redemption codes for Magic: The Gathering Arena or Magic Online for various online products to be used on their respective platform. The drops are only available for purchase from the Wizards of the Coast webshop In the first year, each drop usually only lasted for 24 hours (though there were some exceptions). "Superdrops" were introduced as multi-day sales that include multiple different drops that can be purchased individually or as part of a bundle.[6] Additional information on the contents of each Secret Lair Drop can be found on the webshop In the second year, Wizards of the Coast focused more on superdrops, with solitary drops still possible for special occasions.[5]

Distribution[ | ]

Wizards of the Coast used a print-to-demand model of distribution for Secret Lair Drops from their introduction in 2020 until 2023. Each order was printed after the purchase was made and then distributed to buyers. This model allowed for an unlimited number of people to buy the drop within the sale period and receive it at the cost of having to wait a period of time between printing and shipping. In 2024, Wizards switched to a limited-print-run model, where Secret Lair Drops were printed in set numbers before the drop was put up for sale. [7] This method allowed Wizards to ship the drops as soon as buyers made a purchase but at the cost of only having limited stock that could run out before the end of the sale period.

Packaging[ | ]

Originally, each drop was packaged in a black box. Starting with the All-Natural Superdrop, the packaging for all Secret Lair drops was reduced to less than half the original volume, being made from all-recyclable paper (except the plastic card wraps), and containing 91% less plastic by volume. The April 2022 Superdrop introduced even smaller envelope packaging for regular, using less material and is lighter in weight, thereby creating less waste and making distribution more sustainable.[8] Going forward, the slim black box packaging will be restricted to most cobranded Secret Lair drops (e.g., Street Fighter), and most philanthropic drops (e.g., Extra Life 2021).

Mechanically unique cards[ | ]

While originally featuring only reprint cards, starting with The Walking Dead drop a few Secret Lair Drops began introducing brand new cards with unique mechanical designs created just for the drop. These cards are legal in eternal formats and continued with other Universes Beyond releases. Players were initially concerned that the limited availability of Secret Lair Drops would mean any mechanically unique cards that proved important in a format would become expensive and unavailable for the majority of players in that format.[9] In June 2021, it was announced that for upcoming Universes Beyond Secret Lairs, Wizards of the Coast planned to create and print in-canon versions of mechanically unique Universes Beyond cards, approximately six months after their initial release. The new versions were set in Magic 's Multiverse[10] and were made available through a special distribution on The List. The non-canon cards and the canon cards are considered equivalent game pieces, meaning you can only play four copies (or one copy) of either the Magic version or Universes Beyond version in your deck.

Extras[ | ]

Bonus cards[ | ]

Each drop is delivered with a bonus card in the package. The chosen card may vary, but each drop only comes with a certain selection of cards. Originally, these themes had a theme connected to that specific drop. Later, specific bonus cards could be tied to a specific drop or could be chosen from an unrelated themed subset.

Promos and prizes[ | ]

Some Secret Lair cards are used as standalone prizes or promos. They may use the SLD expansion code, but others use a SLP expansion code.

Secret Lair Playtest cards[ | ]

According to the limited information that is available, a Secret Lair Playtest card is nominally a "playtest card" but are said to be similar to the test cards first featured in the Mystery Booster and also seen at Unknown Events.

Specials[ | ]

Main article: Secret Lair/Specials

Besides the Drop Series there are several products under the Secret Lair umbrella that have the same sensibility but that have a different distribution model or a different design. These range from Ultimate Edition drops to Commander decks and Secret Lair 30th Anniversary Countdown Kit.

Gallery[ | ]

Trivia[ | ]

References[ | ]

  1. Tom Marks (November 25, 2019). "Magic: The Gathering Reveals New Secret Lair Drop Series With Wild Art".
  2. Mark Heggen (November 25, 2019). "Revealing Secret Lair". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on August 4, 2022.
  3. Mark Rosewater (August 7, 2022). "Did the card “R&D’s Secret Lair” have any inspiration in the naming of the product “Secret Lair”?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  4. Weekly MTG - Secret Lair: The Walking Dead (Video). Magic: The Gathering. YouTube (October 2, 2020).
  5. a b Weekly MTG: Secret Lair 2021 Sneak Peak. (December 3, 2020).
  6. Wizards of the Coast (March 13, 2020). "Making Fetch Happen—Secret Lair: Ultimate Edition". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on November 26, 2023.
  7. Wizards of the Coast (January 2, 2024). "Speeding Up Secret Lair Shipping". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Wizards of the Coast (May 6, 2022). "Statement on Sustainability and Secret Lair Drop Packaging". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on October 14, 2022.
  9. David McCoy (September 28, 2020). "The Walking Dead Secret Lair Drop Releases October 4, Contains “Mechanically Unique” Cards". Hipsters of the Coast.
  10. Wizards of the Coast (June 7, 2021). "Secret Lair Universes Beyond Update". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on June 8, 2021.