Last updated on November 3, 2022
Mox Diamond | Illustration by Volkan Baga
We all love the I-don’t-even-know-how-many Secret Lairs we get each year. We’re up to 21 already for 2021. We all love them, right?
Maybe don’t answer that. But collectible products like this weren’t always so commonly released. And even though Secret Lair isn’t the replacement for what From the Vault used to be (that would be Signature Spellbooks), they resemble some of its design sensibilities. I’d consider it a sort of spiritual successor.
There’s always been a bunch of interesting collectibles in MTG. I’d dare say that some are more interesting than others. So what made From the Vault interesting? Let’s look into it!
Rith, the Awakener | Illustration by Todd Lockwood
From the Vault was a collectible series released by Wizards of the Coast every year. It was strongly aimed at collectors but was also a great way to get your hands on certain cards that would’ve otherwise been extremely expensive for a much more reasonable price.
The main issue with this was that these sets tended to have a really high demand, so the prices for each of the boxes went up really quickly. Each box came with 15 black-bordered foil cards, and all of the cards in a box shared a common theme which was usually stated in the name.
From the Vault was printed from 2008 to 2017 and there were a total of 10 installments in the series. One thing that set this product apart from other Magic sets was its foiling process. It was only used in these products and involved printing the cards in a foil stock that was twice as reflective as regular foils. A varnish was then applied, giving the cards a much shinier and stiffer feeling.
The intent was to make From the Vault feel like a higher end collectible product. It ironically also meant that the cards curled a lot more than regular foils. The ones printed at the time, anyway. They also had a lot of printing errors, so a lot of people were skeptical of From the Vault cards.
Obliterate | Illustration by Kev Walker
In late 2017 / early 2018, Wizards announced that they were discontinuing the product. All I’ve been able to find as to why are speculations.
The most common opinion is that the printing errors and quality of the foiling was less and less tolerated and sales dropped. Signature Spellbooks was announced right after the discontinuation as the spiritual successor to From the Vault. These sets brought fewer cards (8 instead of 15) and were focused on a single planeswalker and the spells that defined them.
Three of these sets have been released so far (one per year), but it was announced that there wouldn’t be a new one in 2021. We don’t know yet if this product has also been discontinued for good or if it’s just a one-year skip.
Are From the Vault Cards Legal?
Nicol Bolas | Illustration by D. Alexander Gregory
Aside from being a special product for Magic’s 15th anniversary, I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. The box came with 15 dragon and dragon-related cards. Six of them had new art.
FtV: Dragons also came with a spindown life counter die and an insert with the rules for Commander. The insert was probably a reference to the fact that the format was gaining popularity and was originally called Elder Dragon Highlander.
- Bladewing the Risen
- Bogardan Hellkite
- Dragon Whelp featuring new art
- Ebon Dragon
- Form of the Dragon featuring new art
- Hellkite Overlord
- Kokusho, the Evening Star
- Nicol Bolas featuring new art
- Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
- Rith, the Awakener featuring new art
- Shivan Dragon featuring new art
- Thunder Dragon featuring new art
- Two-Headed Dragon
- Limited-edition boxed set
- Contains 15 premium foil Dragon cards and a collector's guide
Mutavault | Illustration by John Avon
This was an April fool’s joke Wizards made back in 2009. They announced that the second From the Vault product ever printed would feature some of Magic’s most famous vaults. It was never actually printed or sold.
It was said to include a collector’s guide to famous vaults in Magic history including the one that held Richard Garfield’s personal Black Lotus collection. It also “included” a password-locked life counter and four cards with new art by artists like Michael Angelo. That must’ve been a pretty expensive commission fee.
- Bottomless Vault
- Disciple of the Vault
- Hypervolt Grasp
- Knowledge Vault
- Lim-Dûl's Vault
- Mana Vault
- Phyrexian Vault
- Spoils of the Vault
- Time Vault
- Vault of Whispers
- Mana Crypt
- Voltaic Key
Necropotence | Illustration by Dave Kendall
I think this is one of my favorite FtV products just because of its concept. All of the 15 cards in this set were banned or restricted at some point in MTG’s history. Eight of the cards in the set included new art. The set also came with a spindown life counter featuring an original design with the expansion symbol.
- Balance featuring new art
- Berserk featuring new art
- Channel featuring new art
- Gifts Ungiven
- Goblin Lackey featuring new art
- Kird Ape
- Lotus Petal
- Mystical Tutor
- Necropotence featuring new art
- Sensei's Divining Top
- Serendib Efreet featuring new art
- Strip Mine featuring new art
- Tinker featuring new art
- Brand new in original factory-sealed packaging!
- 15 Premium foil cards, including 8 with new art An exclusive spindown life counter A collector’s guide Each card has been printed using a foil process unique to the From the Vault series. The 15 cards are all printed in the current card frame
Sol Ring | Illustration by Mike Bierek
This installment’s focus was on artifacts and artifact-related cards. Nine of them had new art. The box also came with a spindown die with the expansion symbol and a collector’s guide.
Something particularly interesting about this installment is that four of its cards were on the reserved list. There used to be a loophole in the list’s policy that allowed cards on it to be reprinted as foils. Eventually enough people
complained voiced their concerns about this and the loophole was removed.
- Aether Vial featuring new art
- Black Vise featuring new art
- Isochron Scepter featuring new art
- Ivory Tower featuring new art
- Jester's Cap
- Karn, Silver Golem
- Masticore featuring new art
- Mox Diamond featuring new art
- Memory Jar
- Nevinyrral's Disk featuring new art
- Sol Ring featuring new art
- Sundering Titan
- Sword of Body and Mind
- Zuran Orb featuring new art
Progenitus | Illustration by Mike Bierek
Legendary creature cards were the focus of this edition of From the Vault. Seven of the 15 cards have new art. As with previous installments, the set came with a new spindown life counter with the symbol for the set and a collector’s guide. After getting this one, you may need to brush up on the rule a little bit.
- Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir featuring new art
- Kresh the Bloodbraided featuring new art
- Progenitus featuring new art
- Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker featuring new art
- Sun Quan, Lord of Wu
- Doran, the Siege Tower
- Cao Cao, Lord of Wei
- Captain Sisay
- Omnath, Locus of Mana
- Oona, Queen of the Fae
- Rafiq of the Many featuring new art
- Sharuum the Hegemon featuring new art
- Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
- Visara the Dreadful featuring new art
- Mikaeus, the Lunarch
Boseiju, Who Shelters All | Illustration by Ralph Horsley
This set's focus was lands and it included seven cards with new art. Some very small controversy arose around this set’s Dryad Arbor art and design because it looked a little too much like a basic Forest. Even Mark Rosewater called the design a mistake.
- Ancient Tomb
- Boseiju, Who Shelters All
- Cephalid Coliseum featuring new art
- Dryad Arbor featuring new art
- Forbidden Orchard featuring new art
- Glacial Chasm featuring new art
- Grove of the Burnwillows featuring new art
- High Market
- Maze of Ith featuring new art
- Murmuring Bosk
- Shivan Gorge featuring new art
- Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
- Windbrisk Heights
Cruel Ultimatum | Illustration by Todd Lockwood
As a first and only in this series, this product included 20 cards instead of 15. It was a celebration of Magic’s 20th anniversary and came with cards that were deeply influential during the game’s history.
All of the cards in FtV: Twenty were key parts in a premier tournament-winning deck from each of the past 20 years. The box also included a spindown die and a collector’s guide that detailed why each of the cards were so important and how they played a part in achieving victory for their decks. Eight of the cards came with new art.
- Dark Ritual
- Swords to Plowshares
- Hymn to Tourach
- Fyndhorn Elves featuring new art
- Impulse featuring new art
- Wall of Blossoms
- Thran Dynamo
- Tangle Wire featuring new art
- Fact or Fiction
- Chainer's Edict featuring new art
- Akroma's Vengeance featuring new art
- Gilded Lotus featuring new art
- Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
- Venser, Shaper Savant featuring new art
- Chameleon Colossus
- Cruel Ultimatum featuring new art
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor
- Green Sun's Zenith
- Kessig Wolf Run
- 20 Premium foil cards, including 7 with new art. An exclusive spindown life counter. A collector's guide
Wrath of God | Illustration by William Murai
- Armageddon featuring new art
- Burning of Xinye
- Cataclysm featuring new art
- Child of Alara
- Decree of Annihilation
- Firespout featuring new art
- Fracturing Gust
- Living Death featuring new art
- Martial Coup
- Rolling Earthquake
- Smokestack featuring new art
- Virtue's Ruin
- Wrath of God featuring new art
- Harness the savage power of fifteen of the most brutal Magic cards ever unleashed
Avacyn, Angel of Hope | Illustration by Jason Chan
- Akroma, Angel of Fury featuring new art
- Akroma, Angel of Wrath featuring new art
- Archangel of Strife
- Aurelia, the Warleader
- Avacyn, Angel of Hope
- Baneslayer Angel
- Entreat the Angels
- Exalted Angel featuring new art
- Iona, Shield of Emeria featuring new art
- Iridescent Angel featuring new art
- Jenara, Asura of War
- Lightning Angel
- Platinum Angel
- Serra Angel
- Tariel, Reckoner of Souls
- 15 Premium foil cards, including 5 with new art.
Tolaria West | Illustration by Khang Le
The cards from this set all represent important moments or characters in the MTG multiverse history. Three of the cards have new alternate art. FtV: Lore also included a token along with the other 15 cards.
- Beseech the Queen
- Cabal Ritual featuring new art
- Dark Depths
- Glissa, the Traitor
- Mind's Desire featuring new art
- Momir Vig, Simic Visionary featuring new art
- Near-Death Experience
- Phyrexian Processor
- Tolaria West
- Umezawa's Jitte
- 15 Premium foil cards, including 5 with new art.
Withengar Unbound | Illustration by Eric Deschamps
FtV: Transform's focus was double-faced cards. It included 13 cards with the transform mechanic and another two with the meld mechanic. Three of the cards came with new art. The idea behind this product was to showcase the different forms of transformations that have appeared in Magic.
- Archangel Avacyn / Avacyn, the Purifier
- Arguel's Blood Fast / Temple of Aclazotz
- Arlinn Kord / Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon
- Bloodline Keeper / Lord of Lineage
- Bruna, the Fading Light / Brisela, Voice of Nightmares lower half
- Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh / Chandra, Roaring Flame
- Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration featuring new art
- Elbrus, the Binding Blade / Withengar Unbound
- Garruk Relentless / Garruk, the Veil-Cursed featuring new art
- Gisela, the Broken Blade / Brisela, Voice of Nightmares upper half
- Huntmaster of the Fells / Ravager of the Fells featuring new art
- Jace, Vryn's Prodigy / Jace, Telepath Unbound
- Kytheon, Hero of Akros / Gideon, Battle-Forged
- Liliana, Heretical Healer / Liliana, Defiant Necromancer
- Nissa, Vastwood Seer / Nissa, Sage Animist
Masticore | Illustration by Steven Belledin
I think this is a tricky question considering FtV is a product that hasn’t been printed in at least four years. I think these products were always good investments thanks to the value of individual cards and how much play most of them see, at least at the time they were printed.
The print runs for these sets were very small, and they sold pretty well when they first came out. This means that finding one for a decent price can be really hard. They’re only available through reselling and that usually means huge price tags.
The biggest outlier in the FtV series is the Annihilation set. Most of its cards aren’t particularly pricey, but they also don’t see a lot of play. It’s actually the one product out of all of the From the Vault sets that you can find for a somewhat reasonable price.
It might be a good buy if you play a few of the cards in it and want them in a special foil. Or it could be a good gift if you have a friend that likes to collect MTG cards, depending on how much you like them. It’s still a pretty bad idea to buy one otherwise.
If you can even find it, let alone find it for anything less than a fortune, FtV: Relics would be the best investment by far. It has four reserved list reprints. That Mox Diamond alone can net you over $700 if you manage to sell it. And the rest of the cards are somewhere between $50 and $100, which isn’t bad at all. But FtV: Relics is almost impossible to find.
The truth is, I’m not sure I can safely say which of these is the best value besides Relics being pretty valuable. There were a ton of printing issues, some of these cards don’t see as much play as they used to (though some see more than before), and it’s just really difficult to get any From the Vaults boxes for a reasonable price.
Gifts Ungiven | Illustration by D. Alexander Gregory
I think From the Vault had a lot of potential that it didn’t take proper advantage of. Wizards focused more on making it a collection item that looked shiny when it could’ve been a really cool way to explore and present concepts, characters, lore, and other aspects of Magic in a nifty little product. I think FtV: Lore and FtV: Twenty are two of my favorites design-wise for that exact reason. Adding short guides with the story behind the cards in each set, either real-world or in-universe, would’ve been a great addition.
I don’t think it matters much anymore because From the Vault has been gone for quite a while now. I like Signature Spellbooks as its replacement. They help establish characters, and giving all of the cards character-related art is a great way to make them a collection item in a more interesting way than just foiling them.
But enough about what I think. If you were lucky enough to get one of these
except Annihilation, sorry when they first came out, do you think the purchase was worth it? Would you consider buying one nowadays? What’s your favorite out of all of these? Feel free to answer in the comments below, and as always don’t forget to check out our blog for more content like this!
That’s enough from me for now. See you in the next one!
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