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Howling Mine MTG card art by Ralph Horsley

Howling Mine | Illustration by Ralph Horsley

You may have heard these two, seemingly simple, words floating around the web, in your local game store, or amongst your friends: Secret Lair. And you may have wondered, “What does that even mean?”

Secret Lairs are limited edition bundles of three to seven Magic cards with a variety of themes. Wizards explains it like this:

“Secret Lair is a Magic: The Gathering brand unlike anything in the history of the game. It’s a love letter for Magic fans, with eye-popping designs and never-before-seen art styles.”

Blake Rasmussen, WotC

What makes them exciting is that each bundle, or “drop,” can be announced at any time, or at the drop of a hat. Let’s talk about that.

How Secret Lairs Work

Secret Lair logo

Once a Secret Lair becomes available, you’re able to purchase the drop for 24 hours only. After that, it’s gone forever. The first announcement for Secret Lairs came on September 25, 2019. In it, WotC let us know that the first Secret Lairs would become available on the December 2, 2019.

It’s important to note that in each 24-hour window, each Lair has an unlimited print run, meaning that everybody who wants one will be able to purchase one. However, there is a limit of 10 orders per person for each Lair. They’re truly meant to be bought for your personal use rather than be re-sold on the secondary market. Looking at some of the drops released so far, I can’t imagine not wanting most of them in my decks. You’ll be able to see what I mean in a little bit.

As of yet, there hasn’t been any talk of stopping the surprise drops. In fact, the literal quote from that first announcement said:

“We don’t know exactly how this whole thing is going to go, but we’re excited. So, while we’ve been focused on making the launch a success, we’re already working on plans for how this continues into 2020 and beyond.”

Mark Heggen, WotC

So, you can expect the drops to continue for quite some time as far as WotC is concerned.

The next question is, of course: where can you get these coveted Secret Lairs? All of that is coming up right now.

Lair Delve MTG card art by Jason A. Engle

Lair Delve | Illustration by Jason A. Engle

Where to Buy Secret Lairs

The Secret Lair drops are only available online, with the exception of the Ultimate Edition, which we’ll get to later on. Wizards has set up an official site for you to check out. You’re able to sign up for the newsletter on there as well, making sure you’re always in the know when a new drop becomes available.

As I’ve mentioned before, a drop is only on sale for 24 hours once it starts to sell. But what if you’ve missed a drop and still want one? Things get a little bit harder from there. You have to to go the secondary market.

Luckily, there are some options for you to find both complete drops and individual cards:

Interestingly enough, they’re basically not available on Amazon, perhaps due to some sort of licensing or resale agreement.

More or less, what you see on eBay is what “the price” is for these now that they’re out in the wild:

Don’t be surprised if the prices are higher on these sites than what you would’ve spent on the original drops. These are coveted cards and the fact that there’s limited availability makes them even more desirable, so the price goes up. So be prepared to pay a market price instead of the “MSRP.”

If you do like some of these, it’s best to sign up for the newsletter so you’ll never miss a drop of all that Secret Lair goodness.

Quest for Ancient Secrets MTG card art by Mike Bierek

Quest for Ancient Secrets | Illustration by Mike Bierek

What’s in the Box??

The word on everybody’s lips is: Boxy. Or rather, what’s in them? What do you actually get when you buy a Secret Lair? Here’s a rundown of what you can typically expect in each box:

  • The revealed cards for that particular drop
  • An MTG Arena code for the cards from that drop
  • An MTG Arena code for a sleeve-style from that drop
  • An MTG Online code for either a sleeve or card-style or both

Then there are the alt-art planeswalkers from War of the Spark. For a number of Secret Lairs, there was a randomized glass-pane planeswalker included from the WAR set. There’s a chance that WotC will do that or a different promo again. But only Wizards knows when they’ll throw in an extra gift, so you’ll have to wait and see (and hope) when a new drop is announced.

Lairwatch Giant MTG card art by Warren Mahy

Lairwatch Giant | Illustration by Warren Mahy

Ultimate Edition vs “Normal” Secret Lairs

On March 13th, 2020, Wizards announced an “Ultimate Edition” Secret Lair drop. This is the first of its kind and it’s described as a “different line” that falls under the Secret Lair brand. Or, in their own words:

“Ultimate Edition is something of a different product line under the Secret Lair umbrella with the same sensibility but a different distribution model.”

Blake Rasmussen, WotC

They’re being secretive as to whether or not there’ll be more of these, but I believe you can bet on another one in the future.

The main difference between Secret Lairs and the Ultimate Edition is that this time it’s not available online (from Wotc). It’s only sold at your local game store. Wizards has made the product specifically to support the local game stores, which is definitely a good thing since so many products have been kept from hitting their shelves.

I’m sure many are happy to be able to get this product in their LGS. There is a snag for you as a buyer though: each store only gets a limited amount. So, like Secret Lairs, there aren’t many available. Follow the link if you want to find your nearest store to contact them about getting your hands on the Ultimate Edition.

“What’s in them,” you ask? We’ll get to that up next!

Delver of Secrets MTG card art by Nils Hamm

Delver of Secrets | Illustration by Nils Hamm

The Complete List of Secret Lairs

Here, you’ll find a complete list of all the various different Secret Lairs that have been released so far.

I’ve gathered all the info on what’s available on them right here, including the name of the drop, card numbers, release date, price, contents, and the official description. I’ve also collected the actual cards and some fun info about each Secret Lair plus the Ultimate Edition as our big finale.

First up though, the list of drops so far:

Secret Lairs: Cards and Art

Bitterblossom Dreams

Bitterblossom Dreams Secret Lair Drop

“Faeries emerge from a field of flowers, elegant and breathtaking. You are not the first to be enchanted by their beauty—nor are you the last they usher to an early grave. This drop contains one Bitterblossom and four distinct Faerie Rogue tokens, all of which form an intoxicating panorama by artist Lena Richards.”

Did you know that this is the first art Lena Richards has done for MTG? The art is stunning and is reminiscent of the reprint of Vendilion Clique’s Fearies.

Eldraine Wonderland

Eldraine Wonderland Secret Lair Drop

“Snow falls softly on the enchanting plane of Eldraine. Blanketed in white, this world of tales and adventure feels just a little more magical than before. Inject a little Happily Ever After into your deck with these unique snow lands by Alayna Danner.”

Did you know artist Alayna Danner’s first art for MTG was printed in Hour of Devastation? She has done a lot of land-art, which is exquisite. No wonder Wizards asked her to do the Secret Layer art for these wonderful lands.

Restless in Peace

Restless in Peace Secret Lair Drop

“The crows are calling, screeching a story of life taken and life returned. These are the tools of your opponents’ demise, and they have a tale to tell. Whether you’re looking to add a little flair to your deck or obtain a unique piece of Magic art, this drop illustrated by Dan Mumford is sure to add life to your collection.”

Did you know Dan Mumford has done a lot of album covers for artists? This Secret Lair is his first venture in MTG art, but his range is as massive as his art is awesome.

Seeing Visions

Seeing Visions Secret Lair Drop

“Open your third eye with this stunning playset of alternate-art Serum Visions. From street art to abstract, each one of these cards is trippier than the last. Mind-bending artists Kristina Collantes, DXTR, Lauren YS, and Jaime A. Zuverza ensure every scry feels much deeper than 2.”

All 4 arts are not only significant different from each other, but also in terms of ‘classic’ mtg art. All the artists really tried to give this serum a different, almost psychedelic, vision. Pun intended.

<explosion sounds>

explosion sounds Secret Lair Drop

“King. Sniper. Soldier. Brawler. Baby. If you have a problem… if explosions will solve it… and if you can draw them… maybe you can cast… these guys. With brand new art by Mike Uziel, these five cards will be the perfect fit in your deck, on your wall, or scattered around the Smoldering Crater they leave behind.”

Did you know that Mike Uziel is also the artist for another card in another Secret Lair? Study the art and give it a guess. Secret Lair are also his first endeavor in MTG art.

Kaleidoscope Killers

Kaleidoscope Secret Lair Drop

“Update your deck with a throwback design, featuring these quinto-chromatic champions of Commander. For the Magic player whose favorite color is “All of the Above,” artist Justine Jones has created a full spectrum of gorgeous art, sure to make your friends’ jaws drop as their life drops to 0.”

Did you know that this Secret Lair speaks especially to Commander players? The featured cards are all well-liked 5-color generals for the format.

OMG KITTIES!

OMGKITTIES Secret Lair Drop

“Meow meow meow meow meow meow. Meow meow, meow meow meow meow meow. Meow meow Andrea Radeck, Erica Williams, Jakob Eirich, Allison Carl. Meow meow. Meeeow!”

Did you know that of the four artists only Andrea Radeck has done more art for MTG before? Both hers, Jakob Eirich, Erica Williams, and Allison Carl’s art form a cohesive whole for this kitty frenzy bundle of bonanza cuteness.

Year of the Rat

Year of the Rat Secret Lair Drop

“Get ready to ring in the Year of the Rat! Known for being quick-witted and resourceful, the clever rat is the first of the zodiac cycle. We’re celebrating the 2020 Lunar New Year with eight reveling rodents, featuring art by JungSang, Fiona Hsieh, Kisung Koh, and Jenn Ravenna. These adorable vermin will infest your deck, your collection, and your heart.”

Did you know that this is the biggest Secret Lair in terms of volume as of the writing of this article? This is due to 5 copies of Rat Colony, for obvious reasons. The lair was made in celebration of the Chinese Astrology Sign’s referral to 2020; the year of the rat.

Theros Stargazing, Volume I (Heliod)

Theros Stargazing, Volume I Heliod Secret Lair Drop

“The light of Nyx shines bright in the Theros night sky, where each constellation tells a story. Still, no story is as important as that of the gods. This drop holds your favorite legendary creatures at their celestial best—a must have for any True Believer. Show your devotion to the sun, the harvest, and victory with beautiful alt-art constellation gods by Jason A. Engle.”

Did you know artist Jason A. Engle has been creating art for MTG since 2010? The first set where he was featured was in Worldwake, the second set of the Zendikar block.

Theros Stargazing, Volume II (Thassa)

Theros Stargazing, Volume II Thassa Secret Lair Drop

“Each constellation tells a story that spans centuries, from the defeat of the titans to the threat of the Reveler. This drop holds your favorite legendary creatures at their celestial best—a must have for any True Believer. Express your devotion to the sea, the city, and the horizon with beautiful alt-art constellation gods by Jason A. Engle.“

These five Secret Lairs were released two weeks after Theros: Beyond Death came out and they are an ode to the Gods of Theros, featured in the previous Theros block back in 2013.

Theros Stargazing, Volume III (Erebos)

Theros Stargazing, Volume III Erebos Secret Lair Drop

“Some gods hide in the shadows, hoping to keep their stories secret: countless struggles, manipulations, and intrigues. This drop holds your favorite legendary creatures at their celestial best—a must have for any True Believer. Prove your devotion to death, deception, and what lies beyond with beautiful alt-art constellation gods by Jason A. Engle.“

All Gods featured in each set all have the main color of the original God in common. Erebos’ companions all share the color black and the others all feature a different color that ties them together.

Theros Stargazing, Volume IV (Purphoros)

Theros Stargazing, Volume IV Purphoros Secret Lair Drop

“While some stories go unrecorded, none go unseen. For when you call upon the gods, you make their legend your own. This drop holds your favorite legendary creatures at their celestial best—a must have for any True Believer. Declare your devotion to the forge, storms, and slaughter with beautiful alt-art constellation gods by Jason A. Engle.”

Did you know Purphoros, God of the Forge used to be one of the cheapest original Theros Gods? This was obviously before everyone discovered how bonkers this card is and it shot up to around $20, where it’s been ever since.

Theros Stargazing, Volume V (Nylea)

Theros Stargazing, Volume V Nylea Secret Lair Drop

“To you, calling upon the gods is just a game. While some of them may agree, you are nonetheless creating history. This drop holds your favorite legendary creatures at their celestial best—a must have for any True Believer. Offer your devotion to the hunt, debauchery, and deadly poison with beautiful alt-art constellation gods by Jason A. Engle.”

Did you know Nylea is based after the Greek God Artemis? She was the real-life God of the Hunt in Greek mythology. The world of Theros draws a lot of inspiration from the ancient culture of Greece and its beliefs.

International Women’s Day

International Women's Day Secret Lair Drop

“Wizards of the Coast is proud to celebrate International Women’s Day—honoring the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world. We’ve selected a few of the most powerful and influential women from the history of Magic to receive new, borderless art by some of our finest illustrators: Mila Pesic, Livia Prima, Cynthia Sheppard, Anna Steinbauer, and Magali Villeneuve.”

Did you know this was the first Secret Lair to break the $39.99 high-point? It was with good reason, though. For each Lair sold, Wizards donated $25 to the World Association Of Girl Guides And Girl Scouts, in honor of International Woman’s Day.

Thalia – Beyond the Helvault

Thalia - Beyond the Helvault Secret Lair Drop

“Protector. Rebel. Heir. Throughout her illustrious career, Thalia’s fate has been intertwined with Innistrad’s. This drop highlights Thalia’s most pivotal events: destroying the Helvault, confronting the council, joining with the Geist of Saint Traft, and battling Brisela. To capture these moments, we called on Magali Villeneuve and Johannes Voss—the two artists who know Thalia best.”

Did you know Magali Villeneuve and Johannes Voss are the artists responsible for 3 of the 5 different MTG cards that feature either Thalia herself or her name? Both their styles are outstanding and perfect to make Thalia, rightly, shine bright.

The Godzilla Lands

Godzilla Lands Secret Lair Drop

“The King of Monsters has arrived! Watch Godzilla stomp through five gorgeous landscapes. Keep an eye out for special appearances by fan-favorite monsters: Mothra, Rodan, and Hedorah! This drop includes five full-art basic lands in Japanese with illustrations by Jonas De Ro, Lucas Graciano, Lars Grant-West, Jenn Ravenna, and Grzegorz Rutkowski.”

Did you know these lands are not only an Homage to Godzilla, King of Monsters, but to the entire Godzilla universe that started with the first Godzilla film back in 1954? Also, Godzilla is a metaphor for the danger of nuclear power and what can go wrong when such power is unleashed.

Summer Superdrop

Summer Superdrop Bundle Secret Lair Drop

“Introducing the first-ever (second, technically) Secret Lair Superdrop! This bundle is perfect for Secret Lair superfans who don’t want to miss a single card. Get all five summer drops in one place and add some Secret Lair style to your decks or collection. Since it’s so nice out, we’re feeling extra generous. Each Summer Superdrop Bundle comes with a randomly chosen Enemy Fetch Land! Robots, tattoos, lightning, birds, alternate-universe Planeswalkers… the only thing this summer celebration is missing is you!”

Did you know that when you buy the Summer Superdrop you get one randomized fetch land from the Secret Lair: Ultimate Edition drop as a bonus? If there was ever an incentive to buy all five drops in one go, this is it.

Full Sleeves: The Tattoo Pack

Full Sleeves Tattoo Pack Secret Lair Drop

“We sat some classic cards down in the chair, and they emerged with some rad new ink. Before you decide to purchase, your mother would like us to remind you that getting these cards is a permanent decision and that you need to consider that they will look awesome in your decks or collection forever. Tattoo master Josh Howard lent his needle to create these incredible traditional flash sheet designs—a brand-new look for Magic.”

Did you know that Josh Howard, who created the art for these cards, is an actual tattoo artist? The art-style is also a first for MTG. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll notice that all the cards featured in this lair all have something to do with getting a tattoo. A very cool set of cards!

Can You Feel with a Heart of Steel?

Can You Feel with a Heart of Steel Secret Lair Drop

“ATTENTION MEAT CREATURES: THE ROBOT UPRISING HAS ARRIVED, AND WE HAVE TAKEN CONTROL OF SECRETLAIR.EXE. FROM NOW ON, ALL DROPS WILL CELEBRATE THE GLORY AND POWER OF MACHINES. ADDITIONALLY, WE WILL BE ADDING A SIXTH— beeeeeeow We were… we were able to unplug them in time. But we couldn’t stop them from creating this cool robot-themed drop featuring foil full-art cards by Bad Flip Productions, Inc., Danny Miller, and Hector Ortiz. In unrelated news, Project Robobeebles will be discontinued at this time.”

Did you know that the owner of WotC, Hasbro, also owns the rights to the Transformers? This explains why Walking Balista can look so incredibly awesome without a worry in the world that someone might ping him down for copyright infringement.

The Path Not Traveled

The Path Not Traveled Secret Lair Drop

“Being a Planeswalker comes with heavy responsibilities. What would happen if our Planeswalkers decided to pack things up and do something else with their lives—or had never sparked at all? This drop explores alternate fates for Ajani, Domri, Tamiyo, and Vraska. We’ve entrusted their lives to the steady hands of Yeong-Hao Han, Chris Rallis, David Rapoza, and Mike Uziel. Maybe in yet another universe, these Planeswalkers are collecting cards of you!”

Do you also think that the name of this Lair refers to the fact that these cards are not often used by MTG players? Or perhaps that their story-arc was a little bit unconventional? For Domri it is already the end, but maybe this foreshadows something about the upcoming path of Ajani, Tamiyo, and Vraska?

Ornithological Studies

Ornithological Studies Secret Lair Drop

“Of all of Magic’s fictional creatures, birds are far and away the most popular. First invented by Richard Garfield in 1987, birds eventually made their way into Alpha via the powerful “Birds of Paradise” card. We thought it would be cool to envision what birds would look like if they existed in real life, so we commissioned some naturalistic, classical illustrations from Ovidio Cartagena and Allen Douglas.”

Did you know that the original art for Birds of Paradise was actually meant to be a land? The birds were so prominent and striking, however, that they decided to use it for the card it is now renowned for instead.

Mountain, Go

Mountain, Go Secret Lair Drop

This drop celebrates the quintessential red spell: the humble and efficient Lightning Bolt. Whether it’s destroying your opponent’s mana dork on turn one or simply being hurled into their face, Lightning Bolt does it all, as long as “all” can be done with three direct damage. Each piece shows a different creature getting totally wrecked by the cruel and unforgiving power of nature (out of respect for the feelings of Ornithological Studies, birds will be getting a pass). These full-art foil cards feature electrifying, brand-new art by Noah Bradley, Brigitte Roka, Robbie Trevino, and Alexis Ziritt.”

These words are almost as feared as ‘Island, Go’ and they can’t be more iconic, just like the art. Again, there are some cool new arts for this MTG classic, making sure that it never gets old. Lightning strikes again if you will.

Secret Lair: Ultimate Edition

Secret Lair Ultimate Edition

“Ultimate Edition is a collection of the five Zendikar enemy colored fetch lands last seen in Modern Masters 2017, featuring art from five of Magic’s premier artists set in five popular Magic planes. The lands are packaged in a commemorative box that can be used for display. In contrast to the Drop Series, Ultimate Edition isn’t sold through the webshop of Wizards of the Coast, doesn’t have an availability window, and isn’t printed to demand. Copies are limited — WPN stores were announced to typically receive no more than 10 copies of Ultimate Edition.”

Did you know that all these alt-arts were deliberately placed on a different plane from throughout magic’s history? See if you can guess which ones. Also, rumor has it that this won’t be the last time you’ll see the enemy fetches this year, how exciting is that!

April Fools

April Fools Secret Lair Drop

“Ultimate Edition is a collection of the five Zendikar enemy colored fetch lands last seen in Modern Masters 2017, featuring art from five of Magic’s premier artists set in five popular Magic planes. The lands are packaged in a commemorative box that can be used for display. In contrast to the Drop Series, Ultimate Edition isn’t sold through the webshop of Wizards of the Coast, doesn’t have an availability window, and isn’t printed to demand.[2] Copies are limited — WPN stores were announced to typically receive no more than 10 copies of Ultimate Edition.”

Did you know this was a pretty elaborate April fool’s joke on Wizard’s part? They actually commissioned the artists for this *fake* Secret Lair to create new art for the cards featured, only to be able to use them in the article and make the joke that much more believable. They are also allotted actual card numbers in the Secret Lair universe. So who knows? Maybe they’ll see print one day.

Let’s Talk About Secret Lairs

The question of why Wizards would be creating something like the Secret Lairs is fairly simple in my opinion. I believe that they do it for a few different reasons:

  1. For the love of the game

Altered and different versions of cards has always been a great way for players to pimp their decks and it will always be something that’s desired. This product speaks directly at what players want to put into their decks if they’ve got the chance. Not every Lair needs to be for you, but I can’t imagine that not a single one tickles your fancy from what has already been dropped. Even if it’s just a little bit.

  1. Gives an outlet for ideas

The Lairs provide Wizards a platform where they can create a set of cards that aren’t able to be released in regular sets or other products. It gives them the room to experiment and give their players something that would otherwise be lost in the creative brains of Wizards HQ.

  1. It brings in the monies

These products are a great way to sell something quickly and neatly. Limited products have been cherished for decades which has clearly been proven by the success of the Lairs.

The flipside to the Lairs is the way they’re distributed. It’s all through Wizard’s own channels and revenue is deposited directly into them. This causes tension between them and the local game stores that would love to bring these products to their customers so they, in turn, can profit from the income as well.

This, I believe, is the biggest downside of the Lairs, although I can understand where they’re coming from. By doing it this way they can guarantee that when you buy the product within the allotted time that you’ll pay the exact price it is meant to go for and don’t have to worry about mark-ups or third-party inflation. This is something that you’ll undoubtedly see with the Ultimate Edition fetch lands. The MSRP should be around $165… Yeah… Not likely.

Drowner of Secrets MTG card art by Rebecca Guay

Drowner of Secrets | Illustration by Rebecca Guay

Time to Speculate

What else can you expect from the Secret Lairs? Is there anything you’d like to see? Feel free to drop a comment of your ideas and desires!

Personally, I think it’s hard to guess since they’re so out there and all over the place. But they do seem to do something around holidays and new sets, so my guesses would be:

  • Secret Lair related to Zendikar Rising, maybe Eldrazi
  • Thanksgiving-themed Secret Lair
  • Commander-specific Secret Lair
  • Halloween-themed Secret Lair

There are no guarantees, but I’d like to see a couple of Lairs related to some of these themes. Halloween especially could be fantastic, there are so many amazing cards that could fit in there. All Hallow’s Eve? Chains of Mephistopheles? Turn into a Pumpkin? I could go for any of those.

Rakshasa's Secret MTG card art by Magali Villeneuve

Rakshasa’s Secret | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Should You Buy It?

The final question to the Lairs, if you’re not yet certain if you should invest in them, is: are they worth it? The answer can be divided two ways.

The “normal” Secret Lairs are definitely worth investing in. Especially if you’ve got one or several decks that can play the cards in a Lair and you’ve got an affinity with the cards. If you’re concerned with the value, these cards will only keep rising in price as time goes on, so there’s no worry there. Besides, it is mostly about owning some cool cards with amazing art.

The Ultimate Edition I’m not so fond of. This has nothing to do with the LGS, which should get some great products to sell. It mostly has to do with Wizards not giving any MSRP anymore, which leaves the field wide open for pumping the prices. Which is what’s been happening.

Yes, it happened before, but with an MSRP you can at the very least set a guideline that most stores will abide by. Now it’s just a mess in my opinion. So, if you LOVE the art and just can’t get them out of your head, yes, buy them. Otherwise, go and get some original ones. They’re cheaper combined than this product is on its own.

Salvager of Secrets MTG card art by Lars Grant-West

Salvager of Secrets | Illustration by Lars Grant-West

Wrap Up That Lair

With that, we’ve come to the end. May our time together today have been instructional as well as a fun read that brought something you didn’t know to the equation that is MTG. Let’s hope that Wizards keeps giving us these fantastic little Lairs to play with and collect.

As always, feel free to head on over to our blog if you want to read more. If you like our content and want to show your support, you can head on over to our Patreon site as well. We greatly appreciate your support and thank you for it.

That’s all for now. Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll see you in the next one!

Secret Base MTG card art by Matt Gaser

Secret Base | Illustration by Matt Gaser

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