Many Magic the Gathering players ask, is the Secret Lair Drop Series worth buying? Well, I'm not the man that usually announces such things, but I have been tasked with answering the question anyway. These are premium products with a premium distribution experience that brings a lot of what we know about Magic reprints into question. Let's dive in!
The Secret Lair Drop Series has an entire article here devoted to pricing, distribution method, and contents, but for the sake of this article I want to summarize some key points. There are 7 Secret Lairs and they all have varying amounts of cards and tokens, some are foil, some cost $29.99 and others cost $39.99, and they will all be available for purchase for only one day. They're available all together for a discounted price but otherwise it is implied they will only be available in this form once. They're unique and collectable but not necessarily high value boxes.
The set of 7 is not for everyone. I collect a lot of premium Magic cards and I'm really not enthralled with all 7 Secret Lairs to the point that I would venture to purchase the whole set for myself. It is, however, available at a discounted rate compared to the individual drops. The whole set costs $199.99 which is about $30 cheaper than the individual boxes combined. This averages out to approximately a $4 discount on the $30 Secret Lairs and a $5 discount on the $40 Secret Lairs. I don't think this should be surprising as this seems to be targeted at you and a group of friends buying in together. I'm personally planning to purchase this set but only plan to keep the Kaleidoscope Killers and Seeing Visions. The offerings are pretty diverse and even if you don't find someone that really wants everything in the set, it's probably better to purchase if you are even interested in 6 of the 7. I'm not going to break down the value of the individual Secret Lairs here but this is by far the most economical option. If you think the Secret Lairs are a good deal or really just want the cards inside, this bundle will get you the most bang for your buck. If you really dislike 2 or more of the Secret Lairs then I would probably advise you purchase the individual Secret Lairs you are interested in.
The first Secret Lair we're going to look at is the sparsest but probably the most straight forward. Bitterblossom Dreams is quite literally a full art non-foil Bitterblossom and 4 full art non-foil exclusive faerie rogue tokens. This is about as close as Wizards of the Coast has ever been to selling singles outright but at the same time it's hard not to appreciate the value here. Bitterblossom is a card that usually retails for anywhere between $40 and $50 depending on edition. Right now, they're pretty clearly dropping as people wish to unload them before this $29.99 Secret Lair is released. In essence, this is "free." Ostensibly the card contained is worth equal or more the exact value of the purchase price. It's the kind of box that if you were really waiting for a reprint of Bitterblossom you will be thrilled with but if this is the 7th Secret Lair you need to pay for to get the set then you're not unhappy. The Secret Lairs are print to demand (more or less) so I wouldn't recommend buying the maximum 10 copies with the intentions of reselling them. For the average player, this is a good deal.
Eldraine Wonderland is the next Secret Lair and it is in my opinion, the most confusing of the bunch. It includes 5 (one of each) standard size art foil snow-covered basic land. They have new and unique art set in Eldraine during winter and are beautifully done. I just don't understand the appeal of this box to most players since they just printed full art foil snow-covered basic lands. This Secret Lair is $30 which averages $6 per land compared approximately $5 per full art foil snow-covered basic from Modern Horizons seems a bit silly. In fact, the foil Modern Horizons lands are available for $3-4 each with the exception of Island. Many promo lands are not particularly expensive unless they're incredibly old. Due to the fact that these are snow-covered basics means you can't even use them in Standard or Limited and as a result I think the demand will be greatly diminished. My honest opinion is that this Secret Lair is not worth buying unless you really like the lands. It doesn't have the value or the exclusivity to make it worthwhile. That isn't to say if you don't like the lands don't buy it. But if you were on the fence, I have a feeling this will often be the "free" Secret Lair that people will try to sell from the set of 7.
Restless in Peace definitely has a target audience. This Secret Lair contains a Golgari Thug, Life from the Loam, and Bloodghast all with new art in the standard non-foil card frame. There is some new stuff going on here. Bloodghast is the most important as this is the first time it has been featured with new art. Previous printings in Zendikar and Iconic Masters share the same art. It's usually about $10, but this promo should fetch a considerable amount more. Life from the Loam has a few different art choices including a box topper promo. As a result, I don't expect this to be the most "premium" version but it should be worth as much as the cheapest copy (which currently is about $9). Golgari Thug has two different art styles, so, much like Life from the Loam, I expect it to be pretty inexpensive. I expect this to be only a dollar or two. At the end of the day, the retail value of the box is about $22 and the sale price is $29.99. It's not a lot of ground to make up for cards that are pretty unique but it's possible the new Bloodghast ends up being worth the same as the whole thing. I think this is a pretty defensible buy if you wanted the cards inside or were a really big fan of the art. There are still cheaper versions of these cards available but I think the small price delta makes the exclusivity more desirable.
Seeing Visions is one of my favorites. It includes 4 foil standard art serum visions all with different and new art. These art choices are definitely a huge deviation from what a normal Magic card would feature which I think makes them particularly desirable. A good analogous would be the San Diego ComicCon promos which typically feature pretty big deviations from the normal Magic cards (ex. black on black walkers, zombie walkers, Egyptian hieroglyphic art, etc) and typically carry a pretty big premium over the normal versions. The SDCC promos are far more exclusive than this box but the playability of a lot of the cards in those sets pales in comparison to something like Serum Visions. The Arena promo Serum Visions is $15 (and significantly more than the FNM promo) and is what I would use as a measuring stick. If you assume these Serum Visions will end up around the cost of an exclusive foil you're looking at $60 worth of Serum Visions for $29.99. That is unlikely to be the case as these are print to demand but I don't think it will be very easy to find these for under $10 in a few years giving the box a theoretical value of $40. If you wanted the cheapest copies of Serum Visions you should look to non-foil set copies but this is definitely a nice amount of bling for your buck. I'm excited to purchase this Secret Lair.
"explosion sounds" includes a lot of cards I don't think I'd want to play personally but they're really well done. It includes 5 non-foil standard art goblins including Goblin Bushwhacker, Goblin Sharpshooter, Goblin King, Goblin Lackey, and Goblin Piledriver. These cards are not particularly valuable but the art alone makes them a home run in my book. If you want to have the most unique goblins on the block I think it's really hard to find something better than this. That being said, they're not completely worthless. Goblin Lackey is $10 and Goblin Sharpshooter is $5. At $29.99 you're paying a bit for the art of these cards. I don't think I would buy it as investment opportunity but if you want to bling out your Goblins deck I don't foresee a cooler version of this being available. As many previously, buying the cards individually is cheaper than the Secret Lair.
Kaleidoscope Killers was the last revealed and I think we all know why. This Secret Lair contains Sliver Overlord, Reaper King, and The Ur-Dragon with new art in a standard size foil frame. If you're not a Commander fanatic you may not know that all of these are reasonably pricey cards. Sliver Overlord has only been printed twice in pretty low print run sets with the same art. It was previously available for about $30. Reaper King was only available in one printing from Shadowmoor for about $11. The Ur-Dragon is a card first and only printed in Commander 2017 and could be found for about $8. At the end of the day you end up with more theoretical value than the $39.99 that this Secret Lair costs but the reality is actually much more. I quoted you the cheapest available of these cards which doesn't include a foil Reaper King. The only available copy of foil Reaper King I see online is $70. As a result, I think this Secret Lair has the most immediate value and the most long term value as all 3 of these creatures can become a lot better Commanders with the printing of new cards. Since they're all tribal commanders all it takes is a few more scarecrows, dragons, or slivers to make them really popular again. If you really wanted to buy one of these Secret Lairs to keep in your closet for a few years, this would be my best guess at the best Secret Lair in 5 years. I think the price point and inclusions really hit home and make this Secret Lair a slam dunk.
OMG Kitties! is exactly what you expect it to be. It contains 5 foil standard frame alternate art cats and 2 different full art cat tokens. The cards included are not what I would consider to be criminally underappreciated cats but the art is cute and that's what you're paying the most for. At $39.99 I can see a lot of people wanting to buy this but only for themselves. I don't think the cards inside have a tremendously high ceiling and as a result if you're not super into cats then I would probably recommend passing on it. It's a solid buy for people that love cats but the cat tribe is not nearly as popular or supported as a lot of other Magic tribes and as a result these cards don't have a ton of future potential. The individual cards are significantly cheaper than this Secret Lair so I only recommend buying it if you can't live without the cutest Arahbo.
I'd like to sum this all up with answering the first question. Is it worth buying these? And my overall response is, well it depends on if you want what's inside. I think that booster packs are often not worth purchasing because you never know what is inside (which I understand is part of the allure). These are set sealed products where you are guaranteed to get what you want if what you want is inside. I think there are two standouts among the rest in terms of reprint equity but a lot of them require you to specifically desire the alternate art to make it worth it. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of time to decide because the full set of 7 goes on sale Monday and each individual Secret Lair will be offered throughout the week. I hope this gives you some idea on what you're getting yourself into and I hope you really enjoy any of the Secret Lairs you may end up purchasing.