Insider: The Effect of Secret Lairs

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Since WoTC announced the Secret Lair series late last year, I began to actively focus on selling more than speculation on cards. The ability for WoTC to print singles on demand is a game-changer. I realize that they could reprint anything that isn't on the Reserved List already, but at least we typically were given hard dates on when to expect most products, be they supplemental or Standard sets.

The Ultimate Masters set was the first one that kind of blindsided us, but I had figured it was more of a one-time thing than a lead into this new mentality of print what they want when they want. While, I hate to be "doom and gloom", my feeling as I begin writing this article is one of pessimism. However, I feel it's important to actually have data to back up one's perspective, so I began researching the effect that these Secret Lair drops have had on the various cards reprinted in them. We actually have a pretty decent list of cards from all the currently released Secret Lair's which include:

December 2019 Release

January 2020 Release

February 2020 Release

March 2020 Release

That represents 15 products and a total of 48 reprints. For the data, I chose the first printing that had both a foil and nonfoil option and then the most recent printing that had a foil and nonfoil option. I choose these parameters because I wanted to see if there was any effect on the original printing and to see if there was any effect on more recent printings, which typically don't hold the same kinds of values that the original ones do. I gathered the following data points:

  • Original Print Price on Release Date
  • Original Print Price Now
  • Original Foil Price on Release Date
  • Original Foil Price Now
  • Most Recent Printing Price on Release Date
  • Most Recent Foil Printing Price on Release Date

A few important points to note;

  • There were actually a lot of cards that had only 1 printing total so some categories have a smaller data set.
  • For original print, I used the first print where a foil option was also available. This is important because it may have slightly skewed the data with regards to Goblin King whose first foil printing was 7th edition which has a strong collectability factor to it.
  • I did not gather data points for any products printed after February as I felt there simply wasn't enough time for the market to react to make that data meaningful in any way.

Overall Results

  • Overall, the original print versions of the cards had a minor drop of only 3.15% on average.
  • The original foil print versions had a slightly higher drop of 6.11%, though admittedly lower than expected.
  • The most recent print and most recent foil printing prices did show a more significant drop of 12.93% and 14.17% respectfully.

The Stargazing Secret Lairs had a lot of cards in them and they were all released 2/14/20, so we have barely had them out for a month. I bring this up because I had concerns that the 1-month time frame wasn't enough for the market to react and the data set may be skewed due to these cards.

December Secret Lair Results

  • The overall original print versions of the December Secret Lairs only was a drop of 8.99% or 3x higher than the overall results.
  • The original foil print versions of the December Secret Lairs only were only 5.57% which is roughly the same as the overall results.
  • The most recent print data was actually the same as ALL of the cards with a recent print run that had a foil option as well were in the December Secret Lair category.


Honestly, I was quite surprised by the data. I expected all versions of the cards to take a bigger hit than they have so far. I also checked just the cards worth that were originally more than $10 and the overall drops were pretty close to the average drop percent, which was even more surprising as the more expensive a card is the more it tends to drop with a reprint.

As I scroll through Facebook MTG buy/sell groups, I do see a lot of people trying to move many of the Secret Lair cards and the prices are often somewhat aggressive which leads me to believe that a lot of these were purchased as speculation targets and we will likely continue to see a trickle of these cards keep entering the market as speculators look to liquidate.

I will also be honest and admit that I actually do regret not buying the Stargazing collection for $150 as the Theros block foil Gods all have maintained most of their value with the largest drop being Athreos, God of Passage at 22.64%, whereas, most others have remained steady at 10% or less. I might even end up buying a few of the cheaper Stargazing Gods as the steadiness of the original print foils makes me believe that there is plenty of demand for these cards.

I have not purchased a single set of the Secret Lair series, as I didn't feel like they were a good investment, and I expect far worse price drops.

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