Not-So Secret: The Product Wizards Has Printed Way Too Much Of

Are you a Quiet Speculation member?

If not, now is a perfect time to join up! Our powerful tools, breaking-news analysis, and exclusive Discord channel will make sure you stay up to date and ahead of the curve.

Writer’s Note: According to my count, this week’s column marks my 600th Magic article! I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for nearly 12 years. Thank you all for continuing to read and appreciate my weekly content at Quiet Speculation!

“There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing.”

This quote must be pinned up all over Wizards of the Coast’s office, because they tend to create a brilliant, new product, sell through it, and then repeat the process numerous times over.

Remember when a masters set like Modern Masters was limited print run, difficult to find, and expensive to purchase? Holding booster boxes of the original set was easy money… until we saw a printing of Modern Masters 2, Modern Masters 3, Eternal Masters, Masters 25, etc. The concept of Masterpieces in sets helped fuel booster box sales... until they became a little too commonplace.

This week, I want to talk briefly about another concept that was hugely successful upon launch, but has since been done to excess: the Secret Lair series.

How many of these things actually exist? Are there any that grip my interest, and are possibly worth holding onto? Let’s dive in and find out!

Wait…There are How Many?!

The first thing I did as I began researching the Secret Lair series was looked up how many have been printed so far. My jaw dropped as I saw the final count, now totaling over 1000 cards!

By TCGplayer’s count, there are in fact over 1200 cards printed as part of a Secret Lair series of some kind. This is astronomically high—I was expecting the number to be like 100, but apparently there are many more of these than I could have possibly imagined!

Inspired by the Unhinged card R&D's Secret Lair, these products are Wizards’s foray into selling individual cards directly to consumers, thus enabling them to tap into the secondary market. I know there’s significant cost involved in developing these—they must pay artists to generate (gorgeous) artwork, develop the artwork files, and print the cards. However, once all this is said and done, they are left with minimal operating costs as they churn the printing presses and sell just a few individual cards for upwards of $30-$40.

In other words, their margins on these must be fantastic, a takeaway consistent with the fact that they continue to make so many of them!

I made an amusing observation about the collector card numbers associated with this product. It looks like when the earlier Secret Lairs came out (e.g., Bitterblossom Dreams and Eldraine Wonderland, in 2019), the collector numbers were three digits. Just three years later, however, a fourth digit had to be introduced, as Wizards of the Coast knew they would be exceeding the 1,000 mark.

By the end of the decade, I bet these have five digits.

Finding the Most Valuable Drops

Much like previously overdone product themes, the Secret Lair drop series has proliferated beyond what would be considered “rare.” At this point, with a few noteworthy exceptions, these products are fairly easy to track down on the secondary market.

At first, the special nature of this product may have commanded a hefty premium. But nowadays a particular Secret Lair’s price point depends on the contents within. I tried to search through TCGplayer and eBay to identify the most valuable Secret Lair drops, but the reality is the numbers are all over the place, and the product is so spread out that it’s difficult to be sure I’ve got all the data I need.

For example, a sort by price on TCGplayer indicates the OMG KITTIES! product is the most expensive, regularly selling for north of $200.

Okay, that seems reasonable; everyone loves a cute kitten.

Then I sorted by sold price on eBay and discovered there are other products, such as the From Cute to Brute Commander deck and The World’s Bundliest Bundle, that sell for even more.

Part of my confusion, I think, is that there is a difference between the traditional Secret Lair Drop and the Secret Lair Commander Series. This makes it even more complicated to search for particular sets or cards from this series, and I’m thoroughly confused by all the variants. To stay on top of all these products, you really have to be a major Secret Lair fan!

As for individual singles, MTG Stocks (a reflection of TCGplayer) shows the serial numbered Shivan Dragon Secret Lair drop to be the most valuable, with a market price of $2400! EBay corroborates this data point.

This Secret Lair product isn’t the same as the others, though—I believe this Shivan Dragon special was only given out at the large convention in Philadelphia some months ago. I don’t think this was a product that could be purchased directly from Wizards of the Coast’s website like their other Secret Lair drops.

That's just another layer mystifying the product lineup.  

Majority vs. Minority

Navigating to the Secret Lair page on MTG Stocks and sorting by price will sort every card from most to least expensive. Doing this reveals the same result as observed above: the numbered Shivan Dragon rises to the top.

Following this card, the Secret Lair printing of Jace, the Mind Sculptor appears to be second-most expensive, with a market price of over $600. Number three on the list hits a paltry 10% of that, the Kodama's Reach card selling for around $60.

Talk about a steep drop!

Granted, there are some foil-only Secret Lair drops that can only be found when sorting by foil market price. Shadowborn Apostle falls into this category, with some variants (that’s right, there are multiple) selling for $100-$200. Even including these foils, only a couple are worth significant money.

In fact, as far as individual singles go, the vast majority are relatively inexpensive. Sure, there are plenty over $30 and still even more north of $20. Then there are pages and pages of Secret Lair cards worth $3-$20. Consider, for instance, the Secret Lair printing of Goblin Settler.

This card launched at a $10 price point, which is not too surprising. When brand new, these cards all carry a certain allure to them for their special artwork and exclusive nature. Once the secondary market gets ahold of them, however, market forces of supply and demand take over, and prices adjust rapidly. These can now be purchased for just a couple bucks.

Many of the Secret Lair singles follow a similar price trajectory. They may start strong at first, but if a card has lower demand and a lower power level, it’s very difficult for it to maintain the higher price point. Since there are tons of these “special” Secret Lair printings, any individual one isn’t really all that unique.

Again, it seems Wizards of the Coast may have printed too much of a good thing.

Wrapping It Up

What started out as a rarified group of cards, obtainable only for a limited time and from a certain website, has once again been overdone. I know I’m not the target audience for these cards, so my opinion is biased. (I do appreciate some of the creative artwork that accompanies some of these Secret Lair printings.)

Unfortunately, the novelty has lost its luster. Much like other special cards printed by Wizards of the Coast, these Secret Lair drops have become so numerous that it’s become impossible to keep track of them all. This means that many will be lost in the shuffle, leading to abysmal prices on those deemed most underwhelming.

If you’re in the market for such cards, then perhaps this excess is a boon—many such cards will become dirt cheap. For example, die-hard Rebecca Guay fans may rejoice that her beautifully done Muddle the Mixture has plummeted from $20 at release to a mere $2 on the secondary market.

It’s unlikely these fall much further, and at some point, they could gradually climb in price. But when it comes to speculating, my recommendation is to focus on the Secret Lair cards that resonate with you most, and ignore the financial side of the equation. As long as you’re focusing on some of the less-powerful cards, you can probably take your time and pick these up after their price settles lower, just like in the graph above.

I want to believe that these will become more collectible (read: valuable) in time. It may be worth dabbling here or there, but you’ll have to pick your spots very carefully. I suspect the vast majority of these cards will remain worth just a couple bucks for years to come. With how frequently new Secret Lair sets are printed, there will likely be many more of these over the coming years.

Do you have an all-time favorite Secret Lair drop? Or maybe one of those great artworks? Let me know in the comments!

Avatar photo

Sigmund Ausfresser

Sigmund first started playing Magic when Visions was the newest set, back in 1997. Things were simpler back then. After playing casual Magic for about ten years, he tried his hand at competitive play. It took about two years before Sigmund starting taking down drafts. Since then, he moved his focus towards Legacy and MTG finance. Now that he's married and works full-time, Sigmund enjoys the game by reading up on trends and using this knowledge in buying/selling cards.

View More By Sigmund Ausfresser

Posted in Finance, Free Finance, MTG Stocks, Promos, Secret LairTagged , , , ,

Have you joined the Quiet Speculation Discord?

If you haven't, you're leaving value on the table! Join our community of experts, enthusiasts, entertainers, and educators and enjoy exclusive podcasts, questions asked and answered, trades, sales, and everything else Discord has to offer.

Want to create content with Quiet Speculation?

All you need to succeed is a passion for Magic: The Gathering, and the ability to write coherently. Share your knowledge of MTG and how you leverage it to win games, get value from your cards – or even turn a profit.

Join the conversation

Want Prices?

Browse thousands of prices with the first and most comprehensive MTG Finance tool around.

Trader Tools lists both buylist and retail prices for every MTG card, going back a decade.

Quiet Speculation