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Which Fall 2023 Secret Lair Should You Get?

The Fall 2023 Secret Lair Super Drop was just announced and frankly put, it's a real stinker when it comes to value. To break it down further, lets look at the foil and non-foil costs for the cards in each drop.

Before that, let's talk methods. I did a mass entry on TCG Player and selected for the cheapest printing with condition going down to moderately played. The packages were selected as a Direct Package for TCG Player and the value doesn't include shipping. I did this for both Foil and Non-foil options. Artist Series: Kev Walker

This includes one copy each of the following cards: 1x Faeburrow Elder

1x Carnage Tyrant

1x Fleshbag Marauder

1x It That Betrays

The foil cost to buy these cards is $79.91, propped up by the only foil printing of It That Betrays being ~$65. For $39.99, this seems like good value. The non-foil fares worse at a value $16.23. At a cost of $29.99 +S&H/Tax, this isn't a good purchase unless you really wanted the new arts.

Keep Partying Hard, Shred Harder Than You Previously Thought Possible

This includes the following cards:

1x Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools

1x Godo, Bandit Warlord

1x Jeska, Thrice Reborn

1x Vial Smasher the Fierce

The foil drop would cost $22.78. At a cost of $39.99, this doesn't seem worth it unless you really want this new art. The non-foil is a bit tricker. The cost would be $18.69. However, there is not a non-foil printing of Vial Smasher, only the C16 foil and the Commander Legends Etched foil versions. This would represent the first non-foil printing, so there might be some value there.

Magic: The Baseballing

This includes the following cards:

1x Ajani Goldmane

1x Jace Beleren

1x Liliana Vess

1x Chandra Nalaar

1x Garruk Wildspeaker

The foil drop would cost $25.15.

The non-foil would cost $18.69.

These look cool, but this would be another one to avoid unless you really want the arts. One last thought is that they need a proof reader when mentioning lore on the Secret Lair page. Garruk is not part of the Gatewatch, so mentioning him in that context made me cry in Vorthos.

Now on VHS!

This drop includes one of the following cards:

1x Rewind

1x Food Chain

1x Rampant Growth

1x The First Sliver

The foil cost of this drop is a whopping $153.15 mostly held up by the Modern Horizons 1 printing of The First Sliver coming in at ~$105. The foil etched retro frame foil comes in at a median of $51.91 whereas the regular foil for the retro frame is $59.00. So at $39.99, this drop is definitely worth the cost. The non-foil also packs a punch at $72.60 again bolstered by The First Sliver. Given the current Sliver Hype, this would be a good one to flip or get some new art.

Absolute Annihilation

This includes the following cards:

1x Oppression

1x Abrade

1x Mass Hysteria

1x Terminate

The foil cost for this is a staggering $315. This is almost entirely due to Oppression just have one foil printing in 7th edition coming in at ~$273 for a MP copy. Mass Hysteria is also of value at ~$40 for a foil single printing in Mirrodin. However, these prices will change as Oppression was already announced as one of the bonus enchantments in Wilds of Eldraine. The current foil median is ~$12 for this printing. Taking that into account, the adjusted price would be ~$54. Still worth the value due to Mass Hysteria only having a single printing. The non-foil prices are clearer at a cost of $22.46.

Buggin' Out

The final lair includes the following cards:

1x Eldritch Evolution

1x Giant Adephage

1x Noxious Revival

1x Grist, the Hunger Tide

1x Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest

The foil cost would be $122.56 due almost entirely to Noxious Revival having a single foil printing in New Phyrexia at a value of $77 for a lightly played copy. Eldritch Evolution, Grist, and Mazirek are >$10 for the foils and Giant Adephage doesn't have a foil printing. Seems like a solid value for the foil version.

The non-foil cost is $23.57.

What is the purpose of the Secret Lair Drops?

One drop that I didn't discuss the value of is the Featuring: Gary Baseman drop which includes one of each basic land. Given the low value of these cards, the value would be dependent entirely on the intrinsic value of the new art. The arts on these lands are indeed stunning, but given that you'd need 15+ of each of these, the price for just one of each doesn't seem justified based on the finances. So how do we discuss the value of such a drop? It helps to solidify the purpose of the Secret Lair series. Is it to give cool art? Is it a vehicle for needed reprints as has been mentioned in off-the-cuff comments on streams? Is it intended to make WotC and by extension Hasbro money? All of these could be arguments for and against the Secret Lair series. So where should MTG players come down on this? In my opinion, even if the financial value isn't there, if you like the art, then it might be worth getting. Likewise, if your favorite artist does a drop and you want to support them, that's a good reason to get the drop.

Final Thoughts

While this drop wasn't nearly as egregious with the lack of value on both the financial and art side of things (looking at you More Adventures in Middle-earth™ with your poor value AND poorly done screenshots from the 80's cartoon), it does bring up an interesting philosophical discussion of art versus value. For me as a paper boomer, some of these arts and designs aren't my favorite. I like being able to read what a card does without having to look it up. I'll likely get the VHS drop but skip out on the others, even the foil versions. I'm not a fan of modern foils generally speaking, though I do like the etched foil for commanders and the old foiling pre-10th edition.

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