New Horizons - Secret Lair Summer Superdrop 2023

19 Jul
by Matt Grzechnik

The Secret Lair Summer Superdrop 2023 unveils a collection of seven enigmatic Secret Lairs, leaving many enthusiasts with a multitude of unanswered questions.

Among these offerings is a solitary Artist Series featuring ten land cards crafted in collaboration with the lyrics of The Mountain Goats. Additionally, five regular Secret Lairs complete the ensemble. Upon closer examination, and in comparison to previous Secret Lair releases, some inconsistencies become apparent.

One notable observation pertains to the variable number of basic lands included in the Superdrop. Previous Secret Lairs have featured anywhere from one to five basic lands, such as the full-text lands or the astrology lands. This fluctuation raises questions regarding the reasoning behind the selection of the quantity.

Furthermore, the inclusion of "More Adventures in Middle-earth," which comprises four distinct cards distributed among commons and uncommons, must be addressed. The decision to incorporate these cards has sparked widespread discussion within the community, predominantly leaning toward a negative assessment of the value proposition. While the artwork employed in this series aims to evoke nostalgia akin to the Saturday Morning D&D collection of 2021, the choice of specific cards has faced criticism for lacking sufficient quality or desirability.

Conversely, several cards featured in the Superdrop exemplify a more fitting embodiment of the Secret Lair concept. This selection includes cards initially released before the introduction of foil versions, a prospect difficult to fathom given the plethora of artistic options now available upon release. Introducing these old cards in foil for the first time is undoubtedly a welcome addition to the game, as it brings novelty and excitement.

Gandalf, Friend of the Shire

 Let's take a moment to indulge in nostalgia for enthusiasts of Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated rendition of Tolkien's tale. In the broader context of the game, Gandalf, Friend of the Shire, is a relatively modest card with limited power. Based on personal experience from the prerelease and some drafts of the set, Gandalf possesses several distinctive qualities uncommon for a card of its mana cost.

However, when considering the wider scope of eternal formats, the card's adoption rate remains relatively low. It finds little favor in Modern, where other selected Lord of the Rings cards enjoy widespread play. While it does see some use in EDH, particularly those decks focused on the Tempting mechanic, the pricing of Gandalf accurately reflects its utility and power level.

Currently, regular copies of Gandalf are valued at $0.20, while foil versions are priced at $0.25. However, a notable disparity arises when examining the graph for the Secret Lair. The market price remains steady at $20 for regular copies and $31 for foil versions, but the daily averages are consistently increasing. This upward trend has now reached approximately $70, with no indications of the market price on TCGPlayer slowing down anytime soon.

On a related note, the closest comparable product in terms of pricing that comes to mind is Rick, Steadfast Leader

It’s worth mentioning that the upcoming reprint of the Walking Dead cards within the game's universe may also impact the price point. Consequently, it’s reasonable to expect some stabilization and even a potential decline in Gandalf's price as these products become more widely available.

Waste Not

The Waste Not card will be a valuable addition to a Secret Lair collection. Originally featured in Magic 2015 (M15) and later reprinted in Commander 2016, Waste Not initially held a modest price. However, its popularity has grown steadily over the past three years, resulting in a current average price of $11, with a market value of $25 for the new variant. It’s become a staple inclusion in most strategies involving discarding cards in the EDH format. It’s also seen some minor play in Pioneer.

Regarding the Secret Lair set 'Death is Temporary, Metal is Forever,' all of the cards featured in it, including Waste Not, are excellent additions to the Nekusar, the Mindrazer EDH deck. It's worth noting that Nekusar himself is also included in this product, which raises the question of whether we can anticipate more frequent releases of EDH-focused Secret Lair packages, aside from the full decks that have previously been offered. Considering the diminishing accessibility of certain cards in the format over time, this idea holds considerable merit. For instance, combining Zedruu the Greathearted with Collective Restraint would make for an enjoyable pairing.

Goblin Lackey

Lastly, let's discuss Goblin Lackey, which was originally introduced in the Urza's Saga set when foil cards were not yet common. With a current average value of $18, it stands as the most expensive card in the Goblin & Squabblin' package. The card has been printed in foil format as part of the From the Vault: Exiled series. It also appeared in a previous Secret Lair release, but in non-foil form. 

While Goblin Lackey sees limited play in Legacy Goblins decks, its high price primarily stems from its scarcity resulting from a lack of widespread reprints in regular or supplementary sets. Consequently, the card's value has been steadily increasing over the past few years. The unique and efficient effect of Goblin Lackey, coupled with its usefulness in Goblin decks, justifies its current pricing. It’s likely we’ll continue to see demand for this card. Given that Goblins are a popular archetype, there are ample opportunities to lower its price point through future reprints. Considering the average price of Secret Lair products is around $29 for regular versions and $38 for the foil versions, the inclusion of Goblin Lackey alone contributes significantly to the total cost of the entire product. 

Gandalf, Friend of the Shire
Waste Not
Goblin Lackey (1311)

Conclusion

Making a direct comparison between the current release and the previous two Superdrops seems somewhat unfair. While there are areas in which this release could have been improved, or certain elements could have been better suited elsewhere, there are also some intriguing directions taken with small thematic packages that have the potential to be valuable additions in the long term. It remains to be seen whether this approach will be implemented, resulting in future Secret Lairs directly targeting EDH players. Furthermore, the direct sale will continue until August 27th, giving us ample time to observe price fluctuations and gain a better understanding of the market.  

Join me in the upcoming edition of New Horizons, where we’ll analyze and distinguish between the bulk cards and essential staples in Commander Masters.

Check out these other articles:

A Penny Saved, A Bauble Earned by Ryan Cole

Why'd That Go Up? by Jason Alt

Hidden Gems - All Aboard the Faerie Train by Adam Berg

Matt Grzechnik
Matt Grzechnik

Matt Grzechnik started playing Magic with the release of Dragon's Maze. Since then he has tried and experimented with all of the formats before discovering his love for EDH and Pauper. Piloting the same Jund deck for the last 10 years, he now tries to both understand and break Sealed as a format.


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