New Horizons - Secret Lair Spookydrop 2023

01 Nov
by Matt Grzechnik

Fill My Cauldron with Cardboard

The October Secret Lair Series Superdrops have adopted a tradition of immersing themselves in various aspects of horror pop culture. The Spookydrop of ‘23 marks the third installment in this series and, in comparison to its forerunners, includes a limited selection of themes. A significant aspect is the inclusion of more non-magic IP through the Universes Beyond. While last year's October release began to initiate this concept with the Warhammer crossover, this year we're greeted with additions from iconic franchises such as The Evil Dead, Doctor Who, and The Princess Bride.

The wider selection of drops seems to entice individual purchases with specific preferences rather than the collective bundles available through the Secret Lair store. Given the diverse range of elements present, the option to acquire the entire collection in one go may appeal to only a limited number of collectors.

However, before we delve into the standout cards featured in the Spookydrop, there’s a significant outlier in this release. The Artist Series: John Avon introduces a long-awaited reprint of Emrakul, the Promised End. As an iconic figure among the Eldrazi Titans, this card has steadily climbed in value and has maintained its popularity in several Modern decklists. After reaching a peak price of $95 locally, it has now settled at $56. Moreover, there's considerable speculation about a potential reprint in the upcoming Modern Horizons 3 set in 2024.

Emrakul, the Promised End

The Sound of Silence

In Magic, victory or defeat can take various forms. From games that are more one-sided to those where the outcome hinges on either securing a win this turn or facing an impending loss next. When involved in such high-stakes games, players prepare their sideboards to strategically counter specific matchups, aiming to gain every possible advantage.

One card that’s seldom mainboarded but maintains a consistent presence in sideboards across many decks is Silence. With a current average price of $7.48 and three accessible printings, the Secret Lair rendition is not designed to decrease the price any further. Instead, it serves as a choice designed for deck personalization and an extra touch of flair.

Silence is currently played in a variety of decks, with the most prominent being Pioneer Simic and Modern Indomitable Creativity. This card has the ability to counter a wide array of situations or simply cut off your opponent for at least a turn, potentially leading to a game-winning advantage.


Fast Five

For once, the inclusion of lands in a Secret Lair product has actually made me happy.

However, as one might anticipate, it's for a non-basic cycle. In yet another Universes Beyond collaboration, Doctor Who: The Dalek Lands features a set of enemy-colored fast lands. Initially introduced in Kaladesh, this marks the long-awaited completion of the fast land cycle started in Scars of Mirrodin. These lands have remained untouched by reprints since their initial release, until now.

Given the growing popularity of Pioneer and their utilization in Modern, this cycle remains in high demand. These lands are favored in faster formats and are often likened to powered-down Shock lands. This presents ample opportunity for reprints, akin to what we witnessed with the allied-colored counterparts in Phyrexia: All Will Be One.

The Doctor Who-style variant of these lands is currently priced in the range of $9.80 to $12.90 on average, depending on individual popularity of the land. It's highly probable that we'll see another reprint of these lands in a more widely printed set in the future. 

Notably, Concealed Courtyard and Blooming Marsh emerge as standouts from the four pre-built Doctor Who decks. The remaining lands in this cycle will slot seamlessly into the Commander product, serving as both a flavor enhancement and power upgrade for players.

Concealed Courtyard
Blooming Marsh
Spirebluff Canal
Inspiring Vantage
Botanical Sanctum

Burn, Bury, Dismember

Keeping with the Universes Beyond theme, let's dive into some of the cards from The Evil Dead crossover. Starting with Ash, Destined Survivor - Puresteel Paladin as Puresteel Paladin. The original Puresteel holds a modest price of $2.70, while its Secret Lair counterpart is valued at $12.75; the demand for a reprint here was rather low. 

Judging from the community response to Ash, the primary issue is the selection of a non-legendary creature. This choice prevents players from building thematic EDH decks around Ash. Despite this drawback, Puresteel Paladin remains a staple in equipment-based EDH decks and Hammertime in Modern. With this printing, combined with a Colossus Hammer reprint as a box topper in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, many players might indeed welcome a fresh take on the art style for these cards.

Another notable card from this Secret Lair release is Cabin of the Dead - Field of the Dead, serving as a reprint of Field of the Dead. This is a classic example of where Secret Lairs truly excel in both functionality and flavor. Field of the Dead has remained untouched since its first appearance in Core Set 2020. As a popular staple in EDH and seeing some play in Legacy, its price has steadily increased over the years, currently averaging at $21.70, with foils closely trailing at $29.70.

The Cabin of the Dead printing, while more expensive at $27.70, and foils coming in at $47.70, has the potential to decrease the price of the original. However, this won't cause a significant hit in price, given that Secret Lair releases aren't extensive reprintings. But for any players awaiting a more accessible price point, every drop helps.

Ash, Destined Survivor - Puresteel Paladin
Cabin of the Dead - Field of the Dead

Alpha, Beta, 30th

Another card that stood out from the Spookydrop is Zombie Master from the Creepshow Secret Lair. The card itself is an oddity as, while it’s a nice addition to any Zombie deck, it’s not a must-have by any standards.

This card is particularly challenging to price due to its extensive history. It was initially printed in Alpha Edition and has seen various reprints in Beta Edition, Unlimited Edition, Summer Magic, and most recently in the 30th Anniversary Edition. Based on variation in the market, earlier copies can command prices as high as $400, but for some of the later reprints, prices drop considerably before jumping back up to the $143 mark for the 30th Anniversary Edition.

One thing is certain, the Secret Lair keeps a stable price of $20 for the regular version, with the foil variant, its first-ever foil treatment, available at $60.

Zombie Master

Finality / Descend 

In summary, the Spookydrop 2023 offers a selection of cards that may appeal to a niche audience of horror enthusiasts and those interested in products from the Universes Beyond. While not all of the Secret Lairs provide a significant reduction in price when compared to their original printings, the variety they provide to the MTG world is undoubtedly a welcomed addition, particularly from a collector's perspective.

Join me again next time on New Horizons where we pillage The Lost Caverns of Ixalan.

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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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