In its nearly three year history, Secret Lair has become a key area of interest for Magic: the Gathering’s corporate owner, Wizards of the Coast, representing the company’s attempt to capture some of the secondary market revenue previously exclusive to local game stores and individuals looking to recoup on their hobby.
However, to not completely intrude on the current game store-centric ecosystem, as well as to justify its existence from a marketing/branding perspective, Wizards of the Coast could not simply sell individual Magic cards. Instead, the company commissions new artwork in more exotic styles than typical and adopted the “drop” model born of innovative DTC e-commerce brands in the late 2010s as a lucrative and risk-averse to toy with print-on-demand or limited print-run products.
As each “drop” is limited, either by quantity or time — the latter being the case for most Secret Lair releases — one of the key sales drivers associated with the product is a sense of FOMO, or “fear of missing out”, as once the sales window closes for each drop, there is a promise the printing will end. This is further amplified with Secret Lair with the inclusion of a mystery bonus card featured in each set, not revealed in any marketing ahead of time. These cards, while variable in their impact, have represented many of the most expensive and desired cards from Secret Lair drops over the last few years, and thus are of particular interest to Magic players.
Having just been sent out starting this week in North America, we finally know what the bonus cards are for the Secret Lair Summer Superdrop of 2023. This list is exhaustive as of reports up to Friday, September 8th, but will be updated if and when additional super-rare bonus cards reveal themselves.
Featuring: the Mountain Goats, a set with 10 extended-art Mountains created in partnership with John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats (the band) unsurprisingly includes Mountain Goat as its bonus card, with art by the founding member of the Mountain Goats himself!
The controversial More Adventures in Middle Earth, featuring commons and uncommons from the recent The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth expansion dressed up with art from Ralph Bakshi’s 1970s animated take on The Lord of the Rings, includes yet another mid-draft pick for its bonus card: Gríma Wormtongue. Interestingly, this version of the card is the best yet, adding an extra power to the 3-drop in what is almost certainly an error.
As with most Secret Lair drops in 2023, the bonus cards for 4 of the releases – Death Is Temporary, Metal Is Forever, Goblin & Squabblin‘, Bad to the Bones, and The Stars Gaze Back – all feature extended-art Sliver creatures. While it remains to be seen if new versions of Shadowborn Apostle or a similar card will appear at low frequency instead of Slivers for these four sets, it’s more likely than not to happen based on past drops.
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