We are at the end of 2023, and with the end comes the holiday season. Regardless of the holiday you celebrate, it’s the time of year to give gifts, and what’s a better gift to give than the gift of Secret Lairs?
Yeah, I’m Secret Lair obsessed, and yes, I’ve already ordered the entire superdrop, but maybe you aren’t as obsessed as I am. Maybe you want to figure out what Lair has the best value, or maybe you want to take a look at some singles you want later down the line. Either way, we’re taking a walk down the blingy road and looking at the Lairs from the 2023 Secretversary Drop.
Secret Lair X Tomb Raider
Starting out, we have the Tomb Raider drop. Full disclosure: I teeter back and forth on how I feel about Universes Beyond. Tomb Raider is one IP I never expected to see in Magic. I weirdly feel neutral about it. I don’t hate it and I don’t love it, but that’s fine. What we care about are the cards.
This Lair contains five reprints, one token, and one mechanically unique card. What I love about this Lair is the value. We have a Search for Azcanta, Academy Ruins, and a Shadowspear reprint, and I am obsessed with it. I am particularly obsessed with the Shadowspear reprint, but that’s just the Commander player in me.
Looking at the unique card, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, I quite like the design. It feels very fresh and intrigues me (and I haven’t had my interest piqued by a legendary creature in a few months). The ability is absolutely flavorful and just feels true to the character. In fact, this entire Lair feels like a flavor win to me. Personally, I find this Lair to be a good pickup if you’re chasing some reprints or if you are simply a fan of the IP.
Secret Lair X Jurassic World: Life Breaks Free
I feel as though I’m in the minority when I say that I enjoy this Lair a lot in terms of visuals. This drop is peak Jurassic Park aesthetic, and I love it a lot for that alone. While I’ll probably only use one of the cards in this drop in my Sisay deck, I feel as though this Lair is the perfect pickup for the Dinosaur kindred player! Polyraptor, Rampaging Ferocidon, Wayward Swordtooth, Regisaur Alpha, and Etali, Primal Storm are all insanely good pieces for Dino decks. In all honesty, there isn’t a bad card in the bunch. If you like Dinosaurs, this is the Lair for you.
Now to address the art choices. I saw a lot of people complaining about the fact that the Etali (a Spinosaurus) was depicted as a T. rex, the Regisaur (a T. rex) was depicted as a Spinosaurus, and that the Swordtooth was a Triceratops (something about the fact that it’s an herbivore).
In the grand scheme of things, these are very small details that don’t bother me, but I can see why the design team didn’t swap things around. Having the Etali be a Spinosaurus is boring because that’s what it already is. The spirit of Secret Lairs is to break the rules when it comes to art and have fun with it. If it were depicted that way, I feel as though people would say it was boring. Regardless of my opinion, I still think this Lair is a good one, art and all.
Secret Lair X Jurassic World: Dr. Ian Malcolm
We all know that this is a meme Lair. Personally, I love it! You will never see me complaining about seeing Jeff Goldblum in Magic because I love him. That being said, the cards do seem a bit scattered in this one. This is a drop full of reprints (and a token). The art definitely matches the vibe of each card. Personally, my favorites are the Tasha’s Hideous Laughter and the Tasigur, the Golden Fang, because these are iconic and just meme-y moments in the Jurassic World (wish I could say Park) franchise.
Value-wise, this Lair does seem to be all over the place, but the art more than makes up for that.
Tales of the Time Stoppers
Blue players are rejoicing for this Lair because it’s all extra turns. To be honest, I never expected to see a Lair like this. Maybe that’s because of how people feel about extra turns, but who’s to say? Personally, this Lair is interesting for me because this now opens up weird extra-turn shenanigans for my Sisay deck. Some of my friends texted me this drop, begging me to not run these spells in Sisay (I remain unconvinced), but I digress.
What excites me most about this drop is that it finally gives us a nonfoil printing of Nexus of Fate! And it’s actually legible (unlike some of the other The Lord of the Rings holiday cards). Personally, I’m excited to put the pretty Time Reversal in my The Locust God list. All in all, I find this Lair worth it solely for the Nexus of Fate. I’m super excited about it.
I feel a bit iffy about this drop. While I absolutely love the art, why are there only three cards? I love Lairs with more cards, and this one having so few hurts me.
While the cards are few, the reprint value is phenomenal. This Lair includes Mycosynth Golem and Mycosynth Lattice. I am obsessed, as I run both of these in my Alibou, Ancient Witness deck, and I’ve been clamoring for foils ever since I built the deck. Yeah, three cards seem like nothing, but the value of it makes up for it in my opinion (also we have a little Memnarch cameo in it).
Through the Wormhole
I’m already gonna say that this Lair is a 10/10 for me. Full stop. I’m biased; I love me a galaxy foil, and this art is absolutely insane. It kind of reminds me of the Alien movies. I admire this Lair for every aesthetic reason known to man.
I also love this Lair because it’s a Commander player’s dream. It has every staple you need: Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Command Tower, Lightning Greaves, and Thought Vessel. This is the starter pack, and I love it so much. Now, is it a value-focused Lair? Not really, but the art, foil treatment, and card selection make it a must-buy for me.
Showcase: The Lost Caverns of Ixalan
I know art is subjective, but I really don’t like this showcase treatment. I just hate treatments that have that yellowy scroll color to them, and the art just doesn’t spark joy.
Past that, this Lair feels very okay to me. If you like kindred decks, this is a pickup for you because it covers all of the Ixalan creature types. It has Merfolk, Vampires, and Pirates. It may be missing Dinosaurs, but the Jurassic World Lair makes up for that.
Do I love this Lair? No. But do I think it’s a decent pickup? Depends on your play style.
I hate that this section is so brief because we all know what I’m going to say. Five lands is not enough for one Lair. Maybe if it was a playset of each basic, I would change my tune, but we haven’t reached that point yet.
I absolutely adore the art. It’s whimsical and delicate, but this one fully depends on if you think that outweighs the value.
Last, we have the Gift Wrapped Lair. This art style is one of my favorite in the entire drop. It’s so cute and geometric, and it just makes me happy all around. The card choice is a bit spread out, but there are zero complaints from me.
I love the Homeward Path and Distant Melody, but what makes this Lair sparkle for me is Moment’s Peace. We haven’t seen this card since Odyssey (World Championship decks don’t count), and it is a welcome reprint. As a foil nerd, I’m happy to get a foil copy of this, but no matter what, this is such a snag in my opinion.
A Cardboard Christmas
I know Secret Lairs are an acquired taste, but they are 10000% in my flavor profile. I love that we have such a sparkling superdrop to round out the year, and with an anniversary no less. Let me know if you’re snagging any of the Lairs or if you are waiting for singles. Personally, I love this drop, but I’d love to know what y’all think. Happy holidays, deckbuilders!