At the beginning of the week, Wizards of the Coast detailed Magic: The Gathering's Secret Lair, a new brand that groups reprints into thematic sets and makes those sets available for individual purchase for a single day. At this time, Wizards has outlined seven MTG Secret Lair products, and they feature some desirable reprints with "eye-popping designs and never-before-seen art styles." Essentially, the Secret Lair brand gives players the opportunity to purchase singles directly from Wizards of the Coast for a limited time, which may mark the beginning of a new era for MTG.
Without question, purchasing singles is the most efficient way to assemble a desired Magic: The Gathering deck, and buying singles is something that has always been done through third-party vendors. If a player wished to add a copy of Bitterblossom to their Modern deck, for example, they would either need to trade for the card or buy it directly from a local game store or online retailer. However, the Secret Lair brand now means that there is yet another option, and it is one that may be desirable to many players.
While the ability to purchase a single directly from Wizards of the Coast is an interesting prospect in and of itself, it is the way that Secret Lair brushes up against the secondary market that makes it truly compelling. More specifically, Secret Lair products more or less require WotC to assign specific values to singles, and this type of valuation is something that has typically been done through the ebb and flow of supply and demand within the secondary market.
To use the previous example, the Magic: The Gathering secondary market has determined that Bitterblossom is a card worth around $40 to $45 at the time of writing. However, the "Bitterblossom Dreams" Secret Lair, which contains one full-art Bitterblossom and four faerie rogue tokens, has Wizards valuing a single copy of Bitterblossom at $29.99. Indeed, all seven of the Secret Lair products see Wizards valuing singles differently, and at a price that is lower, than the secondary market, and this establishes an interesting precedent.
Essentially, this suggests that Wizards could, at any time, sell a single of its choosing, so long as the reserved list is not preventing the developer from reprinting said single, at a price it has selected independently of the secondary market. This is likely to be a very exciting prospect to players that would like the opportunity to save on some of Magic: The Gathering's most-expensive cards, such as the fetch lands, but it may be a point of some concern for retailers.
Indeed, vendors' investments could be devalued by Wizards selling singles for less, though making cards more accessible often has the effect of increasing player interest and the demand for the reprints themselves. This phenomenon can be seen with reprint-heavy Magic: The Gathering sets, where the set's chase reprints do not always bring the value of the card down due to an influx of new players wanting said card for their decks.
Additionally, Secret Lair products have the big caveat of being available for such a limited amount of time. While Wizards of the Coast indicates that there is not a cap on supply, the fact that a Secret Lair reprint can only be purchased from the developer for one day means that players that miss them will still need to turn to more traditional outlets for buying these singles. This is may mean that unless an extremely high number of Secret Lair products are purchased the long-term effects on rare MTG cards will be minimal.
However, for players that do keep up with the Secret Lair series, the ability to buy specific singles at a discount directly from Wizards could be huge. With the right singles selected, and enticing values assigned, Secret Lair products could single-handedly give players access to MTG formats that they hitherto could not afford to competitively participate in. While a decrease in the value of individual cards could adversely affect certain retailers, more players playing Magic is an idea that most fans could get behind, and Secret Lair has the power to facilitate exactly that.
The Magic: The Gathering Throne of Eldraine expansion set is available now.