Wizards somehow broke the same promise twice

New Secret Lair Drop Makes Everybody Angry

Secret Lair MTG x The Walking Dead

Cool for some, immersion-breaking for others (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

The new MTG crossover with The Walking Dead TV show is currently available for only a week and, on top of being expensive and hard to get in many parts of the world, bafflingly contains mechanically unique cards in black border. Needless to say, the community is absolutely furious.

If you’re an avid Magic player and/or a savvy EarlyGame reader, you might have noticed a little trend: premium Magic products generally make people upset. We’ve reported exorbitant $100 booster packs and $200 box of just five, non-foil cards in the past. This time, the community is angrier than ever, because the latest Secret Lair drop manages to break not one, but two promises that Wizards have made in the past.

What’s In The Box?

The Walking Dead is a new experiment from wizards. It is meant to tie-in a popular TV show with Magic in a similar way to the Ikoria-Godzilla collab that was surprisingly well received.

Inside the luxurious black box, you’ll find:

  • 1x Foil Full-Art Daryl, Hunter of Walkers
  • 1x Foil Full-Art Glenn, the Voice of Calm
  • 1x Foil Full-Art Michonne, Ruthless Survivor
  • 1x Foil Full-Art Negan, the Cold-Blooded
  • 1x Foil Full-Art Rick, Steadfast Leader
  • 5x Different Foil Walker Tokens
  • 1x Foil Treasure Token

In addition, there is 1 single-use code for one copy of each of the cards to use inside MTGA.

The pack is available exclusively from Wizards and goes for $49.99/£49.99/€54.99. It is only available this week (October 4-12) and then it will be gone forever. And we do mean forever.

Contents, Secret Lair MTG x The Walking Dead

Well, at least this time it has foils (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

So What’s The Big Deal?

Five of the cards are unique. Mechanically unique. They can only be purchased in this product, in this very limited time frame, and then they’re gone. That means that if one of these Legendary creatures becomes a staple in Commander, Vintage, or Legacy, there will be way too few of it to go around and we’ll be probably looking at secondary market prices of upwards of $200.

If that happens, Wizards won’t be able to simply reprint those cards, because this would require another IP licensing deal with show creators AMC, which is extremely unlikely to happen.

Mark Rosewater took to Twitter to confirm that if any of those cards become playable, they will be able to reprint it under a different name and following Magic lore, but this was not enough to calm angry players, who ask the question why was this allowed to happen in the first place.

Not One But Two Broken Promises

You probably remember the Nexus of Fate fiasco, when a super-powerful card was only available in limited quantities as a buy-a-box promo and not inside the actual packs. Since then, Rosewater made a promise that no mechanically unique cards will be offered outside of expansions. Oops, looks like they don’t intend to keep that one.

To add even more frustration, the Secret Lair line of products was advertised as a visually unique reprint series featuring nothing but old cards that are normally available to buy elsewhere. Well, that’s no longer the case.

Nalathni Dragon, Secret Lair MTG x The Walking Dead

Nalathni Dragon. The artwork is not exactly flattering… (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

The Reserved List Grows

We will probably explore the fascinating Reserved List in a dedicated article, but in case you’re unfamiliar, here’s the short story: back in the day, Wizards wanted to please collectors by making a promise that they will never reprint certain cards. These include the iconic Black Lotus, the Commander staple Gaea’s Cradle, but also some random junk that nobody plays.

While no cards printed after the 90s are bound by the Reserved List, special circumstances like an IP deal with another company, or cards illustrated by artists who no longer work for Wizards, effectively guarantee that those same versions of the cards will never be reprinted, essentially putting them in an unofficial Reserved List. And that sucks.

Lastly, we need to mention the infamous Nalathni Dragon - a janky creature card printed all the way back in 1994 that wasn’t included in a set but given away to DragonCon attendees. This absolutely infuriated collectors (who at the time wanted to own one of every single Magic card, because there were just a few hundred!) and Wizards faced some serious backlash.

So, why are we repeating the same mistakes decades later? And who’s still into The Walking Dead in 2020, anyway?

For regular MTGA content, analysis, and opinions, keep reading EarlyGame!

Nikola Petrov

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