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The MTG Fallout Secret Lair has a nasty $50 surprise

An extra rare card in the MTG Fallout Secret Lairs may fill some fans with excitement, but it's had the exact opposite effect on us.

MTG Fallout Secret Lair - artwork showing Vault Boy leaving a Vault

There are three MTG Fallout Secret Lairs coming out, announced by Wizards of the Coast on April 4. As usual they’re a mixed bag, cool art across the board with a combination of valuable stax reprints and a fair number of duds.

But this time there’s an added extra: each of the Fallout Secret Lairs has a bonus card. It could be a Wastes or a Codex Shredder; however, there’s also a slim chance that you open up an awesome Fallout-themed version of the $50 card Mana Vault.

Great, right? An extra chance for something awesome that might incentivise you to pick up this MTG Secret Lair if you were previously on the fence.

MTG Fallout Secret Lair card Mana Vault

Well, not really, no. The problem is, this adds the lucky dip element – a double-edged sword that affects all trading card games – back into a product that was specifically designed to avoid it. It put the gambling lottery feel back into a high cost product that has never really had it before.

In past years, Secret Lair cards have been a way for players who are prepared to dig a little deeper into their pockets to receive cards with cool artwork for a premium price. You were paying a lot, but at least you always knew what you were getting.

MTG Fallout Secret Lair Vault Boy featuring various Stax pieces

If random chance and uncertainty gets reintroduced to this product, then what exactly differentiates it from Collector Boosters? Well one difference is we have no idea what the odds of opening a Mana Vault even are.

In some ways, perhaps not that much has actually changed, as Secret Lairs have always had bonus cards. But generally they’ve just been some random MTG Sliver. They were a bonus, as their name suggests, not a primary reason to pick up the pack.

MTG Fallout Secret Lair S.P.E.C.I.A.L, with various cards

That’s been eroded away a bit before now. Wizards previously has included Persistent Petitioners or Shadowborn Apostles as special bonus cards that very rarely show up – and these cards have become very valuable on the secondary market. To our knowledge, though, this is the first time a bonus card has been a key part of the marketing around a Secret Lair.

That feels like a marked shift. With these new Fallout Secret Lairs, especially the S.P.E.C.I.A.L and Points of Interest drops, the bonus Mana Vault is much more shiny and exciting than any of the cards actually guaranteed to be in there. I really hope this is not the new normal: low-value Secret Lairs with a small chance at opening an exciting card.

MTG Fallout Secret Lair point of interest, featuring various land cards

It feels like Wizards is stooping to less consumer friendly tactics to try and make Secret Lairs sell. Already this year, the company has dropped the print-to-demand approach which was a much-celebrated feature of the product, going back to a limited run that will have fans rushing to make a purchase. Marketing suggesting players “Fight FOMO with Secret Lair” has left a bad taste in the mouth for many.

Now, Wizards is falling back on the same tried and true tactics it uses for the rest of its products, relying on enticing rarities. You’ve seen serialized cards, you’ve searched for the One Ring, now try Secret Lairs but with the good cards missing.

For more things Magic, check out the MTG release schedule, or see what freebies you can get with these MTG Arena codes.