This is an initiative in collaboration with Wizards of the Coast.
Maybe being practically a newbie to Magic: The Gathering make me see your oddities with better eyes. I can come to understand that those who have been there almost from the beginning, and know the narrative of the letters and the lore of their characters by heart, put their hands to their heads, but it freaks me out every time I see Something out of the ordinary in this game.
Those of you who have already had a good season following my beginnings in Magic and MTG Arena you will know very well how much I enjoy their crazy things, from the Un-Set with joke cards to the story behind the Black Lotus. Today I want to tell you about his worst kept secret: Secret lair.
An open door to experimentation
Started in 2019, Secret lair is a hymn to one of the elements of Magic that I have highlighted most during my Magic Chronicles: the art of the cards. If the letters of One set They should serve to take the mechanics to a new level without taking into account what would be considered adequate in a normal set, this is its counterpart on a visual level.
Letters that completely break with the idea we have of Magic and that allow creators to experience the art of cards to the fullest. From comic-style drawings to landscapes painted by famous artists, from letters that are all text to others that completely break with the visual scheme that we have of normal cardboard.
Secret lair is what happens when Magic gets rid of all filters. When you are looking to throw juicy goodies at collectors and lean on other universes to try to attract new players with something capable of capturing their attention.
Be careful with the latter because, despite the raised blisters that I mentioned at the beginning, it seems to me an equally key element. How to zoom in Magic the generation that lives attached to Fortnite? Exactly, taking Fortnite to Magic in the form of letters.
The birth of Secret Lair
Told by Mark Heggen, the mind that controls everything that happens in Magic -something like if he were the producer of a videogame studio-, the story of Secret lair It touches us closely because, many years before the exact same thing happened to me, he too was amazed when he saw the letter for the first time Stasis.
A few weeks ago, before knowing its relationship with the excuse that would shape this text, we collected in our compilation of Magic trivia the story of a letter from the first sets of Magic with an art completely removed from what Wizards of the Coast he got us used to it. With an abstract drawing and a radically different style, Stasis It is one of those letters that leaves no one indifferent.
As we discussed at the time, behind his art is Fay jones, who was already a renowned artist before her nephew Richard Garfield become famous. So when he began to create a card game with illustrations, he did not hesitate to ask for his help to create one of the drawings.
Shortly after that the letter would reach Heggen with an equally twisted story. Apparently he and his friends would have gone crazy buying packs with one condition, each one would master a color and they would pass the cards to have the maximum possible of each type of mana.
Although he got the green deck, bad luck – or good luck, who knows – caused him to throw a glass of lemonade on the cards of one of his friends, so to compensate him he decided to give him his deck in exchange for keeping him with the ones that were drenched in lemonade. The blue deck reached his hands and, with it, the punch to the face of seeing the card Stasis for the first time.
The strangest and most striking Magic
Many years after that, Heggen would end up as the boss of Magic and would meet again with the idea of Stasis. A card whose art does not fit in with the general line of the game but which, nevertheless, precisely for that reason has become a special cardboard within the collection.
Faced with ideas that were constantly being discarded for going too far out of line marked by the conventional catalog of Magic, the creative team concluded that they needed to solve two key problems:
- How did they accommodate something specific and out of the ordinary?
- How to prevent fans from seeing the coherence of the game shattered?
The funny thing is that both answers would go hand in hand. From the hand of limited sets of just a handful of cards that did not break the usual trend of expansions, and with the possibility of acquiring those letters on demand if you are really attracted to them. You like what you see? Here it is. You do not like? The game continues as before.
From the hand of special cards for Commander -to avoid breaking the main game-, and reissues of old cards with new visual styles, was born Secret lair. One day to buy each edition and without fear that they will run out or have stock problems, only what is sold is printed, neither more nor less.
Letters with guest artists, collaborations with other audiovisual franchises, celebrate Women’s Day, recover cartoons from our childhood, turn letters into the cover of a heavy metal album, embrace the surrealism of LSD, pay homage to the world of comics or the tattoo … Everything has a place in Secret lair.
The most spectacular Secret Lair cards
In the absence of knowing in depth the many genius that are to come, from collaborations with Fortnite, Street Fighter and The Lord of the Rings even a collection starring dinosaurs, then we leave you with the best creations that he has left us Secret lair up to now.
Party Hard, Shred Harder
What happens when you fuck the classic cards with the most metal names and you deliver them to a group of artists who have mastered the subject like no one else. Scott Buoncristiano, Illustranesia, Vance Kelly, Robbie Trevino and Rafal Wechterowicz create a simply spectacular set in which even the arrangement of the elements deserves a reverence.
Happy Little Gathering
The artist-turned-meme passed away shortly after Magic began to take off, so his appearance as an artist on the charts had to be posthumous. Different landscapes painted by the mythical Bob ross to shape what are probably the most special cards of Secret lair.
Saturday Morning D&D
A collection destined to celebrate the mythical cartoon series of Dungeons and Dragons. He arrived just in time to accompany Adventures in Forgotten Realms. Only for the Master of the Dungeon is it worth it.
What if the letters from Basic Earth had explanatory text? Well, they would probably need a monstrosity like the one shown in these special cards that sacrifice art to focus on the text. To drop some sweet potato paste opponent.
The Godzilla Lands
Land cards with Godzilla as the protagonist. What more could you want? They could also have put Godzilla on the front page and get all the attention, yes, but they are still land cards and their element is the real protagonist. Some of the most elegant rarities.
The walking dead
Its launch brought a tail, but it also served to Magic create your line Universes Beyond with which to embrace other franchises without fear of how well they may fit in the lore. Hence those tributes to Fortnite, Street Fighter or Warhammer that are on the way. In any case, reading what cards like Michonne’s do gives a good account of how well thought out they are and how fun they can be to play in alternative modes like Commander.
Probably the craziest set of all the ones you will find. A song to psychedelia that not only reimagines the art of cards, but also plays with style when shaping them. Just for ideas like this it is already worth it Secret lair exist.
Birds are one of the most prolific creatures in the universe of MagicSo the idea of having artistic styles more typical of an ornithology book than of traditional letters is a success. Those Birds of Paradise are a joy.
The legendary artist Wizard of Barge and his particular style give shape to five cards in which to bring out the most rugged aspect of Magic. Voidslime, for example, is simply spectacular.
Brutal Basic Lands
What happens when you give carte blanche to a death metal artist like Mark riddick -common illustrator of bands like Slipknot-, who rides you some of the craziest and most spectacular lands in all of Magic. Perfect to dismiss this compilation.