Welcome back! Yesterday we took a look at the first 30 Secret Lair Drops of the year and highlighted some of the most powerful cards as well as the most stunning presentations from a wide range of exceptionally skilled illustrators. Today we’ll look at all of the remaining drops that have been revealed (so far). There’s a lot to talk about so let’s dive right in!

Imaginary Friends

Most Playable: Pir, Imaginative Rascal and Toothy, Imaginary Friend

Best Presentation: The Gitrog Monster

Magic is a game about conflict. There’s no avoiding that. Sometimes the conflict is between warring nations. Other times it’s with fantastical monsters. Jeannie Paske’s ability to illustrate fantastical monsters with a sense of magic and wonder is unparalleled. Take some time to appreciate more of her monstrous designs on her website, Obsolete World. I hope she returns to do another Secret Lair Drop in the future. I can only imagine what she could accomplish with creatures like Hidden Horror, Ichorid, or Phyrexian Revoker.

Artist Series: Victor Adame Minguez

Most Playable: Lord of the Undead

Best Presentation: Knight of the White Orchid

Minguez’s earliest Magic art dates back to the Magic: Origins era and has since appeared on more than 150 cards. What’s always stood out to me about their artwork has been capturing dramatic moments as seen on Kor Sky Climber or Avacyn’s Judgment. Minguez’s take on Knight of the White Orchid and Lord of the Undead in this Secret Lair Drop exemplifies that ability.

Artist Series: Nils Hamm

Most Playable: Contagion Engine

Best Presentation: Sword of Truth and Justice

Nils Hamm is a well-known Magic illustrator now with over 200 artist credits to their name. This set is a bit more whimsical than Hamm’s usual Magic artwork which tends to be darker, as seen on cards like Death Baron or Grave Titan. Some of Hamm’s most memorable Magic art can be found in the Shadowmoor and Eventide expansions, where their unique style of portraying fantasy creatures could shine (as much as anything shines in the dark lands of Shadowmoor).

In Memoriam: Jaya Ballard

Most Playable: Pyretic Ritual

Best Presentation: Jaya Ballard

Too soon Wizards. Too soon.

Showcase: Dominaria United

Most Playable: Nicol Bolas

Best Presentation: Chromium

Shoot that nostalgia right into my veins, Wizards. Other than Nicol Bolas, this was the first paper reprinting in black border for the original Elder Dragons from whom the name Elder Dragon Highlander was borne. While their playability in the modern game is not terribly fantastic their value as collector pieces is significant.

More Li’l Walkers

Most Playable: Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Best Presentation: Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

I think the baby planeswalkers are one of the greatest things to come out of Secret Lair Drops in general and if you have a cube and you aren’t using these variants what are you even doing with your life? 

Secret Lair x Blood Bowl

Most Playable: Fellwar Stone

Best Presentation: Throw Team-Mate (Fling)

This isn’t the kind of Fantasy Football you’re used to playing. Blood Bowl is a fantastic game and I hope this crossover product does actually result in more Magic players becoming at least aware of its existence.

Secret Lair x Warhammer Age of Sigmar

Most Playable: Blind Obedience

Best Presentation: Stardrake (Scourge of the Throne)

Age of Sigmar is a pretty well-known fantasy game, formerly known as Warhammer Fantasy. This was a cool drop for fans of Age of Sigmar but that’s not me, and I found them a bit underwhelming perhaps as a result.

Secret Lair x Warhammer 40,000: Orks

Most Playable: Makari, the Lucky Grot (Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin)

Best Presentation: Ghazghkull, Prophet of the Waaagh! (Zurgo Helmsmasher)

I’ve played Warhammer 40k on and off since 2002 and for the longest time my best friend played Orks so they have a special place not only in my heart but also in the firing sights of my Hammerhead railguns. Call me when there’s a T’au Secret Lair Drop and I just might buy one of these things.

The Space Beyond the Stars

Most Playable: Wheel of Sun and Moon

Best Presentation: Stasis

If you’re looking for something to do the next time you want to feel the weight of cosmic consciousness lifted from your being and float into a nether void of endless possibilities just check out Jeremie Solomon’s instagram. After seeing these four pieces for the Secret Lair I had to see more of his work and I was not disappointed at all.

The Weirdest Pets in the Multiverse

Most Playable: Stitcher’s Supplier

Best Presentation: Vizier of the Menagerie

What is even happening in these cards?! Omar Rayyan is a titan of fantasy art with an uncanny ability to bring a sense of realism to the surreal. Or perhaps the other way around. A few years ago he released a collection of his works titled Goblin Market.

Totally Spaced Out

Most Playable: Command Beacon

Best Presentation: Fabled Passage

If I still played tabletop Magic and had to pick one Secret Lair Drop from 2022 to add to my collection this would be it, without a doubt. Each of these is an absolutely stunning piece of art that would immediately dominate the battlefield.

If Looks Could Kill

Most Playable: Adaptive Automaton

Best Presentation: Liliana of the Dark Realms

Jack Hughes is a London-based commercial artist with a very unique style. This drop features that style with some absolutely incredible pieces including this top notch and refreshingly different take on Liliana Vess.

Special Guest: Yoji Shinkawa

Most Playable: Phyrexian Metamorph

Best Presentation: Tezzeret the Seeker

Yoji Shinkawa is the Japanese artist responsible for much of the character and mecha designs in the wildly popular Metal Gear video game series. These cards are very reminiscent of the same style used there.

Special Guest: Junji Ito

Most Playable: Thoughtseize

Best Presentation: Plaguecrafter

CREEPY! Junji Ito is a LEGEND of horror manga who has won multiple Eisner awards including for his manga adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Among his most acclaimed works is Uzumaki, the tale of a quiet town cursed by supernatural spirals.

Secret Lair x Post Malone: The Lands

Most Playable: Swamp (Because the next Drop is all Black cards)

Best Presentation: Swamp (Because of the adorable Mr. Vess-Post scribble)

These are great collector’s pieces though I don’t think I would put more than one in a single deck.

Secret Lair x Post Malone: Backstage Pass

Most Playable: Jet Medallion

Best Presentation: Post’s Sigil (Leshrac’s Sigil)

Whether or not you like Post Malone there’s no denying the unique style he brings to this Secret Lair Drop. These cards have held their value pretty well, unsurprisingly.

Extra Life 2022

Most Playable: Sliver Legion

Best Presentation: Birds of Paradise (Eli, Age 8)

What’s there to say about the now annual Extra Life charity promotion set which features cards drawn by both established illustrators as well as children? It isn’t too often that a card with more than 40 printings can find a way to feel new and exciting but these Birds of Paradise are brilliant.

Look at the Kitties

Most Playable: Descendant’s Path

Best Presentation: Violent Outburst

TATAME-PI is a brilliant Japanese artist who specializes in cat art. This set does not disappoint and you can still get it as part of Magic Fest Philadelphia. It’s also worth noting that this is a great opportunity to replace your copies of Descendant’s Path which have previously never been reprinted!

Transformers: Optimus Prime vs. Megatron

Most Playable: " data-card-name="Megatron">Megatron (Blightsteel Colossus)

Best Presentation: Optimus Prime (Darksteel Colossus)

This is a stunning triptych no matter which side you’ve flipped it to. These will make a beautiful addition to any cube or Commander collection, or you could even have some fun and Tinker out Megatron to close out games of Vintage.

Transformers: Roll Out or Rise Up

Most Playable: Greater Good

Best Presentation: Greater Good

Really Wizards? That’s how it’s going to be? You’re going to exploit one of the most traumatic moments of our collective childhoods by putting it on a Magic card? Shut up and take my money.

Transformers: One Shall Fall

Most Playable: N/A

Best Presentation: Mountain

These are all gorgeous lands for the Universes Beyond crossover Secret Lair Drop with Transformers but my top pick is the Mountain of discarded transformer parts. That’s a surprisingly morbid choice for Mountain which isn’t usually that grim.

Just Add Milk!

Most Playable: Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Best Presentation: Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Mike Burns really went above and beyond with this trio of incredibly powerful breakfast cereal monsters. They’re all adorable and the detail on the backs is phenomenal. When I think about what Magic can do to compete with the kind of stunning alternate-art cards Pokemon produces, this is definitely it.

The Art of Frank Frazetta

Most Playable: Dark Ritual

Best Presentation: Dark Ritual

Frank Frazetta is a legendary artist who helped define the entire genre of fantasy artwork. Wizards of the Coast was lucky enough to be able to work with Frazetta’s family (Frank passed away in 2010) to enshrine five of his works of art on Magic cards. It’s safe to say his works are a huge influence on many of Magic’s illustrators.

In case you’re curious, here are links to prints of the originals. Please note that much of Frazetta’s work includes nudity and may not be appropriate for young viewers.

Artist Series: Aleksi Briclot

Most Playable: Inquisition of Kozilek

Best Presentation: Eldrazi Temple

This is an absolutely gorgeous set of Eldrazi featuring a panorama of visuals by one of the game’s most legendary artists. These are great cards for any collector or player as each of these could easily find a home in any cube or Commander collection.

Time Trouble Two

Most Playable: Nissa, Who Shakes the World

Best Presentation: Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

Shoot this right into my veins. If you are a fan of the retro-frame style, and enormous walls of text on Magic cards, this drop is for you. Planeswalkers aren’t complicated enough so lets make it look like they were around in 1997! I picked Tezzeret for the best presentation here for use of the slightly darker 1997 gold frame treatment as well.

Wizards of the Street

Most Playable: Spellseeker

Best Presentation: Baral, Chief of Compliance

Martin Ontiveros is an artist best known for “pop occultism” and this drop definitely captures that feeling. I highly recommend checking out their Instagram to see more of their work (and life) which includes some incredible pieces on all things fantastical.

Special Guest: Kozyndan: Another Story

Most Playable: Llanowar Elves

Best Presentation: Demonic Consultation

Kozyndan are a pair of artists (married even) who have built up a large following for their distinct style of art. You can follow their blog to learn more about the process behind this (and the following) Secret Lair Drop and check out their other projects which are numerous.

Special Guest: Kozyndan: The Lands

Most Playable: Island (I promise this is the last time I’ll make that joke)

Best Presentation: Forest

Kozyndan get a second drop, this time featuring their take on basic lands. While each of these is beautiful in its own right, my hat goes off for the Forest which is just a really gorgeous depiction of rain in the forest on a foggy day. Very few of Magic’s basic lands depict weather conditions outside of the occasional lightning bolt and some snow on snow lands.

Welcome to the Fungal

Most Playable: Ghave, Guru of Spores

Best Presentation: Mycoloth

If you’ve followed Secret Lairs since the beginnings then this style should look familiar to you. Wizards has done these “heavy metal poster” style cards before. This set specifically focuses on four cards (and a token) that basically scream (in a very high-pitched falsetto) to play a Ghave, Guru of Spores Commander deck and include these cards.

The Meaning of Life, Maybe

Most Playable: Future Sight

Best Presentation: Well of Lost Dreams

Ori Toor is a commercial artist with a unique style whose clients include Adobe, Apple, the NY Times, Cartoon Network, Bloomberg, Wired, and more according to their homepage. This is a solid drop for some very iconic cards with very unique style. I feel like we’re getting close to being able to start seeing some very cool Commander decks and maybe even entire Cubes made of surreal art.

Rich Stein (he/him) has been playing Magic since 1995 when he and his brother opened their first packs of Ice Age and thought Jester’s Cap was the coolest thing ever. Since then his greatest accomplishments in Magic have been the one time he beat Darwin Kastle at a Time Spiral sealed Grand Prix and the time Jon Finkel blocked him on Twitter.

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