Are We Buying The Fortnite Secret Lair?

Whether or not you play the game, Fortnite is a big part of the zeitgeist right now. It’s insanely popular on Twitch and has led to a lot of money and views. After Walking Dead, Stranger Things, Arcane (the League of Legends series), Street Fighter, and now Fortnite, we’re going to get some Warhammer 40k crossover and then next year comes The Lord of the Rings.

What’s interesting from the Fortnite drop is that like the Arcane drop, it’s all reprints and no new legends/characters. The art for this drop is super on brand, though, and we’ve got the time-honored formula of ‘one semi-expensive card and a bunch of $5 or less’ cards.

So let’s get into this drop and see if it’s worth a purchase, for the right now and for the long term.

First, let’s make a table with the most relevant information about the nonland drop:

Card nameMagic nameCost of cheapest versionCost of priciest versionEDHREC inclusion
Dance BattleDance of ManyChronices – $1The Dark – $91,800 decks
Shrinking StormWrath of GodThe List – $5Alpha – $3k, LP57,000 decks
Supply LlamaEtherium SculptorC18 – 50 centsShards of Alara foil – $5.5034,000 decks
Battle BusSmuggler’s CopterNeon Dynasty Commander – $1Kaladesh foil – $1219,000 decks
Crack the VaultGrim TutorCore Set 2021 – $16Starter 1999 – $8051,000 decks
Battle RoyaleTriumph of the HordesNew Phyrexia – $15New Phyrexia foil – $5036,000 decks
The CubePlanar BridgeDouble Masters 2022 – $1.50Kaladesh Inventions – $808,800 decks

So let’s start with something that should be pretty clear off the bat: The cards, by themselves, aren’t worth the likely $40 nonfoil/$50 foil price we will be charged. This drop doesn’t have any super expensive card by itself, which is usually a thing, like Rhystic Study in the Arcane drop.

We know full well that reprinting a card drives down the value, but in case you needed a reminder that original supply is important, here’s the graph for Grim Tutor:

This was more than $300 at its peak, was $200 when the reprint came, and it doesn’t appear to have found the floor for the white border version. Even being listed in 51,000 decks online doesn’t save the Foil Borderless price from being in the mid-$20 range. Remember, those online decks are from the most invested folks, the ones who are super into optimization. It doesn’t really take into account the more casual players. 

So Grim Tutor is going to stay cheap, and with another special version, probably won’t get more expensive. Triumph of the Hordes is an uncommon, but it’s a popular one and it’s avoided reprints since New Phyrexia came out. 

I wouldn’t expect it to hold $15 as an inclusion on The List or something like that, either. We’ve just had no copies at all entering the marketplace, and it’s not like we got all that much of NPH in the first place. Remember that sets in that era followed the Big-Small-Small model, and as the third set, New Phyrexia had the least of all. I wrote about this effect seven years ago, and how the ratio of 6:2:1 came to be. Suffice it to say that New Phyrexia uncommons are six times rarer than Scars of Mirrodin uncommons, and the set is from eleven years ago. Not a lot to go around!

So really, what we’re paying for is the art and the Fortnite reskinning of the cards, not the cards themselves. Let’s be clear, the art is top-notch and it’s in a nicely extended frame. Since this is all reprints, and there’s nothing new as there was in Walking Dead or Street Fighter, we have to try and figure out not just what the cards are worth now, but what these might be in a year or two years.

Remember that the lead time for something like this is not short. Art has to be commissioned, designs approved, and all this started at least a year ago, if not more. Fortnite is still a popular game, significantly more popular on Twitch than Magic is.

Here’s a chart of the views and number of channels for Fortnite:

And here’s the same data for Magic, both MTGO and Arena content. Note how different the measurements are along the vertical.

Other sites show similar data, in that Fortnite gets many more viewers and hours watched. Even if you look at the graphs and numbers and think that Fortnite is in decline, their numbers are way, way ahead of Magic. 

It’s not hard to imagine a world in a few years where Fortnite has faded away, and then these cards are a trip down nostalgia lane. Wizards of the Coast is more than happy to capitalize on nostalgia, as demonstrated by their use of retro frame borders. 

I don’t want to compare this Secret Lair to things like Arcane, both because of the cards involved and the timeline is still pretty short. Can’t compare it to Walking Dead either, because that was all new cards. 

The other thing to remember about an unpopular Secret Lair drop, or a very-short-window one like Extra Life, is that if not many people buy it, then it’ll rise in price that much faster. So we’re stuck. I don’t think this is a good IP for the long term, and the cards are certainly not worth it either.

That said, all of the non-land Secret Lairs have generally appreciated in price, as a collectible if nothing else. I am skipping the June 2022 Superdrop because I don’t see enough unique things there to catch my eye. I will probably not buy very much of the Fortnite sets because even if they grow on a long timeline, it will be such modest growth over such a long time, that I’d rather put that money into 2X2 singles when those hit the floor, or bricks of underappreciated CLB cards. 

I respect that if you’re big into Fortnite, this drop will make you happy. The art is top-notch and wonderfully captures the spirit of the game. Buying a couple of sets and waiting is defensible, as you’re unlikely to lose money this way, your money will just be tied up for a really long time. There hasn’t yet been a non-land Secret Lair that went down as a sealed product, but there’s plenty that are still not much over their original cost. I will probably end up getting some singles once the drop arrives, though.

I haven’t mentioned the lands yet, and that’s because if you think I’m lukewarm on Secret Lair lands, I’m even more chilly when it comes to the lands. Yes, some of the Godzilla lands have sold nicely but those were bonus inclusions that weren’t an option on their own. So far, the land cycles in a Secret Lair haven’t lit up the world, or even gotten more than slight gains. It’s very hard for me to care about these, especially at $7 or so per basic land. I would understand if you wanted to get a couple sets of the regular cards, but the lands are a no-go for me. None of the Lairs’ sets of land have been worth it yet, and while that might eventually change, I need to see that change first before I put any money in.

If you want to talk about these points with me or other readers, hop into the Discord channel and let me know!

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.