Why the 30th Anniversary Countdown is the best Secret Lair yet

Cliff Daigle • October 28, 2022

Generally speaking, I’ve cooled off on most of the Secret Lair products. I think they are neat, and personally I’m playing lots of them in my Commander decks, but from a value standpoint blessed few of them are going to be immediately financially relevant.

The 30th Anniversary Countdown is not one of those products, for a couple of reasons that exemplify what I do and don’t like about Secret Lairs in general.

First of all, Secret Lairs are not the limited run product they used to be (mostly). With individual Lairs, we can each buy 60 copies. Granted, that’s a big chunk of change, but vendors can do that and are doing that. There’s a whole lot of some Lairs out there on TCGPlayer, because people and vendors can buy as much as they want and then those are printed to demand.

The Countdown Lair (I’m abbreviating to that so as to avoid confusion with the $1000 30th Anniversary packs) can sell out. These are already printed, or in the process of printing, because they want to get these in hands before December 1. The limited-quantity lairs are generally going to be an easy flip, though I’m not sure how expensive this will get.

The other thing I love about this lair is the card choices. For $150 you’re getting 30 solid cards, almost all with extended art. The regular-frame Secret Lairs tend to move much slower unless they are something special like the Walking Dead or Street Fighter. You’re also getting a 30% chance of foils, which is extra spicy and means that some of these will pay off very very well.

Too many Secret Lairs are four cards, with one currently-expensive card and three that are generously characterized as filler. Some of the slowest-growing Lairs are the Artist Series which for some reason utilize the regular frame, and thankfully, we aren’t going to have any of that this time around. All thirty of the Countdown cards are at least borderless, with several breaking the frame in awesome ways.

The average cost per card is $5 here, and that feels like a solid floor for some of these, like a Heritage Druid or a Bloodbraid Elf (who’s been printed too many times to hold a price, sadly) and for a couple of choice cards, $5 even in foil will be ambitious. Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero and Wild Mongrel are certainly emblematic of their years and also reflect a weird power level of the decks at the time.

The card choices in this Countdown Lair make me very happy. It’s got Chrome Mox as an anchor, a card whose cheapest version is $80 nonfoil and now this is a retro frame? Sold. Necropotence has had a couple of notable reprints, including foil versions, but this art is mindbending and amazing and should fetch a pretty penny.

We’ve got a Chibi Nicol Bolas, an old-border Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, and a ridiculously sweet Shark Typhoon. I love the Deathrite Shaman, the new Ponder is fantastic, and the new art of Emry, Lurker of the Loch will haunt your dreams. Buying this set represents a little bit of something for everyone, and having a 30% chance of foils is going to pay off nicely.

I think your best bet, aside from buying for personal use, is going to be to buy several of these with plans to resell–quickly–on Ebay or TCGPlayer. If you’re willing to take the chance and sell before it’s in hand, you might have a huge profit but this is also quite unethical and potentially illegal. Listing it the day you get it will give you a good feeling for the demand, since there will be some high demand indeed.

From a numbers standpoint, both the 30% chance of foils and the set number of copies available are good things. A chance at shiny versions means a chance at a version that will probably be around three times more expensive, depending on Commander demand. That in turn will goose the prices for sealed product. Having the ability to sell out of copies on November 7 will also help resellers, because there will be a large contingent of players who don’t have a chance to get the cards they want.

Once it sells out that morning–and it will 100% sell out, take it to the bank, it’s a lock, etc.--the people who didn’t get one but want one will start the frenzy, and who knows where sealed sets end up. If you’re lucky enough to get one of the first ones mailed out, I think you’ll have a chance at doubling up.

So to summarize, this Countdown Lair will sell out and resell for a higher price, all due to the limited quantities, card choices, and randomization of foils. If you haven’t gotten in on buying a Secret Lair yet, this would be an excellent place to begin.