MTG fans unimpressed by new Secret Lair featuring NFT artist

Jack Bye
MTG Secret Lair Set Hydras by NFT Artist

MTG’s newest Secret Lair, Calling All Hydra Heads, has turned off many fans with its polarising style and the artist’s association with NFTs.

Among Magic: The Gathering’s ongoing wave of releases, Secret Lairs can be somewhat contentious. Some fans bemoan their frequency and the focus that they take away from regular set releases.

At their best, Secret Lairs can be a chance to celebrate artists and show off diverse styles that are normally outside of MTG’s wheelhouse. Mini sets like the upcoming The Princess Bride can celebrate cult classics and provide fun crossovers for fans without stepping overly into MTG’s regular design space.

Unfortunately, the reveal of the latest Secret Lair – Calling All Hydra Heads – has been met with a wave of negative reactions online.

MTG Hydras explained

MTG Zaxara Hydra art by NFT Artist

Hydras are a long-running and well-received creature type in MTG, being the iconic creature for green mana. It’s only natural that such a core component of the game should eventually get the spotlight in a Secret Lair.

While Hydras are often depicted in styles befitting MTG’s variety of High Fantasy worlds, Calling All Hydra Heads has taken a different approach. Some of MTG’s most popular Hydras are depicted here by artist CatDirty in a grungier style that seems to take cues from Ed Roth and Felix Colgrave.

While the artist’s style no doubt makes the cards stand out from a mainline MTG set – commenters such as TheJarateKid on Reddit have pointed out ‘that art is all very similar to one another.’ Secret Lairs will naturally come with a much more limited number of cards than a regular MTG release, often serving more as a showcase for artists and select cards than full playable products. Within that limited selection, fans are hoping for more variety between cards.

Magic: The Gathering and NFTs

Further complicating the matter of Calling All Hydra Heads is CatDirty’s association with NFTs. The value of NFTs has plummeted recently, and what was once a highly desirable investment is now synonymous with poor quality. While none of the art for Calling All Hydra Heads is being repurposed as NFTs, CatDirty’s work on NFTs is enough to taint the Secret Lair for some fans.

Where once Wizards of the Coast was considering NFT options of their own for MTG, CatDirty’s work now seems to be the closest association the company is likely to have with the failed blockchain experiment.

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About The Author

Ecommerce writer with an MA in Creative Writing, covering MTG, DnD, and everything tabletop for Dexerto. Previously at WePC and VideoGamer. When not rolling dice and shuffling decks, he's playing old RPGs and wishing someone would remaster Skies of Arcadia already. You can reach him at