Alongside the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, the tabletop gaming community had its own series of reckonings with injustice. Voices throughout the hobby games industry called for recognition of racism and its impact on Black, indigenous, and people of color. Some of the most vocal criticism was levied against Wizards of the Coast, whose marquee products include Magic: The Gathering.
In June, the publisher of Magic banned several cards that included racist language and imagery, and issued a formal apology for its past misdeeds. The company also hired Jontelle Leyson-Smith to be its first director of diversity, equity, and inclusion. On Monday, Wizards makes its most visible step yet with the launch of a new series of cards called Secret Lair: Black Is Magic.
Secret Lair is a new kind of product from Wizards of the Coast first launched in 2020. It’s a print-on-demand series of alternate-art cards that are only available for a limited period of time. Black Is Magic, presented by game designer Sydney Adams, focuses on Black artists and Black subjects. Proceeds will benefit Black Girls CODE.
“The first time I saw Secret Lair: Black Is Magic,” Leyson-Smith wrote in early February, “my mind was flooded with memories of no-bake desserts with Grandma; trips to the corner deli with Grandpa; feelings of inadequacy in high school because I looked different from my peers; the strength of my mother and sister; and my growth as a youth to embrace my identity as a Black and Asian woman. I hope you also find (and share) personal connections with the release.”
The set includes seven cards in total, and runs $39.99 for regular finish and $49.99 for foil. Cards are available from Feb. 22 through March 31, making this one of the longest Secret Lair series ever launched. From designer Adams, writing on the official Magic: The Gathering blog:
Is it a 28-day shout that ends in 337 days of silence? A million stories lost to time and oppression? A necessity for progress? I don’t think there’s a right answer, but I came to my own conclusion as a guiding light for this project. I’d say Black history is the reflection of the lives Black people live. An accurate, unflinching look into the darkest corners of our legacy to find the brightest examples of human excellence. To understand that the past informs our present and that to acknowledge it is to do more than survive its consequences. It is about thriving. It is the celebration of lives well-lived and a profound connection that all Black, African, and African American peoples share. Black stories are global stories.
You’ll find high-resolution samples of the original art below, as well as links out to the artists.