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Sheldon's Spellbook Secret Lair raises money for cancer charity with MTG cards in honour of Commander creator

Includes reprints based on decks favoured by the ‘Godfather of Commander’, as well as appearances from the designer himself.

Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

Magic: The Gathering’s next Secret Lair drop will honour the creator of the trading card game’s immensely popular Commander format, Sheldon Menery, following his death last year.

The Sheldon's Spellbook Secret Lair was announced by Wizards of the Coast’s Scott Larabee, who posted a trailer to X revealing the contents of the upcoming run of limited-edition cards releasing later this month to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Menery passed away in early September following a seven-year battle with throat cancer.

As with other Secret Lair sets, the cards will offer variants of existing cards. Specifically, the Sheldon's Spellbook cards centred around Commander and featuring references and tributes to Menery and his own favoured decks.

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Land card Command Tower - granting one mana of any colour in the player’s commander’s colour identity - includes a quote from Menery as its flavour text, stating “Hate has no place here”. A reprint of instant sorcery Teferi’s Protection similarly quotes Menery - “If you’re doing it alone, you’re doing it wrong” - under its ability to freeze the player’s life total and grant protection from everything until their next turn, at which point it’s exiled.

One-mana green enchantment Eladamri’s Vineyard will offer the first foil version of the card allowing its players to add two green mana at the start of their precombat main phase, with its flavour text expressing that “Good company is sweeter than any summer wine.” It is one of several reprints chosen based on Menery’s fondness for particular cards, as well as paying tribute to Menery’s oenophilia.

A reprint of Greater Good - an instant enchantment allowing the player to sacrifice a creature before drawing cards equal to its power, then discarding three cards - will be offered as the entirely Italian-language card Bene Supremo, a nod to Menery’s habit of referring to the card in Italian.

A perennial Commander deck fixture since the format was officially sanctified in 2011, Sol Ring also makes a reappearance, a gorgeous piece of artwork from Lindsey Look accompanying the “We happy few” passage from Shakespeare’s Henry V.

As teased shortly after Menery’s death, Sheldon's Spellbook will see a reprint of Inkshield, showing Menery swirling around the black liquid with glowing faces. Inkshield was first released in the 2021 Commander precons as a tribute to Menery’s own signature Commander deck, You Did This to Yourself, referenced in the new card’s flavour text.

Arguably the set’s greatest tribute to Menery comes in its reimagining of legendary creature Ruhan of the Fomori as Sheldon, the Commander. The card features Sheldon’s likeness in place of the giant warrior, allowing the Commander creator to head up a Commander deck himself - just as Ruhan led Menery’s own deck. The four-mana, 7/7 card requires its controller to choose a random opponent and attack them that turn if possible. Underneath its ability text, Menery is quoted once more: “I’m not great at everything, but I am great at one thing: surrounding myself with excellent people. And that tends to take care of the rest.”

The Sheldon's Spellbook Secret Lair will go live on February 26th and run for just shy of a month until March 24th. Despite Wizards of the Coast’s recent announcement that most Secret Lair runs would move to a limited-print-run format from its previous print-to-demand approach, Sheldon's Spellbook will not be limited to a set number of orders.

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Matt Jarvis

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After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.
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